By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Dr. Wortle's School
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 "Dr. Wortle's School" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

Transcriber's note:

   This e-text was taken from the first edition of this novel and
   attempts to reproduce the original spelling, punctuation etc.
   Some corrections have been made--a complete list of changes and
   items to note is at the end of the e-text.

   Two words in the text contain an oe-ligature, indicated in this
   e-text by [oe].

   The Table of Contents of Volume II is located at the beginning
   of that volume.


A Novel.




Chapman and Hall, Limited, 193, Piccadilly.

R. Clay, Sons, and Taylor, Printers,
Bread Street Hill.


   PART I.




















THE Rev. Jeffrey Wortle, D.D., was a man much esteemed by others,--and by
himself.  He combined two professions, in both of which he had been
successful,--had been, and continued to be, at the time in which we speak
of him.  I will introduce him to the reader in the present tense as Rector
of Bowick, and proprietor and head-master of the school established in the
village of that name.  The seminary at Bowick had for some time enjoyed a
reputation under him;--not that he had ever himself used so new-fangled
and unpalatable a word in speaking of his school.  Bowick School had been
established by himself as preparatory to Eton.  Dr. Wortle had been
elected to an assistant-mastership at Eton early in life soon after he had
become a Fellow of Exeter.  There he had worked successfully for ten
years, and had then retired to the living of Bowick.  On going there he
had determined to occupy his leisure, and if possible to make his fortune,
by taking a few boys into his house.  By dint of charging high prices and
giving good food,--perhaps in part, also, by the quality of the education
which he imparted,--his establishment had become popular and had outgrown
the capacity of the parsonage.  He had been enabled to purchase a field or
two close abutting on the glebe gardens, and had there built convenient
premises.  He now limited his number to thirty boys, for each of which he
charged £200 a-year.  It was said of him by his friends that if he would
only raise his price to £250, he might double the number, and really make
a fortune.  In answer to this, he told his friends that he knew his own
business best;--he declared that his charge was the only sum that was
compatible both with regard to himself and honesty to his customers, and
asserted that the labours he endured were already quite heavy enough.  In
fact, he recommended all those who gave him advice to mind their own

It may be said of him that he knew his own so well as to justify him in
repudiating counsel from others.  There are very different ideas of what
"a fortune" may be supposed to consist.  It will not be necessary to give
Dr. Wortle's exact idea.  No doubt it changed with him, increasing as his
money increased.  But he was supposed to be a comfortable man.  He paid
ready money and high prices.  He liked that people under him should
thrive,--and he liked them to know that they throve by his means.  He
liked to be master, and always was.  He was just, and liked his justice to
be recognised.  He was generous also, and liked that, too, to be known.
He kept a carriage for his wife, who had been the daughter of a poor
clergyman at Windsor, and was proud to see her as well dressed as the wife
of any county squire.  But he was a domineering husband.  As his wife
worshipped him, and regarded him as a Jupiter on earth from whose nod
there could be and should be no appeal, but little harm came from this.
If a tyrant, he was an affectionate tyrant.  His wife felt him to be so.
His servants, his parish, and his school all felt him to be so.  They
obeyed him, loved him, and believed in him.

So, upon the whole, at the time with which we are dealing, did the
diocese, the county, and that world of parents by whom the boys were sent
to his school.  But this had not come about without some hard fighting.
He was over fifty years of age, and had been Rector of Bowick for nearly
twenty.  During that time there had been a succession of three bishops,
and he had quarrelled more or less with all of them.  It might be juster
to say that they had all of them had more or less of occasion to find
fault with him.  Now Dr. Wortle,--or Mr. Wortle, as he should be called in
reference to that period,--was a man who would bear censure from no human
being.  He had left his position at Eton because the Head-master had
required from him some slight change of practice.  There had been no
quarrel on that occasion, but Mr. Wortle had gone.  He at once commenced
his school at Bowick, taking half-a-dozen pupils into his own house.  The
bishop of that day suggested that the cure of the souls of the
parishioners of Bowick was being subordinated to the Latin and Greek of
the sons of the nobility.  The bishop got a response which gave an
additional satisfaction to his speedy translation to a more comfortable
diocese.  Between the next bishop and Mr. Wortle there was, unfortunately,
misunderstanding, and almost feud for the entire ten years during which
his lordship reigned in the Palace of Broughton.  This Bishop of Broughton
had been one of that large batch of Low Church prelates who were brought
forward under Lord Palmerston.  Among them there was none more low, more
pious, more sincere, or more given to interference.  To teach Mr. Wortle
his duty as a parish clergyman was evidently a necessity to such a bishop.
To repudiate any such teaching was evidently a necessity to Mr. Wortle.
Consequently there were differences, in all of which Mr. Wortle carried
his own.  What the good bishop suffered no one probably knew except his
wife and his domestic chaplain.  What Mr. Wortle enjoyed,--or Dr. Wortle,
as he came to be called about this time,--was patent to all the county and
all the diocese.  The sufferer died, not, let us hope, by means of the
Doctor; and then came the third bishop.  He, too, had found himself
obliged to say a word.  He was a man of the world,--wise, prudent, not
given to interference or fault-finding, friendly by nature, one who
altogether hated a quarrel, a bishop beyond all things determined to be
the friend of his clergymen;--and yet he thought himself obliged to say a
word.  There were matters in which Dr. Wortle affected a peculiarly
anti-clerical mode of expression, if not of feeling.  He had been foolish
enough to declare openly that he was in search of a curate who should have
none of the "grace of godliness" about him.  He was wont to ridicule the
piety of young men who devoted themselves entirely to their religious
offices.  In a letter which he wrote he spoke of one youthful divine as "a
conceited ass who had preached for forty minutes."  He not only disliked,
but openly ridiculed all signs of a special pietistic bearing.  It was
said of him that he had been heard to swear.  There can be no doubt that
he made himself wilfully distasteful to many of his stricter brethren.
Then it came to pass that there was a correspondence between him and the
bishop as to that outspoken desire of his for a curate without the grace
of godliness.  But even here Dr. Wortle was successful.  The management of
his parish was pre-eminently good.  The parish school was a model.  The
farmers went to church.  Dissenters there were none.  The people of Bowick
believed thoroughly in their parson, and knew the comfort of having an
open-handed, well-to-do gentleman in the village.  This third episcopal
difficulty did not endure long.  Dr. Wortle knew his man, and was willing
enough to be on good terms with his bishop so long as he was allowed to be
in all things his own master.

There had, too, been some fighting between Dr. Wortle and the world about
his school.  He was, as I have said, a thoroughly generous man, but he
required, himself, to be treated with generosity.  Any question as to the
charges made by him as schoolmaster was unendurable.  He explained to all
parents that he charged for each boy at the rate of two hundred a-year for
board, lodging, and tuition, and that anything required for a boy's
benefit or comfort beyond that ordinarily supplied would be charged for as
an extra at such price as Dr. Wortle himself thought to be an equivalent.
Now the popularity of his establishment no doubt depended in a great
degree on the sufficiency and comfort of the good things of the world
which he provided.  The beer was of the best; the boys were not made to
eat fat; their taste in the selection of joints was consulted.  The
morning coffee was excellent.  The cook was a great adept at cakes and
puddings.  The Doctor would not himself have been satisfied unless
everything had been plentiful, and everything of the best.  He would have
hated a butcher who had attempted to seduce him with meat beneath the
usual price.  But when he had supplied that which was sufficient according
to his own liberal ideas, he did not give more without charging for it.
Among his customers there had been a certain Honourable Mr. Stantiloup,
and,--which had been more important,--an Honourable Mrs. Stantiloup.  Mrs.
Stantiloup was a lady who liked all the best things which the world could
supply, but hardly liked paying the best price.  Dr. Wortle's school was
the best thing the world could supply of that kind, but then the price was
certainly the very best.  Young Stantiloup was only eleven, and as there
were boys at Bowick as old as seventeen,--for the school had not
altogether maintained its old character as being merely preparatory,--Mrs.
Stantiloup had thought that her boy should be admitted at a lower fee.
The correspondence which had ensued had been unpleasant.  Then young
Stantiloup had had the influenza, and Mrs. Stantiloup had sent her own
doctor.  Champagne had been ordered, and carriage exercise.  Mr.
Stantiloup had been forced by his wife to refuse to pay sums demanded for
these undoubted extras.  Ten shillings a-day for a drive for a little boy
seemed to her a great deal,--seemed so to Mrs. Stantiloup.  Ought not the
Doctor's wife to have been proud to take out her little boy in her own
carriage?  And then £2 10_s_. for champagne for the little boy!  It was
monstrous.  Mr. Stantiloup remonstrated.  Dr. Wortle said that the little
boy had better be taken away and the bill paid at once.  The little boy
was taken away and the money was offered, short of £5.  The matter was
instantly put into the hands of the Doctor's lawyer, and a suit commenced.
The Doctor, of course, got his money, and then there followed an
acrimonious correspondence in the "Times" and other newspapers.  Mrs.
Stantiloup did her best to ruin the school, and many very eloquent
passages were written not only by her or by her own special scribe, but by
others who took the matter up, to prove that two hundred a-year was a
great deal more than ought to be paid for the charge of a little boy
during three quarters of the year.  But in the course of the next twelve
months Dr. Wortle was obliged to refuse admittance to a dozen eligible
pupils because he had not room for them.

No doubt he had suffered during these contests,--suffered, that is, in
mind.  There had been moments in which it seemed that the victory would be
on the other side, that the forces congregated against him were too many
for him, and that not being able to bend he would have to be broken; but
in every case he had fought it out, and in every case he had conquered.
He was now a prosperous man, who had achieved his own way, and had made
all those connected with him feel that it was better to like him and obey
him, than to dislike him and fight with him.  His curates troubled him as
little as possible with the grace of godliness, and threw off as far as
they could that zeal which is so dear to the youthful mind but which so
often seems to be weak and flabby to their elders.  His ushers or
assistants in the school fell in with his views implicitly, and were
content to accept compensation in the shape of personal civilities.  It
was much better to go shares with the Doctor in a joke than to have to
bear his hard words.

It is chiefly in reference to one of these ushers that our story has to be
told.  But before we commence it, we must say a few more words as to the
Doctor and his family.  Of his wife I have already spoken.  She was
probably as happy a woman as you shall be likely to meet on a summer's
day.  She had good health, easy temper, pleasant friends, abundant means,
and no ambition.  She went nowhere without the Doctor, and whenever he
went she enjoyed her share of the respect which was always shown to him.
She had little or nothing to do with the school, the Doctor having many
years ago resolved that though it became him as a man to work for his
bread, his wife should not be a slave.  When the battles had been going
on,--those between the Doctor and the bishops, and the Doctor and Mrs.
Stantiloup, and the Doctor and the newspapers,--she had for a while been
unhappy.  It had grieved her to have it insinuated that her husband was an
atheist, and asserted that her husband was a cormorant; but his courage
had sustained her, and his continual victories had taught her to believe
at last that he was indomitable.

They had one child, a daughter, Mary, of whom it was said in Bowick that
she alone knew the length of the Doctor's foot.  It certainly was so that,
if Mrs. Wortle wished to have anything done which was a trifle beyond her
own influence, she employed Mary.  And if the boys collectively wanted to
carry a point, they would "collectively" obtain Miss Wortle's aid.  But
all this the Doctor probably knew very well; and though he was often
pleased to grant favours thus asked, he did so because he liked the
granting of favours when they had been asked with a proper degree of care
and attention.  She was at the present time of the age in which fathers
are apt to look upon their children as still children, while other men
regard them as being grown-up young ladies.  It was now June, and in the
approaching August she would be eighteen.  It was said of her that of the
girls all round she was the prettiest; and indeed it would be hard to find
a sweeter-favoured girl than Mary Wortle.  Her father had been all his
life a man noted for the manhood of his face.  He had a broad forehead,
with bright grey eyes,--eyes that had always a smile passing round them,
though the smile would sometimes show that touch of irony which a smile
may contain rather than the good-humour which it is ordinarily supposed to
indicate.  His nose was aquiline, not hooky like a true bird's-beak, but
with that bend which seems to give to the human face the clearest
indication of individual will.  His mouth, for a man, was perhaps a little
too small, but was admirably formed, as had been the chin with a deep
dimple on it, which had now by the slow progress of many dinners become
doubled in its folds.  His hair had been chestnut, but dark in its hue.
It had now become grey, but still with the shade of the chestnut through
it here and there.  He stood five feet ten in height, with small hands and
feet.  He was now perhaps somewhat stout, but was still as upright on his
horse as ever, and as well able to ride to hounds for a few fields when by
chance the hunt came in the way of Bowick.  Such was the Doctor.  Mrs.
Wortle was a pretty little woman, now over forty years of age, of whom it
was said that in her day she had been the beauty of Windsor and those
parts.  Mary Wortle took mostly after her father, being tall and comely,
having especially her father's eyes; but still they who had known Mrs.
Wortle as a girl declared that Mary had inherited also her mother's
peculiar softness and complexion.

For many years past none of the pupils had been received within the
parsonage,--unless when received there as guests, which was of frequent
occurrence.  All belonging to the school was built outside the glebe land,
as a quite separate establishment, with a door opening from the parsonage
garden to the school-yard.  Of this door the rule was that the Doctor and
the gardener should have the only two keys; but the rule may be said to
have become quite obsolete, as the door was never locked.  Sometimes the
bigger boys would come through unasked,--perhaps in search of a game of
lawn-tennis with Miss Wortle, perhaps to ask some favour of Mrs. Wortle,
who always was delighted to welcome them, perhaps even to seek the Doctor
himself, who never on such occasions would ask how it came to pass that
they were on that side of the wall.  Sometimes Mrs. Wortle would send her
housekeeper through for some of the little boys.  It would then be a good
time for the little boys.  But this would generally be during the Doctor's

Here, on the school side of the wall, there was a separate establishment
of servants, and a separate kitchen.  There was no sending backwards or
forwards of food or of clothes,--unless it might be when some special
delicacy was sent in if a boy were unwell.  For these no extra charge was
ever made, as had been done in the case of young Stantiloup.  Then a
strange doctor had come, and had ordered the wine and the carriage.  There
was no extra charge for the kindly glasses of wine which used to be
administered in quite sufficient plenty.

Behind the school, and running down to the little river Pin, there is a
spacious cricket-ground, and a court marked out for lawn-tennis.  Up close
to the school is a racket-court.  No doubt a good deal was done to make
the externals of the place alluring to those parents who love to think
that their boys shall be made happy at school.  Attached to the school,
forming part of the building, is a pleasant, well-built residence, with
six or eight rooms, intended for the senior or classical assistant-master.
It had been the Doctor's scheme to find a married gentleman to occupy this
house, whose wife should receive a separate salary for looking after the
linen and acting as matron to the school,--doing what his wife did till he
became successful,--while the husband should be in orders and take part of
the church duties as a second curate.  But there had been a difficulty in



THE Doctor had found it difficult to carry out the scheme described in the
last chapter.  They indeed who know anything of such matters will be
inclined to call it Utopian, and to say that one so wise in worldly
matters as our schoolmaster should not have attempted to combine so many
things.  He wanted a gentleman, a schoolmaster, a curate, a matron, and a
lady,--we may say all in one.  Curates and ushers are generally unmarried.
An assistant schoolmaster is not often in orders, and sometimes is not a
gentleman.  A gentleman, when he is married, does not often wish to
dispose of the services of his wife.  A lady, when she has a husband, has
generally sufficient duties of her own to employ her, without undertaking
others.  The scheme, if realised, would no doubt be excellent, but the
difficulties were too many.  The Stantiloups, who lived about twenty miles
off, made fun of the Doctor and his project; and the Bishop was said to
have expressed himself as afraid that he would not be able to license as
curate any one selected as usher to the school.  One attempt was made
after another in vain;--but at last it was declared through the country
far and wide that the Doctor had succeeded in this, as in every other
enterprise that he had attempted.  There had come a Rev. Mr. Peacocke and
his wife.  Six years since, Mr. Peacocke had been well known at Oxford as
a Classic, and had become a Fellow of Trinity.  Then he had taken orders,
and had some time afterwards married, giving up his Fellowship as a matter
of course.  Mr. Peacocke, while living at Oxford, had been well known to a
large Oxford circle, but he had suddenly disappeared from that world, and
it had reached the ears of only a few of his more intimate friends that he
had undertaken the duties of vice-president of a classical college at
Saint Louis in the State of Missouri.  Such a disruption as this was for a
time complete; but after five years Mr. Peacocke appeared again at Oxford,
with a beautiful American wife, and the necessity of earning an income by
his erudition.

It would at first have seemed very improbable that Dr. Wortle should have
taken into his school or into his parish a gentleman who had chosen the
United States as a field for his classical labours.  The Doctor, whose
mind was by no means logical, was a thoroughgoing Tory of the old school,
and therefore considered himself bound to hate the name of a republic.  He
hated rolling stones, and Mr. Peacocke had certainly been a rolling stone.
He loved Oxford with all his heart, and some years since had been heard to
say hard things of Mr. Peacocke, when that gentleman deserted his college
for the sake of establishing himself across the Atlantic.  But he was one
who thought that there should be a place of penitence allowed to those who
had clearly repented of their errors; and, moreover, when he heard that
Mr. Peacocke was endeavouring to establish himself in Oxford as a "coach"
for undergraduates, and also that he was a married man without any
encumbrance in the way of family, there seemed to him to be an additional
reason for pardoning that American escapade.  Circumstances brought the
two men together.  There were friends at Oxford who knew how anxious the
Doctor was to carry out that plan of his in reference to an usher, a
curate, and a matron, and here were the very things combined.  Mr.
Peacocke's scholarship and power of teaching were acknowledged; he was
already in orders; and it was declared that Mrs. Peacocke was undoubtedly
a lady.  Many inquiries were made.  Many meetings took place.  Many
difficulties arose.  But at last Mr. and Mrs. Peacocke came to Bowick, and
took up their abode in the school.

All the Doctor's requirements were not at once fulfilled.  Mrs. Peacocke's
position was easily settled.  Mrs. Peacocke, who seemed to be a woman
possessed of sterling sense and great activity, undertook her duties
without difficulty.  But Mr. Peacocke would not at first consent to act as
curate in the parish.  He did, however, after a time perform a portion of
the Sunday services.  When he first came to Bowick he had declared that he
would undertake no clerical duty.  Education was his profession, and to
that he meant to devote himself exclusively.  Nor for the six or eight
months of his sojourn did he go back from this; so that the Doctor may be
said even still to have failed in carrying out his purpose.  But at last
the new schoolmaster appeared in the pulpit of the parish church and
preached a sermon.

All that had passed in private conference between the Doctor and his
assistant on the subject need not here be related.  Mr. Peacocke's
aversion to do more than attend regularly at the church services as one of
the parishioners had been very strong.  The Doctor's anxiety to overcome
his assistant's reasoning had also been strong.  There had no doubt been
much said between them.  Mr. Peacocke had been true to his principles,
whatever those principles were, in regard to his appointment as a
curate,--but it came to pass that he for some months preached regularly
every Sunday in the parish church, to the full satisfaction of the
parishioners.  For this he had accepted no payment, much to the Doctor's
dissatisfaction.  Nevertheless, it was certainly the case that they who
served the Doctor gratuitously never came by the worse of the bargain.

Mr. Peacocke was a small wiry man, anything but robust in appearance, but
still capable of great bodily exertion.  He was a great walker.  Labour in
the school never seemed to fatigue him.  The addition of a sermon to
preach every week seemed to make no difference to his energies in the
school.  He was a constant reader, and could pass from one kind of mental
work to another without fatigue.  The Doctor was a noted scholar, but it
soon became manifest to the Doctor himself, and to the boys, that Mr.
Peacocke was much deeper in scholarship than the Doctor.  Though he was a
poor man, his own small classical library was supposed to be a repository
of all that was known about Latin and Greek.  In fact, Mr. Peacocke grew
to be a marvel; but of all the marvels about him, the thing most
marvellous was the entire faith which the Doctor placed in him.  Certain
changes even were made in the old-established "curriculum" of
tuition,--and were made, as all the boys supposed, by the advice of Mr.
Peacocke.  Mr. Peacocke was treated with a personal respect which almost
seemed to imply that the two men were equal.  This was supposed by the
boys to come from the fact that both the Doctor and the assistant had been
Fellows of their colleges at Oxford; but the parsons and other gentry
around could see that there was more in it than that.  Mr. Peacocke had
some power about him which was potent over the Doctor's spirit.

Mrs. Peacocke, in her line, succeeded almost as well.  She was a woman
something over thirty years of age when she first came to Bowick, in the
very pride and bloom of woman's beauty.  Her complexion was dark and
brown,--so much so, that it was impossible to describe her colour
generally by any other word.  But no clearer skin was ever given to a
woman.  Her eyes were brown, and her eye-brows black, and perfectly
regular.  Her hair was dark and very glossy, and always dressed as simply
as the nature of a woman's head will allow.  Her features were regular,
but with a great show of strength.  She was tall for a woman, but without
any of that look of length under which female altitude sometimes suffers.
She was strong and well made, and apparently equal to any labour to which
her position might subject her.  When she had been at Bowick about three
months, a boy's leg had been broken, and she had nursed him, not only with
assiduity, but with great capacity.  The boy was the youngest son of the
Marchioness of Altamont; and when Lady Altamont paid a second visit to
Bowick, for the sake of taking her boy home as soon as he was fit to be
moved, her ladyship made a little mistake.  With the sweetest and most
caressing smile in the world, she offered Mrs. Peacocke a ten-pound note.
"My dear madam," said Mrs. Peacocke, without the slightest reserve or
difficulty, "it is so natural that you should do this, because you cannot
of course understand my position; but it is altogether out of the
question."  The Marchioness blushed, and stammered, and begged a hundred
pardons.  Being a good-natured woman, she told the whole story to Mrs.
Wortle.  "I would just as soon have offered the money to the Marchioness
herself," said Mrs. Wortle, as she told it to her husband.  "I would have
done it a deal sooner," said the Doctor.  "I am not in the least afraid of
Lady Altamont; but I stand in awful dread of Mrs. Peacocke."  Nevertheless
Mrs. Peacocke had done her work by the little lord's bed-side, just as
though she had been a paid nurse.

And so she felt herself to be.  Nor was she in the least ashamed of her
position in that respect.  If there was aught of shame about her, as some
people said, it certainly did not come from the fact that she was in the
receipt of a salary for the performance of certain prescribed duties.
Such remuneration was, she thought, as honourable as the Doctor's income;
but to her American intelligence, the acceptance of a present of money
from a Marchioness would have been a degradation.

It certainly was said of her by some persons that there must have been
something in her former life of which she was ashamed.  The Honourable
Mrs. Stantiloup, to whom all the affairs of Bowick had been of consequence
since her husband had lost his lawsuit, and who had not only heard much,
but had inquired far and near about Mr. and Mrs. Peacocke, declared
diligently among her friends, with many nods and winks, that there was
something "rotten in the state of Denmark."  She did at first somewhat
imprudently endeavour to spread a rumour abroad that the Doctor had become
enslaved by the lady's beauty.  But even those hostile to Bowick could not
accept this.  The Doctor certainly was not the man to put in jeopardy the
respect of the world and his own standing for the beauty of any woman;
and, moreover, the Doctor, as we have said before, was over fifty years of
age.  But there soon came up another ground on which calumny could found a
story.  It was certainly the case that Mrs. Peacocke had never accepted
any hospitality from Mrs. Wortle or other ladies in the neighbourhood.  It
reached the ears of Mrs. Stantiloup, first, that the ladies had called
upon each other, as ladies are wont to do who intend to cultivate a mutual
personal acquaintance, and then that Mrs. Wortle had asked Mrs. Peacocke
to dinner.  But Mrs. Peacocke had refused not only that invitation, but
subsequent invitations to the less ceremonious form of tea-drinking.

All this had been true, and it had been true also,--though of this Mrs.
Stantiloup had not heard the particulars,--that Mrs. Peacocke had
explained to her neighbour that she did not intend to put herself on a
visiting footing with any one.  "But why not, my dear?" Mrs. Wortle had
said, urged to the argument by precepts from her husband.  "Why should you
make yourself desolate here, when we shall be so glad to have you?"  "It
is part of my life that it must be so," Mrs. Peacocke had answered.  "I am
quite sure that the duties I have undertaken are becoming a lady; but I do
not think that they are becoming to one who either gives or accepts

There had been something of the same kind between the Doctor and Mr.
Peacocke.  "Why the mischief shouldn't you and your wife come and eat a
bit of mutton, and drink a glass of wine, over at the Rectory, like any
other decent people?"  I never believed that accusation against the Doctor
in regard to swearing; but he was no doubt addicted to expletives in
conversation, and might perhaps have indulged in a strong word or two, had
he not been prevented by the sanctity of his orders.  "Perhaps I ought to
say," replied Mr. Peacocke, "because we are not like any other decent
people."  Then he went on to explain his meaning.  Decent people, he
thought, in regard to social intercourse, are those who are able to give
and take with ease among each other.  He had fallen into a position in
which neither he nor his wife could give anything, and from which, though
some might be willing to accept him, he would be accepted only, as it
were, by special favour.  "Bosh!" ejaculated the Doctor.  Mr. Peacocke
simply smiled.  He said it might be bosh, but that even were he inclined
to relax his own views, his wife would certainly not relax hers.  So it
came to pass that although the Doctor and Mr. Peacocke were really
intimate, and that something of absolute friendship sprang up between the
two ladies, when Mr. Peacocke had already been more than twelve months in
Bowick neither had he nor Mrs. Peacocke broken bread in the Doctor's

And yet the friendship had become strong.  An incident had happened early
in the year which had served greatly to strengthen it.  At the school
there was a little boy, just eleven years old, the only son of a Lady De
Lawle, who had in early years been a dear friend to Mrs. Wortle.  Lady De
Lawle was the widow of a baronet, and the little boy was the heir to a
large fortune.  The mother had been most loath to part with her treasure.
Friends, uncles, and trustees had declared that the old prescribed form of
education for British aristocrats must be followed,--a t'other school,
namely, then Eton, and then Oxford.  No; his mother might not go with him,
first to one, and then to the other.  Such going and living with him would
deprive his education of all the real salt.  Therefore Bowick was chosen
as the t'other school, because Mrs. Wortle would be more like a mother to
the poor desolate boy than any other lady.  So it was arranged, and the
"poor desolate boy" became the happiest of the young pickles whom it was
Mrs. Wortle's special province to spoil whenever she could get hold of

Now it happened that on one beautiful afternoon towards the end of April,
Mrs. Wortle had taken young De Lawle and another little boy with her over
the foot-bridge which passed from the bottom of the parsonage garden to
the glebe-meadow which ran on the other side of a little river, and with
them had gone a great Newfoundland dog, who was on terms equally friendly
with the inmates of the Rectory and the school.  Where this bridge passed
across the stream the gardens and the field were on the same level.  But
as the water ran down to the ground on which the school-buildings had been
erected, there arose a steep bank over a bend in the river, or, rather,
steep cliff; for, indeed, it was almost perpendicular, the force of the
current as it turned at this spot having washed away the bank.  In this
way it had come to pass that there was a precipitous fall of about a dozen
feet from the top of the little cliff into the water, and that the water
here, as it eddied round the curve, was black and deep, so that the bigger
boys were wont to swim in it, arrangements for bathing having been made on
the further or school side.  There had sometimes been a question whether a
rail should not be placed for protection along the top of this cliff, but
nothing of the kind had yet been done.  The boys were not supposed to play
in this field, which was on the other side of the river, and could only be
reached by the bridge through the parsonage garden.

On this day young De Lawle and his friend and the dog rushed up the hill
before Mrs. Wortle, and there began to romp, as was their custom.  Mary
Wortle, who was one of the party, followed them, enjoining the children to
keep away from the cliff.  For a while they did so, but of course
returned.  Once or twice they were recalled and scolded, always asserting
that the fault was altogether with Neptune.  It was Neptune that knocked
them down and always pushed them towards the river.  Perhaps it was
Neptune; but be that as it might, there came a moment very terrible to
them all.  The dog in one of his gyrations came violently against the
little boy, knocked him off his legs, and pushed him over the edge.  Mrs.
Wortle, who had been making her way slowly up the hill, saw the fall,
heard the splash, and fell immediately to the ground.

Other eyes had also seen the accident.  The Doctor and Mr. Peacocke were
at the moment walking together in the playgrounds at the school side of
the brook.  When the boy fell they had paused in their walk, and were
standing, the Doctor with his back to the stream, and the assistant with
his face turned towards the cliff.  A loud exclamation broke from his lips
as he saw the fall, but in a moment,--almost before the Doctor had
realised the accident which had occurred,--he was in the water, and two
minutes afterwards young De Lawle, drenched indeed, frightened, and out of
breath, but in nowise seriously hurt, was out upon the bank; and Mr.
Peacocke, drenched also, but equally safe, was standing over him, while
the Doctor on his knees was satisfying himself that his little charge had
received no fatal injury.  It need hardly be explained that such a
termination as this to such an accident had greatly increased the good
feeling with which Mr. Peacocke was regarded by all the inhabitants of the
school and Rectory.



MR. PEACOCKE himself said that in this matter a great deal of fuss was
made about nothing.  Perhaps it was so.  He got a ducking, but, being a
strong swimmer, probably suffered no real danger.  The boy, rolling down
three or four feet of bank, had then fallen down six or eight feet into
deep water.  He might, no doubt, have been much hurt.  He might have
struck against a rock and have been killed,--in which case Mr. Peacocke's
prowess would have been of no avail.  But nothing of this kind happened.
Little Jack De Lawle was put to bed in one of the Rectory bed-rooms, and
was comforted with sherry-negus and sweet jelly.  For two days he rejoiced
thoroughly in his accident, being freed from school, and subjected only to
caresses.  After that he rebelled, having become tired of his bed.  But by
that time his mother had been most unnecessarily summoned.  Unless she was
wanted to examine the forlorn condition of his clothes, there was nothing
that she could do.  But she came, and, of course, showered blessings on
Mr. Peacocke's head,--while Mrs. Wortle went through to the school and
showered blessings on Mrs. Peacocke.  What would they have done had the
Peacockes not been there?

"You must let them have their way, whether for good or bad," the Doctor
said, when his assistant complained rather of the blessings,--pointing out
at any rate their absurdity.  "One man is damned for ever, because, in the
conscientious exercise of his authority, he gives a little boy a rap which
happens to make a small temporary mark on his skin.  Another becomes a
hero because, when in the equally conscientious performance of a duty, he
gives himself a ducking.  I won't think you a hero; but, of course, I
consider myself very fortunate to have had beside me a man younger than
myself, and quick and ready at such an emergence.  Of course I feel
grateful, but I shan't bother you by telling you so."

But this was not the end of it.  Lady De Lawle declared that she could not
be happy unless Mr. and Mrs. Peacocke would bring Jack home for the
holidays to De Lawle Park.  Of course she carried her blessings up into
Mrs. Peacocke's little drawing-room, and became quite convinced, as was
Mrs. Wortle, that Mrs. Peacocke was in all respects a lady.  She heard of
Mr. Peacocke's antecedents at Oxford, and expressed her opinion that they
were charming people.  She could not be happy unless they would promise to
come to De Lawle Park for the holidays.  Then Mrs. Peacocke had to explain
that in her present circumstances she did not intend to visit anywhere.
She was very much flattered, and delighted to think that the dear little
boy was none the worse for his accident; but there must be an end of it.
There was something in her manner, as she said this, which almost overawed
Lady De Lawle.  She made herself, at any rate, understood, and no further
attempt was made for the next six weeks to induce her or Mr. Peacocke to
enter the Rectory dining-room.  But a good deal was said about Mr.
Peacocke,--generally in his favour.

Generally in his favour,--because he was a fine scholar, and could swim
well.  His preaching perhaps did something for him, but the swimming did
more.  But though there was so much said of good, there was something also
of evil.  A man would not altogether refuse society for himself and his
wife unless there were some cause for him to do so.  He and she must have
known themselves to be unfit to associate with such persons as they would
have met at De Lawle Park.  There was a mystery, and the mystery, when
unravelled, would no doubt prove to be very deleterious to the character
of the persons concerned.  Mrs. Stantiloup was quite sure that such must
be the case.  "It might be very well," said Mrs. Stantiloup, "for Dr.
Wortle to obtain the services of a well-educated usher for his school, but
it became quite another thing when he put a man up to preach in the
church, of whose life, for five years, no one knew anything."  Somebody
had told her something as to the necessity of a bishop's authority for the
appointment of a curate; but no one had strictly defined to her what a
curate is.  She was, however, quite ready to declare that Mr. Peacocke had
no business to preach in that pulpit, and that something very disagreeable
would come of it.

Nor was this feeling altogether confined to Mrs. Stantiloup, though it had
perhaps originated with what she had said among her own friends.  "Don't
you think it well you should know something of his life during these five
years?"  This had been said to the Rector by the Bishop himself,--who
probably would have said nothing of the kind had not these reports reached
his ears.  But reports, when they reach a certain magnitude, and attain a
certain importance, require to be noticed.

So much in this world depends upon character that attention has to be paid
to bad character even when it is not deserved.  In dealing with men and
women, we have to consider what they believe, as well as what we believe
ourselves.  The utility of a sermon depends much on the idea that the
audience has of the piety of the man who preaches it.  Though the words of
God should never have come with greater power from the mouth of man, they
will come in vain if they be uttered by one who is known as a breaker of
the Commandments;--they will come in vain from the mouth of one who is
even suspected to be so.  To all this, when it was said to him by the
Bishop in the kindest manner, Dr. Wortle replied that such suspicions were
monstrous, unreasonable, and uncharitable.  He declared that they
originated with that abominable virago, Mrs. Stantiloup.  "Look round the
diocese," said the Bishop in reply to this, "and see if you can find a
single clergyman acting in it, of the details of whose life for the last
five years you know absolutely nothing."  Thereupon the Doctor said that he
would make inquiry of Mr. Peacocke himself.  It might well be, he thought,
that Mr. Peacocke would not like such inquiry, but the Doctor was quite
sure that any story told to him would be true.  On returning home he found
it necessary, or at any rate expedient, to postpone his questions for a
few days.  It is not easy to ask a man what he has been doing with five
years of his life, when the question implies a belief that these five
years have been passed badly.  And it was understood that the questioning
must in some sort apply to the man's wife.  The Doctor had once said to
Mrs. Wortle that he stood in awe of Mrs. Peacocke.  There had certainly
come upon him an idea that she was a lady with whom it would not be easy
to meddle.  She was obedient, diligent, and minutely attentive to any wish
that was expressed to her in regard to her duties; but it had become
manifest to the Doctor that in all matters beyond the school she was
independent, and was by no means subject to external influences.  She was
not, for instance, very constant in her own attendance at church, and
never seemed to feel it necessary to apologise for her absence.  The
Doctor, in his many and familiar conversations with Mr. Peacocke, had not
found himself able to allude to this; and he had observed that the husband
did not often speak of his own wife unless it were on matters having
reference to the school.  So it came to pass that he dreaded the
conversation which he proposed to himself, and postponed it from day to
day with a cowardice which was quite unusual to him.

And now, O kind-hearted reader, I feel myself constrained, in the telling
of this little story, to depart altogether from those principles of
story-telling to which you probably have become accustomed, and to put the
horse of my romance before the cart.  There is a mystery respecting Mr.
and Mrs. Peacocke which, according to all laws recognised in such matters,
ought not to be elucidated till, let us say, the last chapter but two, so
that your interest should be maintained almost to the end,--so near the
end that there should be left only space for those little arrangements
which are necessary for the well-being, or perhaps for the evil-being, of
our personages.  It is my purpose to disclose the mystery at once, and to
ask you to look for your interest,--should you choose to go on with my
chronicle,--simply in the conduct of my persons, during this disclosure,
to others.  You are to know it all before the Doctor or the
Bishop,--before Mrs. Wortle or the Hon. Mrs. Stantiloup, or Lady De Lawle.
You are to know it all before the Peacockes become aware that it must
necessarily be disclosed to any one.  It may be that when I shall have
once told the mystery there will no longer be any room for interest in the
tale to you.  That there are many such readers of novels I know.  I doubt
whether the greater number be not such.  I am far from saying that the
kind of interest of which I am speaking,--and of which I intend to deprive
myself,--is not the most natural and the most efficacious.  What would the
'Black Dwarf' be if every one knew from the beginning that he was a rich
man and a baronet?--or 'The Pirate,' if all the truth about Norna of the
Fitful-head had been told in the first chapter?  Therefore, put the book
down if the revelation of some future secret be necessary for your
enjoyment.  Our mystery is going to be revealed in the next paragraph,--in
the next half-dozen words.  Mr. and Mrs. Peacocke were not man and wife.

The story how it came to be so need not be very long;--nor will it, as I
think, entail any great degree of odious criminality either upon the man
or upon the woman.  At St. Louis Mrs. Peacocke had become acquainted with
two brothers named Lefroy, who had come up from Louisiana, and had
achieved for themselves characters which were by no means desirable.  They
were sons of a planter who had been rich in extent of acres and number of
slaves before the war of the Secession.  General Lefroy had been in those
days a great man in his State, had held command during the war, and had
been utterly ruined.  When the war was over the two boys,--then seventeen
and sixteen years of age,--were old enough to remember and to regret all
that they had lost, to hate the idea of Abolition, and to feel that the
world had nothing left for them but what was to be got by opposition to
the laws of the Union, which was now hateful to them.  They were both
handsome, and, in spite of the sufferings of their State, an attempt had
been made to educate them like gentlemen.  But no career of honour had
been open to them, and they had fallen by degrees into dishonour,
dishonesty, and brigandage.

The elder of these, when he was still little more than a stripling, had
married Ella Beaufort, the daughter of another ruined planter in his
State.  She had been only sixteen when her father died, and not seventeen
when she married Ferdinand Lefroy.  It was she who afterwards came to
England under the name of Mrs. Peacocke.

Mr. Peacocke was Vice-President of the College at Missouri when he first
saw her, and when he first became acquainted with the two brothers, each
of whom was called Colonel Lefroy.  Then there arose a great scandal in
the city as to the treatment which the wife received from her husband.  He
was about to go away South, into Mexico, with the view of pushing his
fortune there with certain desperadoes, who were maintaining a perpetual
war against the authorities of the United States on the borders of Texas,
and he demanded that his wife should accompany him.  This she refused to
do, and violence was used to force her.  Then it came to pass that certain
persons in St. Louis interfered on her behalf, and among these was the
Reverend Mr. Peacocke, the Vice-President of the College, upon whose
feelings the singular beauty and dignified demeanour of the woman, no
doubt, had had much effect.  The man failed to be powerful over his wife,
and then the two brothers went away together.  The woman was left to
provide for herself, and Mr. Peacocke was generous in the aid he gave to
her in doing so.

It may be understood that in this way an intimacy was created, but it must
not be understood that the intimacy was of such a nature as to be
injurious to the fair fame of the lady.  Things went on in this way for
two years, during which Mrs. Lefroy's conduct drew down upon her
reproaches from no one.  Then there came tidings that Colonel Lefroy had
perished in making one of those raids in which the two brothers were
continually concerned.  But which Colonel Lefroy had perished?  If it were
the younger brother, that would be nothing to Mr. Peacocke.  If it were
the elder, it would be everything.  If Ferdinand Lefroy were dead, he
would not scruple at once to ask the woman to be his wife.  That which the
man had done, and that which he had not done, had been of such a nature as
to solve all bonds of affection.  She had already allowed herself to speak
of the man as one whose life was a blight upon her own; and though there
had been no word of out-spoken love from her lips to his ears, he thought
that he might succeed if it could be made certain that Ferdinand Lefroy
was no longer among the living.

"I shall never know," she said in her misery.  "What I do hear I shall
never believe.  How can one know anything as to what happens in a country
such as that?"

Then he took up his hat and staff, and, vice-president, professor, and
clergyman as he was, started off for the Mexican border.  He did tell her
that he was going, but barely told her.  "It's a thing that ought to be
found out," he said, "and I want a turn of travelling.  I shall be away
three months."  She merely bade God bless him, but said not a word to
hinder or to encourage his going.

He was gone just the three months which he had himself named, and then
returned elate with his news.  He had seen the younger brother, Robert
Lefroy, and had learnt from him that the elder Ferdinand had certainly
been killed.  Robert had been most ungracious to him, having even on one
occasion threatened his life; but there had been no doubt that he, Robert,
was alive, and that Ferdinand had been killed by a party of United States

Then the clergyman had his reward, and was accepted by the widow with a
full and happy heart.  Not only had her release been complete, but so was
her present joy; and nothing seemed wanting to their happiness during the
six first months after their union.  Then one day, all of a sudden,
Ferdinand Lefroy was standing within her little drawing-room at the
College of St. Louis.

Dead?  Certainly he was not dead!  He did not believe that any one had
said that he was dead!  She might be lying or not,--he did not care; he,
Peacocke, certainly had lied;--so said the Colonel.  He did not believe
that Peacocke had ever seen his brother Robert.  Robert was dead,--must
have been dead, indeed, before the date given for that interview.  The
woman was a bigamist,--that is, if any second marriage had ever been
perpetrated.  Probably both had wilfully agreed to the falsehood.  For
himself he should resolve at once what steps he meant to take.  Then he
departed, it being at that moment after nine in the evening.  In the
morning he was gone again, and from that moment they had never either
heard of him or seen him.

How was it to be with them?  They could have almost brought themselves to
think it a dream, were it not that others besides themselves had seen the
man, and known that Colonel Ferdinand Lefroy had been in St. Louis.  Then
there came to him an idea that even she might disbelieve the words which
he had spoken;--that even she might think his story to have been false.
But to this she soon put an end.  "Dearest," she said, "I never knew a
word that was true to come from his mouth, or a word that was false from

Should they part?  There is no one who reads this but will say that they
should have parted.  Every day passed together as man and wife must be a
falsehood and a sin.  There would be absolute misery for both in
parting;--but there is no law from God or man entitling a man to escape
from misery at the expense of falsehood and sin.  Though their hearts
might have burst in the doing of it, they should have parted.  Though she
would have been friendless, alone, and utterly despicable in the eyes of
the world, abandoning the name which she cherished, as not her own, and
going back to that which she utterly abhorred, still she should have done
it.  And he, resolving, as no doubt he would have done under any
circumstances, that he must quit the city of his adoption,--he should have
left her with such material sustenance as her spirit would have enabled
her to accept, should have gone his widowed way, and endured as best he
might the idea that he had left the woman whom he loved behind, in the
desert, all alone!  That he had not done so the reader is aware.  That he
had lived a life of sin,--that he and she had continued in one great
falsehood,--is manifest enough.  Mrs. Stantiloup, when she hears it all,
will have her triumph.  Lady De Lawle's soft heart will rejoice because
that invitation was not accepted.  The Bishop will be unutterably shocked;
but, perhaps, to the good man there will be some solace in the feeling
that he had been right in his surmises.  How the Doctor bore it this story
is intended to tell,--and how also Mr. and Mrs. Peacocke bore it, when the
sin and the falsehood were made known to all the world around them.  The
mystery has at any rate been told, and they who feel that on this account
all hope of interest is at an end had better put down the book.

Part II.



THE Doctor, instigated by the Bishop, had determined to ask some questions
of Mr. Peacocke as to his American life.  The promise had been given at
the Palace, and the Doctor, as he returned home, repented himself in that
he had made it.  His lordship was a gossip, as bad as an old woman, as bad
as Mrs. Stantiloup, and wanted to know things in which a man should feel
no interest.  So said the Doctor to himself.  What was it to him, the
Bishop, or to him, the Doctor, what Mr. Peacocke had been doing in
America?  The man's scholarship was patent, his morals were unexceptional,
his capacity for preaching undoubted, his peculiar fitness for his place
at Bowick unquestionable.  Who had a right to know more?  That the man had
been properly educated at Oxford, and properly ordained on entering his
Fellowship, was doubted by no man.  Even if there had been some temporary
backslidings in America,--which might be possible, for which of us have
not backslided at some time of our life?--why should they be raked up?
There was an uncharitableness in such a proceeding altogether opposed to
the Doctor's view of life.  He hated severity.  It may almost be said that
he hated that state of perfection which would require no pardon.  He was
thoroughly human, quite content with his own present position,
anticipating no millennium for the future of the world, and probably, in
his heart, looking forward to heaven as simply the better alternative when
the happiness of this world should be at an end.  He himself was in no
respect a wicked man, and yet a little wickedness was not distasteful to

And he was angry with himself in that he had made such a promise.  It had
been a rule of life with him never to take advice.  The Bishop had his
powers, within which he, as Rector of Bowick, would certainly obey the
Bishop; but it had been his theory to oppose his Bishop, almost more
readily than any one else, should the Bishop attempt to exceed his power.
The Bishop had done so in giving this advice, and yet he had promised.  He
was angry with himself, but did not on that account think that the promise
should be evaded.  Oh no!  Having said that he would do it, he would do
it.  And having said that he would do it, the sooner that he did it the
better.  When three or four days had passed by, he despised himself
because he had not yet made for himself a fit occasion.  "It is such a
mean, sneaking thing to do," he said to himself.  But still it had to be

It was on a Saturday afternoon that he said this to himself, as he
returned back to the parsonage garden from the cricket-ground, where he
had left Mr. Peacocke and the three other ushers playing cricket with ten
or twelve of the bigger boys of the school.  There was a French master, a
German master, a master for arithmetic and mathematics with the adjacent
sciences, besides Mr. Peacocke, as assistant classical master.  Among them
Mr. Peacocke was _facile princeps_ in rank and supposed ability; but they
were all admitted to the delights of the playground.  Mr. Peacocke, in
spite of those years of his spent in America where cricket could not have
been familiar to him, remembered well his old pastime, and was quite an
adept at the game.  It was ten thousand pities that a man should be
disturbed by unnecessary questionings who could not only teach and preach,
but play cricket also.  But nevertheless it must be done.  When,
therefore, the Doctor entered his own house, he went into his study and
wrote a short note to his assistant;--

"MY DEAR PEACOCKE,--Could you come over and see me in my study this
evening for half an hour?  I have a question or two which I wish to ask
you.  Any hour you may name will suit me after eight.--Yours most


In answer to this there came a note to say that at half-past eight Mr.
Peacocke would be with the Doctor.

At half-past eight Mr. Peacocke came.  He had fancied, on reading the
Doctor's note, that some further question would be raised as to money.
The Doctor had declared that he could no longer accept gratuitous clerical
service in the parish, and had said that he must look out for some one
else if Mr. Peacocke could not oblige him by allowing his name to be
referred in the usual way to the Bishop.  He had now determined to say, in
answer to this, that the school gave him enough to do, and that he would
much prefer to give up the church;--although he would always be happy to
take a part occasionally if he should be wanted.  The Doctor had been
sitting alone for the last quarter of an hour when his assistant entered
the room, and had spent the time in endeavouring to arrange the
conversation that should follow.  He had come at last to a conclusion.  He
would let Mr. Peacocke know exactly what had passed between himself and
the Bishop, and would then leave it to his usher either to tell his own
story as to his past life, or to abstain from telling it.  He had promised
to ask the question, and he would ask it; but he would let the man judge
for himself whether any answer ought to be given.

"The Bishop has been bothering me about you, Peacocke," he said, standing
up with his back to the fireplace, as soon as the other man had shut the
door behind him.  The Doctor's face was always expressive of his inward
feelings, and at this moment showed very plainly that his sympathies were
not with the Bishop.

"I'm sorry that his lordship should have troubled himself," said the
other, "as I certainly do not intend to take any part in his diocese."

"We'll sink that for the present," said the Doctor.  "I won't let that be
mixed up with what I have got to say just now.  You have taken a certain
part in the diocese already, very much to my satisfaction.  I hope it may
be continued; but I won't bother about that now.  As far as I can see, you
are just the man that would suit me as a colleague in the parish."  Mr.
Peacocke bowed, but remained silent.  "The fact is," continued the Doctor,
"that certain old women have got hold of the Bishop, and made him feel
that he ought to answer their objections.  That Mrs. Stantiloup has a
tongue as loud as the town-crier's bell."

"But what has Mrs. Stantiloup to say about me?"

"Nothing, except in so far as she can hit me through you."

"And what does the Bishop say?"

"He thinks that I ought to know something of your life during those five
years you were in America."

"I think so also," said Mr. Peacocke.

"I don't want to know anything for myself.  As far as I am concerned, I am
quite satisfied.  I know where you were educated, how you were ordained,
and I can feel sure, from your present efficiency, that you cannot have
wasted your time.  If you tell me that you do not wish to say anything, I
shall be contented, and I shall tell the Bishop that, as far as I am
concerned, there must be an end of it."

"And what will he do?" asked Mr. Peacocke.

"Well; as far as the curacy is concerned, of course he can refuse his

"I have not the slightest intention of applying to his lordship for a

This the usher said with a tone of self-assertion which grated a little on
the Doctor's ear, in spite of his good-humour towards the speaker.  "I
don't want to go into that," he said.  "A man never can say what his
intentions may be six months hence."

"But if I were to refuse to speak of my life in America," said Mr.
Peacocke, "and thus to decline to comply with what I must confess would be
no more than a rational requirement on your part, how then would it be
with myself and my wife in regard to the school?"

"It would make no difference whatever," said the Doctor.

"There is a story to tell," said Mr. Peacocke, very slowly.

"I am sure that it cannot be to your disgrace."

"I do not say that it is,--nor do I say that it is not.  There may be
circumstances in which a man may hardly know whether he has done right or
wrong.  But this I do know,--that, had I done otherwise, I should have
despised myself.  I could not have done otherwise and have lived."

"There is no man in the world," said the Doctor, earnestly, "less anxious
to pry into the secrets of others than I am.  I take things as I find
them.  If the cook sends me up a good dish I don't care to know how she
made it.  If I read a good book, I am not the less gratified because there
may have been something amiss with the author."

"You would doubt his teaching," said Mr. Peacocke, "who had gone astray

"Then I must doubt all human teaching, for all men have gone astray.  You
had better hold your tongue about the past, and let me tell those who ask
unnecessary questions to mind their own business."

"It is very odd, Doctor," said Mr. Peacocke, "that all this should have
come from you just now."

"Why odd just now?"

"Because I had been turning it in my mind for the last fortnight whether I
ought not to ask you as a favour to listen to the story of my life.  That
I must do so before I could formally accept the curacy I had determined.
But that only brought me to the resolution of refusing the office.  I
think,--I think that, irrespective of the curacy, it ought to be told.
But I have not quite made up my mind."

"Do not suppose that I am pressing you."

"Oh no; nor would your pressing me influence me.  Much as I owe to your
undeserved kindness and forbearance, I am bound to say that.  Nothing can
influence me in the least in such a matter but the well-being of my wife,
and my own sense of duty.  And it is a matter in which I can unfortunately
take counsel from no one.  She, and she alone, besides myself, knows the
circumstances, and she is so forgetful of herself that I can hardly ask
her for an opinion."

The Doctor by this time had no doubt become curious.  There was a
something mysterious with which he would like to become acquainted.  He
was by no means a philosopher, superior to the ordinary curiosity of
mankind.  But he was manly, and even at this moment remembered his former
assurances.  "Of course," said he, "I cannot in the least guess what all
this is about.  For myself I hate secrets.  I haven't a secret in the
world.  I know nothing of myself which you mightn't know too for all that
I cared.  But that is my good fortune rather than my merit.  It might well
have been with me as it is with you; but, as a rule, I think that where
there is a secret it had better be kept.  No one, at any rate, should
allow it to be wormed out of him by the impertinent assiduity of others.
If there be anything affecting your wife which you do not wish all the
world on this side of the water to know, do not tell it to any one on this
side of the water."

"There is something affecting my wife that I do not wish all the world to

"Then tell it to no one," said Dr. Wortle, authoritatively.

"I will tell you what I will do," said Mr. Peacocke; "I will take a week
to think of it, and then I will let you know whether I will tell it or
whether I will not; and if I tell it I will let you know also how far I
shall expect you to keep my secret, and how far to reveal it.  I think the
Bishop will be entitled to know nothing about me unless I ask to be
recognised as one of the clergy of his diocese."

"Certainly not; certainly not," said the Doctor.  And then the interview
was at an end.

Mr. Peacocke, when he went away from the Rectory, did not at once return
to his own house, but went off for a walk alone.  It was now nearly
midsummer, and there was broad daylight till ten o'clock.  It was after
nine when he left the Doctor's, but still there was time for a walk which
he knew well through the fields, which would take him round by Bowick
Wood, and home by a path across the squire's park and by the church.  An
hour would do it, and he wanted an hour to collect his thoughts before he
should see his wife, and discuss with her, as he would be bound to do, all
that had passed between him and the Doctor.  He had said that he could not
ask her advice.  In this there had been much of truth.  But he knew also
that he would do nothing as to which he had not received at any rate her
assent.  She, for his sake, would have annihilated herself, had that been
possible.  Again and again, since that horrible apparition had showed
itself in her room at St. Louis, she had begged that she might leave
him,--not on her own behalf, not from any dread of the crime that she was
committing, not from shame in regard to herself should her secret be found
out, but because she felt herself to be an impediment to his career in the
world.  As to herself, she had no pricks of conscience.  She had been true
to the man,--brutal, abominable as he had been to her,--until she had in
truth been made to believe that he was dead; and even when he had
certainly been alive,--for she had seen him,--he had only again seen her,
again to desert her.  Duty to him she could owe never.  There was no sting
of conscience with her in that direction.  But to the other man she owed,
as she thought, everything that could be due from a woman to a man.  He
had come within her ken, and had loved her without speaking of his love.
He had seen her condition, and had sympathised with her fully.  He had
gone out, with his life in his hand,--he, a clergyman, a quiet man of
letters,--to ascertain whether she was free; and finding her, as he
believed, to be free, he had returned to take her to his heart, and to
give her all that happiness which other women enjoy, but which she had
hitherto only seen from a distance.  Then the blow had come.  It was
necessary, it was natural, that she should be ruined by such a blow.
Circumstances had ruined her.  That fate had betaken her which so often
falls upon a woman who trusts herself and her life to a man.  But why
should he fall also with her fall?  There was still a career before him.
He might be useful; he might be successful; he might be admired.
Everything might still be open to him,--except the love of another woman.
As to that, she did not doubt his truth.  Why should he be doomed to drag
her with him as a log tied to his foot, seeing that a woman with a
misfortune is condemned by the general voice of the world, whereas for a
man to have stumbled is considered hardly more than a matter of course?
She would consent to take from him the means of buying her bread; but it
would be better,--she had said,--that she should eat it on her side of the
water, while he might earn it on the other.

We know what had come of these arguments.  He had hitherto never left her
for a moment since that man had again appeared before their eyes.  He had
been strong in his resolution.  If it were a crime, then he would be a
criminal.  If it were a falsehood, then would he be a liar.  As to the
sin, there had no doubt been some divergence of opinion between him and
her.  The teaching that he had undergone in his youth had been that with
which we, here, are all more or less acquainted, and that had been
strengthened in him by the fact of his having become a clergyman.  She had
felt herself more at liberty to proclaim to herself a gospel of her own
for the guidance of her own soul.  To herself she had never seemed to be
vicious or impure, but she understood well that he was not equally free
from the bonds which religion had imposed upon him.  For his sake,--for
his sake, it would be better that she should be away from him.

All this was known to him accurately, and all this had to be considered by
him as he walked across the squire's park in the gloaming of the evening.
No doubt,--he now said to himself,--the Doctor should have been made
acquainted with his condition before he or she had taken their place at
the school.  Reticence under such circumstances had been a lie.  Against
his conscience there had been many pricks.  Living in his present
condition he certainly should not have gone up into that pulpit to preach
the Word of God.  Though he had been silent, he had known that the evil
and the deceit would work round upon him.  But now what should he do?
There was only one thing on which he was altogether decided;--nothing
should separate them.  As he had said so often before, he said again
now,--"If there be sin, let it be sin."  But this was clear to him,--were
he to give Dr. Wortle a true history of what had happened to him in
America, then must he certainly leave Bowick.  And this was equally
certain, that before telling his tale, he must make known his purpose to
his wife.

But as he entered his own house he had determined that he would tell the
Doctor everything.



"I THOUGHT you were never going to have done with that old Jupiter," said
Mrs. Peacocke, as she began at that late hour of the evening to make tea
for herself and her husband.

"Why have you waited for me?"

"Because I like company.  Did you ever know me go to tea without you when
there was a chance of your coming?  What has Jupiter been talking about
all this time?"

"Jupiter has not been talking all this time.  Jupiter talked only for half
an hour.  Jupiter is a very good fellow."

"I always thought so.  Otherwise I should never have consented to have
been one of his satellites, or have been contented to see you doing chief
moon.  But you have been with him an hour and a half."

"Since I left him I have walked all round by Bowick Lodge.  I had
something to think of before I could talk to you,--something to decide
upon, indeed, before I could return to the house."

"What have you decided?" she asked.  Her voice was altogether changed.
Though she was seated in her chair and had hardly moved, her appearance
and her carriage of herself were changed.  She still held the cup in her
hand which she had been about to fill, but her face was turned towards
his, and her large brown speaking eyes were fixed upon him.

"Let me have my tea," he said, "and then I will tell you."  While he
drank his tea she remained quite quiet, not touching her own, but waiting
patiently till it should suit him to speak.  "Ella," he said, "I must tell
it all to Dr. Wortle."

"Why, dearest?"  As he did not answer at once, she went on with her
question.  "Why now more than before?"

"Nay, it is not now more than before.  As we have let the before go by, we
can only do it now."

"But why at all, dear?  Has the argument, which was strong when we came,
lost any of its force?"

"It should have had no force.  We should not have taken the man's good
things, and have subjected him to the injury which may come to him by our
bad name."

"Have we not given him good things in return?"

"Not the good things which he had a right to expect,--not that
respectability which is all the world to such an establishment as this."

"Let me go," she said, rising from her chair and almost shrieking.

"Nay, Ella, nay; if you and I cannot talk as though we were one flesh,
almost with one soul between us, as though that which is done by one is
done by both, whether for weal or woe,--if you and I cannot feel ourselves
to be in a boat together either for swimming or for sinking, then I think
that no two persons on this earth ever can be bound together after that
fashion.  'Whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will
lodge.  The Lord do so to me, and more also, if aught but death part thee
and me."' Then she rose from her chair, and flinging herself on her knees
at his feet, buried her face in his lap.  "Ella," he said, "the only
injury you can do me is to speak of leaving me.  And it is an injury which
is surely unnecessary because you cannot carry it beyond words.  Now, if
you will sit up and listen to me, I will tell you what passed between me
and the Doctor."  Then she raised herself from the ground and took her seat
at the tea-table, and listened patiently as he began his tale.  "They have
been talking about us here in the county."

"Who has found it necessary to talk about one so obscure as I?"

"What does it matter who they might be?  The Doctor in his kindly
wrath,--for he is very wroth,--mentions this name and the other.  What
does it matter?  Obscurity itself becomes mystery, and mystery of course
produces curiosity.  It was bound to be so.  It is not they who are in
fault, but we.  If you are different from others, of course you will be
inquired into."

"Am I so different?"

"Yes;--different in not eating the Doctor's dinners when they are offered
to you; different in not accepting Lady De Lawle's hospitality; different
in contenting yourself simply with your duties and your husband.  Of
course we are different.  How could we not be different?  And as we are
different, so of course there will be questions and wonderings, and that
sifting and searching which always at last finds out the facts.  The
Bishop says that he knows nothing of my American life."

"Why should he want to know anything?"

"Because I have been preaching in one of his churches.  It is
natural;--natural that the mothers of the boys should want to know
something.  The Doctor says that he hates secrets.  So do I."

"Oh, my dearest!"

"A secret is always accompanied by more or less of fear, and produces more
or less of cowardice.  But it can no more be avoided than a sore on the
flesh or a broken bone.  Who would not go about, with all his affairs such
as the world might know, if it were possible?  But there come gangrenes in
the heart, or perhaps in the pocket.  Wounds come, undeserved wounds, as
those did to you, my darling; but wounds which may not be laid bare to all
eyes.  Who has a secret because he chooses it?"

"But the Bishop?"

"Well,--yes, the Bishop.  The Bishop has told the Doctor to examine me,
and the Doctor has done it.  I give him the credit of saying that the task
has been most distasteful to him.  I do him the justice of acknowledging
that he has backed out of the work he had undertaken.  He has asked the
question, but has said in the same breath that I need not answer it unless
I like."

"And you?  You have not answered it yet?"

"No; I have answered nothing as yet.  But I have, I think, made up my mind
that the question must be answered."

"That everything should be told?"

"Everything,--to him.  My idea is to tell everything to him, and to leave
it to him to decide what should be done.  Should he refuse to repeat the
story any further, and then bid us go away from Bowick, I should think
that his conduct had been altogether straightforward and not

"And you,--what would you do then?"

"I should go.  What else?"

"But whither?"

"Ah! on that we must decide.  He would be friendly with me.  Though he
might think it necessary that I should leave Bowick, he would not turn
against me violently."

"He could do nothing."

"I think he would assist me rather.  He would help me, perhaps, to find
some place where I might still earn my bread by such skill as I
possess;--where I could do so without dragging in aught of my domestic
life, as I have been forced to do here."

"I have been a curse to you," exclaimed the unhappy wife.

"My dearest blessing," he said.  "That which you call a curse has come
from circumstances which are common to both of us.  There need be no more
said about it.  That man has been a source of terrible trouble to us.  The
trouble must be discussed from time to time, but the necessity of enduring
it may be taken for granted."

"I cannot be a philosopher such as you are," she said.

"There is no escape from it.  The philosophy is forced upon us.  When an
evil thing is necessary, there remains only the consideration how it may
be best borne."

"You must tell him, then?"

"I think so.  I have a week to consider of it; but I think so.  Though he
is very kind at this moment in giving me the option, and means what he
says in declaring that I shall remain even though I tell him nothing, yet
his mind would become uneasy, and he would gradually become discontented.
Think how great is his stake in the school!  How would he feel towards me,
were its success to be gradually diminished because he kept a master here
of whom people believed some unknown evil?"

"There has been no sign of any such falling off?"

"There has been no time for it.  It is only now that people are beginning
to talk.  Had nothing of the kind been said, had this Bishop asked no
questions, had we been regarded as people simply obscure, to whom no
mystery attached itself, the thing might have gone on; but as it is, I am
bound to tell him the truth."

"Then we must go?"


"At once?"

"When it has been so decided, the sooner the better.  How could we endure
to remain here when our going shall be desired?"

"Oh no!"

"We must flit, and again seek some other home.  Though he should keep our
secret,--and I believe he will if he be asked,--it will be known that
there is a secret, and a secret of such a nature that its circumstances
have driven us hence.  If I could get literary work in London, perhaps we
might live there."

"But how,--how would you set about it?  The truth is, dearest, that for
work such as yours you should either have no wife at all, or else a wife
of whom you need not be ashamed to speak the whole truth before the

"What is the use of it?" he said, rising from his chair as in anger.  "Why
go back to all that which should be settled between us, as fixed by fate?
Each of us has given to the other all that each has to give, and the
partnership is complete.  As far as that is concerned, I at any rate am

"Ah, my darling!" she exclaimed, throwing her arms round his neck.

"Let there be an end to distinctions and differences, which, between you
and me, can have no effect but to increase our troubles.  You are a woman,
and I am a man; and therefore, no doubt, your name, when brought in
question, is more subject to remark than mine,--as is my name, being that
of a clergyman, more subject to remark than that of one not belonging to a
sacred profession.  But not on that account do I wish to unfrock myself;
nor certainly on that account do I wish to be deprived of my wife.  For
good or bad, it has to be endured together; and expressions of regret as
to that which is unavoidable, only aggravate our trouble."  After that, he
seated himself, and took up a book as though he were able at once to carry
off his mind to other matters.  She probably knew that he could not do so,
but she sat silent by him for a while, till he bade her take herself to
bed, promising that he would follow without delay.

For three days nothing further was said between them on the subject, nor
was any allusion made to it between the Doctor and his assistant.  The
school went on the same as ever, and the intercourse between the two men
was unaltered as to its general mutual courtesy.  But there did
undoubtedly grow in the Doctor's mind a certain feverish feeling of
insecurity.  At any rate, he knew this, that there was a mystery, that
there was something about the Peacockes,--something referring especially
to Mrs. Peacocke,--which, if generally known, would be held to be
deleterious to their character.  So much he could not help deducing from
what the man had already told him.  No doubt he had undertaken, in his
generosity, that although the man should decline to tell his secret, no
alteration should be made as to the school arrangements; but he became
conscious that in so promising he had in some degree jeopardised the
well-being of the school.  He began to whisper to himself that persons in
such a position as that filled by this Mr. Peacocke and his wife should
not be subject to peculiar remarks from ill-natured tongues.  A weapon was
afforded by such a mystery to the Stantiloups of the world, which the
Stantiloups would be sure to use with all their virulence.  To such an
establishment as his school, respectability was everything.  Credit, he
said to himself, is a matter so subtle in its essence, that, as it may be
obtained almost without reason, so, without reason, may it be made to melt
away.  Much as he liked Mr. Peacocke, much as he approved of him, much as
there was in the man of manliness and worth which was absolutely dear to
him,--still he was not willing to put the character of his school in peril
for the sake of Mr. Peacocke.  Were he to do so, he would be neglecting a
duty much more sacred than any he could owe to Mr. Peacocke.  It was thus
that, during these three days, he conversed with himself on the subject,
although he was able to maintain outwardly the same manner and the same
countenance as though all things were going well between them.  When they
parted after the interview in the study, the Doctor, no doubt, had so
expressed himself as rather to dissuade his usher from telling his secret
than to encourage him to do so.  He had been free in declaring that the
telling of the secret should make no difference in his assistant's
position at Bowick.  But in all that, he had acted from his habitual
impulse.  He had since told himself that the mystery ought to be
disclosed.  It was not right that his boys should be left to the charge of
one who, however competent, dared not speak of his own antecedents.  It
was thus he thought of the matter, after consideration.  He must wait, of
course, till the week should be over before he made up his mind to
anything further.

"So Peacocke isn't going to take the curacy?"

This was said to the Doctor by Mr. Pearson, the squire, in the course of
those two or three days of which we are speaking.  Mr. Pearson was an old
gentleman, who did not live often at Bowick, being compelled, as he always
said, by his health, to spend the winter and spring of every year in
Italy, and the summer months by his family in London.  In truth, he did
not much care for Bowick, but had always been on good terms with the
Doctor, and had never opposed the school.  Mr. Pearson had been good also
as to Church matters,--as far as goodness can be shown by generosity,--and
had interested himself about the curates.  So it had come to pass that the
Doctor did not wish to snub his neighbour when the question was asked.  "I
rather think not," said the Doctor.  "I fear I shall have to look out for
some one else."  He did not prolong the conversation; for, though he wished
to be civil, he did not wish to be communicative.  Mr. Pearson had shown
his parochial solicitude, and did not trouble himself with further

"So Mr. Peacocke isn't going to take the curacy?"  This, the very same
question in the very same words, was put to the Doctor on the next morning
by the vicar of the next parish.  The Rev. Mr. Puddicombe, a clergyman
without a flaw who did his duty excellently in every station of life, was
one who would preach a sermon or take a whole service for a brother parson
in distress, and never think of reckoning up that return sermons or return
services were due to him,--one who gave dinners, too, and had pretty
daughters;--but still our Doctor did not quite like him.  He was a little
too pious, and perhaps given to ask questions.  "So Mr. Peacocke isn't
going to take the curacy?"

There was a certain animation about the asking of this question by Mr.
Puddicombe very different from Mr. Pearson's listless manner.  It was
clear to the Doctor that Mr. Puddicombe wanted to know.  It seemed to the
Doctor that something of condemnation was implied in the tone of the
question, not only against Mr. Peacocke, but against himself also, for
having employed Mr. Peacocke.  "Upon my word I can't tell you," he said,
rather crossly.

"I thought that it had been all settled.  I heard that it was decided."

"Then you have heard more than I have."

"It was the Bishop told me."

Now it certainly was the case that in that fatal conversation which had
induced the Doctor to interrogate Mr. Peacocke about his past life, the
Doctor himself had said that he intended to look out for another curate.
He probably did not remember that at the moment.  "I wish the Bishop would
confine himself to asserting things that he knows," said the Doctor,

"I am sure the Bishop intends to do so," said Mr. Puddicombe, very
gravely.  "But I apologise.  I had not intended to touch a subject on
which there may perhaps be some reserve.  I was only going to tell you of
an excellent young man of whom I have heard.  But, good morning."  Then Mr.
Puddicombe withdrew.



DURING the last six months Mr. Peacocke's most intimate friend at Bowick,
excepting of course his wife, had been one of the pupils at the school.
The lad was one of the pupils, but could not be said to be one of the
boys.  He was the young Lord Carstairs, eldest son of Earl Bracy.  He had
been sent to Bowick now six years ago, with the usual purpose of
progressing from Bowick to Eton.  And from Bowick to Eton he had gone in
due course.  But there, things had not gone well with the young lord.
Some school disturbance had taken place when he had been there about a
year and a half, in which he was, or was supposed to have been, a
ringleader.  It was thought necessary, for the preservation of the
discipline of the school, that a victim should be made;--and it was
perhaps thought well, in order that the impartiality of the school might
be made manifest, that the victim should be a lord.  Earl Bracy was
therefore asked to withdraw his son; and young Lord Carstairs, at the age
of seventeen, was left to seek his education where he could.  It had been,
and still was, the Earl's purpose to send his son to Oxford, but there was
now an interval of two years before that could be accomplished.  During
one year he was sent abroad to travel with a tutor, and was then reported
to have been all that a well-conducted lad ought to be.  He was declared
to be quite worthy of all that Oxford would do for him.  It was even
suggested that Eton had done badly for herself in throwing off from her
such a young nobleman.  But though Lord Carstairs had done well with his
French and German on the Continent, it would certainly be necessary that
he should rub up his Greek and Latin before he went to Christ Church.
Then a request was made to the Doctor to take him in at Bowick in some
sort as a private pupil.  After some demurring the Doctor consented.  It
was not his wont to run counter to earls who treated him with respect and
deference.  Earl Bracy had in a special manner been his friend, and Lord
Carstairs himself had been a great favourite at Bowick.  When that
expulsion from Eton had come about, the Doctor had interested himself, and
had declared that a very scant measure of justice had been shown to the
young lord.  He was thus in a measure compelled to accede to the request
made to him, and Lord Carstairs was received back at Bowick, not without
hesitation, but with a full measure of affectionate welcome.  His bed-room
was in the parsonage-house, and his dinner he took with the Doctor's
family.  In other respects he lived among the boys.

"Will it not be bad for Mary?" Mrs. Wortle had said anxiously to her
husband when the matter was first discussed.

"Why should it be bad for Mary?"

"Oh, I don't know;--but young people together, you know?  Mightn't it be

"He is a boy, and she is a mere child.  They are both children.  It will
be a trouble, but I do not think it will be at all dangerous in that way."
And so it was decided.  Mrs. Wortle did not at all agree as to their both
being children.  She thought that her girl was far from being a child.
But she had argued the matter quite as much as she ever argued anything
with the Doctor.  So the matter was arranged, and young Lord Carstairs
came back to Bowick.

As far as the Doctor could see, nothing could be nicer than his young
pupil's manners.  He was not at all above playing with the other boys.  He
took very kindly to his old studies and his old haunts, and of an evening,
after dinner, went away from the drawing-room to the study in pursuit of
his Latin and his Greek, without any precocious attempt at making
conversation with Miss Wortle.  No doubt there was a good deal of
lawn-tennis of an afternoon, and the lawn-tennis was generally played in
the rectory garden.  But then this had ever been the case, and the
lawn-tennis was always played with two on a side; there were no
_tête-à-tête_ games between his lordship and Mary, and whenever the game
was going on, Mrs. Wortle was always there to see fair-play.  Among other
amusements the young lord took to walking far afield with Mr. Peacocke.
And then, no doubt, many things were said about that life in America.
When a man has been much abroad, and has passed his time there under
unusual circumstances, his doings will necessarily become subjects of
conversation to his companions.  To have travelled in France, Germany, or
in Italy, is not uncommon; nor is it uncommon to have lived a year or
years in Florence or in Rome.  It is not uncommon now to have travelled
all through the United States.  The Rocky Mountains or Peru are hardly
uncommon, so much has the taste for travelling increased.  But for an
Oxford Fellow of a college, and a clergyman of the Church of England, to
have established himself as a professor in Missouri, is uncommon, and it
could hardly be but that Lord Carstairs should ask questions respecting
that far-away life.

Mr. Peacocke had no objection to such questions.  He told his young friend
much about the manners of the people of St. Louis,--told him how far the
people had progressed in classical literature, in what they fell behind,
and in what they excelled youths of their own age in England, and how far
the college was a success.  Then he described his own life,--both before
and after his marriage.  He had liked the people of St. Louis well
enough,--but not quite well enough to wish to live among them.  No doubt
their habits were very different from those of Englishmen.  He could,
however, have been happy enough there,--only that circumstances arose.

"Did Mrs. Peacocke like the place?" the young lord asked one day.

"She is an American, you know."

"Oh yes; I have heard.  But did she come from St. Louis?"

"No; her father was a planter in Louisiana, not far from New Orleans,
before the abolition of slavery."

"Did she like St. Louis?"

"Well enough, I think, when we were first married.  She had been married
before, you know.  She was a widow."

"Did she like coming to England among strangers?"

"She was glad to leave St. Louis.  Things happened there which made her
life unhappy.  It was on that account I came here, and gave up a position
higher and more lucrative than I shall ever now get in England."

"I should have thought you might have had a school of your own," said the
lad.  "You know so much, and get on so well with boys.  I should have
thought you might have been tutor at a college."

"To have a school of my own would take money," said he, "which I have not
got.  To be tutor at a college would take---- But never mind.  I am very
well where I am, and have nothing to complain of."  He had been going to
say that to be tutor of a college he would want high standing.  And then
he would have been forced to explain that he had lost at his own college
that standing which he had once possessed.

"Yes," he said on another occasion, "she is unhappy; but do not ask her
any questions about it."

"Who,--I?  Oh dear, no!  I should not think of taking such a liberty."

"It would be as a kindness, not as a liberty.  But still, do not speak to
her about it.  There are sorrows which must be hidden, which it is better
to endeavour to bury by never speaking of them, by not thinking of them,
if that were possible."

"Is it as bad as that?" the lad asked.

"It is bad enough sometimes.  But never mind.  You remember that Roman
wisdom,--'Dabit Deus his quoque finem.' And I think that all things are
bearable if a man will only make up his mind to bear them.  Do not tell
any one that I have complained."

"Who,--I?  Oh, never!"

"Not that I have said anything which all the world might not know; but
that it is unmanly to complain.  Indeed I do not complain, only I wish
that things were lighter to her."  Then he went off to other matters; but
his heart was yearning to tell everything to this young lad.

Before the end of the week had arrived, there came a letter to him which
he had not at all expected, and a letter also to the Doctor,--both from
Lord Bracy.  The letter to Mr. Peacocke was as follows:--

"MY DEAR SIR,--I have been much gratified by what I have heard both from
Dr. Wortle and my son as to his progress.  He will have to come home in
July, when the Doctor's school is broken up, and, as you are probably
aware, will go up to Oxford in October.  I think it would be very
expedient that he should not altogether lose the holidays, and I am aware
how much more he would do with adequate assistance than without it.  The
meaning of all this is, that I and Lady Bracy will feel very much obliged
if you and Mrs. Peacocke will come and spend your holidays with us at
Carstairs.  I have written to Dr. Wortle on the subject, partly to tell
him of my proposal, because he has been so kind to my son, and partly to
ask him to fix the amount of remuneration, should you be so kind as to
accede to my request.

"His mother has heard on more than one occasion from her son how very
good-natured you have been to him.--Yours faithfully,


It was, of course, quite out of the question.  Mr. Peacocke, as soon as he
had read the letter, felt that it was so.  Had things been smooth and easy
with him, nothing would have delighted him more.  His liking for the lad
was most sincere, and it would have been a real pleasure to him to have
worked with him during the holidays.  But it was quite out of the
question.  He must tell Lord Carstairs that it was so, and must at the
moment give such explanation as might occur to him.  He almost felt that
in giving that explanation he would be tempted to tell his whole story.

But the Doctor met him before he had an opportunity of speaking to Lord
Carstairs.  The Doctor met him, and at once produced the Earl's letter.
"I have heard from Lord Bracy, and you, I suppose, have had a letter too,"
said the Doctor.  His manner was easy and kind, as though no disagreeable
communication was due to be made on the following day.

"Yes," said Mr. Peacocke.  "I have had a letter."


"His lordship has asked me to go to Carstairs for the holidays; but it is
out of the question."

"It would do Carstairs all the good in the world," said the Doctor; "and I
do not see why you should not have a pleasant visit and earn twenty-five
pounds at the same time."

"It is quite out of the question."

"I suppose you would not like to leave Mrs. Peacocke," said the Doctor.

"Either to leave her or to take her!  To go myself under any circumstances
would be altogether out of the question.  I shall come to you to-morrow,
Doctor, as I said I would last Saturday.  What hour will suit you?"  Then
the Doctor named an hour in the afternoon, and knew that the revelation
was to be made to him.  He felt, too, that that revelation would lead to
the final departure of Mr. and Mrs. Peacocke from Bowick, and he was
unhappy in his heart.  Though he was anxious for his school, he was
anxious also for his friend.  There was a gratification in the feeling
that Lord Bracy thought so much of his assistant,--or would have been but
for this wretched mystery!

"No," said Mr. Peacocke to the lad.  "I regret to say that I cannot go.  I
will tell you why, perhaps, another time, but not now.  I have written to
your father by this post, because it is right that he should be told at
once.  I have been obliged to say that it is impossible."

"I am so sorry!  I should so much have liked it.  My father would have
done everything to make you comfortable, and so would mamma."  In answer
to all this Mr. Peacocke could only say that it was impossible.  This
happened on Friday afternoon, Friday being a day on which the school was
always very busy.  There was no time for the doing of anything special, as
there would be on the following day, which was a half-holiday.  At night,
when the work was altogether over, he showed the letter to his wife, and
told her what he had decided.

"Couldn't you have gone without me?" she asked.

"How can I do that," he said, "when before this time to-morrow I shall
have told everything to Dr. Wortle?  After that, he would not let me go.
He would do no more than his duty in telling me that if I proposed to go
he must make it all known to Lord Bracy.  But this is a trifle.  I am at
the present moment altogether in the dark as to what I shall do with
myself when to-morrow evening comes.  I cannot guess, because it is so
hard to know what are the feelings in the breast of another man.  It may
so well be that he should refuse me permission to go to my desk in the
school again."

"Will he be hard like that?"

"I can hardly tell myself whether it would be hard.  I hardly know what I
should feel it my duty to do in such a position myself.  I have deceived

"No!" she exclaimed.

"Yes; I have deceived him.  Coming to him as I did, I gave him to
understand that there was nothing wrong;--nothing to which special
objection could be made in my position."

"Then we are deceiving all the world in calling ourselves man and wife."

"Certainly we are; but to that we had made up our mind!  We are not
injuring all the world.  No doubt it is a lie,--but there are
circumstances in which a lie can hardly be a sin.  I would have been the
last to say so before all this had come upon me, but I feel it to be so
now.  It is a lie to say that you are my wife."

"Is it?  Is it?"

"Is it not?  And yet I would rather cut my tongue out than say otherwise.
To give you my name is a lie,--but what should I think of myself were I to
allow you to use any other?  What would you have thought if I had asked
you to go away and leave me when that bad hour came upon us?"

"I would have borne it."

"I could not have borne it.  There are worse things than a lie.  I have
found, since this came upon us, that it may be well to choose one sin in
order that another may be shunned.  To cherish you, to comfort you, to
make the storm less sharp to you,--that has already been my duty as well
as my pleasure.  To do the same to me is your duty."

"And my pleasure; and my pleasure,--my only pleasure."

"We must cling to each other, let the world call us what names it may.
But there may come a time in which one is called on to do a special act of
justice to others.  It has come now to me.  From the world at large I am
prepared, if possible, to keep my secret, even though I do it by
lying;--but to this one man I am driven to tell it, because I may not
return his friendship by doing him an evil."

Morning school at this time of the year at Bowick began at half-past
seven.  There was an hour of school before breakfast, at which the Doctor
did not himself put in an appearance.  He was wont to tell the boys that
he had done all that when he was young, and that now in his old age it
suited him best to have his breakfast before he began the work of the day.
Mr. Peacocke, of course, attended the morning school.  Indeed, as the
matutinal performances were altogether classical, it was impossible that
much should be done without him.  On this Saturday morning, however, he
was not present; and a few minutes after the proper time, the mathematical
master took his place.  "I saw him coming across out of his own door,"
little Jack Talbot said to the younger of the two Clifford boys, "and
there was a man coming up from the gate who met him."

"What sort of a man?" asked Clifford.

"He was a rummy-looking fellow, with a great beard, and a queer kind of
coat.  I never saw any one like him before."

"And where did they go?"

"They stood talking for a minute or two just before the front door, and
then Mr. Peacocke took him into the house.  I heard him tell Carstairs to
go through and send word up to the Doctor that he wouldn't be in school
this morning."

It had all happened just as young Talbot had said.  A very "rummy-looking
fellow" had at that early hour been driven over from Broughton to Bowick,
and had caught Mr. Peacocke just as he was going into the school.  He was
a man with a beard, loose, flowing on both sides, as though he were winged
like a bird,--a beard that had been black, but was now streaked through
and through with grey hairs.  The man had a coat with frogged buttons that
must have been intended to have a military air when it was new, but which
was now much the worse for wear.  The coat was so odd as to have caught
young Talbot's attention at once.  And the man's hat was old and seedy.
But there was a look about him as though he were by no means ashamed
either of himself or of his present purpose.  "He came in a gig," said
Talbot to his friend; "for I saw the horse standing at the gate, and the
man sitting in the gig."

"You remember me, no doubt," the stranger said, when he encountered Mr.

"I do not remember you in the least," the schoolmaster answered.

"Come, come; that won't do.  You know me well enough.  I'm Robert Lefroy."

Then Mr. Peacocke, looking at him again, knew that the man was the brother
of his wife's husband.  He had not seen him often, but he recognised him
as Robert Lefroy, and having recognised him he took him into the house.

Part III.



FERDINAND LEFROY, the man who had in truth been the woman's husband, had,
during that one interview which had taken place between him and the man
who had married his wife, on his return to St. Louis, declared that his
brother Robert was dead.  But so had Robert, when Peacocke encountered him
down at Texas, declared that Ferdinand was dead.  Peacocke knew that no
word of truth could be expected from the mouths of either of them.  But
seeing is believing.  He had seen Ferdinand alive at St. Louis after his
marriage, and by seeing him, had been driven away from his home back to
his old country.  Now he also saw this other man, and was aware that his
secret was no longer in his own keeping.

"Yes, I know you now.  Why, when I saw you last, did you tell me that your
brother was dead?  Why did you bring so great an injury on your

"I never told you anything of the kind."

"As God is above us you told me so."

"I don't know anything about that, my friend.  Maybe I was cut.  I used to
be drinking a good deal them days.  Maybe I didn't say anything of the
kind,--only it suited you to go back and tell her so.  Anyways I
disremember it altogether.  Anyways he wasn't dead.  And I ain't dead

"I can see that."

"And I ain't drunk now.  But I am not quite so well off as a fellow would
wish to be.  Can you get me breakfast?"

"Yes, I can get you breakfast," he said, after pausing for a while.  Then
he rang the bell and told the girl to bring some breakfast for the
gentleman as soon as possible into the room in which they were sitting.
This was in a little library in which he was in the habit of studying and
going through lessons with the boys.  He had brought the man here so that
his wife might not come across him.  As soon as the order was given, he
ran up-stairs to her room, to save her from coming down.

"A man;--what man?" she asked.

"Robert Lefroy.  I must go to him at once.  Bear yourself well and boldly,
my darling.  It is he, certainly.  I know nothing yet of what he may have
to say, but it will be well that you should avoid him if possible.  When I
have heard anything I will tell you all."  Then he hurried down and found
the man examining the book-shelves.

"You have got yourself up pretty tidy again, Peacocke," said Lefroy.

"Pretty well."

"The old game, I suppose.  Teaching the young idea.  Is this what you call
a college, now, in your country?"

"It is a school."

"And you're one of the masters."

"I am the second master."

"It ain't as good, I reckon, as the Missouri College."

"It's not so large, certainly."

"What's the screw?" he said.

"The payment, you mean.  It can hardly serve us now to go into matters
such as that.  What is it that has brought you here, Lefroy?"

"Well, a big ship, an uncommonly bad sort of railway car, and the
ricketiest little buggy that ever a man trusted his life to.  Them's
what's brought me here."

"I suppose you have something to say, or you would not have come," said

"Yes, I've a good deal to say of one kind or another.  But here's the
breakfast, and I'm well-nigh starved.  What, cold meat!  I'm darned if I
can eat cold meat.  Haven't you got anything hot, my dear?"  Then it was
explained to him that hot meat was not to be had, unless he would choose
to wait, to have some lengthened cooking accomplished.  To this, however,
he objected, and then the girl left the room.

"I've a good many things to say of one kind or another," he continued.
"It's difficult to say, Peacocke, how you and I stand with each other."

"I do not know that we stand with each other at all, as you call it."

"I mean as to relationship.  Are you my brother-in-law, or are you not?"
This was a question which in very truth the schoolmaster found it hard to
answer.  He did not answer it at all, but remained silent.  "Are you my
brother-in-law, or are you not?  You call her Mrs. Peacocke, eh?"

"Yes, I call her Mrs. Peacocke."

"And she is here living with you?"

"Yes, she is here."

"Had she not better come down and see me?  She is my sister-in-law,

"No," said Mr. Peacocke; "I think, on the whole, that she had better not
come down and see you."

"You don't mean to say she isn't my sister-in-law?  She's that, whatever
else she is.  She's that, whatever name she goes by.  If Ferdinand had
been ever so much dead, and that marriage at St. Louis had been ever so
good, still she'd been my sister-in-law."

"Not a doubt about it," said Mr. Peacocke.  "But still, under all the
circumstances, she had better not see you."

"Well, that's a queer beginning, anyway.  But perhaps you'll come round
by-and-by.  She goes by Mrs. Peacocke?"

"She is regarded as my wife," said the husband, feeling himself to become
more and more indignant at every word, but knowing at the same time how
necessary it was that he should keep his indignation hidden.

"Whether true or false?" asked the brother-in-law.

"I will answer no such question as that."

"You ain't very well disposed to answer any question, as far as I can see.
But I shall have to make you answer one or two before I've done with you.
There's a Doctor here, isn't there, as this school belongs to?"

"Yes, there is.  It belongs to Dr. Wortle."

"It's him these boys are sent to?"

"Yes, he is the master; I am only his assistant."

"It's him they comes to for education, and morals, and religion?"

"Quite so."

"And he knows, no doubt, all about you and my sister-in-law;--how you came
and married her when she was another man's wife, and took her away when
you knew as that other man was alive and kicking?"  Mr. Peacocke, when
these questions were put to him, remained silent, because literally he did
not know how to answer them.  He was quite prepared to take his position
as he found it.  He had told himself before this dreadful man had
appeared, that the truth must be made known at Bowick, and that he and his
wife must pack up and flit.  It was not that the man could bring upon him
any greater evil than he had anticipated.  But the questions which were
asked him were in themselves so bitter!  The man, no doubt, was his wife's
brother-in-law.  He could not turn him out of the house as he would a
stranger, had a stranger come there asking such questions without any
claim of family.  Abominable as the man was to him, still he was there
with a certain amount of right upon his side.

"I think," said he, "that questions such as those you've asked can be of
no service to you.  To me they are intended only to be injurious."

"They're as a preface to what is to come," said Robert Lefroy, with an
impudent leer upon his face.  "The questions, no doubt, are disagreeable
enough.  She ain't your wife no more than she's mine.  You've no business
with her; and that you knew when you took her away from St. Louis.  You
may, or you mayn't, have been fooled by some one down in Texas when you
went back and married her in all that hurry.  But you knew what you were
doing well enough when you took her away.  You won't dare to tell me that
you hadn't seen Ferdinand when you two mizzled off from the College?"
Then he paused, waiting again for a reply.

"As I told you before," he said, "no further conversation on the subject
can be of avail.  It does not suit me to be cross-examined as to what I
knew or what I did not know.  If you have anything for me to hear, you can
say it.  If you have anything to tell to others, go and tell it to them."

"That's just it," said Lefroy.

"Then go and tell it."

"You're in a terrible hurry, Mister Peacocke.  I don't want to drop in and
spoil your little game.  You're making money of your little game.  I can
help you as to carrying on your little game, better than you do at
present.  I don't want to blow upon you.  But as you're making money out
of it, I'd like to make a little too.  I am precious hard up,--I am."

"You will make no money of me," said the other.

"A little will go a long way with me; and remember, I have got tidings now
which are worth paying for."

"What tidings?"

"If they're worth paying for, it's not likely that you are going to get
them for nothing."

"Look here, Colonel Lefroy; whatever you may have to say about me will
certainly not be prevented by my paying you money.  Though you might be
able to ruin me to-morrow I would not give you a dollar to save myself."

"But her," said Lefroy, pointing as it were up-stairs, with his thumb over
his shoulder.

"Nor her," said Peacocke.

"You don't care very much about her, then?"

"How much I may care I shall not trouble myself to explain to you.  I
certainly shall not endeavour to serve her after that fashion.  I begin to
understand why you have come, and can only beg you to believe that you
have come in vain."

Lefroy turned to his food, which he had not yet finished, while his
companion sat silent at the window, trying to arrange in his mind the
circumstances of the moment as best he might.  He declared to himself that
had the man come but one day later, his coming would have been matter of
no moment.  The story, the entire story, would then have been told to the
Doctor, and the brother-in-law, with all his malice, could have added
nothing to the truth.  But now it seemed as though there would be a race
which should tell the story first.  Now the Doctor would, no doubt, be led
to feel that the narration was made because it could no longer be kept
back.  Should this man be with the Doctor first, and should the story be
told as he would tell it, then it would be impossible for Mr. Peacocke, in
acknowledging the truth of it all, to bring his friend's mind back to the
condition in which it would have been had this intruder not been in the
way.  And yet he could not make a race of it with the man.  He could not
rush across, and, all but out of breath with his energy, begin his
narration while Lefroy was there knocking at the door.  There would be an
absence of dignity in such a mode of proceeding which alone was sufficient
to deter him.  He had fixed an hour already with the Doctor.  He had said
that he would be there in the house at a certain time.  Let the man do
what he would he would keep exactly to his purpose, unless the Doctor
should seek an earlier interview.  He would, in no tittle, be turned from
his purpose by the unfortunate coming of this wretched man.  "Well!" said
Lefroy, as soon as he had eaten his last mouthful.

"I have nothing to say to you," said Peacocke.

"Nothing to say?"

"Not a word."

"Well, that's queer.  I should have thought there'd have been a many
words.  I've got a lot to say to somebody, and mean to say it;--precious
soon too.  Is there any hotel here, where I can put this horse up?  I
suppose you haven't got stables of your own?  I wonder if the Doctor would
give me accommodation?"

"I haven't got a stable, and the Doctor certainly will not give you
accommodation.  There is a public-house less than a quarter of a mile
further on, which no doubt your driver knows very well.  You had better go
there yourself, because after what has taken place, I am bound to tell you
that you will not be admitted here."

"Not admitted?"

"No.  You must leave this house, and will not be admitted into it again as
long as I live in it."

"The Doctor will admit me."

"Very likely.  I, at any rate, shall do nothing to dissuade him.  If you
go down to the road you'll see the gate leading up to his house.  I think
you'll find that he is down-stairs by this time."

"You take it very cool, Peacocke."

"I only tell you the truth.  With you I will have nothing more to do.  You
have a story which you wish to tell to Dr. Wortle.  Go and tell it to

"I can tell it to all the world," said Lefroy.

"Go and tell it to all the world."

"And I ain't to see my sister?"

"No; you will not see your sister-in-law here.  Why should she wish to see
one who has only injured her?"

"I ain't injured her;--at any rate not as yet.  I ain't done nothing;--not
as yet.  I've been as dark as the grave;--as yet.  Let her come down, and
you go away for a moment, and let us see if we can't settle it."

"There is nothing for you to settle.  Nothing that you can do, nothing
that you can say, will influence either her or me.  If you have anything
to tell, go and tell it."

"Why should you smash up everything in that way, Peacocke?  You're
comfortable here; why not remain so?  I don't want to hurt you.  I want to
help you;--and I can.  Three hundred dollars wouldn't be much to you.  You
were always a fellow as had a little money by you."

"If this box were full of gold," said the schoolmaster, laying his hand
upon a black desk which stood on the table, "I would not give you one cent
to induce you to hold your tongue for ever.  I would not condescend even
to ask it of you as a favour.  You think that you can disturb our
happiness by telling what you know of us to Dr. Wortle.  Go and try."

Mr. Peacocke's manner was so firm that the other man began to doubt
whether in truth he had a secret to tell.  Could it be possible that Dr.
Wortle knew it all, and that the neighbours knew it all, and that, in
spite of what had happened, the position of the man and of the woman was
accepted among them?  They certainly were not man and wife, and yet they
were living together as such.  Could such a one as this Dr. Wortle know
that it was so?  He, when he had spoken of the purposes for which the boys
were sent there, asking whether they were not sent for education, for
morals and religion, had understood much of the Doctor's position.  He had
known the peculiar value of his secret.  He had been aware that a
schoolmaster with a wife to whom he was not in truth married must be out
of place in an English seminary such as this.  But yet he now began to
doubt.  "I am to be turned out, then?" he asked.

"Yes, indeed, Colonel Lefroy.  The sooner you go the better."

"That's a pretty sort of welcome to your wife's brother-in-law, who has
just come over all the way from Mexico to see her."

"To get what he can out of her by his unwelcome presence," said Peacocke.
"Here you can get nothing.  Go and do your worst.  If you remain much
longer I shall send for the policeman to remove you."

"You will?"

"Yes, I shall.  My time is not my own, and I cannot go over to my work
leaving you in my house.  You have nothing to get by my friendship.  Go
and see what you can do as my enemy."

"I will," said the Colonel, getting up from his chair; "I will.  If I'm to
be treated in this way it shall not be for nothing.  I have offered you
the right hand of an affectionate brother-in-law."

"Bosh," said Mr. Peacocke.

"And you tell me that I am an enemy.  Very well; I will be an enemy.  I
could have put you altogether on your legs, but I'll leave you without an
inch of ground to stand upon.  You see if I don't."  Then he put his hat
on his head, and stalked out of the house, down the road towards the gate.

Mr. Peacocke, when he was left alone, remained in the room collecting his
thoughts, and then went up-stairs to his wife.

"Has he gone?" she asked.

"Yes, he has gone."

"And what has he said?"

"He has asked for money,--to hold his tongue."

"Have you given him any?"

"Not a cent.  I have given him nothing but hard words.  I have bade him go
and do his worst.  To be at the mercy of such a man as that would be worse
for you and for me than anything that fortune has sent us even yet."

"Did he want to see me?"

"Yes; but I refused.  Was it not better?"

"Yes; certainly, if you think so.  What could I have said to him?
Certainly it was better.  His presence would have half killed me.  But
what will he do, Henry?"

"He will tell it all to everybody that he sees."

"Oh, my darling!"

"What matter though he tells it at the town-cross?  It would have been
told to-day by myself."

"But only to one."

"It would have been the same.  For any purpose of concealment it would
have been the same.  I have got to hate the concealment.  What have we
done but clung together as a man and woman should who have loved each
other, and have had a right to love?  What have we done of which we should
be ashamed?  Let it be told.  Let it all be known.  Have you not been good
and pure?  Have not I been true to you?  Bear up your courage, and let the
man do his worst.  Not to save even you would I cringe before such a man
as that.  And were I to do so, I should save you from nothing."



DURING the whole of that morning the Doctor did not come into the school.
The school hours lasted from half-past nine to twelve, during a portion of
which time it was his practice to be there.  But sometimes, on a Saturday,
he would be absent, when it was understood generally that he was preparing
his sermon for the Sunday.  Such, no doubt, might be the case now; but
there was a feeling among the boys that he was kept away by some other
reason.  It was known that during the hour of morning school Mr. Peacocke
had been occupied with that uncouth stranger, and some of the boys might
have observed that the uncouth stranger had not taken himself altogether
away from the premises.  There was at any rate a general feeling that the
uncouth stranger had something to do with the Doctor's absence.

Mr. Peacocke did his best to go on with the work as though nothing had
occurred to disturb the usual tenor of his way, and as far as the boys
were aware he succeeded.  He was just as clear about his Greek verbs, just
as incisive about that passage of Cæsar, as he would have been had Colonel
Lefroy remained on the other side of the water.  But during the whole time
he was exercising his mind in that painful process of thinking of two
things at once.  He was determined that Cæsar should be uppermost; but it
may be doubted whether he succeeded.  At that very moment Colonel Lefroy
might be telling the Doctor that his Ella was in truth the wife of another
man.  At that moment the Doctor might be deciding in his anger that the
sinful and deceitful man should no longer be "officer of his."  The
hour was too important to him to leave his mind at his own disposal.
Nevertheless he did his best.  "Clifford, junior," he said, "I shall never
make you understand what Cæsar says here or elsewhere if you do not give
your entire mind to Cæsar."

"I do give my entire mind to Cæsar," said Clifford, junior.

"Very well; now go on and try again.  But remember that Cæsar wants all
your mind."  As he said this he was revolving in his own mind how he would
face the Doctor when the Doctor should look at him in his wrath.  If the
Doctor were in any degree harsh with him, he would hold his own against
the Doctor as far as the personal contest might go.  At twelve the boys
went out for an hour before their dinner, and Lord Carstairs asked him to
play a game of rackets.

"Not to-day, my Lord," he said.

"Is anything wrong with you?"

"Yes, something is very wrong."  They had strolled out of the building,
and were walking up and down the gravel terrace in front when this was

"I knew something was wrong, because you called me my Lord."

"Yes, something is so wrong as to alter for me all the ordinary ways of my
life.  But I wasn't thinking of it.  It came by accident,--just because I
am so troubled."

"What is it?"

"There has been a man here,--a man whom I knew in America."

"An enemy?"

"Yes,--an enemy.  One who is anxious to do me all the injury he can."

"Are you in his power, Mr. Peacocke?"

"No, thank God; not that.  I am in no man's power.  He cannot do me any
material harm.  Anything which may happen would have happened whether he
had come or not.  But I am unhappy."

"I wish I knew."

"So do I,--with all my heart.  I wish you knew; I wish you knew.  I would
that all the world knew.  But we shall live through it, no doubt.  And if
we do not, what matter.  'Nil conscire sibi,--nulla pallescere culpa.'
That is all that is necessary to a man.  I have done nothing of which I
repent;--nothing that I would not do again; nothing of which I am ashamed
to speak as far as the judgment of other men is concerned.  Go, now.  They
are making up sides for cricket.  Perhaps I can tell you more before the
evening is over."

Both Mr. and Mrs. Peacocke were accustomed to dine with the boys at one,
when Carstairs, being a private pupil, only had his lunch.  But on this
occasion she did not come into the dining-room.  "I don't think I can
to-day," she said, when he bade her to take courage, and not be altered
more than she could help, in her outward carriage, by the misery of her
present circumstances.  "I could not eat if I were there, and then they
would look at me."

"If it be so, do not attempt it.  There is no necessity.  What I mean is,
that the less one shrinks the less will be the suffering.  It is the man
who shivers on the brink that is cold, and not he who plunges into the
water.  If it were over,--if the first brunt of it were over, I could find
means to comfort you."

He went through the dinner, as he had done the Cæsar, eating the roast
mutton and the baked potatoes, and the great plateful of currant-pie that
was brought to him.  He was fed and nourished, no doubt, but it may be
doubtful whether he knew much of the flavour of what he ate.  But before
the dinner was quite ended, before he had said the grace which it was
always his duty to pronounce, there came a message to him from the
rectory.  "The Doctor would be glad to see him as soon as dinner was
done."  He waited very calmly till the proper moment should come for the
grace, and then, very calmly, he took his way over to the house.  He was
certain now that Lefroy had been with the Doctor, because he was sent for
considerably before the time fixed for the interview.

It was his chief resolve to hold his own before the Doctor.  The Doctor,
who could read a character well, had so read that of Mr. Peacocke's as to
have been aware from the first that no censure, no fault-finding, would be
possible if the connection were to be maintained.  Other ushers, other
curates, he had occasionally scolded.  He had been very careful never even
to seem to scold Mr. Peacocke.  Mr. Peacocke had been aware of it
too,--aware that he could not endure it, and aware also that the Doctor
avoided any attempt at it.  He had known that, as a consequence of this,
he was bound to be more than ordinarily prompt in the performance of all
his duties.  The man who will not endure censure has to take care that he
does not deserve it.  Such had been this man's struggle, and it had been
altogether successful.  Each of the two understood the other, and each
respected the other.  Now their position must be changed.  It was hardly
possible, Mr. Peacocke thought, as he entered the house, that he should
not be rebuked with grave severity, and quite out of the question that he
should bear any rebuke at all.

The library at the rectory was a spacious and handsome room, in the centre
of which stood a large writing-table, at which the Doctor was accustomed
to sit when he was at work,--facing the door, with a bow-window at his
right hand.  But he rarely remained there when any one was summoned into
the room, unless some one were summoned with whom he meant to deal in a
spirit of severity.  Mr. Peacocke would be there perhaps three or four
times a-week, and the Doctor would always get up from his chair and stand,
or seat himself elsewhere in the room, and would probably move about with
vivacity, being a fidgety man of quick motions, who sometimes seemed as
though he could not hold his own body still for a moment.  But now when
Mr. Peacocke entered the room he did not leave his place at the table.
"Would you take a chair?" he said; "there is something that we must talk

"Colonel Lefroy has been with you, I take it."

"A man calling himself by that name has been here.  Will you not take a

"I do not know that it will be necessary.  What he has told you,--what I
suppose he has told you,--is true."

"You had better at any rate take a chair.  I do not believe that what he
has told me is true."

"But it is."

"I do not believe that what he has told me is true.  Some of it cannot, I
think, be true.  Much of it is not so,--unless I am more deceived in you
than I ever was in any man.  At any rate sit down."  Then the schoolmaster
did sit down.  "He has made you out to be a perjured, wilful, cruel

"I have not been such," said Peacocke, rising from his chair.

"One who has been willing to sacrifice a woman to his passion."

"No; no."

"Who deceived her by false witnesses."


"And who has now refused to allow her to see her own husband's brother,
lest she should learn the truth."

"She is there,--at any rate for you to see."

"Therefore the man is a liar.  A long story has to be told, as to which at
present I can only guess what may be the nature.  I presume the story will
be the same as that you would have told had the man never come here."

"Exactly the same, Dr. Wortle."

"Therefore you will own that I am right in asking you to sit down.  The
story may be very long,--that is, if you mean to tell it."

"I do,--and did.  I was wrong from the first in supposing that the nature
of my marriage need be of no concern to others, but to herself and to me."

"Yes,--Mr. Peacocke; yes.  We are, all of us, joined together too closely
to admit of isolation such as that."  There was something in this which
grated against the schoolmaster's pride, though nothing had been said as
to which he did not know that much harder things must meet his ears before
the matter could be brought to an end between him and the Doctor.  The
"Mister" had been prefixed to his name, which had been omitted for the
last three or four months in the friendly intercourse which had taken
place between them; and then, though it had been done in the form of
agreeing with what he himself had said, the Doctor had made his first
complaint by declaring that no man had a right to regard his own moral
life as isolated from the lives of others around him.  It was as much as
to declare at once that he had been wrong in bringing this woman to
Bowick, and calling her Mrs. Peacocke.  He had said as much himself, but
that did not make the censure lighter when it came to him from the mouth
of the Doctor.  "But come," said the Doctor, getting up from his seat at
the table, and throwing himself into an easy-chair, so as to mitigate the
austerity of the position; "let us hear the true story.  So big a liar as
that American gentleman probably never put his foot in this room before."

Then Mr. Peacocke told the story, beginning with all those incidents of
the woman's life which had seemed to be so cruel both to him and to others
at St. Louis before he had been in any degree intimate with her.  Then
came the departure of the two men, and the necessity for pecuniary
assistance, which Mr. Peacocke now passed over lightly, saying nothing
specially of the assistance which he himself had rendered.  "And she was
left quite alone?" asked the Doctor.

"Quite alone."

"And for how long?"

"Eighteen months had passed before we heard any tidings.  Then there came
news that Colonel Lefroy was dead."

"The husband?"

"We did not know which.  They were both Colonels."

"And then?"

"Did he tell you that I went down into Mexico?"

"Never mind what he told me.  All that he told me were lies.  What you
tell me I shall believe.  But tell me everything."

There was a tone of complete authority in the Doctor's voice, but mixed
with this there was a kindliness which made the schoolmaster determined
that he would tell everything as far as he knew how.  "When I heard that
one of them was dead, I went away down to the borders of Texas, in order
that I might learn the truth."

"Did she know that you were going?"

"Yes;--I told her the day I started."

"And you told her why?"

"That I might find out whether her husband were still alive."

"But----"  The Doctor hesitated as he asked the next question.  He knew,
however, that it had to be asked, and went on with it.  "Did she know that
you loved her?"  To this the other made no immediate answer.  The Doctor
was a man who, in such a matter, was intelligent enough, and he therefore
put his question in another shape.  "Had you told her that you loved her?"

"Never,--while I thought that other man was living."

"She must have guessed it," said the Doctor.

"She might guess what she pleased.  I told her that I was going, and I

"And how was it, then?"

"I went, and after a time I came across the very man who is here now, this
Robert Lefroy.  I met him and questioned him, and he told me that his
brother had been killed while fighting.  It was a lie."

"Altogether a lie?" asked the Doctor.

"How altogether?"

"He might have been wounded and given over for dead.  The brother might
have thought him to be dead."

"I do not think so.  I believe it to have been a plot in order that the
man might get rid of his wife.  But I believed it.  Then I went back to
St. Louis,--and we were married."

"You thought there was no obstacle but what you might become man and wife

"I thought she was a widow."

"There was no further delay?"

"Very little.  Why should there have been delay?"

"I only ask."

"She had suffered enough, and I had waited long enough."

"She owed you a great deal," said the Doctor.

"It was not a case of owing," said Mr. Peacocke.  "At least I think not.
I think she had learnt to love me as I had learnt to love her."

"And how did it go with you then?"

"Very well,--for some months.  There was nothing to mar our
happiness,--till one day he came and made his way into our presence."

"The husband?"

"Yes; the husband, Ferdinand Lefroy, the elder brother;--he of whom I had
been told that he was dead; he was there standing before us, talking to
us,--half drunk, but still well knowing what he was doing."

"Why had he come?"

"In want of money, I suppose,--as this other one has come here."

"Did he ask for money?"

"I do not think he did then, though he spoke of his poor condition.  But
on the next day he went away.  We heard that he had taken the steamer down
the river for New Orleans.  We have never heard more of him from that day
to this."

"Can you imagine what caused conduct such as that?"

"I think money was given to him that night to go; but if so, I do not know
by whom.  I gave him none.  During the next day or two I found that many
in St. Louis knew that he had been there."

"They knew then that you----"

"They knew that my wife was not my wife.  That is what you mean to ask?"
The Doctor nodded his head.  "Yes, they knew that."

"And what then?"

"Word was brought to me that she and I must part if I chose to keep my
place at the College."

"That you must disown her?"

"The President told me that it would be better that she should go
elsewhere.  How could I send her from me?"

"No, indeed;--but as to the facts?"

"You know them all pretty well now.  I could not send her from me.  Nor
could I go and leave her.  Had we been separated then, because of the law
or because of religion, the burden, the misery, the desolation, would all
have been upon her."

"I would have clung to her, let the law say what it might," said the
Doctor, rising from his chair.

"You would?"

"I would;--and I think that I could have reconciled it to my God.  But I
might have been wrong," he added; "I might have been wrong.  I only say
what I should have done."

"It was what I did."

"Exactly; exactly.  We are both sinners.  Both might have been wrong.
Then you brought her over here, and I suppose I know the rest?"

"You know everything now," said Mr. Peacocke.

"And believe every word I have heard.  Let me say that, if that may be any
consolation to you.  Of my friendship you may remain assured.  Whether you
can remain here is another question."

"We are prepared to go."

"You cannot expect that I should have thought it all out during the
hearing of the story.  There is much to be considered;--very much.  I can
only say this, as between man and man, that no man ever sympathized with
another more warmly than I do with you.  You had better let me have till
Monday to think about it."



IN this way nothing was said at the first telling of the story to decide
the fate of the schoolmaster and of the lady whom we shall still call his
wife.  There certainly had been no horror displayed by the Doctor.
"Whether you can remain here is another question."  The Doctor, during
the whole interview, had said nothing harder than that.  Mr. Peacocke,
as he left the rectory, did feel that the Doctor had been very good to
him. There had not only been no horror, but an expression of the kindest
sympathy.  And as to the going, that was left in doubt.  He himself felt
that he ought to go;--but it would have been so very sad to have to go
without a friend left with whom he could consult as to his future

"He has been very kind, then?" said Mrs. Peacocke to her husband when he
related to her the particulars of the interview.

"Very kind."

"And he did not reproach you."

"Not a word."

"Nor me?"

"He declared that had it been he who was in question he would have clung
to you for ever and ever."

"Did he?  Then will he leave us here?"

"That does not follow.  I should think not.  He will know that others must
know it.  Your brother-in-law will not tell him only.  Lefroy, when he
finds that he can get no money here, from sheer revenge will tell the
story everywhere.  When he left the rectory, he was probably as angry with
the Doctor as he is with me.  He will do all the harm that he can to all
of us."

"We must go, then?"

"I should think so.  Your position here would be insupportable even if it
could be permitted.  You may be sure of this;--everybody will know it."

"What do I care for everybody?" she said.  "It is not that I am ashamed of

"No, dearest; nor am I,--ashamed of myself or of you.  But there will be
bitter words, and bitter words will produce bitter looks and scant
respect.  How would it be with you if the boys looked at you as though
they thought ill of you?"

"They would not;--oh, they would not!"

"Or the servants,--if they reviled you?"

"Could it come to that?"

"It must not come to that.  But it is as the Doctor said himself just
now;--a man cannot isolate the morals, the manners, the ways of his life
from the morals of others.  Men, if they live together, must live together
by certain laws."

"Then there can be no hope for us."

"None that I can see, as far as Bowick is concerned.  We are too closely
joined in our work with other people.  There is not a boy here with whose
father and mother and sisters we are not more or less connected.  When I
was preaching in the church, there was not one in the parish with whom I
was not connected.  Would it do, do you think, for a priest to preach
against drunkenness, whilst he himself was a noted drunkard?"

"Are we like that?"

"It is not what the drunken priest might think of himself, but what others
might think of him.  It would not be with us the position which we know
that we hold together, but that which others would think it to be.  If I
were in Dr. Wortle's case, and another were to me as I am to him, I should
bid him go."

"You would turn him away from you; him and his--wife?"

"I should.  My first duty would be to my parish and to my school.  If I
could befriend him otherwise I would do so;--and that is what I expect
from Dr. Wortle.  We shall have to go, and I shall be forced to approve of
our dismissal."

In this way Mr. Peacocke came definitely and clearly to a conclusion in
his own mind.  But it was very different with Dr. Wortle.  The story so
disturbed him, that during the whole of that afternoon he did not attempt
to turn his mind to any other subject.  He even went so far as to send
over to Mr. Puddicombe and asked for some assistance for the afternoon
service on the following day.  He was too unwell, he said, to preach
himself, and the one curate would have the two entire services unless Mr.
Puddicombe could help him.  Could Mr. Puddicombe come himself and see him
on the Sunday afternoon?  This note he sent away by a messenger, who came
back with a reply, saying that Mr. Puddicombe would himself preach in the
afternoon, and would afterwards call in at the rectory.

For an hour or two before his dinner, the Doctor went out on horseback,
and roamed about among the lanes, endeavouring to make up his mind.  He
was hitherto altogether at a loss as to what he should do in this present
uncomfortable emergency.  He could not bring his conscience and his
inclination to come square together.  And even when he counselled himself
to yield to his conscience, his very conscience,--a second conscience, as
it were,--revolted against the first.  His first conscience told him that
he owed a primary duty to his parish, a second duty to his school, and a
third to his wife and daughter.  In the performance of all these duties he
would be bound to rid himself of Mr. Peacocke.  But then there came that
other conscience, telling him that the man had been more "sinned against
than sinning,"--that common humanity required him to stand by a man who
had suffered so much, and had suffered so unworthily.  Then this second
conscience went on to remind him that the man was pre-eminently fit for
the duties which he had undertaken,--that the man was a God-fearing,
moral, and especially intellectual assistant in his school,--that were he
to lose him he could not hope to find any one that would be his equal, or
at all approaching to him in capacity.  This second conscience went
further, and assured him that the man's excellence as a schoolmaster was
even increased by the peculiarity of his position.  Do we not all know
that if a man be under a cloud the very cloud will make him more attentive
to his duties than another?  If a man, for the wages which he receives,
can give to his employer high character as well as work, he will think
that he may lighten his work because of his character.  And as to this
man, who was the very ph[oe]nix of school assistants, there would really be
nothing amiss with his character if only this piteous incident as to his
wife were unknown.  In this way his second conscience almost got the
better of the first.

But then it would be known.  It would be impossible that it should not be
known.  He had already made up his mind to tell Mr. Puddicombe, absolutely
not daring to decide in such an emergency without consulting some friend.
Mr. Puddicombe would hold his peace if he were to promise to do so.
Certainly he might be trusted to do that.  But others would know it; the
Bishop would know it; Mrs. Stantiloup would know it.  That man, of course,
would take care that all Broughton, with its close full of cathedral
clergymen, would know it.  When Mrs. Stantiloup should know it there would
not be a boy's parent through all the school who would not know it.  If he
kept the man he must keep him resolving that all the world should know
that he kept him, that all the world should know of what nature was the
married life of the assistant in whom he trusted.  And he must be prepared
to face all the world, confiding in the uprightness and the humanity of
his purpose.

In such case he must say something of this kind to all the world; "I know
that they are not married.  I know that their condition of life is opposed
to the law of God and man.  I know that she bears a name that is not, in
truth, her own; but I think that the circumstances in this case are so
strange, so peculiar, that they excuse a disregard even of the law of God
and man."  Had he courage enough for this?  And if the courage were there,
was he high enough and powerful enough to carry out such a purpose?  Could
he beat down the Mrs. Stantiloups?  And, indeed, could he beat down the
Bishop and the Bishop's phalanx;--for he knew that the Bishop and the
Bishop's phalanx would be against him?  They could not touch him in his
living, because Mr. Peacocke would not be concerned in the services of the
church; but would not his school melt away to nothing in his hands, if he
were to attempt to carry it on after this fashion?  And then would he not
have destroyed himself without advantage to the man whom he was anxious to

To only one point did he make up his mind certainly during that ride.
Before he slept that night he would tell the whole story to his wife.  He
had at first thought that he would conceal it from her.  It was his rule
of life to act so entirely on his own will, that he rarely consulted her
on matters of any importance.  As it was, he could not endure the
responsibility of acting by himself.  People would say of him that he had
subjected his wife to contamination, and had done so without giving her
any choice in the matter.  So he resolved that he would tell his wife.

"Not married," said Mrs. Wortle, when she heard the story.

"Married; yes.  They were married.  It was not their fault that the
marriage was nothing.  What was he to do when he heard that they had been
deceived in this way?"

"Not married properly!  Poor woman!"

"Yes, indeed.  What should I have done if such had happened to me when we
had been six months married?"

"It couldn't have been."

"Why not to you as well as to another?"

"I was only a young girl."

"But if you had been a widow?"

"Don't, my dear; don't!  It wouldn't have been possible."

"But you pity her?"

"Oh yes."

"And you see that a great misfortune has fallen upon her, which she could
not help?"

"Not till she knew it," said the wife who had been married quite properly.

"And what then?  What should she have done then?"

"Gone," said the wife, who had no doubt as to the comfort, the beauty, the
perfect security of her own position.


"Gone away at once."

"Whither should she go?  Who would have taken her by the hand?  Who would
have supported her?  Would you have had her lay herself down in the first
gutter and die?"

"Better that than what she did do," said Mrs. Wortle.

"Then, by all the faith I have in Christ, I think you are hard upon her.
Do you think what it is to have to go out and live alone;--to have to look
for your bread in desolation?"

"I have never been tried, my dear," said she, clinging close to him.  "I
have never had anything but what was good."

"Ought we not to be kind to one to whom Fortune has been so unkind?"

"If we can do so without sin."

"Sin!  I despise the fear of sin which makes us think that its contact
will soil us.  Her sin, if it be sin, is so near akin to virtue, that I
doubt whether we should not learn of her rather than avoid her."

"A woman should not live with a man unless she be his wife."  Mrs.
Wortle said this with more of obstinacy than he had expected.

"She was his wife, as far as she knew."

"But when she knew that it was not so any longer,--then she should have
left him."

"And have starved?"

"I suppose she might have taken bread from him."

"You think, then, that she should go away from here?"

"Do not you think so?  What will Mrs. Stantiloup say?"

"And I am to turn them out into the cold because of a virago such as she
is?  You would have no more charity than that?"

"Oh, Jeffrey! what would the Bishop say?"

"Cannot you get beyond Mrs. Stantiloup and beyond the Bishop, and think
what Justice demands?"

"The boys would all be taken away.  If you had a son, would you send him
where there was a schoolmaster living,--living----.  Oh, you wouldn't."

It is very clear to the Doctor that his wife's mind was made up on the
subject; and yet there was no softer-hearted woman than Mrs. Wortle
anywhere in the diocese, or one less likely to be severe upon a neighbour.
Not only was she a kindly, gentle woman, but she was one who always had
been willing to take her husband's opinion on all questions of right and
wrong.  She, however, was decided that they must go.

On the next morning, after service, which the schoolmaster did not attend,
the Doctor saw Mr. Peacocke, and declared his intention of telling the
story to Mr. Puddicombe.  "If you bid me hold my tongue," he said, "I will
do so.  But it will be better that I should consult another clergyman.  He
is a man who can keep a secret."  Then Mr. Peacocke gave him full authority
to tell everything to Mr. Puddicombe.  He declared that the Doctor might
tell the story to whom he would.  Everybody might know it now.  He had, he
said, quite made up his mind about that.  What was the good of affecting
secrecy when this man Lefroy was in the country?

In the afternoon, after service, Mr. Puddicombe came up to the house, and
heard it all.  He was a dry, thin, apparently unsympathetic man, but just
withal, and by no means given to harshness.  He could pardon whenever he
could bring himself to believe that pardon would have good results; but he
would not be driven by impulses and softness of heart to save the faulty
one from the effect of his fault, merely because that effect would be
painful.  He was a man of no great mental calibre,--not sharp, and quick,
and capable of repartee as was the Doctor, but rational in all things, and
always guided by his conscience.  "He has behaved very badly to you," he
said, when he heard the story.

"I do not think so; I have no such feeling myself."

"He behaved very badly in bringing her here without telling you all the
facts.  Considering the position that she was to occupy, he must have
known that he was deceiving you."

"I can forgive all that," said the Doctor, vehemently.  "As far as I
myself am concerned, I forgive everything."

"You are not entitled to do so."

"How--not entitled?"

"You must pardon me if I seem to take a liberty in expressing myself too
boldly in this matter.  Of course I should not do so unless you asked me."

"I want you to speak freely,--all that you think."

"In considering his conduct, we have to consider it all.  First of all
there came a great and terrible misfortune which cannot but excite our
pity.  According to his own story, he seems, up to that time, to have been
affectionate and generous."

"I believe every word of it," said the Doctor.

"Allowing for a man's natural bias on his own side, so do I.  He had
allowed himself to become attached to another man's wife; but we need not,
perhaps, insist upon that."  The Doctor moved himself uneasily in his
chair, but said nothing.  "We will grant that he put himself right by his
marriage, though in that, no doubt, there should have been more of
caution.  Then came his great misfortune.  He knew that his marriage had
been no marriage.  He saw the man and had no doubt."

"Quite so; quite so," said the Doctor, impatiently.

"He should, of course, have separated himself from her.  There can be no
doubt about it.  There is no room for any quibble."

"Quibble!" said the Doctor.

"I mean that no reference in our own minds to the pity of the thing, to
the softness of the moment,--should make us doubt about it.  Feelings such
as these should induce us to pardon sinners, even to receive them back
into our friendship and respect,--when they have seen the error of their
ways and have repented."

"You are very hard."

"I hope not.  At any rate I can only say as I think.  But, in truth, in
the present emergency you have nothing to do with all that.  If he asked
you for counsel you might give it to him, but that is not his present
position.  He has told you his story, not in a spirit of repentance, but
because such telling had become necessary."

"He would have told it all the same though this man had never come."

"Let us grant that it is so, there still remains his relation to you.  He
came here under false pretences, and has done you a serious injury."

"I think not," said the Doctor.

"Would you have taken him into your establishment had you known it all
before?  Certainly not.  Therefore I say that he has deceived you.  I do
not advise you to speak to him with severity; but he should, I think, be
made to know that you appreciate what he has done."

"And you would turn him off;--send him away at once, out about his

"Certainly I would send him away."

"You think him such a reprobate that he should not be allowed to earn his
bread anywhere?"

"I have not said so.  I know nothing of his means of earning his bread.
Men living in sin earn their bread constantly.  But he certainly should
not be allowed to earn his here."

"Not though that man who was her husband should now be dead, and he should
again marry,--legally marry,--this woman to whom he has been so true and

"As regards you and your school," said Mr. Puddicombe, "I do not think it
would alter his position."

With this the conference ended, and Mr. Puddicombe took his leave.  As he
left the house the Doctor declared to himself that the man was a
strait-laced, fanatical, hard-hearted bigot.  But though he said so to
himself, he hardly thought so; and was aware that the man's words had had
effect upon him.

Part IV.



THE Doctor had been all but savage with his wife, and, for the moment, had
hated Mr. Puddicombe, but still what they said had affected him.  They
were both of them quite clear that Mr. Peacocke should be made to go at
once.  And he, though he hated Mr. Puddicombe for his cold logic, could
not but acknowledge that all the man had said was true.  According to the
strict law of right and wrong the two unfortunates should have parted when
they found that they were not in truth married.  And, again, according to
the strict law of right and wrong, Mr. Peacocke should not have brought
the woman there, into his school, as his wife.  There had been deceit.
But then would not he, Dr. Wortle himself, have been guilty of similar
deceit had it fallen upon him to have to defend a woman who had been true
and affectionate to him?  Mr. Puddicombe would have left the woman to
break her heart and have gone away and done his duty like a Christian,
feeling no tugging at his heart-strings.  It was so that our Doctor spoke
to himself of his counsellor, sitting there alone in his library.

During his conference with Lefroy something had been said which had
impressed him suddenly with an idea.  A word had fallen from the Colonel,
an unintended word, by which the Doctor was made to believe that the other
Colonel was dead, at any rate now.  He had cunningly tried to lead up to
the subject, but Robert Lefroy had been on his guard as soon as he had
perceived the Doctor's object, and had drawn back, denying the truth of
the word he had before spoken.  The Doctor at last asked him the question
direct.  Lefroy then declared that his brother had been alive and well
when he left Texas, but he did this in such a manner as to strengthen in
the Doctor's mind the impression that he was dead.  If it were so, then
might not all these crooked things be made straight?

He had thought it better to raise no false hopes.  He had said nothing of
this to Peacocke on discussing the story.  He had not even hinted it to
his wife, from whom it might probably make its way to Mrs. Peacocke.  He
had suggested it to Mr. Puddicombe,--asking whether there might not be a
way out of all their difficulties.  Mr. Puddicombe had declared that there
could be no such way as far as the school was concerned.  Let them marry,
and repent their sins, and go away from the spot they had contaminated,
and earn their bread in some place in which there need be no longer
additional sin in concealing the story of their past life.  That seemed to
have been Mr. Puddicombe's final judgment.  But it was altogether opposed
to Dr. Wortle's feelings.

When Mr. Puddicombe came down from the church to the rectory, Lord
Carstairs was walking home after the afternoon service with Miss Wortle.
It was his custom to go to church with the family, whereas the school went
there under the charge of one of the ushers and sat apart in a portion of
the church appropriated to themselves.  Mrs. Wortle, when she found that
the Doctor was not going to the afternoon service, declined to go herself.
She was thoroughly disturbed by all these bad tidings, and was, indeed,
very little able to say her prayers in a fit state of mind.  She could
hardly keep herself still for a moment, and was as one who thinks that the
crack of doom is coming;--so terrible to her was her vicinity and
connection with this man, and with the woman who was not his wife.  Then,
again, she became flurried when she found that Lord Carstairs and Mary
would have to walk alone together; and she made little abortive attempts
to keep first the one and then the other from going to church.  Mary
probably saw no reason for staying away, while Lord Carstairs possibly
found an additional reason for going.  Poor Mrs. Wortle had for some weeks
past wished that the charming young nobleman had been at home with his
father and mother, or anywhere but in her house.  It had been arranged,
however, that he should go in July and not return after the summer
holidays.  Under these circumstances, having full confidence in her girl,
she had refrained from again expressing her fears to the Doctor.  But
there were fears.  It was evident to her, though the Doctor seemed to see
nothing of it, that the young lord was falling in love.  It might be that
his youth and natural bashfulness would come to her aid, and that nothing
should be said before that day in July which would separate them.  But
when it suddenly occurred to her that they two would walk to and fro from
church together, there was cause for additional uneasiness.

If she had heard their conversation as they came back she would have been
in no way disturbed by its tone on the score of the young man's tenderness
towards her daughter, but she might perhaps have been surprised by his
vehemence in another respect.  She would have been surprised also at
finding how much had been said during the last twenty-four hours by others
besides herself and her husband about the affairs of Mr. and Mrs.

"Do you know what he came about?" asked Mary.  The "he" had of course been
Robert Lefroy.

"Not in the least; but he came up there looking so queer, as though he
certainly had come about something unpleasant."

"And then he was with papa afterwards," said Mary.  "I am sure papa and
mamma not coming to church has something to do with it.  And Mr. Peacocke
hasn't been to church all day."

"Something has happened to make him very unhappy," said the boy.  "He told
me so even before this man came here.  I don't know any one whom I like so
much as Mr. Peacocke."

"I think it is about his wife," said Mary.

"How about his wife?"

"I don't know, but I think it is.  She is so very quiet."

"How quiet, Miss Wortle?" he asked.

"She never will come in to see us.  Mamma has asked her to dinner and to
drink tea ever so often, but she never comes.  She calls perhaps once in
two or three months in a formal way, and that is all we see of her."

"Do you like her?" he asked.

"How can I say, when I so seldom see her."

"I do.  I like her very much.  I go and see her often; and I'm sure of
this;--she is quite a lady.  Mamma asked her to go to Carstairs for the
holidays because of what I said."

"She is not going?"

"No; neither of them will come.  I wish they would; and oh, Miss Wortle, I
do so wish you were going to be there too."  This is all that was said of
peculiar tenderness between them on that walk home.

Late in the evening,--so late that the boys had already gone to bed,--the
Doctor sent again for Mr. Peacocke.  "I should not have troubled you
to-night," he said, "only that I have heard something from Pritchett."
Pritchett was the rectory gardener who had charge also of the school
buildings, and was a person of great authority in the establishment.  He,
as well the Doctor, held Mr. Peacocke in great respect, and would have
been almost as unwilling as the Doctor himself to tell stories to the
schoolmaster's discredit.  "They are saying down at the Lamb"--the Lamb
was the Bowick public-house--"that Lefroy told them all yesterday----" the
Doctor hesitated before he could tell it.

"That my wife is not my wife?"

"Just so."

"Of course I am prepared for it.  I knew that it would be so; did not

"I expected it."

"I was sure of it.  It may be taken for granted at once that there is no
longer a secret to keep.  I would wish you to act just as though all the
facts were known to the entire diocese."  After this there was a pause,
during which neither of them spoke for a few moments.  The Doctor had not
intended to declare any purpose of his own on that occasion, but it seemed
to him now as though he were almost driven to do so.  Then Mr. Peacocke
seeing the difficulty at once relieved him from it.  "I am quite prepared
to leave Bowick," he said, "at once.  I know that it must be so.  I have
thought about it, and have perceived that there is no possible
alternative.  I should like to consult with you as to whither I had better
go.  Where shall I first take her?"

"Leave her here," said the Doctor.

"Here!  Where?"

"Where she is in the school-house.  No one will come to fill your place
for a while."

"I should have thought," said Mr. Peacocke very slowly, "that her
presence--would have been worse almost,--than my own."

"To me,"--said the Doctor,--"to me she is as pure as the most unsullied
matron in the country."  Upon this Mr. Peacocke, jumping from his chair,
seized the Doctor's hand, but could not speak for his tears; then he
seated himself again, turning his face away towards the wall.  "To no one
could the presence of either of you be an evil.  The evil is, if I may say
so, that the two of you should be here together.  You should be
apart,--till some better day has come upon you."

"What better day can ever come?" said the poor man through his tears.

Then the Doctor declared his scheme.  He told what he thought as to
Ferdinand Lefroy, and his reason for believing that the man was dead.  "I
felt sure from his manner that his brother is now dead in truth.  Go to
him and ask him boldly," he said.

"But his word would not suffice for another marriage ceremony."

To this the Doctor agreed.  It was not his intention, he said, that they
should proceed on evidence as slight as that.  No; a step must be taken
much more serious in its importance, and occupying a considerable time.
He, Peacocke, must go again to Missouri and find out all the truth.  The
Doctor was of opinion that if this were resolved upon, and that if the
whole truth were at once proclaimed, then Mr. Peacocke need not hesitate
to pay Robert Lefroy for any information which might assist him in his
search.  "While you are gone," continued the Doctor almost wildly, "let
bishops and Stantiloups and Puddicombes say what they may, she shall
remain here.  To say that she will be happy is of course vain.  There can
be no happiness for her till this has been put right.  But she will be
safe; and here, at my hand, she will, I think, be free from insult.  What
better is there to be done?"

"There can be nothing better," said Peacocke drawing his breath,--as
though a gleam of light had shone in upon him.

"I had not meant to have spoken to you of this till to-morrow.  I should
not have done so, but that Pritchett had been with me.  But the more I
thought of it, the more sure I became that you could not both
remain,--till something had been done; till something had been done."

"I was sure of it, Dr. Wortle."

"Mr. Puddicombe saw that it was so.  Mr. Puddicombe is not all the world
to me by any means, but he is a man of common sense.  I will be frank with
you.  My wife said that it could not be so."

"She shall not stay.  Mrs. Wortle shall not be annoyed."

"You don't see it yet," said the Doctor.  "But you do.  I know you do.
And she shall stay.  The house shall be hers, as her residence, for the
next six months.  As for money----"

"I have got what will do for that, I think."

"If she wants money she shall have what she wants.  There is nothing I
will not do for you in your trouble,--except that you may not both be here
together till I shall have shaken hands with her as Mrs. Peacocke in very

It was settled that Mr. Peacocke should not go again into the school, or
Mrs. Peacocke among the boys, till he should have gone to America and have
come back.  It was explained in the school by the Doctor early,--for the
Doctor must now take the morning school himself,--that circumstances of
very grave import made it necessary that Mr. Peacocke should start at once
for America.  That the tidings which had been published at the Lamb would
reach the boys, was more than probable.  Nay; was it not certain?  It
would of course reach all the boys' parents.  There was no use, no
service, in any secrecy.  But in speaking to the school not a word was
said of Mrs. Peacocke.  The Doctor explained that he himself would take
the morning school, and that Mr. Rose, the mathematical master, would take
charge of the school meals.  Mrs. Cane, the house-keeper, would look to
the linen and the bed-rooms.  It was made plain that Mrs. Peacocke's
services were not to be required; but her name was not mentioned,--except
that the Doctor, in order to let it be understood that she was not to be
banished from the house, begged the boys as a favour that they would not
interrupt Mrs. Peacocke's tranquillity during Mr. Peacocke's absence.

On the Tuesday morning Mr. Peacocke started, remaining, however, a couple
of days at Broughton, during which the Doctor saw him.  Lefroy declared
that he knew nothing about his brother,--whether he were alive or dead.
He might be dead, because he was always in trouble, and generally drunk.
Robert, on the whole, thought it probable that he was dead, but could not
be got to say so.  For a thousand dollars he would go over to Missouri,
and, if necessary to Texas, so as to find the truth.  He would then come
back and give undeniable evidence.  While making this benevolent offer, he
declared, with tears in his eyes, that he had come over intending to be a
true brother to his sister-in-law, and had simply been deterred from
prosecuting his good intentions by Peacocke's austerity.  Then he swore a
most solemn oath that if he knew anything about his brother Ferdinand he
would reveal it.  The Doctor and Peacocke agreed together that the man's
word was worth nothing; but that the man's services might be useful in
enabling them to track out the truth.  They were both convinced, by words
which fell from him, that Ferdinand Lefroy was dead; but this would be of
no avail unless they could obtain absolute evidence.

During these two days there were various conversations at Broughton
between the Doctor, Mr. Peacocke, and Lefroy, in which a plan of action
was at length arranged.  Lefroy and the schoolmaster were to proceed to
America together, and there obtain what evidence they could as to the life
or death of the elder brother.  When absolute evidence had been obtained
of either, a thousand dollars was to be handed to Robert Lefroy.  But when
this agreement was made the man was given to understand that his own
uncorroborated word would go for nothing.

"Who is to say what is evidence, and what not?" asked the man, not

"Mr. Peacocke must be the judge," said the Doctor.

"I ain't going to agree to that," said the other.  "Though he were to see
him dead, he might swear he hadn't, and not give me a red cent.  Why ain't
I to be judge as well as he?"

"Because you can trust him, and he cannot in the least trust you," said
the Doctor.  "You know well enough that if he were to see your brother
alive, or to see him dead, you would get the money.  At any rate, you
have no other way of getting it but what we propose."  To all this Robert
Lefroy at last assented.

The prospect before Mr. Peacocke for the next three months was certainly
very sad.  He was to travel from Broughton to St. Louis, and possibly from
thence down into the wilds of Texas, in company with this man, whom he
thoroughly despised.  Nothing could be more abominable to him than such an
association; but there was no other way in which the proposed plan could
be carried out.  He was to pay Lefroy's expenses back to his own country,
and could only hope to keep the man true to his purpose by doing so from
day to day.  Were he to give the man money, the man would at once
disappear.  Here in England, and in their passage across the ocean, the
man might, in some degree, be amenable and obedient.  But there was no
knowing to what he might have recourse when he should find himself nearer
to his country, and should feel that his companion was distant from his

"You'll have to keep a close watch upon him," whispered the Doctor to his
friend.  "I should not advise all this if I did not think you were a man
of strong nerve."

"I am not afraid," said the other; "but I doubt whether he may not be too
many for me.  At any rate, I will try it.  You will hear from me as I go

And so they parted as dear friends part.  The Doctor had, in truth, taken
the man altogether to his heart since all the circumstances of the story
had come home to him.  And it need hardly be said that the other was aware
how deep a debt of gratitude he owed to the protector of his wife.  Indeed
the very money that was to be paid to Robert Lefroy, if he earned it, was
advanced out of the Doctor's pocket.  Mr. Peacocke's means were sufficient
for the expenses of the journey, but fell short when these thousand
dollars had to be provided.



MR. PEACOCKE had been quite right in saying that the secret would at once
be known through the whole diocese.  It certainly was so before he had
been gone a week, and it certainly was the case also that the diocese
generally did not approve of the Doctor's conduct.  The woman ought not to
have been left there.  So said the diocese.  It was of course the case,
that though the diocese knew much, it did not know all.  It is impossible
to keep such a story concealed, but it is quite as impossible to make
known all its details.  In the eyes of the diocese the woman was of course
the chief sinner, and the chief sinner was allowed to remain at the
school!  When this assertion was made to him the Doctor became very angry,
saying that Mrs. Peacocke did not remain at the school; that, according to
the arrangement as at present made, Mrs. Peacocke had nothing to do with
the school; that the house was his own, and that he might lend it to whom
he pleased.  Was he to turn the woman out houseless, when her husband had
gone, on such an errand, on his advice?  Of course the house was his own,
but as clergyman of the parish he had not a right to do what he liked with
it.  He had no right to encourage evil.  And the man was not the woman's
husband.  That was just the point made by the diocese.  And she was at the
school,--living under the same roof with the boys!  The diocese was
clearly of opinion that all the boys would be taken away.

The diocese spoke by the voice of its bishop, as a diocese should do.
Shortly after Mr. Peacocke's departure, the Doctor had an interview with
his lordship, and told the whole story.  The doing this went much against
the grain with him, but he hardly dared not to do it.  He felt that he was
bound to do it on the part of Mrs. Peacocke if not on his own.  And then
the man, who had now gone, though he had never been absolutely a curate,
had preached frequently in the diocese.  He felt that it would not be wise
to abstain from telling the bishop.

The bishop was a goodly man, comely in his person, and possessed of
manners which had made him popular in the world.  He was one of those who
had done the best he could with his talent, not wrapping it up in a
napkin, but getting from it the best interest which the world's market
could afford.  But not on that account was he other than a good man.  To
do the best he could for himself and his family,--and also to do his
duty,--was the line of conduct which he pursued.  There are some who
reverse this order, but he was not one of them.  He had become a scholar
in his youth, not from love of scholarship, but as a means to success.
The Church had become his profession, and he had worked hard at his
calling.  He had taught himself to be courteous and urbane, because he had
been clever enough to see that courtesy and urbanity are agreeable to men
in high places.  As a bishop he never spared himself the work which a
bishop ought to do.  He answered letters, he studied the characters of the
clergymen under him, he was just with his patronage, he endeavoured to be
efficacious with his charges, he confirmed children in cold weather as
well as in warm, he occasionally preached sermons, and he was beautiful
and decorous in his gait of manner, as it behoves a clergyman of the
Church of England to be.  He liked to be master; but even to be master he
would not encounter the abominable nuisance of a quarrel.  When first
coming to the diocese he had had some little difficulty with our Doctor;
but the Bishop had abstained from violent assertion, and they had, on the
whole, been friends.  There was, however, on the Bishop's part, something
of a feeling that the Doctor was the bigger man; and it was probable that,
without active malignity, he would take advantage of any chance which
might lower the Doctor a little, and bring him more within episcopal
power.  In some degree he begrudged the Doctor his manliness.

He listened with many smiles and with perfect courtesy to the story as it
was told to him, and was much less severe on the unfortunates than Mr.
Puddicombe had been.  It was not the wickedness of the two people in
living together, or their wickedness in keeping their secret, which
offended him so much, as the evil which they were likely to do,--and to
have done.  "No doubt," he said, "an ill-living man may preach a good
sermon, perhaps a better one than a pious God-fearing clergyman, whose
intellect may be inferior though his morals are much better;--but coming
from tainted lips, the better sermon will not carry a blessing with it."
At this the Doctor shook his head.  "Bringing a blessing" was a phrase
which the Doctor hated.  He shook his head not too civilly, saying that he
had not intended to trouble his lordship on so difficult a point in
ecclesiastical morals.  "But we cannot but remember," said the Bishop,
"that he has been preaching in your parish church, and the people will
know that he has acted among them as a clergyman."

"I hope the people, my lord, may never have the Gospel preached to them by
a worse man."

"I will not judge him; but I do think that it has been a misfortune.  You,
of course, were in ignorance."

"Had I known all about it, I should have been very much inclined to do the

This was, in fact, not true, and was said simply in a spirit of
contradiction.  The Bishop shook his head and smiled.  "My school is a
matter of more importance," said the Doctor.

"Hardly, hardly, Dr. Wortle."

"Of more importance in this way, that my school may probably be injured,
whereas neither the morals nor the faith of the parishioners will have
been hurt."

"But he has gone."

"He has gone;--but she remains."

"What!" exclaimed the Bishop.

"He has gone, but she remains."  He repeated the words very distinctly,
with a frown on his brow, as though to show that on that branch of the
subject he intended to put up with no opposition,--hardly even with an
adverse opinion.

"She had a certain charge, as I understand,--as to the school."

"She had, my lord; and very well she did her work.  I shall have a great
loss in her,--for the present."

"But you said she remained."

"I have lent her the use of the house till her husband shall come back."

"Mr. Peacocke, you mean," said the Bishop, who was unable not to put in a
contradiction against the untruth of the word which had been used.

"I shall always regard them as married."

"But they are not."

"I have lent her the house, at any rate, during his absence.  I could not
turn her into the street."

"Would not a lodging here in the city have suited her better?"

"I thought not.  People here would have refused to take her,--because of
her story.  The wife of some religious grocer, who sands his sugar
regularly, would have thought her house contaminated by such an inmate."

"So it would have been, Doctor, to some extent."  At hearing this the
Doctor made very evident signs of discontent.  "You cannot alter the ways
of the world suddenly, though by example and precept you may help to
improve them slowly.  In our present imperfect condition of moral culture,
it is perhaps well that the company of the guilty should be shunned."


"I am afraid that I must say so.  The knowledge that such a feeling exists
no doubt deters others from guilt.  The fact that wrong-doing in women is
scorned helps to maintain the innocence of women.  Is it not so?"

"I must hesitate before I trouble your lordship by arguing such difficult
questions.  I thought it right to tell you the facts after what had
occurred.  He has gone, she is there,--and there she will remain for the
present.  I could not turn her out.  Thinking her, as I do, worthy of my
friendship, I could not do other than befriend her."

"Of course you must be the judge yourself."

"I had to be the judge, my lord."

"I am afraid that the parents of the boys will not understand it."

"I also am afraid.  It will be very hard to make them understand it.
There will be some who will work hard to make them misunderstand it."

"I hope not that."

"There will.  I must stand the brunt of it.  I have had battles before
this, and had hoped that now, when I am getting old, they might have been
at an end.  But there is something left of me, and I can fight still.  At
any rate, I have made up my mind about this.  There she shall remain till
he comes back to fetch her."  And so the interview was over, the Bishop
feeling that he had in some slight degree had the best of it,--and the
Doctor feeling that he, in some slight degree, had had the worst.  If
possible, he would not talk to the Bishop on the subject again.

He told Mr. Puddicombe also.  "With your generosity and kindness of heart
I quite sympathise," said Mr. Puddicombe, endeavouring to be pleasant in
his manner.

"But not with my prudence."

"Not with your prudence," said Mr. Puddicombe, endeavouring to be true at
the same time.

But the Doctor's greatest difficulty was with his wife, whose conduct it
was necessary that he should guide, and whose feelings and conscience he
was most anxious to influence.  When she first heard his decision she
almost wrung her hands in despair.  If the woman could have gone to
America, and the man have remained, she would have been satisfied.
Anything wrong about a man was but of little moment,--comparatively so,
even though he were a clergyman; but anything wrong about a woman,--and
she so near to herself!  O dear!  And the poor dear boys,--under the same
roof with her!  And the boys' mammas!  How would she be able to endure the
sight of that horrid Mrs. Stantiloup;--or Mrs. Stantiloup's words, which
would certainly be conveyed to her?  But there was something much worse
for her even than all this.  The Doctor insisted that she should go and
call upon the woman!  "And take Mary?" asked Mrs. Wortle.

"What would be the good of taking Mary?  Who is talking of a child like
that?  It is for the sake of charity,--for the dear love of Christ, that I
ask you to do it.  Do you ever think of Mary Magdalene?"

"Oh yes."

"This is no Magdalene.  This is a woman led into no faults by vicious
propensities.  Here is one who has been altogether unfortunate,--who has
been treated more cruelly than any of whom you have ever read."

"Why did she not leave him?"

"Because she was a woman, with a heart in her bosom."

"I am to go to her?"

"I do not order it.  I only ask it."  Such asking from her husband was,
she knew, very near alike to ordering.

"What shall I say to her?"

"Bid her keep up her courage till he shall return.  If you were all alone,
as she is, would not you wish that some other woman should come to comfort
you?  Think of her desolation."

Mrs. Wortle did think of it, and after a day or two made up her mind to
obey her husband's--request.  She made her call, but very little came of
it, except that she promised to come again.  "Mrs. Wortle," said the poor
woman, "pray do not let me be a trouble to you.  If you stay away I shall
quite understand that there is sufficient reason.  I know how good your
husband has been to us."  Mrs. Wortle said, however, as she took her
leave, that she would come again in a day or two.

But there were other troubles in store for Mrs. Wortle.  Before she had
repeated her visit to Mrs. Peacocke, a lady, who lived about ten miles
off, the wife of the Rector of Buttercup, called upon her.  This was the
Lady Margaret Momson, a daughter of the Earl of Brigstock, who had, thirty
years ago, married a young clergyman.  Nevertheless, up to the present
day, she was quite as much the Earl's daughter as the parson's wife.  She
was first cousin to that Mrs. Stantiloup between whom and the Doctor
internecine war was always being waged; and she was also aunt to a boy at
the school, who, however, was in no way related to Mrs. Stantiloup, young
Momson being the son of the parson's eldest brother.  Lady Margaret had
never absolutely and openly taken the part of Mrs. Stantiloup.  Had she
done so, a visit even of ceremony would have been impossible.  But she was
supposed to have Stantiloup proclivities, and was not, therefore, much
liked at Bowick.  There had been a question indeed whether young Momson
should be received at the school,--because of the _quasi_ connection with
the arch-enemy; but Squire Momson of Buttercup, the boy's father, had set
that at rest by bursting out, in the Doctor's hearing, into violent abuse
against "the close-fisted, vulgar old faggot."  The son of a man imbued
with such proper feelings was, of course, accepted.

But Lady Margaret was proud,--especially at the present time.  "What a
romance this is, Mrs. Wortle," she said, "that has gone all through the
diocese!"  The reader will remember that Lady Margaret was also the wife
of a clergyman.

"You mean--the Peacockes?"

"Of course I do."

"He has gone away."

"We all know that, of course;--to look for his wife's husband.  Good
gracious me!  What a story!"

"They think that he is--dead now."

"I suppose they thought so before," said Lady Margaret.

"Of course they did."

"Though it does seem that no inquiry was made at all.  Perhaps they don't
care about those things over there as we do here.  He couldn't have cared
very much,--nor she."

"The Doctor thinks that they are very much to be pitied."

"The Doctor always was a little Quixotic--eh?"

"I don't think that at all, Lady Margaret."

"I mean in the way of being so very good-natured and kind.  Her brother
came;--didn't he?"

"Her first husband's brother," said Mrs. Wortle, blushing.

"Her first husband!"

"Well;--you know what I mean, Lady Margaret."

"Yes; I know what you mean.  It is so very shocking; isn't it?  And so the
two men have gone off together to look for the third.  Goodness me;--what
a party they will be if they meet!  Do you think they'll quarrel?"

"I don't know, Lady Margaret."

"And that he should be a clergyman of the Church of England!  Isn't it
dreadful?  What does the Bishop say?  Has he heard all about it?"

"The Bishop has nothing to do with it.  Mr. Peacocke never held a curacy
in the diocese."

"But he has preached here very often,--and has taken her to church with
him!  I suppose the Bishop has been told?"

"You may be sure that he knows it as well as you."

"We are so anxious, you know, about dear little Gus."  Dear little Gus
was Augustus Momson, the lady's nephew, who was supposed to be the
worst-behaved, and certainly the stupidest boy in the school.

"Augustus will not be hurt, I should say."

"Perhaps not directly.  But my sister has, I know, very strong opinions on
such subjects.  Now, I want to ask you one thing.  Is it true
that--she--remains here?"

"She is still living in the school-house."

"Is that prudent, Mrs. Wortle?"

"If you want to have an opinion on that subject, Lady Margaret, I would
recommend you to ask the Doctor."  By which she meant to assert that Lady
Margaret would not, for the life of her, dare to ask the Doctor such a
question.  "He has done what he has thought best."

"Most good-natured, you mean, Mrs. Wortle."

"I mean what I say, Lady Margaret.  He has done what he has thought best,
looking at all the circumstances.  He thinks that they are very worthy
people, and that they have been most cruelly ill-used.  He has taken that
into consideration.  You call it good-nature.  Others perhaps may call
it--charity."  The wife, though she at her heart deplored her husband's
action in the matter, was not going to own to another lady that he had
been imprudent.

"I am sure I hope they will," said Lady Margaret.  Then as she was taking
her leave, she made a suggestion.  "Some of the boys will be taken away, I
suppose.  The Doctor probably expects that."

"I don't know what he expects," said Mrs. Wortle.  "Some are always going,
and when they go, others come in their places.  As for me, I wish he would
give the school up altogether."

"Perhaps he means it," said Lady Margaret; "otherwise, perhaps he wouldn't
have been so good-natured."  Then she took her departure.

When her visitor was gone Mrs. Wortle was very unhappy.  She had been
betrayed by her wrath into expressing that wish as to the giving up of the
school.  She knew well that the Doctor had no such intention.  She herself
had more than once suggested it in her timid way, but the Doctor had
treated her suggestions as being worth nothing.  He had his ideas about
Mary, who was undoubtedly a very pretty girl.  Mary might marry well, and
£20,000 would probably assist her in doing so.

When he was told of Lady Margaret's hints, he said in his wrath that he
would send young Momson away instantly if a word was said to him by the
boy's mamma.  "Of course," said he, "if the lad turns out a scapegrace, as
is like enough, it will be because Mrs. Peacocke had two husbands.  It is
often a question to me whether the religion of the world is not more
odious than its want of religion."  To this terrible suggestion poor Mrs.
Wortle did not dare to make any answer whatever.



WE will now pass for a moment out of Bowick parish, and go over to
Buttercup.  There, at Buttercup Hall, the squire's house, in the
drawing-room, were assembled Mrs. Momson, the squire's wife; Lady Margaret
Momson, the Rector's wife; Mrs. Rolland, the wife of the Bishop; and the
Hon. Mrs. Stantiloup.  A party was staying in the house, collected for the
purpose of entertaining the Bishop; and it would perhaps not have been
possible to have got together in the diocese, four ladies more likely to
be hard upon our Doctor.  For though Squire Momson was not very fond of
Mrs. Stantiloup, and had used strong language respecting her when he was
anxious to send his boy to the Doctor's school, Mrs. Momson had always
been of the other party, and had in fact adhered to Mrs. Stantiloup from
the beginning of the quarrel.  "I do trust," said Mrs. Stantiloup, "that
there will be an end to all this kind of thing now."

"Do you mean an end to the school?" asked Lady Margaret.

"I do indeed.  I always thought it matter of great regret that Augustus
should have been sent there, after the scandalous treatment that Bob
received."  Bob was the little boy who had drank the champagne and
required the carriage exercise.

"But I always heard that the school was quite popular," said Mrs. Rolland.

"I think you'll find," continued Mrs. Stantiloup, "that there won't be
much left of its popularity now.  Keeping that abominable woman under the
same roof with the boys!  No master of a school that wasn't absolutely
blown up with pride, would have taken such people as those Peacockes
without making proper inquiry.  And then to let him preach in the church!
I suppose Mr. Momson will allow you to send for Augustus at once?"  This
she said turning to Mrs. Momson.

"Mr. Momson thinks so much of the Doctor's scholarship," said the mother,
apologetically.  "And we are so anxious that Gus should do well when he
goes to Eton."

"What is Latin and Greek as compared to his soul?" asked Lady Margaret.

"No, indeed," said Mrs. Rolland.  She had found herself compelled, as wife
of the Bishop, to assent to the self-evident proposition which had been
made.  She was a quiet, silent little woman, whom the Bishop had married
in the days of his earliest preferment, and who, though she was delighted
to find herself promoted to the society of the big people in the diocese,
had never quite lifted herself up into their sphere.  Though she had her
ideas as to what it was to be a Bishop's wife, she had never yet been
quite able to act up to them.

"I know that young Talbot is to leave," said Mrs. Stantiloup.  "I wrote to
Mrs. Talbot immediately when all this occurred, and I've heard from her
cousin Lady Grogram that the boy is not to go back after the holidays."
This happened to be altogether untrue.  What she probably meant was, that
the boy should not go back if she could prevent his doing so.

"I feel quite sure," said Lady Margaret, "that Lady Anne will not allow
her boys to remain when she finds out what sort of inmates the Doctor
chooses to entertain."  The Lady Anne spoken of was Lady Anne Clifford,
the widowed mother of two boys who were intrusted to the Doctor's care.

"I do hope you'll be firm about Gus," said Mrs. Stantiloup to Mrs. Momson.
"If we're not to put down this kind of thing, what is the good of having
any morals in the country at all?  We might just as well live like pagans,
and do without any marriage services, as they do in so many parts of the
United States."

"I wonder what the Bishop does think about it?" asked Mrs. Momson of the
Bishop's wife.

"It makes him very unhappy; I know that," said Mrs. Rolland.  "Of course
he cannot interfere about the school.  As for licensing the gentleman as a
curate, that was of course quite out of the question."

At this moment Mr. Momson, the clergyman, and the Bishop came into the
room, and were offered, as is usual on such occasions, cold tea and the
remains of the buttered toast.  The squire was not there.  Had he been
with the other gentlemen, Mrs. Stantiloup, violent as she was, would
probably have held her tongue; but as he was absent, the opportunity was
not bad for attacking the Bishop on the subject under discussion.  "We
were talking, my lord, about the Bowick school."

Now the Bishop was a man who could be very confidential with one lady, but
was apt to be guarded when men are concerned.  To any one of those present
he might have said what he thought, had no one else been there to hear.
That would have been the expression of a private opinion; but to speak
before the four would have been tantamount to a public declaration.

"About the Bowick school?" said he; "I hope there is nothing going wrong
with the Bowick school."

"You must have heard about Mr. Peacocke," said Lady Margaret.

"Yes; I have certainly heard of Mr. Peacocke.  He, I believe, has left Dr.
Wortle's seminary."

"But she remains!" said Mrs. Stantiloup, with tragic energy.

"So I understand;--in the house; but not as part of the establishment."

"Does that make so much difference?" asked Lady Margaret.

"It does make a very great difference," said Lady Margaret's husband, the
parson, wishing to help the Bishop in his difficulty.

"I don't see it at all," said Mrs. Stantiloup.  "The main spirit in the
matter is just as manifest whether the lady is or is not allowed to look
after the boys' linen.  In fact, I despise him for making the pretence.
Her doing menial work about the house would injure no one.  It is her
presence there,--the presence of a woman who has falsely pretended to be
married, when she knew very well that she had no husband."

"When she knew that she had two," said Lady Margaret.

"And fancy, Lady Margaret,--Lady Bracy absolutely asked her to go to
Carstairs!  That woman was always infatuated about Dr. Wortle.  What would
she have done if they had gone, and this other man had followed his
sister-in-law there.  But Lord and Lady Bracy would ask any one to
Carstairs,--just any one that they could get hold of!"

Mr. Momson was one whose obstinacy was wont to give way when sufficiently
attacked.  Even he, after having been for two days subjected to the
eloquence of Mrs. Stantiloup, acknowledged that the Doctor took a great
deal too much upon himself.  "He does it," said Mrs. Stantiloup, "just to
show that there is nothing that he can't bring parents to assent to.
Fancy,--a woman living there as house-keeper with a man as usher,
pretending to be husband and wife, when they knew all along that they were
not married!"

Mr. Momson, who didn't care a straw about the morals of the man whose duty
it was to teach his little boy his Latin grammar, or the morals of the
woman who looked after his little boy's waistcoats and trousers, gave a
half-assenting grunt.  "And you are to pay," continued Mrs. Stantiloup,
with considerable emphasis,--"you are to pay two hundred and fifty pounds
a-year for such conduct as that!"

"Two hundred," suggested the squire, who cared as little for the money as
he did for the morals.

"Two hundred and fifty,--every shilling of it, when you consider the

"There are no extras, as far as I can see.  But then my boy is strong and
healthy, thank God," said the squire, taking his opportunity of having one
fling at the lady.  But while all this was going on, he did give a
half-assent that Gus should be taken away at midsummer, being partly moved
thereto by a letter from the Doctor, in which he was told that his boy was
not doing any good at the school.

It was a week after that that Mrs. Stantiloup wrote the following letter
to her friend Lady Grogram, after she had returned home from Buttercup
Hall.  Lady Grogram was a great friend of hers, and was first cousin to
that Mrs. Talbot who had a son at the school.  Lady Grogram was an old
woman of strong mind but small means, who was supposed to be potential
over those connected with her.  Mrs. Stantiloup feared that she could not
be efficacious herself, either with Mr. or Mrs. Talbot; but she hoped that
she might carry her purpose through Lady Grogram.  It may be remembered
that she had declared at Buttercup Hall that young Talbot was not to go
back to Bowick.  But this had been a figure of speech, as has been already

"MY DEAR LADY GROGRAM,--Since I got your last letter I have been staying
with the Momsons at Buttercup.  It was awfully dull.  He and she are, I
think, the stupidest people that ever I met.  None of those Momsons have
an idea among them.  They are just as heavy and inharmonious as their
name.  Lady Margaret was one of the party.  She would have been better,
only that our excellent Bishop was there too, and Lady Margaret thought it
well to show off all her graces before the Bishop and the Bishop's wife.
I never saw such a dowdy in all my life as Mrs. Rolland.  He is all very
well, and looks at any rate like a gentleman.  It was, I take it, that
which got him his diocese.  They say the Queen saw him once, and was taken
by his manners.

"But I did one good thing at Buttercup.  I got Mr. Momson to promise that
that boy of his should not go back to Bowick.  Dr. Wortle has become quite
intolerable.  I think he is determined to show that whatever he does,
people shall put up with it.  It is not only the most expensive
establishment of the kind in all England, but also the worst conducted.
You know, of course, how all this matter about that woman stands now.  She
is remaining there at Bowick, absolutely living in the house, calling
herself Mrs. Peacocke, while the man she was living with has gone off with
her brother-in-law to look for her husband!  Did you ever hear of such a
mess as that?

"And the Doctor expects that fathers and mothers will still send their
boys to such a place as that?  I am very much mistaken if he will not find
it altogether deserted before Christmas.  Lord Carstairs is already gone."
[This was at any rate disingenuous, as she had been very severe when at
Buttercup on all the Carstairs family because of their declared and
perverse friendship for the Doctor.] "Mr. Momson, though he is quite
incapable of seeing the meaning of anything, has determined to take his
boy away.  She may thank me at any rate for that.  I have heard that Lady
Anne Clifford's two boys will both leave."  [In one sense she had heard it,
because the suggestion had been made by herself at Buttercup.] "I do hope
that Mr. Talbot's dear little boy will not be allowed to return to such
contamination as that!  Fancy,--the man and the woman living there in that
way together; and the Doctor keeping the woman on after he knew it all!
It is really so horrible that one doesn't know how to talk about it.  When
the Bishop was at Buttercup I really felt almost obliged to be silent.

"I know very well that Mrs. Talbot is always ready to take your advice.
As for him, men very often do not think so much about these things as they
ought.  But he will not like his boy to be nearly the only one left at the
school.  I have not heard of one who is to remain for certain.  How can it
be possible that any boy who has a mother should be allowed to remain

"Do think of this, and do your best.  I need not tell you that nothing
ought to be so dear to us as a high tone of morals.--Most sincerely yours,


We need not pursue this letter further than to say that when it reached
Mr. Talbot's hands, which it did through his wife, he spoke of Mrs.
Stantiloup in language which shocked his wife considerably, though she was
not altogether unaccustomed to strong language on his part.  Mr. Talbot
and the Doctor had been at school together, and at Oxford, and were

I will give now a letter that was written by the Doctor to Mr. Momson in
answer to one in which that gentleman signified his intention of taking
little Gus away from the school.

"MY DEAR MR. MOMSON,--After what you have said, of course I shall not
expect your boy back after the holidays.  Tell his mamma, with my
compliments, that he shall take all his things home with him.  As a rule I
do charge for a quarter in advance when a boy is taken away suddenly,
without notice, and apparently without cause.  But I shall not do so at
the present moment either to you or to any parent who may withdraw his
son.  A circumstance has happened which, though it cannot impair the
utility of my school, and ought not to injure its character, may still be
held as giving offence to certain persons.  I will not be driven to alter
my conduct by what I believe to be foolish misconception on their part.
But they have a right to their own opinions, and I will not mulct them
because of their conscientious convictions.--Yours faithfully,


"If you come across any friend who has a boy here, you are perfectly at
liberty to show him or her this letter."

The defection of the Momsons wounded the Doctor, no doubt.  He was aware
that Mrs. Stantiloup had been at Buttercup, and that the Bishop also had
been there--and he could put two and two together; but it hurt him to
think that one so "staunch" though so "stupid" as Mrs. Momson, should be
turned from her purpose by such a woman as Mrs. Stantiloup.  And he got
other letters on the subject.  Here is one from Lady Anne Clifford.

"DEAR DOCTOR,--You know how safe I think my dear boys are with you, and
how much obliged I am both to you and your wife for all your kindness.
But people are saying things to me about one of the masters at your school
and his wife.  Is there any reason why I should be afraid?  You will see
how thoroughly I trust you when I ask you the question.--Yours very


Now Lady Anne Clifford was a sweet, confiding, affectionate, but not very
wise woman.  In a letter, written not many days before to Mary Wortle, who
had on one occasion been staying with her, she said that she was at that
time in the same house with the Bishop and Mrs. Rolland.  Of course the
Doctor knew again how to put two and two together.

Then there came a letter from Mr. Talbot--

"DEAR WORTLE,--So you are boiling for yourself another pot of hot water.
I never saw such a fellow as you are for troubles!  Old Mother Shipton has
been writing such a letter to our old woman, and explaining that no boy's
soul would any longer be worth looking after if he be left in your hands.
Don't you go and get me into a scrape more than you can help; but you may
be quite sure of this that if I had as many sons as Priam I should send
them all to you;--only I think that the cheques would be very long in
coming.--Yours always,


The Doctor answered this at greater length than he had done in writing to
Mr. Momson, who was not specially his friend.

"MY DEAR TALBOT,--You may be quite sure that I shall not repeat to any one
what you have told me of Mother Shipton.  I knew, however, pretty well
what she was doing and what I had to expect from her.  It is astonishing
to me that such a woman should still have the power of persuading any
one,--astonishing also that any human being should continue to hate as she
hates me.  She has often tried to do me an injury, but she has never
succeeded yet.  At any rate she will not bend me.  Though my school should
be broken up to-morrow, which I do not think probable, I should still have
enough to live upon,--which is more, by all accounts, than her unfortunate
husband can say for himself.

"The facts are these.  More than twelve months ago I got an assistant
named Peacocke, a clergyman, an Oxford man, and formerly a Fellow of
Trinity;--a man quite superior to anything I have a right to expect in my
school.  He had gone as a Classical Professor to a college in the United
States;--a rash thing to do, no doubt;--and had there married a widow,
which was rasher still.  The lady came here with him and undertook the
charge of the school-house,--with a separate salary; and an admirable
person in the place she was.  Then it turned out, as no doubt you have
heard, that her former husband was alive when they were married.  They
ought probably to have separated, but they didn't.  They came here
instead, and here they were followed by the brother of the husband,--who I
take it is now dead, though of that we know nothing certain.

"That he should have told me his position is more than any man has a right
to expect from another.  Fortune had been most unkind to him, and for her
sake he was bound to do the best that he could with himself.  I cannot
bring myself to be angry with him, though I cannot defend him by strict
laws of right and wrong.  I have advised him to go back to America and
find out if the man be in truth dead.  If so, let him come back and marry
the woman again before all the world.  I shall be ready to marry them and
to ask him and her to my house afterwards.

"In the mean time what was to become of her?  'Let her go into lodgings,'
said the Bishop.  Go to lodgings at Broughton!  You know what sort of
lodgings she would get there among psalm-singing greengrocers who would
tell her of her misfortune every day of her life!  I would not subject her
to the misery of going and seeking for a home.  I told him, when I
persuaded him to go, that she should have the rooms they were then
occupying while he was away.  In settling this, of course I had to make
arrangements for doing in our own establishment the work which had lately
fallen to her share.  I mention this for the sake of explaining that she
has got nothing to do with the school.  No doubt the boys are under the
same roof with her.  Will your boy's morals be the worse?  It seems that
Gustavus Momson's will.  You know the father; do you not?  I wonder
whether anything will ever affect his morals?

"Now, I have told you everything.  Not that I have doubted you; but, as
you have been told so much, I have thought it well that you should have
the whole story from myself.  What effect it may have upon the school I do
not know.  The only boy of whose secession I have yet heard is young
Momson.  But probably there will be others.  Four new boys were to have
come, but I have already heard from the father of one that he has changed
his mind.  I think I can trace an acquaintance between him and Mother
Shipton.  If the body of the school should leave me I will let you know at
once as you might not like to leave your boy under such circumstances.

"You may be sure of this, that here the lady remains until her husband
returns.  I am not going to be turned from my purpose at this time of day
by anything that Mother Shipton may say or do.--Yours always,




A Novel.




Chapman and Hall, Limited, 193, Piccadilly.

R. Clay, Sons, and Taylor, Printers,
Bread Street Hill.


   PART V.


















IT was not to be expected that the matter should be kept out of the county
newspaper, or even from those in the metropolis.  There was too much of
romance in the story, too good a tale to be told, for any such hope.  The
man's former life and the woman's, the disappearance of her husband and
his reappearance after his reported death, the departure of the couple
from St. Louis and the coming of Lefroy to Bowick, formed together a most
attractive subject.  But it could not be told without reference to Dr.
Wortle's school, to Dr. Wortle's position as clergyman of the parish,--and
also to the fact which was considered by his enemies to be of all the
facts the most damning, that Mr. Peacocke had for a time been allowed to
preach in the parish church.  The 'Broughton Gazette,' a newspaper which
was supposed to be altogether devoted to the interest of the diocese, was
very eloquent on this subject.  "We do not desire," said the 'Broughton
Gazette,' "to make any remarks as to the management of Dr. Wortle's
school.  We leave all that between him and the parents of the boys who are
educated there.  We are perfectly aware that Dr. Wortle himself is a
scholar, and that his school has been deservedly successful.  It is
advisable, no doubt, that in such an establishment none should be employed
whose lives are openly immoral;--but as we have said before, it is not our
purpose to insist upon this.  Parents, if they feel themselves to be
aggrieved, can remedy the evil by withdrawing their sons.  But when we
consider the great power which is placed in the hands of an incumbent of a
parish, that he is endowed as it were with the freehold of his pulpit,
that he may put up whom he will to preach the Gospel to his parishioners,
even in a certain degree in opposition to his bishop, we think that we do
no more than our duty in calling attention to such a case as this."  Then
the whole story was told at great length, so as to give the "we" of the
'Broughton Gazette' a happy opportunity of making its leading article not
only much longer, but much more amusing, than usual.  "We must say,"
continued the writer, as he concluded his narrative, "that this man should
not have been allowed to preach in the Bowick pulpit.  He is no doubt a
clergyman of the Church of England, and Dr. Wortle was within his rights
in asking for his assistance; but the incumbent of a parish is responsible
for those he employs, and that responsibility now rests on Dr. Wortle."

There was a great deal in this that made the Doctor very angry,--so angry
that he did not know how to restrain himself.  The matter had been argued
as though he had employed the clergyman in his church after he had known
the history.  "For aught I know," he said to Mrs. Wortle, "any curate
coming to me might have three wives, all alive."

"That would be most improbable," said Mrs. Wortle.

"So was all this improbable,--just as improbable.  Nothing could be more
improbable.  Do we not all feel overcome with pity for the poor woman
because she encountered trouble that was so improbable?  How much more
improbable was it that I should come across a clergyman who had
encountered such improbabilities."  In answer to this Mrs. Wortle could
only shake her head, not at all understanding the purport of her husband's

But what was said about his school hurt him more than what was said about
his church.  In regard to his church he was impregnable.  Not even the
Bishop could touch him,--or even annoy him much.  But this
"penny-a-liner," as the Doctor indignantly called him, had attacked him in
his tenderest point.  After declaring that he did not intend to meddle
with the school, he had gone on to point out that an immoral person had
been employed there, and had then invited all parents to take away their
sons.  "He doesn't know what moral and immoral means," said the Doctor,
again pleading his own case to his own wife.  "As far as I know, it would
be hard to find a man of a higher moral feeling than Mr. Peacocke, or a
woman than his wife."

"I suppose they ought to have separated when it was found out," said Mrs.

"No, no," he shouted; "I hold that they were right.  He was right to cling
to her, and she was bound to obey him.  Such a fellow as that,"--and he
crushed the paper up in his hand in his wrath, as though he were crushing
the editor himself,--"such a fellow as that knows nothing of morality,
nothing of honour, nothing of tenderness.  What he did I would have done,
and I'll stick to him through it all in spite of the Bishop, in spite of
the newspapers, and in spite of all the rancour of all my enemies."  Then
he got up and walked about the room in such a fury that his wife did not
dare to speak to him.  Should he or should he not answer the newspaper?
That was a question which for the first two days after he had read the
article greatly perplexed him.  He would have been very ready to advise
any other man what to do in such a case.  "Never notice what may be
written about you in a newspaper," he would have said.  Such is the advice
which a man always gives to his friend.  But when the case comes to
himself he finds it sometimes almost impossible to follow it.  "What's the
use?  Who cares what the 'Broughton Gazette' says? let it pass, and it
will be forgotten in three days.  If you stir the mud yourself, it will
hang about you for months.  It is just what they want you to do.  They
cannot go on by themselves, and so the subject dies away from them; but if
you write rejoinders they have a contributor working for them for nothing,
and one whose writing will be much more acceptable to their readers than
any that comes from their own anonymous scribes.  It is very disagreeable
to be worried like a rat by a dog; but why should you go into the kennel
and unnecessarily put yourself in the way of it?"  The Doctor had said
this more than once to clerical friends who were burning with indignation
at something that had been written about them.  But now he was burning
himself, and could hardly keep his fingers from pen and ink.

In this emergency he went to Mr. Puddicombe, not, as he said to himself,
for advice, but in order that he might hear what Mr. Puddicombe would have
to say about it.  He did not like Mr. Puddicombe, but he believed in
him,--which was more than he quite did with the Bishop.  Mr. Puddicombe
would tell him his true thoughts.  Mr. Puddicombe would be unpleasant very
likely; but he would be sincere and friendly.  So he went to Mr.
Puddicombe.  "It seems to me," he said, "almost necessary that I should
answer such allegations as these for the sake of truth."

"You are not responsible for the truth of the 'Broughton Gazette,"' said
Mr. Puddicombe.

"But I am responsible to a certain degree that false reports shall not be
spread abroad as to what is done in my church."

"You can contradict nothing that the newspaper has said."

"It is implied," said the Doctor, "that I allowed Mr. Peacocke to preach
in my church after I knew his marriage was informal."

"There is no such statement in the paragraph," said Mr. Puddicombe, after
attentive reperusal of the article.  "The writer has written in a hurry,
as such writers generally do, but has made no statement such as you
presume.  Were you to answer him, you could only do so by an elaborate
statement of the exact facts of the case.  It can hardly be worth your
while, in defending yourself against the 'Broughton Gazette,' to tell the
whole story in public of Mr. Peacocke's life and fortunes."

"You would pass it over altogether?"

"Certainly I would."

"And so acknowledge the truth of all that the newspaper says."

"I do not know that the paper says anything untrue," said Mr. Puddicombe,
not looking the Doctor in the face, with his eyes turned to the ground,
but evidently with the determination to say what he thought, however
unpleasant it might be.  "The fact is that you have fallen into

"I don't acknowledge it at all," said the Doctor.

"All your friends at any rate will think so, let the story be told as it
may.  It was a misfortune that this lady whom you had taken into your
establishment should have proved not to be the gentleman's wife.  When I
am taking a walk through the fields and get one of my feet deeper than
usual into the mud, I always endeavour to bear it as well as I may before
the eyes of those who meet me rather than make futile efforts to get rid
of the dirt and look as though nothing had happened.  The dirt, when it is
rubbed and smudged and scraped is more palpably dirt than the honest mud."

"I will not admit that I am dirty at all," said the Doctor.

"Nor do I, in the case which I describe.  I admit nothing; but I let those
who see me form their own opinion.  If any one asks me about my boot I
tell him that it is a matter of no consequence.  I advise you to do the
same.  You will only make the smudges more palpable if you write to the
'Broughton Gazette."'

"Would you say nothing to the boys' parents?" asked the Doctor.

"There, perhaps, I am not a judge, as I never kept a school;--but I think
not.  If any father writes to you, then tell him the truth."

If the matter had gone no farther than this, the Doctor might probably
have left Mr. Puddicombe's house with a sense of thankfulness for the
kindness rendered to him; but he did go farther, and endeavoured to
extract from his friend some sense of the injustice shown by the Bishop,
the Stantiloups, the newspaper, and his enemies in general through the
diocese.  But here he failed signally.  "I really think, Dr. Wortle, that
you could not have expected it otherwise."

"Expect that people should lie?"

"I don't know about lies.  If people have told lies I have not seen them
or heard them.  I don't think the Bishop has lied."

"I don't mean the Bishop; though I do think that he has shown a great want
of what I may call liberality towards a clergyman in his diocese."

"No doubt he thinks you have been wrong.  By liberality you mean sympathy.
Why should you expect him to sympathise with your wrong-doing?"

"What have I done wrong?"

"You have countenanced immorality and deceit in a brother clergyman."

"I deny it," said the Doctor, rising up impetuously from his chair.

"Then I do not understand the position, Dr. Wortle.  That is all I can

"To my thinking, Mr. Puddicombe, I never came across a better man than Mr.
Peacocke in my life."

"I cannot make comparisons.  As to the best man I ever met in my life I
might have to acknowledge that even he had done wrong in certain
circumstances.  As the matter is forced upon me, I have to express my
opinion that a great sin was committed both by the man and by the woman.
You not only condone the sin, but declare both by your words and deeds
that you sympathise with the sin as well as with the sinners.  You have no
right to expect that the Bishop will sympathise with you in that;--nor can
it be but that in such a country as this the voices of many will be loud
against you."

"And yours as loud as any," said the Doctor, angrily.

"That is unkind and unjust," said Mr. Puddicombe.  "What I have said, I
have said to yourself, and not to others; and what I have said, I have
said in answer to questions asked by yourself."  Then the Doctor apologised
with what grace he could.  But when he left the house his heart was still
bitter against Mr. Puddicombe.

He was almost ashamed of himself as he rode back to Bowick,--first,
because he had condescended to ask advice, and then because, after having
asked it, he had been so thoroughly scolded.  There was no one whom Mr.
Puddicombe would admit to have been wrong in the matter except the Doctor
himself.  And yet though he had been so counselled and so scolded, he had
found himself obliged to apologize before he left the house!  And, too, he
had been made to understand that he had better not rush into print.
Though the 'Broughton Gazette' should come to the attack again and again,
he must hold his peace.  That reference to Mr. Puddicombe's dirty boot had
convinced him.  He could see the thoroughly squalid look of the boot that
had been scraped in vain, and appreciate the wholesomeness of the
unadulterated mud.  There was more in the man than he had ever
acknowledged before.  There was a consistency in him, and a courage, and
an honesty of purpose.  But there was no softness of heart.  Had there
been a grain of tenderness there, he could not have spoken so often as he
had done of Mrs. Peacocke without expressing some grief at the unmerited
sorrows to which that poor lady had been subjected.

His own heart melted with ruth as he thought, while riding home, of the
cruelty to which she had been and was subjected.  She was all alone there,
waiting, waiting, waiting, till the dreary days should have gone by.  And
if no good news should come, if Mr. Peacocke should return with tidings
that her husband was alive and well, what should she do then?  What would
the world then have in store for her?  "If it were me," said the Doctor to
himself, "I'd take her to some other home and treat her as my wife in
spite of all the Puddicombes in creation;--in spite of all the bishops."

The Doctor, though he was a self-asserting and somewhat violent man, was
thoroughly soft-hearted.  It is to be hoped that the reader has already
learned as much as that;--a man with a kind, tender, affectionate nature.
It would perhaps be unfair to raise a question whether he would have done
as much, been so willing to sacrifice himself, for a plain woman.  Had Mr.
Stantiloup, or Sir Samuel Griffin if he had suddenly come again to life,
been found to have prior wives also living, would the Doctor have found
shelter for them in their ignominy and trouble?  Mrs. Wortle, who knew her
husband thoroughly, was sure that he would not have done so.  Mrs.
Peacocke was a very beautiful woman, and the Doctor was a man who
thoroughly admired beauty.  To say that Mrs. Wortle was jealous would be
quite untrue.  She liked to see her husband talking to a pretty woman,
because he would be sure to be in a good humour and sure to make the best
of himself.  She loved to see him shine.  But she almost wished that Mrs.
Peacocke had been ugly, because there would not then have been so much
danger about the school.

"I'm just going up to see her," said the Doctor, as soon as he got
home,--"just to ask her what she wants."

"I don't think she wants anything," said Mrs. Wortle, weakly.

"Does she not?  She must be a very odd woman if she can live there all day
alone, and not want to see a human creature."

"I was with her yesterday."

"And therefore I will call to-day," said the Doctor, leaving the room with
his hat on.

When he was shown up into the sitting-room he found Mrs. Peacocke with a
newspaper in her hand.  He could see at a glance that it was a copy of the
'Broughton Gazette,' and could see also the length and outward show of the
very article which he had been discussing with Mr. Puddicombe.  "Dr.
Wortle," she said, "if you don't mind, I will go away from this."

"But I do mind.  Why should you go away?"

"They have been writing about me in the newspapers."

"That was to be expected."

"But they have been writing about you."

"That was to have been expected also.  You don't suppose they can hurt
me?"  This was a false boast, but in such conversations he was almost
bound to boast.

"It is I, then, am hurting you?"

"You;--oh dear, no; not in the least."

"But I do.  They talk of boys going away from the school."

"Boys will go and boys will come, but we run on for ever," said the
Doctor, playfully.

"I can well understand that it should be so," said Mrs. Peacocke, passing
over the Doctor's parody as though unnoticed; "and I perceive that I ought
not to be here."

"Where ought you to be, then?" said he, intending simply to carry on his

"Where indeed!  There is no where.  But wherever I may do least injury to
innocent people,--to people who have not been driven by storms out of the
common path of life.  For this place I am peculiarly unfit."

"Will you find any place where you will be made more welcome?"

"I think not."

"Then let me manage the rest.  You have been reading that dastardly
article in the paper.  It will have no effect upon me.  Look here, Mrs.
Peacocke;"--then he got up and held her hand as though he were going, but
he remained some moments while he was still speaking to her,--still
holding her hand;--"it was settled between your husband and me, when he
went away, that you should remain here under my charge till his return.  I
am bound to him to find a home for you.  I think you are as much bound to
obey him,--which you can only do by remaining here."

"I would wish to obey him, certainly."

"You ought to do so,--from the peculiar circumstances more especially.
Don't trouble your mind about the school, but do as he desired.  There is
no question but that you must do so.  Good-bye.  Mrs. Wortle or I will
come and see you to-morrow."  Then, and not till then, he dropped her

On the next day Mrs. Wortle did call, though these visits were to her an
intolerable nuisance.  But it was certainly better that she should
alternate the visits with the Doctor than that he should go every day.
The Doctor had declared that charity required that one of them should see
the poor woman daily.  He was quite willing that they should perform the
task day and day about,--but should his wife omit the duty he must go in
his wife's place.  What would all the world of Bowick say if the Doctor
were to visit a lady, a young and a beautiful lady, every day, whereas his
wife visited the lady not at all?  Therefore they took it turn about,
except that sometimes the Doctor accompanied his wife.  The Doctor had
once suggested that his wife should take the poor lady out in her
carriage.  But against this even Mrs. Wortle had rebelled.  "Under such
circumstances as hers she ought not to be seen driving about," said Mrs.
Wortle.  The Doctor had submitted to this, but still thought that the
world of Bowick was very cruel.

Mrs. Wortle, though she made no complaint, thought that she was used
cruelly in the matter.  There had been an intention of going into Brittany
during these summer holidays.  The little tour had been almost promised.
But the affairs of Mrs. Peacocke were of such a nature as not to allow the
Doctor to be absent.  "You and Mary can go, and Henry will go with you."
Henry was a bachelor brother of Mrs. Wortle, who was always very much at
the Doctor's disposal, and at hers.  But certainly she was not going to
quit England, not going to quit home at all, while her husband remained
there, and while Mrs. Peacocke was an inmate of the school.  It was not
that she was jealous.  The idea was absurd.  But she knew very well what
Mrs. Stantiloup would say.



BUT there arose a trouble greater than that occasioned by the 'Broughton
Gazette.' There came out an article in a London weekly newspaper, called
'Everybody's Business,' which nearly drove the Doctor mad.  This was on
the last Saturday of the holidays.  The holidays had been commenced in the
middle of July, and went on till the end of August.  Things had not gone
well at Bowick during these weeks.  The parents of all the four
newly-expected boys had--changed their minds.  One father had discovered
that he could not afford it.  Another declared that the mother could not
be got to part with her darling quite so soon as he had expected.  A third
had found that a private tutor at home would best suit his purposes.
While the fourth boldly said that he did not like to send his boy because
of the "fuss" which had been made about Mr. and Mrs. Peacocke.  Had this
last come alone, the Doctor would probably have resented such a
communication; but following the others as it did, he preferred the fourth
man to any of the other three.  "Miserable cowards," he said to himself,
as he docketed the letters and put them away.  But the greatest blow of
all,--of all blows of this sort,--came to him from poor Lady Anne
Clifford.  She wrote a piteous letter to him, in which she implored him to
allow her to take her two boys away.

"My dear Doctor Wortle," she said, "so many people have been telling so
many dreadful things about this horrible affair, that I do not dare to
send my darling boys back to Bowick again.  Uncle Clifford and Lord Robert
both say that I should be very wrong.  The Marchioness has said so much
about it that I dare not go against her.  You know what my own feelings
are about you and dear Mrs. Wortle; but I am not my own mistress.  They
all tell me that it is my first duty to think about the dear boys'
welfare; and of course that is true.  I hope you won't be very angry with
me, and will write one line to say that you forgive me.--Yours most


In answer to this the Doctor did write as follows;--

"MY DEAR LADY ANNE,--Of course your duty is very plain,--to do what you
think best for the boys; and it is natural enough that you should follow
the advice of your relatives and theirs.--Faithfully yours,


He could not bring himself to write in a more friendly tone, or to tell
her that he forgave her.  His sympathies were not with her.  His
sympathies at the present moment were only with Mrs. Peacocke.  But then
Lady Anne Clifford was not a beautiful woman, as was Mrs. Peacocke.

This was a great blow.  Two other boys had also been summoned away, making
five in all, whose premature departure was owing altogether to the
virulent tongue of that wretched old Mother Shipton.  And there had been
four who were to come in the place of four others, who, in the course of
nature, were going to carry on their more advanced studies elsewhere.
Vacancies such as these had always been pre-occupied long beforehand by
ambitious parents.  These very four places had been pre-occupied, but now
they were all vacant.  There would be nine empty beds in the school when
it met again after the holidays; and the Doctor well understood that nine
beds remaining empty would soon cause others to be emptied.  It is success
that creates success, and decay that produces decay.  Gradual decay he
knew that he could not endure.  He must shut up his school,--give up his
employment,--and retire altogether from the activity of life.  He felt
that if it came to this with him he must in very truth turn his face to
the wall and die.  Would it,--would it really come to that, that Mrs.
Stantiloup should have altogether conquered him in the combat that had
sprung up between them?

But yet he would not give up Mrs. Peacocke.  Indeed, circumstanced as he
was, he could not give her up.  He had promised not only her, but her
absent husband, that until his return there should be a home for her in
the school-house.  There would be a cowardice in going back from his word
which was altogether foreign to his nature.  He could not bring himself to
retire from the fight, even though by doing so he might save himself from
the actual final slaughter which seemed to be imminent.  He thought only
of making fresh attacks upon his enemy, instead of meditating flight from
those which were made upon him.  As a dog, when another dog has got him
well by the ear, thinks not at all of his own wound, but only how he may
catch his enemy by the lip, so was the Doctor in regard to Mrs.
Stantiloup.  When the two Clifford boys were taken away, he took some joy
to himself in remembering that Mr. Stantiloup could not pay his butcher's

Then, just at the end of the holidays, some good-natured friend sent to
him a copy of 'Everybody's Business.' There is no duty which a man owes to
himself more clearly than that of throwing into the waste-paper basket,
unsearched and even unopened, all newspapers sent to him without a
previously-declared purpose.  The sender has either written something
himself which he wishes to force you to read, or else he has been desirous
of wounding you by some ill-natured criticism upon yourself.  'Everybody's
Business' was a paper which, in the natural course of things, did not find
its way into the Bowick Rectory; and the Doctor, though he was no doubt
acquainted with the title, had never even looked at its columns.  It was
the purpose of the periodical to amuse its readers, as its name declared,
with the private affairs of their neighbours.  It went boldly about its
work, excusing itself by the assertion that Jones was just as well
inclined to be talked about as Smith was to hear whatever could be said
about Jones.  As both parties were served, what could be the objection?
It was in the main good-natured, and probably did most frequently gratify
the Joneses, while it afforded considerable amusement to the listless and
numerous Smiths of the world.  If you can't read and understand Jones's
speech in Parliament, you may at any rate have mind enough to interest
yourself with the fact that he never composed a word of it in his own room
without a ring on his finger and a flower in his button-hole.  It may also
be agreeable to know that Walker the poet always takes a mutton-chop and
two glasses of sherry at half-past one.  'Everybody's Business' did this
for everybody to whom such excitement was agreeable.  But in managing
everybody's business in that fashion, let a writer be as good-natured as
he may and let the principle be ever so well-founded that nobody is to be
hurt, still there are dangers.  It is not always easy to know what will
hurt and what will not.  And then sometimes there will come a temptation
to be, not spiteful, but specially amusing.  There must be danger, and a
writer will sometimes be indiscreet.  Personalities will lead to libels
even when the libeller has been most innocent.  It may be that after all
the poor poet never drank a glass of sherry before dinner in his life,--it
may be that a little toast-and-water, even with his dinner, gives him all
the refreshment that he wants, and that two glasses of alcoholic mixture
in the middle of the day shall seem, when imputed to him, to convey a
charge of downright inebriety.  But the writer has perhaps learned to
regard two glasses of meridian wine as but a moderate amount of
sustentation.  This man is much flattered if it be given to be understood
of him that he falls in love with every pretty woman that he
sees;--whereas another will think that he has been made subject to a foul
calumny by such insinuation.

'Everybody's Business' fell into some such mistake as this, in that very
amusing article which was written for the delectation of its readers in
reference to Dr. Wortle and Mrs. Peacocke.  The 'Broughton Gazette' no
doubt confined itself to the clerical and highly moral views of the case,
and, having dealt with the subject chiefly on behalf of the Close and the
admirers of the Close, had made no allusion to the fact that Mrs. Peacocke
was a very pretty woman.  One or two other local papers had been more
scurrilous, and had, with ambiguous and timid words, alluded to the
Doctor's personal admiration for the lady.  These, or the rumours created
by them, had reached one of the funniest and lightest-handed of the
contributors to 'Everybody's Business,' and he had concocted an amusing
article,--which he had not intended to be at all libellous, which he had
thought to be only funny.  He had not appreciated, probably, the tragedy
of the lady's position, or the sanctity of that of the gentleman.  There
was comedy in the idea of the Doctor having sent one husband away to
America to look after the other while he consoled the wife in England.
"It must be admitted," said the writer, "that the Doctor has the best of
it.  While one gentleman is gouging the other,--as cannot but be
expected,--the Doctor will be at any rate in security, enjoying the smiles
of beauty under his own fig-tree at Bowick.  After a hot morning with
'_tupto_' in the school, there will be 'amo' in the cool of the evening."
And this was absolutely sent to him by some good-natured friend!

The funny writer obtained a popularity wider probably than he had
expected.  His words reached Mrs. Stantiloup, as well as the Doctor, and
were read even in the Bishop's palace.  They were quoted even in the
'Broughton Gazette,' not with approbation, but in a high tone of moral
severity.  "See the nature of the language to which Dr. Wortle's conduct
has subjected the whole of the diocese!"  That was the tone of the
criticism made by the 'Broughton Gazette' on the article in 'Everybody's
Business.' "What else has he a right to expect?" said Mrs. Stantiloup to
Mrs. Rolland, having made quite a journey into Broughton for the sake of
discussing it at the palace.  There she explained it all to Mrs. Rolland,
having herself studied the passage so as fully to appreciate the virus
contained in it.  "He passes all the morning in the school whipping the
boys himself because he has sent Mr. Peacocke away, and then amuses
himself in the evening by making love to Mr. Peacocke's wife, as he calls
her."  Dr. Wortle, when he read and re-read the article, and when the jokes
which were made upon it reached his ears, as they were sure to do, was
nearly maddened by what he called the heartless iniquity of the world; but
his state became still worse when he received an affectionate but solemn
letter from the Bishop warning him of his danger.  An affectionate letter
from a bishop must surely be the most disagreeable missive which a parish
clergyman can receive.  Affection from one man to another is not natural
in letters.  A bishop never writes affectionately unless he means to
reprove severely.  When he calls a clergyman his "dear brother in Christ,"
he is sure to go on to show that the man so called is altogether unworthy
of the name.  So it was with a letter now received at Bowick, in which the
Bishop expressed his opinion that Dr. Wortle ought not to pay any further
visits to Mrs. Peacocke till she should have settled herself down with one
legitimate husband, let that legitimate husband be who it might.  The
Bishop did not indeed, at first, make reference by name to 'Everybody's
Business,' but he stated that the "metropolitan press" had taken up the
matter, and that scandal would take place in the diocese if further cause
were given.  "It is not enough to be innocent," said the Bishop, "but men
must know that we are so."

Then there came a sharp and pressing correspondence between the Bishop and
the Doctor, which lasted four or five days.  The Doctor, without referring
to any other portion of the Bishop's letter, demanded to know to what
"metropolitan newspaper" the Bishop had alluded, as, if any such paper had
spread scandalous imputations as to him, the Doctor, respecting the lady
in question, it would be his, the Doctor's, duty to proceed against that
newspaper for libel.  In answer to this the Bishop, in a note much shorter
and much less affectionate than his former letter, said that he did not
wish to name any metropolitan newspaper.  But the Doctor would not, of
course, put up with such an answer as this.  He wrote very solemnly now,
if not affectionately.  "His lordship had spoken of 'scandal in the
diocese.' The words," said the Doctor, "contained a most grave charge.  He
did not mean to say that any such accusation had been made by the Bishop
himself; but such accusation must have been made by some one at least of
the London newspapers or the Bishop would not have been justified in what
he has written.  Under such circumstances he, Dr. Wortle, thought himself
entitled to demand from the Bishop the name of the newspaper in question,
and the date on which the article had appeared."

In answer to this there came no written reply, but a copy of the
'Everybody's Business' which the Doctor had already seen.  He had, no
doubt, known from the first that it was the funny paragraph about
'_tupto_' and "amo" to which the Bishop had referred.  But in the serious
steps which he now intended to take, he was determined to have positive
proof from the hands of the Bishop himself.  The Bishop had not directed
the pernicious newspaper with his own hands, but if called upon, could not
deny that it had been sent from the palace by his orders.  Having received
it, the Doctor wrote back at once as follows;--

"RIGHT REVEREND AND DEAR LORD,--Any word coming from your lordship to me
is of grave importance, as should, I think, be all words coming from a
bishop to his clergy; and they are of special importance when containing a
reproof, whether deserved or undeserved.  The scurrilous and vulgar attack
made upon me in the newspaper which your lordship has sent to me would not
have been worthy of my serious notice had it not been made worthy by your
lordship as being the ground on which such a letter was written to me as
that of your lordship's of the 12th instant.  Now it has been invested
with so much solemnity by your lordship's notice of it that I feel myself
obliged to defend myself against it by public action.

"If I have given just cause of scandal to the diocese I will retire both
from my living and from my school.  But before doing so I will endeavour
to prove that I have done neither.  This I can only do by publishing in a
court of law all the circumstances in reference to my connection with Mr.
and Mrs. Peacocke.  As regards myself, this, though necessary, will be
very painful.  As regards them, I am inclined to think that the more the
truth is known, the more general and the more generous will be the
sympathy felt for their position.

"As the newspaper sent to me, no doubt by your lordship's orders, from the
palace, has been accompanied by no letter, it may be necessary that your
lordship should be troubled by a subp[oe]na, so as to prove that the
newspaper alluded to by your lordship is the one against which my
proceedings will be taken.  It will be necessary, of course, that I should
show that the libel in question has been deemed important enough to bring
down upon me ecclesiastical rebuke of such a nature as to make my
remaining in the diocese unbearable,--unless it is shown that that rebuke
was undeserved."

There was consternation in the palace when this was received.  So
stiffnecked a man, so obstinate, so unclerical,--so determined to make
much of little!  The Bishop had felt himself bound to warn a clergyman
that, for the sake of the Church, he could not do altogether as other men
might.  No doubt certain ladies had got around him,--especially Lady
Margaret Momson,--filling his ears with the horrors of the Doctor's
proceedings.  The gentleman who had written the article about the Greek
and the Latin words had seen the truth of the thing at once,--so said Lady
Margaret.  The Doctor had condoned the offence committed by the Peacockes
because the woman had been beautiful, and was repaying himself for his
mercy by basking in her loveliness.  There was no saying that there was
not some truth in this?  Mrs. Wortle herself entertained a feeling of the
same kind.  It was palpable, on the face of it, to all except Dr. Wortle
himself,--and to Mrs. Peacocke.  Mrs. Stantiloup, who had made her way
into the palace, was quite convincing on this point.  Everybody knew, she
said, that the Doctor went across, and saw the lady all alone, every day.
Everybody did not know that.  If everybody had been accurate, everybody
would have asserted that he did this thing every other day.  But the
matter, as it was represented to the Bishop by the ladies, with the
assistance of one or two clergymen in the Close, certainly seemed to
justify his lordship's interference.

But this that was threatened was very terrible.  There was a determination
about the Doctor which made it clear to the Bishop that he would be as bad
as he said.  When he, the Bishop, had spoken of scandal, of course he had
not intended to say that the Doctor's conduct was scandalous; nor had he
said anything of the kind.  He had used the word in its proper sense,--and
had declared that offence would be created in the minds of people unless
an injurious report were stopped.  "It is not enough to be innocent," he
had said, "but men must know that we are so."  He had declared in that his
belief in Dr. Wortle's innocence.  But yet there might, no doubt, be an
action for libel against the newspaper.  And when damages came to be
considered, much weight would be placed naturally on the attention which
the Bishop had paid to the article.  The result of this was that the
Bishop invited the Doctor to come and spend a night with him in the

The Doctor went, reaching the palace only just before dinner.  During
dinner and in the drawing-room Dr. Wortle made himself very pleasant.  He
was a man who could always be soft and gentle in a drawing-room.  To see
him talking with Mrs. Rolland and the Bishop's daughters, you would not
have thought that there was anything wrong with him.  The discussion with
the Bishop came after that, and lasted till midnight.  "It will be for the
disadvantage of the diocese that this matter should be dragged into
Court,--and for the disadvantage of the Church in general that a clergyman
should seem to seek such redress against his bishop."  So said the Bishop.

But the Doctor was obdurate.  "I seek no redress," he said, "against my
bishop.  I seek redress against a newspaper which has calumniated me.  It
is your good opinion, my lord,--your good opinion or your ill opinion
which is the breath of my nostrils.  I have to refer to you in order that
I may show that this paper, which I should otherwise have despised, has
been strong enough to influence that opinion."



THE Doctor went up to London, and was told by his lawyers that an action
for damages probably would lie.  "'Amo' in the cool of the evening,"
certainly meant making love.  There could be no doubt that allusion was
made to Mrs. Peacocke.  To accuse a clergyman of a parish, and a
schoolmaster, of making love to a lady so circumstanced as Mrs. Peacocke,
no doubt was libellous.  Presuming that the libel could not be justified,
he would probably succeed.  "Justified!" said the Doctor, almost
shrieking, to his lawyers; "I never said a word to the lady in my life
except in pure kindness and charity.  Every word might have been heard by
all the world."  Nevertheless, had all the world been present, he would
not have held her hand so tenderly or so long as he had done on a certain
occasion which has been mentioned.

"They will probably apologise," said the lawyer.

"Shall I be bound to accept their apology?"

"No; not bound; but you would have to show, if you went on with the
action, that the damage complained of was of so grievous a nature that the
apology would not salve it."

"The damage has been already done," said the Doctor, eagerly.  "I have
received the Bishop's rebuke,--a rebuke in which he has said that I have
brought scandal upon the diocese."

"Rebukes break no bones," said the lawyer.  "Can you show that it will
serve to prevent boys from coming to your school?"

"It may not improbably force me to give up the living.  I certainly will
not remain there subject to the censure of the Bishop.  I do not in truth
want any damages.  I would not accept money.  I only want to set myself
right before the world."  It was then agreed that the necessary
communication should be made by the lawyer to the newspaper proprietors,
so as to put the matter in a proper train for the action.

After this the Doctor returned home, just in time to open his school with
his diminished forces.  At the last moment there was another defaulter, so
that there were now no more than twenty pupils.  The school had not been
so low as this for the last fifteen years.  There had never been less than
eight-and-twenty before, since Mrs. Stantiloup had first begun her
campaign.  It was heartbreaking to him.  He felt as though he were almost
ashamed to go into his own school.  In directing his housekeeper to send
the diminished orders to the tradesmen he was thoroughly ashamed of
himself; in giving his directions to the usher as to the re-divided
classes he was thoroughly ashamed of himself.  He wished that there was no
school, and would have been contented now to give it all up, and to
confine Mary's fortune to £10,000 instead of £20,000, had it not been that
he could not bear to confess that he was beaten.  The boys themselves
seemed almost to carry their tails between their legs, as though even they
were ashamed of their own school.  If, as was too probable, another
half-dozen should go at Christmas, then the thing must be abandoned.  And
how could he go on as rector of the parish with the abominable empty
building staring him in the face every moment of his life.

"I hope you are not really going to law," said his wife to him.

"I must, my dear.  I have no other way of defending my honour."

"Go to law with the Bishop?"

"No, not with the Bishop."

"But the Bishop would be brought into it?"

"Yes; he will certainly be brought into it."

"And as an enemy.  What I mean is, that he will be brought in very much
against his own will."

"Not a doubt about it," said the Doctor.  "But he will have brought it
altogether upon himself.  How he can have condescended to send that
scurrilous newspaper is more than I can understand.  That one gentleman
should have so treated another is to me incomprehensible.  But that a
bishop should have done so to a clergyman of his own diocese shakes all my
old convictions.  There is a vulgarity about it, a meanness of thinking,
an aptitude to suspect all manner of evil, which I cannot fathom.  What!
did he really think that I was making love to the woman; did he doubt that
I was treating her and her husband with kindness, as one human being is
bound to treat another in affliction; did he believe, in his heart, that I
sent the man away in order that I might have an opportunity for a wicked
purpose of my own?  It is impossible.  When I think of myself and of him,
I cannot believe it.  That woman who has succeeded at last in stirring up
all this evil against me,--even she could not believe it.  Her malice is
sufficient to make her conduct intelligible;--but there is no malice in
the Bishop's mind against me.  He would infinitely sooner live with me on
pleasant terms if he could justify his doing so to his conscience.  He has
been stirred to do this in the execution of some presumed duty.  I do not
accuse him of malice.  But I do accuse him of a meanness of intellect
lower than what I could have presumed to have been possible in a man so
placed.  I never thought him clever; I never thought him great; I never
thought him even to be a gentleman, in the fullest sense of the word; but
I did think he was a man.  This is the performance of a creature not
worthy to be called so."

"Oh, Jeffrey, he did not believe all that."

"What did he believe?  When he read that article, did he see in it a true
rebuke against a hypocrite, or did he see in it a scurrilous attack upon a
brother clergyman, a neighbour, and a friend?  If the latter, he certainly
would not have been instigated by it to write to me such a letter as he
did.  He certainly would not have sent the paper to me had he felt it to
contain a foul-mouthed calumny."

"He wanted you to know what people of that sort were saying."

"Yes; he wanted me to know that, and he wanted me to know also that the
knowledge had come to me from my bishop.  I should have thought evil of
any one who had sent me the vile ribaldry.  But coming from him, it fills
me with despair."

"Despair!" she said, repeating his word.

"Yes; despair as to the condition of the Church when I see a man capable
of such meanness holding so high place.  '"Amo" in the cool of the
evening!' That words such as those should have been sent to me by the
Bishop, as showing what the 'metropolitan press' of the day was saying
about my conduct!  Of course, my action will be against him,--against the
Bishop.  I shall be bound to expose his conduct.  What else can I do?
There are things which a man cannot bear and live.  Were I to put up with
this I must leave the school, leave the parish;--nay, leave the country.
There is a stain upon me which I must wash out, or I cannot remain here."

"No, no, no," said his wife, embracing him.

"'"Amo" in the cool of the evening!' And that when, as God is my judge
above me, I have done my best to relieve what has seemed to me the
unmerited sorrows of two poor sufferers!  Had it come from Mrs.
Stantiloup, it would, of course, have been nothing.  I could have
understood that her malice should have condescended to anything, however
low.  But from the Bishop!"

"How will you be the worse?  Who will know?"

"I know it," said he, striking his breast.  "I know it.  The wound is
here.  Do you think that when a coarse libel is welcomed in the Bishop's
palace, and treated there as true, that it will not be spread abroad among
other houses?  When the Bishop has thought it necessary to send it me,
what will other people do,--others who are not bound to be just and
righteous in their dealings with me as he is?  '"Amo" in the cool of the
evening!'"  Then he seized his hat and rushed out into the garden.

The gentleman who had written the paragraph certainly had had no idea that
his words would have been thus effectual.  The little joke had seemed to
him to be good enough to fill a paragraph, and it had gone from him
without further thought.  Of the Doctor or of the lady he had conceived no
idea whatsoever.  Somebody else had said somewhere that a clergyman had
sent a lady's reputed husband away to look for another husband, while he
and the lady remained together.  The joke had not been much of a joke, but
it had been enough.  It had gone forth, and had now brought the whole
palace of Broughton into grief, and had nearly driven our excellent Doctor
mad!  "'Amo' in the cool of the evening!"  The words stuck to him like the
shirt of Nessus, lacerating his very spirit.  That words such as those
should have been sent to him in a solemn sober spirit by the bishop of his
diocese!  It never occurred to him that he had, in truth, been imprudent
when paying his visits alone to Mrs. Peacocke.

It was late in the evening, and he wandered away up through the green
rides of a wood the borders of which came down to the glebe fields.  He
had been boiling over with indignation while talking to his wife.  But as
soon as he was alone he endeavoured,--purposely endeavoured to rid himself
for a while of his wrath.  This matter was so important to him that he
knew well that it behoved him to look at it all round in a spirit other
than that of anger.  He had talked of giving up his school, and giving up
his parish, and had really for a time almost persuaded himself that he
must do so unless he could induce the Bishop publicly to withdraw the
censure which he felt to have been expressed against him.

And then what would his life be afterwards?  His parish and his school had
not been only sources of income to him.  The duty also had been dear, and
had been performed on the whole with conscientious energy.  Was everything
to be thrown up, and his whole life hereafter be made a blank to him,
because the Bishop had been unjust and injudicious?  He could see that it
well might be so, if he were to carry this contest on.  He knew his own
temper well enough to be sure that, as he fought, he would grow hotter in
the fight, and that when he was once in the midst of it nothing would be
possible to him but absolute triumph or absolute annihilation.  If once he
should succeed in getting the Bishop into court as a witness, either the
Bishop must be crushed or he himself.  The Bishop must be got to say why
he had sent that low ribaldry to a clergyman in his parish.  He must be
asked whether he had himself believed it, or whether he had not believed
it.  He must be made to say that there existed no slightest reason for
believing the insinuation contained; and then, having confessed so much,
he must be asked why he had sent that letter to Bowick parsonage.  If it
were false as well as ribald, slanderous as well as vulgar, malicious as
well as mean, was the sending of it a mode of communication between a
bishop and a clergyman of which he as a bishop could approve?  Questions
such as these must be asked him; and the Doctor, as he walked alone,
arranging these questions within his own bosom, putting them into the
strongest language which he could find, almost assured himself that the
Bishop would be crushed in answering them.  The Bishop had made a great
mistake.  So the Doctor assured himself.  He had been entrapped by bad
advisers, and had fallen into a pit.  He had gone wrong, and had lost
himself.  When cross-questioned, as the Doctor suggested to himself that
he should be cross-questioned, the Bishop would have to own all this;--and
then he would be crushed.

But did he really want to crush the Bishop?  Had this man been so bitter
an enemy to him that, having him on the hip, he wanted to strike him down
altogether?  In describing the man's character to his wife, as he had done
in the fury of his indignation, he had acquitted the man of malice.  He
was sure now, in his calmer moments, that the man had not intended to do
him harm.  If it were left in the Bishop's bosom, his parish, his school,
and his character would all be made safe to him.  He was sure of that.
There was none of the spirit of Mrs. Stantiloup in the feeling that had
prevailed at the palace.  The Bishop, who had never yet been able to be
masterful over him, had desired in a mild way to become masterful.  He had
liked the opportunity of writing that affectionate letter.  That reference
to the "metropolitan press" had slipt from him unawares; and then, when
badgered for his authority, when driven to give an instance from the
London newspapers, he had sent the objectionable periodical.  He had, in
point of fact, made a mistake;--a stupid, foolish mistake, into which a
really well-bred man would hardly have fallen.  "Ought I to take advantage
of it?" said the Doctor to himself when he had wandered for an hour or
more alone through the wood.  He certainly did not wish to be crushed
himself.  Ought he to be anxious to crush the Bishop because of this

"As for the paper," he said to himself, walking quicker as his mind turned
to this side of the subject,--"as for the paper itself, it is beneath my
notice.  What is it to me what such a publication, or even the readers of
it, may think of me?  As for damages, I would rather starve than soil my
hands with their money.  Though it should succeed in ruining me, I could
not accept redress in that shape."  And thus having thought the matter
fully over, he returned home, still wrathful, but with mitigated wrath.

A Saturday was fixed on which he should again go up to London to see the
lawyer.  He was obliged now to be particular about his days, as, in the
absence of Mr. Peacocke, the school required his time.  Saturday was a
half-holiday, and on that day he could be absent on condition of remitting
the classical lessons in the morning.  As he thought of it all he began to
be almost tired of Mr. Peacocke.  Nevertheless, on the Saturday morning,
before he started, he called on Mrs. Peacocke,--in company with his
wife,--and treated her with all his usual cordial kindness.  "Mrs.
Wortle," he said, "is going up to town with me; but we shall be home
to-night, and we will see you on Monday if not to-morrow."  Mrs. Wortle was
going with him, not with the view of being present at his interview with
the lawyer, which she knew would not be allowed, but on the pretext of
shopping.  Her real reason for making the request to be taken up to town
was, that she might use the last moment possible in mitigating her
husband's wrath against the Bishop.

"I have seen one of the proprietors and the editor," said the lawyer, "and
they are quite willing to apologise.  I really do believe they are very
sorry.  The words had been allowed to pass without being weighed.  Nothing
beyond an innocent joke was intended."

"I dare say.  It seems innocent enough to them.  If soot be thrown at a
chimney-sweeper the joke is innocent, but very offensive when it is thrown
at you."

"They are quite aware that you have ground to complain.  Of course you can
go on if you like.  The fact that they have offered to apologise will no
doubt be a point in their favour.  Nevertheless you would probably get a

"We could bring the Bishop into court?"

"I think so.  You have got his letter speaking of the 'metropolitan

"Oh yes."

"It is for you to think, Dr. Wortle, whether there would not be a feeling
against you among clergymen."

"Of course there will.  Men in authority always have public sympathy with
them in this country.  No man more rejoices that it should be so than I
do.  But not the less is it necessary that now and again a man shall make
a stand in his own defence.  He should never have sent me that paper."

"Here," said the lawyer, "is the apology they propose to insert if you
approve of it.  They will also pay my bill,--which, however, will not, I
am sorry to say, be very heavy."  Then the lawyer handed to the Doctor a
slip of paper, on which the following words were written;--

"Our attention has been called to a notice which was made in our
impression of the -- ultimo on the conduct of a clergyman in the diocese
of Broughton.  A joke was perpetrated which, we are sorry to find, has
given offence where certainly no offence was intended.  We have since
heard all the details of the case to which reference was made, and are
able to say that the conduct of the clergyman in question has deserved
neither censure nor ridicule.  Actuated by the purest charity he has
proved himself a sincere friend to persons in great trouble."

"They'll put in your name if you wish it," said the lawyer, "or alter it
in any way you like, so that they be not made to eat too much dirt."

"I do not want them to alter it," said the Doctor, sitting thoughtfully.
"Their eating dirt will do no good to me.  They are nothing to me.  It is
the Bishop."  Then, as though he were not thinking of what he did, he tore
the paper and threw the fragments down on the floor.  "They are nothing to

"You will not accept their apology?" said the lawyer.

"Oh yes;--or rather, it is unnecessary.  You may tell them that I have
changed my mind, and that I will ask for no apology.  As far as the paper
is concerned, it will be better to let the thing die a natural death.  I
should never have troubled myself about the newspaper if the Bishop had
not sent it to me.  Indeed I had seen it before the Bishop sent it, and
thought little or nothing of it.  Animals will after their kind.  The wasp
stings, and the polecat stinks, and the lion tears its prey asunder.  Such
a paper as that of course follows its own bent.  One would have thought
that a bishop would have done the same."

"I may tell them that the action is withdrawn."

"Certainly; certainly.  Tell them also that they will oblige me by putting
in no apology.  And as for your bill, I would prefer to pay it myself.  I
will exercise no anger against them.  It is not they who in truth have
injured me."  As he returned home he was not altogether happy, feeling that
the Bishop would escape him; but he made his wife happy by telling her the
decision to which he had come.



THE absence of Dr. and Mrs. Wortle was peculiarly unfortunate on that
afternoon, as a visitor rode over from a distance to make a call,--a
visitor whom they both would have been very glad to welcome, but of whose
coming Mrs. Wortle was not so delighted to hear when she was told by Mary
that he had spent two or three hours at the Rectory.  Mrs. Wortle began to
think whether the visitor could have known of her intended absence and the
Doctor's.  That Mary had not known that the visitor was coming she was
quite certain.  Indeed she did not really suspect the visitor, who was one
too ingenuous in his nature to preconcert so subtle and so wicked a
scheme.  The visitor, of course, had been Lord Carstairs.

"Was he here long?" asked Mrs. Wortle anxiously.

"Two or three hours, mamma.  He rode over from Buttercup where he is
staying, for a cricket match, and of course I got him some lunch."

"I should hope so," said the Doctor.  "But I didn't think that Carstairs
was so fond of the Momson lot as all that."

Mrs. Wortle at once doubted the declared purpose of this visit to
Buttercup.  Buttercup was more than half-way between Carstairs and Bowick.

"And then we had a game of lawn-tennis.  Talbot and Monk came through to
make up sides."  So much Mary told at once, but she did not tell more
till she was alone with her mother.

Young Carstairs had certainly not come over on the sly, as we may call it,
but nevertheless there had been a project in his mind, and fortune had
favoured him.  He was now about nineteen, and had been treated for the
last twelve months almost as though he had been a man.  It had seemed to
him that there was no possible reason why he should not fall in love as
well as another.  Nothing more sweet, nothing more lovely, nothing more
lovable than Mary Wortle had he ever seen.  He had almost made up his mind
to speak on two or three occasions before he left Bowick; but either his
courage or the occasion had failed him.  Once, as he was walking home with
her from church, he had said one word;--but it had amounted to nothing.
She had escaped from him before she was bound to understand what he meant.
He did not for a moment suppose that she had understood anything.  He was
only too much afraid that she regarded him as a mere boy.  But when he had
been away from Bowick two months he resolved that he would not be regarded
as a mere boy any longer.  Therefore he took an opportunity of going to
Buttercup, which he certainly would not have done for the sake of the
Momsons or for the sake of the cricket.

He ate his lunch before he said a word, and then, with but poor grace,
submitted to the lawn-tennis with Talbot and Monk.  Even to his youthful
mind it seemed that Talbot and Monk were brought in on purpose.  They were
both of them boys he had liked, but he hated them now.  However, he played
his game, and when that was over, managed to get rid of them, sending them
back through the gate to the school-ground.

"I think I must say good-bye now," said Mary, "because there are ever so
many things in the house which I have got to do."

"I am going almost immediately," said the young lord.

"Papa will be so sorry not to have seen you."  This had been said once or
twice before.

"I came over," he said, "on purpose to see you."

They were now standing on the middle of the lawn, and Mary had assumed a
look which intended to signify that she expected him to go.  He knew the
place well enough to get his own horse, or to order the groom to get it
for him.  But instead of that, he stood his ground, and now declared his

"To see me, Lord Carstairs!"

"Yes, Miss Wortle.  And if the Doctor had been here, or your mother, I
should have told them."

"Have told them what?" she asked.  She knew; she felt sure that she knew;
and yet she could not refrain from the question.

"I have come here to ask if you can love me."

It was a most decided way of declaring his purpose, and one which made
Mary feel that a great difficulty was at once thrown upon her.  She really
did not know whether she could love him or not.  Why shouldn't she have
been able to love him?  Was it not natural enough that she should be able?
But she knew that she ought not to love him, whether able or not.  There
were various reasons which were apparent enough to her though it might be
very difficult to make him see them.  He was little more than a boy, and
had not yet finished his education.  His father and mother would not
expect him to fall in love, at any rate till he had taken his degree.  And
they certainly would not expect him to fall in love with the daughter of
his tutor.  She had an idea that, circumstanced as she was, she was bound
by loyalty both to her own father and to the lad's father not to be able
to love him.  She thought that she would find it easy enough to say that
she did not love him; but that was not the question.  As for being able to
love him,--she could not answer that at all.

"Lord Carstairs," she said, severely, "you ought not to have come here
when papa and mamma are away."

"I didn't know they were away.  I expected to find them here."

"But they ain't.  And you ought to go away."

"Is that all you can say to me?"

"I think it is.  You know you oughtn't to talk to me like that.  Your own
papa and mamma would be angry if they knew it."

"Why should they be angry?  Do you think that I shall not tell them?"

"I am sure they would disapprove it altogether," said Mary.  "In fact it
is all nonsense, and you really must go away."

Then she made a decided attempt to enter the house by the drawing-room
window, which opened out on a gravel terrace.

But he stopped her, standing boldly by the window.  "I think you ought to
give me an answer, Mary," he said.

"I have; and I cannot say anything more.  You must let me go in."

"If they say that it's all right at Carstairs, then will you love me?"

"They won't say that it's all right; and papa won't think that it's right.
It's very wrong.  You haven't been to Oxford yet, and you'll have to
remain there for three years.  I think it's very ill-natured of you to
come and talk to me like this.  Of course it means nothing.  You are only
a boy, but yet you ought to know better."

"It does mean something.  It means a great deal.  As for being a boy, I am
older than you are, and have quite as much right to know my own mind."

Hereupon she took advantage of some little movement in his position, and,
tripping by him hastily, made good her escape into the house.  Young
Carstairs, perceiving that his occasion for the present was over, went
into the yard and got upon his horse.  He was by no means contented with
what he had done, but still he thought that he must have made her
understand his purpose.

Mary, when she found herself safe within her own room, could not refrain
from asking herself the question which her lover had asked her.  "Could
she love him?"  She didn't see any reason why she couldn't love him.  It
would be very nice, she thought, to love him.  He was sweet-tempered,
handsome, bright, and thoroughly good-humoured; and then his position in
the world was very high.  Not for a moment did she tell herself that she
would love him.  She did not understand all the differences in the world's
ranks quite as well as did her father, but still she felt that because of
his rank,--because of his rank and his youth combined,--she ought not to
allow herself to love him.  There was no reason why the son of a peer
should not marry the daughter of a clergyman.  The peer and the clergyman
might be equally gentlemen.  But young Carstairs had been there in trust.
Lord Bracy had sent him there to be taught Latin and Greek, and had a
right to expect that he should not be encouraged to fall in love with his
tutor's daughter.  It was not that she did not think herself good enough
to be loved by any young lord, but that she was too good to bring trouble
on the people who had trusted her father.  Her father would despise her
were he to hear that she had encouraged the lad, or as some might say, had
entangled him.  She did not know whether she should not have spoken to
Lord Carstairs more decidedly.  But she could, at any rate, comfort
herself with the assurance that she had given him no encouragement.  Of
course she must tell it all to her mother, but in doing so could declare
positively that she had given the young man no encouragement.

"It was very unfortunate that Lord Carstairs should have come just when I
was away," said Mrs. Wortle to her daughter as soon as they were alone

"Yes, mamma; it was."

"And so odd.  I haven't been away from home any day all the summer

"He expected to find you."

"Of course he did.  Had he anything particular to say!"

"Yes, mamma."

"He had?  What was it, my dear?"

"I was very much surprised, mamma, but I couldn't help it.  He asked

"Asked you what, Mary?"

"Oh, mamma!"  Here she knelt down and hid her face in her mother's lap.

"Oh, my dear, this is very bad;--very bad indeed."

"It needn't be bad for you, mamma; or for papa."

"Is it bad for you, my child?"

"No, mamma; except of course that I am sorry that it should be so."

"What did you say to him?"

"Of course I told him that it was impossible.  He is only a boy, and I
told him so."

"You made him no promise."

"No, mamma; no!  A promise!  Oh dear no!  Of course it is impossible.  I
knew that.  I never dreamed of anything of the kind; but he said it all
there out on the lawn."

"Had he come on purpose?"

"Yes;--so he said.  I think he had.  But he will go to Oxford, and will of
course forget it."

"He is such a nice boy," said Mrs. Wortle, who, in all her anxiety, could
not but like the lad the better for having fallen in love with her

"Yes, mamma; he is.  I always liked him.  But this is quite out of the
question.  What would his papa and mamma say?"

"It would be very dreadful to have a quarrel, wouldn't it,--and just at
present, when there are so many things to trouble your papa."  Though Mrs.
Wortle was quite honest and true in the feeling she had expressed as to
the young lord's visit, yet she was alive to the glory of having a young
lord for her son-in-law.

"Of course it is out of the question, mamma.  It has never occurred to me
for a moment as otherwise.  He has got to go to Oxford and take his degree
before he thinks of such a thing.  I shall be quite an old woman by that
time, and he will have forgotten me.  You may be sure, mamma, that
whatever I did say to him was quite plain.  I wish you could have been
here and heard it all, and seen it all."

"My darling," said the mother, embracing her, "I could not believe you
more thoroughly even though I saw it all, and heard it all."

That night Mrs. Wortle felt herself constrained to tell the whole story to
her husband.  It was indeed impossible for her to keep any secret from her
husband.  When Mary, in her younger years, had torn her frock or cut her
finger, that was always told to the Doctor.  If a gardener was seen idling
his time, or a housemaid flirting with the groom, that certainly would be
told to the Doctor.  What comfort does a woman get out of her husband
unless she may be allowed to talk to him about everything?  When it had
been first proposed that Lord Carstairs should come into the house as a
private pupil she had expressed her fear to the Doctor,--because of Mary.
The Doctor had ridiculed her fears, and this had been the result.  Of
course she must tell the Doctor.  "Oh, dear," she said, "what do you think
has happened while we were up in London?"

"Carstairs was here."

"Oh, yes; he was here.  He came on purpose to make a regular declaration
of love to Mary."


"But he did, Jeffrey."

"How do you know he came on purpose."

"He told her so."

"I did not think the boy had so much spirit in him," said the Doctor.
This was a way of looking at it which Mrs. Wortle had not expected.  Her
husband seemed rather to approve than otherwise of what had been done.  At
any rate, he had expressed none of that loud horror which she had
expected.  "Nevertheless," continued the Doctor, "he's a stupid fool for
his pains."

"I don't know that he is a fool," said Mrs. Wortle.

"Yes; he is.  He is not yet twenty, and he has all Oxford before him.  How
did Mary behave?"

"Like an angel," said Mary's mother.

"That's of course.  You and I are bound to believe so.  But what did she
do, and what did she say?"

"She told him that it was simply impossible."

"So it is,--I'm afraid.  She at any rate was bound to give him no

"She gave him none.  She feels quite strongly that it is altogether
impossible.  What would Lord Bracy say?"

"If Carstairs were but three or four years older," said the Doctor,
proudly, "Lord Bracy would have much to be thankful for in the attachment
on the part of his son, if it were met by a return of affection on the
part of my daughter.  What better could he want?"

"But he is only a boy," said Mrs. Wortle.

"No; that's where it is.  And Mary was quite right to tell him that it is
impossible.  It is impossible.  And I trust, for her sake, that his words
have not touched her young heart."

"Oh, no," said Mrs. Wortle.

"Had it been otherwise how could we have been angry with the child?"

Now this did seem to the mother to be very much in contradiction to that
which the Doctor had himself said when she had whispered to him that Lord
Carstairs's coming might be dangerous.  "I was afraid of it, as you know,"
said she.

"His character has altered during the last twelve months."

"I suppose when boys grow into men it is so with them."

"Not so quickly," said the Doctor.  "A boy when he leaves Eton is not
generally thinking of these things."

"A boy at Eton is not thrown into such society," said Mrs. Wortle.

"I suppose his being here and seeing Mary every day has done it.  Poor

"I don't think she is poor at all," said Mary's mother.

"I am afraid she must not dream of her young lover."

"Of course she will not dream of him.  She has never entertained any idea
of the kind.  There never was a girl with less nonsense of that kind than
Mary.  When Lord Carstairs spoke to her to-day I do not suppose she had
thought about him more than any other boy that has been here."

"But she will think now."

"No;--not in the least.  She knows it is impossible."

"Nevertheless she will think about it.  And so will you."


"Yes,--why not?  Why should you be different from other mothers?  Why
should I not think about it as other fathers might do?  It is impossible.
I wish it were not.  For Mary's sake, I wish he were three or four years
older.  But he is as he is, and we know that it is impossible.
Nevertheless, it is natural that she should think about him.  I only hope
that she will not think about him too much."  So saying he closed the
conversation for that night.

Mary did not think very much about "it" in such a way as to create
disappointment.  She at once realised the impossibilities, so far as to
perceive that the young lord was the top brick of the chimney as far as
she was concerned.  The top brick of the chimney may be very desirable,
but one doesn't cry for it, because it is unattainable.  Therefore Mary
did not in truth think of loving her young lover.  He had been to her a
very nice boy; and so he was still; that;--that, and nothing more.  Then
had come this little episode in her life which seemed to lend it a gentle
tinge of romance.  But had she inquired of her bosom she would have
declared that she had not been in love.  With her mother there was perhaps
something of regret.  But it was exactly the regret which may be felt in
reference to the top brick.  It would have been so sweet had it been
possible; but then it was so evidently impossible.

With the Doctor the feeling was somewhat different.  It was not quite so
manifest to him that this special brick was altogether unattainable, nor
even that it was quite at the top of the chimney.  There was no reason why
his daughter should not marry an earl's son and heir.  No doubt the lad
had been confided to him in trust.  No doubt it would have been his duty
to have prevented anything of the kind, had anything of the kind seemed to
him to be probable.  Had there been any moment in which the duty had
seemed to him to be a duty, he would have done it, even though it had been
necessary to caution the Earl to take his son away from Bowick.  But there
had been nothing of the kind.  He had acted in the simplicity of his
heart, and this had been the result.  Of course it was impossible.  He
acknowledged to himself that it was so, because of the necessity of those
Oxford studies and those long years which would be required for the taking
of the degree.  But to his thinking there was no other ground for saying
that it was impossible.  The thing must stand as it was.  If this youth
should show himself to be more constant than other youths,--which was not
probable,--and if, at the end of three or four years, Mary should not have
given her heart to any other lover,--which was also improbable,--why,
then, it might come to pass that he should some day find himself
father-in-law to the future Earl Bracy.  Though Mary did not think of it,
nor Mrs. Wortle, he thought of it,--so as to give an additional interest
to these disturbed days.



THE possible glory of Mary's future career did not deter the Doctor from
thinking of his troubles,--and especially that trouble with the Bishop
which was at present heavy on his hand.  He had determined not to go on
with his action, and had so resolved because he had felt, in his more
sober moments, that in bringing the Bishop to disgrace, he would be as a
bird soiling its own nest.  It was that conviction, and not any idea as to
the sufficiency or insufficiency, as to the truth or falsehood, of the
editor's apology, which had actuated him.  As he had said to his lawyer,
he did not in the least care for the newspaper people.  He could not
condescend to be angry with them.  The abominable joke as to the two verbs
was altogether in their line.  As coming from them, they were no more to
him than the ribald words of boys which he might hear in the street.  The
offence to him had come from the Bishop,--and he resolved to spare the
Bishop because of the Church.  But yet something must be done.  He could
not leave the man to triumph over him.  If nothing further were done in
the matter, the Bishop would have triumphed over him.  As he could not
bring himself to expose the Bishop, he must see whether he could not reach
the man by means of his own power of words;--so he wrote as follows;--

"MY DEAR LORD,--I have to own that this letter is written with feelings
which have been very much lacerated by what your lordship has done.  I
must tell you, in the first place, that I have abandoned my intention of
bringing an action against the proprietors of the scurrilous newspaper
which your lordship sent me, because I am unwilling to bring to public
notice the fact of a quarrel between a clergyman of the Church of England
and his Bishop.  I think that, whatever may be the difficulty between us,
it should be arranged without bringing down upon either of us adverse
criticism from the public press.  I trust your lordship will appreciate my
feeling in this matter.  Nothing less strong could have induced me to
abandon what seems to be the most certain means by which I could obtain

"I had seen the paper which your lordship sent to me before it came to me
from the palace.  The scurrilous, unsavoury, and vulgar words which it
contained did not matter to me much.  I have lived long enough to know
that, let a man's own garments be as clean as they may be, he cannot hope
to walk through the world without rubbing against those who are dirty.  It
was only when those words came to me from your lordship,--when I found
that the expressions which I found in that paper were those to which your
lordship had before alluded as being criticisms on my conduct in the
metropolitan press,--criticisms so grave as to make your lordship think it
necessary to admonish me respecting them,--it was only then, I say, that I
considered them to be worthy of my notice.  When your lordship, in
admonishing me, found it necessary to refer me to the metropolitan press,
and to caution me to look to my conduct because the metropolitan press had
expressed its dissatisfaction, it was, I submit to you, natural for me to
ask you where I should find that criticism which had so strongly affected
your lordship's judgment.  There are perhaps half a score of newspapers
published in London whose animadversions I, as a clergyman, might have
reason to respect,--even if I did not fear them.  Was I not justified in
thinking that at least some two or three of these had dealt with my
conduct, when your lordship held the metropolitan press _in terrorem_ over
my head?  I applied to your lordship for the names of these newspapers,
and your lordship, when pressed for a reply, sent to me--that copy of
'Everybody's Business.'

"I ask your lordship to ask yourself whether, so far, I have overstated
anything.  Did not that paper come to me as the only sample you were able
to send me of criticism made on my conduct in the metropolitan press?  No
doubt my conduct was handled there in very severe terms.  No doubt the
insinuations, if true,--or if of such kind as to be worthy of credit with
your lordship, whether true or false,--were severe, plain-spoken, and
damning.  The language was so abominable, so vulgar, so nauseous, that I
will not trust myself to repeat it.  Your lordship, probably, when sending
me one copy, kept another.  Now, I must ask your lordship,--and I must beg
of your lordship for a reply,--whether the periodical itself has such a
character as to justify your lordship in founding a complaint against a
clergyman on its unproved statements, and also whether the facts of the
case, as they were known to you, were not such as to make your lordship
well aware that the insinuations were false.  Before these ribald words
were printed, your lordship had heard all the facts of the case from my
own lips.  Your lordship had known me and my character for, I think, a
dozen years.  You know the character that I bear among others as a
clergyman, a schoolmaster, and a gentleman.  You have been aware how great
is the friendship I have felt for the unfortunate gentleman whose career
is in question, and for the lady who bears his name.  When you read those
abominable words did they induce your lordship to believe that I had been
guilty of the inexpressible treachery of making love to the poor lady
whose misfortunes I was endeavouring to relieve, and of doing so almost in
my wife's presence?

"I defy you to have believed them.  Men are various, and their minds work
in different ways,--but the same causes will produce the same effects.
You have known too much of me to have thought it possible that I should
have done as I was accused.  I should hold a man to be no less than mad
who could so have believed, knowing as much as your lordship knew.  Then
how am I to reconcile to my idea of your lordship's character the fact
that you should have sent me that paper?  What am I to think of the
process going on in your lordship's mind when your lordship could have
brought yourself to use a narrative which you must have known to be false,
made in a newspaper which you knew to be scurrilous, as the ground for a
solemn admonition to a clergyman of my age and standing?  You wrote to me,
as is evident from the tone and context of your lordship's letter, because
you found that the metropolitan press had denounced my conduct.  And this
was the proof you sent to me that such had been the case!

"It occurred to me at once that, as the paper in question had vilely
slandered me, I could redress myself by an action of law, and that I could
prove the magnitude of the evil done me by showing the grave importance
which your lordship had attached to the words.  In this way I could have
forced an answer from your lordship to the questions which I now put to
you.  Your lordship would have been required to state on oath whether you
believed those insinuations or not; and, if so, why you believed them.  On
grounds which I have already explained I have thought it improper to do
so.  Having abandoned that course, I am unable to force any answer from
your lordship.  But I appeal to your sense of honour and justice whether
you should not answer my questions;--and I also ask from your lordship an
ample apology, if, on consideration, you shall feel that you have done me
an undeserved injury.--I have the honour to be, my lord, your lordship's
most obedient, very humble servant,


He was rather proud of this letter as he read it to himself, and yet a
little afraid of it, feeling that he had addressed his Bishop in very
strong language.  It might be that the Bishop should send him no answer at
all, or some curt note from his chaplain in which it would be explained
that the tone of the letter precluded the Bishop from answering it.  What
should he do then?  It was not, he thought, improbable, that the curt note
from the chaplain would be all that he might receive.  He let the letter
lie by him for four-and-twenty hours after he had composed it, and then
determined that not to send it would be cowardly.  He sent it, and then
occupied himself for an hour or two in meditating the sort of letter he
would write to the Bishop when that curt reply had come from the chaplain.

That further letter must be one which must make all amicable intercourse
between him and the Bishop impossible.  And it must be so written as to be
fit to meet the public eye if he should be ever driven by the Bishop's
conduct to put it in print.  A great wrong had been done him;--a great
wrong!  The Bishop had been induced by influences which should have had no
power over him to use his episcopal rod and to smite him,--him Dr. Wortle!
He would certainly show the Bishop that he should have considered
beforehand whom he was about to smite.  "'Amo' in the cool of the
evening!"  And that given as an expression of opinion from the metropolitan
press in general!  He had spared the Bishop as far as that action was
concerned, but he would not spare him should he be driven to further
measures by further injustice.  In this way he lashed himself again into a
rage.  Whenever those odious words occurred to him he was almost mad with
anger against the Bishop.

When the letter had been two days sent, so that he might have had a reply
had a reply come to him by return of post, he put a copy of it into his
pocket and rode off to call on Mr. Puddicombe.  He had thought of showing
it to Mr. Puddicombe before he sent it, but his mind had revolted from
such submission to the judgment of another.  Mr. Puddicombe would no doubt
have advised him not to send it, and then he would have been almost
compelled to submit to such advice.  But the letter was gone now.  The
Bishop had read it, and no doubt re-read it two or three times.  But he
was anxious that some other clergyman should see it,--that some other
clergyman should tell him that, even if inexpedient, it had still been
justified.  Mr. Puddicombe had been made acquainted with the former
circumstances of the affair; and now, with his mind full of his own
injuries, he went again to Mr. Puddicombe.

"It is just the sort of letter that you would write, as a matter of
course," said Mr. Puddicombe.

"Then I hope that you think it is a good letter?"

"Good as being expressive, and good also as being true, I do think it."

"But not good as being wise?"

"Had I been in your case I should have thought it unnecessary.  But you
are self-demonstrative, and cannot control your feelings."

"I do not quite understand you."

"What did it all matter?  The Bishop did a foolish thing in talking of the
metropolitan press.  But he had only meant to put you on your guard."

"I do not choose to be put on my guard in that way," said the Doctor.

"No; exactly.  And he should have known you better than to suppose you
would bear it.  Then you pressed him, and he found himself compelled to
send you that stupid newspaper.  Of course he had made a mistake.  But
don't you think that the world goes easier when mistakes are forgiven?"

"I did forgive it, as far as foregoing the action."

"That, I think, was a matter of course.  If you had succeeded in putting
the poor Bishop into a witness-box you would have had every sensible
clergyman in England against you.  You felt that yourself."

"Not quite that," said the Doctor.

"Something very near it; and therefore you withdrew.  But you cannot get
the sense of the injury out of your mind, and, therefore, you have
persecuted the Bishop with that letter."


"He will think so.  And so should I, had it been addressed to me.  As I
said before, all your arguments are true,--only I think you have made so
much more of the matter than was necessary!  He ought not to have sent you
that newspaper, nor ought he to have talked about the metropolitan press.
But he did you no harm; nor had he wished to do you harm;--and perhaps it
might have been as well to pass it over."

"Could you have done so?"

"I cannot imagine myself in such a position.  I could not, at any rate,
have written such a letter as that, even if I would; and should have been
afraid to write it if I could.  I value peace and quiet too greatly to
quarrel with my bishop,--unless, indeed, he should attempt to impose upon
my conscience.  There was nothing of that kind here.  I think I should
have seen that he had made a mistake, and have passed it over."

The Doctor, as he rode home, was, on the whole, better pleased with his
visit than he had expected to be.  He had been told that his letter was
argumentative and true, and that in itself had been much.

At the end of the week he received a reply from the Bishop, and found that
it was not, at any rate, written by the chaplain.

"MY DEAR DR. WORTLE," said the reply; "your letter has pained me
exceedingly, because I find that I have caused you a degree of annoyance
which I am certainly very sorry I have inflicted.  When I wrote to you in
my letter,--which I certainly did not intend as an admonition,--about the
metropolitan press, I only meant to tell you, for your own information,
that the newspapers were making reference to your affair with Mr.
Peacocke.  I doubt whether I knew anything of the nature of 'Everybody's
Business.' I am not sure even whether I had ever actually read the words
to which you object so strongly.  At any rate, they had had no weight with
me.  If I had read them,--which I probably did very cursorily,--they did
not rest on my mind at all when I wrote to you.  My object was to caution
you, not at all as to your own conduct, but as to others who were speaking
evil of you.

"As to the action of which you spoke so strongly when I had the pleasure
of seeing you here, I am very glad that you abandoned it, for your own
sake and for mine, and the sake of all us generally to whom the peace of
the Church is dear.

"As to the nature of the language in which you have found yourself
compelled to write to me, I must remind you that it is unusual as coming
from a clergyman to a bishop.  I am, however, ready to admit that the
circumstances of the case were unusual, and I can understand that you
should have felt the matter severely.  Under these circumstances, I trust
that the affair may now be allowed to rest without any breach of those
kind feelings which have hitherto existed between us.--Yours very


"It is a beastly letter," the Doctor said to himself, when he had read it,
"a beastly letter;" and then he put it away without saying any more about
it to himself or to any one else.  It had appeared to him to be a "beastly
letter," because it had exactly the effect which the Bishop had intended.
It did not eat "humble pie;" it did not give him the full satisfaction of
a complete apology; and yet it left no room for a further rejoinder.  It
had declared that no censure had been intended, and expressed sorrow that
annoyance had been caused.  But yet to the Doctor's thinking it was an
unmanly letter.  "Not intended as an admonition!"  Then why had the Bishop
written in that severely affectionate and episcopal style?  He had
intended it as an admonition, and the excuse was false.  So thought the
Doctor, and comprised all his criticism in the one epithet given above.
After that he put the letter away, and determined to think no more about

"Will you come in and see Mrs. Peacocke after lunch?" the Doctor said to
his wife the next morning.  They paid their visit together; and after
that, when the Doctor called on the lady, he was generally accompanied by
Mrs. Wortle.  So much had been effected by 'Everybody's Business,' and its



WE will now follow Mr. Peacocke for a while upon his journey.  He began
his close connection with Robert Lefroy by paying the man's bill at the
inn before he left Broughton, and after that found himself called upon to
defray every trifle of expense incurred as they went along.  Lefroy was
very anxious to stay for a week in town.  It would, no doubt, have been
two weeks or a month had his companion given way;--but on this matter a
line of conduct had been fixed by Mr. Peacocke in conjunction with the
Doctor from which he never departed.  "If you will not be guided by me, I
will go without you," Mr. Peacocke had said, "and leave you to follow your
own devices on your own resources."

"And what can you do by yourself?"

"Most probably I shall be able to learn all that I want to learn.  It may
be that I shall fail to learn anything either with you or without you.  I
am willing to make the attempt with you if you will come along at
once;--but I will not be delayed for a single day.  I shall go whether you
go or stay."  Then Lefroy had yielded, and had agreed to be put on board a
German steamer starting from Southampton to New York.

But an hour or two before the steamer started he made a revelation.  "This
is all gammon, Peacocke," he said, when on board.

"What is all gammon?"

"My taking you across to the States."

"Why is it gammon?"

"Because Ferdinand died more than a year since;--almost immediately after
you took her off."

"Why did you not tell me that at Bowick?"

"Because you were so uncommon uncivil.  Was it likely I should have told
you that when you cut up so uncommon rough?"

"An honest man would have told me the very moment that he saw me."

"When one's poor brother has died, one does not blurt it like that all at

"Your poor brother!"

"Why not my poor brother as well as anybody else's?  And her husband too!
How was I to let it out in that sort of way?  At any rate he is dead as
Julius Cæsar.  I saw him buried,--right away at 'Frisco."

"Did he go to San Francisco?"

"Yes,--we both went there right away from St. Louis.  When we got up to
St. Louis we were on our way with them other fellows.  Nobody meant to
disturb you; but Ferdy got drunk, and would go and have a spree, as he
called it."

"A spree, indeed!"

"But we were off by train to Kansas at five o'clock the next morning.  The
devil wouldn't keep him sober, and he died of D.T. the day after we got
him to 'Frisco.  So there's the truth of it, and you needn't go to New
York at all.  Hand me the dollars.  I'll be off to the States; and you can
go back and marry the widow,--or leave her alone, just as you please."

They were down below when this story was told, sitting on their
portmanteaus in the little cabin in which they were to sleep.  The
prospect of the journey certainly had no attraction for Mr. Peacocke.  His
companion was most distasteful to him; the ship was abominable; the
expense was most severe.  How glad would he avoid it all if it were
possible!  "You know it all as well as if you were there," said Robert,
"and were standing on his grave."  He did believe it.  The man in all
probability had at the last moment told the true story.  Why not go back
and be married again?  The Doctor could be got to believe it.

But then if it were not true?  It was only for a moment that he doubted.
"I must go to 'Frisco all the same," he said.

"Why so?"

"Because I must in truth stand upon his grave.  I must have proof that he
has been buried there."

"Then you may go by yourself," said Robert Lefroy.  He had said this more
than once or twice already, and had been made to change his tone.  He
could go or stay as he pleased, but no money would be paid to him until
Peacocke had in his possession positive proof of Ferdinand Lefroy's death.
So the two made their unpleasant journey to New York together.  There was
complaining on the way, even as to the amount of liquor that should be
allowed.  Peacocke would pay for nothing that he did not himself order.
Lefroy had some small funds of his own, and was frequently drunk while on
board.  There were many troubles; but still they did at last reach New

Then there was a great question whether they would go on direct from
thence to San Francisco, or delay themselves three or four days by going
round by St. Louis.  Lefroy was anxious to go to St. Louis,--and on that
account Peacocke was almost resolved to take tickets direct through for
San Francisco.  Why should Lefroy wish to go to St. Louis?  But then, if
the story were altogether false, some truth might be learned at St. Louis;
and it was at last decided that thither they would go.  As they went on
from town to town, changing carriages first at one place and then at
another, Lefroy's manner became worse and worse, and his language more and
more threatening.  Peacocke was asked whether he thought a man was to be
brought all that distance without being paid for his time.  "You will be
paid when you have performed your part of the bargain," said Peacocke.

"I'll see some part of the money at St. Louis," said Lefroy, "or I'll know
the reason why.  A thousand dollars!  What are a thousand dollars?  Hand
out the money."  This was said as they were sitting together in a corner or
separated portion of the smoking-room of a little hotel at which they were
waiting for a steamer which was to take them down the Mississippi to St.
Louis.  Peacocke looked round and saw that they were alone.

"I shall hand out nothing till I see your brother's grave," said Peacocke.

"You won't?"

"Not a dollar!  What is the good of your going on like that?  You ought to
know me well enough by this time."

"But you do not know me well enough.  You must have taken me for a very
tame sort o' critter."

"Perhaps I have."

"Maybe you'll change your mind."

"Perhaps I shall.  It is quite possible that you should murder me.  But
you will not get any money by that."

"Murder you.  You ain't worth murdering."  Then they sat in silence,
waiting another hour and a half till the steamboat came.  The reader will
understand that it must have been a bad time for Mr. Peacocke.

They were on the steamer together for about twenty-four hours, during
which Lefroy hardly spoke a word.  As far as his companion could
understand he was out of funds, because he remained sober during the
greater part of the day, taking only what amount of liquor was provided
for him.  Before, however, they reached St. Louis, which they did late at
night, he had made acquaintance with certain fellow-travellers, and was
drunk and noisy when they got out upon the quay.  Mr. Peacocke bore his
position as well as he could, and accompanied him up to the hotel.  It was
arranged that they should remain two days at St. Louis, and then start for
San Francisco by the railway which runs across the State of Kansas.
Before he went to bed Lefroy insisted on going into the large hall in
which, as is usual in American hotels, men sit and loafe and smoke and
read the newspapers.  Here, though it was twelve o'clock, there was still
a crowd; and Lefroy, after he had seated himself and lit his cigar, got up
from his seat and addressed all the men around him.

"Here's a fellow," said he, "has come out from England to find out what's
become of Ferdinand Lefroy."

"I knew Ferdinand Lefroy," said one man, "and I know you too, Master

"What has become of Ferdinand Lefroy?" asked Mr. Peacocke.

"He's gone where all the good fellows go," said another.

"You mean that he is dead?" asked Peacocke.

"Of course he's dead," said Robert.  "I've been telling him so ever since
we left England; but he is such a d---- unbelieving infidel that he
wouldn't credit the man's own brother.  He won't learn much here about

"Ferdinand Lefroy," said the first man, "died on the way as he was going
out West.  I was over the road the day after."

"You know nothing about it," said Robert.  "He died at 'Frisco two days
after we'd got him there."

"He died at Ogden Junction, where you turn down to Utah City."

"You didn't see him dead," said the other.

"If I remember right," continued the first man, "they'd taken him away to
bury him somewhere just there in the neighbourhood.  I didn't care much
about him, and I didn't ask any particular questions.  He was a drunken
beast,--better dead than alive."

"You've been drunk as often as him, I guess," said Robert.

"I never gave nobody the trouble to bury me at any rate," said the other.

"Do you mean to say positively of your own knowledge," asked Peacocke,
"that Ferdinand Lefroy died at that station?"

"Ask him; he's his brother, and he ought to know best."

"I tell you," said Robert, earnestly, "that we carried him on to 'Frisco,
and there he died.  If you think you know best, you can go to Utah City
and wait there till you hear all about it.  I guess they'll make you one
of their elders if you wait long enough."  Then they all went to bed.

It was now clear to Mr. Peacocke that the man as to whose life or death he
was so anxious had really died.  The combined evidence of these men, which
had come out without any preconcerted arrangement, was proof to his mind.
But there was no evidence which he could take back with him to England and
use there as proof in a court of law, or even before the Bishop and Dr.
Wortle.  On the next morning, before Robert Lefroy was up, he got hold of
the man who had been so positive that death had overtaken the poor wretch
at the railway station which is distant from San Francisco two days'
journey.  Had the man died there, and been buried there, nothing would be
known of him in San Francisco.  The journey to San Francisco would be
entirely thrown away, and he would be as badly off as ever.

"I wouldn't like to say for certain," said the man when he was
interrogated.  "I only tell you what they told me.  As I was passing along
somebody said as Ferdy Lefroy had been taken dead out of the cars on to
the platform.  Now you know as much about it as I do."

He was thus assured that at any rate the journey to San Francisco had not
been altogether a fiction.  The man had gone "West," as had been said, and
nothing more would be known of him at St. Louis.  He must still go on upon
his journey and make such inquiry as might be possible at the Ogden

On the day but one following they started again, taking their tickets as
far as Leavenworth.  They were told by the officials that they would find
a train at Leavenworth waiting to take them on across country into the
regular San Francisco line.  But, as is not unusual with railway officials
in that part of the world, they were deceived.  At Leavenworth they were
forced to remain for four-and-twenty hours, and there they put themselves
up at a miserable hotel in which they were obliged to occupy the same
room.  It was a rough, uncouth place, in which, as it seemed to Mr.
Peacocke, the men were more uncourteous to him, and the things around more
unlike to what he had met elsewhere, than in any other town of the Union.
Robert Lefroy, since the first night at St. Louis, had become sullen
rather than disobedient.  He had not refused to go on when the moment came
for starting, but had left it in doubt till the last moment whether he did
or did not intend to prosecute his journey.  When the ticket was taken for
him he pretended to be altogether indifferent about it, and would himself
give no help whatever in any of the usual troubles of travelling.  But as
far as this little town of Leavenworth he had been carried, and Peacocke
now began to think it probable that he might succeed in taking him to San

On that night he endeavoured to induce him to go first to bed, but in this
he failed.  Lefroy insisted on remaining down at the bar, where he had
ordered for himself some liquor for which Mr. Peacocke, in spite of all
his efforts to the contrary, would have to pay.  If the man would get
drunk and lie there, he could not help himself.  On this he was
determined, that whether with or without the man, he would go on by the
first train;--and so he took himself to his bed.

He had been there perhaps half-an-hour when his companion came into the
room,--certainly not drunk.  He seated himself on his bed, and then,
pulling to him a large travelling-bag which he used, he unpacked it
altogether, laying all the things which it contained out upon the bed.
"What are you doing that for?" said Mr. Peacocke; "we have to start from
here to-morrow morning at five."

"I'm not going to start to-morrow at five, nor yet to-morrow at all, nor
yet next day."

"You are not?"

"Not if I know it.  I have had enough of this game.  I am not going
further West for any one.  Hand out the money.  You have been told
everything about my brother, true and honest, as far as I know it.  Hand
out the money."

"Not a dollar," said Peacocke.  "All that I have heard as yet will be of
no service to me.  As far as I can see, you will earn it; but you will
have to come on a little further yet."

"Not a foot; I ain't a-going out of this room to-morrow."

"Then I must go without you;--that's all."

"You may go and be ----.  But you'll have to shell out the money first, old

"Not a dollar."

"You won't?"

"Certainly I will not.  How often have I told you so."

"Then I shall take it."

"That you will find very difficult.  In the first place, if you were to
cut my throat----"

"Which is just what I intend to do."

"If you were to cut my throat,--which in itself will be difficult,--you
would only find the trifle of gold which I have got for our journey as far
as 'Frisco.  That won't do you much good.  The rest is in circular notes,
which to you would be of no service whatever."

"My God," said the man suddenly, "I am not going to be done in this way."
And with that he drew out a bowie-knife which he had concealed among the
things which he had extracted from the bag.  "You don't know the sort of
country you're in now.  They don't think much here of the life of such a
skunk as you.  If you mean to live till to-morrow morning you must come to

The room was a narrow chamber in which two beds ran along the wall, each
with its foot to the other, having a narrow space between them and the
other wall.  Peacocke occupied the one nearest to the door.  Lefroy now
got up from the bed in the further corner, and with the bowie-knife in his
hand rushed against the door as though to prevent his companion's escape.
Peacocke, who was in bed undressed, sat up at once; but as he did so he
brought a revolver out from under his pillow.  "So you have been and armed
yourself, have you?" said Robert Lefroy.

"Yes," said Peacocke;--"if you come nearer me with that knife I shall
shoot you.  Put it down."

"Likely I shall put it down at your bidding."

With the pistol still held at the other man's head, Peacocke slowly
extracted himself from his bed.  "Now," said he, "if you don't come away
from the door I shall fire one barrel just to let them know in the house
what sort of affair is going on.  Put the knife down.  You know that I
shall not hurt you then."

After hesitating for a moment or two, Lefroy did put the knife down.  "I
didn't mean anything, old fellow," said he.  "I only wanted to frighten

"Well; you have frightened me.  Now, what's to come next?"

"No, I ain't;--not frightened you a bit.  A pistol's always better than a
knife any day.  Well now, I'll tell ye how it all is."  Saying this, he
seated himself on his own bed, and began a long narration.  He would not
go further West than Leavenworth.  Whether he got his money or whether he
lost it, he would not travel a foot further.  There were reasons which
would make it disagreeable for him to go into California.  But he made a
proposition.  If Peacocke would only give him money enough to support
himself for the necessary time, he would remain at Leavenworth till his
companion should return there, or would make his way to Chicago, and stay
there till Peacocke should come to him.  Then he proceeded to explain how
absolute evidence might be obtained at San Francisco as to his brother's
death.  "That fellow was lying altogether," he said, "about my brother
dying at the Ogden station.  He was very bad there, no doubt, and we
thought it was going to be all up with him.  He had the horrors there,
worse than I ever saw before, and I hope never to see the like again.  But
we did get him on to San Francisco; and when he was able to walk into the
city on his own legs, I thought that, might be, he would rally and come
round.  However, in two days he died;--and we buried him in the big
cemetery just out of the town."

"Did you put a stone over him?"

"Yes; there is a stone as large as life.  You'll find the name on
it,--Ferdinand Lefroy of Kilbrack, Louisiana.  Kilbrack was the name of
our plantation, where we should be living now as gentlemen ought, with
three hundred niggers of our own, but for these accursed Northern

"How can I find the stone?"

"There's a chap there who knows, I guess, where all them graves are to be
found.  But it's on the right hand, a long way down, near the far wall at
the bottom, just where the ground takes a little dip to the north.  It
ain't so long ago but what the letters on the stone will be as fresh as if
they were cut yesterday."

"Does no one in San Francisco know of his death?"

"There's a chap named Burke at Johnson's, the cigar-shop in Montgomery
Street.  He was brother to one of our party, and he went out to the
funeral.  Maybe you'll find him, or, any way, some traces of him."

The two men sat up discussing the matter nearly the whole of the night,
and Peacocke, before he started, had brought himself to accede to Lefroy's
last proposition.  He did give the man money enough to support him for two
or three weeks and also to take him to Chicago, promising at the same time
that he would hand to him the thousand dollars at Chicago should he find
him there at the appointed time, and should he also have found Ferdinand
Lefroy's grave at San Francisco in the manner described.



MRS. WORTLE, when she perceived that her husband no longer called on Mrs.
Peacocke alone, became herself more assiduous in her visits, till at last
she too entertained a great liking for the woman.  When Mr. Peacocke had
been gone for nearly a month she had fallen into a habit of going across
every day after the performance of her own domestic morning duties, and
remaining in the school-house for an hour.  On one morning she found that
Mrs. Peacocke had just received a letter from New York, in which her
husband had narrated his adventures so far.  He had written from
Southampton, but not after the revelation which had been made to him there
as to the death of Ferdinand.  He might have so done, but the information
given to him had, at the spur of the moment, seemed to be so doubtful that
he had refrained.  Then he had been able to think of it all during the
voyage, and from New York he had written at great length, detailing
everything.  Mrs. Peacocke did not actually read out loud the letter,
which was full of such terms of affection as are common between man and
wife, knowing that her title to be called a wife was not admitted by Mrs.
Wortle; but she read much of it, and told all the circumstances as they
were related.

"Then," said Mrs. Wortle, "he certainly is--no more."  There came a
certain accession of sadness to her voice, as she reflected that,
after all, she was talking to this woman of the death of her undoubted

"Yes; he is dead--at last."  Mrs. Wortle uttered a deep sigh.  It was
dreadful to her to think that a woman should speak in that way of the
death of her husband.  "I know all that is going on in your mind," said
Mrs. Peacocke, looking up into her face.

"Do you?"

"Every thought.  You are telling yourself how terrible it is that a woman
should speak of the death of her husband without a tear in her eye,
without a sob,--without one word of sorrow."

"It is very sad."

"Of course it is sad.  Has it not all been sad?  But what would you have
me do?  It is not because he was always bad to me,--because he marred all
my early life, making it so foul a blotch that I hardly dare to look back
upon it from the quietness and comparative purity of these latter days.
It is not because he has so treated me as to make me feel that it has been
a misfortune to me to be born, that I now receive these tidings with joy.
It is because of him who has always been good to me as the other was bad,
who has made me wonder at the noble instincts of a man, as the other has
made me shudder at his possible meanness."

"It has been very hard upon you," said Mrs. Wortle.

"And hard upon him, who is dearer to me than my own soul.  Think of his
conduct to me!  How he went away to ascertain the truth when he first
heard tidings which made him believe that I was free to become his!  How
he must have loved me then, when, after all my troubles, he took me to
himself at the first moment that was possible!  Think, too, what he has
done for me since,----and I for him!  How I have marred his life, while he
has striven to repair mine!  Do I not owe him everything?"

"Everything," said Mrs. Wortle,--"except to do what is wrong."

"I did do what was wrong.  Would not you have done so under such
circumstances?  Would not you have obeyed the man who had been to you so
true a husband while he believed himself entitled to the name?  Wrong!  I
doubt whether it was wrong.  It is hard to know sometimes what is right
and what is wrong.  What he told me to do, that to me was right.  Had he
told me to go away and leave him, I should have gone,--and have died.  I
suppose that would have been right."  She paused as though she expected an
answer.  But the subject was so difficult that Mrs. Wortle was unable to
make one.  "I have sometimes wished that he had done so.  But as I think
of it when I am alone, I feel how impossible that would have been to him.
He could not have sent me away.  That which you call right would have been
impossible to him whom I regard as the most perfect of human beings.  As
far as I know him, he is faultless;--and yet, according to your judgment,
he has committed a sin so deep that he must stand disgraced before the
eyes of all men."

"I have not said so."

"It comes to that.  I know how good you are; how much I owe to you.  I
know that Dr. Wortle and yourself have been so kind to us, that were I not
grateful beyond expression I should be the meanest human creature.  Do not
suppose that I am angry or vexed with you because you condemn me.  It is
necessary that you should do so.  But how can I condemn myself;--or how
can I condemn him?"

"If you are both free now, it may be made right."

"But how about repentance?  Will it be all right though I shall not have
repented?  I will never repent.  There are laws in accordance with which I
will admit that I have done wrong; but had I not broken those laws when he
bade me, I should have hated myself through all my life afterwards."

"It was very different."

"If you could know, Mrs. Wortle, how difficult it would have been to go
away and leave him!  It was not till he came to me and told me that he was
going down to Texas, to see how it had been with my husband, that I ever
knew what it was to love a man.  He had never said a word.  He tried not
to look it.  But I knew that I had his heart and that he had mine.  From
that moment I have thought of him day and night.  When I gave him my hand
then as he parted from me, I gave it him as his own.  It has been his to
do what he liked with it ever since, let who might live or who might die.
Ought I not to rejoice that he is dead?"  Mrs. Wortle could not answer the
question.  She could only shudder.  "It was not by any will of my own,"
continued the eager woman, "that I married Ferdinand Lefroy.  Everything
in our country was then destroyed.  All that we loved and all that we
valued had been taken away from us.  War had destroyed everything.  When I
was just springing out of childhood, we were ruined.  We had to go, all of
us; women as well as men, girls as well as boys;--and be something else
than we had been.  I was told to marry him."

"That was wrong."

"When everything is in ruin about you, what room is there for ordinary
well-doing?  It seemed then that he would have some remnant of property.
Our fathers had known each other long.  The wretched man whom drink
afterwards made so vile might have been as good a gentleman as another, if
things had gone well with him.  He could not have been a hero like him
whom I will always call my husband; but it is not given to every man to be
a hero."

"Was he bad always from the first?"

"He always drank,--from his wedding-day; and then Robert was with him, who
was worse than he.  Between them they were very bad.  My life was a burden
to me.  It was terrible.  It was a comfort to me even to be deserted and
to be left.  Then came this Englishman in my way; and it seemed to me, on
a sudden, that the very nature of mankind was altered.  He did not lie
when he spoke.  He was never debased by drink.  He had other care than for
himself.  For himself, I think, he never cared.  Since he has been here,
in the school, have you found any cause of fault in him?"

"No, indeed."

"No, indeed! nor ever will;--unless it be a fault to love a woman as he
loves me.  See what he is doing now,--where he has gone,--what he has to
suffer, coupled as he is with that wretch!  And all for my sake!"

"For both your sakes."

"He would have been none the worse had he chosen to part with me.  He was
in no trouble.  I was not his wife; and he need only--bid me go.  There
would have been no sin with him then,--no wrong.  Had he followed out your
right and your wrong, and told me that, as we could not be man and wife,
we must just part, he would have been in no trouble;--would he?"

"I don't know how it would have been then," said Mrs. Wortle, who was by
this time sobbing aloud in tears.

"No; nor I, nor I.  I should have been dead;--but he?  He is a sinner now,
so that he may not preach in your churches, or teach in your schools; so
that your dear husband has to be ruined almost because he has been kind to
him.  He then might have preached in any church,--have taught in any
school.  What am I to think that God will think of it?  Will God condemn

"We must leave that to Him," sobbed Mrs. Wortle.

"Yes; but in thinking of our souls we must reflect a little as to what we
believe to be probable.  He, you say, has sinned,--is sinning still in
calling me his wife.  Am I not to believe that if he were called to his
long account he would stand there pure and bright, in glorious
garments,--one fit for heaven, because he has loved others better than he
has loved himself, because he has done to others as he might have wished
that they should do to him?  I do believe it!  Believe!  I know it.  And
if so, what am I to think of his sin, or of my own?  Not to obey him, not
to love him, not to do in everything as he counsels me,--that, to me,
would be sin.  To the best of my conscience he is my husband and my
master.  I will not go into the rooms of such as you, Mrs. Wortle, good
and kind as you are; but it is not because I do not think myself fit.  It
is because I will not injure you in the estimation of those who do not
know what is fit and what is unfit.  I am not ashamed of myself.  I owe it
to him to blush for nothing that he has caused me to do.  I have but two
judges,--the Lord in heaven, and he, my husband, upon earth."

"Nobody has condemned you here."

"Yes;--they have condemned me.  But I am not angry at that.  You do not
think, Mrs. Wortle, that I can be angry with you,--so kind as you have
been, so generous, so forgiving;--the more kind because you think that we
are determined, headstrong sinners?  Oh no!  It is natural that you should
think so,--but I think differently.  Circumstances have so placed me that
they have made me unfit for your society.  If I had no decent gown to
wear, or shoes to my feet, I should be unfit also;--but not on that
account disgraced in my own estimation.  I comfort myself by thinking that
I cannot be altogether bad when a man such as he has loved me and does
love me."

The two women, when they parted on that morning, kissed each other, which
they had not done before; and Mrs. Wortle had been made to doubt whether,
after all, the sin had been so very sinful.  She did endeavour to ask
herself whether she would not have done the same in the same
circumstances.  The woman, she thought, must have been right to have
married the man whom she loved, when she heard that that first horrid
husband was dead.  There could, at any rate, have been no sin in that.
And then, what ought she to have done when the dead man,--dead as he was
supposed to have been,--burst into her room?  Mrs. Wortle,--who found it
indeed extremely difficult to imagine herself to be in such a
position,--did at last acknowledge that, in such circumstances, she
certainly would have done whatever Dr. Wortle had told her.  She could not
bring it nearer to herself than that.  She could not suggest to herself
two men as her own husbands.  She could not imagine that the Doctor had
been either the bad husband, who had unexpectedly come to life,--or the
good husband, who would not, in truth, be her husband at all; but she did
determine, in her own mind, that, however all that might have been, she
would clearly have done whatever the Doctor told her.  She would have
sworn to obey him, even though, when swearing, she should not have really
married him.  It was terrible to think of,--so terrible that she could not
quite think of it; but in struggling to think of it her heart was softened
towards this other woman.  After that day she never spoke further of the
woman's sin.

Of course she told it all to the Doctor,--not indeed explaining the
working of her own mind as to that suggestion that he should have been, in
his first condition, a very bad man, and have been reported dead, and have
come again, in a second shape, as a good man.  She kept that to herself.
But she did endeavour to describe the effect upon herself of the
description the woman had given her of her own conduct.

"I don't quite know how she could have done otherwise," said Mrs. Wortle.

"Nor I either; I have always said so."

"It would have been so very hard to go away, when he told her not."

"It would have been very hard to go away," said the Doctor, "if he had
told her to do so.  Where was she to go?  What was she to do?  They had
been brought together by circumstances, in such a manner that it was, so
to say, impossible that they should part.  It is not often that one comes
across events like these, so altogether out of the ordinary course that
the common rules of life seem to be insufficient for guidance.  To most of
us it never happens; and it is better for us that it should not happen.
But when it does, one is forced to go beyond the common rules.  It is that
feeling which has made me give them my protection.  It has been a great
misfortune; but, placed as I was, I could not help myself.  I could not
turn them out.  It was clearly his duty to go, and almost as clearly mine
to give her shelter till he should come back."

"A great misfortune, Jeffrey?"

"I am afraid so.  Look at this."  Then he handed to her a letter from a
nobleman living at a great distance,--at a distance so great that Mrs.
Stantiloup would hardly have reached him there,--expressing his intention
to withdraw his two boys from the school at Christmas.

"He doesn't give this as a reason."

"No; we are not acquainted with each other personally, and he could hardly
have alluded to my conduct in this matter.  It was easier for him to give
a mere notice such as this.  But not the less do I understand it.  The
intention was that the elder Mowbray should remain for another year, and
the younger for two years.  Of course he is at liberty to change his mind;
nor do I feel myself entitled to complain.  A school such as mine must
depend on the credit of the establishment.  He has heard, no doubt,
something of the story which has injured our credit, and it is natural
that he should take the boys away."

"Do you think that the school will be put an end to?"

"It looks very like it."


"I shall not care to drag it on as a failure.  I am too old now to begin
again with a new attempt if this collapses.  I have no offers to fill up
the vacancies.  The parents of those who remain, of course, will know how
it is going with the school.  I shall not be disposed to let it die of
itself.  My idea at present is to carry it on without saying anything till
the Christmas holidays, and then to give notice to the parents that the
establishment will be closed at Midsummer."

"Will it make you very unhappy?"

"No doubt it will.  A man does not like to fail.  I am not sure but what I
am less able to bear such failure than most men."

"But you have sometimes thought of giving it up."

"Have I?  I have not known it.  Why should I give it up?  Why should any
man give up a profession while he has health and strength to carry it on?"

"You have another."

"Yes; but it is not the one to which my energies have been chiefly
applied.  The work of a parish such as this can be done by one person.  I
have always had a curate.  It is, moreover, nonsense to say that a man
does not care most for that by which he makes his money.  I am to give up
over £2000 a-year, which I have had not a trouble but a delight in making!
It is like coming to the end of one's life."

"Oh, Jeffrey!"

"It has to be looked in the face, you know."

"I wish,--I wish they had never come."

"What is the good of wishing?  They came, and according to my way of
thinking I did my duty by them.  Much as I am grieved by this, I protest
that I would do the same again were it again to be done.  Do you think
that I would be deterred from what I thought to be right by the
machinations of a she-dragon such as that?"

"Has she done it?"

"Well, I think so," said the Doctor, after some little hesitation.  "I
think it has been, in truth, her doing.  There has been a grand
opportunity for slander, and she has used it with uncommon skill.  It was
a wonderful chance in her favour.  She has been enabled without actual
lies,--lies which could be proved to be lies,--to spread abroad reports
which have been absolutely damning.  And she has succeeded in getting hold
of the very people through whom she could injure me.  Of course all this
correspondence with the Bishop has helped.  The Bishop hasn't kept it as a
secret.  Why should he?"

"The Bishop has had nothing to do with the school," said Mrs. Wortle.

"No; but the things have been mixed up together.  Do you think it would
have no effect with such a woman as Lady Anne Clifford, to be told that
the Bishop had censured my conduct severely?  If it had not been for Mrs.
Stantiloup, the Bishop would have heard nothing about it.  It is her
doing.  And it pains me to feel that I have to give her credit for her
skill and her energy."

"Her wickedness, you mean."

"What does it signify whether she has been wicked or not in this matter?"

"Oh, Jeffrey!"

"Her wickedness is a matter of course.  We all knew that beforehand.  If a
person has to be wicked, it is a great thing for him to be successful in
his wickedness.  He would have to pay the final penalty even if he failed.
To be wicked and to do nothing is to be mean all round.  I am afraid that
Mrs. Stantiloup will have succeeded in her wickedness."



THE school and the parish went on through August and September, and up to
the middle of October, very quietly.  The quarrel between the Bishop and
the Doctor had altogether subsided.  People in the diocese had ceased to
talk continually of Mr. and Mrs. Peacocke.  There was still alive a
certain interest as to what might be the ultimate fate of the poor lady;
but other matters had come up, and she no longer formed the one topic of
conversation at all meetings.  The twenty boys at the school felt that, as
their numbers had been diminished, so also had their reputation.  They
were less loud, and, as other boys would have said of them, less "cocky"
than of yore.  But they ate and drank and played, and, let us hope, learnt
their lessons as usual.  Mrs. Peacocke had from time to time received
letters from her husband, the last up to the time of which we speak having
been written at the Ogden Junction, at which Mr. Peacocke had stopped for
four-and-twenty hours with the object of making inquiry as to the
statement made to him at St. Louis.  Here he learned enough to convince
him that Robert Lefroy had told him the truth in regard to what had there
occurred.  The people about the station still remembered the condition of
the man who had been taken out of the car when suffering from delirium
tremens; and remembered also that the man had not died there, but had been
carried on by the next train to San Francisco.  One of the porters also
declared that he had heard a few days afterwards that the sufferer had
died almost immediately on his arrival at San Francisco.  Information as
far as this Mr. Peacocke had sent home to his wife, and had added his firm
belief that he should find the man's grave in the cemetery, and be able to
bring home with him testimony to which no authority in England, whether
social, episcopal, or judicial, would refuse to give credit.

"Of course he will be married again," said Mrs. Wortle to her husband.

"They shall be married here, and I will perform the ceremony.  I don't
think the Bishop himself would object to that; and I shouldn't care a
straw if he did."

"Will he go on with the school?" whispered Mrs. Wortle.

"Will the school go on?  If the school goes on, he will go on, I suppose.
About that you had better ask Mrs. Stantiloup."

"I will ask nobody but you," said the wife, putting up her face to kiss
him.  As this was going on, everything was said to comfort Mrs. Peacocke,
and to give her hopes of new life.  Mrs. Wortle told her how the Doctor
had promised that he himself would marry them as soon as the forms of the
Church and the legal requisitions would allow.  Mrs. Peacocke accepted all
that was said to her quietly and thankfully, but did not again allow
herself to be roused to such excitement as she had shown on the one
occasion recorded.

It was at this time that the Doctor received a letter which greatly
affected his mode of thought at the time.  He had certainly become hipped
and low-spirited, if not despondent, and clearly showed to his wife, even
though he was silent, that his mind was still intent on the injury which
that wretched woman had done him by her virulence.  But the letter of
which we speak for a time removed this feeling, and gave him, as it were,
a new life.  The letter, which was from Lord Bracy, was as follows;--

"MY DEAR DOCTOR WORTLE.--Carstairs left us for Oxford yesterday, and
before he went, startled his mother and me considerably by a piece of
information.  He tells us that he is over head and ears in love with your
daughter.  The communication was indeed made three days ago, but I told
him that I should take a day or two to think of it before I wrote to you.
He was very anxious, when he told me, to go off at once to Bowick, and to
see you and your wife, and of course the young lady;--but this I stopped
by the exercise of somewhat peremptory parental authority.  Then he
informed me that he had been to Bowick, and had found his lady-love at
home, you and Mrs. Wortle having by chance been absent at the time.  It
seems that he declared himself to the young lady, who, in the exercise of
a wise discretion, ran away from him and left him planted on the terrace.
That is his account of what passed, and I do not in the least doubt its
absolute truth.  It is at any rate quite clear, from his own showing, that
the young lady gave him no encouragement.

"Such having been the case, I do not think that I should have found it
necessary to write to you at all had not Carstairs persevered with me till
I promised to do so.  He was willing, he said, not to go to Bowick on
condition that I would write to you on the subject.  The meaning of this
is, that had he not been very much in earnest, I should have considered it
best to let the matter pass on as such matters do, and be forgotten.  But
he is very much in earnest.  However foolish it is,--or perhaps I had
better say unusual,--that a lad should be in love before he is twenty, it
is, I suppose, possible.  At any rate it seems to be the case with him,
and he has convinced his mother that it would be cruel to ignore the fact.

"I may at once say that, as far as you and your girl are concerned, I
should be quite satisfied that he should choose for himself such a
marriage.  I value rank, at any rate, as much as it is worth; but that he
will have of his own, and does not need to strengthen it by intermarriage
with another house of peculiarly old lineage.  As far as that is
concerned, I should be contented.  As for money, I should not wish him to
think of it in marrying.  If it comes, _tant mieux_.  If not, he will have
enough of his own.  I write to you, therefore, exactly as I should do if
you had happened to be a brother peer instead of a clergyman.

"But I think that long engagements are very dangerous; and you probably
will agree with me that they are likely to be more prejudicial to the girl
than to the man.  It may be that, as difficulties arise in the course of
years, he can forget the affair, and that she cannot.  He has many things
of which to think; whereas she, perhaps, has only that one.  She may have
made that thing so vital to her that it cannot be got under and conquered;
whereas, without any fault or heartlessness on his part, occupation has
conquered it for him.  In this case I fear that the engagement, if made,
could not but be long.  I should be sorry that he should not take his
degree.  And I do not think it wise to send a lad up to the University
hampered with the serious feeling that he has already betrothed himself.

"I tell you all just as it is, and I leave it to your wisdom to suggest
what had better be done.  He wished me to promise that I would undertake
to induce you to tell Miss Wortle of his conversation with me.  He said
that he had a right to demand so much as that, and that, though he would
not for the present go to Bowick, he should write to you.  The young
gentleman seems to have a will of his own,--which I cannot say that I
regret.  What you will do as to the young lady,--whether you will or will
not tell her what I have written,--I must leave to yourself.  If you do, I
am to send word to her from Lady Bracy to say that she shall be delighted
to see her here.  She had better, however, come when that inflammatory
young gentleman shall be at Oxford.  Yours very faithfully,


This letter certainly did a great deal to invigorate the Doctor, and to
console him in his troubles.  Even though the debated marriage might prove
to be impossible, as it had been declared by the voices of all the Wortles
one after another, still there was something in the tone in which it was
discussed by the young man's father which was in itself a relief.  There
was, at any rate, no contempt in the letter.  "I may at once say that, as
far as you and your girl are concerned, I shall be very well pleased."
That, at any rate, was satisfactory.  And the more he looked at it the
less he thought that it need be altogether impossible.  If Lord Bracy
liked it, and Lady Bracy liked it,--and young Carstairs, as to whose
liking there seemed to be no reason for any doubt,--he did not see why it
should be impossible.  As to Mary,--he could not conceive that she should
make objection if all the others were agreed.  How could she possibly fail
to love the young man if encouraged to do so?  Suitors who are
good-looking, rich, of high rank, sweet-tempered, and at the same time
thoroughly devoted, are not wont to be discarded.  All the difficulty lay
in the lad's youth.  After all, how many noblemen have done well in the
world without taking a degree?  Degrees, too, have been taken by married
men.  And, again, young men have been persistent before now, even to the
extent of waiting three years.  Long engagements are bad,--no doubt.
Everybody has always said so.  But a long engagement may be better than
none at all.

He at last made up his mind that he would speak to Mary; but he determined
that he would consult his wife first.  Consulting Mrs. Wortle, on his
part, generally amounted to no more than instructing her.  He found it
sometimes necessary to talk her over, as he had done in that matter of
visiting Mrs. Peacocke; but when he set himself to work he rarely failed.
She had nowhere else to go for a certain foundation and support.
Therefore he hardly doubted much when he began his operation about this
suggested engagement.

"I have got that letter this morning from Lord Bracy," he said, handing
her the document.

"Oh dear!  Has he heard about Carstairs?"

"You had better read it."

"He has told it all," she exclaimed, when she had finished the first

"He has told it all, certainly.  But you had better read the letter

Then she seated herself and read it, almost trembling, however, as she
went on with it.  "Oh dear;--that is very nice what he says about you and

"It is all very nice as far as that goes.  There is no reason why it
should not be nice."

"It might have made him so angry!"

"Then he would have been very unreasonable."

"He acknowledges that Mary did not encourage him."

"Of course she did not encourage him.  He would have been very unlike a
gentleman had he thought so.  But in truth, my dear, it is a very good
letter.  Of course there are difficulties."

"Oh;--it is impossible!"

"I do not see that at all.  It must rest very much with him, no
doubt;--with Carstairs; and I do not like to think that our girl's
happiness should depend on any young man's constancy.  But such dangers
have to be encountered.  You and I were engaged for three years before we
were married, and we did not find it so very bad."

"It was very good.  Oh, I was so happy at the time."

"Happier than you've been since?"

"Well; I don't know.  It was very nice to know that you were my lover."

"Why shouldn't Mary think it very nice to have a lover?"

"But I knew that you would be true."

"Why shouldn't Carstairs be true?"

"Remember he is so young.  You were in orders."

"I don't know that I was at all more likely to be true on that account.  A
clergyman can jilt a girl just as well as another.  It depends on the
nature of the man."

"And you were so good."

"I never came across a better youth than Carstairs.  You see what his
father says about his having a will of his own.  When a young man shows a
purpose of that kind he generally sticks to it."

The upshot of it all was, that Mary was to be told, and that her father
was to tell her.

"Yes, papa, he did come," she said.  "I told mamma all about me."

"And she told me, of course.  You did what was quite right, and I should
not have thought it necessary to speak to you had not Lord Bracy written
to me."

"Lord Bracy has written!" said Mary.  It seemed to her, as it had done to
her mother, that Lord Bracy must have written angrily; but though she
thought so, she plucked up her spirit gallantly, telling herself that
though Lord Bracy might be angry with his own son, he could have no cause
to be displeased with her.

"Yes; I have a letter, which you shall read.  The young man seems to have
been very much in earnest."

"I don't know," said Mary, with some little exultation at her heart.

"It seems but the other day that he was a boy, and now he has become
suddenly a man."  To this Mary said nothing; but she also had come to the
conclusion that, in this respect, Lord Carstairs had lately changed,--very
much for the better.  "Do you like him, Mary?"

"Like him, papa?"

"Well, my darling; how am I to put it?  He is so much in earnest that he
has got his father to write to me.  He was coming over himself again
before he went to Oxford; but he told his father what he was going to do,
and the Earl stopped him.  There's the letter, and you may read it."

Mary read the letter, taking herself apart to a corner of the room, and
seemed to her father to take a long time in reading it.  But there was
very much on which she was called upon to make up her mind during those
few minutes.  Up to the present time,--up to the moment in which her
father had now summoned her into his study, she had resolved that it was
"impossible."  She had become so clear on the subject that she would not
ask herself the question whether she could love the young man.  Would it
not be wrong to love the young man?  Would it not be a longing for the top
brick of the chimney, which she ought to know was out of her reach?  So
she had decided it, and had therefore already taught herself to regard the
declaration made to her as the ebullition of a young man's folly.  But not
the less had she known how great had been the thing suggested to her,--how
excellent was this top brick of the chimney; and as to the young man
himself, she could not but feel that, had matters been different, she
might have loved him.  Now there had come a sudden change; but she did not
at all know how far she might go to meet the change, nor what the change
altogether meant.  She had been made sure by her father's question that he
had taught himself to hope.  He would not have asked her whether she liked
him,--would not, at any rate, have asked that question in that voice,--had
he not been prepared to be good to her had she answered in the
affirmative.  But then this matter did not depend upon her father's
wishes,--or even on her father's judgment.  It was necessary that, before
she said another word, she should find out what Lord Bracy said about it.
There she had Lord Bracy's letter in her hand, but her mind was so
disturbed that she hardly knew how to read it aright at the spur of the

"You understand what he says, Mary?"

"I think so, papa."

"It is a very kind letter."

"Very kind indeed.  I should have thought that he would not have liked it
at all."

"He makes no objection of that kind.  To tell the truth, Mary, I should
have thought it unreasonable had he done so.  A gentleman can do no better
than marry a lady.  And though it is much to be a nobleman, it is more to
be a gentleman."

"Some people think so much of it.  And then his having been here as a
pupil!  I was very sorry when he spoke to me."

"All that is past and gone.  The danger is that such an engagement would
be long."

"Very long."

"You would be afraid of that, Mary?"  Mary felt that this was hard upon
her, and unfair.  Were she to say that the danger of a long engagement did
not seem to her to be very terrible, she would at once be giving up
everything.  She would have declared then that she did love the young man;
or, at any rate, that she intended to do so.  She would have succumbed at
the first hint that such succumbing was possible to her.  And yet she had
not known that she was very much afraid of a long engagement.  She would,
she thought, have been much more afraid had a speedy marriage been
proposed to her.  Upon the whole, she did not know whether it would not be
nice to go on knowing that the young man loved her, and to rest secure on
her faith in him.  She was sure of this,--that the reading of Lord Bracy's
letter had in some way made her happy, though she was unwilling at once to
express her happiness to her father.  She was quite sure that she could
make no immediate reply to that question, whether she was afraid of a long
engagement.  "I must answer Lord Bracy's letter, you know," said the

"Yes, papa."

"And what shall I say to him?"

"I don't know, papa."

"And yet you must tell me what to say, my darling."

"Must I, papa?"

"Certainly!  Who else can tell me?  But I will not answer it to-day.  I
will put it off till Monday."  It was Saturday morning on which the letter
was being discussed,--a day of which a considerable portion was generally
appropriated to the preparation of a sermon.  "In the mean time you had
better talk to mamma; and on Monday we will settle what is to be said to
Lord Bracy."



MR. PEACOCKE went on alone to San Francisco from the Ogden Junction, and
there obtained full information on the matter which had brought him upon
this long and disagreeable journey.  He had no difficulty in obtaining the
evidence which he required.  He had not been twenty-four hours in the
place before he was, in truth, standing on the stone which had been placed
over the body of Ferdinand Lefroy, as he had declared to Robert Lefroy
that he would stand before he would be satisfied.  On the stone was cut
simply the names, Ferdinand Lefroy of Kilbrack, Louisiana; and to these
were added the dates of the days on which the man had been born and on
which he died.  Of this stone he had a photograph made, of which he took
copies with him; and he obtained also from the minister who had buried the
body and from the custodian who had charge of the cemetery certificates of
the interment.  Armed with these he could no longer doubt himself, or
suppose that others would doubt, that Ferdinand Lefroy was dead.

Having thus perfected his object, and feeling but little interest in a
town to which he had been brought by such painful circumstances, he turned
round, and on the second day after his arrival, again started for Chicago.
Had it been possible, he would fain have avoided any further meeting with
Robert Lefroy.  Short as had been his stay at San Francisco he had learnt
that Robert, after his brother's death, had been concerned in buying
mining shares and paying for them with forged notes.  It was not supposed
that he himself had been engaged in the forgery, but that he had come into
the city with men who had been employed for years on this operation, and
had bought shares and endeavoured to sell them on the following day.  He
had, however, managed to leave the place before the police had got hold of
him, and had escaped, so that no one had been able to say at what station
he had got upon the railway.  Nor did any one in San Francisco know where
Robert Lefroy was now to be found.  His companions had been taken, tried,
and convicted, and were now in the State prison,--where also would Robert
Lefroy soon be if any of the officers of the State could get hold of him.
Luckily Mr. Peacocke had said little or nothing of the man in making his
own inquiries.  Much as he had hated and dreaded the man; much as he had
suffered from his companionship,--good reason as he had to dislike the
whole family,--he felt himself bound by their late companionship not to
betray him.  The man had assisted Mr. Peacocke simply for money; but still
he had assisted him.  Mr. Peacocke therefore held his peace and said
nothing.  But he would have been thankful to have been able to send the
money that was now due to him without having again to see him.  That,
however, was impossible.

On reaching Chicago he went to an hotel far removed from that which Lefroy
had designated.  Lefroy had explained to him something of the geography of
the town, and had explained that for himself he preferred a "modest, quiet
hotel."  The modest, quiet hotel was called Mrs. Jones's boarding-house,
and was in one of the suburbs far from the main street.  "You needn't say
as you're coming to me," Lefroy had said to him; "nor need you let on as
you know anything of Mrs. Jones at all.  People are so curious; and it may
be that a gentleman sometimes likes to lie _perdu_."  Mr. Peacocke,
although he had but small sympathy for the taste of a gentleman who likes
to lie _perdu_, nevertheless did as he was bid, and found his way to Mrs.
Jones's boarding-house without telling any one whither he was going.

Before he started he prepared himself with a thousand dollars in
bank-notes, feeling that this wretched man had earned them in accordance
with their compact.  His only desire now was to hand over the money as
quickly as possible, and to hurry away out of Chicago.  He felt as though
he himself were almost guilty of some crime in having to deal with this
man, in having to give him money secretly, and in carrying out to the end
an arrangement of which no one else was to know the details.  How would it
be with him if the police of Chicago should come upon him as a friend, and
probably an accomplice, of one who was "wanted" on account of forgery at
San Francisco?  But he had no help for himself, and at Mrs. Jones's he
found his wife's brother-in-law seated in the bar of the
public-house,--that everlasting resort for American loungers,--with a
cigar as usual stuck in his mouth, loafing away his time as only American
frequenters of such establishments know how to do.  In England such a man
would probably be found in such a place with a glass of some alcoholic
mixture beside him, but such is never the case with an American.  If he
wants a drink he goes to the bar and takes it standing,--will perhaps take
two or three, one after another; but when he has settled himself down to
loafe, he satisfies himself with chewing a cigar, and covering a circle
around him with the results.  With this amusement he will remain contented
hour after hour;--nay, throughout the entire day if no harder work be
demanded of him.  So was Robert Lefroy found now.  When Peacocke entered
the hall or room the man did not rise from his chair, but accosted him as
though they had parted only an hour since.  "So, old fellow, you've got
back all alive."

"I have reached this place at any rate."

"Well; that's getting back, ain't it?"

"I have come back from San Francisco."

"H'sh!" exclaimed Lefroy, looking round the room, in which, however, there
was no one but themselves.  "You needn't tell everybody where you've

"I have nothing to conceal."

"That is more than anybody knows of himself.  It's a good maxim to keep
your own affairs quiet till they're wanted.  In this country everybody is
spry enough to learn all about everything.  I never see any good in
letting them know without a reason.  Well;--what did you do when you got

"It was all as you told me."

"Didn't I say so?  What was the good of bringing me all this way, when, if
you'd only believed me, you might have saved me the trouble.  Ain't I to
be paid for that?"

"You are to be paid.  I have come here to pay you."

"That's what you owe for the knowledge.  But for coming?  Ain't I to be
paid extra for the journey?"

"You are to have a thousand dollars."

"H'sh!--you speak of money as though every one has a business to know that
you have got your pockets full.  What's a thousand dollars, seeing all
that I have done for you!"

"It's all that you're going to get.  It's all, indeed, that I have got to
give you."


"It's all, at any rate, that you're going to get.  Will you have it now?"

"You found the tomb, did you?"

"Yes; I found the tomb.  Here is a photograph of it.  You can keep a copy
if you like it."

"What do I want of a copy," said the man, taking the photograph in his
hand.  "He was always more trouble than he was worth,--was Ferdy.  It's a
pity she didn't marry me.  I'd 've made a woman of her."  Peacocke
shuddered as he heard this, but he said nothing.  "You may as well give us
the picter;--it'll do to hang up somewhere if ever I have a room of my
own.  How plain it is.  Ferdinand Lefroy,--of Kilbrack!  Kilbrack indeed!
It's little either of us was the better for Kilbrack.  Some of them
psalm-singing rogues from New England has it now;--or perhaps a right-down
nigger.  I shouldn't wonder.  One of our own lot, maybe!  Oh; that's the
money, is it?--A thousand dollars; all that I'm to have for coming to
England and telling you, and bringing you back, and showing you where you
could get this pretty picter made."  Then he took the money, a thick roll
of notes, and crammed them into his pocket.

"You'd better count them."

"It ain't worth the while with such a trifle as that."

"Let me count them then."

"You'll never have that plunder in your fists again, my fine fellow."

"I do not want it."

"And now about my expenses out to England, on purpose to tell you all
this.  You can go and make her your wife now,--or can leave her, just as
you please.  You couldn't have done neither if I hadn't gone out to you."

"You have got what was promised."

"But my expenses,--going out?"

"I have promised you nothing for your expenses going out,--and will pay
you nothing."

"You won't?"

"Not a dollar more."

"You won't?"

"Certainly not.  I do not suppose that you expect it for a moment,
although you are so persistent in asking for it."

"And you think you've got the better of me, do you?  You think you've
carried me along with you, just to do your bidding and take whatever you
please to give me?  That's your idea of me?"

"There was a clear bargain between us.  I have not got the better of you
at all."

"I rather think not, Peacocke.  I rather think not.  You'll have to get up
earlier before you get the better of Robert Lefroy.  You don't expect to
get this money back again,--do you?"

"Certainly not,--any more than I should expect a pound of meat out of a
dog's jaw."  Mr. Peacocke, as he said this, was waxing angry.

"I don't suppose you do;--but you expected that I was to earn it by doing
your bidding;--didn't you?"

"And you have."

"Yes, I have; but how?  You never heard of my cousin, did you;--Ferdinand
Lefroy of Kilbrack, Louisiana?"

"Heard of whom?"

"My cousin; Ferdinand Lefroy.  He was very well known in his own State,
and in California too, till he died.  He was a good fellow, but given to
drink.  We used to tell him that if he would marry it would be better for
him;--but he never would;--he never did."  Robert Lefroy as he said this
put his left hand into his trousers-pocket over the notes which he had
placed there, and drew a small revolver out of his pocket with the other
hand.  "I am better prepared now," he said, "than when you had your
six-shooter under your pillow at Leavenworth."

"I do not believe a word of it.  It's a lie," said Peacocke.

"Very well.  You're a chap that's fond of travelling, and have got plenty
of money.  You'd better go down to Louisiana and make your way straight
from New Orleans to Kilbrack.  It ain't above forty miles to the
south-west, and there's a rail goes within fifteen miles of it.  You'll
learn there all about Ferdinand Lefroy as was our cousin,--him as never
got married up to the day he died of drink and was buried at San
Francisco.  They'll be very glad, I shouldn't wonder, to see that pretty
little picter of yours, because they was always uncommon fond of cousin
Ferdy at Kilbrack.  And I'll tell you what; you'll be sure to come across
my brother Ferdy in them parts, and can tell him how you've seen me.  You
can give him all the latest news, too, about his own wife.  He'll be glad
to hear about her, poor woman."  Mr. Peacocke listened to this without
saying a word since that last exclamation of his.  It might be true.  Why
should it not be true?  If in truth there had been these two cousins of
the same name, what could be more likely than that his money should be
lured out of him by such a fraud as this?  But yet,--yet, as he came to
think of it all, it could not be true.  The chance of carrying such a
scheme to a successful issue would have been too small to induce the man
to act upon it from the day of his first appearance at Bowick.  Nor was it
probable that there should have been another Ferdinand Lefroy unknown to
his wife; and the existence of such a one, if known to his wife, would
certainly have been made known to him.

"It's a lie," said he, "from beginning to end."

"Very well; very well.  I'll take care to make the truth known by letter
to Dr. Wortle and the Bishop and all them pious swells over there.  To
think that such a chap as you, a minister of the gospel, living with
another man's wife and looking as though butter wouldn't melt in your
mouth!  I tell you what; I've got a little money in my pocket now, and I
don't mind going over to England again and explaining the whole truth to
the Bishop myself.  I could make him understand how that photograph ain't
worth nothing, and how I explained to you myself as the lady's righteous
husband is all alive, keeping house on his own property down in Louisiana.
Do you think we Lefroys hadn't any place beside Kilbrack among us?"

"Certainly you are a liar," said Peacocke.

"Very well.  Prove it."

"Did you not tell me that your brother was buried at San Francisco?"

"Oh, as for that, that don't matter.  It don't count for much whether I
told a crammer or not.  That picter counts for nothing.  It ain't my word
you were going on as evidence.  You is able to prove that Ferdy Lefroy was
buried at 'Frisco.  True enough.  I buried him.  I can prove that.  And I
would never have treated you this way, and not have said a word as to how
the dead man was only a cousin, if you'd treated me civil over there in
England.  But you didn't."

"I am going to treat you worse now," said Peacocke, looking him in the

"What are you going to do now?  It's I that have the revolver this time."
As he said this he turned the weapon round in his hand.

"I don't want to shoot you,--nor yet to frighten you, as I did in the
bed-room at Leavenworth.  Not but what I have a pistol too."  And he slowly
drew his out of his pocket.  At this moment two men sauntered in and took
their places in the further corner of the room.  "I don't think there is
to be any shooting between us."

"There may," said Lefroy.

"The police would have you."

"So they would--for a time.  What does that matter to me?  Isn't a fellow
to protect himself when a fellow like you comes to him armed?"

"But they would soon know that you are the swindler who escaped from San
Francisco eighteen months ago.  Do you think it wouldn't be found out that
it was you who paid for the shares in forged notes?"

"I never did.  That's one of your lies."

"Very well.  Now you know what I know; and you had better tell me over
again who it is that lies buried under the stone that's been photographed

"What are you men doing with them pistols?" said one of the strangers,
walking across the room, and standing over the backs of their chairs.

"We are alooking at 'em," said Lefroy.

"If you're agoing to do anything of that kind you'd better go and do it
elsewhere," said the stranger.

"Just so," said Lefroy.  "That's what I was thinking myself."

"But we are not going to do anything," said Mr. Peacocke.  "I have not the
slightest idea of shooting the gentleman; and he has just as little of
shooting me."

"Then what do you sit with 'em out in your hands in that fashion for?"
said the stranger.  "It's a decent widow woman as keeps this house, and I
won't see her set upon.  Put 'em up."  Whereupon Lefroy did return his
pistol to his pocket,--upon which Mr. Peacocke did the same.  Then the
stranger slowly walked back to his seat at the other side of the room.

"So they told you that lie; did they,--at 'Frisco?" asked Lefroy.

"That was what I heard over there when I was inquiring about your
brother's death."

"You'd believe anything if you'd believe that."

"I'd believe anything if I'd believe in your cousin."  Upon this Lefroy
laughed, but made no further allusion to the romance which he had craftily
invented on the spur of the moment.  After that the two men sat without a
word between them for a quarter of an hour, when the Englishman got up to
take his leave.  "Our business is over now," he said, "and I will bid you

"I'll tell you what I'm athinking," said Lefroy.  Mr. Peacocke stood with
his hand ready for a final adieu, but he said nothing.  "I've half a mind
to go back with you to England.  There ain't nothing to keep me here."

"What could you do there?"

"I'd be evidence for you, as to Ferdy's death, you know."

"I have evidence.  I do not want you."

"I'll go, nevertheless."

"And spend all your money on the journey."

"You'd help;--wouldn't you now?"

"Not a dollar," said Peacocke, turning away and leaving the room.  As he
did so he heard the wretch laughing loud at the excellence of his own

Before he made his journey back again to England he only once more saw
Robert Lefroy.  As he was seating himself in the railway car that was to
take him to Buffalo the man came up to him with an affected look of
solicitude.  "Peacocke," he said, "there was only nine hundred dollars in
that roll."

"There were a thousand.  I counted them half-an-hour before I handed them
to you."

"There was only nine hundred when I got 'em."

"There were all that you will get.  What kind of notes were they you had
when you paid for the shares at 'Frisco?"  This question he asked out loud,
before all the passengers.  Then Robert Lefroy left the car, and Mr.
Peacocke never saw him or heard from him again.




WHEN the Monday came there was much to be done and to be thought of at
Bowick.  Mrs. Peacocke on that day received a letter from San Francisco,
giving her all the details of the evidence that her husband had obtained,
and enclosing a copy of the photograph.  There was now no reason why she
should not become the true and honest wife of the man whom she had all
along regarded as her husband in the sight of God.  The writer declared
that he would so quickly follow his letter that he might be expected home
within a week, or, at the longest, ten days, from the date at which she
would receive it.  Immediately on his arrival at Liverpool, he would, of
course, give her notice by telegraph.

When this letter reached her, she at once sent a message across to Mrs.
Wortle.  Would Mrs. Wortle kindly come and see her?  Mrs. Wortle was, of
course, bound to do as she was asked, and started at once.  But she was,
in truth, but little able to give counsel on any subject outside the one
which was at the moment nearest to her heart.  At one o'clock, when the
boys went to their dinner, Mary was to instruct her father as to the
purport of the letter which was to be sent to Lord Bracy,--and Mary had
not as yet come to any decision.  She could not go to her father for
aid;--she could not, at any rate, go to him until the appointed hour
should come; and she was, therefore, entirely thrown upon her mother.  Had
she been old enough to understand the effect and the power of character,
she would have known that, at the last moment, her father would certainly
decide for her,--and had her experience of the world been greater, she
might have been quite sure that her father would decide in her favour.
But as it was, she was quivering and shaking in the dark, leaning on her
mother's very inefficient aid, nearly overcome with the feeling that by
one o'clock she must be ready to say something quite decided.

And in the midst of this her mother was taken away from her, just at ten
o'clock.  There was not, in truth, much that the two ladies could say to
each other.  Mrs. Peacocke felt it to be necessary to let the Doctor know
that Mr. Peacocke would be back almost at once, and took this means of
doing so.  "In a week!" said Mrs. Wortle, as though painfully surprised by
the suddenness of the coming arrival.

"In a week or ten days.  He was to follow his letter as quickly as
possible from San Francisco."

"And he has found it all out?"

"Yes; he has learned everything, I think.  Look at this!"  And Mrs.
Peacocke handed to her friend the photograph of the tombstone.

"Dear me!" said Mrs. Wortle.  "Ferdinand Lefroy!  And this was his grave?"

"That is his grave," said Mrs. Peacocke, turning her face away.

"It is very sad; very sad indeed;--but you had to learn it, you know."

"It will not be sad for him, I hope," said Mrs. Peacocke.  "In all this, I
endeavour to think of him rather than of myself.  When I am forced to
think of myself, it seems to me that my life has been so blighted and
destroyed that it must be indifferent what happens to me now.  What has
happened to me has been so bad that I can hardly be injured further.  But
if there can be a good time coming for him,--something at least of relief,
something perhaps of comfort,--then I shall be satisfied."

"Why should there not be comfort for you both?"

"I am almost as dead to hope as I am to shame.  Some year or two ago I
should have thought it impossible to bear the eyes of people looking at
me, as though my life had been sinful and impure.  I seem now to care
nothing for all that.  I can look them back again with bold eyes and a
brazen face, and tell them that their hardness is at any rate as bad as my

"We have not looked at you like that," said Mrs. Wortle.

"No; and therefore I send to you in my trouble, and tell you all this.
The strangest thing of all to me is that I should have come across one man
so generous as your husband, and one woman so soft-hearted as yourself."
There was nothing further to be said then.  Mrs. Wortle was instructed to
tell her husband that Mr. Peacocke was to be expected in a week or ten
days, and then hurried back to give what assistance she could in the much
more important difficulties of her own daughter.

Of course they were much more important to her.  Was her girl to become
the wife of a young lord,--to be a future countess?  Was she destined to
be the mother-in-law of an earl?  Of course this was much more important
to her.  And then through it all,--being as she was a dear, good,
Christian, motherly woman,--she was well aware that there was something,
in truth, much more important even than that.  Though she thought much of
the earl-ship, and the countess-ship, and the great revenue, and the big
house at Carstairs, and the fine park with its magnificent avenues, and
the carriage in which her daughter would be rolled about to London
parties, and the diamonds which she would wear when she should be
presented to the Queen as the bride of the young Lord Carstairs, yet she
knew very well that she ought not in such an emergency as the present to
think of these things as being of primary importance.  What would tend
most to her girl's happiness,--and welfare in this world and the next?  It
was of that she ought to think,--of that only.  If some answer were now
returned to Lord Bracy, giving his lordship to understand that they, the
Wortles, were anxious to encourage the idea, then in fact her girl would
be tied to an engagement whether the young lord should hold himself to be
so tied or no!  And how would it be with her girl if the engagement should
be allowed to run on in a doubtful way for years, and then be dropped by
reason of the young man's indifference?  How would it be with her if,
after perhaps three or four years, a letter should come saying that the
young lord had changed his mind, and had engaged himself to some nobler
bride?  Was it not her duty, as a mother, to save her child from the too
probable occurrence of some crushing grief such as this?  All of it was
clear to her mind;--but then it was clear also that, if this opportunity
of greatness were thrown away, no such chance in all probability would
ever come again.  Thus she was so tossed to and fro between a prospect of
glorious prosperity for her child on one side, and the fear of terrible
misfortune for her child on the other, that she was altogether unable to
give any salutary advice.  She, at any rate, ought to have known that her
advice would at last be of no importance.  Her experience ought to have
told her that the Doctor would certainly settle the matter himself.  Had
it been her own happiness that was in question, her own conduct, her own
greatness, she would not have dreamed of having an opinion of her own.
She would have consulted the Doctor, and simply have done as he directed.
But all this was for her child, and in a vague, vacillating way she felt
that for her child she ought to be ready with counsel of her own.

"Mamma," said Mary, when her mother came back from Mrs. Peacocke, "what am
I to say when he sends for me?"

"If you think that you can love him, my dear----"

"Oh, mamma, you shouldn't ask me!"

"My dear!"

"I do like him,--very much."

"If so----"

"But I never thought of it before;--and then, if he,--if he----"

"If he what, my dear?"

"If he were to change his mind?"

"Ah, yes;--there it is.  It isn't as though you could be married in three
months' time."

"Oh, mamma!  I shouldn't like that at all."

"Or even in six."

"Oh, no."

"Of course he is very young."

"Yes, mamma."

"And when a young man is so very young, I suppose he doesn't quite know
his own mind."

"No, mamma.  But----"

"Well, my dear."

"His father says that he has got--such a strong will of his own," said
poor Mary, who was anxious, unconsciously anxious, to put in a good word
on her own side of the question, without making her own desire too

"He always had that.  When there was any game to be played, he always
liked to have his own way.  But then men like that are just as likely to
change as others."

"Are they, mamma?"

"But I do think that he is a lad of very high principle."

"Papa has always said that of him."

"And of fine generous feeling.  He would not change like a weather-cock."

"If you think he would change at all, I would
rather,--rather,--rather----.  Oh, mamma, why did you tell me?"

"My darling, my child, my angel!  What am I to tell you?  I do think of
all the young men I ever knew he is the nicest, and the sweetest, and the
most thoroughly good and affectionate."

"Oh, mamma, do you?" said Mary, rushing at her mother and kissing her and
embracing her.

"But if there were to be no regular engagement, and you were to let him
have your heart,--and then things were to go wrong!"

Mary left the embracings, gave up the kissings, and seated herself on the
sofa alone.  In this way the morning was passed;--and when Mary was
summoned to her father's study, the mother and daughter had not arrived
between them at any decision.

"Well, my dear," said the Doctor, smiling, "what am I to say to the Earl?"

"Must you write to-day, papa?"

"I think so.  His letter is one that should not be left longer unanswered.
Were we to do so, he would only think that we didn't know what to say for

"Would he, papa?"

"He would fancy that we are half-ashamed to accept what has been offered
to us, and yet anxious to take it."

"I am not ashamed of anything."

"No, my dear; you have no reason."

"Nor have you, papa."

"Nor have I.  That is quite true.  I have never been wont to be ashamed of
myself;--nor do I think that you ever will have cause to be ashamed of
yourself.  Therefore, why should we hesitate?  Shall I help you, my
darling, in coming to a decision on the matter?"

"Yes, papa."

"If I can understand your heart on this matter, it has never as yet been
given to this young man."

"No, papa."  This Mary said not altogether with that complete power of
asseveration which the negative is sometimes made to bear.

"But there must be a beginning to such things.  A man throws himself into
it headlong,--as my Lord Carstairs seems to have done.  At least all the
best young men do."  Mary at this point felt a great longing to get up and
kiss her father; but she restrained herself.  "A young woman, on the other
hand, if she is such as I think you are, waits till she is asked.  Then it
has to begin."  The Doctor, as he said this, smiled his sweetest smile.

"Yes, papa."

"And when it has begun, she does not like to blurt it out at once, even to
her loving old father."


"That's about it, isn't it?  Haven't I hit it off?"  He paused, as though
for a reply, but she was not as yet able to make him any.  "Come here, my
dear."  She came and stood by him, so that he could put his arm round her
waist.  "If it be as I suppose, you are better disposed to this young man
than you are likely to be to any other, just at present."

"Oh yes, papa."

"To all others you are quite indifferent?"

"Yes,--indeed, papa."

"I am sure you are.  But not quite indifferent to this one?  Give me a
kiss, my darling, and I will take that for your speech."  Then she kissed
him,--giving him her very best kiss.  "And now, my child, what shall I say
to the Earl?"

"I don't know, papa."

"Nor do I, quite.  I never do know what to say till I've got the pen in my
hand.  But you'll commission me to write as I may think best?"

"Oh yes, papa."

"And I may presume that I know your mind?"

"Yes, papa."

"Very well.  Then you had better leave me, so that I can go to work with
the paper straight before me, and my pen fixed in my fingers.  I can never
begin to think till I find myself in that position."  Then she left him,
and went back to her mother.

"Well, my dear," said Mrs. Wortle.

"He is going to write to Lord Bracy."

"But what does he mean to say?"

"I don't know at all, mamma."

"Not know!"

"I think he means to tell Lord Bracy that he has got no objection."

Then Mrs. Wortle was sure that the Doctor meant to face all the dangers,
and that therefore it would behove her to face them also.

The Doctor, when he was left alone, sat a while thinking of the matter
before he put himself into the position fitted for composition which he
had described to his daughter.  He acknowledged to himself that there was
a difficulty in making a fit reply to the letter which he had to answer.
When his mind was set on sending an indignant epistle to the Bishop, the
words flew from him like lightning out of the thunder-clouds.  But now he
had to think much of it before he could make any light to come which
should not bear a different colour from that which he intended.  "Of
course such a marriage would suit my child, and would suit me," he wished
to say;--"not only, or not chiefly, because your son is a nobleman, and
will be an earl and a man of great property.  That goes a long way with
us.  We are too true to deny it.  We hate humbug, and want you to know
simply the truth about us.  The title and the money go far,--but not half
so far as the opinion which we entertain of the young man's own good
gifts.  I would not give my girl to the greatest and richest nobleman
under the British Crown, if I did not think that he would love her and be
good to her, and treat her as a husband should treat his wife.  But
believing this young man to have good gifts such as these, and a fine
disposition, I am willing, on my girl's behalf,--and she also is
willing,--to encounter the acknowledged danger of a long engagement in the
hope of realising all the good things which would, if things went
fortunately, thus come within her reach."  This was what he wanted to say
to the Earl, but he found it very difficult to say it in language that
should be natural.

"MY DEAR LORD BRACY,--When I learned, through Mary's mother, that
Carstairs had been here in our absence and made a declaration of love to
our girl, I was, I must confess, annoyed.  I felt, in the first place,
that he was too young to have taken in hand such a business as that; and,
in the next, that you might not unnaturally have been angry that your son,
who had come here simply for tuition, should have fallen into a matter of
love.  I imagine that you will understand exactly what were my feelings.
There was, however, nothing to be said about it.  The evil, so far as it
was an evil, had been done, and Carstairs was going away to Oxford, where,
possibly, he might forget the whole affair.  I did not, at any rate, think
it necessary to make a complaint to you of his coming.

"To all this your letter has given altogether a different aspect.  I think
that I am as little likely as another to spend my time or thoughts in
looking for external advantages, but I am as much alive as another to the
great honour to myself and advantage to my child of the marriage which is
suggested to her.  I do not know how any more secure prospect of happiness
could be opened to her than that which such a marriage offers.  I have
thought myself bound to give her your letter to read because her heart and
her imagination have naturally been affected by what your son said to her.
I think I may say of my girl that none sweeter, none more innocent, none
less likely to be over-anxious for such a prospect could exist.  But her
heart has been touched; and though she had not dreamt of him but as an
acquaintance till he came here and told his own tale, and though she then
altogether declined to entertain his proposal when it was made, now that
she has learnt so much more through you, she is no longer indifferent.
This, I think, you will find to be natural.

"I and her mother also are of course alive to the dangers of a long
engagement, and the more so because your son has still before him a
considerable portion of his education.  Had he asked advice either of you
or of me he would of course have been counselled not to think of marriage
as yet.  But the very passion which has prompted him to take this action
upon himself shows,--as you yourself say of him,--that he has a stronger
will than is usual to be found at his years.  As it is so, it is probable
that he may remain constant to this as to a fixed idea.

"I think you will now understand my mind and Mary's and her mother's."
Lord Bracy as he read this declared to himself that though the Doctor's
mind was very clear, Mrs. Wortle, as far as he knew, had no mind in the
matter at all.  "I would suggest that the affair should remain as it is,
and that each of the young people should be made to understand that any
future engagement must depend, not simply on the persistency of one of
them, but on the joint persistency of the two.

"If, after this, Lady Bracy should be pleased to receive Mary at
Carstairs, I need not say that Mary will be delighted to make the
visit.--Believe me, my dear Lord Bracy, yours most faithfully.


The Earl, when he read this, though there was not a word in it to which he
could take exception, was not altogether pleased.  "Of course it will be
an engagement," he said to his wife.

"Of course it will," said the Countess.  "But then Carstairs is so very
much in earnest.  He would have done it for himself if you hadn't done it
for him."

"At any rate the Doctor is a gentleman," the Earl said, comforting



THE Earl's rejoinder to the Doctor was very short: "So let it be."  There
was not another word in the body of the letter; but there was appended to
it a postscript almost equally short; "Lady Bracy will write to Mary and
settle with her some period for her visit."  And so it came to be
understood by the Doctor, by Mrs. Wortle, and by Mary herself, that Mary
was engaged to Lord Carstairs.

The Doctor, having so far arranged the matter, said little or nothing more
on the subject, but turned his mind at once to that other affair of Mr.
and Mrs. Peacocke.  It was evident to his wife, who probably alone
understood the buoyancy of his spirit and its corresponding susceptibility
to depression, that he at once went about Mr. Peacocke's affairs with
renewed courage.  Mr. Peacocke should resume his duties as soon as he was
remarried, and let them see what Mrs. Stantiloup or the Bishop would dare
to say then!  It was impossible, he thought, that parents would be such
asses as to suppose that their boys' morals could be affected to evil by
connection with a man so true, so gallant, and so manly as this.  He did
not at this time say anything further as to abandoning the school, but
seemed to imagine that the vacancies would get themselves filled up as in
the course of nature.  He ate his dinner again as though he liked it, and
abused the Liberals, and was anxious about the grapes and peaches, as was
always the case with him when things were going well.  All this, as Mrs.
Wortle understood, had come to him from the brilliancy of Mary's

But though he held his tongue on the subject, Mrs. Wortle did not.  She
found it absolutely impossible not to talk of it when she was alone with
Mary, or alone with the Doctor.  As he counselled her not to make Mary
think too much about it, she was obliged to hold her peace when both were
with her; but with either of them alone she was always full of it.  To the
Doctor she communicated all her fears and all her doubts, showing only too
plainly that she would be altogether broken-hearted if anything should
interfere with the grandeur and prosperity which seemed to be partly
within reach, but not altogether within reach of her darling child.  If
he, Carstairs, should prove to be a recreant young lord!  If Aristotle and
Socrates should put love out of his heart!  If those other wicked young
lords at Christ-Church were to teach him that it was a foolish thing for a
young lord to become engaged to his tutor's daughter before he had taken
his degree!  If some better born young lady were to come in his way and
drive Mary out of his heart!  No more lovely or better girl could be found
to do so;--of that she was sure.  To the latter assertion the Doctor
agreed, telling her that, as it was so, she ought to have a stronger trust
in her daughter's charms,--telling her also, with somewhat sterner voice,
that she should not allow herself to be so disturbed by the glories of the
Bracy coronet.  In this there was, I think, some hypocrisy.  Had the
Doctor been as simple as his wife in showing her own heart, it would
probably have been found that he was as much set upon the coronet as she.

Then Mrs. Wortle would carry the Doctor's wisdom to her daughter.  "Papa
says, my dear, that you shouldn't think of it too much."

"I do think of him, mamma.  I do love him now, and of course I think of

"Of course you do, my dear;--of course you do.  How should you not think
of him when he is all in all to you?  But papa means that it can hardly be
called an engagement yet."

"I don't know what it should be called; but of course I love him.  He can
change it if he likes."

"But you shouldn't think of it, knowing his rank and wealth."

"I never did, mamma; but he is what he is, and I must think of him."

Poor Mrs. Wortle did not know what special advice to give when this
declaration was made.  To have held her tongue would have been the wisest,
but that was impossible to her.  Out of the full heart the mouth speaks,
and her heart was very full of Lord Carstairs and of Carstairs House, and
of the diamonds which her daughter would certainly be called upon to wear
before the Queen,--if only that young man would do his duty.

Poor Mary herself probably had the worst of it.  No provision was made
either for her to see her lover or to write to him.  The only interview
which had ever taken place between them as lovers was that on which she
had run by him into the house, leaving him, as the Earl had said, planted
on the terrace.  She had never been able to whisper one single soft word
into his ear, to give him even one touch of her fingers in token of her
affection.  She did not in the least know when she might be allowed to see
him,--whether it had not been settled among the elders that they were not
to see each other as real lovers till he should have taken his
degree,--which would be almost in a future world, so distant seemed the
time.  It had been already settled that she was to go to Carstairs in the
middle of November and stay till the middle of December; but it was
altogether settled that her lover was not to be at Carstairs during the
time.  He was to be at Oxford then, and would be thinking only of his
Greek and Latin,--or perhaps amusing himself, in utter forgetfulness that
he had a heart belonging to him at Bowick Parsonage.  In this way Mary,
though no doubt she thought the most of it all, had less opportunity of
talking of it than either her father or her mother.

In the mean time Mr. Peacocke was coming home.  The Doctor, as soon as he
heard that the day was fixed, or nearly fixed, being then, as has been
explained, in full good humour with all the world except Mrs. Stantiloup
and the Bishop, bethought himself as to what steps might best be taken in
the very delicate matter in which he was called upon to give advice.  He
had declared at first that they should be married at his own parish
church; but he felt that there would be difficulties in this.  "She must
go up to London and meet him there," he said to Mrs. Wortle.  "And he must
not show himself here till he brings her down as his actual wife."  Then
there was very much to be done in arranging all this.  And something to be
done also in making those who had been his friends, and perhaps more in
making those who had been his enemies, understand exactly how the matter
stood.  Had no injury been inflicted upon him, as though he had done evil
to the world in general in befriending Mr. Peacocke, he would have been
quite willing to pass the matter over in silence among his friends; but as
it was he could not afford to hide his own light under a bushel.  He was
being punished almost to the extent of ruin by the cruel injustice which
had been done him by the evil tongue of Mrs. Stantiloup, and, as he
thought, by the folly of the Bishop.  He must now let those who had
concerned themselves know as accurately as he could what he had done in
the matter, and what had been the effect of his doing.  He wrote a letter,
therefore, which was not, however, to be posted till after the Peacocke
marriage had been celebrated, copies of which he prepared with his own
hand in order that he might send them to the Bishop and to Lady Anne
Clifford, and to Mr. Talbot and,--not, indeed, to Mrs. Stantiloup, but to
Mrs. Stantiloup's husband.  There was a copy also made for Mr. Momson,
though in his heart he despised Mr. Momson thoroughly.  In this letter he
declared the great respect which he had entertained, since he had first
known them, both for Mr. and Mrs. Peacocke, and the distress which he had
felt when Mr. Peacocke had found himself obliged to explain to him the
facts,--the facts which need not be repeated, because the reader is so
well acquainted with them.  "Mr. Peacocke," he went on to say, "has since
been to America, and has found that the man whom he believed to be dead
when he married his wife, has died since his calamitous reappearance.  Mr.
Peacocke has seen the man's grave, with the stone on it bearing his name,
and has brought back with him certificates and evidence as to his burial.

"Under these circumstances, I have no hesitation in re-employing both him
and his wife; and I think that you will agree that I could not do less.  I
think you will agree, also, that in the whole transaction I have done
nothing of which the parent of any boy intrusted to me has a right to

Having done this, he went up to London, and made arrangements for having
the marriage celebrated there as soon as possible after the arrival of Mr.
Peacocke.  And on his return to Bowick, he went off to Mr. Puddicombe with
a copy of his letter in his pocket.  He had not addressed a copy to his
friend, nor had he intended that one should be sent to him.  Mr.
Puddicombe had not interfered in regard to the boys, and had, on the
whole, shown himself to be a true friend.  There was no need for him to
advocate his cause to Mr. Puddicombe.  But it was right, he thought, that
that gentleman should know what he did; and it might be that he hoped that
he would at length obtain some praise from Mr. Puddicombe.  But Mr.
Puddicombe did not like the letter.  "It does not tell the truth," he

"Not the truth!"

"Not the whole truth."

"As how!  Where have I concealed anything?"

"If I understand the question rightly, they who have thought proper to
take their children away from your school because of Mr. Peacocke, have
done so because that gentleman continued to live with that lady when they
both knew that they were not man and wife."

"That wasn't my doing."

"You condoned it.  I am not condemning you.  You condoned it, and now you
defend yourself in this letter.  But in your defence you do not really
touch the offence as to which you are, according to your own showing,
accused.  In telling the whole story, you should say; 'They did live
together though they were not married;--and, under all the circumstances,
I did not think that they were on that account unfit to be left in charge
of my boys."'

"But I sent him away immediately,--to America."

"You allowed the lady to remain."

"Then what would you have me say?" demanded the Doctor.

"Nothing," said Mr. Puddicombe;--"not a word.  Live it down in silence.
There will be those, like myself, who, though they could not dare to say
that in morals you were strictly correct, will love you the better for
what you did."  The Doctor turned his face towards the dry, hard-looking
man and showed that there was a tear in each of his eyes.  "There are few
of us not so infirm as sometimes to love best that which is not best.  But
when a man is asked a downright question, he is bound to answer the

"You would say nothing in your own defence."

"Not a word.  You know the French proverb: 'Who excuses himself is his own
accuser.' The truth generally makes its way.  As far as I can see, a
slander never lives long."

"Ten of my boys are gone!" said the Doctor, who had not hitherto spoken a
word of this to any one out of his own family;--"ten out of twenty."

"That will only be a temporary loss."

"That is nothing,--nothing.  It is the idea that the school should be

"They will come again.  I do not believe that that letter would bring a
boy.  I am almost inclined to say, Dr. Wortle, that a man should never
defend himself."

"He should never have to defend himself."

"It is much the same thing.  But I'll tell you what I'll do, Dr.
Wortle,--if it will suit your plans.  I will go up with you and will
assist at the marriage.  I do not for a moment think that you will require
any countenance, or that if you did, that I could give it you."

"No man that I know so efficiently."

"But it may be that Mr. Peacocke will like to find that the clergymen from
his neighbourhood are standing with him."  And so it was settled, that when
the day should come on which the Doctor would take Mrs. Peacocke up with
him to London, Mr. Puddicombe was to accompany them.

The Doctor when he left Mr. Puddicombe's parsonage had by no means pledged
himself not to send the letters.  When a man has written a letter, and has
taken some trouble with it, and more specially when he has copied it
several times himself so as to have made many letters of it,--when he has
argued his point successfully to himself, and has triumphed in his own
mind, as was likely to be the case with Dr. Wortle in all that he did, he
does not like to make waste paper of his letters.  As he rode home he
tried to persuade himself that he might yet use them.  He could not quite
admit his friend's point.  Mr. Peacocke, no doubt, had known his own
condition, and him a strict moralist might condemn.  But he,--he,--Dr.
Wortle,--had known nothing.  All that he had done was not to condemn the
other man when he did know!

Nevertheless as he rode into his own yard, he made up his mind that he
would burn the letters.  He had shown them to no one else.  He had not
even mentioned them to his wife.  He could burn them without condemning
himself in the opinion of any one.  And he burned them.  When Mr.
Puddicombe found him at the station at Broughton as they were about to
proceed to London with Mrs. Peacocke, he simply whispered the fate of the
letters.  "After what you said I destroyed what I had written."

"Perhaps it was as well," said Mr. Puddicombe.

When the telegram came to say that Mr. Peacocke was at Liverpool, Mrs.
Peacocke was anxious immediately to rush up to London.  But she was
restrained by the Doctor,--or rather by Mrs. Wortle under the Doctor's
orders.  "No, my dear; no.  You must not go till all will be ready for you
to meet him in the church.  The Doctor says so."

"Am I not to see him till he comes up to the altar?"

On this there was another consultation between Mrs. Wortle and the Doctor,
at which she explained how impossible it would be for the woman to go
through the ceremony with due serenity and propriety of manner unless she
should be first allowed to throw herself into his arms, and to welcome him
back to her.  "Yes," she said, "he can come and see you at the hotel on
the evening before, and again in the morning,--so that if there be a word
to say you can say it.  Then when it is over he will bring you down here.
The Doctor and Mr. Puddicombe will come down by a later train.  Of course
it is painful," said Mrs. Wortle, "but you must bear up."  To her it seemed
to be so painful that she was quite sure that she could not have borne it.
To be married for the third time, and for the second time to the same
husband!  To Mrs. Peacocke, as she thought of it, the pain did not so much
rest in that, as in the condition of life which these things had forced
upon her.

"I must go up to town to-morrow, and must be away for two days," said the
Doctor out loud in the school, speaking immediately to one of the ushers,
but so that all the boys present might hear him.  "I trust that we shall
have Mr. Peacocke with us the day after to-morrow."

"We shall be very glad of that," said the usher.

"And Mrs. Peacocke will come and eat her dinner again like before?" asked
a little boy.

"I hope so, Charley."

"We shall like that, because she has to eat it all by herself now."

All the school, down even to Charley, the smallest boy in it, knew all
about it.  Mr. Peacocke had gone to America, and Mrs. Peacocke was going
up to London to be married once more to her own husband,--and the Doctor
and Mr. Puddicombe were both going to marry them.  The usher of course
knew the details more clearly than that,--as did probably the bigger boys.
There had even been a rumour of the photograph which had been seen by one
of the maid-servants,--who had, it is to be feared, given the information
to the French teacher.  So much, however, the Doctor had felt it wise to
explain, not thinking it well that Mr. Peacocke should make his
reappearance among them without notice.

On the afternoon of the next day but one, Mr. and Mrs. Peacocke were
driven up to the school in one of the Broughton flys.  She went quickly up
into her own house, when Mr. Peacocke walked into the school.  The boys
clustered round him, and the three assistants, and every word said to him
was kind and friendly;--but in the whole course of his troubles there had
never been a moment to him more difficult than this,--in which he found it
so nearly impossible to say anything or to say nothing.  "Yes, I have been
over very many miles since I saw you last."  This was an answer to young
Talbot, who asked him whether he had not been a great traveller whilst he
was away.

"In America," suggested the French usher, who had heard of the photograph,
and knew very well where it had been taken.

"Yes, in America."

"All the way to San Francisco," suggested Charley.

"All the way to San Francisco, Charley,--and back again."

"Yes; I know you're come back again," said Charley, "because I see you

"There are only twenty boys this half," said one of the twenty.

"Then I shall have more time to attend to you now."

"I suppose so," said the lad, not seeming to find any special consolation
in that view of the matter.

Painful as this first re-introduction had been, there was not much more in
it than that.  No questions were asked, and no explanations expected.  It
may be that Mrs. Stantiloup was affected with fresh moral horrors when she
heard of the return, and that the Bishop said that the Doctor was foolish
and headstrong as ever.  It may be that there was a good deal of talk
about it in the Close at Broughton.  But at the school there was very
little more said about it than what has been stated above.



IN this last chapter of our short story I will venture to run rapidly over
a few months so as to explain how the affairs of Bowick arranged
themselves up to the end of the current year.  I cannot pretend that the
reader shall know, as he ought to be made to know, the future fate and
fortunes of our personages.  They must be left still struggling.  But then
is not such always in truth the case, even when the happy marriage has
been celebrated?--even when, in the course of two rapid years, two normal
children make their appearance to gladden the hearts of their parents?

Mr. and Mrs. Peacocke fell into their accustomed duties in the diminished
school, apparently without difficulty.  As the Doctor had not sent those
ill-judged letters he of course received no replies, and was neither
troubled by further criticism nor consoled by praise as to his conduct.
Indeed, it almost seemed to him as though the thing, now that it was done,
excited less observation than it deserved.  He heard no more of the
metropolitan press, and was surprised to find that the 'Broughton Gazette'
inserted only a very short paragraph, in which it stated that "they had
been given to understand that Mr. and Mrs. Peacocke had resumed their
usual duties at the Bowick School, after the performance of an interesting
ceremony in London, at which Dr. Wortle and Mr. Puddicombe had assisted."
The press, as far as the Doctor was aware, said nothing more on the
subject.  And if remarks injurious to his conduct were made by the
Stantiloups and the Momsons, they did not reach his ears.  Very soon after
the return of the Peacockes there was a grand dinner-party at the palace,
to which the Doctor and his wife were invited.  It was not a clerical
dinner-party, and so the honour was the greater.  The aristocracy of the
neighbourhood were there, including Lady Anne Clifford, who was devoted,
with almost repentant affection, to her old friend.  And Lady Margaret
Momson was there, the only clergyman's wife besides his own, who declared
to him with unblushing audacity that she had never regretted anything so
much in her life as that Augustus should have been taken away from the
school.  It was evident that there had been an intention at the palace to
make what amends the palace could for the injuries it had done.

"Did Lady Anne say anything about the boys?" asked Mrs. Wortle, as they
were going home.

"She was going to, but I would not let her.  I managed to show her that I
did not wish it, and she was clever enough to stop."

"I shouldn't wonder if she sent them back," said Mrs. Wortle.

"She won't do that.  Indeed, I doubt whether I should take them.  But if
it should come to pass that she should wish to send them back, you may be
sure that others will come.  In such a matter she is very good as a
weathercock, showing how the wind blows."  In this way the dinner-party at
the palace was in a degree comforting and consolatory.

But an incident which of all was most comforting and most consolatory to
one of the inhabitants of the parsonage took place two or three days after
the dinner-party.  On going out of his own hall-door one Saturday
afternoon, immediately after lunch, whom should the Doctor see driving
himself into the yard in a hired gig from Broughton--but young Lord
Carstairs.  There had been no promise, or absolute compact made, but it
certainly had seemed to be understood by all of them that Carstairs was
not to show himself at Bowick till at some long distant period, when he
should have finished all the trouble of his education.  It was understood
even that he was not to be at Carstairs during Mary's visit,--so
imperative was it that the young people should not meet.  And now here he
was getting out of a gig in the Rectory yard!  "Halloa!  Carstairs, is
that you?"

"Yes, Dr. Wortle,--here I am."

"We hardly expected to see you, my boy."

"No,--I suppose not.  But when I heard that Mr. Peacocke had come back,
and all about his marriage, you know, I could not but come over to see
him.  He and I have always been such great friends."

"Oh,--to see Mr. Peacocke?"

"I thought he'd think it unkind if I didn't look him up.  He has made it
all right; hasn't he?"

"Yes;--he has made it all right, I think.  A finer fellow never lived.
But he'll tell you all about it.  He travelled with a pistol in his
pocket, and seemed to want it too.  I suppose you must come in and see the
ladies after we have been to Peacocke?"

"I suppose I can just see them," said the young lord, as though moved by
equal anxiety as to the mother and as to the daughter.

"I'll leave word that you are here, and then we'll go into the school."
So the Doctor found a servant, and sent what message he thought fit
into the house.

"Lord Carstairs here?"

"Yes, indeed, Miss!  He's with your papa, going across to the school.  He
told me to take word in to Missus that he supposes his lordship will stay
to dinner."  The maid who carried the tidings, and who had received no
commission to convey them to Miss Mary, was, no doubt, too much interested
in an affair of love, not to take them first to the one that would be most
concerned with them.

That very morning Mary had been bemoaning herself as to her hard
condition.  Of what use was it to her to have a lover, if she was never to
see him, never to hear from him,--only to be told about him,--that she was
not to think of him more than she could help?  She was already beginning
to think that a long engagement carried on after this fashion would have
more of suffering in it than she had anticipated.  It seemed to her that
while she was, and always would be, thinking of him, he never, never would
continue to think of her.  If it could be only a word once a month it
would be something,--just one or two written words under an
envelope,--even that would have sufficed to keep her hope alive!  But
never to see him;--never to hear from him!  Her mother had told her that
very morning that there was to be no meeting,--probably for three years,
till he should have done with Oxford.  And here he was in the house,--and
her papa had sent in word to say that he was to eat his dinner there!  It
so astonished her that she felt that she would be afraid to meet him.
Before she had had a minute to think of it all, her mother was with her.
"Carstairs, love, is here!"

"Oh mamma, what has brought him?"

"He has gone into the school with your papa to see Mr. Peacocke.  He
always was very fond of Mr. Peacocke."  For a moment something of a feeling
of jealousy crossed her heart,--but only for a moment.  He would not
surely have come to Bowick if he had begun to be indifferent to her
already!  "Papa says that he will probably stay to dinner."

"Then I am to see him?"

"Yes;--of course you must see him."

"I didn't know, mamma."

"Don't you wish to see him?"

"Oh yes, mamma.  If he were to come and go, and we were not to meet at
all, I should think it was all over then.  Only,--I don't know what to say
to him."

"You must take that as it comes, my dear."

Two hours afterwards they were walking, the two of them alone together,
out in the Bowick woods.  When once the law,--which had been rather
understood than spoken,--had been infringed and set at naught, there was
no longer any use in endeavouring to maintain a semblance of its
restriction.  The two young people had met in the presence both of the
father and mother, and the lover had had her in his arms before either of
them could interfere.  There had been a little scream from Mary, but it
may probably be said of her that she was at the moment the happiest young
lady in the diocese.

"Does your father know you are here?" said the Doctor, as he led the young
lord back from the school into the house.

"He knows I'm coming, for I wrote and told my mother.  I always tell
everything; but it's sometimes best to make up your mind before you get an
answer."  Then the Doctor made up his mind that Lord Carstairs would have
his own way in anything that he wished to accomplish.

"Won't the Earl be angry?" Mrs. Wortle asked.

"No;--not angry.  He knows the world too well not to be quite sure that
something of the kind would happen.  And he is too fond of his son not to
think well of anything that he does.  It wasn't to be supposed that they
should never meet.  After all that has passed I am bound to make him
welcome if he chooses to come here, and as Mary's lover to give him the
best welcome that I can.  He won't stay, I suppose, because he has got no

"But he has;--John brought in a portmanteau and a dressing-bag out of the
gig."  So that was settled.

In the mean time Lord Carstairs had taken Mary out for a walk into the
wood, and she, as she walked beside him, hardly knew whether she was going
on her head or her heels.  This, indeed, it was to have a lover.  In the
morning she was thinking that when three years were past he would hardly
care to see her ever again.  And now they were together among the falling
leaves, and sitting about under the branches as though there was nothing
in the world to separate them.  Up to that day there had never been a word
between them but such as is common to mere acquaintances, and now he was
calling her every instant by her Christian name, and telling her all his

"We have such jolly woods at Carstairs," he said; "but we shan't be able
to sit down when we're there, because it will be winter.  We shall be
hunting, and you must come out and see us."

"But you won't be there when I am," she said, timidly.

"Won't I?  That's all you know about it.  I can manage better than that."

"You'll be at Oxford."

"You must stay over Christmas, Mary; that's what you must do.  You musn't
think of going till January."

"But Lady Bracy won't want me."

"Yes, she will.  We must make her want you.  At any rate they'll
understand this; if you don't stay for me, I shall come home even if it's
in the middle of term.  I'll arrange that.  You don't suppose I'm not
going to be there when you make your first visit to the old place."

All this was being in Paradise.  She felt when she walked home with him,
and when she was alone afterwards in her own room, that, in truth, she had
only liked him before.  Now she loved him.  Now she was beginning to know
him, and to feel that she would really,--really die of a broken heart if
anything were to rob her of him.  But she could let him go now, without a
feeling of discomfort, if she thought that she was to see him again when
she was at Carstairs.

But this was not the last walk in the woods, even on this occasion.  He
remained two days at Bowick, so necessary was it for him to renew his
intimacy with Mr. Peacocke.  He explained that he had got two days' leave
from the tutor of his College, and that two days, in College parlance,
always meant three.  He would be back on the third day, in time for
"gates"; and that was all which the strictest college discipline would
require of him.  It need hardly be said of him that the most of his time
he spent with Mary; but he did manage to devote an hour or two to his old
friend, the school-assistant.

Mr. Peacocke told his whole story, and Carstairs, whose morals were
perhaps not quite so strict as those of Mr. Puddicombe, gave him all his
sympathy.  "To think that a man can be such a brute as that," he said,
when he heard that Ferdinand Lefroy had shown himself to his wife at St.
Louis,--"only on a spree."

"There is no knowing to what depth utter ruin may reduce a man who has
been born to better things.  He falls into idleness, and then comforts
himself with drink.  So it seems to have been with him."

"And that other fellow;--do you think he meant to shoot you?"

"Never.  But he meant to frighten me.  And when he brought out his knife
in the bedroom at Leavenworth he did.  My pistol was not loaded."

"Why not?"

"Because little as I wish to be murdered, I should prefer that to
murdering any one else.  But he didn't mean it.  His only object was to
get as much out of me as he could.  As for me, I couldn't give him more
because I hadn't got it."  After that they made a league of friendship, and
Mr. Peacocke promised that he would, on some distant occasion, take his
wife with him on a visit to Carstairs.

It was about a month after this that Mary was packed up and sent on her
journey to Carstairs.  When that took place, the Doctor was in supreme
good-humour.  There had come a letter from the father of the two Mowbrays,
saying that he had again changed his mind.  He had, he said, heard a story
told two ways.  He trusted Dr. Wortle would understand him and forgive
him, when he declared that he had believed both the stories.  If after
this the Doctor chose to refuse to take his boys back again, he would
have, he acknowledged, no ground for offence.  But if the Doctor would
take them, he would intrust them to the Doctor's care with the greatest
satisfaction in the world,--as he had done before.

For a while the Doctor had hesitated; but here, perhaps for the first time
in her life, his wife was allowed to persuade him.  "They are such leading
people," she said.

"Who cares for that?  I have never gone in for that."  This, however, was
hardly true.  "When I have been sure that a man is a gentleman, I have
taken his son without inquiring much farther.  It was mean of him to
withdraw after I had acceded to his request."

"But he withdraws his withdrawal in such a flattering way!"  Then the
Doctor assented, and the two boys were allowed to come.  Lady Anne
Clifford hearing this, learning that the Doctor was so far willing to
relent, became very piteous and implored forgiveness.  The noble relatives
were all willing now.  It had not been her fault.  As far as she was
concerned herself she had always been anxious that her boys should remain
at Bowick.  And so the two Cliffords came back to their old beds in the
old room.

Mary, when she first arrived at Carstairs, hardly knew how to carry
herself.  Lady Bracy was very cordial and the Earl friendly, but for the
first two days nothing was said about Carstairs.  There was no open
acknowledgment of her position.  But then she had expected none; and
though her tongue was burning to talk, of course she did not say a word.
But before a week was over Lady Bracy had begun, and by the end of the
fortnight Lord Bracy had given her a beautiful brooch.  "That means," said
Lady Bracy in the confidence of her own little sitting-room up-stairs,
"that he looks upon you as his daughter."

"Does it?"

"Yes, my dear, yes."  Then they fell to kissing each other, and did nothing
but talk about Carstairs and all his perfections, and his unalterable
love, and how these three years could be made to wear themselves away,
till the conversation,--simmering over as such conversation is wont to
do,--gave the whole household to understand that Miss Wortle was staying
there as Lord Carstairs's future bride.

Of course she stayed over the Christmas, or went back to Bowick for a
week, and then returned to Carstairs, so that she might tell her mother
everything, and hear of the six new boys who were to come after the
holidays.  "Papa couldn't take both the Buncombes," said Mrs. Wortle in
her triumph, "and one must remain till midsummer.  Sir George did say that
it must be two or none, but he had to give way.  I wanted papa to have
another bed in the east room, but he wouldn't hear of it."

Mary went back for the Christmas and Carstairs came; and the house was
full, and everybody knew of the engagement.  She walked with him, and rode
with him, and danced with him, and talked secrets with him,--as though
there were no Oxford, no degree before him.  No doubt it was very
imprudent, but the Earl and the Countess knew all about it.  What might
be, or would be, or was the end of such folly, it is not my purpose here
to tell.  I fear that there was trouble before them.  It may, however, be
possible that the degree should be given up on the score of love, and Lord
Carstairs should marry his bride,--at any rate when he came of age.

As to the school, it certainly suffered nothing by the Doctor's
generosity, and when last I heard of Mr. Peacocke, the Bishop had offered
to grant him a licence for the curacy.  Whether he accepted it I have not
yet heard, but I am inclined to think that in this matter he will adhere
to his old determination.

       *       *       *       *       *

Textual emendations and noteworthy items

1  Alterations

1 1   Word changes

1 1 1    Additions

1 1 1 1  Added "l" to "crue"
Vol. I--Page 146, line 8
did sit down.  "He has made you out to be a perjured, wilful,
cruel* bigamist."

1 1 1 2  Added "b" to "Puddicome's"
Vol. II--Page 15, line 1
he must hold his peace.  That reference to Mr. Puddicomb*e's
dirty boot had

1 1 1 3  Added "e" to "Ann"
Vol. II--Page 215, line 6
hand in order that he might send them to the Bishop and to
Lady Anne*

1 1 2    Deletions

1 1 2 1  Deleted repeated word "not"
Vol. II--Page 15, line 10
been a grain of tenderness there, he could not* have spoken
so often as he

1 1 2 2  Deleted repeated "i" in "hiim"
Vol. II--Page 87, line 9
not leave the man to triumph over hi*m.  If nothing further
were done in

1 1 3    Substitutions

1 1 3 1  Changed lowercase "de" to uppercase "De" to conform
to majority usage (11 out of 14 times with uppercase)
Vol. I--Page 34, line 7
Lawle, who had in early years been a dear friend to Mrs.
Wortle.  Lady *De Lawle was the widow

Vol. I--Page 48, line 9
Bishop,--before Mrs. Wortle or the Hon. Mrs. Stantiloup, or
Lady *De Lawle.

Vol. I--Page 82, line 17
to you; different in not accepting Lady *De Lawle's
hospitality; different

1 1 3 2  Changed "out" to "our"
Vol. I--Page 88, line 22
and me, can have no effect but to increase our* troubles.
You are a woman,

1 1 3 3  Changed lowercase "junction" to uppercase "Junction"
to conform to majority usage (3 out of 4 times with uppercase)
Vol. II--Page 147, line 6
been written at the Ogden *Junction, at which Mr. Peacocke had
stopped for

1 2   Punctuation changes

1 2 1    Additions

1 2 1 1  Added quotation marks

1 2 1 1 1   ...opening double quotation mark
Vol. I--Page 146, line 7
did sit down.  *"He has made you out to be a perjured, wilful,

Vol. II--Page 102, line 3
kind feelings which have hitherto existed between us.--Yours
very faithfully,


1 2 1 1 2   ...closing double quotation mark
Vol. II--Page 35, line 16
were given.  "It is not enough to be innocent," said the Bishop,
"but men must know that we are so."*

1 2 1 1 3   ...opening single quotation mark
Vol. II--Page 103, line 11
Mrs. Wortle.  So much had been effected by *'Everybody's
Business,' and its

1 2 1 1 4   ...closing single quotation mark
Vol. I--Page 48, line 21
'Black Dwarf'* be if every one knew from the beginning that he
was a rich

1 2 1 1 5   ...single quotation marks
Vol. II--Page 95, line 15
beforehand whom he was about to smite.  "*'Amo' in the cool of

1 2 1 2  Added apostrophe
Vol. I--Page 120, line 19
ricketiest little buggy that ever a man trusted his life to.

1 2 1 3  Added full stop

1 2 1 3 1   ...after "more"
Vol. II--Page 83, line 11
very nice boy; and so he was still; that;--that, and nothing
more.*  Then

1 2 1 3 2   ...after "St"
Vol. II--Page 109, line 7
round by St.* Louis.  Lefroy was anxious to go to St. Louis,--and
on that

1 2 1 3 3   ...after "engagement"
Vol. II--Page 163, line 21
not known that she was very much afraid of a long engagement.*
She would,

1 2 1 3 4   ...after "Wortle"
Vol. II--Page 231, line 2
"I shouldn't wonder if she sent them back," said Mrs. Wortle.*

1 2 2    Deletions

1 2 2 1  Deleted quotation marks

1 2 2 1 1   ...opening double quotation mark
Vol. II--Page 222, line 18
*On this there was another consultation between Mrs. Wortle
and the Doctor,

1 2 2 1 2   ...closing double quotation mark
Vol. I--Page 146, line 11
"I have not been such," said Peacocke, rising from his chair.*

Vol. II--Page 221, line 14
Wortle,--had known nothing.  All that he had done was not to
condemn the other man when he did know!*

1 2 2 1 3   ...opening single quotation mark
Vol. II--Page 238, line 12
between them but such as is common *to mere acquaintances, and
now he was

1 2 2 2  Deleted extra space after opening double quotation mark
Vol. I--Page 81, line 14
at his feet, buried her face in his lap.  "*Ella," he said, "the

1 2 3    Substitutions

1 2 3 1  Changed single closing quotation mark to double closing
quotation mark
Vol. II--Page 105, line 18
"My taking you across to the States."*

1 2 3 2  Changed full stop to comma
Vol. I--Page 185, line 18
facts were known to the entire diocese."  After this there was a

2  Items of note

2 1   Spelling

2 1 1    Verbs in "-ize" normally in "-ise"

2 1 1 1  sympathize
Vol. I--Page 156, line 4
only say this, as between man and man, that no man ever
sympathized* with

2 1 1 2  apologize
Vol. II--Page 14, line 17
found himself obliged to apologize* before he left the house!
And, too, he

2 1 2    Variation in hyphenation

2 1 2 1  weather(-)cock
Vol. II--Page 196, line 2
"And of fine generous feeling.  He would not change like a

Vol. II--Page 231, line 8
weathercock*, showing how the wind blows."  In this way the
dinner-party at

2 1 2 2  a(-)verb-ing
Vol. II--Page 119, line 1
"Not a foot; I ain't a-*going out of this room to-morrow."

Vol. II--Page 182, lines 5 & 6
"We are *alooking at 'em," said Lefroy.

"If you're *agoing to do anything of that kind you'd better
go and do it

2 2   Punctuation

2 2 1    Full stop changed to question mark
Vol. I--Page 134, line 3
longer I shall send for the policeman to remove you."

"You will?*"

2 2 2    Full stop used instead of question mark
Vol. II--Page 47, line 16
building staring him in the face every moment of his life.*

Vol. II--Page 63, line 17
"I may tell them that the action is withdrawn.*"

2 2 3    Exclamation point used instead of question mark
Vol. II--Page 75, line 8
"Of course he did.  Had he anything particular to say!*"

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Dr. Wortle's School" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.