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Title: Doctor Thorne
Author: Trollope, Anthony, 1815-1882
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Doctor Thorne" ***

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and revised by Joseph E. Loewenstein, M.D.



DOCTOR THORNE

by

Anthony Trollope

First published in 1858



CONTENTS

         I. The Greshams of Greshamsbury
        II. Long, Long Ago
       III. Dr Thorne
        IV. Lessons from Courcy Castle
         V. Frank Gresham's First Speech
        VI. Frank Gresham's Early Loves
       VII. The Doctor's Garden
      VIII. Matrimonial Prospects
        IX. Sir Roger Scatcherd
         X. Sir Roger's Will
        XI. The Doctor Drinks His Tea
       XII. When Greek Meets Greek, Then Comes the Tug of War
      XIII. The Two Uncles
       XIV. Sentence of Exile
        XV. Courcy
       XVI. Miss Dunstable
      XVII. The Election
     XVIII. The Rivals
       XIX. The Duke of Omnium
        XX. The Proposal
       XXI. Mr Moffat Falls into Trouble
      XXII. Sir Roger Is Unseated
      XXII. Retrospective
      XXIV. Louis Scatcherd
       XXV. Sir Roger Dies
      XXVI. War
     XXVII. Miss Thorne Goes on a Visit
    XXVIII. The Doctor Hears Something to His Advantage
      XXIX. The Donkey Ride
       XXX. Post Prandial
      XXXI. The Small End of the Wedge
     XXXII. Mr Oriel
    XXXIII. A Morning Visit
     XXXIV. A Barouche and Four Arrives at Greshamsbury
      XXXV. Sir Louis Goes Out to Dinner
     XXXVI. Will He Come Again?
    XXXVII. Sir Louis Leaves Greshamsbury
   XXXVIII. De Courcy Precepts and de Courcy Practice
     XXXIX. What the World Says about Blood
        XL. The Two Doctors Change Patients
       XLI. Doctor Thorne Won't Interfere
      XLII. What Can You Give in Return?
     XLIII. The Race of Scatcherd Becomes Extinct
      XLIV. Saturday Evening and Sunday Morning
       XLV. Law Business in London
      XLVI. Our Pet Fox Finds a Tail
     XLVII. How the Bride Was Received, and Who Were Asked
            to the Wedding



CHAPTER I

The Greshams of Greshamsbury


Before the reader is introduced to the modest country medical
practitioner who is to be the chief personage of the following
tale, it will be well that he should be made acquainted with some
particulars as to the locality in which, and the neighbours among
whom, our doctor followed his profession.

There is a county in the west of England not so full of life, indeed,
nor so widely spoken of as some of its manufacturing leviathan
brethren in the north, but which is, nevertheless, very dear to those
who know it well. Its green pastures, its waving wheat, its deep
and shady and--let us add--dirty lanes, its paths and stiles, its
tawny-coloured, well-built rural churches, its avenues of beeches,
and frequent Tudor mansions, its constant county hunt, its social
graces, and the general air of clanship which pervades it, has made
it to its own inhabitants a favoured land of Goshen. It is purely
agricultural; agricultural in its produce, agricultural in its poor,
and agricultural in its pleasures. There are towns in it, of course;
dépôts from whence are brought seeds and groceries, ribbons and
fire-shovels; in which markets are held and county balls are carried
on; which return members to Parliament, generally--in spite of Reform
Bills, past, present, and coming--in accordance with the dictates
of some neighbouring land magnate: from whence emanate the country
postmen, and where is located the supply of post-horses necessary
for county visitings. But these towns add nothing to the importance
of the county; they consist, with the exception of the assize town,
of dull, all but death-like single streets. Each possesses two
pumps, three hotels, ten shops, fifteen beer-houses, a beadle, and a
market-place.

Indeed, the town population of the county reckons for nothing when
the importance of the county is discussed, with the exception, as
before said, of the assize town, which is also a cathedral city.
Herein is a clerical aristocracy, which is certainly not without its
due weight. A resident bishop, a resident dean, an archdeacon, three
or four resident prebendaries, and all their numerous chaplains,
vicars, and ecclesiastical satellites, do make up a society
sufficiently powerful to be counted as something by the county
squirearchy. In other respects the greatness of Barsetshire depends
wholly on the landed powers.

Barsetshire, however, is not now so essentially one whole as it was
before the Reform Bill divided it. There is in these days an East
Barsetshire, and there is a West Barsetshire; and people conversant
with Barsetshire doings declare that they can already decipher some
difference of feeling, some division of interests. The eastern moiety
of the county is more purely Conservative than the western; there
is, or was, a taint of Peelism in the latter; and then, too, the
residence of two such great Whig magnates as the Duke of Omnium and
the Earl de Courcy in that locality in some degree overshadows and
renders less influential the gentlemen who live near them.

It is to East Barsetshire that we are called. When the division above
spoken of was first contemplated, in those stormy days in which
gallant men were still combatting reform ministers, if not with hope,
still with spirit, the battle was fought by none more bravely than
by John Newbold Gresham of Greshamsbury, the member for Barsetshire.
Fate, however, and the Duke of Wellington were adverse, and in the
following Parliament John Newbold Gresham was only member for East
Barsetshire.

Whether or not it was true, as stated at the time, that the aspect of
the men with whom he was called on to associate at St Stephen's broke
his heart, it is not for us now to inquire. It is certainly true that
he did not live to see the first year of the reformed Parliament
brought to a close. The then Mr Gresham was not an old man at the
time of his death, and his eldest son, Francis Newbold Gresham, was a
very young man; but, notwithstanding his youth, and notwithstanding
other grounds of objection which stood in the way of such preferment,
and which must be explained, he was chosen in his father's place.
The father's services had been too recent, too well appreciated, too
thoroughly in unison with the feelings of those around him to allow
of any other choice; and in this way young Frank Gresham found
himself member for East Barsetshire, although the very men who
elected him knew that they had but slender ground for trusting him
with their suffrages.

Frank Gresham, though then only twenty-four years of age, was a
married man, and a father. He had already chosen a wife, and by
his choice had given much ground of distrust to the men of East
Barsetshire. He had married no other than Lady Arabella de Courcy,
the sister of the great Whig earl who lived at Courcy Castle in the
west; that earl who not only voted for the Reform Bill, but had been
infamously active in bringing over other young peers so to vote,
and whose name therefore stank in the nostrils of the staunch Tory
squires of the county.

Not only had Frank Gresham so wedded, but having thus improperly and
unpatriotically chosen a wife, he had added to his sins by becoming
recklessly intimate with his wife's relations. It is true that he
still called himself a Tory, belonged to the club of which his father
had been one of the most honoured members, and in the days of the
great battle got his head broken in a row, on the right side; but,
nevertheless, it was felt by the good men, true and blue, of East
Barsetshire, that a constant sojourner at Courcy Castle could not be
regarded as a consistent Tory. When, however, his father died, that
broken head served him in good stead: his sufferings in the cause
were made the most of; these, in unison with his father's merits,
turned the scale, and it was accordingly decided, at a meeting held
at the George and Dragon, at Barchester, that Frank Gresham should
fill his father's shoes.

But Frank Gresham could not fill his father's shoes; they were too
big for him. He did become member for East Barsetshire, but he was
such a member--so lukewarm, so indifferent, so prone to associate
with the enemies of the good cause, so little willing to fight the
good fight, that he soon disgusted those who most dearly loved the
memory of the old squire.

De Courcy Castle in those days had great allurements for a young man,
and all those allurements were made the most of to win over young
Gresham. His wife, who was a year or two older than himself, was a
fashionable woman, with thorough Whig tastes and aspirations, such
as became the daughter of a great Whig earl; she cared for politics,
or thought that she cared for them, more than her husband did; for
a month or two previous to her engagement she had been attached to
the Court, and had been made to believe that much of the policy of
England's rulers depended on the political intrigues of England's
women. She was one who would fain be doing something if she only
knew how, and the first important attempt she made was to turn her
respectable young Tory husband into a second-rate Whig bantling. As
this lady's character will, it is hoped, show itself in the following
pages, we need not now describe it more closely.

It is not a bad thing to be son-in-law to a potent earl, member of
Parliament for a county, and a possessor of a fine old English seat,
and a fine old English fortune. As a very young man, Frank Gresham
found the life to which he was thus introduced agreeable enough. He
consoled himself as best he might for the blue looks with which he
was greeted by his own party, and took his revenge by consorting more
thoroughly than ever with his political adversaries. Foolishly, like
a foolish moth, he flew to the bright light, and, like the moths,
of course he burnt his wings. Early in 1833 he had become a member
of Parliament, and in the autumn of 1834 the dissolution came.
Young members of three or four-and-twenty do not think much of
dissolutions, forget the fancies of their constituents, and are too
proud of the present to calculate much as to the future. So it was
with Mr Gresham. His father had been member for Barsetshire all his
life, and he looked forward to similar prosperity as though it were
part of his inheritance; but he failed to take any of the steps which
had secured his father's seat.

In the autumn of 1834 the dissolution came, and Frank Gresham, with
his honourable lady wife and all the de Courcys at his back, found
that he had mortally offended the county. To his great disgust
another candidate was brought forward as a fellow to his late
colleague, and though he manfully fought the battle, and spent ten
thousand pounds in the contest, he could not recover his position. A
high Tory, with a great Whig interest to back him, is never a popular
person in England. No one can trust him, though there may be those
who are willing to place him, untrusted, in high positions. Such
was the case with Mr Gresham. There were many who were willing, for
family considerations, to keep him in Parliament; but no one thought
that he was fit to be there. The consequences were, that a bitter
and expensive contest ensued. Frank Gresham, when twitted with being
a Whig, foreswore the de Courcy family; and then, when ridiculed as
having been thrown over by the Tories, foreswore his father's old
friends. So between the two stools he fell to the ground, and, as a
politician, he never again rose to his feet.

He never again rose to his feet; but twice again he made violent
efforts to do so. Elections in East Barsetshire, from various
causes, came quick upon each other in those days, and before he was
eight-and-twenty years of age Mr Gresham had three times contested
the county and been three times beaten. To speak the truth of him,
his own spirit would have been satisfied with the loss of the first
ten thousand pounds; but Lady Arabella was made of higher mettle. She
had married a man with a fine place and a fine fortune; but she had
nevertheless married a commoner and had in so far derogated from her
high birth. She felt that her husband should be by rights a member of
the House of Lords; but, if not, that it was at least essential that
he should have a seat in the lower chamber. She would by degrees sink
into nothing if she allowed herself to sit down, the mere wife of a
mere country squire.

Thus instigated, Mr Gresham repeated the useless contest three times,
and repeated it each time at a serious cost. He lost his money, Lady
Arabella lost her temper, and things at Greshamsbury went on by no
means as prosperously as they had done in the days of the old squire.

In the first twelve years of their marriage, children came fast into
the nursery at Greshamsbury. The first that was born was a boy; and
in those happy halcyon days, when the old squire was still alive,
great was the joy at the birth of an heir to Greshamsbury; bonfires
gleamed through the country-side, oxen were roasted whole, and
the customary paraphernalia of joy, usual to rich Britons on such
occasions were gone through with wondrous éclat. But when the tenth
baby, and the ninth little girl, was brought into the world, the
outward show of joy was not so great.

Then other troubles came on. Some of these little girls were sickly,
some very sickly. Lady Arabella had her faults, and they were such as
were extremely detrimental to her husband's happiness and her own;
but that of being an indifferent mother was not among them. She had
worried her husband daily for years because he was not in Parliament,
she had worried him because he would not furnish the house in Portman
Square, she had worried him because he objected to have more people
every winter at Greshamsbury Park than the house would hold; but now
she changed her tune and worried him because Selina coughed, because
Helena was hectic, because poor Sophy's spine was weak, and Matilda's
appetite was gone.

Worrying from such causes was pardonable it will be said. So it was;
but the manner was hardly pardonable. Selina's cough was certainly
not fairly attributable to the old-fashioned furniture in Portman
Square; nor would Sophy's spine have been materially benefited by
her father having a seat in Parliament; and yet, to have heard Lady
Arabella discussing those matters in family conclave, one would have
thought that she would have expected such results.

As it was, her poor weak darlings were carried about from London to
Brighton, from Brighton to some German baths, from the German baths
back to Torquay, and thence--as regarded the four we have named--to
that bourne from whence no further journey could be made under the
Lady Arabella's directions.

The one son and heir to Greshamsbury was named as his father, Francis
Newbold Gresham. He would have been the hero of our tale had not that
place been pre-occupied by the village doctor. As it is, those who
please may so regard him. It is he who is to be our favourite young
man, to do the love scenes, to have his trials and his difficulties,
and to win through them or not, as the case may be. I am too old now
to be a hard-hearted author, and so it is probable that he may not
die of a broken heart. Those who don't approve of a middle-aged
bachelor country doctor as a hero, may take the heir to Greshamsbury
in his stead, and call the book, if it so please them, "The Loves and
Adventures of Francis Newbold Gresham the Younger."

And Master Frank Gresham was not ill adapted for playing the part
of a hero of this sort. He did not share his sisters' ill-health,
and though the only boy of the family, he excelled all his sisters
in personal appearance. The Greshams from time immemorial had been
handsome. They were broad browed, blue eyed, fair haired, born with
dimples in their chins, and that pleasant, aristocratic dangerous
curl of the upper lip which can equally express good humour or scorn.
Young Frank was every inch a Gresham, and was the darling of his
father's heart.

The de Courcys had never been plain. There was too much hauteur, too
much pride, we may perhaps even fairly say, too much nobility in
their gait and manners, and even in their faces, to allow of their
being considered plain; but they were not a race nurtured by Venus
or Apollo. They were tall and thin, with high cheek-bones, high
foreheads, and large, dignified, cold eyes. The de Courcy girls had
all good hair; and, as they also possessed easy manners and powers
of talking, they managed to pass in the world for beauties till they
were absorbed in the matrimonial market, and the world at large cared
no longer whether they were beauties or not. The Misses Gresham were
made in the de Courcy mould, and were not on this account the less
dear to their mother.

The two eldest, Augusta and Beatrice, lived, and were apparently
likely to live. The four next faded and died one after another--all
in the same sad year--and were laid in the neat, new cemetery at
Torquay. Then came a pair, born at one birth, weak, delicate, frail
little flowers, with dark hair and dark eyes, and thin, long, pale
faces, with long, bony hands, and long bony feet, whom men looked on
as fated to follow their sisters with quick steps. Hitherto, however,
they had not followed them, nor had they suffered as their sisters
had suffered; and some people at Greshamsbury attributed this to the
fact that a change had been made in the family medical practitioner.

Then came the youngest of the flock, she whose birth we have said was
not heralded with loud joy; for when she came into the world, four
others, with pale temples, wan, worn cheeks, and skeleton, white
arms, were awaiting permission to leave it.

Such was the family when, in the year 1854, the eldest son came of
age. He had been educated at Harrow, and was now still at Cambridge;
but, of course, on such a day as this he was at home. That coming of
age must be a delightful time to a young man born to inherit broad
acres and wide wealth. Those full-mouthed congratulations; those
warm prayers with which his manhood is welcomed by the grey-haired
seniors of the county; the affectionate, all but motherly caresses of
neighbouring mothers who have seen him grow up from his cradle, of
mothers who have daughters, perhaps, fair enough, and good enough,
and sweet enough even for him; the soft-spoken, half-bashful, but
tender greetings of the girls, who now, perhaps for the first time,
call him by his stern family name, instructed by instinct rather than
precept that the time has come when the familiar Charles or familiar
John must by them be laid aside; the "lucky dogs," and hints of
silver spoons which are poured into his ears as each young compeer
slaps his back and bids him live a thousand years and then never die;
the shouting of the tenantry, the good wishes of the old farmers who
come up to wring his hand, the kisses which he gets from the farmers'
wives, and the kisses which he gives to the farmers' daughters; all
these things must make the twenty-first birthday pleasant enough to
a young heir. To a youth, however, who feels that he is now liable
to arrest, and that he inherits no other privilege, the pleasure may
very possibly not be quite so keen.

The case with young Frank Gresham may be supposed to much nearer the
former than the latter; but yet the ceremony of his coming of age
was by no means like that which fate had accorded to his father. Mr
Gresham was now an embarrassed man, and though the world did not know
it, or, at any rate, did not know that he was deeply embarrassed, he
had not the heart to throw open his mansion and receive the county
with a free hand as though all things were going well with him.

Nothing was going well with him. Lady Arabella would allow nothing
near him or around him to be well. Everything with him now turned to
vexation; he was no longer a joyous, happy man, and the people of
East Barsetshire did not look for gala doings on a grand scale when
young Gresham came of age.

Gala doings, to a certain extent, there were there. It was in July,
and tables were spread under the oaks for the tenants. Tables were
spread, and meat, and beer, and wine were there, and Frank, as he
walked round and shook his guests by the hand, expressed a hope that
their relations with each other might be long, close, and mutually
advantageous.

We must say a few words now about the place itself. Greshamsbury
Park was a fine old English gentleman's seat--was and is; but we can
assert it more easily in past tense, as we are speaking of it with
reference to a past time. We have spoken of Greshamsbury Park; there
was a park so called, but the mansion itself was generally known as
Greshamsbury House, and did not stand in the park. We may perhaps
best describe it by saying that the village of Greshamsbury consisted
of one long, straggling street, a mile in length, which in the centre
turned sharp round, so that one half of the street lay directly at
right angles to the other. In this angle stood Greshamsbury House,
and the gardens and grounds around it filled up the space so made.
There was an entrance with large gates at each end of the village,
and each gate was guarded by the effigies of two huge pagans with
clubs, such being the crest borne by the family; from each entrance a
broad road, quite straight, running through to a majestic avenue of
limes, led up to the house. This was built in the richest, perhaps we
should rather say in the purest, style of Tudor architecture; so much
so that, though Greshamsbury is less complete than Longleat, less
magnificent than Hatfield, it may in some sense be said to be the
finest specimen of Tudor architecture of which the country can boast.

It stands amid a multitude of trim gardens and stone-built terraces,
divided one from another: these to our eyes are not so attractive as
that broad expanse of lawn by which our country houses are generally
surrounded; but the gardens of Greshamsbury have been celebrated for
two centuries, and any Gresham who would have altered them would have
been considered to have destroyed one of the well-known landmarks of
the family.

Greshamsbury Park--properly so called--spread far away on the other
side of the village. Opposite to the two great gates leading up
to the mansion were two smaller gates, the one opening on to the
stables, kennels, and farm-yard, and the other to the deer park. This
latter was the principal entrance to the demesne, and a grand and
picturesque entrance it was. The avenue of limes which on one side
stretched up to the house, was on the other extended for a quarter of
a mile, and then appeared to be terminated only by an abrupt rise in
the ground. At the entrance there were four savages and four clubs,
two to each portal, and what with the massive iron gates, surmounted
by a stone wall, on which stood the family arms supported by two
other club-bearers, the stone-built lodges, the Doric, ivy-covered
columns which surrounded the circle, the four grim savages, and the
extent of the space itself through which the high road ran, and which
just abutted on the village, the spot was sufficiently significant of
old family greatness.

Those who examined it more closely might see that under the arms was
a scroll bearing the Gresham motto, and that the words were repeated
in smaller letters under each of the savages. "Gardez Gresham,"
had been chosen in the days of motto-choosing probably by some
herald-at-arms as an appropriate legend for signifying the peculiar
attributes of the family. Now, however, unfortunately, men were not
of one mind as to the exact idea signified. Some declared, with much
heraldic warmth, that it was an address to the savages, calling on
them to take care of their patron; while others, with whom I myself
am inclined to agree, averred with equal certainty that it was an
advice to the people at large, especially to those inclined to rebel
against the aristocracy of the county, that they should "beware the
Gresham." The latter signification would betoken strength--so said
the holders of this doctrine; the former weakness. Now the Greshams
were ever a strong people, and never addicted to a false humility.

We will not pretend to decide the question. Alas! either construction
was now equally unsuited to the family fortunes. Such changes had
taken place in England since the Greshams had founded themselves that
no savage could any longer in any way protect them; they must protect
themselves like common folk, or live unprotected. Nor now was it
necessary that any neighbour should shake in his shoes when the
Gresham frowned. It would have been to be wished that the present
Gresham himself could have been as indifferent to the frowns of some
of his neighbours.

But the old symbols remained, and may such symbols long remain among
us; they are still lovely and fit to be loved. They tell us of the
true and manly feelings of other times; and to him who can read
aright, they explain more fully, more truly than any written history
can do, how Englishmen have become what they are. England is not yet
a commercial country in the sense in which that epithet is used for
her; and let us still hope that she will not soon become so. She
might surely as well be called feudal England, or chivalrous England.
If in western civilised Europe there does exist a nation among whom
there are high signors, and with whom the owners of the land are
the true aristocracy, the aristocracy that is trusted as being best
and fittest to rule, that nation is the English. Choose out the ten
leading men of each great European people. Choose them in France, in
Austria, Sardinia, Prussia, Russia, Sweden, Denmark, Spain (?), and
then select the ten in England whose names are best known as those of
leading statesmen; the result will show in which country there still
exists the closest attachment to, the sincerest trust in, the old
feudal and now so-called landed interests.

England a commercial country! Yes; as Venice was. She may excel
other nations in commerce, but yet it is not that in which she most
prides herself, in which she most excels. Merchants as such are not
the first men among us; though it perhaps be open, barely open, to
a merchant to become one of them. Buying and selling is good and
necessary; it is very necessary, and may, possibly, be very good; but
it cannot be the noblest work of man; and let us hope that it may not
in our time be esteemed the noblest work of an Englishman.

Greshamsbury Park was very large; it lay on the outside of the angle
formed by the village street, and stretched away on two sides without
apparent limit or boundaries visible from the village road or house.
Indeed, the ground on this side was so broken up into abrupt hills,
and conical-shaped, oak-covered excrescences, which were seen peeping
up through and over each other, that the true extent of the park was
much magnified to the eye. It was very possible for a stranger to get
into it and to find some difficulty in getting out again by any of
its known gates; and such was the beauty of the landscape, that a
lover of scenery would be tempted thus to lose himself.

I have said that on one side lay the kennels, and this will give
me an opportunity of describing here one especial episode, a long
episode, in the life of the existing squire. He had once represented
his county in Parliament, and when he ceased to do so he still felt
an ambition to be connected in some peculiar way with that county's
greatness; he still desired that Gresham of Greshamsbury should be
something more in East Barsetshire than Jackson of the Grange, or
Baker of Mill Hill, or Bateson of Annesgrove. They were all his
friends, and very respectable country gentlemen; but Mr Gresham of
Greshamsbury should be more than this: even he had enough of ambition
to be aware of such a longing. Therefore, when an opportunity
occurred he took to hunting the county.

For this employment he was in every way well suited--unless it was in
the matter of finance. Though he had in his very earliest manly years
given such great offence by indifference to his family politics,
and had in a certain degree fostered the ill-feeling by contesting
the county in opposition to the wishes of his brother squires,
nevertheless, he bore a loved and popular name. Men regretted that he
should not have been what they wished him to be, that he should not
have been such as was the old squire; but when they found that such
was the case, that he could not be great among them as a politician,
they were still willing that he should be great in any other way if
there were county greatness for which he was suited. Now he was known
as an excellent horseman, as a thorough sportsman, as one knowing in
dogs, and tender-hearted as a sucking mother to a litter of young
foxes; he had ridden in the county since he was fifteen, had a fine
voice for a view-hallo, knew every hound by name, and could wind a
horn with sufficient music for all hunting purposes; moreover, he had
come to his property, as was well known through all Barsetshire, with
a clear income of fourteen thousand a year.

Thus, when some old worn-out master of hounds was run to ground,
about a year after Mr Gresham's last contest for the county, it
seemed to all parties to be a pleasant and rational arrangement that
the hounds should go to Greshamsbury. Pleasant, indeed, to all except
the Lady Arabella; and rational, perhaps, to all except the squire
himself.

All this time he was already considerably encumbered. He had spent
much more than he should have done, and so indeed had his wife, in
those two splendid years in which they had figured as great among the
great ones of the earth. Fourteen thousand a year ought to have been
enough to allow a member of Parliament with a young wife and two or
three children to live in London and keep up their country family
mansion; but then the de Courcys were very great people, and Lady
Arabella chose to live as she had been accustomed to do, and as her
sister-in-law the countess lived: now Lord de Courcy had much more
than fourteen thousand a year. Then came the three elections, with
their vast attendant cost, and then those costly expedients to which
gentlemen are forced to have recourse who have lived beyond their
income, and find it impossible so to reduce their establishments as
to live much below it. Thus when the hounds came to Greshamsbury, Mr
Gresham was already a poor man.

Lady Arabella said much to oppose their coming; but Lady Arabella,
though it could hardly be said of her that she was under her
husband's rule, certainly was not entitled to boast that she had him
under hers. She then made her first grand attack as to the furniture
in Portman Square; and was then for the first time specially informed
that the furniture there was not matter of much importance, as she
would not in future be required to move her family to that residence
during the London seasons. The sort of conversations which grew from
such a commencement may be imagined. Had Lady Arabella worried her
lord less, he might perhaps have considered with more coolness the
folly of encountering so prodigious an increase to the expense of his
establishment; had he not spent so much money in a pursuit which his
wife did not enjoy, she might perhaps have been more sparing in her
rebukes as to his indifference to her London pleasures. As it was,
the hounds came to Greshamsbury, and Lady Arabella did go to London
for some period in each year, and the family expenses were by no
means lessened.

The kennels, however, were now again empty. Two years previous to the
time at which our story begins, the hounds had been carried off to
the seat of some richer sportsman. This was more felt by Mr Gresham
than any other misfortune which he had yet incurred. He had been
master of hounds for ten years, and that work he had at any rate done
well. The popularity among his neighbours which he had lost as a
politician he had regained as a sportsman, and he would fain have
remained autocratic in the hunt, had it been possible. But he so
remained much longer than he should have done, and at last they went
away, not without signs and sounds of visible joy on the part of Lady
Arabella.

But we have kept the Greshamsbury tenantry waiting under the
oak-trees by far too long. Yes; when young Frank came of age there
was still enough left at Greshamsbury, still means enough at the
squire's disposal, to light one bonfire, to roast, whole in its skin,
one bullock. Frank's virility came on him not quite unmarked, as
that of the parson's son might do, or the son of the neighbouring
attorney. It could still be reported in the Barsetshire Conservative
_Standard_ that "The beards wagged all" at Greshamsbury, now as they
had done for many centuries on similar festivals. Yes; it was so
reported. But this, like so many other such reports, had but a shadow
of truth in it. "They poured the liquor in," certainly, those who
were there; but the beards did not wag as they had been wont to wag
in former years. Beards won't wag for the telling. The squire was at
his wits' end for money, and the tenants one and all had so heard.
Rents had been raised on them; timber had fallen fast; the lawyer
on the estate was growing rich; tradesmen in Barchester, nay, in
Greshamsbury itself, were beginning to mutter; and the squire himself
would not be merry. Under such circumstances the throats of a
tenantry will still swallow, but their beards will not wag.

"I minds well," said Farmer Oaklerath to his neighbour, "when the
squoire hisself comed of age. Lord love 'ee! There was fun going that
day. There was more yale drank then than's been brewed at the big
house these two years. T'old squoire was a one'er."

"And I minds when squoire was borned; minds it well," said an old
farmer sitting opposite. "Them was the days! It an't that long ago
neither. Squoire a'nt come o' fifty yet; no, nor an't nigh it, though
he looks it. Things be altered at Greemsbury"--such was the rural
pronunciation--"altered sadly, neebor Oaklerath. Well, well; I'll
soon be gone, I will, and so it an't no use talking; but arter paying
one pound fifteen for them acres for more nor fifty year, I didn't
think I'd ever be axed for forty shilling."

Such was the style of conversation which went on at the various
tables. It had certainly been of a very different tone when the
squire was born, when he came of age, and when, just two years
subsequently, his son had been born. On each of these events similar
rural fêtes had been given, and the squire himself had on these
occasions been frequent among his guests. On the first, he had been
carried round by his father, a whole train of ladies and nurses
following. On the second, he had himself mixed in all the sports, the
gayest of the gay, and each tenant had squeezed his way up to the
lawn to get a sight of the Lady Arabella, who, as was already known,
was to come from Courcy Castle to Greshamsbury to be their mistress.
It was little they any of them cared now for the Lady Arabella. On
the third, he himself had borne his child in his arms as his father
had before borne him; he was then in the zenith of his pride, and
though the tenantry whispered that he was somewhat less familiar with
them than of yore, that he had put on somewhat too much of the de
Courcy airs, still he was their squire, their master, the rich man
in whose hand they lay. The old squire was then gone, and they were
proud of the young member and his lady bride in spite of a little
hauteur. None of them were proud of him now.

He walked once round among the guests, and spoke a few words of
welcome at each table; and as he did so the tenants got up and bowed
and wished health to the old squire, happiness to the young one, and
prosperity to Greshamsbury; but, nevertheless, it was but a tame
affair.

There were also other visitors, of the gentle sort, to do honour to
the occasion; but not such swarms, not such a crowd at the mansion
itself and at the houses of the neighbouring gentry as had always
been collected on these former gala doings. Indeed, the party at
Greshamsbury was not a large one, and consisted chiefly of Lady de
Courcy and her suite. Lady Arabella still kept up, as far as she was
able, her close connexion with Courcy Castle. She was there as much
as possible, to which Mr Gresham never objected; and she took her
daughters there whenever she could, though, as regarded the two elder
girls, she was interfered with by Mr Gresham, and not unfrequently by
the girls themselves. Lady Arabella had a pride in her son, though
he was by no means her favourite child. He was, however, the heir of
Greshamsbury, of which fact she was disposed to make the most, and
he was also a fine gainly open-hearted young man, who could not but
be dear to any mother. Lady Arabella did love him dearly, though she
felt a sort of disappointment in regard to him, seeing that he was
not so much like a de Courcy as he should have been. She did love him
dearly; and, therefore, when he came of age she got her sister-in-law
and all the Ladies Amelia, Rosina etc., to come to Greshamsbury; and
she also, with some difficulty, persuaded the Honourable Georges and
the Honourable Johns to be equally condescending. Lord de Courcy
himself was in attendance at the Court--or said that he was--and Lord
Porlock, the eldest son, simply told his aunt when he was invited
that he never bored himself with those sort of things.

Then there were the Bakers, and the Batesons, and the Jacksons, who
all lived near and returned home at night; there was the Reverend
Caleb Oriel, the High-Church rector, with his beautiful sister,
Patience Oriel; there was Mr Yates Umbleby, the attorney and agent;
and there was Dr Thorne, and the doctor's modest, quiet-looking
little niece, Miss Mary.



CHAPTER II

Long, Long Ago


As Dr Thorne is our hero--or I should rather say my hero, a privilege
of selecting for themselves in this respect being left to all my
readers--and as Miss Mary Thorne is to be our heroine, a point on
which no choice whatsoever is left to any one, it is necessary that
they shall be introduced and explained and described in a proper,
formal manner. I quite feel that an apology is due for beginning a
novel with two long dull chapters full of description. I am perfectly
aware of the danger of such a course. In so doing I sin against the
golden rule which requires us all to put our best foot foremost, the
wisdom of which is fully recognised by novelists, myself among the
number. It can hardly be expected that any one will consent to go
through with a fiction that offers so little of allurement in its
first pages; but twist it as I will I cannot do otherwise. I find
that I cannot make poor Mr Gresham hem and haw and turn himself
uneasily in his arm-chair in a natural manner till I have said why
he is uneasy. I cannot bring in my doctor speaking his mind freely
among the bigwigs till I have explained that it is in accordance
with his usual character to do so. This is unartistic on my part,
and shows want of imagination as well as want of skill. Whether or
not I can atone for these faults by straightforward, simple, plain
story-telling--that, indeed, is very doubtful.

Dr Thorne belonged to a family in one sense as good, and at any rate
as old, as that of Mr Gresham; and much older, he was apt to boast,
than that of the de Courcys. This trait in his character is mentioned
first, as it was the weakness for which he was most conspicuous. He
was second cousin to Mr Thorne of Ullathorne, a Barsetshire squire
living in the neighbourhood of Barchester, and who boasted that his
estate had remained in his family, descending from Thorne to Thorne,
longer than had been the case with any other estate or any other
family in the county.

But Dr Thorne was only a second cousin; and, therefore, though he was
entitled to talk of the blood as belonging to some extent to himself,
he had no right to lay claim to any position in the county other than
such as he might win for himself if he chose to locate himself in it.
This was a fact of which no one was more fully aware than our doctor
himself. His father, who had been first cousin of a former Squire
Thorne, had been a clerical dignitary in Barchester, but had been
dead now many years. He had had two sons; one he had educated as a
medical man, but the other, and the younger, whom he had intended
for the Bar, had not betaken himself in any satisfactory way to any
calling. This son had been first rusticated from Oxford, and then
expelled; and thence returning to Barchester, had been the cause to
his father and brother of much suffering.

Old Dr Thorne, the clergyman, died when the two brothers were yet
young men, and left behind him nothing but some household and
other property of the value of about two thousand pounds, which he
bequeathed to Thomas, the elder son, much more than that having been
spent in liquidating debts contracted by the younger. Up to that time
there had been close harmony between the Ullathorne family and that
of the clergyman; but a month or two before the doctor's death--the
period of which we are speaking was about two-and-twenty years before
the commencement of our story--the then Mr Thorne of Ullathorne had
made it understood that he would no longer receive at his house his
cousin Henry, whom he regarded as a disgrace to the family.

Fathers are apt to be more lenient to their sons than uncles to their
nephews, or cousins to each other. Dr Thorne still hoped to reclaim
his black sheep, and thought that the head of his family showed an
unnecessary harshness in putting an obstacle in his way of doing so.
And if the father was warm in support of his profligate son, the
young medical aspirant was warmer in support of his profligate
brother. Dr Thorne, junior, was no roué himself, but perhaps, as a
young man, he had not sufficient abhorrence of his brother's vices.
At any rate, he stuck to him manfully; and when it was signified
in the Close that Henry's company was not considered desirable at
Ullathorne, Dr Thomas Thorne sent word to the squire that under such
circumstances his visits there would also cease.

This was not very prudent, as the young Galen had elected to
establish himself in Barchester, very mainly in expectation of the
help which his Ullathorne connexion would give him. This, however, in
his anger he failed to consider; he was never known, either in early
or in middle life, to consider in his anger those points which were
probably best worth his consideration. This, perhaps, was of the less
moment as his anger was of an unenduring kind, evaporating frequently
with more celerity than he could get the angry words out of his
mouth. With the Ullathorne people, however, he did establish a
quarrel sufficiently permanent to be of vital injury to his medical
prospects.

And then the father died, and the two brothers were left living
together with very little means between them. At this time there
were living, in Barchester, people of the name of Scatcherd. Of that
family, as then existing, we have only to do with two, a brother and
a sister. They were in a low rank of life, the one being a journeyman
stone-mason, and the other an apprentice to a straw-bonnet maker; but
they were, nevertheless, in some sort remarkable people. The sister
was reputed in Barchester to be a model of female beauty of the
strong and robuster cast, and had also a better reputation as being
a girl of good character and honest, womanly conduct. Both of her
beauty and of her reputation her brother was exceedingly proud, and
he was the more so when he learnt that she had been asked in marriage
by a decent master-tradesman in the city.

Roger Scatcherd had also a reputation, but not for beauty or
propriety of conduct. He was known for the best stone-mason in the
four counties, and as the man who could, on occasion, drink the most
alcohol in a given time in the same localities. As a workman, indeed,
he had higher reputate even than this: he was not only a good and
very quick stone-mason, but he had also a capacity for turning other
men into good stone-masons: he had a gift of knowing what a man could
and should do; and, by degrees, he taught himself what five, and ten,
and twenty--latterly, what a thousand and two thousand men might
accomplish among them: this, also, he did with very little aid
from pen and paper, with which he was not, and never became, very
conversant. He had also other gifts and other propensities. He could
talk in a manner dangerous to himself and others; he could persuade
without knowing that he did so; and being himself an extreme
demagogue, in those noisy times just prior to the Reform Bill,
he created a hubbub in Barchester of which he himself had had no
previous conception.

Henry Thorne among his other bad qualities had one which his friends
regarded as worse than all the others, and which perhaps justified
the Ullathorne people in their severity. He loved to consort with
low people. He not only drank--that might have been forgiven--but he
drank in tap-rooms with vulgar drinkers; so said his friends, and so
said his enemies. He denied the charge as being made in the plural
number, and declared that his only low co-reveller was Roger
Scatcherd. With Roger Scatcherd, at any rate, he associated, and
became as democratic as Roger was himself. Now the Thornes of
Ullathorne were of the very highest order of Tory excellence.

Whether or not Mary Scatcherd at once accepted the offer of the
respectable tradesman, I cannot say. After the occurrence of certain
events which must here shortly be told, she declared that she never
had done so. Her brother averred that she most positively had. The
respectable tradesman himself refused to speak on the subject.

It is certain, however, that Scatcherd, who had hitherto been silent
enough about his sister in those social hours which he passed with
his gentleman friend, boasted of the engagement when it was, as he
said, made; and then boasted also of the girl's beauty. Scatcherd, in
spite of his occasional intemperance, looked up in the world, and the
coming marriage of his sister was, he thought, suitable to his own
ambition for his family.

Henry Thorne had already heard of, and already seen, Mary Scatcherd;
but hitherto she had not fallen in the way of his wickedness. Now,
however, when he heard that she was to be decently married, the devil
tempted him to tempt her. It boots not to tell all the tale. It came
out clearly enough when all was told, that he made her most distinct
promises of marriage; he even gave her such in writing; and having
in this way obtained from her her company during some of her little
holidays--her Sundays or summer evenings--he seduced her. Scatcherd
accused him openly of having intoxicated her with drugs; and Thomas
Thorne, who took up the case, ultimately believed the charge. It
became known in Barchester that she was with child, and that the
seducer was Henry Thorne.

Roger Scatcherd, when the news first reached him, filled himself with
drink, and then swore that he would kill them both. With manly wrath,
however, he set forth, first against the man, and that with manly
weapons. He took nothing with him but his fists and a big stick as he
went in search of Henry Thorne.

The two brothers were then lodging together at a farm-house close
abutting on the town. This was not an eligible abode for a medical
practitioner; but the young doctor had not been able to settle
himself eligibly since his father's death; and wishing to put what
constraint he could upon his brother, had so located himself. To this
farm-house came Roger Scatcherd one sultry summer evening, his anger
gleaming from his bloodshot eyes, and his rage heightened to madness
by the rapid pace at which he had run from the city, and by the
ardent spirits which were fermenting within him.

At the very gate of the farm-yard, standing placidly with his
cigar in his mouth, he encountered Henry Thorne. He had thought
of searching for him through the whole premises, of demanding his
victim with loud exclamations, and making his way to him through
all obstacles. In lieu of that, there stood the man before him.

"Well, Roger, what's in the wind?" said Henry Thorne.

They were the last words he ever spoke. He was answered by a blow
from the blackthorn. A contest ensued, which ended in Scatcherd
keeping his word--at any rate, as regarded the worst offender. How
the fatal blow on the temple was struck was never exactly determined:
one medical man said it might have been done in a fight with a
heavy-headed stick; another thought that a stone had been used; a
third suggested a stone-mason's hammer. It seemed, however, to be
proved subsequently that no hammer was taken out, and Scatcherd
himself persisted in declaring that he had taken in his hand no
weapon but the stick. Scatcherd, however, was drunk; and even though
he intended to tell the truth, may have been mistaken. There were,
however, the facts that Thorne was dead; that Scatcherd had sworn
to kill him about an hour previously; and that he had without delay
accomplished his threat. He was arrested and tried for murder; all
the distressing circumstances of the case came out on the trial: he
was found guilty of manslaughter, and sentenced to be imprisoned for
six months. Our readers will probably think that the punishment was
too severe.

Thomas Thorne and the farmer were on the spot soon after Henry Thorne
had fallen. The brother was at first furious for vengeance against
his brother's murderer; but, as the facts came out, as he learnt
what had been the provocation given, what had been the feelings of
Scatcherd when he left the city, determined to punish him who had
ruined his sister, his heart was changed. Those were trying days for
him. It behoved him to do what in him lay to cover his brother's
memory from the obloquy which it deserved; it behoved him also to
save, or to assist to save, from undue punishment the unfortunate man
who had shed his brother's blood; and it behoved him also, at least
so he thought, to look after that poor fallen one whose misfortunes
were less merited than those either of his brother or of hers.

And he was not the man to get through these things lightly, or with
as much ease as he perhaps might conscientiously have done. He would
pay for the defence of the prisoner; he would pay for the defence of
his brother's memory; and he would pay for the poor girl's comforts.
He would do this, and he would allow no one to help him. He stood
alone in the world, and insisted on so standing. Old Mr Thorne
of Ullathorne offered again to open his arms to him; but he had
conceived a foolish idea that his cousin's severity had driven his
brother on to his bad career, and he would consequently accept no
kindness from Ullathorne. Miss Thorne, the old squire's daughter--a
cousin considerably older than himself, to whom he had at one time
been much attached--sent him money; and he returned it to her under a
blank cover. He had still enough for those unhappy purposes which he
had in hand. As to what might happen afterwards, he was then mainly
indifferent.

The affair made much noise in the county, and was inquired into
closely by many of the county magistrates; by none more closely than
by John Newbold Gresham, who was then alive. Mr Gresham was greatly
taken with the energy and justice shown by Dr Thorne on the occasion;
and when the trial was over, he invited him to Greshamsbury. The
visit ended in the doctor establishing himself in that village.

We must return for a moment to Mary Scatcherd. She was saved from the
necessity of encountering her brother's wrath, for that brother was
under arrest for murder before he could get at her. Her immediate
lot, however, was a cruel one. Deep as was her cause for anger
against the man who had so inhumanly used her, still it was natural
that she should turn to him with love rather than with aversion. To
whom else could she in such plight look for love? When, therefore,
she heard that he was slain, her heart sank within her; she turned
her face to the wall, and laid herself down to die: to die a double
death, for herself and the fatherless babe that was now quick within
her.

But, in fact, life had still much to offer, both to her and to her
child. For her it was still destined that she should, in a distant
land, be the worthy wife of a good husband, and the happy mother of
many children. For that embryo one it was destined--but that may not
be so quickly told: to describe her destiny this volume has yet to be
written.

Even in those bitterest days God tempered the wind to the shorn
lamb. Dr Thorne was by her bedside soon after the bloody tidings
had reached her, and did for her more than either her lover or her
brother could have done. When the baby was born, Scatcherd was still
in prison, and had still three months' more confinement to undergo.
The story of her great wrongs and cruel usage was much talked of,
and men said that one who had been so injured should be regarded as
having in nowise sinned at all.

One man, at any rate, so thought. At twilight, one evening, Thorne
was surprised by a visit from a demure Barchester hardware dealer,
whom he did not remember ever to have addressed before. This was the
former lover of poor Mary Scatcherd. He had a proposal to make, and
it was this:--if Mary would consent to leave the country at once, to
leave it without notice from her brother, or talk or éclat on the
matter, he would sell all that he had, marry her, and emigrate.
There was but one condition; she must leave her baby behind her.
The hardware-man could find it in his heart to be generous, to be
generous and true to his love; but he could not be generous enough to
father the seducer's child.

"I could never abide it, sir, if I took it," said he; "and she,--why
in course she would always love it the best."

In praising his generosity, who can mingle any censure for such
manifest prudence? He would still make her the wife of his bosom,
defiled in the eyes of the world as she had been; but she must be
to him the mother of his own children, not the mother of another's
child.

And now again our doctor had a hard task to win through. He saw at
once that it was his duty to use his utmost authority to induce the
poor girl to accept such an offer. She liked the man; and here was
opened to her a course which would have been most desirable, even
before her misfortune. But it is hard to persuade a mother to part
with her first babe; harder, perhaps, when the babe had been so
fathered and so born than when the world has shone brightly on its
earliest hours. She at first refused stoutly: she sent a thousand
loves, a thousand thanks, profusest acknowledgements for his
generosity to the man who showed her that he loved her so well; but
Nature, she said, would not let her leave her child.

"And what will you do for her here, Mary?" said the doctor. Poor Mary
replied to him with a deluge of tears.

"She is my niece," said the doctor, taking up the tiny infant in his
huge hands; "she is already the nearest thing, the only thing that I
have in this world. I am her uncle, Mary. If you will go with this
man I will be father to her and mother to her. Of what bread I eat,
she shall eat; of what cup I drink, she shall drink. See, Mary, here
is the Bible;" and he covered the book with his hand. "Leave her to
me, and by this word she shall be my child."

The mother consented at last; left her baby with the doctor, married,
and went to America. All this was consummated before Roger Scatcherd
was liberated from jail. Some conditions the doctor made. The first
was, that Scatcherd should not know his sister's child was thus
disposed of. Dr Thorne, in undertaking to bring up the baby, did not
choose to encounter any tie with persons who might hereafter claim
to be the girl's relations on the other side. Relations she would
undoubtedly have had none had she been left to live or die as a
workhouse bastard; but should the doctor succeed in life, should he
ultimately be able to make this girl the darling of his own house,
and then the darling of some other house, should she live and win the
heart of some man whom the doctor might delight to call his friend
and nephew; then relations might spring up whose ties would not be
advantageous.

No man plumed himself on good blood more than Dr Thorne; no man had
greater pride in his genealogical tree, and his hundred and thirty
clearly proved descents from MacAdam; no man had a stronger theory
as to the advantage held by men who have grandfathers over those who
have none, or have none worth talking about. Let it not be thought
that our doctor was a perfect character. No, indeed; most far from
perfect. He had within him an inner, stubborn, self-admiring pride,
which made him believe himself to be better and higher than those
around him, and this from some unknown cause which he could hardly
explain to himself. He had a pride in being a poor man of a high
family; he had a pride in repudiating the very family of which he
was proud; and he had a special pride in keeping his pride silently
to himself. His father had been a Thorne, and his mother a Thorold.
There was no better blood to be had in England. It was in the
possession of such properties as these that he condescended to
rejoice; this man, with a man's heart, a man's courage, and a man's
humanity! Other doctors round the county had ditch-water in their
veins; he could boast of a pure ichor, to which that of the great
Omnium family was but a muddy puddle. It was thus that he loved to
excel his brother practitioners, he who might have indulged in the
pride of excelling them both in talent and in energy! We speak now
of his early days; but even in his maturer life, the man, though
mellowed, was the same.

This was the man who now promised to take to his bosom as his own
child a poor bastard whose father was already dead, and whose
mother's family was such as the Scatcherds! It was necessary that
the child's history should be known to none. Except to the mother's
brother it was an object of interest to no one. The mother had for
some short time been talked of; but now the nine-days' wonder was a
wonder no longer. She went off to her far-away home; her husband's
generosity was duly chronicled in the papers, and the babe was left
untalked of and unknown.

It was easy to explain to Scatcherd that the child had not lived.
There was a parting interview between the brother and sister in the
jail, during which, with real tears and unaffected sorrow, the mother
thus accounted for the offspring of her shame. Then she started,
fortunate in her coming fortunes; and the doctor took with him his
charge to the new country in which they were both to live. There he
found for her a fitting home till she should be old enough to sit
at his table and live in his bachelor house; and no one but old Mr
Gresham knew who she was, or whence she had come.

Then Roger Scatcherd, having completed his six months' confinement,
came out of prison.

Roger Scatcherd, though his hands were now red with blood, was to be
pitied. A short time before the days of Henry Thorne's death he had
married a young wife in his own class of life, and had made many
resolves that henceforward his conduct should be such as might become
a married man, and might not disgrace the respectable brother-in-law
he was about to have given him. Such was his condition when he first
heard of his sister's plight. As has been said, he filled himself
with drink and started off on the scent of blood.

During his prison days his wife had to support herself as she might.
The decent articles of furniture which they had put together were
sold; she gave up their little house, and, bowed down by misery, she
also was brought near to death. When he was liberated he at once got
work; but those who have watched the lives of such people know how
hard it is for them to recover lost ground. She became a mother
immediately after his liberation, and when her child was born they
were in direst want; for Scatcherd was again drinking, and his
resolves were blown to the wind.

The doctor was then living at Greshamsbury. He had gone over there
before the day on which he undertook the charge of poor Mary's baby,
and soon found himself settled as the Greshamsbury doctor. This
occurred very soon after the birth of the young heir. His predecessor
in this career had "bettered" himself, or endeavoured to do so, by
seeking the practice of some large town, and Lady Arabella, at a very
critical time, was absolutely left with no other advice than that of
a stranger, picked up, as she declared to Lady de Courcy, somewhere
about Barchester jail, or Barchester court-house, she did not know
which.

Of course Lady Arabella could not suckle the young heir herself.
Ladies Arabella never can. They are gifted with the powers of being
mothers, but not nursing-mothers. Nature gives them bosoms for show,
but not for use. So Lady Arabella had a wet-nurse. At the end of six
months the new doctor found Master Frank was not doing quite so well
as he should do; and after a little trouble it was discovered that
the very excellent young woman who had been sent express from Courcy
Castle to Greshamsbury--a supply being kept up on the lord's demesne
for the family use--was fond of brandy. She was at once sent back to
the castle, of course; and, as Lady de Courcy was too much in dudgeon
to send another, Dr Thorne was allowed to procure one. He thought of
the misery of Roger Scatcherd's wife, thought also of her health,
and strength, and active habits; and thus Mrs Scatcherd became the
foster-mother to young Frank Gresham.

One other episode we must tell of past times. Previous to his
father's death, Dr Thorne was in love. Nor had he altogether sighed
and pleaded in vain; though it had not quite come to that, that the
young lady's friends, or even the young lady herself, had actually
accepted his suit. At that time his name stood well in Barchester.
His father was a prebendary; his cousins and his best friends were
the Thornes of Ullathorne, and the lady, who shall be nameless, was
not thought to be injudicious in listening to the young doctor. But
when Henry Thorne went so far astray, when the old doctor died, when
the young doctor quarrelled with Ullathorne, when the brother was
killed in a disgraceful quarrel, and it turned out that the physician
had nothing but his profession and no settled locality in which to
exercise it; then, indeed, the young lady's friends thought that she
was injudicious, and the young lady herself had not spirit enough, or
love enough, to be disobedient. In those stormy days of the trial she
told Dr Thorne that perhaps it would be wise that they should not see
each other any more.

Dr Thorne, so counselled, at such a moment,--so informed then, when
he most required comfort from his love, at once swore loudly that he
agreed with her. He rushed forth with a bursting heart, and said to
himself that the world was bad, all bad. He saw the lady no more;
and, if I am rightly informed, never again made matrimonial overtures
to any one.



CHAPTER III

Dr Thorne


And thus Dr Thorne became settled for life in the little village of
Greshamsbury. As was then the wont with many country practitioners,
and as should be the wont with them all if they consulted their own
dignity a little less and the comforts of their customers somewhat
more, he added the business of a dispensing apothecary to that of
physician. In doing so, he was of course much reviled. Many people
around him declared that he could not truly be a doctor, or, at any
rate, a doctor to be so called; and his brethren in the art living
around him, though they knew that his diplomas, degrees, and
certificates were all _en règle_, rather countenanced the report.
There was much about this new-comer which did not endear him to his
own profession. In the first place he was a new-comer, and, as such,
was of course to be regarded by other doctors as being _de trop_.
Greshamsbury was only fifteen miles from Barchester, where there was
a regular dépôt of medical skill, and but eight from Silverbridge,
where a properly established physician had been in residence for the
last forty years. Dr Thorne's predecessor at Greshamsbury had been a
humble-minded general practitioner, gifted with a due respect for
the physicians of the county; and he, though he had been allowed to
physic the servants, and sometimes the children of Greshamsbury, had
never had the presumption to put himself on a par with his betters.

Then, also, Dr Thorne, though a graduated physician, though entitled
beyond all dispute to call himself a doctor, according to all the
laws of all the colleges, made it known to the East Barsetshire
world, very soon after he had seated himself at Greshamsbury, that
his rate of pay was to be seven-and-sixpence a visit within a
circuit of five miles, with a proportionally increased charge at
proportionally increased distances. Now there was something low,
mean, unprofessional, and democratic in this; so, at least, said the
children of Æsculapius gathered together in conclave at Barchester.
In the first place, it showed that this Thorne was always thinking
of his money, like an apothecary, as he was; whereas, it would have
behoved him, as a physician, had he had the feelings of a physician
under his hat, to have regarded his own pursuits in a purely
philosophical spirit, and to have taken any gain which might have
accrued as an accidental adjunct to his station in life. A physician
should take his fee without letting his left hand know what his right
hand was doing; it should be taken without a thought, without a look,
without a move of the facial muscles; the true physician should
hardly be aware that the last friendly grasp of the hand had been
made more precious by the touch of gold. Whereas, that fellow Thorne
would lug out half a crown from his breeches pocket and give it in
change for a ten shilling piece. And then it was clear that this man
had no appreciation of the dignity of a learned profession. He might
constantly be seen compounding medicines in the shop, at the left
hand of his front door; not making experiments philosophically in
materia medica for the benefit of coming ages--which, if he did, he
should have done in the seclusion of his study, far from profane
eyes--but positively putting together common powders for rural
bowels, or spreading vulgar ointments for agricultural ailments.

A man of this sort was not fit society for Dr Fillgrave of
Barchester. That must be admitted. And yet he had been found to be
fit society for the old squire of Greshamsbury, whose shoe-ribbons Dr
Fillgrave would not have objected to tie; so high did the old squire
stand in the county just previous to his death. But the spirit of the
Lady Arabella was known by the medical profession of Barsetshire, and
when that good man died it was felt that Thorne's short tenure of
Greshamsbury favour was already over. The Barsetshire regulars were,
however, doomed to disappointment. Our doctor had already contrived
to endear himself to the heir; and though there was not even then
much personal love between him and the Lady Arabella, he kept his
place at the great house unmoved, not only in the nursery and in the
bedrooms, but also at the squire's dining-table.

Now there was in this, it must be admitted, quite enough to make him
unpopular with his brethren; and this feeling was soon shown in a
marked and dignified manner. Dr Fillgrave, who had certainly the
most respectable professional connexion in the county, who had a
reputation to maintain, and who was accustomed to meet, on almost
equal terms, the great medical baronets from the metropolis at the
houses of the nobility--Dr Fillgrave declined to meet Dr Thorne in
consultation. He exceedingly regretted, he said, most exceedingly,
the necessity which he felt of doing so: he had never before had
to perform so painful a duty; but, as a duty which he owed to his
profession, he must perform it. With every feeling of respect for
Lady ----, a sick guest at Greshamsbury--and for Mr Gresham, he must
decline to attend in conjunction with Dr Thorne. If his services
could be made available under any other circumstances, he would go to
Greshamsbury as fast as post-horses could carry him.

Then, indeed, there was war in Barsetshire. If there was on Dr
Thorne's cranium one bump more developed than another, it was that of
combativeness. Not that the doctor was a bully, or even pugnacious,
in the usual sense of the word; he had no disposition to provoke a
fight, no propense love of quarrelling; but there was that in him
which would allow him to yield to no attack. Neither in argument nor
in contest would he ever allow himself to be wrong; never at least to
any one but to himself; and on behalf of his special hobbies, he was
ready to meet the world at large.

It will therefore be understood, that when such a gauntlet was thus
thrown in his very teeth by Dr Fillgrave, he was not slow to take it
up. He addressed a letter to the Barsetshire Conservative _Standard_,
in which he attacked Dr Fillgrave with some considerable acerbity.
Dr Fillgrave responded in four lines, saying that on mature
consideration he had made up his mind not to notice any remarks
that might be made on him by Dr Thorne in the public press. The
Greshamsbury doctor then wrote another letter, more witty and much
more severe than the last; and as this was copied into the Bristol,
Exeter, and Gloucester papers, Dr Fillgrave found it very difficult
to maintain the magnanimity of his reticence. It is sometimes
becoming enough for a man to wrap himself in the dignified toga of
silence, and proclaim himself indifferent to public attacks; but it
is a sort of dignity which it is very difficult to maintain. As well
might a man, when stung to madness by wasps, endeavour to sit in his
chair without moving a muscle, as endure with patience and without
reply the courtesies of a newspaper opponent. Dr Thorne wrote a third
letter, which was too much for medical flesh and blood to bear. Dr
Fillgrave answered it, not, indeed, in his own name, but in that of
a brother doctor; and then the war raged merrily. It is hardly too
much to say that Dr Fillgrave never knew another happy hour. Had he
dreamed of what materials was made that young compounder of doses at
Greshamsbury he would have met him in consultation, morning, noon,
and night, without objection; but having begun the war, he was
constrained to go on with it: his brethren would allow him no
alternative. Thus he was continually being brought up to the fight,
as a prize-fighter may be seen to be, who is carried up round after
round, without any hope on his own part, and who, in each round,
drops to the ground before the very wind of his opponent's blows.

But Dr Fillgrave, though thus weak himself, was backed in practice
and in countenance by nearly all his brethren in the county. The
guinea fee, the principle of _giving_ advice and of selling no
medicine, the great resolve to keep a distinct barrier between
the physician and the apothecary, and, above all, the hatred of
the contamination of a bill, were strong in the medical mind of
Barsetshire. Dr Thorne had the provincial medical world against him,
and so he appealed to the metropolis. The _Lancet_ took the matter up
in his favour, but the _Journal of Medical Science_ was against him;
the _Weekly Chirurgeon_, noted for its medical democracy, upheld him
as a medical prophet, but the _Scalping Knife_, a monthly periodical
got up in dead opposition to the _Lancet_, showed him no mercy. So
the war went on, and our doctor, to a certain extent, became a noted
character.

He had, moreover, other difficulties to encounter in his professional
career. It was something in his favour that he understood his
business; something that he was willing to labour at it with energy;
and resolved to labour at it conscientiously. He had also other
gifts, such as conversational brilliancy, an aptitude for true
good fellowship, firmness in friendship, and general honesty of
disposition, which stood him in stead as he advanced in life. But,
at his first starting, much that belonged to himself personally was
against him. Let him enter what house he would, he entered it with a
conviction, often expressed to himself, that he was equal as a man to
the proprietor, equal as a human being to the proprietress. To age he
would allow deference, and to special recognised talent--at least so
he said; to rank also, he would pay that respect which was its clear
and recognised prerogative; he would let a lord walk out of a room
before him if he did not happen to forget it; in speaking to a duke
he would address him as his Grace; and he would in no way assume a
familiarity with bigger men than himself, allowing to the bigger man
the privilege of making the first advances. But beyond this he would
admit that no man should walk the earth with his head higher than his
own.

He did not talk of these things much; he offended no rank by boasts
of his own equality; he did not absolutely tell the Earl de Courcy in
words, that the privilege of dining at Courcy Castle was to him no
greater than the privilege of dining at Courcy Parsonage; but there
was that in his manner that told it. The feeling in itself was
perhaps good, and was certainly much justified by the manner in which
he bore himself to those below him in rank; but there was folly in
the resolution to run counter to the world's recognised rules on such
matters; and much absurdity in his mode of doing so, seeing that at
heart he was a thorough Conservative. It is hardly too much to say
that he naturally hated a lord at first sight; but, nevertheless, he
would have expended his means, his blood, and spirit, in fighting for
the upper house of Parliament.

Such a disposition, until it was thoroughly understood, did not tend
to ingratiate him with the wives of the country gentlemen among whom
he had to look for practice. And then, also, there was not much in
his individual manner to recommend him to the favour of ladies. He
was brusque, authoritative, given to contradiction, rough though
never dirty in his personal belongings, and inclined to indulge
in a sort of quiet raillery, which sometimes was not thoroughly
understood. People did not always know whether he was laughing
at them or with them; and some people were, perhaps, inclined to
think that a doctor should not laugh at all when called in to act
doctorially.

When he was known, indeed, when the core of the fruit had been
reached, when the huge proportions of that loving trusting heart had
been learned, and understood, and appreciated, when that honesty had
been recognised, that manly, and almost womanly tenderness had been
felt, then, indeed, the doctor was acknowledged to be adequate in his
profession. To trifling ailments he was too often brusque. Seeing
that he accepted money for the cure of such, he should, we may say,
have cured them without an offensive manner. So far he is without
defence. But to real suffering no one found him brusque; no patient
lying painfully on a bed of sickness ever thought him rough.

Another misfortune was, that he was a bachelor. Ladies think, and
I, for one, think that ladies are quite right in so thinking, that
doctors should be married men. All the world feels that a man when
married acquires some of the attributes of an old woman--he becomes,
to a certain extent, a motherly sort of being; he acquires a
conversance with women's ways and women's wants, and loses the wilder
and offensive sparks of his virility. It must be easier to talk to
such a one about Matilda's stomach, and the growing pains in Fanny's
legs, than to a young bachelor. This impediment also stood much in Dr
Thorne's way during his first years at Greshamsbury.

But his wants were not at first great; and though his ambition was
perhaps high, it was not of an impatient nature. The world was his
oyster; but, circumstanced as he was, he knew that it was not for him
to open it with his lancet all at once. He had bread to earn, which
he must earn wearily; he had a character to make, which must come
slowly; it satisfied his soul that, in addition to his immortal
hopes, he had a possible future in this world to which he could look
forward with clear eyes, and advance with a heart that would know no
fainting.

On his first arrival at Greshamsbury he had been put by the squire
into a house, which he still occupied when that squire's grandson
came of age. There were two decent, commodious, private houses in the
village--always excepting the rectory, which stood grandly in its own
grounds, and, therefore, was considered as ranking above the village
residences--of these two Dr Thorne had the smaller. They stood
exactly at the angle before described, on the outer side of it, and
at right angles to each other. They both possessed good stables and
ample gardens; and it may be as well to specify, that Mr Umbleby, the
agent and lawyer to the estate, occupied the larger one.

Here Dr Thorne lived for eleven or twelve years, all alone; and
then for ten or eleven more with his niece, Mary Thorne. Mary was
thirteen when she came to take up permanent abode as mistress of the
establishment--or, at any rate, to act as the only mistress which the
establishment possessed. This advent greatly changed the tenor of
the doctor's ways. He had been before pure bachelor; not a room in
his house had been comfortably furnished; he at first commenced in a
makeshift sort of way, because he had not at his command the means of
commencing otherwise; and he had gone on in the same fashion, because
the exact time had never come at which it was imperative in him to
set his house in order. He had had no fixed hour for his meals, no
fixed place for his books, no fixed wardrobe for his clothes. He had
a few bottles of good wine in his cellar, and occasionally asked a
brother bachelor to take a chop with him; but beyond this he had
touched very little on the cares of housekeeping. A slop-bowl full of
strong tea, together with bread, and butter, and eggs, was produced
for him in the morning, and he expected that at whatever hour he
might arrive in the evening, some food should be presented to him
wherewith to satisfy the cravings of nature; if, in addition to this,
he had another slop-bowl of tea in the evening, he got all that he
ever required, or all, at least, that he ever demanded.

But when Mary came, or rather, when she was about to come, things
were altogether changed at the doctor's. People had hitherto
wondered--and especially Mrs Umbleby--how a gentleman like Dr Thorne
could continue to live in so slovenly a manner; and how people again
wondered, and again especially Mrs Umbleby, how the doctor could
possibly think it necessary to put such a lot of furniture into a
house because a little chit of a girl of twelve years of age was
coming to live with him.

Mrs Umbleby had great scope for her wonder. The doctor made a
thorough revolution in his household, and furnished his house from
the ground to the roof completely. He painted--for the first time
since the commencement of his tenancy--he papered, he carpeted, and
curtained, and mirrored, and linened, and blanketed, as though a Mrs
Thorne with a good fortune were coming home to-morrow; and all for a
girl of twelve years old. "And how," said Mrs Umbleby, to her friend
Miss Gushing, "how did he find out what to buy?" as though the doctor
had been brought up like a wild beast, ignorant of the nature of
tables and chairs, and with no more developed ideas of drawing-room
drapery than an hippopotamus.

To the utter amazement of Mrs Umbleby and Miss Gushing, the doctor
did it all very well. He said nothing about it to any one--he never
did say much about such things--but he furnished his house well and
discreetly; and when Mary Thorne came home from her school at Bath,
to which she had been taken some six years previously, she found
herself called upon to be the presiding genius of a perfect paradise.

It has been said that the doctor had managed to endear himself to the
new squire before the old squire's death, and that, therefore, the
change at Greshamsbury had had no professional ill effects upon him.
Such was the case at the time; but, nevertheless, all did not go
smoothly in the Greshamsbury medical department. There was six or
seven years' difference in age between Mr Gresham and the doctor,
and, moreover, Mr Gresham was young for his age, and the doctor old;
but, nevertheless, there was a very close attachment between them
early in life. This was never thoroughly sundered, and, backed by
this, the doctor did maintain himself for some years before the
fire of Lady Arabella's artillery. But drops falling, if they fall
constantly, will bore through a stone.

Dr Thorne's pretensions, mixed with his subversive professional
democratic tendencies, his seven-and-sixpenny visits, added to his
utter disregard of Lady Arabella's airs, were too much for her
spirit. He brought Frank through his first troubles, and that at
first ingratiated her; he was equally successful with the early
dietary of Augusta and Beatrice; but, as his success was obtained
in direct opposition to the Courcy Castle nursery principles, this
hardly did much in his favour. When the third daughter was born,
he at once declared that she was a very weakly flower, and sternly
forbade the mother to go to London. The mother, loving her babe,
obeyed; but did not the less hate the doctor for the order, which
she firmly believed was given at the instance and express dictation
of Mr Gresham. Then another little girl came into the world, and the
doctor was more imperative than ever as to the nursery rules and the
excellence of country air. Quarrels were thus engendered, and Lady
Arabella was taught to believe that this doctor of her husband's
was after all no Solomon. In her husband's absence she sent for Dr
Fillgrave, giving very express intimation that he would not have to
wound either his eyes or dignity by encountering his enemy; and she
found Dr Fillgrave a great comfort to her.

Then Dr Thorne gave Mr Gresham to understand that, under such
circumstances, he could not visit professionally at Greshamsbury
any longer. The poor squire saw there was no help for it, and though
he still maintained his friendly connexion with his neighbour,
the seven-and-sixpenny visits were at an end. Dr Fillgrave from
Barchester, and the gentleman at Silverbridge, divided the
responsibility between them, and the nursery principles of Courcy
Castle were again in vogue at Greshamsbury.

So things went on for years, and those years were years of sorrow.
We must not ascribe to our doctor's enemies the sufferings, and
sickness, and deaths that occurred. The four frail little ones that
died would probably have been taken had Lady Arabella been more
tolerant of Dr Thorne. But the fact was, that they did die; and that
the mother's heart then got the better of the woman's pride, and Lady
Arabella humbled herself before Dr Thorne. She humbled herself, or
would have done so, had the doctor permitted her. But he, with his
eyes full of tears, stopped the utterance of her apology, took her
two hands in his, pressed them warmly, and assured her that his joy
in returning would be great, for the love that he bore to all that
belonged to Greshamsbury. And so the seven-and-sixpenny visits were
recommenced; and the great triumph of Dr Fillgrave came to an end.

Great was the joy in the Greshamsbury nursery when the second change
took place. Among the doctor's attributes, not hitherto mentioned,
was an aptitude for the society of children. He delighted to talk to
children, and to play with them. He would carry them on his back,
three or four at a time, roll with them on the ground, race with
them in the garden, invent games for them, contrive amusements in
circumstances which seemed quite adverse to all manner of delight;
and, above all, his physic was not nearly so nasty as that which came
from Silverbridge.

He had a great theory as to the happiness of children; and though
he was not disposed altogether to throw over the precepts of
Solomon--always bargaining that he should, under no circumstances,
be himself the executioner--he argued that the principal duty which
a parent owed to a child was to make him happy. Not only was the man
to be made happy--the future man, if that might be possible--but the
existing boy was to be treated with equal favour; and his happiness,
so said the doctor, was of much easier attainment.

"Why struggle after future advantage at the expense of present pain,
seeing that the results were so very doubtful?" Many an opponent of
the doctor had thought to catch him on the hip when so singular a
doctrine was broached; but they were not always successful. "What!"
said his sensible enemies, "is Johnny not to be taught to read
because he does not like it?" "Johnny must read by all means," would
the doctor answer; "but is it necessary that he should not like it?
If the preceptor have it in him, may not Johnny learn, not only to
read, but to like to learn to read?"

"But," would say his enemies, "children must be controlled." "And so
must men also," would say the doctor. "I must not steal your peaches,
nor make love to your wife, nor libel your character. Much as I
might wish through my natural depravity to indulge in such vices,
I am debarred from them without pain, and I may almost say without
unhappiness."

And so the argument went on, neither party convincing the other. But,
in the meantime, the children of the neighbourhood became very fond
of Dr Thorne.

Dr Thorne and the squire were still fast friends, but circumstances
had occurred, spreading themselves now over a period of many years,
which almost made the poor squire uneasy in the doctor's company. Mr
Gresham owed a large sum of money, and he had, moreover, already sold
a portion of his property. Unfortunately it had been the pride of the
Greshams that their acres had descended from one to another without
an entail, so that each possessor of Greshamsbury had had the full
power to dispose of the property as he pleased. Any doubt as to
its going to the male heir had never hitherto been felt. It had
occasionally been encumbered by charges for younger children; but
these charges had been liquidated, and the property had come down
without any burden to the present squire. Now a portion of this had
been sold, and it had been sold to a certain degree through the
agency of Dr Thorne.

This made the squire an unhappy man. No man loved his family name and
honour, his old family blazon and standing more thoroughly than he
did; he was every whit a Gresham at heart; but his spirit had been
weaker than that of his forefathers; and, in his days, for the first
time, the Greshams were to go to the wall! Ten years before the
beginning of our story it had been necessary to raise a large sum of
money to meet and pay off pressing liabilities, and it was found that
this could be done with more material advantage by selling a portion
of the property than in any other way. A portion of it, about a third
of the whole in value, was accordingly sold.

Boxall Hill lay half-way between Greshamsbury and Barchester, and was
known as having the best partridge shooting in the county; as having
on it also a celebrated fox cover, Boxall Gorse, held in very high
repute by Barsetshire sportsmen. There was no residence on the
immediate estate, and it was altogether divided from the remainder of
the Greshamsbury property. This, with many inward and outward groans,
Mr Gresham permitted to be sold.

It was sold, and sold well, by private contract to a native of
Barchester, who, having risen from the world's ranks, had made for
himself great wealth. Somewhat of this man's character must hereafter
be told; it will suffice to say that he relied for advice in money
matters upon Dr Thorne, and that at Dr Thorne's suggestion he had
purchased Boxall Hill, partridge-shooting and gorse cover all
included. He had not only bought Boxall Hill, but had subsequently
lent the squire large sums of money on mortgage, in all which
transactions the doctor had taken part. It had therefore come to pass
that Mr Gresham was not unfrequently called upon to discuss his money
affairs with Dr Thorne, and occasionally to submit to lectures and
advice which might perhaps as well have been omitted.

So much for Dr Thorne. A few words must still be said about Miss Mary
before we rush into our story; the crust will then have been broken,
and the pie will be open to the guests. Little Miss Mary was kept at
a farm-house till she was six; she was then sent to school at Bath,
and transplanted to the doctor's newly furnished house a little more
than six years after that. It must not be supposed that he had lost
sight of his charge during her earlier years. He was much too well
aware of the nature of the promise which he had made to the departing
mother to do that. He had constantly visited his little niece, and
long before the first twelve years of her life were over had lost all
consciousness of his promise, and of his duty to the mother, in the
stronger ties of downright personal love for the only creature that
belonged to him.

When Mary came home the doctor was like a child in his glee. He
prepared surprises for her with as much forethought and trouble as
though he were contriving mines to blow up an enemy. He took her
first into the shop, and then into the kitchen, thence to the
dining-rooms, after that to his and her bedrooms, and so on till
he came to the full glory of the new drawing-room, enhancing the
pleasure by little jokes, and telling her that he should never dare
to come into the last paradise without her permission, and not then
till he had taken off his boots. Child as she was, she understood the
joke, and carried it on like a little queen; and so they soon became
the firmest of friends.

But though Mary was a queen, it was still necessary that she should
be educated. Those were the earlier days in which Lady Arabella had
humbled herself, and to show her humility she invited Mary to share
the music-lessons of Augusta and Beatrice at the great house. A
music-master from Barchester came over three times a week, and
remained for three hours, and if the doctor chose to send his girl
over, she could pick up what was going on without doing any harm.
So said the Lady Arabella. The doctor with many thanks and with no
hesitation, accepted the offer, merely adding, that he had perhaps
better settle separately with Signor Cantabili, the music-master. He
was very much obliged to Lady Arabella for giving his little girl
permission to join her lessons to those of the Miss Greshams.

It need hardly be said that the Lady Arabella was on fire at once.
Settle with Signor Cantabili! No, indeed; she would do that; there
must be no expense whatever incurred in such an arrangement on Miss
Thorne's account! But here, as in most things, the doctor carried his
point. It being the time of the lady's humility, she could not make
as good a fight as she would otherwise have done; and thus she
found, to her great disgust, that Mary Thorne was learning music in
her schoolroom on equal terms, as regarded payment, with her own
daughters. The arrangement having been made could not be broken,
especially as the young lady in nowise made herself disagreeable; and
more especially as the Miss Greshams themselves were very fond of
her.

And so Mary Thorne learnt music at Greshamsbury, and with her music
she learnt other things also; how to behave herself among girls of
her own age; how to speak and talk as other young ladies do; how to
dress herself, and how to move and walk. All which, she, being quick
to learn, learnt without trouble at the great house. Something also
she learnt of French, seeing that the Greshamsbury French governess
was always in the room.

And then, some few years later, there came a rector, and a rector's
sister; and with the latter Mary studied German, and French also.
From the doctor himself she learnt much; the choice, namely, of
English books for her own reading, and habits of thought somewhat
akin to his own, though modified by the feminine softness of her
individual mind.

And so Mary Thorne grew up and was educated. Of her personal
appearance it certainly is my business as an author to say something.
She is my heroine, and, as such, must necessarily be very beautiful;
but, in truth, her mind and inner qualities are more clearly distinct
to my brain than her outward form and features. I know that she was
far from being tall, and far from being showy; that her feet and
hands were small and delicate; that her eyes were bright when looked
at, but not brilliant so as to make their brilliancy palpably
visible to all around her; her hair was dark brown, and worn very
plainly brushed from her forehead; her lips were thin, and her
mouth, perhaps, in general inexpressive, but when she was eager in
conversation it would show itself to be animated with curves of
wondrous energy; and, quiet as she was in manner, sober and demure as
was her usual settled appearance, she could talk, when the fit came
on her, with an energy which in truth surprised those who did not
know her; aye, and sometimes those who did. Energy! nay, it was
occasionally a concentration of passion, which left her for the
moment perfectly unconscious of all other cares but solicitude for
that subject which she might then be advocating.

All her friends, including the doctor, had at times been made unhappy
by this vehemence of character; but yet it was to that very vehemence
that she owed it that all her friends so loved her. It had once
nearly banished her in early years from the Greshamsbury schoolroom;
and yet it ended in making her claim to remain there so strong, that
Lady Arabella could no longer oppose it, even when she had the wish
to do so.

A new French governess had lately come to Greshamsbury, and was, or
was to be, a great pet with Lady Arabella, having all the great gifts
with which a governess can be endowed, and being also a protégée
from the castle. The castle, in Greshamsbury parlance, always meant
that of Courcy. Soon after this a valued little locket belonging to
Augusta Gresham was missing. The French governess had objected to its
being worn in the schoolroom, and it had been sent up to the bedroom
by a young servant-girl, the daughter of a small farmer on the
estate. The locket was missing, and after a while, a considerable
noise in the matter having been made, was found, by the diligence of
the governess, somewhere among the belongings of the English servant.
Great was the anger of Lady Arabella, loud were the protestations
of the girl, mute the woe of her father, piteous the tears of her
mother, inexorable the judgment of the Greshamsbury world. But
something occurred, it matters now not what, to separate Mary Thorne
in opinion from that world at large. Out she then spoke, and to her
face accused the governess of the robbery. For two days Mary was in
disgrace almost as deep as that of the farmer's daughter. But she was
neither quiet nor dumb in her disgrace. When Lady Arabella would not
hear her, she went to Mr Gresham. She forced her uncle to move in the
matter. She gained over to her side, one by one, the potentates of
the parish, and ended by bringing Mam'selle Larron down on her knees
with a confession of the facts. From that time Mary Thorne was dear
to the tenantry of Greshamsbury; and specially dear at one small
household, where a rough-spoken father of a family was often heard to
declare, that for Miss Mary Thorne he'd face man or magistrate, duke
or devil.

And so Mary Thorne grew up under the doctor's eye, and at the
beginning of our tale she was one of the guests assembled at
Greshamsbury on the coming of age of the heir, she herself having
then arrived at the same period of her life.



CHAPTER IV

Lessons from Courcy Castle


It was the first of July, young Frank Gresham's birthday, and the
London season was not yet over; nevertheless, Lady de Courcy had
managed to get down into the country to grace the coming of age
of the heir, bringing with her all the Ladies Amelia, Rosina,
Margaretta, and Alexandrina, together with such of the Honourable
Johns and Georges as could be collected for the occasion.

The Lady Arabella had contrived this year to spend ten weeks in town,
which, by a little stretching, she made to pass for the season; and
had managed, moreover, at last to refurnish, not ingloriously, the
Portman Square drawing-room. She had gone up to London under the
pretext, imperatively urged, of Augusta's teeth--young ladies' teeth
are not unfrequently of value in this way;--and having received
authority for a new carpet, which was really much wanted, had made
such dexterous use of that sanction as to run up an upholsterer's
bill of six or seven hundred pounds. She had of course had her
carriage and horses; the girls of course had gone out; it had been
positively necessary to have a few friends in Portman Square;
and, altogether, the ten weeks had not been unpleasant, and not
inexpensive.

For a few confidential minutes before dinner, Lady de Courcy and her
sister-in-law sat together in the latter's dressing-room, discussing
the unreasonableness of the squire, who had expressed himself with
more than ordinary bitterness as to the folly--he had probably used
some stronger word--of these London proceedings.

"Heavens!" said the countess, with much eager animation; "what can
the man expect? What does he wish you to do?"

"He would like to sell the house in London, and bury us all here for
ever. Mind, I was there only for ten weeks."

"Barely time for the girls to get their teeth properly looked at! But
Arabella, what does he say?" Lady de Courcy was very anxious to learn
the exact truth of the matter, and ascertain, if she could, whether
Mr Gresham was really as poor as he pretended to be.

"Why, he said yesterday that he would have no more going to town at
all; that he was barely able to pay the claims made on him, and keep
up the house here, and that he would not--"

"Would not what?" asked the countess.

"Why, he said that he would not utterly ruin poor Frank."

"Ruin Frank!"

"That's what he said."

"But, surely, Arabella, it is not so bad as that? What possible
reason can there be for him to be in debt?"

"He is always talking of those elections."

"But, my dear, Boxall Hill paid all that off. Of course Frank will
not have such an income as there was when you married into the
family; we all know that. And whom will he have to thank but his
father? But Boxall Hill paid all those debts, and why should there be
any difficulty now?"

"It was those nasty dogs, Rosina," said the Lady Arabella, almost in
tears.

"Well, I for one never approved of the hounds coming to Greshamsbury.
When a man has once involved his property he should not incur any
expenses that are not absolutely necessary. That is a golden rule
which Mr Gresham ought to have remembered. Indeed, I put it to him
nearly in those very words; but Mr Gresham never did, and never will
receive with common civility anything that comes from me."

"I know, Rosina, he never did; and yet where would he have been
but for the de Courcys?" So exclaimed, in her gratitude, the Lady
Arabella; to speak the truth, however, but for the de Courcys, Mr
Gresham might have been at this moment on the top of Boxall Hill,
monarch of all he surveyed.

"As I was saying," continued the countess, "I never approved of the
hounds coming to Greshamsbury; but yet, my dear, the hounds can't
have eaten up everything. A man with ten thousand a year ought to be
able to keep hounds; particularly as he had a subscription."

"He says the subscription was little or nothing."

"That's nonsense, my dear. Now, Arabella, what does he do with his
money? That's the question. Does he gamble?"

"Well," said Lady Arabella, very slowly, "I don't think he does." If
the squire did gamble he must have done it very slyly, for he rarely
went away from Greshamsbury, and certainly very few men looking like
gamblers were in the habit of coming thither as guests. "I don't
think he does gamble." Lady Arabella put her emphasis on the word
gamble, as though her husband, if he might perhaps be charitably
acquitted of that vice, was certainly guilty of every other known in
the civilised world.

"I know he used," said Lady de Courcy, looking very wise, and rather
suspicious. She certainly had sufficient domestic reasons for
disliking the propensity; "I know he used; and when a man begins, he
is hardly ever cured."

"Well, if he does, I don't know it," said the Lady Arabella.

"The money, my dear, must go somewhere. What excuse does he give when
you tell him you want this and that--all the common necessaries of
life, that you have always been used to?"

"He gives no excuse; sometimes he says the family is so large."

"Nonsense! Girls cost nothing; there's only Frank, and he can't have
cost anything yet. Can he be saving money to buy back Boxall Hill?"

"Oh no!" said the Lady Arabella, quickly. "He is not saving anything;
he never did, and never will save, though he is so stingy to me. He
_is_ hard pushed for money, I know that."

"Then where has it gone?" said the Countess de Courcy, with a look of
stern decision.

"Heaven only knows! Now, Augusta is to be married. I must of course
have a few hundred pounds. You should have heard how he groaned when
I asked him for it. Heaven only knows where the money goes!" And the
injured wife wiped a piteous tear from her eye with her fine dress
cambric handkerchief. "I have all the sufferings and privations of
a poor man's wife, but I have none of the consolations. He has no
confidence in me; he never tells me anything; he never talks to
me about his affairs. If he talks to any one it is to that horrid
doctor."

"What, Dr Thorne?" Now the Countess de Courcy hated Dr Thorne with a
holy hatred.

"Yes; Dr Thorne. I believe that he knows everything; and advises
everything, too. Whatever difficulties poor Gresham may have, I do
believe Dr Thorne has brought them about. I do believe it, Rosina."

"Well, that is surprising. Mr Gresham, with all his faults, is
a gentleman; and how he can talk about his affairs with a low
apothecary like that, I, for one, cannot imagine. Lord de Courcy has
not always been to me all that he should have been; far from it." And
Lady de Courcy thought over in her mind injuries of a much graver
description than any that her sister-in-law had ever suffered; "but I
have never known anything like that at Courcy Castle. Surely Umbleby
knows all about it, doesn't he?"

"Not half so much as the doctor," said Lady Arabella.

The countess shook her head slowly; the idea of Mr Gresham, a country
gentleman of good estate like him, making a confidant of a country
doctor was too great a shock for her nerves; and for a while she was
constrained to sit silent before she could recover herself.

"One thing at any rate is certain, Arabella," said the countess,
as soon as she found herself again sufficiently composed to offer
counsel in a properly dictatorial manner. "One thing at any rate is
certain; if Mr Gresham be involved so deeply as you say, Frank has
but one duty before him. He must marry money. The heir of fourteen
thousand a year may indulge himself in looking for blood, as Mr
Gresham did, my dear"--it must be understood that there was very
little compliment in this, as the Lady Arabella had always conceived
herself to be a beauty--"or for beauty, as some men do," continued
the countess, thinking of the choice that the present Earl de Courcy
had made; "but Frank must marry money. I hope he will understand this
early; do make him understand this before he makes a fool of himself;
when a man thoroughly understands this, when he knows what his
circumstances require, why, the matter becomes easy to him. I hope
that Frank understands that he has no alternative. In his position he
must marry money."

But, alas! alas! Frank Gresham had already made a fool of himself.

"Well, my boy, I wish you joy with all my heart," said the Honourable
John, slapping his cousin on the back, as he walked round to the
stable-yard with him before dinner, to inspect a setter puppy of
peculiarly fine breed which had been sent to Frank as a birthday
present. "I wish I were an elder son; but we can't all have that
luck."

"Who wouldn't sooner be the younger son of an earl than the eldest
son of a plain squire?" said Frank, wishing to say something civil in
return for his cousin's civility.

"I wouldn't for one," said the Honourable John. "What chance have I?
There's Porlock as strong as a horse; and then George comes next. And
the governor's good for these twenty years." And the young man sighed
as he reflected what small hope there was that all those who were
nearest and dearest to him should die out of his way, and leave him
to the sweet enjoyment of an earl's coronet and fortune. "Now, you're
sure of your game some day; and as you've no brothers, I suppose the
squire'll let you do pretty well what you like. Besides, he's not so
strong as my governor, though he's younger."

Frank had never looked at his fortune in this light before, and was
so slow and green that he was not much delighted at the prospect now
that it was offered to him. He had always, however, been taught to
look to his cousins, the de Courcys, as men with whom it would be
very expedient that he should be intimate; he therefore showed no
offence, but changed the conversation.

"Shall you hunt with the Barsetshire this season, John? I hope you
will; I shall."

"Well, I don't know. It's very slow. It's all tillage here, or else
woodland. I rather fancy I shall go to Leicestershire when the
partridge-shooting is over. What sort of a lot do you mean to come
out with, Frank?"

Frank became a little red as he answered, "Oh, I shall have two," he
said; "that is, the mare I have had these two years, and the horse my
father gave me this morning."

"What! only those two? and the mare is nothing more than a pony."

"She is fifteen hands," said Frank, offended.

"Well, Frank, I certainly would not stand that," said the Honourable
John. "What, go out before the county with one untrained horse and a
pony; and you the heir to Greshamsbury!"

"I'll have him so trained before November," said Frank, "that
nothing in Barsetshire shall stop him. Peter says"--Peter was
the Greshamsbury stud-groom--"that he tucks up his hind legs
beautifully."

"But who the deuce would think of going to work with one horse; or
two either, if you insist on calling the old pony a huntress? I'll
put you up to a trick, my lad: if you stand that you'll stand
anything; and if you don't mean to go in leading-strings all your
life, now is the time to show it. There's young Baker--Harry Baker,
you know--he came of age last year, and he has as pretty a string of
nags as any one would wish to set eyes on; four hunters and a hack.
Now, if old Baker has four thousand a year it's every shilling he has
got."

This was true, and Frank Gresham, who in the morning had been made so
happy by his father's present of a horse, began to feel that hardly
enough had been done for him. It was true that Mr Baker had only four
thousand a year; but it was also true that he had no other child than
Harry Baker; that he had no great establishment to keep up; that he
owed a shilling to no one; and, also, that he was a great fool in
encouraging a mere boy to ape all the caprices of a man of wealth.
Nevertheless, for a moment, Frank Gresham did feel that, considering
his position, he was being treated rather unworthily.

"Take the matter in your own hands, Frank," said the Honourable John,
seeing the impression that he had made. "Of course the governor knows
very well that you won't put up with such a stable as that. Lord
bless you! I have heard that when he married my aunt, and that was
when he was about your age, he had the best stud in the whole county;
and then he was in Parliament before he was three-and-twenty."

"His father, you know, died when he was very young," said Frank.

"Yes; I know he had a stroke of luck that doesn't fall to everyone;
but--"

Young Frank's face grew dark now instead of red. When his cousin
submitted to him the necessity of having more than two horses for
his own use he could listen to him; but when the same monitor talked
of the chance of a father's death as a stroke of luck, Frank was
too much disgusted to be able to pretend to pass it over with
indifference. What! was he thus to think of his father, whose face
was always lighted up with pleasure when his boy came near to him,
and so rarely bright at any other time? Frank had watched his father
closely enough to be aware of this; he knew how his father delighted
in him; he had had cause to guess that his father had many troubles,
and that he strove hard to banish the memory of them when his son was
with him. He loved his father truly, purely, and thoroughly, liked to
be with him, and would be proud to be his confidant. Could he then
listen quietly while his cousin spoke of the chance of his father's
death as a stroke of luck?

"I shouldn't think it a stroke of luck, John. I should think it the
greatest misfortune in the world."

It is so difficult for a young man to enumerate sententiously a
principle of morality, or even an expression of ordinary good
feeling, without giving himself something of a ridiculous air,
without assuming something of a mock grandeur!

"Oh, of course, my dear fellow," said the Honourable John, laughing;
"that's a matter of course. We all understand that without saying it.
Porlock, of course, would feel exactly the same about the governor;
but if the governor were to walk, I think Porlock would console
himself with the thirty thousand a year."

"I don't know what Porlock would do; he's always quarrelling with my
uncle, I know. I only spoke of myself; I never quarrelled with my
father, and I hope I never shall."

"All right, my lad of wax, all right. I dare say you won't be tried;
but if you are, you'll find before six months are over, that it's a
very nice thing to master of Greshamsbury."

"I'm sure I shouldn't find anything of the kind."

"Very well, so be it. You wouldn't do as young Hatherly did, at
Hatherly Court, in Gloucestershire, when his father kicked the
bucket. You know Hatherly, don't you?"

"No; I never saw him."

"He's Sir Frederick now, and has, or had, one of the finest fortunes
in England, for a commoner; the most of it is gone now. Well, when he
heard of his governor's death, he was in Paris, but he went off to
Hatherly as fast as special train and post-horses would carry him,
and got there just in time for the funeral. As he came back to
Hatherly Court from the church, they were putting up the hatchment
over the door, and Master Fred saw that the undertakers had put at
the bottom 'Resurgam.' You know what that means?"

"Oh, yes," said Frank.

"'I'll come back again,'" said the Honourable John, construing the
Latin for the benefit of his cousin. "'No,' said Fred Hatherly,
looking up at the hatchment; 'I'm blessed if you do, old gentleman.
That would be too much of a joke; I'll take care of that.' So he
got up at night, and he got some fellows with him, and they climbed
up and painted out 'Resurgam,' and they painted into its place,
'Requiescat in pace;' which means, you know, 'you'd a great deal
better stay where you are.' Now I call that good. Fred Hatherly did
that as sure as--as sure as--as sure as anything."

Frank could not help laughing at the story, especially at his
cousin's mode of translating the undertaker's mottoes; and then they
sauntered back from the stables into the house to dress for dinner.

Dr Thorne had come to the house somewhat before dinner-time, at Mr
Gresham's request, and was now sitting with the squire in his own
book-room--so called--while Mary was talking to some of the girls
upstairs.

"I must have ten or twelve thousand pounds; ten at the very least,"
said the squire, who was sitting in his usual arm-chair, close to his
littered table, with his head supported on his hand, looking very
unlike the father of an heir of a noble property, who had that day
come of age.

It was the first of July, and of course there was no fire in the
grate; but, nevertheless, the doctor was standing with his back to
the fireplace, with his coat-tails over his arms, as though he were
engaged, now in summer as he so often was in winter, in talking, and
roasting his hinder person at the same time.

"Twelve thousand pounds! It's a very large sum of money."

"I said ten," said the squire.

"Ten thousand pounds is a very large sum of money. There is no doubt
he'll let you have it. Scatcherd will let you have it; but I know
he'll expect to have the title deeds."

"What! for ten thousand pounds?" said the squire. "There is not a
registered debt against the property but his own and Armstrong's."

"But his own is very large already."

"Armstrong's is nothing; about four-and-twenty thousand pounds."

"Yes; but he comes first, Mr Gresham."

"Well, what of that? To hear you talk, one would think that there was
nothing left of Greshamsbury. What's four-and-twenty thousand pounds?
Does Scatcherd know what rent-roll is?"

"Oh, yes, he knows it well enough: I wish he did not."

"Well, then, why does he make such a bother about a few thousand
pounds? The title-deeds, indeed!"

"What he means is, that he must have ample security to cover what he
has already advanced before he goes on. I wish to goodness you had
no further need to borrow. I did think that things were settled last
year."

"Oh if there's any difficulty, Umbleby will get it for me."

"Yes; and what will you have to pay for it?"

"I'd sooner pay double than be talked to in this way," said the
squire, angrily, and, as he spoke, he got up hurriedly from his
chair, thrust his hands into his trousers-pockets, walked quickly to
the window, and immediately walking back again, threw himself once
more into his chair.

"There are some things a man cannot bear, doctor," said he, beating
the devil's tattoo on the floor with one of his feet, "though God
knows I ought to be patient now, for I am made to bear a good many
things. You had better tell Scatcherd that I am obliged to him for
his offer, but that I will not trouble him."

The doctor during this little outburst had stood quite silent with
his back to the fireplace and his coat-tails hanging over his arms;
but though his voice said nothing, his face said much. He was very
unhappy; he was greatly grieved to find that the squire was so soon
again in want of money, and greatly grieved also to find that this
want had made him so bitter and unjust. Mr Gresham had attacked him;
but as he was determined not to quarrel with Mr Gresham, he refrained
from answering.

The squire also remained silent for a few minutes; but he was not
endowed with the gift of silence, and was soon, as it were, compelled
to speak again.

"Poor Frank!" said he. "I could yet be easy about everything if it
were not for the injury I have done him. Poor Frank!"

The doctor advanced a few paces from off the rug, and taking his hand
out of his pocket, he laid it gently on the squire's shoulder. "Frank
will do very well yet," said the he. "It is not absolutely necessary
that a man should have fourteen thousand pounds a year to be happy."

"My father left me the property entire, and I should leave it entire
to my son;--but you don't understand this."

The doctor did understand the feeling fully. The fact, on the other
hand, was that, long as he had known him, the squire did not
understand the doctor.

"I would you could, Mr Gresham," said the doctor, "so that your mind
might be happier; but that cannot be, and, therefore, I say again,
that Frank will do very well yet, although he will not inherit
fourteen thousand pounds a year; and I would have you say the same
thing to yourself."

"Ah! you don't understand it," persisted the squire. "You don't know
how a man feels when he--Ah, well! it's no use my troubling you with
what cannot be mended. I wonder whether Umbleby is about the place
anywhere?"

The doctor was again standing with his back against the
chimney-piece, and with his hands in his pockets.

"You did not see Umbleby as you came in?" again asked the squire.

"No, I did not; and if you will take my advice you will not see him
now; at any rate with reference to this money."

"I tell you I must get it from someone; you say Scatcherd won't let
me have it."

"No, Mr Gresham; I did not say that."

"Well, you said what was as bad. Augusta is to be married in
September, and the money must be had. I have agreed to give Moffat
six thousand pounds, and he is to have the money down in hard cash."

"Six thousand pounds," said the doctor. "Well, I suppose that is not
more than your daughter should have. But then, five times six are
thirty; thirty thousand pounds will be a large sum to make up."

The father thought to himself that his younger girls were but
children, and that the trouble of arranging their marriage portions
might well be postponed a while. Sufficient for the day is the evil
thereof.

"That Moffat is a griping, hungry fellow," said the squire. "I
suppose Augusta likes him; and, as regards money, it is a good
match."

"If Miss Gresham loves him, that is everything. I am not in love with
him myself; but then, I am not a young lady."

"The de Courcys are very fond of him. Lady de Courcy says that he is
a perfect gentleman, and thought very much of in London."

"Oh! if Lady de Courcy says that, of course, it's all right," said
the doctor, with a quiet sarcasm, that was altogether thrown away on
the squire.

The squire did not like any of the de Courcys; especially, he did not
like Lady de Courcy; but still he was accessible to a certain amount
of gratification in the near connexion which he had with the earl and
countess; and when he wanted to support his family greatness, would
sometimes weakly fall back upon the grandeur of Courcy Castle. It
was only when talking to his wife that he invariably snubbed the
pretensions of his noble relatives.

The two men after this remained silent for a while; and then the
doctor, renewing the subject for which he had been summoned into the
book-room, remarked, that as Scatcherd was now in the country--he
did not say, was now at Boxall Hill, as he did not wish to wound the
squire's ears--perhaps he had better go and see him, and ascertain
in what way this affair of the money might be arranged. There was
no doubt, he said, that Scatcherd would supply the sum required at
a lower rate of interest than that at which it could be procured
through Umbleby's means.

"Very well," said the squire. "I'll leave it in your hands, then. I
think ten thousand pounds will do. And now I'll dress for dinner."
And then the doctor left him.

Perhaps the reader will suppose after this that the doctor had some
pecuniary interest of his own in arranging the squire's loans; or, at
any rate, he will think that the squire must have so thought. Not in
the least; neither had he any such interest, nor did the squire think
that he had any. What Dr Thorne did in this matter the squire well
knew was done for love. But the squire of Greshamsbury was a great
man at Greshamsbury; and it behoved him to maintain the greatness of
his squirehood when discussing his affairs with the village doctor.
So much he had at any rate learnt from his contact with the de
Courcys.

And the doctor--proud, arrogant, contradictory, headstrong as he
was--why did he bear to be thus snubbed? Because he knew that the
squire of Greshamsbury, when struggling with debt and poverty,
required an indulgence for his weakness. Had Mr Gresham been in easy
circumstances, the doctor would by no means have stood so placidly
with his hands in his pockets, and have had Mr Umbleby thus thrown in
his teeth. The doctor loved the squire, loved him as his own oldest
friend; but he loved him ten times better as being in adversity than
he could ever have done had things gone well at Greshamsbury in his
time.

While this was going on downstairs, Mary was sitting upstairs with
Beatrice Gresham in the schoolroom. The old schoolroom, so called,
was now a sitting-room, devoted to the use of the grown-up young
ladies of the family, whereas one of the old nurseries was now the
modern schoolroom. Mary well knew her way to the sanctum, and,
without asking any questions, walked up to it when her uncle went to
the squire. On entering the room she found that Augusta and the Lady
Alexandrina were also there, and she hesitated for a moment at the
door.

"Come in, Mary," said Beatrice, "you know my cousin Alexandrina."
Mary came in, and having shaken hands with her two friends, was
bowing to the lady, when the lady condescended, put out her noble
hand, and touched Miss Thorne's fingers.

Beatrice was Mary's friend, and many heart-burnings and much mental
solicitude did that young lady give to her mother by indulging in
such a friendship. But Beatrice, with some faults, was true at heart,
and she persisted in loving Mary Thorne in spite of the hints which
her mother so frequently gave as to the impropriety of such an
affection.

Nor had Augusta any objection to the society of Miss Thorne. Augusta
was a strong-minded girl, with much of the de Courcy arrogance, but
quite as well inclined to show it in opposition to her mother as in
any other form. To her alone in the house did Lady Arabella show much
deference. She was now going to make a suitable match with a man of
large fortune, who had been procured for her as an eligible _parti_
by her aunt, the countess. She did not pretend, had never pretended,
that she loved Mr Moffat, but she knew, she said, that in the present
state of her father's affairs such a match was expedient. Mr Moffat
was a young man of very large fortune, in Parliament, inclined to
business, and in every way recommendable. He was not a man of birth,
to be sure; that was to be lamented;--in confessing that Mr Moffat
was not a man of birth, Augusta did not go so far as to admit that he
was the son of a tailor; such, however, was the rigid truth in this
matter--he was not a man of birth, that was to be lamented; but in
the present state of affairs at Greshamsbury, she understood well
that it was her duty to postpone her own feelings in some respect. Mr
Moffat would bring fortune; she would bring blood and connexion. And
as she so said, her bosom glowed with strong pride to think that she
would be able to contribute so much more towards the proposed future
partnership than her husband would do.

'Twas thus that Miss Gresham spoke of her match to her dear friends,
her cousins the de Courcys for instance, to Miss Oriel, her sister
Beatrice, and even to Mary Thorne. She had no enthusiasm, she
admitted, but she thought she had good judgment. She thought she
had shown good judgment in accepting Mr Moffat's offer, though she
did not pretend to any romance of affection. And, having so said,
she went to work with considerable mental satisfaction, choosing
furniture, carriages, and clothes, not extravagantly as her mother
would have done, not in deference to sterner dictates of the latest
fashion as her aunt would have done, with none of the girlish glee
in new purchases which Beatrice would have felt, but with sound
judgment. She bought things that were rich, for her husband was to be
rich, and she meant to avail herself of his wealth; she bought things
that were fashionable, for she meant to live in the fashionable
world; but she bought what was good, and strong, and lasting, and
worth its money.

Augusta Gresham had perceived early in life that she could not obtain
success either as an heiress, or as a beauty, nor could she shine
as a wit; she therefore fell back on such qualities as she had, and
determined to win the world as a strong-minded, useful woman. That
which she had of her own was blood; having that, she would in all
ways do what in her lay to enhance its value. Had she not possessed
it, it would to her mind have been the vainest of pretences.

When Mary came in, the wedding preparations were being discussed. The
number and names of the bridesmaids were being settled, the dresses
were on the tapis, the invitations to be given were talked over.
Sensible as Augusta was, she was not above such feminine cares; she
was, indeed, rather anxious that the wedding should go off well. She
was a little ashamed of her tailor's son, and therefore anxious that
things should be as brilliant as possible.

The bridesmaid's names had just been written on a card as Mary
entered the room. There were the Ladies Amelia, Rosina, Margaretta,
and Alexandrina of course at the head of it; then came Beatrice and
the twins; then Miss Oriel, who, though only a parson's sister, was
a person of note, birth, and fortune. After this there had been here
a great discussion whether or not there should be any more. If there
were to be one more there must be two. Now Miss Moffat had expressed
a direct wish, and Augusta, though she would much rather have done
without her, hardly knew how to refuse. Alexandrina--we hope we
may be allowed to drop the "lady" for the sake of brevity, for the
present scene only--was dead against such an unreasonable request.
"We none of us know her, you know; and it would not be comfortable."
Beatrice strongly advocated the future sister-in-law's acceptance
into the bevy; she had her own reasons; she was pained that Mary
Thorne should not be among the number, and if Miss Moffat were
accepted, perhaps Mary might be brought in as her colleague.

"If you have Miss Moffat," said Alexandrina, "you must have dear
Pussy too; and I really think that Pussy is too young; it will be
troublesome." Pussy was the youngest Miss Gresham, who was now only
eight years old, and whose real name was Nina.

"Augusta," said Beatrice, speaking with some slight hesitation, some
soupçon of doubt, before the high authority of her noble cousin, "if
you do have Miss Moffat would you mind asking Mary Thorne to join
her? I think Mary would like it, because, you see, Patience Oriel
is to be one; and we have known Mary much longer than we have known
Patience."

Then out and spake the Lady Alexandrina.

"Beatrice, dear, if you think of what you are asking, I am sure you
will see that it would not do; would not do at all. Miss Thorne is a
very nice girl, I am sure; and, indeed, what little I have seen of
her I highly approve. But, after all, who is she? Mamma, I know,
thinks that Aunt Arabella has been wrong to let her be here so much,
but--"

Beatrice became rather red in the face, and, in spite of the dignity
of her cousin, was preparing to defend her friend.

"Mind, I am not saying a word against Miss Thorne."

"If I am married before her, she shall be one of my bridesmaids,"
said Beatrice.

"That will probably depend on circumstances," said the Lady
Alexandrina; I find that I cannot bring my courteous pen to drop the
title. "But Augusta is very peculiarly situated. Mr Moffat is, you
see, not of the very highest birth; and, therefore, she should take
care that on her side every one about her is well born."

"Then you cannot have Miss Moffat," said Beatrice.

"No; I would not if I could help it," said the cousin.

"But the Thornes are as good a family as the Greshams," said
Beatrice. She had not quite the courage to say, as good as the de
Courcys.

"I dare say they are; and if this was Miss Thorne of Ullathorne,
Augusta probably would not object to her. But can you tell me who
Miss Mary Thorne is?"

"She is Dr Thorne's niece."

"You mean that she is called so; but do you know who her father
was, or who her mother was? I, for one, must own I do not. Mamma, I
believe, does, but--"

At this moment the door opened gently and Mary Thorne entered the
room.

It may easily be conceived, that while Mary was making her
salutations the three other young ladies were a little cast aback.
The Lady Alexandrina, however, quickly recovered herself, and, by her
inimitable presence of mind and facile grace of manner, soon put the
matter on a proper footing.

"We were discussing Miss Gresham's marriage," said she; "I am sure I
may mention to an acquaintance of so long standing as Miss Thorne,
that the first of September has been now fixed for the wedding."

Miss Gresham! Acquaintance of so long standing! Why, Mary and Augusta
Gresham had for years, we will hardly say now for how many, passed
their mornings together in the same schoolroom; had quarrelled, and
squabbled, and caressed and kissed, and been all but as sisters to
each other. Acquaintance indeed! Beatrice felt that her ears were
tingling, and even Augusta was a little ashamed. Mary, however,
knew that the cold words had come from a de Courcy, and not from a
Gresham, and did not, therefore, resent them.

"So it's settled, Augusta, is it?" said she; "the first of September.
I wish you joy with all my heart," and, coming round, she put her arm
over Augusta's shoulder and kissed her. The Lady Alexandrina could
not but think that the doctor's niece uttered her congratulations
very much as though she were speaking to an equal; very much as
though she had a father and mother of her own.

"You will have delicious weather," continued Mary. "September, and
the beginning of October, is the nicest time of the year. If I were
going honeymooning it is just the time of year I would choose."

"I wish you were, Mary," said Beatrice.

"So do not I, dear, till I have found some decent sort of a body to
honeymoon along with me. I won't stir out of Greshamsbury till I have
sent you off before me, at any rate. And where will you go, Augusta?"

"We have not settled that," said Augusta. "Mr Moffat talks of Paris."

"Who ever heard of going to Paris in September?" said the Lady
Alexandrina.

"Or who ever heard of the gentleman having anything to say on the
matter?" said the doctor's niece. "Of course Mr Moffat will go
wherever you are pleased to take him."

The Lady Alexandrina was not pleased to find how completely the
doctor's niece took upon herself to talk, and sit, and act at
Greshamsbury as though she was on a par with the young ladies of
the family. That Beatrice should have allowed this would not have
surprised her; but it was to be expected that Augusta would have
shown better judgment.

"These things require some tact in their management; some delicacy
when high interests are at stake," said she; "I agree with Miss
Thorne in thinking that, in ordinary circumstances, with ordinary
people, perhaps, the lady should have her way. Rank, however, has its
drawbacks, Miss Thorne, as well as its privileges."

"I should not object to the drawbacks," said the doctor's niece,
"presuming them to be of some use; but I fear I might fail in getting
on so well with the privileges."

The Lady Alexandrina looked at her as though not fully aware whether
she intended to be pert. In truth, the Lady Alexandrina was rather in
the dark on the subject. It was almost impossible, it was incredible,
that a fatherless, motherless, doctor's niece should be pert to an
earl's daughter at Greshamsbury, seeing that that earl's daughter was
the cousin of the Miss Greshams. And yet the Lady Alexandrina hardly
knew what other construction to put on the words she had just heard.

It was at any rate clear to her that it was not becoming that she
should just then stay any longer in that room. Whether she intended
to be pert or not, Miss Mary Thorne was, to say the least, very free.
The de Courcy ladies knew what was due to them--no ladies better;
and, therefore, the Lady Alexandrina made up her mind at once to go
to her own bedroom.

"Augusta," she said, rising slowly from her chair with much stately
composure, "it is nearly time to dress; will you come with me? We
have a great deal to settle, you know."

So she swam out of the room, and Augusta, telling Mary that she would
see her again at dinner, swam--no, tried to swim--after her. Miss
Gresham had had great advantages; but she had not been absolutely
brought up at Courcy Castle, and could not as yet quite assume the
Courcy style of swimming.

"There," said Mary, as the door closed behind the rustling muslins
of the ladies. "There, I have made an enemy for ever, perhaps two;
that's satisfactory."

"And why have you done it, Mary? When I am fighting your battles
behind your back, why do you come and upset it all by making the
whole family of the de Courcys dislike you? In such a matter as that,
they'll all go together."

"I am sure they will," said Mary; "whether they would be equally
unanimous in a case of love and charity, that, indeed, is another
question."

"But why should you try to make my cousin angry; you that ought to
have so much sense? Don't you remember what you were saying yourself
the other day, of the absurdity of combatting pretences which the
world sanctions?"

"I do, Trichy, I do; don't scold me now. It is so much easier to
preach than to practise. I do so wish I was a clergyman."

"But you have done so much harm, Mary."

"Have I?" said Mary, kneeling down on the ground at her friend's
feet. "If I humble myself very low; if I kneel through the whole
evening in a corner; if I put my neck down and let all your cousins
trample on it, and then your aunt, would not that make atonement? I
would not object to wearing sackcloth, either; and I'd eat a little
ashes--or, at any rate, I'd try."

"I know you're clever, Mary; but still I think you're a fool. I do,
indeed."

"I am a fool, Trichy, I do confess it; and am not a bit clever; but
don't scold me; you see how humble I am; not only humble but umble,
which I look upon to be the comparative, or, indeed, superlative
degree. Or perhaps there are four degrees; humble, umble, stumble,
tumble; and then, when one is absolutely in the dirt at their feet,
perhaps these big people won't wish one to stoop any further."

"Oh, Mary!"

"And, oh, Trichy! you don't mean to say I mayn't speak out before
you. There, perhaps you'd like to put your foot on my neck." And then
she put her head down to the footstool and kissed Beatrice's feet.

"I'd like, if I dared, to put my hand on your cheek and give you a
good slap for being such a goose."

"Do; do, Trichy: you shall tread on me, or slap me, or kiss me;
whichever you like."

"I can't tell you how vexed I am," said Beatrice; "I wanted to
arrange something."

"Arrange something! What? arrange what? I love arranging. I fancy
myself qualified to be an arranger-general in female matters. I
mean pots and pans, and such like. Of course I don't allude to
extraordinary people and extraordinary circumstances that require
tact, and delicacy, and drawbacks, and that sort of thing."

"Very well, Mary."

"But it's not very well; it's very bad if you look like that. Well,
my pet, there I won't. I won't allude to the noble blood of your
noble relatives either in joke or in earnest. What is it you want to
arrange, Trichy?"

"I want you to be one of Augusta's bridesmaids."

"Good heavens, Beatrice! Are you mad? What! Put me, even for a
morning, into the same category of finery as the noble blood from
Courcy Castle!"

"Patience is to be one."

"But that is no reason why Impatience should be another, and I should
be very impatient under such honours. No, Trichy; joking apart, do
not think of it. Even if Augusta wished it I should refuse. I should
be obliged to refuse. I, too, suffer from pride; a pride quite as
unpardonable as that of others: I could not stand with your four
lady-cousins behind your sister at the altar. In such a galaxy they
would be the stars and I--"

"Why, Mary, all the world knows that you are prettier than any of
them!"

"I am all the world's very humble servant. But, Trichy, I should
not object if I were as ugly as the veiled prophet and they all as
beautiful as Zuleika. The glory of that galaxy will be held to depend
not on its beauty, but on its birth. You know how they would look at
me; how they would scorn me; and there, in church, at the altar, with
all that is solemn round us, I could not return their scorn as I
might do elsewhere. In a room I'm not a bit afraid of them all." And
Mary was again allowing herself to be absorbed by that feeling of
indomitable pride, of antagonism to the pride of others, which she
herself in her cooler moments was the first to blame.

"You often say, Mary, that that sort of arrogance should be despised
and passed over without notice."

"So it should, Trichy. I tell you that as a clergyman tells you to
hate riches. But though the clergyman tells you so, he is not the
less anxious to be rich himself."

"I particularly wish you to be one of Augusta's bridesmaids."

"And I particularly wish to decline the honour; which honour has
not been, and will not be, offered to me. No, Trichy. I will not be
Augusta's bridesmaid, but--but--but--"

"But what, dearest?"

"But, Trichy, when some one else is married, when the new wing has
been built to a house that you know of--"

"Now, Mary, hold your tongue, or you know you'll make me angry."

"I do so like to see you angry. And when that time comes, when that
wedding does take place, then I will be a bridesmaid, Trichy. Yes!
even though I am not invited. Yes! though all the de Courcys in
Barsetshire should tread upon me and obliterate me. Though I should
be as dust among the stars, though I should creep up in calico among
their satins and lace, I will nevertheless be there; close, close to
the bride; to hold something for her, to touch her dress, to feel
that I am near to her, to--to--to--" and she threw her arms round her
companion, and kissed her over and over again. "No, Trichy; I won't
be Augusta's bridesmaid; I'll bide my time for bridesmaiding."

What protestations Beatrice made against the probability of such an
event as foreshadowed in her friend's promise we will not repeat. The
afternoon was advancing, and the ladies also had to dress for dinner,
to do honour to the young heir.



CHAPTER V

Frank Gresham's First Speech


We have said, that over and above those assembled in the house, there
came to the Greshamsbury dinner on Frank's birthday the Jacksons
of the Grange, consisting of Mr and Mrs Jackson; the Batesons from
Annesgrove, viz., Mr and Mrs Bateson, and Miss Bateson, their
daughter--an unmarried lady of about fifty; the Bakers of Mill Hill,
father and son; and Mr Caleb Oriel, the rector, with his beautiful
sister, Patience. Dr Thorne, and his niece Mary, we count among those
already assembled at Greshamsbury.

There was nothing very magnificent in the number of the guests thus
brought together to do honour to young Frank; but he, perhaps, was
called on to take a more prominent part in the proceedings, to be
made more of a hero than would have been the case had half the county
been there. In that case the importance of the guests would have been
so great that Frank would have got off with a half-muttered speech or
two; but now he had to make a separate oration to every one, and very
weary work he found it.

The Batesons, Bakers, and Jacksons were very civil; no doubt the more
so from an unconscious feeling on their part, that as the squire was
known to be a little out at elbows as regards money, any deficiency
on their part might be considered as owing to the present state
of affairs at Greshamsbury. Fourteen thousand a year will receive
honour; in that case there is no doubt, and the man absolutely
possessing it is not apt to be suspicious as to the treatment he may
receive; but the ghost of fourteen thousand a year is not always so
self-assured. Mr Baker, with his moderate income, was a very much
richer man than the squire; and, therefore, he was peculiarly forward
in congratulating Frank on the brilliancy of his prospects.

Poor Frank had hardly anticipated what there would be to do, and
before dinner was announced he was very tired of it. He had no warmer
feeling for any of the grand cousins than a very ordinary cousinly
love; and he had resolved, forgetful of birth and blood, and all
those gigantic considerations which, now that manhood had come upon
him, he was bound always to bear in mind,--he had resolved to sneak
out to dinner comfortably with Mary Thorne if possible; and if not
with Mary, then with his other love, Patience Oriel.

Great, therefore, was his consternation at finding that, after being
kept continually in the foreground for half an hour before dinner, he
had to walk out to the dining-room with his aunt the countess, and
take his father's place for the day at the bottom of the table.

"It will now depend altogether upon yourself, Frank, whether you
maintain or lose that high position in the county which has been held
by the Greshams for so many years," said the countess, as she walked
through the spacious hall, resolving to lose no time in teaching
to her nephew that great lesson which it was so imperative that he
should learn.

Frank took this as an ordinary lecture, meant to inculcate general
good conduct, such as old bores of aunts are apt to inflict on
youthful victims in the shape of nephews and nieces.

"Yes," said Frank; "I suppose so; and I mean to go along all square,
aunt, and no mistake. When I get back to Cambridge, I'll read like
bricks."

His aunt did not care two straws about his reading. It was not by
reading that the Greshams of Greshamsbury had held their heads up in
the county, but by having high blood and plenty of money. The blood
had come naturally to this young man; but it behoved him to look for
the money in a great measure himself. She, Lady de Courcy, could
doubtless help him; she might probably be able to fit him with a wife
who would bring her money onto his birth. His reading was a matter in
which she could in no way assist him; whether his taste might lead
him to prefer books or pictures, or dogs and horses, or turnips in
drills, or old Italian plates and dishes, was a matter which did not
much signify; with which it was not at all necessary that his noble
aunt should trouble herself.

"Oh! you are going to Cambridge again, are you? Well, if your father
wishes it;--though very little is ever gained now by a university
connexion."

"I am to take my degree in October, aunt; and I am determined, at any
rate, that I won't be plucked."

"Plucked!"

"No; I won't be plucked. Baker was plucked last year, and all because
he got into the wrong set at John's. He's an excellent fellow if you
knew him. He got among a set of men who did nothing but smoke and
drink beer. Malthusians, we call them."

"Malthusians!"

"'Malt,' you know, aunt, and 'use;' meaning that they drink beer. So
poor Harry Baker got plucked. I don't know that a fellow's any the
worse; however, I won't get plucked."

By this time the party had taken their place round the long board,
Mr Gresham sitting at the top, in the place usually occupied by Lady
Arabella. She, on the present occasion, sat next to her son on the
one side, as the countess did on the other. If, therefore, Frank now
went astray, it would not be from want of proper leading.

"Aunt, will you have some beef?" said he, as soon as the soup
and fish had been disposed of, anxious to perform the rites of
hospitality now for the first time committed to his charge.

"Do not be in a hurry, Frank," said his mother; "the servants will--"

"Oh! ah! I forgot; there are cutlets and those sort of things. My
hand is not in yet for this work, aunt. Well, as I was saying about
Cambridge--"

"Is Frank to go back to Cambridge, Arabella?" said the countess to
her sister-in-law, speaking across her nephew.

"So his father seems to say."

"Is it not a waste of time?" asked the countess.

"You know I never interfere," said the Lady Arabella; "I never liked
the idea of Cambridge myself at all. All the de Courcys were Christ
Church men; but the Greshams, it seems, were always at Cambridge."

"Would it not be better to send him abroad at once?"

"Much better, I would think," said the Lady Arabella; "but you know,
I never interfere: perhaps you would speak to Mr Gresham."

The countess smiled grimly, and shook her head with a decidedly
negative shake. Had she said out loud to the young man, "Your father
is such an obstinate, pig-headed, ignorant fool, that it is no use
speaking to him; it would be wasting fragrance on the desert air,"
she could not have spoken more plainly. The effect on Frank was this:
that he said to himself, speaking quite as plainly as Lady de Courcy
had spoken by her shake of the face, "My mother and aunt are always
down on the governor, always; but the more they are down on him the
more I'll stick to him. I certainly will take my degree: I will read
like bricks; and I'll begin to-morrow."

"Now will you take some beef, aunt?" This was said out loud.

The Countess de Courcy was very anxious to go on with her lesson
without loss of time; but she could not, while surrounded by guests
and servants, enunciate the great secret: "You must marry money,
Frank; that is your one great duty; that is the matter to be borne
steadfastly in your mind." She could not now, with sufficient weight
and impress of emphasis, pour this wisdom into his ears; the more
especially as he was standing up to his work of carving, and was deep
to his elbows in horse-radish, fat, and gravy. So the countess sat
silent while the banquet proceeded.

"Beef, Harry?" shouted the young heir to his friend Baker. "Oh! but I
see it isn't your turn yet. I beg your pardon, Miss Bateson," and he
sent to that lady a pound and a half of excellent meat, cut out with
great energy in one slice, about half an inch thick.

And so the banquet went on.

Before dinner Frank had found himself obliged to make numerous small
speeches in answer to the numerous individual congratulations of his
friends; but these were as nothing to the one great accumulated onus
of an oration which he had long known that he should have to sustain
after the cloth was taken away. Someone of course would propose his
health, and then there would be a clatter of voices, ladies and
gentlemen, men and girls; and when that was done he would find
himself standing on his legs, with the room about him, going round
and round and round.

Having had a previous hint of this, he had sought advice from his
cousin, the Honourable George, whom he regarded as a dab at speaking;
at least, so he had heard the Honourable George say of himself.

"What the deuce is a fellow to say, George, when he stands up after
the clatter is done?"

"Oh, it's the easiest thing in life," said the cousin. "Only remember
this: you mustn't get astray; that is what they call presence of
mind, you know. I'll tell you what I do, and I'm often called up, you
know; at our agriculturals I always propose the farmers' daughters:
well, what I do is this--I keep my eye steadfastly fixed on one of
the bottles, and never move it."

"On one of the bottles!" said Frank; "wouldn't it be better if I made
a mark of some old covey's head? I don't like looking at the table."

"The old covey'd move, and then you'd be done; besides there isn't
the least use in the world in looking up. I've heard people say, who
go to those sort of dinners every day of their lives, that whenever
anything witty is said; the fellow who says it is sure to be looking
at the mahogany."

"Oh, you know I shan't say anything witty; I'll be quite the other
way."

"But there's no reason you shouldn't learn the manner. That's the way
I succeeded. Fix your eye on one of the bottles; put your thumbs in
your waist-coat pockets; stick out your elbows, bend your knees a
little, and then go ahead."

"Oh, ah! go ahead; that's all very well; but you can't go ahead if
you haven't got any steam."

"A very little does it. There can be nothing so easy as your speech.
When one has to say something new every year about the farmers'
daughters, why one has to use one's brains a bit. Let's see: how will
you begin? Of course, you'll say that you are not accustomed to this
sort of thing; that the honour conferred upon you is too much for
your feelings; that the bright array of beauty and talent around
you quite overpowers your tongue, and all that sort of thing. Then
declare you're a Gresham to the backbone."

"Oh, they know that."

"Well, tell them again. Then of course you must say something about
us; or you'll have the countess as black as old Nick."

"Abut my aunt, George? What on earth can I say about her when she's
there herself before me?"

"Before you! of course; that's just the reason. Oh, say any lie you
can think of; you must say something about us. You know we've come
down from London on purpose."

Frank, in spite of the benefit he was receiving from his cousin's
erudition, could not help wishing in his heart that they had all
remained in London; but this he kept to himself. He thanked his
cousin for his hints, and though he did not feel that the trouble
of his mind was completely cured, he began to hope that he might go
through the ordeal without disgracing himself.

Nevertheless, he felt rather sick at heart when Mr Baker got up to
propose the toast as soon as the servants were gone. The servants,
that is, were gone officially; but they were there in a body, men
and women, nurses, cooks, and ladies' maids, coachmen, grooms, and
footmen, standing in two doorways to hear what Master Frank would
say. The old housekeeper headed the maids at one door, standing
boldly inside the room; and the butler controlled the men at the
other, marshalling them back with a drawn corkscrew.

Mr Baker did not say much; but what he did say, he said well. They
had all seen Frank Gresham grow up from a child; and were now
required to welcome as a man amongst them one who was well qualified
to carry on the honour of that loved and respected family. His
young friend, Frank, was every inch a Gresham. Mr Baker omitted to
make mention of the infusion of de Courcy blood, and the countess,
therefore, drew herself up on her chair and looked as though she were
extremely bored. He then alluded tenderly to his own long friendship
with the present squire, Francis Newbold Gresham the elder; and sat
down, begging them to drink health, prosperity, long life, and an
excellent wife to their dear young friend, Francis Newbold Gresham
the younger.

There was a great jingling of glasses, of course; made the merrier
and the louder by the fact that the ladies were still there as
well as the gentlemen. Ladies don't drink toasts frequently; and,
therefore, the occasion coming rarely was the more enjoyed. "God
bless you, Frank!" "Your good health, Frank!" "And especially a
good wife, Frank!" "Two or three of them, Frank!" "Good health and
prosperity to you, Mr Gresham!" "More power to you, Frank, my boy!"
"May God bless you and preserve you, my dear boy!" and then a merry,
sweet, eager voice from the far end of the table, "Frank! Frank! Do
look at me, pray do Frank; I am drinking your health in real wine;
ain't I, papa?" Such were the addresses which greeted Mr Francis
Newbold Gresham the younger as he essayed to rise up on his feet for
the first time since he had come to man's estate.

When the clatter was at an end, and he was fairly on his legs, he
cast a glance before him on the table, to look for a decanter. He
had not much liked his cousin's theory of sticking to the bottle;
nevertheless, in the difficulty of the moment, it was well to have
any system to go by. But, as misfortune would have it, though the
table was covered with bottles, his eye could not catch one. Indeed,
his eye first could catch nothing, for the things swam before him,
and the guests all seemed to dance in their chairs.

Up he got, however, and commenced his speech. As he could not follow
his preceptor's advice as touching the bottle, he adopted his own
crude plan of "making a mark on some old covey's head," and therefore
looked dead at the doctor.

"Upon my word, I am very much obliged to you, gentlemen and ladies,
ladies and gentlemen, I should say, for drinking my health, and
doing me so much honour, and all that sort of thing. Upon my word I
am. Especially to Mr Baker. I don't mean you, Harry, you're not Mr
Baker."

"As much as you're Mr Gresham, Master Frank."

"But I am not Mr Gresham; and I don't mean to be for many a long year
if I can help it; not at any rate till we have had another coming of
age here."

"Bravo, Frank; and whose will that be?"

"That will be my son, and a very fine lad he will be; and I hope
he'll make a better speech than his father. Mr Baker said I was every
inch a Gresham. Well, I hope I am." Here the countess began to look
cold and angry. "I hope the day will never come when my father won't
own me for one."

"There's no fear, no fear," said the doctor, who was almost put out
of countenance by the orator's intense gaze. The countess looked
colder and more angry, and muttered something to herself about a
bear-garden.

"Gardez Gresham; eh? Harry! mind that when you're sticking in a gap
and I'm coming after you. Well, I am sure I am very obliged to you
for the honour you have all done me, especially the ladies, who don't
do this sort of thing on ordinary occasions. I wish they did; don't
you, doctor? And talking of the ladies, my aunt and cousins have come
all the way from London to hear me make this speech, which certainly
is not worth the trouble; but, all the same I am very much obliged
to them." And he looked round and made a little bow at the countess.
"And so I am to Mr and Mrs Jackson, and Mr and Mrs and Miss Bateson,
and Mr Baker--I'm not at all obliged to you, Harry--and to Mr Oriel
and Miss Oriel, and to Mr Umbleby, and to Dr Thorne, and to Mary--I
beg her pardon, I mean Miss Thorne." And then he sat down, amid the
loud plaudits of the company, and a string of blessings which came
from the servants behind him.

After this the ladies rose and departed. As she went, Lady Arabella,
kissed her son's forehead, and then his sisters kissed him, and one
or two of his lady-cousins; and then Miss Bateson shook him by the
hand. "Oh, Miss Bateson," said he, "I thought the kissing was to go
all round." So Miss Bateson laughed and went her way; and Patience
Oriel nodded at him, but Mary Thorne, as she quietly left the room,
almost hidden among the extensive draperies of the grander ladies,
hardly allowed her eyes to meet his.

He got up to hold the door for them as they passed; and as they went,
he managed to take Patience by the hand; he took her hand and pressed
it for a moment, but dropped it quickly, in order that he might go
through the same ceremony with Mary, but Mary was too quick for him.

"Frank," said Mr Gresham, as soon as the door was closed, "bring
your glass here, my boy;" and the father made room for his son close
beside himself. "The ceremony is now over, so you may have your place
of dignity." Frank sat himself down where he was told, and Mr Gresham
put his hand on his son's shoulder and half caressed him, while the
tears stood in his eyes. "I think the doctor is right, Baker, I think
he'll never make us ashamed of him."

"I am sure he never will," said Mr Baker.

"I don't think he ever will," said Dr Thorne.

The tones of the men's voices were very different. Mr Baker did not
care a straw about it; why should he? He had an heir of his own as
well as the squire; one also who was the apple of _his_ eye. But the
doctor,--he did care; he had a niece, to be sure, whom he loved,
perhaps as well as these men loved their sons; but there was room in
his heart also for young Frank Gresham.

After this small exposé of feeling they sat silent for a moment or
two. But silence was not dear to the heart of the Honourable John,
and so he took up the running.

"That's a niceish nag you gave Frank this morning," he said to his
uncle. "I was looking at him before dinner. He is a Monsoon, isn't
he?"

"Well I can't say I know how he was bred," said the squire. "He shows
a good deal of breeding."

"He's a Monsoon, I'm sure," said the Honourable John. "They've all
those ears, and that peculiar dip in the back. I suppose you gave a
goodish figure for him?"

"Not so very much," said the squire.

"He's a trained hunter, I suppose?"

"If not, he soon will be," said the squire.

"Let Frank alone for that," said Harry Baker.

"He jumps beautifully, sir," said Frank. "I haven't tried him myself,
but Peter made him go over the bar two or three times this morning."

The Honourable John was determined to give his cousin a helping hand,
as he considered it. He thought that Frank was very ill-used in being
put off with so incomplete a stud, and thinking also that the son had
not spirit enough to attack his father himself on the subject, the
Honourable John determined to do it for him.

"He's the making of a very nice horse, I don't doubt. I wish you had
a string like him, Frank."

Frank felt the blood rush to his face. He would not for worlds have
his father think that he was discontented, or otherwise than pleased
with the present he had received that morning. He was heartily
ashamed of himself in that he had listened with a certain degree of
complacency to his cousin's tempting; but he had no idea that the
subject would be repeated--and then repeated, too, before his father,
in a manner to vex him on such a day as this, before such people as
were assembled there. He was very angry with his cousin, and for a
moment forgot all his hereditary respect for a de Courcy.

"I tell you what, John," said he, "do you choose your day, some day
early in the season, and come out on the best thing you have, and
I'll bring, not the black horse, but my old mare; and then do you try
and keep near me. If I don't leave you at the back of Godspeed before
long, I'll give you the mare and the horse too."

The Honourable John was not known in Barsetshire as one of the most
forward of its riders. He was a man much addicted to hunting, as far
as the get-up of the thing was concerned; he was great in boots and
breeches; wondrously conversant with bits and bridles; he had quite
a collection of saddles; and patronised every newest invention for
carrying spare shoes, sandwiches, and flasks of sherry. He was
prominent at the cover side;--some people, including the master
of hounds, thought him perhaps a little too loudly prominent;
he affected a familiarity with the dogs, and was on speaking
acquaintance with every man's horse. But when the work was cut out,
when the pace began to be sharp, when it behoved a man either to ride
or visibly to decline to ride, then--so at least said they who had
not the de Courcy interest quite closely at heart--then, in those
heart-stirring moments, the Honourable John was too often found
deficient.

There was, therefore, a considerable laugh at his expense when Frank,
instigated to his innocent boast by a desire to save his father,
challenged his cousin to a trial of prowess. The Honourable John
was not, perhaps, as much accustomed to the ready use of his tongue
as was his honourable brother, seeing that it was not his annual
business to depict the glories of the farmers' daughters; at any
rate, on this occasion he seemed to be at some loss for words; he
shut up, as the slang phrase goes, and made no further allusion to
the necessity of supplying young Gresham with a proper string of
hunters.

But the old squire had understood it all; had understood the meaning
of his nephew's attack; had thoroughly understood also the meaning of
his son's defence, and the feeling which actuated it. He also had
thought of the stableful of horses which had belonged to himself when
he came of age; and of the much more humble position which his son
would have to fill than that which _his_ father had prepared for him.
He thought of this, and was sad enough, though he had sufficient
spirit to hide from his friends around him the fact, that the
Honourable John's arrow had not been discharged in vain.

"He shall have Champion," said the father to himself. "It is time for
me to give it up."

Now Champion was one of the two fine old hunters which the squire
kept for his own use. And it might have been said of him now, at the
period of which we are speaking, that the only really happy moments
of his life were those which he spent in the field. So much as to its
being time for him to give up.



CHAPTER VI

Frank Gresham's Early Loves


It was, we have said, the first of July, and such being the time of
the year, the ladies, after sitting in the drawing-room for half an
hour or so, began to think that they might as well go through the
drawing-room windows on to the lawn. First one slipped out a little
way, and then another; and then they got on to the lawn; and then
they talked of their hats; till, by degrees, the younger ones of the
party, and at last of the elder also, found themselves dressed for
walking.

The windows, both of the drawing-room and the dining-room, looked out
on to the lawn; and it was only natural that the girls should walk
from the former to the latter. It was only natural that they, being
there, should tempt their swains to come to them by the sight of
their broad-brimmed hats and evening dresses; and natural, also, that
the temptation should not be resisted. The squire, therefore, and the
elder male guests soon found themselves alone round their wine.

"Upon my word, we were enchanted by your eloquence, Mr Gresham, were
we not?" said Miss Oriel, turning to one of the de Courcy girls who
was with her.

Miss Oriel was a very pretty girl; a little older than Frank
Gresham,--perhaps a year or so. She had dark hair, large round dark
eyes, a nose a little too broad, a pretty mouth, a beautiful chin,
and, as we have said before, a large fortune;--that is, moderately
large--let us say twenty thousand pounds, there or thereabouts.
She and her brother had been living at Greshamsbury for the last
two years, the living having been purchased for him--such were
Mr Gresham's necessities--during the lifetime of the last old
incumbent. Miss Oriel was in every respect a nice neighbour; she was
good-humoured, lady-like, lively, neither too clever nor too stupid,
belonging to a good family, sufficiently fond of this world's good
things, as became a pretty young lady so endowed, and sufficiently
fond, also, of the other world's good things, as became the mistress
of a clergyman's house.

"Indeed, yes," said the Lady Margaretta. "Frank is very eloquent.
When he described our rapid journey from London, he nearly moved me
to tears. But well as he talks, I think he carves better."

"I wish you'd had to do it, Margaretta; both the carving and
talking."

"Thank you, Frank; you're very civil."

"But there's one comfort, Miss Oriel; it's over now, and done. A
fellow can't be made to come of age twice."

"But you'll take your degree, Mr Gresham; and then, of course,
there'll be another speech; and then you'll get married, and there
will be two or three more."

"I'll speak at your wedding, Miss Oriel, long before I do at my own."

"I shall not have the slightest objection. It will be so kind of you
to patronise my husband."

"But, by Jove, will he patronise me? I know you'll marry some awful
bigwig, or some terribly clever fellow; won't she, Margaretta?"

"Miss Oriel was saying so much in praise of you before you came out,"
said Margaretta, "that I began to think that her mind was intent on
remaining at Greshamsbury all her life."

Frank blushed, and Patience laughed. There was but a year's
difference in their age; Frank, however, was still a boy, though
Patience was fully a woman.

"I am ambitious, Lady Margaretta," said she. "I own it; but I am
moderate in my ambition. I do love Greshamsbury, and if Mr Gresham
had a younger brother, perhaps, you know--"

"Another just like myself, I suppose," said Frank.

"Oh, yes. I could not possibly wish for any change."

"Just as eloquent as you are, Frank," said the Lady Margaretta.

"And as good a carver," said Patience.

"Miss Bateson has lost her heart to him for ever, because of his
carving," said the Lady Margaretta.

"But perfection never repeats itself," said Patience.

"Well, you see, I have not got any brothers," said Frank; "so all I
can do is to sacrifice myself."

"Upon my word, Mr Gresham, I am under more than ordinary obligations
to you; I am indeed," and Miss Oriel stood still in the path, and
made a very graceful curtsy. "Dear me! only think, Lady Margaretta,
that I should be honoured with an offer from the heir the very moment
he is legally entitled to make one."

"And done with so much true gallantry, too," said the other;
"expressing himself quite willing to postpone any views of his own or
your advantage."

"Yes," said Patience; "that's what I value so much: had he loved me
now, there would have been no merit on his part; but a sacrifice, you
know--"

"Yes, ladies are so fond of such sacrifices, Frank, upon my word, I
had no idea you were so very excellent at making speeches."

"Well," said Frank, "I shouldn't have said sacrifice, that was a
slip; what I meant was--"

"Oh, dear me," said Patience, "wait a minute; now we are going
to have a regular declaration. Lady Margaretta, you haven't got
a scent-bottle, have you? And if I should faint, where's the
garden-chair?"

"Oh, but I'm not going to make a declaration at all," said Frank.

"Are you not? Oh! Now, Lady Margaretta, I appeal to you; did you not
understand him to say something very particular?"

"Certainly, I thought nothing could be plainer," said the Lady
Margaretta.

"And so, Mr Gresham, I am to be told, that after all it means
nothing," said Patience, putting her handkerchief up to her eyes.

"It means that you are an excellent hand at quizzing a fellow like
me."

"Quizzing! No; but you are an excellent hand at deceiving a poor
girl like me. Well, remember I have got a witness; here is Lady
Margaretta, who heard it all. What a pity it is that my brother is
a clergyman. You calculated on that, I know; or you would never had
served me so."

She said so just as her brother joined them, or rather just as he
had joined Lady Margaretta de Courcy; for her ladyship and Mr Oriel
walked on in advance by themselves. Lady Margaretta had found it
rather dull work, making a third in Miss Oriel's flirtation with her
cousin; the more so as she was quite accustomed to take a principal
part herself in all such transactions. She therefore not unwillingly
walked on with Mr Oriel. Mr Oriel, it must be conceived, was not a
common, everyday parson, but had points about him which made him
quite fit to associate with an earl's daughter. And as it was known
that he was not a marrying man, having very exalted ideas on that
point connected with his profession, the Lady Margaretta, of course,
had the less objection to trust herself alone with him.

But directly she was gone, Miss Oriel's tone of banter ceased. It was
very well making a fool of a lad of twenty-one when others were by;
but there might be danger in it when they were alone together.

"I don't know any position on earth more enviable than yours, Mr
Gresham," said she, quite soberly and earnestly; "how happy you ought
to be."

"What, in being laughed at by you, Miss Oriel, for pretending to be
a man, when you choose to make out that I am only a boy? I can bear
to be laughed at pretty well generally, but I can't say that your
laughing at me makes me feel so happy as you say I ought to be."

Frank was evidently of an opinion totally different from that of Miss
Oriel. Miss Oriel, when she found herself _tête-à-tête_ with him,
thought it was time to give over flirting; Frank, however, imagined
that it was just the moment for him to begin. So he spoke and looked
very languishing, and put on him quite the airs of an Orlando.

"Oh, Mr Gresham, such good friends as you and I may laugh at each
other, may we not?"

"You may do what you like, Miss Oriel: beautiful women I believe
always may; but you remember what the spider said to the fly, 'That
which is sport to you, may be death to me.'" Anyone looking at
Frank's face as he said this, might well have imagined that he was
breaking his very heart for love of Miss Oriel. Oh, Master Frank!
Master Frank! if you act thus in the green leaf, what will you do in
the dry?

While Frank Gresham was thus misbehaving himself, and going on as
though to him belonged the privilege of falling in love with pretty
faces, as it does to ploughboys and other ordinary people, his great
interests were not forgotten by those guardian saints who were so
anxious to shower down on his head all manner of temporal blessings.

Another conversation had taken place in the Greshamsbury gardens,
in which nothing light had been allowed to present itself; nothing
frivolous had been spoken. The countess, the Lady Arabella, and Miss
Gresham had been talking over Greshamsbury affairs, and they had
latterly been assisted by the Lady Amelia, than whom no de Courcy
ever born was more wise, more solemn, more prudent, or more proud.
The ponderosity of her qualifications for nobility was sometimes too
much even for her mother, and her devotion to the peerage was such,
that she would certainly have declined a seat in heaven if offered to
her without the promise that it should be in the upper house.

The subject first discussed had been Augusta's prospects. Mr Moffat
had been invited to Courcy Castle, and Augusta had been taken thither
to meet him, with the express intention on the part of the countess,
that they should be man and wife. The countess had been careful to
make it intelligible to her sister-in-law and niece, that though Mr
Moffat would do excellently well for a daughter of Greshamsbury, he
could not be allowed to raise his eyes to a female scion of Courcy
Castle.

"Not that we personally dislike him," said the Lady Amelia; "but rank
has its drawbacks, Augusta." As the Lady Amelia was now somewhat
nearer forty than thirty, and was still allowed to walk,


   "In maiden meditation, fancy free,"


it may be presumed that in her case rank had been found to have
serious drawbacks.

To this Augusta said nothing in objection. Whether desirable by a
de Courcy or not, the match was to be hers, and there was no doubt
whatever as to the wealth of the man whose name she was to take; the
offer had been made, not to her, but to her aunt; the acceptance
had been expressed, not by her, but by her aunt. Had she thought of
recapitulating in her memory all that had ever passed between Mr
Moffat and herself, she would have found that it did not amount to
more than the most ordinary conversation between chance partners
in a ball-room. Nevertheless, she was to be Mrs Moffat. All that Mr
Gresham knew of him was, that when he met the young man for the first
and only time in his life, he found him extremely hard to deal with
in the matter of money. He had insisted on having ten thousand pounds
with his wife, and at last refused to go on with the match unless
he got six thousand pounds. This latter sum the poor squire had
undertaken to pay him.

Mr Moffat had been for a year or two M.P. for Barchester; having
been assisted in his views on that ancient city by all the de
Courcy interest. He was a Whig, of course. Not only had Barchester,
departing from the light of other days, returned a Whig member of
Parliament, but it was declared, that at the next election, now near
at hand, a Radical would be sent up, a man pledged to the ballot, to
economies of all sorts, one who would carry out Barchester politics
in all their abrupt, obnoxious, pestilent virulence. This was one
Scatcherd, a great railway contractor, a man who was a native of
Barchester, who had bought property in the neighbourhood, and who had
achieved a sort of popularity there and elsewhere by the violence of
his democratic opposition to the aristocracy. According to this man's
political tenets, the Conservatives should be laughed at as fools,
but the Whigs should be hated as knaves.

Mr Moffat was now coming down to Courcy Castle to look after his
electioneering interests, and Miss Gresham was to return with her
aunt to meet him. The countess was very anxious that Frank should
also accompany them. Her great doctrine, that he must marry money,
had been laid down with authority, and received without doubt. She
now pushed it further, and said that no time should be lost; that
he should not only marry money, but do so very early in life; there
was always danger in delay. The Greshams--of course she alluded only
to the males of the family--were foolishly soft-hearted; no one
could say what might happen. There was that Miss Thorne always at
Greshamsbury.

This was more than the Lady Arabella could stand. She protested
that there was at least no ground for supposing that Frank would
absolutely disgrace his family.

Still the countess persisted: "Perhaps not," she said; "but when
young people of perfectly different ranks were allowed to associate
together, there was no saying what danger might arise. They all knew
that old Mr Bateson--the present Mr Bateson's father--had gone off
with the governess; and young Mr Everbeery, near Taunton, had only
the other day married a cook-maid."

"But Mr Everbeery was always drunk, aunt," said Augusta, feeling
called upon to say something for her brother.

"Never mind, my dear; these things do happen, and they are very
dreadful."

"Horrible!" said the Lady Amelia; "diluting the best blood of the
country, and paving the way for revolutions." This was very grand;
but, nevertheless, Augusta could not but feel that she perhaps might
be about to dilute the blood of her coming children in marrying the
tailor's son. She consoled herself by trusting that, at any rate, she
paved the way for no revolutions.

"When a thing is so necessary," said the countess, "it cannot be done
too soon. Now, Arabella, I don't say that anything will come of it;
but it may: Miss Dunstable is coming down to us next week. Now, we
all know that when old Dunstable died last year, he left over two
hundred thousand to his daughter."

"It is a great deal of money, certainly," said Lady Arabella.

"It would pay off everything, and a great deal more," said the
countess.

"It was ointment, was it not, aunt?" said Augusta.

"I believe so, my dear; something called the ointment of Lebanon, or
something of that sort: but there's no doubt about the money."

"But how old is she, Rosina?" asked the anxious mother.

"About thirty, I suppose; but I don't think that much signifies."

"Thirty," said Lady Arabella, rather dolefully. "And what is she
like? I think that Frank already begins to like girls that are young
and pretty."

"But surely, aunt," said the Lady Amelia, "now that he has come to
man's discretion, he will not refuse to consider all that he owes to
his family. A Mr Gresham of Greshamsbury has a position to support."
The de Courcy scion spoke these last words in the sort of tone that a
parish clergyman would use, in warning some young farmer's son that
he should not put himself on an equal footing with the ploughboys.

It was at last decided that the countess should herself convey to
Frank a special invitation to Courcy Castle, and that when she got
him there, she should do all that lay in her power to prevent his
return to Cambridge, and to further the Dunstable marriage.

"We did think of Miss Dunstable for Porlock, once," she said,
naïvely; "but when we found that it wasn't much over two hundred
thousand, why, that idea fell to the ground." The terms on which the
de Courcy blood might be allowed to dilute itself were, it must be
presumed, very high indeed.

Augusta was sent off to find her brother, and to send him to the
countess in the small drawing-room. Here the countess was to have
her tea, apart from the outer common world, and here, without
interruption, she was to teach her great lesson to her nephew.

Augusta did find her brother, and found him in the worst of bad
society--so at least the stern de Courcys would have thought. Old Mr
Bateson and the governess, Mr Everbeery and his cook's diluted blood,
and ways paved for revolutions, all presented themselves to Augusta's
mind when she found her brother walking with no other company than
Mary Thorne, and walking with her, too, in much too close proximity.

How he had contrived to be off with the old love and so soon on with
the new, or rather, to be off with the new love and again on with the
old, we will not stop to inquire. Had Lady Arabella, in truth, known
all her son's doings in this way, could she have guessed how very
nigh he had approached the iniquity of old Mr Bateson, and to the
folly of young Mr Everbeery, she would in truth have been in a hurry
to send him off to Courcy Castle and Miss Dunstable. Some days
before the commencement of our story, young Frank had sworn in sober
earnest--in what he intended for his most sober earnest, his most
earnest sobriety--that he loved Mary Thorne with a love for which
words could find no sufficient expression--with a love that could
never die, never grow dim, never become less, which no opposition on
the part of others could extinguish, which no opposition on her part
could repel; that he might, could, would, and should have her for his
wife, and that if she told him she didn't love him, he would--

"Oh, oh! Mary; do you love me? Don't you love me? Won't you love me?
Say you will. Oh, Mary, dearest Mary, will you? won't you? do you?
don't you? Come now, you have a right to give a fellow an answer."

With such eloquence had the heir of Greshamsbury, when not yet
twenty-one years of age, attempted to possess himself of the
affections of the doctor's niece. And yet three days afterwards he
was quite ready to flirt with Miss Oriel.

If such things are done in the green wood, what will be done in the
dry?

And what had Mary said when these fervent protestations of an undying
love had been thrown at her feet? Mary, it must be remembered, was
very nearly of the same age as Frank; but, as I and others have so
often said before, "Women grow on the sunny side of the wall." Though
Frank was only a boy, it behoved Mary to be something more than a
girl. Frank might be allowed, without laying himself open to much
just reproach, to throw all of what he believed to be his heart into
a protestation of what he believed to be love; but Mary was in duty
bound to be more thoughtful, more reticent, more aware of the facts
of their position, more careful of her own feelings, and more careful
also of his.

And yet she could not put him down as another young lady might put
down another young gentleman. It is very seldom that a young man,
unless he be tipsy, assumes an unwelcome familiarity in his early
acquaintance with any girl; but when acquaintance has been long and
intimate, familiarity must follow as a matter of course. Frank and
Mary had been so much together in his holidays, had so constantly
consorted together as boys and girls, that, as regarded her, he had
not that innate fear of a woman which represses a young man's tongue;
and she was so used to his good-humour, his fun, and high jovial
spirits, and was, withal, so fond of them and him, that it was very
difficult for her to mark with accurate feeling, and stop with
reserved brow, the shade of change from a boy's liking to a man's
love.

And Beatrice, too, had done harm in this matter. With a spirit
painfully unequal to that of her grand relatives, she had quizzed
Mary and Frank about their early flirtations. This she had done; but
had instinctively avoided doing so before her mother and sister, and
had thus made a secret of it, as it were, between herself, Mary, and
her brother;--had given currency, as it were, to the idea that there
might be something serious between the two. Not that Beatrice had
ever wished to promote a marriage between them, or had even thought
of such a thing. She was girlish, thoughtless, imprudent, inartistic,
and very unlike a de Courcy. Very unlike a de Courcy she was in all
that; but, nevertheless, she had the de Courcy veneration for blood,
and, more than that, she had the Gresham feeling joined to that of
the de Courcys. The Lady Amelia would not for worlds have had the
de Courcy blood defiled; but gold she thought could not defile.
Now Beatrice was ashamed of her sister's marriage, and had often
declared, within her own heart, that nothing could have made her
marry a Mr Moffat.

She had said so also to Mary, and Mary had told her that she was
right. Mary also was proud of blood, was proud of her uncle's blood,
and the two girls talked together in all the warmth of girlish
confidence, of the great glories of family traditions and family
honours. Beatrice had talked in utter ignorance as to her friend's
birth; and Mary, poor Mary, she had talked, being as ignorant; but
not without a strong suspicion that, at some future time, a day of
sorrow would tell her some fearful truth.

On one point Mary's mind was strongly made up. No wealth, no mere
worldly advantage could make any one her superior. If she were born
a gentlewoman, then was she fit to match with any gentleman. Let
the most wealthy man in Europe pour all his wealth at her feet, she
could, if so inclined, give him back at any rate more than that.
That offered at her feet she knew she would never tempt her to yield
up the fortress of her heart, the guardianship of her soul, the
possession of her mind; not that alone, nor that, even, as any
possible slightest fraction of a make-weight.

If she were born a gentlewoman! And then came to her mind those
curious questions; what makes a gentleman? what makes a gentlewoman?
What is the inner reality, the spiritualised quintessence of that
privilege in the world which men call rank, which forces the
thousands and hundreds of thousands to bow down before the few elect?
What gives, or can give it, or should give it?

And she answered the question. Absolute, intrinsic, acknowledged,
individual merit must give it to its possessor, let him be whom, and
what, and whence he might. So far the spirit of democracy was strong
with her. Beyond this it could be had but by inheritance, received
as it were second-hand, or twenty-second-hand. And so far the spirit
of aristocracy was strong within her. All this she had, as may be
imagined, learnt in early years from her uncle; and all this she was
at great pains to teach Beatrice Gresham, the chosen of her heart.

When Frank declared that Mary had a right to give him an answer,
he meant that he had a right to expect one. Mary acknowledged this
right, and gave it to him.

"Mr Gresham," she said.

"Oh, Mary; Mr Gresham!"

"Yes, Mr Gresham. It must be Mr Gresham after that. And, moreover, it
must be Miss Thorne as well."

"I'll be shot if it shall, Mary."

"Well; I can't say that I shall be shot if it be not so; but if it be
not so, if you do not agree that it shall be so, I shall be turned
out of Greshamsbury."

"What! you mean my mother?" said Frank.

"Indeed, I mean no such thing," said Mary, with a flash from her eye
that made Frank almost start. "I mean no such thing. I mean you, not
your mother. I am not in the least afraid of Lady Arabella; but I am
afraid of you."

"Afraid of me, Mary!"

"Miss Thorne; pray, pray, remember. It must be Miss Thorne. Do not
turn me out of Greshamsbury. Do not separate me from Beatrice. It
is you that will drive me out; no one else. I could stand my ground
against your mother--I feel I could; but I cannot stand against you
if you treat me otherwise than--than--"

"Otherwise than what? I want to treat you as the girl I have chosen
from all the world as my wife."

"I am sorry you should so soon have found it necessary to make a
choice. But, Mr Gresham, we must not joke about this at present. I am
sure you would not willingly injure me; but if you speak to me, or of
me, again in that way, you will injure me, injure me so much that I
shall be forced to leave Greshamsbury in my own defence. I know you
are too generous to drive me to that."

And so the interview had ended. Frank, of course, went upstairs to
see if his new pocket-pistols were all ready, properly cleaned,
loaded, and capped, should he find, after a few days' experience,
that prolonged existence was unendurable.

However, he managed to live through the subsequent period; doubtless
with a view of preventing any disappointment to his father's guests.



CHAPTER VII

The Doctor's Garden


Mary had contrived to quiet her lover with considerable propriety
of demeanour. Then came on her the somewhat harder task of quieting
herself. Young ladies, on the whole, are perhaps quite as susceptible
of the softer feelings as young gentlemen are. Now Frank Gresham was
handsome, amiable, by no means a fool in intellect, excellent in
heart; and he was, moreover, a gentleman, being the son of Mr Gresham
of Greshamsbury. Mary had been, as it were, brought up to love him.
Had aught but good happened to him, she would have cried as for a
brother. It must not therefore be supposed that when Frank Gresham
told her that he loved her, she had heard it altogether unconcerned.

He had not, perhaps, made his declaration with that propriety of
language in which such scenes are generally described as being
carried on. Ladies may perhaps think that Mary should have been
deterred, by the very boyishness of his manner, from thinking at all
seriously on the subject. His "will you, won't you--do you, don't
you?" does not sound like the poetic raptures of a highly inspired
lover. But, nevertheless, there had been warmth, and a reality in it
not in itself repulsive; and Mary's anger--anger? no, not anger--her
objections to the declarations were probably not based on the
absurdity of her lover's language.

We are inclined to think that these matters are not always discussed
by mortal lovers in the poetically passionate phraseology which is
generally thought to be appropriate for their description. A man
cannot well describe that which he has never seen nor heard; but
the absolute words and acts of one such scene did once come to the
author's knowledge. The couple were by no means plebeian, or below
the proper standard of high bearing and high breeding; they were
a handsome pair, living among educated people, sufficiently given
to mental pursuits, and in every way what a pair of polite lovers
ought to be. The all-important conversation passed in this wise. The
site of the passionate scene was the sea-shore, on which they were
walking, in autumn.

Gentleman. "Well, Miss ----, the long and short of it is this: here
I am; you can take me or leave me."

Lady--scratching a gutter on the sand with her parasol, so as to
allow a little salt water to run out of one hole into another. "Of
course, I know that's all nonsense."

Gentleman. "Nonsense! By Jove, it isn't nonsense at all: come, Jane;
here I am: come, at any rate you can say something."

Lady. "Yes, I suppose I can say something."

Gentleman. "Well, which is it to be; take me or leave me?"

Lady--very slowly, and with a voice perhaps hardly articulate,
carrying on, at the same time, her engineering works on a wider
scale. "Well, I don't exactly want to leave you."

And so the matter was settled: settled with much propriety and
satisfaction; and both the lady and gentleman would have thought, had
they ever thought about the matter at all, that this, the sweetest
moment of their lives, had been graced by all the poetry by which
such moments ought to be hallowed.

When Mary had, as she thought, properly subdued young Frank, the
offer of whose love she, at any rate, knew was, at such a period of
his life, an utter absurdity, then she found it necessary to subdue
herself. What happiness on earth could be greater than the possession
of such a love, had the true possession been justly and honestly
within her reach? What man could be more lovable than such a man as
would grow from such a boy? And then, did she not love him,--love him
already, without waiting for any change? Did she not feel that there
was that about him, about him and about herself, too, which might so
well fit them for each other? It would be so sweet to be the sister
of Beatrice, the daughter of the squire, to belong to Greshamsbury as
a part and parcel of itself.

But though she could not restrain these thoughts, it never for a
moment occurred to her to take Frank's offer in earnest. Though she
was a grown woman, he was still a boy. He would have to see the world
before he settled in it, and would change his mind about woman half a
score of times before he married. Then, too, though she did not like
the Lady Arabella, she felt that she owed something, if not to her
kindness, at least to her forbearance; and she knew, felt inwardly
certain, that she would be doing wrong, that the world would say
she was doing wrong, that her uncle would think her wrong, if she
endeavoured to take advantage of what had passed.

She had not for an instant doubted; not for a moment had she
contemplated it as possible that she should ever become Mrs Gresham
because Frank had offered to make her so; but, nevertheless, she
could not help thinking of what had occurred--of thinking of it, most
probably much more than Frank did himself.

A day or two afterwards, on the evening before Frank's birthday, she
was alone with her uncle, walking in the garden behind their house,
and she then essayed to question him, with the object of learning if
she were fitted by her birth to be the wife of such a one as Frank
Gresham. They were in the habit of walking there together when he
happened to be at home of a summer's evening. This was not often the
case, for his hours of labour extended much beyond those usual to the
upper working world, the hours, namely, between breakfast and dinner;
but those minutes that they did thus pass together, the doctor
regarded as perhaps the pleasantest of his life.

"Uncle," said she, after a while, "what do you think of this marriage
of Miss Gresham's?"

"Well, Minnie"--such was his name of endearment for her--"I can't say
I have thought much about it, and I don't suppose anybody else has
either."

"She must think about it, of course; and so must he, I suppose."

"I'm not so sure of that. Some folks would never get married if they
had to trouble themselves with thinking about it."

"I suppose that's why you never got married, uncle?"

"Either that, or thinking of it too much. One is as bad as the
other."

Mary had not contrived to get at all near her point as yet; so she
had to draw off, and after a while begin again.

"Well, I have been thinking about it, at any rate, uncle."

"That's very good of you; that will save me the trouble; and perhaps
save Miss Gresham too. If you have thought it over thoroughly, that
will do for all."

"I believe Mr Moffat is a man of no family."

"He'll mend in that point, no doubt, when he has got a wife."

"Uncle, you're a goose; and what is worse, a very provoking goose."

"Niece, you're a gander; and what is worse, a very silly gander. What
is Mr Moffat's family to you and me? Mr Moffat has that which ranks
above family honours. He is a very rich man."

"Yes," said Mary, "I know he is rich; and a rich man I suppose can
buy anything--except a woman that is worth having."

"A rich man can buy anything," said the doctor; "not that I meant to
say that Mr Moffat has bought Miss Gresham. I have no doubt that they
will suit each other very well," he added with an air of decisive
authority, as though he had finished the subject.

But his niece was determined not to let him pass so. "Now, uncle,"
said she, "you know you are pretending to a great deal of worldly
wisdom, which, after all, is not wisdom at all in your eyes."

"Am I?"

"You know you are: and as for the impropriety of discussing Miss
Gresham's marriage--"

"I did not say it was improper."

"Oh, yes, you did; of course such things must be discussed. How is
one to have an opinion if one does not get it by looking at the
things which happen around us?"

"Now I am going to be blown up," said Dr Thorne.

"Dear uncle, do be serious with me."

"Well, then, seriously, I hope Miss Gresham will be very happy as Mrs
Moffat."

"Of course you do: so do I. I hope it as much as I can hope what I
don't at all see ground for expecting."

"People constantly hope without any such ground."

"Well, then, I'll hope in this case. But, uncle--"

"Well, my dear?"

"I want your opinion, truly and really. If you were a girl--"

"I am perfectly unable to give any opinion founded on so strange an
hypothesis."

"Well; but if you were a marrying man."

"The hypothesis is quite as much out of my way."

"But, uncle, I am a girl, and perhaps I may marry;--or at any rate
think of marrying some day."

"The latter alternative is certainly possible enough."

"Therefore, in seeing a friend taking such a step, I cannot but
speculate on the matter as though I were myself in her place. If I
were Miss Gresham, should I be right?"

"But, Minnie, you are not Miss Gresham."

"No, I am Mary Thorne; it is a very different thing, I know. I
suppose _I_ might marry any one without degrading myself."

It was almost ill-natured of her to say this; but she had not meant
to say it in the sense which the sounds seemed to bear. She had
failed in being able to bring her uncle to the point she wished
by the road she had planned, and in seeking another road, she had
abruptly fallen into unpleasant places.

"I should be very sorry that my niece should think so," said he; "and
am sorry, too, that she should say so. But, Mary, to tell the truth,
I hardly know at what you are driving. You are, I think, not so clear
minded--certainly, not so clear worded--as is usual with you."

"I will tell you, uncle;" and, instead of looking up into his face,
she turned her eyes down on the green lawn beneath her feet.

"Well, Minnie, what is it?" and he took both her hands in his.

"I think that Miss Gresham should not marry Mr Moffat. I think so
because her family is high and noble, and because he is low and
ignoble. When one has an opinion on such matters, one cannot but
apply it to things and people around one; and having applied my
opinion to her, the next step naturally is to apply it to myself.
Were I Miss Gresham, I would not marry Mr Moffat though he rolled
in gold. I know where to rank Miss Gresham. What I want to know is,
where I ought to rank myself?"

They had been standing when she commenced her last speech; but as
she finished it, the doctor moved on again, and she moved with him.
He walked on slowly without answering her; and she, out of her full
mind, pursued aloud the tenor of her thoughts.

"If a woman feels that she would not lower herself by marrying in
a rank beneath herself, she ought also to feel that she would not
lower a man that she might love by allowing him to marry into a rank
beneath his own--that is, to marry her."

"That does not follow," said the doctor quickly. "A man raises a
woman to his own standard, but a woman must take that of the man she
marries."

Again they were silent, and again they walked on, Mary holding her
uncle's arm with both her hands. She was determined, however, to come
to the point, and after considering for a while how best she might
do it, she ceased to beat any longer about the bush, and asked him a
plain question.

"The Thornes are as good a family as the Greshams, are they not?"

"In absolute genealogy they are, my dear. That is, when I choose to
be an old fool and talk of such matters in a sense different from
that in which they are spoken of by the world at large, I may say
that the Thornes are as good, or perhaps better, than the Greshams,
but I should be sorry to say so seriously to any one. The Greshams
now stand much higher in the county than the Thornes do."

"But they are of the same class."

"Yes, yes; Wilfred Thorne of Ullathorne, and our friend the squire
here, are of the same class."

"But, uncle, I and Augusta Gresham--are we of the same class?"

"Well, Minnie, you would hardly have me boast that I am the same
class with the squire--I, a poor country doctor?"

"You are not answering me fairly, dear uncle; dearest uncle, do you
not know that you are not answering me fairly? You know what I mean.
Have I a right to call the Thornes of Ullathorne my cousins?"

"Mary, Mary, Mary!" said he after a minute's pause, still allowing
his arm to hang loose, that she might hold it with both her hands.
"Mary, Mary, Mary! I would that you had spared me this!"

"I could not have spared it to you for ever, uncle."

"I would that you could have done so; I would that you could!"

"It is over now, uncle: it is told now. I will grieve you no more.
Dear, dear, dearest! I should love you more than ever now; I would,
I would, I would if that were possible. What should I be but for
you? What must I have been but for you?" And she threw herself on
his breast, and clinging with her arms round his neck, kissed his
forehead, cheeks, and lips.

There was nothing more said then on the subject between them. Mary
asked no further question, nor did the doctor volunteer further
information. She would have been most anxious to ask about her
mother's history had she dared to do so; but she did not dare to ask;
she could not bear to be told that her mother had been, perhaps was,
a worthless woman. That she was truly a daughter of a brother of the
doctor, that she did know. Little as she had heard of her relatives
in her early youth, few as had been the words which had fallen from
her uncle in her hearing as to her parentage, she did know this, that
she was the daughter of Henry Thorne, a brother of the doctor, and a
son of the old prebendary. Trifling little things that had occurred,
accidents which could not be prevented, had told her this; but not
a word had ever passed any one's lips as to her mother. The doctor,
when speaking of his youth, had spoken of her father; but no one had
spoken of her mother. She had long known that she was the child of a
Thorne; now she knew also that she was no cousin of the Thornes of
Ullathorne; no cousin, at least, in the world's ordinary language, no
niece indeed of her uncle, unless by his special permission that she
should be so.

When the interview was over, she went up alone to the drawing-room,
and there she sat thinking. She had not been there long before her
uncle came up to her. He did not sit down, or even take off the hat
which he still wore; but coming close to her, and still standing, he
spoke thus:--

"Mary, after what has passed I should be very unjust and very cruel
to you not to tell you one thing more than you have now learned. Your
mother was unfortunate in much, not in everything; but the world,
which is very often stern in such matters, never judged her to have
disgraced herself. I tell you this, my child, in order that you may
respect her memory;" and so saying, he again left her without giving
her time to speak a word.

What he then told her he had told in mercy. He felt what must be her
feelings when she reflected that she had to blush for her mother;
that not only could she not speak of her mother, but that she might
hardly think of her with innocence; and to mitigate such sorrow as
this, and also to do justice to the woman whom his brother had so
wronged, he had forced himself to reveal so much as is stated above.

And then he walked slowly by himself, backwards and forwards through
the garden, thinking of what he had done with reference to this girl,
and doubting whether he had done wisely and well. He had resolved,
when first the little infant was given over to his charge, that
nothing should be known of her or by her as to her mother. He was
willing to devote himself to this orphan child of his brother, this
last seedling of his father's house; but he was not willing so to do
this as to bring himself in any manner into familiar contact with the
Scatcherds. He had boasted to himself that he, at any rate, was a
gentleman; and that she, if she were to live in his house, sit at his
table, and share his hearth, must be a lady. He would tell no lie
about her; he would not to any one make her out to be aught other or
aught better than she was; people would talk about her of course,
only let them not talk to him; he conceived of himself--and the
conception was not without due ground--that should any do so, he
had that within him which would silence them. He would never claim
for this little creature--thus brought into the world without a
legitimate position in which to stand--he would never claim for her
any station that would not properly be her own. He would make for her
a station as best he could. As he might sink or swim, so should she.

So he had resolved; but things had arranged themselves, as they often
do, rather than been arranged by him. During ten or twelve years no
one had heard of Mary Thorne; the memory of Henry Thorne and his
tragic death had passed away; the knowledge that an infant had been
born whose birth was connected with that tragedy, a knowledge never
widely spread, had faded down into utter ignorance. At the end of
these twelve years, Dr Thorne had announced, that a young niece, a
child of a brother long since dead, was coming to live with him. As
he had contemplated, no one spoke to him; but some people did no
doubt talk among themselves. Whether or not the exact truth was
surmised by any, it matters not to say; with absolute exactness,
probably not; with great approach to it, probably yes. By one person,
at any rate, no guess whatever was made; no thought relative to Dr
Thorne's niece ever troubled him; no idea that Mary Scatcherd had
left a child in England ever occurred to him; and that person was
Roger Scatcherd, Mary's brother.

To one friend, and only one, did the doctor tell the whole truth,
and that was to the old squire. "I have told you," said the doctor,
"partly that you may know that the child has no right to mix with
your children if you think much of such things. Do you, however, see
to this. I would rather that no one else should be told."

No one else had been told; and the squire had "seen to it," by
accustoming himself to look at Mary Thorne running about the house
with his own children as though she were of the same brood. Indeed,
the squire had always been fond of Mary, had personally noticed her,
and, in the affair of Mam'selle Larron, had declared that he would
have her placed at once on the bench of magistrates;--much to the
disgust of the Lady Arabella.

And so things had gone on and on, and had not been thought of with
much downright thinking; till now, when she was one-and-twenty
years of age, his niece came to him, asking as to her position, and
inquiring in what rank of life she was to look for a husband.

And so the doctor walked backwards and forwards through the garden,
slowly, thinking now with some earnestness what if, after all, he
had been wrong about his niece? What if by endeavouring to place her
in the position of a lady, he had falsely so placed her, and robbed
her of all legitimate position? What if there was no rank of life to
which she could now properly attach herself?

And then, how had it answered, that plan of his of keeping her all
to himself? He, Dr Thorne, was still a poor man; the gift of saving
money had not been his; he had ever had a comfortable house for her
to live in, and, in spite of Doctors Fillgrave, Century, Rerechild,
and others, had made from his profession an income sufficient for
their joint wants; but he had not done as others do: he had no three
or four thousand pounds in the Three per Cents. on which Mary might
live in some comfort when he should die. Late in life he had insured
his life for eight hundred pounds; and to that, and that only, had
he to trust for Mary's future maintenance. How had it answered,
then, this plan of letting her be unknown to, and undreamed of by,
those who were as near to her on her mother's side as he was on the
father's? On that side, though there had been utter poverty, there
was now absolute wealth.

But when he took her to himself, had he not rescued her from the very
depths of the lowest misery: from the degradation of the workhouse;
from the scorn of honest-born charity-children; from the lowest of
the world's low conditions? Was she not now the apple of his eye, his
one great sovereign comfort--his pride, his happiness, his glory?
Was he to make her over, to make any portion of her over to others,
if, by doing so, she might be able to share the wealth, as well as
the coarse manners and uncouth society of her at present unknown
connexions? He, who had never worshipped wealth on his own behalf;
he, who had scorned the idol of gold, and had ever been teaching her
to scorn it; was he now to show that his philosophy had all been
false as soon as the temptation to do so was put in his way?

But yet, what man would marry this bastard child, without a sixpence,
and bring not only poverty, but ill blood also on his own children?
It might be very well for him, Dr Thorne; for him whose career was
made, whose name, at any rate, was his own; for him who had a fixed
standing-ground in the world; it might be well for him to indulge in
large views of a philosophy antagonistic to the world's practice; but
had he a right to do it for his niece? What man would marry a girl
so placed? For those among whom she might have legitimately found
a level, education had now utterly unfitted her. And then, he well
knew that she would never put out her hand in token of love to any
one without telling all she knew and all she surmised as to her own
birth.

And that question of this evening; had it not been instigated by some
appeal to her heart? Was there not already within her breast some
cause for disquietude which had made her so pertinacious? Why else
had she told him then, for the first time, that she did not know
where to rank herself? If such an appeal had been made to her, it
must have come from young Frank Gresham. What, in such case, would it
behove him to do? Should he pack up his all, his lancet-cases, pestle
and mortar, and seek anew fresh ground in a new world, leaving behind
a huge triumph to those learned enemies of his, Fillgrave, Century,
and Rerechild? Better that than remain at Greshamsbury at the cost of
his child's heart and pride.

And so he walked slowly backwards and forwards through his garden,
meditating these things painfully enough.



CHAPTER VIII

Matrimonial Prospects


It will of course be remembered that Mary's interview with the other
girls at Greshamsbury took place some two or three days subsequently
to Frank's generous offer of his hand and heart. Mary had quite made
up her mind that the whole thing was to be regarded as a folly, and
that it was not to be spoken of to any one; but yet her heart was
sore enough. She was full of pride, and yet she knew she must bow her
neck to the pride of others. Being, as she was herself, nameless, she
could not but feel a stern, unflinching antagonism, the antagonism of
a democrat, to the pretensions of others who were blessed with that
of which she had been deprived. She had this feeling; and yet, of
all the things that she coveted, she most coveted that, for glorying
in which, she was determined to heap scorn on others. She said to
herself, proudly, that God's handiwork was the inner man, the inner
woman, the naked creature animated by a living soul; that all other
adjuncts were but man's clothing for the creature; all others,
whether stitched by tailors or contrived by kings. Was it not within
her capacity to do as nobly, to love as truly, to worship her God in
heaven with as perfect a faith, and her god on earth with as leal a
troth, as though blood had descended to her purely through scores
of purely born progenitors? So to herself she spoke; and yet, as
she said it, she knew that were she a man, such a man as the heir
of Greshamsbury should be, nothing would tempt her to sully her
children's blood by mating herself with any one that was base born.
She felt that were she an Augusta Gresham, no Mr Moffat, let his
wealth be what it might, should win her hand unless he too could tell
of family honours and a line of ancestors.

And so, with a mind at war with itself, she came forth armed to do
battle against the world's prejudices, those prejudices she herself
loved so well.

And was she to give up her old affections, her feminine loves,
because she found that she was a cousin to nobody? Was she no longer
to pour out her heart to Beatrice Gresham with all the girlish
volubility of an equal? Was she to be severed from Patience Oriel,
and banished--or rather was she to banish herself--from the free
place she had maintained in the various youthful female conclaves
held within that parish of Greshamsbury?

Hitherto, what Mary Thorne would say, what Miss Thorne suggested in
such or such a matter, was quite as frequently asked as any opinion
from Augusta Gresham--quite as frequently, unless when it chanced
that any of the de Courcy girls were at the house. Was this to be
given up? These feelings had grown up among them since they were
children, and had not hitherto been questioned among them. Now they
were questioned by Mary Thorne. Was she in fact to find that her
position had been a false one, and must be changed?

Such had been her feelings when she protested that she would not be
Augusta Gresham's bridesmaid, and offered to put her neck beneath
Beatrice's foot; when she drove the Lady Margaretta out of the room,
and gave her own opinion as to the proper grammatical construction of
the word humble; such also had been her feelings when she kept her
hand so rigidly to herself while Frank held the dining-room door open
for her to pass through.

"Patience Oriel," said she to herself, "can talk to him of her father
and mother: let Patience take his hand; let her talk to him;" and
then, not long afterwards, she saw that Patience did talk to him; and
seeing it, she walked along silent, among some of the old people, and
with much effort did prevent a tear from falling down her cheek.

But why was the tear in her eye? Had she not proudly told Frank that
his love-making was nothing but a boy's silly rhapsody? Had she not
said so while she had yet reason to hope that her blood was as good
as his own? Had she not seen at a glance that his love tirade was
worthy of ridicule, and of no other notice? And yet there was a tear
now in her eye because this boy, whom she had scolded from her, whose
hand, offered in pure friendship, she had just refused, because he,
so rebuffed by her, had carried his fun and gallantry to one who
would be less cross to him!

She could hear as she was walking, that while Lady Margaretta was
with them, their voices were loud and merry; and her sharp ear could
also hear, when Lady Margaretta left them, that Frank's voice became
low and tender. So she walked on, saying nothing, looking straight
before her, and by degrees separating herself from all the others.

The Greshamsbury grounds were on one side somewhat too closely hemmed
in by the village. On this side was a path running the length of one
of the streets of the village; and far down the path, near to the
extremity of the gardens, and near also to a wicket-gate which led
out into the village, and which could be opened from the inside, was
a seat, under a big yew-tree, from which, through a breach in the
houses, might be seen the parish church, standing in the park on the
other side. Hither Mary walked alone, and here she seated herself,
determined to get rid of her tears and their traces before she again
showed herself to the world.

"I shall never be happy here again," said she to herself; "never. I
am no longer one of them, and I cannot live among them unless I am
so." And then an idea came across her mind that she hated Patience
Oriel; and then, instantly another idea followed it--quick as such
thoughts are quick--that she did not hate Patience Oriel at all; that
she liked her, nay, loved her; that Patience Oriel was a sweet girl;
and that she hoped the time would come when she might see her the
lady of Greshamsbury. And then the tear, which had been no whit
controlled, which indeed had now made itself master of her, came to a
head, and, bursting through the floodgates of the eye, came rolling
down, and in its fall, wetted her hand as it lay on her lap. "What a
fool! what an idiot! what an empty-headed cowardly fool I am!" said
she, springing up from the bench on her feet.

As she did so, she heard voices close to her, at the little gate.
They were those of her uncle and Frank Gresham.

"God bless you, Frank!" said the doctor, as he passed out of the
grounds. "You will excuse a lecture, won't you, from so old a
friend?--though you are a man now, and discreet, of course, by Act of
Parliament."

"Indeed I will, doctor," said Frank. "I will excuse a longer lecture
than that from you."

"At any rate it won't be to-night," said the doctor, as he
disappeared. "And if you see Mary, tell her that I am obliged to go;
and that I will send Janet down to fetch her."

Now Janet was the doctor's ancient maid-servant.

Mary could not move on without being perceived; she therefore stood
still till she heard the click of the door, and then began walking
rapidly back to the house by the path which had brought her thither.
The moment, however, that she did so, she found that she was
followed; and in a very few moments Frank was alongside of her.

"Oh, Mary!" said he, calling to her, but not loudly, before he quite
overtook her, "how odd that I should come across you just when I have
a message for you! and why are you all alone?"

Mary's first impulse was to reiterate her command to him to call her
no more by her Christian name; but her second impulse told her that
such an injunction at the present moment would not be prudent on her
part. The traces of her tears were still there; and she well knew
that a very little, the slightest show of tenderness on his part, the
slightest effort on her own to appear indifferent, would bring down
more than one other such intruder. It would, moreover, be better
for her to drop all outward sign that she remembered what had taken
place. So long, then, as he and she were at Greshamsbury together, he
should call her Mary if he pleased. He would soon be gone; and while
he remained, she would keep out of his way.

"Your uncle has been obliged to go away to see an old woman at
Silverbridge."

"At Silverbridge! why, he won't be back all night. Why could not the
old woman send for Dr Century?"

"I suppose she thought two old women could not get on well together."

Mary could not help smiling. She did not like her uncle going off so
late on such a journey; but it was always felt as a triumph when he
was invited into the strongholds of his enemies.

"And Janet is to come over for you. However, I told him it was quite
unnecessary to disturb another old woman, for that I should of course
see you home."

"Oh, no, Mr Gresham; indeed you'll not do that."

"Indeed, and indeed, I shall."

"What! on this great day, when every lady is looking for you, and
talking of you. I suppose you want to set the countess against me for
ever. Think, too, how angry Lady Arabella will be if you are absent
on such an errand as this."

"To hear you talk, Mary, one would think that you were going to
Silverbridge yourself."

"Perhaps I am."

"If I did not go with you, some of the other fellows would. John, or
George--"

"Good gracious, Frank! Fancy either of the Mr de Courcys walking home
with me!"

She had forgotten herself, and the strict propriety on which she had
resolved, in the impossibility of forgoing her little joke against
the de Courcy grandeur; she had forgotten herself, and had called
him Frank in her old, former, eager, free tone of voice; and then,
remembering she had done so, she drew herself up, but her lips, and
determined to be doubly on her guard in the future.

"Well, it shall be either one of them or I," said Frank: "perhaps you
would prefer my cousin George to me?"

"I should prefer Janet to either, seeing that with her I should not
suffer the extreme nuisance of knowing that I was a bore."

"A bore! Mary, to me?"

"Yes, Mr Gresham, a bore to you. Having to walk home through the mud
with village young ladies is boring. All gentlemen feel it to be so."

"There is no mud; if there were you would not be allowed to walk at
all."

"Oh! village young ladies never care for such things, though
fashionable gentlemen do."

"I would carry you home, Mary, if it would do you a service," said
Frank, with considerable pathos in his voice.

"Oh, dear me! pray do not, Mr Gresham. I should not like it at all,"
said she: "a wheelbarrow would be preferable to that."

"Of course. Anything would be preferable to my arm, I know."

"Certainly; anything in the way of a conveyance. If I were to act
baby; and you were to act nurse, it really would not be comfortable
for either of us."

Frank Gresham felt disconcerted, though he hardly knew why. He was
striving to say something tender to his lady-love; but every word
that he spoke she turned into joke. Mary did not answer him coldly
or unkindly; but, nevertheless, he was displeased. One does not like
to have one's little offerings of sentimental service turned into
burlesque when one is in love in earnest. Mary's jokes had appeared
so easy too; they seemed to come from a heart so little troubled.
This, also, was cause of vexation to Frank. If he could but have
known all, he would, perhaps, have been better pleased.

He determined not to be absolutely laughed out of his tenderness.
When, three days ago, he had been repulsed, he had gone away owning
to himself that he had been beaten; owning so much, but owning it
with great sorrow and much shame. Since that he had come of age;
since that he had made speeches, and speeches had been made to him;
since that he had gained courage by flirting with Patience Oriel. No
faint heart ever won a fair lady, as he was well aware; he resolved,
therefore, that his heart should not be faint, and that he would see
whether the fair lady might not be won by becoming audacity.

"Mary," said he, stopping in the path--for they were now near the
spot where it broke out upon the lawn, and they could already hear
the voices of the guests--"Mary, you are unkind to me."

"I am not aware of it, Mr Gresham; but if I am, do not you retaliate.
I am weaker than you, and in your power; do not you, therefore, be
unkind to me."

"You refused my hand just now," continued he. "Of all the people here
at Greshamsbury, you are the only one that has not wished me joy; the
only one--"

"I do wish you joy; I will wish you joy; there is my hand," and she
frankly put out her ungloved hand. "You are quite man enough to
understand me: there is my hand; I trust you use it only as it is
meant to be used."

He took it in his and pressed it cordially, as he might have done
that of any other friend in such a case; and then--did not drop it
as he should have done. He was not a St Anthony, and it was most
imprudent in Miss Thorne to subject him to such a temptation.

"Mary," said he; "dear Mary! dearest Mary! if you did but know how I
love you!"

As he said this, holding Miss Thorne's hand, he stood on the pathway
with his back towards the lawn and house, and, therefore, did not at
first see his sister Augusta, who had just at that moment come upon
them. Mary blushed up to her straw hat, and, with a quick jerk,
recovered her hand. Augusta saw the motion, and Mary saw that Augusta
had seen it.

From my tedious way of telling it, the reader will be led to imagine
that the hand-squeezing had been protracted to a duration quite
incompatible with any objection to such an arrangement on the part of
the lady; but the fault is mine: in no part hers. Were I possessed
of a quick spasmodic style of narrative, I should have been able
to include it all--Frank's misbehaviour, Mary's immediate anger,
Augusta's arrival, and keen, Argus-eyed inspection, and then Mary's
subsequent misery--in five words and half a dozen dashes and inverted
commas. The thing should have been so told; for, to do Mary justice,
she did not leave her hand in Frank's a moment longer than she could
help herself.

Frank, feeling the hand withdrawn, and hearing, when it was too late,
the step on the gravel, turned sharply round. "Oh, it's you, is it,
Augusta? Well, what do you want?"

Augusta was not naturally very ill-natured, seeing that in her veins
the high de Courcy blood was somewhat tempered by an admixture of
the Gresham attributes; nor was she predisposed to make her brother
her enemy by publishing to the world any of his little tender
peccadilloes; but she could not but bethink herself of what her aunt
had been saying as to the danger of any such encounters as that she
just now had beheld; she could not but start at seeing her brother
thus, on the very brink of the precipice of which the countess had
specially forewarned her mother. She, Augusta, was, as she well knew,
doing her duty by her family by marrying a tailor's son for whom she
did not care a chip, seeing the tailor's son was possessed of untold
wealth. Now when one member of a household is making a struggle for a
family, it is painful to see the benefit of that struggle negatived
by the folly of another member. The future Mrs Moffat did feel
aggrieved by the fatuity of the young heir, and, consequently, took
upon herself to look as much like her Aunt de Courcy as she could do.

"Well, what is it?" said Frank, looking rather disgusted. "What makes
you stick your chin up and look in that way?" Frank had hitherto been
rather a despot among his sisters, and forgot that the eldest of
them was now passing altogether from under his sway to that of the
tailor's son.

"Frank," said Augusta, in a tone of voice which did honour to the
great lessons she had lately received. "Aunt de Courcy wants to see
you immediately in the small drawing-room;" and, as she said so, she
resolved to say a few words of advice to Miss Thorne as soon as her
brother should have left them.

"In the small drawing-room, does she? Well, Mary, we may as well go
together, for I suppose it is tea-time now."

"You had better go at once, Frank," said Augusta; "the countess will
be angry if you keep her waiting. She has been expecting you these
twenty minutes. Mary Thorne and I can return together."

There was something in the tone in which the words, "Mary Thorne,"
were uttered, which made Mary at once draw herself up. "I hope," said
she, "that Mary Thorne will never be any hindrance to either of you."

Frank's ear had also perceived that there was something in the tone
of his sister's voice not boding comfort to Mary; he perceived that
the de Courcy blood in Augusta's veins was already rebelling against
the doctor's niece on his part, though it had condescended to submit
itself to the tailor's son on her own part.

"Well, I am going," said he; "but look here Augusta, if you say one
word of Mary--"

Oh, Frank! Frank! you boy, you very boy! you goose, you silly goose!
Is that the way you make love, desiring one girl not to tell of
another, as though you were three children, tearing your frocks and
trousers in getting through the same hedge together? Oh, Frank!
Frank! you, the full-blown heir of Greshamsbury? You, a man already
endowed with a man's discretion? You, the forward rider, that did but
now threaten young Harry Baker and the Honourable John to eclipse
them by prowess in the field? You, of age? Why, thou canst not as yet
have left thy mother's apron-string!

"If you say one word of Mary--"

So far had he got in his injunction to his sister, but further than
that, in such a case, was he never destined to proceed. Mary's
indignation flashed upon him, striking him dumb long before the sound
of her voice reached his ears; and yet she spoke as quick as the
words would come to her call, and somewhat loudly too.

"Say one word of Mary, Mr Gresham! And why should she not say as many
words of Mary as she may please? I must tell you all now, Augusta!
and I must also beg you not to be silent for my sake. As far as I am
concerned, tell it to whom you please. This was the second time your
brother--"

"Mary, Mary," said Frank, deprecating her loquacity.

"I beg your pardon, Mr Gresham; you have made it necessary that I
should tell your sister all. He has now twice thought it well to
amuse himself by saying to me words which it was ill-natured in him
to speak, and--"

"Ill-natured, Mary!"

"Ill-natured in him to speak," continued Mary, "and to which it would
be absurd for me to listen. He probably does the same to others," she
added, being unable in heart to forget that sharpest of her wounds,
that flirtation of his with Patience Oriel; "but to me it is almost
cruel. Another girl might laugh at him, or listen to him, as she
would choose; but I can do neither. I shall now keep away from
Greshamsbury, at any rate till he has left it; and, Augusta, I can
only beg you to understand, that, as far as I am concerned, there is
nothing which may not be told to all the world."

And, so saying, she walked on a little in advance of them, as proud
as a queen. Had Lady de Courcy herself met her at this moment, she
would almost have felt herself forced to shrink out of the pathway.
"Not say a word of me!" she repeated to herself, but still out loud.
"No word need be left unsaid on my account; none, none."

Augusta followed her, dumfounded at her indignation; and Frank also
followed, but not in silence. When his first surprise at Mary's
great anger was over, he felt himself called upon to say some word
that might tend to exonerate his lady-love; and some word also of
protestation as to his own purpose.

"There is nothing to be told, nothing, at least of Mary," he said,
speaking to his sister; "but of me, you may tell this, if you choose
to disoblige your brother--that I love Mary Thorne with all my heart;
and that I will never love any one else."

By this time they had reached the lawn, and Mary was able to turn
away from the path which led up to the house. As she left them she
said in a voice, now low enough, "I cannot prevent him from talking
nonsense, Augusta; but you will bear me witness, that I do not
willingly hear it." And, so saying, she started off almost in a run
towards the distant part of the gardens, in which she saw Beatrice.

Frank, as he walked up to the house with his sister, endeavoured to
induce her to give him a promise that she would tell no tales as to
what she had heard and seen.

"Of course, Frank, it must be all nonsense," she had said; "and you
shouldn't amuse yourself in such a way."

"Well, but, Guss, come, we have always been friends; don't let us
quarrel just when you are going to be married." But Augusta would
make no promise.

Frank, when he reached the house, found the countess waiting for him,
sitting in the little drawing-room by herself,--somewhat impatiently.
As he entered he became aware that there was some peculiar gravity
attached to the coming interview. Three persons, his mother, one of
his younger sisters, and the Lady Amelia, each stopped him to let
him know that the countess was waiting; and he perceived that a
sort of guard was kept upon the door to save her ladyship from any
undesirable intrusion.

The countess frowned at the moment of his entrance, but soon smoothed
her brow, and invited him to take a chair ready prepared for him
opposite to the elbow of the sofa on which she was leaning. She had a
small table before her, on which was her teacup, so that she was able
to preach at him nearly as well as though she had been ensconced in a
pulpit.

"My dear Frank," said she, in a voice thoroughly suitable to the
importance of the communication, "you have to-day come of age."

Frank remarked that he understood that such was the case, and added
that "that was the reason for all the fuss."

"Yes; you have to-day come of age. Perhaps I should have been glad to
see such an occasion noticed at Greshamsbury with some more suitable
signs of rejoicing."

"Oh, aunt! I think we did it all very well."

"Greshamsbury, Frank, is, or at any rate ought to be, the seat of the
first commoner in Barsetshire.

"Well; so it is. I am quite sure there isn't a better fellow than
father anywhere in the county."

The countess sighed. Her opinion of the poor squire was very
different from Frank's. "It is no use now," said she, "looking back
to that which cannot be cured. The first commoner in Barsetshire
should hold a position--I will not of course say equal to that of a
peer."

"Oh dear no; of course not," said Frank; and a bystander might have
thought that there was a touch of satire in his tone.

"No, not equal to that of a peer; but still of very paramount
importance. Of course my first ambition is bound up in Porlock."

"Of course," said Frank, thinking how very weak was the staff on
which his aunt's ambition rested; for Lord Porlock's youthful career
had not been such as to give unmitigated satisfaction to his parents.

"Is bound up in Porlock:" and then the countess plumed herself; but
the mother sighed. "And next to Porlock, Frank, my anxiety is about
you."

"Upon my honour, aunt, I am very much obliged. I shall be all right,
you'll see."

"Greshamsbury, my dear boy, is not now what it used to be."

"Isn't it?" asked Frank.

"No, Frank; by no means. I do not wish to say a word against your
father. It may, perhaps have been his misfortune, rather than his
fault--"

"She is always down on the governor; always," said Frank to himself;
resolving to stick bravely to the side of the house to which he had
elected to belong.

"But there is the fact, Frank, too plain to us all; Greshamsbury is
not what it was. It is your duty to restore it to its former
importance."

"My duty!" said Frank, rather puzzled.

"Yes, Frank, your duty. It all depends on you now. Of course you know
that your father owes a great deal of money."

Frank muttered something. Tidings had in some shape reached his ear
that his father was not comfortably circumstances as regarded money.

"And then, he has sold Boxall Hill. It cannot be expected that Boxall
Hill shall be repurchased, as some horrid man, a railway-maker, I
believe--"

"Yes; that's Scatcherd."

"Well, he has built a house there, I'm told; so I presume that it
cannot be bought back: but it will be your duty, Frank, to pay all
the debts that there are on the property, and to purchase what, at
any rate, will be equal to Boxall Hill."

Frank opened his eyes wide and stared at his aunt, as though doubting
much whether or no she were in her right mind. He pay off the
family debts! He buy up property of four thousand pounds a year!
He remained, however, quite quiet, waiting the elucidation of the
mystery.

"Frank, of course you understand me."

Frank was obliged to declare, that just at the present moment he did
not find his aunt so clear as usual.

"You have but one line of conduct left you, Frank: your position,
as heir to Greshamsbury, is a good one; but your father has
unfortunately so hampered you with regard to money, that unless you
set the matter right yourself, you can never enjoy that position. Of
course you must marry money."

"Marry money!" said he, considering for the first time that in all
probability Mary Thorne's fortune would not be extensive. "Marry
money!"

"Yes, Frank. I know no man whose position so imperatively demands it;
and luckily for you, no man can have more facility for doing so. In
the first place you are very handsome."

Frank blushed like a girl of sixteen.

"And then, as the matter is made plain to you at so early an age,
you are not of course hampered by any indiscreet tie; by any absurd
engagement."

Frank blushed again; and then saying to himself, "How much the old
girl knows about it!" felt a little proud of his passion for Mary
Thorne, and of the declaration he had made to her.

"And your connexion with Courcy Castle," continued the countess, now
carrying up the list of Frank's advantages to its great climax, "will
make the matter so easy for you, that really, you will hardly have
any difficulty."

Frank could not but say how much obliged he felt to Courcy Castle and
its inmates.

"Of course I would not wish to interfere with you in any underhand
way, Frank; but I will tell you what has occurred to me. You have
heard, probably, of Miss Dunstable?"

"The daughter of the ointment of Lebanon man?"

"And of course you know that her fortune is immense," continued
the countess, not deigning to notice her nephew's allusion to the
ointment. "Quite immense when compared with the wants and position of
any commoner. Now she is coming to Courcy Castle, and I wish you to
come and meet her."

"But, aunt, just at this moment I have to read for my degree like
anything. I go up, you know, in October."

"Degree!" said the countess. "Why, Frank, I am talking to you of
your prospects in life, of your future position, of that on which
everything hangs, and you tell me of your degree!"

Frank, however, obstinately persisted that he must take his degree,
and that he should commence reading hard at six a.m. to-morrow
morning.

"You can read just as well at Courcy Castle. Miss Dunstable will
not interfere with that," said his aunt, who knew the expediency of
yielding occasionally; "but I must beg you will come over and meet
her. You will find her a most charming young woman, remarkably well
educated I am told, and--"

"How old is she?" asked Frank.

"I really cannot say exactly," said the countess; "but it is not, I
imagine, matter of much moment."

"Is she thirty?" asked Frank, who looked upon an unmarried woman of
that age as quite an old maid.

"I dare say she may be about that age," said the countess, who
regarded the subject from a very different point of view.

"Thirty!" said Frank out loud, but speaking, nevertheless, as though
to himself.

"It is a matter of no moment," said his aunt, almost angrily. "When
the subject itself is of such vital importance, objections of no
real weight should not be brought into view. If you wish to hold up
your head in the country; if you wish to represent your county in
Parliament, as has been done by your father, your grandfather, and
your great-grandfathers; if you wish to keep a house over your head,
and to leave Greshamsbury to your son after you, you must marry
money. What does it signify whether Miss Dunstable be twenty-eight
or thirty? She has got money; and if you marry her, you may then
consider that your position in life is made."

Frank was astonished at his aunt's eloquence; but, in spite of
that eloquence, he made up his mind that he would not marry Miss
Dunstable. How could he, indeed, seeing that his troth was already
plighted to Mary Thorne in the presence of his sister? This
circumstance, however, he did not choose to plead to his aunt, so he
recapitulated any other objections that presented themselves to his
mind.

In the first place, he was so anxious about his degree that he could
not think of marrying at present; then he suggested that it might be
better to postpone the question till the season's hunting should be
over; he declared that he could not visit Courcy Castle till he got a
new suit of clothes home from the tailor; and ultimately remembered
that he had a particular engagement to go fly-fishing with Mr Oriel
on that day week.

None, however, of these valid reasons were sufficiently potent to
turn the countess from her point.

"Nonsense, Frank," said she, "I wonder that you can talk of
fly-fishing when the property of Greshamsbury is at stake. You will
go with Augusta and myself to Courcy Castle to-morrow."

"To-morrow, aunt!" he said, in the tone in which a condemned criminal
might make his ejaculation on hearing that a very near day had been
named for his execution. "To-morrow!"

"Yes, we return to-morrow, and shall be happy to have your company.
My friends, including Miss Dunstable, come on Thursday. I am quite
sure you will like Miss Dunstable. I have settled all that with your
mother, so we need say nothing further about it. And now, good-night,
Frank."

Frank, finding that there was nothing more to be said, took his
departure, and went out to look for Mary. But Mary had gone home with
Janet half an hour since, so he betook himself to his sister
Beatrice.

"Beatrice," said he, "I am to go to Courcy Castle to-morrow."

"So I heard mamma say."

"Well; I only came of age to-day, and I will not begin by running
counter to them. But I tell you what, I won't stay above a week
at Courcy Castle for all the de Courcys in Barsetshire. Tell me,
Beatrice, did you ever hear of a Miss Dunstable?"



CHAPTER IX

Sir Roger Scatcherd


Enough has been said in this narrative to explain to the reader that
Roger Scatcherd, who was whilom a drunken stone-mason in Barchester,
and who had been so prompt to avenge the injury done to his sister,
had become a great man in the world. He had become a contractor,
first for little things, such as half a mile or so of a railway
embankment, or three or four canal bridges, and then a contractor for
great things, such as Government hospitals, locks, docks, and quays,
and had latterly had in his hands the making of whole lines of
railway.

He had been occasionally in partnership with one man for one thing,
and then with another for another; but had, on the whole, kept his
interests to himself, and now at the time of our story, he was a very
rich man.

And he had acquired more than wealth. There had been a time when the
Government wanted the immediate performance of some extraordinary
piece of work, and Roger Scatcherd had been the man to do it. There
had been some extremely necessary bit of a railway to be made in half
the time that such work would properly demand, some speculation to
be incurred requiring great means and courage as well, and Roger
Scatcherd had been found to be the man for the time. He was then
elevated for the moment to the dizzy pinnacle of a newspaper hero,
and became one of those "whom the king delighteth to honour." He went
up one day to kiss Her Majesty's hand, and come down to his new grand
house at Boxall Hill, Sir Roger Scatcherd, Bart.

"And now, my lady," said he, when he explained to his wife the high
state to which she had been called by his exertions and the Queen's
prerogative, "let's have a bit of dinner, and a drop of som'at hot."
Now the drop of som'at hot signified a dose of alcohol sufficient to
send three ordinary men very drunk to bed.

While conquering the world Roger Scatcherd had not conquered his old
bad habits. Indeed, he was the same man at all points that he had
been when formerly seen about the streets of Barchester with his
stone-mason's apron tucked up round his waist. The apron he had
abandoned, but not the heavy prominent thoughtful brow, with the
wildly flashing eye beneath it. He was still the same good companion,
and still also the same hard-working hero. In this only had he
changed, that now he would work, and some said equally well, whether
he were drunk or sober. Those who were mostly inclined to make a
miracle of him--and there was a school of worshippers ready to adore
him as their idea of a divine, superhuman, miracle-moving, inspired
prophet--declared that his wondrous work was best done, his
calculations most quickly and most truly made, that he saw with most
accurate eye into the far-distant balance of profit and loss, when
he was under the influence of the rosy god. To these worshippers his
breakings-out, as his periods of intemperance were called in his own
set, were his moments of peculiar inspiration--his divine frenzies,
in which he communicated most closely with those deities who preside
over trade transactions; his Eleusinian mysteries, to approach him in
which was permitted only to a few of the most favoured.

"Scatcherd has been drunk this week past," they would say one to
another, when the moment came at which it was to be decided whose
offer should be accepted for constructing a harbour to hold all the
commerce of Lancashire, or to make a railway from Bombay to Canton.
"Scatcherd has been drunk this week past; I am told that he has taken
over three gallons of brandy." And then they felt sure that none but
Scatcherd would be called upon to construct the dock or make the
railway.

But be this as it may, be it true or false that Sir Roger was most
efficacious when in his cups, there can be no doubt that he could not
wallow for a week in brandy, six or seven times every year, without
in a great measure injuring, and permanently injuring, the outward
man. Whatever immediate effect such symposiums might have on the
inner mind--symposiums indeed they were not; posiums I will call
them, if I may be allowed; for in latter life, when he drank heavily,
he drank alone--however little for evil, or however much for good the
working of his brain might be affected, his body suffered greatly. It
was not that he became feeble or emaciated, old-looking or inactive,
that his hand shook, or that his eye was watery; but that in the
moments of his intemperance his life was often not worth a day's
purchase. The frame which God had given to him was powerful beyond
the power of ordinary men; powerful to act in spite of these violent
perturbations; powerful to repress and conquer the qualms and
headaches and inward sicknesses to which the votaries of Bacchus are
ordinarily subject; but this power was not without its limit. If
encroached on too far, it would break and fall and come asunder, and
then the strong man would at once become a corpse.

Scatcherd had but one friend in the world. And, indeed, this friend
was no friend in the ordinary acceptance of the word. He neither ate
with him nor drank with him, nor even frequently talked with him.
Their pursuits in life were wide asunder. Their tastes were all
different. The society in which each moved very seldom came together.
Scatcherd had nothing in unison with this solitary friend; but he
trusted him, and he trusted no other living creature on God's earth.

He trusted this man; but even him he did not trust thoroughly; not at
least as one friend should trust another. He believed that this man
would not rob him; would probably not lie to him; would not endeavour
to make money of him; would not count him up or speculate on him, and
make out a balance of profit and loss; and, therefore, he determined
to use him. But he put no trust whatever in his friend's counsel, in
his modes of thought; none in his theory, and none in his practice.
He disliked his friend's counsel, and, in fact, disliked his
society, for his friend was somewhat apt to speak to him in a manner
approaching to severity. Now Roger Scatcherd had done many things
in the world, and made much money; whereas his friend had done but
few things, and made no money. It was not to be endured that the
practical, efficient man should be taken to task by the man who
proved himself to be neither practical nor efficient; not to be
endured, certainly, by Roger Scatcherd, who looked on men of his own
class as the men of the day, and on himself as by no means the least
among them.

The friend was our friend Dr Thorne.

The doctor's first acquaintance with Scatcherd has been already
explained. He was necessarily thrown into communication with the man
at the time of the trial, and Scatcherd then had not only sufficient
sense, but sufficient feeling also to know that the doctor behaved
very well. This communication had in different ways been kept up
between them. Soon after the trial Scatcherd had begun to rise, and
his first savings had been entrusted to the doctor's care. This had
been the beginning of a pecuniary connexion which had never wholly
ceased, and which had led to the purchase of Boxall Hill, and to the
loan of large sums of money to the squire.

In another way also there had been a close alliance between them, and
one not always of a very pleasant description. The doctor was, and
long had been, Sir Roger's medical attendant, and, in his unceasing
attempts to rescue the drunkard from the fate which was so much to
be dreaded, he not unfrequently was driven into a quarrel with his
patient.

One thing further must be told of Sir Roger. In politics he was as
violent a Radical as ever, and was very anxious to obtain a position
in which he could bring his violence to bear. With this view he was
about to contest his native borough of Barchester, in the hope of
being returned in opposition to the de Courcy candidate; and with
this object he had now come down to Boxall Hill.

Nor were his claims to sit for Barchester such as could be despised.
If money were to be of avail, he had plenty of it, and was prepared
to spend it; whereas, rumour said that Mr Moffat was equally
determined to do nothing so foolish. Then again, Sir Roger had a sort
of rough eloquence, and was able to address the men of Barchester in
language that would come home to their hearts, in words that would
endear him to one party while they made him offensively odious to the
other; but Mr Moffat could make neither friends nor enemies by his
eloquence. The Barchester roughs called him a dumb dog that could not
bark, and sometimes sarcastically added that neither could he bite.
The de Courcy interest, however, was at his back, and he had also the
advantage of possession. Sir Roger, therefore, knew that the battle
was not to be won without a struggle.

Dr Thorne got safely back from Silverbridge that evening, and found
Mary waiting to give him his tea. He had been called there to a
consultation with Dr Century, that amiable old gentleman having so
far fallen away from the high Fillgrave tenets as to consent to the
occasional endurance of such degradation.

The next morning he breakfasted early, and, having mounted his strong
iron-grey cob, started for Boxall Hill. Not only had he there to
negotiate the squire's further loan, but also to exercise his medical
skill. Sir Roger having been declared contractor for cutting a canal
from sea to sea, through the Isthmus of Panama, had been making a
week of it; and the result was that Lady Scatcherd had written rather
peremptorily to her husband's medical friend.

The doctor consequently trotted off to Boxall Hill on his iron-grey
cob. Among his other merits was that of being a good horseman, and
he did much of his work on horseback. The fact that he occasionally
took a day with the East Barsetshires, and that when he did so he
thoroughly enjoyed it, had probably not failed to add something to
the strength of the squire's friendship.

"Well, my lady, how is he? Not much the matter, I hope?" said the
doctor, as he shook hands with the titled mistress of Boxall Hill in
a small breakfast-parlour in the rear of the house. The show-rooms
of Boxall Hill were furnished most magnificently, but they were set
apart for company; and as the company never came--seeing that they
were never invited--the grand rooms and the grand furniture were not
of much material use to Lady Scatcherd.

"Indeed then, doctor, he's just bad enough," said her ladyship, not
in a very happy tone of voice; "just bad enough. There's been some'at
at the back of his head, rapping, and rapping, and rapping; and if
you don't do something, I'm thinking it will rap him too hard yet."

"Is he in bed?"

"Why, yes, he is in bed; for when he was first took he couldn't very
well help hisself, so we put him to bed. And then, he don't seem to
be quite right yet about the legs, so he hasn't got up; but he's got
that Winterbones with him to write for him, and when Winterbones is
there, Scatcherd might as well be up for any good that bed'll do
him."

Mr Winterbones was confidential clerk to Sir Roger. That is to say,
he was a writing-machine of which Sir Roger made use to do certain
work which could not well be adjusted without some contrivance. He
was a little, withered, dissipated, broken-down man, whom gin and
poverty had nearly burnt to a cinder, and dried to an ash. Mind he
had none left, nor care for earthly things, except the smallest
modicum of substantial food, and the largest allowance of liquid
sustenance. All that he had ever known he had forgotten, except how
to count up figures and to write: the results of his counting and his
writing never stayed with him from one hour to another; nay, not from
one folio to another. Let him, however, be adequately screwed up with
gin, and adequately screwed down by the presence of his master, and
then no amount of counting and writing would be too much for him.
This was Mr Winterbones, confidential clerk to the great Sir Roger
Scatcherd.

"We must send Winterbones away, I take it," said the doctor.

"Indeed, doctor, I wish you would. I wish you'd send him to Bath, or
anywhere else out of the way. There is Scatcherd, he takes brandy;
and there is Winterbones, he takes gin; and it'd puzzle a woman to
say which is worst, master or man."

It will seem from this, that Lady Scatcherd and the doctor were on
very familiar terms as regarded her little domestic inconveniences.

"Tell Sir Roger I am here, will you?" said the doctor.

"You'll take a drop of sherry before you go up?" said the lady.

"Not a drop, thank you," said the doctor.

"Or, perhaps, a little cordial?"

"Not of drop of anything, thank you; I never do, you know."

"Just a thimbleful of this?" said the lady, producing from some
recess under a sideboard a bottle of brandy; "just a thimbleful? It's
what he takes himself."

When Lady Scatcherd found that even this argument failed, she led the
way to the great man's bedroom.

"Well, doctor! well, doctor! well, doctor!" was the greeting with
which our son of Galen was saluted some time before he entered the
sick-room. His approaching step was heard, and thus the ci-devant
Barchester stone-mason saluted his coming friend. The voice was loud
and powerful, but not clear and sonorous. What voice that is nurtured
on brandy can ever be clear? It had about it a peculiar huskiness, a
dissipated guttural tone, which Thorne immediately recognised, and
recognised as being more marked, more guttural, and more husky than
heretofore.

"So you've smelt me out, have you, and come for your fee? Ha! ha!
ha! Well, I have had a sharpish bout of it, as her ladyship there
no doubt has told you. Let her alone to make the worst of it. But,
you see, you're too late, man. I've bilked the old gentleman again
without troubling you."

"Anyway, I'm glad you're something better, Scatcherd."

"Something! I don't know what you call something. I never was better
in my life. Ask Winterbones there."

"Indeed, now, Scatcherd, you ain't; you're bad enough if you only
knew it. And as for Winterbones, he has no business here up in your
bedroom, which stinks of gin so, it does. Don't you believe him,
doctor; he ain't well, nor yet nigh well."

Winterbones, when the above ill-natured allusion was made to
the aroma coming from his libations, might be seen to deposit
surreptitiously beneath the little table at which he sat, the cup
with which he had performed them.

The doctor, in the meantime, had taken Sir Roger's hand on the
pretext of feeling his pulse, but was drawing quite as much
information from the touch of the sick man's skin, and the look of
the sick man's eye.

"I think Mr Winterbones had better go back to the London office,"
said he. "Lady Scatcherd will be your best clerk for some time, Sir
Roger."

"Then I'll be d---- if Mr Winterbones does anything of the kind,"
said he; "so there's an end of that."

"Very well," said the doctor. "A man can die but once. It is my duty
to suggest measures for putting off the ceremony as long as possible.
Perhaps, however, you may wish to hasten it."

"Well, I am not very anxious about it, one way or the other," said
Scatcherd. And as he spoke there came a fierce gleam from his eye,
which seemed to say--"If that's the bugbear with which you wish to
frighten me, you will find that you are mistaken."

"Now, doctor, don't let him talk that way, don't," said Lady
Scatcherd, with her handkerchief to her eyes.

"Now, my lady, do you cut it; cut at once," said Sir Roger, turning
hastily round to his better-half; and his better-half, knowing that
the province of a woman is to obey, did cut it. But as she went she
gave the doctor a pull by the coat's sleeve, so that thereby his
healing faculties might be sharpened to the very utmost.

"The best woman in the world, doctor; the very best," said he, as the
door closed behind the wife of his bosom.

"I'm sure of it," said the doctor.

"Yes, till you find a better one," said Scatcherd. "Ha! ha! ha! but
good or bad, there are some things which a woman can't understand,
and some things which she ought not to be let to understand."

"It's natural she should be anxious about your health, you know."

"I don't know that," said the contractor. "She'll be very well off.
All that whining won't keep a man alive, at any rate."

There was a pause, during which the doctor continued his medical
examination. To this the patient submitted with a bad grace; but
still he did submit.

"We must turn over a new leaf, Sir Roger; indeed we must."

"Bother," said Sir Roger.

"Well, Scatcherd; I must do my duty to you, whether you like it or
not."

"That is to say, I am to pay you for trying to frighten me."

"No human nature can stand such shocks as these much longer."

"Winterbones," said the contractor, turning to his clerk, "go down,
go down, I say; but don't be out of the way. If you go to the
public-house, by G----, you may stay there for me. When I take a
drop,--that is if I ever do, it does not stand in the way of work."
So Mr Winterbones, picking up his cup again, and concealing it in
some way beneath his coat flap, retreated out of the room, and the
two friends were alone.

"Scatcherd," said the doctor, "you have been as near your God, as any
man ever was who afterwards ate and drank in this world."

"Have I, now?" said the railway hero, apparently somewhat startled.

"Indeed you have; indeed you have."

"And now I'm all right again?"

"All right! How can you be all right, when you know that your limbs
refuse to carry you? All right! why the blood is still beating round
your brain with a violence that would destroy any other brain but
yours."

"Ha! ha! ha!" laughed Scatcherd. He was very proud of thinking
himself to be differently organised from other men. "Ha! ha! ha!
Well, and what am I to do now?"

The whole of the doctor's prescription we will not give at length.
To some of his ordinances Sir Roger promised obedience; to others he
objected violently, and to one or two he flatly refused to listen.
The great stumbling-block was this, that total abstinence from
business for two weeks was enjoined; and that it was impossible, so
Sir Roger said, that he should abstain for two days.

"If you work," said the doctor, "in your present state, you will
certainly have recourse to the stimulus of drink; and if you drink,
most assuredly you will die."

"Stimulus! Why do you think I can't work without Dutch courage?"

"Scatcherd, I know that there is brandy in the room at this moment,
and that you have been taking it within these two hours."

"You smell that fellow's gin," said Scatcherd.

"I feel the alcohol working within your veins," said the doctor, who
still had his hand on his patient's arm.

Sir Roger turned himself roughly in the bed so as to get away from
his Mentor, and then he began to threaten in his turn.

"I'll tell you what it is, doctor; I've made up my mind, and I'll do
it. I'll send for Fillgrave."

"Very well," said he of Greshamsbury, "send for Fillgrave. Your case
is one in which even he can hardly go wrong."

"You think you can hector me, and do as you like because you had me
under your thumb in other days. You're a very good fellow, Thorne,
but I ain't sure that you are the best doctor in all England."

"You may be sure I am not; you may take me for the worst if you will.
But while I am here as your medical adviser, I can only tell you the
truth to the best of my thinking. Now the truth is this, that another
bout of drinking will in all probability kill you; and any recourse
to stimulus in your present condition may do so."

"I'll send for Fillgrave--"

"Well, send for Fillgrave, only do it at once. Believe me at any
rate in this, that whatever you do, you should do at once. Oblige
me in this; let Lady Scatcherd take away that brandy bottle till Dr
Fillgrave comes."

"I'm d---- if I do. Do you think I can't have a bottle of brandy in
my room without swigging?"

"I think you'll be less likely to swig it if you can't get at it."

Sir Roger made another angry turn in his bed as well as his
half-paralysed limbs would let him; and then, after a few moments'
peace, renewed his threats with increased violence.

"Yes; I'll have Fillgrave over here. If a man be ill, really ill,
he should have the best advice he can get. I'll have Fillgrave, and
I'll have that other fellow from Silverbridge to meet him. What's his
name?--Century."

The doctor turned his head away; for though the occasion was serious,
he could not help smiling at the malicious vengeance with which his
friend proposed to gratify himself.

"I will; and Rerechild too. What's the expense? I suppose five or six
pound apiece will do it; eh, Thorne?"

"Oh, yes; that will be liberal I should say. But, Sir Roger, will you
allow me to suggest what you ought to do? I don't know how far you
may be joking--"

"Joking!" shouted the baronet; "you tell a man he's dying and joking
in the same breath. You'll find I'm not joking."

"Well I dare say not. But if you have not full confidence in me--"

"I have no confidence in you at all."

"Then why not send to London? Expense is no object to you."

"It is an object; a great object."

"Nonsense! Send to London for Sir Omicron Pie: send for some man whom
you will really trust when you see him.

"There's not one of the lot I'd trust as soon as Fillgrave. I've
known Fillgrave all my life, and I trust him. I'll send for Fillgrave
and put my case in his hands. If any one can do anything for me,
Fillgrave is the man."

"Then in God's name send for Fillgrave," said the doctor. "And now,
good-bye, Scatcherd; and as you do send for him, give him a fair
chance. Do not destroy yourself by more brandy before he comes."

"That's my affair, and his; not yours," said the patient.

"So be it; give me your hand, at any rate, before I go. I wish you
well through it, and when you are well, I'll come and see you."

"Good-bye--good-bye; and look here, Thorne, you'll be talking to Lady
Scatcherd downstairs I know; now, no nonsense. You understand me, eh?
no nonsense, you know."



CHAPTER X

Sir Roger's Will


Dr Thorne left the room and went downstairs, being fully aware that
he could not leave the house without having some communication with
Lady Scatcherd. He was not sooner within the passage than he heard
the sick man's bell ring violently; and then the servant, passing
him on the staircase, received orders to send a mounted messenger
immediately to Barchester. Dr Fillgrave was to be summoned to come as
quickly as possible to the sick man's room, and Mr Winterbones was to
be sent up to write the note.

Sir Roger was quite right in supposing that there would be some words
between the doctor and her ladyship. How, indeed, was the doctor to
get out of the house without such, let him wish it ever so much?
There were words; and these were protracted, while the doctor's
cob was being ordered round, till very many were uttered which the
contractor would probably have regarded as nonsense.

Lady Scatcherd was no fit associate for the wives of English
baronets;--was no doubt by education and manners much better fitted
to sit in their servants' halls; but not on that account was she a
bad wife or a bad woman. She was painfully, fearfully, anxious for
that husband of hers, whom she honoured and worshipped, as it behoved
her to do, above all other men. She was fearfully anxious as to his
life, and faithfully believed, that if any man could prolong it, it
was that old and faithful friend whom she had known to be true to her
lord since their early married troubles.

When, therefore, she found that he had been dismissed, and that a
stranger was to be sent for in his place, her heart sank low within
her.

"But, doctor," she said, with her apron up to her eyes, "you ain't
going to leave him, are you?"

Dr Thorne did not find it easy to explain to her ladyship that
medical etiquette would not permit him to remain in attendance on her
husband after he had been dismissed and another physician called in
his place.

"Etiquette!" said she, crying. "What's etiquette to do with it when a
man is a-killing hisself with brandy?"

"Fillgrave will forbid that quite as strongly as I can do."

"Fillgrave!" said she. "Fiddlesticks! Fillgrave, indeed!"

Dr Thorne could almost have embraced her for the strong feeling of
thorough confidence on the one side, and thorough distrust on the
other, which she contrived to throw into those few words.

"I'll tell you what, doctor; I won't let the messenger go. I'll bear
the brunt of it. He can't do much now he ain't up, you know. I'll
stop the boy; we won't have no Fillgraves here."

This, however, was a step to which Dr Thorne would not assent. He
endeavoured to explain to the anxious wife, that after what had
passed he could not tender his medical services till they were again
asked for.

"But you can slip in as a friend, you know; and then by degrees you
can come round him, eh? can't you now, doctor? And as to the
payment--"

All that Dr Thorne said on the subject may easily be imagined. And in
this way, and in partaking of the lunch which was forced upon him, an
hour had nearly passed between his leaving Sir Roger's bedroom and
putting his foot in the stirrup. But no sooner had the cob begun to
move on the gravel-sweep before the house, than one of the upper
windows opened, and the doctor was summoned to another conference
with the sick man.

"He says you are to come back, whether or no," said Mr Winterbones,
screeching out of the window, and putting all his emphasis on the
last words.

"Thorne! Thorne! Thorne!" shouted the sick man from his sick-bed, so
loudly that the doctor heard him, seated as he was on horseback out
before the house.

"You're to come back, whether or no," repeated Winterbones, with
more emphasis, evidently conceiving that there was a strength of
injunction in that "whether or no" which would be found quite
invincible.

Whether actuated by these magic words, or by some internal process of
thought, we will not say; but the doctor did slowly, and as though
unwillingly, dismount again from his steed, and slowly retrace his
steps into the house.

"It is no use," he said to himself, "for that messenger has already
gone to Barchester."

"I have sent for Dr Fillgrave," were the first words which the
contractor said to him when he again found himself by the bedside.

"Did you call me back to tell me that?" said Thorne, who now realy
felt angry at the impertinent petulance of the man before him: "you
should consider, Scatcherd, that my time may be of value to others,
if not to you."

"Now don't be angry, old fellow," said Scatcherd, turning to him,
and looking at him with a countenance quite different from any that
he had shown that day; a countenance in which there was a show of
manhood,--some show also of affection. "You ain't angry now because
I've sent for Fillgrave?"

"Not in the least," said the doctor very complacently. "Not in the
least. Fillgrave will do as much good as I can do you."

"And that's none at all, I suppose; eh, Thorne?"

"That depends on yourself. He will do you good if you will tell him
the truth, and will then be guided by him. Your wife, your servant,
any one can be as good a doctor to you as either he or I; as good,
that is, in the main point. But you have sent for Fillgrave now; and
of course you must see him. I have much to do, and you must let me
go."

Scatcherd, however, would not let him go, but held his hand fast.
"Thorne," said he, "if you like it, I'll make them put Fillgrave
under the pump directly he comes here. I will indeed, and pay all the
damage myself."

This was another proposition to which the doctor could not consent;
but he was utterly unable to refrain from laughing. There was an
earnest look of entreaty about Sir Roger's face as he made the
suggestion; and, joined to this, there was a gleam of comic
satisfaction in his eye which seemed to promise, that if he received
the least encouragement he would put his threat into execution. Now
our doctor was not inclined to taking any steps towards subjecting
his learned brother to pump discipline; but he could not but admit to
himself that the idea was not a bad one.

"I'll have it done, I will, by heavens! if you'll only say the word,"
protested Sir Roger.

But the doctor did not say the word, and so the idea was passed off.

"You shouldn't be so testy with a man when he is ill," said
Scatcherd, still holding the doctor's hand, of which he had again got
possession; "specially not an old friend; and specially again when
you're been a-blowing of him up."

It was not worth the doctor's while to aver that the testiness
had all been on the other side, and that he had never lost his
good-humour; so he merely smiled, and asked Sir Roger if he could do
anything further for him.

"Indeed you can, doctor; and that's why I sent for you,--why I sent
for you yesterday. Get out of the room, Winterbones," he then said,
gruffly, as though he were dismissing from his chamber a dirty
dog. Winterbones, not a whit offended, again hid his cup under his
coat-tail and vanished.

"Sit down, Thorne, sit down," said the contractor, speaking quite in
a different manner from any that he had yet assumed. "I know you're
in a hurry, but you must give me half an hour. I may be dead before
you can give me another; who knows?"

The doctor of course declared that he hoped to have many a
half-hour's chat with him for many a year to come.

"Well, that's as may be. You must stop now, at any rate. You can make
the cob pay for it, you know."

The doctor took a chair and sat down. Thus entreated to stop, he had
hardly any alternative but to do so.

"It wasn't because I'm ill that I sent for you, or rather let her
ladyship send for you. Lord bless you, Thorne; do you think I don't
know what it is that makes me like this? When I see that poor wretch,
Winterbones, killing himself with gin, do you think I don't know
what's coming to myself as well as him?

"Why do you take it then? Why do you do it? Your life is not like
his. Oh, Scatcherd! Scatcherd!" and the doctor prepared to pour out
the flood of his eloquence in beseeching this singular man to abstain
from his well-known poison.

"Is that all you know of human nature, doctor? Abstain. Can you
abstain from breathing, and live like a fish does under water?"

"But Nature has not ordered you to drink, Scatcherd."

"Habit is second nature, man; and a stronger nature than the first.
And why should I not drink? What else has the world given me for
all that I have done for it? What other resource have I? What other
gratification?"

"Oh, my God! Have you not unbounded wealth? Can you not do anything
you wish? be anything you choose?"

"No," and the sick man shrieked with an energy that made him audible
all through the house. "I can do nothing that I would choose to do;
be nothing that I would wish to be! What can I do? What can I be?
What gratification can I have except the brandy bottle? If I go among
gentlemen, can I talk to them? If they have anything to say about
a railway, they will ask me a question: if they speak to me beyond
that, I must be dumb. If I go among my workmen, can they talk to me?
No; I am their master, and a stern master. They bob their heads and
shake in their shoes when they see me. Where are my friends? Here!"
said he, and he dragged a bottle from under his very pillow. "Where
are my amusements? Here!" and he brandished the bottle almost in the
doctor's face. "Where is my one resource, my one gratification, my
only comfort after all my toils. Here, doctor; here, here, here!"
and, so saying, he replaced his treasure beneath his pillow.

There was something so horrifying in this, that Dr Thorne shrank back
amazed, and was for a moment unable to speak.

"But, Scatcherd," he said at last; "surely you would not die for such
a passion as that?"

"Die for it? Aye, would I. Live for it while I can live; and die for
it when I can live no longer. Die for it! What is that for a man to
do? Do not men die for a shilling a day? What is a man the worse for
dying? What can I be the worse for dying? A man can die but once, you
said just now. I'd die ten times for this."

"You are speaking now either in madness, or else in folly, to startle
me."

"Folly enough, perhaps, and madness enough, also. Such a life as mine
makes a man a fool, and makes him mad too. What have I about me that
I should be afraid to die? I'm worth three hundred thousand pounds;
and I'd give it all to be able to go to work to-morrow with a hod and
mortar, and have a fellow clap his hand upon my shoulder, and say:
'Well, Roger, shall us have that 'ere other half-pint this morning?'
I'll tell you what, Thorne, when a man has made three hundred
thousand pounds, there's nothing left for him but to die. It's all
he's good for then. When money's been made, the next thing is to
spend it. Now the man who makes it has not the heart to do that."

The doctor, of course, in hearing all this, said something of a
tendency to comfort and console the mind of his patient. Not that
anything he could say would comfort or console the man; but that it
was impossible to sit there and hear such fearful truths--for as
regarded Scatcherd they were truths--without making some answer.

"This is as good as a play, isn't, doctor?" said the baronet. "You
didn't know how I could come out like one of those actor fellows.
Well, now, come; at last I'll tell you why I have sent for you.
Before that last burst of mine I made my will."

"You had a will made before that."

"Yes, I had. That will is destroyed. I burnt it with my own hand, so
that there should be no mistake about it. In that will I had named
two executors, you and Jackson. I was then partner with Jackson in
the York and Yeovil Grand Central. I thought a deal of Jackson then.
He's not worth a shilling now."

"Well, I'm exactly in the same category."

"No, you're not. Jackson is nothing without money; but money'll never
make you."

"No, nor I shan't make money," said the doctor.

"No, you never will. Nevertheless, there's my other will, there,
under that desk there; and I've put you in as sole executor."

"You must alter that, Scatcherd; you must indeed; with three hundred
thousand pounds to be disposed of, the trust is far too much for any
one man: besides you must name a younger man; you and I are of the
same age, and I may die the first."

"Now, doctor, doctor, no humbug; let's have no humbug from you.
Remember this; if you're not true, you're nothing."

"Well, but, Scatcherd--"

"Well, but doctor, there's the will, it's already made. I don't want
to consult you about that. You are named as executor, and if you have
the heart to refuse to act when I'm dead, why, of course, you can do
so."

The doctor was no lawyer, and hardly knew whether he had any means
of extricating himself from this position in which his friend was
determined to place him.

"You'll have to see that will carried out, Thorne. Now I'll tell you
what I have done."

"You're not going to tell me how you have disposed of your property?"

"Not exactly; at least not all of it. One hundred thousand I've left
in legacies, including, you know, what Lady Scatcherd will have."

"Have you not left the house to Lady Scatcherd?"

"No; what the devil would she do with a house like this? She doesn't
know how to live in it now she has got it. I have provided for her;
it matters not how. The house and the estate, and the remainder of my
money, I have left to Louis Philippe."

"What! two hundred thousand pounds?" said the doctor.

"And why shouldn't I leave two hundred thousand pounds to my son,
even to my eldest son if I had more than one? Does not Mr Gresham
leave all his property to his heir? Why should not I make an eldest
son as well as Lord de Courcy or the Duke of Omnium? I suppose a
railway contractor ought not to be allowed an eldest son by Act of
Parliament! Won't my son have a title to keep up? And that's more
than the Greshams have among them."

The doctor explained away what he said as well as he could. He could
not explain that what he had really meant was this, that Sir Roger
Scatcherd's son was not a man fit to be trusted with the entire
control of an enormous fortune.

Sir Roger Scatcherd had but one child; that child which had been born
in the days of his early troubles, and had been dismissed from his
mother's breast in order that the mother's milk might nourish the
young heir of Greshamsbury. The boy had grown up, but had become
strong neither in mind nor body. His father had determined to make
a gentleman of him, and had sent to Eton and to Cambridge. But
even this receipt, generally as it is recognised, will not make a
gentleman. It is hard, indeed, to define what receipt will do so,
though people do have in their own minds some certain undefined, but
yet tolerably correct ideas on the subject. Be that as it may, two
years at Eton, and three terms at Cambridge, did not make a gentleman
of Louis Philippe Scatcherd.

Yes; he was christened Louis Philippe, after the King of the French.
If one wishes to look out in the world for royal nomenclature, to
find children who have been christened after kings and queens, or
the uncles and aunts of kings and queens, the search should be made
in the families of democrats. None have so servile a deference for
the very nail-parings of royalty; none feel so wondering an awe at
the exaltation of a crowned head; none are so anxious to secure
themselves some shred or fragment that has been consecrated by the
royal touch. It is the distance which they feel to exist between
themselves and the throne which makes them covet the crumbs of
majesty, the odds and ends and chance splinters of royalty.

There was nothing royal about Louis Philippe Scatcherd but his
name. He had now come to man's estate, and his father, finding the
Cambridge receipt to be inefficacious, had sent him abroad to travel
with a tutor. The doctor had from time to time heard tidings of this
youth; he knew that he had already shown symptoms of his father's
vices, but no symptoms of his father's talents; he knew that he had
begun life by being dissipated, without being generous; and that at
the age of twenty-one he had already suffered from delirium tremens.

It was on this account that he had expressed disapprobation, rather
than surprise, when he heard that his father intended to bequeath
the bulk of his large fortune to the uncontrolled will of this
unfortunate boy.

"I have toiled for my money hard, and I have a right to do as I like
with it. What other satisfaction can it give me?"

The doctor assured him that he did not at all mean to dispute this.

"Louis Philippe will do well enough, you'll find," continued the
baronet, understanding what was passing within his companion's
breast. "Let a young fellow sow his wild oats while he is young, and
he'll be steady enough when he grows old."

"But what if he never lives to get through the sowing?" thought the
doctor to himself. "What if the wild-oats operation is carried on
in so violent a manner as to leave no strength in the soil for the
product of a more valuable crop?" It was of no use saying this,
however, so he allowed Scatcherd to continue.

"If I'd had a free fling when I was a youngster, I shouldn't have
been so fond of the brandy bottle now. But any way, my son shall be
my heir. I've had the gumption to make the money, but I haven't the
gumption to spend it. My son, however, shall be able to ruffle it
with the best of them. I'll go bail he shall hold his head higher
than ever young Gresham will be able to hold his. They are much of
the same age, as well I have cause to remember;--and so has her
ladyship there."

Now the fact was, that Sir Roger Scatcherd felt in his heart no
special love for young Gresham; but with her ladyship it might almost
be a question whether she did not love the youth whom she had nursed
almost as well as that other one who was her own proper offspring.

"And will you not put any check on thoughtless expenditure? If
you live ten or twenty years, as we hope you may, it will become
unnecessary; but in making a will, a man should always remember he
may go off suddenly."

"Especially if he goes to bed with a brandy bottle under his head;
eh, doctor? But, mind, that's a medical secret, you know; not a word
of that out of the bedroom."

Dr Thorne could but sigh. What could he say on such a subject to such
a man as this?

"Yes, I have put a check on his expenditure. I will not let his daily
bread depend on any man; I have therefore left him five hundred a
year at his own disposal, from the day of my death. Let him make what
ducks and drakes of that he can."

"Five hundred a year certainly is not much," said the doctor.

"No; nor do I want to keep him to that. Let him have whatever he
wants if he sets about spending it properly. But the bulk of the
property--this estate of Boxall Hill, and the Greshamsbury mortgage,
and those other mortgages--I have tied up in this way: they shall be
all his at twenty-five; and up to that age it shall be in your power
to give him what he wants. If he shall die without children before
he shall be twenty-five years of age, they are all to go to Mary's
eldest child."

Now Mary was Sir Roger's sister, the mother, therefore, of Miss
Thorne, and, consequently, the wife of the respectable ironmonger who
went to America, and the mother of a family there.

"Mary's eldest child!" said the doctor, feeling that the perspiration
had nearly broken out on his forehead, and that he could hardly
control his feelings. "Mary's eldest child! Scatcherd, you should
be more particular in your description, or you will leave your best
legacy to the lawyers."

"I don't know, and never heard the name of one of them."

"But do you mean a boy or a girl?"

"They may be all girls for what I know, or all boys; besides, I
don't care which it is. A girl would probably do best with it. Only
you'd have to see that she married some decent fellow; you'd be her
guardian."

"Pooh, nonsense," said the doctor. "Louis will be five-and-twenty in
a year or two."

"In about four years."

"And for all that's come and gone yet, Scatcherd, you are not going
to leave us yourself quite so soon as all that."

"Not if I can help it, doctor; but that's as may be."

"The chances are ten to one that such a clause in your will will
never come to bear."

"Quite so, quite so. If I die, Louis Philippe won't; but I thought it
right to put in something to prevent his squandering it all before he
comes to his senses."

"Oh! quite right, quite right. I think I would have named a later age
than twenty-five."

"So would not I. Louis Philippe will be all right by that time.
That's my lookout. And now, doctor, you know my will; and if I die
to-morrow, you will know what I want you to do for me."

"You have merely said the eldest child, Scatcherd?"

"That's all; give it here, and I'll read it to you."

"No, no; never mind. The eldest child! You should be more particular,
Scatcherd; you should, indeed. Consider what an enormous interest may
have to depend on those words."

"Why, what the devil could I say? I don't know their names; never
even heard them. But the eldest is the eldest, all the world over.
Perhaps I ought to say the youngest, seeing that I am only a railway
contractor."

Scatcherd began to think that the doctor might now as well go away
and leave him to the society of Winterbones and the brandy; but, much
as our friend had before expressed himself in a hurry, he now seemed
inclined to move very leisurely. He sat there by the bedside, resting
his hands on his knees and gazing unconsciously at the counterpane.
At last he gave a deep sigh, and then he said, "Scatcherd, you must
be more particular in this. If I am to have anything to do with it,
you must, indeed, be more explicit."

"Why, how the deuce can I be more explicit? Isn't her eldest living
child plain enough, whether he be Jack, or she be Gill?"

"What did your lawyer say to this, Scatcherd?"

"Lawyer! You don't suppose I let my lawyer know what I was putting.
No; I got the form and the paper, and all that from him, and had him
here, in one room, while Winterbones and I did it in another. It's
all right enough. Though Winterbones wrote it, he did it in such a
way he did not know what he was writing."

The doctor sat a while longer, still looking at the counterpane,
and then got up to depart. "I'll see you again soon," said he;
"to-morrow, probably."

"To-morrow!" said Sir Roger, not at all understanding why Dr Thorne
should talk of returning so soon. "To-morrow! why I ain't so bad as
that, man, am I? If you come so often as that you'll ruin me."

"Oh, not as a medical man; not as that; but about this will,
Scatcherd. I must think if over; I must, indeed."

"You need not give yourself the least trouble in the world about my
will till I'm dead; not the least. And who knows--maybe, I may be
settling your affairs yet; eh, doctor? looking after your niece when
you're dead and gone, and getting a husband for her, eh? Ha! ha! ha!"

And then, without further speech, the doctor went his way.



CHAPTER XI

The Doctor Drinks His Tea


The doctor got on his cob and went his way, returning duly to
Greshamsbury. But, in truth, as he went he hardly knew whither he was
going, or what he was doing. Sir Roger had hinted that the cob would
be compelled to make up for lost time by extra exertion on the road;
but the cob had never been permitted to have his own way as to pace
more satisfactorily than on the present occasion. The doctor, indeed,
hardly knew that he was on horseback, so completely was he enveloped
in the cloud of his own thoughts.

In the first place, that alternative which it had become him to put
before the baronet as one unlikely to occur--that of the speedy death
of both father and son--was one which he felt in his heart of hearts
might very probably come to pass.

"The chances are ten to one that such a clause will never be brought
to bear." This he had said partly to himself, so as to ease the
thoughts which came crowding on his brain; partly, also, in pity for
the patient and the father. But now that he thought the matter over,
he felt that there were no such odds. Were not the odds the other
way? Was it not almost probable that both these men might be gathered
to their long account within the next four years? One, the elder, was
a strong man, indeed; one who might yet live for years to come if he
would but give himself fair play. But then, he himself protested,
and protested with a truth too surely grounded, that fair play to
himself was beyond his own power to give. The other, the younger,
had everything against him. Not only was he a poor, puny creature,
without physical strength, one of whose life a friend could never
feel sure under any circumstances, but he also was already addicted
to his father's vices; he also was already killing himself with
alcohol.

And then, if these two men did die within the prescribed period, if
this clause in Sir Roger's will were brought to bear, if it should
become his, Dr Thorne's, duty to see that clause carried out, how
would he be bound to act? That woman's eldest child was his own
niece, his adopted bairn, his darling, the pride of his heart, the
cynosure of his eye, his child also, his own Mary. Of all his duties
on this earth, next to that one great duty to his God and conscience,
was his duty to her. What, under these circumstances, did his duty to
her require of him?

But then, that one great duty, that duty which she would be the first
to expect from him; what did that demand of him? Had Scatcherd made
his will without saying what its clauses were, it seemed to Thorne
that Mary must have been the heiress, should that clause become
necessarily operative. Whether she were so or not would at any rate
be for lawyers to decide. But now the case was very different.
This rich man had confided in him, and would it not be a breach of
confidence, an act of absolute dishonesty--an act of dishonesty both
to Scatcherd and to that far-distant American family, to that father,
who, in former days, had behaved so nobly, and to that eldest child
of his, would it not be gross dishonesty to them all if he allowed
this man to leave a will by which his property might go to a person
never intended to be his heir?

Long before he had arrived at Greshamsbury his mind on this point
had been made up. Indeed, it had been made up while sitting there by
Scatcherd's bedside. It had not been difficult to make up his mind to
so much; but then, his way out of this dishonesty was not so easy for
him to find. How should he set this matter right so as to inflict no
injury on his niece, and no sorrow to himself--if that indeed could
be avoided?

And then other thoughts crowded on his brain. He had always
professed--professed at any rate to himself and to her--that of all
the vile objects of a man's ambition, wealth, wealth merely for its
own sake, was the vilest. They, in their joint school of inherent
philosophy, had progressed to ideas which they might find it not easy
to carry out, should they be called on by events to do so. And if
this would have been difficult to either when acting on behalf of
self alone, how much more difficult when one might have to act for
the other! This difficulty had now come to the uncle. Should he, in
this emergency, take upon himself to fling away the golden chance
which might accrue to his niece if Scatcherd should be encouraged to
make her partly his heir?

"He'd want her to go and live there--to live with him and his wife.
All the money in the Bank of England would not pay her for such
misery," said the doctor to himself, as he slowly rode into is own
yard.

On one point, and one only, had he definitely made up his mind. On
the following day he would go over again to Boxall Hill, and would
tell Scatcherd the whole truth. Come what might, the truth must be
the best. And so, with some gleam of comfort, he went into the house,
and found his niece in the drawing-room with Patience Oriel.

"Mary and I have been quarrelling," said Patience. "She says the
doctor is the greatest man in a village; and I say the parson is, of
course."

"I only say that the doctor is the most looked after," said Mary.
"There's another horrid message for you to go to Silverbridge, uncle.
Why can't that Dr Century manage his own people?"

"She says," continued Miss Oriel, "that if a parson was away for a
month, no one would miss him; but that a doctor is so precious that
his very minutes are counted."

"I am sure uncle's are. They begrudge him his meals. Mr Oriel never
gets called away to Silverbridge."

"No; we in the Church manage our parish arrangements better than you
do. We don't let strange practitioners in among our flocks because
the sheep may chance to fancy them. Our sheep have to put up with our
spiritual doses whether they like them or not. In that respect we are
much the best off. I advise you, Mary, to marry a clergyman, by all
means."

"I will when you marry a doctor," said she.

"I am sure nothing on earth would give me greater pleasure," said
Miss Oriel, getting up and curtseying very low to Dr Thorne; "but I
am not quite prepared for the agitation of an offer this morning, so
I'll run away."

And so she went; and the doctor, getting on his other horse, started
again for Silverbridge, wearily enough. "She's happy now where she
is," said he to himself, as he rode along. "They all treat her there
as an equal at Greshamsbury. What though she be no cousin to the
Thornes of Ullathorne. She has found her place there among them all,
and keeps it on equal terms with the best of them. There is Miss
Oriel; her family is high; she is rich, fashionable, a beauty,
courted by every one; but yet she does not look down on Mary. They
are equal friends together. But how would it be if she were taken to
Boxall Hill, even as a recognised niece of the rich man there? Would
Patience Oriel and Beatrice Gresham go there after her? Could she be
happy there as she is in my house here, poor though it be? It would
kill her to pass a month with Lady Scatcherd and put up with that
man's humours, to see his mode of life, to be dependent on him, to
belong to him." And then the doctor, hurrying on to Silverbridge,
again met Dr Century at the old lady's bedside, and having made his
endeavours to stave off the inexorable coming of the grim visitor,
again returned to his own niece and his own drawing-room.

"You must be dead, uncle," said Mary, as she poured out his tea for
him, and prepared the comforts of that most comfortable meal--tea,
dinner, and supper, all in one. "I wish Silverbridge was fifty miles
off."

"That would only make the journey worse; but I am not dead yet, and,
what is more to the purpose, neither is my patient." And as he spoke
he contrived to swallow a jorum of scalding tea, containing in
measure somewhat near a pint. Mary, not a whit amazed at this feat,
merely refilled the jorum without any observation; and the doctor
went on stirring the mixture with his spoon, evidently oblivious that
any ceremony had been performed by either of them since the first
supply had been administered to him.

When the clatter of knives and forks was over, the doctor turned
himself to the hearthrug, and putting one leg over the other, he
began to nurse it as he looked with complacency at his third cup of
tea, which stood untasted beside him. The fragments of the solid
banquet had been removed, but no sacrilegious hand had been laid on
the teapot and the cream-jug.

"Mary," said he, "suppose you were to find out to-morrow morning
that, by some accident, you had become a great heiress, would you be
able to suppress your exultation?"

"The first thing I'd do, would be to pronounce a positive edict that
you should never go to Silverbridge again; at least without a day's
notice."

"Well, and what next? what would you do next?"

"The next thing--the next thing would be to send to Paris for a
French bonnet exactly like the one Patience Oriel had on. Did you see
it?"

"Well I can't say I did; bonnets are invisible now; besides I never
remark anybody's clothes, except yours."

"Oh! do look at Miss Oriel's bonnet the next time you see her. I
cannot understand why it should be so, but I am sure of this--no
English fingers could put together such a bonnet as that; and I am
nearly sure that no French fingers could do it in England."

"But you don't care so much about bonnets, Mary!" This the doctor
said as an assertion; but there was, nevertheless, somewhat of a
question involved in it.

"Don't I, though?" said she. "I do care very much about bonnets;
especially since I saw Patience this morning. I asked how much it
cost--guess."

"Oh! I don't know--a pound?"

"A pound, uncle!"

"What! a great deal more? Ten pounds?"

"Oh, uncle."

"What! more than ten pounds? Then I don't think even Patience Oriel
ought to give it."

"No, of course she would not; but, uncle, it really cost a hundred
francs!"

"Oh! a hundred francs; that's four pounds, isn't it? Well, and how
much did your last new bonnet cost?"

"Mine! oh, nothing--five and ninepence, perhaps; I trimmed it myself.
If I were left a great fortune, I'd send to Paris to-morrow; no,
I'd go myself to Paris to buy a bonnet, and I'd take you with me to
choose it."

The doctor sat silent for a while meditating about this, during
which he unconsciously absorbed the tea beside him; and Mary again
replenished his cup.

"Come, Mary," said he at last, "I'm in a generous mood; and as I am
rather more rich than usual, we'll send to Paris for a French bonnet.
The going for it must wait a while longer I am afraid."

"You're joking."

"No, indeed. If you know the way to send--that I must confess would
puzzle me; but if you'll manage the sending, I'll manage the paying;
and you shall have a French bonnet."

"Uncle!" said she, looking up at him.

"Oh, I'm not joking; I owe you a present, and I'll give you that."

"And if you do, I'll tell you what I'll do with it. I'll cut it into
fragments, and burn them before your face. Why, uncle, what do you
take me for? You're not a bit nice to-night to make such an offer as
that to me; not a bit, not a bit." And then she came over from her
seat at the tea-tray and sat down on a foot-stool close at his knee.
"Because I'd have a French bonnet if I had a large fortune, is that a
reason why I should like one now? if you were to pay four pounds for
a bonnet for me, it would scorch my head every time I put it on."

"I don't see that: four pounds would not ruin me. However, I don't
think you'd look a bit better if you had it; and, certainly, I should
not like to scorch these locks," and putting his hand upon her
shoulders, he played with her hair.

"Patience has a pony-phaeton, and I'd have one if I were rich; and
I'd have all my books bound as she does; and, perhaps, I'd give fifty
guineas for a dressing-case."

"Fifty guineas!"

"Patience did not tell me; but so Beatrice says. Patience showed it
to me once, and it is a darling. I think I'd have the dressing-case
before the bonnet. But, uncle--"

"Well?"

"You don't suppose I want such things?"

"Not improperly. I am sure you do not."

"Not properly, or improperly; not much, or little. I covet many
things; but nothing of that sort. You know, or should know, that I do
not. Why did you talk of buying a French bonnet for me?"

Dr Thorne did not answer this question, but went on nursing his leg.

"After all," said he, "money is a fine thing."

"Very fine, when it is well come by," she answered; "that is, without
detriment to the heart or soul."

"I should be a happier man if you were provided for as is Miss Oriel.
Suppose, now, I could give you up to a rich man who would be able to
insure you against all wants?"

"Insure me against all wants! Oh, that would be a man. That would be
selling me, wouldn't it, uncle? Yes, selling me; and the price you
would receive would be freedom from future apprehensions as regards
me. It would be a cowardly sale for you to make; and then, as to
me--me the victim. No, uncle; you must bear the misery of having to
provide for me--bonnets and all. We are in the same boat, and you
shan't turn me overboard."

"But if I were to die, what would you do then?"

"And if I were to die, what would you do? People must be bound
together. They must depend on each other. Of course, misfortunes may
come; but it is cowardly to be afraid of them beforehand. You and I
are bound together, uncle; and though you say these things to tease
me, I know you do not wish to get rid of me."

"Well, well; we shall win through, doubtless; if not in one way, then
in another."

"Win through! Of course we shall; who doubts our winning? but,
uncle--"

"But, Mary."

"Well?"

"You haven't got another cup of tea, have you?"

"Oh, uncle! you have had five."

"No, my dear! not five; only four--only four, I assure you; I have
been very particular to count. I had one while I was--"

"Five uncle; indeed and indeed."

"Well, then, as I hate the prejudice which attaches luck to an odd
number, I'll have a sixth to show that I am not superstitious."

While Mary was preparing the sixth jorum, there came a knock at the
door. Those late summonses were hateful to Mary's ear, for they were
usually the forerunners of a midnight ride through the dark lanes to
some farmer's house. The doctor had been in the saddle all day, and,
as Janet brought the note into the room, Mary stood up as though to
defend her uncle from any further invasion on his rest.

"A note from the house, miss," said Janet: now "the house," in
Greshamsbury parlance, always meant the squire's mansion.

"No one ill at the house, I hope," said the doctor, taking the note
from Mary's hand. "Oh--ah--yes; it's from the squire--there's nobody
ill: wait a minute, Janet, and I'll write a line. Mary, lend me your
desk."

The squire, anxious as usual for money, had written to ask what
success the doctor had had in negotiating the new loan with Sir
Roger. The fact, however, was, that in his visit at Boxall Hill, the
doctor had been altogether unable to bring on the carpet the matter
of this loan. Subjects had crowded themselves in too quickly during
that interview--those two interviews at Sir Roger's bedside; and he
had been obliged to leave without even alluding to the question.

"I must at any rate go back now," said he to himself. So he wrote to
the squire, saying that he was to be at Boxall Hill again on the
following day, and that he would call at the house on his return.

"That's settled, at any rate," said he.

"What's settled?" said Mary.

"Why, I must go to Boxall Hill again to-morrow. I must go early, too,
so we'd better both be off to bed. Tell Janet I must breakfast at
half-past seven."

"You couldn't take me, could you? I should so like to see that Sir
Roger."

"To see Sir Roger! Why, he's ill in bed."

"That's an objection, certainly; but some day, when he's well, could
not you take me over? I have the greatest desire to see a man like
that; a man who began with nothing and now has more than enough to
buy the whole parish of Greshamsbury."

"I don't think you'd like him at all."

"Why not? I am sure I should; I am sure I should like him, and Lady
Scatcherd, too. I've heard you say that she is an excellent woman."

"Yes, in her way; and he, too, is good in his way; but they are
neither of them in your way: they are extremely vulgar--"

"Oh! I don't mind that; that would make them more amusing; one
doesn't go to those sort of people for polished manners."

"I don't think you'd find the Scatcherds pleasant acquaintances at
all," said the doctor, taking his bed-candle, and kissing his niece's
forehead as he left the room.



CHAPTER XII

When Greek Meets Greek, Then Comes the Tug of War


The doctor, that is our doctor, had thought nothing more of the
message which had been sent to that other doctor, Dr Fillgrave; nor
in truth did the baronet. Lady Scatcherd had thought of it, but her
husband during the rest of the day was not in a humour which allowed
her to remind him that he would soon have a new physician on his
hands; so she left the difficulty to arrange itself, waiting in some
little trepidation till Dr Fillgrave should show himself.

It was well that Sir Roger was not dying for want of his assistance,
for when the message reached Barchester, Dr Fillgrave was some five
or six miles out of town, at Plumstead; and as he did not get back
till late in the evening, he felt himself necessitated to put off his
visit to Boxall Hill till next morning. Had he chanced to have been
made acquainted with that little conversation about the pump, he
would probably have postponed it even yet a while longer.

He was, however, by no means sorry to be summoned to the bedside of
Sir Roger Scatcherd. It was well known at Barchester, and very well
known to Dr Fillgrave, that Sir Roger and Dr Thorne were old friends.
It was very well known to him also, that Sir Roger, in all his bodily
ailments, had hitherto been contented to entrust his safety to the
skill of his old friend. Sir Roger was in his way a great man, and
much talked of in Barchester, and rumour had already reached the
ears of the Barchester Galen, that the great railway contractor was
ill. When, therefore, he received a peremptory summons to go over to
Boxall Hill, he could not but think that some pure light had broken
in upon Sir Roger's darkness, and taught him at last where to look
for true medical accomplishment.

And then, also, Sir Roger was the richest man in the county, and to
county practitioners a new patient with large means is a godsend; how
much greater a godsend when he be not only acquired, but taken also
from some rival practitioner, need hardly be explained.

Dr Fillgrave, therefore, was somewhat elated when, after a very early
breakfast, he stepped into the post-chaise which was to carry him
to Boxall Hill. Dr Fillgrave's professional advancement had been
sufficient to justify the establishment of a brougham, in which he
paid his ordinary visits round Barchester; but this was a special
occasion, requiring special speed, and about to produce no doubt a
special guerdon, and therefore a pair of post-horses were put into
request.

It was hardly yet nine when the post-boy somewhat loudly rang the
bell at Sir Roger's door; and then Dr Fillgrave, for the first time,
found himself in the new grand hall of Boxall Hill house.

"I'll tell my lady," said the servant, showing him into the grand
dining-room; and there for some fifteen minutes or twenty minutes Dr
Fillgrave walked up and down the length of the Turkey carpet all
alone.

Dr Fillgrave was not a tall man, and was perhaps rather more inclined
to corpulence than became his height. In his stocking-feet, according
to the usually received style of measurement, he was five feet five;
and he had a little round abdominal protuberance, which an inch and a
half added to the heels of his boots hardly enabled him to carry off
as well as he himself would have wished. Of this he was apparently
conscious, and it gave to him an air of not being entirely at his
ease. There was, however, a personal dignity in his demeanour, a
propriety in his gait, and an air of authority in his gestures which
should prohibit one from stigmatizing those efforts at altitude as a
failure. No doubt he did achieve much; but, nevertheless, the effort
would occasionally betray itself, and the story of the frog and the
ox would irresistibly force itself into one's mind at those moments
when it most behoved Dr Fillgrave to be magnificent.

But if the bulgy roundness of his person and the shortness of his
legs in any way detracted from his personal importance, these
trifling defects were, he was well aware, more than atoned for by the
peculiar dignity of his countenance. If his legs were short, his face
was not; if there was any undue preponderance below the waistcoat,
all was in due symmetry above the necktie. His hair was grey, not
grizzled nor white, but properly grey; and stood up straight from off
his temples on each side with an unbending determination of purpose.
His whiskers, which were of an admirable shape, coming down and
turning gracefully at the angle of his jaw, were grey also, but
somewhat darker than his hair. His enemies in Barchester declared
that their perfect shade was produced by a leaden comb. His eyes were
not brilliant, but were very effective, and well under command. He
was rather short-sighted, and a pair of eye-glasses was always on his
nose, or in his hand. His nose was long, and well pronounced, and his
chin, also, was sufficiently prominent; but the great feature of his
face was his mouth. The amount of secret medical knowledge of which
he could give assurance by the pressure of those lips was truly
wonderful. By his lips, also, he could be most exquisitely courteous,
or most sternly forbidding. And not only could he be either the one
or the other; but he could at his will assume any shade of difference
between the two, and produce any mixture of sentiment.

When Dr Fillgrave was first shown into Sir Roger's dining-room, he
walked up and down the room for a while with easy, jaunty step, with
his hands joined together behind his back, calculating the price
of the furniture, and counting the heads which might be adequately
entertained in a room of such noble proportions; but in seven or
eight minutes an air of impatience might have been seen to suffuse
his face. Why could he not be shown into the sick man's room? What
necessity could there be for keeping him there, as though he were
some apothecary with a box of leeches in his pocket? He then rang
the bell, perhaps a little violently. "Does Sir Roger know that I am
here?" he said to the servant. "I'll tell my lady," said the man,
again vanishing.

For five minutes more he walked up and down, calculating no longer
the value of the furniture, but rather that of his own importance.
He was not wont to be kept waiting in this way; and though Sir Roger
Scatcherd was at present a great and rich man, Dr Fillgrave had
remembered him a very small and a very poor man. He now began to
think of Sir Roger as the stone-mason, and to chafe somewhat more
violently at being so kept by such a man.

When one is impatient, five minutes is as the duration of all time,
and a quarter of an hour is eternity. At the end of twenty minutes
the step of Dr Fillgrave up and down the room had become very quick,
and he had just made up his mind that he would not stay there all
day to the serious detriment, perhaps fatal injury, of his other
expectant patients. His hand was again on the bell, and was about to
be used with vigour, when the door opened and Lady Scatcherd entered.

The door opened and Lady Scatcherd entered; but she did so very
slowly, as though she were afraid to come into her own dining-room.
We must go back a little and see how she had been employed during
those twenty minutes.

"Oh, laws!" Such had been her first exclamation on hearing that the
doctor was in the dining-room. She was standing at the time with her
housekeeper in a small room in which she kept her linen and jam,
and in which, in company with the same housekeeper, she spent the
happiest moments of her life.

"Oh laws! now, Hannah, what shall we do?"

"Send 'un up at once to master, my lady! let John take 'un up."

"There'll be such a row in the house, Hannah; I know there will."

"But sure-ly didn't he send for 'un? Let the master have the row
himself, then; that's what I'd do, my lady," added Hannah, seeing
that her ladyship still stood trembling in doubt, biting her
thumb-nail.

"You couldn't go up to the master yourself, could you now, Hannah?"
said Lady Scatcherd in her most persuasive tone.

"Why no," said Hannah, after a little deliberation; "no, I'm afeard I
couldn't."

"Then I must just face it myself." And up went the wife to tell her
lord that the physician for whom he had sent had come to attend his
bidding.

In the interview which then took place the baronet had not indeed
been violent, but he had been very determined. Nothing on earth, he
said, should induce him to see Dr Fillgrave and offend his dear old
friend Dr Thorne.

"But Roger," said her ladyship, half crying, or rather pretending to
cry in her vexation, "what shall I do with the man? How shall I get
him out of the house?"

"Put him under the pump," said the baronet; and he laughed his
peculiar low guttural laugh, which told so plainly of the havoc which
brandy had made in his throat.

"That's nonsense, Roger; you know I can't put him under the pump. Now
you are ill, and you'd better see him just for five minutes. I'll
make it all right with Dr Thorne."

"I'll be d---- if I do, my lady." All the people about Boxall Hill
called poor Lady Scatcherd "my lady" as if there was some excellent
joke in it; and, so, indeed, there was.

"You know you needn't mind nothing he says, nor yet take nothing he
sends: and I'll tell him not to come no more. Now do 'ee see him,
Roger."

But there was no coaxing Roger over now, or indeed ever: he was a
wilful, headstrong, masterful man; a tyrant always though never
a cruel one; and accustomed to rule his wife and household as
despotically as he did his gangs of workmen. Such men it is not easy
to coax over.

"You go down and tell him I don't want him, and won't see him, and
that's an end of it. If he chose to earn his money, why didn't he
come yesterday when he was sent for? I'm well now, and don't want
him; and what's more, I won't have him. Winterbones, lock the door."

So Winterbones, who during this interview had been at work at his
little table, got up to lock the door, and Lady Scatcherd had no
alternative but to pass through it before the last edict was obeyed.

Lady Scatcherd, with slow step, went downstairs and again sought
counsel with Hannah, and the two, putting their heads together,
agreed that the only cure for the present evil was to found in a
good fee. So Lady Scatcherd, with a five-pound note in her hand, and
trembling in every limb, went forth to encounter the august presence
of Dr Fillgrave.

As the door opened, Dr Fillgrave dropped the bell-rope which was in
his hand, and bowed low to the lady. Those who knew the doctor well,
would have known from his bow that he was not well pleased; it was
as much as though he said, "Lady Scatcherd, I am your most obedient
humble servant; at any rate it appears that it is your pleasure to
treat me as such."

Lady Scatcherd did not understand all this; but she perceived at once
that the man was angry.

"I hope Sir Roger does not find himself worse," said the doctor. "The
morning is getting on; shall I step up and see him?"

"Hem! ha! oh! Why, you see, Dr Fillgrave, Sir Roger finds hisself
vastly better this morning, vastly so."

"I'm very glad to hear it; but as the morning is getting on, shall I
step up to see Sir Roger?"

"Why, Dr Fillgrave, sir, you see, he finds hisself so much hisself
this morning, that he a'most thinks it would be a shame to trouble
you."

"A shame to trouble me!" This was the sort of shame which Dr
Fillgrave did not at all comprehend. "A shame to trouble me! Why Lady
Scatcherd--"

Lady Scatcherd saw that she had nothing for it but to make the whole
matter intelligible. Moreover, seeing that she appreciated more
thoroughly the smallness of Dr Fillgrave's person than she did the
peculiar greatness of his demeanour, she began to be a shade less
afraid of him than she had thought she should have been.

"Yes, Dr Fillgrave; you see, when a man like he gets well, he can't
abide the idea of doctors: now, yesterday, he was all for sending for
you; but to-day he comes to hisself, and don't seem to want no doctor
at all."

Then did Dr Fillgrave seem to grow out of his boots, so suddenly did
he take upon himself sundry modes of expansive attitude;--to grow out
of his boots and to swell upwards, till his angry eyes almost looked
down on Lady Scatcherd, and each erect hair bristled up towards the
heavens.

"This is very singular, very singular, Lady Scatcherd; very singular,
indeed; very singular; quite unusual. I have come here from
Barchester, at some considerable inconvenience, at some very
considerable inconvenience, I may say, to my regular patients;
and--and--and--I don't know that anything so very singular ever
occurred to me before." And then Dr Fillgrave, with a compression of
his lips which almost made the poor woman sink into the ground, moved
towards the door.

Then Lady Scatcherd bethought her of her great panacea. "It isn't
about the money, you know, doctor," said she; "of course Sir Roger
don't expect you to come here with post-horses for nothing." In this,
by the by, Lady Scatcherd did not stick quite close to veracity,
for Sir Roger, had he known it, would by no means have assented to
any payment; and the note which her ladyship held in her hand was
taken from her own private purse. "It ain't at all about the money,
doctor;" and then she tendered the bank-note, which she thought would
immediately make all things smooth.

Now Dr Fillgrave dearly loved a five-pound fee. What physician is so
unnatural as not to love it? He dearly loved a five-pound fee; but he
loved his dignity better. He was angry also; and like all angry men,
he loved his grievance. He felt that he had been badly treated; but
if he took the money he would throw away his right to indulge in any
such feeling. At that moment his outraged dignity and his cherished
anger were worth more than a five-pound note. He looked at it with
wishful but still averted eyes, and then sternly refused the tender.

"No, madam," said he; "no, no;" and with his right hand raised with
his eye-glasses in it, he motioned away the tempting paper. "No; I
should have been happy to have given Sir Roger the benefit of any
medical skill I may have, seeing that I was specially called in--"

"But, doctor; if the man's well, you know--"

"Oh, of course; if he's well, and does not choose to see me, there's
an end of it. Should he have any relapse, as my time is valuable, he
will perhaps oblige me by sending elsewhere. Madam, good morning.
I will, if you will allow me, ring for my carriage--that is,
post-chaise."

"But, doctor, you'll take the money; you must take the money; indeed
you'll take the money," said Lady Scatcherd, who had now become
really unhappy at the idea that her husband's unpardonable whim had
brought this man with post-horses all the way from Barchester, and
that he was to be paid nothing for his time nor costs.

"No, madam, no. I could not think of it. Sir Roger, I have no doubt,
will know better another time. It is not a question of money; not at
all."

"But it is a question of money, doctor; and you really shall, you
must." And poor Lady Scatcherd, in her anxiety to acquit herself at
any rate of any pecuniary debt to the doctor, came to personal close
quarters with him, with the view of forcing the note into his hands.

"Quite impossible, quite impossible," said the doctor, still
cherishing his grievance, and valiantly rejecting the root of all
evil. "I shall not do anything of the kind, Lady Scatcherd."

"Now doctor, do 'ee; to oblige me."

"Quite out of the question." And so, with his hands and hat behind
his back, in token of his utter refusal to accept any pecuniary
accommodation of his injury, he made his way backwards to the door,
her ladyship perseveringly pressing him in front. So eager had been
the attack on him, that he had not waited to give his order about the
post-chaise, but made his way at once towards the hall.

"Now, do 'ee take it, do 'ee," pressed Lady Scatcherd.

"Utterly out of the question," said Dr Fillgrave, with great
deliberation, as he backed his way into the hall. As he did so, of
course he turned round,--and he found himself almost in the arms of
Dr Thorne.

As Burley must have glared at Bothwell when they rushed together in
the dread encounter on the mountain side; as Achilles may have glared
at Hector when at last they met, each resolved to test in fatal
conflict the prowess of the other, so did Dr Fillgrave glare at his
foe from Greshamsbury, when, on turning round on his exalted heel,
he found his nose on a level with the top button of Dr Thorne's
waistcoat.

And here, if it be not too tedious, let us pause a while to
recapitulate and add up the undoubted grievances of the Barchester
practitioner. He had made no effort to ingratiate himself into the
sheepfold of that other shepherd-dog; it was not by his seeking that
he was now at Boxall Hill; much as he hated Dr Thorne, full sure
as he felt of that man's utter ignorance, of his incapacity to
administer properly even a black dose, of his murdering propensities
and his low, mean, unprofessional style of practice; nevertheless, he
had done nothing to undermine him with these Scatcherds. Dr Thorne
might have sent every mother's son at Boxall Hill to his long
account, and Dr Fillgrave would not have interfered;--would not have
interfered unless specially and duly called upon to do so.

But he had been specially and duly called on. Before such a step was
taken some words must undoubtedly have passed on the subject between
Thorne and the Scatcherds. Thorne must have known what was to be
done. Having been so called, Dr Fillgrave had come--had come all the
way in a post-chaise--had been refused admittance to the sick man's
room, on the plea that the sick man was no longer sick; and just as
he was about to retire fee-less--for the want of the fee was not
the less a grievance from the fact of its having been tendered and
refused--fee-less, dishonoured, and in dudgeon, he encountered this
other doctor--this very rival whom he had been sent to supplant; he
encountered him in the very act of going to the sick man's room.

What mad fanatic Burley, what god-succoured insolent Achilles,
ever had such cause to swell with wrath as at that moment had Dr
Fillgrave? Had I the pen of Moliere, I could fitly tell of such
medical anger, but with no other pen can it be fitly told. He did
swell, and when the huge bulk of his wrath was added to his natural
proportions, he loomed gigantic before the eyes of the surrounding
followers of Sir Roger.

Dr Thorne stepped back three steps and took his hat from his head,
having, in the passage from the hall-door to the dining-room,
hitherto omitted to do so. It must be borne in mind that he had no
conception whatever that Sir Roger had declined to see the physician
for whom he had sent; none whatever that the physician was now about
to return, fee-less, to Barchester.

Dr Thorne and Dr Fillgrave were doubtless well-known enemies. All
the world of Barchester, and all that portion of the world of London
which is concerned with the lancet and the scalping-knife, were well
aware of this: they were continually writing against each other;
continually speaking against each other; but yet they had never
hitherto come to that positive personal collision which is held to
justify a cut direct. They very rarely saw each other; and when they
did meet, it was in some casual way in the streets of Barchester or
elsewhere, and on such occasions their habit had been to bow with
very cold propriety.

On the present occasion, Dr Thorne of course felt that Dr Fillgrave
had the whip-hand of him; and, with a sort of manly feeling on
such a point, he conceived it to be most compatible with his own
dignity to show, under such circumstances, more than his usual
courtesy--something, perhaps, amounting almost to cordiality. He
had been supplanted, _quoad_ doctor, in the house of this rich,
eccentric, railway baronet, and he would show that he bore no malice
on that account.

So he smiled blandly as he took off his hat, and in a civil speech he
expressed a hope that Dr Fillgrave had not found his patient to be in
any very unfavourable state.

Here was an aggravation to the already lacerated feelings of the
injured man. He had been brought thither to be scoffed at and scorned
at, that he might be a laughing-stock to his enemies, and food
for mirth to the vile-minded. He swelled with noble anger till he
would have burst, had it not been for the opportune padding of his
frock-coat.

"Sir," said he; "sir:" and he could hardly get his lips open to give
vent to the tumult of his heart. Perhaps he was not wrong; for it may
be that his lips were more eloquent than would have been his words.

"What's the matter?" said Dr Thorne, opening his eyes wide, and
addressing Lady Scatcherd over the head and across the hairs of the
irritated man below him. "What on earth is the matter? Is anything
wrong with Sir Roger?"

"Oh, laws, doctor!" said her ladyship. "Oh, laws; I'm sure it ain't
my fault. Here's Dr Fillgrave in a taking, and I'm quite ready to
pay him,--quite. If a man gets paid, what more can he want?" And she
again held out the five-pound note over Dr Fillgrave's head.

What more, indeed, Lady Scatcherd, can any of us want, if only
we could keep our tempers and feelings a little in abeyance? Dr
Fillgrave, however, could not so keep his; and, therefore, he did
want something more, though at the present moment he could have
hardly said what.

Lady Scatcherd's courage was somewhat resuscitated by the presence of
her ancient trusty ally; and, moreover, she began to conceive that
the little man before her was unreasonable beyond all conscience in
his anger, seeing that that for which he was ready to work had been
offered to him without any work at all.

"Madam," said he, again turning round at Lady Scatcherd, "I was
never before treated in such a way in any house in Barchester--
never--never."

"Good heavens, Dr Fillgrave!" said he of Greshamsbury, "what is the
matter?"

"I'll let you know what is the matter, sir," said he, turning round
again as quickly as before. "I'll let you know what is the matter.
I'll publish this, sir, to the medical world;" and as he shrieked
out the words of the threat, he stood on tiptoes and brandished his
eye-glasses up almost into his enemy's face.

"Don't be angry with Dr Thorne," said Lady Scatcherd. "Any ways, you
needn't be angry with him. If you must be angry with anybody--"

"I shall be angry with him, madam," ejaculated Dr Fillgrave, making
another sudden demi-pirouette. "I am angry with him--or, rather, I
despise him;" and completing the circle, Dr Fillgrave again brought
himself round in full front of his foe.

Dr Thorne raised his eyebrows and looked inquiringly at Lady
Scatcherd; but there was a quiet sarcastic motion round his mouth
which by no means had the effect of throwing oil on the troubled
waters.

"I'll publish the whole of this transaction to the medical world, Dr
Thorne--the whole of it; and if that has not the effect of rescuing
the people of Greshamsbury out of your hands, then--then--then, I
don't know what will. Is my carriage--that is, post-chaise there?"
and Dr Fillgrave, speaking very loudly, turned majestically to one of
the servants.

"What have I done to you, Dr Fillgrave," said Dr Thorne, now
absolutely laughing, "that you should determined to take my bread out
of my mouth? I am not interfering with your patient. I have come here
simply with reference to money matters appertaining to Sir Roger."

"Money matters! Very well--very well; money matters. That is your
idea of medical practice! Very well--very well. Is my post-chaise at
the door? I'll publish it all to the medical world--every word--every
word of it, every word of it."

"Publish what, you unreasonable man?"

"Man! sir; whom do you call a man? I'll let you know whether I'm a
man--post-chaise there!"

"Don't 'ee call him names now, doctor; don't 'ee, pray don't 'ee,"
said Lady Scatcherd.

By this time they had all got somewhere nearer the hall-door; but the
Scatcherd retainers were too fond of the row to absent themselves
willingly at Dr Fillgrave's bidding, and it did not appear that any
one went in search of the post-chaise.

"Man! sir; I'll let you know what it is to speak to me in that style.
I think, sir, you hardly know who I am."

"All that I know of you at present is, that you are my friend Sir
Roger's physician, and I cannot conceive what has occurred to make
you so angry." And as he spoke, Dr Thorne looked carefully at him to
see whether that pump-discipline had in truth been applied. There
were no signs whatever that cold water had been thrown upon Dr
Fillgrave.

"My post-chaise--is my post-chaise there? The medical world shall
know all; you may be sure, sir, the medical world shall know it all;"
and thus, ordering his post-chaise, and threatening Dr Thorne with
the medical world, Dr Fillgrave made his way to the door.

But the moment he put on his hat he returned. "No, madam," said
he. "No; it is quite out of the question: such an affair is not
to be arranged by such means. I'll publish it all to the medical
world--post-chaise there!" and then, using all his force, he flung
as far as he could into the hall a light bit of paper. It fell at Dr
Thorne's feet, who, raising it, found that it was a five-pound note.

"I put it into his hat just while he was in his tantrum," said Lady
Scatcherd. "And I thought that perhaps he would not find it till he
got to Barchester. Well I wish he'd been paid, certainly, although
Sir Roger wouldn't see him;" and in this manner Dr Thorne got some
glimpse of understanding into the cause of the great offence.

"I wonder whether Sir Roger will see _me_," said he, laughing.



CHAPTER XIII

The Two Uncles


"Ha! ha! ha! Ha! ha! ha!" laughed Sir Roger, lustily, as Dr Thorne
entered the room. "Well, if that ain't rich, I don't know what is.
Ha! ha! ha! But why did they not put him under the pump, doctor?"

The doctor, however, had too much tact, and too many things of
importance to say, to allow of his giving up much time to the
discussion of Dr Fillgrave's wrath. He had come determined to open
the baronet's eyes as to what would be the real effect of his will,
and he had also to negotiate a loan for Mr Gresham, if that might be
possible. Dr Thorne therefore began about the loan, that being the
easier subject, and found that Sir Roger was quite clear-headed as to
his money concerns, in spite of his illness. Sir Roger was willing
enough to lend Mr Gresham more money--six, eight, ten, twenty
thousand; but then, in doing so, he should insist on obtaining
possession of the title-deeds.

"What! the title-deeds of Greshamsbury for a few thousand pounds?"
said the doctor.

"I don't know whether you call ninety thousand pounds a few
thousands; but the debt will about amount to that."

"Ah! that's the old debt."

"Old and new together, of course; every shilling I lend more weakens
my security for what I have lent before."

"But you have the first claim, Sir Roger."

"It ought to be first and last to cover such a debt as that. If he
wants further accommodation, he must part with his deeds, doctor."

The point was argued backwards and forwards for some time without
avail, and the doctor then thought it well to introduce the other
subject.

"Well, Sir Roger, you're a hard man."

"No I ain't," said Sir Roger; "not a bit hard; that is, not a bit too
hard. Money is always hard. I know I found it hard to come by; and
there is no reason why Squire Gresham should expect to find me so
very soft."

"Very well; there is an end of that. I thought you would have done as
much to oblige me, that is all."

"What! take bad security to oblige you?"

"Well, there's an end of that."

"I'll tell you what; I'll do as much to oblige a friend as any one.
I'll lend you five thousand pounds, you yourself, without security at
all, if you want it."

"But you know I don't want it; or, at any rate, shan't take it."

"But to ask me to go on lending money to a third party, and he over
head and ears in debt, by way of obliging you, why, it's a little too
much."

"Well, there's and end of it. Now I've something to say to you about
that will of yours."

"Oh! that's settled."

"No, Scatcherd; it isn't settled. It must be a great deal more
settled before we have done with it, as you'll find when you hear
what I have to tell you."

"What you have to tell me!" said Sir Roger, sitting up in bed; "and
what have you to tell me?"

"Your will says you sister's eldest child."

"Yes; but that's only in the event of Louis Philippe dying before he
is twenty-five."

"Exactly; and now I know something about your sister's eldest child,
and, therefore, I have come to tell you."

"You know something about Mary's eldest child?"

"I do, Scatcherd; it is a strange story, and maybe it will make you
angry. I cannot help it if it does so. I should not tell you this if
I could avoid it; but as I do tell you, for your sake, as you will
see, and not for my own, I must implore you not to tell my secret to
others."

Sir Roger now looked at him with an altered countenance. There was
something in his voice of the authoritative tone of other days,
something in the doctor's look which had on the baronet the same
effect which in former days it had sometimes had on the stone-mason.

"Can you give me a promise, Scatcherd, that what I am about to tell
you shall not be repeated?"

"A promise! Well, I don't know what it's about, you know. I don't
like promises in the dark."

"Then I must leave it to your honour; for what I have to say must be
said. You remember my brother, Scatcherd?"

Remember his brother! thought the rich man to himself. The name of
the doctor's brother had not been alluded to between them since the
days of that trial; but still it was impossible but that Scatcherd
should well remember him.

"Yes, yes; certainly. I remember your brother," said he. "I remember
him well; there's no doubt about that."

"Well, Scatcherd," and, as he spoke, the doctor laid his hand with
kindness on the other's arm. "Mary's eldest child was my brother's
child as well.

"But there is no such child living," said Sir Roger; and, in his
violence, as he spoke he threw from off him the bedclothes, and tried
to stand upon the floor. He found, however, that he had no strength
for such an effort, and was obliged to remain leaning on the bed and
resting on the doctor's arm.

"There was no such child ever lived," said he. "What do you mean by
this?"

Dr Thorne would say nothing further till he had got the man into bed
again. This he at last effected, and then he went on with the story
in his own way.

"Yes, Scatcherd, that child is alive; and for fear that you should
unintentionally make her your heir, I have thought it right to tell
you this."

"A girl, is it?"

"Yes, a girl."

"And why should you want to spite her? If she is Mary's child, she is
your brother's child also. If she is my niece, she must be your niece
too. Why should you want to spite her? Why should you try to do her
such a terrible injury?"

"I do not want to spite her."

"Where is she? Who is she? What is she called? Where does she live?"

The doctor did not at once answer all these questions. He had made
up his mind that he would tell Sir Roger that this child was living,
but he had not as yet resolved to make known all the circumstances
of her history. He was not even yet quite aware whether it would be
necessary to say that this foundling orphan was the cherished darling
of his own house.

"Such a child, is, at any rate, living," said he; "of that I give
you my assurance; and under your will, as now worded, it might come
to pass that that child should be your heir. I do not want to spite
her, but I should be wrong to let you make your will without such
knowledge, seeing that I am possessed of it myself."

"But where is the girl?"

"I do not know that that signifies."

"Signifies! Yes; it does signify a great deal. But, Thorne, Thorne,
now that I remember it, now that I can think of things, it was--was
it not you yourself who told me that the baby did not live?"

"Very possibly."

"And was it a lie that you told me?"

"If so, yes. But it is no lie that I tell you now."

"I believed you then, Thorne; then, when I was a poor, broken-down
day-labourer, lying in jail, rotting there; but I tell you fairly, I
do not believe you now. You have some scheme in this."

"Whatever scheme I may have, you can frustrate by making another
will. What can I gain by telling you this? I only do so to induce you
to be more explicit in naming your heir."

They both remained silent for a while, during which the baronet
poured out from his hidden resource a glass of brandy and swallowed
it.

"When a man is taken aback suddenly by such tidings as these, he must
take a drop of something, eh, doctor?"

Dr Thorne did not see the necessity; but the present, he felt, was no
time for arguing the point.

"Come, Thorne, where is the girl? You must tell me that. She is my
niece, and I have a right to know. She shall come here, and I will do
something for her. By the Lord! I would as soon she had the money as
any one else, if she is anything of a good 'un;--some of it, that is.
Is she a good 'un?"

"Good!" said the doctor, turning away his face. "Yes; she is good
enough."

"She must be grown up by now. None of your light skirts, eh?"

"She is a good girl," said the doctor somewhat loudly and sternly. He
could hardly trust himself to say much on this point.

"Mary was a good girl, a very good girl, till"--and Sir Roger raised
himself up in his bed with his fist clenched, as though he were again
about to strike that fatal blow at the farm-yard gate. "But come,
it's no good thinking of that; you behaved well and manly, always.
And so poor Mary's child is alive; at least, you say so."

"I say so, and you may believe it. Why should I deceive you?"

"No, no; I don't see why. But then why did you deceive me before?"

To this the doctor chose to make no answer, and again there was
silence for a while.

"What do you call her, doctor?"

"Her name is Mary."

"The prettiest women's name going; there's no name like it," said the
contractor, with an unusual tenderness in his voice. "Mary--yes; but
Mary what? What other name does she go by?"

Here the doctor hesitated.

"Mary Scatcherd--eh?"

"No. Not Mary Scatcherd."

"Not Mary Scatcherd! Mary what, then? You, with your d---- pride,
wouldn't let her be called Mary Thorne, I know."

This was too much for the doctor. He felt that there were tears in
his eyes, so he walked away to the window to dry them, unseen. Had he
had fifty names, each more sacred than the other, the most sacred of
them all would hardly have been good enough for her.

"Mary what, doctor? Come, if the girl is to belong to me, if I am to
provide for her, I must know what to call her, and where to look for
her."

"Who talked of your providing for her?" said the doctor, turning
round at the rival uncle. "Who said that she was to belong to you?
She will be no burden to you; you are only told of this that you
may not leave your money to her without knowing it. She is provided
for--that is, she wants nothing; she will do well enough; you need
not trouble yourself about her."

"But if she's Mary's child, Mary's child in real truth, I will
trouble myself about her. Who else should do so? For the matter of
that, I'd as soon say her as any of those others in America. What do
I care about blood? I shan't mind her being a bastard. That is to
say, of course, if she's decently good. Did she ever get any kind of
teaching; book-learning, or anything of that sort?"

Dr Thorne at this moment hated his friend the baronet with almost a
deadly hatred; that he, rough brute as he was--for he was a rough
brute--that he should speak in such language of the angel who gave to
that home in Greshamsbury so many of the joys of Paradise--that he
should speak of her as in some degree his own, that he should inquire
doubtingly as to her attributes and her virtues. And then the doctor
thought of her Italian and French readings, of her music, of her nice
books, and sweet lady ways, of her happy companionship with Patience
Oriel, and her dear, bosom friendship with Beatrice Gresham. He
thought of her grace, and winning manners, and soft, polished
feminine beauty; and, as he did so, he hated Sir Roger Scatcherd, and
regarded him with loathing, as he might have regarded a wallowing
hog.

At last a light seemed to break in upon Sir Roger's mind. Dr Thorne,
he perceived, did not answer his last question. He perceived, also,
that the doctor was affected with some more than ordinary emotion.
Why should it be that this subject of Mary Scatcherd's child moved
him so deeply? Sir Roger had never been at the doctor's house at
Greshamsbury, had never seen Mary Thorne, but he had heard that
there lived with the doctor some young female relative; and thus a
glimmering light seemed to come in upon Sir Roger's bed.

He had twitted the doctor with his pride; had said that it was
impossible that the girl should be called Mary Thorne. What if she
were so called? What if she were now warming herself at the doctor's
hearth?

"Well, come, Thorne, what is it you call her? Tell it out, man. And,
look you, if it's your name she bears, I shall think more of you, a
deal more than ever I did yet. Come, Thorne, I'm her uncle too. I
have a right to know. She is Mary Thorne, isn't she?"

The doctor had not the hardihood nor the resolution to deny it.
"Yes," said he, "that is her name; she lives with me."

"Yes, and lives with all those grand folks at Greshamsbury too. I
have heard of that."

"She lives with me, and belongs to me, and is as my daughter."

"She shall come over here. Lady Scatcherd shall have her to stay with
her. She shall come to us. And as for my will, I'll make another.
I'll--"

"Yes, make another will--or else alter that one. But as to Miss
Thorne coming here--"

"What! Mary--"

"Well, Mary. As to Mary Thorne coming here, that I fear will not be
possible. She cannot have two homes. She has cast her lot with one of
her uncles, and she must remain with him now."

"Do you mean to say that she must never have any relation but one?"

"But one such as I am. She would not be happy over here. She does not
like new faces. You have enough depending on you; I have but her."

"Enough! why, I have only Louis Philippe. I could provide for a dozen
girls."

"Well, well, well, we will not talk about that."

"Ah! but, Thorne, you have told me of this girl now, and I cannot but
talk of her. If you wished to keep the matter dark, you should have
said nothing about it. She is my niece as much as yours. And, Thorne,
I loved my sister Mary quite as well as you loved your brother; quite
as well."

Any one who might now have heard and seen the contractor would have
hardly thought him to be the same man who, a few hours before, was
urging that the Barchester physician should be put under the pump.

"You have your son, Scatcherd. I have no one but that girl."

"I don't want to take her from you. I don't want to take her; but
surely there can be no harm in her coming here to see us? I can
provide for her, Thorne, remember that. I can provide for her without
reference to Louis Philippe. What are ten or fifteen thousand pounds
to me? Remember that, Thorne."

Dr Thorne did remember it. In that interview he remembered many
things, and much passed through his mind on which he felt himself
compelled to resolve somewhat too suddenly. Would he be justified
in rejecting, on behalf of Mary, the offer of pecuniary provision
which this rich relative seemed so well inclined to make? Or, if he
accepted it, would he in truth be studying her interests? Scatcherd
was a self-willed, obstinate man--now indeed touched by unwonted
tenderness; but he was one to whose lasting tenderness Dr Thorne
would be very unwilling to trust his darling. He did resolve, that on
the whole he should best discharge his duty, even to her, by keeping
her to himself, and rejecting, on her behalf, any participation in
the baronet's wealth. As Mary herself had said, "some people must
be bound together;" and their destiny, that of himself and his
niece, seemed to have so bound them. She had found her place at
Greshamsbury, her place in the world; and it would be better for
her now to keep it, than to go forth and seek another that would be
richer, but at the same time less suited to her.

"No, Scatcherd," he said at last, "she cannot come here; she would
not be happy here, and, to tell the truth, I do not wish her to know
that she has other relatives."

"Ah! she would be ashamed of her mother, you mean, and of her
mother's brother too, eh? She's too fine a lady, I suppose, to take
me by the hand and give me a kiss, and call me her uncle? I and Lady
Scatcherd would not be grand enough for her, eh?"

"You may say what you please, Scatcherd: I of course cannot stop
you."

"But I don't know how you'll reconcile what you are doing to your
conscience. What right can you have to throw away the girl's chance,
now that she has a chance? What fortune can you give her?"

"I have done what little I could," said Thorne, proudly.

"Well, well, well, well, I never heard such a thing in my life;
never. Mary's child, my own Mary's child, and I'm not to see her!
But, Thorne, I tell you what; I will see her. I'll go over to her,
I'll go to Greshamsbury, and tell her who I am, and what I can do
for her. I tell you fairly I will. You shall not keep her away from
those who belong to her, and can do her a good turn. Mary's daughter;
another Mary Scatcherd! I almost wish she were called Mary Scatcherd.
Is she like her, Thorne? Come tell me that; is she like her mother."

"I do not remember her mother; at least not in health."

"Not remember her! ah, well. She was the handsomest girl in
Barchester, anyhow. That was given up to her. Well, I didn't think to
be talking of her again. Thorne, you cannot but expect that I shall
go over and see Mary's child?"

"Now, Scatcherd, look here," and the doctor, coming away from the
window, where he had been standing, sat himself down by the bedside,
"you must not come over to Greshamsbury."

"Oh! but I shall."

"Listen to me, Scatcherd. I do not want to praise myself in any way;
but when that girl was an infant, six months old, she was like to be
a thorough obstacle to her mother's fortune in life. Tomlinson was
willing to marry your sister, but he would not marry the child too.
Then I took the baby, and I promised her mother that I would be to
her as a father. I have kept my word as fairly as I have been able.
She has sat at my hearth, and drunk of my cup, and been to me as my
own child. After that, I have a right to judge what is best for her.
Her life is not like your life, and her ways are not as your ways--"

"Ah, that is just it; we are too vulgar for her."

"You may take it as you will," said the doctor, who was too much in
earnest to be in the least afraid of offending his companion. "I have
not said so; but I do say that you and she are unlike in your way of
living."

"She wouldn't like an uncle with a brandy bottle under his head, eh?"

"You could not see her without letting her know what is the connexion
between you; of that I wish to keep her in ignorance."

"I never knew any one yet who was ashamed of a rich connexion. How do
you mean to get a husband for her, eh?"

"I have told you of her existence," continued the doctor, not
appearing to notice what the baronet had last said, "because I found
it necessary that you should know the fact of your sister having left
this child behind her; you would otherwise have made a will different
from that intended, and there might have been a lawsuit, and mischief
and misery when we are gone. You must perceive that I have done this
in honesty to you; and you yourself are too honest to repay me by
taking advantage of this knowledge to make me unhappy."

"Oh, very well, doctor. At any rate, you are a brick, I will say
that. But I'll think of all this, I'll think of it; but it does
startle me to find that poor Mary has a child living so near to me."

"And now, Scatcherd, I will say good-bye. We part as friends, don't
we?"

"Oh, but doctor, you ain't going to leave me so. What am I to do?
What doses shall I take? How much brandy may I drink? May I have a
grill for dinner? D---- me, doctor, you have turned Fillgrave out of
the house. You mustn't go and desert me."

Dr Thorne laughed, and then, sitting himself down to write medically,
gave such prescriptions and ordinances as he found to be necessary.
They amounted but to this: that the man was to drink, if possible, no
brandy; and if that were not possible, then as little as might be.

This having been done, the doctor again proceeded to take his leave;
but when he got to the door he was called back. "Thorne! Thorne!
About that money for Mr Gresham; do what you like, do just what
you like. Ten thousand, is it? Well, he shall have it. I'll make
Winterbones write about it at once. Five per cent., isn't it? No,
four and a half. Well, he shall have ten thousand more."

"Thank you, Scatcherd, thank you, I am really very much obliged to
you, I am indeed. I wouldn't ask it if I was not sure your money is
safe. Good-bye, old fellow, and get rid of that bedfellow of yours,"
and again he was at the door.

"Thorne," said Sir Roger once more. "Thorne, just come back for a
minute. You wouldn't let me send a present would you,--fifty pounds
or so,--just to buy a few flounces?"

The doctor contrived to escape without giving a definite answer
to this question; and then, having paid his compliments to Lady
Scatcherd, remounted his cob and rode back to Greshamsbury.



CHAPTER XIV

Sentence of Exile


Dr Thorne did not at once go home to his own house. When he reached
the Greshamsbury gates, he sent his horse to its own stable by one of
the people at the lodge, and then walked on to the mansion. He had
to see the squire on the subject of the forthcoming loan, and he had
also to see Lady Arabella.

The Lady Arabella, though she was not personally attached to the
doctor with quite so much warmth as some others of her family, still
had reasons of her own for not dispensing with his visits to the
house. She was one of his patients, and a patient fearful of the
disease with which she was threatened. Though she thought the doctor
to be arrogant, deficient as to properly submissive demeanour
towards herself, an instigator to marital parsimony in her lord,
one altogether opposed to herself and her interest in Greshamsbury
politics, nevertheless, she did feel trust in him as a medical man.
She had no wish to be rescued out of his hands by any Dr Fillgrave,
as regarded that complaint of hers, much as she may have desired,
and did desire, to sever him from all Greshamsbury councils in all
matters not touching the healing art.

Now the complaint of which the Lady Arabella was afraid, was cancer:
and her only present confidant in this matter was Dr Thorne.

The first of the Greshamsbury circle whom he saw was Beatrice, and he
met her in the garden.

"Oh, doctor," said she, "where has Mary been this age? She has not
been up here since Frank's birthday."

"Well, that was only three days ago. Why don't you go down and ferret
her out in the village?"

"So I have done. I was there just now, and found her out. She was out
with Patience Oriel. Patience is all and all with her now. Patience
is all very well, but if they throw me over--"

"My dear Miss Gresham, Patience is and always was a virtue."

"A poor, beggarly, sneaking virtue after all, doctor. They should
have come up, seeing how deserted I am here. There's absolutely
nobody left."

"Has Lady de Courcy gone?"

"Oh, yes! All the de Courcys have gone. I think, between ourselves,
Mary stays away because she does not love them too well. They have
all gone, and taken Augusta and Frank with them."

"Has Frank gone to Courcy Castle?"

"Oh, yes; did you not hear? There was rather a fight about it. Master
Frank wanted to get off, and was as hard to catch as an eel, and then
the countess was offended; and papa said he didn't see why Frank was
to go if he didn't like it. Papa is very anxious about his degree,
you know."

The doctor understood it all as well as though it had been described
to him at full length. The countess had claimed her prey, in order
that she might carry him off to Miss Dunstable's golden embrace. The
prey, not yet old enough and wise enough to connect the worship of
Plutus with that of Venus, had made sundry futile feints and dodges
in the vain hope of escape. Then the anxious mother had enforced the
de Courcy behests with all a mother's authority. But the father,
whose ideas on the subject of Miss Dunstable's wealth had probably
not been consulted, had, as a matter of course, taken exactly the
other side of the question. The doctor did not require to be told all
this in order to know how the battle had raged. He had not yet heard
of the great Dunstable scheme; but he was sufficiently acquainted
with Greshamsbury tactics to understand that the war had been carried
on somewhat after this fashion.

As a rule, when the squire took a point warmly to heart, he was
wont to carry his way against the de Courcy interest. He could be
obstinate enough when it so pleased him, and had before now gone so
far as to tell his wife, that her thrice-noble sister-in-law might
remain at home at Courcy Castle--or, at any rate, not come to
Greshamsbury--if she could not do so without striving to rule him and
every one else when she got here. This had of course been repeated to
the countess, who had merely replied to it by a sisterly whisper, in
which she sorrowfully intimated that some men were born brutes, and
always would remain so.

"I think they all are," the Lady Arabella had replied; wishing,
perhaps, to remind her sister-in-law that the breed of brutes was as
rampant in West Barsetshire as in the eastern division of the county.

The squire, however, had not fought on this occasion with all his
vigour. There had, of course, been some passages between him and his
son, and it had been agreed that Frank should go for a fortnight to
Courcy Castle.

"We mustn't quarrel with them, you know, if we can help it," said the
father; "and, therefore, you must go sooner or later."

"Well, I suppose so; but you don't know how dull it is, governor."

"Don't I!" said Gresham.

"There's a Miss Dunstable to be there; did you ever hear of her,
sir?"

"No, never."

"She's a girl whose father used to make ointment, or something of
that sort."

"Oh, yes, to be sure; the ointment of Lebanon. He used to cover all
the walls in London. I haven't heard of him this year past."

"No; that's because he's dead. Well, she carries on the ointment now,
I believe; at any rate, she has got all the money. I wonder what
she's like."

"You'd better go and see," said the father, who now began to have
some inkling of an idea why the two ladies were so anxious to carry
his son off to Courcy Castle at this exact time. And so Frank had
packed up his best clothes, given a last fond look at the new black
horse, repeated his last special injunctions to Peter, and had then
made one of the stately _cortège_ which proceeded through the county
from Greshamsbury to Courcy Castle.

"I am very glad of that, very," said the squire, when he heard that
the money was to be forthcoming. "I shall get it on easier terms from
him than elsewhere; and it kills me to have continual bother about
such things." And Mr Gresham, feeling that that difficulty was tided
over for a time, and that the immediate pressure of little debts
would be abated, stretched himself on his easy chair as though he
were quite comfortable;--one may say almost elated.

How frequent it is that men on their road to ruin feel elation such
as this! A man signs away a moiety of his substance; nay, that were
nothing; but a moiety of the substance of his children; he puts
his pen to the paper that ruins him and them; but in doing so he
frees himself from a score of immediate little pestering, stinging
troubles: and, therefore, feels as though fortune has been almost
kind to him.

The doctor felt angry with himself for what he had done when he saw
how easily the squire adapted himself to this new loan. "It will make
Scatcherd's claim upon you very heavy," said he.

Mr Gresham at once read all that was passing through the doctor's
mind. "Well, what else can I do?" said he. "You wouldn't have me
allow my daughter to lose this match for the sake of a few thousand
pounds? It will be well at any rate to have one of them settled. Look
at that letter from Moffat."

The doctor took the letter and read it. It was a long, wordy,
ill-written rigmarole, in which that amorous gentleman spoke with
much rapture of his love and devotion for Miss Gresham; but at the
same time declared, and most positively swore, that the adverse
cruelty of his circumstances was such, that it would not allow him to
stand up like a man at the hymeneal altar until six thousand pounds
hard cash had been paid down at his banker's.

"It may be all right," said the squire; "but in my time gentlemen
were not used to write such letters as that to each other."

The doctor shrugged his shoulders. He did not know how far he would
be justified in saying much, even to his friend the squire, in
dispraise of his future son-in-law.

"I told him that he should have the money; and one would have thought
that that would have been enough for him. Well: I suppose Augusta
likes him. I suppose she wishes the match; otherwise, I would give
him such an answer to that letter as would startle him a little."

"What settlement is he to make?" said Thorne.

"Oh, that's satisfactory enough; couldn't be more so; a thousand a
year and the house at Wimbledon for her; that's all very well. But
such a lie, you know, Thorne. He's rolling in money, and yet he talks
of this beggarly sum as though he couldn't possibly stir without it."

"If I might venture to speak my mind," said Thorne.

"Well?" said the squire, looking at him earnestly.

"I should be inclined to say that Mr Moffat wants to cry off,
himself."

"Oh, impossible; quite impossible. In the first place, he was so very
anxious for the match. In the next place, it is such a great thing
for him. And then, he would never dare; you see, he is dependent on
the de Courcys for his seat."

"But suppose he loses his seat?"

"But there is not much fear of that, I think. Scatcherd may be a very
fine fellow, but I think they'll hardly return him at Barchester."

"I don't understand much about it," said Thorne; "but such things do
happen."

"And you believe that this man absolutely wants to get off the match;
absolutely thinks of playing such a trick as that on my daughter;--on
me?"

"I don't say he intends to do it; but it looks to me as though he
were making a door for himself, or trying to make a door: if so, your
having the money will stop him there."

"But, Thorne, don't you think he loves the girl? If I thought not--"

The doctor stood silent for a moment, and then he said, "I am not a
love-making man myself, but I think that if I were much in love with
a young lady I should not write such a letter as that to her father."

"By heavens! If I thought so," said the squire--"but, Thorne, we
can't judge of those fellows as one does of gentlemen; they are so
used to making money, and seeing money made, that they have an eye to
business in everything."

"Perhaps so, perhaps so," muttered the doctor, showing evidently that
he still doubted the warmth of Mr Moffat's affection.

"The match was none of my making, and I cannot interfere now to break
it off: it will give her a good position in the world; for, after
all, money goes a great way, and it is something to be in Parliament.
I can only hope she likes him. I do truly hope she likes him;" and
the squire also showed by the tone of his voice that, though he might
hope that his daughter was in love with her intended husband, he
hardly conceived it to be possible that she should be so.

And what was the truth of the matter? Miss Gresham was no more in
love with Mr Moffat than you are--oh, sweet, young, blooming beauty!
Not a whit more; not, at least, in your sense of the word, nor in
mine. She had by no means resolved within her heart that of all the
men whom she had ever seen, or ever could see, he was far away the
nicest and best. That is what you will do when you are in love, if
you be good for anything. She had no longing to sit near to him--the
nearer the better; she had no thought of his taste and his choice
when she bought her ribbons and bonnets; she had no indescribable
desire that all her female friends should be ever talking to her
about him. When she wrote to him, she did not copy her letters again
and again, so that she might be, as it were, ever speaking to him;
she took no special pride in herself because he had chosen her to
be his life's partner. In point of fact, she did not care one straw
about him.

And yet she thought she loved him; was, indeed, quite confident
that she did so; told her mother that she was sure Gustavus would
wish this, she knew Gustavus would like that, and so on; but as for
Gustavus himself, she did not care a chip for him.

She was in love with her match just as farmers are in love with
wheat at eighty shillings a quarter; or shareholders--innocent
gudgeons--with seven and half per cent. interest on their paid-up
capital. Eighty shillings a quarter, and seven and half per cent.
interest, such were the returns which she had been taught to look
for in exchange for her young heart; and, having obtained them, or
being thus about to obtain them, why should not her young heart be
satisfied? Had she not sat herself down obediently at the feet of her
lady Gamaliel, and should she not be rewarded? Yes, indeed, she shall
be rewarded.

And then the doctor went to the lady. On their medical secrets we
will not intrude; but there were other matters bearing on the course
of our narrative, as to which Lady Arabella found it necessary to say
a word or so to the doctor; and it is essential that we should know
what was the tenor of those few words so spoken.

How the aspirations, and instincts, and feelings of a household
become changed as the young birds begin to flutter with feathered
wings, and have half-formed thoughts of leaving the parental nest! A
few months back, Frank had reigned almost autocratic over the lesser
subjects of the kingdom of Greshamsbury. The servants, for instance,
always obeyed him, and his sisters never dreamed of telling anything
which he directed should not be told. All his mischief, all his
troubles, and all his loves were confided to them, with the sure
conviction that they would never be made to stand in evidence against
him.

Trusting to this well-ascertained state of things, he had not
hesitated to declare his love for Miss Thorne before his sister
Augusta. But his sister Augusta had now, as it were, been received
into the upper house; having duly received, and duly profited by the
lessons of her great instructress, she was now admitted to sit in
conclave with the higher powers: her sympathies, of course, became
changed, and her confidence was removed from the young and giddy
and given to the ancient and discreet. She was as a schoolboy, who,
having finished his schooling, and being fairly forced by necessity
into the stern bread-earning world, undertakes the new duties of
tutoring. Yesterday he was taught, and fought, of course, against the
schoolmaster; to-day he teaches, and fights as keenly for him. So
it was with Augusta Gresham, when, with careful brow, she whispered
to her mother that there was something wrong between Frank and Mary
Thorne.

"Stop it at once, Arabella: stop it at once," the countess had said;
"that, indeed, will be ruin. If he does not marry money, he is lost.
Good heavens! the doctor's niece! A girl that nobody knows where she
comes from!"

"He's going with you to-morrow, you know," said the anxious mother.

"Yes; and that is so far well: if he will be led by me, the evil
may be remedied before he returns; but it is very, very hard to
lead young men. Arabella, you must forbid that girl to come to
Greshamsbury again on any pretext whatever. The evil must be stopped
at once."

"But she is here so much as a matter of course."

"Then she must be here as a matter of course no more: there has been
folly, very great folly, in having her here. Of course she would turn
out to be a designing creature with such temptation before her; with
such a prize within her reach, how could she help it?"

"I must say, aunt, she answered him very properly," said Augusta.

"Nonsense," said the countess; "before you, of course she did.
Arabella, the matter must not be left to the girl's propriety. I
never knew the propriety of a girl of that sort to be fit to be
depended upon yet. If you wish to save the whole family from ruin,
you must take steps to keep her away from Greshamsbury now at once.
Now is the time; now that Frank is to be away. Where so much, so very
much depends on a young man's marrying money, not one day ought to be
lost."

Instigated in this manner, Lady Arabella resolved to open her mind
to the doctor, and to make it intelligible to him that, under
present circumstances, Mary's visits at Greshamsbury had better be
discontinued. She would have given much, however, to have escaped
this business. She had in her time tried one or two falls with the
doctor, and she was conscious that she had never yet got the better
of him: and then she was in a slight degree afraid of Mary herself.
She had a presentiment that it would not be so easy to banish Mary
from Greshamsbury: she was not sure that that young lady would not
boldly assert her right to her place in the school-room; appeal
loudly to the squire, and perhaps, declare her determination of
marrying the heir, out before them all. The squire would be sure to
uphold her in that, or in anything else.

And then, too, there would be the greatest difficulty in wording her
request to the doctor; and Lady Arabella was sufficiently conscious
of her own weakness to know that she was not always very good at
words. But the doctor, when hard pressed, was never at fault: he
could say the bitterest things in the quietest tone, and Lady
Arabella had a great dread of these bitter things. What, also, if he
should desert her himself; withdraw from her his skill and knowledge
of her bodily wants and ailments now that he was so necessary to her?
She had once before taken that measure of sending to Barchester for
Dr Fillgrave, but it had answered with her hardly better than with
Sir Roger and Lady Scatcherd.

When, therefore, Lady Arabella found herself alone with the doctor,
and called upon to say out her say in what best language she could
select for the occasion, she did not feel to very much at her ease.
There was that about the man before her which cowed her, in spite of
her being the wife of the squire, the sister of an earl, a person
quite acknowledged to be of the great world, and the mother of the
very important young man whose affections were now about to be called
in question. Nevertheless, there was the task to be done, and with a
mother's courage she essayed it.

"Dr Thorne," said she, as soon as their medical conference was at
an end, "I am very glad you came over to-day, for I had something
special which I wanted to say to you:" so far she got, and then
stopped; but, as the doctor did not seem inclined to give her any
assistance, she was forced to flounder on as best she could.

"Something very particular indeed. You know what a respect and
esteem, and I may say affection, we all have for you,"--here the
doctor made a low bow--"and I may say for Mary also;" here the
doctor bowed himself again. "We have done what little we could to be
pleasant neighbours, and I think you'll believe me when I say that I
am a true friend to you and dear Mary--"

The doctor knew that something very unpleasant was coming, but he
could not at all guess what might be its nature. He felt, however,
that he must say something; so he expressed a hope that he was duly
sensible of all the acts of kindness he had ever received from the
squire and the family at large.

"I hope, therefore, my dear doctor, you won't take amiss what I am
going to say."

"Well, Lady Arabella, I'll endeavour not to do so."

"I am sure I would not give any pain if I could help it, much less
to you. But there are occasions, doctor, in which duty must be
paramount; paramount to all other considerations, you know, and,
certainly, this occasion is one of them."

"But what is the occasion, Lady Arabella?"

"I'll tell you, doctor. You know what Frank's position is?"

"Frank's position! as regards what?"

"Why, his position in life; an only son, you know."

"Oh, yes; I know his position in that respect; an only son, and his
father's heir; and a very fine fellow, he is. You have but one son,
Lady Arabella, and you may well be proud of him."

Lady Arabella sighed. She did not wish at the present moment to
express herself as being in any way proud of Frank. She was desirous
rather, on the other hand, of showing that she was a good deal
ashamed of him; only not quite so much ashamed of him as it behoved
the doctor to be of his niece.

"Well, perhaps so; yes," said Lady Arabella, "he is, I believe, a
very good young man, with an excellent disposition; but, doctor, his
position is very precarious; and he is just at that time of life when
every caution is necessary."

To the doctor's ears, Lady Arabella was now talking of her son as a
mother might of her infant when whooping-cough was abroad or croup
imminent. "There is nothing on earth the matter with him, I should
say," said the doctor. "He has every possible sign of perfect
health."

"Oh yes; his health! Yes, thank God, his health is good; that is a
great blessing." And Lady Arabella thought of her four flowerets that
had already faded. "I am sure I am most thankful to see him growing
up so strong. But it is not that I mean, doctor."

"Then what is it, Lady Arabella?"

"Why, doctor, you know the squire's position with regard to money
matters?"

Now the doctor undoubtedly did know the squire's position with regard
to money matters,--knew it much better than did Lady Arabella; but
he was by no means inclined to talk on that subject to her ladyship.
He remained quite silent, therefore, although Lady Arabella's last
speech had taken the form of a question. Lady Arabella was a little
offended at this want of freedom on his part, and become somewhat
sterner in her tone--a thought less condescending in her manner.

"The squire has unfortunately embarrassed the property, and Frank
must look forward to inherit it with very heavy encumbrances; I
fear very heavy indeed, though of what exact nature I am kept in
ignorance."

Looking at the doctor's face, she perceived that there was no
probability whatever that her ignorance would be enlightened by him.

"And, therefore, it is highly necessary that Frank should be very
careful."

"As to his private expenditure, you mean?" said the doctor.

"No; not exactly that: though of course he must be careful as to
that, too; that's of course. But that is not what I mean, doctor; his
only hope of retrieving his circumstances is by marrying money."

"With every other conjugal blessing that a man can have, I hope he
may have that also." So the doctor replied with imperturbable face;
but not the less did he begin to have a shade of suspicion of what
might be the coming subject of the conference. It would be untrue to
say that he had ever thought it probable that the young heir should
fall in love with his niece; that he had ever looked forward to such
a chance, either with complacency or with fear; nevertheless, the
idea had of late passed through his mind. Some word had fallen from
Mary, some closely watched expression of her eye, or some quiver
in her lip when Frank's name was mentioned, had of late made him
involuntarily think that such might not be impossible; and then, when
the chance of Mary becoming the heiress to so large a fortune had
been forced upon his consideration, he had been unable to prevent
himself from building happy castles in the air, as he rode slowly
home from Boxall Hill. But not a whit the more on that account was
he prepared to be untrue to the squire's interest or to encourage a
feeling which must be distasteful to all the squire's friends.

"Yes, doctor; he must marry money."

"And worth, Lady Arabella; and a pure feminine heart; and youth and
beauty. I hope he will marry them all."

Could it be possible, that in speaking of a pure feminine heart, and
youth and beauty, and such like gewgaws, the doctor was thinking of
his niece? Could it be that he had absolutely made up his mind to
foster and encourage this odious match?

The bare idea made Lady Arabella wrathful, and her wrath gave her
courage. "He must marry money, or he will be a ruined man. Now,
doctor, I am informed that things--words that is--have passed between
him and Mary which never ought to have been allowed."

And now also the doctor was wrathful. "What things? what words?" said
he, appearing to Lady Arabella as though he rose in his anger nearly
a foot in altitude before her eyes. "What has passed between them?
and who says so?"

"Doctor, there have been love-makings, you may take my word for it;
love-makings of a very, very, very advanced description."

This, the doctor could not stand. No, not for Greshamsbury and its
heir; not for the squire and all his misfortunes; not for Lady
Arabella and the blood of all the de Courcys could he stand quiet
and hear Mary thus accused. He sprang up another foot in height, and
expanded equally in width as he flung back the insinuation.

"Who says so? Whoever says so, whoever speaks of Miss Thorne in such
language, says what is not true. I will pledge my word--"

"My dear doctor, my dear doctor, what took place was quite clearly
heard; there was no mistake about it, indeed."

"What took place? What was heard?"

"Well, then, I don't want, you know, to make more of it than can be
helped. The thing must be stopped, that is all."

"What thing? Speak out, Lady Arabella. I will not have Mary's conduct
impugned by innuendoes. What is it that eavesdroppers have heard?"

"Dr Thorne, there have been no eavesdroppers."

"And no talebearers either? Will you ladyship oblige me by letting me
know what is the accusation which you bring against my niece?"

"There has been most positively an offer made, Dr Thorne."

"And who made it?"

"Oh, of course I am not going to say but what Frank must have been
very imprudent. Of course he has been to blame. There has been fault
on both sides, no doubt."

"I utterly deny it. I positively deny it. I know nothing of the
circumstances; have heard nothing about it--"

"Then of course you can't say," said Lady Arabella.

"I know nothing of the circumstance; have heard nothing about it,"
continued Dr Thorne; "but I do know my niece, and am ready to assert
that there has not been fault on both sides. Whether there has been
any fault on any side, that I do not yet know."

"I can assure you, Dr Thorne, that an offer was made by Frank;
such an offer cannot be without its allurements to a young lady
circumstanced like your niece."

"Allurements!" almost shouted the doctor, and, as he did so, Lady
Arabella stepped back a pace or two, retreating from the fire which
shot out of his eyes. "But the truth is, Lady Arabella, you do not
know my niece. If you will have the goodness to let me understand
what it is that you desire I will tell you whether I can comply with
your wishes."

"Of course it will be very inexpedient that the young people should
be thrown together again;--for the present, I mean."

"Well!"

"Frank has now gone to Courcy Castle; and he talks of going from
thence to Cambridge. But he will doubtless be here, backwards and
forwards; and perhaps it will be better for all parties--safer,
that is, doctor--if Miss Thorne were to discontinue her visits to
Greshamsbury for a while."

"Very well!" thundered out the doctor. "Her visits to Greshamsbury
shall be discontinued."

"Of course, doctor, this won't change the intercourse between us;
between you and the and the family."

"Not change it!" said he. "Do you think that I will break bread in a
house from whence she has been ignominiously banished? Do you think
that I can sit down in friendship with those who have spoken of her
as you have now spoken? You have many daughters; what would you say
if I accused them one of them as you have accused her?"

"Accused, doctor! No, I don't accuse her. But prudence, you know,
does sometimes require us--"

"Very well; prudence requires you to look after those who belong
to you; and prudence requires me to look after my one lamb. Good
morning, Lady Arabella."

"But, doctor, you are not going to quarrel with us? You will come
when we want you; eh! won't you?"

Quarrel! quarrel with Greshamsbury! Angry as he was, the doctor felt
that he could ill bear to quarrel with Greshamsbury. A man past fifty
cannot easily throw over the ties that have taken twenty years to
form, and wrench himself away from the various close ligatures with
which, in such a period, he has become bound. He could not quarrel
with the squire; he could ill bear to quarrel with Frank; though he
now began to conceive that Frank had used him badly, he could not do
so; he could not quarrel with the children, who had almost been born
into his arms; nor even with the very walls, and trees, and grassy
knolls with which he was so dearly intimate. He could not proclaim
himself an enemy to Greshamsbury; and yet he felt that fealty to Mary
required of him that, for the present, he should put on an enemy's
guise.

"If you want me, Lady Arabella, and send for me, I will come to you;
otherwise I will, if you please, share the sentence which has been
passed on Mary. I will now wish you good morning." And then bowing
low to her, he left the room and the house, and sauntered slowly away
to his own home.

What was he to say to Mary? He walked very slowly down the
Greshamsbury avenue, with his hands clasped behind his back, thinking
over the whole matter; thinking of it, or rather trying to think
of it. When a man's heart is warmly concerned in any matter, it
is almost useless for him to endeavour to think of it. Instead of
thinking, he gives play to his feelings, and feeds his passion by
indulging it. "Allurements!" he said to himself, repeating Lady
Arabella's words. "A girl circumstanced like my niece! How utterly
incapable is such a woman as that to understand the mind, and heart,
and soul of such a one as Mary Thorne!" And then his thoughts
recurred to Frank. "It has been ill done of him; ill done of him:
young as he is, he should have had feeling enough to have spared me
this. A thoughtless word has been spoken which will now make her
miserable!" And then, as he walked on, he could not divest his mind
of the remembrance of what had passed between him and Sir Roger.
What, if after all, Mary should become the heiress to all that money?
What, if she should become, in fact, the owner of Greshamsbury? for,
indeed it seemed too possible that Sir Roger's heir would be the
owner of Greshamsbury.

The idea was one which he disliked to entertain, but it would recur
to him again and again. It might be, that a marriage between his
niece and the nominal heir to the estate might be of all the matches
the best for young Gresham to make. How sweet would be the revenge,
how glorious the retaliation on Lady Arabella, if, after what had
now been said, it should come to pass that all the difficulties of
Greshamsbury should be made smooth by Mary's love, and Mary's hand!
It was a dangerous subject on which to ponder; and, as he sauntered
down the road, the doctor did his best to banish it from his
mind,--not altogether successfully.

But as he went he again encountered Beatrice. "Tell Mary I went to
her to-day," said she, "and that I expect her up here to-morrow. If
she does not come, I shall be savage."

"Do not be savage," said he, putting out his hand, "even though she
should not come."

Beatrice immediately saw that his manner with her was not playful,
and that his face was serious. "I was only in joke," said she; "of
course I was only joking. But is anything the matter? Is Mary ill?"

"Oh, no; not ill at all; but she will not be here to-morrow, nor
probably for some time. But, Miss Gresham, you must not be savage
with her."

Beatrice tried to interrogate him, but he would not wait to answer
her questions. While she was speaking he bowed to her in his usual
old-fashioned courteous way, and passed on out of hearing. "She will
not come up for some time," said Beatrice to herself. "Then mamma
must have quarrelled with her." And at once in her heart she
acquitted her friend of all blame in the matter, whatever it might
be, and condemned her mother unheard.

The doctor, when he arrived at his own house, had in nowise made
up his mind as to the manner in which he would break the matter to
Mary; but by the time that he had reached the drawing-room, he had
made up his mind to this, that he would put off the evil hour till
the morrow. He would sleep on the matter--lie awake on it, more
probably--and then at breakfast, as best he could, tell her what had
been said of her.

Mary that evening was more than usually inclined to be playful.
She had not been quite certain till the morning, whether Frank had
absolutely left Greshamsbury, and had, therefore, preferred the
company of Miss Oriel to going up to the house. There was a peculiar
cheerfulness about her friend Patience, a feeling of satisfaction
with the world and those in it, which Mary always shared with her;
and now she had brought home to the doctor's fireside, in spite of
her young troubles, a smiling face, if not a heart altogether happy.

"Uncle," she said at last, "what makes you so sombre? Shall I read to
you?"

"No; not to-night, dearest."

"Why, uncle; what is the matter?"

"Nothing, nothing."

"Ah, but it is something, and you shall tell me;" getting up, she
came over to his arm-chair, and leant over his shoulder.

He looked at her for a minute in silence, and then, getting up from
his chair, passed his arm round her waist, and pressed her closely to
his heart.

"My darling!" he said, almost convulsively. "My best own, truest
darling!" and Mary, looking up into his face, saw that big tears were
running down his cheeks.

But still he told her nothing that night.



CHAPTER XV

Courcy


When Frank Gresham expressed to his father an opinion that Courcy
Castle was dull, the squire, as may be remembered, did not pretend to
differ from him. To men such as the squire, and such as the squire's
son, Courcy Castle was dull. To what class of men it would not be
dull the author is not prepared to say; but it may be presumed that
the de Courcys found it to their liking, or they would have made it
other than it was.

The castle itself was a huge brick pile, built in the days of William
III, which, though they were grand for days of the construction of
the Constitution, were not very grand for architecture of a more
material description. It had, no doubt, a perfect right to be called
a castle, as it was entered by a castle-gate which led into a court,
the porter's lodge for which was built as it were into the wall;
there were attached to it also two round, stumpy adjuncts, which
were, perhaps properly, called towers, though they did not do much in
the way of towering; and, moreover, along one side of the house, over
what would otherwise have been the cornice, there ran a castellated
parapet, through the assistance of which, the imagination no doubt
was intended to supply the muzzles of defiant artillery. But any
artillery which would have so presented its muzzle must have been
very small, and it may be doubted whether even a bowman could have
obtained shelter there.

The grounds about the castle were not very inviting, nor, as grounds,
very extensive; though, no doubt, the entire domain was such as
suited the importance of so puissant a nobleman as Earl de Courcy.
What, indeed, should have been the park was divided out into various
large paddocks. The surface was flat and unbroken; and though
there were magnificent elm-trees standing in straight lines, like
hedgerows, the timber had not that beautiful, wild, scattered look
which generally gives the great charm to English scenery.

The town of Courcy--for the place claimed to rank as a town--was
in many particulars like the castle. It was built of dingy-red
brick--almost more brown than red--and was solid, dull-looking, ugly
and comfortable. It consisted of four streets, which were formed by
two roads crossing each other, making at the point of junction a
centre for the town. Here stood the Red Lion; had it been called the
brown lion, the nomenclature would have been more strictly correct;
and here, in the old days of coaching, some life had been wont to
stir itself at those hours in the day and night when the Freetraders,
Tallyhoes, and Royal Mails changed their horses. But now there was a
railway station a mile and a half distant, and the moving life of the
town of Courcy was confined to the Red Lion omnibus, which seemed to
pass its entire time in going up and down between the town and the
station, quite unembarrassed by any great weight of passengers.

There were, so said the Courcyites when away from Courcy, excellent
shops in the place; but they were not the less accustomed, when
at home among themselves, to complain to each other of the vile
extortion with which they were treated by their neighbours. The
ironmonger, therefore, though he loudly asserted that he could beat
Bristol in the quality of his wares in one direction, and undersell
Gloucester in another, bought his tea and sugar on the sly in one
of those larger towns; and the grocer, on the other hand, equally
distrusted the pots and pans of home production. Trade, therefore, at
Courcy, had not thriven since the railway had opened: and, indeed,
had any patient inquirer stood at the cross through one entire day,
counting customers who entered the neighbouring shops, he might well
have wondered that any shops in Courcy could be kept open.

And how changed has been the bustle of that once noisy inn to the
present death-like silence of its green courtyard! There, a lame
ostler crawls about with his hands thrust into the capacious pockets
of his jacket, feeding on memory. That weary pair of omnibus jades,
and three sorry posters, are all that now grace those stables where
horses used to be stalled in close contiguity by the dozen; where
twenty grains apiece, abstracted from every feed of oats consumed
during the day, would have afforded a daily quart to the lucky
pilferer.

Come, my friend, and discourse with me. Let us know what are thy
ideas of the inestimable benefits which science has conferred on us
in these, our latter days. How dost thou, among others, appreciate
railways and the power of steam, telegraphs, telegrams, and our new
expresses? But indifferently, you say. "Time was I've zeed vifteen
pair o' 'osses go out of this 'ere yard in vour-and-twenty hour;
and now there be'ant vifteen, no, not ten, in vour-and-twenty days!
There was the duik--not this 'un; he be'ant no gude; but this 'un's
vather--why, when he'd come down the road, the cattle did be a-going,
vour days an eend. Here'd be the tooter and the young gen'lmen, and
the governess and the young leddies, and then the servants--they'd
be al'ays the grandest folk of all--and then the duik and the
doochess--Lord love 'ee, zur; the money did fly in them days! But
now--" and the feeling of scorn and contempt which the lame ostler
was enabled by his native talent to throw into the word "now," was
quite as eloquent against the power of steam as anything that has
been spoken at dinners, or written in pamphlets by the keenest
admirers of latter-day lights.

"Why, luke at this 'ere town," continued he of the sieve, "the grass
be a-growing in the very streets;--that can't be no gude. Why, luke
'ee here, zur; I do be a-standing at this 'ere gateway, just this
way, hour arter hour, and my heyes is hopen mostly;--I zees who's
a-coming and who's a-going. Nobody's a-coming and nobody's a-going;
that can't be no gude. Luke at that there homnibus; why, darn me--"
and now, in his eloquence at this peculiar point, my friend became
more loud and powerful than ever--"why, darn me, if maister harns
enough with that there bus to put hiron on them 'osses' feet,
I'll--be--blowed!" And as he uttered this hypothetical denunciation
on himself he spoke very slowly, bringing out every word as it were
separately, and lowering himself at his knees at every sound, moving
at the same time his right hand up and down. When he had finished,
he fixed his eyes upon the ground, pointing downwards, as if there
was to be the site of his doom if the curse that he had called down
upon himself should ever come to pass; and then, waiting no further
converse, he hobbled away, melancholy, to his deserted stables.

Oh, my friend! my poor lame friend! it will avail nothing to tell
thee of Liverpool and Manchester; of the glories of Glasgow, with her
flourishing banks; of London, with its third millions of inhabitants;
of the great things which commerce is doing for this nation of thine!
What is commerce to thee, unless it be commerce in posting on that
worn-out, all but useless great western turnpike-road? There is
nothing left for thee but to be carted away as rubbish--for thee
and for many of us in these now prosperous days; oh, my melancholy,
care-ridden friend!

Courcy Castle was certainly a dull place to look at, and Frank, in
his former visits, had found that the appearance did not belie the
reality. He had been but little there when the earl had been at
Courcy; and as he had always felt from his childhood a peculiar
distaste to the governance of his aunt the countess, this perhaps may
have added to his feeling of dislike. Now, however, the castle was
to be fuller than he had ever before known it; the earl was to be at
home; there was some talk of the Duke of Omnium coming for a day or
two, though that seemed doubtful; there was some faint doubt of Lord
Porlock; Mr Moffat, intent on the coming election--and also, let us
hope, on his coming bliss--was to be one of the guests; and there was
also to be the great Miss Dunstable.

Frank, however, found that those grandees were not expected quite
immediately. "I might go back to Greshamsbury for three or four days
as she is not to be here," he said naïvely to his aunt, expressing,
with tolerable perspicuity, his feeling, that he regarded his visit
to Courcy Castle quite as a matter of business. But the countess
would hear of no such arrangement. Now that she had got him, she
was not going to let him fall back into the perils of Miss Thorne's
intrigues, or even of Miss Thorne's propriety. "It is quite
essential," she said, "that you should be here a few days before her,
so that she may see that you are at home." Frank did not understand
the reasoning; but he felt himself unable to rebel, and he therefore,
remained there, comforting himself, as best he might, with the
eloquence of the Honourable George, and the sporting humours of the
Honourable John.

Mr Moffat's was the earliest arrival of any importance. Frank had
not hitherto made the acquaintance of his future brother-in-law, and
there was, therefore, some little interest in the first interview. Mr
Moffat was shown into the drawing-room before the ladies had gone up
to dress, and it so happened that Frank was there also. As no one
else was in the room but his sister and two of his cousins, he had
expected to see the lovers rush into each other's arms. But Mr Moffat
restrained his ardour, and Miss Gresham seemed contented that he
should do so.

He was a nice, dapper man, rather above the middle height, and
good-looking enough had he had a little more expression in his face.
He had dark hair, very nicely brushed, small black whiskers, and a
small black moustache. His boots were excellently well made, and
his hands were very white. He simpered gently as he took hold of
Augusta's fingers, and expressed a hope that she had been quite well
since last he had the pleasure of seeing her. Then he touched the
hands of the Lady Rosina and the Lady Margaretta.

"Mr Moffat, allow me to introduce you to my brother?"

"Most happy, I'm sure," said Mr Moffat, again putting out his hand,
and allowing it to slip through Frank's grasp, as he spoke in a
pretty, mincing voice: "Lady Arabella quite well?--and your father,
and sisters? Very warm isn't it?--quite hot in town, I do assure
you."

"I hope Augusta likes him," said Frank to himself, arguing on the
subject exactly as his father had done; "but for an engaged lover he
seems to me to have a very queer way with him." Frank, poor fellow!
who was of a coarser mould, would, under such circumstances, have
been all for kissing--sometimes, indeed, even under other
circumstances.

Mr Moffat did not do much towards improving the conviviality of
the castle. He was, of course, a good deal intent upon his coming
election, and spent much of his time with Mr Nearthewinde, the
celebrated parliamentary agent. It behoved him to be a good deal
at Barchester, canvassing the electors and undermining, by Mr
Nearthewinde's aid, the mines for blowing him out of his seat, which
were daily being contrived by Mr Closerstil, on behalf of Sir Roger.
The battle was to be fought on the internecine principle, no quarter
being given or taken on either side; and of course this gave Mr
Moffat as much as he knew how to do.

Mr Closerstil was well known to be the sharpest man at his business
in all England, unless the palm should be given to his great rival
Mr Nearthewinde; and in this instance he was to be assisted in the
battle by a very clever young barrister, Mr Romer, who was an admirer
of Sir Roger's career in life. Some people in Barchester, when they
saw Sir Roger, Closerstil and Mr Romer saunter down the High Street,
arm in arm, declared that it was all up with poor Moffat; but others,
in whose head the bump of veneration was strongly pronounced,
whispered to each other that great shibboleth--the name of the Duke
of Omnium--and mildly asserted it to be impossible that the duke's
nominee should be thrown out.

Our poor friend the squire did not take much interest in the matter,
except in so far that he liked his son-in-law to be in Parliament.
Both the candidates were in his eye equally wrong in their opinions.
He had long since recanted those errors of his early youth, which
had cost him his seat for the county, and had abjured the de Courcy
politics. He was staunch enough as a Tory now that his being so would
no longer be of the slightest use to him; but the Duke of Omnium,
and Lord de Courcy, and Mr Moffat were all Whigs; Whigs, however,
differing altogether in politics from Sir Roger, who belonged to
the Manchester school, and whose pretensions, through some of those
inscrutable twists in modern politics which are quite unintelligible
to the minds of ordinary men outside the circle, were on this
occasion secretly favoured by the high Conservative party.

How Mr Moffat, who had been brought into the political world by Lord
de Courcy, obtained all the weight of the duke's interest I never
could exactly learn. For the duke and the earl did not generally act
as twin-brothers on such occasions.

There is a great difference in Whigs. Lord de Courcy was a Court
Whig, following the fortunes, and enjoying, when he could get it, the
sunshine of the throne. He was a sojourner at Windsor, and a visitor
at Balmoral. He delighted in gold sticks, and was never so happy as
when holding some cap of maintenance or spur of precedence with due
dignity and acknowledged grace in the presence of all the Court.
His means had been somewhat embarrassed by early extravagance; and,
therefore, as it was to his taste to shine, it suited him to shine at
the cost of the Court rather than at his own.

The Duke of Omnium was a Whig of a very different calibre. He rarely
went near the presence of majesty, and when he did do so, he did it
merely as a disagreeable duty incident to his position. He was very
willing that the Queen should be queen so long as he was allowed to
be Duke of Omnium. Nor had he begrudged Prince Albert any of his
honours till he was called Prince Consort. Then, indeed, he had,
to his own intimate friends, made some remark in three words, not
flattering to the discretion of the Prime Minister. The Queen might
be queen so long as he was Duke of Omnium. Their revenues were
about the same, with the exception, that the duke's were his own,
and he could do what he liked with them. This remembrance did not
unfrequently present itself to the duke's mind. In person, he was a
plain, thin man, tall, but undistinguished in appearance, except that
there was a gleam of pride in his eye which seemed every moment to be
saying, "I am the Duke of Omnium." He was unmarried, and, if report
said true, a great debauchee; but if so he had always kept his
debaucheries decently away from the eyes of the world, and was not,
therefore, open to that loud condemnation which should fall like a
hailstorm round the ears of some more open sinners.

Why these two mighty nobles put their heads together in order that
the tailor's son should represent Barchester in Parliament, I cannot
explain. Mr Moffat, was, as has been said, Lord de Courcy's friend;
and it may be that Lord de Courcy was able to repay the duke for his
kindness, as touching Barchester, with some little assistance in the
county representation.

The next arrival was that of the Bishop of Barchester; a meek, good,
worthy man, much attached to his wife, and somewhat addicted to his
ease. She, apparently, was made in a different mould, and by her
energy and diligence atoned for any want in those qualities which
might be observed in the bishop himself. When asked his opinion, his
lordship would generally reply by saying--"Mrs Proudie and I think so
and so." But before that opinion was given, Mrs Proudie would take
up the tale, and she, in her more concise manner, was not wont to
quote the bishop as having at all assisted in the consideration of
the subject. It was well known in Barsetshire that no married pair
consorted more closely or more tenderly together; and the example of
such conjugal affection among persons in the upper classes is worth
mentioning, as it is believed by those below them, and too often with
truth, that the sweet bliss of connubial reciprocity is not so common
as it should be among the magnates of the earth.

But the arrival even of the bishop and his wife did not make the
place cheerful to Frank Gresham, and he began to long for Miss
Dunstable, in order that he might have something to do. He could not
get on at all with Mr Moffat. He had expected that the man would at
once have called him Frank, and that he would have called the man
Gustavus; but they did not even get beyond Mr Moffat and Mr Gresham.
"Very hot in Barchester to-day, very," was the nearest approach to
conversation which Frank could attain with him; and as far as he,
Frank, could see, Augusta never got much beyond it. There might be
_tête-à-tête_ meetings between them, but, if so, Frank could not
detect when they took place; and so, opening his heart at last to the
Honourable George, for the want of a better confidant, he expressed
his opinion that his future brother-in-law was a muff.

"A muff--I believe you too. What do you think now? I have been with
him and Nearthewinde in Barchester these three days past, looking up
the electors' wives and daughters, and that kind of thing."

"I say, if there is any fun in it you might as well take me with
you."

"Oh, there is not much fun; they are mostly so slobbered and dirty. A
sharp fellow in Nearthewinde, and knows what he is about well."

"Does he look up the wives and daughters too?"

"Oh, he goes on every tack, just as it's wanted. But there was
Moffat, yesterday, in a room behind the milliner's shop near
Cuthbert's Gate; I was with him. The woman's husband is one of the
choristers and an elector, you know, and Moffat went to look for his
vote. Now, there was no one there when we got there but the three
young women, the wife, that is, and her two girls--very pretty women
they are too."

"I say, George, I'll go and get the chorister's vote for Moffat; I
ought to do it as he's to be my brother-in-law."

"But what do you think Moffat said to the women?"

"Can't guess--he didn't kiss any of them, did he?"

"Kiss any of them? No; but he begged to give them his positive
assurance as a gentleman, that if he was returned to Parliament he
would vote for an extension of the franchise, and the admission of
the Jews into Parliament."

"Well, he is a muff!" said Frank.



CHAPTER XVI

Miss Dunstable


At last the great Miss Dunstable came. Frank, when he heard that
the heiress had arrived, felt some slight palpitation at his heart.
He had not the remotest idea in the world of marrying her; indeed,
during the last week past, absence had so heightened his love for
Mary Thorne that he was more than ever resolved that he would never
marry any one but her. He knew that he had made her a formal offer
for her hand, and that it behoved him to keep to it, let the charms
of Miss Dunstable be what they might; but, nevertheless, he was
prepared to go through a certain amount of courtship, in obedience
to his aunt's behests, and he felt a little nervous at being brought
up in that way, face to face, to do battle with two hundred thousand
pounds.

"Miss Dunstable has arrived," said his aunt to him, with great
complacency, on his return from an electioneering visit to the
beauties of Barchester which he made with his cousin George on the
day after the conversation which was repeated at the end of the last
chapter. "She has arrived, and is looking remarkably well; she has
quite a _distingué_ air, and will grace any circle to which she may
be introduced. I will introduce you before dinner, and you can take
her out."

"I couldn't propose to her to-night, I suppose?" said Frank,
maliciously.

"Don't talk nonsense, Frank," said the countess, angrily. "I am doing
what I can for you, and taking on an infinity of trouble to endeavour
to place you in an independent position; and now you talk nonsense to
me."

Frank muttered some sort of apology, and then went to prepare himself
for the encounter.

Miss Dunstable, though she had come by train, had brought with her
her own carriage, her own horses, her own coachman and footman, and
her own maid, of course. She had also brought with her half a score
of trunks, full of wearing apparel; some of them nearly as rich as
that wonderful box which was stolen a short time since from the top
of a cab. But she brought all these things, not in the least because
she wanted them herself, but because she had been instructed to do
so.

Frank was a little more than ordinarily careful in dressing. He
spoilt a couple of white neckties before he was satisfied, and was
rather fastidious as the set of his hair. There was not much of the
dandy about him in the ordinary meaning of the word; but he felt that
it was incumbent on him to look his best, seeing what it was expected
that he should now do. He certainly did not mean to marry Miss
Dunstable; but as he was to have a flirtation with her, it was well
that he should do so under the best possible auspices.

When he entered the drawing-room he perceived at once that the lady
was there. She was seated between the countess and Mrs Proudie; and
mammon, in her person, was receiving worship from the temporalities
and spiritualities of the land. He tried to look unconcerned, and
remained in the farther part of the room, talking with some of his
cousins; but he could not keep his eye off the future possible Mrs
Frank Gresham; and it seemed as though she was as much constrained to
scrutinise him as he felt to scrutinise her.

Lady de Courcy had declared that she was looking extremely well, and
had particularly alluded to her _distingué_ appearance. Frank at once
felt that he could not altogether go along with his aunt in this
opinion. Miss Dunstable might be very well; but her style of beauty
was one which did not quite meet with his warmest admiration.

In age she was about thirty; but Frank, who was no great judge in
these matters, and who was accustomed to have very young girls round
him, at once put her down as being ten years older. She had a very
high colour, very red cheeks, a large mouth, big white teeth, a broad
nose, and bright, small, black eyes. Her hair also was black and
bright, but very crisp, and strong, and was combed close round her
face in small crisp black ringlets. Since she had been brought out
into the fashionable world some one of her instructors in fashion
had given her to understand that curls were not the thing. "They'll
always pass muster," Miss Dunstable had replied, "when they are done
up with bank-notes." It may therefore be presumed that Miss Dunstable
had a will of her own.

"Frank," said the countess, in the most natural and unpremeditated
way, as soon as she caught her nephew's eye, "come here. I want to
introduce you to Miss Dunstable." The introduction was then made.
"Mrs Proudie, would you excuse me? I must positively go and say a few
words to Mrs Barlow, or the poor woman will feel herself huffed;"
and, so saying, she moved off, leaving the coast clear for Master
Frank.

He of course slipped into his aunt's place, and expressed a hope that
Miss Dunstable was not fatigued by her journey.

"Fatigued!" said she, in a voice rather loud, but very good-humoured,
and not altogether unpleasing; "I am not to be fatigued by such a
thing as that. Why, in May we came through all the way from Rome to
Paris without sleeping--that is, without sleeping in a bed--and we
were upset three times out of the sledges coming over the Simplon. It
was such fun! Why, I wasn't to say tired even then."

"All the way from Rome to Paris!" said Mrs Proudie--in a tone of
astonishment, meant to flatter the heiress--"and what made you in
such a hurry?"

"Something about money matters," said Miss Dunstable, speaking rather
louder than usual. "Something to do with the ointment. I was selling
the business just then."

Mrs Proudie bowed, and immediately changed the conversation.
"Idolatry is, I believe, more rampant than ever in Rome," said she;
"and I fear there is no such thing at all as Sabbath observance."

"Oh, not in the least," said Miss Dunstable, with rather a joyous
air; "Sundays and week-days are all the same there."

"How very frightful!" said Mrs Proudie.

"But it's a delicious place. I do like Rome, I must say. And as for
the Pope, if he wasn't quite so fat he would be the nicest old fellow
in the world. Have you been in Rome, Mrs Proudie?"

Mrs Proudie sighed as she replied in the negative, and declared her
belief that danger was to be apprehended from such visits.

"Oh!--ah!--the malaria--of course--yes; if you go at the wrong time;
but nobody is such a fool as that now."

"I was thinking of the soul, Miss Dunstable," said the lady-bishop,
in her peculiar, grave tone. "A place where there are no Sabbath
observances--"

"And have you been in Rome, Mr Gresham?" said the young lady, turning
almost abruptly round to Frank, and giving a somewhat uncivilly cold
shoulder to Mrs Proudie's exhortation. She, poor lady, was forced to
finish her speech to the Honourable George, who was standing near to
her. He having an idea that bishops and all their belongings, like
other things appertaining to religion, should, if possible, be
avoided; but if that were not possible, should be treated with
much assumed gravity, immediately put on a long face, and remarked
that--"it was a deuced shame: for his part he always liked to see
people go quiet on Sundays. The parsons had only one day out of
seven, and he thought they were fully entitled to that." Satisfied
with which, or not satisfied, Mrs Proudie had to remain silent till
dinner-time.

"No," said Frank; "I never was in Rome. I was in Paris once, and
that's all." And then, feeling a not unnatural anxiety as to the
present state of Miss Dunstable's worldly concerns, he took an
opportunity of falling back on that part of the conversation which
Mrs Proudie had exercised so much tact in avoiding.

"And was it sold?" said he.

"Sold! what sold?"

"You were saying about the business--that you came back without going
to bed because of selling the business."

"Oh!--the ointment. No; it was not sold. After all, the affair did
not come off, and I might have remained and had another roll in the
snow. Wasn't it a pity?"

"So," said Frank to himself, "if I should do it, I should be owner of
the ointment of Lebanon: how odd!" And then he gave her his arm and
handed her down to dinner.

He certainly found that the dinner was less dull than any other he
had sat down to at Courcy Castle. He did not fancy that he should
ever fall in love with Miss Dunstable; but she certainly was an
agreeable companion. She told him of her tour, and the fun she had in
her journeys; how she took a physician with her for the benefit of
her health, whom she generally was forced to nurse; of the trouble it
was to her to look after and wait upon her numerous servants; of the
tricks she played to bamboozle people who came to stare at her; and,
lastly, she told him of a lover who followed her from country to
country, and was now in hot pursuit of her, having arrived in London
the evening before she left.

"A lover?" said Frank, somewhat startled by the suddenness of the
confidence.

"A lover--yes--Mr Gresham; why should I not have a lover?"

"Oh!--no--of course not. I dare say you have a good many."

"Only three or four, upon my word; that is, only three or four that I
favour. One is not bound to reckon the others, you know."

"No, they'd be too numerous. And so you have three whom you favour,
Miss Dunstable;" and Frank sighed, as though he intended to say that
the number was too many for his peace of mind.

"Is not that quite enough? But of course I change them sometimes;"
and she smiled on him very good-naturedly. "It would be very dull if
I were always to keep the same."

"Very dull indeed," said Frank, who did not quite know what to say.

"Do you think the countess would mind my having one or two of them
here if I were to ask her?"

"I am quite sure she would," said Frank, very briskly. "She would not
approve of it at all; nor should I."

"You--why, what have you to do with it?"

"A great deal--so much so that I positively forbid it; but, Miss
Dunstable--"

"Well, Mr Gresham?"

"We will contrive to make up for the deficiency as well as possible,
if you will permit us to do so. Now for myself--"

"Well, for yourself?"

At this moment the countess gleamed her accomplished eye round the
table, and Miss Dunstable rose from her chair as Frank was preparing
his attack, and accompanied the other ladies into the drawing-room.

His aunt, as she passed him, touched his arm lightly with her fan, so
lightly that the action was perceived by no one else. But Frank well
understood the meaning of the touch, and appreciated the approbation
which it conveyed. He merely blushed, however, at his own
dissimulation; for he felt more certain that ever that he would never
marry Miss Dunstable, and he felt nearly equally sure that Miss
Dunstable would never marry him.

Lord de Courcy was now at home; but his presence did not add much
hilarity to the claret-cup. The young men, however, were very keen
about the election, and Mr Nearthewinde, who was one of the party,
was full of the most sanguine hopes.

"I have done one good at any rate," said Frank; "I have secured the
chorister's vote."

"What! Bagley?" said Nearthewinde. "The fellow kept out of my way,
and I couldn't see him."

"I haven't exactly seen him," said Frank; "but I've got his vote all
the same."

"What! by a letter?" said Mr Moffat.

"No, not by letter," said Frank, speaking rather low as he looked at
the bishop and the earl; "I got a promise from his wife: I think he's
a little in the henpecked line."

"Ha--ha--ha!" laughed the good bishop, who, in spite of Frank's
modulation of voice, had overheard what had passed. "Is that the way
you manage electioneering matters in our cathedral city? Ha--ha--ha!"
The idea of one of his choristers being in the henpecked line was
very amusing to the bishop.

"Oh, I got a distinct promise," said Frank, in his pride; and then
added incautiously, "but I had to order bonnets for the whole
family."

"Hush-h-h-h-h!" said Mr Nearthewinde, absolutely flabbergasted by
such imprudence on the part of one of his client's friends. "I am
quite sure that your order had no effect, and was intended to have no
effect on Mr Bagley's vote."

"Is that wrong?" said Frank; "upon my word I thought that it was
quite legitimate."

"One should never admit anything in electioneering matters, should
one?" said George, turning to Mr Nearthewinde.

"Very little, Mr de Courcy; very little indeed--the less the better.
It's hard to say in these days what is wrong and what is not. Now,
there's Reddypalm, the publican, the man who has the Brown Bear.
Well, I was there, of course: he's a voter, and if any man in
Barchester ought to feel himself bound to vote for a friend of the
duke's, he ought. Now, I was so thirsty when I was in that man's
house that I was dying for a glass of beer; but for the life of me I
didn't dare order one."

"Why not?" said Frank, whose mind was only just beginning to be
enlightened by the great doctrine of purity of election as practised
in English provincial towns.

"Oh, Closerstil had some fellow looking at me; why, I can't walk down
that town without having my very steps counted. I like sharp fighting
myself, but I never go so sharp as that."

"Nevertheless I got Bagley's vote," said Frank, persisting in praise
of his own electioneering prowess; "and you may be sure of this, Mr
Nearthewinde, none of Closerstil's men were looking at me when I got
it."

"Who'll pay for the bonnets, Frank?" said George.

"Oh, I'll pay for them if Moffat won't. I think I shall keep an
account there; they seem to have good gloves and those sort of
things."

"Very good, I have no doubt," said George.

"I suppose your lordship will be in town soon after the meeting of
Parliament?" said the bishop, questioning the earl.

"Oh! yes; I suppose I must be there. I am never allowed to remain
very long in quiet. It is a great nuisance; but it is too late to
think of that now."

"Men in high places, my lord, never were, and never will be, allowed
to consider themselves. They burn their torches not in their own
behalf," said the bishop, thinking, perhaps, as much of himself as he
did of his noble friend. "Rest and quiet are the comforts of those
who have been content to remain in obscurity."

"Perhaps so," said the earl, finishing his glass of claret with
an air of virtuous resignation. "Perhaps so." His own martyrdom,
however, had not been severe, for the rest and quiet of home had
never been peculiarly satisfactory to his tastes. Soon after this
they all went to the ladies.

It was some little time before Frank could find an opportunity of
recommencing his allotted task with Miss Dunstable. She got into
conversation with the bishop and some other people, and, except that
he took her teacup and nearly managed to squeeze one of her fingers
as he did so, he made very little further progress till towards the
close of the evening.

At last he found her so nearly alone as to admit of his speaking to
her in his low confidential voice.

"Have you managed that matter with my aunt?"

"What matter?" said Miss Dunstable; and her voice was not low, nor
particularly confidential.

"About those three or four gentlemen whom you wish to invite here?"

"Oh! my attendant knights! no, indeed; you gave me such very slight
hope of success; besides, you said something about my not wanting
them."

"Yes I did; I really think they'd be quite unnecessary. If you should
want any one to defend you--"

"At these coming elections, for instance."

"Then, or at any other time, there are plenty here who will be ready
to stand up for you."

"Plenty! I don't want plenty: one good lance in the olden days was
always worth more than a score of ordinary men-at-arms."

"But you talked about three or four."

"Yes; but then you see, Mr Gresham, I have never yet found the one
good lance--at least, not good enough to suit my ideas of true
prowess."

What could Frank do but declare that he was ready to lay his own in
rest, now and always in her behalf? His aunt had been quite angry
with him, and had thought that he turned her into ridicule, when he
spoke of making an offer to her guest that very evening; and yet here
he was so placed that he had hardly an alternative. Let his inward
resolution to abjure the heiress be ever so strong, he was now in a
position which allowed him no choice in the matter. Even Mary Thorne
could hardly have blamed him for saying, that so far as his own
prowess went, it was quite at Miss Dunstable's service. Had Mary been
looking on, she, perhaps, might have thought that he could have done
so with less of that look of devotion which he threw into his eyes.

"Well, Mr Gresham, that's very civil--very civil indeed," said Miss
Dunstable. "Upon my word, if a lady wanted a true knight she might
do worse than trust to you. Only I fear that your courage is of so
exalted a nature that you would be ever ready to do battle for any
beauty who might be in distress--or, indeed, who might not. You could
never confine your valour to the protection of one maiden."

"Oh, yes! but I would though if I liked her," said Frank. "There
isn't a more constant fellow in the world than I am in that way--you
try me, Miss Dunstable."

"When young ladies make such trials as that, they sometimes find it
too late to go back if the trial doesn't succeed, Mr Gresham."

"Oh, of course there's always some risk. It's like hunting; there
would be no fun if there was no danger."

"But if you get a tumble one day you can retrieve your honour the
next; but a poor girl, if she once trusts a man who says that he
loves her, has no such chance. For myself, I would never listen to a
man unless I'd known him for seven years at least."

"Seven years!" said Frank, who could not help thinking that in seven
years' time Miss Dunstable would be almost an old woman. "Seven days
is enough to know any person."

"Or perhaps seven hours; eh, Mr Gresham?"

"Seven hours--well, perhaps seven hours, if they happen to be a good
deal together during the time."

"There's nothing after all like love at first sight, is there, Mr
Gresham?"

Frank knew well enough that she was quizzing him, and could not
resist the temptation he felt to be revenged on her. "I am sure it's
very pleasant," said he; "but as for myself, I have never experienced
it."

"Ha, ha, ha!" laughed Miss Dunstable. "Upon my word, Mr Gresham, I
like you amazingly. I didn't expect to meet anybody down here that
I should like half so much. You must come and see me in London, and
I'll introduce you to my three knights," and so saying, she moved
away and fell into conversation with some of the higher powers.

Frank felt himself to be rather snubbed, in spite of the strong
expression which Miss Dunstable had made in his favour. It was not
quite clear to him that she did not take him for a boy. He was, to be
sure, avenged on her for that by taking her for a middle-aged woman;
but, nevertheless, he was hardly satisfied with himself; "I might
give her a heartache yet," said he to himself, "and she might find
afterwards that she was left in the lurch with all her money." And
so he retired, solitary, into a far part of the room, and began to
think of Mary Thorne. As he did so, and as his eyes fell upon Miss
Dunstable's stiff curls, he almost shuddered.

And then the ladies retired. His aunt, with a good-natured smile on
her face, come to him as she was leaving the room, the last of the
bevy, and putting her hand on his arm, led him out into a small
unoccupied chamber which opened from the grand saloon.

"Upon my word, Master Frank," said she, "you seem to be losing no
time with the heiress. You have quite made an impression already."

"I don't know much about that, aunt," said he, looking rather
sheepish.

"Oh, I declare you have; but, Frank, my dear boy, you should not
precipitate these sort of things too much. It is well to take a
little more time: it is more valued; and perhaps, you know, on the
whole--"

Perhaps Frank might know; but it was clear that Lady de Courcy did
not: at any rate, she did not know how to express herself. Had she
said out her mind plainly, she would probably have spoken thus: "I
want you to make love to Miss Dunstable, certainly; or at any rate to
make an offer to her; but you need not make a show of yourself and of
her, too, by doing it so openly as all that." The countess, however,
did not want to reprimand her obedient nephew, and therefore did not
speak out her thoughts.

"Well?" said Frank, looking up into her face.

"Take a _leetle_ more time--that is all, my dear boy; slow and sure,
you know;" so the countess again patted his arm and went away to bed.

"Old fool!" muttered Frank to himself, as he returned to the room
where the men were still standing. He was right in this: she was an
old fool, or she would have seen that there was no chance whatever
that her nephew and Miss Dunstable should become man and wife.

"Well Frank," said the Honourable John; "so you're after the heiress
already."

"He won't give any of us a chance," said the Honourable George.
"If he goes on in that way she'll be Mrs Gresham before a month is
over. But, Frank, what will she say of your manner of looking for
Barchester votes?"

"Mr Gresham is certainly an excellent hand at canvassing," said Mr
Nearthewinde; "only a little too open in his manner of proceeding."

"I got that chorister for you at any rate," said Frank. "And you
would never have had him without me."

"I don't think half so much of the chorister's vote as that of Miss
Dunstable," said the Honourable George: "that's the interest that is
really worth looking after."

"But, surely," said Mr Moffat, "Miss Dunstable has no property in
Barchester?" Poor man! his heart was so intent on his election that
he had not a moment to devote to the claims of love.



CHAPTER XVII

The Election


And now the important day of the election had arrived, and some men's
hearts beat quickly enough. To be or not to a member of the British
Parliament is a question of very considerable moment in a man's mind.
Much is often said of the great penalties which the ambitious pay for
enjoying this honour; of the tremendous expenses of elections; of the
long, tedious hours of unpaid labour: of the weary days passed in the
House; but, nevertheless, the prize is one very well worth the price
paid for it--well worth any price that can be paid for it short of
wading through dirt and dishonour.

No other great European nation has anything like it to offer to the
ambition of its citizens; for in no other great country of Europe,
not even in those which are free, has the popular constitution
obtained, as with us, true sovereignty and power of rule. Here it is
so; and when a man lays himself out to be a member of Parliament, he
plays the highest game and for the highest stakes which the country
affords.

To some men, born silver-spooned, a seat in Parliament comes as
a matter of course. From the time of their early manhood they
hardly know what it is not to sit there; and the honour is hardly
appreciated, being too much a matter of course. As a rule, they
never know how great a thing it is to be in Parliament; though, when
reverse comes, as reverses occasionally will come, they fully feel
how dreadful it is to be left out.

But to men aspiring to be members, or to those who having been
once fortunate have again to fight the battle without assurance of
success, the coming election must be matter of dread concern. Oh, how
delightful to hear that the long-talked-of rival has declined the
contest, and that the course is clear! or to find by a short canvass
that one's majority is safe, and the pleasures of crowing over an
unlucky, friendless foe quite secured!

No such gratification as this filled the bosom of Mr Moffat on
the morning of the Barchester election. To him had been brought
no positive assurance of success by his indefatigable agent, Mr
Nearthewinde. It was admitted on all sides that the contest would be
a very close one; and Mr Nearthewinde would not do more than assert
that they ought to win unless things went very wrong with them.

Mr Nearthewinde had other elections to attend to, and had not been
remaining at Courcy Castle ever since the coming of Miss Dunstable:
but he had been there, and at Barchester, as often as possible, and
Mr Moffat was made greatly uneasy by reflecting how very high the
bill would be.

The two parties had outdone each other in the loudness of their
assertions, that each would on his side conduct the election in
strict conformity to law. There was to be no bribery. Bribery! who,
indeed, in these days would dare to bribe; to give absolute money for
an absolute vote, and pay for such an article in downright palpable
sovereigns? No. Purity was much too rampant for that, and the means
of detection too well understood. But purity was to be carried much
further than this. There should be no treating; no hiring of two
hundred voters to act as messengers at twenty shillings a day in
looking up some four hundred other voters; no bands were to be paid
for; no carriages furnished; no ribbons supplied. British voters were
to vote, if vote they would, for the love and respect they bore to
their chosen candidate. If so actuated, they would not vote, they
might stay away; no other inducement would be offered.

So much was said loudly--very loudly--by each party; but,
nevertheless, Mr Moffat, early in these election days, began to have
some misgivings about the bill. The proclaimed arrangement had been
one exactly suitable to his taste; for Mr Moffat loved his money. He
was a man in whose breast the ambition of being great in the world,
and of joining himself to aristocratic people was continually at war
with the great cost which such tastes occasioned. His last election
had not been a cheap triumph. In one way or another money had
been dragged from him for purposes which had been to his mind
unintelligible; and when, about the middle of his first session, he
had, with much grumbling, settled all demands, he had questioned with
himself whether his whistle was worth its cost.

He was therefore a great stickler for purity of election; although,
had he considered the matter, he should have known that with him
money was his only passport into that Elysium in which he had now
lived for two years. He probably did not consider it; for when, in
those canvassing days immediately preceding the election, he had
seen that all the beer-houses were open, and half the population
was drunk, he had asked Mr Nearthewinde whether this violation of
the treaty was taking place only on the part of his opponent, and
whether, in such case, it would not be duly noticed with a view to a
possible future petition.

Mr Nearthewinde assured him triumphantly that half at least of the
wallowing swine were his own especial friends; and that somewhat
more than half of the publicans of the town were eagerly engaged in
fighting his, Mr Moffat's battle. Mr Moffat groaned, and would have
expostulated had Mr Nearthewinde been willing to hear him. But that
gentleman's services had been put into requisition by Lord de Courcy
rather than by the candidate. For the candidate he cared but little.
To pay the bill would be enough for him. He, Mr Nearthewinde, was
doing his business as he well knew how to do it; and it was not
likely that he should submit to be lectured by such as Mr Moffat on a
trumpery score of expense.

It certainly did appear on the morning of the election as though some
great change had been made in that resolution of the candidates to be
very pure. From an early hour rough bands of music were to be heard
in every part of the usually quiet town; carts and gigs, omnibuses
and flys, all the old carriages from all the inn-yards, and every
vehicle of any description which could be pressed into the service
were in motion; if the horses and post-boys were not to be paid for
by the candidates, the voters themselves were certainly very liberal
in their mode of bringing themselves to the poll. The election
district of the city of Barchester extended for some miles on each
side of the city, so that the omnibuses and flys had enough to do.
Beer was to be had at the public-houses, almost without question, by
all who chose to ask for it; and rum and brandy were dispensed to
select circles within the bars with equal profusion. As for ribbons,
the mercers' shops must have been emptied of that article, as far as
scarlet and yellow were concerned. Scarlet was Sir Roger's colour,
while the friends of Mr Moffat were decked with yellow. Seeing what
he did see, Mr Moffat might well ask whether there had not been a
violation of the treaty of purity!

At the time of this election there was some question whether England
should go to war with all her energy; or whether it would not be
better for her to save her breath to cool her porridge, and not
meddle more than could be helped with foreign quarrels. The last view
of the matter was advocated by Sir Roger, and his motto of course
proclaimed the merits of domestic peace and quiet. "Peace abroad and
a big loaf at home," was consequently displayed on four or five huge
scarlet banners, and carried waving over the heads of the people. But
Mr Moffat was a staunch supporter of the Government, who were already
inclined to be belligerent, and "England's honour" was therefore the
legend under which he selected to do battle. It may, however, be
doubted whether there was in all Barchester one inhabitant--let alone
one elector--so fatuous as to suppose that England's honour was in
any special manner dear to Mr Moffat; or that he would be a whit more
sure of a big loaf than he was now, should Sir Roger happily become a
member of the legislature.

And then the fine arts were resorted to, seeing that language fell
short in telling all that was found necessary to be told. Poor Sir
Roger's failing as regards the bottle was too well known; and it was
also known that, in acquiring his title, he had not quite laid aside
the rough mode of speech which he had used in his early years. There
was, consequently, a great daub painted up on sundry walls, on which
a navvy, with a pimply, bloated face, was to be seen standing on a
railway bank, leaning on a spade holding a bottle in one hand, while
he invited a comrade to drink. "Come, Jack, shall us have a drop of
some'at short?" were the words coming out of the navvy's mouth; and
under this was painted in huge letters,


   "THE LAST NEW BARONET."


But Mr Moffat hardly escaped on easier terms. The trade by which his
father had made his money was as well known as that of the railway
contractor; and every possible symbol of tailordom was displayed in
graphic portraiture on the walls and hoardings of the city. He was
drawn with his goose, with his scissors, with his needle, with his
tapes; he might be seen measuring, cutting, stitching, pressing,
carrying home his bundle, and presenting his little bill; and under
each of these representations was repeated his own motto: "England's
honour."

Such were the pleasant little amenities with which the people of
Barchester greeted the two candidates who were desirous of the honour
of serving them in Parliament.

The polling went on briskly and merrily. There were somewhat above
nine hundred registered voters, of whom the greater portion recorded
their votes early in the day. At two o'clock, according to Sir
Roger's committee, the numbers were as follows:--


   Scatcherd    275
   Moffat       268


Whereas, by the light afforded by Mr Moffat's people, they stood in a
slightly different ratio to each other, being written thus:--


   Moffat       277
   Scatcherd    269


This naturally heightened the excitement, and gave additional delight
to the proceedings. At half-past two it was agreed by both sides that
Mr Moffat was ahead; the Moffatites claiming a majority of twelve,
and the Scatcherdites allowing a majority of one. But by three
o'clock sundry good men and true, belonging to the railway interest,
had made their way to the booth in spite of the efforts of a band
of roughs from Courcy, and Sir Roger was again leading, by ten or a
dozen, according to his own showing.

One little transaction which took place in the earlier part of the
day deserves to be recorded. There was in Barchester an honest
publican--honest as the world of publicans goes--who not only was
possessed of a vote, but possessed also of a son who was a voter.
He was one Reddypalm, and in former days, before he had learned to
appreciate the full value of an Englishman's franchise, he had been a
declared Liberal and an early friend of Roger Scatcherd's. In latter
days he had governed his political feelings with more decorum, and
had not allowed himself to be carried away by such foolish fervour as
he had evinced in his youth. On this special occasion, however, his
line of conduct was so mysterious as for a while to baffle even those
who knew him best.

His house was apparently open in Sir Roger's interest. Beer, at any
rate, was flowing there as elsewhere; and scarlet ribbons going
in--not, perhaps, in a state of perfect steadiness--came out more
unsteady than before. Still had Mr Reddypalm been deaf to the voice
of that charmer, Closerstil, though he had charmed with all his
wisdom. Mr Reddypalm had stated, first his unwillingness to vote at
all:--he had, he said, given over politics, and was not inclined to
trouble his mind again with the subject; then he had spoken of his
great devotion to the Duke of Omnium, under whose grandfathers his
grandfather had been bred: Mr Nearthewinde had, as he said, been
with him, and proved to him beyond a shadow of a doubt that it would
show the deepest ingratitude on his part to vote against the duke's
candidate.

Mr Closerstil thought he understood all this, and sent more, and
still more men to drink beer. He even caused--taking infinite trouble
to secure secrecy in the matter--three gallons of British brandy to
be ordered and paid for as the best French. But, nevertheless, Mr
Reddypalm made no sign to show that he considered that the right
thing had been done. On the evening before the election, he told
one of Mr Closerstil's confidential men, that he had thought a good
deal about it, and that he believed he should be constrained by his
conscience to vote for Mr Moffat.

We have said that Mr Closerstil was accompanied by a learned friend
of his, one Mr Romer, a barrister, who was greatly interested in Sir
Roger, and who, being a strong Liberal, was assisting in the canvass
with much energy. He, hearing how matters were likely to go with
this conscientious publican, and feeling himself peculiarly capable
of dealing with such delicate scruples, undertook to look into the
case in hand. Early, therefore, on the morning of the election, he
sauntered down the cross street in which hung out the sign of the
Brown Bear, and, as he expected, found Mr Reddypalm near his own
door.

Now it was quite an understood thing that there was to be no bribery.
This was understood by no one better than by Mr Romer, who had, in
truth, drawn up many of the published assurances to that effect. And,
to give him his due, he was fully minded to act in accordance with
these assurances. The object of all the parties was to make it worth
the voters' while to give their votes; but to do so without bribery.
Mr Romer had repeatedly declared that he would have nothing to do
with any illegal practising; but he had also declared that, as long
as all was done according to law, he was ready to lend his best
efforts to assist Sir Roger. How he assisted Sir Roger, and adhered
to the law, will now be seen.

Oh, Mr Romer! Mr Romer! is it not the case with thee that thou
"wouldst not play false, and yet wouldst wrongly win?" Not in
electioneering, Mr Romer, any more than in other pursuits, can a man
touch pitch and not be defiled; as thou, innocent as thou art, wilt
soon learn to thy terrible cost.

"Well, Reddypalm," said Mr Romer, shaking hands with him. Mr Romer
had not been equally cautious as Nearthewinde, and had already drunk
sundry glasses of ale at the Brown Bear, in the hope of softening the
stern Bear-warden. "How is it to be to-day? Which is to be the man?"

"If any one knows that, Mr Romer, you must be the man. A poor
numbskull like me knows nothing of them matters. How should I?
All I looks to, Mr Romer, is selling a trifle of drink now and
then--selling it, and getting paid for it, you know, Mr Romer."

"Yes, that's important, no doubt. But come, Reddypalm, such an old
friend of Sir Roger as you are, a man he speaks of as one of his
intimate friends, I wonder how you can hesitate about it? Now with
another man, I should think that he wanted to be paid for voting--"

"Oh, Mr Romer!--fie--fie--fie!"

"I know it's not the case with you. It would be an insult to offer
you money, even if money were going. I should not mention this, only
as money is not going, neither on our side nor on the other, no harm
can be done."

"Mr Romer, if you speak of such a thing, you'll hurt me. I know the
value of an Englishman's franchise too well to wish to sell it. I
would not demean myself so low; no, not though five-and-twenty pound
a vote was going, as there was in the good old times--and that's not
so long ago neither."

"I am sure you wouldn't, Reddypalm; I'm sure you wouldn't. But an
honest man like you should stick to old friends. Now, tell me," and
putting his arm through Reddypalm's, he walked with him into the
passage of his own house; "Now, tell me--is there anything wrong?
It's between friends, you know. Is there anything wrong?"

"I wouldn't sell my vote for untold gold," said Reddypalm, who was
perhaps aware that untold gold would hardly be offered to him for it.

"I am sure you would not," said Mr Romer.

"But," said Reddypalm, "a man likes to be paid his little bill."

"Surely, surely," said the barrister.

"And I did say two years since, when your friend Mr Closerstil
brought a friend of his down to stand here--it wasn't Sir Roger
then--but when he brought a friend of his down, and when I drew
two or three hogsheads of ale on their side, and when my bill was
questioned and only half-settled, I did say that I wouldn't interfere
with no election no more. And no more I will, Mr Romer--unless it be
to give a quiet vote for the nobleman under whom I and mine always
lived respectable."

"Oh!" said Mr Romer.

"A man do like to have his bill paid, you know, Mr Romer."

Mr Romer could not but acknowledge that this was a natural feeling on
the part of an ordinary mortal publican.

"It goes agin the grain with a man not to have his little bill paid,
and specially at election time," again urged Mr Reddypalm.

Mr Romer had not much time to think about it; but he knew well that
matters were so nearly balanced, that the votes of Mr Reddypalm and
his son were of inestimable value.

"If it's only about your bill," said Mr Romer, "I'll see to have that
settled. I'll speak to Closerstil about that."

"All right!" said Reddypalm, seizing the young barrister's hand, and
shaking it warmly; "all right!" And late in the afternoon when a vote
or two became matter of intense interest, Mr Reddypalm and his son
came up to the hustings and boldly tendered theirs for their old
friend, Sir Roger.

There was a great deal of eloquence heard in Barchester on that day.
Sir Roger had by this time so far recovered as to be able to go
through the dreadfully hard work of canvassing and addressing the
electors from eight in the morning till near sunset. A very perfect
recovery, most men will say. Yes; a perfect recovery as regarded the
temporary use of his faculties, both physical and mental; though
it may be doubted whether there can be any permanent recovery from
such disease as his. What amount of brandy he consumed to enable
him to perform this election work, and what lurking evil effect the
excitement might have on him--of these matters no record was kept in
the history of those proceedings.

Sir Roger's eloquence was of a rough kind; but not perhaps the less
operative on those for whom it was intended. The aristocracy of
Barchester consisted chiefly of clerical dignitaries, bishops, deans,
prebendaries, and such like: on them and theirs it was not probable
that anything said by Sir Roger would have much effect. Those men
would either abstain from voting, or vote for the railway hero,
with the view of keeping out the de Courcy candidate. Then came the
shopkeepers, who might also be regarded as a stiff-necked generation,
impervious to electioneering eloquence. They would, generally,
support Mr Moffat. But there was an inferior class of voters,
ten-pound freeholders, and such like, who, at this period, were
somewhat given to have an opinion of their own, and over them it was
supposed that Sir Roger did obtain some power by his gift of talking.

"Now, gentlemen, will you tell me this," said he, bawling at the top
of his voice from off the portico which graced the door of the Dragon
of Wantley, at which celebrated inn Sir Roger's committee sat:--"Who
is Mr Moffat, and what has he done for us? There have been some
picture-makers about the town this week past. The Lord knows who
they are; I don't. These clever fellows do tell you who I am, and
what I've done. I ain't very proud of the way they've painted me,
though there's something about it I ain't ashamed of either. See
here," and he held up on one side of him one of the great daubs of
himself--"just hold it there till I can explain it," and he handed
the paper to one of his friends. "That's me," said Sir Roger, putting
up his stick, and pointing to the pimply-nosed representation of
himself.

"Hurrah! Hur-r-rah! more power to you--we all know who you are,
Roger. You're the boy! When did you get drunk last?" Such-like
greetings, together with a dead cat which was flung at him from the
crowd, and which he dexterously parried with his stick, were the
answers which he received to this exordium.

"Yes," said he, quite undismayed by this little missile which had
so nearly reached him: "that's me. And look here; this brown,
dirty-looking broad streak here is intended for a railway; and that
thing in my hand--not the right hand; I'll come to that presently--"

"How about the brandy, Roger?"

"I'll come to that presently. I'll tell you about the brandy in good
time. But that thing in my left hand is a spade. Now, I never handled
a spade, and never could; but, boys, I handled a chisel and mallet;
and many a hundred block of stone has come out smooth from under that
hand;" and Sir Roger lifted up his great broad palm wide open.

"So you did, Roger, and well we minds it."

"The meaning, however, of that spade is to show that I made the
railway. Now I'm very much obliged to those gentlemen over at the
White Horse for putting up this picture of me. It's a true picture,
and it tells you who I am. I did make that railway. I have made
thousands of miles of railway; I am making thousands of miles of
railways--some in Europe, some in Asia, some in America. It's a
true picture," and he poked his stick through it and held it up to
the crowd. "A true picture: but for that spade and that railway, I
shouldn't be now here asking your votes; and, when next February
comes, I shouldn't be sitting in Westminster to represent you, as, by
God's grace, I certainly will do. That tells you who I am. But now,
will you tell me who Mr Moffat is?"

"How about the brandy, Roger?"

"Oh, yes, the brandy! I was forgetting that and the little speech
that is coming out of my mouth--a deal shorter speech, and a better
one than what I am making now. Here, in the right hand you see a
brandy bottle. Well, boys, I'm not a bit ashamed of that; as long
as a man does his work--and the spade shows that--it's only fair he
should have something to comfort him. I'm always able to work, and
few men work much harder. I'm always able to work, and no man has a
right to expect more of me. I never expect more than that from those
who work for me."

"No more you don't, Roger: a little drop's very good, ain't it,
Roger? Keeps the cold from the stomach, eh, Roger?"

"Then as to this speech, 'Come, Jack, let's have a drop of some'at
short.' Why, that's a good speech too. When I do drink I like to
share with a friend; and I don't care how humble that friend is."

"Hurrah! more power. That's true too, Roger; may you never be without
a drop to wet your whistle."

"They say I'm the last new baronet. Well, I ain't ashamed of that;
not a bit. When will Mr Moffat get himself made a baronet? No man
can truly say I'm too proud of it. I have never stuck myself up; no,
nor stuck my wife up either: but I don't see much to be ashamed of
because the bigwigs chose to make a baronet of me."

"Nor, no more thee h'ant, Roger. We'd all be barrownites if so be we
knew the way."

"But now, having polished off this bit of picture, let me ask you who
Mr Moffat is? There are pictures enough about him, too; though Heaven
knows where they all come from. I think Sir Edwin Landseer must have
done this one of the goose; it is so deadly natural. Look at it;
there he is. Upon my word, whoever did that ought to make his fortune
at some of these exhibitions. Here he is again, with a big pair
of scissors. He calls himself 'England's honour;' what the deuce
England's honour has to do with tailoring, I can't tell you: perhaps
Mr Moffat can. But mind you, my friends, I don't say anything against
tailoring: some of you are tailors, I dare say."

"Yes, we be," said a little squeaking voice from out of the crowd.

"And a good trade it is. When I first knew Barchester there were
tailors here could lick any stone-mason in the trade; I say nothing
against tailors. But it isn't enough for a man to be a tailor unless
he's something else along with it. You're not so fond of tailors that
you'll send one up to Parliament merely because he is a tailor."

"We won't have no tailors. No; nor yet no cabbaging. Take a go of
brandy, Roger; you're blown."

"No, I'm not blown yet. I've a deal more to say about Mr Moffat
before I shall be blown. What has he done to entitle him to come here
before you and ask you to send him to Parliament? Why; he isn't even
a tailor. I wish he were. There's always some good in a fellow who
knows how to earn his own bread. But he isn't a tailor; he can't even
put a stitch in towards mending England's honour. His father was a
tailor; not a Barchester tailor, mind you, so as to give him any
claim on your affections; but a London tailor. Now the question is,
do you want to send the son of a London tailor up to Parliament to
represent you?"

"No, we don't; nor yet we won't either."

"I rather think not. You've had him once, and what has he done for
you? Has he said much for you in the House of Commons? Why, he's so
dumb a dog that he can't bark even for a bone. I'm told it's quite
painful to hear him fumbling and mumbling and trying to get up a
speech there over at the White Horse. He doesn't belong to the city;
he hasn't done anything for the city; and he hasn't the power to do
anything for the city. Then, why on earth does he come here? I'll
tell you. The Earl de Courcy brings him. He's going to marry the
Earl de Courcy's niece; for they say he's very rich--this tailor's
son--only they do say also that he doesn't much like to spend his
money. He's going to marry Lord de Courcy's niece, and Lord de Courcy
wishes that his nephew should be in Parliament. There, that's the
claim which Mr Moffat has here on the people of Barchester. He's Lord
de Courcy's nominee, and those who feel themselves bound hand and
foot, heart and soul, to Lord de Courcy, had better vote for him.
Such men have my leave. If there are enough of such at Barchester to
send him to Parliament, the city in which I was born must be very
much altered since I was a young man."

And so finishing his speech, Sir Roger retired within, and recruited
himself in the usual manner.

Such was the flood of eloquence at the Dragon of Wantly. At the White
Horse, meanwhile, the friends of the de Courcy interest were treated
perhaps to sounder political views; though not expressed in periods
so intelligibly fluent as those of Sir Roger.

Mr Moffat was a young man, and there was no knowing to what
proficiency in the Parliamentary gift of public talking he might yet
attain; but hitherto his proficiency was not great. He had, however,
endeavoured to make up by study for any want of readiness of speech,
and had come to Barchester daily, for the last four days, fortified
with a very pretty harangue, which he had prepared for himself in
the solitude of his chamber. On the three previous days matters
had been allowed to progress with tolerable smoothness, and he had
been permitted to deliver himself of his elaborate eloquence with
few other interruptions than those occasioned by his own want of
practice. But on this, the day of days, the Barchesterian roughs were
not so complaisant. It appeared to Mr Moffat, when he essayed to
speak, that he was surrounded by enemies rather than friends; and in
his heart he gave great blame to Mr Nearthewinde for not managing
matters better for him.

"Men of Barchester," he began, in a voice which was every now and
then preternaturally loud, but which, at each fourth or fifth word,
gave way from want of power, and descended to its natural weak tone.
"Men of Barchester--electors and non-electors--"

"We is hall electors; hall on us, my young kiddy."

"Electors and non-electors, I now ask your suffrages, not for the
first time--"

"Oh! we've tried you. We know what you're made on. Go on, Snip; don't
you let 'em put you down."

"I've had the honour of representing you in Parliament for the last
two years and--"

"And a deuced deal you did for us, didn't you?"

"What could you expect from the ninth part of a man? Never mind,
Snip--go on; don't you be out by any of them. Stick to your wax and
thread like a man--like the ninth part of a man--go on a little
faster, Snip."

"For the last two years--and--and--" Here Mr Moffat looked round to
his friends for some little support, and the Honourable George, who
stood close behind him, suggested that he had gone through it like a
brick.

"And--and I went through it like a brick," said Mr Moffat, with the
gravest possible face, taking up in his utter confusion the words
that were put into his mouth.

"Hurray!--so you did--you're the real brick. Well done, Snip; go it
again with the wax and thread!"

"I am a thorough-paced reformer," continued Mr Moffat, somewhat
reassured by the effect of the opportune words which his friend had
whispered into his ear. "A thorough-paced reformer--a thorough-paced
reformer--"

"Go on, Snip. We all know what that means."

"A thorough-paced reformer--"

"Never mind your paces, man; but get on. Tell us something new. We're
all reformers, we are."

Poor Mr Moffat was a little thrown back. It wasn't so easy to tell
these gentlemen anything new, harnessed as he was at this moment; so
he looked back at his honourable supporter for some further hint.
"Say something about their daughters," whispered George, whose own
flights of oratory were always on that subject. Had he counselled Mr
Moffat to say a word or two about the tides, his advice would not
have been less to the purpose.

"Gentlemen," he began again--"you all know that I am a thorough-paced
reformer--"

"Oh, drat your reform. He's a dumb dog. Go back to your goose,
Snippy; you never were made for this work. Go to Courcy Castle and
reform that."

Mr Moffat, grieved in his soul, was becoming inextricably bewildered
by such facetiæ as these, when an egg,--and it may be feared not a
fresh egg,--flung with unerring precision, struck him on the open
part of his well-plaited shirt, and reduced him to speechless
despair.

An egg is a means of delightful support when properly administered;
but it is not calculated to add much spirit to a man's eloquence, or
to ensure his powers of endurance, when supplied in the manner above
described. Men there are, doubtless, whose tongues would not be
stopped even by such an argument as this; but Mr Moffat was not one
of them. As the insidious fluid trickled down beneath his waistcoat,
he felt that all further powers of coaxing the electors out of their
votes, by words flowing from his tongue sweeter than honey, was
for that occasion denied to him. He could not be self-confident,
energetic, witty, and good-humoured with a rotten egg drying through
his clothes. He was forced, therefore, to give way, and with sadly
disconcerted air retired from the open window at which he had been
standing.

It was in vain that the Honourable George, Mr Nearthewinde, and Frank
endeavoured again to bring him to the charge. He was like a beaten
prize-fighter, whose pluck has been cowed out of him, and who, if he
stands up, only stands up to fall. Mr Moffat got sulky also, and when
he was pressed, said that Barchester and the people in it might be
d----. "With all my heart," said Mr Nearthewinde. "That wouldn't have
any effect on their votes."

But, in truth, it mattered very little whether Mr Moffat spoke,
or whether he didn't speak. Four o'clock was the hour for closing
the poll, and that was now fast coming. Tremendous exertions had
been made about half-past three, by a safe emissary sent from
Nearthewinde, to prove to Mr Reddypalm that all manner of contingent
advantages would accrue to the Brown Bear if it should turn out that
Mr Moffat should take his seat for Barchester. No bribe was, of
course, offered or even hinted at. The purity of Barchester was not
contaminated during the day by one such curse as this. But a man, and
a publican, would be required to do some great deed in the public
line; to open some colossal tap; to draw beer for the million; and no
one would be so fit as Mr Reddypalm--if only it might turn out that
Mr Moffat should, in the coming February, take his seat as member for
Barchester.

But Mr Reddypalm was a man of humble desires, whose ambitions soared
no higher than this--that his little bills should be duly settled. It
is wonderful what love an innkeeper has for his bill in its entirety.
An account, with a respectable total of five or six pounds, is
brought to you, and you complain but of one article; that fire in the
bedroom was never lighted; or that second glass of brandy and water
was never called for. You desire to have the shilling expunged, and
all your host's pleasure in the whole transaction is destroyed. Oh!
my friends, pay for the brandy and water, though you never drank it;
suffer the fire to pass, though it never warmed you. Why make a good
man miserable for such a trifle?

It became notified to Reddypalm with sufficient clearness that his
bill for the past election should be paid without further question;
and, therefore, at five o'clock the Mayor of Barchester proclaimed
the results of the contest in the following figures:--


   Scatcherd    378
   Moffat       376


Mr Reddypalm's two votes had decided the question. Mr Nearthewinde
immediately went up to town; and the dinner party at Courcy Castle
that evening was not a particularly pleasant meal.

This much, however, had been absolutely decided before the yellow
committee concluded their labour at the White Horse: there should be
a petition. Mr Nearthewinde had not been asleep, and already knew
something of the manner in which Mr Reddypalm's mind had been
quieted.



CHAPTER XVIII

The Rivals


The intimacy between Frank and Miss Dunstable grew and prospered.
That is to say, it prospered as an intimacy, though perhaps hardly
as a love affair. There was a continued succession of jokes between
them, which no one else in the castle understood; but the very fact
of there being such a good understanding between them rather stood
in the way of, than assisted, that consummation which the countess
desired. People, when they are in love with each other, or even when
they pretend to be, do not generally show it by loud laughter. Nor is
it frequently the case that a wife with two hundred thousand pounds
can be won without some little preliminary despair. Now there was no
despair at all about Frank Gresham.

Lady de Courcy, who thoroughly understood that portion of the world
in which she herself lived, saw that things were not going quite as
they should do, and gave much and repeated advice to Frank on the
subject. She was the more eager in doing this, because she imagined
Frank had done what he could to obey her first precepts. He had not
turned up his nose at Miss Dunstable's curls, nor found fault with
her loud voice: he had not objected to her as ugly, nor even shown
any dislike to her age. A young man who had been so amenable to
reason was worthy of further assistance; and so Lady de Courcy did
what she could to assist him.

"Frank, my dear boy," she would say, "you are a little too noisy, I
think. I don't mean for myself, you know; I don't mind it. But Miss
Dunstable would like it better if you were a little more quiet with
her."

"Would she, aunt?" said Frank, looking demurely up into the
countess's face. "I rather think she likes fun and noise, and that
sort of thing. You know she's not very quiet herself."

"Ah!--but Frank, there are times, you know, when that sort of thing
should be laid aside. Fun, as you call it, is all very well in its
place. Indeed, no one likes it better than I do. But that's not the
way to show admiration. Young ladies like to be admired; and if
you'll be a little more soft-mannered with Miss Dunstable, I'm sure
you'll find it will answer better."

And so the old bird taught the young bird how to fly--very
needlessly--for in this matter of flying, Nature gives her own
lessons thoroughly; and the ducklings will take the water, even
though the maternal hen warn them against the perfidious element
never so loudly.

Soon after this, Lady de Courcy began to be not very well pleased
in the matter. She took it into her head that Miss Dunstable was
sometimes almost inclined to laugh at her; and on one or two
occasions it almost seemed as though Frank was joining Miss Dunstable
in doing so. The fact indeed was, that Miss Dunstable was fond of
fun; and, endowed as she was with all the privileges which two
hundred thousand pounds may be supposed to give to a young lady,
did not very much care at whom she laughed. She was able to make a
tolerably correct guess at Lady de Courcy's plan towards herself;
but she did not for a moment think that Frank had any intention
of furthering his aunt's views. She was, therefore, not at all
ill-inclined to have her revenge on the countess.

"How very fond your aunt is of you!" she said to him one wet morning,
as he was sauntering through the house; now laughing, and almost
romping with her--then teasing his sister about Mr Moffat--and then
bothering his lady-cousins out of all their propriety.

"Oh, very!" said Frank: "she is a dear, good woman, is my Aunt de
Courcy."

"I declare she takes more notice of you and your doings than of any
of your cousins. I wonder they ain't jealous."

"Oh! they're such good people. Bless me, they'd never be jealous."

"You are so much younger than they are, that I suppose she thinks you
want more of her care."

"Yes; that's it. You see she's fond of having a baby to nurse."

"Tell me, Mr Gresham, what was it she was saying to you last night? I
know we had been misbehaving ourselves dreadfully. It was all your
fault; you would make me laugh so."

"That's just what I said to her."

"She was talking about me, then?"

"How on earth should she talk of any one else as long as you are
here? Don't you know that all the world is talking about you?"

"Is it?--dear me, how kind! But I don't care a straw about any world
just at present but Lady de Courcy's world. What did she say?"

"She said you were very beautiful--"

"Did she?--how good of her!"

"No; I forgot. It--it was I that said that; and she said--what was
it she said? She said, that after all, beauty was but skin deep--and
that she valued you for your virtues and prudence rather than your
good looks."

"Virtues and prudence! She said I was prudent and virtuous?"

"Yes."

"And you talked of my beauty? That was so kind of you. You didn't
either of you say anything about other matters?"

"What other matters?"

"Oh! I don't know. Only some people are sometimes valued rather for
what they've got than for any good qualities belonging to themselves
intrinsically."

"That can never be the case with Miss Dunstable; especially not at
Courcy Castle," said Frank, bowing easily from the corner of the sofa
over which he was leaning.

"Of course not," said Miss Dunstable; and Frank at once perceived
that she spoke in a tone of voice differing much from that
half-bantering, half-good-humoured manner that was customary with
her. "Of course not: any such idea would be quite out of the question
with Lady de Courcy." She paused for a moment, and then added
in a tone different again, and unlike any that he had yet heard
from her:--"It is, at any rate, out of the question with Mr Frank
Gresham--of that I am quite sure."

Frank ought to have understood her, and have appreciated the good
opinion which she intended to convey; but he did not entirely do so.
He was hardly honest himself towards her; and he could not at first
perceive that she intended to say that she thought him so. He knew
very well that she was alluding to her own huge fortune, and was
alluding also to the fact that people of fashion sought her because
of it; but he did not know that she intended to express a true
acquittal as regarded him of any such baseness.

And did he deserve to be acquitted? Yes, upon the whole he did;--to
be acquitted of that special sin. His desire to make Miss Dunstable
temporarily subject to his sway arose, not from a hankering after her
fortune, but from an ambition to get the better of a contest in which
other men around him seemed to be failing.

For it must not be imagined that, with such a prize to be struggled
for, all others stood aloof and allowed him to have his own way
with the heiress, undisputed. The chance of a wife with two hundred
thousand pounds is a godsend which comes in a man's life too seldom
to be neglected, let that chance be never so remote.

Frank was the heir to a large embarrassed property; and, therefore,
the heads of families, putting their wisdoms together, had thought it
most meet that this daughter of Plutus should, if possible, fall to
his lot. But not so thought the Honourable George; and not so thought
another gentleman who was at that time an inmate of Courcy Castle.

These suitors perhaps somewhat despised their young rival's efforts.
It may be that they had sufficient worldly wisdom to know that so
important a crisis of life is not settled among quips and jokes, and
that Frank was too much in jest to be in earnest. But be that as it
may, his love-making did not stand in the way of their love-making;
nor his hopes, if he had any, in the way of their hopes.

The Honourable George had discussed the matter with the Honourable
John in a properly fraternal manner. It may be that John had also
an eye to the heiress; but, if so, he had ceded his views to his
brother's superior claims; for it came about that they understood
each other very well, and John favoured George with salutary advice
on the occasion.

"If it is to be done at all, it should be done very sharp," said
John.

"As sharp as you like," said George. "I'm not the fellow to be
studying three months in what attitude I'll fall at a girl's feet."

"No: and when you are there you mustn't take three months more to
study how you'll get up again. If you do it at all, you must do it
sharp," repeated John, putting great stress on his advice.

"I have said a few soft words to her already, and she didn't seem to
take them badly," said George.

"She's no chicken, you know," remarked John; "and with a woman like
that, beating about the bush never does any good. The chances are she
won't have you--that's of course; plums like that don't fall into a
man's mouth merely for shaking the tree. But it's possible she may;
and if she will, she's as likely to take you to-day as this day six
months. If I were you I'd write her a letter."

"Write her a letter--eh?" said George, who did not altogether dislike
the advice, for it seemed to take from his shoulders the burden of
preparing a spoken address. Though he was so glib in speaking about
the farmers' daughters, he felt that he should have some little
difficulty in making known his passion to Miss Dunstable by word of
mouth.

"Yes; write a letter. If she'll take you at all, she'll take you that
way; half the matches going are made up by writing letters. Write her
a letter and get it put on her dressing-table." George said that he
would, and so he did.

George spoke quite truly when he hinted that he had said a few soft
things to Miss Dunstable. Miss Dunstable, however, was accustomed to
hear soft things. She had been carried much about in society among
fashionable people since, on the settlement of her father's will, she
had been pronounced heiress to all the ointment of Lebanon; and many
men had made calculations respecting her similar to those which were
now animating the brain of the Honourable George de Courcy. She was
already quite accustomed to being the target at which spendthrifts
and the needy rich might shoot their arrows: accustomed to being shot
at, and tolerably accustomed to protect herself without making scenes
in the world, or rejecting the advantageous establishments offered
to her with any loud expressions of disdain. The Honourable George,
therefore, had been permitted to say soft things very much as a
matter of course.

And very little more outward fracas arose from the correspondence
which followed than had arisen from the soft things so said. George
wrote the letter, and had it duly conveyed to Miss Dunstable's
bed-chamber. Miss Dunstable duly received it, and had her answer
conveyed back discreetly to George's hands. The correspondence ran as
follows:--


   Courcy Castle, Aug. --, 185--.

   MY DEAREST MISS DUNSTABLE,

   I cannot but flatter myself that you must have perceived
   from my manner that you are not indifferent to me. Indeed,
   indeed, you are not. I may truly say, and swear [these
   last strong words had been put in by the special counsel
   of the Honourable John], that if ever a man loved a woman
   truly, I truly love you. You may think it very odd that
   I should say this in a letter instead of speaking it out
   before your face; but your powers of raillery are so great
   ["touch her up about her wit" had been the advice of the
   Honourable John] that I am all but afraid to encounter
   them. Dearest, dearest Martha--oh do not blame me for so
   addressing you!--if you will trust your happiness to me
   you shall never find that you have been deceived. My
   ambition shall be to make you shine in that circle which
   you are so well qualified to adorn, and to see you firmly
   fixed in that sphere of fashion for which all your tastes
   adapt you.

   I may safely assert--and I do assert it with my hand on
   my heart--that I am actuated by no mercenary motives. Far
   be it from me to marry any woman--no, not a princess--on
   account of her money. No marriage can be happy without
   mutual affection; and I do fully trust--no, not trust, but
   hope--that there may be such between you and me, dearest
   Miss Dunstable. Whatever settlements you might propose,
   I should accede to. It is you, your sweet person, that I
   love, not your money.

   For myself, I need not remind you that I am the second son
   of my father; and that, as such, I hold no inconsiderable
   station in the world. My intention is to get into
   Parliament, and to make a name for myself, if I can, among
   those who shine in the House of Commons. My elder brother,
   Lord Porlock, is, you are aware, unmarried; and we
   all fear that the family honours are not likely to be
   perpetuated by him, as he has all manner of troublesome
   liaisons which will probably prevent his settling in life.
   There is nothing at all of that kind in my way. It will
   indeed be a delight to place a coronet on the head of my
   lovely Martha: a coronet which can give no fresh grace to
   her, but which will be so much adorned by her wearing it.

   Dearest Miss Dunstable, I shall wait with the utmost
   impatience for your answer; and now, burning with hope
   that it may not be altogether unfavourable to my love, I
   beg permission to sign myself--

   Your own most devoted,

   GEORGE DE COURCY.


The ardent lover had not to wait long for an answer from his
mistress. She found this letter on her toilet-table one night as she
went to bed. The next morning she came down to breakfast and met her
swain with the most unconcerned air in the world; so much so that
he began to think, as he munched his toast with rather a shamefaced
look, that the letter on which so much was to depend had not yet come
safely to hand. But his suspense was not of a prolonged duration.
After breakfast, as was his wont, he went out to the stables with his
brother and Frank Gresham; and while there, Miss Dunstable's man,
coming up to him, touched his hat, and put a letter into his hand.

Frank, who knew the man, glanced at the letter and looked at his
cousin; but he said nothing. He was, however, a little jealous, and
felt that an injury was done to him by any correspondence between
Miss Dunstable and his cousin George.

Miss Dunstable's reply was as follows; and it may be remarked that
it was written in a very clear and well-penned hand, and one which
certainly did not betray much emotion of the heart:--


   MY DEAR MR DE COURCY,

   I am sorry to say that I had not perceived from your
   manner that you entertained any peculiar feelings towards
   me; as, had I done so, I should at once have endeavoured
   to put an end to them. I am much flattered by the way in
   which you speak of me; but I am in too humble a position
   to return your affection; and can, therefore, only express
   a hope that you may be soon able to eradicate it from your
   bosom. A letter is a very good way of making an offer, and
   as such I do not think it at all odd; but I certainly did
   not expect such an honour last night. As to my raillery, I
   trust it has never yet hurt you. I can assure you it never
   shall. I hope you will soon have a worthier ambition than
   that to which you allude; for I am well aware that no
   attempt will ever make me shine anywhere.

   I am quite sure you have had no mercenary motives: such
   motives in marriage are very base, and quite below your
   name and lineage. Any little fortune that I may have must
   be a matter of indifference to one who looks forward, as
   you do, to put a coronet on his wife's brow. Nevertheless,
   for the sake of the family, I trust that Lord Porlock, in
   spite of his obstacles, may live to do the same for a wife
   of his own some of these days. I am glad to hear that
   there is nothing to interfere with your own prospects of
   domestic felicity.

   Sincerely hoping that you may be perfectly successful in
   your proud ambition to shine in Parliament, and regretting
   extremely that I cannot share that ambition with you, I
   beg to subscribe myself, with very great respect,--

   Your sincere well-wisher,

   MARTHA DUNSTABLE.


The Honourable George, with that modesty which so well became him,
accepted Miss Dunstable's reply as a final answer to his little
proposition, and troubled her with no further courtship. As he said
to his brother John, no harm had been done, and he might have better
luck next time. But there was an intimate of Courcy Castle who was
somewhat more pertinacious in his search after love and wealth. This
was no other than Mr Moffat: a gentleman whose ambition was not
satisfied by the cares of his Barchester contest, or the possession
of one affianced bride.

Mr Moffat was, as we have said, a man of wealth; but we all know,
from the lessons of early youth, how the love of money increases and
gains strength by its own success. Nor was he a man of so mean a
spirit as to be satisfied with mere wealth. He desired also place and
station, and gracious countenance among the great ones of the earth.
Hence had come his adherence to the de Courcys; hence his seat in
Parliament; and hence, also, his perhaps ill-considered match with
Miss Gresham.

There is no doubt but that the privilege of matrimony offers
opportunities to money-loving young men which ought not to be lightly
abused. Too many young men marry without giving any consideration to
the matter whatever. It is not that they are indifferent to money,
but that they recklessly miscalculate their own value, and omit to
look around and see how much is done by those who are more careful.
A man can be young but once, and, except in cases of a special
interposition of Providence, can marry but once. The chance once
thrown away may be said to be irrevocable! How, in after-life, do
men toil and turmoil through long years to attain some prospect of
doubtful advancement! Half that trouble, half that care, a tithe of
that circumspection would, in early youth, have probably secured to
them the enduring comfort of a wife's wealth.

You will see men labouring night and day to become bank directors;
and even a bank direction may only be the road to ruin. Others will
spend years in degrading subserviency to obtain a niche in a will;
and the niche, when at last obtained and enjoyed, is but a sorry
payment for all that has been endured. Others, again, struggle
harder still, and go through even deeper waters: they make wills for
themselves, forge stock-shares, and fight with unremitting, painful
labour to appear to be the thing that they are not. Now, in many
of these cases, all this might have been spared had the men made
adequate use of those opportunities which youth and youthful charms
afford once--and once only. There is no road to wealth so easy and
respectable as that of matrimony; that, is of course, provided that
the aspirant declines the slow course of honest work. But then, we
can so seldom put old heads on young shoulders!

In the case of Mr Moffat, we may perhaps say that a specimen was
produced of this bird, so rare in the land. His shoulders were
certainly young, seeing that he was not yet six-and-twenty; but
his head had ever been old. From the moment when he was first put
forth to go alone--at the age of twenty-one--his life had been one
calculation how he could make the most of himself. He had allowed
himself to be betrayed into no folly by an unguarded heart; no
youthful indiscretion had marred his prospects. He had made the
most of himself. Without wit, or depth, or any mental gift--without
honesty of purpose or industry for good work--he had been for two
years sitting member for Barchester; was the guest of Lord de Courcy;
was engaged to the eldest daughter of one of the best commoners'
families in England; and was, when he first began to think of Miss
Dunstable, sanguine that his re-election to Parliament was secure.

When, however, at this period he began to calculate what his position
in the world really was, it occurred to him that he was doing an
ill-judged thing in marrying Miss Gresham. Why marry a penniless
girl--for Augusta's trifle of a fortune was not a penny in his
estimation--while there was Miss Dunstable in the world to be won?
His own six or seven thousand a year, quite unembarrassed as it was,
was certainly a great thing; but what might he not do if to that
he could add the almost fabulous wealth of the great heiress? Was
she not here, put absolutely in his path? Would it not be a wilful
throwing away of a chance not to avail himself of it? He must, to
be sure, lose the de Courcy friendship; but if he should then have
secured his Barchester seat for the usual term of parliamentary
session, he might be able to spare that. He would also, perhaps,
encounter some Gresham enmity: this was a point on which he did think
more than once: but what will not a man encounter for the sake of two
hundred thousand pounds?

It was thus that Mr Moffat argued with himself, with much prudence,
and brought himself to resolve that he would at any rate become a
candidate for the great prize. He also, therefore, began to say
soft things; and it must be admitted that he said them with more
considerate propriety than had the Honourable George. Mr Moffat had
an idea that Miss Dunstable was not a fool, and that in order to
catch her he must do more than endeavour to lay salt on her tail,
in the guise of flattery. It was evident to him that she was a bird
of some cunning, not to be caught by an ordinary gin, such as those
commonly in use with the Honourable Georges of Society.

It seemed to Mr Moffat, that though Miss Dunstable was so sprightly,
so full of fun, and so ready to chatter on all subjects, she well
knew the value of her own money, and of her position as dependent on
it: he perceived that she never flattered the countess, and seemed
to be no whit absorbed by the titled grandeur of her host's family.
He gave her credit, therefore, for an independent spirit: and an
independent spirit in his estimation was one that placed its sole
dependence on a respectable balance at its banker's.

Working on these ideas, Mr Moffat commenced operations in such manner
that his overtures to the heiress should not, if unsuccessful,
interfere with the Greshamsbury engagement. He began by making common
cause with Miss Dunstable: their positions in the world, he said to
her, were closely similar. They had both risen from the lower class
by the strength of honest industry: they were both now wealthy, and
had both hitherto made such use of their wealth as to induce the
highest aristocracy of England to admit them into their circles.

"Yes, Mr Moffat," had Miss Dunstable remarked; "and if all that I
hear be true, to admit you into their very families."

At this Mr Moffat slightly demurred. He would not affect, he said,
to misunderstand what Miss Dunstable meant. There had been something
said on the probability of such an event; but he begged Miss
Dunstable not to believe all that she heard on such subjects.

"I do not believe much," said she; "but I certainly did think that
that might be credited."

Mr Moffat then went on to show how it behoved them both, in holding
out their hands half-way to meet the aristocratic overtures that
were made to them, not to allow themselves to be made use of. The
aristocracy, according to Mr Moffat, were people of a very nice
sort; the best acquaintance in the world; a portion of mankind to be
noticed by whom should be one of the first objects in the life of the
Dunstables and the Moffats. But the Dunstables and Moffats should be
very careful to give little or nothing in return. Much, very much in
return, would be looked for. The aristocracy, said Mr Moffat, were
not a people to allow the light of their countenance to shine forth
without looking for a _quid pro quo_, for some compensating value.
In all their intercourse with the Dunstables and Moffats, they would
expect a payment. It was for the Dunstables and Moffats to see that,
at any rate, they did not pay more for the article they got than its
market value.

They way in which she, Miss Dunstable, and he, Mr Moffat, would be
required to pay would be by taking each of them some poor scion of
the aristocracy in marriage; and thus expending their hard-earned
wealth in procuring high-priced pleasures for some well-born pauper.
Against this, peculiar caution was to be used. Of course, the further
induction to be shown was this: that people so circumstanced should
marry among themselves; the Dunstables and the Moffats each with the
other, and not tumble into the pitfalls prepared for them.

Whether these great lessons had any lasting effect on Miss
Dunstable's mind may be doubted. Perhaps she had already made up her
mind on the subject which Mr Moffat so well discussed. She was older
than Mr Moffat, and, in spite of his two years of parliamentary
experience, had perhaps more knowledge of the world with which she
had to deal. But she listened to what he said with complacency;
understood his object as well as she had that of his aristocratic
rival; was no whit offended; but groaned in her spirit as she thought
of the wrongs of Augusta Gresham.

But all this good advice, however, would not win the money for Mr
Moffat without some more decided step; and that step he soon decided
on taking, feeling assured that what he had said would have its due
weight with the heiress.

The party at Courcy Castle was now soon about to be broken up. The
male de Courcys were going down to a Scotch mountain. The female de
Courcys were to be shipped off to an Irish castle. Mr Moffat was to
go up to town to prepare his petition. Miss Dunstable was again about
to start on a foreign tour in behalf of her physician and attendants;
and Frank Gresham was at last to be allowed to go to Cambridge; that
is to say, unless his success with Miss Dunstable should render such
a step on his part quite preposterous.

"I think you may speak now, Frank," said the countess. "I really
think you may: you have known her now for a considerable time; and,
as far as I can judge, she is very fond of you."

"Nonsense, aunt," said Frank; "she doesn't care a button for me."

"I think differently; and lookers-on, you know, always understand the
game best. I suppose you are not afraid to ask her."

"Afraid!" said Frank, in a tone of considerable scorn. He almost made
up his mind that he would ask her to show that he was not afraid.
His only obstacle to doing so was, that he had not the slightest
intention of marrying her.

There was to be but one other great event before the party broke up,
and that was a dinner at the Duke of Omnium's. The duke had already
declined to come to Courcy; but he had in a measure atoned for this
by asking some of the guests to join a great dinner which he was
about to give to his neighbours.

Mr Moffat was to leave Courcy Castle the day after the dinner-party,
and he therefore determined to make his great attempt on the morning
of that day. It was with some difficulty that he brought about an
opportunity; but at last he did so, and found himself alone with Miss
Dunstable in the walks of Courcy Park.

"It is a strange thing, is it not," said he, recurring to his old
view of the same subject, "that I should be going to dine with the
Duke of Omnium--the richest man, they say, among the whole English
aristocracy?"

"Men of that kind entertain everybody, I believe, now and then," said
Miss Dunstable, not very civilly.

"I believe they do; but I am not going as one of the everybodies.
I am going from Lord de Courcy's house with some of his own family.
I have no pride in that--not the least; I have more pride in my
father's honest industry. But it shows what money does in this
country of ours."

"Yes, indeed; money does a great deal many queer things." In saying
this Miss Dunstable could not but think that money had done a very
queer thing in inducing Miss Gresham to fall in love with Mr Moffat.

"Yes; wealth is very powerful: here we are, Miss Dunstable, the most
honoured guests in the house."

"Oh! I don't know about that; you may be, for you are a member of
Parliament, and all that--"

"No; not a member now, Miss Dunstable."

"Well, you will be, and that's all the same; but I have no such title
to honour, thank God."

They walked on in silence for a little while, for Mr Moffat hardly
knew how to manage the business he had in hand. "It is quite
delightful to watch these people," he said at last; "now they accuse
us of being tuft-hunters."

"Do they?" said Miss Dunstable. "Upon my word I didn't know that
anybody ever so accused me."

"I didn't mean you and me personally."

"Oh! I'm glad of that."

"But that is what the world says of persons of our class. Now it
seems to me that the toadying is all on the other side. The countess
here does toady you, and so do the young ladies."

"Do they? if so, upon my word I didn't know it. But, to tell the
truth, I don't think much of such things. I live mostly to myself, Mr
Moffat."

"I see that you do, and I admire you for it; but, Miss Dunstable, you
cannot always live so," and Mr Moffat looked at her in a manner which
gave her the first intimation of his coming burst of tenderness.

"That's as may be, Mr Moffat," said she.

He went on beating about the bush for some time--giving her to
understand now necessary it was that persons situated as they were
should live either for themselves or for each other, and that,
above all things, they should beware of falling into the mouths of
voracious aristocratic lions who go about looking for prey--till they
came to a turn in the grounds; at which Miss Dunstable declared her
determination of going in. She had walked enough, she said. As by
this time Mr Moffat's immediate intentions were becoming visible she
thought it prudent to retire. "Don't let me take you in, Mr Moffat;
but my boots are a little damp, and Dr Easyman will never forgive me
if I do not hurry in as fast as I can."

"Your feet damp?--I hope not: I do hope not," said he, with a look of
the greatest solicitude.

"Oh! it's nothing to signify; but it's well to be prudent, you know.
Good morning, Mr Moffat."

"Miss Dunstable!"

"Eh--yes!" and Miss Dunstable stopped in the grand path. "I won't let
you return with me, Mr Moffat, because I know you were not coming in
so soon."

"Miss Dunstable; I shall be leaving this to-morrow."

"Yes; and I go myself the day after."

"I know it. I am going to town and you are going abroad. It may be
long--very long--before we meet again."

"About Easter," said Miss Dunstable; "that is, if the doctor doesn't
knock up on the road."

"And I had, had wished to say something before we part for so long a
time. Miss Dunstable--"

"Stop!--Mr Moffat. Let me ask you one question. I'll hear anything
that you have got to say, but on one condition: that is, that Miss
Augusta Gresham shall be by while you say it. Will you consent to
that?"

"Miss Augusta Gresham," said he, "has no right to listen to my
private conversation."

"Has she not, Mr Moffat? then I think she should have. I, at any
rate, will not so far interfere with what I look on as her undoubted
privileges as to be a party to any secret in which she may not
participate."

"But, Miss Dunstable--"

"And to tell you fairly, Mr Moffat, any secret that you do tell me, I
shall most undoubtedly repeat to her before dinner. Good morning, Mr
Moffat; my feet are certainly a little damp, and if I stay a moment
longer, Dr Easyman will put off my foreign trip for at least a week."
And so she left him standing alone in the middle of the gravel-walk.

For a moment or two, Mr Moffat consoled himself in his misfortune by
thinking how he might best avenge himself on Miss Dunstable. Soon,
however, such futile ideas left his brain. Why should he give over
the chase because the rich galleon had escaped him on this, his
first cruise in pursuit of her? Such prizes were not to be won so
easily. Her present objection clearly consisted in his engagement to
Miss Gresham, and in that only. Let that engagement be at an end,
notoriously and publicly broken off, and this objection would fall to
the ground. Yes; ships so richly freighted were not to be run down
in one summer morning's plain sailing. Instead of looking for his
revenge on Miss Dunstable, it would be more prudent in him--more in
keeping with his character--to pursue his object, and overcome such
difficulties as he might find in his way.



CHAPTER XIX

The Duke of Omnium


The Duke of Omnium was, as we have said, a bachelor. Not the less on
that account did he on certain rare gala days entertain the beauty
of the county at his magnificent rural seat, or the female fashion
of London in Belgrave Square; but on this occasion the dinner at
Gatherum Castle--for such was the name of his mansion--was to be
confined to the lords of the creation. It was to be one of those days
on which he collected round his board all the notables of the county,
in order that his popularity might not wane, or the established glory
of his hospitable house become dim.

On such an occasion it was not probable that Lord de Courcy would be
one of the guests. The party, indeed, who went from Courcy Castle was
not large, and consisted of the Honourable George, Mr Moffat, and
Frank Gresham. They went in a tax-cart, with a tandem horse, driven
very knowingly by George de Courcy; and the fourth seat on the back
of the vehicle was occupied by a servant, who was to look after the
horses at Gatherum.

The Honourable George drove either well or luckily, for he reached
the duke's house in safety; but he drove very fast. Poor Miss
Dunstable! what would have been her lot had anything but good
happened to that vehicle, so richly freighted with her three lovers!
They did not quarrel as to the prize, and all reached Gatherum Castle
in good humour with each other.

The castle was new building of white stone, lately erected at an
enormous cost by one of the first architects of the day. It was an
immense pile, and seemed to cover ground enough for a moderate-sized
town. But, nevertheless, report said that when it was completed,
the noble owner found that he had no rooms to live in; and that, on
this account, when disposed to study his own comfort, he resided in
a house of perhaps one-tenth the size, built by his grandfather in
another county.

Gatherum Castle would probably be called Italian in its style of
architecture; though it may, I think, be doubted whether any such
edifice, or anything like it, was ever seen in any part of Italy.
It was a vast edifice; irregular in height--or it appeared to be
so--having long wings on each side too high to be passed over by the
eye as mere adjuncts to the mansion, and a portico so large as to
make the house behind it look like another building of a greater
altitude. This portico was supported by Ionic columns, and was in
itself doubtless a beautiful structure. It was approached by a
flight of steps, very broad and very grand; but, as an approach by a
flight of steps hardly suits an Englishman's house, to the immediate
entrance of which it is necessary that his carriage should drive,
there was another front door in one of the wings which was commonly
used. A carriage, however, could on very stupendously grand
occasions--the visits, for instance, of queens and kings, and royal
dukes--be brought up under the portico; as the steps had been so
constructed as to admit of a road, with a rather stiff ascent, being
made close in front of the wing up into the very porch.

Opening from the porch was the grand hall, which extended up to the
top of the house. It was magnificent, indeed; being decorated with
many-coloured marbles, and hung round with various trophies of the
house of Omnium; banners were there, and armour; the sculptured busts
of many noble progenitors; full-length figures in marble of those
who had been especially prominent; and every monument of glory that
wealth, long years, and great achievements could bring together. If
only a man could but live in his hall and be for ever happy there!
But the Duke of Omnium could not live happily in his hall; and the
fact was, that the architect, in contriving this magnificent entrance
for his own honour and fame, had destroyed the duke's house as
regards most of the ordinary purposes of residence.

Nevertheless, Gatherum Castle is a very noble pile; and, standing as
it does on an eminence, has a very fine effect when seen from many a
distant knoll and verdant-wooded hill.

At seven o'clock Mr de Courcy and his friends got down from their
drag at the smaller door--for this was no day on which to mount up
under the portico; nor was that any suitable vehicle to have been
entitled to such honour. Frank felt some excitement a little stronger
than that usual to him at such moments, for he had never yet been in
company with the Duke of Omnium; and he rather puzzled himself to
think on what points he would talk to the man who was the largest
landowner in that county in which he himself had so great an
interest. He, however, made up his mind that he would allow the duke
to choose his own subjects; merely reserving to himself the right of
pointing out how deficient in gorse covers was West Barsetshire--that
being the duke's division.

They were soon divested of their coats and hats, and,
without entering on the magnificence of the great hall, were
conducted through rather a narrow passage into rather a small
drawing-room--small, that is, in proportion to the number of
gentlemen there assembled. There might be about thirty, and Frank was
inclined to think that they were almost crowded. A man came forward
to greet them when their names were announced; but our hero at once
knew that he was not the duke; for this man was fat and short,
whereas the duke was thin and tall.

There was a great hubbub going on; for everybody seemed to be talking
to his neighbour; or, in default of a neighbour, to himself. It
was clear that the exalted rank of their host had put very little
constraint on his guests' tongues, for they chatted away with as much
freedom as farmers at an ordinary.

"Which is the duke?" at last Frank contrived to whisper to his
cousin.

"Oh;--he's not here," said George; "I suppose he'll be in presently.
I believe he never shows till just before dinner."

Frank, of course, had nothing further to say; but he already began to
feel himself a little snubbed: he thought that the duke, duke though
he was, when he asked people to dinner should be there to tell them
that he was glad to see them.

More people flashed into the room, and Frank found himself rather
closely wedged in with a stout clergyman of his acquaintance. He was
not badly off, for Mr Athill was a friend of his own, who had held a
living near Greshamsbury. Lately, however, at the lamented decease
of Dr Stanhope--who had died of apoplexy at his villa in Italy--Mr
Athill had been presented with the better preferment of Eiderdown,
and had, therefore, removed to another part of the county. He was
somewhat of a bon-vivant, and a man who thoroughly understood
dinner-parties; and with much good nature he took Frank under his
special protection.

"You stick to me, Mr Gresham," he said, "when we go into the
dining-room. I'm an old hand at the duke's dinners, and know how to
make a friend comfortable as well as myself."

"But why doesn't the duke come in?" demanded Frank.

"He'll be here as soon as dinner is ready," said Mr Athill. "Or,
rather, the dinner will be ready as soon as he is here. I don't care,
therefore, how soon he comes."

Frank did not understand this, but he had nothing to do but to wait
and see how things went.

He was beginning to be impatient, for the room was now nearly full,
and it seemed evident that no other guests were coming; when suddenly
a bell rang, and a gong was sounded, and at the same instant a door
that had not yet been used flew open, and a very plainly dressed,
plain, tall man entered the room. Frank at once knew that he was at
last in the presence of the Duke of Omnium.

But his grace, late as he was in commencing the duties as host,
seemed in no hurry to make up for lost time. He quietly stood on the
rug, with his back to the empty grate, and spoke one or two words in
a very low voice to one or two gentlemen who stood nearest to him.
The crowd, in the meanwhile, became suddenly silent. Frank, when he
found that the duke did not come and speak to him, felt that he ought
to go and speak to the duke; but no one else did so, and when he
whispered his surprise to Mr Athill, that gentleman told him that
this was the duke's practice on all such occasions.

"Fothergill," said the duke--and it was the only word he had yet
spoken out loud--"I believe we are ready for dinner." Now Mr
Fothergill was the duke's land-agent, and he it was who had greeted
Frank and his friends at their entrance.

Immediately the gong was again sounded, and another door leading out
of the drawing-room into the dining-room was opened. The duke led the
way, and then the guests followed. "Stick close to me, Mr Gresham,"
said Athill, "we'll get about the middle of the table, where we shall
be cosy--and on the other side of the room, out of this dreadful
draught--I know the place well, Mr Gresham; stick to me."

Mr Athill, who was a pleasant, chatty companion, had hardly seated
himself, and was talking to Frank as quickly as he could, when Mr
Fothergill, who sat at the bottom of the table, asked him to say
grace. It seemed to be quite out of the question that the duke should
take any trouble with his guests whatever. Mr Athill consequently
dropped the word he was speaking, and uttered a prayer--if it was a
prayer--that they might all have grateful hearts for that which God
was about to give them.

If it was a prayer! As far as my own experience goes, such utterances
are seldom prayers, seldom can be prayers. And if not prayers, what
then? To me it is unintelligible that the full tide of glibbest
chatter can be stopped at a moment in the midst of profuse good
living, and the Giver thanked becomingly in words of heartfelt
praise. Setting aside for the moment what one daily hears and sees,
may not one declare that a change so sudden is not within the compass
of the human mind? But then, to such reasoning one cannot but add
what one does hear and see; one cannot but judge of the ceremony by
the manner in which one sees it performed--uttered, that is--and
listened to. Clergymen there are--one meets them now and then--who
endeavour to give to the dinner-table grace some of the solemnity of
a church ritual, and what is the effect? Much the same as though one
were to be interrupted for a minute in the midst of one of our church
liturgies to hear a drinking-song.

And it will be argued, that a man need be less thankful because, at
the moment of receiving, he utters no thanksgiving? or will it be
thought that a man is made thankful because what is called a grace is
uttered after dinner? It can hardly be imagined that any one will so
argue, or so think.

Dinner-graces are, probably, the last remaining relic of certain
daily services [1] which the Church in olden days enjoined: nones,
complines, and vespers were others. Of the nones and complines we
have happily got quit; and it might be well if we could get rid of
the dinner-graces also. Let any man ask himself whether, on his own
part, they are acts of prayer and thanksgiving--and if not that, what
then?


   [Footnote 1: It is, I know, alleged that graces are said
   before dinner, because our Saviour uttered a blessing before
   his last supper. I cannot say that the idea of such analogy
   is pleasing to me.]


When the large party entered the dining-room one or two gentlemen
might be seen to come in from some other door and set themselves at
the table near to the duke's chair. These were guests of his own, who
were staying in the house, his particular friends, the men with whom
he lived: the others were strangers whom he fed, perhaps once a year,
in order that his name might be known in the land as that of one who
distributed food and wine hospitably through the county. The food
and wine, the attendance also, and the view of the vast repository
of plate he vouchsafed willingly to his county neighbours;--but it
was beyond his good nature to talk to them. To judge by the present
appearance of most of them, they were quite as well satisfied to be
left alone.

Frank was altogether a stranger there, but Mr Athill knew every one
at the table.

"That's Apjohn," said he: "don't you know, Mr Apjohn, the attorney
from Barchester? he's always here; he does some of Fothergill's law
business, and makes himself useful. If any fellow knows the value of
a good dinner, he does. You'll see that the duke's hospitality will
not be thrown away on him."

"It's very much thrown away upon me, I know," said Frank, who could
not at all put up with the idea of sitting down to dinner without
having been spoken to by his host.

"Oh, nonsense!" said his clerical friend; "you'll enjoy yourself
amazingly by and by. There is not such champagne in any other house
in Barsetshire; and then the claret--" And Mr Athill pressed his lips
together, and gently shook his head, meaning to signify by the motion
that the claret of Gatherum Castle was sufficient atonement for any
penance which a man might have to go through in his mode of obtaining
it.

"Who's that funny little man sitting there, next but one to Mr de
Courcy? I never saw such a queer fellow in my life."

"Don't you know old Bolus? Well, I thought every one in Barsetshire
knew Bolus; you especially should do so, as he is such a dear friend
of Dr Thorne."

"A dear friend of Dr Thorne?"

"Yes; he was apothecary at Scarington in the old days, before Dr
Fillgrave came into vogue. I remember when Bolus was thought to be a
very good sort of doctor."

"Is he--is he--" whispered Frank, "is he by way of a gentleman?"

"Ha! ha! ha! Well, I suppose we must be charitable, and say that he
is quite as good, at any rate, as many others there are here--" and
Mr Athill, as he spoke, whispered into Frank's ear, "You see there's
Finnie here, another Barchester attorney. Now, I really think where
Finnie goes Bolus may go too."

"The more the merrier, I suppose," said Frank.

"Well, something a little like that. I wonder why Thorne is not here?
I'm sure he was asked."

"Perhaps he did not particularly wish to meet Finnie and Bolus. Do
you know, Mr Athill, I think he was quite right not to come. As for
myself, I wish I was anywhere else."

"Ha! ha! ha! You don't know the duke's ways yet; and what's more,
you're young, you happy fellow! But Thorne should have more sense; he
ought to show himself here."

The gormandizing was now going on at a tremendous rate. Though the
volubility of their tongues had been for a while stopped by the first
shock of the duke's presence, the guests seemed to feel no such
constraint upon their teeth. They fed, one may almost say, rabidly,
and gave their orders to the servants in an eager manner; much more
impressive than that usual at smaller parties. Mr Apjohn, who sat
immediately opposite to Frank, had, by some well-planned manoeuvre,
contrived to get before him the jowl of a salmon; but, unfortunately,
he was not for a while equally successful in the article of sauce. A
very limited portion--so at least thought Mr Apjohn--had been put on
his plate; and a servant, with a huge sauce tureen, absolutely passed
behind his back inattentive to his audible requests. Poor Mr Apjohn
in his despair turned round to arrest the man by his coat-tails; but
he was a moment too late, and all but fell backwards on the floor. As
he righted himself he muttered an anathema, and looked with a face of
anguish at his plate.

"Anything the matter, Apjohn?" said Mr Fothergill, kindly, seeing
the utter despair written on the poor man's countenance; "can I get
anything for you?"

"The sauce!" said Mr Apjohn, in a voice that would have melted a
hermit; and as he looked at Mr Fothergill, he pointed at the now
distant sinner, who was dispensing his melted ambrosia at least ten
heads upwards, away from the unfortunate supplicant.

Mr Fothergill, however, knew where to look for balm for such wounds,
and in a minute or two, Mr Apjohn was employed quite to his heart's
content.

"Well," said Frank to his neighbour, "it may be very well once in a
way; but I think that on the whole Dr Thorne is right."

"My dear Mr Gresham, see the world on all sides," said Mr Athill,
who had also been somewhat intent on the gratification of his own
appetite, though with an energy less evident than that of the
gentleman opposite. "See the world on all sides if you have an
opportunity; and, believe me, a good dinner now and then is a very
good thing."

"Yes; but I don't like eating it with hogs."

"Whish-h! softly, softly, Mr Gresham, or you'll disturb Mr Apjohn's
digestion. Upon my word, he'll want it all before he has done. Now, I
like this kind of thing once in a way."

"Do you?" said Frank, in a tone that was almost savage.

"Yes; indeed I do. One sees so much character. And after all, what
harm does it do?"

"My idea is that people should live with those whose society is
pleasant to them."

"Live--yes, Mr Gresham--I agree with you there. It wouldn't do for me
to live with the Duke of Omnium; I shouldn't understand, or probably
approve, his ways. Nor should I, perhaps, much like the constant
presence of Mr Apjohn. But now and then--once in a year or so--I do
own I like to see them both. Here's the cup; now, whatever you do, Mr
Gresham, don't pass the cup without tasting it."

And so the dinner passed on, slowly enough as Frank thought, but
all too quickly for Mr Apjohn. It passed away, and the wine came
circulating freely. The tongues again were loosed, the teeth being
released from their labours, and under the influence of the claret
the duke's presence was forgotten.

But very speedily the coffee was brought. "This will soon be over
now," said Frank, to himself, thankfully; for, though he be no means
despised good claret, he had lost his temper too completely to enjoy
it at the present moment. But he was much mistaken; the farce as yet
was only at its commencement. The duke took his cup of coffee, and so
did the few friends who sat close to him; but the beverage did not
seem to be in great request with the majority of the guests. When the
duke had taken his modicum, he rose up and silently retired, saying
no word and making no sign. And then the farce commenced.

"Now, gentlemen," said Mr Fothergill, cheerily, "we are all right.
Apjohn, is there claret there? Mr Bolus, I know you stick to the
Madeira; you are quite right, for there isn't much of it left, and my
belief is there'll never be more like it."

And so the duke's hospitality went on, and the duke's guests drank
merrily for the next two hours.

"Shan't we see any more of him?" asked Frank.

"Any more of whom?" said Mr Athill.

"Of the duke?"

"Oh, no; you'll see no more of him. He always goes when the coffee
comes. It's brought in as an excuse. We've had enough of the light of
his countenance to last till next year. The duke and I are excellent
friends; and have been so these fifteen years; but I never see more
of him than that."

"I shall go away," said Frank.

"Nonsense. Mr de Courcy and your other friend won't stir for this
hour yet."

"I don't care. I shall walk on, and they may catch me. I may be
wrong; but it seems to me that a man insults me when he asks me to
dine with him and never speaks to me. I don't care if he be ten times
Duke of Omnium; he can't be more than a gentleman, and as such I
am his equal." And then, having thus given vent to his feelings in
somewhat high-flown language, he walked forth and trudged away along
the road towards Courcy.

Frank Gresham had been born and bred a Conservative, whereas the
Duke of Omnium was well known as a consistent Whig. There is no one
so devoutly resolved to admit of no superior as your Conservative,
born and bred, no one so inclined to high domestic despotism as your
thoroughgoing consistent old Whig.

When he had proceeded about six miles, Frank was picked up by his
friends; but even then his anger had hardly cooled.

"Was the duke as civil as ever when you took your leave of him?" said
he to his cousin George, as he took his seat on the drag.

"The juke was jeuced jude wine--lem me tell you that, old fella,"
hiccupped out the Honourable George, as he touched up the leader
under the flank.



CHAPTER XX

The Proposal


And now the departures from Courcy Castle came rapidly one after
another, and there remained but one more evening before Miss
Dunstable's carriage was to be packed. The countess, in the early
moments of Frank's courtship, had controlled his ardour and checked
the rapidity of his amorous professions; but as days, and at last
weeks, wore away, she found that it was necessary to stir the fire
which she had before endeavoured to slacken.

"There will be nobody here to-night but our own circle," said she to
him, "and I really think you should tell Miss Dunstable what your
intentions are. She will have fair ground to complain of you if you
do not."

Frank began to feel that he was in a dilemma. He had commenced making
love to Miss Dunstable partly because he liked the amusement, and
partly from a satirical propensity to quiz his aunt by appearing to
fall into her scheme. But he had overshot the mark, and did not know
what answer to give when he was thus called upon to make a downright
proposal. And then, although he did not care two rushes about Miss
Dunstable in the way of love, he nevertheless experienced a sort of
jealousy when he found that she appeared to be indifferent to him,
and that she corresponded the meanwhile with his cousin George.
Though all their flirtations had been carried on on both sides
palpably by way of fun, though Frank had told himself ten times a
day that his heart was true to Mary Thorne, yet he had an undefined
feeling that it behoved Miss Dunstable to be a little in love with
him. He was not quite at ease in that she was not a little melancholy
now that his departure was so nigh; and, above all, he was anxious to
know what were the real facts about that letter. He had in his own
breast threatened Miss Dunstable with a heartache; and now, when the
time for their separation came, he found that his own heart was the
more likely to ache of the two.

"I suppose I must say something to her, or my aunt will never be
satisfied," said he to himself as he sauntered into the little
drawing-room on that last evening. But at the very time he was
ashamed of himself, for he knew he was going to ask badly.

His sister and one of his cousins were in the room, but his aunt, who
was quite on the alert, soon got them out of it, and Frank and Miss
Dunstable were alone.

"So all our fun and all our laughter is come to an end," said she,
beginning the conversation. "I don't know how you feel, but for
myself I really am a little melancholy at the idea of parting;" and
she looked up at him with her laughing black eyes, as though she
never had, and never could have a care in the world.

"Melancholy! oh, yes; you look so," said Frank, who really did feel
somewhat lackadaisically sentimental.

"But how thoroughly glad the countess must be that we are both
going," continued she. "I declare we have treated her most
infamously. Ever since we've been here we've had all the amusement
to ourselves. I've sometimes thought she would turn me out of the
house."

"I wish with all my heart she had."

"Oh, you cruel barbarian! why on earth should you wish that?"

"That I might have joined you in your exile. I hate Courcy Castle,
and should have rejoiced to leave--and--and--"

"And what?"

"And I love Miss Dunstable, and should have doubly, trebly rejoiced
to leave it with her."

Frank's voice quivered a little as he made this gallant profession;
but still Miss Dunstable only laughed the louder. "Upon my word, of
all my knights you are by far the best behaved," said she, "and say
much the prettiest things." Frank became rather red in the face, and
felt that he did so. Miss Dunstable was treating him like a boy.
While she pretended to be so fond of him she was only laughing at
him, and corresponding the while with his cousin George. Now Frank
Gresham already entertained a sort of contempt for his cousin, which
increased the bitterness of his feelings. Could it really be possible
that George had succeeded while he had utterly failed; that his
stupid cousin had touched the heart of the heiress while she was
playing with him as with a boy?

"Of all your knights! Is that the way you talk to me when we are
going to part? When was it, Miss Dunstable, that George de Courcy
became one of them?"

Miss Dunstable for a while looked serious enough. "What makes you ask
that?" said she. "What makes you inquire about Mr de Courcy?"

"Oh, I have eyes, you know, and can't help seeing. Not that I see, or
have seen anything that I could possibly help."

"And what have you seen, Mr Gresham?"

"Why, I know you have been writing to him."

"Did he tell you so?"

"No; he did not tell me; but I know it."

For a moment she sat silent, and then her face again resumed its
usual happy smile. "Come, Mr Gresham, you are not going to quarrel
with me, I hope, even if I did write a letter to your cousin. Why
should I not write to him? I correspond with all manner of people.
I'll write to you some of these days if you'll let me, and will
promise to answer my letters."

Frank threw himself back on the sofa on which he was sitting, and, in
doing so, brought himself somewhat nearer to his companion than he
had been; he then drew his hand slowly across his forehead, pushing
back his thick hair, and as he did so he sighed somewhat plaintively.

"I do not care," said he, "for the privilege of correspondence on
such terms. If my cousin George is to be a correspondent of yours
also, I will give up my claim."

And then he sighed again, so that it was piteous to hear him. He was
certainly an arrant puppy, and an egregious ass into the bargain;
but then, it must be remembered in his favour that he was only
twenty-one, and that much had been done to spoil him. Miss Dunstable
did remember this, and therefore abstained from laughing at him.

"Why, Mr Gresham, what on earth do you mean? In all human probability
I shall never write another line to Mr de Courcy; but, if I did, what
possible harm could it do you?"

"Oh, Miss Dunstable! you do not in the least understand what my
feelings are."

"Don't I? Then I hope I never shall. I thought I did. I thought they
were the feelings of a good, true-hearted friend; feelings that I
could sometimes look back upon with pleasure as being honest when
so much that one meets is false. I have become very fond of you, Mr
Gresham, and I should be sorry to think that I did not understand
your feelings."

This was almost worse and worse. Young ladies like Miss
Dunstable--for she was still to be numbered in the category of young
ladies--do not usually tell young gentlemen that they are very fond
of them. To boys and girls they may make such a declaration. Now
Frank Gresham regarded himself as one who had already fought his
battles, and fought them not without glory; he could not therefore
endure to be thus openly told by Miss Dunstable that she was very
fond of him.

"Fond of me, Miss Dunstable! I wish you were."

"So I am--very."

"You little know how fond I am of you, Miss Dunstable," and he put
out his hand to take hold of hers. She then lifted up her own, and
slapped him lightly on the knuckles.

"And what can you have to say to Miss Dunstable that can make it
necessary that you should pinch her hand? I tell you fairly, Mr
Gresham, if you make a fool of yourself, I shall come to a conclusion
that you are all fools, and that it is hopeless to look out for any
one worth caring for."

Such advice as this, so kindly given, so wisely meant, so clearly
intelligible, he should have taken and understood, young as he was.
But even yet he did not do so.

"A fool of myself! Yes; I suppose I must be a fool if I have so much
regard for Miss Dunstable as to make it painful for me to know that I
am to see her no more: a fool: yes, of course I am a fool--a man is
always a fool when he loves."

Miss Dunstable could not pretend to doubt his meaning any longer; and
was determined to stop him, let it cost what it would. She now put
out her hand, not over white, and, as Frank soon perceived, gifted
with a very fair allowance of strength.

"Now, Mr Gresham," said she, "before you go any further you shall
listen to me. Will you listen to me for a moment without interrupting
me?"

Frank was of course obliged to promise that he would do so.

"You are going--or rather you were going, for I shall stop you--to
make a profession of love."

"A profession!" said Frank making a slight unsuccessful effort to get
his hand free.

"Yes; a profession--a false profession, Mr Gresham,--a false
profession--a false profession. Look into your heart--into your heart
of hearts. I know you at any rate have a heart; look into it closely.
Mr Gresham, you know you do not love me; not as a man should love the
woman whom he swears to love."

Frank was taken aback. So appealed to he found that he could not any
longer say that he did love her. He could only look into her face
with all his eyes, and sit there listening to her.

"How is it possible that you should love me? I am Heaven knows how
many years your senior. I am neither young nor beautiful, nor have I
been brought up as she should be whom you in time will really love
and make your wife. I have nothing that should make you love me;
but--but I am rich."

"It is not that," said Frank, stoutly, feeling himself imperatively
called upon to utter something in his own defence.

"Ah, Mr Gresham, I fear it is that. For what other reason can you
have laid your plans to talk in this way to such a woman as I am?"

"I have laid no plans," said Frank, now getting his hand to himself.
"At any rate, you wrong me there, Miss Dunstable."

"I like you so well--nay, love you, if a woman may talk of love in
the way of friendship--that if money, money alone would make you
happy, you should have it heaped on you. If you want it, Mr Gresham,
you shall have it."

"I have never thought of your money," said Frank, surlily.

"But it grieves me," continued she, "it does grieve me, to think that
you, you, you--so young, so gay, so bright--that you should have
looked for it in this way. From others I have taken it just as the
wind that whistles;" and now two big slow tears escaped from her
eyes, and would have rolled down her rosy cheeks were it not that she
brushed them off with the back of her hand.

"You have utterly mistaken me, Miss Dunstable," said Frank.

"If I have, I will humbly beg your pardon," said she.
"But--but--but--"

"You have; indeed you have."

"How can I have mistaken you? Were you not about to say that you
loved me; to talk absolute nonsense; to make me an offer? If you were
not, if I have mistaken you indeed, I will beg your pardon."

Frank had nothing further to say in his own defence. He had not
wanted Miss Dunstable's money--that was true; but he could not deny
that he had been about to talk that absolute nonsense of which she
spoke with so much scorn.

"You would almost make me think that there are none honest in this
fashionable world of yours. I well know why Lady de Courcy has had
me here: how could I help knowing it? She has been so foolish in
her plans that ten times a day she has told her own secret. But I
have said to myself twenty times, that if she were crafty, you were
honest."

"And am I dishonest?"

"I have laughed in my sleeve to see how she played her game, and to
hear others around playing theirs; all of them thinking that they
could get the money of the poor fool who had come at their beck and
call; but I was able to laugh at them as long as I thought that I had
one true friend to laugh with me. But one cannot laugh with all the
world against one."

"I am not against you, Miss Dunstable."

"Sell yourself for money! why, if I were a man I would not sell one
jot of liberty for mountains of gold. What! tie myself in the heyday
of my youth to a person I could never love, for a price! perjure
myself, destroy myself--and not only myself, but her also, in order
that I might live idly! Oh, heavens! Mr Gresham! can it be that
the words of such a woman as your aunt have sunk so deeply in your
heart; have blackened you so foully as to make you think of such vile
folly as this? Have you forgotten your soul, your spirit, your man's
energy, the treasure of your heart? And you, so young! For shame, Mr
Gresham! for shame--for shame."

Frank found the task before him by no means an easy one. He had to
make Miss Dunstable understand that he had never had the slightest
idea of marrying her, and that he had made love to her merely with
the object of keeping his hand in for the work as it were; with that
object, and the other equally laudable one of interfering with his
cousin George.

And yet there was nothing for him but to get through this task as
best he might. He was goaded to it by the accusations which Miss
Dunstable brought against him; and he began to feel, that though her
invective against him might be bitter when he had told the truth,
they could not be so bitter as those she now kept hinting at under
her mistaken impression as to his views. He had never had any strong
propensity for money-hunting; but now that offence appeared in his
eyes abominable, unmanly, and disgusting. Any imputation would be
better than that.

"Miss Dunstable, I never for a moment thought of doing what
you accuse me of; on my honour, I never did. I have been very
foolish--very wrong--idiotic, I believe; but I have never intended
that."

"Then, Mr Gresham, what did you intend?"

This was rather a difficult question to answer; and Frank was not
very quick in attempting it. "I know you will not forgive me," he
said at last; "and, indeed, I do not see how you can. I don't know
how it came about; but this is certain, Miss Dunstable; I have never
for a moment thought about your fortune; that is, thought about it in
the way of coveting it."

"You never thought of making me your wife, then?"

"Never," said Frank, looking boldly into her face.

"You never intended really to propose to go with me to the altar, and
then make yourself rich by one great perjury?"

"Never for a moment," said he.

"You have never gloated over me as the bird of prey gloats over the
poor beast that is soon to become carrion beneath its claws? You have
not counted me out as equal to so much land, and calculated on me as
a balance at your banker's? Ah, Mr Gresham," she continued, seeing
that he stared as though struck almost with awe by her strong
language; "you little guess what a woman situated as I am has to
suffer."

"I have behaved badly to you, Miss Dunstable, and I beg your pardon;
but I have never thought of your money."

"Then we will be friends again, Mr Gresham, won't we? It is so nice
to have a friend like you. There, I think I understand it now; you
need not tell me."

"It was half by way of making a fool of my aunt," said Frank, in an
apologetic tone.

"There is merit in that, at any rate," said Miss Dunstable. "I
understand it all now; you thought to make a fool of me in real
earnest. Well, I can forgive that; at any rate it is not mean."

It may be, that Miss Dunstable did not feel much acute anger at
finding that this young man had addressed her with words of love in
the course of an ordinary flirtation, although that flirtation had
been unmeaning and silly. This was not the offence against which her
heart and breast had found peculiar cause to arm itself; this was not
the injury from which she had hitherto experienced suffering.

At any rate, she and Frank again became friends, and, before the
evening was over, they perfectly understood each other. Twice during
this long _tête-à-tête_ Lady de Courcy came into the room to see how
things were going on, and twice she went out almost unnoticed. It
was quite clear to her that something uncommon had taken place, was
taking place, or would take place; and that should this be for weal
or for woe, no good could now come from her interference. On each
occasion, therefore, she smiled sweetly on the pair of turtle-doves,
and glided out of the room as quietly as she had glided into it.

But at last it became necessary to remove them; for the world had
gone to bed. Frank, in the meantime, had told to Miss Dunstable all
his love for Mary Thorne, and Miss Dunstable had enjoined him to be
true to his vows. To her eyes there was something of heavenly beauty
in young, true love--of beauty that was heavenly because it had been
unknown to her.

"Mind you let me hear, Mr Gresham," said she. "Mind you do; and, Mr
Gresham, never, never forget her for one moment; not for one moment,
Mr Gresham."

Frank was about to swear that he never would--again, when the
countess, for the third time, sailed into the room.

"Young people," said she, "do you know what o'clock it is?"

"Dear me, Lady de Courcy, I declare it is past twelve; I really am
ashamed of myself. How glad you will be to get rid of me to-morrow!"

"No, no, indeed we shan't; shall we, Frank?" and so Miss Dunstable
passed out.

Then once again the aunt tapped her nephew with her fan. It was the
last time in her life that she did so. He looked up in her face, and
his look was enough to tell her that the acres of Greshamsbury were
not to be reclaimed by the ointment of Lebanon.

Nothing further on the subject was said. On the following morning
Miss Dunstable took her departure, not much heeding the rather cold
words of farewell which her hostess gave her; and on the following
day Frank started for Greshamsbury.



CHAPTER XXI

Mr Moffat Falls into Trouble


We will now, with the reader's kind permission, skip over some months
in our narrative. Frank returned from Courcy Castle to Greshamsbury,
and having communicated to his mother--much in the same manner as he
had to the countess--the fact that his mission had been unsuccessful,
he went up after a day or two to Cambridge. During his short stay at
Greshamsbury he did not even catch a glimpse of Mary. He asked for
her, of course, and was told that it was not likely that she would be
at the house just at present. He called at the doctor's, but she was
denied to him there; "she was out," Janet said,--"probably with Miss
Oriel." He went to the parsonage and found Miss Oriel at home; but
Mary had not been seen that morning. He then returned to the house;
and, having come to the conclusion that she had not thus vanished
into air, otherwise than by preconcerted arrangement, he boldly taxed
Beatrice on the subject.

Beatrice looked very demure; declared that no one in the house had
quarrelled with Mary; confessed that it had been thought prudent that
she should for a while stay away from Greshamsbury; and, of course,
ended by telling her brother everything, including all the scenes
that had passed between Mary and herself.

"It is out of the question your thinking of marrying her, Frank,"
said she. "You must know that nobody feels it more strongly than
poor Mary herself;" and Beatrice looked the very personification of
domestic prudence.

"I know nothing of the kind," said he, with the headlong imperative
air that was usual with him in discussing matters with his sisters.
"I know nothing of the kind. Of course I cannot say what Mary's
feelings may be: a pretty life she must have had of it among you. But
you may be sure of this, Beatrice, and so may my mother, that nothing
on earth shall make me give her up--nothing." And Frank, as he made
the protestation, strengthened his own resolution by thinking of all
the counsel that Miss Dunstable had given him.

The brother and sister could hardly agree, as Beatrice was dead
against the match. Not that she would not have liked Mary Thorne for
a sister-in-law, but that she shared to a certain degree the feeling
which was now common to all the Greshams--that Frank must marry
money. It seemed, at any rate, to be imperative that he should either
do that or not marry at all. Poor Beatrice was not very mercenary
in her views: she had no wish to sacrifice her brother to any
Miss Dunstable; but yet she felt, as they all felt--Mary Thorne
included--that such a match as that, of the young heir with the
doctor's niece, was not to be thought of;--not to be spoken of as
a thing that was in any way possible. Therefore, Beatrice, though
she was Mary's great friend, though she was her brother's favourite
sister, could give Frank no encouragement. Poor Frank! circumstances
had made but one bride possible to him: he must marry money.

His mother said nothing to him on the subject: when she learnt that
the affair with Miss Dunstable was not to come off, she merely
remarked that it would perhaps be best for him to return to Cambridge
as soon as possible. Had she spoken her mind out, she would probably
have also advised him to remain there as long as possible. The
countess had not omitted to write to her when Frank left Courcy
Castle; and the countess's letter certainly made the anxious mother
think that her son's education had hardly yet been completed. With
this secondary object, but with that of keeping him out of the way of
Mary Thorne in the first place, Lady Arabella was now quite satisfied
that her son should enjoy such advantages as an education completed
at the university might give him.

With his father Frank had a long conversation; but, alas! the gist of
his father's conversation was this, that it behoved him, Frank, to
marry money. The father, however, did not put it to him in the cold,
callous way in which his lady-aunt had done, and his lady-mother.
He did not bid him go and sell himself to the first female he could
find possessed of wealth. It was with inward self-reproaches, and
true grief of spirit, that the father told the son that it was not
possible for him to do as those who may do who are born really rich,
or really poor.

"If you marry a girl without a fortune, Frank, how are you to live?"
the father asked, after having confessed how deep he himself had
injured his own heir.

"I don't care about money, sir," said Frank. "I shall be just as
happy as if Boxall Hill had never been sold. I don't care a straw
about that sort of thing."

"Ah! my boy; but you will care: you will soon find that you do care."

"Let me go into some profession. Let me go to the Bar. I am sure I
could earn my own living. Earn it! of course I could, why not I as
well as others? I should like of all things to be a barrister."

There was much more of the same kind, in which Frank said all that he
could think of to lessen his father's regrets. In their conversation
not a word was spoken about Mary Thorne. Frank was not aware whether
or no his father had been told of the great family danger which was
dreaded in that quarter. That he had been told, we may surmise, as
Lady Arabella was not wont to confine the family dangers to her own
bosom. Moreover, Mary's presence had, of course, been missed. The
truth was, that the squire had been told, with great bitterness, of
what had come to pass, and all the evil had been laid at his door.
He it had been who hand encouraged Mary to be regarded almost as a
daughter of the house of Greshamsbury; he it was who taught that
odious doctor--odious in all but his aptitude for good doctoring--to
think himself a fit match for the aristocracy of the county. It had
been his fault, this great necessity that Frank should marry money;
and now it was his fault that Frank was absolutely talking of
marrying a pauper.

By no means in quiescence did the squire hear these charges brought
against him. The Lady Arabella, in each attack, got quite as much as
she gave, and, at last, was driven to retreat in a state of headache,
which she declared to be chronic; and which, so she assured her
daughter Augusta, must prevent her from having any more lengthened
conversations with her lord--at any rate for the next three months.
But though the squire may be said to have come off on the whole as
victor in these combats, they did not perhaps have, on that account,
the less effect upon him. He knew it was true that he had done much
towards ruining his son; and he also could think of no other remedy
than matrimony. It was Frank's doom, pronounced even by the voice of
his father, that he must marry money.

And so, Frank went off again to Cambridge, feeling himself, as he
went, to be a much lesser man in Greshamsbury estimation than he had
been some two months earlier, when his birthday had been celebrated.
Once during his short stay at Greshamsbury he had seen the doctor;
but the meeting had been anything but pleasant. He had been afraid
to ask after Mary; and the doctor had been too diffident of himself
to speak of her. They had met casually on the road, and, though each
in his heart loved the other, the meeting had been anything but
pleasant.

And so Frank went back to Cambridge; and, as he did so, he stoutly
resolved that nothing should make him untrue to Mary Thorne.
"Beatrice," said he, on the morning he went away, when she came into
his room to superintend his packing--"Beatrice, if she ever talks
about me--"

"Oh, Frank, my darling Frank, don't think of it--it is madness; she
knows it is madness."

"Never mind; if she ever talks about me, tell her that the last word
I said was, that I would never forget her. She can do as she likes."

Beatrice made no promise, never hinted that she would give the
message; but it may be taken for granted that she had not been long
in company with Mary Thorne before she did give it.

And then there were other troubles at Greshamsbury. It had been
decided that Augusta's marriage was to take place in September; but
Mr Moffat had, unfortunately, been obliged to postpone the happy day.
He himself had told Augusta--not, of course, without protestations
as to his regret--and had written to this effect to Mr Gresham,
"Electioneering matters, and other troubles had," he said, "made this
peculiarly painful postponement absolutely necessary."

Augusta seemed to bear her misfortune with more equanimity than is,
we believe, usual with young ladies under such circumstances. She
spoke of it to her mother in a very matter-of-fact way, and seemed
almost contented at the idea of remaining at Greshamsbury till
February; which was the time now named for the marriage. But Lady
Arabella was not equally well satisfied, nor was the squire.

"I half believe that fellow is not honest," he had once said out loud
before Frank, and this set Frank a-thinking of what dishonesty in the
matter it was probable that Mr Moffat might be guilty, and what would
be the fitting punishment for such a crime. Nor did he think on the
subject in vain; especially after a conference on the matter which he
had with his friend Harry Baker. This conference took place during
the Christmas vacation.

It should be mentioned, that the time spent by Frank at Courcy Castle
had not done much to assist him in his views as to an early degree,
and that it had at last been settled that he should stay up at
Cambridge another year. When he came home at Christmas he found that
the house was not peculiarly lively. Mary was absent on a visit with
Miss Oriel. Both these young ladies were staying with Miss Oriel's
aunt, in the neighbourhood of London; and Frank soon learnt that
there was no chance that either of them would be home before his
return. No message had been left for him by Mary--none at least had
been left with Beatrice; and he began in his heart to accuse her of
coldness and perfidy;--not, certainly, with much justice, seeing that
she had never given him the slightest encouragement.

The absence of Patience Oriel added to the dullness of the place. It
was certainly hard upon Frank that all the attraction of the village
should be removed to make way and prepare for his return--harder,
perhaps, on them; for, to tell the truth, Miss Oriel's visit had been
entirely planned to enable her to give Mary a comfortable way of
leaving Greshamsbury during the time that Frank should remain at
home. Frank thought himself cruelly used. But what did Mr Oriel think
when doomed to eat his Christmas pudding alone, because the young
squire would be unreasonable in his love? What did the doctor think,
as he sat solitary by his deserted hearth--the doctor, who no
longer permitted himself to enjoy the comforts of the Greshamsbury
dining-table? Frank hinted and grumbled; talked to Beatrice of the
determined constancy of his love, and occasionally consoled himself
by a stray smile from some of the neighbouring belles. The black
horse was made perfect; the old grey pony was by no means discarded;
and much that was satisfactory was done in the sporting line. But
still the house was dull, and Frank felt that he was the cause of
its being so. Of the doctor he saw but little: he never came to
Greshamsbury unless to see Lady Arabella as doctor, or to be closeted
with the squire. There were no social evenings with him; no animated
confabulations at the doctor's house; no discourses between them,
as there had wont to be, about the merits of the different covers,
and the capacities of the different hounds. These were dull days on
the whole for Frank; and sad enough, we may say, for our friend the
doctor.

In February, Frank again went back to college; having settled with
Harry Baker certain affairs which weighed on his mind. He went back
to Cambridge, promising to be home on the 20th of the month, so as to
be present at his sister's wedding. A cold and chilling time had been
named for these hymeneal joys, but one not altogether unsuited to the
feelings of the happy pair. February is certainly not a warm month;
but with the rich it is generally a cosy, comfortable time. Good
fires, winter cheer, groaning tables, and warm blankets, make a
fictitious summer, which, to some tastes, is more delightful than
the long days and the hot sun. And some marriages are especially
winter matches. They depend for their charm on the same substantial
attractions: instead of heart beating to heart in sympathetic unison,
purse chinks to purse. The rich new furniture of the new abode is
looked to instead of the rapture of a pure embrace. The new carriage
is depended on rather than the new heart's companion; and the first
bright gloss, prepared by the upholsterer's hands, stands in lieu of
the rosy tints which young love lends to his true votaries.

Mr Moffat had not spent his Christmas at Greshamsbury. That eternal
election petition, those eternal lawyers, the eternal care of his
well-managed wealth, forbade him the enjoyment of any such pleasures.
He could not come to Greshamsbury for Christmas, nor yet for the
festivities of the new year; but now and then he wrote prettily
worded notes, sending occasionally a silver-gilt pencil-case, or a
small brooch, and informed Lady Arabella that he looked forward to
the 20th of February with great satisfaction. But, in the meanwhile,
the squire became anxious, and at last went up to London; and Frank,
who was at Cambridge, bought the heaviest cutting whip to be found in
that town, and wrote a confidential letter to Harry Baker.

Poor Mr Moffat! It is well known that none but the brave deserve the
fair; but thou, without much excuse for bravery, had secured for
thyself one who, at any rate, was fair enough for thee. Would it
not have been well hadst thou looked into thyself to see what real
bravery might be in thee, before thou hadst prepared to desert this
fair one thou hadst already won? That last achievement, one may say,
did require some special courage.

Poor Mr Moffat! It is wonderful that as he sat in that gig, going to
Gatherum Castle, planning how he would be off with Miss Gresham and
afterwards on with Miss Dunstable, it is wonderful that he should not
then have cast his eye behind him, and looked at that stalwart pair
of shoulders which were so close to his own back. As he afterwards
pondered on his scheme while sipping the duke's claret, it is odd
that he should not have observed the fiery pride of purpose and power
of wrath which was so plainly written on that young man's brow: or,
when he matured, and finished, and carried out his purpose, that he
did not think of that keen grasp which had already squeezed his own
hand with somewhat too warm a vigour, even in the way of friendship.

Poor Mr Moffat! it is probable that he forgot to think of Frank at
all as connected with his promised bride; it is probable that he
looked forward only to the squire's violence and the enmity of the
house of Courcy; and that he found from enquiry at his heart's
pulses, that he was man enough to meet these. Could he have guessed
what a whip Frank Gresham would have bought at Cambridge--could he
have divined what a letter would have been written to Harry Baker--it
is probable, nay, we think we may say certain, that Miss Gresham
would have become Mrs Moffat.

Miss Gresham, however, never did become Mrs Moffat. About two days
after Frank's departure for Cambridge--it is just possible that Mr
Moffat was so prudent as to make himself aware of the fact--but just
two days after Frank's departure, a very long, elaborate, and clearly
explanatory letter was received at Greshamsbury. Mr Moffat was quite
sure that Miss Gresham and her very excellent parents would do him
the justice to believe that he was not actuated, &c., &c., &c.
The long and the short of this was, that Mr Moffat signified his
intention of breaking off the match without offering any intelligible
reason.

Augusta again bore her disappointment well: not, indeed, without
sorrow and heartache, and inward, hidden tears; but still well. She
neither raved, nor fainted, nor walked about by moonlight alone. She
wrote no poetry, and never once thought of suicide. When, indeed, she
remembered the rosy-tinted lining, the unfathomable softness of that
Long-acre carriage, her spirit did for one moment give way; but, on
the whole, she bore it as a strong-minded woman and a de Courcy
should do.

But both Lady Arabella and the squire were greatly vexed. The former
had made the match, and the latter, having consented to it, had
incurred deeper responsibilities to enable him to bring it about.
The money which was to have been given to Mr Moffat was still to the
fore; but alas! how much, how much that he could ill spare, had been
thrown away on bridal preparations! It is, moreover, an unpleasant
thing for a gentleman to have his daughter jilted; perhaps peculiarly
so to have her jilted by a tailor's son.

Lady Arabella's woe was really piteous. It seemed to her as though
cruel fate were heaping misery after misery upon the wretched house
of Greshamsbury. A few weeks since things were going so well with
her! Frank then was all but the accepted husband of almost untold
wealth--so, at least, she was informed by her sister-in-law--whereas,
Augusta, was the accepted wife of wealth, not indeed untold, but of
dimensions quite sufficiently respectable to cause much joy in the
telling. Where now were her golden hopes? Where now the splendid
future of her poor duped children? Augusta was left to pine alone;
and Frank, in a still worse plight, insisted on maintaining his love
for a bastard and a pauper.

For Frank's affair she had received some poor consolation by laying
all the blame on the squire's shoulders. What she had then said
was now repaid to her with interest; for not only had she been the
maker of Augusta's match, but she had boasted of the deed with all a
mother's pride.

It was from Beatrice that Frank had obtained his tidings. This last
resolve on the part of Mr Moffat had not altogether been unsuspected
by some of the Greshams, though altogether unsuspected by the Lady
Arabella. Frank had spoken of it as a possibility to Beatrice,
and was not quite unprepared when the information reached him. He
consequently bought his big cutting whip, and wrote his confidential
letter to Harry Baker.

On the following day Frank and Harry might have been seen, with their
heads nearly close together, leaning over one of the tables in the
large breakfast-room at the Tavistock Hotel in Covent Garden. The
ominous whip, to the handle of which Frank had already made his hand
well accustomed, was lying on the table between them; and ever and
anon Harry Baker would take it up and feel its weight approvingly.
Oh, Mr Moffat! poor Mr Moffat! go not out into the fashionable world
to-day; above all, go not to that club of thine in Pall Mall; but,
oh! especially go not there, as is thy wont to do, at three o'clock
in the afternoon!

With much care did those two young generals lay their plans of
attack. Let it not for a moment be thought that it was ever in the
minds of either of them that two men should attack one. But it
was thought that Mr Moffat might be rather coy in coming out from
his seclusion to meet the proffered hand of his once intended
brother-in-law when he should see that hand armed with a heavy whip.
Baker, therefore, was content to act as a decoy duck, and remarked
that he might no doubt make himself useful in restraining the public
mercy, and, probably, in controlling the interference of policemen.

"It will be deuced hard if I can't get five or six shies at him,"
said Frank, again clutching his weapon almost spasmodically. Oh, Mr
Moffat! five or six shies with such a whip, and such an arm! For
myself, I would sooner join in a second Balaclava gallop than
encounter it.

At ten minutes before four these two heroes might be seen walking up
Pall Mall, towards the ---- Club. Young Baker walked with an eager
disengaged air. Mr Moffat did not know his appearance; he had,
therefore, no anxiety to pass along unnoticed. But Frank had in some
mysterious way drawn his hat very far over his forehead, and had
buttoned his shooting-coat up round his chin. Harry had recommended
to him a great-coat, in order that he might the better conceal his
face; but Frank had found that the great-coat was an encumbrance to
his arm. He put it on, and when thus clothed he had tried the whip,
he found that he cut the air with much less potency than in the
lighter garment. He contented himself, therefore, with looking down
on the pavement as he walked along, letting the long point of the
whip stick up from his pocket, and flattering himself that even Mr
Moffat would not recognise him at the first glance. Poor Mr Moffat!
If he had but had the chance!

And now, having arrived at the front of the club, the two friends for
a moment separate: Frank remains standing on the pavement, under the
shade of the high stone area-railing, while Harry jauntily skips up
three steps at a time, and with a very civil word of inquiry of the
hall porter, sends in his card to Mr Moffat--


   MR HARRY BAKER


Mr Moffat, never having heard of such a gentleman in his life,
unwittingly comes out into the hall, and Harry, with the sweetest
smile, addresses him.

Now the plan of the campaign had been settled in this wise: Baker
was to send into the club for Mr Moffat, and invite that gentleman
down into the street. It was probable that the invitation might
be declined; and it had been calculated in such case that the two
gentlemen would retire for parley into the strangers' room, which was
known to be immediately opposite the hall door. Frank was to keep his
eye on the portals, and if he found that Mr Moffat did not appear
as readily as might be desired, he also was to ascend the steps and
hurry into the strangers' room. Then, whether he met Mr Moffat there
or elsewhere, or wherever he might meet him, he was to greet him with
all the friendly vigour in his power, while Harry disposed of the
club porters.

But fortune, who ever favours the brave, specially favoured Frank
Gresham on this occasion. Just as Harry Baker had put his card
into the servant's hand, Mr Moffat, with his hat on, prepared for
the street, appeared in the hall; Mr Baker addressed him with his
sweetest smile, and begged the pleasure of saying a word or two as
they descended into the street. Had not Mr Moffat been going thither
it would have been very improbable that he should have done so at
Harry's instance. But, as it was, he merely looked rather solemn
at his visitor--it was his wont to look solemn--and continued the
descent of the steps.

Frank, his heart leaping the while, saw his prey, and retreated two
steps behind the area-railing, the dread weapon already well poised
in his hand. Oh! Mr Moffat! Mr Moffat! if there be any goddess to
interfere in thy favour, let her come forward now without delay; let
her now bear thee off on a cloud if there be one to whom thou art
sufficiently dear! But there is no such goddess.

Harry smiled blandly till they were well on the pavement, saying some
nothing, and keeping the victim's face averted from the avenging
angel; and then, when the raised hand was sufficiently nigh, he
withdrew two steps towards the nearest lamp-post. Not for him was the
honour of the interview;--unless, indeed, succouring policemen might
give occasion for some gleam of glory.

But succouring policemen were no more to be come by than goddesses.
Where were ye, men, when that savage whip fell about the ears of the
poor ex-legislator? In Scotland Yard, sitting dozing on your benches,
or talking soft nothings to the housemaids round the corner; for ye
were not walking on your beats, nor standing at coign of vantage, to
watch the tumults of the day. But had ye been there what could ye
have done? Had Sir Richard himself been on the spot Frank Gresham
would still, we may say, have had his five shies at that unfortunate
one.

When Harry Baker quickly seceded from the way, Mr Moffat at once saw
the fate before him. His hair doubtless stood on end, and his voice
refused to give the loud screech with which he sought to invoke the
club. An ashy paleness suffused his cheeks, and his tottering steps
were unable to bear him away in flight. Once, and twice, the cutting
whip came well down across his back. Had he been wise enough to stand
still and take his thrashing in that attitude, it would have been
well for him. But men so circumstanced have never such prudence.
After two blows he made a dash at the steps, thinking to get back
into the club; but Harry, who had by no means reclined in idleness
against the lamp-post, here stopped him: "You had better go back into
the street," said Harry; "indeed you had," giving him a shove from
off the second step.

Then of course Frank could not do other than hit him anywhere. When a
gentleman is dancing about with much energy it is hardly possible to
strike him fairly on his back. The blows, therefore, came now on his
legs and now on his head; and Frank unfortunately got more than his
five or six shies before he was interrupted.

The interruption however came, all too soon for Frank's idea of
justice. Though there be no policeman to take part in a London row,
there are always others ready enough to do so; amateur policemen,
who generally sympathise with the wrong side, and, in nine cases
out of ten, expend their generous energy in protecting thieves and
pickpockets. When it was seen with what tremendous ardour that
dread weapon fell about the ears of the poor undefended gentleman,
interference there was at last, in spite of Harry Baker's best
endeavours, and loudest protestations.

"Do not interrupt them, sir," said he; "pray do not. It is a family
affair, and they will neither of them like it."

In the teeth, however, of these assurances, rude people did
interfere, and after some nine or ten shies Frank found himself
encompassed by the arms, and encumbered by the weight of a very stout
gentleman, who hung affectionately about his neck and shoulders;
whereas, Mr Moffat was already receiving consolation from two
motherly females, sitting in a state of syncope on the good-natured
knees of a fishmonger's apprentice.

Frank was thoroughly out of breath: nothing came from his lips but
half-muttered expletives and unintelligible denunciations of the
iniquity of his foe. But still he struggled to be at him again. We
all know how dangerous is the taste of blood; now cruelty will become
a custom even with the most tender-hearted. Frank felt that he had
hardly fleshed his virgin lash: he thought, almost with despair, that
he had not yet at all succeeded as became a man and a brother; his
memory told him of but one or two of the slightest touches that had
gone well home to the offender. He made a desperate effort to throw
off that incubus round his neck and rush again to the combat.

"Harry--Harry; don't let him go--don't let him go," he barely
articulated.

"Do you want to murder the man, sir; to murder him?" said the stout
gentleman over his shoulder, speaking solemnly into his very ear.

"I don't care," said Frank, struggling manfully but uselessly. "Let
me out, I say; I don't care--don't let him go, Harry, whatever you
do."

"He has got it prettily tidily," said Harry; "I think that will
perhaps do for the present."

By this time there was a considerable concourse. The club steps were
crowded with the members; among whom there were many of Mr Moffat's
acquaintance. Policemen also now flocked up, and the question arose
as to what should be done with the originators of the affray. Frank
and Harry found that they were to consider themselves under a gentle
arrest, and Mr Moffat, in a fainting state, was carried into the
interior of the club.

Frank, in his innocence, had intended to have celebrated this little
affair when it was over by a light repast and a bottle of claret
with his friend, and then to have gone back to Cambridge by the mail
train. He found, however, that his schemes in this respect were
frustrated. He had to get bail to attend at Marlborough Street
police-office should he be wanted within the next two or three days;
and was given to understand that he would be under the eye of the
police, at any rate until Mr Moffat should be out of danger.

"Out of danger!" said Frank to his friend with a startled look.
"Why I hardly got at him." Nevertheless, they did have their slight
repast, and also their bottle of claret.

On the second morning after this occurrence, Frank was again sitting
in that public room at the Tavistock, and Harry was again sitting
opposite to him. The whip was not now so conspicuously produced
between them, having been carefully packed up and put away among
Frank's other travelling properties. They were so sitting, rather
glum, when the door swung open, and a heavy, quick step was heard
advancing towards them. It was the squire; whose arrival there had
been momentarily expected.

"Frank," said he--"Frank, what on earth is all this?" and as he spoke
he stretched out both hands, the right to his son and the left to his
friend.

"He has given a blackguard a licking, that is all," said Harry.

Frank felt that his hand was held with a peculiarly warm grasp; and
he could not but think that his father's face, raised though his
eyebrows were--though there was on it an intended expression of
amazement and, perhaps, regret--nevertheless he could not but think
that his father's face looked kindly at him.

"God bless my soul, my dear boy! what have you done to the man?"

"He's not a ha'porth the worse, sir," said Frank, still holding his
father's hand.

"Oh, isn't he!" said Harry, shrugging his shoulders. "He must be made
of some very tough article then."

"But my dear boys, I hope there's no danger. I hope there's no
danger."

"Danger!" said Frank, who could not yet induce himself to believe
that he had been allowed a fair chance with Mr Moffat.

"Oh, Frank! Frank! how could you be so rash? In the middle of Pall
Mall, too. Well! well! well! All the women down at Greshamsbury will
have it that you have killed him."

"I almost wish I had," said Frank.

"Oh, Frank! Frank! But now tell me--"

And then the father sat well pleased while he heard, chiefly from
Harry Baker, the full story of his son's prowess. And then they did
not separate without another slight repast and another bottle of
claret.

Mr Moffat retired to the country for a while, and then went abroad;
having doubtless learnt that the petition was not likely to give him
a seat for the city of Barchester. And this was the end of the wooing
with Miss Gresham.



CHAPTER XXII

Sir Roger Is Unseated


After this, little occurred at Greshamsbury, or among Greshamsbury
people, which it will be necessary for us to record. Some notice was,
of course, taking of Frank's prolonged absence from his college; and
tidings, perhaps exaggerated tidings, of what had happened in Pall
Mall were not slow to reach the High Street of Cambridge. But that
affair was gradually hushed up; and Frank went on with his studies.

He went back to his studies: it then being an understood arrangement
between him and his father that he should not return to Greshamsbury
till the summer vacation. On this occasion, the squire and Lady
Arabella had, strange to say, been of the same mind. They both wished
to keep their son away from Miss Thorne; and both calculated, that
at his age and with his disposition, it was not probable that any
passion would last out a six months' absence. "And when the summer
comes it will be an excellent opportunity for us to go abroad," said
Lady Arabella. "Poor Augusta will require some change to renovate her
spirits."

To this last proposition the squire did not assent. It was, however,
allowed to pass over; and this much was fixed, that Frank was not to
return home till midsummer.

It will be remembered that Sir Roger Scatcherd had been elected
as sitting member for the city of Barchester; but it will also be
remembered that a petition against his return was threatened. Had
that petition depended solely on Mr Moffat, Sir Roger's seat no doubt
would have been saved by Frank Gresham's cutting whip. But such
was not the case. Mr Moffat had been put forward by the de Courcy
interest; and that noble family with its dependants was not to go to
the wall because Mr Moffat had had a thrashing. No; the petition was
to go on; and Mr Nearthewinde declared, that no petition in his hands
had half so good a chance of success. "Chance, no, but certainty,"
said Mr Nearthewinde; for Mr Nearthewinde had learnt something with
reference to that honest publican and the payment of his little bill.

The petition was presented and duly backed; the recognisances were
signed, and all the proper formalities formally executed; and Sir
Roger found that his seat was in jeopardy. His return had been a
great triumph to him; and, unfortunately, he had celebrated that
triumph as he had been in the habit of celebrating most of the very
triumphant occasions of his life. Though he was than hardly yet
recovered from the effects of his last attack, he indulged in another
violent drinking bout; and, strange to say, did so without any
immediate visible bad effects.

In February he took his seat amidst the warm congratulations of
all men of his own class, and early in the month of April his case
came on for trial. Every kind of electioneering sin known to the
electioneering world was brought to his charge; he was accused of
falseness, dishonesty, and bribery of every sort: he had, it was said
in the paper of indictment, bought votes, obtained them by treating,
carried them off by violence, conquered them by strong drink, polled
them twice over, counted those of dead men, stolen them, forged them,
and created them by every possible, fictitious contrivance: there was
no description of wickedness appertaining to the task of procuring
votes of which Sir Roger had not been guilty, either by himself or
by his agents. He was quite horror-struck at the list of his own
enormities. But he was somewhat comforted when Mr Closerstil told him
that the meaning of it all was that Mr Romer, the barrister, had paid
a former bill due to Mr Reddypalm, the publican.

"I fear he was indiscreet, Sir Roger; I really fear he was. Those
young mean always are. Being energetic, they work like horses; but
what's the use of energy without discretion, Sir Roger?"

"But, Mr Closerstil, I knew nothing about it from first to last."

"The agency can be proved, Sir Roger," said Mr Closerstil, shaking
his head. And then there was nothing further to be said on the
matter.

In these days of snow-white purity all political delinquency is
abominable in the eyes of British politicians; but no delinquency is
so abominable as that of venality at elections. The sin of bribery is
damnable. It is the one sin for which, in the House of Commons, there
can be no forgiveness. When discovered, it should render the culprit
liable to political death, without hope of pardon. It is treason
against a higher throne than that on which the Queen sits. It is a
heresy which requires an _auto-da-fé_. It is a pollution to the whole
House, which can only be cleansed by a great sacrifice. Anathema
maranatha! out with it from amongst us, even though the half of our
heart's blood be poured forth in the conflict! out with it, and for
ever!

Such is the language of patriotic members with regard to bribery;
and doubtless, if sincere, they are in the right. It is a bad thing,
certainly, that a rich man should buy votes; bad also that a poor man
should sell them. By all means let us repudiate such a system with
heartfelt disgust.

With heartfelt disgust, if we can do so, by all means; but not with
disgust pretended only and not felt in the heart at all. The laws
against bribery at elections are now so stringent that an unfortunate
candidate may easily become guilty, even though actuated by the
purest intentions. But not the less on that account does any
gentleman, ambitious of the honour of serving his country in
Parliament, think it necessary as a preliminary measure to provide
a round sum of money at his banker's. A candidate must pay for no
treating, no refreshments, no band of music; he must give neither
ribbons to the girls nor ale to the men. If a huzza be uttered in
his favour, it is at his peril; it may be necessary for him to prove
before a committee that it was the spontaneous result of British
feeling in his favour, and not the purchased result of British beer.
He cannot safely ask any one to share his hotel dinner. Bribery hides
itself now in the most impalpable shapes, and may be effected by the
offer of a glass of sherry. But not the less on this account does a
poor man find that he is quite unable to overcome the difficulties of
a contested election.

We strain at our gnats with a vengeance, but we swallow our camels
with ease. For what purpose is it that we employ those peculiarly
safe men of business--Messrs Nearthewinde and Closerstil--when we
wish to win our path through all obstacles into that sacred recess,
if all be so open, all so easy, all so much above board? Alas! the
money is still necessary, is still prepared, or at any rate expended.
The poor candidate of course knows nothing of the matter till the
attorney's bill is laid before him, when all danger of petitions has
passed away. He little dreamed till then, not he, that there had been
banquetings and junketings, secret doings and deep drinkings at his
expense. Poor candidate! Poor member! Who was so ignorant as he!
'Tis true he has paid such bills before; but 'tis equally true that
he specially begged his managing friend, Mr Nearthewinde, to be
very careful that all was done according to law! He pays the bill,
however, and on the next election will again employ Mr Nearthewinde.

Now and again, at rare intervals, some glimpse into the inner
sanctuary does reach the eyes of ordinary mortal men without;
some slight accidental peep into those mysteries from whence
all corruption has been so thoroughly expelled; and then, how
delightfully refreshing is the sight, when, perhaps, some ex-member,
hurled from his paradise like a fallen peri, reveals the secret of
that pure heaven, and, in the agony of his despair, tells us all
that it cost him to sit for ---- through those few halcyon years!

But Mr Nearthewinde is a safe man, and easy to be employed with but
little danger. All these stringent bribery laws only enhance the
value of such very safe men as Mr Nearthewinde. To him, stringent
laws against bribery are the strongest assurance of valuable
employment. Were these laws of a nature to be evaded with ease, any
indifferent attorney might manage a candidate's affairs and enable
him to take his seat with security.

It would have been well for Sir Roger if he had trusted solely to
Mr Closerstil; well also for Mr Romer had he never fished in those
troubled waters. In due process of time the hearing of the petition
came on, and then who so happy, sitting at his ease at his London
Inn, blowing his cloud from a long pipe, with measureless content, as
Mr Reddypalm? Mr Reddypalm was the one great man of the contest. All
depended on Mr Reddypalm; and well he did his duty.

The result of the petition was declared by the committee to be as
follows:--that Sir Roger's election was null and void--that the
election altogether was null and void--that Sir Roger had, by his
agent, been guilty of bribery in obtaining a vote, by the payment
of a bill alleged to have been previously refused payment--that Sir
Roger himself knew nothing about it;--this is always a matter of
course;--but  that Sir Roger's agent, Mr Romer, had been wittingly
guilty of bribery with reference to the transaction above described.
Poor Sir Roger! Poor Mr Romer.

Poor Mr Romer indeed! His fate was perhaps as sad as well might be,
and as foul a blot to the purism of these very pure times in which
we live. Not long after those days, it so happening that some
considerable amount of youthful energy and quidnunc ability were
required to set litigation afloat at Hong-Kong, Mr Romer was sent
thither as the fittest man for such work, with rich assurance of
future guerdon. Who so happy then as Mr Romer! But even among the
pure there is room for envy and detraction. Mr Romer had not yet
ceased to wonder at new worlds, as he skimmed among the islands of
that southern ocean, before the edict had gone forth for his return.
There were men sitting in that huge court of Parliament on whose
breasts it lay as an intolerable burden, that England should be
represented among the antipodes by one who had tampered with the
purity of the franchise. For them there was no rest till this great
disgrace should be wiped out and atoned for. Men they were of that
calibre, that the slightest reflection on them of such a stigma
seemed to themselves to blacken their own character. They could not
break bread with satisfaction till Mr Romer was recalled. He was
recalled, and of course ruined--and the minds of those just men were
then at peace.

To any honourable gentleman who really felt his brow suffused with
a patriotic blush, as he thought of his country dishonoured by Mr
Romer's presence at Hong-Kong--to any such gentleman, if any such
there were, let all honour be given, even though the intensity of his
purity may create amazement to our less finely organised souls. But
if no such blush suffused the brow of any honourable gentleman; if Mr
Romer was recalled from quite other feelings--what then in lieu of
honour shall we allot to those honourable gentlemen who were most
concerned?

Sir Roger, however, lost his seat, and, after three months of the
joys of legislation, found himself reduced by a terrible blow to the
low level of private life.

And the blow to him was very heavy. Men but seldom tell the truth of
what is in them, even to their dearest friends; they are ashamed of
having feelings, or rather of showing that they are troubled by any
intensity of feeling. It is the practice of the time to treat all
pursuits as though they were only half important to us, as though
in what we desire we were only half in earnest. To be visibly eager
seems childish, and is always bad policy; and men, therefore,
nowadays, though they strive as hard as ever in the service of
ambition--harder than ever in that of mammon--usually do so with
a pleasant smile on, as though after all they were but amusing
themselves with the little matter in hand.

Perhaps it had been so with Sir Roger in those electioneering days
when he was looking for votes. At any rate, he had spoken of his seat
in Parliament as but a doubtful good. "He was willing, indeed, to
stand, having been asked; but the thing would interfere wonderfully
with his business; and then, what did he know about Parliament?
Nothing on earth: it was the maddest scheme, but nevertheless, he was
not going to hang back when called upon--he had always been rough and
ready when wanted,--and there he was now ready as ever, and rough
enough too, God knows."

'Twas thus that he had spoken of his coming parliamentary honours;
and men had generally taken him at his word. He had been returned,
and this success had been hailed as a great thing for the cause and
class to which he belonged. But men did not know that his inner heart
was swelling with triumph, and that his bosom could hardly contain
his pride as he reflected that the poor Barchester stone-mason was
now the representative in Parliament of his native city. And so, when
his seat was attacked, he still laughed and joked. "They were welcome
to it for him," he said; "he could keep it or want it; and of the
two, perhaps, the want of it would come most convenient to him. He
did not exactly think that he had bribed any one; but if the bigwigs
chose to say so, it was all one to him. He was rough and ready, now
as ever," &c., &c.

But when the struggle came, it was to him a fearful one; not the
less fearful because there was no one, no, not one friend in all the
world, to whom he could open his mind and speak out honestly what
was in his heart. To Dr Thorne he might perhaps have done so had his
intercourse with the doctor been sufficiently frequent; but it was
only now and again when he was ill, or when the squire wanted to
borrow money, that he saw Dr Thorne. He had plenty of friends, heaps
of friends in the parliamentary sense; friends who talked about
him, and lauded him at public meetings; who shook hands with him on
platforms, and drank his health at dinners; but he had no friend
who could sit with him over his own hearth, in true friendship, and
listen to, and sympathise with, and moderate the sighings of the
inner man. For him there was no sympathy; no tenderness of love; no
retreat, save into himself, from the loud brass band of the outer
world.

The blow hit him terribly hard. It did not come altogether
unexpectedly, and yet, when it did come, it was all but unendurable.
He had made so much of the power of walking into that august chamber,
and sitting shoulder to shoulder in legislative equality with the
sons of dukes and the curled darlings of the nation. Money had given
him nothing, nothing but the mere feeling of brute power: with his
three hundred thousand pounds he had felt himself to be no more
palpably near to the goal of his ambition than when he had chipped
stones for three shillings and sixpence a day. But when he was led up
and introduced at that table, when he shook the old premier's hand
on the floor of the House of Commons, when he heard the honourable
member for Barchester alluded to in grave debate as the greatest
living authority on railway matters, then, indeed, he felt that he
had achieved something.

And now this cup was ravished from his lips, almost before it was
tasted. When he was first told as a certainty that the decision of
the committee was against him, he bore up against the misfortune like
a man. He laughed heartily, and declared himself well rid of a very
profitless profession; cut some little joke about Mr Moffat and his
thrashing, and left on those around him an impression that he was
a man so constituted, so strong in his own resolves, so steadily
pursuant of his own work, that no little contentions of this kind
could affect him. Men admired his easy laughter, as, shuffling his
half-crowns with both his hands in his trouser-pockets, he declared
that Messrs Romer and Reddypalm were the best friends he had known
for this many a day.

But not the less did he walk out from the room in which he was
standing a broken-hearted man. Hope could not buoy him up as she may
do other ex-members in similarly disagreeable circumstances. He could
not afford to look forward to what further favours parliamentary
future might have in store for him after a lapse of five or six
years. Five or six years! Why, his life was not worth four years'
purchase; of that he was perfectly aware: he could not now live
without the stimulus of brandy; and yet, while he took it, he knew he
was killing himself. Death he did not fear; but he would fain have
wished, after his life of labour, to have lived, while yet he could
live, in the blaze of that high world to which for a moment he had
attained.

He laughed loud and cheerily as he left his parliamentary friends,
and, putting himself into the train, went down to Boxall Hill. He
laughed loud and cheerily; but he never laughed again. It had not
been his habit to laugh much at Boxall Hill. It was there he kept his
wife, and Mr Winterbones, and the brandy bottle behind his pillow. He
had not often there found it necessary to assume that loud and cheery
laugh.

On this occasion he was apparently well in health when he got home;
but both Lady Scatcherd and Mr Winterbones found him more than
ordinarily cross. He made an affectation at sitting very hard to
business, and even talked of going abroad to look at some of his
foreign contracts. But even Winterbones found that his patron did not
work as he had been wont to do; and at last, with some misgivings, he
told Lady Scatcherd that he feared that everything was not right.

"He's always at it, my lady, always," said Mr Winterbones.

"Is he?" said Lady Scatcherd, well understanding what Mr
Winterbones's allusion meant.

"Always, my lady. I never saw nothing like it. Now, there's me--I can
always go my half-hour when I've had my drop; but he, why, he don't
go ten minutes, not now."

This was not cheerful to Lady Scatcherd; but what was the poor woman
to do? When she spoke to him on any subject he only snarled at her;
and now that the heavy fit was on him, she did not dare even to
mention the subject of his drinking. She had never known him so
savage in his humour as he was now, so bearish in his habits, so
little inclined to humanity, so determined to rush headlong down,
with his head between his legs, into the bottomless abyss.

She thought of sending for Dr Thorne; but she did not know under what
guise to send for him,--whether as doctor or as friend: under neither
would he now be welcome; and she well knew that Sir Roger was not the
man to accept in good part either a doctor or a friend who might be
unwelcome. She knew that this husband of hers, this man who, with
all his faults, was the best of her friends, whom of all she loved
best--she knew that he was killing himself, and yet she could do
nothing. Sir Roger was his own master, and if kill himself he would,
kill himself he must.

And kill himself he did. Not indeed by one sudden blow. He did not
take one huge dose of his consuming poison and then fall dead upon
the floor. It would perhaps have been better for himself, and better
for those around him, had he done so. No; the doctors had time to
congregate around his bed; Lady Scatcherd was allowed a period of
nurse-tending; the sick man was able to say his last few words and
bid adieu to his portion of the lower world with dying decency. As
these last words will have some lasting effect upon the surviving
personages of our story, the reader must be content to stand for a
short while by the side of Sir Roger's sick-bed, and help us to bid
him God-speed on the journey which lies before him.



CHAPTER XXIII

Retrospective


It was declared in the early pages of this work that Dr Thorne was to
be our hero; but it would appear very much as though he had latterly
been forgotten. Since that evening when he retired to rest without
letting Mary share the grievous weight which was on his mind, we have
neither seen nor heard aught of him.

It was then full midsummer, and it now early spring: and during the
intervening months the doctor had not had a happy time of it. On that
night, as we have before told, he took his niece to his heart; but
he could not then bring himself to tell her that which it was so
imperative that she should know. Like a coward, he would put off
the evil hour till the next morning, and thus robbed himself of his
night's sleep.

But when the morning came the duty could not be postponed. Lady
Arabella had given him to understand that his niece would no longer
be a guest at Greshamsbury; and it was quite out of the question that
Mary, after this, should be allowed to put her foot within the gate
of the domain without having learnt what Lady Arabella had said. So
he told it her before breakfast, walking round their little garden,
she with her hand in his.

He was perfectly thunderstruck by the collected--nay, cool way in
which she received his tidings. She turned pale, indeed; he felt also
that her hand somewhat trembled in his own, and he perceived that
for a moment her voice shook; but no angry word escaped her lip, nor
did she even deign to repudiate the charge, which was, as it were,
conveyed in Lady Arabella's request. The doctor knew, or thought he
knew--nay, he did know--that Mary was wholly blameless in the matter:
that she had at least given no encouragement to any love on the part
of the young heir; but, nevertheless, he had expected that she would
avouch her own innocence. This, however, she by no means did.

"Lady Arabella is quite right," she said, "quite right; if she has
any fear of that kind, she cannot be too careful."

"She is a selfish, proud woman," said the doctor; "quite indifferent
to the feelings of others; quite careless how deeply she may hurt her
neighbours, if, in doing so, she may possibly benefit herself."

"She will not hurt me, uncle, nor yet you. I can live without going
to Greshamsbury."

"But it is not to be endured that she should dare to cast an
imputation on my darling."

"On me, uncle? She casts no imputation on me. Frank has been foolish:
I have said nothing of it, for it was not worth while to trouble you.
But as Lady Arabella chooses to interfere, I have no right to blame
her. He has said what he should not have said; he has been foolish.
Uncle, you know I could not prevent it."

"Let her send him away then, not you; let her banish him."

"Uncle, he is her son. A mother can hardly send her son away so
easily: could you send me away, uncle?"

He merely answered her by twining his arm round her waist and
pressing her to his side. He was well sure that she was badly
treated; and yet now that she so unaccountably took Lady Arabella's
part, he hardly knew how to make this out plainly to be the case.

"Besides, uncle, Greshamsbury is in a manner his own; how can he be
banished from his father's house? No, uncle; there is an end of my
visits there. They shall find that I will not thrust myself in their
way."

And then Mary, with a calm brow and steady gait, went in and made the
tea.

And what might be the feelings of her heart when she so sententiously
told her uncle that Frank had been foolish? She was of the same age
with him; as impressionable, though more powerful in hiding such
impressions,--as all women should be; her heart was as warm, her
blood as full of life, her innate desire for the companionship of
some much-loved object as strong as his. Frank had been foolish in
avowing his passion. No such folly as that could be laid at her door.
But had she been proof against the other folly? Had she been able to
walk heart-whole by his side, while he chatted his commonplaces about
love? Yes, they are commonplaces when we read of them in novels;
common enough, too, to some of us when we write them; but they are by
no means commonplace when first heard by a young girl in the rich,
balmy fragrance of a July evening stroll.

Nor are they commonplaces when so uttered for the first or second
time at least, or perhaps the third. 'Tis a pity that so heavenly a
pleasure should pall upon the senses.

If it was so that Frank's folly had been listened to with a certain
amount of pleasure, Mary did not even admit so much to herself. But
why should it have been otherwise? Why should she have been less
prone to love than he was? Had he not everything which girls do love?
which girls should love? which God created noble, beautiful, all but
godlike, in order that women, all but goddesslike, might love? To
love thoroughly, truly, heartily, with her whole body, soul, heart,
and strength; should not that be counted for a merit in a woman? And
yet we are wont to make a disgrace of it. We do so most unnaturally,
most unreasonably; for we expect our daughters to get themselves
married off our hands. When the period of that step comes, then love
is proper enough; but up to that--before that--as regards all those
preliminary passages which must, we suppose, be necessary--in all
those it becomes a young lady to be icy-hearted as a river-god in
winter.


   O whistle and I'll come to you, my lad!
   O whistle and I'll come to you, my lad!
   Tho' father and mither and a' should go mad,
   O whistle and I'll come to you, my lad!


This is the kind of love which a girl should feel before she puts her
hand proudly in that of her lover, and consents that they two shall
be made one flesh.

Mary felt no such love as this. She, too, had some inner perception
of that dread destiny by which it behoved Frank Gresham to be
forewarned. She, too--though she had never heard so much said in
words--had an almost instinctive knowledge that his fate required him
to marry money. Thinking over this in her own way, she was not slow
to convince herself that it was out of the question that she should
allow herself to love Frank Gresham. However well her heart might
be inclined to such a feeling, it was her duty to repress it. She
resolved, therefore, to do so; and she sometimes flattered herself
that she had kept her resolution.

These were bad times for the doctor, and bad times for Mary too. She
had declared that she could live without going to Greshamsbury; but
she did not find it so easy. She had been going to Greshamsbury all
her life, and it was as customary with her to be there as at home.
Such old customs are not broken without pain. Had she left the place
it would have been far different; but, as it was, she daily passed
the gates, daily saw and spoke to some of the servants, who knew her
as well as they did the young ladies of the family--was in hourly
contact, as it were, with Greshamsbury. It was not only that she
did not go there, but that everyone knew that she had suddenly
discontinued doing so. Yes, she could live without going to
Greshamsbury; but for some time she had but a poor life of it. She
felt, nay, almost heard, that every man and woman, boy and girl, in
the village was telling his and her neighbour that Mary Thorne no
longer went to the house because of Lady Arabella and the young
squire.

But Beatrice, of course, came to her. What was she to say to
Beatrice? The truth! Nay, but it is not always so easy to say the
truth, even to one's dearest friends.

"But you'll come up now he has gone?" said Beatrice.

"No, indeed," said Mary; "that would hardly be pleasant to Lady
Arabella, nor to me either. No, Trichy, dearest; my visits to dear
old Greshamsbury are done, done, done: perhaps in some twenty years'
time I may be walking down the lawn with your brother, and discussing
our childish days--that is, always, if the then Mrs Gresham shall
have invited me."

"How can Frank have been so wrong, so unkind, so cruel?" said
Beatrice.

This, however, was a light in which Miss Thorne did not take any
pleasure in discussing the matter. Her ideas of Frank's fault, and
unkindness, and cruelty, were doubtless different from those of his
sister. Such cruelty was not unnaturally excused in her eyes by many
circumstances which Beatrice did not fully understand. Mary was quite
ready to go hand in hand with Lady Arabella and the rest of the
Greshamsbury fold in putting an end, if possible, to Frank's passion:
she would give no one a right to accuse her of assisting to ruin the
young heir; but she could hardly bring herself to admit that he was
so very wrong--no, nor yet even so very cruel.

And then the squire came to see her, and this was a yet harder trial
than the visit of Beatrice. It was so difficult for her to speak to
him that she could not but wish him away; and yet, had he not come,
had he altogether neglected her, she would have felt it to be unkind.
She had ever been his pet, had always received kindness from him.

"I am sorry for all this, Mary; very sorry," said he, standing up,
and holding both her hands in his.

"It can't be helped, sir," said she, smiling.

"I don't know," said he; "I don't know--it ought to be helped
somehow--I am quite sure you have not been to blame."

"No," said she, very quietly, as though the position was one quite
a matter of course. "I don't think I have been very much to blame.
There will be misfortunes sometimes when nobody is to blame."

"I do not quite understand it all," said the squire; "but if Frank--"

"Oh! we will not talk about him," said she, still laughing gently.

"You can understand, Mary, how dear he must be to me; but if--"

"Mr Gresham, I would not for worlds be the cause of any
unpleasantness between you and him."

"But I cannot bear to think that we have banished you, Mary."

"It cannot be helped. Things will all come right in time."

"But you will be so lonely here."

"Oh! I shall get over all that. Here, you know, Mr Gresham, 'I am
monarch of all I survey;' and there is a great deal in that."

The squire did not quite catch her meaning, but a glimmering of it
did reach him. It was competent to Lady Arabella to banish her from
Greshamsbury; it was within the sphere of the squire's duties to
prohibit his son from an imprudent match; it was for the Greshams to
guard their Greshamsbury treasure as best they could within their
own territories: but let them beware that they did not attack her on
hers. In obedience to the first expression of their wishes, she had
submitted herself to this public mark of their disapproval because
she had seen at once, with her clear intellect, that they were only
doing that which her conscience must approve. Without a murmur,
therefore, she consented to be pointed at as the young lady who had
been turned out of Greshamsbury because of the young squire. She had
no help for it. But let them take care that they did not go beyond
that. Outside those Greshamsbury gates she and Frank Gresham, she
and Lady Arabella met on equal terms; let them each fight their own
battle.

The squire kissed her forehead affectionately and took his leave,
feeling, somehow, that he had been excused and pitied, and made much
of; whereas he had called on his young neighbour with the intention
of excusing, and pitying, and making much of her. He was not
quite comfortable as he left the house; but, nevertheless, he was
sufficiently honest-hearted to own to himself that Mary Thorne was a
fine girl. Only that it was so absolutely necessary that Frank should
marry money--and only, also, that poor Mary was such a birthless
foundling in the world's esteem--only, but for these things, what a
wife she would have made for that son of his!

To one person only did she talk freely on the subject, and that one
was Patience Oriel; and even with her the freedom was rather of the
mind than of the heart. She never said a word of her feeling with
reference to Frank, but she said much of her position in the village,
and of the necessity she was under to keep out of the way.

"It is very hard," said Patience, "that the offence should be all
with him, and the punishment all with you."

"Oh! as for that," said Mary, laughing, "I will not confess to any
offence, nor yet to any punishment; certainly not to any punishment."

"It comes to the same thing in the end."

"No, not so, Patience; there is always some little sting of disgrace
in punishment: now I am not going to hold myself in the least
disgraced."

"But, Mary, you must meet the Greshams sometimes."

"Meet them! I have not the slightest objection on earth to meet all,
or any of them. They are not a whit dangerous to me, my dear. 'Tis
I that am the wild beast, and 'tis they that must avoid me," and
then she added, after a pause--slightly blushing--"I have not the
slightest objection even to meet him if chance brings him in my way.
Let them look to that. My undertaking goes no further than this, that
I will not be seen within their gates."

But the girls so far understood each other that Patience undertook,
rather than promised, to give Mary what assistance she could; and,
despite Mary's bravado, she was in such a position that she much
wanted the assistance of such a friend as Miss Oriel.

After an absence of some six weeks, Frank, as we have seen, returned
home. Nothing was said to him, except by Beatrice, as to these new
Greshamsbury arrangements; and he, when he found Mary was not at the
place, went boldly to the doctor's house to seek her. But it has been
seen, also, that she discreetly kept out of his way. This she had
thought fit to do when the time came, although she had been so ready
with her boast that she had no objection on earth to meet him.

After that there had been the Christmas vacation, and Mary had again
found discretion to be the better part of valour. This was doubtless
disagreeable enough. She had no particular wish to spend her
Christmas with Miss Oriel's aunt instead of at her uncle's fireside.
Indeed, her Christmas festivities had hitherto been kept at
Greshamsbury, the doctor and herself having made a part of the family
circle there assembled. This was out of the question now; and perhaps
the absolute change to old Miss Oriel's house was better for her than
the lesser change to her uncle's drawing-room. Besides, how could she
have demeaned herself when she met Frank in their parish church? All
this had been fully understood by Patience, and, therefore, had this
Christmas visit been planned.

And then this affair of Frank and Mary Thorne ceased for a while to
be talked of at Greshamsbury, for that other affair of Mr Moffat and
Augusta monopolised the rural attention. Augusta, as we have said,
bore it well, and sustained the public gaze without much flinching.
Her period of martyrdom, however, did not last long, for soon
the news arrived of Frank's exploit in Pall Mall; and then the
Greshamsburyites forgot to think much more of Augusta, being fully
occupied in thinking of what Frank had done.

The tale, as it was first told, declared the Frank had followed Mr
Moffat up into his club; had dragged him thence into the middle of
Pall Mall, and had then slaughtered him on the spot. This was by
degrees modified till a sobered fiction became generally prevalent,
that Mr Moffat was lying somewhere, still alive, but with all his
bones in a general state of compound fracture. This adventure again
brought Frank into the ascendant, and restored to Mary her former
position as the Greshamsbury heroine.

"One cannot wonder at his being very angry," said Beatrice,
discussing the matter with Mary--very imprudently.

"Wonder--no; the wonder would have been if he had not been angry. One
might have been quite sure that he would have been angry enough."

"I suppose it was not absolutely right for him to beat Mr Moffat,"
said Beatrice, apologetically.

"Not right, Trichy? I think he was very right."

"Not to beat him so very much, Mary!"

"Oh, I suppose a man can't exactly stand measuring how much he does
these things. I like your brother for what he has done, and I say
so frankly--though I suppose I ought to eat my tongue out before I
should say such a thing, eh, Trichy?"

"I don't know that there's any harm in that," said Beatrice,
demurely. "If you both liked each other there would be no harm in
that--if that were all."

"Wouldn't there?" said Mary, in a low tone of bantering satire; "that
is so kind, Trichy, coming from you--from one of the family, you
know."

"You are well aware, Mary, that if I could have my wishes--"

"Yes: I am well aware what a paragon of goodness you are. If you
could have your way I should be admitted into heaven again; shouldn't
I? Only with this proviso, that if a stray angel should ever whisper
to me with bated breath, mistaking me, perchance, for one of his own
class, I should be bound to close my ears to his whispering, and
remind him humbly that I was only a poor mortal. You would trust me
so far, wouldn't you, Trichy?"

"I would trust you in any way, Mary. But I think you are unkind in
saying such things to me."

"Into whatever heaven I am admitted, I will go only on this
understanding: that I am to be as good an angel as any of those
around me."

"But, Mary dear, why do you say this to me?"

"Because--because--because--ah me! Why, indeed, but because I have no
one else to say it to. Certainly not because you have deserved it."

"It seems as though you were finding fault with me."

"And so I am; how can I do other than find fault? How can I help
being sore? Trichy, you hardly realise my position; you hardly see
how I am treated; how I am forced to allow myself to be treated
without a sign of complaint. You don't see it all. If you did, you
would not wonder that I should be sore."

Beatrice did not quite see it all; but she saw enough of it to know
that Mary was to be pitied; so, instead of scolding her friend
for being cross, she threw her arms round her and kissed her
affectionately.

But the doctor all this time suffered much more than his niece did.
He could not complain out loudly; he could not aver that his pet lamb
had been ill treated; he could not even have the pleasure of openly
quarrelling with Lady Arabella; but not the less did he feel it to
be most cruel that Mary should have to live before the world as an
outcast, because it had pleased Frank Gresham to fall in love with
her.

But his bitterness was not chiefly against Frank. That Frank had been
very foolish he could not but acknowledge; but it was a kind of folly
for which the doctor was able to find excuse. For Lady Arabella's
cold propriety he could find no excuse.

With the squire he had spoken no word on the subject up to this
period of which we are now writing. With her ladyship he had never
spoken on it since that day when she had told him that Mary was
to come no more to Greshamsbury. He never now dined or spent his
evenings at Greshamsbury, and seldom was to be seen at the house,
except when called in professionally. The squire, indeed, he
frequently met; but he either did so in the village, or out on
horseback, or at his own house.

When the doctor first heard that Sir Roger had lost his seat, and had
returned to Boxall Hill, he resolved to go over and see him. But the
visit was postponed from day to day, as visits are postponed which
may be made any day, and he did not in fact go till he was summoned
there somewhat peremptorily. A message was brought to him one evening
to say that Sir Roger had been struck by paralysis, and that not a
moment was to be lost.

"It always happens at night," said Mary, who had more sympathy for
the living uncle whom she did know, than for the other dying uncle
whom she did not know.

"What matters?--there--just give me my scarf. In all probability I
may not be home to-night--perhaps not till late to-morrow. God bless
you, Mary!" and away the doctor went on his cold bleak ride to Boxall
Hill.

"Who will be his heir?" As the doctor rode along, he could not quite
rid his mind of this question. The poor man now about to die had
wealth enough to make many heirs. What if his heart should have
softened towards his sister's child! What if Mary should be found in
a few days to be possessed of such wealth that the Greshams should be
again be happy to welcome her at Greshamsbury!

The doctor was not a lover of money--and he did his best to get rid
of such pernicious thoughts. But his longings, perhaps, were not so
much that Mary should be rich, as that she should have the power of
heaping coals of fire upon the heads of those people who had so
injured her.



CHAPTER XXIV

Louis Scatcherd


When Dr Thorne reached Boxall Hill he found Mr Rerechild from
Barchester there before him. Poor Lady Scatcherd, when her husband
was stricken by the fit, hardly knew in her dismay what adequate
steps to take. She had, as a matter of course, sent for Dr Thorne;
but she had thought that in so grave a peril the medical skill of no
one man could suffice. It was, she knew, quite out of the question
for her to invoke the aid of Dr Fillgrave, whom no earthly persuasion
would have brought to Boxall Hill; and as Mr Rerechild was supposed
in the Barchester world to be second--though at a long interval--to
that great man, she had applied for his assistance.

Now Mr Rerechild was a follower and humble friend of Dr Fillgrave;
and was wont to regard anything that came from the Barchester doctor
as sure light from the lamp of Æsculapius. He could not therefore be
other than an enemy of Dr Thorne. But he was a prudent, discreet man,
with a long family, averse to professional hostilities, as knowing
that he could make more by medical friends than medical foes, and
not at all inclined to take up any man's cudgel to his own detriment.
He had, of course, heard of that dreadful affront which had been
put upon his friend, as had all the "medical world"--all the
medical world at least of Barsetshire; and he had often expressed
his sympathy with Dr Fillgrave and his abhorrence of Dr Thorne's
anti-professional practices. But now that he found himself about to
be brought in contact with Dr Thorne, he reflected that the Galen
of Greshamsbury was at any rate equal in reputation to him of
Barchester; that the one was probably on the rise, whereas the other
was already considered by some as rather antiquated; and he therefore
wisely resolved that the present would be an excellent opportunity
for him to make a friend of Dr Thorne.

Poor Lady Scatcherd had an inkling that Dr Fillgrave and Mr Rerechild
were accustomed to row in the same boat, and she was not altogether
free from fear that there might be an outbreak. She therefore took
an opportunity before Dr Thorne's arrival to deprecate any wrathful
tendency.

"Oh, Lady Scatcherd! I have the greatest respect for Dr Thorne,"
said he; "the greatest possible respect; a most skilful
practitioner--something brusque certainly, and perhaps a little
obstinate. But what then? we all have our faults, Lady Scatcherd."

"Oh--yes; we all have, Mr Rerechild; that's certain."

"There's my friend Fillgrave--Lady Scatcherd. He cannot bear anything
of that sort. Now I think he's wrong; and so I tell him." Mr
Rerechild was in error here; for he had never yet ventured to tell Dr
Fillgrave that he was wrong in anything. "We must bear and forbear,
you know. Dr Thorne is an excellent man--in his way very excellent,
Lady Scatcherd."

This little conversation took place after Mr Rerechild's first visit
to his patient: what steps were immediately taken for the relief of
the sufferer we need not describe. They were doubtless well intended,
and were, perhaps, as well adapted to stave off the coming evil day
as any that Dr Fillgrave, or even the great Sir Omicron Pie might
have used.

And then Dr Thorne arrived.

"Oh, doctor! doctor!" exclaimed Lady Scatcherd, almost hanging round
his neck in the hall. "What are we to do? What are we to do? He's
very bad."

"Has he spoken?"

"No; nothing like a word: he has made one or two muttered sounds;
but, poor soul, you could make nothing of it--oh, doctor! doctor! he
has never been like this before."

It was easy to see where Lady Scatcherd placed any such faith as she
might still have in the healing art. "Mr Rerechild is here and has
seen him," she continued. "I thought it best to send for two, for
fear of accidents. He has done something--I don't know what. But,
doctor, do tell the truth now; I look to you to tell me the truth."

Dr Thorne then went up and saw his patient; and had he literally
complied with Lady Scatcherd's request, he might have told her at
once that there was no hope. As, however, he had not the heart to do
this, he mystified the case as doctors so well know how to do, and
told her that "there was cause to fear, great cause for fear; he was
sorry to say, very great cause for much fear."

Dr Thorne promised to stay the night there, and, if possible, the
following night also; and then Lady Scatcherd became troubled in her
mind as to what she should do with Mr Rerechild. He also declared,
with much medical humanity, that, let the inconvenience be what it
might, he too would stay the night. "The loss," he said, "of such a
man as Sir Roger Scatcherd was of such paramount importance as to
make other matters trivial. He would certainly not allow the whole
weight to fall on the shoulders of his friend Dr Thorne: he also
would stay at any rate that night by the sick man's bedside. By the
following morning some change might be expected."

"I say, Dr Thorne," said her ladyship, calling the doctor into the
housekeeping-room, in which she and Hannah spent any time that they
were not required upstairs; "just come in, doctor: you couldn't tell
him we don't want him any more, could you?"

"Tell whom?" said the doctor.

"Why--Mr Rerechild: mightn't he go away, do you think?"

Dr Thorne explained that Mr Rerechild certainly might go away if he
pleased; but that it would by no means be proper for one doctor to
tell another to leave the house. And so Mr Rerechild was allowed to
share the glories of the night.

In the meantime the patient remained speechless; but it soon became
evident that Nature was using all her efforts to make one final
rally. From time to time he moaned and muttered as though he was
conscious, and it seemed as though he strove to speak. He gradually
became awake, at any rate to suffering, and Dr Thorne began to think
that the last scene would be postponed for yet a while longer.

"Wonderful strong constitution--eh, Dr Thorne? wonderful!" said Mr
Rerechild.

"Yes; he has been a strong man."

"Strong as a horse, Dr Thorne. Lord, what that man would have been if
he had given himself a chance! You know his constitution of course."

"Yes; pretty well. I've attended him for many years."

"Always drinking, I suppose; always at it--eh?"

"He has not been a temperate man, certainly."

"The brain, you see, clean gone--and not a particle of coating left
to the stomach; and yet what a struggle he makes--an interesting
case, isn't it?"

"It's very sad to see such an intellect so destroyed."

"Very sad, very sad indeed. How Fillgrave would have liked to have
seen this case. He is a clever man, is Fillgrave--in his way, you
know."

"I'm sure he is," said Dr Thorne.

"Not that he'd make anything of a case like this now--he's not, you
know, quite--quite--perhaps not quite up to the new time of day, if
one may say so."

"He has had a very extensive provincial practice," said Dr Thorne.

"Oh, very--very; and made a tidy lot of money too, has Fillgrave.
He's worth six thousand pounds, I suppose; now that's a good deal of
money to put by in a little town like Barchester."

"Yes, indeed."

"What I say to Fillgrave is this--keep your eyes open; one should
never be too old to learn--there's always something new worth picking
up. But, no--he won't believe that. He can't believe that any new
ideas can be worth anything. You know a man must go to the wall in
that way--eh, doctor?"

And then again they were called to their patient. "He's doing finely,
finely," said Mr Rerechild to Lady Scatcherd. "There's fair ground to
hope he'll rally; fair ground, is there not, doctor?"

"Yes; he'll rally; but how long that may last, that we can hardly
say."

"Oh, no, certainly not, certainly not--that is not with any
certainty; but still he's doing finely, Lady Scatcherd, considering
everything."

"How long will you give him, doctor?" said Mr Rerechild to his new
friend, when they were again alone. "Ten days? I dare say ten days,
or from that to a fortnight, not more; but I think he'll struggle on
ten days."

"Perhaps so," said the doctor. "I should not like to say exactly to
a day."

"No, certainly not. We cannot say exactly to a day; but I say ten
days; as for anything like a recovery, that you know--"

"Is out of the question," said Dr Thorne, gravely.

"Quite so; quite so; coating of the stomach clean gone, you know;
brain destroyed: did you observe the periporollida? I never saw
them so swelled before: now when the periporollida are swollen like
that--"

"Yes, very much; it's always the case when paralysis has been brought
about by intemperance."

"Always, always; I have remarked that always; the periporollida in
such cases are always extended; most interesting case, isn't it? I do
wish Fillgrave could have seen it. But, I believe you and Fillgrave
don't quite--eh?"

"No, not quite," said Dr Thorne; who, as he thought of his last
interview with Dr Fillgrave, and of that gentleman's exceeding anger
as he stood in the hall below, could not keep himself from smiling,
sad as the occasion was.

Nothing would induce Lady Scatcherd to go to bed; but the two doctors
agreed to lie down, each in a room on one side of the patient. How
was it possible that anything but good should come to him, being so
guarded? "He is going on finely, Lady Scatcherd, quite finely," were
the last words Mr Rerechild said as he left the room.

And then Dr Thorne, taking Lady Scatcherd's hand and leading her out
into another chamber, told her the truth.

"Lady Scatcherd," said he, in his tenderest voice--and his voice
could be very tender when occasion required it--"Lady Scatcherd, do
not hope; you must not hope; it would be cruel to bid you do so."

"Oh, doctor! oh, doctor!"

"My dear friend, there is no hope."

"Oh, Dr Thorne!" said the wife, looking wildly up into her
companion's face, though she hardly yet realised the meaning of what
he said, although her senses were half stunned by the blow.

"Dear Lady Scatcherd, is it not better that I should tell you the
truth?"

"Oh, I suppose so; oh yes, oh yes; ah me! ah me! ah me!" And then she
began rocking herself backwards and forwards on her chair, with her
apron up to her eyes. "What shall I do? what shall I do?"

"Look to Him, Lady Scatcherd, who only can make such grief
endurable."

"Yes, yes, yes; I suppose so. Ah me! ah me! But, Dr Thorne, there
must be some chance--isn't there any chance? That man says he's going
on so well."

"I fear there is no chance--as far as my knowledge goes there is no
chance."

"Then why does that chattering magpie tell such lies to a woman? Ah
me! ah me! ah me! oh, doctor! doctor! what shall I do? what shall I
do?" and poor Lady Scatcherd, fairly overcome by her sorrow, burst
out crying like a great school-girl.

And yet what had her husband done for her that she should thus weep
for him? Would not her life be much more blessed when this cause of
all her troubles should be removed from her? Would she not then be a
free woman instead of a slave? Might she not then expect to begin to
taste the comforts of life? What had that harsh tyrant of hers done
that was good or serviceable for her? Why should she thus weep for
him in paroxysms of truest grief?

We hear a good deal of jolly widows; and the slanderous raillery of
the world tells much of conjugal disturbances as a cure for which
women will look forward to a state of widowhood with not unwilling
eyes. The raillery of the world is very slanderous. In our daily
jests we attribute to each other vices of which neither we, nor our
neighbours, nor our friends, nor even our enemies are ever guilty.
It is our favourite parlance to talk of the family troubles of Mrs
Green on our right, and to tell how Mrs Young on our left is strongly
suspected of having raised her hand to her lord and master. What
right have we to make these charges? What have we seen in our own
personal walks through life to make us believe that women are devils?
There may possibly have been a Xantippe here and there, but Imogenes
are to be found under every bush. Lady Scatcherd, in spite of the
life she had led, was one of them.

"You should send a message up to London for Louis," said the doctor.

"We did that, doctor; we did that to-day--we sent up a telegraph. Oh
me! oh me! poor boy, what will he do? I shall never know what to do
with him, never! never!" And with such sorrowful wailings she sat
rocking herself through the long night, every now and then comforting
herself by the performance of some menial service in the sick man's
room.

Sir Roger passed the night much as he had passed the day, except
that he appeared gradually to be growing nearer to a state of
consciousness. On the following morning they succeeded at last in
making Mr Rerechild understand that they were not desirous of keeping
him longer from his Barchester practice; and at about twelve o'clock
Dr Thorne also went, promising that he would return in the evening,
and again pass the night at Boxall Hill.

In the course of the afternoon Sir Roger once more awoke to his
senses, and when he did so his son was standing at his bedside. Louis
Philippe Scatcherd--or as it may be more convenient to call him,
Louis--was a young man just of the age of Frank Gresham. But there
could hardly be two youths more different in their appearance. Louis,
though his father and mother were both robust persons, was short and
slight, and now of a sickly frame. Frank was a picture of health
and strength; but, though manly in disposition, was by no means
precocious either in appearance or manners. Louis Scatcherd looked
as though he was four years the other's senior. He had been sent to
Eton when he was fifteen, his father being under the impression that
this was the most ready and best-recognised method of making him a
gentleman. Here he did not altogether fail as regarded the coveted
object of his becoming the companion of gentlemen. He had more
pocket-money than any other lad in the school, and was possessed also
of a certain effrontery which carried him ahead among boys of his own
age. He gained, therefore, a degree of éclat, even among those who
knew, and very frequently said to each other, that young Scatcherd
was not fit to be their companion except on such open occasions as
those of cricket-matches and boat-races. Boys, in this respect, are
at least as exclusive as men, and understand as well the difference
between an inner and an outer circle. Scatcherd had many companions
at school who were glad enough to go up to Maidenhead with him in his
boat; but there was not one among them who would have talked to him
of his sister.

Sir Roger was vastly proud of his son's success, and did his best
to stimulate it by lavish expenditure at the Christopher, whenever
he could manage to run down to Eton. But this practice, though
sufficiently unexceptionable to the boys, was not held in equal
delight by the masters. To tell the truth, neither Sir Roger nor his
son were favourites with these stern custodians. At last it was felt
necessary to get rid of them both; and Louis was not long in giving
them an opportunity, by getting tipsy twice in one week. On the
second occasion he was sent away, and he and Sir Roger, though long
talked of, were seen no more at Eton.

But the universities were still open to Louis Philippe, and before he
was eighteen he was entered as a gentleman-commoner at Trinity. As he
was, moreover, the eldest son of a baronet, and had almost unlimited
command of money, here also he was enabled for a while to shine.

To shine! but very fitfully; and one may say almost with a ghastly
glare. The very lads who had eaten his father's dinners at Eton, and
shared his four-oar at Eton, knew much better than to associate with
him at Cambridge now that they had put on the _toga virilis_. They
were still as prone as ever to fun, frolic, and devilry--perhaps more
so than ever, seeing that more was in their power; but they acquired
an idea that it behoved them to be somewhat circumspect as to the men
with whom their pranks were perpetrated. So, in those days, Louis
Scatcherd was coldly looked on by his whilom Eton friends.

But young Scatcherd did not fail to find companions at Cambridge
also. There are few places indeed in which a rich man cannot buy
companionship. But the set with whom he lived at Cambridge were the
worst of the place. They were fast, slang men, who were fast and
slang, and nothing else--men who imitated grooms in more than their
dress, and who looked on the customary heroes of race-courses as the
highest lords of the ascendant upon earth. Among those at college
young Scatcherd did shine as long as such lustre was permitted him.
Here, indeed, his father, who had striven only to encourage him at
Eton, did strive somewhat to control him. But that was not now easy.
If he limited his son's allowance, he only drove him to do his
debauchery on credit. There were plenty to lend money to the son of
the great millionaire; and so, after eighteen months' trial of a
university education, Sir Roger had no alternative but to withdraw
his son from his _alma mater_.

What was he then to do with him? Unluckily it was considered quite
unnecessary to take any steps towards enabling him to earn his
bread. Now nothing on earth can be more difficult than bringing up
well a young man who has not to earn his own bread, and who has no
recognised station among other men similarly circumstanced. Juvenile
dukes, and sprouting earls, find their duties and their places as
easily as embryo clergymen and sucking barristers. Provision is
made for their peculiar positions: and, though they may possibly go
astray, they have a fair chance given to them of running within the
posts. The same may be said of such youths as Frank Gresham. There
are enough of them in the community to have made it necessary that
their well-being should be a matter of care and forethought. But
there are but few men turned out in the world in the position of
Louis Scatcherd; and, of those few, but very few enter the real
battle of life under good auspices.

Poor Sir Roger, though he had hardly time with all his multitudinous
railways to look into this thoroughly, had a glimmering of it. When
he saw his son's pale face, and paid his wine bills, and heard of his
doings in horse-flesh, he did know that things were not going well;
he did understand that the heir to a baronetcy and a fortune of some
ten thousand a year might be doing better. But what was he to do? He
could not watch over his boy himself; so he took a tutor for him and
sent him abroad.

Louis and the tutor got as far as Berlin, with what mutual
satisfaction to each other need not be specially described. But from
Berlin Sir Roger received a letter in which the tutor declined to go
any further in the task which he had undertaken. He found that he
had no influence over his pupil, and he could not reconcile it to
his conscience to be the spectator of such a life as that which Mr
Scatcherd led. He had no power in inducing Mr Scatcherd to leave
Berlin; but he would remain there himself till he should hear from
Sir Roger. So Sir Roger had to leave the huge Government works which
he was then erecting on the southern coast, and hurry off to Berlin
to see what could be done with young Hopeful.

The young Hopeful was by no means a fool; and in some matters was
more than a match for his father. Sir Roger, in his anger, threatened
to cast him off without a shilling. Louis, with mixed penitence and
effrontery, reminded him that he could not change the descent of the
title; promised amendment; declared that he had done only as do other
young men of fortune; and hinted that the tutor was a strait-laced
ass. The father and the son returned together to Boxall Hill, and
three months afterwards Mr Scatcherd set up for himself in London.

And now his life, if not more virtuous, was more crafty than it had
been. He had no tutor to watch his doings and complain of them, and
he had sufficient sense to keep himself from absolute pecuniary ruin.
He lived, it is true, where sharpers and blacklegs had too often
opportunities of plucking him; but, young as he was, he had been
sufficiently long about the world to take care he was not openly
robbed; and as he was not openly robbed, his father, in a certain
sense, was proud of him.

Tidings, however, came--came at least in those last days--which cut
Sir Roger to the quick; tidings of vice in the son which the father
could not but attribute to his own example. Twice the mother was
called up to the sick-bed of her only child, while he lay raving in
that horrid madness by which the outraged mind avenges itself on the
body! Twice he was found raging in delirium tremens, and twice the
father was told that a continuance of such life must end in an early
death.

It may easily be conceived that Sir Roger was not a happy man. Lying
there with that brandy bottle beneath his pillow, reflecting in his
moments of rest that that son of his had his brandy bottle beneath
his pillow, he could hardly have been happy. But he was not a man to
say much about his misery. Though he could restrain neither himself
nor his heir, he could endure in silence; and in silence he did
endure, till, opening his eyes to the consciousness of death, he at
last spoke a few words to the only friend he knew.

Louis Scatcherd was not a fool, nor was he naturally, perhaps, of a
depraved disposition; but he had to reap the fruits of the worst
education which England was able to give him. There were moments in
his life when he felt that a better, a higher, nay, a much happier
career was open to him than that which he had prepared himself to
lead. Now and then he would reflect what money and rank might have
done for him; he would look with wishful eyes to the proud doings of
others of his age; would dream of quiet joys, of a sweet wife, of a
house to which might be asked friends who were neither jockeys nor
drunkards; he would dream of such things in his short intervals of
constrained sobriety; but the dream would only serve to make him
moody.

This was the best side of his character; the worst, probably, was
that which was brought into play by the fact that he was not a fool.
He would have a better chance of redemption in this world--perhaps
also in another--had he been a fool. As it was, he was no fool: he
was not to be done, not he; he knew, no one better, the value of
a shilling; he knew, also, how to keep his shillings, and how to
spend them. He consorted much with blacklegs and such-like, because
blacklegs were to his taste. But he boasted daily, nay, hourly to
himself, and frequently to those around him, that the leeches who
were stuck round him could draw but little blood from him. He could
spend his money freely; but he would so spend it that he himself
might reap the gratification of the expenditure. He was acute,
crafty, knowing, and up to every damnable dodge practised by men of
the class with whom he lived. At one-and-twenty he was that most
odious of all odious characters--a close-fisted reprobate.

He was a small man, not ill-made by Nature, but reduced to unnatural
tenuity by dissipation--a corporeal attribute of which he was apt
to boast, as it enabled him, as he said, to put himself up at 7 st.
7 lb. without any "d---- nonsense of not eating and drinking." The
power, however, was one of which he did not often avail himself, as
his nerves were seldom in a fit state for riding. His hair was dark
red, and he wore red moustaches, and a great deal of red beard
beneath his chin, cut in a manner to make him look like an American.
His voice also had a Yankee twang, being a cross between that of an
American trader and an English groom; and his eyes were keen and
fixed, and cold and knowing.

Such was the son whom Sir Roger saw standing at his bedside when
first he awoke to consciousness. It must not be supposed that Sir
Roger looked at him with our eyes. To him he was an only child,
the heir of his wealth, the future bearer of his title; the most
heart-stirring remembrancer of those other days, when he had been
so much a poorer, and so much a happier man. Let that boy be bad
or good, he was all Sir Roger had; and the father was still able
to hope, when others thought that all ground for hope was gone.

The mother also loved her son with a mother's natural love; but Louis
had ever been ashamed of his mother, and had, as far as possible,
estranged himself from her. Her heart, perhaps, fixed itself almost
with almost a warmer love on Frank Gresham, her foster-son. Frank
she saw but seldom, but when she did see him he never refused her
embrace. There was, too, a joyous, genial lustre about Frank's face
which always endeared him to women, and made his former nurse regard
him as the pet creation of the age. Though she but seldom interfered
with any monetary arrangement of her husband's, yet once or twice she
had ventured to hint that a legacy left to the young squire would
make her a happy woman. Sir Roger, however, on these occasions had
not appeared very desirous of making his wife happy.

"Ah, Louis! is that you?" ejaculated Sir Roger, in tones hardly more
than half-formed: afterwards, in a day or two that is, he fully
recovered his voice; but just then he could hardly open his jaws, and
spoke almost through his teeth. He managed, however, to put out his
hand and lay it on the counterpane, so that his son could take it.

"Why, that's well, governor," said the son; "you'll be as right as a
trivet in a day or two--eh, governor?"

The "governor" smiled with a ghastly smile. He already pretty well
knew that he would never again be "right," as his son called it, on
that side of the grave. It did not, moreover, suit him to say much
just at that moment, so he contented himself with holding his son's
hand. He lay still in this position for a moment, and then, turning
round painfully on his side, endeavoured to put his hand to the place
where his dire enemy usually was concealed. Sir Roger, however, was
too weak now to be his own master; he was at length, though too late,
a captive in the hands of nurses and doctors, and the bottle had now
been removed.

Then Lady Scatcherd came in, and seeing that her husband was no
longer unconscious, she could not but believe that Dr Thorne had been
wrong; she could not but think that there must be some ground for
hope. She threw herself on her knees at the bedside, bursting into
tears as she did so, and taking Sir Roger's hand in hers covered it
with kisses.

"Bother!" said Sir Roger.

She did not, however, long occupy herself with the indulgence of her
feelings; but going speedily to work, produced such sustenance as
the doctors had ordered to be given when the patient might awake. A
breakfast-cup was brought to him, and a few drops were put into his
mouth; but he soon made it manifest that he would take nothing more
of a description so perfectly innocent.

"A drop of brandy--just a little drop," said he, half-ordering, and
half-entreating.

"Ah, Roger!" said Lady Scatcherd.

"Just a little drop, Louis," said the sick man, appealing to his son.

"A little will be good for him; bring the bottle, mother," said the
son.

After some altercation the brandy bottle was brought, and Louis, with
what he thought a very sparing hand, proceeded to pour about half a
wine-glassful into the cup. As he did so, Sir Roger, weak as he was,
contrived to shake his son's arm, so as greatly to increase the dose.

"Ha! ha! ha!" laughed the sick man, and then greedily swallowed the
dose.



CHAPTER XXV

Sir Roger Dies


That night the doctor stayed at Boxall Hill, and the next night;
so that it became a customary thing for him to sleep there during
the latter part of Sir Roger's illness. He returned home daily to
Greshamsbury; for he had his patients there, to whom he was as
necessary as to Sir Roger, the foremost of whom was Lady Arabella. He
had, therefore, no slight work on his hands, seeing that his nights
were by no means wholly devoted to rest.

Mr Rerechild had not been much wrong as to the remaining space of
life which he had allotted to the dying man. Once or twice Dr Thorne
had thought that the great original strength of his patient would
have enabled him to fight against death for a somewhat longer period;
but Sir Roger would give himself no chance. Whenever he was strong
enough to have a will of his own, he insisted on having his very
medicine mixed with brandy; and in the hours of the doctor's absence,
he was too often successful in his attempts.

"It does not much matter," Dr Thorne had said to Lady Scatcherd. "Do
what you can to keep down the quantity, but do not irritate him by
refusing to obey. It does not much signify now." So Lady Scatcherd
still administered the alcohol, and he from day to day invented
little schemes for increasing the amount, over which he chuckled with
ghastly laughter.

Two or three times during these days Sir Roger essayed to speak
seriously to his son; but Louis always frustrated him. He either got
out of the room on some excuse, or made his mother interfere on the
score that so much talking would be bad for his father. He already
knew with tolerable accuracy what was the purport of his father's
will, and by no means approved of it; but as he could not now hope
to induce his father to alter it so as to make it more favourable to
himself, he conceived that no conversation on matters of business
could be of use to him.

"Louis," said Sir Roger, one afternoon to his son; "Louis, I have not
done by you as I ought to have done--I know that now."

"Nonsense, governor; never mind about that now; I shall do well
enough, I dare say. Besides, it isn't too late; you can make it
twenty-three years instead of twenty-five, if you like it."

"I do not mean as to money, Louis. There are things besides money
which a father ought to look to."

"Now, father, don't fret yourself--I'm all right; you may be sure of
that."

"Louis, it's that accursed brandy--it's that that I'm afraid of: you
see me here, my boy, how I'm lying here now."

"Don't you be annoying yourself, governor; I'm all right--quite
right; and as for you, why, you'll be up and about yourself in
another month or so."

"I shall never be off this bed, my boy, till I'm carried into my
coffin, on those chairs there. But I'm not thinking of myself, Louis,
but you; think what you may have before you if you can't avoid that
accursed bottle."

"I'm all right, governor; right as a trivet. It's very little I take,
except at an odd time or so."

"Oh, Louis! Louis!"

"Come, father, cheer up; this sort of thing isn't the thing for you
at all. I wonder where mother is: she ought to be here with the
broth; just let me go, and I'll see for her."

The father understood it all. He saw that it was now much beyond his
faded powers to touch the heart or conscience of such a youth as his
son had become. What now could he do for his boy except die? What
else, what other benefit, did his son require of him but to die; to
die so that his means of dissipation might be unbounded? He let go
the unresisting hand which he held, and, as the young man crept out
of the room, he turned his face to the wall. He turned his face to
the wall and held bitter commune with his own heart. To what had he
brought himself? To what had he brought his son? Oh, how happy would
it have been for him could he have remained all his days a working
stone-mason in Barchester! How happy could he have died as such,
years ago! Such tears as those which wet that pillow are the
bitterest which human eyes can shed.

But while they were dropping, the memoir of his life was in quick
course of preparation. It was, indeed, nearly completed, with
considerable detail. He had lingered on four days longer than might
have been expected, and the author had thus had more than usual time
for the work. In these days a man is nobody unless his biography
is kept so far posted up that it may be ready for the national
breakfast-table on the morning after his demise. When it chances that
the dead hero is one who was taken in his prime of life, of whose
departure from among us the most far-seeing biographical scribe can
have no prophetic inkling, this must be difficult. Of great men, full
of years, who are ripe for the sickle, who in the course of Nature
must soon fall, it is of course comparatively easy for an active
compiler to have his complete memoir ready in his desk. But in order
that the idea of omnipresent and omniscient information may be kept
up, the young must be chronicled as quickly as the old. In some cases
this task must, one would say, be difficult. Nevertheless, it is
done.

The memoir of Sir Roger Scatcherd was progressing favourably. In
this it was told how fortunate had been his life; how, in his case,
industry and genius combined had triumphed over the difficulties
which humble birth and deficient education had thrown in his way;
how he had made a name among England's great men; how the Queen had
delighted to honour him, and nobles had been proud to have him for a
guest at their mansions. Then followed a list of all the great works
which he had achieved, of the railroads, canals, docks, harbours,
jails, and hospitals which he had constructed. His name was held up
as an example to the labouring classes of his countrymen, and he was
pointed at as one who had lived and died happy--ever happy, said the
biographer, because ever industrious. And so a great moral question
was inculcated. A short paragraph was devoted to his appearance in
Parliament; and unfortunate Mr Romer was again held up for disgrace,
for the thirtieth time, as having been the means of depriving
our legislative councils of the great assistance of Sir Roger's
experience.

"Sir Roger," said the biographer in his concluding passage, "was
possessed of an iron frame; but even iron will yield to the repeated
blows of the hammer. In the latter years of his life he was known to
overtask himself; and at length the body gave way, though the mind
remained firm to the _last_. The subject of this memoir was only
fifty-nine when he was taken from us."

And thus Sir Roger's life was written, while the tears were
yet falling on his pillow at Boxall Hill. It was a pity that a
proof-sheet could not have been sent to him. No man was vainer of
his reputation, and it would have greatly gratified him to know that
posterity was about to speak of him in such terms--to speak of him
with a voice that would be audible for twenty-four hours.

Sir Roger made no further attempt to give counsel to his son. It was
too evidently useless. The old dying lion felt that the lion's power
had already passed from him, and that he was helpless in the hands
of the young cub who was so soon to inherit the wealth of the forest.
But Dr Thorne was more kind to him. He had something yet to say as to
his worldly hopes and worldly cares; and his old friend did not turn
a deaf ear to him.

It was during the night that Sir Roger was most anxious to talk, and
most capable of talking. He would lie through the day in a state
half-comatose; but towards evening he would rouse himself, and by
midnight he would be full of fitful energy. One night, as he lay
wakeful and full of thought, he thus poured forth his whole heart to
Dr Thorne.

"Thorne," said he, "I told you about my will, you know."

"Yes," said the other; "and I have blamed myself greatly that I have
not again urged you to alter it. Your illness came too suddenly,
Scatcherd; and then I was averse to speak of it."

"Why should I alter it? It is a good will; as good as I can make. Not
but that I have altered it since I spoke to you. I did it that day
after you left me."

"Have you definitely named your heir in default of Louis?"

"No--that is--yes--I had done that before; I have said Mary's eldest
child: I have not altered that."

"But, Scatcherd, you must alter it."

"Must! well then I won't; but I'll tell you what I have done. I have
added a postscript--a codicil they call it--saying that you, and you
only, know who is her eldest child. Winterbones and Jack Martin have
witnessed that."

Dr Thorne was going to explain how very injudicious such an
arrangement appeared to be; but Sir Roger would not listen to him.
It was not about that that he wished to speak to him. To him it was
matter of but minor interest who might inherit his money if his son
should die early; his care was solely for his son's welfare. At
twenty-five the heir might make his own will--might bequeath all this
wealth according to his own fancy. Sir Roger would not bring himself
to believe that his son could follow him to the grave in so short a
time.

"Never mind that, doctor, now; but about Louis; you will be his
guardian, you know."

"Not his guardian. He is more than of age."

"Ah! but doctor, you will be his guardian. The property will not be
his till he be twenty-five. You will not desert him?"

"I will not desert him; but I doubt whether I can do much for
him--what can I do, Scatcherd?"

"Use the power that a strong man has over a weak one. Use the power
that my will will give you. Do for him as you would for a son of your
own if you saw him going in bad courses. Do as a friend should do for
a friend that is dead and gone. I would do so for you, doctor, if our
places were changed."

"What I can do, that I will do," said Thorne, solemnly, taking as he
spoke the contractor's own in his own with a tight grasp.

"I know you will; I know you will. Oh! doctor, may you never feel as
I do now! May you on your death-bed have no dread as I have, as to
the fate of those you will leave behind you!"

Doctor Thorne felt that he could not say much in answer to this. The
future fate of Louis Scatcherd was, he could not but own to himself,
greatly to be dreaded. What good, what happiness, could be presaged
for such a one as he was? What comfort could he offer to the father?
And then he was called on to compare, as it were, the prospects of
this unfortunate with those of his own darling; to contrast all that
was murky, foul, and disheartening, with all that was perfect--for to
him she was all but perfect; to liken Louis Scatcherd to the angel
who brightened his own hearthstone. How could he answer to such an
appeal?

He said nothing; but merely tightened his grasp of the other's hand,
to signify that he would do, as best he could, all that was asked
of him. Sir Roger looked up sadly into the doctor's face, as though
expecting some word of consolation. There was no comfort, no
consolation to come to him!

"For three or four years he must greatly depend upon you," continued
Sir Roger.

"I will do what I can," said the doctor. "What I can do I will do.
But he is not a child, Scatcherd: at his age he must stand or fall
mainly by his own conduct. The best thing for him will be to marry."

"Exactly; that's just it, Thorne: I was coming to that. If he would
marry, I think he would do well yet, for all that has come and gone.
If he married, of course you would let him have the command of his
own income."

"I will be governed entirely by your wishes: under any circumstances
his income will, as I understand, be quite sufficient for him,
married or single."

"Ah!--but, Thorne, I should like to think he should shine with the
best of them. For what I have made the money if not for that? Now if
he marries--decently, that is--some woman you know that can assist
him in the world, let him have what he wants. It is not to save the
money that I put it into your hands."

"No, Scatcherd; not to save the money, but to save him. I think that
while you are yet with him you should advise him to marry."

"He does not care a straw for what I advise, not one straw. Why
should he? How can I tell him to be sober when I have been a beast
all my life myself? How can I advise him? That's where it is! It is
that that now kills me. Advise! Why, when I speak to him he treats me
like a child."

"He fears that you are too weak, you know: he thinks that you should
not be allowed to talk."

"Nonsense! he knows better; you know better. Too weak! what
signifies? Would I not give all that I have of strength at one blow
if I could open his eyes to see as I see but for one minute?" And
the sick man raised himself up in his bed as though he were actually
going to expend all that remained to him of vigour in the energy of a
moment.

"Gently, Scatcherd; gently. He will listen to you yet; but do not be
so unruly."

"Thorne, you see that bottle there? Give me half a glass of brandy."

The doctor turned round in his chair; but he hesitated in doing as he
was desired.

"Do as I ask you, doctor. It can do no harm now; you know that well
enough. Why torture me now?"

"No, I will not torture you; but you will have water with it?"

"Water! No; the brandy by itself. I tell you I cannot speak without
it. What's the use of canting now? You know it can make no
difference."

Sir Roger was right. It could make no difference; and Dr Thorne gave
him the half glass of brandy.

"Ah, well; you've a stingy hand, doctor; confounded stingy. You don't
measure your medicines out in such light doses."

"You will be wanting more before morning, you know."

"Before morning! indeed I shall; a pint or so before that. I remember
the time, doctor, when I have drunk to my own cheek above two quarts
between dinner and breakfast! aye, and worked all the day after it!"

"You have been a wonderful man, Scatcherd, very wonderful."

"Aye, wonderful! well, never mind. It's over now. But what was I
saying?--about Louis, doctor; you'll not desert him?"

"Certainly not."

"He's not strong; I know that. How should he be strong, living as he
has done? Not that it seemed to hurt me when I was his age."

"You had the advantage of hard work."

"That's it. Sometimes I wish that Louis had not a shilling in the
world; that he had to trudge about with an apron round his waist as I
did. But it's too late now to think of that. If he would only marry,
doctor."

Dr Thorne again expressed an opinion that no step would be so likely
to reform the habits of the young heir as marriage; and repeated his
advice to the father to implore his son to take a wife.

"I'll tell you what, Thorne," said he. And then, after a pause, he
went on. "I have not half told you as yet what is on my mind; and I'm
nearly afraid to tell it; though, indeed, I don't know why I should
be."

"I never knew you afraid of anything yet," said the doctor, smiling
gently.

"Well, then, I'll not end by turning coward. Now, doctor, tell the
truth to me; what do you expect me to do for that girl of yours that
we were talking of--Mary's child?"

There was a pause for a moment, for Thorne was slow to answer him.

"You would not let me see her, you know, though she is my niece as
truly as she is yours."

"Nothing," at last said the doctor, slowly. "I expect nothing. I
would not let you see her, and therefore, I expect nothing."

"She will have it all if poor Louis should die," said Sir Roger.

"If you intend it so you should put her name into the will," said the
other. "Not that I ask you or wish you to do so. Mary, thank God, can
do without wealth."

"Thorne, on one condition I will put her name into it. I will alter
it all on one condition. Let the two cousins be man and wife--let
Louis marry poor Mary's child."

The proposition for a moment took away the doctor's breath, and he
was unable to answer. Not for all the wealth of India would he have
given up his lamb to that young wolf, even though he had had the
power to do so. But that lamb--lamb though she was--had, as he well
knew, a will of her own on such a matter. What alliance could be more
impossible, thought he to himself, than one between Mary Thorne and
Louis Scatcherd?

"I will alter it all if you will give me your hand upon it that you
will do your best to bring about this marriage. Everything shall be
his on the day he marries her; and should he die unmarried, it shall
all then be hers by name. Say the word, Thorne, and she shall come
here at once. I shall yet have time to see her."

But Dr Thorne did not say the word; just at the moment he said
nothing, but he slowly shook his head.

"Why not, Thorne?"

"My friend, it is impossible."

"Why impossible?"

"Her hand is not mine to dispose of, nor is her heart."

"Then let her come over herself."

"What! Scatcherd, that the son might make love to her while the
father is so dangerously ill! Bid her come to look for a rich
husband! That would not be seemly, would it?"

"No; not for that: let her come merely that I may see her; that we
may all know her. I will leave the matter then in your hands if you
will promise me to do your best."

"But, my friend, in this matter I cannot do my best. I can do
nothing. And, indeed, I may say at once, that it is altogether out of
the question. I know--"

"What do you know?" said the baronet, turning on him almost angrily.
"What can you know to make you say that it is impossible? Is she a
pearl of such price that a man may not win her?"

"She is a pearl of great price."

"Believe me, doctor, money goes far in winning such pearls."

"Perhaps so; I know little about it. But this I do know, that money
will not win her. Let us talk of something else; believe me it is
useless for us to think of this."

"Yes; if you set your face against it obstinately. You must think
very poorly of Louis if you suppose that no girl can fancy him."

"I have not said so, Scatcherd."

"To have the spending of ten thousand a year, and be a baronet's
lady! Why, doctor, what is it you expect for this girl?"

"Not much, indeed; not much. A quiet heart and a quiet home; not much
more."

"Thorne, if you will be ruled by me in this, she shall be the most
topping woman in this county."

"My friend, my friend, why thus grieve me? Why should you thus harass
yourself? I tell you it is impossible. They have never seen each
other; they have nothing, and can have nothing in common; their
tastes, and wishes, and pursuits are different. Besides, Scatcherd,
marriages never answer that are so made; believe me, it is
impossible."

The contractor threw himself back on his bed, and lay for some ten
minutes perfectly quiet; so much so that the doctor began to think
that he was sleeping. So thinking, and wearied by the watching,
Dr Thorne was beginning to creep quietly from the room, when his
companion again roused himself, almost with vehemence.

"You won't do this thing for me, then?" said he.

"Do it! It is not for you or me to do such things as that. Such
things must be left to those concerned themselves."

"You will not even help me?"

"Not in this thing, Sir Roger."

"Then, by ----, she shall not under any circumstances ever have a
shilling of mine. Give me some of that stuff there," and he again
pointed to the brandy bottle which stood ever within his sight.

The doctor poured out and handed to him another small modicum of
spirit.

"Nonsense, man; fill the glass. I'll stand no nonsense now. I'll be
master in my own house to the last. Give it here, I tell you. Ten
thousand devils are tearing me within. You--you could have comforted
me; but you would not. Fill the glass I tell you."

"I should be killing you were I to do it."

"Killing me! killing me! you are always talking of killing me. Do you
suppose that I am afraid to die? Do not I know how soon it is coming?
Give me the brandy, I say, or I will be out across the room to fetch
it."

"No, Scatcherd. I cannot give it to you; not while I am here. Do you
remember how you were engaged this morning?"--he had that morning
taken the sacrament from the parish clergyman--"you would not wish to
make me guilty of murder, would you?"

"Nonsense! You are talking nonsense; habit is second nature. I tell
you I shall sink without it. Why, you know I always get it directly
your back is turned. Come, I will not be bullied in my own house;
give me that bottle, I say!"--and Sir Roger essayed, vainly enough,
to raise himself from the bed.

"Stop, Scatcherd; I will give it you--I will help you. It may be
that habit is second nature." Sir Roger in his determined energy
had swallowed, without thinking of it, the small quantity which the
doctor had before poured out for him, and still held the empty glass
within his hand. This the doctor now took and filled nearly to the
brim.

"Come, Thorne, a bumper; a bumper for this once. 'Whatever the drink,
it a bumper must be.' You stingy fellow! I would not treat you so.
Well--well."

"It's as full as you can hold it, Scatcherd."

"Try me; try me! my hand is a rock; at least at holding liquor." And
then he drained the contents of the glass, which were sufficient in
quantity to have taken away the breath from any ordinary man.

"Ah, I'm better now. But, Thorne, I do love a full glass, ha! ha!
ha!"

There was something frightful, almost sickening, in the peculiar
hoarse guttural tone of his voice. The sounds came from him as
though steeped in brandy, and told, all too plainly, the havoc which
the alcohol had made. There was a fire too about his eyes which
contrasted with his sunken cheeks: his hanging jaw, unshorn beard,
and haggard face were terrible to look at. His hands and arms were
hot and clammy, but so thin and wasted! Of his lower limbs the lost
use had not returned to him, so that in all his efforts at vehemence
he was controlled by his own want of vitality. When he supported
himself, half-sitting against the pillows, he was in a continual
tremor; and yet, as he boasted, he could still lift his glass
steadily to his mouth. Such now was the hero of whom that ready
compiler of memoirs had just finished his correct and succinct
account.

After he had had his brandy, he sat glaring a while at vacancy, as
though he was dead to all around him, and was thinking--thinking--
thinking of things in the infinite distance of the past.

"Shall I go now," said the doctor, "and send Lady Scatcherd to you?"

"Wait a while, doctor; just one minute longer. So you will do nothing
for Louis, then?"

"I will do everything for him that I can do."

"Ah, yes! everything but the one thing that will save him. Well, I
will not ask you again. But remember, Thorne, I shall alter my will
to-morrow."

"Do so by all means; you may well alter it for the better. If I
may advise you, you will have down your own business attorney from
London. If you will let me send he will be here before to-morrow
night."

"Thank you for nothing, Thorne: I can manage that matter myself. Now
leave me; but remember, you have ruined that girl's fortune."

The doctor did leave him, and went not altogether happy to his room.
He could not but confess to himself that he had, despite himself as
it were, fed himself with hope that Mary's future might be made more
secure, aye, and brighter too, by some small unheeded fraction broken
off from the huge mass of her uncle's wealth. Such hope, if it had
amounted to hope, was now all gone. But this was not all, nor was
this the worst of it. That he had done right in utterly repudiating
all idea of a marriage between Mary and her cousin--of that he was
certain enough; that no earthly consideration would have induced Mary
to plight her troth to such a man--that, with him, was as certain as
doom. But how far had he done right in keeping her from the sight of
her uncle? How could he justify it to himself if he had thus robbed
her of her inheritance, seeing that he had done so from a selfish
fear lest she, who was now all his own, should be known to the world
as belonging to others rather than to him? He had taken upon him on
her behalf to reject wealth as valueless; and yet he had no sooner
done so than he began to consume his hours with reflecting how great
to her would be the value of wealth. And thus, when Sir Roger told
him, as he left the room, that he had ruined Mary's fortune, he was
hardly able to bear the taunt with equanimity.

On the next morning, after paying his professional visit to his
patient, and satisfying himself that the end was now drawing near
with steps terribly quickened, he went down to Greshamsbury.

"How long is this to last, uncle?" said his niece, with sad voice, as
he again prepared to return to Boxall Hill.

"Not long, Mary; do not begrudge him a few more hours of life."

"No, I do not, uncle. I will say nothing more about it. Is his son
with him?" And then, perversely enough, she persisted in asking
numerous questions about Louis Scatcherd.

"Is he likely to marry, uncle?"

"I hope so, my dear."

"Will he be so very rich?"

"Yes; ultimately he will be very rich."

"He will be a baronet, will he not?"

"Yes, my dear."

"What is he like, uncle?"

"Like--I never know what a young man is like. He is like a man with
red hair."

"Uncle, you are the worst hand in describing I ever knew. If I'd seen
him for five minutes, I'd be bound to make a portrait of him; and
you, if you were describing a dog, you'd only say what colour his
hair was."

"Well, he's a little man."

"Exactly, just as I should say that Mrs Umbleby had a red-haired
little dog. I wish I had known these Scatcherds, uncle. I do so
admire people that can push themselves in the world. I wish I had
known Sir Roger."

"You will never know him now, Mary."

"I suppose not. I am so sorry for him. Is Lady Scatcherd nice?"

"She is an excellent woman."

"I hope I may know her some day. You are so much there now, uncle; I
wonder whether you ever mention me to them. If you do, tell her from
me how much I grieve for her."

That same night Dr Thorne again found himself alone with Sir Roger.
The sick man was much more tranquil, and apparently more at ease
than he had been on the preceding night. He said nothing about his
will, and not a word about Mary Thorne; but the doctor knew that
Winterbones and a notary's clerk from Barchester had been in the
bedroom a great part of the day; and, as he knew also that the great
man of business was accustomed to do his most important work by the
hands of such tools as these, he did not doubt but that the will
had been altered and remodelled. Indeed, he thought it more than
probable, that when it was opened it would be found to be wholly
different in its provisions from that which Sir Roger had already
described.

"Louis is clever enough," he said, "sharp enough, I mean. He won't
squander the property."

"He has good natural abilities," said the doctor.

"Excellent, excellent," said the father. "He may do well, very well,
if he can only be kept from this;" and Sir Roger held up the empty
wine-glass which stood by his bedside. "What a life he may have
before him!--and to throw it away for this!" and as he spoke he took
the glass and tossed it across the room. "Oh, doctor! would that it
were all to begin again!"

"We all wish that, I dare say, Scatcherd."

"No, you don't wish it. You ain't worth a shilling, and yet you
regret nothing. I am worth half a million in one way or the other,
and I regret everything--everything--everything!"

"You should not think in that way, Scatcherd; you need not think so.
Yesterday you told Mr Clarke that you were comfortable in your mind."
Mr Clarke was the clergyman who had visited him.

"Of course I did. What else could I say when he asked me? It wouldn't
have been civil to have told him that his time and words were
all thrown away. But, Thorne, believe me, when a man's heart is
sad--sad--sad to the core, a few words from a parson at the last
moment will never make it all right."

"May He have mercy on you, my friend!--if you will think of Him, and
look to Him, He will have mercy on you."

"Well--I will try, doctor; but would that it were all to do again.
You'll see to the old woman for my sake, won't you?"

"What, Lady Scatcherd?"

"Lady Devil! If anything angers me now it is that 'ladyship'--her to
be my lady! Why, when I came out of jail that time, the poor creature
had hardly a shoe to her foot. But it wasn't her fault, Thorne; it
was none of her doing. She never asked for such nonsense."

"She has been an excellent wife, Scatcherd; and what is more, she
is an excellent woman. She is, and ever will be, one of my dearest
friends."

"Thank'ee, doctor, thank'ee. Yes; she has been a good wife--better
for a poor man than a rich one; but then, that was what she was born
to. You won't let her be knocked about by them, will you, Thorne?"

Dr Thorne again assured him, that as long as he lived Lady Scatcherd
should never want one true friend; in making this promise, however,
he managed to drop all allusion to the obnoxious title.

"You'll be with him as much as possible, won't you?" again asked the
baronet, after lying quite silent for a quarter of an hour.

"With whom?" said the doctor, who was then all but asleep.

"With my poor boy; with Louis."

"If he will let me, I will," said the doctor.

"And, doctor, when you see a glass at his mouth, dash it down; thrust
it down, though you thrust out the teeth with it. When you see that,
Thorne, tell him of his father--tell him what his father might have
been but for that; tell him how his father died like a beast, because
he could not keep himself from drink."

These, reader, were the last words spoken by Sir Roger Scatcherd. As
he uttered them he rose up in bed with the same vehemence which he
had shown on the former evening. But in the very act of doing so
he was again struck by paralysis, and before nine on the following
morning all was over.

"Oh, my man--my own, own man!" exclaimed the widow, remembering in
the paroxysm of her grief nothing but the loves of their early days;
"the best, the brightest, the cleverest of them all!"

Some weeks after this Sir Roger was buried, with much pomp and
ceremony, within the precincts of Barchester Cathedral; and a
monument was put up to him soon after, in which he was portrayed as
smoothing a block of granite with a mallet and chisel; while his
eagle eye, disdaining such humble work, was fixed upon some intricate
mathematical instrument above him. Could Sir Roger have seen it
himself, he would probably have declared, that no workman was ever
worth his salt who looked one way while he rowed another.

Immediately after the funeral the will was opened, and Dr Thorne
discovered that the clauses of it were exactly identical with those
which his friend had described to him some months back. Nothing had
been altered; nor had the document been unfolded since that strange
codicil was added, in which it was declared that Dr Thorne knew--and
only Dr Thorne--who was the eldest child of the testator's only
sister. At the same time, however, a joint executor with Dr Thorne
had been named--one Mr Stock, a man of railway fame--and Dr Thorne
himself was made a legatee to the humble extent of a thousand pounds.
A life income of a thousand pounds a year was left to Lady Scatcherd.



CHAPTER XXVI

War


We need not follow Sir Roger to his grave, nor partake of the baked
meats which were furnished for his funeral banquet. Such men as Sir
Roger Scatcherd are always well buried, and we have already seen that
his glories were duly told to posterity in the graphic diction of his
sepulchral monument. In a few days the doctor had returned to his
quiet home, and Sir Louis found himself reigning at Boxall Hill in
his father's stead--with, however, a much diminished sway, and, as he
thought it, but a poor exchequer. We must soon return to him and say
something of his career as a baronet; but for the present, we may go
back to our more pleasant friends at Greshamsbury.

But our friends at Greshamsbury had not been making themselves
pleasant--not so pleasant to each other as circumstances would have
admitted. In those days which the doctor had felt himself bound to
pass, if not altogether at Boxall Hill, yet altogether away from his
own home, so as to admit of his being as much as possible with his
patient, Mary had been thrown more than ever with Patience Oriel,
and, also, almost more than ever with Beatrice Gresham. As regarded
Mary, she would doubtless have preferred the companionship of
Patience, though she loved Beatrice far the best; but she had no
choice. When she went to the parsonage Beatrice came there also, and
when Patience came to the doctor's house Beatrice either accompanied
or followed her. Mary could hardly have rejected their society, even
had she felt it wise to do so. She would in such case have been all
alone, and her severance from the Greshamsbury house and household,
from the big family in which she had for so many years been almost at
home, would have made such solitude almost unendurable.

And then these two girls both knew--not her secret: she had no
secret--but the little history of her ill-treatment. They knew that
though she had been blameless in this matter, yet she had been the
one to bear the punishment; and, as girls and bosom friends, they
could not but sympathise with her, and endow her with heroic
attributes; make her, in fact, as we are doing, their little heroine
for the nonce. This was, perhaps, not serviceable for Mary; but it
was far from being disagreeable.

The tendency to finding matter for hero-worship in Mary's endurance
was much stronger with Beatrice than with Miss Oriel. Miss Oriel was
the elder, and naturally less afflicted with the sentimentation of
romance. She had thrown herself into Mary's arms because she had
seen that it was essentially necessary for Mary's comfort that she
should do so. She was anxious to make her friend smile, and to smile
with her. Beatrice was quite as true in her sympathy; but she rather
wished that she and Mary might weep in unison, shed mutual tears, and
break their hearts together.

Patience had spoken of Frank's love as a misfortune, of his conduct
as erroneous, and to be excused only by his youth, and had never
appeared to surmise that Mary also might be in love as well as he.
But to Beatrice the affair was a tragic difficulty, admitting of no
solution; a Gordian knot, not to be cut; a misery now and for ever.
She would always talk about Frank when she and Mary were alone; and,
to speak the truth, Mary did not stop her as she perhaps should have
done. As for a marriage between them, that was impossible; Beatrice
was well sure of that: it was Frank's unfortunate destiny that he
must marry money--money, and, as Beatrice sometimes thoughtlessly
added, cutting Mary to the quick,--money and family also. Under such
circumstances a marriage between them was quite impossible; but not
the less did Beatrice declare, that she would have loved Mary as her
sister-in-law had it been possible; and how worthy Frank was of a
girl's love, had such love been permissible.

"It is so cruel," Beatrice would say; "so very, very, cruel. You
would have suited him in every way."

"Nonsense, Trichy; I should have suited him in no possible way at
all; nor he me."

"Oh, but you would--exactly. Papa loves you so well."

"And mamma; that would have been so nice."

"Yes; and mamma, too--that is, had you had a fortune," said the
daughter, naïvely. "She always liked you personally, always."

"Did she?"

"Always. And we all love you so."

"Especially Lady Alexandrina."

"That would not have signified, for Frank cannot endure the de
Courcys himself."

"My dear, it does not matter one straw whom your brother can endure
or not endure just at present. His character is to be formed, and his
tastes, and his heart also."

"Oh, Mary!--his heart."

"Yes, his heart; not the fact of his having a heart. I think he has a
heart; but he himself does not yet understand it."

"Oh, Mary! you do not know him."

Such conversations were not without danger to poor Mary's comfort.
It came soon to be the case that she looked rather for this sort
of sympathy from Beatrice, than for Miss Oriel's pleasant but less
piquant gaiety.

So the days of the doctor's absence were passed, and so also the
first week after his return. During this week it was almost daily
necessary that the squire should be with him. The doctor was now the
legal holder of Sir Roger's property, and, as such, the holder also
of all the mortgages on Mr Gresham's property; and it was natural
that they should be much together. The doctor would not, however,
go up to Greshamsbury on any other than medical business; and it
therefore became necessary that the squire should be a good deal at
the doctor's house.

Then the Lady Arabella became unhappy in her mind. Frank, it was
true, was away at Cambridge, and had been successfully kept out
of Mary's way since the suspicion of danger had fallen upon Lady
Arabella's mind. Frank was away, and Mary was systematically
banished, with due acknowledgement from all the powers in
Greshamsbury. But this was not enough for Lady Arabella as long as
her daughter still habitually consorted with the female culprit, and
as long as her husband consorted with the male culprit. It seemed to
Lady Arabella at this moment as though, in banishing Mary from the
house, she had in effect banished herself from the most intimate of
the Greshamsbury social circles. She magnified in her own mind the
importance of the conferences between the girls, and was not without
some fear that the doctor might be talking the squire over into very
dangerous compliance.

She resolved, therefore, on another duel with the doctor. In the
first she had been pre-eminently and unexpectedly successful. No
young sucking dove could have been more mild than that terrible enemy
whom she had for years regarded as being too puissant for attack. In
ten minutes she had vanquished him, and succeeded in banishing both
him and his niece from the house without losing the value of his
services. As is always the case with us, she had begun to despise
the enemy she had conquered, and to think that the foe, once beaten,
could never rally.

Her object was to break off all confidential intercourse between
Beatrice and Mary, and to interrupt, as far as she could do it, that
between the doctor and the squire. This, it may be said, could be
more easily done by skilful management within her own household. She
had, however, tried that and failed. She had said much to Beatrice as
to the imprudence of her friendship with Mary, and she had done this
purposely before the squire; injudiciously however,--for the squire
had immediately taken Mary's part, and had declared that he had no
wish to see a quarrel between his family and that of the doctor; that
Mary Thorne was in every way a good girl, and an eligible friend for
his own child; and had ended by declaring, that he would not have
Mary persecuted for Frank's fault. This had not been the end, nor
nearly the end of what had been said on the matter at Greshamsbury;
but the end, when it came, came in this wise, that Lady Arabella
determined to say a few words to the doctor as to the expediency
of forbidding familiar intercourse between Mary and any of the
Greshamsbury people.

With this view Lady Arabella absolutely bearded the lion in his den,
the doctor in his shop. She had heard that both Mary and Beatrice
were to pass a certain afternoon at the parsonage, and took that
opportunity of calling at the doctor's house. A period of many years
had passed since she had last so honoured that abode. Mary, indeed,
had been so much one of her own family that the ceremony of calling
on her had never been thought necessary; and thus, unless Mary had
been absolutely ill, there would have been nothing to bring her
ladyship to the house. All this she knew would add to the importance
of the occasion, and she judged it prudent to make the occasion as
important as it might well be.

She was so far successful that she soon found herself _tête-à-tête_
with the doctor in his own study. She was no whit dismayed by the
pair of human thigh-bones which lay close to his hand, and which,
when he was talking in that den of his own, he was in the constant
habit of handling with much energy; nor was she frightened out of her
propriety even by the little child's skull which grinned at her from
off the chimney-piece.

"Doctor," she said, as soon as the first complimentary greetings were
over, speaking in her kindest and most would-be-confidential tone,
"Doctor, I am still uneasy about that boy of mine, and I have thought
it best to come and see you at once, and tell you freely what I
think."

The doctor bowed, and said that he was very sorry that she should
have any cause for uneasiness about his young friend Frank.

"Indeed, I am very uneasy, doctor; and having, as I do have, such
reliance on your prudence, and such perfect confidence in your
friendship, I have thought it best to come and speak to you openly:"
thereupon the Lady Arabella paused, and the doctor bowed again.

"Nobody knows so well as you do the dreadful state of the squire's
affairs."

"Not so very dreadful; not so very dreadful," said the doctor,
mildly: "that is, as far as I know."

"Yes they are, doctor; very dreadful; very dreadful indeed. You know
how much he owes to this young man: I do not, for the squire never
tells anything to me; but I know that it is a very large sum of
money; enough to swamp the estate and ruin Frank. Now I call that
very dreadful."

"No, no, not ruin him, Lady Arabella; not ruin him, I hope."

"However, I did not come to talk to you about that. As I said before,
I know nothing of the squire's affairs, and, as a matter of course,
I do not ask you to tell me. But I am sure you will agree with me in
this, that, as a mother, I cannot but be interested about my only
son," and Lady Arabella put her cambric handkerchief to her eyes.

"Of course you are; of course you are," said the doctor; "and, Lady
Arabella, my opinion of Frank is such, that I feel sure that he
will do well;" and, in his energy, Dr Thorne brandished one of the
thigh-bones almost in the lady's face.

"I hope he will; I am sure I hope he will. But, doctor, he has such
dangers to contend with; he is so warm and impulsive that I fear
his heart will bring him into trouble. Now, you know, unless Frank
marries money he is lost."

The doctor made no answer to this last appeal, but as he sat and
listened a slight frown came across his brow.

"He must marry money, doctor. Now we have, you see, with your
assistance, contrived to separate him from dear Mary--"

"With my assistance, Lady Arabella! I have given no assistance, nor
have I meddled in the matter; nor will I."

"Well, doctor, perhaps not meddled; but you agreed with me, you know,
that the two young people had been imprudent."

"I agreed to no such thing, Lady Arabella; never, never. I not only
never agreed that Mary had been imprudent, but I will not agree to it
now, and will not allow any one to assert it in my presence without
contradicting it:" and then the doctor worked away at the thigh-bones
in a manner that did rather alarm her ladyship.

"At any rate, you thought that the young people had better be kept
apart."

"No; neither did I think that: my niece, I felt sure, was safe from
danger. I knew that she would do nothing that would bring either her
or me to shame."

"Not to shame," said the lady, apologetically, as it were, using the
word perhaps not exactly in the doctor's sense.

"I felt no alarm for her," continued the doctor, "and desired no
change. Frank is your son, and it is for you to look to him. You
thought proper to do so by desiring Mary to absent herself from
Greshamsbury."

"Oh, no, no, no!" said Lady Arabella.

"But you did, Lady Arabella; and as Greshamsbury is your home,
neither I nor my niece had any ground of complaint. We acquiesced,
not without much suffering, but we did acquiesce; and you, I think,
can have no ground of complaint against us."

Lady Arabella had hardly expected that the doctor would reply to her
mild and conciliatory exordium with so much sternness. He had yielded
so easily to her on the former occasion. She did not comprehend that
when she uttered her sentence of exile against Mary, she had given
an order which she had the power of enforcing; but that obedience to
that order had now placed Mary altogether beyond her jurisdiction.
She was, therefore, a little surprised, and for a few moments
overawed by the doctor's manner; but she soon recovered herself,
remembering, doubtless, that fortune favours none but the brave.

"I make no complaint, Dr Thorne," she said, after assuming a tone
more befitting a de Courcy than that hitherto used, "I make no
complaint either as regards you or Mary."

"You are very kind, Lady Arabella."

"But I think that it is my duty to put a stop, a peremptory stop to
anything like a love affair between my son and your niece."

"I have not the least objection in life. If there is such a love
affair, put a stop to it--that is, if you have the power."

Here the doctor was doubtless imprudent. But he had begun to think
that he had yielded sufficiently to the lady; and he had begun to
resolve, also, that though it would not become him to encourage even
the idea of such a marriage, he would make Lady Arabella understand
that he thought his niece quite good enough for her son, and that
the match, if regarded as imprudent, was to be regarded as equally
imprudent on both sides. He would not suffer that Mary and her heart
and feelings and interest should be altogether postponed to those
of the young heir; and, perhaps, he was unconsciously encouraged in
this determination by the reflection that Mary herself might perhaps
become a young heiress.

"It is my duty," said Lady Arabella, repeating her words with even a
stronger de Courcy intonation; "and your duty also, Dr Thorne."

"My duty!" said he, rising from his chair and leaning on the table
with the two thigh-bones. "Lady Arabella, pray understand at once,
that I repudiate any such duty, and will have nothing whatever to do
with it."

"But you do not mean to say that you will encourage this unfortunate
boy to marry your niece?"

"The unfortunate boy, Lady Arabella--whom, by the by, I regard as
a very fortunate young man--is your son, not mine. I shall take no
steps about his marriage, either one way or the other."

"You think it right, then, that your niece should throw herself in
his way?"

"Throw herself in his way! What would you say if I came up to
Greshamsbury, and spoke to you of your daughters in such language?
What would my dear friend Mr Gresham say, if some neighbour's wife
should come and so speak to him? I will tell you what he would say:
he would quietly beg her to go back to her own home and meddle only
with her own matters."

This was dreadful to Lady Arabella. Even Dr Thorne had never before
dared thus to lower her to the level of common humanity, and liken
her to any other wife in the country-side. Moreover, she was not
quite sure whether he, the parish doctor, was not desiring her, the
earl's daughter, to go home and mind her own business. On this first
point, however, there seemed to be no room for doubt, of which she
gave herself the benefit.

"It would not become me to argue with you, Dr Thorne," she said.

"Not at least on this subject," said he.

"I can only repeat that I mean nothing offensive to our dear Mary;
for whom, I think I may say, I have always shown almost a mother's
care."

"Neither am I, nor is Mary, ungrateful for the kindness she has
received at Greshamsbury."

"But I must do my duty: my own children must be my first
consideration."

"Of course they must, Lady Arabella; that's of course."

"And, therefore, I have called on you to say that I think it is
imprudent that Beatrice and Mary should be so much together."

The doctor had been standing during the latter part of this
conversation, but now he began to walk about, still holding the two
bones like a pair of dumb-bells.

"God bless my soul!" he said; "God bless my soul! Why, Lady Arabella,
do you suspect your own daughter as well as your own son? Do you
think that Beatrice is assisting Mary in preparing this wicked
clandestine marriage? I tell you fairly, Lady Arabella, the present
tone of your mind is such that I cannot understand it."

"I suspect nobody, Dr Thorne; but young people will be young."

"And old people must be old, I suppose; the more's the pity. Lady
Arabella, Mary is the same to me as my own daughter, and owes me the
obedience of a child; but as I do not disapprove of your daughter
Beatrice as an acquaintance for her, but rather, on the other hand,
regard with pleasure their friendship, you cannot expect that I
should take any steps to put an end to it."

"But suppose it should lead to renewed intercourse between Frank and
Mary?"

"I have no objection. Frank is a very nice young fellow,
gentleman-like in his manners, and neighbourly in his disposition."

"Dr Thorne--"

"Lady Arabella--"

"I cannot believe that you really intend to express a wish--"

"You are quite right. I have not intended to express any wish; nor do
I intend to do so. Mary is at liberty, within certain bounds--which
I am sure she will not pass--to choose her own friends. I think she
has not chosen badly as regards Miss Beatrice Gresham; and should she
even add Frank Gresham to the number--"

"Friends! why they were more than friends; they were declared
lovers."

"I doubt that, Lady Arabella, because I have not heard of it from
Mary. But even if it were so, I do not see why I should object."

"Not object!"

"As I said before, Frank is, to my thinking, an excellent young man.
Why should I object?"

"Dr Thorne!" said her ladyship, now also rising from her chair in a
state of too evident perturbation.

"Why should _I_ object? It is for you, Lady Arabella, to look after
your lambs; for me to see that, if possible, no harm shall come to
mine. If you think that Mary is an improper acquaintance for your
children, it is for you to guide them; for you and their father. Say
what you think fit to your own daughter; but pray understand, once
for all, that I will allow no one to interfere with my niece."

"Interfere!" said Lady Arabella, now absolutely confused by the
severity of the doctor's manner.

"I will allow no one to interfere with her; no one, Lady Arabella.
She has suffered very greatly from imputations which you have most
unjustly thrown on her. It was, however, your undoubted right to turn
her out of your house if you thought fit;--though, as a woman who
had known her for so many years, you might, I think, have treated
her with more forbearance. That, however, was your right, and you
exercised it. There your privilege stops; yes, and must stop, Lady
Arabella. You shall not persecute her here, on the only spot of
ground she can call her own."

"Persecute her, Dr Thorne! You do not mean to say that I have
persecuted her?"

"Ah! but I do mean to say so. You do persecute her, and would
continue to do so did I not defend her. It is not sufficient that
she is forbidden to enter your domain--and so forbidden with the
knowledge of all the country round--but you must come here also with
the hope of interrupting all the innocent pleasures of her life.
Fearing lest she should be allowed even to speak to your son, to hear
a word of him through his own sister, you would put her in prison,
tie her up, keep her from the light of day--"

"Dr Thorne! how can you--"

But the doctor was not to be interrupted.

"It never occurs to you to tie him up, to put him in prison. No; he
is the heir of Greshamsbury; he is your son, an earl's grandson. It
is only natural, after all, that he should throw a few foolish words
at the doctor's niece. But she! it is an offence not to be forgiven
on her part that she should, however, unwillingly, have been forced
to listen to them! Now understand me, Lady Arabella; if any of your
family come to my house I shall be delighted to welcome them: if Mary
should meet any of them elsewhere I shall be delighted to hear of it.
Should she tell me to-morrow that she was engaged to marry Frank, I
should talk the matter over with her, quite coolly, solely with a
view to her interest, as would be my duty; feeling, at the same time,
that Frank would be lucky in having such a wife. Now you know my
mind, Lady Arabella. It is so I should do my duty;--you can do yours
as you may think fit."

Lady Arabella had by this time perceived that she was not destined on
this occasion to gain any great victory. She, however, was angry as
well as the doctor. It was not the man's vehemence that provoked her
so much as his evident determination to break down the prestige of
her rank, and place her on a footing in no respect superior to his
own. He had never before been so audaciously arrogant; and, as she
moved towards the door, she determined in her wrath that she would
never again have confidential intercourse with him in any relation of
life whatsoever.

"Dr Thorne," said she. "I think you have forgotten yourself. You must
excuse me if I say that after what has passed I--I--I--"

"Certainly," said he, fully understanding what she meant; and bowing
low as he opened first the study-door, then the front-door, then the
garden-gate.

And then Lady Arabella stalked off, not without full observation from
Mrs Yates Umbleby and her friend Miss Gushing, who lived close by.



CHAPTER XXVII

Miss Thorne Goes on a Visit


And now began the unpleasant things at Greshamsbury of which we have
here told. When Lady Arabella walked away from the doctor's house
she resolved that, let it cost what it might, there should be war to
the knife between her and him. She had been insulted by him--so at
least she said to herself, and so she was prepared to say to others
also--and it was not to be borne that a de Courcy should allow her
parish doctor to insult her with impunity. She would tell her husband
with all the dignity that she could assume, that it had now become
absolutely necessary that he should protect his wife by breaking
entirely with his unmannered neighbour; and, as regarded the young
members of her family, she would use the authority of a mother, and
absolutely forbid them to hold any intercourse with Mary Thorne. So
resolving, she walked quickly back to her own house.

The doctor, when left alone, was not quite satisfied with the part he
had taken in the interview. He had spoken from impulse rather than
from judgement, and, as is generally the case with men who do so
speak, he had afterwards to acknowledge to himself that he had been
imprudent. He accused himself probably of more violence than he
had really used, and was therefore unhappy; but, nevertheless, his
indignation was not at rest. He was angry with himself; but not
on that account the less angry with Lady Arabella. She was cruel,
overbearing, and unreasonable; cruel in the most cruel of manners, so
he thought; but not on that account was he justified in forgetting
the forbearance due from a gentleman to a lady. Mary, moreover, had
owed much to the kindness of this woman, and, therefore, Dr Thorne
felt that he should have forgiven much.

Thus the doctor walked about his room, much disturbed; now accusing
himself for having been so angry with Lady Arabella, and then feeding
his own anger by thinking of her misconduct.

The only immediate conclusion at which he resolved was this, that it
was unnecessary that he should say anything to Mary on the subject
of her ladyship's visit. There was, no doubt, sorrow enough in store
for his darling; why should he aggravate it? Lady Arabella would
doubtless not stop now in her course; but why should he accelerate
the evil which she would doubtless be able to effect?

Lady Arabella, when she returned to the house, allowed no grass to
grow under her feet. As she entered the house she desired that Miss
Beatrice should be sent to her directly she returned; and she desired
also, that as soon as the squire should be in his room a message to
that effect might be immediately brought to her.

"Beatrice," she said, as soon as the young lady appeared before her,
and in speaking she assumed her firmest tone of authority, "Beatrice,
I am sorry, my dear, to say anything that is unpleasant to you, but I
must make it a positive request that you will for the future drop all
intercourse with Dr Thorne's family."

Beatrice, who had received Lady Arabella's message immediately on
entering the house, and had run upstairs imagining that some instant
haste was required, now stood before her mother rather out of breath,
holding her bonnet by the strings.

"Oh, mamma!" she exclaimed, "what on earth has happened?"

"My dear," said the mother, "I cannot really explain to you what has
happened; but I must ask you to give me your positive assurance that
you will comply with my request."

"You don't mean that I am not to see Mary any more?"

"Yes, I do, my dear; at any rate, for the present. When I tell you
that your brother's interest imperatively demands it, I am sure that
you will not refuse me."

Beatrice did not refuse, but she did not appear too willing to
comply. She stood silent, leaning against the end of a sofa and
twisting her bonnet-strings in her hand.

"Well, Beatrice--"

"But, mamma, I don't understand."

Lady Arabella had said that she could not exactly explain: but she
found it necessary to attempt to do so.

"Dr Thorne has openly declared to me that a marriage between poor
Frank and Mary is all he could desire for his niece. After such
unparalleled audacity as that, even your father will see the
necessity of breaking with him."

"Dr Thorne! Oh, mamma, you must have misunderstood him."

"My dear, I am not apt to misunderstand people; especially when I am
so much in earnest as I was in talking to Dr Thorne."

"But, mamma, I know so well what Mary herself thinks about it."

"And I know what Dr Thorne thinks about it; he, at any rate, has been
candid in what he said; there can be no doubt on earth that he has
spoken his true thoughts; there can be no reason to doubt him: of
course such a match would be all that he could wish."

"Mamma, I feel sure that there is some mistake."

"Very well, my dear. I know that you are infatuated about these
people, and that you are always inclined to contradict what I say to
you; but, remember, I expect that you will obey me when I tell you
not to go to Dr Thorne's house any more."

"But, mamma--"

"I expect you to obey me, Beatrice. Though you are so prone to
contradict, you have never disobeyed me; and I fully trust that you
will not do so now."

Lady Arabella had begun by exacting, or trying to exact a promise,
but as she found that this was not forthcoming, she thought it better
to give up the point without a dispute. It might be that Beatrice
would absolutely refuse to pay this respect to her mother's
authority, and then where would she have been?

At this moment a servant came up to say that the squire was in his
room, and Lady Arabella was opportunely saved the necessity of
discussing the matter further with her daughter. "I am now," she
said, "going to see your father on the same subject; you may be quite
sure, Beatrice, that I should not willingly speak to him on any
matter relating to Dr Thorne did I not find it absolutely necessary
to do so."

This Beatrice knew was true, and she did therefore feel convinced
that something terrible must have happened.

While Lady Arabella opened her budget the squire sat quite silent,
listening to her with apparent respect. She found it necessary that
her description to him should be much more elaborate than that which
she had vouchsafed to her daughter, and, in telling her grievance,
she insisted most especially on the personal insult which had been
offered to herself.

"After what has now happened," said she, not quite able to repress a
tone of triumph as she spoke, "I do expect, Mr Gresham, that you
will--will--"

"Will what, my dear?"

"Will at least protect me from the repetition of such treatment."

"You are not afraid that Dr Thorne will come here to attack you? As
far as I can understand, he never comes near the place, unless when
you send for him."

"No; I do not think that he will come to Greshamsbury any more. I
believe I have put a stop to that."

"Then what is it, my dear, that you want me to do?"

Lady Arabella paused a minute before she replied. The game which she
now had to play was not very easy; she knew, or thought she knew,
that her husband, in his heart of hearts, much preferred his friend
to the wife of his bosom, and that he would, if he could, shuffle out
of noticing the doctor's iniquities. It behoved her, therefore, to
put them forward in such a way that they must be noticed.

"I suppose, Mr Gresham, you do not wish that Frank should marry the
girl?"

"I do not think there is the slightest chance of such a thing; and I
am quite sure that Dr Thorne would not encourage it."

"But I tell you, Mr Gresham, that he says he will encourage it."

"Oh, you have misunderstood him."

"Of course; I always misunderstand everything. I know that. I
misunderstood it when I told you how you would distress yourself if
you took those nasty hounds."

"I have had other troubles more expensive than the hounds," said the
poor squire, sighing.

"Oh, yes; I know what you mean; a wife and family are expensive, of
course. It is a little too late now to complain of that."

"My dear, it is always too late to complain of any troubles when they
are no longer to be avoided. We need not, therefore, talk any more
about the hounds at present."

"I do not wish to speak of them, Mr Gresham."

"Nor I."

"But I hope you will not think me unreasonable if I am anxious to
know what you intend to do about Dr Thorne."

"To do?"

"Yes; I suppose you will do something: you do not wish to see your
son marry such a girl as Mary Thorne."

"As far as the girl herself is concerned," said the squire, turning
rather red, "I am not sure that he could do much better. I know
nothing whatever against Mary. Frank, however, cannot afford to make
such a match. It would be his ruin."

"Of course it would; utter ruin; he never could hold up his head
again. Therefore it is I ask, What do you intend to do?"

The squire was bothered. He had no intention whatever of doing
anything, and no belief in his wife's assertion as to Dr Thorne's
iniquity. But he did not know how to get her out of the room. She
asked him the same question over and over again, and on each occasion
urged on him the heinousness of the insult to which she personally
had been subjected; so that at last he was driven to ask her what it
was she wished him to do.

"Well, then, Mr Gresham, if you ask me, I must say, that I think you
should abstain from any intercourse with Dr Thorne whatever."

"Break off all intercourse with him?"

"Yes."

"What do you mean? He has been turned out of this house, and I'm not
to go to see him at his own."

"I certainly think that you ought to discontinue your visits to Dr
Thorne altogether."

"Nonsense, my dear; absolute nonsense."

"Nonsense! Mr Gresham; it is no nonsense. As you speak in that way,
I must let you know plainly what I feel. I am endeavouring to do
my duty by my son. As you justly observe, such a marriage as this
would be utter ruin to him. When I found that the young people were
actually talking of being in love with each other, making vows and
all that sort of thing, I did think it time to interfere. I did not,
however, turn them out of Greshamsbury as you accuse me of doing. In
the kindest possible manner--"

"Well--well--well; I know all that. There, they are gone, and that's
enough. I don't complain; surely that ought to be enough."

"Enough! Mr Gresham. No; it is not enough. I find that, in spite
of what has occurred, the closest intimacy exists between the two
families; that poor Beatrice, who is so very young, and not so
prudent as she should be, is made to act as a go-between; and when
I speak to the doctor, hoping that he will assist me in preventing
this, he not only tells me that he means to encourage Mary in her
plans, but positively insults me to my face, laughs at me for being
an earl's daughter, and tells me--yes, he absolutely told me--to get
out of his house."

Let it be told with some shame as to the squire's conduct, that his
first feeling on hearing this was one of envy--of envy and regret
that he could not make the same uncivil request. Not that he wished
to turn his wife absolutely out of his house; but he would have been
very glad to have had the power of dismissing her summarily from his
own room. This, however, was at present impossible; so he was obliged
to make some mild reply.

"You must have mistaken him, my dear. He could not have intended to
say that."

"Oh! of course, Mr Gresham. It is all a mistake, of course. It will
be a mistake, only a mistake when you find your son married to Mary
Thorne."

"Well, my dear, I cannot undertake to quarrel with Dr Thorne." This
was true; for the squire could hardly have quarrelled with Dr Thorne,
even had he wished it.

"Then I think it right to tell you that I shall. And, Mr Gresham, I
did not expect much co-operation from you; but I did think that you
would have shown some little anger when you heard that I had been so
ill-treated. I shall, however, know how to take care of myself; and
I shall continue to do the best I can to protect Frank from these
wicked intrigues."

So saying, her ladyship arose and left the room, having succeeded in
destroying the comfort of all our Greshamsbury friends. It was very
well for the squire to declare that he would not quarrel with Dr
Thorne, and of course he did not do so. But he, himself, had no wish
whatever that his son should marry Mary Thorne; and as a falling drop
will hollow a stone, so did the continual harping of his wife on the
subject give rise to some amount of suspicion in his own mind. Then
as to Beatrice, though she had made no promise that she would not
again visit Mary, she was by no means prepared to set her mother's
authority altogether at defiance; and she also was sufficiently
uncomfortable.

Dr Thorne said nothing of the matter to his niece, and she,
therefore, would have been absolutely bewildered by Beatrice's
absence, had she not received some tidings of what had taken place at
Greshamsbury through Patience Oriel. Beatrice and Patience discussed
the matter fully, and it was agreed between them that it would be
better that Mary should know what sterner orders respecting her
had gone forth from the tyrant at Greshamsbury, and that she might
understand that Beatrice's absence was compulsory. Patience was thus
placed in this position, that on one day she walked and talked with
Beatrice, and on the next with Mary; and so matters went on for a
while at Greshamsbury--not very pleasantly.

Very unpleasantly and very uncomfortably did the months of May and
June pass away. Beatrice and Mary occasionally met, drinking tea
together at the parsonage, or in some other of the ordinary meetings
of country society; but there were no more confidentially distressing
confidential discourses, no more whispering of Frank's name, no more
sweet allusions to the inexpediency of a passion, which, according
to Beatrice's views, would have been so delightful had it been
expedient.

The squire and the doctor also met constantly; there were
unfortunately many subjects on which they were obliged to meet. Louis
Philippe--or Sir Louis as we must call him--though he had no power
over his own property, was wide awake to all the coming privileges
of ownership, and he would constantly point out to his guardian the
manner in which, according to his ideas, the most should be made of
it. The young baronet's ideas of good taste were not of the most
refined description, and he did not hesitate to tell Dr Thorne that
his, the doctor's, friendship with Mr Gresham must be no bar to his,
the baronet's, interest. Sir Louis also had his own lawyer, who gave
Dr Thorne to understand that, according to his ideas, the sum due
on Mr Gresham's property was too large to be left on its present
footing; the title-deeds, he said, should be surrendered or the
mortgage foreclosed. All this added to the sadness which now seemed
to envelop the village of Greshamsbury.

Early in July, Frank was to come home. The manner in which the
comings and goings of "poor Frank" were allowed to disturb the
arrangements of all the ladies, and some of the gentlemen, of
Greshamsbury was most abominable. And yet it can hardly be said to
have been his fault. He would have been only too well pleased had
things been allowed to go on after their old fashion. Things were
not allowed so to go on. At Christmas Miss Oriel had submitted to be
exiled, in order that she might carry Mary away from the presence of
the young Bashaw, an arrangement by which all the winter festivities
of the poor doctor had been thoroughly sacrificed; and now it began
to be said that some similar plan for the summer must be suggested.

It must not be supposed that any direction to this effect was
conveyed either to Mary or to the doctor. The suggestion came from
them, and was mentioned only to Patience. But Patience, as a matter
of course, told Beatrice, and Beatrice told her mother, somewhat
triumphantly, hoping thereby to convince the she-dragon of Mary's
innocence. Alas! she-dragons are not easily convinced of the
innocence of any one. Lady Arabella quite coincided the propriety of
Mary's being sent off,--whither she never inquired,--in order that
the coast might be clear for "poor Frank;" but she did not a whit the
more abstain from talking of the wicked intrigues of those Thornes.
As it turned out, Mary's absence caused her to talk all the more.

The Boxall Hill property, including the house and furniture, had been
left to the contractor's son; it being understood that the property
would not be at present in his own hands, but that he might inhabit
the house if he chose to do so. It would thus be necessary for Lady
Scatcherd to find a home for herself, unless she could remain at
Boxall Hill by her son's permission. In this position of affairs the
doctor had been obliged to make a bargain between them. Sir Louis did
wish to have the comfort, or perhaps the honour, of a country house;
but he did not wish to have the expense of keeping it up. He was
also willing to let his mother live at the house; but not without
a consideration. After a prolonged degree of haggling, terms were
agreed upon; and a few weeks after her husband's death, Lady
Scatcherd found herself alone at Boxall Hill--alone as regards
society in the ordinary sense, but not quite alone as concerned her
ladyship, for the faithful Hannah was still with her.

The doctor was of course often at Boxall Hill, and never left it
without an urgent request from Lady Scatcherd that he would bring his
niece over to see her. Now Lady Scatcherd was no fit companion for
Mary Thorne, and though Mary had often asked to be taken to Boxall
Hill, certain considerations had hitherto induced the doctor to
refuse the request; but there was that about Lady Scatcherd,--a kind
of homely honesty of purpose, an absence of all conceit as to her own
position, and a strength of womanly confidence in the doctor as her
friend, which by degrees won upon his heart. When, therefore, both he
and Mary felt that it would be better for her again to absent herself
for a while from Greshamsbury, it was, after much deliberation,
agreed that she should go on a visit to Boxall Hill.

To Boxall Hill, accordingly, she went, and was received almost as a
princess. Mary had all her life been accustomed to women of rank, and
had never habituated herself to feel much trepidation in the presence
of titled grandees; but she had prepared herself to be more than
ordinarily submissive to Lady Scatcherd. Her hostess was a widow, was
not a woman of high birth, was a woman of whom her uncle spoke well;
and, for all these reasons, Mary was determined to respect her, and
pay to her every consideration. But when she settled down in the
house she found it almost impossible to do so. Lady Scatcherd treated
her as a farmer's wife might have treated some convalescent young
lady who had been sent to her charge for a few weeks, in order that
she might benefit by the country air. Her ladyship could hardly bring
herself to sit still and eat her dinner tranquilly in her guest's
presence. And then nothing was good enough for Mary. Lady Scatcherd
besought her, almost with tears, to say what she liked best to eat
and drink; and was in despair when Mary declared she didn't care,
that she liked anything, and that she was in nowise particular in
such matters.

"A roast fowl, Miss Thorne?"

"Very nice, Lady Scatcherd."

"And bread sauce?"

"Bread sauce--yes; oh, yes--I like bread sauce,"--and poor Mary tried
hard to show a little interest.

"And just a few sausages. We make them all in the house, Miss Thorne;
we know what they are. And mashed potatoes--do you like them best
mashed or baked?"

Mary finding herself obliged to vote, voted for mashed potatoes.

"Very well. But, Miss Thorne, if you like boiled fowl better, with
a little bit of ham, you know, I do hope you'll say so. And there's
lamb in the house, quite beautiful; now do 'ee say something; do 'ee,
Miss Thorne."

So invoked, Mary felt herself obliged to say something, and declared
for the roast fowl and sausages; but she found it very difficult to
pay much outward respect to a person who would pay so much outward
respect to her. A day or two after her arrival it was decided that
she should ride about the place on a donkey; she was accustomed to
riding, the doctor having generally taken care that one of his own
horses should, when required, consent to carry a lady; but there was
no steed at Boxall Hill that she could mount; and when Lady Scatcherd
had offered to get a pony for her, she had willingly compromised
matters by expressing the delight she would have in making a campaign
on a donkey. Upon this, Lady Scatcherd had herself set off in quest
of the desired animal, much to Mary's horror; and did not return till
the necessary purchase had been effected. Then she came back with the
donkey close at her heels, almost holding its collar, and stood there
at the hall-door till Mary came to approve.

"I hope she'll do. I don't think she'll kick," said Lady Scatcherd,
patting the head of her purchase quite triumphantly.

"Oh, you are so kind, Lady Scatcherd. I'm sure she'll do quite
nicely; she seems very quiet," said Mary.

"Please, my lady, it's a he," said the boy who held the halter.

"Oh! a he, is it?" said her ladyship; "but the he-donkeys are quite
as quiet as the shes, ain't they?"

"Oh, yes, my lady; a deal quieter, all the world over, and twice as
useful."

"I'm so glad of that, Miss Thorne," said Lady Scatcherd, her eyes
bright with joy.

And so Mary was established with her donkey, who did all that could
be expected from an animal in his position.

"But, dear Lady Scatcherd," said Mary, as they sat together at the
open drawing-room window the same evening, "you must not go on
calling me Miss Thorne; my name is Mary, you know. Won't you call me
Mary?" and she came and knelt at Lady Scatcherd's feet, and took hold
of her, looking up into her face.

Lady Scatcherd's cheeks became rather red, as though she was somewhat
ashamed of her position.

"You are so very kind to me," continued Mary, "and it seems so cold
to hear you call me Miss Thorne."

"Well, Miss Thorne, I'm sure I'd call you anything to please you.
Only I didn't know whether you'd like it from me. Else I do think
Mary is the prettiest name in all the language."

"I should like it very much."

"My dear Roger always loved that name better than any other; ten
times better. I used to wish sometimes that I'd been called Mary."

"Did he! Why?"

"He once had a sister called Mary; such a beautiful creature! I
declare I sometimes think you are like her."

"Oh, dear! then she must have been beautiful indeed!" said Mary,
laughing.

"She was very beautiful. I just remember her--oh, so beautiful! she
was quite a poor girl, you know; and so was I then. Isn't it odd that
I should have to be called 'my lady' now? Do you know Miss Thorne--"

"Mary! Mary!" said her guest.

"Ah, yes; but somehow, I hardly like to make so free; but, as I was
saying, I do so dislike being called 'my lady:' I always think the
people are laughing at me; and so they are."

"Oh, nonsense."

"Yes, they are though: poor dear Roger, he used to call me 'my lady'
just to make fun of me; I didn't mind it so much from him. But, Miss
Thorne--"

"Mary, Mary, Mary."

"Ah, well! I shall do it in time. But, Miss--Mary, ha! ha! ha! never
mind, let me alone. But what I want to say is this: do you think I
could drop it? Hannah says, that if I go the right way about it she
is sure I can."

"Oh! but, Lady Scatcherd, you shouldn't think of such a thing."

"Shouldn't I now?"

"Oh, no; for your husband's sake you should be proud of it. He gained
great honour, you know."

"Ah, well," said she, sighing after a short pause; "if you think it
will do him any good, of course I'll put up with it. And then I know
Louis would be mad if I talked of such a thing. But, Miss Thorne,
dear, a woman like me don't like to have to be made a fool of all the
days of her life if she can help it."

"But, Lady Scatcherd," said Mary, when this question of the title had
been duly settled, and her ladyship made to understand that she must
bear the burden for the rest of her life, "but, Lady Scatcherd, you
were speaking of Sir Roger's sister; what became of her?"

"Oh, she did very well at last, as Sir Roger did himself; but in
early life she was very unfortunate--just at the time of my marriage
with dear Roger--," and then, just as she was about to commence so
much as she knew of the history of Mary Scatcherd, she remembered
that the author of her sister-in-law's misery had been a Thorne, a
brother of the doctor; and, therefore, as she presumed, a relative of
her guest; and suddenly she became mute.

"Well," said Mary; "just as you were married, Lady Scatcherd?"

Poor Lady Scatcherd had very little worldly knowledge, and did not
in the least know how to turn the conversation or escape from the
trouble into which she had fallen. All manner of reflections began to
crowd upon her. In her early days she had known very little of the
Thornes, nor had she thought much of them since, except as regarded
her friend the doctor; but at this moment she began for the first
time to remember that she had never heard more than two brothers in
the family. Who then could have been Mary's father? She felt at once
that it would be improper for to say anything as to Henry Thorne's
terrible faults and sudden fate;--improper also, to say more about
Mary Scatcherd; but she was quite unable to drop the matter otherwise
than abruptly, and with a start.

"She was very unfortunate, you say, Lady Scatcherd?"

"Yes, Miss Thorne; Mary, I mean--never mind me--I shall do it in
time. Yes, she was; but now I think of it, I had better say nothing
more about it. There are reasons, and I ought not to have spoken of
it. You won't be provoked with me, will you?"

Mary assured her that she would not be provoked, and of course asked
no more questions about Mary Scatcherd; nor did she think much more
about it. It was not so however with her ladyship, who could not
keep herself from reflecting that the old clergyman in the Close at
Barchester certainly had but two sons, one of whom was now the doctor
at Greshamsbury, and the other of whom had perished so wretchedly at
the gate of that farmyard. Who then was the father of Mary Thorne?

The days passed very quietly at Boxall Hill. Every morning Mary went
out on her donkey, who justified by his demeanour all that had been
said in his praise; then she would read or draw, then walk with Lady
Scatcherd, then dine, then walk again; and so the days passed quietly
away. Once or twice a week the doctor would come over and drink his
tea there, riding home in the cool of the evening. Mary also received
one visit from her friend Patience.

So the days passed quietly away till the tranquillity of the house
was suddenly broken by tidings from London. Lady Scatcherd received a
letter from her son, contained in three lines, in which he intimated
that on the following day he meant to honour her with a visit. He had
intended, he said, to have gone to Brighton with some friends; but as
he felt himself a little out of sorts, he would postpone his marine
trip and do his mother the grace of spending a few days with her.

This news was not very pleasant to Mary, by whom it had been
understood, as it had also by her uncle, that Lady Scatcherd would
have had the house to herself; but as there were no means of
preventing the evil, Mary could only inform the doctor, and prepare
herself to meet Sir Louis Scatcherd.



CHAPTER XXVIII

The Doctor Hears Something to His Advantage


Sir Louis Scatcherd had told his mother that he was rather out of
sorts, and when he reached Boxall Hill it certainly did not appear
that he had given any exaggerated statement of his own maladies. He
certainly was a good deal out of sorts. He had had more than one
attack of delirium tremens since his father's death, and had almost
been at death's door.

Nothing had been said about this by Dr Thorne at Boxall Hill; but
he was by no means ignorant of his ward's state. Twice he had gone
up to London to visit him; twice he had begged him to go down into
the country and place himself under his mother's care. On the last
occasion, the doctor had threatened him with all manner of pains and
penalties: with pains, as to his speedy departure from this world and
all its joys; and with penalties, in the shape of poverty if that
departure should by any chance be retarded. But these threats had
at the moment been in vain, and the doctor had compromised matters
by inducing Sir Louis to promise that he would go to Brighton. The
baronet, however, who was at length frightened by some renewed
attack, gave up his Brighton scheme, and, without any notice to the
doctor, hurried down to Boxall Hill.

Mary did not see him on the first day of his coming, but the doctor
did. He received such intimation of the visit as enabled him to be at
the house soon after the young man's arrival; and, knowing that his
assistance might be necessary, he rode over to Boxall Hill. It was
a dreadful task to him, this of making the same fruitless endeavour
for the son that he had made for the father, and in the same house.
But he was bound by every consideration to perform the task. He had
promised the father that he would do for the son all that was in his
power; and he had, moreover, the consciousness, that should Sir Louis
succeed in destroying himself, the next heir to all the property was
his own niece, Mary Thorne.

He found Sir Louis in a low, wretched, miserable state. Though he
was a drunkard as his father was, he was not at all such a drunkard
as was his father. The physical capacities of the men were very
different. The daily amount of alcohol which the father had consumed
would have burnt up the son in a week; whereas, though the son
was continually tipsy, what he swallowed would hardly have had an
injurious effect upon the father.

"You are all wrong, quite wrong," said Sir Louis, petulantly; "it
isn't that at all. I have taken nothing this week past--literally
nothing. I think it's the liver."

Dr Thorne wanted no one to tell him what was the matter with his
ward. It was his liver; his liver, and his head, and his stomach, and
his heart. Every organ in his body had been destroyed, or was in the
course of destruction. His father had killed himself with brandy;
the son, more elevated in his tastes, was doing the same thing with
curaçoa, maraschino, and cherry-bounce.

"Sir Louis," said the doctor--he was obliged to be much more
punctilious with him than he had been with the contractor--"the
matter is in your own hands entirely: if you cannot keep your lips
from that accursed poison, you have nothing in this world to look
forward to; nothing, nothing!"

Mary proposed to return with her uncle to Greshamsbury, and he was
at first well inclined that she should do so. But this idea was
overruled, partly in compliance with Lady Scatcherd's entreaties, and
partly because it would have seemed as though they had both thought
the presence of its owner had made the house an unfit habitation for
decent people. The doctor therefore returned, leaving Mary there; and
Lady Scatcherd busied herself between her two guests.

On the next day Sir Louis was able to come down to a late dinner, and
Mary was introduced to him. He had dressed himself in his best array;
and as he had--at any rate for the present moment--been frightened
out of his libations, he was prepared to make himself as agreeable as
possible. His mother waited on him almost as a slave might have done;
but she seemed to do so with the fear of a slave rather than the love
of a mother. She was fidgety in her attentions, and worried him by
endeavouring to make her evening sitting-room agreeable.

But Sir Louis, though he was not very sweetly behaved under these
manipulations from his mother's hands, was quite complaisant to
Miss Thorne; nay, after the expiration of a week he was almost more
than complaisant. He piqued himself on his gallantry, and now found
that, in the otherwise dull seclusion of Boxall Hill, he had a good
opportunity of exercising it. To do him justice it must be admitted
that he would not have been incapable of a decent career had he
stumbled upon some girl who could have loved him before he stumbled
upon his maraschino bottle. Such might have been the case with many
a lost rake. The things that are bad are accepted because the things
that are good do not come easily in his way. How many a miserable
father reviles with bitterness of spirit the low tastes of his son,
who has done nothing to provide his child with higher pleasures!

Sir Louis--partly in the hopes of Mary's smiles, and partly
frightened by the doctor's threats--did, for a while, keep himself
within decent bounds. He did not usually appear before Mary's eyes
till three or four in the afternoon; but when he did come forth, he
came forth sober and resolute to please. His mother was delighted,
and was not slow to sing his praises; and even the doctor, who now
visited Boxall Hill more frequently than ever, began to have some
hopes.

One constant subject, I must not say of conversation, on the part
of Lady Scatcherd, but rather of declamation, had hitherto been the
beauty and manly attributes of Frank Gresham. She had hardly ceased
to talk to Mary of the infinite good qualities of the young squire,
and especially of his prowess in the matter of Mr Moffat. Mary had
listened to all this eloquence, not perhaps with inattention, but
without much reply. She had not been exactly sorry to hear Frank
talked about; indeed, had she been so minded, she could herself have
said something on the same subject; but she did not wish to take Lady
Scatcherd altogether into her confidence, and she had been unable to
say much about Frank Gresham without doing so. Lady Scatcherd had,
therefore, gradually conceived the idea that her darling was not a
favourite with her guest.

Now, therefore, she changed the subject; and, as her own son was
behaving with such unexampled propriety, she dropped Frank and
confined her eulogies to Louis. He had been a little wild, she
admitted; young men so often were so; but she hoped that it was now
over.

"He does still take a little drop of those French drinks in the
morning," said Lady Scatcherd, in her confidence; for she was too
honest to be false, even in her own cause. "He does do that, I know:
but that's nothing, my dear, to swilling all day; and everything
can't be done at once, can it, Miss Thorne?"

On this subject Mary found her tongue loosened. She could not talk
about Frank Gresham, but she could speak with hope to the mother of
her only son. She could say that Sir Louis was still very young; that
there was reason to trust that he might now reform; that his present
conduct was apparently good; and that he appeared capable of better
things. So much she did say; and the mother took her sympathy for
more than it was worth.

On this matter, and on this matter perhaps alone, Sir Louis and Lady
Scatcherd were in accord. There was much to recommend Mary to the
baronet; not only did he see her to be beautiful, and perceive her
to be attractive and ladylike; but she was also the niece of the man
who, for the present, held the purse-strings of his wealth. Mary, it
is true, had no fortune. But Sir Louis knew that she was acknowledged
to be a lady; and he was ambitious that his "lady" should be a lady.
There was also much to recommend Mary to the mother, to any mother;
and thus it came to pass, that Miss Thorne had no obstacle between
her and the dignity of being Lady Scatcherd the second;--no obstacle
whatever, if only she could bring herself to wish it.

It was some time--two or three weeks, perhaps--before Mary's mind was
first opened to this new brilliancy in her prospects. Sir Louis at
first was rather afraid of her, and did not declare his admiration
in any very determined terms. He certainly paid her many compliments
which, from any one else, she would have regarded as abominable.
But she did not expect great things from the baronet's taste: she
concluded that he was only doing what he thought a gentleman should
do; and she was willing to forgive much for Lady Scatcherd's sake.

His first attempts were, perhaps, more ludicrous than passionate. He
was still too much an invalid to take walks, and Mary was therefore
saved from his company in her rambles; but he had a horse of his own
at Boxall Hill, and had been advised to ride by the doctor. Mary
also rode--on a donkey only, it is true--but Sir Louis found himself
bound in gallantry to accompany her. Mary's steed had answered every
expectation, and proved himself very quiet; so quiet, that without
the admonition of a cudgel behind him, he could hardly be persuaded
into the demurest trot. Now, as Sir Louis's horse was of a very
different mettle, he found it rather difficult not to step
faster than his inamorata; and, let it him struggle as he would,
was generally so far ahead as to be debarred the delights of
conversation.

When for the second time he proposed to accompany her, Mary did what
she could to hinder it. She saw that he had been rather ashamed of
the manner in which his companion was mounted, and she herself would
have enjoyed her ride much more without him. He was an invalid,
however; it was necessary to make much of him, and Mary did not
absolutely refuse his offer.

"Lady Scatcherd," said he, as they were standing at the door previous
to mounting--he always called his mother Lady Scatcherd--"why don't
you have a horse for Miss Thorne? This donkey is--is--really is, so
very--very--can't go at all, you know?"

Lady Scatcherd began to declare that she would willingly have got a
pony if Mary would have let her do so.

"Oh, no, Lady Scatcherd; not on any account. I do like the donkey so
much--I do indeed."

"But he won't go," said Sir Louis. "And for a person who rides like
you, Miss Thorne--such a horsewoman you know--why, you know, Lady
Scatcherd, it's positively ridiculous; d---- absurd, you know."

And then, with an angry look at his mother, he mounted his horse, and
was soon leading the way down the avenue.

"Miss Thorne," said he, pulling himself up at the gate, "if I had
known that I was to be so extremely happy as to have found you here,
I would have brought you down the most beautiful creature, an Arab.
She belongs to my friend Jenkins; but I wouldn't have stood at any
price in getting her for you. By Jove! if you were on that mare, I'd
back you, for style and appearance, against anything in Hyde Park."

The offer of this sporting wager, which naturally would have been
very gratifying to Mary, was lost upon her, for Sir Louis had again
unwittingly got on in advance, but he stopped himself in time to hear
Mary again declare her passion was a donkey.

"If you could only see Jenkins's little mare, Miss Thorne! Only say
one word, and she shall be down here before the week's end. Price
shall be no obstacle--none whatever. By Jove, what a pair you would
be!"

This generous offer was repeated four or five times; but on each
occasion Mary only half heard what was said, and on each occasion the
baronet was far too much in advance to hear Mary's reply. At last he
recollected that he wanted to call on one of the tenants, and begged
his companion to allow him to ride on.

"If you at all dislike being left alone, you know--"

"Oh dear no, not at all, Sir Louis. I am quite used to it."

"Because I don't care about it, you know; only I can't make this
horse walk the same pace as that brute."

"You mustn't abuse my pet, Sir Louis."

"It's a d---- shame on my mother's part;" said Sir Louis, who, even
when in his best behaviour, could not quite give up his ordinary mode
of conversation. "When she was fortunate enough to get such a girl as
you to come and stay with her, she ought to have had something proper
for her to ride upon; but I'll look to it as soon as I am a little
stronger, you see if I don't;" and, so saying, Sir Louis trotted off,
leaving Mary in peace with her donkey.

Sir Louis had now been living cleanly and forswearing sack for what
was to him a very long period, and his health felt the good effects
of it. No one rejoiced at this more cordially than did the doctor. To
rejoice at it was with him a point of conscience. He could not help
telling himself now and again that, circumstanced as he was, he was
most specially bound to take joy in any sign of reformation which
the baronet might show. Not to do so would be almost tantamount
to wishing that he might die in order that Mary might inherit his
wealth; and, therefore, the doctor did with all his energy devote
himself to the difficult task of hoping and striving that Sir Louis
might yet live to enjoy what was his own. But the task was altogether
a difficult one, for as Sir Louis became stronger in health, so
also did he become more exorbitant in his demands on the doctor's
patience, and more repugnant to the doctor's tastes.

In his worst fits of disreputable living he was ashamed to apply to
his guardian for money; and in his worst fits of illness he was,
through fear, somewhat patient under his doctor's hands; but just at
present he had nothing of which to be ashamed, and was not at all
patient.

"Doctor,"--said he, one day, at Boxall Hill--"how about those
Greshamsbury title-deeds?"

"Oh, that will all be properly settled between my lawyer and your
own."

"Oh--ah--yes; no doubt the lawyers will settle it: settle it with a
fine bill of costs, of course. But, as Finnie says,"--Finnie was Sir
Louis's legal adviser--"I have got a tremendously large interest at
stake in this matter; eighty thousand pounds is no joke. It ain't
everybody that can shell out eighty thousand pounds when they're
wanted; and I should like to know how the thing's going on. I've a
right to ask, you know; eh, doctor?"

"The title-deeds of a large portion of the Greshamsbury estate will
be placed with the mortgage-deeds before the end of next month."

"Oh, that's all right. I choose to know about these things; for
though my father did make such a con-found-ed will, that's no reason
I shouldn't know how things are going."

"You shall know everything that I know, Sir Louis."

"And now, doctor, what are we to do about money?"

"About money?"

"Yes; money, rhino, ready! 'put money in your purse and cut a dash;'
eh, doctor? Not that I want to cut a dash. No, I'm going on the quiet
line altogether now: I've done with all that sort of thing."

"I'm heartily glad of it; heartily," said the doctor.

"Yes, I'm not going to make way for my far-away cousin yet; not if I
know it, at least. I shall soon be all right now, doctor; shan't I?"

"'All right' is a long word, Sir Louis. But I do hope you will be all
right in time, if you will live with decent prudence. You shouldn't
take that filth in the morning though."

"Filth in the morning! That's my mother, I suppose! That's her
ladyship! She's been talking, has she? Don't you believe her, doctor.
There's not a young man in Barsetshire is going more regular, all
right within the posts, than I am."

The doctor was obliged to acknowledge that there did seem to be some
improvement.

"And now, doctor, how about money? Eh?"

Doctor Thorne, like other guardians similarly circumstanced, began to
explain that Sir Louis had already had a good deal of money, and had
begun also to promise that more should be forthcoming in the event
of good behaviour, when he was somewhat suddenly interrupted by Sir
Louis.

"Well, now; I'll tell you what, doctor; I've got a bit of news for
you; something that I think will astonish you."

The doctor opened his eyes, and tried to look as though ready to be
surprised.

"Something that will really make you look about; and something, too,
that will be very much to the hearer's advantage,--as the newspaper
advertisements say."

"Something to my advantage?" said the doctor.

"Well, I hope you'll think so. Doctor, what would you think now of my
getting married?"

"I should be delighted to hear of it--more delighted than I can
express; that is, of course, if you were to marry well. It was your
father's most eager wish that you should marry early."

"That's partly my reason," said the young hypocrite. "But then, if I
marry I must have an income fit to live on; eh, doctor?"

The doctor had some fear that his interesting protégée was desirous
of a wife for the sake of the income, instead of desiring the income
for the sake of the wife. But let the cause be what it would,
marriage would probably be good for him; and he had no hesitation,
therefore, in telling him, that if he married well, he should be put
in possession of sufficient income to maintain the new Lady Scatcherd
in a manner becoming her dignity.

"As to marrying well," said Sir Louis, "you, I take it, will the be
the last man, doctor, to quarrel with my choice."

"Shall I?" said the doctor, smiling.

"Well, you won't disapprove, I guess, as the Yankee says. What would
you think of Miss Mary Thorne?"

It must be said in Sir Louis's favour that he had probably no idea
whatever of the estimation in which such young ladies as Mary Thorne
are held by those who are nearest and dearest to them. He had no sort
of conception that she was regarded by her uncle as an inestimable
treasure, almost too precious to be rendered up to the arms of any
man; and infinitely beyond any price in silver and gold, baronets'
incomes of eight or ten thousand a year, and such coins usually
current in the world's markets. He was a rich man and a baronet,
and Mary was an unmarried girl without a portion. In Sir Louis's
estimation he was offering everything, and asking for nothing. He
certainly had some idea that girls were apt to be coy, and required
a little wooing in the shape of presents, civil speeches--perhaps
kisses also. The civil speeches he had, he thought, done, and
imagined that they had been well received. The other things were to
follow; an Arab pony, for instance,--and the kisses probably with it;
and then all these difficulties would be smoothed.

But he did not for a moment conceive that there would be any
difficulty with the uncle. How should there be? Was he not a baronet
with ten thousand a year coming to him? Had he not everything which
fathers want for portionless daughters, and uncles for dependant
nieces? Might he not well inform the doctor that he had something to
tell him for his advantage?

And yet, to tell the truth, the doctor did not seem to be overjoyed
when the announcement was first made to him. He was by no means
overjoyed. On the contrary, even Sir Louis could perceive his
guardian's surprise was altogether unmixed with delight.

What a question was this that was asked him! What would he think of
a marriage between Mary Thorne--his Mary and Sir Louis Scatcherd?
Between the alpha of the whole alphabet, and him whom he could not
but regard as the omega! Think of it! Why he would think of it as
though a lamb and a wolf were to stand at the altar together. Had Sir
Louis been a Hottentot, or an Esquimaux, the proposal could not have
astonished him more. The two persons were so totally of a different
class, that the idea of the one falling in love with the other had
never occurred to him. "What would you think of Miss Mary Thorne?"
Sir Louis had asked; and the doctor, instead of answering him
with ready and pleased alacrity, stood silent, thunderstruck with
amazement.

"Well, wouldn't she be a good wife?" said Sir Louis, rather in a tone
of disgust at the evident disapproval shown at his choice. "I thought
you'd have been so delighted."

"Mary Thorne!" ejaculated the doctor at last. "Have you spoken to my
niece about this, Sir Louis?"

"Well, I have and yet I haven't; I haven't, and yet in a manner I
have."

"I don't understand you," said the doctor.

"Why, you see, I haven't exactly popped to her yet; but I have been
doing the civil; and if she's up to snuff, as I take her to be, she
knows very well what I'm after by this time."

Up to snuff! Mary Thorne, his Mary Thorne, up to snuff! To snuff too
of such a very disagreeable description!

"I think, Sir Louis, that you are in mistake about this. I think you
will find that Mary will not be disposed to avail herself of the
great advantages--for great they undoubtedly are--which you are able
to offer to your intended wife. If you will take my advice, you will
give up thinking of Mary. She would not suit you."

"Not suit me! Oh, but I think she just would. She's got no money, you
mean?"

"No, I did not mean that. It will not signify to you whether your
wife has money or not. You need not look for money. But you should
think of some one more nearly of your own temperament. I am quite
sure that my niece would refuse you."

These last words the doctor uttered with much emphasis. His intention
was to make the baronet understand that the matter was quite
hopeless, and to induce him if possible to drop it on the spot. But
he did not know Sir Louis; he ranked him too low in the scale of
human beings, and gave him no credit for any strength of character.
Sir Louis in his way did love Mary Thorne; and could not bring
himself to believe that Mary did not, or at any rate, would not soon
return his passion. He was, moreover, sufficiently obstinate, firm we
ought perhaps to say,--for his pursuit in this case was certainly not
an evil one,--and he at once made up his mind to succeed in spite of
the uncle.

"If she consents, however, you will do so too?" asked he.

"It is impossible she should consent," said the doctor.

"Impossible! I don't see anything at all impossible. But if she
does?"

"But she won't."

"Very well,--that's to be seen. But just tell me this, if she does,
will you consent?"

"The stars would fall first. It's all nonsense. Give it up, my dear
friend; believe me you are only preparing unhappiness for yourself;"
and the doctor put his hand kindly on the young man's arm. "She will
not, cannot accept such an offer."

"Will not! cannot!" said the baronet, thinking over all the reasons
which in his estimation could possibly be inducing the doctor to be
so hostile to his views, and shaking the hand off his arm. "Will not!
cannot! But come, doctor, answer my question fairly. If she'll have
me for better or worse, you won't say aught against it; will you?"

"But she won't have you; why should you give her and yourself the
pain of a refusal?"

"Oh, as for that, I must stand my chances like another. And as for
her, why d----, doctor, you wouldn't have me believe that any young
lady thinks it so very dreadful to have a baronet with ten thousand
pounds a year at her feet, specially when that same baronet ain't
very old, nor yet particularly ugly. I ain't so green as that,
doctor."

"I suppose she must go through it, then," said the doctor, musing.

"But, Dr Thorne, I did look for a kinder answer from you, considering
all that you so often say about your great friendship with my father.
I did think you'd at any rate answer me when I asked you a question."

But the doctor did not want to answer that special question. Could
it be possible that Mary should wish to marry this odious man, could
such a state of things be imagined to be the case, he would not
refuse his consent, infinitely as he would be disgusted by her
choice. But he would not give Sir Louis any excuse for telling Mary
that her uncle approved of so odious a match.

"I cannot say that in any case I should approve of such a marriage,
Sir Louis. I cannot bring myself to say so; for I know it would make
you both miserable. But on that matter my niece will choose wholly
for herself."

"And about the money, doctor?"

"If you marry a decent woman you shall not want the means of
supporting her decently," and so saying the doctor walked away,
leaving Sir Louis to his meditations.



CHAPTER XXIX

The Donkey Ride


Sir Louis, when left to himself, was slightly dismayed and somewhat
discouraged; but he was not induced to give up his object. The first
effort of his mind was made in conjecturing what private motive
Dr Thorne could possibly have in wishing to debar his niece from
marrying a rich young baronet. That the objection was personal to
himself, Sir Louis did not for a moment imagine. Could it be that the
doctor did not wish that his niece should be richer, and grander, and
altogether bigger than himself? Or was it possible that his guardian
was anxious to prevent him from marrying from some view of the
reversion of the large fortune? That there was some such reason, Sir
Louis was well sure; but let it be what it might, he would get the
better of the doctor. "He knew," so he said to himself, "what stuff
girls were made of. Baronets did not grow like blackberries." And so,
assuring himself with such philosophy, he determined to make his
offer.

The time he selected for doing this was the hour before dinner; but
on the day on which his conversation with the doctor had taken place,
he was deterred by the presence of a strange visitor. To account for
this strange visit it will be necessary that we should return to
Greshamsbury for a few minutes.

Frank, when he returned home for his summer vacation, found that
Mary had again flown; and the very fact of her absence added fuel to
the fire of his love, more perhaps then even her presence might have
done. For the flight of the quarry ever adds eagerness to the pursuit
of the huntsman. Lady Arabella, moreover, had a bitter enemy; a
foe, utterly opposed to her side in the contest, where she had once
fondly looked for her staunchest ally. Frank was now in the habit
of corresponding with Miss Dunstable, and received from her most
energetic admonitions to be true to the love which he had sworn. True
to it he resolved to be; and therefore, when he found that Mary was
flown, he resolved to fly after her.

He did not, however, do this till he had been in a measure provoked
to it by it by the sharp-tongued cautions and blunted irony of his
mother. It was not enough for her that she had banished Mary out of
the parish, and made Dr Thorne's life miserable; not enough that
she harassed her husband with harangues on the constant subject of
Frank's marrying money, and dismayed Beatrice with invectives against
the iniquity of her friend. The snake was so but scotched; to kill it
outright she must induce Frank utterly to renounce Miss Thorne.

This task she essayed, but not exactly with success. "Well, mother,"
said Frank, at last turning very red, partly with shame, and partly
with indignation, as he made the frank avowal, "since you press me
about it, I tell you fairly that my mind is made up to marry Mary
sooner or later, if--"

"Oh, Frank! good heavens! you wicked boy; you are saying this
purposely to drive me distracted."

"If," continued Frank, not attending to his mother's interjections,
"if she will consent."

"Consent!" said Lady Arabella. "Oh, heavens!" and falling into the
corner of the sofa, she buried her face in her handkerchief.

"Yes, mother, if she will consent. And now that I have told you so
much, it is only just that I should tell you this also; that as far
as I can see at present I have no reason to hope that she will do
so."

"Oh, Frank, the girl is doing all she can to catch you," said Lady
Arabella,--not prudently.

"No, mother; there you wrong her altogether; wrong her most cruelly."

"You ungracious, wicked boy! you call me cruel!"

"I don't call you cruel; but you wrong her cruelly, most cruelly.
When I have spoken to her about this--for I have spoken to her--she
has behaved exactly as you would have wanted her to do; but not at
all as I wished her. She has given me no encouragement. You have
turned her out among you"--Frank was beginning to be very bitter
now--"but she has done nothing to deserve it. If there has been any
fault it has been mine. But it is well that we should all understand
each other. My intention is to marry Mary if I can." And, so
speaking, certainly without due filial respect, he turned towards the
door.

"Frank," said his mother, raising herself up with energy to make one
last appeal. "Frank, do you wish to see me die of a broken heart?"

"You know, mother, I would wish to make you happy, if I could."

"If you wish to see me ever happy again, if you do not wish to see
me sink broken-hearted to my grave, you must give up this mad idea,
Frank,"--and now all Lady Arabella's energy came out. "Frank there is
but one course left open to you. You MUST _marry money_." And then
Lady Arabella stood up before her son as Lady Macbeth might have
stood, had Lady Macbeth lived to have a son of Frank's years.

"Miss Dunstable, I suppose," said Frank, scornfully. "No, mother; I
made an ass, and worse than an ass of myself once in that way, and I
won't do it again. I hate money."

"Oh, Frank!"

"I hate money."

"But, Frank, the estate?"

"I hate the estate--at least I shall hate it if I am expected to buy
it at such a price as that. The estate is my father's."

"Oh, no, Frank; it is not."

"It is in the sense I mean. He may do with it as he pleases; he will
never have a word of complaint from me. I am ready to go into a
profession to-morrow. I'll be a lawyer, or a doctor, or an engineer;
I don't care what." Frank, in his enthusiasm, probably overlooked
some of the preliminary difficulties. "Or I'll take a farm under him,
and earn my bread that way; but, mother, don't talk to me any more
about marrying money." And, so saying, Frank left the room.

Frank, it will be remembered, was twenty-one when he was first
introduced to the reader; he is now twenty-two. It may be said that
there was a great difference between his character then and now. A
year at that period will make a great difference; but the change has
been, not in his character, but in his feelings.

Frank went out from his mother and immediately ordered his black
horse to be got ready for him. He would at once go over to Boxall
Hill. He went himself to the stables to give his orders; and as he
returned to get his gloves and whip he met Beatrice in the corridor.

"Beatrice," said he, "step in here," and she followed him into his
room. "I'm not going to bear this any longer; I'm going to Boxall
Hill."

"Oh, Frank! how can you be so imprudent?"

"You, at any rate, have some decent feeling for Mary. I believe you
have some regard for her; and therefore I tell you. Will you send her
any message?"

"Oh, yes; my best, best love; that is if you will see her; but,
Frank, you are very foolish, very; and she will be infinitely
distressed."

"Do not mention this, that is, not at present; not that I mean to
make any secret of it. I shall tell my father everything. I'm off
now!" and then, paying no attention to her remonstrance, he turned
down the stairs and was soon on horseback.

He took the road to Boxall Hill, but he did not ride very fast: he
did not go jauntily as a jolly, thriving wooer; but musingly, and
often with diffidence, meditating every now and then whether it
would not be better for him to turn back: to turn back--but not from
fear of his mother; not from prudential motives; not because that
often-repeated lesson as to marrying money was beginning to take
effect; not from such causes as these; but because he doubted how he
might be received by Mary.

He did, it is true, think something about his worldly prospects. He
had talked rather grandiloquently to his mother as to his hating
money, and hating the estate. His mother's never-ceasing worldly
cares on such subjects perhaps demanded that a little grandiloquence
should be opposed to them. But Frank did not hate the estate; nor did
he at all hate the position of an English country gentleman. Miss
Dunstable's eloquence, however, rang in his ears. For Miss Dunstable
had an eloquence of her own, even in her letters. "Never let them
talk you out of your own true, honest, hearty feelings," she had
said. "Greshamsbury is a very nice place, I am sure; and I hope I
shall see it some day; but all its green knolls are not half so nice,
should not be half so precious, as the pulses of your own heart. That
is your own estate, your own, your very own--your own and another's;
whatever may go to the money-lenders, don't send that there. Don't
mortgage that, Mr Gresham."

"No," said Frank, pluckily, as he put his horse into a faster trot,
"I won't mortgage that. They may do what they like with the estate;
but my heart's my own," and so speaking to himself, almost aloud, he
turned a corner of the road rapidly and came at once upon the doctor.

"Hallo, doctor! is that you?" said Frank, rather disgusted.

"What! Frank! I hardly expected to meet you here," said Dr Thorne,
not much better pleased.

They were now not above a mile from Boxall Hill, and the doctor,
therefore, could not but surmise whither Frank was going. They had
repeatedly met since Frank's return from Cambridge, both in the
village and in the doctor's house; but not a word had been said
between them about Mary beyond what the merest courtesy had required.
Not that each did not love the other sufficiently to make a full
confidence between them desirable to both; but neither had had the
courage to speak out.

Nor had either of them the courage to do so now. "Yes," said Frank,
blushing, "I am going to Lady Scatcherd's. Shall I find the ladies at
home?"

"Yes; Lady Scatcherd is there; but Sir Louis is there also--an
invalid: perhaps you would not wish to meet him."

"Oh! I don't mind," said Frank, trying to laugh; "he won't bite, I
suppose?"

The doctor longed in his heart to pray to Frank to return with him;
not to go and make further mischief; not to do that which might cause
a more bitter estrangement between himself and the squire. But he had
not the courage to do it. He could not bring himself to accuse Frank
of being in love with his niece. So after a few more senseless words
on either side, words which each knew to be senseless as he uttered
them, they both rode on their own ways.

And then the doctor silently, and almost unconsciously, made such a
comparison between Louis Scatcherd and Frank Gresham as Hamlet made
between the dead and live king. It was Hyperion to a satyr. Was it
not as impossible that Mary should not love the one, as that she
should love the other? Frank's offer of his affections had at first
probably been but a boyish ebullition of feeling; but if it should
now be, that this had grown into a manly and disinterested love, how
could Mary remain unmoved? What could her heart want more, better,
more beautiful, more rich than such a love as his? Was he not
personally all that a girl could like? Were not his disposition,
mind, character, acquirements, all such as women most delight to
love? Was it not impossible that Mary should be indifferent to him?

So meditated the doctor as he road along, with only too true a
knowledge of human nature. Ah! it was impossible, it was quite
impossible that Mary should be indifferent. She had never been
indifferent since Frank had uttered his first half-joking word of
love. Such things are more important to women than they are to men,
to girls than they are to boys. When Frank had first told her that he
loved her; aye, months before that, when he merely looked his love,
her heart had received the whisper, had acknowledged the glance,
unconscious as she was herself, and resolved as she was to rebuke his
advances. When, in her hearing, he had said soft nothings to Patience
Oriel, a hated, irrepressible tear had gathered in her eye. When he
had pressed in his warm, loving grasp the hand which she had offered
him as a token of mere friendship, her heart had forgiven him the
treachery, nay, almost thanked him for it, before her eyes or
her words had been ready to rebuke him. When the rumour of his
liaison with Miss Dunstable reached her ears, when she heard of
Miss Dunstable's fortune, she had wept, wept outright, in her
chamber--wept, as she said to herself, to think that he should be so
mercenary; but she had wept, as she should have said to herself, at
finding that he was so faithless. Then, when she knew at last that
this rumour was false, when she found that she was banished from
Greshamsbury for his sake, when she was forced to retreat with her
friend Patience, how could she but love him, in that he was not
mercenary? How could she not love him in that was so faithful?

It was impossible that she should not love him. Was he not the
brightest and the best of men that she had ever seen, or was like
to see?--that she could possibly ever see, she would have said to
herself, could she have brought herself to own the truth? And then,
when she heard how true he was, how he persisted against father,
mother, and sisters, how could it be that that should not be a merit
in her eyes which was so great a fault in theirs? When Beatrice, with
would-be solemn face, but with eyes beaming with feminine affection,
would gravely talk of Frank's tender love as a terrible misfortune,
as a misfortune to them all, to Mary herself as well as others, how
could Mary do other than love him? "Beatrice is his sister," she
would say within her own mind, "otherwise she would never talk like
this; were she not his sister, she could not but know the value of
such love as this." Ah! yes; Mary did love him; love him with all the
strength of her heart; and the strength of her heart was very great.
And now by degrees, in those lonely donkey-rides at Boxall Hill, in
those solitary walks, she was beginning to own to herself the truth.

And now that she did own it, what should be her course? What should
she do, how should she act if this loved one persevered in his
love? And, ah! what should she do, how should she act if he did not
persevere? Could it be that there should be happiness in store for
her? Was it not too clear that, let the matter go how it would, there
was no happiness in store for her? Much as she might love Frank
Gresham, she could never consent to be his wife unless the squire
would smile on her as his daughter-in-law. The squire had been
all that was kind, all that was affectionate. And then, too, Lady
Arabella! As she thought of the Lady Arabella a sterner form of
thought came across her brow. Why should Lady Arabella rob her of her
heart's joy? What was Lady Arabella that she, Mary Thorne, need quail
before her? Had Lady Arabella stood only in her way, Lady Arabella,
flanked by the de Courcy legion, Mary felt that she could have
demanded Frank's hand as her own before them all without a blush of
shame or a moment's hesitation. Thus, when her heart was all but
ready to collapse within her, would she gain some little strength by
thinking of the Lady Arabella.

"Please, my lady, here be young squoire Gresham," said one of the
untutored servants at Boxall Hill, opening Lady Scatcherd's little
parlour door as her ladyship was amusing herself by pulling down and
turning, and re-folding, and putting up again, a heap of household
linen which was kept in a huge press for the express purpose of
supplying her with occupation.

Lady Scatcherd, holding a vast counterpane in her arms, looked back
over her shoulders and perceived that Frank was in the room. Down
went the counterpane on the ground, and Frank soon found himself in
the very position which that useful article had so lately filled.

"Oh! Master Frank! oh, Master Frank!" said her ladyship, almost in an
hysterical fit of joy; and then she hugged and kissed him as she had
never kissed and hugged her own son since that son had first left the
parent nest.

Frank bore it patiently and with a merry laugh. "But, Lady
Scatcherd," said he, "what will they all say? you forget I am a man
now," and he stooped his head as she again pressed her lips upon his
forehead.

"I don't care what none of 'em say," said her ladyship, quite going
back to her old days; "I will kiss my own boy; so I will. Eh, but
Master Frank, this is good of you. A sight of you is good for sore
eyes; and my eyes have been sore enough too since I saw you;" and she
put her apron up to wipe away a tear.

"Yes," said Frank, gently trying to disengage himself, but not
successfully; "yes, you have had a great loss, Lady Scatcherd. I was
so sorry when I heard of your grief."

"You always had a soft, kind heart, Master Frank; so you had. God's
blessing on you! What a fine man you have grown! Deary me! Well, it
seems as though it were only just t'other day like." And she pushed
him a little off from her, so that she might look the better into his
face.

"Well. Is it all right? I suppose you would hardly know me again now
I've got a pair of whiskers?"

"Know you! I should know you well if I saw but the heel of your
foot. Why, what a head of hair you have got, and so dark too! but it
doesn't curl as it used once." And she stroked his hair, and looked
into his eyes, and put her hand to his cheeks. "You'll think me an
old fool, Master Frank: I know that; but you may think what you like.
If I live for the next twenty years you'll always be my own boy; so
you will."

By degrees, slow degrees, Frank managed to change the conversation,
and to induce Lady Scatcherd to speak on some other topic than his
own infantine perfections. He affected an indifference as he spoke of
her guest, which would have deceived no one but Lady Scatcherd; but
her it did deceive; and then he asked where Mary was.

"She's just gone out on her donkey--somewhere about the place. She
rides on a donkey mostly every day. But you'll stop and take a bit of
dinner with us? Eh, now do 'ee, Master Frank."

But Master Frank excused himself. He did not choose to pledge himself
to sit down to dinner with Mary. He did not know in what mood they
might return with regard to each other at dinner-time. He said,
therefore, that he would walk out and, if possible, find Miss Thorne;
and that he would return to the house again before he went.

Lady Scatcherd then began making apologies for Sir Louis. He was an
invalid; the doctor had been with him all the morning, and he was not
yet out of his room.

These apologies Frank willingly accepted, and then made his way as
he could on to the lawn. A gardener, of whom he inquired, offered to
go with him in pursuit of Miss Thorne. This assistance, however, he
declined, and set forth in quest of her, having learnt what were her
most usual haunts. Nor was he directed wrongly; for after walking
about twenty minutes, he saw through the trees the legs of a donkey
moving on the green-sward, at about two hundred yards from him. On
that donkey doubtless sat Mary Thorne.

The donkey was coming towards him; not exactly in a straight line,
but so much so as to make it impossible that Mary should not see him
if he stood still. He did stand still, and soon emerging from the
trees, Mary saw him all but close to her.

Her heart gave a leap within her, but she was so far mistress of
herself as to repress any visible sign of outward emotion. She did
not fall from her donkey, or scream, or burst into tears. She merely
uttered the words, "Mr Gresham!" in a tone of not unnatural surprise.

"Yes," said he, trying to laugh, but less successful than she had
been in suppressing a show of feeling. "Mr Gresham! I have come over
at last to pay my respects to you. You must have thought me very
uncourteous not to do so before."

This she denied. "She had not," she said, "thought him at all
uncivil. She had come to Boxall Hill to be out of the way; and, of
course, had not expected any such formalities." As she uttered this
she almost blushed at the abrupt truth of what she was saying. But
she was taken so much unawares that she did not know how to make the
truth other than abrupt.

"To be out of the way!" said Frank. "And why should you want to be
out of the way?"

"Oh! there were reasons," said she, laughing. "Perhaps I have
quarrelled dreadfully with my uncle."

Frank at the present moment had not about him a scrap of badinage. He
had not a single easy word at his command. He could not answer her
with anything in guise of a joke; so he walked on, not answering at
all.

"I hope all my friends at Greshamsbury are well," said Mary. "Is
Beatrice quite well?"

"Quite well," said he.

"And Patience?"

"What, Miss Oriel; yes, I believe so. I haven't seen her this day or
two." How was it that Mary felt a little flush of joy, as Frank spoke
in this indifferent way about Miss Oriel's health?

"I thought she was always a particular friend of yours," said she.

"What! who? Miss Oriel? So she is! I like her amazingly; so does
Beatrice." And then he walked about six steps in silence, plucking up
courage for the great attempt. He did pluck up his courage and then
rushed at once to the attack.

"Mary!" said he, and as he spoke he put his hand on the donkey's
neck, and looked tenderly into her face. He looked tenderly, and, as
Mary's ear at once told her, his voice sounded more soft than it had
ever sounded before. "Mary, do you remember the last time that we
were together?"

Mary did remember it well. It was on that occasion when he had
treacherously held her hand; on that day when, according to law, he
had become a man; when he had outraged all the propriety of the de
Courcy interest by offering his love to Mary in Augusta's hearing.
Mary did remember it well; but how was she to speak of it? "It was
your birthday, I think," said she.

"Yes, it was my birthday. I wonder whether you remember what I said
to you then?"

"I remember that you were very foolish, Mr Gresham."

"Mary, I have come to repeat my folly;--that is, if it be folly.
I told you then that I loved you, and I dare say that I did so
awkwardly, like a boy. Perhaps I may be just as awkward now; but you
ought at any rate to believe me when you find that a year has not
altered me."

Mary did not think him at all awkward, and she did believe him. But
how was she to answer him? She had not yet taught herself what answer
she ought to make if he persisted in his suit. She had hitherto been
content to run away from him; but she had done so because she would
not submit to be accused of the indelicacy of putting herself in his
way. She had rebuked him when he first spoke of his love; but she had
done so because she looked on what he said as a boy's nonsense. She
had schooled herself in obedience to the Greshamsbury doctrines. Was
there any real reason, any reason founded on truth and honesty, why
she should not be a fitting wife to Frank Gresham,--Francis Newbold
Gresham, of Greshamsbury, though he was, or was to be?

He was well born--as well born as any gentleman in England. She
was basely born--as basely born as any lady could be. Was this
sufficient bar against such a match? Mary felt in her heart that some
twelvemonth since, before she knew what little she did now know of
her own story, she would have said it was so. And would she indulge
her own love by inveigling him she loved into a base marriage? But
then reason spoke again. What, after all, was this blood of which she
had taught herself to think so much? Would she have been more honest,
more fit to grace an honest man's hearthstone, had she been the
legitimate descendant of a score of legitimate duchesses? Was it not
her first duty to think of him--of what would make him happy? Then of
her uncle--what he would approve? Then of herself--what would best
become her modesty; her sense of honour? Could it be well that she
should sacrifice the happiness of two persons to a theoretic love of
pure blood?

So she had argued within herself; not now, sitting on the donkey,
with Frank's hand before her on the tame brute's neck; but on other
former occasions as she had ridden along demurely among those trees.
So she had argued; but she had never brought her arguments to a
decision. All manner of thoughts crowded on her to prevent her doing
so. She would think of the squire, and resolve to reject Frank; and
would then remember Lady Arabella, and resolve to accept him. Her
resolutions, however, were most irresolute; and so, when Frank
appeared in person before her, carrying his heart in his hand, she
did not know what answer to make to him. Thus it was with her as with
so many other maidens similarly circumstanced; at last she left it
all to chance.

"You ought, at any rate, to believe me," said Frank, "when you find
that a year has not altered me."

"A year should have taught you to be wiser," said she. "You should
have learnt by this time, Mr Gresham, that your lot and mine are not
cast in the same mould; that our stations in life are different.
Would your father or mother approve of your even coming here to see
me?"

Mary, as she spoke these sensible words, felt that they were "flat,
stale, and unprofitable." She felt, also, that they were not true in
sense; that they did not come from her heart; that they were not such
as Frank deserved at her hands, and she was ashamed of herself.

"My father I hope will approve of it," said he. "That my mother
should disapprove of it is a misfortune which I cannot help; but
on this point I will take no answer from my father or mother; the
question is one too personal to myself. Mary, if you say that you
will not, or cannot return my love, I will go away;--not from here
only, but from Greshamsbury. My presence shall not banish you from
all that you hold dear. If you can honestly say that I am nothing to
you, can be nothing to you, I will then tell my mother that she may
be at ease, and I will go away somewhere and get over it as I may."
The poor fellow got so far, looking apparently at the donkey's ears,
with hardly a gasp of hope in his voice, and he so far carried Mary
with him that she also had hardly a gasp of hope in her heart. There
he paused for a moment, and then looking up into her face, he spoke
but one word more. "But," said he--and there he stopped. It was
clearly told in that "but." Thus would he do if Mary would declare
that she did not care for him. If, however, she could not bring
herself so to declare, then was he ready to throw his father and
mother to the winds; then would he stand his ground; then would he
look all other difficulties in the face, sure that they might finally
be overcome. Poor Mary! the whole onus of settling the matter was
thus thrown upon her. She had only to say that he was indifferent to
her;--that was all.

If "all the blood of the Howards" had depended upon it, she could
not have brought herself to utter such a falsehood. Indifferent to
her, as he walked there by her donkey's side, talking thus earnestly
of his love for her! Was he not to her like some god come from the
heavens to make her blessed? Did not the sun shine upon him with a
halo, so that he was bright as an angel? Indifferent to her! Could
the open unadulterated truth have been practicable for her, she
would have declared her indifference in terms that would truly have
astonished him. As it was, she found it easier to say nothing. She
bit her lips to keep herself from sobbing. She struggled hard, but
in vain, to prevent her hands and feet from trembling. She seemed to
swing upon her donkey as though like to fall, and would have given
much to be upon her own feet upon the sward.

"_Si la jeunesse savait . . ._" There is so much in that wicked old
French proverb! Had Frank known more about a woman's mind--had he,
that is, been forty-two instead of twenty-two--he would at once have
been sure of his game, and have felt that Mary's silence told him
all he wished to know. But then, had he been forty-two instead of
twenty-two, he would not have been so ready to risk the acres of
Greshamsbury for the smiles of Mary Thorne.

"If you can't say one word to comfort me, I will go," said he,
disconsolately. "I made up my mind to tell you this, and so I came
over. I told Lady Scatcherd I should not stay,--not even for dinner."

"I did not know you were so hurried," said she, almost in a whisper.

On a sudden he stood still, and pulling the donkey's rein, caused him
to stand still also. The beast required very little persuasion to be
so guided, and obligingly remained meekly passive.

"Mary, Mary!" said Frank, throwing his arms round her knees as she
sat upon her steed, and pressing his face against her body. "Mary,
you were always honest; be honest now. I love you with all my heart.
Will you be my wife?"

But still Mary said not a word. She no longer bit her lips; she was
beyond that, and was now using all her efforts to prevent her tears
from falling absolutely on her lover's face. She said nothing. She
could no more rebuke him now and send him from her than she could
encourage him. She could only sit there shaking and crying and
wishing she was on the ground. Frank, on the whole, rather liked the
donkey. It enabled him to approach somewhat nearer to an embrace than
he might have found practicable had they both been on their feet. The
donkey himself was quite at his ease, and looked as though he was
approvingly conscious of what was going on behind his ears.

"I have a right to a word, Mary; say 'Go,' and I will leave you at
once."

But Mary did not say "Go." Perhaps she would have done so had she
been able; but just at present she could say nothing. This came from
her having failed to make up her mind in due time as to what course
it would best become her to follow.

"One word, Mary; one little word. There, if you will not speak,
here is my hand. If you will have it, let it lie in yours;--if not,
push it away." So saying, he managed to get the end of his fingers
on to her palm, and there it remained unrepulsed. "La jeunesse"
was beginning to get a lesson; experience when duly sought after
sometimes comes early in life.

In truth Mary had not strength to push the fingers away. "My love,
my own, my own!" said Frank, presuming on this very negative sign of
acquiescence. "My life, my own one, my own Mary!" and then the hand
was caught hold of and was at his lips before an effort could be made
to save it from such treatment.

"Mary, look at me; say one word to me."

There was a deep sigh, and then came the one word--"Oh, Frank!"

"Mr Gresham, I hope I have the honour of seeing you quite well,"
said a voice close to his ear. "I beg to say that you are welcome to
Boxall Hill." Frank turned round and instantly found himself shaking
hands with Sir Louis Scatcherd.

How Mary got over her confusion Frank never saw, for he had enough
to do to get over his own. He involuntarily deserted Mary and began
talking very fast to Sir Louis. Sir Louis did not once look at Miss
Thorne, but walked back towards the house with Mr Gresham, sulky
enough in temper, but still making some effort to do the fine
gentleman. Mary, glad to be left alone, merely occupied herself with
sitting on the donkey; and the donkey, when he found that the two
gentlemen went towards the house, for company's sake and for his
stable's sake, followed after them.

Frank stayed but three minutes in the house; gave another kiss to
Lady Scatcherd, getting three in return, and thereby infinitely
disgusting Sir Louis, shook hands, anything but warmly, with the
young baronet, and just felt the warmth of Mary's hand within his
own. He felt also the warmth of her eyes' last glance, and rode home
a happy man.



CHAPTER XXX

Post Prandial


Frank rode home a happy man, cheering himself, as successful lovers
do cheer themselves, with the brilliancy of his late exploit: nor was
it till he had turned the corner into the Greshamsbury stables that
he began to reflect what he would do next. It was all very well to
have induced Mary to allow his three fingers to lie half a minute
in her soft hand; the having done so might certainly be sufficient
evidence that he had overcome one of the lions in his path; but it
could hardly be said that all his difficulties were now smoothed. How
was he to make further progress?

To Mary, also, the same ideas no doubt occurred--with many others.
But, then, it was not for Mary to make any progress in the matter. To
her at least belonged this passive comfort, that at present no act
hostile to the de Courcy interest would be expected from her. All
that she could do would be to tell her uncle so much as it was
fitting that he should know. The doing this would doubtless be in
some degree difficult; but it was not probable that there would be
much difference, much of anything but loving anxiety for each other,
between her and Dr Thorne. One other thing, indeed, she must do;
Frank must be made to understand what her birth had been. "This," she
said to herself, "will give him an opportunity of retracting what
he has done should he choose to avail himself of it. It is well he
should have such opportunity."

But Frank had more than this to do. He had told Beatrice that he
would make no secret of his love, and he fully resolved to be as good
as his word. To his father he owed an unreserved confidence; and he
was fully minded to give it. It was, he knew, altogether out of the
question that he should at once marry a portionless girl without his
father's consent; probably out of the question that he should do so
even with it. But he would, at any rate, tell his father, and then
decide as to what should be done next. So resolving, he put his black
horse into the stable and went in to dinner. After dinner he and his
father would be alone.

Yes; after dinner he and his father would be alone. He dressed
himself hurriedly, for the dinner-bell was almost on the stroke as he
entered the house. He said this to himself once and again; but when
the meats and the puddings, and then the cheese, were borne away,
as the decanters were placed before his father, and Lady Arabella
sipped her one glass of claret, and his sisters ate their portion of
strawberries, his pressing anxiety for the coming interview began to
wax somewhat dull.

His mother and sisters, however, rendered him no assistance by
prolonging their stay. With unwonted assiduity he pressed a second
glass of claret on his mother. But Lady Arabella was not only
temperate in her habits, but also at the present moment very angry
with her son. She thought that he had been to Boxall Hill, and was
only waiting a proper moment to cross-question him sternly on the
subject. Now she departed, taking her train of daughters with her.

"Give me one big gooseberry," said Nina, as she squeezed herself in
under her brother's arm, prior to making her retreat. Frank would
willingly have given her a dozen of the biggest, had she wanted them;
but having got the one, she squeezed herself out again and scampered
off.

The squire was very cheery this evening; from what cause cannot now
be said. Perhaps he had succeeded in negotiating a further loan, thus
temporarily sprinkling a drop of water over the ever-rising dust of
his difficulties.

"Well, Frank, what have you been after to-day? Peter told me you had
the black horse out," said he, pushing the decanter to his son. "Take
my advice, my boy, and don't give him too much summer road-work. Legs
won't stand it, let them be ever so good."

"Why, sir, I was obliged to go out to-day, and therefore, it had to
be either the old mare or the young horse."

"Why didn't you take Ramble?" Now Ramble was the squire's own saddle
hack, used for farm surveying, and occasionally for going to cover.

"I shouldn't think of doing that, sir."

"My dear boy, he is quite at your service; for goodness' sake do let
me have a little wine, Frank--quite at your service; any riding I
have now is after the haymakers, and that's all on the grass."

"Thank'ee, sir. Well, perhaps I will take a turn out of Ramble should
I want it."

"Do, and pray, pray take care of that black horse's legs. He's
turning out more of a horse than I took him to be, and I should be
sorry to see him injured. Where have you been to-day?"

"Well, father, I have something to tell you."

"Something to tell me!" and then the squire's happy and gay look,
which had been only rendered more happy and more gay by his assumed
anxiety about the black horse, gave place to that heaviness of visage
which acrimony and misfortune had made so habitual to him. "Something
to tell me!" Any grave words like these always presaged some money
difficulty to the squire's ears. He loved Frank with the tenderest
love. He would have done so under almost any circumstances; but,
doubtless, that love had been made more palpable to himself by the
fact that Frank had been a good son as regards money--not exigeant
as was Lady Arabella, or selfishly reckless as was his nephew Lord
Porlock. But now Frank must be in difficulty about money. This was
his first idea. "What is it, Frank; you have seldom had anything
to say that has not been pleasant for me to hear?" And then the
heaviness of visage again gave way for a moment as his eye fell upon
his son.

"I have been to Boxall Hill, sir."

The tenor of his father's thoughts was changed in an instant; and the
dread of immediate temporary annoyance gave place to true anxiety for
his son. He, the squire, had been no party to Mary's exile from his
own domain; and he had seen with pain that she had now a second time
been driven from her home: but he had never hitherto questioned the
expediency of separating his son from Mary Thorne. Alas! it became
too necessary--too necessary through his own default--that Frank
should marry money!

"At Boxall Hill, Frank! Has that been prudent? Or, indeed, has it
been generous to Miss Thorne, who has been driven there, as it were,
by your imprudence?"

"Father, it is well that we should understand each other about
this--"

"Fill your glass, Frank;" Frank mechanically did as he was told, and
passed the bottle.

"I should never forgive myself were I to deceive you, or keep
anything from you."

"I believe it is not in your nature to deceive me, Frank."

"The fact is, sir, that I have made up my mind that Mary Thorne shall
be my wife--sooner or later that is, unless, of course, she should
utterly refuse. Hitherto, she has utterly refused me. I believe I may
now say that she has accepted me."

The squire sipped his claret, but at the moment said nothing. There
was a quiet, manly, but yet modest determination about his son
that he had hardly noticed before. Frank had become legally of
age, legally a man, when he was twenty-one. Nature, it seems, had
postponed the ceremony till he was twenty-two. Nature often does
postpone the ceremony even to a much later age;--sometimes,
altogether forgets to accomplish it.

The squire continued to sip his claret; he had to think over the
matter a while before he could answer a statement so deliberately
made by his son.

"I think I may say so," continued Frank, with perhaps unnecessary
modesty. "She is so honest that, had she not intended it, she
would have said so honestly. Am I right, father, in thinking that,
as regards Mary, personally, you would not reject her as a
daughter-in-law?"

"Personally!" said the squire, glad to have the subject presented to
him in a view that enabled him to speak out. "Oh, no; personally, I
should not object to her, for I love her dearly. She is a good girl.
I do believe she is a good girl in every respect. I have always liked
her; liked to see her about the house. But--"

"I know what you would say, father." This was rather more than the
squire knew himself. "Such a marriage is imprudent."

"It is more than that, Frank; I fear it is impossible."

"Impossible! No, father; it is not impossible."

"It is impossible, Frank, in the usual sense. What are you to live
upon? What would you do with your children? You would not wish to see
your wife distressed and comfortless."

"No, I should not like to see that."

"You would not wish to begin life as an embarrassed man and end it
as a ruined man. If you were now to marry Miss Thorne such would, I
fear, doubtless be your lot."

Frank caught at the word "now." "I don't expect to marry immediately.
I know that would be imprudent. But I am pledged, father, and I
certainly cannot go back. And now that I have told you all this, what
is your advice to me?"

The father again sat silent, still sipping his wine. There was
nothing in his son that he could be ashamed of, nothing that he could
meet with anger, nothing that he could not love; but how should he
answer him? The fact was, that the son had more in him than the
father; this his mind and spirit were of a calibre not to be opposed
successfully by the mind and spirit of the squire.

"Do you know Mary's history?" said Mr Gresham, at last; "the history
of her birth?"

"Not a word of it," said Frank. "I did not know she had a history."

"Nor does she know it; at least, I presume not. But you should know
it now. And, Frank, I will tell it you; not to turn you from her--not
with that object, though I think that, to a certain extent, it should
have that effect. Mary's birth was not such as would become your wife
and be beneficial to your children."

"If so, father, I should have known that sooner. Why was she brought
in here among us?"

"True, Frank. The fault is mine; mine and your mother's.
Circumstances brought it about years ago, when it never occurred to
us that all this would arise. But I will tell you her history. And,
Frank, remember this, though I tell it you as a secret, a secret to
be kept from all the world but one, you are quite at liberty to let
the doctor know that I have told you. Indeed, I shall be careful to
let him know myself should it ever be necessary that he and I should
speak together as to this engagement." The squire then told his son
the whole story of Mary's birth, as it is known to the reader.

Frank sat silent, looking very blank; he also had, as had every
Gresham, a great love for his pure blood. He had said to his mother
that he hated money, that he hated the estate; but he would have been
very slow to say, even in his warmest opposition to her, that he
hated the roll of the family pedigree. He loved it dearly, though he
seldom spoke of it;--as men of good family seldom do speak of it. It
is one of those possessions which to have is sufficient. A man having
it need not boast of what he has, or show it off before the world.
But on that account he values it more. He had regarded Mary as a
cutting duly taken from the Ullathorne tree; not, indeed, as a
grafting branch, full of flower, just separated from the parent
stalk, but as being not a whit the less truly endowed with the pure
sap of that venerable trunk. When, therefore, he heard her true
history he sat awhile dismayed.

"It is a sad story," said the father.

"Yes, sad enough," said Frank, rising from his chair and standing
with it before him, leaning on the back of it. "Poor Mary, poor Mary!
She will have to learn it some day."

"I fear so, Frank;" and then there was again a few moments' silence.

"To me, father, it is told too late. It can now have no effect on me.
Indeed," said he, sighing as he spoke, but still relieving himself by
the very sigh, "it could have had no effect had I learned it ever so
soon."

"I should have told you before," said the father; "certainly I ought
to have done so."

"It would have been no good," said Frank. "Ah, sir, tell me this: who
were Miss Dunstable's parents? What was that fellow Moffat's family?"

This was perhaps cruel of Frank. The squire, however, made no answer
to the question. "I have thought it right to tell you," said he.
"I leave all commentary to yourself. I need not tell you what your
mother will think."

"What did she think of Miss Dunstable's birth?" said he, again more
bitterly than before. "No, sir," he continued, after a further pause.
"All that can make no change; none at any rate now. It can't make my
love less, even if it could have prevented it. Nor, even, could it do
so--which it can't least, not in the least--but could it do so, it
could not break my engagement. I am now engaged to Mary Thorne."

And then he again repeated his question, asking for his father's
advice under the present circumstances. The conversation was a very
long one, as long as to disarrange all Lady Arabella's plans. She
had determined to take her son most stringently to task that very
evening; and with this object had ensconced herself in the small
drawing-room which had formerly been used for a similar purpose by
the august countess herself. Here she now sat, having desired Augusta
and Beatrice, as well as the twins, to beg Frank to go to her as soon
as he should come out of the dining-room. Poor lady! there she waited
till ten o'clock,--tealess. There was not much of the Bluebeard about
the squire; but he had succeeded in making it understood through the
household that he was not to be interrupted by messages from his wife
during the post-prandial hour, which, though no toper, he loved so
well.

As a period of twelve months will now have to be passed over, the
upshot of this long conversation must be told in as few words as
possible. The father found it impracticable to talk his son out of
his intended marriage; indeed, he hardly attempted to do so by any
direct persuasion. He explained to him that it was impossible that he
should marry at once, and suggested that he, Frank, was very young.

"You married, sir, before you were one-and-twenty," said Frank. Yes,
and repented before I was two-and-twenty. So did not say the squire.

He suggested that Mary should have time to ascertain what would be
her uncle's wishes, and ended by inducing Frank to promise, that
after taking his degree in October he would go abroad for some
months, and that he would not indeed return to Greshamsbury till he
was three-and-twenty.

"He may perhaps forget her," said the father to himself, as this
agreement was made between them.

"He thinks that I shall forget her," said Frank to himself at the
same time; "but he does not know me."

When Lady Arabella at last got hold of her son she found that the
time for her preaching was utterly gone by. He told her, almost with
_sang-froid_, what his plans were; and when she came to understand
them, and to understand also what had taken place at Boxall Hill, she
could not blame the squire for what he had done. She also said to
herself, more confidently than the squire had done, that Frank would
quite forget Mary before the year was out. "Lord Buckish," said she
to herself, rejoicingly, "is now with the ambassador at Paris"--Lord
Buckish was her nephew--"and with him Frank will meet women that are
really beautiful--women of fashion. When with Lord Buckish he will
soon forget Mary Thorne."

But not on this account did she change her resolve to follow up
to the furthest point her hostility to the Thornes. She was fully
enabled now to do so, for Dr Fillgrave was already reinstalled at
Greshamsbury as her medical adviser.

One other short visit did Frank pay to Boxall Hill, and one interview
had he with Dr Thorne. Mary told him all she knew of her own sad
history, and was answered only by a kiss,--a kiss absolutely not in
any way by her to be avoided; the first, the only one, that had ever
yet reached her lips from his. And then he went away.

The doctor told him all the story. "Yes," said Frank, "I knew it all
before. Dear Mary, dearest Mary! Don't you, doctor, teach yourself to
believe that I shall forget her." And then also he went his way from
him--went his way also from Greshamsbury, and was absent for the full
period of his allotted banishment--twelve months, namely, and a day.



CHAPTER XXXI

The Small End of the Wedge


Frank Gresham was absent from Greshamsbury twelve months and a day: a
day is always added to the period of such absences, as shown in the
history of Lord Bateman and other noble heroes. We need not detail
all the circumstances of his banishment, all the details of the
compact that was made. One detail of course was this, that there
should be no corresponding; a point to which the squire found some
difficulty in bringing his son to assent.

It must not be supposed that Mary Thorne or the doctor were in any
way parties to, or privy to these agreements. By no means. The
agreements were drawn out, and made, and signed, and sealed at
Greshamsbury, and were known of nowhere else. The reader must not
imagine that Lady Arabella was prepared to give up her son, if
only his love could remain constant for one year. Neither did Lady
Arabella consent to any such arrangement, nor did the squire. It was
settled rather in this wise: that Frank should be subjected to no
torturing process, pestered to give no promises, should in no way be
bullied about Mary--that is, not at present--if he would go away for
a year. Then, at the end of the year, the matter should again be
discussed. Agreeing to this, Frank took his departure, and was absent
as per agreement.

What were Mary's fortunes immediately after his departure must be
shortly told, and then we will again join some of our Greshamsbury
friends at a period about a month before Frank's return.

When Sir Louis saw Frank Gresham standing by Mary's donkey, with
his arms round Mary's knees, he began to fear that there must be
something in it. He had intended that very day to throw himself
at Mary's feet, and now it appeared to his inexperienced eyes as
though somebody else had been at the same work before him. This not
unnaturally made him cross; so, after having sullenly wished the
visitor good-bye, he betook himself to his room, and there drank
curaçoa alone, instead of coming down to dinner.

This he did for two or three days, and then, taking heart of grace,
he remembered that, after all, he had very many advantages over young
Gresham. In the first place, he was a baronet, and could make his
wife a "lady." In the next place, Frank's father was alive and like
to live, whereas his own was dead. He possessed Boxall Hill in his
own right, but his rival had neither house nor land of his own. After
all, might it not be possible for him also to put his arm round
Mary's knees;--her knees, or her waist, or, perhaps, even her neck?
Faint heart never won fair lady. At any rate, he would try.

And he did try. With what result, as regards Mary, need hardly be
told. He certainly did not get nearly so far as putting his hand even
upon her knee before he was made to understand that it "was no go,"
as he graphically described it to his mother. He tried once and
again. On the first time Mary was very civil, though very determined.
On the second, she was more determined, though less civil; and then
she told him, that if he pressed her further he would drive her from
her mother's house. There was something then about Mary's eye, a
fixed composure round her mouth, and an authority in her face, which
went far to quell him; and he did not press her again.

He immediately left Boxall Hill, and, returning to London, had more
violent recourse to the curaçoa. It was not long before the doctor
heard of him, and was obliged to follow him, and then again occurred
those frightful scenes in which the poor wretch had to expiate,
either in terrible delirium or more terrible prostration of spirits,
the vile sin which his father had so early taught him.

Then Mary returned to her uncle's home. Frank was gone, and she
therefore could resume her place at Greshamsbury. Yes, she came back
to Greshamsbury; but Greshamsbury was by no means the same place that
it was formerly. Almost all intercourse was now over between the
doctor and the Greshamsbury people. He rarely ever saw the squire,
and then only on business. Not that the squire had purposely
quarrelled with him; but Dr Thorne himself had chosen that it should
be so, since Frank had openly proposed for his niece. Frank was now
gone, and Lady Arabella was in arms against him. It should not be
said that he kept up any intimacy for the sake of aiding the lovers
in their love. No one should rightfully accuse him of inveigling the
heir to marry his niece.

Mary, therefore, found herself utterly separated from Beatrice. She
was not even able to learn what Beatrice would think, or did think,
of the engagement as it now stood. She could not even explain to
her friend that love had been too strong for her, and endeavour to
get some comfort from that friend's absolution from her sin. This
estrangement was now carried so far that she and Beatrice did not
even meet on neutral ground. Lady Arabella made it known to Miss
Oriel that her daughter could not meet Mary Thorne, even as strangers
meet; and it was made known to others also. Mrs Yates Umbleby, and
her dear friend Miss Gushing, to whose charming tea-parties none of
the Greshamsbury ladies went above once in a twelvemonth, talked
through the parish of this distressing difficulty. They would have
been so happy to have asked dear Mary Thorne, only the Greshamsbury
ladies did not approve.

Mary was thus tabooed from all society in the place in which a
twelvemonth since she had been, of all its denizens, perhaps the
most courted. In those days, no bevy of Greshamsbury young ladies
had fairly represented the Greshamsbury young ladyhood if Mary
Thorne was not there. Now she was excluded from all such bevies.
Patience did not quarrel with her, certainly;--came to see her
frequently;--invited her to walk;--invited her frequently to the
parsonage. But Mary was shy of acceding to such invitations, and at
last frankly told her friend Patience, that she would not again break
bread in Greshamsbury in any house in which she was not thought fit
to meet the other guests who habitually resorted there.

In truth, both the doctor and his niece were very sore, but they
were of that temperament that keeps all its soreness to itself. Mary
walked out by herself boldly, looking at least as though she were
indifferent to all the world. She was, indeed, hardly treated. Young
ladies' engagements are generally matters of profoundest secrecy, and
are hardly known of by their near friends till marriage is a thing
settled. But all the world knew of Mary's engagement within a month
of that day on which she had neglected to expel Frank's finger from
her hand; it had been told openly through the country-side that she
had confessed her love for the young squire. Now it is disagreeable
for a young lady to walk about under such circumstances, especially
so when she has no female friend to keep her in countenance,
more especially so when the gentleman is such importance in the
neighbourhood as Frank was in that locality. It was a matter of
moment to every farmer, and every farmer's wife, which bride Frank
should marry of those bespoken for him; Mary, namely, or Money. Every
yokel about the place had been made to understand that, by some
feminine sleight of hand, the doctor's niece had managed to trap
Master Frank, and that Master Frank had been sent out of the way so
that he might, if yet possible, break through the trapping. All this
made life rather unpleasant for her.

One day, walking solitary in the lanes, she met that sturdy farmer to
whose daughter she had in former days been so serviceable. "God bless
'ee, Miss Mary," said he--he always did bid God bless her when he saw
her. "And, Miss Mary, to say my mind out freely, thee be quite gude
enough for un, quite gude enough; so thee be'st tho'f he were ten
squoires." There may, perhaps, have been something pleasant in the
heartiness of this; but it was not pleasant to have this heart affair
of hers thus publicly scanned and talked over: to have it known to
every one that she had set her heart on marrying Frank Gresham, and
that all the Greshams had set their hearts on preventing it. And yet
she could in nowise help it. No girl could have been more staid and
demure, less demonstrative and boastful about her love. She had never
yet spoken freely, out of her full heart, to one human being. "Oh,
Frank!" All her spoken sin had been contained in that.

But Lady Arabella had been very active. It suited her better that it
should be known, far and wide, that a nameless pauper--Lady Arabella
only surmised that her foe was nameless; but she did not scruple to
declare it--was intriguing to catch the heir of Greshamsbury. None of
the Greshams must meet Mary Thorne; that was the edict sent about the
country; and the edict was well understood. Those, therefore, were
bad days for Miss Thorne.

She had never yet spoken on the matter freely, out of her full heart
to one human being. Not to one? Not to him? Not to her uncle? No, not
even to him, fully and freely. She had told him that that had passed
between Frank and her which amounted, at any rate on his part, to a
proposal.

"Well, dearest, and what was your answer?" said her uncle, drawing
her close to him, and speaking in his kindest voice.

"I hardly made any answer, uncle."

"You did not reject him, Mary?"

"No, uncle," and then she paused;--he had never known her tremble as
she now trembled. "But if you say that I ought, I will," she added,
drawing every word from herself with difficulty.

"I say you ought, Mary! Nay; but this question you must answer
yourself."

"Must I?" said she, plaintively. And then she sat for the next
half hour with her head against his shoulder; but nothing more was
said about it. They both acquiesced in the sentence that had been
pronounced against them, and went on together more lovingly than
before.

The doctor was quite as weak as his niece; nay, weaker. She hesitated
fearfully as to what she ought to do: whether she should obey her
heart or the dictates of Greshamsbury. But he had other doubts than
hers, which nearly set him wild when he strove to bring his mind to
a decision. He himself was now in possession--of course as a trustee
only--of the title-deeds of the estate; more of the estate, much
more, belonged to the heirs under Sir Roger Scatcherd's will than to
the squire. It was now more than probable that that heir must be Mary
Thorne. His conviction became stronger and stronger that no human
efforts would keep Sir Louis in the land of the living till he
was twenty-five. Could he, therefore, wisely or honestly, in true
friendship to the squire, to Frank, or to his niece, take any steps
to separate two persons who loved each other, and whose marriage
would in all human probability be so suitable?

And yet he could not bring himself to encourage it then. The idea
of "looking after dead men's shoes" was abhorrent to his mind,
especially when the man whose death he contemplated had been so
trusted to him as had been Sir Louis Scatcherd. He could not speak
of the event, even to the squire, as being possible. So he kept his
peace from day to day, and gave no counsel to Mary in the matter.

And then he had his own individual annoyances, and very aggravating
annoyances they were. The carriage--or rather post-chaise--of Dr
Fillgrave was now frequent in Greshamsbury, passing him constantly
in the street, among the lanes, and on the high roads. It seemed as
though Dr Fillgrave could never get to his patients at the big house
without showing himself to his beaten rival, either on his way
thither or on his return. This alone would, perhaps, not have hurt
the doctor much; but it did hurt him to know that Dr Fillgrave was
attending the squire for a little incipient gout, and that dear Nina
was in measles under those unloving hands.

And then, also, the old-fashioned phaeton, of old-fashioned old
Dr Century was seen to rumble up to the big house, and it became
known that Lady Arabella was not very well. "Not very well," when
pronounced in a low, grave voice about Lady Arabella, always meant
something serious. And, in this case, something serious was meant.
Lady Arabella was not only ill, but frightened. It appeared, even to
her, that Dr Fillgrave himself hardly knew what he was about, that he
was not so sure in his opinion, so confident in himself, as Dr Thorne
used to be. How should he be, seeing that Dr Thorne had medically had
Lady Arabella in his hands for the last ten years?

If sitting with dignity in his hired carriage, and stepping with
authority up the big front steps, would have done anything, Dr
Fillgrave might have done much. Lady Arabella was greatly taken with
his looks when he first came to her, and it was only when she by
degrees perceived that the symptoms, which she knew so well, did not
yield to him that she began to doubt those looks.

After a while Dr Fillgrave himself suggested Dr Century. "Not that
I fear anything, Lady Arabella," said he,--lying hugely, for he did
fear; fear both for himself and for her. "But Dr Century has great
experience, and in such a matter, when the interests are so
important, one cannot be too safe."

So Dr Century came and toddled slowly into her ladyship's room. He
did not say much; he left the talking to his learned brother, who
certainly was able to do that part of the business. But Dr Century,
though he said very little, looked very grave, and by no means
quieted Lady Arabella's mind. She, as she saw the two putting their
heads together, already had misgivings that she had done wrong. She
knew that she could not be safe without Dr Thorne at her bedside, and
she already felt that she had exercised a most injudicious courage in
driving him away.

"Well, doctor?" said she, as soon as Dr Century had toddled
downstairs to see the squire.

"Oh! we shall be all right, Lady Arabella; all right, very soon. But
we must be careful, very careful; I am glad I've had Century here,
very; but there's nothing to alter; little or nothing."

There were but few words spoken between Dr Century and the squire;
but few as they were, they frightened Mr Gresham. When Dr Fillgrave
came down the grand stairs, a servant waited at the bottom to ask him
also to go to the squire. Now there never had been much cordiality
between the squire and Dr Fillgrave, though Mr Gresham had consented
to take a preventative pill from his hands, and the little man
therefore swelled himself out somewhat more than ordinarily as he
followed the servant.

"Dr Fillgrave," said the squire, at once beginning the conversation,
"Lady Arabella, is, I fear, in danger?"

"Well, no; I hope not in danger, Mr Gresham. I certainly believe I
may be justified in expressing a hope that she is not in danger. Her
state is, no doubt, rather serious--rather serious--as Dr Century has
probably told you;" and Dr Fillgrave made a bow to the old man, who
sat quiet in one of the dining-room arm-chairs.

"Well, doctor," said the squire, "I have not any grounds on which to
doubt your judgement."

Dr Fillgrave bowed, but with the stiffest, slightest inclination
which a head could possibly make. He rather thought that Mr Gresham
had no ground for doubting his judgement.

"Nor do I."

The doctor bowed, and a little, a very little less stiffly.

"But, doctor, I think that something ought to be done."

The doctor this time did his bowing merely with his eyes and mouth.
The former he closed for a moment, the latter he pressed; and then
decorously rubbed his hands one over the other.

"I am afraid, Dr Fillgrave, that you and my friend Thorne are not the
best friends in the world."

"No, Mr Gresham, no; I may go so far as to say we are not."

"Well, I am sorry for it--"

"Perhaps, Mr Gresham, we need hardly discuss it; but there have been
circumstances--"

"I am not going to discuss anything, Dr Fillgrave; I say I am sorry
for it, because I believe that prudence will imperatively require
Lady Arabella to have Doctor Thorne back again. Now, if you would not
object to meet him--"

"Mr Gresham, I beg pardon; I beg pardon, indeed; but you must really
excuse me. Doctor Thorne has, in my estimation--"

"But, Doctor Fillgrave--"

"Mr Gresham, you really must excuse me; you really must, indeed.
Anything else that I could do for Lady Arabella, I should be most
happy to do; but after what has passed, I cannot meet Doctor Thorne;
I really cannot. You must not ask me to do so; Mr Gresham. And, Mr
Gresham," continued the doctor, "I did understand from Lady Arabella
that his--that is, Dr Thorne's--conduct to her ladyship had been
such--so very outrageous, I may say, that--that--that--of course, Mr
Gresham, you know best; but I did think that Lady Arabella herself
was quite unwilling to see Doctor Thorne again;" and Dr Fillgrave
looked very big, and very dignified, and very exclusive.

The squire did not ask again. He had no warrant for supposing that
Lady Arabella would receive Dr Thorne if he did come; and he saw
that it was useless to attempt to overcome the rancour of a man so
pig-headed as the little Galen now before him. Other propositions
were then broached, and it was at last decided that assistance should
be sought for from London, in the person of the great Sir Omicron
Pie.

Sir Omicron came, and Drs Fillgrave and Century were there to meet
him. When they all assembled in Lady Arabella's room, the poor
woman's heart almost sank within her,--as well it might, at such
a sight. If she could only reconcile it with her honour, her
consistency, with her high de Courcy principles, to send once more
for Dr Thorne. Oh, Frank! Frank! to what misery your disobedience
brought your mother!

Sir Omicron and the lesser provincial lights had their consultation,
and the lesser lights went their way to Barchester and Silverbridge,
leaving Sir Omicron to enjoy the hospitality of Greshamsbury.

"You should have Thorne back here, Mr Gresham," said Sir Omicron,
almost in a whisper, when they were quite alone. "Doctor Fillgrave
is a very good man, and so is Dr Century; very good, I am sure. But
Thorne has known her ladyship so long." And then, on the following
morning, Sir Omicron also went his way.

And then there was a scene between the squire and her ladyship. Lady
Arabella had given herself credit for great good generalship when she
found that the squire had been induced to take that pill. We have
all heard of the little end of the wedge, and we have most of us an
idea that the little end is the difficulty. That pill had been the
little end of Lady Arabella's wedge. Up to that period she had been
struggling in vain to make a severance between her husband and her
enemy. That pill should do the business. She well knew how to make
the most of it; to have it published in Greshamsbury that the squire
had put his gouty toe into Dr Fillgrave's hands; how to let it
be known--especially at that humble house in the corner of the
street--that Fillgrave's prescriptions now ran current through the
whole establishment. Dr Thorne did hear of it, and did suffer. He had
been a true friend to the squire, and he thought the squire should
have stood to him more staunchly.

"After all," said he himself, "perhaps it's as well--perhaps it will
be best that I should leave this place altogether." And then he
thought of Sir Roger and his will, and of Mary and her lover. And
then of Mary's birth, and of his own theoretical doctrines as to pure
blood. And so his troubles multiplied, and he saw no present daylight
through them.

Such had been the way in which Lady Arabella had got in the little
end of the wedge. And she would have triumphed joyfully had not her
increased doubts and fears as to herself then come in to check her
triumph and destroy her joy. She had not yet confessed to any one
her secret regret for the friend she had driven away. She hardly yet
acknowledged to herself that she did regret him; but she was uneasy,
frightened, and in low spirits.

"My dear," said the squire, sitting down by her bedside, "I want to
tell you what Sir Omicron said as he went away."

"Well?" said her ladyship, sitting up and looking frightened.

"I don't know how you may take it, Bell; but I think it very good
news:" the squire never called his wife Bell, except when he wanted
her to be on particularly good terms with him.

"Well?" said she again. She was not over-anxious to be gracious, and
did not reciprocate his familiarity.

"Sir Omicron says that you should have Thorne back again, and upon my
honour, I cannot but agree with him. Now, Thorne is a clever man, a
very clever man; nobody denies that; and then, you know--"

"Why did not Sir Omicron say that to me?" said her ladyship, sharply,
all her disposition in Dr Thorne's favour becoming wonderfully damped
by her husband's advocacy.

"I suppose he thought it better to say it to me," said the squire,
rather curtly.

"He should have spoken to myself," said Lady Arabella, who, though
she did not absolutely doubt her husband's word, gave him credit
for having induced and led on Sir Omicron to the uttering of this
opinion. "Doctor Thorne has behaved to me in so gross, so indecent a
manner! And then, as I understand, he is absolutely encouraging that
girl--"

"Now, Bell, you are quite wrong--"

"Of course I am; I always am quite wrong."

"Quite wrong in mixing up two things; Doctor Thorne as an
acquaintance, and Dr Thorne as a doctor."

"It is dreadful to have him here, even standing in the room with me.
How can one talk to one's doctor openly and confidentially when one
looks upon him as one's worst enemy?" And Lady Arabella, softening,
almost melted into tears.

"My dear, you cannot wonder that I should be anxious for you."

Lady Arabella gave a little snuffle, which might be taken as a not
very eloquent expression of thanks for the squire's solicitude, or as
an ironical jeer at his want of sincerity.

"And, therefore, I have not lost a moment in telling you what Sir
Omicron said. 'You should have Thorne back here;' those were his very
words. You can think it over, my dear. And remember this, Bell; if he
is to do any good no time should be lost."

And then the squire left the room, and Lady Arabella remained alone,
perplexed by many doubts.



CHAPTER XXXII

Mr Oriel


I must now, shortly--as shortly as it is in my power to do
it--introduce a new character to my reader. Mention has been made
of the rectory of Greshamsbury; but, hitherto, no opportunity has
offered itself for the Rev Caleb Oriel to come upon the boards.

Mr Oriel was a man of family and fortune, who, having gone to Oxford
with the usual views of such men, had become inoculated there with
very High-Church principles, and had gone into orders influenced by a
feeling of enthusiastic love for the priesthood. He was by no means
an ascetic--such men, indeed, seldom are--nor was he a devotee. He
was a man well able, and certainly willing, to do the work of a
parish clergyman; and when he became one, he was efficacious in his
profession. But it may perhaps be said of him, without speaking
slanderously, that his original calling, as a young man, was rather
to the outward and visible signs of religion than to its inward and
spiritual graces.

He delighted in lecterns and credence-tables, in services at dark
hours of winter mornings when no one would attend, in high waistcoats
and narrow white neckties, in chanted services and intoned prayers,
and in all the paraphernalia of Anglican formalities which have given
such offence to those of our brethren who live in daily fear of the
scarlet lady. Many of his friends declared that Mr Oriel would sooner
or later deliver himself over body and soul to that lady; but there
was no need to fear for him: for though sufficiently enthusiastic to
get out of bed at five a.m. on winter mornings--he did so, at least,
all through his first winter at Greshamsbury--he was not made of
that stuff which is necessary for a staunch, burning, self-denying
convert. It was not in him to change his very sleek black coat for a
Capuchin's filthy cassock, nor his pleasant parsonage for some dirty
hole in Rome. And it was better so both for him and others. There are
but few, very few, to whom it is given to be a Huss, a Wickliffe,
or a Luther; and a man gains but little by being a false Huss, or a
false Luther,--and his neighbours gain less.

But certain lengths in self-privation Mr Oriel did go; at any rate,
for some time. He eschewed matrimony, imagining that it became him
as a priest to do so. He fasted rigorously on Fridays; and the
neighbours declared that he scourged himself.

Mr Oriel was, as it has been said, a man of fortune; that is to say,
when he came of age he was master of thirty thousand pounds. When he
took it into his head to go into the Church, his friends bought for
him the next presentation to the living at Greshamsbury; and, a year
after his ordination, the living falling in, Mr Oriel brought himself
and his sister to the rectory.

Mr Oriel soon became popular. He was a dark-haired, good-looking
man, of polished manners, agreeable in society, not given to monkish
austerities--except in the matter of Fridays--nor yet to the
Low-Church severity of demeanour. He was thoroughly a gentleman,
good-humoured, inoffensive, and sociable. But he had one fault: he
was not a marrying man.

On this ground there was a feeling against him so strong as almost at
one time to throw him into serious danger. It was not only that he
should be sworn against matrimony in his individual self--he whom
fate had made so able to sustain the weight of a wife and family;
but what an example he was setting! If other clergymen all around
should declare against wives and families, what was to become of the
country? What was to be done in the rural districts? The religious
observances, as regards women, of a Brigham Young were hardly so bad
as this!

There were around Greshamsbury very many unmarried ladies--I believe
there generally are so round most such villages. From the great house
he did not receive much annoyance. Beatrice was then only just on the
verge of being brought out, and was not perhaps inclined to think
very much of a young clergyman; and Augusta certainly intended to fly
at higher game. But there were the Miss Athelings, the daughters of
a neighbouring clergyman, who were ready to go all lengths with him
in High-Church matters, except as that one tremendously papal step
of celibacy; and the two Miss Hesterwells, of Hesterwell Park, the
younger of whom boldly declared her purpose of civilising the savage;
and Mrs Opie Green, a very pretty widow, with a very pretty jointure,
who lived in a very pretty house about a mile from Greshamsbury, and
who declared her opinion that Mr Oriel was quite right in his view of
a clergyman's position. How could a woman, situated as she was, have
the comfort of a clergyman's attention if he were to be regarded
just as any other man? She could now know in what light to regard
Mr Oriel, and would be able without scruple to avail herself of his
zeal. So she did avail herself of his zeal,--and that without any
scruple.

And then there was Miss Gushing,--a young thing. Miss Gushing had a
great advantage over the other competitors for the civilisation of
Mr Oriel, namely, in this--that she was able to attend his morning
services. If Mr Oriel was to be reached in any way, it was probable
that he might be reached in this way. If anything could civilise
him, this would do it. Therefore, the young thing, through all one
long, tedious winter, tore herself from her warm bed, and was to
be seen--no, not seen, but heard--entering Mr Oriel's church at
six o'clock. With indefatigable assiduity the responses were made,
uttered from under a close bonnet, and out of a dark corner, in an
enthusiastically feminine voice, through the whole winter.

Nor did Miss Gushing altogether fail in her object. When a
clergyman's daily audience consists of but one person, and that
person is a young lady, it is hardly possible that he should not
become personally intimate with her; hardly possible that he should
not be in some measure grateful. Miss Gushing's responses came from
her with such fervour, and she begged for ghostly advice with such
eager longing to have her scruples satisfied, that Mr Oriel had
nothing for it but to give way to a certain amount of civilisation.

By degrees it came to pass that Miss Gushing could never get her
final prayer said, her shawl and boa adjusted, and stow away her
nice new Prayer-Book with the red letters inside, and the cross on
the back, till Mr Oriel had been into his vestry and got rid of
his surplice. And then they met at the church-porch, and naturally
walked together till Mr Oriel's cruel gateway separated them. The
young thing did sometimes think that, as the parson's civilisation
progressed, he might have taken the trouble to walk with her as far
as Mr Yates Umbleby's hall door; but she had hope to sustain her, and
a firm resolve to merit success, even though she might not attain it.

"Is it not ten thousand pities," she once said to him, "that none
here should avail themselves of the inestimable privilege which your
coming has conferred upon us? Oh, Mr Oriel, I do so wonder at it! To
me it is so delightful! The morning service in the dark church is so
beautiful, so touching!"

"I suppose they think it is a bore getting up so early," said Mr
Oriel.

"Ah, a bore!" said Miss Gushing, in an enthusiastic tone of
depreciation. "How insensate they must be! To me it gives a new charm
to life. It quiets one for the day; makes one so much fitter for
one's daily trials and daily troubles. Does it not, Mr Oriel?"

"I look upon morning prayer as an imperative duty, certainly."

"Oh, certainly, a most imperative duty; but so delicious at the same
time. I spoke to Mrs Umbleby about it, but she said she could not
leave the children."

"No: I dare say not," said Mr Oriel.

"And Mr Umbleby said his business kept him up so late at night."

"Very probably. I hardly expect the attendance of men of business."

"But the servants might come, mightn't they, Mr Oriel?"

"I fear that servants seldom can have time for daily prayers in
church."

"Oh, ah, no; perhaps not." And then Miss Gushing began to bethink
herself of whom should be composed the congregation which it must be
presumed that Mr Oriel wished to see around him. But on this matter
he did not enlighten her.

Then Miss Gushing took to fasting on Fridays, and made some futile
attempts to induce her priest to give her the comfort of confessional
absolution. But, unfortunately, the zeal of the master waxed cool
as that of the pupil waxed hot; and, at last, when the young thing
returned to Greshamsbury from an autumn excursion which she had made
with Mrs Umbleby to Weston-super-Mare, she found that the delicious
morning services had died a natural death. Miss Gushing did not on
that account give up the game, but she was bound to fight with no
particular advantage in her favour.

Miss Oriel, though a good Churchwoman, was by no means a convert to
her brother's extremist views, and perhaps gave but scanty credit
to the Gushings, Athelings, and Opie Greens for the sincerity of
their religion. But, nevertheless, she and her brother were staunch
friends; and she still hoped to see the day when he might be induced
to think that an English parson might get through his parish work
with the assistance of a wife better than he could do without such
feminine encumbrance. The girl whom she selected for his bride was
not the young thing, but Beatrice Gresham.

And at last it seemed probable to Mr Oriel's nearest friends that he
was in a fair way to be overcome. Not that he had begun to make love
to Beatrice, or committed himself by the utterance of any opinion as
to the propriety of clerical marriages; but he daily became looser
about his peculiar tenets, raved less immoderately than heretofore as
to the atrocity of the Greshamsbury church pews, and was observed to
take some opportunities of conversing alone with Beatrice. Beatrice
had always denied the imputation--this had usually been made by Mary
in their happy days--with vehement asseverations of anger; and Miss
Gushing had tittered, and expressed herself as supposing that great
people's daughters might be as barefaced as they pleased.

All this had happened previous to the great Greshamsbury feud. Mr
Oriel gradually got himself into a way of sauntering up to the great
house, sauntering into the drawing-room for the purpose, as I am sure
he thought, of talking to Lady Arabella, and then of sauntering home
again, having usually found an opportunity for saying a few words to
Beatrice during the visit. This went on all through the feud up to
the period of Lady Arabella's illness; and then one morning, about
a month before the date fixed for Frank's return, Mr Oriel found
himself engaged to Miss Beatrice Gresham.

From the day that Miss Gushing heard of it--which was not however
for some considerable time after this--she became an Independent
Methodist. She could no longer, she said at first, have any faith in
any religion; and for an hour or so she was almost tempted to swear
that she could no longer have any faith in any man. She had nearly
completed a worked cover for a credence-table when the news reached
her, as to which, in the young enthusiasm of her heart, she had not
been able to remain silent; it had already been promised to Mr Oriel;
that promise she swore should not be kept. He was an apostate, she
said, from his principles; an utter pervert; a false, designing man,
with whom she would never have trusted herself alone on dark mornings
had she known that he had such grovelling, worldly inclinations. So
Miss Gushing became an Independent Methodist; the credence-table
covering was cut up into slippers for the preacher's feet; and the
young thing herself, more happy in this direction than she had been
in the other, became the arbiter of that preacher's domestic
happiness.

But this little history of Miss Gushing's future life is premature.
Mr Oriel became engaged demurely, nay, almost silently, to Beatrice,
and no one out of their own immediate families was at the time
informed of the matter. It was arranged very differently from those
two other matches--embryo, or not embryo, those, namely, of Augusta
with Mr Moffat, and Frank with Mary Thorne. All Barsetshire had heard
of them; but that of Beatrice and Mr Oriel was managed in a much more
private manner.

"I do think you are a happy girl," said Patience to her one morning.

"Indeed I am."

"He is so good. You don't know how good he is as yet; he never thinks
of himself, and thinks so much of those he loves."

Beatrice took her friend's hand in her own and kissed it. She was
full of joy. When a girl is about to be married, when she may
lawfully talk of her love, there is no music in her ears so sweet as
the praises of her lover.

"I made up my mind from the first that he should marry you."

"Nonsense, Patience."

"I did, indeed. I made up my mind that he should marry; and there
were only two to choose from."

"Me and Miss Gushing," said Beatrice, laughing.

"No; not exactly Miss Gushing. I had not many fears for Caleb there."

"I declare she's very pretty," said Beatrice, who could afford to be
good-natured. Now Miss Gushing certainly was pretty; and would have
been very pretty had her nose not turned up so much, and could she
have parted her hair in the centre.

"Well, I am very glad you chose me;--if it was you who chose," said
Beatrice, modestly; having, however, in her own mind a strong opinion
that Mr Oriel had chosen for himself, and had never had any doubt in
the matter. "And who was the other?"

"Can't you guess?"

"I won't guess any more; perhaps Mrs Green."

"Oh, no; certainly not a widow. I don't like widows marrying. But of
course you could guess if you would; of course it was Mary Thorne.
But I soon saw Mary would not do, for two reasons; Caleb would never
have liked her well enough nor would she ever have liked him."

"Not like him! oh I hope she will; I do so love Mary Thorne."

"So do I, dearly; and so does Caleb; but he could never have loved
her as he loves you."

"But, Patience, have you told Mary?"

"No, I have told no one, and shall not without your leave."

"Ah, you must tell her. Tell it her with my best, and kindest,
warmest love. Tell her how happy I am, and how I long to talk to
her. Tell that I will have her for my bridesmaid. Oh! I do hope that
before that all this horrid quarrel will be settled."

Patience undertook the commission, and did tell Mary; did give her
also the message which Beatrice had sent. And Mary was rejoiced to
hear it; for though, as Patience had said of her, she had never
herself felt any inclination to fall in love with Mr Oriel, she
believed him to be one in whose hands her friend's happiness would be
secure. Then, by degrees, the conversation changed from the loves of
Mr Oriel and Beatrice to the troubles of Frank Gresham and herself.

"She says, that let what will happen you shall be one of her
bridesmaids."

"Ah, yes, dear Trichy! that was settled between us in auld lang syne;
but those settlements are all unsettled now, must all be broken. No,
I cannot be her bridesmaid; but I shall yet hope to see her once
before her marriage."

"And why not be her bridesmaid? Lady Arabella will hardly object to
that."

"Lady Arabella!" said Mary, curling her lip with deep scorn. "I do
not care that for Lady Arabella," and she let her silver thimble fall
from her fingers on to the table. "If Beatrice invited me to her
wedding, she might manage as to that; I should ask no question as to
Lady Arabella."

"Then why not come to it?"

She remained silent for a while, and then boldly answered. "Though I
do not care for Lady Arabella, I do care for Mr Gresham:--and I do
care for his son."

"But the squire always loved you."

"Yes, and therefore I will not be there to vex his sight. I will tell
you the truth, Patience. I can never be in that house again till
Frank Gresham is a married man, or till I am about to be a married
woman. I do not think they have treated me well, but I will not treat
them ill."

"I am sure you will not do that," said Miss Oriel.

"I will endeavour not to do so; and, therefore, will go to none of
their fêtes! No, Patience." And then she turned her head to the arm
of the sofa, and silently, without audible sobs, hiding her face, she
endeavoured to get rid of her tears unseen. For one moment she had
all but resolved to pour out the whole truth of her love into her
friend's ears; but suddenly she changed her mind. Why should she talk
of her own unhappiness? Why should she speak of her own love when she
was fully determined not to speak of Frank's promises.

"Mary, dear Mary."

"Anything but pity, Patience; anything but that," said she,
convulsively, swallowing down her sobs, and rubbing away her tears.
"I cannot bear that. Tell Beatrice from me, that I wish her every
happiness; and, with such a husband, I am sure she will be happy. I
wish her every joy; give her my kindest love; but tell her I cannot
be at her marriage. Oh, I should so like to see her; not there, you
know, but here, in my own room, where I still have liberty to speak."

"But why should you decide now? She is not to be married yet, you
know."

"Now, or this day twelvemonth, can make no difference. I will not go
into that house again, unless--but never mind; I will not go into it
all; never, never again. If I could forgive her for myself, I could
not forgive her for my uncle. But tell me, Patience, might not
Beatrice now come here? It is so dreadful to see her every Sunday in
church and never to speak to her, never to kiss her. She seems to
look away from me as though she too had chosen to quarrel with me."

Miss Oriel promised to do her best. She could not imagine, she said,
that such a visit could be objected to on such an occasion. She would
not advise Beatrice to come without telling her mother; but she
could not think that Lady Arabella would be so cruel as to make any
objection, knowing, as she could not but know, that her daughter,
when married, would be at liberty to choose her own friends.

"Good-bye, Mary," said Patience. "I wish I knew how to say more to
comfort you."

"Oh, comfort! I don't want comfort. I want to be let alone."

"That's just it: you are so ferocious in your scorn, so unbending, so
determined to take all the punishment that comes in your way."

"What I do take, I'll take without complaint," said Mary; and then
they kissed each other and parted.



CHAPTER XXXIII

A Morning Visit


It must be remembered that Mary, among her miseries, had to suffer
this: that since Frank's departure, now nearly twelve months ago, she
had not heard a word about him; or rather, she had only heard that he
was very much in love with some lady in London. This news reached her
in a manner so circuitous, and from such a doubtful source; it seemed
to her to savour so strongly of Lady Arabella's precautions, that
she attributed it at once to malice, and blew it to the winds. It
might not improbably be the case that Frank was untrue to her; but
she would not take it for granted because she was now told so. It
was more than probable that he should amuse himself with some one;
flirting was his prevailing sin; and if he did flirt, the most would
of course be made of it.

But she found it to be very desolate to be thus left alone without
a word of comfort or a word of love; without being able to speak to
any one of what filled her heart; doubting, nay, more than doubting,
being all but sure that her passion must terminate in misery. Why had
she not obeyed her conscience and her better instinct in that moment
when the necessity for deciding had come upon her? Why had she
allowed him to understand that he was master of her heart? Did she
not know that there was everything against such a marriage as that
which he proposed? Had she not done wrong, very wrong, even to think
of it? Had she not sinned deeply, against Mr Gresham, who had ever
been so kind to her? Could she hope, was it possible, that a boy like
Frank should be true to his first love? And, if he were true, if he
were ready to go to the altar with her to-morrow, ought she to allow
him to degrade himself by such a marriage?

There was, alas! some truth about the London lady. Frank had taken
his degree, as arranged, and had then gone abroad for the winter,
doing the fashionable things, going up the Nile, crossing over to
Mount Sinai, thence over the long desert to Jerusalem, and home by
Damascus, Beyrout, and Constantinople, bringing back a long beard, a
red cap, and a chibook, just as our fathers used to go through Italy
and Switzerland, and our grandfathers to spend a season in Paris. He
had then remained for a couple of months in London, going through
all the society which the de Courcys were able to open to him. And
it was true that a certain belle of the season, of that season and
some others, had been captivated--for the tenth time--by the silken
sheen of his long beard. Frank had probably been more demonstrative,
perhaps even more susceptible, than he should have been; and
hence the rumour, which had all too willingly been forwarded to
Greshamsbury.

But young Gresham had also met another lady in London, namely Miss
Dunstable. Mary would indeed have been grateful to Miss Dunstable,
could she have known all that lady did for her. Frank's love was
never allowed to flag. When he spoke of the difficulties in his way,
she twitted him by being overcome by straws; and told him that no
one was worth having who was afraid of every lion that he met in his
path. When he spoke of money, she bade him earn it; and always ended
by offering to smooth for him any real difficulty which want of means
might put in his way.

"No," Frank used to say to himself, when these offers were made, "I
never intended to take her and her money together; and, therefore, I
certainly will never take the money alone."

A day or two after Miss Oriel's visit, Mary received the following
note from Beatrice.


   DEAREST, DEAREST MARY,

   I shall be so happy to see you, and will come to-morrow at
   twelve. I have asked mamma, and she says that, for once,
   she has no objection. You know it is not my fault that
   I have never been with you; don't you? Frank comes home
   on the 12th. Mr Oriel wants the wedding to be on the 1st
   of September; but that seems to be so very, very soon;
   doesn't it? However, mamma and papa are all on his side.
   I won't write about this, though, for we shall have such a
   delicious talk. Oh, Mary! I have been so unhappy without
   you.

   Ever your own affectionate,

   TRICHY

   Monday.


Though Mary was delighted at the idea of once more having her friend
in her arms, there was, nevertheless, something in this letter which
oppressed her. She could not put up with the idea that Beatrice
should have permission given to come to her--just for once. She
hardly wished to be seen by permission. Nevertheless, she did not
refuse the proffered visit, and the first sight of Beatrice's face,
the first touch of the first embrace, dissipated for the moment all
her anger.

And then Beatrice fully enjoyed the delicious talk which she had
promised herself. Mary let her have her way, and for two hours
all the delights and all the duties, all the comforts and all the
responsibilities of a parson's wife were discussed with almost equal
ardour on both sides. The duties and responsibilities were not
exactly those which too often fall to the lot of the mistress of
an English vicarage. Beatrice was not doomed to make her husband
comfortable, to educate her children, dress herself like a lady, and
exercise open-handed charity on an income of two hundred pounds a
year. Her duties and responsibilities would have to spread themselves
over seven or eight times that amount of worldly burden. Living also
close to Greshamsbury, and not far from Courcy Castle, she would have
the full advantages and all the privileges of county society. In
fact, it was all _couleur de rose_, and so she chatted deliciously
with her friend.

But it was impossible that they should separate without something
having been said as to Mary's own lot. It would, perhaps, have been
better that they should do so; but this was hardly within the compass
of human nature.

"And Mary, you know, I shall be able to see you as often as I
like;--you and Dr Thorne, too, when I have a house of my own."

Mary said nothing, but essayed to smile. It was but a ghastly
attempt.

"You know how happy that will make me," continued Beatrice. "Of
course mamma won't expect me to be led by her then: if he likes it,
there can be no objection; and he will like it, you may be sure of
that."

"You are very kind, Trichy," said Mary; but she spoke in a tone very
different from that she would have used eighteen months ago.

"Why, what is the matter, Mary? Shan't you be glad to come to see
us?"

"I do not know, dearest; that must depend on circumstances. To see
you, you yourself, your own dear, sweet, loving face must always be
pleasant to me."

"And shan't you be glad to see him?"

"Yes, certainly, if he loves you."

"Of course he loves me."

"All that alone would be pleasant enough, Trichy. But what if there
should be circumstances which should still make us enemies; should
make your friends and my friends--friend, I should say, for I have
only one--should make them opposed to each other?"

"Circumstances! What circumstances?"

"You are going to be married, Trichy, to the man you love; are you
not?"

"Indeed, I am!"

"And it is not pleasant? is it not a happy feeling?"

"Pleasant! happy! yes, very pleasant; very happy. But, Mary, I am not
at all in such a hurry as he is," said Beatrice, naturally thinking
of her own little affairs.

"And, suppose I should wish to be married to the man that I love?"
Mary said this slowly and gravely, and as she spoke she looked her
friend full in the face.

Beatrice was somewhat astonished, and for the moment hardly
understood. "I am sure I hope you will, some day."

"No, Trichy; no, you hope the other way. I love your brother; I love
Frank Gresham; I love him quite as well, quite as warmly, as you love
Caleb Oriel."

"Do you?" said Beatrice, staring with all her eyes, and giving one
long sigh, as this new subject for sorrow was so distinctly put
before her.

"It that so odd?" said Mary. "You love Mr Oriel, though you have been
intimate with him hardly more than two years. Is it so odd that I
should love your brother, whom I have known almost all my life?"

"But, Mary, I thought it was always understood between us
that--that--I mean that you were not to care about him; not in the
way of loving him, you know--I thought you always said so--I have
always told mamma so as if it came from yourself."

"Beatrice, do not tell anything to Lady Arabella as though it came
from me; I do not want anything to be told to her, either of me or
from me. Say what you like to me yourself; whatever you say will not
anger me. Indeed, I know what you would say--and yet I love you. Oh,
I love you, Trichy--Trichy, I do love you so much! Don't turn away
from me!"

There was such a mixture in Mary's manner of tenderness and almost
ferocity, that poor Beatrice could hardly follow her. "Turn away from
you, Mary! no never; but this does make me unhappy."

"It is better that you should know it all, and then you will not be
led into fighting my battles again. You cannot fight them so that I
should win; I do love your brother; love him truly, fondly, tenderly.
I would wish to have him for my husband as you wish to have Mr
Oriel."

"But, Mary, you cannot marry him!"

"Why not?" said she, in a loud voice. "Why can I not marry him? If
the priest says a blessing over us, shall we not be married as well
as you and your husband?"

"But you know he cannot marry unless his wife shall have money."

"Money--money; and he is to sell himself for money? Oh, Trichy! do
not you talk about money. It is horrible. But, Trichy, I will grant
it--I cannot marry him; but still, I love him. He has a name, a place
in the world, and fortune, family, high blood, position, everything.
He has all this, and I have nothing. Of course I cannot marry him.
But yet I do love him."

"Are you engaged to him, Mary?"

"He is not engaged to me; but I am to him."

"Oh, Mary, that is impossible!"

"It is not impossible: it is the case--I am pledged to him; but he is
not pledged to me."

"But, Mary, don't look at me in that way. I do not quite understand
you. What is the good of your being engaged if you cannot marry him?"

"Good! there is no good. But can I help it, if I love him? Can I make
myself not love him by just wishing it? Oh, I would do it if I could.
But now you will understand why I shake my head when you talk of my
coming to your house. Your ways and my ways must be different."

Beatrice was startled, and, for a time, silenced. What Mary said of
the difference of their ways was quite true. Beatrice had dearly
loved her friend, and had thought of her with affection through all
this long period in which they had been separated; but she had given
her love and her thoughts on the understanding, as it were, that they
were in unison as to the impropriety of Frank's conduct.

She had always spoken, with a grave face, of Frank and his love as of
a great misfortune, even to Mary herself; and her pity for Mary had
been founded on the conviction of her innocence. Now all those ideas
had to be altered. Mary owned her fault, confessed herself to be
guilty of all that Lady Arabella so frequently laid to her charge,
and confessed herself anxious to commit every crime as to which
Beatrice had been ever so ready to defend her.

Had Beatrice up to this dreamed that Mary was in love with Frank,
she would doubtless have sympathised with her more or less, sooner
or later. As it was, is was beyond all doubt that she would soon
sympathise with her. But, at the moment, the suddenness of the
declaration seemed to harden her heart, and she forgot, as it were,
to speak tenderly to her friend.

She was silent, therefore, and dismayed; and looked as though she
thought that her ways and Mary's ways must be different.

Mary saw all that was passing in the other's mind: no, not all; all
the hostility, the disappointment, the disapproval, the unhappiness,
she did see; but not the under-current of love, which was strong
enough to well up and drown all these, if only time could be allowed
for it to do so.

"I am glad I have told you," said Mary, curbing herself, "for deceit
and hypocrisy are detestable."

"It was a misunderstanding, not deceit," said Beatrice.

"Well, now we understand each other; now you know that I have a heart
within me, which like those of some others has not always been under
my own control. Lady Arabella believes that I am intriguing to be the
mistress of Greshamsbury. You, at any rate, will not think that of
me. If it could be discovered to-morrow that Frank were not the heir,
I might have some chance of happiness."

"But, Mary--"

"Well?"

"You say you love him."

"Yes; I do say so."

"But if he does not love you, will you cease to do so?"

"If I have a fever, I will get rid of it if I can; in such case I
must do so, or die."

"I fear," continued Beatrice, "you hardly know, perhaps do not think,
what is Frank's real character. He is not made to settle down early
in life; even now, I believe he is attached to some lady in London,
whom, of course, he cannot marry."

Beatrice said this in perfect trueness of heart. She had heard of
Frank's new love-affair, and believing what she had heard, thought
it best to tell the truth. But the information was not of a kind to
quiet Mary's spirit.

"Very well," said she, "let it be so. I have nothing to say against
it."

"But are you not preparing wretchedness and unhappiness for
yourself?"

"Very likely."

"Oh, Mary, do not be so cold with me! you know how delighted I should
be to have you for a sister-in-law, if only it were possible."

"Yes, Trichy; but it is impossible, is it not? Impossible that
Francis Gresham of Greshamsbury should disgrace himself by marrying
such a poor creature as I am. Of course, I know it; of course, I am
prepared for unhappiness and misery. He can amuse himself as he likes
with me or others--with anybody. It is his privilege. It is quite
enough to say that he is not made for settling down. I know my own
position;--and yet I love him."

"But, Mary, has he asked you to be his wife? If so--"

"You ask home-questions, Beatrice. Let me ask you one; has he ever
told you that he has done so?"

At this moment Beatrice was not disposed to repeat all that Frank had
said. A year ago, before he went away, he had told his sister a score
of times that he meant to marry Mary Thorne if she would have him;
but Beatrice now looked on all that as idle, boyish vapouring. The
pity was, that Mary should have looked on it differently.

"We will each keep our secret," said Mary. "Only remember this:
should Frank marry to-morrow, I shall have no ground for blaming him.
He is free as far I as am concerned. He can take the London lady if
he likes. You may tell him so from me. But, Trichy, what else I have
told you, I have told you only."

"Oh, yes!" said Beatrice, sadly; "I shall say nothing of it to
anybody. It is very sad, very, very; I was so happy when I came here,
and now I am so wretched." This was the end of that delicious talk to
which she had looked forward with so much eagerness.

"Don't be wretched about me, dearest; I shall get through it. I
sometimes think I was born to be unhappy, and that unhappiness agrees
with me best. Kiss me now, Trichy, and don't be wretched any more.
You owe it to Mr Oriel to be as happy as the day is long."

And then they parted.

Beatrice, as she went out, saw Dr Thorne in his little shop on the
right-hand side of the passage, deeply engaged in some derogatory
branch of an apothecary's mechanical trade; mixing a dose, perhaps,
for a little child. She would have passed him without speaking if she
could have been sure of doing so without notice, for her heart was
full, and her eyes were red with tears; but it was so long since she
had been in his house that she was more than ordinarily anxious not
to appear uncourteous or unkind to him.

"Good morning, doctor," she said, changing her countenance as best
she might, and attempting a smile.

"Ah, my fairy!" said he, leaving his villainous compounds, and coming
out to her; "and you, too, are about to become a steady old lady."

"Indeed, I am not, doctor; I don't mean to be either steady or old
for the next ten years. But who has told you? I suppose Mary has been
a traitor."

"Well, I will confess, Mary was the traitor. But hadn't I a right
to be told, seeing how often I have brought you sugar-plums in my
pocket? But I wish you joy with all my heart,--with all my heart.
Oriel is an excellent, good fellow."

"Is he not, doctor?"

"An excellent, good fellow. I never heard but of one fault that he
had."

"What was that one fault, Doctor Thorne?"

"He thought that clergymen should not marry. But you have cured that,
and now he's perfect."

"Thank you, doctor. I declare that you say the prettiest things of
all my friends."

"And none of your friends wish prettier things for you. I do
congratulate you, Beatrice, and hope you may be happy with the man
you have chosen;" and taking both her hands in his, he pressed them
warmly, and bade God bless her.

"Oh, doctor! I do so hope the time will come when we shall all be
friends again."

"I hope it as well, my dear. But let it come, or let it not come, my
regard for you will be the same:" and then she parted from him also,
and went her way.

Nothing was spoken of that evening between Dr Thorne and his niece
excepting Beatrice's future happiness; nothing, at least, having
reference to what had passed that morning. But on the following
morning circumstances led to Frank Gresham's name being mentioned.

At the usual breakfast-hour the doctor entered the parlour with a
harassed face. He had an open letter in his hand, and it was at once
clear to Mary that he was going to speak on some subject that vexed
him.

"That unfortunate fellow is again in trouble. Here is a letter from
Greyson." Greyson was a London apothecary, who had been appointed as
medical attendant to Sir Louis Scatcherd, and whose real business
consisted in keeping a watch on the baronet, and reporting to Dr
Thorne when anything was very much amiss. "Here is a letter from
Greyson; he has been drunk for the last three days, and is now laid
up in a terribly nervous state."

"You won't go up to town again; will you, uncle?"

"I hardly know what to do. No, I think not. He talks of coming down
here to Greshamsbury."

"Who, Sir Louis?"

"Yes, Sir Louis. Greyson says that he will be down as soon as he can
get out of his room."

"What! to this house?"

"What other house can he come to?"

"Oh, uncle! I hope not. Pray, pray do not let him come here."

"I cannot prevent it, my dear. I cannot shut my door on him."

They sat down to breakfast, and Mary gave him his tea in silence. "I
am going over to Boxall Hill before dinner," said he. "Have you any
message to send to Lady Scatcherd?"

"Message! no, I have no message; not especially: give her my love,
of course," she said listlessly. And then, as though a thought had
suddenly struck her, she spoke with more energy. "But, couldn't I go
to Boxall Hill again? I should be so delighted."

"What! to run away from Sir Louis? No, dearest, we will have no more
running away. He will probably also go to Boxall Hill, and he could
annoy you much more there than he can here."

"But, uncle, Mr Gresham will be home on the 12th," she said,
blushing.

"What! Frank?"

"Yes. Beatrice said he was to be here on the 12th."

"And would you run away from him too, Mary?"

"I do not know: I do not know what to do."

"No; we will have no more running away: I am sorry that you ever did
so. It was my fault, altogether my fault; but it was foolish."

"Uncle, I am not happy here." As she said this, she put down the cup
which she had held, and, leaning her elbows on the table, rested her
forehead on her hands.

"And would you be happier at Boxall Hill? It is not the place makes
the happiness."

"No, I know that; it is not the place. I do not look to be happy in
any place; but I should be quieter, more tranquil elsewhere than
here."

"I also sometimes think that it will be better for us to take up our
staves and walk away out of Greshamsbury;--leave it altogether, and
settle elsewhere; miles, miles, miles away from here. Should you like
that, dearest?"

Miles, miles, miles away from Greshamsbury! There was something in
the sound that fell very cold on Mary's ears, unhappy as she was.
Greshamsbury had been so dear to her; in spite of all that had
passed, was still so dear to her! Was she prepared to take up her
staff, as her uncle said, and walk forth from the place with the
full understanding that she was to return to it no more; with a mind
resolved that there should be an inseparable gulf between her and its
inhabitants? Such she knew was the proposed nature of the walking
away of which her uncle spoke. So she sat there, resting on her arms,
and gave no answer to the question that had been asked her.

"No, we will stay a while yet," said her uncle. "It may come to
that, but this is not the time. For one season longer let us face--I
will not say our enemies; I cannot call anybody my enemy who bears
the name of Gresham." And then he went on for a moment with his
breakfast. "So Frank will be here on the 12th?"

"Yes, uncle."

"Well, dearest, I have no questions to ask you: no directions to
give. I know how good you are, and how prudent; I am anxious only for
your happiness; not at all--"

"Happiness, uncle, is out of the question."

"I hope not. It is never out of the question, never can be out of the
question. But, as I was saying, I am quite satisfied your conduct
will be good, and, therefore, I have no questions to ask. We will
remain here; and, whether good or evil come, we will not be ashamed
to show our faces."

She sat for a while again silent, collecting her courage on the
subject that was nearest her heart. She would have given the world
that he should ask her questions; but she could not bid him to do so;
and she found it impossible to talk openly to him about Frank unless
he did so. "Will he come here?" at last she said, in a low-toned
voice.

"Who? He, Louis? Yes, I think that in all probability he will."

"No; but Frank," she said, in a still lower voice.

"Ah! my darling, that I cannot tell; but will it be well that he
should come here?"

"I do not know," she said. "No, I suppose not. But, uncle, I don't
think he will come."

She was now sitting on a sofa away from the table, and he got up, sat
down beside her, and took her hands in his. "Mary," said he, "you
must be strong now; strong to endure, not to attack. I think you have
that strength; but, if not, perhaps it will be better that we should
go away."

"I will be strong," said she, rising up and going towards the door.
"Never mind me, uncle; don't follow me; I will be strong. It will be
base, cowardly, mean, to run away; very base in me to make you do
so."

"No, dearest, not so; it will be the same to me."

"No," said she, "I will not run away from Lady Arabella. And, as for
him--if he loves this other one, he shall hear no reproach from me.
Uncle, I will be strong;" and running back to him, she threw her
arms round him and kissed him. And, still restraining her tears, she
got safely to her bedroom. In what way she may there have shown her
strength, it would not be well for us to inquire.



CHAPTER XXXIV

A Barouche and Four Arrives at Greshamsbury


During the last twelve months Sir Louis Scatcherd had been very
efficacious in bringing trouble, turmoil, and vexation upon
Greshamsbury. Now that it was too late to take steps to save himself,
Dr Thorne found that the will left by Sir Roger was so made as to
entail upon him duties that he would find it almost impossible to
perform. Sir Louis, though his father had wished to make him still
a child in the eye of the law, was no child. He knew his own rights
and was determined to exact them; and before Sir Roger had been dead
three months, the doctor found himself in continual litigation with
a low Barchester attorney, who was acting on behalf of his, the
doctor's, own ward.

And if the doctor suffered so did the squire, and so did those who
had hitherto had the management of the squire's affairs. Dr Thorne
soon perceived that he was to be driven into litigation, not only
with Mr Finnie, the Barchester attorney, but with the squire himself.
While Finnie harassed him, he was compelled to harass Mr Gresham. He
was no lawyer himself; and though he had been able to manage very
well between the squire and Sir Roger, and had perhaps given himself
some credit for his lawyer-like ability in so doing, he was utterly
unable to manage between Sir Louis and Mr Gresham.

He had, therefore, to employ a lawyer on his own account, and it
seemed probable that the whole amount of Sir Roger's legacy to
himself would by degrees be expended in this manner. And then, the
squire's lawyers had to take up the matter; and they did so greatly
to the detriment of poor Mr Yates Umbleby, who was found to have made
a mess of the affairs entrusted to him. Mr Umbleby's accounts were
incorrect; his mind was anything but clear, and he confessed, when
put to it by the very sharp gentleman that came down from London,
that he was "bothered;" and so, after a while, he was suspended from
his duties, and Mr Gazebee, the sharp gentleman from London, reigned
over the diminished rent-roll of the Greshamsbury estate.

Thus everything was going wrong at Greshamsbury--with the one
exception of Mr Oriel and his love-suit. Miss Gushing attributed
the deposition of Mr Umbleby to the narrowness of the victory which
Beatrice had won in carrying off Mr Oriel. For Miss Gushing was a
relation of the Umblebys, and had been for many years one of their
family. "If she had only chosen to exert herself as Miss Gresham had
done, she could have had Mr Oriel, easily; oh, too easily! but she
had despised such work," so she said. "But though she had despised
it, the Greshams had not been less irritated, and, therefore, Mr
Umbleby had been driven out of his house." We can hardly believe
this, as victory generally makes men generous. Miss Gushing, however,
stated it as a fact so often that it is probable she was induced to
believe it herself.

Thus everything was going wrong at Greshamsbury, and the squire
himself was especially a sufferer. Umbleby had at any rate been his
own man, and he could do what he liked with him. He could see him
when he liked, and where he liked, and how he liked; could scold him
if in an ill-humour, and laugh at him when in a good humour. All this
Mr Umbleby knew, and bore. But Mr Gazebee was a very different sort
of gentleman; he was the junior partner in the firm of Gumption,
Gazebee & Gazebee, of Mount Street, a house that never defiled
itself with any other business than the agency business, and that in
the very highest line. They drew out leases, and managed property
both for the Duke of Omnium and Lord de Courcy; and ever since her
marriage, it had been one of the objects dearest to Lady Arabella's
heart, that the Greshamsbury acres should be superintended by the
polite skill and polished legal ability of that all but elegant firm
in Mount Street.

The squire had long stood firm, and had delighted in having
everything done under his own eye by poor Mr Yates Umbleby. But now,
alas! he could stand it no longer. He had put off the evil day as
long as he could; he had deferred the odious work of investigation
till things had seemed resolved on investigating themselves; and
then, when it was absolutely necessary that Mr Umbleby should go,
there was nothing for him left but to fall into the ready hands of
Messrs Gumption, Gazebee and Gazebee.

It must not be supposed that Messrs Gumption, Gazebee & Gazebee
were in the least like the ordinary run of attorneys. They wrote
no letters for six-and-eightpence each: they collected no debts,
filed no bills, made no charge per folio for "whereases" and "as
aforesaids;" they did no dirty work, and probably were as ignorant
of the interior of a court of law as any young lady living in their
Mayfair vicinity. No; their business was to manage the property of
great people, draw up leases, make legal assignments, get the family
marriage settlements made, and look after wills. Occasionally, also,
they had to raise money; but it was generally understood that this
was done by proxy.

The firm had been going on for a hundred and fifty years, and the
designation had often been altered; but it always consisted of
Gumptions and Gazebees differently arranged, and no less hallowed
names had ever been permitted to appear. It had been Gazebee, Gazebee
& Gumption; then Gazebee & Gumption; then Gazebee, Gumption &
Gumption; then Gumption, Gumption & Gazebee; and now it was Gumption,
Gazebee & Gazebee.

Mr Gazebee, the junior member of this firm, was a very elegant young
man. While looking at him riding in Rotten Row, you would hardly have
taken him for an attorney; and had he heard that you had so taken
him, he would have been very much surprised indeed. He was rather
bald; not being, as people say, quite so young as he was once. His
exact age was thirty-eight. But he had a really remarkable pair of
jet-black whiskers, which fully made up for any deficiency as to his
head; he had also dark eyes, and a beaked nose, what may be called a
distinguished mouth, and was always dressed in fashionable attire.
The fact was, that Mr Mortimer Gazebee, junior partner in the firm
Gumption, Gazebee & Gazebee, by no means considered himself to be
made of that very disagreeable material which mortals call small
beer.

When this great firm was applied to, to get Mr Gresham through his
difficulties, and when the state of his affairs was made known to
them, they at first expressed rather a disinclination for the work.
But at last, moved doubtless by their respect for the de Courcy
interest, they assented; and Mr Gazebee, junior, went down to
Greshamsbury. The poor squire passed many a sad day after that before
he again felt himself to be master even of his own domain.

Nevertheless, when Mr Mortimer Gazebee visited Greshamsbury, which
he did on more than one or two occasions, he was always received _en
grand seigneur_. To Lady Arabella he was by no means an unwelcome
guest, for she found herself able, for the first time in her life, to
speak confidentially on her husband's pecuniary affairs with the man
who had the management of her husband's property. Mr Gazebee also was
a pet with Lady de Courcy; and being known to be a fashionable man in
London, and quite a different sort of person from poor Mr Umbleby,
he was always received with smiles. He had a hundred little ways of
making himself agreeable, and Augusta declared to her cousin, the
Lady Amelia, after having been acquainted with him for a few months,
that he would be a perfect gentleman, only, that his family had
never been anything but attorneys. The Lady Amelia smiled in her own
peculiarly aristocratic way, shrugged her shoulders slightly, and
said, "that Mr Mortimer Gazebee was a very good sort of a person,
very." Poor Augusta felt herself snubbed, thinking perhaps of the
tailor's son; but as there was never any appeal against the Lady
Amelia, she said nothing more at that moment in favour of Mr Mortimer
Gazebee.

All these evils--Mr Mortimer Gazebee being the worst of them--had Sir
Louis Scatcherd brought down on the poor squire's head. There may be
those who will say that the squire had brought them on himself, by
running into debt; and so, doubtless, he had; but it was not the less
true that the baronet's interference was unnecessary, vexatious, and
one might almost say, malicious. His interest would have been quite
safe in the doctor's hands, and he had, in fact, no legal right to
meddle; but neither the doctor nor the squire could prevent him. Mr
Finnie knew very well what he was about, if Sir Louis did not; and
so the three went on, each with his own lawyer, and each of them
distrustful, unhappy, and ill at ease. This was hard upon the doctor,
for he was not in debt, and had borrowed no money.

There was not much reason to suppose that the visit of Sir Louis to
Greshamsbury would much improve matters. It must be presumed that he
was not coming with any amicable views, but with the object rather
of looking after his own; a phrase which was now constantly in his
mouth. He might probably find it necessary while looking after his
own at Greshamsbury, to say some very disagreeable things to the
squire; and the doctor, therefore, hardly expected that the visit
would go off pleasantly.

When last we saw Sir Louis, now nearly twelve months since, he
was intent on making a proposal of marriage to Miss Thorne. This
intention he carried out about two days after Frank Gresham had done
the same thing. He had delayed doing so till he had succeeded in
purchasing his friend Jenkins's Arab pony, imagining that such a
present could not but go far in weaning Mary's heart from her other
lover. Poor Mary was put to the trouble of refusing both the baronet
and the pony, and a very bad time she had of it while doing so. Sir
Louis was a man easily angered, and not very easily pacified, and
Mary had to endure a good deal of annoyance; from any other person,
indeed, she would have called it impertinence. Sir Louis, however,
had to bear his rejection as best he could, and, after a perseverance
of three days, returned to London in disgust; and Mary had not seen
him since.

Mr Greyson's first letter was followed by a second; and the second
was followed by the baronet in person. He also required to be
received _en grand seigneur_, perhaps more imperatively than Mr
Mortimer Gazebee himself. He came with four posters from the
Barchester Station, and had himself rattled up to the doctor's door
in a way that took the breath away from all Greshamsbury. Why! the
squire himself for a many long year had been contented to come home
with a pair of horses; and four were never seen in the place, except
when the de Courcys came to Greshamsbury, or Lady Arabella with all
her daughters returned from her hard-fought metropolitan campaigns.

Sir Louis, however, came with four, and very arrogant he looked,
leaning back in the barouche belonging to the George and Dragon,
and wrapped up in fur, although it was now midsummer. And up in the
dicky behind was a servant, more arrogant, if possible, than his
master--the baronet's own man, who was the object of Dr Thorne's
special detestation and disgust. He was a little fellow, chosen
originally on account of his light weight on horseback; but if that
may be considered a merit, it was the only one he had. His out-door
show dress was a little tight frock-coat, round which a polished
strap was always buckled tightly, a stiff white choker, leather
breeches, top-boots, and a hat, with a cockade, stuck on one side
of his head. His name was Jonah, which his master and his master's
friends shortened into Joe; none, however, but those who were very
intimate with his master were allowed to do so with impunity.

This Joe was Dr Thorne's special aversion. In his anxiety to take
every possible step to keep Sir Louis from poisoning himself, he had
at first attempted to enlist the baronet's "own man" in the cause.
Joe had promised fairly, but had betrayed the doctor at once, and
had become the worst instrument of his master's dissipation. When,
therefore, his hat and the cockade were seen, as the carriage dashed
up to the door, the doctor's contentment was by no means increased.

Sir Louis was now twenty-three years old, and was a great deal too
knowing to allow himself to be kept under the doctor's thumb. It
had, indeed, become his plan to rebel against his guardian in almost
everything. He had at first been decently submissive, with the view
of obtaining increased supplies of ready money; but he had been sharp
enough to perceive that, let his conduct be what it would, the doctor
would keep him out of debt; but that the doing so took so large a sum
that he could not hope for any further advances. In this respect Sir
Louis was perhaps more keen-witted than Dr Thorne.

Mary, when she saw the carriage, at once ran up to her own bedroom.
The doctor, who had been with her in the drawing-room, went down to
meet his ward, but as soon as he saw the cockade he darted almost
involuntarily into his shop and shut the door. This protection,
however, lasted only for a moment; he felt that decency required him
to meet his guest, and so he went forth and faced the enemy.

"I say," said Joe, speaking to Janet, who stood curtsying at the
gate, with Bridget, the other maid, behind her, "I say, are there
any chaps about the place to take these things--eh? come, look sharp
here."

It so happened that the doctor's groom was not on the spot, and
"other chaps" the doctor had none.

"Take those things, Bridget," he said, coming forward and offering
his hand to the baronet. Sir Louis, when he saw his host, roused
himself slowly from the back of his carriage. "How do, doctor?" said
he. "What terrible bad roads you have here! and, upon my word, it's
as cold as winter:" and, so saying, he slowly proceeded to descend.

Sir Louis was a year older than when we last saw him, and, in his
generation, a year wiser. He had then been somewhat humble before the
doctor; but now he was determined to let his guardian see that he
knew how to act the baronet; that he had acquired the manners of a
great man; and that he was not to be put upon. He had learnt some
lessons from Jenkins, in London, and other friends of the same sort,
and he was about to profit by them.

The doctor showed him to his room, and then proceeded to ask after
his health. "Oh, I'm right enough," said Sir Louis. "You mustn't
believe all that fellow Greyson tells you: he wants me to take salts
and senna, opodeldoc, and all that sort of stuff; looks after his
bill, you know--eh? like all the rest of you. But I won't have
it;--not at any price; and then he writes to you."

"I'm glad to see you able to travel," said Dr Thorne, who could not
force himself to tell his guest that he was glad to see him at
Greshamsbury.

"Oh, travel; yes, I can travel well enough. But I wish you had some
better sort of trap down in these country parts. I'm shaken to bits.
And, doctor, would you tell your people to send that fellow of mine
up here with hot water."

So dismissed, the doctor went his way, and met Joe swaggering in one
of the passages, while Janet and her colleague dragged along between
them a heavy article of baggage.

"Janet," said he, "go downstairs and get Sir Louis some hot water,
and Joe, do you take hold of your master's portmanteau."

Joe sulkily did as he was bid. "Seems to me," said he, turning to
the girl, and speaking before the doctor was out of hearing, "seems
to me, my dear, you be rather short-handed here; lots of work and
nothing to get; that's about the ticket, ain't it?" Bridget was too
demurely modest to make any answer upon so short an acquaintance; so,
putting her end of the burden down at the strange gentleman's door,
she retreated into the kitchen.

Sir Louis, in answer to the doctor's inquiries, had declared himself
to be all right; but his appearance was anything but all right.
Twelve months since, a life of dissipation, or rather, perhaps, a
life of drinking, had not had upon him so strong an effect but that
some of the salt of youth was still left; some of the freshness of
young years might still be seen in his face. But this was now all
gone; his eyes were sunken and watery, his cheeks were hollow and
wan, his mouth was drawn and his lips dry; his back was even bent,
and his legs were unsteady under him, so that he had been forced to
step down from his carriage as an old man would do. Alas, alas! he
had no further chance now of ever being all right again.

Mary had secluded herself in her bedroom as soon as the carriage had
driven up to the door, and there she remained till dinner-time. But
she could not shut herself up altogether. It would be necessary that
she should appear at dinner; and, therefore, a few minutes before the
hour, she crept out into the drawing-room. As she opened the door,
she looked in timidly, expecting Sir Louis to be there; but when
she saw that her uncle was the only occupant of the room, her brow
cleared, and she entered with a quick step.

"He'll come down to dinner; won't he, uncle?"

"Oh, I suppose so."

"What's he doing now?"

"Dressing, I suppose; he's been at it this hour."

"But, uncle--"

"Well?"

"Will he come up after dinner, do you think?"

Mary spoke of him as though he were some wild beast, whom her uncle
insisted on having in his house.

"Goodness knows what he will do! Come up? Yes. He will not stay in
the dining-room all night."

"But, dear uncle, do be serious."

"Serious!"

"Yes; serious. Don't you think that I might go to bed, instead of
waiting?"

The doctor was saved the trouble of answering by the entrance of the
baronet. He was dressed in what he considered the most fashionable
style of the day. He had on a new dress-coat lined with satin,
new dress-trousers, a silk waistcoat covered with chains, a white
cravat, polished pumps, and silk stockings, and he carried a scented
handkerchief in his hand; he had rings on his fingers, and carbuncle
studs in his shirt, and he smelt as sweet as patchouli could make
him. But he could hardly do more than shuffle into the room, and
seemed almost to drag one of his legs behind him.

Mary, in spite of her aversion, was shocked and distressed when she
saw him. He, however, seemed to think himself perfect, and was no
whit abashed by the unfavourable reception which twelve months since
had been paid to his suit. Mary came up and shook hands with him, and
he received her with a compliment which no doubt he thought must be
acceptable. "Upon my word, Miss Thorne, every place seems to agree
with you; one better than another. You were looking charming at
Boxall Hill; but, upon my word, charming isn't half strong enough
now."

Mary sat down quietly, and the doctor assumed a face of unutterable
disgust. This was the creature for whom all his sympathies had been
demanded, all his best energies put in requisition; on whose behalf
he was to quarrel with his oldest friends, lose his peace and
quietness of life, and exercise all the functions of a loving friend!
This was his self-invited guest, whom he was bound to foster, and
whom he could not turn from his door.

Then dinner came, and Mary had to put her hand upon his arm. She
certainly did not lean upon him, and once or twice felt inclined to
give him some support. They reached the dining-room, however, the
doctor following them, and then sat down, Janet waiting in the room,
as was usual.

"I say, doctor," said the baronet, "hadn't my man better come in
and help? He's got nothing to do, you know. We should be more cosy,
shouldn't we?"

"Janet will manage pretty well," said the doctor.

"Oh, you'd better have Joe; there's nothing like a good servant at
table. I say, Janet, just send that fellow in, will you?"

"We shall do very well without him," said the doctor, becoming rather
red about the cheek-bones, and with a slight gleam of determination
about the eye. Janet, who saw how matters stood, made no attempt to
obey the baronet's order.

"Oh, nonsense, doctor; you think he's an uppish sort of fellow, I
know, and you don't like to trouble him; but when I'm near him, he's
all right; just send him in, will you?"

"Sir Louis," said the doctor, "I'm accustomed to none but my own old
woman here in my own house, and if you will allow me, I'll keep my
old ways. I shall be sorry if you are not comfortable." The baronet
said nothing more, and the dinner passed off slowly and wearily
enough.

When Mary had eaten her fruit and escaped, the doctor got into one
arm-chair and the baronet into another, and the latter began the only
work of existence of which he knew anything.

"That's good port," said he; "very fair port."

The doctor loved his port wine, and thawed a little in his manner. He
loved it not as a toper, but as a collector loves his pet pictures.
He liked to talk about it, and think about it; to praise it, and hear
it praised; to look at it turned towards the light, and to count over
the years it had lain in his cellar.

"Yes," said he, "it's pretty fair wine. It was, at least, when I got
it, twenty years ago, and I don't suppose time has hurt it;" and he
held the glass up to the window, and looked at the evening light
through the ruby tint of the liquid. "Ah, dear, there's not much of
it left; more's the pity."

"A good thing won't last for ever. I'll tell you what now; I wish
I'd brought down a dozen or two of claret. I've some prime stuff in
London; got it from Muzzle & Drug, at ninety-six shillings; it was
a great favour, though. I'll tell you what now, I'll send up for a
couple of dozen to-morrow. I mustn't drink you out of house, high and
dry; must I, doctor?"

The doctor froze immediately.

"I don't think I need trouble you," said he; "I never drink claret,
at least not here; and there's enough of the old bin left to last
some little time longer yet."

Sir Louis drank two or three glasses of wine very quickly after each
other, and they immediately began to tell upon his weak stomach. But
before he was tipsy, he became more impudent and more disagreeable.

"Doctor," said he, "when are we to see any of this Greshamsbury
money? That's what I want to know."

"Your money is quite safe, Sir Louis; and the interest is paid to the
day."

"Interest, yes; but how do I know how long it will be paid? I should
like to see the principal. A hundred thousand pounds, or something
like it, is a precious large stake to have in one man's hands, and he
preciously hard up himself. I'll tell you what, doctor--I shall look
the squire up myself."

"Look him up?"

"Yes; look him up; ferret him out; tell him a bit of my mind. I'll
thank you to pass the bottle. D---- me doctor; I mean to know how
things are going on."

"Your money is quite safe," repeated the doctor, "and, to my mind,
could not be better invested."

"That's all very well; d---- well, I dare say, for you and Squire
Gresham--"

"What do you mean, Sir Louis?"

"Mean! why I mean that I'll sell the squire up; that's what I
mean--hallo--beg pardon. I'm blessed if I haven't broken the
water-jug. That comes of having water on the table. Oh, d---- me,
it's all over me." And then, getting up, to avoid the flood he
himself had caused, he nearly fell into the doctor's arms.

"You're tired with your journey, Sir Louis; perhaps you'd better go
to bed."

"Well, I am a bit seedy or so. Those cursed roads of yours shake a
fellow so."

The doctor rang the bell, and, on this occasion, did request that Joe
might be sent for. Joe came in, and, though he was much steadier than
his master, looked as though he also had found some bin of which he
had approved.

"Sir Louis wishes to go to bed," said the doctor; "you had better
give him your arm."

"Oh, yes; in course I will," said Joe, standing immoveable about
half-way between the door and the table.

"I'll just take one more glass of the old port--eh, doctor?" said Sir
Louis, putting out his hand and clutching the decanter.

It is very hard for any man to deny his guest in his own house, and
the doctor, at the moment, did not know how to do it; so Sir Louis
got his wine, after pouring half of it over the table.

"Come in, sir, and give Sir Louis your arm," said the doctor,
angrily.

"So I will in course, if my master tells me; but, if you please, Dr
Thorne,"--and Joe put his hand up to his hair in a manner that a
great deal more of impudence than reverence in it--"I just want to ax
one question: where be I to sleep?"

Now this was a question which the doctor was not prepared to answer
on the spur of the moment, however well Janet or Mary might have been
able to do so.

"Sleep," said he, "I don't know where you are to sleep, and don't
care; ask Janet."

"That's all very well, master--"

"Hold your tongue, sirrah!" said Sir Louis. "What the devil do you
want of sleep?--come here," and then, with his servant's help, he
made his way up to his bedroom, and was no more heard of that night.

"Did he get tipsy," asked Mary, almost in a whisper, when her uncle
joined her in the drawing-room.

"Don't talk of it," said he. "Poor wretch! poor wretch! Let's
have some tea now, Molly, and pray don't talk any more about him
to-night." Then Mary did make the tea, and did not talk any more
about Sir Louis that night.

What on earth were they to do with him? He had come there
self-invited; but his connexion with the doctor was such, that it
was impossible he should be told to go away, either he himself, or
that servant of his. There was no reason to disbelieve him when he
declared that he had come down to ferret out the squire. Such was,
doubtless, his intention. He would ferret out the squire. Perhaps he
might ferret out Lady Arabella also. Frank would be home in a few
days; and he, too, might be ferreted out.

But the matter took a very singular turn, and one quite unexpected
on the doctor's part. On the morning following the little dinner of
which we have spoken, one of the Greshamsbury grooms rode up to the
doctor's door with two notes. One was addressed to the doctor in the
squire's well-known large handwriting, and the other was for Sir
Louis. Each contained an invitation do dinner for the following day;
and that to the doctor was in this wise:--


   DEAR DOCTOR,

   Do come and dine here to-morrow, and bring Sir Louis
   Scatcherd with you. If you're the man I take you to be,
   you won't refuse me. Lady Arabella sends a note for
   Sir Louis. There will be nobody here but Oriel, and Mr
   Gazebee, who is staying in the house.

   Yours ever,

   F. N. GRESHAM.

   Greshamsbury, July, 185--.

   P.S.--I make a positive request that you'll come, and I
   think you will hardly refuse me.


The doctor read it twice before he could believe it, and then ordered
Janet to take the other note up to Sir Louis. As these invitations
were rather in opposition to the then existing Greshamsbury tactics,
the cause of Lady Arabella's special civility must be explained.

Mr Mortimer Gazebee was now at the house, and therefore, it must
be presumed, that things were not allowed to go on after their old
fashion. Mr Gazebee was an acute as well as a fashionable man; one
who knew what he was about, and who, moreover, had determined to give
his very best efforts on behalf of the Greshamsbury property. His
energy, in this respect, will explain itself hereafter. It was not
probable that the arrival in the village of such a person as Sir
Louis Scatcherd should escape attention. He had heard of it before
dinner, and, before the evening was over, had discussed it with Lady
Arabella.

Her ladyship was not at first inclined to make much of Sir Louis, and
expressed herself as but little inclined to agree with Mr Gazebee
when that gentleman suggested that he should be treated with civility
at Greshamsbury. But she was at last talked over. She found it
pleasant enough to have more to do with the secret management of the
estate than Mr Gresham himself; and when Mr Gazebee proved to her,
by sundry nods and winks, and subtle allusions to her own infinite
good sense, that it was necessary to catch this obscene bird which
had come to prey upon the estate, by throwing a little salt upon his
tail, she also nodded and winked, and directed Augusta to prepare the
salt according to order.

"But won't it be odd, Mr Gazebee, asking him out of Dr Thorne's
house?"

"Oh, we must have the doctor, too, Lady Arabella; by all means ask
the doctor also."

Lady Arabella's brow grew dark. "Mr Gazebee," she said, "you can
hardly believe how that man has behaved to me."

"He is altogether beneath your anger," said Mr Gazebee, with a bow.

"I don't know: in one way he may be, but not in another. I really do
not think I can sit down to table with Doctor Thorne."

But, nevertheless, Mr Gazebee gained his point. It was now about a
week since Sir Omicron Pie had been at Greshamsbury, and the squire
had, almost daily, spoken to his wife as to that learned man's
advice. Lady Arabella always answered in the same tone: "You can
hardly know, Mr Gresham, how that man has insulted me." But,
nevertheless, the physician's advice had not been disbelieved: it
tallied too well with her own inward convictions. She was anxious
enough to have Doctor Thorne back at her bedside, if she could only
get him there without damage to her pride. Her husband, she thought,
might probably send the doctor there without absolute permission from
herself; in which case she would have been able to scold, and show
that she was offended; and, at the same time, profit by what had been
done. But Mr Gresham never thought of taking so violent a step as
this, and, therefore, Dr Fillgrave still came, and her ladyship's
_finesse_ was wasted in vain.

But Mr Gazebee's proposition opened a door by which her point might
be gained. "Well," said she, at last, with infinite self-denial, "if
you think it is for Mr Gresham's advantage, and if he chooses to ask
Dr Thorne, I will not refuse to receive him."

Mr Gazebee's next task was to discuss the matter with the squire. Nor
was this easy, for Mr Gazebee was no favourite with Mr Gresham. But
the task was at last performed successfully. Mr Gresham was so glad
at heart to find himself able, once more, to ask his old friend to
his own house; and, though it would have pleased him better that this
sign of relenting on his wife's part should have reached him by other
means, he did not refuse to take advantage of it; and so he wrote the
above letter to Dr Thorne.

The doctor, as we have said, read it twice; and he at once resolved
stoutly that he would not go.

"Oh, do, do go!" said Mary. She well knew how wretched this feud had
made her uncle. "Pray, pray go!"

"Indeed, I will not," said he. "There are some things a man should
bear, and some he should not."

"You must go," said Mary, who had taken the note from her uncle's
hand, and read it. "You cannot refuse him when he asks you like
that."

"It will greatly grieve me; but I must refuse him."

"I also am angry, uncle; very angry with Lady Arabella; but for him,
for the squire, I would go to him on my knees if he asked me in that
way."

"Yes; and had he asked you, I also would have gone."

"Oh! now I shall be so wretched. It is his invitation, not hers: Mr
Gresham could not ask me. As for her, do not think of her; but do, do
go when he asks you like that. You will make me so miserable if you
do not. And then Sir Louis cannot go without you,"--and Mary pointed
upstairs--"and you may be sure that he will go."

"Yes; and make a beast of himself."

This colloquy was cut short by a message praying the doctor to go up
to Sir Louis's room. The young man was sitting in his dressing-gown,
drinking a cup of coffee at his toilet-table, while Joe was preparing
his razor and hot water. The doctor's nose immediately told him
that there was more in the coffee-cup than had come out of his own
kitchen, and he would not let the offence pass unnoticed.

"Are you taking brandy this morning, Sir Louis?"

"Just a little _chasse-café_," said he, not exactly understanding
the word he used. "It's all the go now; and a capital thing for the
stomach."

"It's not a capital thing for your stomach;--about the least capital
thing you can take; that is, if you wish to live."

"Never mind about that now, doctor, but look here. This is what we
call the civil thing--eh?" and he showed the Greshamsbury note. "Not
but what they have an object, of course. I understand all that. Lots
of girls there--eh?"

The doctor took the note and read it. "It is civil," said he; "very
civil."

"Well; I shall go, of course. I don't bear malice because he can't
pay me the money he owes me. I'll eat his dinner, and look at the
girls. Have you an invite too, doctor?"

"Yes; I have."

"And you'll go?"

"I think not; but that need not deter you. But, Sir Louis--"

"Well! eh! what is it?"

"Step downstairs a moment," said the doctor, turning to the servant,
"and wait till you are called for. I wish to speak to your master."
Joe, for a moment, looked up at the baronet's face, as though he
wanted but the slightest encouragement to disobey the doctor's
orders; but not seeing it, he slowly retired, and placed himself, of
course, at the keyhole.

And then, the doctor began a long and very useless lecture. The first
object of it was to induce his ward not to get drunk at Greshamsbury;
but having got so far, he went on, and did succeed in frightening
his unhappy guest. Sir Louis did not possess the iron nerves of
his father--nerves which even brandy had not been able to subdue.
The doctor spoke strongly, very strongly; spoke of quick, almost
immediate death in case of further excesses; spoke to him of the
certainty there would be that he could not live to dispose of his own
property if he could not refrain. And thus he did frighten Sir Louis.
The father he had never been able to frighten. But there are men
who, though they fear death hugely, fear present suffering more;
who, indeed, will not bear a moment of pain if there by any mode of
escape. Sir Louis was such: he had no strength of nerve, no courage,
no ability to make a resolution and keep it. He promised the doctor
that he would refrain; and, as he did so, he swallowed down his cup
of coffee and brandy, in which the two articles bore about equal
proportions.

The doctor did, at last, make up his mind to go. Whichever way he
determined, he found that he was not contented with himself. He did
not like to trust Sir Louis by himself, and he did not like to show
that he was angry. Still less did he like the idea of breaking bread
in Lady Arabella's house till some amends had been made to Mary. But
his heart would not allow him to refuse the petition contained in
the squire's postscript, and the matter ended in his accepting the
invitation.

This visit of his ward's was, in every way, pernicious to the doctor.
He could not go about his business, fearing to leave such a man alone
with Mary. On the afternoon of the second day, she escaped to the
parsonage for an hour or so, and then walked away among the lanes,
calling on some of her old friends among the farmers' wives. But even
then, the doctor was afraid to leave Sir Louis. What could such a
man do, left alone in a village like Greshamsbury? So he stayed at
home, and the two together went over their accounts. The baronet was
particular about his accounts, and said a good deal as to having
Finnie over to Greshamsbury. To this, however, Dr Thorne positively
refused his consent.

The evening passed off better than the preceding one; at least the
early part of it. Sir Louis did not get tipsy; he came up to tea, and
Mary, who did not feel so keenly on the subject as her uncle, almost
wished that he had done so. At ten o'clock he went to bed.

But after that new troubles came on. The doctor had gone downstairs
into his study to make up some of the time which he had lost, and
had just seated himself at his desk, when Janet, without announcing
herself, burst into the room; and Bridget, dissolved in hysterical
tears, with her apron to her eyes, appeared behind the senior
domestic.

"Please, sir," said Janet, driven by excitement much beyond her
usual pace of speaking, and becoming unintentionally a little less
respectful than usual, "please sir, that 'ere young man must go out
of this here house; or else no respectable young 'ooman can't stop
here; no, indeed, sir; and we be sorry to trouble you, Dr Thorne; so
we be."

"What young man? Sir Louis?" asked the doctor.

"Oh, no! he abides mostly in bed, and don't do nothing amiss; least
way not to us. 'Tan't him, sir; but his man."

"Man!" sobbed Bridget from behind. "He an't no man, nor nothing
like a man. If Tummas had been here, he wouldn't have dared; so he
wouldn't." Thomas was the groom, and, if all Greshamsbury reports
were true, it was probable, that on some happy, future day, Thomas
and Bridget would become one flesh and one bone.

"Please sir," continued Janet, "there'll be bad work here if that
'ere young man doesn't quit this here house this very night, and I'm
sorry to trouble you, doctor; and so I am. But Tom, he be given to
fight a'most for nothin'. He's hout now; but if that there young man
be's here when Tom comes home, Tom will be punching his head; I know
he will."

"He wouldn't stand by and see a poor girl put upon; no more he
wouldn't," said Bridget, through her tears.

After many futile inquiries, the doctor ascertained that Mr Jonah had
expressed some admiration for Bridget's youthful charms, and had, in
the absence of Janet, thrown himself at the lady's feet in a manner
which had not been altogether pleasing to her. She had defended
herself stoutly and loudly, and in the middle of the row Janet had
come down.

"And where is he now?" said the doctor.

"Why, sir," said Janet, "the poor girl was so put about that she did
give him one touch across the face with the rolling-pin, and he be
all bloody now, in the back kitchen." At hearing this achievement of
hers thus spoken of, Bridget sobbed more hysterically than ever; but
the doctor, looking at her arm as she held her apron to her face,
thought in his heart that Joe must have had so much the worst of it,
that there could be no possible need for the interference of Thomas
the groom.

And such turned out to be the case. The bridge of Joe's nose was
broken; and the doctor had to set it for him in a little bedroom at
the village public-house, Bridget having positively refused to go to
bed in the same house with so dreadful a character.

"Quiet now, or I'll be serving thee the same way; thee see I've found
the trick of it." The doctor could not but hear so much as he made
his way into his own house by the back door, after finishing his
surgical operation. Bridget was recounting to her champion the fracas
that had occurred; and he, as was so natural, was expressing his
admiration at her valour.



CHAPTER XXXV

Sir Louis Goes Out to Dinner


The next day Joe did not make his appearance, and Sir Louis, with
many execrations, was driven to the terrible necessity of dressing
himself. Then came an unexpected difficulty: how were they to get up
to the house? Walking out to dinner, though it was merely through
the village and up the avenue, seemed to Sir Louis to be a thing
impossible. Indeed, he was not well able to walk at all, and
positively declared that he should never be able to make his way over
the gravel in pumps. His mother would not have thought half as much
of walking from Boxall Hill to Greshamsbury and back again. At last,
the one village fly was sent for, and the matter was arranged.

When they reached the house, it was easy to see that there was some
unwonted bustle. In the drawing-room there was no one but Mr Mortimer
Gazebee, who introduced himself to them both. Sir Louis, who knew
that he was only an attorney, did not take much notice of him, but
the doctor entered into conversation.

"Have you heard that Mr Gresham has come home?" said Mr Gazebee.

"Mr Gresham! I did not know that he had been away."

"Mr Gresham, junior, I mean." No, indeed; the doctor had not heard.
Frank had returned unexpectedly just before dinner, and he was now
undergoing his father's smiles, his mother's embraces, and his
sisters' questions.

"Quite unexpectedly," said Mr Gazebee. "I don't know what has brought
him back before his time. I suppose he found London too hot."

"Deuced hot," said the baronet. "I found it so, at least. I don't
know what keeps men in London when it's so hot; except those fellows
who have business to do: they're paid for it."

Mr Mortimer Gazebee looked at him. He was managing an estate which
owed Sir Louis an enormous sum of money, and, therefore, he could not
afford to despise the baronet; but he thought to himself, what a very
abject fellow the man would be if he were not a baronet, and had not
a large fortune!

And then the squire came in. His broad, honest face was covered with
a smile when he saw the doctor.

"Thorne," he said, almost in a whisper, "you're the best fellow
breathing; I have hardly deserved this." The doctor, as he took his
old friend's hand, could not but be glad that he had followed Mary's
counsel.

"So Frank has come home?"

"Oh, yes; quite unexpectedly. He was to have stayed a week longer in
London. You would hardly know him if you met him. Sir Louis, I beg
your pardon." And the squire went up to his other guest, who had
remained somewhat sullenly standing in one corner of the room. He was
the man of highest rank present, or to be present, and he expected to
be treated as such.

"I am happy to have the pleasure of making your acquaintance,
Mr Gresham," said the baronet, intending to be very courteous.
"Though we have not met before, I very often see your name in my
accounts--ha! ha! ha!" and Sir Louis laughed as though he had said
something very good.

The meeting between Lady Arabella and the doctor was rather
distressing to the former; but she managed to get over it. She shook
hands with him graciously, and said that it was a fine day. The
doctor said that it was fine, only perhaps a little rainy. And then
they went into different parts of the room.

When Frank came in, the doctor hardly did know him. His hair was
darker than it had been, and so was his complexion; but his chief
disguise was in a long silken beard, which hung down over his cravat.
The doctor had hitherto not been much in favour of long beards, but
he could not deny that Frank looked very well with the appendage.

"Oh, doctor, I am so delighted to find you here," said he, coming up
to him; "so very, very glad:" and, taking the doctor's arm, he led
him away into a window, where they were alone. "And how is Mary?"
said he, almost in a whisper. "Oh, I wish she were here! But, doctor,
it shall all come in time. But tell me, doctor, there is no news
about her, is there?"

"News--what news?"

"Oh, well; no news is good news: you will give her my love, won't
you?"

The doctor said that he would. What else could he say? It appeared
quite clear to him that some of Mary's fears were groundless.

Frank was again very much altered. It has been said, that though
he was a boy at twenty-one, he was a man at twenty-two. But now,
at twenty-three, he appeared to be almost a man of the world. His
manners were easy, his voice under his control, and words were at his
command: he was no longer either shy or noisy; but, perhaps, was open
to the charge of seeming, at least, to be too conscious of his own
merits. He was, indeed, very handsome; tall, manly, and powerfully
built, his form was such as women's eyes have ever loved to look
upon. "Ah, if he would but marry money!" said Lady Arabella to
herself, taken up by a mother's natural admiration for her son. His
sisters clung round him before dinner, all talking to him at once.
How proud a family of girls are of one, big, tall, burly brother!

"You don't mean to tell me, Frank, that you are going to eat soup
with that beard?" said the squire, when they were seated round the
table. He had not ceased to rally his son as to this patriarchal
adornment; but, nevertheless, any one could have seen, with half an
eye, that he was as proud of it as were the others.

"Don't I, sir? All I require is a relay of napkins for every course:"
and he went to work, covering it with every spoonful, as men with
beards always do.

"Well, if you like it!" said the squire, shrugging his shoulders.

"But I do like it," said Frank.

"Oh, papa, you wouldn't have him cut it off," said one of the twins.
"It is so handsome."

"I should like to work it into a chair-back instead of floss-silk,"
said the other twin.

"Thank'ee, Sophy; I'll remember you for that."

"Doesn't it look nice, and grand, and patriarchal?" said Beatrice,
turning to her neighbour.

"Patriarchal, certainly," said Mr Oriel. "I should grow one myself if
I had not the fear of the archbishop before my eyes."

What was next said to him was in a whisper, audible only to himself.

"Doctor, did you know Wildman of the 9th. He was left as surgeon at
Scutari for two years. Why, my beard to his is only a little down."

"A little way down, you mean," said Mr Gazebee.

"Yes," said Frank, resolutely set against laughing at Mr Gazebee's
pun. "Why, his beard descends to his ankles, and he is obliged to tie
it in a bag at night, because his feet get entangled in it when he is
asleep!"

"Oh, Frank!" said one of the girls.

This was all very well for the squire, and Lady Arabella, and the
girls. They were all delighted to praise Frank, and talk about him.
Neither did it come amiss to Mr Oriel and the doctor, who had both a
personal interest in the young hero. But Sir Louis did not like it
at all. He was the only baronet in the room, and yet nobody took any
notice of him. He was seated in the post of honour, next to Lady
Arabella; but even Lady Arabella seemed to think more of her own
son than of him. Seeing how he was ill-used, he meditated revenge;
but not the less did it behove him to make some effort to attract
attention.

"Was your ladyship long in London, this season?" said he.

Lady Arabella had not been in London at all this year, and it
was a sore subject with her. "No," said she, very graciously;
"circumstances have kept us at home."

Sir Louis only understood one description of "circumstances."
Circumstances, in his idea, meant the want of money, and he
immediately took Lady Arabella's speech as a confession of poverty.

"Ah, indeed! I am very sorry for that; that must be very distressing
to a person like your ladyship. But things are mending, perhaps?"

Lady Arabella did not in the least understand him. "Mending!" she
said, in her peculiar tone of aristocratic indifference; and then
turned to Mr Gazebee, who was on the other side of her.

Sir Louis was not going to stand this. He was the first man in the
room, and he knew his own importance. It was not to be borne that
Lady Arabella should turn to talk to a dirty attorney, and leave him,
a baronet, to eat his dinner without notice. If nothing else would
move her, he would let her know who was the real owner of the
Greshamsbury title-deeds.

"I think I saw your ladyship out to-day, taking a ride." Lady
Arabella had driven through the village in her pony-chair.

"I never ride," said she, turning her head for one moment from Mr
Gazebee.

"In the one-horse carriage, I mean, my lady. I was delighted with the
way you whipped him up round the corner."

Whipped him up round the corner! Lady Arabella could make no answer
to this; so she went on talking to Mr Gazebee. Sir Louis, repulsed,
but not vanquished--resolved not to be vanquished by any Lady
Arabella--turned his attention to his plate for a minute or two, and
then recommenced.

"The honour of a glass of wine with you, Lady Arabella," said he.

"I never take wine at dinner," said Lady Arabella. The man was
becoming intolerable to her, and she was beginning to fear that it
would be necessary for her to fly the room to get rid of him.

The baronet was again silent for a moment; but he was determined not
to be put down.

"This is a nice-looking country about her," said he.

"Yes; very nice," said Mr Gazebee, endeavouring to relieve the lady
of the mansion.

"I hardly know which I like best; this, or my own place at Boxall
Hill. You have the advantage here in trees, and those sort of things.
But, as to the house, why, my box there is very comfortable, very.
You'd hardly know the place now, Lady Arabella, if you haven't seen
it since my governor bought it. How much do you think he spent about
the house and grounds, pineries included, you know, and those sort of
things?"

Lady Arabella shook her head.

"Now guess, my lady," said he. But it was not to be supposed that
Lady Arabella should guess on such a subject.

"I never guess," said she, with a look of ineffable disgust.

"What do you say, Mr Gazebee?"

"Perhaps a hundred thousand pounds."

"What! for a house! You can't know much about money, nor yet about
building, I think, Mr Gazebee."

"Not much," said Mr Gazebee, "as to such magnificent places as Boxall
Hill."

"Well, my lady, if you won't guess, I'll tell you. It cost twenty-two
thousand four hundred and nineteen pounds four shillings and
eightpence. I've all the accounts exact. Now, that's a tidy lot of
money for a house for a man to live in."

Sir Louis spoke this in a loud tone, which at least commanded the
attention of the table. Lady Arabella, vanquished, bowed her head,
and said that it was a large sum; Mr Gazebee went on sedulously
eating his dinner; the squire was struck momentarily dumb in the
middle of a long chat with the doctor; even Mr Oriel ceased to
whisper; and the girls opened their eyes with astonishment. Before
the end of his speech, Sir Louis's voice had become very loud.

"Yes, indeed," said Frank; "a very tidy lot of money. I'd have
generously dropped the four and eightpence if I'd been the
architect."

"It wasn't all one bill; but that's the tot. I can show the bills:"
and Sir Louis, well pleased with his triumph, swallowed a glass of
wine.

Almost immediately after the cloth was removed, Lady Arabella
escaped, and the gentlemen clustered together. Sir Louis found
himself next to Mr Oriel, and began to make himself agreeable.

"A very nice girl, Miss Beatrice; very nice."

Now Mr Oriel was a modest man, and, when thus addressed as to his
future wife, found it difficult to make any reply.

"You parsons always have your own luck," said Sir Louis. "You get all
the beauty, and generally all the money, too. Not much of the latter
in this case, though--eh?"

Mr Oriel was dumbfounded. He had never said a word to any creature as
to Beatrice's dowry; and when Mr Gresham had told him, with sorrow,
that his daughter's portion must be small, he had at once passed away
from the subject as one that was hardly fit for conversation, even
between him and his future father-in-law; and now he was abruptly
questioned on the subject by a man he had never before seen in his
life. Of course, he could make no answer.

"The squire has muddled his matters most uncommonly," continued Sir
Louis, filling his glass for the second time before he passed the
bottle. "What do you suppose now he owes me alone; just at one lump,
you know?"

Mr Oriel had nothing for it but to run. He could make no answer, nor
would he sit there to hear tidings as to Mr Gresham's embarrassments.
So he fairly retreated, without having said one word to his
neighbour, finding such discretion to be the only kind of valour left
to him.

"What, Oriel! off already?" said the squire. "Anything the matter?"

"Oh, no; nothing particular. I'm not just quite--I think I'll go out
for a few minutes."

"See what it is to be in love," said the squire, half-whispering to
Dr Thorne. "You're not in the same way, I hope?"

Sir Louis then shifted his seat again, and found himself next to
Frank. Mr Gazebee was opposite to him, and the doctor opposite to
Frank.

"Parson seems peekish, I think," said the baronet.

"Peekish?" said the squire, inquisitively.

"Rather down on his luck. He's decently well off himself, isn't he?"

There was another pause, and nobody seemed inclined to answer the
question.

"I mean, he's got something more than his bare living."

"Oh, yes," said Frank, laughing. "He's got what will buy him bread
and cheese when the Rads shut up the Church:--unless, indeed, they
shut up the Funds too."

"Ah, there's nothing like land," said Sir Louis: "nothing like the
dirty acres; is there, squire?"

"Land is a very good investment, certainly," said the Mr Gresham.

"The best going," said the other, who was now, as people say when
they mean to be good-natured, slightly under the influence of liquor.
"The best going--eh, Gazebee?"

Mr Gazebee gathered himself up, and turned away his head, looking out
of the window.

"You lawyers never like to give an opinion without money, ha! ha! ha!
Do they, Mr Gresham? You and I have had to pay for plenty of them,
and will have to pay for plenty more before they let us alone."

Here Mr Gazebee got up, and followed Mr Oriel out of the room. He was
not, of course, on such intimate terms in the house as was Mr Oriel;
but he hoped to be forgiven by the ladies in consequence of the
severity of the miseries to which he was subjected. He and Mr Oriel
were soon to be seen through the dining-room window, walking about
the grounds with the two eldest Miss Greshams. And Patience Oriel,
who had also been of the party, was also to be seen with the twins.
Frank looked at his father with almost a malicious smile, and began
to think that he too might be better employed out among the walks.
Did he think then of a former summer evening, when he had half broken
Mary's heart by walking there too lovingly with Patience Oriel?

Sir Louis, if he continued his brilliant career of success, would
soon be left the cock of the walk. The squire, to be sure, could
not bolt, nor could the doctor very well; but they might be equally
vanquished, remaining there in their chairs. Dr Thorne, during all
this time, was sitting with tingling ears. Indeed, it may be said
that his whole body tingled. He was in a manner responsible for this
horrid scene; but what could he do to stop it? He could not take Sir
Louis up bodily and carry him away. One idea did occur to him. The
fly had been ordered for ten o'clock. He could rush out and send for
it instantly.

"You're not going to leave me?" said the squire, in a voice of
horror, as he saw the doctor rising from his chair.

"Oh, no, no, no," said the doctor; and then he whispered the purpose
of his mission. "I will be back in two minutes." The doctor would
have given twenty pounds to have closed the scene at once; but he was
not the man to desert his friend in such a strait as that.

"He's a well-meaning fellow, the doctor," said Sir Louis, when his
guardian was out of the room, "very; but he's not up to trap--not at
all."

"Up to trap--well, I should say he was; that is, if I know what trap
means," said Frank.

"Ah, but that's just the ticket. Do you know? Now I say Dr Thorne's
not a man of the world."

"He's about the best man I know, or ever heard of," said the squire.
"And if any man ever had a good friend, you have got one in him; and
so have I:" and the squire silently drank the doctor's health.

"All very true, I dare say; but yet he's not up to trap. Now look
here, squire--"

"If you don't mind, sir," said Frank, "I've got something very
particular--perhaps, however--"

"Stay till Thorne returns, Frank."

Frank did stay till Thorne returned, and then escaped.

"Excuse me, doctor," said he, "but I've something very particular to
say; I'll explain to-morrow." And then the three were left alone.

Sir Louis was now becoming almost drunk, and was knocking his words
together. The squire had already attempted to stop the bottle; but
the baronet had contrived to get hold of a modicum of Madeira, and
there was no preventing him from helping himself; at least, none at
that moment.

"As we were saying about lawyers," continued Sir Louis. "Let's see,
what were we saying? Why, squire, it's just here. Those fellows will
fleece us both if we don't mind what we are after."

"Never mind about lawyers now," said Dr Thorne, angrily.

"Ah, but I do mind; most particularly. That's all very well for you,
doctor; you've nothing to lose. You've no great stake in the matter.
Why, now, what sum of money of mine do you think those d---- doctors
are handling?"

"D---- doctors!" said the squire in a tone of dismay.

"Lawyers, I mean, of course. Why, now, Gresham; we're all totted
now, you see; you're down in my books, I take it, for pretty near a
hundred thousand pounds."

"Hold your tongue, sir," said the doctor, getting up.

"Hold my tongue!" said Sir Louis.

"Sir Louis Scatcherd," said the squire, slowly rising from his chair,
"we will not, if you please, talk about business at the present
moment. Perhaps we had better go to the ladies."

This latter proposition had certainly not come from the squire's
heart: going to the ladies was the very last thing for which Sir
Louis was now fit. But the squire had said it as being the only
recognised formal way he could think of for breaking up the
symposium.

"Oh, very well," hiccupped the baronet, "I'm always ready for the
ladies," and he stretched out his hand to the decanter to get a last
glass of Madeira.

"No," said the doctor, rising stoutly, and speaking with a determined
voice. "No; you will have no more wine:" and he took the decanter
from him.

"What's all this about?" said Sir Louis, with a drunken laugh.

"Of course he cannot go into the drawing-room, Mr Gresham. If you
will leave him here with me, I will stay with him till the fly
comes. Pray tell Lady Arabella from me, how sorry I am that this has
occurred."

The squire would not leave his friend, and they sat together till the
fly came. It was not long, for the doctor had dispatched his
messenger with much haste.

"I am so heartily ashamed of myself," said the doctor, almost with
tears.

The squire took him by the hand affectionately. "I've seen a tipsy
man before to-night," said he.

"Yes," said the doctor, "and so have I, but--" He did not express the
rest of his thoughts.



CHAPTER XXXVI

Will He Come Again?


Long before the doctor returned home after the little dinner-party
above described, Mary had learnt that Frank was already at
Greshamsbury. She had heard nothing of him or from him, not a word,
nothing in the shape of a message, for twelve months; and at her age
twelve months is a long period. Would he come and see her in spite of
his mother? Would he send her any tidings of his return, or notice
her in any way? If he did not, what would she do? and if he did, what
then would she do? It was so hard to resolve; so hard to be deserted;
and so hard to dare to wish that she might not be deserted! She
continued to say to herself, that it would be better that they should
be strangers; and she could hardly keep herself from tears in the
fear that they might be so. What chance could there be that he should
care for her, after an absence spent in travelling over the world?
No; she would forget that affair of his hand; and then, immediately
after having so determined, she would confess to herself that it was
a thing not to be forgotten, and impossible of oblivion.

On her uncle's return, she would hear some word about him; and so
she sat alone, with a book before her, of which she could not read
a line. She expected them about eleven, and was, therefore, rather
surprised when the fly stopped at the door before nine.

She immediately heard her uncle's voice, loud and angry, calling
for Thomas. Both Thomas and Bridget were unfortunately out, being,
at this moment, forgetful of all sublunary cares, and seated in
happiness under a beech-tree in the park. Janet flew to the little
gate, and there found Sir Louis insisting that he would be taken at
once to his own mansion at Boxall Hill, and positively swearing that
he would no longer submit to the insult of the doctor's surveillance.

In the absence of Thomas, the doctor was forced to apply for
assistance to the driver of the fly. Between them the baronet was
dragged out of the vehicle, the windows suffered much, and the
doctor's hat also. In this way, he was taken upstairs, and was at
last put to bed, Janet assisting; nor did the doctor leave the room
till his guest was asleep. Then he went into the drawing-room to
Mary. It may easily be conceived that he was hardly in a humour to
talk much about Frank Gresham.

"What am I to do with him?" said he, almost in tears: "what am I to
do with him?"

"Can you not send him to Boxall Hill?" asked Mary.

"Yes; to kill himself there! But it is no matter; he will kill
himself somewhere. Oh! what that family have done for me!" And then,
suddenly remembering a portion of their doings, he took Mary in his
arms, and kissed and blessed her; and declared that, in spite of all
this, he was a happy man.

There was no word about Frank that night. The next morning the doctor
found Sir Louis very weak, and begging for stimulants. He was worse
than weak; he was in such a state of wretched misery and mental
prostration; so low in heart, in such collapse of energy and spirit,
that Dr Thorne thought it prudent to remove his razors from his
reach.

"For God's sake do let me have a little _chasse-café_; I'm always
used to it; ask Joe if I'm not! You don't want to kill me, do you?"
And the baronet cried piteously, like a child, and, when the doctor
left him for the breakfast-table, abjectly implored Janet to get him
some curaçoa which he knew was in one of his portmanteaus. Janet,
however, was true to her master.

The doctor did give him some wine; and then, having left strict
orders as to his treatment--Bridget and Thomas being now both in the
house--went forth to some of his too much neglected patients.

Then Mary was again alone, and her mind flew away to her lover. How
should she be able to compose herself when she should first see him?
See him she must. People cannot live in the same village without
meeting. If she passed him at the church-door, as she often passed
Lady Arabella, what should she do? Lady Arabella always smiled
a peculiar, little, bitter smile, and this, with half a nod of
recognition, carried off the meeting. Should she try the bitter
smile, the half-nod with Frank? Alas! she knew it was not in her to
be so much mistress of her own heart's blood.

As she thus thought, she stood at the drawing-room window, looking
out into her garden; and, as she leant against the sill, her head was
surrounded by the sweet creepers. "At any rate, he won't come here,"
she said: and so, with a deep sigh, she turned from the window into
the room.

There he was, Frank Gresham himself standing there in her immediate
presence, beautiful as Apollo. Her next thought was how she might
escape from out of his arms. How it happened that she had fallen into
them, she never knew.

"Mary! my own, own love! my own one! sweetest! dearest! best! Mary!
dear Mary! have you not a word to say to me?"

No; she had not a word, though her life had depended on it. The
exertion necessary for not crying was quite enough for her. This,
then, was the bitter smile and the half-nod that was to pass between
them; this was the manner in which estrangement was to grow into
indifference; this was the mode of meeting by which she was to prove
that she was mistress of her conduct, if not her heart! There he held
her close bound to his breast, and she could only protect her face,
and that all ineffectually, with her hands. "He loves another,"
Beatrice had said. "At any rate, he will not love me," her own heart
had said also. Here was now the answer.

"You know you cannot marry him," Beatrice had said, also. Ah! if that
really were so, was not this embrace deplorable for them both? And
yet how could she not be happy? She endeavoured to repel him; but
with what a weak endeavour! Her pride had been wounded to the core,
not by Lady Arabella's scorn, but by the conviction which had grown
on her, that though she had given her own heart absolutely away,
had parted with it wholly and for ever, she had received nothing in
return. The world, her world, would know that she had loved, and
loved in vain. But here now was the loved one at her feet; the first
moment that his enforced banishment was over, had brought him there.
How could she not be happy?

They all said that she could not marry him. Well, perhaps it might
be so; nay, when she thought of it, must not that edict too probably
be true? But if so, it would not be his fault. He was true to her,
and that satisfied her pride. He had taken from her, by surprise,
a confession of her love. She had often regretted her weakness in
allowing him to do so; but she could not regret it now. She could
endure to suffer; nay, it would not be suffering while he suffered
with her.

"Not one word, Mary? Then after all my dreams, after all my patience,
you do not love me at last?"

Oh, Frank! notwithstanding what has been said in thy praise, what a
fool thou art! Was any word necessary for thee? Had not her heart
beat against thine? Had she not borne thy caresses? Had there been
one touch of anger when she warded off thy threatened kisses?
Bridget, in the kitchen, when Jonah became amorous, smashed his nose
with the rolling-pin. But when Thomas sinned, perhaps as deeply, she
only talked of doing so. Miss Thorne, in the drawing-room, had she
needed self-protection, could doubtless have found the means, though
the process would probably have been less violent.

At last Mary succeeded in her efforts at enfranchisement, and she and
Frank stood at some little distance from each other. She could not
but marvel at him. That long, soft beard, which just now had been so
close to her face, was all new; his whole look was altered; his mien,
and gait, and very voice were not the same. Was this, indeed, the
very Frank who had chattered of his boyish love, two years since, in
the gardens at Greshamsbury?

"Not one word of welcome, Mary?"

"Indeed, Mr Gresham, you are welcome home."

"Mr Gresham! Tell me, Mary--tell me, at once--has anything happened?
I could not ask up there."

"Frank," she said, and then stopped; not being able at the moment to
get any further.

"Speak to me honestly, Mary; honestly and bravely. I offered you my
hand once before; there it is again. Will you take it?"

She looked wistfully up in his eyes; she would fain have taken it.
But though a girl may be honest in such a case, it is so hard for her
to be brave.

He still held out his hand. "Mary," said he, "if you can value it,
it shall be yours through good fortune or ill fortune. There may be
difficulties; but if you can love me, we will get over them. I am a
free man; free to do as I please with myself, except so far as I am
bound to you. There is my hand. Will you have it?" And then he, too,
looked into her eyes, and waited composedly, as though determined to
have an answer.

She slowly raised her hand, and, as she did so, her eyes fell to the
ground. It then drooped again, and was again raised; and, at last,
her light tapering fingers rested on his broad open palm.

They were soon clutched, and the whole hand brought absolutely within
his grasp. "There, now you are my own!" he said, "and none of them
shall part us; my own Mary, my own wife."

"Oh, Frank, is not this imprudent? Is it not wrong?"

"Imprudent! I am sick of prudence. I hate prudence. And as for
wrong--no. I say it is not wrong; certainly not wrong if we love each
other. And you do love me, Mary--eh? You do! don't you?"

He would not excuse her, or allow her to escape from saying it in so
many words; and when the words did come at last, they came freely.
"Yes, Frank, I do love you; if that were all you would have no cause
for fear."

"And I will have no cause for fear."

"Ah; but your father, Frank, and my uncle. I can never bring myself
to do anything that shall bring either of them to sorrow."

Frank, of course, ran through all his arguments. He would go into a
profession, or take a farm and live in it. He would wait; that is,
for a few months. "A few months, Frank!" said Mary. "Well, perhaps
six." "Oh, Frank!" But Frank would not be stopped. He would do
anything that his father might ask him. Anything but the one thing.
He would not give up the wife he had chosen. It would not be
reasonable, or proper, or righteous that he should be asked to do so;
and here he mounted a somewhat high horse.

Mary had no arguments which she could bring from her heart to offer
in opposition to all this. She could only leave her hand in his, and
feel that she was happier than she had been at any time since the day
of that donkey-ride at Boxall Hill.

"But, Mary," continued he, becoming very grave and serious. "We must
be true to each other, and firm in this. Nothing that any of them can
say shall drive me from my purpose; will you say as much?"

Her hand was still in his, and so she stood, thinking for a moment
before she answered him. But she could not do less for him than he
was willing to do for her. "Yes," said she--said in a very low voice,
and with a manner perfectly quiet--"I will be firm. Nothing that they
can say shall shake me. But, Frank, it cannot be soon."

Nothing further occurred in this interview which needs recording.
Frank had been three times told by Mary that he had better go before
he did go; and, at last, she was obliged to take the matter into her
own hands, and lead him to the door.

"You are in a great hurry to get rid of me," said he.

"You have been here two hours, and you must go now; what will they
all think?"

"Who cares what they think? Let them think the truth: that after a
year's absence, I have much to say to you." However, at last, he did
go, and Mary was left alone.

Frank, although he had been so slow to move, had a thousand other
things to do, and went about them at once. He was very much in love,
no doubt; but that did not interfere with his interest in other
pursuits. In the first place, he had to see Harry Baker, and Harry
Baker's stud. Harry had been specially charged to look after the
black horse during Frank's absence, and the holiday doings of
that valuable animal had to be inquired into. Then the kennel of
the hounds had to be visited, and--as a matter of second-rate
importance--the master. This could not be done on the same day; but a
plan for doing so must be concocted with Harry--and then there were
two young pointer pups.

Frank, when he left his betrothed, went about these things quite as
vehemently as though he were not in love at all; quite as vehemently
as though he had said nothing as to going into some profession which
must necessarily separate him from horses and dogs. But Mary sat
there at her window, thinking of her love, and thinking of nothing
else. It was all in all to her now. She had pledged herself not to be
shaken from her troth by anything, by any person; and it would behove
her to be true to this pledge. True to it, though all the Greshams
but one should oppose her with all their power; true to it, even
though her own uncle should oppose her.

And how could she have done any other than so pledge herself, invoked
to it as she had been? How could she do less for him than he was so
anxious to do for her? They would talk to her of maiden delicacy, and
tell her that she had put a stain on that snow-white coat of proof,
in confessing her love for one whose friends were unwilling to
receive her. Let them so talk. Honour, honesty, and truth, out-spoken
truth, self-denying truth, and fealty from man to man, are worth more
than maiden delicacy; more, at any rate, than the talk of it. It
was not for herself that this pledge had been made. She knew her
position, and the difficulties of it; she knew also the value of it.
He had much to offer, much to give; she had nothing but herself. He
had name, and old repute, family, honour, and what eventually would
at least be wealth to her. She was nameless, fameless, portionless.
He had come there with all his ardour, with the impulse of his
character, and asked for her love. It was already his own. He had
then demanded her troth, and she acknowledged that he had a right to
demand it. She would be his if ever it should be in his power to take
her.

But there let the bargain end. She would always remember, that though
it was in her power to keep her pledge, it might too probably not be
in his power to keep his. That doctrine, laid down so imperatively
by the great authorities of Greshamsbury, that edict, which demanded
that Frank should marry money, had come home also to her with a
certain force. It would be sad that the fame of Greshamsbury should
perish, and that the glory should depart from the old house. It might
be, that Frank also should perceive that he must marry money. It
would be a pity that he had not seen it sooner; but she, at any rate,
would not complain.

And so she stood, leaning on the open window, with her book unnoticed
lying beside her. The sun had been in the mid-sky when Frank had left
her, but its rays were beginning to stream into the room from the
west before she moved from her position. Her first thought in the
morning had been this: Would he come to see her? Her last now was
more soothing to her, less full of absolute fear: Would it be right
that he should come again?

The first sounds she heard were the footsteps of her uncle, as he
came up to the drawing-room, three steps at a time. His step was
always heavy; but when he was disturbed in spirit, it was slow; when
merely fatigued in body by ordinary work, it was quick.

"What a broiling day!" he said, and he threw himself into a chair.
"For mercy's sake give me something to drink." Now the doctor was a
great man for summer-drinks. In his house, lemonade, currant-juice,
orange-mixtures, and raspberry-vinegar were used by the quart. He
frequently disapproved of these things for his patients, as being apt
to disarrange the digestion; but he consumed enough himself to throw
a large family into such difficulties.

"Ha--a!" he ejaculated, after a draught; "I'm better now. Well,
what's the news?"

"You've been out, uncle; you ought to have the news. How's Mrs
Green?"

"Really as bad as ennui and solitude can make her."

"And Mrs Oaklerath?"

"She's getting better, because she has ten children to look after,
and twins to suckle. What has he been doing?" And the doctor pointed
towards the room occupied by Sir Louis.

Mary's conscience struck her that she had not even asked. She had
hardly remembered, during the whole day, that the baronet was in the
house. "I do not think he has been doing much," she said. "Janet has
been with him all day."

"Has he been drinking?"

"Upon my word, I don't know, uncle. I think not, for Janet has been
with him. But, uncle--"

"Well, dear--but just give me a little more of that tipple."

Mary prepared the tumbler, and, as she handed it to him, she said,
"Frank Gresham has been here to-day."

The doctor swallowed his draught, and put down the glass before he
made any reply, and even then he said but little.

"Oh! Frank Gresham."

"Yes, uncle."

"You thought him looking pretty well?"

"Yes, uncle; he was very well, I believe."

Dr Thorne had nothing more to say, so he got up and went to his
patient in the next room.

"If he disapproves of it, why does he not say so?" said Mary to
herself. "Why does he not advise me?"

But it was not so easy to give advice while Sir Louis Scatcherd was
lying there in that state.



CHAPTER XXXVII

Sir Louis Leaves Greshamsbury


Janet had been sedulous in her attentions to Sir Louis, and had not
troubled her mistress; but she had not had an easy time of it. Her
orders had been, that either she or Thomas should remain in the room
the whole day, and those orders had been obeyed.

Immediately after breakfast, the baronet had inquired after his own
servant. "His confounded nose must be right by this time, I suppose?"

"It was very bad, Sir Louis," said the old woman, who imagined that
it might be difficult to induce Jonah to come into the house again.

"A man in such a place as his has no business to be laid up," said
the master, with a whine. "I'll see and get a man who won't break his
nose."

Thomas was sent to the inn three or four times, but in vain. The man
was sitting up, well enough, in the tap-room; but the middle of his
face was covered with streaks of plaster, and he could not bring
himself to expose his wounds before his conqueror.

Sir Louis began by ordering the woman to bring him _chasse-café_. She
offered him coffee, as much as he would; but no _chasse_. "A glass of
port wine," she said, "at twelve o'clock, and another at three had
been ordered for him."

"I don't care a ---- for the orders," said Sir Louis; "send me my
own man." The man was again sent for; but would not come. "There's
a bottle of that stuff that I take, in that portmanteau, in the
left-hand corner--just hand it to me."

But Janet was not to be done. She would give him no stuff, except
what the doctor had ordered, till the doctor came back. The doctor
would then, no doubt, give him anything that was proper.

Sir Louis swore a good deal, and stormed as much as he could. He
drank, however, his two glasses of wine, and he got no more. Once or
twice he essayed to get out of bed and dress; but, at every effort,
he found that he could not do it without Joe: and there he was, still
under the clothes when the doctor returned.

"I'll tell you what it is," said he, as soon as his guardian entered
the room, "I'm not going to be made a prisoner of here."

"A prisoner! no, surely not."

"It seems very much like it at present. Your servant here--that
old woman--takes it upon her to say she'll do nothing without your
orders."

"Well; she's right there."

"Right! I don't know what you call right; but I won't stand it. You
are not going to make a child of me, Dr Thorne; so you need not think
it."

And then there was a long quarrel between them, and but an
indifferent reconciliation. The baronet said that he would go to
Boxall Hill, and was vehement in his intention to do so because the
doctor opposed it. He had not, however, as yet ferreted out the
squire, or given a bit of his mind to Mr Gazebee, and it behoved him
to do this before he took himself off to his own country mansion. He
ended, therefore, by deciding to go on the next day but one.

"Let it be so, if you are well enough," said the doctor.

"Well enough!" said the other, with a sneer. "There's nothing to make
me ill that I know of. It certainly won't be drinking too much here."

On the next day, Sir Louis was in a different mood, and in one more
distressing for the doctor to bear. His compelled abstinence from
intemperate drinking had, no doubt, been good for him; but his mind
had so much sunk under the pain of the privation, that his state was
piteous to behold. He had cried for his servant, as a child cries
for its nurse, till at last the doctor, moved to pity, had himself
gone out and brought the man in from the public-house. But when he
did come, Joe was of but little service to his master, as he was
altogether prevented from bringing him either wine or spirits; and
when he searched for the liqueur-case, he found that even that had
been carried away.

"I believe you want me to die," he said, as the doctor, sitting
by his bedside, was trying, for the hundredth time, to make him
understand that he had but one chance of living.

The doctor was not the least irritated. It would have been as wise to
be irritated by the want of reason in a dog.

"I am doing what I can to save your life," he said calmly; "but, as
you said just now, I have no power over you. As long as you are able
to move and remain in my house, you certainly shall not have the
means of destroying yourself. You will be very wise to stay here
for a week or ten days: a week or ten days of healthy living might,
perhaps, bring you round."

Sir Louis again declared that the doctor wished him to die, and spoke
of sending for his attorney, Finnie, to come to Greshamsbury to look
after him.

"Send for him if you choose," said the doctor. "His coming will cost
you three or four pounds, but can do no other harm."

"And I will send for Fillgrave," threatened the baronet. "I'm not
going to die here like a dog."

It was certainly hard upon Dr Thorne that he should be obliged to
entertain such a guest in the house;--to entertain him, and foster
him, and care for him, almost as though he were a son. But he had no
alternative; he had accepted the charge from Sir Roger, and he must
go through with it. His conscience, moreover, allowed him no rest in
this matter: it harassed him day and night, driving him on sometimes
to great wretchedness. He could not love this incubus that was on his
shoulders; he could not do other than be very far from loving him. Of
what use or value was he to any one? What could the world make of him
that would be good, or he of the world? Was not an early death his
certain fate? The earlier it might be, would it not be the better?

Were he to linger on yet for two years longer--and such a space of
life was possible for him--how great would be the mischief that he
might do; nay, certainly would do! Farewell then to all hopes for
Greshamsbury, as far as Mary was concerned. Farewell then to that
dear scheme which lay deep in the doctor's heart, that hope that he
might, in his niece's name, give back to the son the lost property of
the father. And might not one year--six months be as fatal. Frank,
they all said, must marry money; and even he--he the doctor himself,
much as he despised the idea for money's sake--even he could not but
confess that Frank, as the heir to an old, but grievously embarrassed
property, had no right to marry, at his early age, a girl without
a shilling. Mary, his niece, his own child, would probably be the
heiress of this immense wealth; but he could not tell this to Frank;
no, nor to Frank's father while Sir Louis was yet alive. What, if by
so doing he should achieve this marriage for his niece, and that then
Sir Louis should live to dispose of his own? How then would he face
the anger of Lady Arabella?

"I will never hanker after a dead man's shoes, neither for myself nor
for another," he had said to himself a hundred times; and as often
did he accuse himself of doing so. One path, however, was plainly
open before him. He would keep his peace as to the will; and would
use such efforts as he might use for a son of his own loins to
preserve the life that was so valueless. His wishes, his hopes,
his thoughts, he could not control; but his conduct was at his own
disposal.

"I say, doctor, you don't really think that I'm going to die?" Sir
Louis said, when Dr Thorne again visited him.

"I don't think at all; I am sure you will kill yourself if you
continue to live as you have lately done."

"But suppose I go all right for a while, and live--live just as you
tell me, you know?"

"All of us are in God's hands, Sir Louis. By so doing you will, at
any rate, give yourself the best chance."

"Best chance? Why, d----n, doctor! there are fellows have done ten
times worse than I; and they are not going to kick. Come, now, I know
you are trying to frighten me; ain't you, now?"

"I am trying to do the best I can for you."

"It's very hard on a fellow like me; I have nobody to say a kind word
to me; no, not one." And Sir Louis, in his wretchedness, began to
weep. "Come, doctor; if you'll put me once more on my legs, I'll let
you draw on the estate for five hundred pounds; by G----, I will."

The doctor went away to his dinner, and the baronet also had his in
bed. He could not eat much, but he was allowed two glasses of wine,
and also a little brandy in his coffee. This somewhat invigorated
him, and when Dr Thorne again went to him, in the evening, he did not
find him so utterly prostrated in spirit. He had, indeed, made up his
mind to a great resolve; and thus unfolded his final scheme for his
own reformation:--

"Doctor," he began again, "I believe you are an honest fellow; I do
indeed."

Dr Thorne could not but thank him for his good opinion.

"You ain't annoyed at what I said this morning, are you?"

The doctor had forgotten the particular annoyance to which Sir Louis
alluded; and informed him that his mind might be at rest on any such
matter.

"I do believe you'd be glad to see me well; wouldn't you, now?"

The doctor assured him that such was in very truth the case.

"Well, now, I'll tell you what: I've been thinking about it a great
deal to-day; indeed, I have, and I want to do what's right. Mightn't
I have a little drop more of that stuff, just in a cup of coffee?"

The doctor poured him out a cup of coffee, and put about a
teaspoonful of brandy in it. Sir Louis took it with a disconsolate
face, not having been accustomed to such measures in the use of his
favourite beverage.

"I do wish to do what's right--I do, indeed; only, you see, I'm so
lonely. As to those fellows up in London, I don't think that one of
them cares a straw about me."

Dr Thorne was of the same way of thinking, and he said so. He could
not but feel some sympathy with the unfortunate man as he thus spoke
of his own lot. It was true that he had been thrown on the world
without any one to take care of him.

"My dear friend, I will do the best I can in every way; I will,
indeed. I do believe that your companions in town have been too ready
to lead you astray. Drop them, and you may yet do well."

"May I though, doctor? Well, I will drop them. There's Jenkins; he's
the best of them; but even he is always wanting to make money of me.
Not but what I'm up to the best of them in that way."

"You had better leave London, Sir Louis, and change your old mode of
life. Go to Boxall Hill for a while; for two or three years or so;
live with your mother there and take to farming."

"What! farming?"

"Yes; that's what all country gentlemen do: take the land there into
your own hand, and occupy your mind upon it."

"Well, doctor, I will--upon one condition."

Dr Thorne sat still and listened. He had no idea what the condition
might be, but he was not prepared to promise acquiescence till he
heard it.

"You know what I told you once before," said the baronet.

"I don't remember at this moment."

"About my getting married, you know."

The doctor's brow grew black, and promised no help to the poor
wretch. Bad in every way, wretched, selfish, sensual, unfeeling,
purse-proud, ignorant as Sir Louis Scatcherd was, still, there was
left to him the power of feeling something like sincere love. It may
be presumed that he did love Mary Thorne, and that he was at the time
earnest in declaring, that if she could be given to him, he would
endeavour to live according to her uncle's counsel. It was only a
trifle he asked; but, alas! that trifle could not be vouchsafed.

"I should much approve of your getting married, but I do not know how
I can help you."

"Of course, I mean to Miss Mary: I do love her; I really do, Dr
Thorne."

"It is quite impossible, Sir Louis; quite. You do my niece much
honour; but I am able to answer for her, positively, that such a
proposition is quite out of the question."

"Look here now, Dr Thorne; anything in the way of settlements--"

"I will not hear a word on the subject: you are very welcome to the
use of my house as long as it may suit you to remain here; but I must
insist that my niece shall not be troubled on this matter."

"Do you mean to say she's in love with that young Gresham?"

This was too much for the doctor's patience. "Sir Louis," said he,
"I can forgive you much for your father's sake. I can also forgive
something on the score of your own ill health. But you ought to know,
you ought by this time to have learnt, that there are some things
which a man cannot forgive. I will not talk to you about my niece;
and remember this, also, I will not have her troubled by you:" and,
so saying, the doctor left him.

On the next day the baronet was sufficiently recovered to be able to
resume his braggadocio airs. He swore at Janet; insisted on being
served by his own man; demanded in a loud voice, but in vain,
that his liqueur-case should be restored to him; and desired that
post-horses might be ready for him on the morrow. On that day he
got up and ate his dinner in his bedroom. On the next morning he
countermanded the horses, informing the doctor that he did so because
he had a little bit of business to transact with Squire Gresham
before he left the place! With some difficulty, the doctor made him
understand that the squire would not see him on business; and it was
at last decided, that Mr Gazebee should be invited to call on him at
the doctor's house; and this Mr Gazebee agreed to do, in order to
prevent the annoyance of having the baronet up at Greshamsbury.

On this day, the evening before Mr Gazebee's visit, Sir Louis
condescended to come down to dinner. He dined, however, _tête-à-tête_
with the doctor. Mary was not there, nor was anything said as to her
absence. Sir Louis Scatcherd never set eyes upon her again.

He bore himself very arrogantly on that evening, having resumed the
airs and would-be dignity which he thought belonged to him as a man
of rank and property. In his periods of low spirits, he was abject
and humble enough; abject, and fearful of the lamentable destiny
which at these moments he believed to be in store for him. But it
was one of the peculiar symptoms of his state, that as he partially
recovered his bodily health, the tone of his mind recovered itself
also, and his fears for the time were relieved.

There was very little said between him and the doctor that evening.
The doctor sat guarding the wine, and thinking when he should have
his house to himself again. Sir Louis sat moody, every now and then
uttering some impertinence as to the Greshams and the Greshamsbury
property, and, at an early hour, allowed Joe to put him to bed.

The horses were ordered on the next day for three, and, as two, Mr
Gazebee came to the house. He had never been there before, nor had he
ever met Dr Thorne except at the squire's dinner. On this occasion he
asked only for the baronet.

"Ah! ah! I'm glad you're come, Mr Gazebee; very glad," said Sir
Louis; acting the part of the rich, great man with all the power he
had. "I want to ask you a few questions so as to make it all clear
sailing between us."

"As you have asked to see me, I have come, Sir Louis," said the
other, putting on much dignity as he spoke. "But would it not be
better that any business there may be should be done among the
lawyers?"

"The lawyers are very well, I dare say; but when a man has so large a
stake at interest as I have in this Greshamsbury property, why, you
see, Mr Gazebee, he feels a little inclined to look after it himself.
Now, do you know, Mr Gazebee, how much it is that Mr Gresham owes
me?"

Mr Gazebee, of course, did know very well; but he was not going to
discuss the subject with Sir Louis, if he could help it.

"Whatever claim your father's estate may have on that of Mr Gresham
is, as far as I understand, vested in Dr Thorne's hands as trustee.
I am inclined to believe that you have not yourself at present any
claim on Greshamsbury. The interest, as it becomes due, is paid to
Dr Thorne; and if I may be allowed to make a suggestion, I would say
that it will not be expedient to make any change in that arrangement
till the property shall come into your own hands."

"I differ from you entirely, Mr Gazebee; _in toto_, as we used to say
at Eton. What you mean to say is--I can't go to law with Mr Gresham;
I'm not so sure of that; but perhaps not. But I can compel Dr Thorne
to look after my interests. I can force him to foreclose. And to tell
you the truth, Gazebee, unless some arrangement is proposed to me
which I shall think advantageous, I shall do so at once. There is
near a hundred thousand pounds owing to me; yes to me. Thorne is only
a name in the matter. The money is my money; and, by ----, I mean to
look after it."

"Have you any doubt, Sir Louis, as to the money being secure?"

"Yes, I have. It isn't so easy to have a hundred thousand pounds
secured. The squire is a poor man, and I don't choose to allow a poor
man to owe me such a sum as that. Besides, I mean to invest it in
land. I tell you fairly, therefore, I shall foreclose."

Mr Gazebee, using all the perspicuity which his professional
education had left to him, tried to make Sir Louis understand that he
had no power to do anything of the kind.

"No power! Mr Gresham shall see whether I have no power. When a man
has a hundred thousand pounds owing to him he ought to have some
power; and, as I take it, he has. But we will see. Perhaps you know
Finnie, do you?"

Mr Gazebee, with a good deal of scorn in his face, said that he had
not that pleasure. Mr Finnie was not in his line.

"Well, you will know him then, and you'll find he's sharp enough;
that is, unless I have some offer made to me that I may choose to
accept." Mr Gazebee declared that he was not instructed to make any
offer, and so he took his leave.

On that afternoon, Sir Louis went off to Boxall Hill, transferring
the miserable task of superintending his self-destruction from the
shoulders of the doctor to those of his mother. Of Lady Scatcherd,
the baronet took no account in his proposed sojourn in the country,
nor did he take much of the doctor in leaving Greshamsbury. He again
wrapped himself in his furs, and, with tottering steps, climbed up
into the barouche which was to carry him away.

"Is my man up behind?" he said to Janet, while the doctor was
standing at the little front garden-gate, making his adieux.

"No, sir, he's not up yet," said Janet, respectfully.

"Then send him out, will you? I can't lose my time waiting here all
day."

"I shall come over to Boxall Hill and see you," said the doctor,
whose heart softened towards the man, in spite of his brutality, as
the hour of his departure came.

"I shall be happy to see you if you like to come, of course; that is,
in the way of visiting, and that sort of thing. As for doctoring, if
I want any I shall send for Fillgrave." Such were his last words as
the carriage, with a rush, went off from the door.

The doctor, as he re-entered the house, could not avoid smiling, for
he thought of Dr Fillgrave's last patient at Boxall Hill. "It's a
question to me," said he to himself, "whether Dr Fillgrave will ever
be induced to make another visit to that house, even with the object
of rescuing a baronet out of my hands."

"He's gone; isn't he, uncle?" said Mary, coming out of her room.

"Yes, my dear; he's gone, poor fellow."

"He may be a poor fellow, uncle; but he's a very disagreeable inmate
in a house. I have not had any dinner these two days."

"And I haven't had what can be called a cup of tea since he's been in
the house. But I'll make up for that to-night."



CHAPTER XXXVIII

De Courcy Precepts and de Courcy Practice


There is a mode of novel-writing which used to be much in vogue, but
which has now gone out of fashion. It is, nevertheless, one which is
very expressive when in good hands, and which enables the author to
tell his story, or some portion of his story, with more natural trust
than any other, I mean that of familiar letters. I trust I shall be
excused if I attempt it as regards this one chapter; though, it may
be, that I shall break down and fall into the commonplace narrative,
even before the one chapter be completed. The correspondents are the
Lady Amelia de Courcy and Miss Gresham. I, of course, give precedence
to the higher rank, but the first epistle originated with the
latter-named young lady. Let me hope that they will explain
themselves.


   Miss Gresham to Lady Amelia de Courcy

   Greshamsbury House, June, 185--.

   MY DEAREST AMELIA,

   I wish to consult you on a subject which, as you will
   perceive, is of a most momentous nature. You know how much
   reliance I place in your judgement and knowledge of what
   is proper, and, therefore, I write to you before speaking
   to any other living person on the subject: not even to
   mamma; for, although her judgement is good too, she has so
   many cares and troubles, that it is natural that it should
   be a little warped when the interests of her children are
   concerned. Now that it is all over, I feel that it may
   possibly have been so in the case of Mr Moffat.

   You are aware that Mr Mortimer Gazebee is now staying
   here, and that he has been here for nearly two months. He
   is engaged in managing poor papa's affairs, and mamma, who
   likes him very much, says that he is a most excellent man
   of business. Of course, you know that he is the junior
   partner in the very old firm of Gumption, Gazebee, &
   Gazebee, who, I understand, do not undertake any business
   at all, except what comes to them from peers, or commoners
   of the very highest class.

   I soon perceived, dearest Amelia, that Mr Gazebee paid me
   more than ordinary attention, and I immediately became
   very guarded in my manner. I certainly liked Mr Gazebee
   from the first. His manners are quite excellent, his
   conduct to mamma is charming, and, as regards myself, I
   must say that there has been nothing in his behaviour of
   which even _you_ could complain. He has never attempted
   the slightest familiarity, and I will do him the justice
   to say, that, though he has been very attentive, he has
   also been very respectful.

   I must confess that, for the last three weeks, I have
   thought that he meant something. I might, perhaps, have
   done more to repel him; or I might have consulted you
   earlier as to the propriety of keeping altogether out of
   his way. But you know, Amelia, how often these things lead
   to nothing, and though I thought all along that Mr Gazebee
   was in earnest, I hardly liked to say anything about it
   even to you till I was quite certain. If you had advised
   me, you know, to accept his offer, and if, after that, he
   had never made it, I should have felt so foolish.

   But now he has made it. He came to me yesterday just
   before dinner, in the little drawing-room, and told me, in
   the most delicate manner, in words that even you could not
   have but approved, that his highest ambition was to be
   thought worthy of my regard, and that he felt for me the
   warmest love, and the most profound admiration, and the
   deepest respect. You may say, Amelia, that he is only an
   attorney, and I believe that he is an attorney; but I am
   sure you would have esteemed him had you heard the very
   delicate way in which he expressed his sentiments.

   Something had given me a presentiment of what he was going
   to do when I saw him come into the room, so that I was
   on my guard. I tried very hard to show no emotion; but I
   suppose I was a little flurried, as I once detected myself
   calling him Mr Mortimer: his name, you know, is Mortimer
   Gazebee. I ought not to have done so, certainly; but it
   was not so bad as if I had called him Mortimer without
   the Mr, was it? I don't think there could possibly be a
   prettier Christian name than Mortimer. Well, Amelia, I
   allowed him to express himself without interruption. He
   once attempted to take my hand; but even this was done
   without any assumption of familiarity; and when he saw
   that I would not permit it, he drew back, and fixed his
   eyes on the ground as though he were ashamed even of that.

   Of course, I had to give him an answer; and though I had
   expected that something of this sort would take place,
   I had not made up my mind on the subject. I would not,
   certainly, under any circumstances, accept him without
   consulting you. If I really disliked him, of course there
   would be no doubt; but I can't say, dearest Amelia, that
   I do absolutely dislike him; and I really think that we
   would make each other very happy, if the marriage were
   suitable as regarded both our positions.

   I collected myself as well as I could, and I really do
   think that you would have said that I did not behave
   badly, though the position was rather trying. I told him
   that, of course, I was flattered by his sentiments, though
   much surprised at hearing them; that since I knew him, I
   had esteemed and valued him as an acquaintance, but that,
   looking on him as a man of business, I had never expected
   anything more. I then endeavoured to explain to him, that
   I was not perhaps privileged, as some other girls might
   be, to indulge my own feelings altogether: perhaps that
   was saying too much, and might make him think that I was
   in love with him; but, from the way I said it, I don't
   think he would, for I was very much guarded in my manner,
   and very collected; and then I told him, that in any
   proposal of marriage that might be made to me, it would
   be my duty to consult my family as much, if not more than
   myself.

   He said, of course; and asked whether he might speak to
   papa. I tried to make him understand, that in talking of
   my family, I did not exactly mean papa, or even mamma.
   Of course I was thinking of what was due to the name of
   Gresham. I know very well what papa would say. He would
   give his consent in half a minute; he is so broken-hearted
   by these debts. And, to tell you the truth, Amelia, I
   think mamma would too. He did not seem quite to comprehend
   what I meant; but he did say that he knew it was a high
   ambition to marry into the family of the Greshams. I
   am sure you would confess that he has the most proper
   feelings; and as for expressing them no man could do it
   better.

   He owned that it was ambition to ally himself with a
   family above his own rank in life, and that he looked to
   doing so as a means of advancing himself. Now this was at
   any rate honest. That was one of his motives, he said;
   though, of course, not his first: and then he declared
   how truly attached he was to me. In answer to this, I
   remarked, that he had known me only a very short time.
   This, perhaps, was giving him too much encouragement; but,
   at that moment, I hardly knew what to say, for I did not
   wish to hurt his feelings. He then spoke of his income.
   He has fifteen hundred a year from the business, and that
   will be greatly increased when his father leaves it; and
   his father is much older then Mr Gumption, though he is
   only the second partner. Mortimer Gazebee will be the
   senior partner himself before very long; and perhaps that
   does alter his position a little.

   He has a very nice place down somewhere in Surrey; I have
   heard mamma say it is quite a gentleman's place. It is let
   now; but he will live there when he is married. And he
   has property of his own besides which he can settle. So,
   you see, he is quite as well off as Mr Oriel; better,
   indeed; and if a man is in a profession, I believe it is
   considered that it does not much matter what. Of course, a
   clergyman can be a bishop; but then, I think I have heard
   that one attorney did once become Lord Chancellor. I
   should have my carriage, you know; I remember his saying
   that, especially, though I cannot recollect how he brought
   it in.

   I told him, at last, that I was so much taken by surprise
   that I could not give him an answer then. He was going
   up to London, he said, on the next day, and might he
   be permitted to address me on the same subject when he
   returned? I could not refuse him, you know; and so now I
   have taken the opportunity of his absence to write to you
   for your advice. You understand the world so very well,
   and know so exactly what one ought to do in such a strange
   position!

   I hope I have made it intelligible, at least, as to what
   I have written about. I have said nothing as to my own
   feelings, because I wish you to think on the matter
   without consulting them. If it would be derogatory to
   accept Mr Gazebee, I certainly would not do so because I
   happen to like him. If we were to act in that way, what
   would the world come to, Amelia? Perhaps my ideas may be
   overstrained; if so, you will tell me.

   When Mr Oriel proposed for Beatrice, nobody seemed to make
   any objection. It all seemed to go as a matter of course.
   She says that his family is excellent; but as far as I can
   learn, his grandfather was a general in India, and came
   home very rich. Mr Gazebee's grandfather was a member of
   the firm, and so, I believe, was his great-grandfather.
   Don't you think this ought to count for something?
   Besides, they have no business except with the most
   aristocratic persons, such as uncle de Courcy, and the
   Marquis of Kensington Gore, and that sort. I mention the
   marquis, because Mr Mortimer Gazebee is there now. And I
   know that one of the Gumptions was once in Parliament; and
   I don't think that any of the Oriels ever were. The name
   of attorney is certainly very bad, is it not, Amelia? but
   they certainly do not seem to be all the same, and I do
   think that this ought to make a difference. To hear Mr
   Mortimer Gazebee talk of some attorney at Barchester, you
   would say that there is quite as much difference between
   them as between a bishop and a curate. And so I think
   there is.

   I don't wish at all to speak of my own feelings; but if he
   were not an attorney, he is, I think, the sort of man I
   should like. He is very nice in every way, and if you were
   not told, I don't think you'd know he was an attorney.
   But, dear Amelia, I will be guided by you altogether. He
   is certainly much nicer than Mr Moffat, and has a great
   deal more to say for himself. Of course, Mr Moffat having
   been in Parliament, and having been taken up by uncle
   de Courcy, was in a different sphere; but I really felt
   almost relieved when he behaved in that way. With Mortimer
   Gazebee, I think it would be different.

   I shall wait so impatiently for your answer, so do pray
   write at once. I hear some people say that these sort of
   things are not so much thought of now as they were once,
   and that all manner of marriages are considered to be
   _comme il faut_. I do not want, you know, to make myself
   foolish by being too particular. Perhaps all these changes
   are bad, and I rather think they are; but if the world
   changes, one must change too; one can't go against the
   world.

   So do write and tell me what you think. Do not suppose
   that I dislike the man, for I really cannot say that I do.
   But I would not for anything make an alliance for which
   any one bearing the name of de Courcy would have to blush.

   Always, dearest Amelia,

   Your most affectionate cousin,

   AUGUSTA GRESHAM.

   P.S.--I fear Frank is going to be very foolish with Mary
   Thorne. You know it is absolutely important that Frank
   should marry money.

   It strikes me as quite possible that Mortimer Gazebee may
   be in Parliament some of these days. He is just the man
   for it.


Poor Augusta prayed very hard for her husband; but she prayed to a
bosom that on this subject was as hard as a flint, and she prayed
in vain. Augusta Gresham was twenty-two, Lady Amelia de Courcy was
thirty-four; was it likely that Lady Amelia would permit Augusta
to marry, the issue having thus been left in her hands? Why should
Augusta derogate from her position by marrying beneath herself,
seeing that Lady Amelia had spent so many more years in the world
without having found it necessary to do so? Augusta's letter was
written on two sheets of note-paper, crossed all over; and Lady
Amelia's answer was almost equally formidable.


   Lady Amelia de Courcy to Miss Augusta Gresham

   Courcy Castle, June, 185--.

   MY DEAR AUGUSTA,

   I received your letter yesterday morning, but I have put
   off answering it till this evening, as I have wished to
   give it very mature consideration. The question is one
   which concerns, not only your character, but happiness
   for life, and nothing less than very mature consideration
   would justify me in giving a decided opinion on the
   subject.

   In the first place, I may tell you, that I have not a word
   to say against Mr Mortimer Gazebee. [When Augusta had read
   as far as this, her heart sank within her; the rest was
   all leather and prunella; she saw at once that the fiat
   had gone against her, and that her wish to become Mrs
   Mortimer Gazebee was not to be indulged.] I have known
   him for a long time, and I believe him to be a very
   respectable person, and I have no doubt a good man of
   business. The firm of Messrs Gumption & Gazebee stands
   probably quite among the first attorneys in London, and I
   know that papa has a very high opinion of them.

   All of these would be excellent arguments to use in favour
   of Mr Gazebee as a suitor, had his proposals been made to
   any one in his own rank of life. But you, in considering
   the matter, should, I think, look on it in a very
   different light. The very fact that you pronounce him to
   be so much superior to other attorneys, shows in how very
   low esteem you hold the profession in general. It shows
   also, dear Augusta, how well aware you are that they are a
   class of people among whom you should not seek a partner
   for life.

   My opinion is, that you should make Mr Gazebee
   understand--very courteously, of course--that you cannot
   accept his hand. You observe that he himself confesses,
   that in marrying you he would seek a wife in a rank above
   his own. Is it not, therefore, clear, that in marrying
   him, you would descend to a rank below your own?

   I shall be very sorry if this grieves you; but still
   it will be better that you should bear the grief of
   overcoming a temporary fancy, than take a step which may
   so probably make you unhappy; and which some of your
   friends would certainly regard as disgraceful.

   It is not permitted to us, my dear Augusta, to think of
   ourselves in such matters. As you truly say, if we were
   to act in that way, what would the world come to? It has
   been God's pleasure that we should be born with high blood
   in our veins. This is a great boon which we both value,
   but the boon has its responsibilities as well as its
   privileges. It is established by law, that the royal
   family shall not intermarry with subjects. In our case
   there is no law, but the necessity is not the less felt;
   we should not intermarry with those who are probably
   of a lower rank. Mr Mortimer Gazebee is, after all,
   only an attorney; and, although you speak of his
   great-grandfather, he is a man of no blood whatsoever. You
   must acknowledge that such an admixture should be looked
   on by a de Courcy, or even by a Gresham, as a pollution.
   [Here Augusta got very red, and she felt almost inclined
   to be angry with her cousin.] Beatrice's marriage with Mr
   Oriel is different; though, remember, I am by no means
   defending that; it may be good or bad, and I have had no
   opportunity of inquiring respecting Mr Oriel's family.
   Beatrice, moreover, has never appeared to me to feel
   what was due to herself in such matters; but, as I
   said, her marriage with Mr Oriel is very different.
   Clergymen--particularly the rectors and vicars of country
   parishes--do become privileged above other professional
   men. I could explain why, but it would be too long in a
   letter.

   Your feelings on the subject altogether do you great
   credit. I have no doubt that Mr Gresham, if asked, would
   accede to the match; but that is just the reason why he
   should not be asked. It would not be right that I should
   say anything against your father to you; but it is
   impossible for any of us not to see that all through life
   he has thrown away every advantage, and sacrificed his
   family. Why is he now in debt, as you say? Why is he not
   holding the family seat in Parliament? Even though you are
   his daughter, you cannot but feel that you would not do
   right to consult him on such a subject.

   As to dear aunt, I feel sure, that were she in good
   health, and left to exercise her own judgement, she would
   not wish to see you married to the agent for the family
   estate. For, dear Augusta, that is the real truth. Mr
   Gazebee often comes here in the way of business; and
   though papa always receives him as a gentleman--that is,
   he dines at table and all that--he is not on the same
   footing in the house as the ordinary guests and friends of
   the family. How would you like to be received at Courcy
   Castle in the same way?

   You will say, perhaps, that you would still be papa's
   niece; so you would. But you know how strict in such
   matters papa is, and you must remember, that the wife
   always follows the rank of the husband. Papa is accustomed
   to the strict etiquette of a court, and I am sure that no
   consideration would induce him to receive the estate-agent
   in the light of a nephew. Indeed, were you to marry Mr
   Gazebee, the house to which he belongs would, I imagine,
   have to give up the management of this property.

   Even were Mr Gazebee in Parliament--and I do not see how
   it is probable that he should get there--it would not make
   any difference. You must remember, dearest, that I never
   was an advocate for the Moffat match. I acquiesced in it,
   because mamma did so. If I could have had my own way,
   I would adhere to all our old prescriptive principles.
   Neither money nor position can atone to me for low birth.
   But the world, alas! is retrograding; and, according to
   the new-fangled doctrines of the day, a lady of blood is
   not disgraced by allying herself to a man of wealth, and
   what may be called quasi-aristocratic position. I wish it
   were otherwise; but so it is. And, therefore, the match
   with Mr Moffat was not disgraceful, though it could not be
   regarded as altogether satisfactory.

   But with Mr Gazebee the matter would be altogether
   different. He is a man earning his bread; honestly, I
   dare say, but in a humble position. You say he is very
   respectable: I do not doubt it; and so is Mr Scraggs,
   the butcher at Courcy. You see, Augusta, to what such
   arguments reduce you.

   I dare say he may be nicer than Mr Moffat, in one way.
   That is, he may have more small-talk at his command, and
   be more clever in all those little pursuits and amusements
   which are valued by ordinary young ladies. But my
   opinion is, that neither I nor you would be justified in
   sacrificing ourselves for such amusements. We have high
   duties before us. It may be that the performance of those
   duties will prohibit us from taking a part in the ordinary
   arena of the feminine world. It is natural that girls
   should wish to marry; and, therefore, those who are weak,
   take the first that come. Those who have more judgement,
   make some sort of selection. But the strongest-minded are,
   perhaps, those who are able to forgo themselves and their
   own fancies, and to refrain from any alliance that does
   not tend to the maintenance of high principles. Of course,
   I speak of those who have blood in their veins. You and I
   need not dilate as to the conduct of others.

   I hope what I have said will convince you. Indeed, I know
   that it only requires that you and I should have a little
   cousinly talk on this matter to be quite in accord. You
   must now remain at Greshamsbury till Mr Gazebee shall
   return. Immediately that he does so, seek an interview
   with him; do not wait till he asks for it; then tell him,
   that when he addressed you, the matter had taken you so
   much by surprise, that you were not at the moment able to
   answer him with that decision that the subject demanded.
   Tell him, that you are flattered--in saying this, however,
   you must keep a collected countenance, and be very cold
   in your manner--but that family reasons would forbid you
   to avail yourself of his offer, even did no other cause
   prevent it.

   And then, dear Augusta, come to us here. I know you
   will be a little down-hearted after going through this
   struggle; but I will endeavour to inspirit you. When we
   are both together, you will feel more sensibly the value
   of that high position which you will preserve by rejecting
   Mr Gazebee, and will regret less acutely whatever you may
   lose.

   Your very affectionate cousin,

   AMELIA DE COURCY.

   P.S.--I am greatly grieved about Frank; but I have long
   feared that he would do some very silly thing. I have
   heard lately that Miss Mary Thorne is not even the
   legitimate niece of your Dr Thorne, but is the daughter
   of some poor creature who was seduced by the doctor, in
   Barchester. I do not know how true this may be, but I
   think your brother should be put on his guard: it might do
   good.


Poor Augusta! She was in truth to be pitied, for her efforts were
made with the intention of doing right according to her lights. For
Mr Moffat she had never cared a straw; and when, therefore, she lost
the piece of gilding for which she had been instructed by her mother
to sell herself, it was impossible to pity her. But Mr Gazebee she
would have loved with that sort of love which it was in her power
to bestow. With him she would have been happy, respectable, and
contented.

She had written her letter with great care. When the offer was made
to her, she could not bring herself to throw Lady Amelia to the winds
and marry the man, as it were, out of her own head. Lady Amelia had
been the tyrant of her life, and so she strove hard to obtain her
tyrant's permission. She used all her little cunning in showing
that, after all, Mr Gazebee was not so very plebeian. All her little
cunning was utterly worthless. Lady Amelia's mind was too strong to
be caught with such chaff. Augusta could not serve God and Mammon.
She must either be true to the god of her cousin's idolatry, and
remain single, or serve the Mammon of her own inclinations, and marry
Mr Gazebee.

When refolding her cousin's letter, after the first perusal, she did
for a moment think of rebellion. Could she not be happy at the nice
place in Surrey, having, as she would have, a carriage, even though
all the de Courcys should drop her? It had been put to her that
she would not like to be received at Courcy Castle with the scant
civility which would be considered due to a Mrs Mortimer Gazebee; but
what if she could put up without being received at Courcy Castle at
all? Such ideas did float through her mind, dimly.

But her courage failed her. It is so hard to throw off a tyrant; so
much easier to yield, when we have been in the habit of yielding.
This third letter, therefore, was written; and it is the end of the
correspondence.


   Miss Augusta Gresham to Lady Amelia de Courcy

   Greshamsbury House, July, 185--.

   MY DEAREST AMELIA,

   I did not answer your letter before, because I thought it
   better to delay doing so till Mr Gazebee had been here.
   He came the day before yesterday, and yesterday I did,
   as nearly as possible, what you advised. Perhaps, on
   the whole, it will be better. As you say, rank has its
   responsibilities as well as its privileges.

   I don't quite understand what you mean about clergymen,
   but we can talk that over when we meet. Indeed, it seems
   to me that if one is to be particular about family--and
   I am sure I think we ought--one ought to be so without
   exception. If Mr Oriel be a _parvenu_, Beatrice's
   children won't be well born merely because their father
   was a clergyman, even though he is a rector. Since
   my former letter, I have heard that Mr Gazebee's
   great-great-great-grandfather established the firm; and
   there are many people who were nobodies then who are
   thought to have good blood in their veins now.

   But I do not say this because I differ from you. I agree
   with you so fully, that I at once made up my mind to
   reject the man; and, consequently, I have done so.

   When I told him I could not accept him from family
   considerations, he asked me whether I had spoken to papa.
   I told him, no; and that it would be no good, as I had
   made up my own mind. I don't think he quite understood me;
   but it did not perhaps much matter. You told me to be very
   cold, and I think that perhaps he thought me less gracious
   than before. Indeed, I fear that when he first spoke,
   I may seem to have given him too much encouragement.
   However, it is all over now; quite over! [As Augusta wrote
   this, she barely managed to save the paper beneath her
   hand from being moistened with the tear which escaped from
   her eye.]

   I do not mind confessing now, [she continued] at any rate
   to you, that I did like Mr Gazebee a little. I think his
   temper and disposition would have suited me. But I am
   quite satisfied that I have done right. He tried very hard
   to make me change my mind. That is, he said a great many
   things as to whether I would not put off my decision. But
   I was quite firm. I must say that he behaved very well,
   and that I really do think he liked me honestly and truly;
   but, of course, I could not sacrifice family
   considerations on that account.

   Yes, rank has its responsibilities as well as its
   privileges. I will remember that. It is necessary to do
   so, as otherwise one would be without consolation for what
   one has to suffer. For I find that one has to suffer,
   Amelia. I know papa would have advised me to marry this
   man; and so, I dare say, mamma would, and Frank, and
   Beatrice, if they knew that I liked him. It would not be
   so bad if we all thought alike about it; but it is hard to
   have the responsibilities all on one's own shoulder; is it
   not?

   But I will go over to you, and you will comfort me. I
   always feel stronger on this subject at Courcy than at
   Greshamsbury. We will have a long talk about it, and then
   I shall be happy again. I purpose going on next Friday, if
   that will suit you and dear aunt. I have told mamma that
   you all wanted me, and she made no objection. Do write at
   once, dearest Amelia, for to hear from you now will be my
   only comfort.

   Yours, ever most affectionately and obliged,

   AUGUSTA GRESHAM.

   P.S.--I told mamma what you said about Mary Thorne, and
   she said, "Yes; I suppose all the world knows it now; and
   if all the world did know it, it makes no difference to
   Frank." She seemed very angry; so you see it was true.


Though, by so doing, we shall somewhat anticipate the end of our
story, it may be desirable that the full tale of Mr Gazebee's loves
should be told here. When Mary is breaking her heart on her death-bed
in the last chapter, or otherwise accomplishing her destiny, we shall
hardly find a fit opportunity of saying much about Mr Gazebee and his
aristocratic bride.

For he did succeed at last in obtaining a bride in whose veins ran
the noble ichor of de Courcy blood, in spite of the high doctrine
preached so eloquently by the Lady Amelia. As Augusta had truly said,
he had failed to understand her. He was led to think, by her manner
of receiving his first proposal--and justly so, enough--that she
liked him, and would accept him; and he was, therefore, rather
perplexed by his second interview. He tried again and again, and
begged permission to mention the matter to Mr Gresham; but Augusta
was very firm, and he at last retired in disgust. Augusta went to
Courcy Castle, and received from her cousin that consolation and
re-strengthening which she so much required.

Four years afterwards--long after the fate of Mary Thorne had fallen,
like a thunderbolt, on the inhabitants of Greshamsbury; when Beatrice
was preparing for her second baby, and each of the twins had her
accepted lover--Mr Mortimer Gazebee went down to Courcy Castle; of
course, on matters of business. No doubt he dined at the table, and
all that. We have the word of Lady Amelia, that the earl, with his
usual good-nature, allowed him such privileges. Let us hope that he
never encroached on them.

But on this occasion, Mr Gazebee stayed a long time at the castle,
and singular rumours as to the cause of his prolonged visit became
current in the little town. No female scion of the present family of
Courcy had, as yet, found a mate. We may imagine that eagles find it
difficult to pair when they become scarce in their localities; and
we all know how hard it has sometimes been to get _comme il faut_
husbands when there has been any number of Protestant princesses on
hand.

Some such difficulty had, doubtless, brought it about that the
countess was still surrounded by her full bevy of maidens. Rank has
its responsibilities as well as its privileges, and these young
ladies' responsibilities seemed to have consisted in rejecting any
suitor who may have hitherto kneeled to them. But now it was told
through Courcy, that one suitor had kneeled, and not in vain; from
Courcy the rumour flew to Barchester, and thence came down to
Greshamsbury, startling the inhabitants, and making one poor heart
throb with a violence that would have been piteous had it been known.
The suitor, so named, was Mr Mortimer Gazebee.

Yes; Mr Mortimer Gazebee had now awarded to him many other privileges
than those of dining at the table, and all that. He rode with the
young ladies in the park, and they all talked to him very familiarly
before company; all except the Lady Amelia. The countess even called
him Mortimer, and treated him quite as one of the family.

At last came a letter from the countess to her dear sister Arabella.
It should be given at length, but that I fear to introduce another
epistle. It is such an easy mode of writing, and facility is always
dangerous. In this letter it was announced with much preliminary
ambiguity, that Mortimer Gazebee--who had been found to be a treasure
in every way; quite a paragon of men--was about to be taken into the
de Courcy bosom as a child of that house. On that day fortnight, he
was destined to lead to the altar--the Lady Amelia.

The countess then went on to say, that dear Amelia did not
write herself, being so much engaged by her coming duties--the
responsibilities of which she doubtless fully realised, as well as
the privileges; but she had begged her mother to request that the
twins should come and act as bridesmaids on the occasion. Dear
Augusta, she knew, was too much occupied in the coming event in Mr
Oriel's family to be able to attend.

Mr Mortimer Gazebee was taken into the de Courcy family, and did lead
the Lady Amelia to the altar; and the Gresham twins did go there and
act as bridesmaids. And, which is much more to say for human nature,
Augusta did forgive her cousin, and, after a certain interval, went
on a visit to that nice place in Surrey which she had once hoped
would be her own home. It would have been a very nice place, Augusta
thought, had not Lady Amelia Gazebee been so very economical.

We must presume that there was some explanation between them. If so,
Augusta yielded to it, and confessed it to be satisfactory. She had
always yielded to her cousin, and loved her with that sort of love
which is begotten between fear and respect. Anything was better than
quarrelling with her cousin Amelia.

And Mr Mortimer Gazebee did not altogether make a bad bargain. He
never received a shilling of dowry, but that he had not expected.
Nor did he want it. His troubles arose from the overstrained economy
of his noble wife. She would have it, that as she had married a
poor man--Mr Gazebee, however, was not a poor man--it behoved
her to manage her house with great care. Such a match as that
she had made--this she told in confidence to Augusta--had its
responsibilities as well as its privileges.

But, on the whole, Mr Gazebee did not repent his bargain; when he
asked his friends to dine, he could tell them that Lady Amelia would
be very glad to see them; his marriage gave him some éclat at his
club, and some additional weight in the firm to which he belonged;
he gets his share of the Courcy shooting, and is asked about to
Greshamsbury and other Barsetshire houses, not only "to dine at table
and all that," but to take his part in whatever delights country
society there has to offer. He lives with the great hope that
his noble father-in-law may some day be able to bring him into
Parliament.



CHAPTER XXXIX

What the World Says about Blood


"Beatrice," said Frank, rushing suddenly into his sister's room, "I
want you to do me one especial favour." This was three or four days
after Frank had seen Mary Thorne. Since that time he had spoken to
none of his family on the subject; but he was only postponing from
day to day the task of telling his father. He had now completed his
round of visits to the kennel, master huntsman, and stables of the
county hunt, and was at liberty to attend to his own affairs. So he
had decided on speaking to the squire that very day; but he first
made his request to his sister.

"I want you to do me one especial favour." The day for Beatrice's
marriage had now been fixed, and it was not to be very distant.
Mr Oriel had urged that their honeymoon trip would lose half its
delights if they did not take advantage of the fine weather; and
Beatrice had nothing to allege in answer. The day had just been
fixed, and when Frank ran into her room with his special request,
she was not in a humour to refuse him anything.

"If you wish me to be at your wedding, you must do it," said he.

"Wish you to be there! You must be there, of course. Oh, Frank! what
do you mean? I'll do anything you ask; if it is not to go to the
moon, or anything of that sort."

Frank was too much in earnest to joke. "You must have Mary for one of
your bridesmaids," he said. "Now, mind; there may be some difficulty,
but you must insist on it. I know what has been going on; but it is
not to be borne that she should be excluded on such a day as that.
You that have been like sisters all your lives till a year ago!"

"But, Frank--"

"Now, Beatrice, don't have any buts; say that you will do it, and it
will be done: I am sure Oriel will approve, and so will my father."

"But, Frank, you won't hear me."

"Not if you make objections; I have set my heart on your doing it."

"But I had set my heart on the same thing."

"Well?"

"And I went to Mary on purpose; and told her just as you tell me now,
that she must come. I meant to make mamma understand that I could not
be happy unless it were so; but Mary positively refused."

"Refused! What did she say?"

"I could not tell you what she said; indeed, it would not be right if
I could; but she positively declined. She seemed to feel, that after
all that had happened, she never could come to Greshamsbury again."

"Fiddlestick!"

"But, Frank, those are her feelings; and, to tell the truth, I could
not combat them. I know she is not happy; but time will cure that.
And, to tell you the truth, Frank--"

"It was before I came back that you asked her, was it not?"

"Yes; just the day before you came, I think."

"Well, it's all altered now. I have seen her since that."

"Have you Frank?"

"What do you take me for? Of course, I have. The very first day I
went to her. And now, Beatrice, you may believe me or not, as you
like; but if I ever marry, I shall marry Mary Thorne; and if ever she
marries, I think I may say, she will marry me. At any rate, I have
her promise. And now, you cannot be surprised that I should wish
her to be at your wedding; or that I should declare, that if she is
absent, I will be absent. I don't want any secrets, and you may tell
my mother if you like it--and all the de Courcys too, for anything I
care."

Frank had ever been used to command his sisters: and they, especially
Beatrice, had ever been used to obey. On this occasion, she was well
inclined to do so, if she only knew how. She again remembered how
Mary had once sworn to be at her wedding, to be near her, and to
touch her--even though all the blood of the de Courcys should be
crowded before the altar railings.

"I should be so happy that she should be there; but what am I to do,
Frank, if she refuses? I have asked her, and she has refused."

"Go to her again; you need not have any scruples with her. Do
not I tell you she will be your sister? Not come here again to
Greshamsbury! Why, I tell you that she will be living here while you
are living there at the parsonage, for years and years to come."

Beatrice promised that she would go to Mary again, and that she would
endeavour to talk her mother over if Mary would consent to come. But
she could not yet make herself believe that Mary Thorne would ever
be mistress of Greshamsbury. It was so indispensably necessary that
Frank should marry money! Besides, what were those horrid rumours
which were now becoming rife as to Mary's birth; rumours more horrid
than any which had yet been heard?

Augusta had said hardly more than the truth when she spoke of her
father being broken-hearted by his debts. His troubles were becoming
almost too many for him; and Mr Gazebee, though no doubt he was an
excellent man of business, did not seem to lessen them. Mr Gazebee,
indeed, was continually pointing out how much he owed, and in what
a quagmire of difficulties he had entangled himself. Now, to do Mr
Yates Umbleby justice, he had never made himself disagreeable in this
manner.

Mr Gazebee had been doubtless right, when he declared that Sir Louis
Scatcherd had not himself the power to take any steps hostile to the
squire; but Sir Louis had also been right, when he boasted that,
in spite of his father's will, he could cause others to move in
the matter. Others did move, and were moving, and it began to be
understood that a moiety, at least, of the remaining Greshamsbury
property must be sold. Even this, however, would by no means leave
the squire in undisturbed possession of the other moiety. And thus,
Mr Gresham was nearly broken-hearted.

Frank had now been at home a week, and his father had not as yet
spoken to him about the family troubles; nor had a word as yet been
said between them as to Mary Thorne. It had been agreed that Frank
should go away for twelve months, in order that he might forget her.
He had been away the twelvemonth, and had now returned, not having
forgotten her.

It generally happens, that in every household, one subject of
importance occupies it at a time. The subject of importance now
mostly thought of in the Greshamsbury household, was the marriage of
Beatrice. Lady Arabella had to supply the trousseau for her daughter;
the squire had to supply the money for the trousseau; Mr Gazebee had
the task of obtaining the money for the squire. While this was going
on, Mr Gresham was not anxious to talk to his son, either about his
own debts or his son's love. There would be time for these things
when the marriage-feast should be over.

So thought the father, but the matter was precipitated by Frank. He
also had put off the declaration which he had to make, partly from
a wish to spare the squire, but partly also with a view to spare
himself. We have all some of that cowardice which induces us to
postpone an inevitably evil day. At this time the discussions as
to Beatrice's wedding were frequent in the house, and at one of
them Frank had heard his mother repeat the names of the proposed
bridesmaids. Mary's name was not among them, and hence had arisen his
attack on his sister.

Lady Arabella had had her reason for naming the list before her son;
but she overshot her mark. She wished to show him how totally Mary
was forgotten at Greshamsbury; but she only inspired him with a
resolve that she should not be forgotten. He accordingly went to his
sister; and then, the subject being full on his mind, he resolved at
once to discuss it with his father.

"Sir, are you at leisure for five minutes?" he said, entering the
room in which the squire was accustomed to sit majestically, to
receive his tenants, scold his dependants, and in which, in former
happy days, he had always arranged the meets of the Barsetshire hunt.

Mr Gresham was quite at leisure: when was he not so? But had he been
immersed in the deepest business of which he was capable, he would
gladly have put it aside at his son's instance.

"I don't like to have any secret from you, sir," said Frank; "nor,
for the matter of that, from anybody else"--the anybody else was
intended to have reference to his mother--"and, therefore, I would
rather tell you at once what I have made up my mind to do."

Frank's address was very abrupt, and he felt it was so. He was rather
red in the face, and his manner was fluttered. He had quite made up
his mind to break the whole affair to his father; but he had hardly
made up his mind as to the best mode of doing so.

"Good heavens, Frank! what do you mean? you are not going to do
anything rash? What is it you mean, Frank?"

"I don't think it is rash," said Frank.

"Sit down, my boy; sit down. What is it that you say you are going to
do?"

"Nothing immediately, sir," said he, rather abashed; "but as I have
made up my mind about Mary Thorne,--quite made up my mind, I think it
right to tell you."

"Oh, about Mary," said the squire, almost relieved.

And then Frank, in voluble language, which he hardly, however, had
quite under his command, told his father all that had passed between
him and Mary. "You see, sir," said he, "that it is fixed now, and
cannot be altered. Nor must it be altered. You asked me to go away
for twelve months, and I have done so. It has made no difference, you
see. As to our means of living, I am quite willing to do anything
that may be best and most prudent. I was thinking, sir, of taking a
farm somewhere near here, and living on that."

The squire sat quite silent for some moments after this communication
had been made to him. Frank's conduct, as a son, had been such that
he could not find fault with it; and, in this special matter of his
love, how was it possible for him to find fault? He himself was
almost as fond of Mary as of a daughter; and, though he too would
have been desirous that his son should relieve the estate from its
embarrassments by a rich marriage, he did not at all share Lady
Arabella's feelings on the subject. No Countess de Courcy had ever
engraved it on the tablets of his mind that the world would come to
ruin if Frank did not marry money. Ruin there was, and would be, but
it had been brought about by no sin of Frank's.

"Do you remember about her birth, Frank?" he said, at last.

"Yes, sir; everything. She told me all she knew; and Dr Thorne
finished the story."

"And what do you think of it?"

"It is a pity, and a misfortune. It might, perhaps, have been a
reason why you or my mother should not have had Mary in the house
many years ago; but it cannot make any difference now."

Frank had not meant to lean so heavily on his father; but he did do
so. The story had never been told to Lady Arabella; was not even
known to her now, positively, and on good authority. But Mr Gresham
had always known it. If Mary's birth was so great a stain upon her,
why had he brought her into his house among his children?

"It is a misfortune, Frank; a very great misfortune. It will not
do for you and me to ignore birth; too much of the value of one's
position depends upon it."

"But what was Mr Moffat's birth?" said Frank, almost with scorn; "or
what Miss Dunstable's?" he would have added, had it not been that his
father had not been concerned in that sin of wedding him to the oil
of Lebanon.

"True, Frank. But yet, what you would mean to say is not true. We
must take the world as we find it. Were you to marry a rich heiress,
were her birth even as low as that of poor Mary--"

"Don't call her poor Mary, father; she is not poor. My wife will have
a right to take rank in the world, however she was born."

"Well,--poor in that way. But were she an heiress, the world would
forgive her birth on account of her wealth."

"The world is very complaisant, sir."

"You must take it as you find it, Frank. I only say that such is the
fact. If Porlock were to marry the daughter of a shoeblack, without a
farthing, he would make a _mésalliance_; but if the daughter of the
shoeblack had half a million of money, nobody would dream of saying
so. I am stating no opinion of my own: I am only giving you the
world's opinion."

"I don't give a straw for the world."

"That is a mistake, my boy; you do care for it, and would be very
foolish if you did not. What you mean is, that, on this particular
point, you value your love more than the world's opinion."

"Well, yes, that is what I mean."

But the squire, though he had been very lucid in his definition, had
not got no nearer to his object; had not even yet ascertained what
his own object was. This marriage would be ruinous to Greshamsbury;
and yet, what was he to say against it, seeing that the ruin had been
his fault, and not his son's?

"You could let me have a farm; could you not, sir? I was thinking
of about six or seven hundred acres. I suppose it could be managed
somehow?"

"A farm?" said the father, abstractedly.

"Yes, sir. I must do something for my living. I should make less of
a mess of that than of anything else. Besides, it would take such a
time to be an attorney, or a doctor, or anything of that sort."

Do something for his living! And was the heir of Greshamsbury come to
this--the heir and only son? Whereas, he, the squire, had succeeded
at an earlier age than Frank's to an unembarrassed income of fourteen
thousand pounds a year! The reflection was very hard to bear.

"Yes: I dare say you could have a farm:" and then he threw himself
back in his chair, closing his eyes. Then, after a while, rose again,
and walked hurriedly about the room. "Frank," he said, at last,
standing opposite to his son, "I wonder what you think of me?"

"Think of you, sir?" ejaculated Frank.

"Yes; what do you think of me, for having thus ruined you. I wonder
whether you hate me?"

Frank, jumping up from his chair, threw his arms round his father's
neck. "Hate you, sir? How can you speak so cruelly? You know well
that I love you. And, father, do not trouble yourself about the
estate for my sake. I do not care for it; I can be just as happy
without it. Let the girls have what is left, and I will make my own
way in the world, somehow. I will go to Australia; yes, sir, that
will be best. I and Mary will both go. Nobody will care about her
birth there. But, father, never say, never think, that I do not love
you!"

The squire was too much moved to speak at once, so he sat down again,
and covered his face with his hands. Frank went on pacing the room,
till, gradually, his first idea recovered possession of his mind, and
the remembrance of his father's grief faded away. "May I tell Mary,"
he said at last, "that you consent to our marriage? It will make her
so happy."

But the squire was not prepared to say this. He was pledged to his
wife to do all that he could to oppose it; and he himself thought,
that if anything could consummate the family ruin, it would be this
marriage.

"I cannot say that, Frank; I cannot say that. What would you both
live on? It would be madness."

"We would go to Australia," answered he, bitterly. "I have just said
so."

"Oh, no, my boy; you cannot do that. You must not throw the old place
up altogether. There is no other one but you, Frank; and we have
lived here now for so many, many years."

"But if we cannot live here any longer, father?"

"But for this scheme of yours, we might do so. I will give up
everything to you, the management of the estate, the park, all the
land we have in hand, if you will give up this fatal scheme. For,
Frank, it is fatal. You are only twenty-three; why should you be in
such a hurry to marry?"

"You married at twenty-one, sir."

Frank was again severe on his father, but unwittingly. "Yes, I did,"
said Mr Gresham; "and see what has come of it! Had I waited ten years
longer, how different would everything have been! No, Frank, I cannot
consent to such a marriage; nor will your mother."

"It is your consent I ask, sir; and I am asking for nothing but your
consent."

"It would be sheer madness; madness for you both. My own Frank, my
dear, dear boy, do not drive me to distraction! Give it up for four
years."

"Four years!"

"Yes; for four years. I ask it as a personal favour; as an obligation
to myself, in order that we may be saved from ruin; you, your mother,
and sisters, your family name, and the old house. I do not talk about
myself; but were such a marriage to take place, I should be driven to
despair."

Frank found it very hard to resist his father, who now had hold of
his hand and arm, and was thus half retaining him, and half embracing
him. "Frank, say that you will forget this for four years--say for
three years."

But Frank would not say so. To postpone his marriage for four years,
or for three, seemed to him to be tantamount to giving up Mary
altogether; and he would not acknowledge that any one had the right
to demand of him to do that.

"My word is pledged, sir," he said.

"Pledged! Pledged to whom?"

"To Miss Thorne."

"But I will see her, Frank;--and her uncle. She was always
reasonable. I am sure she will not wish to bring ruin on her old
friends at Greshamsbury."

"Her old friends at Greshamsbury have done but little lately to
deserve her consideration. She has been treated shamefully. I know
it has not been by you, sir; but I must say so. She has already been
treated shamefully; but I will not treat her falsely."

"Well, Frank, I can say no more to you. I have destroyed the estate
which should have been yours, and I have no right to expect you
should regard what I say."

Frank was greatly distressed. He had not any feeling of animosity
against his father with reference to the property, and would have
done anything to make the squire understand this, short of giving up
his engagement to Mary. His feeling rather was, that, as each had a
case against the other, they should cry quits; that he should forgive
his father for his bad management, on condition that he himself was
to be forgiven with regard to his determined marriage. Not that he
put it exactly in that shape, even to himself; but could he have
unravelled his own thoughts, he would have found that such was the
web on which they were based.

"Father, I do regard what you say; but you would not have me be
false. Had you doubled the property instead of lessening it, I could
not regard what you say any more."

"I should be able to speak in a very different tone; I feel that,
Frank."

"Do not feel it any more, sir; say what you wish, as you would have
said it under any other circumstances; and pray believe this, the
idea never occurs to me, that I have ground of complaint as regards
the property; never. Whatever troubles we may have, do not let that
trouble you."

Soon after this Frank left him. What more was there that could be
said between them? They could not be of one accord; but even yet it
might not be necessary that they should quarrel. He went out, and
roamed by himself through the grounds, rather more in meditation than
was his wont.

If he did marry, how was he to live? He talked of a profession; but
had he meant to do as others do, who make their way in professions,
he should have thought of that a year or two ago!--or, rather, have
done more than think of it. He spoke also of a farm, but even that
could not be had in a moment; nor, if it could, would it produce a
living. Where was his capital? Where his skill? and he might have
asked also, where the industry so necessary for such a trade? He
might set his father at defiance, and if Mary were equally headstrong
with himself, he might marry her. But, what then?

As he walked slowly about, cutting off the daisies with his stick, he
met Mr Oriel, going up to the house, as was now his custom, to dine
there and spend the evening, close to Beatrice.

"How I envy you, Oriel!" he said. "What would I not give to have such
a position in the world as yours!"

"Thou shalt not covet a man's house, nor his wife," said Mr Oriel;
"perhaps it ought to have been added, nor his position."

"It wouldn't have made much difference. When a man is tempted, the
Commandments, I believe, do not go for much."

"Do they not, Frank? That's a dangerous doctrine; and one which, if
you had my position, you would hardly admit. But what makes you so
much out of sorts? Your own position is generally considered about
the best which the world has to give."

"Is it? Then let me tell you that the world has very little to give.
What can I do? Where can I turn? Oriel, if there be an empty, lying
humbug in the world, it is the theory of high birth and pure blood
which some of us endeavour to maintain. Blood, indeed! If my father
had been a baker, I should know by this time where to look for my
livelihood. As it is, I am told of nothing but my blood. Will my
blood ever get me half a crown?"

And then the young democrat walked on again in solitude, leaving Mr
Oriel in doubt as to the exact line of argument which he had meant to
inculcate.



CHAPTER XL

The Two Doctors Change Patients


Dr Fillgrave still continued his visits to Greshamsbury, for Lady
Arabella had not yet mustered the courage necessary for swallowing
her pride and sending once more for Dr Thorne. Nothing pleased Dr
Fillgrave more than those visits.

He habitually attended grander families, and richer people; but then,
he had attended them habitually. Greshamsbury was a prize taken from
the enemy; it was his rock of Gibraltar, of which he thought much
more than of any ordinary Hampshire or Wiltshire which had always
been within his own kingdom.

He was just starting one morning with his post-horses for
Greshamsbury, when an impudent-looking groom, with a crooked nose,
trotted up to his door. For Joe still had a crooked nose, all the
doctor's care having been inefficacious to remedy the evil effects
of Bridget's little tap with the rolling-pin. Joe had no written
credentials, for his master was hardly equal to writing, and
Lady Scatcherd had declined to put herself into further personal
communication with Dr Fillgrave; but he had effrontery enough to
deliver any message.

"Be you Dr Fillgrave?" said Joe, with one finger just raised to his
cocked hat.

"Yes," said Dr Fillgrave, with one foot on the step of the carriage,
but pausing at the sight of so well-turned-out a servant. "Yes; I am
Dr Fillgrave."

"Then you be to go to Boxall Hill immediately; before anywhere else."

"Boxall Hill!" said the doctor, with a very angry frown.

"Yes; Boxall Hill: my master's place--my master is Sir Louis
Scatcherd, baronet. You've heard of him, I suppose?"

Dr Fillgrave had not his mind quite ready for such an occasion. So he
withdrew his foot from the carriage step, and rubbing his hands one
over another, looked at his own hall door for inspiration. A single
glance at his face was sufficient to show that no ordinary thoughts
were being turned over within his breast.

"Well!" said Joe, thinking that his master's name had not altogether
produced the magic effect which he had expected; remembering, also,
how submissive Greyson had always been, who, being a London doctor,
must be supposed to be a bigger man than this provincial fellow.
"Do you know as how my master is dying, very like, while you stand
there?"

"What is your master's disease?" said the doctor, facing Joe, slowly,
and still rubbing his hands. "What ails him? What is the matter with
him?"

"Oh; the matter with him? Well, to say it out at once then, he do
take a drop too much at times, and then he has the horrors--what is
it they call it? delicious beam-ends, or something of that sort."

"Oh, ah, yes; I know; and tell me, my man, who is attending him?"

"Attending him? why, I do, and his mother, that is, her ladyship."

"Yes; but what medical attendant: what doctor?"

"Why, there was Greyson, in London, and--"

"Greyson!" and the doctor looked as though a name so medicinally
humble had never before struck the tympanum of his ear.

"Yes; Greyson. And then, down at what's the name of the place, there
was Thorne."

"Greshamsbury?"

"Yes; Greshamsbury. But he and Thorne didn't hit it off; and so since
that he has had no one but myself."

"I will be at Boxall Hill in the course of the morning," said Dr
Fillgrave; "or, rather, you may say, that I will be there at once: I
will take it in my way." And having thus resolved, he gave his orders
that the post-horses should make such a detour as would enable him
to visit Boxall Hill on his road. "It is impossible," said he to
himself, "that I should be twice treated in such a manner in the same
house."

He was not, however, altogether in a comfortable frame of mind as he
was driven up to the hall door. He could not but remember the smile
of triumph with which his enemy had regarded him in that hall; he
could not but think how he had returned fee-less to Barchester, and
how little he had gained in the medical world by rejecting Lady
Scatcherd's bank-note. However, he also had had his triumphs since
that. He had smiled scornfully at Dr Thorne when he had seen him in
the Greshamsbury street; and had been able to tell, at twenty houses
through the county, how Lady Arabella had at last been obliged to
place herself in his hands. And he triumphed again when he found
himself really standing by Sir Louis Scatcherd's bedside. As for Lady
Scatcherd, she did not even show herself. She kept in her own little
room, sending out Hannah to ask him up the stairs; and she only just
got a peep at him through the door as she heard the medical creak of
his shoes as he again descended.

We need say but little of his visit to Sir Louis. It mattered
nothing now, whether it was Thorne, or Greyson, or Fillgrave. And Dr
Fillgrave knew that it mattered nothing: he had skill at least for
that--and heart enough also to feel that he would fain have been
relieved from this task; would fain have left this patient in the
hands even of Dr Thorne.

The name which Joe had given to his master's illness was certainly
not a false one. He did find Sir Louis "in the horrors." If any
father have a son whose besetting sin is a passion for alcohol, let
him take his child to the room of a drunkard when possessed by "the
horrors." Nothing will cure him if not that.

I will not disgust my reader by attempting to describe the poor
wretch in his misery: the sunken, but yet glaring eyes; the emaciated
cheeks; the fallen mouth; the parched, sore lips; the face, now dry
and hot, and then suddenly clammy with drops of perspiration; the
shaking hand, and all but palsied limbs; and worse than this, the
fearful mental efforts, and the struggles for drink; struggles to
which it is often necessary to give way.

Dr Fillgrave soon knew what was to be the man's fate; but he did what
he might to relieve it. There, in one big, best bedroom, looking out
to the north, lay Sir Louis Scatcherd, dying wretchedly. There, in
the other big, best bedroom, looking out to the south, had died the
other baronet about a twelvemonth since, and each a victim to the
same sin. To this had come the prosperity of the house of Scatcherd!

And then Dr Fillgrave went on to Greshamsbury. It was a long day's
work, both for himself and the horses; but then, the triumph of being
dragged up that avenue compensated for both the expense and the
labour. He always put on his sweetest smile as he came near the hall
door, and rubbed his hands in the most complaisant manner of which he
knew. It was seldom that he saw any of the family but Lady Arabella;
but then he desired to see none other, and when he left her in a good
humour, was quite content to take his glass of sherry and eat his
lunch by himself.

On this occasion, however, the servant at once asked him to go into
the dining-room, and there he found himself in the presence of Frank
Gresham. The fact was, that Lady Arabella, having at last decided,
had sent for Dr Thorne; and it had become necessary that some one
should be entrusted with the duty of informing Dr Fillgrave. That
some one must be the squire, or Frank. Lady Arabella would doubtless
have preferred a messenger more absolutely friendly to her own side
of the house; but such messenger there was none: she could not send
Mr Gazebee to see her doctor, and so, of the two evils, she chose the
least.

"Dr Fillgrave," said Frank, shaking hands with him very cordially as
he came up, "my mother is so much obliged to you for all your care
and anxiety on her behalf! and, so indeed, are we all."

The doctor shook hands with him very warmly. This little expression
of a family feeling on his behalf was the more gratifying, as he had
always thought that the males of the Greshamsbury family were still
wedded to that pseudo-doctor, that half-apothecary who lived in the
village.

"It has been awfully troublesome to you, coming over all this way, I
am sure. Indeed, money could not pay for it; my mother feels that. It
must cut up your time so much."

"Not at all, Mr Gresham; not at all," said the Barchester doctor,
rising up on his toes proudly as he spoke. "A person of your mother's
importance, you know! I should be happy to go any distance to see
her."

"Ah! but, Dr Fillgrave, we cannot allow that."

"Mr Gresham, don't mention it."

"Oh, yes; but I must," said Frank, who thought that he had done
enough for civility, and was now anxious to come to the point. "The
fact is, doctor, that we are very much obliged for what you have
done; but, for the future, my mother thinks she can trust to such
assistance as she can get here in the village."

Frank had been particularly instructed to be very careful how he
mentioned Dr Thorne's name, and, therefore, cleverly avoided it.

Get what assistance she wanted in the village! What words were those
that he heard? "Mr Gresham, eh--hem--perhaps I do not completely--"
Yes, alas! he had completely understood what Frank had meant that he
should understand. Frank desired to be civil, but he had no idea of
beating unnecessarily about the bush on such an occasion as this.

"It's by Sir Omicron's advice, Dr Fillgrave. You see, this man
here"--and he nodded his head towards the doctor's house, being still
anxious not to pronounce the hideous name--"has known my mother's
constitution for so many years."

"Oh, Mr Gresham; of course, if it is wished."

"Yes, Dr Fillgrave, it is wished. Lunch is coming directly:" and
Frank rang the bell.

"Nothing, I thank you, Mr Gresham."

"Do take a glass of sherry."

"Nothing at all, I am very much obliged to you."

"Won't you let the horses get some oats?"

"I will return at once, if you please, Mr Gresham." And the doctor
did return, taking with him, on this occasion, the fee that was
offered to him. His experience had at any rate taught him so much.

But though Frank could do this for Lady Arabella, he could not
receive Dr Thorne on her behalf. The bitterness of that interview had
to be borne by herself. A messenger had been sent for him, and he was
upstairs with her ladyship while his rival was receiving his _congé_
downstairs. She had two objects to accomplish, if it might be
possible: she had found that high words with the doctor were of
no avail; but it might be possible that Frank could be saved by
humiliation on her part. If she humbled herself before this man,
would he consent to acknowledge that his niece was not the fit bride
for the heir of Greshamsbury?

The doctor entered the room where she was lying on her sofa, and
walking up to her with a gentle, but yet not constrained step,
took the seat beside her little table, just as he had always been
accustomed to do, and as though there had been no break in their
intercourse.

"Well, doctor, you see that I have come back to you," she said, with
a faint smile.

"Or, rather I have come back to you. And, believe me, Lady Arabella,
I am very happy to do so. There need be no excuses. You were,
doubtless, right to try what other skill could do; and I hope it has
not been tried in vain."

She had meant to have been so condescending; but now all that was put
quite beyond her power. It was not easy to be condescending to the
doctor: she had been trying all her life, and had never succeeded.

"I have had Sir Omicron Pie," she said.

"So I was glad to hear. Sir Omicron is a clever man, and has a good
name. I always recommend Sir Omicron myself."

"And Sir Omicron returns the compliment," said she, smiling
gracefully, "for he recommends you. He told Mr Gresham that I was
very foolish to quarrel with my best friend. So now we are friends
again, are we not? You see how selfish I am." And she put out her
hand to him.

The doctor took her hand cordially, and assured her that he bore her
no ill-will; that he fully understood her conduct--and that he had
never accused her of selfishness. This was all very well and very
gracious; but, nevertheless, Lady Arabella felt that the doctor
kept the upper hand in those sweet forgivenesses. Whereas, she had
intended to keep the upper hand, at least for a while, so that her
humiliation might be more effective when it did come.

And then the doctor used his surgical lore, as he well knew how to
use it. There was an assured confidence about him, an air which
seemed to declare that he really knew what he was doing. These
were very comfortable to his patients, but they were wanting in Dr
Fillgrave. When he had completed his examinations and questions,
and she had completed her little details and made her answer, she
certainly was more at ease than she had been since the doctor had
last left her.

"Don't go yet for a moment," she said. "I have one word to say to
you."

He declared that he was not the least in a hurry. He desired nothing
better, he said, than to sit there and talk to her. "And I owe you a
most sincere apology, Lady Arabella."

"A sincere apology!" said she, becoming a little red. Was he going to
say anything about Mary? Was he going to own that he, and Mary, and
Frank had all been wrong?

"Yes, indeed. I ought not to have brought Sir Louis Scatcherd here: I
ought to have known that he would have disgraced himself."

"Oh! it does not signify," said her ladyship in a tone almost of
disappointment. "I had forgotten it. Mr Gresham and you had more
inconvenience than we had."

"He is an unfortunate, wretched man--most unfortunate; with an
immense fortune which he can never live to possess."

"And who will the money go to, doctor?"

This was a question for which Dr Thorne was hardly prepared. "Go to?"
he repeated. "Oh, some member of the family, I believe. There are
plenty of nephews and nieces."

"Yes; but will it be divided, or all go to one?"

"Probably to one, I think. Sir Roger had a strong idea of leaving
it all in one hand." If it should happen to be a girl, thought Lady
Arabella, what an excellent opportunity would that be for Frank to
marry money!

"And now, doctor, I want to say one word to you; considering the very
long time that we have known each other, it is better that I should
be open with you. This estrangement between us and dear Mary has
given us all so much pain. Cannot we do anything to put an end to
it?"

"Well, what can I say, Lady Arabella? That depends so wholly on
yourself."

"If it depends on me, it shall be done at once."

The doctor bowed. And though he could hardly be said to do so
stiffly, he did it coldly. His bow seemed to say, "Certainly; if you
choose to make a proper _amende_ it can be done. But I think it is
very unlikely that you will do so."

"Beatrice is just going to be married, you know that, doctor." The
doctor said that he did know it. "And it will be so pleasant that
Mary should make one of us. Poor Beatrice; you don't know what she
has suffered."

"Yes," said the doctor, "there has been suffering, I am sure;
suffering on both sides."

"You cannot wonder that we should be so anxious about Frank, Dr
Thorne; an only son, and the heir to an estate that has been so very
long in the family:" and Lady Arabella put her handkerchief to her
eyes, as though these facts were in themselves melancholy, and not
to be thought of by a mother without some soft tears. "Now I wish
you could tell me what your views are, in a friendly manner, between
ourselves. You won't find me unreasonable."

"My views, Lady Arabella?"

"Yes, doctor; about your niece, you know: you must have views of some
sort; that's of course. It occurs to me, that perhaps we are all in
the dark together. If so, a little candid speaking between you and me
may set it all right."

Lady Arabella's career had not hitherto been conspicuous for candour,
as far as Dr Thorne had been able to judge of it; but that was no
reason why he should not respond to so very becoming an invitation
on her part. He had no objection to a little candid speaking; at
least, so he declared. As to his views with regard to Mary, they were
merely these: that he would make her as happy and comfortable as he
could while she remained with him; and that he would give her his
blessing--for he had nothing else to give her--when she left him;--if
ever she should do so.

Now, it will be said that the doctor was not very candid in this;
not more so, perhaps, than was Lady Arabella herself. But when one
is specially invited to be candid, one is naturally set upon one's
guard. Those who by disposition are most open, are apt to become
crafty when so admonished. When a man says to you, "Let us be candid
with each other," you feel instinctively that he desires to squeeze
you without giving a drop of water himself.

"Yes; but about Frank," said Lady Arabella.

"About Frank!" said the doctor, with an innocent look, which her
ladyship could hardly interpret.

"What I mean is this: can you give me your word that these young
people do not intend to do anything rash? One word like that from
you will set my mind quite at rest. And then we could be so happy
together again."

"Ah! who is to answer for what rash things a young man will do?" said
the doctor, smiling.

Lady Arabella got up from the sofa, and pushed away the little table.
The man was false, hypocritical, and cunning. Nothing could be made
of him. They were all in a conspiracy together to rob her of her son;
to make him marry without money! What should she do? Where should
she turn for advice or counsel? She had nothing more to say to the
doctor; and he, perceiving that this was the case, took his leave.
This little attempt to achieve candour had not succeeded.

Dr Thorne had answered Lady Arabella as had seemed best to him on the
spur of the moment; but he was by no means satisfied with himself.
As he walked away through the gardens, he bethought himself whether
it would be better for all parties if he could bring himself to be
really candid. Would it not be better for him at once to tell the
squire what were the future prospects of his niece, and let the
father agree to the marriage, or not agree to it, as he might think
fit. But then, if so, if he did do this, would he not in fact say,
"There is my niece, there is this girl of whom you have been talking
for the last twelvemonth, indifferent to what agony of mind you may
have occasioned to her; there she is, a probable heiress! It may be
worth your son's while to wait a little time, and not cast her off
till he shall know whether she be an heiress or no. If it shall turn
out that she is rich, let him take her; if not, why, he can desert
her then as well as now." He could not bring himself to put his niece
into such a position as this. He was anxious enough that she should
be Frank Gresham's wife, for he loved Frank Gresham; he was anxious
enough, also, that she should give to her husband the means of saving
the property of his family. But Frank, though he might find her rich,
was bound to take her while she was poor.

Then, also, he doubted whether he would be justified in speaking
of this will at all. He almost hated the will for the trouble and
vexation it had given him, and the constant stress it had laid on his
conscience. He had spoken of it as yet to no one, and he thought that
he was resolved not to do so while Sir Louis should yet be in the
land of the living.

On reaching home, he found a note from Lady Scatcherd, informing him
that Dr Fillgrave had once more been at Boxall Hill, and that, on
this occasion, he had left the house without anger.

"I don't know what he has said about Louis," she added, "for, to
tell the truth, doctor, I was afraid to see him. But he comes again
to-morrow, and then I shall be braver. But I fear that my poor boy is
in a bad way."



CHAPTER XLI

Doctor Thorne Won't Interfere


At this period there was, as it were, a truce to the ordinary little
skirmishes which had been so customary between Lady Arabella and
the squire. Things had so fallen out, that they neither of them had
much spirit for a contest; and, moreover, on that point which at
the present moment was most thought of by both of them, they were
strangely in unison. For each of them was anxious to prevent the
threatened marriage of their only son.

It must, moreover, be remembered, that Lady Arabella had carried a
great point in ousting Mr Yates Umbleby and putting the management of
the estate into the hands of her own partisan. But then the squire
had not done less in getting rid of Fillgrave and reinstating Dr
Thorne in possession of the family invalids. The losses, therefore,
had been equal; the victories equal; and there was a mutual object.

And it must be confessed, also, that Lady Arabella's taste for
grandeur was on the decline. Misfortune was coming too near to her to
leave her much anxiety for the gaieties of a London season. Things
were not faring well with her. When her eldest daughter was going to
marry a man of fortune, and a member of Parliament, she had thought
nothing of demanding a thousand pounds or so for the extraordinary
expenses incident to such an occasion. But now, Beatrice was to
become the wife of a parish parson, and even that was thought to be
a fortunate event; she had, therefore, no heart for splendour.

"The quieter we can do it the better," she wrote to her
countess-sister. "Her father wanted to give him at least a thousand
pounds; but Mr Gazebee has told me confidentially that it literally
cannot be done at the present moment! Ah, my dear Rosina! how things
have been managed! If one or two of the girls will come over, we
shall all take it as a favour. Beatrice would think it very kind of
them. But I don't think of asking you or Amelia." Amelia was always
the grandest of the de Courcy family, being almost on an equality
with--nay, in some respect superior to--the countess herself. But
this, of course, was before the days of the nice place in Surrey.

Such, and so humble being the present temper of the lady of
Greshamsbury, it will not be thought surprising that she and Mr
Gresham should at last come together in their efforts to reclaim
their son.

At first Lady Arabella urged upon the squire the duty of being very
peremptory and very angry. "Do as other fathers do in such cases.
Make him understand that he will have no allowance to live on." "He
understands that well enough," said Mr Gresham.

"Threaten to cut him off with a shilling," said her ladyship, with
spirit. "I haven't a shilling to cut him off with," answered the
squire, bitterly.

But Lady Arabella herself soon perceived, that this line would not
do. As Mr Gresham himself confessed, his own sins against his son had
been too great to allow of his taking a high hand with him. Besides,
Mr Gresham was not a man who could ever be severe with a son whose
individual conduct had been so good as Frank's. This marriage was, in
his view, a misfortune to be averted if possible,--to be averted by
any possible means; but, as far as Frank was concerned, it was to be
regarded rather as a monomania than a crime.

"I did feel so certain that he would have succeeded with Miss
Dunstable," said the mother, almost crying.

"I thought it impossible but that at his age a twelvemonth's knocking
about the world would cure him," said the father.

"I never heard of a boy being so obstinate about a girl," said the
mother. "I'm sure he didn't get it from the de Courcys:" and then,
again, they talked it over in all its bearings.

"But what are they to live upon?" said Lady Arabella, appealing, as
it were, to some impersonation of reason. "That's what I want him to
tell me. What are they to live upon?"

"I wonder whether de Courcy could get him into some embassy?" said
the father. "He does talk of a profession."

"What! with the girl and all?" asked Lady Arabella with horror,
alarmed at the idea of such an appeal being made to her noble
brother.

"No; but before he marries. He might be broken of it that way."

"Nothing will break him," said the wretched mother;
"nothing--nothing. For my part, I think that he is possessed. Why was
she brought here? Oh, dear! oh, dear! Why was she ever brought into
this house?"

This last question Mr Gresham did not think it necessary to answer.
That evil had been done, and it would be useless to dispute it. "I'll
tell you what I'll do," said he. "I'll speak to the doctor himself."

"It's not the slightest use," said Lady Arabella. "He will not assist
us. Indeed, I firmly believe it's all his own doing."

"Oh, nonsense! that really is nonsense, my love."

"Very well, Mr Gresham. What I say is always nonsense, I know; you
have always told me so. But yet, see how things have turned out. I
knew how it would be when she was first brought into the house." This
assertion was rather a stretch on the part of Lady Arabella.

"Well, it is nonsense to say that Frank is in love with the girl at
the doctor's bidding."

"I think you know, Mr Gresham, that I don't mean that. What I say is
this, that Dr Thorne, finding what an easy fool Frank is--"

"I don't think he's at all easy, my love; and certainly is not a
fool."

"Very well, have it your own way. I'll not say a word more. I'm
struggling to do my best, and I'm browbeaten on every side. God knows
I am not in a state of health to bear it!" And Lady Arabella bowed
her head into her pocket-handkerchief.

"I think, my dear, if you were to see Mary herself it might do some
good," said the squire, when the violence of his wife's grief had
somewhat subsided.

"What! go and call upon this girl?"

"Yes; you can send Beatrice to give her notice, you know. She never
was unreasonable, and I do not think that you would find her so. You
should tell her, you know--"

"Oh, I should know very well what to tell her, Mr Gresham."

"Yes, my love; I'm sure you would; nobody better. But what I mean is,
that if you are to do any good, you should be kind in your manner.
Mary Thorne has a spirit that you cannot break. You may perhaps lead,
but nobody can drive her."

As this scheme originated with her husband, Lady Arabella could not,
of course, confess that there was much in it. But, nevertheless,
she determined to attempt it, thinking that if anything could be
efficacious for good in their present misfortunes, it would be her
own diplomatic powers. It was, therefore, at last settled between
them, that he should endeavour to talk over the doctor, and that she
would do the same with Mary.

"And then I will speak to Frank," said Lady Arabella. "As yet he has
never had the audacity to open his mouth to me about Mary Thorne,
though I believe he declares his love openly to every one else in the
house."

"And I will get Oriel to speak to him," said the squire.

"I think Patience might do more good. I did once think he was getting
fond of Patience, and I was quite unhappy about it then. Ah, dear! I
should be almost pleased at that now."

And thus it was arranged that all the artillery of Greshamsbury was
to be brought to bear at once on Frank's love, so as to crush it, as
it were, by the very weight of metal.

It may be imagined that the squire would have less scruple in
addressing the doctor on this matter than his wife would feel; and
that his part of their present joint undertaking was less difficult
than hers. For he and the doctor had ever been friends at heart. But,
nevertheless, he did feel much scruple, as, with his stick in hand,
he walked down to the little gate which opened out near the doctor's
house.

This feeling was so strong, that he walked on beyond this door to the
entrance, thinking of what he was going to do, and then back again.
It seemed to be his fate to be depending always on the clemency or
consideration of Dr Thorne. At this moment the doctor was imposing
the only obstacle which was offered to the sale of a great part of
his estate. Sir Louis, through his lawyer, was pressing the doctor to
sell, and the lawyer was loudly accusing the doctor of delaying to do
so. "He has the management of your property," said Mr Finnie; "but he
manages it in the interest of his own friend. It is quite clear, and
we will expose it." "By all means," said Sir Louis. "It is a d----d
shame, and it shall be exposed." Of all this the squire was aware.

When he reached the doctor's house, he was shown into the
drawing-room, and found Mary there alone. It had always been his
habit to kiss her forehead when he chanced to meet her about the
house at Greshamsbury. She had been younger and more childish then;
but even now she was but a child to him, so he kissed her as he had
been wont to do. She blushed slightly as she looked up into his face,
and said: "Oh, Mr Gresham, I am so glad to see you here again."

As he looked at her he could not but acknowledge that it was natural
that Frank should love her. He had never before seen that she was
attractive;--had never had an opinion about it. She had grown up
as a child under his eye; and as she had not had the name of being
especially a pretty child, he had never thought on the subject. Now
he saw before him a woman whose every feature was full of spirit and
animation; whose eye sparkled with more than mere brilliancy; whose
face was full of intelligence; whose very smile was eloquent. Was it
to be wondered at that Frank should have learned to love her?

Miss Thorne wanted but one attribute which many consider essential
to feminine beauty. She had no brilliancy of complexion, no pearly
whiteness, no vivid carnation; nor, indeed, did she possess the dark
brilliance of a brunette. But there was a speaking earnestness in her
face; an expression of mental faculty which the squire now for the
first time perceived to be charming.

And then he knew how good she was. He knew well what was her nature;
how generous, how open, how affectionate, and yet how proud! Her
pride was her fault; but even that was not a fault in his eyes. Out
of his own family there was no one whom he had loved, and could love,
as he loved her. He felt, and acknowledged that no man could have a
better wife. And yet he was there with the express object of rescuing
his son from such a marriage!

"You are looking very well, Mary," he said, almost involuntarily.
"Am I?" she answered, smiling. "It's very nice at any rate to be
complimented. Uncle never pays me any compliments of that sort."

In truth, she was looking well. She would say to herself over
and over again, from morning to night, that Frank's love for her
would be, must be, unfortunate; could not lead to happiness. But,
nevertheless, it did make her happy. She had before his return made
up her mind to be forgotten, and it was so sweet to find that he had
been so far from forgetting her. A girl may scold a man in words for
rashness in his love, but her heart never scolds him for such an
offence as that. She had not been slighted, and her heart, therefore,
still rose buoyant within her breast.

The doctor entered the room. As the squire's visit had been expected
by him, he had of course not been out of the house. "And now I
suppose I must go," said Mary; "for I know you are going to talk
about business. But, uncle, Mr Gresham says I'm looking very well.
Why have you not been able to find that out?"

"She's a dear, good girl," said the squire, as the door shut behind
her; "a dear good girl;" and the doctor could not fail to see that
his eyes were filled with tears.

"I think she is," said he, quietly. And then they both sat silent, as
though each was waiting to hear whether the other had anything more
to say on that subject. The doctor, at any rate, had nothing more to
say.

"I have come here specially to speak to you about her," said the
squire.

"About Mary?"

"Yes, doctor; about her and Frank: something must be done, some
arrangement made: if not for our sakes, at least for theirs."

"What arrangement, squire?"

"Ah! that is the question. I take it for granted that either Frank or
Mary has told you that they have engaged themselves to each other."

"Frank told me so twelve months since."

"And has not Mary told you?"

"Not exactly that. But, never mind; she has, I believe, no secret
from me. Though I have said but little to her, I think I know it
all."

"Well, what then?"

The doctor shook his head and put up his hands. He had nothing to
say; no proposition to make; no arrangement to suggest. The thing was
so, and he seemed to say that, as far as he was concerned, there was
an end of it.

The squire sat looking at him, hardly knowing how to proceed. It
seemed to him, that the fact of a young man and a young lady being in
love with each other was not a thing to be left to arrange itself,
particularly, seeing the rank of life in which they were placed. But
the doctor seemed to be of a different opinion.

"But, Dr Thorne, there is no man on God's earth who knows my affairs
as well as you do; and in knowing mine, you know Frank's. Do you
think it possible that they should marry each other?"

"Possible; yes, it is possible. You mean, will it be prudent?"

"Well, take it in that way; would it not be most imprudent?"

"At present, it certainly would be. I have never spoken to either of
them on the subject; but I presume they do not think of such a thing
for the present."

"But, doctor--" The squire was certainly taken aback by the coolness
of the doctor's manner. After all, he, the squire, was Mr Gresham
of Greshamsbury, generally acknowledged to be the first commoner in
Barsetshire; after all, Frank was his heir, and, in process of time,
he would be Mr Gresham of Greshamsbury. Crippled as the estate was,
there would be something left, and the rank at any rate remained. But
as to Mary, she was not even the doctor's daughter. She was not only
penniless, but nameless, fatherless, worse than motherless! It was
incredible that Dr Thorne, with his generally exalted ideas as to
family, should speak in this cold way as to a projected marriage
between the heir of Greshamsbury and his brother's bastard child!

"But, doctor," repeated the squire.

The doctor put one leg over the other, and began to rub his calf.
"Squire," said he. "I think I know all that you would say, all that
you mean. And yo