Home
  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: Framley Parsonage
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 "Framley Parsonage" ***

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



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



FRAMLEY PARSONAGE

by

ANTHONY TROLLOPE

First published serially in the _Cornhill Magazine_ in 1860
and in book form in 1861



CONTENTS

         I. "Omnes Omnia Bona Dicere"
        II. The Framley Set, and the Chaldicotes Set
       III. Chaldicotes
        IV. A Matter of Conscience
         V. Amantium Iræ Amoris Integratio
        VI. Mr. Harold Smith's Lecture
       VII. Sunday Morning
      VIII. Gatherum Castle
        IX. The Vicar's Return
         X. Lucy Robarts
        XI. Griselda Grantly
       XII. The Little Bill
      XIII. Delicate Hints
       XIV. Mr. Crawley of Hogglestock
        XV. Lady Lufton's Ambassador
       XVI. Mrs. Podgens' Baby
      XVII. Mrs. Proudie's Conversazione
     XVIII. The New Minister's Patronage
       XIX. Money Dealings
        XX. Harold Smith in the Cabinet
       XXI. Why Puck, the Pony, Was Beaten
      XXII. Hogglestock Parsonage
     XXIII. The Triumph of the Giants
      XXIV. Magna Est Veritas
       XXV. Non-Impulsive
      XXVI. Impulsive
     XXVII. South Audley Street
    XXVIII. Dr. Thorne
      XXIX. Miss Dunstable at Home
       XXX. The Grantly Triumph
      XXXI. Salmon Fishing in Norway
     XXXII. The Goat and Compasses
    XXXIII. Consolation
     XXXIV. Lady Lufton Is Taken by Surprise
      XXXV. The Story of King Cophetua
     XXXVI. Kidnapping at Hogglestock
    XXXVII. Mr. Sowerby without Company
   XXXVIII. Is There Cause or Just Impediment?
     XXXIX. How to Write a Love Letter
        XL. Internecine
       XLI. Don Quixote
      XLII. Touching Pitch
     XLIII. Is She Not Insignificant?
      XLIV. The Philistines at the Parsonage
       XLV. Palace Blessings
      XLVI. Lady Lufton's Request
     XLVII. Nemesis
    XLVIII. How They Were All Married, Had Two Children,
            and Lived Happy Ever After



CHAPTER I

"Omnes Omnia Bona Dicere"


When young Mark Robarts was leaving college, his father might well
declare that all men began to say all good things to him, and to
extol his fortune in that he had a son blessed with so excellent a
disposition. This father was a physician living at Exeter. He was a
gentleman possessed of no private means, but enjoying a lucrative
practice, which had enabled him to maintain and educate a family with
all the advantages which money can give in this country. Mark was
his eldest son and second child; and the first page or two of this
narrative must be consumed in giving a catalogue of the good things
which chance and conduct together had heaped upon this young man's
head.

His first step forward in life had arisen from his having been
sent, while still very young, as a private pupil to the house of a
clergyman, who was an old friend and intimate friend of his father's.
This clergyman had one other, and only one other, pupil--the young
Lord Lufton; and between the two boys, there had sprung up a close
alliance. While they were both so placed, Lady Lufton had visited
her son, and then invited young Robarts to pass his next holidays at
Framley Court. This visit was made; and it ended in Mark going back
to Exeter with a letter full of praise from the widowed peeress. She
had been delighted, she said, in having such a companion for her son,
and expressed a hope that the boys might remain together during the
course of their education. Dr. Robarts was a man who thought much of
the breath of peers and peeresses, and was by no means inclined to
throw away any advantage which might arise to his child from such a
friendship. When, therefore, the young lord was sent to Harrow, Mark
Robarts went there also.

That the lord and his friend often quarrelled, and occasionally
fought,--the fact even that for one period of three months they never
spoke to each other--by no means interfered with the doctor's hopes.
Mark again and again stayed a fortnight at Framley Court, and Lady
Lufton always wrote about him in the highest terms. And then the lads
went together to Oxford, and here Mark's good fortune followed him,
consisting rather in the highly respectable manner in which he lived,
than in any wonderful career of collegiate success. His family was
proud of him, and the doctor was always ready to talk of him to his
patients; not because he was a prize-man, and had gotten medals
and scholarships, but on account of the excellence of his general
conduct. He lived with the best set--he incurred no debts--he was
fond of society, but able to avoid low society--liked his glass of
wine, but was never known to be drunk; and above all things, was one
of the most popular men in the University. Then came the question of
a profession for this young Hyperion, and on this subject Dr. Robarts
was invited himself to go over to Framley Court to discuss the matter
with Lady Lufton. Dr. Robarts returned with a very strong conception
that the Church was the profession best suited to his son.

Lady Lufton had not sent for Dr. Robarts all the way from Exeter for
nothing. The living of Framley was in the gift of the Lufton family,
and the next presentation would be in Lady Lufton's hands, if it
should fall vacant before the young lord was twenty-five years of
ago, and in the young lord's hands if it should fall afterwards. But
the mother and the heir consented to give a joint promise to Dr.
Robarts. Now, as the present incumbent was over seventy, and as the
living was worth £900 a year, there could be no doubt as to the
eligibility of the clerical profession. And I must further say, that
the dowager and the doctor were justified in their choice by the
life and principles of the young man--as far as any father can be
justified in choosing such a profession for his son, and as far as
any lay impropriator can be justified in making such a promise. Had
Lady Lufton had a second son, that second son would probably have had
the living, and no one would have thought it wrong;--certainly not if
that second son had been such a one as Mark Robarts.

Lady Lufton herself was a woman who thought much on religious
matters, and would by no means have been disposed to place any one in
a living, merely because such a one had been her son's friend. Her
tendencies were High Church, and she was enabled to perceive that
those of young Mark Robarts ran in the same direction. She was very
desirous that her son should make an associate of his clergyman, and
by this step she would ensure, at any rate, that. She was anxious
that the parish vicar should be one with whom she could herself fully
co-operate, and was perhaps unconsciously wishful that he might in
some measure be subject to her influence. Should she appoint an elder
man, this might probably not be the case to the same extent; and
should her son have the gift, it might probably not be the case at
all. And, therefore, it was resolved that the living should be given
to young Robarts.

He took his degree--not with any brilliancy, but quite in the manner
that his father desired; he then travelled for eight or ten months
with Lord Lufton and a college don, and almost immediately after his
return home was ordained.

The living of Framley is in the diocese of Barchester; and, seeing
what were Mark's hopes with reference to that diocese, it was by no
means difficult to get him a curacy within it. But this curacy he was
not allowed long to fill. He had not been in it above a twelvemonth,
when poor old Dr. Stopford, the then vicar of Framley, was gathered
to his fathers, and the full fruition of his rich hopes fell upon his
shoulders.

But even yet more must be told of his good fortune before we can come
to the actual incidents of our story. Lady Lufton, who, as I have
said, thought much of clerical matters, did not carry her High Church
principles so far as to advocate celibacy for the clergy. On the
contrary, she had an idea that a man could not be a good parish
parson without a wife. So, having given to her favourite a position
in the world, and an income sufficient for a gentleman's wants, she
set herself to work to find him a partner in those blessings. And
here also, as in other matters, he fell in with the views of his
patroness--not, however, that they were declared to him in that
marked manner in which the affair of the living had been broached.
Lady Lufton was much too highly gifted with woman's craft for that.
She never told the young vicar that Miss Monsell accompanied her
ladyship's married daughter to Framley Court expressly that he, Mark,
might fall in love with her; but such was in truth the case.

Lady Lufton had but two children. The eldest, a daughter, had been
married some four or five years to Sir George Meredith, and this
Miss Monsell was a dear friend of hers. And now looms before me the
novelist's great difficulty. Miss Monsell--or, rather, Mrs. Mark
Robarts--must be described. As Miss Monsell, our tale will have
to take no prolonged note of her. And yet we will call her Fanny
Monsell, when we declare that she was one of the pleasantest
companions that could be brought near to a man, as the future partner
of his home, and owner of his heart. And if high principles without
asperity, female gentleness without weakness, a love of laughter
without malice, and a true loving heart, can qualify a woman to be a
parson's wife, then was Fanny Monsell qualified to fill that station.
In person she was somewhat larger than common. Her face would have
been beautiful but that her mouth was large. Her hair, which was
copious, was of a bright brown; her eyes also were brown, and, being
so, were the distinctive feature of her face, for brown eyes are not
common. They were liquid, large, and full either of tenderness or
of mirth. Mark Robarts still had his accustomed luck, when such a
girl as this was brought to Framley for his wooing. And he did woo
her--and won her. For Mark himself was a handsome fellow. At this
time the vicar was about twenty-five years of age, and the future
Mrs. Robarts was two or three years younger. Nor did she come quite
empty-handed to the vicarage. It cannot be said that Fanny Monsell
was an heiress, but she had been left with a provision of some few
thousand pounds. This was so settled, that the interest of his wife's
money paid the heavy insurance on his life which young Robarts
effected, and there was left to him, over and above, sufficient to
furnish his parsonage in the very best style of clerical comfort, and
to start him on the road of life rejoicing.

So much did Lady Lufton do for her protégé, and it may well be
imagined that the Devonshire physician, sitting meditative over his
parlour fire, looking back, as men will look back on the upshot of
their life, was well contented with that upshot, as regarded his
eldest offshoot, the Rev. Mark Robarts, the vicar of Framley.

But little has as yet been said, personally, as to our hero himself,
and perhaps it may not be necessary to say much. Let us hope that by
degrees he may come forth upon the canvas, showing to the beholder
the nature of the man inwardly and outwardly. Here it may suffice
to say that he was no born heaven's cherub, neither was he a born
fallen devil's spirit. Such as his training made him, such he was.
He had large capabilities for good--and aptitudes also for evil,
quite enough: quite enough to make it needful that he should repel
temptation as temptation only can be repelled. Much had been done to
spoil him, but in the ordinary acceptation of the word he was not
spoiled. He had too much tact, too much common sense, to believe
himself to be the paragon which his mother thought him. Self-conceit
was not, perhaps, his greatest danger. Had he possessed more of it,
he might have been a less agreeable man, but his course before him
might on that account have been the safer. In person he was manly,
tall, and fair-haired, with a square forehead, denoting intelligence
rather than thought, with clear white hands, filbert nails, and a
power of dressing himself in such a manner that no one should ever
observe of him that his clothes were either good or bad, shabby or
smart.

Such was Mark Robarts when, at the age of twenty-five, or a little
more, he married Fanny Monsell. The marriage was celebrated in his
own church, for Miss Monsell had no home of her own, and had been
staying for the last three months at Framley Court. She was given
away by Sir George Meredith, and Lady Lufton herself saw that the
wedding was what it should be, with almost as much care as she had
bestowed on that of her own daughter. The deed of marrying, the
absolute tying of the knot, was performed by the Very Reverend the
Dean of Barchester, an esteemed friend of Lady Lufton's. And Mrs.
Arabin, the dean's wife, was of the party, though the distance from
Barchester to Framley is long, and the roads deep, and no railway
lends its assistance. And Lord Lufton was there of course; and people
protested that he would surely fall in love with one of the four
beautiful bridesmaids, of whom Blanche Robarts, the vicar's second
sister, was by common acknowledgement by far the most beautiful. And
there was there another and a younger sister of Mark's--who did not
officiate at the ceremony, though she was present--and of whom no
prediction was made, seeing that she was then only sixteen, but of
whom mention is made here, as it will come to pass that my readers
will know her hereafter. Her name was Lucy Robarts. And then the
vicar and his wife went off on their wedding tour, the old curate
taking care of the Framley souls the while. And in due time they
returned; and after a further interval, in due course a child was
born to them; and then another; and after that came the period at
which we will begin our story. But before doing so, may I not assert
that all men were right in saying all manner of good things to the
Devonshire physician, and in praising his luck in having such a son?

"You were up at the house to-day, I suppose?" said Mark to his wife,
as he sat stretching himself in an easy chair in the drawing-room,
before the fire, previously to his dressing for dinner. It was
a November evening, and he had been out all day, and on such
occasions the aptitude for delay in dressing is very powerful. A
strong-minded man goes direct from the hall door to his chamber
without encountering the temptation of the drawing-room fire.

"No; but Lady Lufton was down here."

"Full of arguments in favour of Sarah Thompson?"

"Exactly so, Mark."

"And what did you say about Sarah Thompson?"

"Very little as coming from myself: but I did hint that you thought,
or that I thought that you thought, that one of the regular trained
schoolmistresses would be better."

"But her ladyship did not agree?"

"Well, I won't exactly say that;--though I think that perhaps she did
not."

"I am sure she did not. When she has a point to carry, she is very
fond of carrying it."

"But then, Mark, her points are generally so good."

"But, you see, in this affair of the school she is thinking more of
her protégée than she does of the children."

"Tell her that, and I am sure she will give way." And then again they
were both silent. And the vicar having thoroughly warmed himself, as
far as this might be done by facing the fire, turned round and began
the operation _à tergo_.

"Come, Mark, it is twenty minutes past six. Will you go and dress?"

"I'll tell you what, Fanny: she must have her way about Sarah
Thompson. You can see her to-morrow and tell her so."

"I am sure, Mark, I would not give way, if I thought it wrong. Nor
would she expect it."

"If I persist this time, I shall certainly have to yield the next;
and then the next may probably be more important."

"But if it's wrong, Mark?"

"I didn't say it was wrong. Besides, if it is wrong, wrong in some
infinitesimal degree, one must put up with it. Sarah Thompson is very
respectable; the only question is whether she can teach."

The young wife, though she did not say so, had some idea that her
husband was in error. It is true that one must put up with wrong,
with a great deal of wrong. But no one need put up with wrong that
he can remedy. Why should he, the vicar, consent to receive an
incompetent teacher for the parish children, when he was able to
procure one that was competent? In such a case--so thought Mrs.
Robarts to herself--she would have fought the matter out with Lady
Lufton. On the next morning, however, she did as she was bid, and
signified to the dowager that all objection to Sarah Thompson would
be withdrawn.

"Ah! I was sure he would agree with me," said her ladyship, "when
he learned what sort of person she is. I know I had only to
explain;"--and then she plumed her feathers, and was very gracious;
for to tell the truth, Lady Lufton did not like to be opposed in
things which concerned the parish nearly.

"And, Fanny," said Lady Lufton, in her kindest manner, "you are not
going anywhere on Saturday, are you?"

"No, I think not."

"Then you must come to us. Justinia is to be here, you know"--Lady
Meredith was named Justinia--"and you and Mr. Robarts had better stay
with us till Monday. He can have the little book-room all to himself
on Sunday. The Merediths go on Monday; and Justinia won't be happy
if you are not with her." It would be unjust to say that Lady Lufton
had determined not to invite the Robartses if she were not allowed
to have her own way about Sarah Thompson. But such would have been
the result. As it was, however, she was all kindness; and when Mrs.
Robarts made some little excuse, saying that she was afraid she must
return home in the evening, because of the children, Lady Lufton
declared that there was room enough at Framley Court for baby and
nurse, and so settled the matter in her own way, with a couple of
nods and three taps of her umbrella. This was on a Tuesday morning,
and on the same evening, before dinner, the vicar again seated
himself in the same chair before the drawing-room fire, as soon as he
had seen his horse led into the stable.

"Mark," said his wife, "the Merediths are to be at Framley on
Saturday and Sunday; and I have promised that we will go up and stay
over till Monday."

"You don't mean it! Goodness gracious, how provoking!"

"Why? I thought you wouldn't mind it. And Justinia would think it
unkind if I were not there."

"You can go, my dear, and of course will go. But as for me, it is
impossible."

"But why, love?"

"Why? Just now, at the school-house, I answered a letter that was
brought to me from Chaldicotes. Sowerby insists on my going over
there for a week or so; and I have said that I would."

"Go to Chaldicotes for a week, Mark?"

"I believe I have even consented to ten days."

"And be away two Sundays?"

"No, Fanny, only one. Don't be so censorious."

"Don't call me censorious, Mark; you know I am not so. But I am so
sorry. It is just what Lady Lufton won't like. Besides, you were away
in Scotland two Sundays last month."

"In September, Fanny. And that is being censorious."

"Oh, but, Mark, dear Mark; don't say so. You know I don't mean it.
But Lady Lufton does not like those Chaldicotes people. You know Lord
Lufton was with you the last time you were there; and how annoyed she
was!"

"Lord Lufton won't be with me now, for he is still in Scotland. And
the reason why I am going is this: Harold Smith and his wife will be
there, and I am very anxious to know more of them. I have no doubt
that Harold Smith will be in the government some day, and I cannot
afford to neglect such a man's acquaintance."

"But, Mark, what do you want of any government?"

"Well, Fanny, of course I am bound to say that I want nothing;
neither in one sense do I; but, nevertheless, I shall go and meet the
Harold Smiths."

"Could you not be back before Sunday?"

"I have promised to preach at Chaldicotes. Harold Smith is going to
lecture at Barchester, about the Australasian archipelago, and I am
to preach a charity sermon on the same subject. They want to send out
more missionaries."

"A charity sermon at Chaldicotes!"

"And why not? The house will be quite full, you know; and I dare say
the Arabins will be there."

"I think not; Mrs. Arabin may get on with Mrs. Harold Smith, though
I doubt that; but I'm sure she's not fond of Mrs. Smith's brother. I
don't think she would stay at Chaldicotes."

"And the bishop will probably be there for a day or two."

"That is much more likely, Mark. If the pleasure of meeting Mrs.
Proudie is taking you to Chaldicotes, I have not a word more to say."

"I am not a bit more fond of Mrs. Proudie than you are, Fanny," said
the vicar, with something like vexation in the tone of his voice,
for he thought that his wife was hard upon him. "But it is generally
thought that a parish clergyman does well to meet his bishop now and
then. And as I was invited there, especially to preach while all
these people are staying at the place, I could not well refuse."
And then he got up, and taking his candlestick, escaped to his
dressing-room.

"But what am I to say to Lady Lufton?" his wife said to him, in the
course of the evening.

"Just write her a note, and tell her that you find I had promised to
preach at Chaldicotes next Sunday. You'll go of course?"

"Yes: but I know she'll be annoyed. You were away the last time she
had people there."

"It can't be helped. She must put it down against Sarah Thompson. She
ought not to expect to win always."

"I should not have minded it, if she had lost, as you call it, about
Sarah Thompson. That was a case in which you ought to have had your
own way."

"And this other is a case in which I shall have it. It's a pity that
there should be such a difference; isn't it?"

Then the wife perceived that, vexed as she was, it would be better
that she should say nothing further; and before she went to bed, she
wrote the note to Lady Lufton, as her husband recommended.



CHAPTER II

The Framley Set, and the Chaldicotes Set


It will be necessary that I should say a word or two of some of the
people named in the few preceding pages, and also of the localities
in which they lived. Of Lady Lufton herself enough, perhaps, has been
written to introduce her to my readers. The Framley property belonged
to her son; but as Lufton Park--an ancient ramshackle place in
another county--had heretofore been the family residence of the
Lufton family, Framley Court had been apportioned to her for her
residence for life. Lord Lufton himself was still unmarried; and as
he had no establishment at Lufton Park--which indeed had not been
inhabited since his grandfather died--he lived with his mother when
it suited him to live anywhere in that neighbourhood. The widow
would fain have seen more of him than he allowed her to do. He had a
shooting lodge in Scotland, and apartments in London, and a string of
horses in Leicestershire--much to the disgust of the county gentry
around him, who held that their own hunting was as good as any that
England could afford. His lordship, however, paid his subscription
to the East Barsetshire pack, and then thought himself at liberty to
follow his own pleasure as to his own amusement.

Framley itself was a pleasant country place, having about it nothing
of seignorial dignity or grandeur, but possessing everything
necessary for the comfort of country life. The house was a low
building of two stories, built at different periods, and devoid of
all pretensions to any style of architecture; but the rooms, though
not lofty, were warm and comfortable, and the gardens were trim and
neat beyond all others in the county. Indeed, it was for its gardens
only that Framley Court was celebrated. Village there was none,
properly speaking. The high road went winding about through the
Framley paddocks, shrubberies, and wood-skirted home fields, for a
mile and a half, not two hundred yards of which ran in a straight
line; and there was a cross-road which passed down through the
domain, whereby there came to be a locality called Framley Cross.
Here stood the "Lufton Arms," and here, at Framley Cross, the hounds
occasionally would meet; for the Framley woods were drawn in spite
of the young lord's truant disposition; and then, at the Cross also,
lived the shoemaker, who kept the post-office.

Framley church was distant from this just a quarter of a mile, and
stood immediately opposite to the chief entrance to Framley Court. It
was but a mean, ugly building, having been erected about a hundred
years since, when all churches then built were made to be mean and
ugly; nor was it large enough for the congregation, some of whom were
thus driven to the dissenting chapels, the Sions and Ebenezers, which
had got themselves established on each side of the parish, in putting
down which Lady Lufton thought that her pet parson was hardly as
energetic as he might be. It was, therefore, a matter near to Lady
Lufton's heart to see a new church built, and she was urgent in her
eloquence both with her son and with the vicar, to have this good
work commenced.

Beyond the church, but close to it, were the boys' school and girls'
school, two distinct buildings, which owed their erection to Lady
Lufton's energy; then came a neat little grocer's shop, the neat
grocer being the clerk and sexton, and the neat grocer's wife the
pew-opener in the church. Podgens was their name, and they were great
favourites with her ladyship, both having been servants up at the
house. And here the road took a sudden turn to the left, turning, as
it were, away from Framley Court; and just beyond the turn was the
vicarage, so that there was a little garden path running from the
back of the vicarage grounds into the churchyard, cutting the Podgens
off into an isolated corner of their own;--from whence, to tell
the truth, the vicar would have been glad to banish them and their
cabbages, could he have had the power to do so. For has not the small
vineyard of Naboth been always an eyesore to neighbouring potentates?

The potentate in this case had as little excuse as Ahab, for nothing
in the parsonage way could be more perfect than his parsonage. It had
all the details requisite for the house of a moderate gentleman with
moderate means, and none of those expensive superfluities which
immoderate gentlemen demand, or which themselves demand immoderate
means. And then the gardens and paddocks were exactly suited to it;
and everything was in good order;--not exactly new, so as to be raw
and uncovered, and redolent of workmen; but just at that era of their
existence in which newness gives way to comfortable homeliness.

Other village at Framley there was none. At the back of the Court, up
one of those cross-roads, there was another small shop or two, and
there was a very neat cottage residence, in which lived the widow
of a former curate, another protégé of Lady Lufton's; and there was
a big, staring, brick house, in which the present curate lived;
but this was a full mile distant from the church, and farther from
Framley Court, standing on that cross-road which runs from Framley
Cross in a direction away from the mansion. This gentleman, the
Rev. Evan Jones, might, from his age, have been the vicar's father;
but he had been for many years curate of Framley; and though he
was personally disliked by Lady Lufton, as being Low Church in his
principles, and unsightly in his appearance, nevertheless, she would
not urge his removal He had two or three pupils in that large brick
house, and, if turned out from these and from his curacy, might find
it difficult to establish himself elsewhere. On this account mercy
was extended to the Rev. E. Jones, and, in spite of his red face and
awkward big feet, he was invited to dine at Framley Court, with his
plain daughter, once in every three months.

Over and above these, there was hardly a house in the parish of
Framley, outside the bounds of Framley Court, except those of farmers
and farm labourers; and yet the parish was of large extent.

Framley is in the eastern division of the county of Barsetshire,
which, as all the world knows, is, politically speaking, as true
blue a county as any in England. There have been backslidings even
here, it is true; but then, in what county have there not been such
backslidings? Where, in these pinchbeck days, can we hope to find
the old agricultural virtue in all its purity? But, among those
backsliders, I regret to say, that men now reckon Lord Lufton. Not
that he is a violent Whig, or perhaps that he is a Whig at all.
But he jeers and sneers at the old county doings; declares, when
solicited on the subject, that, as far as he is concerned, Mr. Bright
may sit for the county, if he pleases; and alleges, that being
unfortunately a peer, he has no right even to interest himself in the
question. All this is deeply regretted, for, in the old days, there
was no portion of the county more decidedly true blue than that
Framley district; and, indeed, up to the present day, the dowager is
able to give an occasional helping hand.

Chaldicotes is the seat of Nathaniel Sowerby, Esq., who, at the
moment supposed to be now present, is one of the members for the
Western Division of Barsetshire. But this Western Division can boast
none of the fine political attributes which grace its twin brother.
It is decidedly Whig, and is almost governed in its politics by one
or two great Whig families. It has been said that Mark Robarts was
about to pay a visit to Chaldicotes, and it has been hinted that his
wife would have been as well pleased had this not been the case. Such
was certainly the fact; for she, dear, prudent, excellent wife as she
was, knew that Mr. Sowerby was not the most eligible friend in the
world for a young clergyman, and knew, also, that there was but one
other house in the whole county the name of which was so distasteful
to Lady Lufton. The reasons for this were, I may say, manifold. In
the first place, Mr. Sowerby was a Whig, and was seated in Parliament
mainly by the interest of that great Whig autocrat the Duke of
Omnium, whose residence was more dangerous even than that of Mr.
Sowerby, and whom Lady Lufton regarded as an impersonation of Lucifer
upon earth. Mr. Sowerby, too, was unmarried--as indeed, also, was
Lord Lufton, much to his mother's grief. Mr. Sowerby, it is true,
was fifty, whereas the young lord was as yet only twenty-six, but,
nevertheless, her ladyship was becoming anxious on the subject. In
her mind every man was bound to marry as soon as he could maintain a
wife; and she held an idea--a quite private tenet, of which she was
herself but imperfectly conscious--that men in general were inclined
to neglect this duty for their own selfish gratifications, that the
wicked ones encouraged the more innocent in this neglect, and that
many would not marry at all, were not an unseen coercion exercised
against them by the other sex. The Duke of Omnium was the very head
of all such sinners, and Lady Lufton greatly feared that her son
might be made subject to the baneful Omnium influence, by means of
Mr. Sowerby and Chaldicotes. And then Mr. Sowerby was known to be a
very poor man, with a very large estate. He had wasted, men said,
much on electioneering, and more in gambling. A considerable portion
of his property had already gone into the hands of the duke, who, as
a rule, bought up everything around him that was to be purchased.
Indeed it was said of him by his enemies, that so covetous was he
of Barsetshire property, that he would lead a young neighbour on to
his ruin, in order that he might get his land. What--oh! what if he
should come to be possessed in this way of any of the fair acres of
Framley Court? What if he should become possessed of them all? It can
hardly be wondered at that Lady Lufton should not like Chaldicotes.

The Chaldicotes set, as Lady Lufton called them, were in every way
opposed to what a set should be according to her ideas. She liked
cheerful, quiet, well-to-do people, who loved their Church, their
country, and their Queen, and who were not too anxious to make a
noise in the world. She desired that all the farmers round her should
be able to pay their rents without trouble, that all the old women
should have warm flannel petticoats, that the working men should
be saved from rheumatism by healthy food and dry houses, that they
should all be obedient to their pastors and masters--temporal as well
as spiritual. That was her idea of loving her country. She desired
also that the copses should be full of pheasants, the stubble-field
of partridges, and the gorse covers of foxes; in that way, also, she
loved her country. She had ardently longed, during that Crimean War,
that the Russians might be beaten--but not by the French, to the
exclusion of the English, as had seemed to her to be too much the
case; and hardly by the English under the dictatorship of Lord
Palmerston. Indeed, she had had but little faith in that war after
Lord Aberdeen had been expelled. If, indeed, Lord Derby could have
come in! But now as to this Chaldicotes set. After all, there was
nothing so very dangerous about them; for it was in London, not
in the country, that Mr. Sowerby indulged, if he did indulge, his
bachelor mal-practices. Speaking of them as a set, the chief offender
was Mr. Harold Smith, or perhaps his wife. He also was a member of
Parliament, and, as many thought, a rising man. His father had been
for many years a debater in the House, and had held high office.
Harold, in early life, had intended himself for the Cabinet; and if
working hard at his trade could ensure success, he ought to obtain
it sooner or later. He had already filled more than one subordinate
station, had been at the Treasury, and for a month or two at the
Admiralty, astonishing official mankind by his diligence. Those
last-named few months had been under Lord Aberdeen, with whom he
had been forced to retire. He was a younger son, and not possessed
of any large fortune. Politics, as a profession, was, therefore,
of importance to him. He had in early life married a sister of Mr.
Sowerby; and as the lady was some six or seven years older than
himself, and had brought with her but a scanty dowry, people thought
that in this matter Mr. Harold Smith had not been perspicacious.
Mr. Harold Smith was not personally a popular man with any party,
though some judged him to be eminently useful. He was laborious,
well-informed, and, on the whole, honest; but he was conceited,
long-winded, and pompous.

Mrs. Harold Smith was the very opposite of her lord. She was a
clever, bright woman, good-looking for her time of life--and she was
now over forty--with a keen sense of the value of all worldly things,
and a keen relish for all the world's pleasures. She was neither
laborious, nor well-informed, nor perhaps altogether honest--what
woman ever understood the necessity or recognized the advantage of
political honesty?--but then she was neither dull nor pompous, and
if she was conceited, she did not show it. She was a disappointed
woman, as regards her husband; seeing that she had married him on the
speculation that he would at once become politically important; and
as yet Mr. Smith had not quite fulfilled the prophecies of his early
life.

And Lady Lufton, when she spoke of the Chaldicotes set, distinctly
included, in her own mind, the Bishop of Barchester, and his wife
and daughter. Seeing that Bishop Proudie was, of course, a man much
addicted to religion and to religious thinking, and that Mr. Sowerby
himself had no peculiar religious sentiments whatever, there would
not at first sight appear to be ground for much intercourse, and
perhaps there was not much of such intercourse; but Mrs. Proudie
and Mrs. Harold Smith were firm friends of four or five years'
standing--ever since the Proudies came into the diocese; and
therefore the bishop was usually taken to Chaldicotes whenever Mrs.
Smith paid her brother a visit. Now Bishop Proudie was by no means
a High Church dignitary, and Lady Lufton had never forgiven him for
coming into that diocese. She had, instinctively, a high respect
for the episcopal office; but of Bishop Proudie himself she hardly
thought better than she did of Mr. Sowerby, or of that fabricator of
evil, the Duke of Omnium. Whenever Mr. Robarts would plead that in
going anywhere he would have the benefit of meeting the bishop, Lady
Lufton would slightly curl her upper lip. She could not say in words
that Bishop Proudie--bishop as he certainly must be called--was no
better than he ought to be; but by that curl of her lip she did
explain to those who knew her that such was the inner feeling of her
heart.

And then it was understood--Mark Robarts, at least, had so heard, and
the information soon reached Framley Court--that Mr. Supplehouse was
to make one of the Chaldicotes party. Now Mr. Supplehouse was a worse
companion for a gentleman-like, young, High Church, conservative
county parson than even Harold Smith. He also was in Parliament, and
had been extolled during the early days of that Russian War by some
portion of the metropolitan daily press, as the only man who could
save the country. Let him be in the ministry, the _Jupiter_ had said,
and there would be some hope of reform, some chance that England's
ancient glory would not be allowed in these perilous times to go
headlong to oblivion. And upon this the ministry, not anticipating
much salvation from Mr. Supplehouse, but willing, as they usually
are, to have the _Jupiter_ at their back, did send for that
gentleman, and gave him some footing among them. But how can a man
born to save a nation, and to lead a people, be content to fill the
chair of an under-secretary? Supplehouse was not content, and soon
gave it to be understood that his place was much higher than any yet
tendered to him. The seals of high office, or war to the knife,
was the alternative which he offered to a much-belaboured Head of
Affairs--nothing doubting that the Head of Affairs would recognize
the claimant's value, and would have before his eyes a wholesome fear
of the _Jupiter_. But the Head of Affairs, much belaboured as he was,
knew that he might pay too high even for Mr. Supplehouse and the
_Jupiter_; and the saviour of the nation was told that he might swing
his tomahawk. Since that time he had been swinging his tomahawk, but
not with so much effect as had been anticipated. He also was very
intimate with Mr. Sowerby, and was decidedly one of the Chaldicotes
set. And there were many others included in the stigma whose sins
were political or religious rather than moral. But they were gall and
wormwood to Lady Lufton, who regarded them as children of the Lost
One, and who grieved with a mother's grief when she knew that her son
was among them, and felt all a patron's anger when she heard that her
clerical protégé was about to seek such society. Mrs. Robarts might
well say that Lady Lufton would be annoyed.

"You won't call at the house before you go, will you?" the wife asked
on the following morning. He was to start after lunch on that day,
driving himself in his own gig, so as to reach Chaldicotes, some
twenty-four miles distant, before dinner.

"No, I think not. What good should I do?"

"Well, I can't explain; but I think I should call: pertly, perhaps,
to show her that, as I had determined to go, I was not afraid of
telling her so."

"Afraid! That's nonsense, Fanny. I'm not afraid of her. But I don't
see why I should bring down upon myself the disagreeable things she
will say. Besides, I have not time. I must walk up and see Jones
about the duties; and then, what with getting ready, I shall have
enough to do to get off in time."

He paid his visit to Mr. Jones, the curate, feeling no qualms
of conscience there, as he rather boasted of all the members of
Parliament he was going to meet, and of the bishop who would be with
them. Mr. Evan Jones was only his curate, and in speaking to him on
the matter he could talk as though it were quite the proper thing for
a vicar to meet his bishop at the house of a county member. And one
would be inclined to say that it was proper: only why could he not
talk of it in the same tone to Lady Lufton? And then, having kissed
his wife and children, he drove off, well pleased with his prospect
for the coming ten days, but already anticipating some discomfort on
his return.

On the three following days, Mrs. Robarts did not meet her ladyship.
She did not exactly take any steps to avoid such a meeting, but she
did not purposely go up to the big house. She went to her school as
usual, and made one or two calls among the farmers' wives, but put
no foot within the Framley Court grounds. She was braver than her
husband, but even she did not wish to anticipate the evil day. On the
Saturday, just before it began to get dusk, when she was thinking of
preparing for the fatal plunge, her friend, Lady Meredith, came to
her.

"So, Fanny, we shall again be so unfortunate as to miss Mr. Robarts,"
said her ladyship.

"Yes. Did you ever know anything so unlucky? But he had promised Mr.
Sowerby before he heard that you were coming. Pray do not think that
he would have gone away had he known it."

"We should have been sorry to keep him from so much more amusing a
party."

"Now, Justinia, you are unfair. You intend to imply that he has gone
to Chaldicotes, because he likes it better than Framley Court; but
that is not the case. I hope Lady Lufton does not think that it is."

Lady Meredith laughed as she put her arm round her friend's waist.
"Don't lose your eloquence in defending him to me," she said. "You'll
want all that for my mother."

"But is your mother angry?" asked Mrs. Robarts, showing by her
countenance how eager she was for true tidings on the subject.

"Well, Fanny, you know her ladyship as well as I do. She thinks so
very highly of the vicar of Framley, that she does begrudge him to
those politicians at Chaldicotes."

"But, Justinia, the bishop is to be there, you know."

"I don't think that that consideration will at all reconcile my
mother to the gentleman's absence. He ought to be very proud, I know,
to find that he is so much thought of. But come, Fanny, I want you to
walk back with me, and you can dress at the house. And now we'll go
and look at the children."

After that, as they walked together to Framley Court, Mrs. Robarts
made her friend promise that she would stand by her if any serious
attack were made on the absent clergyman.

"Are you going up to your room at once?" said the vicar's wife,
as soon as they were inside the porch leading into the hall. Lady
Meredith immediately knew what her friend meant, and decided that the
evil day should not be postponed. "We had better go in and have it
over," she said, "and then we shall be comfortable for the evening."
So the drawing-room door was opened, and there was Lady Lufton alone
upon the sofa.

"Now, mamma," said the daughter, "you mustn't scold Fanny much
about Mr. Robarts. He has gone to preach a charity sermon before
the bishop, and, under those circumstances, perhaps, he could not
refuse." This was a stretch on the part of Lady Meredith--put in
with much good-nature, no doubt; but still a stretch; for no one had
supposed that the bishop would remain at Chaldicotes for the Sunday.

"How do you do, Fanny?" said Lady Lufton, getting up. "I am not
going to scold her; and I don't know how you can talk such nonsense,
Justinia. Of course, we are very sorry not to have Mr. Robarts; more
especially as he was not here the last Sunday that Sir George was
with us. I do like to see Mr. Robarts in his own church, certainly;
and I don't like any other clergyman there as well. If Fanny takes
that for scolding, why--"

"Oh! no, Lady Lufton; and it's so kind of you to say so. But Mr.
Robarts was so sorry that he had accepted this invitation to
Chaldicotes, before he heard that Sir George was coming, and--"

"Oh, I know that Chaldicotes has great attractions which we cannot
offer," said Lady Lufton.

"Indeed, it was not that. But he was asked to preach, you know; and
Mr. Harold Smith--" Poor Fanny was only making it worse. Had she been
worldly wise, she would have accepted the little compliment implied
in Lady Lufton's first rebuke, and then have held her peace.

"Oh, yes; the Harold Smiths! They are irresistible, I know. How could
any man refuse to join a party, graced both by Mrs. Harold Smith and
Mrs. Proudie--even though his duty should require him to stay away?"

"Now, mamma--" said Justinia.

"Well, my dear, what am I to say? You would not wish me to tell a
fib. I don't like Mrs. Harold Smith--at least, what I hear of her;
for it has not been my fortune to meet her since her marriage. It may
be conceited; but to own the truth, I think that Mr. Robarts would
be better off with us at Framley than with the Harold Smiths at
Chaldicotes--even though Mrs. Proudie be thrown into the bargain."

It was nearly dark, and therefore the rising colour in the face of
Mrs. Robarts could not be seen. She, however, was too good a wife to
hear these things said without some anger within her bosom. She could
blame her husband in her own mind; but it was intolerable to her that
others should blame him in her hearing.

"He would undoubtedly be better off," she said; "but then, Lady
Lufton, people can't always go exactly where they will be best off.
Gentlemen sometimes must--"

"Well--well, my dear, that will do. He has not taken you, at any
rate; and so we will forgive him." And Lady Lufton kissed her. "As it
is,"--and she affected a low whisper between the two young wives--"as
it is, we must e'en put up with poor old Evan Jones. He is to be here
to-night, and we must go and dress to receive him."

And so they went off. Lady Lufton was quite good enough at heart to
like Mrs. Robarts all the better for standing up for her absent lord.



CHAPTER III

Chaldicotes


Chaldicotes is a house of much more pretension than Framley Court.
Indeed, if one looks at the ancient marks about it, rather than
at those of the present day, it is a place of very considerable
pretension. There is an old forest, not altogether belonging to the
property, but attached to it, called the Chace of Chaldicotes. A
portion of this forest comes up close behind the mansion, and of
itself gives a character and celebrity to the place. The Chace of
Chaldicotes--the greater part of it, at least--is, as all the world
knows, Crown property, and now, in these utilitarian days, is to be
disforested. In former times it was a great forest, stretching half
across the country, almost as far as Silverbridge; and there are bits
of it, here and there, still to be seen at intervals throughout the
whole distance; but the larger remaining portion, consisting of aged
hollow oaks, centuries old, and wide-spreading withered beeches,
stands in the two parishes of Chaldicotes and Uffley. People still
come from afar to see the oaks of Chaldicotes, and to hear their feet
rustle among the thick autumn leaves. But they will soon come no
longer. The giants of past ages are to give way to wheat and turnips;
a ruthless Chancellor of the Exchequer, disregarding old associations
and rural beauty, requires money returns from the lands; and the
Chace of Chaldicotes is to vanish from the earth's surface.

Some part of it, however, is the private property of Mr. Sowerby,
who hitherto, through all his pecuniary distresses, has managed to
save from the axe and the auction-mart that portion of his paternal
heritage. The house of Chaldicotes is a large stone building,
probably of the time of Charles the Second. It is approached on both
fronts by a heavy double flight of stone steps. In the front of
the house a long, solemn, straight avenue through a double row of
lime-trees, leads away to lodge-gates, which stand in the centre of
the village of Chaldicotes; but to the rear the windows open upon
four different vistas, which run down through the forest: four open
green rides, which all converge together at a large iron gateway,
the barrier which divides the private grounds from the Chace. The
Sowerbys, for many generations, have been rangers of the Chace of
Chaldicotes, thus having almost as wide an authority over the Crown
forest as over their own. But now all this is to cease, for the
forest will be disforested.

It was nearly dark as Mark Robarts drove up through the avenue of
lime-trees to the hall-door; but it was easy to see that the house,
which was dead and silent as the grave through nine months of the
year, was now alive in all its parts. There were lights in many
of the windows, and a noise of voices came from the stables, and
servants were moving about, and dogs barked, and the dark gravel
before the front steps was cut up with many a coach-wheel.

"Oh, be that you, sir, Mr. Robarts?" said a groom, taking the
parson's horse by the head, and touching his own hat. "I hope I see
your reverence well?"

"Quite well, Bob, thank you. All well at Chaldicotes?"

"Pretty bobbish, Mr. Robarts. Deal of life going on here now, sir.
The bishop and his lady came this morning."

"Oh--ah--yes! I understood they were to be here. Any of the young
ladies?"

"One young lady. Miss Olivia, I think they call her, your reverence."

"And how's Mr. Sowerby?"

"Very well, your reverence. He, and Mr. Harold Smith, and Mr.
Fothergill--that's the duke's man of business, you know--is getting
off their horses now in the stable-yard there."

"Home from hunting--eh, Bob?"

"Yes, sir, just home, this minute." And then Mr. Robarts walked into
the house, his portmanteau following on a foot-boy's shoulder.

It will be seen that our young vicar was very intimate at
Chaldicotes; so much so that the groom knew him, and talked to him
about the people in the house. Yes; he was intimate there: much more
than he had given the Framley people to understand. Not that he had
wilfully and overtly deceived any one; not that he had ever spoken a
false word about Chaldicotes. But he had never boasted at home that
he and Sowerby were near allies. Neither had he told them there
how often Mr. Sowerby and Lord Lufton were together in London. Why
trouble women with such matters? Why annoy so excellent a woman as
Lady Lufton? And then Mr. Sowerby was one whose intimacy few young
men would wish to reject. He was fifty, and had lived, perhaps, not
the most salutary life; but he dressed young, and usually looked
well. He was bald, with a good forehead, and sparkling moist eyes. He
was a clever man, and a pleasant companion, and always good-humoured
when it so suited him. He was a gentleman, too, of high breeding and
good birth, whose ancestors had been known in that county--longer,
the farmers around would boast, than those of any other land-owner in
it, unless it be the Thornes of Ullathorne, or perhaps the Greshams
of Greshamsbury--much longer than the de Courcys at Courcy Castle.
As for the Duke of Omnium, he, comparatively speaking, was a new
man. And then he was a member of Parliament, a friend of some men in
power, and of others who might be there; a man who could talk about
the world as one knowing the matter of which he talked. And moreover,
whatever might be his ways of life at other times, when in the
presence of a clergyman he rarely made himself offensive to clerical
tastes. He neither swore, nor brought his vices on the carpet, nor
sneered at the faith of the Church. If he was no Churchman himself,
he at least knew how to live with those who were.

How was it possible that such a one as our vicar should not relish
the intimacy of Mr. Sowerby? It might be very well, he would say to
himself, for a woman like Lady Lufton to turn up her nose at him--for
Lady Lufton, who spent ten months of the year at Framley Court, and
who during those ten months, and for the matter of that, during the
two months also which she spent in London, saw no one out of her own
set. Women did not understand such things, the vicar said to himself;
even his own wife--good, and nice, and sensible, and intelligent as
she was--even she did not understand that a man in the world must
meet all sorts of men; and that in these days it did not do for a
clergyman to be a hermit. 'Twas thus that Mark Robarts argued when he
found himself called upon to defend himself before the bar of his own
conscience for going to Chaldicotes and increasing his intimacy with
Mr. Sowerby. He did know that Mr. Sowerby was a dangerous man; he was
aware that he was over head and ears in debt, and that he had already
entangled young Lord Lufton in some pecuniary embarrassment; his
conscience did tell him that it would be well for him, as one of
Christ's soldiers, to look out for companions of a different stamp.
But nevertheless he went to Chaldicotes, not satisfied with himself
indeed, but repeating to himself a great many arguments why he should
be so satisfied.

He was shown into the drawing-room at once, and there he found Mrs.
Harold Smith, with Mrs. and Miss Proudie, and a lady whom he had
never before seen, and whose name he did not at first hear mentioned.

"Is that Mr. Robarts?" said Mrs. Harold Smith, getting up to greet
him, and screening her pretended ignorance under the veil of the
darkness. "And have you really driven over four-and-twenty miles of
Barsetshire roads on such a day as this to assist us in our little
difficulties? Well, we can promise you gratitude at any rate." And
then the vicar shook hands with Mrs. Proudie, in that deferential
manner which is due from a vicar to his bishop's wife; and Mrs.
Proudie returned the greeting with all that smiling condescension
which a bishop's wife should show to a vicar. Miss Proudie was not
quite so civil. Had Mr. Robarts been still unmarried, she also could
have smiled sweetly; but she had been exercising smiles on clergymen
too long to waste them now on a married parish parson.

"And what are the difficulties, Mrs. Smith, in which I am to assist
you?"

"We have six or seven gentlemen here, Mr. Robarts, and they always go
out hunting before breakfast, and they never come back--I was going
to say--till after dinner. I wish it were so, for then we should not
have to wait for them."

"Excepting Mr. Supplehouse, you know," said the unknown lady, in a
loud voice.

"And he is generally shut up in the library, writing articles."

"He'd be better employed if he were trying to break his neck like the
others," said the unknown lady.

"Only he would never succeed," says Mrs. Harold Smith. "But perhaps,
Mr. Robarts, you are as bad as the rest; perhaps you, too, will be
hunting to-morrow."

"My dear Mrs. Smith!" said Mrs. Proudie, in a tone denoting slight
reproach, and modified horror.

"Oh! I forgot. No, of course, you won't be hunting, Mr. Robarts;
you'll only be wishing that you could."

"Why can't he?" said the lady, with a loud voice.

"My dear Miss Dunstable! a clergyman hunt, while he is staying in the
same house with the bishop? Think of the proprieties!"

"Oh--ah! The bishop wouldn't like it--wouldn't he? Now, do tell me,
sir, what would the bishop do to you if you did hunt?"

"It would depend upon his mood at the time, madam," said Mr. Robarts.
"If that were very stern, he might perhaps have me beheaded before
the palace gates."

Mrs. Proudie drew herself up in her chair, showing that she did
not like the tone of the conversation; and Miss Proudie fixed her
eyes vehemently on her book, showing that Miss Dunstable and her
conversation were both beneath her notice.

"If these gentlemen do not mean to break their necks to-night," said
Mrs. Harold Smith, "I wish they'd let us know it. It's half-past six
already." And then Mr. Robarts gave them to understand that no such
catastrophe could be looked for that day, as Mr. Sowerby and the
other sportsmen were within the stable-yard when he entered the door.

"Then, ladies, we may as well dress," said Mrs. Harold Smith. But
as she moved towards the door, it opened, and a short gentleman,
with a slow, quiet step, entered the room; but was not yet to be
distinguished through the dusk by the eyes of Mr. Robarts. "Oh!
bishop, is that you?" said Mrs. Smith. "Here is one of the luminaries
of your diocese." And then the bishop, feeling through the dark, made
his way up to the vicar and shook him cordially by the hand. "He
was delighted to meet Mr. Robarts at Chaldicotes," he said--"quite
delighted. Was he not going to preach on behalf of the Papuan Mission
next Sunday? Ah! so he, the bishop, had heard. It was a good work,
an excellent work." And then Dr. Proudie expressed himself as much
grieved that he could not remain at Chaldicotes, and hear the sermon.
It was plain that his bishop thought no ill of him on account of his
intimacy with Mr. Sowerby. But then he felt in his own heart that he
did not much regard his bishop's opinion.

"Ah, Robarts, I'm delighted to see you," said Mr. Sowerby, when they
met on the drawing-room rug before dinner. "You know Harold Smith?
Yes, of course you do. Well, who else is there? Oh! Supplehouse. Mr.
Supplehouse, allow me to introduce to you my friend Mr. Robarts. It
is he who will extract the five-pound note out of your pocket next
Sunday for these poor Papuans whom we are going to Christianize.
That is, if Harold Smith does not finish the work out of hand at his
Saturday lecture. And, Robarts, you have seen the bishop, of course:"
this he said in a whisper. "A fine thing to be a bishop, isn't it? I
wish I had half your chance. But, my dear fellow, I've made such a
mistake; I haven't got a bachelor parson for Miss Proudie. You must
help me out, and take her in to dinner." And then the great gong
sounded, and off they went in pairs.

At dinner Mark found himself seated between Miss Proudie and the lady
whom he had heard named as Miss Dunstable. Of the former he was not
very fond, and, in spite of his host's petition, was not inclined to
play bachelor parson for her benefit. With the other lady he would
willingly have chatted during the dinner, only that everybody else at
table seemed to be intent on doing the same thing. She was neither
young, nor beautiful, nor peculiarly ladylike; yet she seemed
to enjoy a popularity which must have excited the envy of Mr.
Supplehouse, and which certainly was not altogether to the taste of
Mrs. Proudie--who, however, fêted her as much as did the others.
So that our clergyman found himself unable to obtain more than an
inconsiderable share of the lady's attention.

"Bishop," said she, speaking across the table, "we have missed you so
all day! we have had no one on earth to say a word to us."

"My dear Miss Dunstable, had I known that-- But I really was engaged
on business of some importance."

"I don't believe in business of importance; do you, Mrs. Smith?"

"Do I not?" said Mrs. Smith. "If you were married to Mr. Harold Smith
for one week, you'd believe in it."

"Should I, now? What a pity that I can't have that chance of
improving my faith! But you are a man of business, also, Mr.
Supplehouse; so they tell me." And she turned to her neighbour on her
right hand.

"I cannot compare myself to Harold Smith," said he. "But perhaps I
may equal the bishop."

"What does a man do, now, when he sits himself down to business? How
does he set about it? What are his tools? A quire of blotting paper,
I suppose, to begin with?"

"That depends, I should say, on his trade. A shoemaker begins by
waxing his thread."

"And Mr. Harold Smith--?"

"By counting up his yesterday's figures, generally, I should say;
or else by unrolling a ball of red tape. Well-docketed papers and
statistical facts are his forte."

"And what does a bishop do? Can you tell me that?"

"He sends forth to his clergy either blessings or blowings-up,
according to the state of his digestive organs. But Mrs. Proudie can
explain all that to you with the greatest accuracy."

"Can she now? I understand what you mean, but I don't believe a word
of it. The bishop manages his own affairs himself, quite as much as
you do, or Mr. Harold Smith."

"I, Miss Dunstable?"

"Yes, you."

"But I, unluckily, have not a wife to manage them for me."

"Then you should not laugh at those who have, for you don't know what
you may come to yourself, when you're married."

Mr. Supplehouse began to make a pretty speech, saying that he would
be delighted to incur any danger in that respect to which he might
be subjected by the companionship of Miss Dunstable. But before he
was half through it, she had turned her back upon him, and begun a
conversation with Mark Robarts.

"Have you much work in your parish, Mr. Robarts?" she asked. Now,
Mark was not aware that she knew his name, or the fact of his having
a parish, and was rather surprised by the question. And he had not
quite liked the tone in which she had seemed to speak of the bishop
and his work. His desire for her further acquaintance was therefore
somewhat moderated, and he was not prepared to answer her question
with much zeal.

"All parish clergymen have plenty of work, if they choose to do it."

"Ah, that is it; is it not, Mr. Robarts? If they choose to do it? A
great many do--many that I know, do; and see what a result they have.
But many neglect it--and see what a result _they_ have. I think it
ought to be the happiest life that a man can lead, that of a parish
clergyman, with a wife and family and a sufficient income."

"I think it is," said Mark Robarts, asking himself whether the
contentment accruing to him from such blessings had made him
satisfied at all points. He had all these things of which Miss
Dunstable spoke, and yet he had told his wife, the other day, that he
could not afford to neglect the acquaintance of a rising politician
like Harold Smith.

"What I find fault with is this," continued Miss Dunstable, "that we
expect clergymen to do their duty, and don't give them a sufficient
income--give them hardly any income at all. Is it not a scandal,
that an educated gentleman with a family should be made to work half
his life, and perhaps the whole, for a pittance of seventy pounds a
year!" Mark said that it was a scandal, and thought of Mr. Evan Jones
and his daughter; and thought also of his own worth, and his own
house, and his own nine hundred a year.

"And yet you clergymen are so proud--aristocratic would be the
genteel word, I know--that you won't take the money of common,
ordinary poor people. You must be paid from land and endowments, from
tithe and church property. You can't bring yourself to work for what
you earn, as lawyers and doctors do. It is better that curates should
starve than undergo such ignominy as that."

"It is a long subject, Miss Dunstable."

"A very long one; and that means that I am not to say any more about
it."

"I did not mean that exactly."

"Oh, but you did though, Mr. Robarts. And I can take a hint of that
kind when I get it. You clergymen like to keep those long subjects
for your sermons, when no one can answer you. Now if I have a longing
heart's desire for anything at all in this world, it is to be able to
get up into a pulpit, and preach a sermon."

"You can't conceive how soon that appetite would pall upon you, after
its first indulgence."

"That would depend upon whether I could get people to listen to me.
It does not pall upon Mr. Spurgeon, I suppose." Then her attention
was called away by some question from Mr. Sowerby, and Mark Robarts
found himself bound to address his conversation to Miss Proudie.
Miss Proudie, however, was not thankful, and gave him little but
monosyllables for his pains.

"Of course you know Harold Smith is going to give us a lecture about
these islanders," Mr. Sowerby said to him, as they sat round the fire
over their wine after dinner. Mark said that he had been so informed,
and should be delighted to be one of the listeners.

"You are bound to do that, as he is going to listen to you the day
afterwards--or, at any rate, to pretend to do so, which is as much as
you will do for him. It'll be a terrible bore--the lecture, I mean,
not the sermon." And he spoke very low into his friend's ear. "Fancy
having to drive ten miles after dusk, and ten miles back, to hear
Harold Smith talk for two hours about Borneo! One must do it, you
know."

"I dare say it will be very interesting."

"My dear fellow, you haven't undergone so many of these things as I
have. But he's right to do it. It's his line of life; and when a man
begins a thing he ought to go on with it. Where's Lufton all this
time?"

"In Scotland, when I last heard from him; but he's probably at Melton
now."

"It's deuced shabby of him, not hunting here in his own county. He
escapes all the bore of going to lectures, and giving feeds to the
neighbours; that's why he treats us so. He has no idea of his duty,
has he?"

"Lady Lufton does all that, you know."

"I wish I'd a Mrs. Sowerby _mère_ to do it for me. But then Lufton
has no constituents to look after--lucky dog! By the by, has he
spoken to you about selling that outlying bit of land of his in
Oxfordshire? It belongs to the Lufton property, and yet it doesn't.
In my mind it gives more trouble than it's worth." Lord Lufton had
spoken to Mark about this sale, and had explained to him that such
a sacrifice was absolutely necessary, in consequence of certain
pecuniary transactions between him, Lord Lufton, and Mr. Sowerby.
But it was found impracticable to complete the business without Lady
Lufton's knowledge, and her son had commissioned Mr. Robarts not only
to inform her ladyship, but to talk her over, and to appease her
wrath. This commission he had not yet attempted to execute, and it
was probable that this visit to Chaldicotes would not do much to
facilitate the business.

"They are the most magnificent islands under the sun," said Harold
Smith to the bishop.

"Are they, indeed!" said the bishop, opening his eyes wide, and
assuming a look of intense interest.

"And the most intelligent people."

"Dear me!" said the bishop.

"All they want is guidance, encouragement, instruction--"

"And Christianity," suggested the bishop.

"And Christianity, of course," said Mr. Smith, remembering that he
was speaking to a dignitary of the Church. It was well to humour such
people, Mr. Smith thought. But the Christianity was to be done in the
Sunday sermon, and was not part of his work.

"And how do you intend to begin with them?" asked Mr. Supplehouse,
the business of whose life it had been to suggest difficulties.

"Begin with them--oh--why--it's very easy to begin with them. The
difficulty is to go on with them, after the money is all spent. We'll
begin by explaining to them the benefits of civilization."

"Capital plan!" said Mr. Supplehouse. "But how do you set about it,
Smith?"

"How do we set about it? How did we set about it with Australia and
America? It is very easy to criticize; but in such matters the great
thing is to put one's shoulder to the wheel."

"We sent our felons to Australia," said Supplehouse, "and they began
the work for us. And as to America, we exterminated the people
instead of civilizing them."

"We did not exterminate the inhabitants of India," said Harold Smith,
angrily.

"Nor have we attempted to Christianize them, as the bishop so
properly wishes to do with your islanders."

"Supplehouse, you are not fair," said Mr. Sowerby, "neither to Harold
Smith nor to us;--you are making him rehearse his lecture, which is
bad for him; and making us hear the rehearsal, which is bad for us."

"Supplehouse belongs to a clique which monopolizes the wisdom of
England," said Harold Smith, "or, at any rate, thinks that it
does. But the worst of them is that they are given to talk leading
articles."

"Better that, than talk articles which are not leading," said Mr.
Supplehouse. "Some first-class official men do that."

"Shall I meet you at the duke's next week, Mr. Robarts?" said the
bishop to him, soon after they had gone into the drawing-room. Meet
him at the duke's!--the established enemy of Barsetshire mankind, as
Lady Lufton regarded his grace! No idea of going to the duke's had
ever entered our hero's mind; nor had he been aware that the duke was
about to entertain any one.

"No, my lord; I think not. Indeed, I have no acquaintance with his
grace."

"Oh--ah! I did not know. Because Mr. Sowerby is going; and so are the
Harold Smiths, and, I think, Mr. Supplehouse. An excellent man is
the duke;--that is, as regards all the county interests," added the
bishop, remembering that the moral character of his bachelor grace
was not the very best in the world. And then his lordship began to
ask some questions about the church affairs of Framley, in which a
little interest as to Framley Court was also mixed up, when he was
interrupted by a rather sharp voice, to which he instantly attended.

"Bishop," said the rather sharp voice; and the bishop trotted across
the room to the back of the sofa, on which his wife was sitting.
"Miss Dunstable thinks that she will be able to come to us for a
couple of days, after we leave the duke's."

"I shall be delighted above all things," said the bishop, bowing low
to the dominant lady of the day. For be it known to all men, that
Miss Dunstable was the great heiress of that name.

"Mrs. Proudie is so very kind as to say that she will take me in,
with my poodle, parrot, and pet old woman."

"I tell Miss Dunstable that we shall have quite room for any of her
suite," said Mrs. Proudie. "And that it will give us no trouble."

"'The labour we delight in physics pain,'" said the gallant bishop,
bowing low, and putting his hand upon his heart. In the meantime
Mr. Fothergill had got hold of Mark Robarts. Mr. Fothergill was
a gentleman and a magistrate of the county, but he occupied the
position of managing man on the Duke of Omnium's estates. He was not
exactly his agent; that is to say, he did not receive his rents;
but he "managed" for him, saw people, went about the county, wrote
letters, supported the electioneering interest, did popularity when
it was too much trouble for the duke to do it himself, and was, in
fact, invaluable. People in West Barsetshire would often say that
they did not know what on earth the duke would do, if it were not for
Mr. Fothergill. Indeed, Mr. Fothergill was useful to the duke.

"Mr. Robarts," he said, "I am very happy to have the pleasure of
meeting you--very happy indeed. I have often heard of you from our
friend Sowerby." Mark bowed, and said that he was delighted to
have the honour of making Mr. Fothergill's acquaintance. "I am
commissioned by the Duke of Omnium," continued Mr. Fothergill,
"to say how glad he will be if you will join his grace's party at
Gatherum Castle next week. The bishop will be there, and indeed
nearly the whole set who are here now. The duke would have written
when he heard that you were to be at Chaldicotes; but things were
hardly quite arranged then, so his grace has left it for me to tell
you how happy he will be to make your acquaintance in his own house.
I have spoken to Sowerby," continued Mr. Fothergill, "and he very
much hopes that you will be able to join us."

Mark felt that his face became red when this proposition was made
to him. The party in the county to which he properly belonged--he
and his wife, and all that made him happy and respectable--looked
upon the Duke of Omnium with horror and amazement; and now he had
absolutely received an invitation to the duke's house! A proposition
was made to him that he should be numbered among the duke's friends!

And though in one sense he was sorry that the proposition was made to
him, yet in another he was proud of it. It is not every young man,
let his profession be what it may, who can receive overtures of
friendship from dukes without some elation. Mark, too, had risen in
the world, as far as he had yet risen, by knowing great people; and
he certainly had an ambition to rise higher. I will not degrade him
by calling him a tuft-hunter; but he undoubtedly had a feeling that
the paths most pleasant for a clergyman's feet were those which were
trodden by the great ones of the earth. Nevertheless, at the moment
he declined the duke's invitation. He was very much flattered, he
said, but the duties of his parish would require him to return direct
from Chaldicotes to Framley.

"You need not give me an answer to-night, you know," said Mr.
Fothergill. "Before the week is past, we will talk it over with
Sowerby and the bishop. It will be a thousand pities, Mr. Robarts,
if you will allow me to say so, that you should neglect such an
opportunity of knowing his grace."

When Mark went to bed, his mind was still set against going to the
duke's; but, nevertheless, he did feel that it was a pity that he
should not do so. After all, was it necessary that he should obey
Lady Lufton in all things?



CHAPTER IV

A Matter of Conscience


It is no doubt very wrong to long after a naughty thing. But
nevertheless we all do so. One may say that hankering after naughty
things is the very essence of the evil into which we have been
precipitated by Adam's fall. When we confess that we are all sinners,
we confess that we all long after naughty things. And ambition is a
great vice--as Mark Anthony told us a long time ago--a great vice,
no doubt, if the ambition of the man be with reference to his own
advancement, and not to the advancement of others. But then, how many
of us are there who are not ambitious in this vicious manner? And
there is nothing viler than the desire to know great people--people
of great rank, I should say; nothing worse than the hunting of titles
and worshipping of wealth. We all know this, and say it every day of
our lives. But presuming that a way into the society of Park Lane
was open to us, and a way also into that of Bedford Row, how many of
us are there who would prefer Bedford Row because it is so vile to
worship wealth and title?

I am led into these rather trite remarks by the necessity of putting
forward some sort of excuse for that frame of mind in which the Rev.
Mark Robarts awoke on the morning after his arrival at Chaldicotes.
And I trust that the fact of his being a clergyman will not be
allowed to press against him unfairly. Clergymen are subject to
the same passions as other men; and, as far as I can see, give way
to them, in one line or in another, almost as frequently. Every
clergyman should, by canonical rule, feel a personal disinclination
to a bishopric; but yet we do not believe that such personal
disinclination is generally very strong. Mark's first thoughts when
he woke on that morning flew back to Mr. Fothergill's invitation. The
duke had sent a special message to say how peculiarly glad he, the
duke, would be to make acquaintance with him, the parson! How much of
this message had been of Mr. Fothergill's own manufacture, that Mark
Robarts did not consider. He had obtained a living at an age when
other young clergymen are beginning to think of a curacy, and he
had obtained such a living as middle-aged parsons in their dreams
regard as a possible Paradise for their old years. Of course he
thought that all these good things had been the results of his own
peculiar merits. Of course he felt that he was different from other
parsons,--more fitted by nature for intimacy with great persons, more
urbane, more polished, and more richly endowed with modern clerical
well-to-do aptitudes. He was grateful to Lady Lufton for what she had
done for him; but perhaps not so grateful as he should have been.

At any rate he was not Lady Lufton's servant, nor even her dependant.
So much he had repeated to himself on many occasions, and had gone
so far as to hint the same idea to his wife. In his career as parish
priest he must in most things be the judge of his own actions--and in
many also it was his duty to be the judge of those of his patroness.
The fact of Lady Lufton having placed him in the living, could by no
means make her the proper judge of his actions. This he often said
to himself; and he said as often that Lady Lufton certainly had a
hankering after such a judgement-seat.

Of whom generally did prime ministers and official bigwigs think it
expedient to make bishops and deans? Was it not, as a rule, of those
clergymen who had shown themselves able to perform their clerical
duties efficiently, and able also to take their place with ease in
high society? He was very well off certainly at Framley; but he
could never hope for anything beyond Framley, if he allowed himself
to regard Lady Lufton as a bugbear. Putting Lady Lufton and her
prejudices out of the question, was there any reason why he ought not
to accept the duke's invitation? He could not see that there was any
such reason. If any one could be a better judge on such a subject
than himself, it must be his bishop. And it was clear that the bishop
wished him to go to Gatherum Castle.

The matter was still left open to him. Mr. Fothergill had especially
explained that; and therefore his ultimate decision was as yet within
his own power. Such a visit would cost him some money, for he knew
that a man does not stay at great houses without expense; and then,
in spite of his good income, he was not very flush of money. He had
been down this year with Lord Lufton in Scotland. Perhaps it might
be more prudent for him to return home. But then an idea came to
him that it behoved him as a man and a priest to break through
that Framley thraldom under which he felt that he did to a certain
extent exist. Was it not the fact that he was about to decline this
invitation from fear of Lady Lufton? and if so, was that a motive by
which he ought to be actuated? It was incumbent on him to rid himself
of that feeling. And in this spirit he got up and dressed.

There was hunting again on that day; and as the hounds were to meet
near Chaldicotes, and to draw some coverts lying on the verge of the
chase, the ladies were to go in carriages through the drives of the
forest, and Mr. Robarts was to escort them on horseback. Indeed it
was one of those hunting-days got up rather for the ladies than for
the sport. Great nuisances they are to steady, middle-aged hunting
men; but the young fellows like them because they have thereby an
opportunity of showing off their sporting finery, and of doing a
little flirtation on horseback. The bishop, also, had been minded to
be of the party: so, at least, he had said on the previous evening;
and a place in one of the carriages had been set apart for him: but
since that, he and Mrs. Proudie had discussed the matter in private,
and at breakfast his lordship declared that he had changed his mind.

Mr. Sowerby was one of those men who are known to be very poor--as
poor as debt can make a man--but who, nevertheless, enjoy all the
luxuries which money can give. It was believed that he could not
live in England out of jail but for his protection as a member of
Parliament; and yet it seemed that there was no end to his horses
and carriages, his servants and retinue. He had been at this work
for a great many years, and practice, they say, makes perfect. Such
companions are very dangerous. There is no cholera, no yellow-fever,
no small-pox, more contagious than debt. If one lives habitually
among embarrassed men, one catches it to a certainty. No one had
injured the community in this way more fatally than Mr. Sowerby.
But still he carried on the game himself; and now, on this morning,
carriages and horses thronged at his gate, as though he were as
substantially rich as his friend the Duke of Omnium.

"Robarts, my dear fellow," said Mr. Sowerby, when they were well
under way down one of the glades of the forest,--for the place
where the hounds met was some four or five miles from the house of
Chaldicotes,--"ride on with me a moment. I want to speak to you; and
if I stay behind we shall never get to the hounds." So Mark, who had
come expressly to escort the ladies, rode on alongside of Mr. Sowerby
in his pink coat.

"My dear fellow, Fothergill tells me that you have some hesitation
about going to Gatherum Castle."

"Well, I did decline, certainly. You know I am not a man of pleasure,
as you are. I have some duties to attend to."

"Gammon!" said Mr. Sowerby; and as he said it, he looked with a kind
of derisive smile into the clergyman's face.

"It is easy enough to say that, Sowerby; and perhaps I have no right
to expect that you should understand me."

"Ah, but I do understand you; and I say it is gammon. I would be the
last man in the world to ridicule your scruples about duty, if this
hesitation on your part arose from any such scruple. But answer me
honestly, do you not know that such is not the case?"

"I know nothing of the kind."

"Ah, but I think you do. If you persist in refusing this invitation
will it not be because you are afraid of making Lady Lufton angry? I
do not know what there can be in that woman that she is able to hold
both you and Lufton in leading-strings." Robarts, of course, denied
the charge, and protested that he was not to be taken back to his own
parsonage by any fear of Lady Lufton. But though he made such protest
with warmth, he knew that he did so ineffectually. Sowerby only
smiled, and said that the proof of the pudding was in the eating.

"What is the good of a man keeping a curate if it be not to save him
from that sort of drudgery?" he asked.

"Drudgery! If I were a drudge how could I be here to-day?"

"Well, Robarts, look here. I am speaking now, perhaps, with more of
the energy of an old friend than circumstances fully warrant; but I
am an older man than you, and as I have a regard for you I do not
like to see you throw up a good game when it is in your hands."

"Oh, as far as that goes, Sowerby, I need hardly tell you that I
appreciate your kindness."

"If you are content," continued the man of the world, "to live at
Framley all your life, and to warm yourself in the sunshine of the
dowager there, why, in such case, it may perhaps be useless for you
to extend the circle of your friends; but if you have higher ideas
than these, you will be very wrong to omit the present opportunity of
going to the duke's. I never knew the duke go so much out of his way
to be civil to a clergyman as he has done in this instance."

"I am sure I am very much obliged to him."

"The fact is, that you may, if you please, make yourself popular
in the county; but you cannot do it by obeying all Lady Lufton's
behests. She is a dear old woman, I am sure."

"She is, Sowerby; and you would say so, if you knew her."

"I don't doubt it; but it would not do for you or me to live exactly
according to her ideas. Now, here, in this case, the bishop of the
diocese is to be one of the party, and he has, I believe, already
expressed a wish that you should be another."

"He asked me if I were going."

"Exactly; and Archdeacon Grantly will be there."

"Will he?" asked Mark. Now, that would be a great point gained, for
Archdeacon Grantly was a close friend of Lady Lufton.

"So I understand from Fothergill. Indeed, it will be very wrong of
you not to go, and I tell you so plainly; and what is more, when you
talk about your duty--you having a curate as you have--why, it is
gammon." These last words he spoke looking back over his shoulder
as he stood up in his stirrups, for he had caught the eye of the
huntsman, who was surrounded by his bounds, and was now trotting on
to join him. During a great portion of the day, Mark found himself
riding by the side of Mrs. Proudie, as that lady leaned back in
her carriage. And Mrs. Proudie smiled on him graciously, though
her daughter would not do so. Mrs. Proudie was fond of having an
attendant clergyman; and as it was evident that Mr. Robarts lived
among nice people--titled dowagers, members of Parliament, and people
of that sort--she was quite willing to install him as a sort of
honorary chaplain _pro tem_.

"I'll tell you what we have settled, Mrs. Harold Smith and I," said
Mrs. Proudie to him. "This lecture at Barchester will be so late on
Saturday evening, that you had all better come and dine with us."
Mark bowed and thanked her, and declared that he should be very happy
to make one of such a party. Even Lady Lufton could not object to
this, although she was not especially fond of Mrs. Proudie.

"And then they are to sleep at the hotel. It will really be too late
for ladies to think of going back so far at this time of the year. I
told Mrs. Harold Smith, and Miss Dunstable, too, that we could manage
to make room at any rate for them. But they will not leave the other
ladies; so they go to the hotel for that night. But, Mr. Robarts, the
bishop will never allow you to stay at the inn, so of course you will
take a bed at the palace."

It immediately occurred to Mark that as the lecture was to be given
on Saturday evening, the next morning would be Sunday; and, on that
Sunday, he would have to preach at Chaldicotes. "I thought they were
all going to return the same night," said he.

"Well, they did intend it; but you see Mrs. Smith is afraid."

"I should have to get back here on the Sunday morning, Mrs. Proudie."

"Ah, yes, that is bad--very bad indeed. No one dislikes any
interference with the Sabbath more than I do. Indeed, if I am
particular about anything it is about that. But some works are works
of necessity, Mr. Robarts; are they not? Now you must necessarily
be back at Chaldicotes on Sunday morning!" And so the matter was
settled. Mrs. Proudie was very firm in general in the matter of
Sabbath-day observances; but when she had to deal with such persons
as Mrs. Harold Smith, it was expedient that she should give way a
little. "You can start as soon as it's daylight, you know, if you
like it, Mr. Robarts," said Mrs. Proudie.

There was not much to boast of as to the hunting, but it was a very
pleasant day for the ladies. The men rode up and down the grass roads
through the chase, sometimes in the greatest possible hurry as though
they never could go quick enough; and then the coachmen would drive
very fast also, though they did not know why, for a fast pace of
movement is another of those contagious diseases. And then again
the sportsmen would move at an undertaker's pace, when the fox had
traversed and the hounds would be at a loss to know which was the
hunt and which was the heel; and then the carriage also would go
slowly, and the ladies would stand up and talk. And then the time for
lunch came; and altogether the day went by pleasantly enough.

"And so that's hunting, is it?" said Miss Dunstable.

"Yes, that's hunting," said Mr. Sowerby.

"I did not see any gentleman do anything that I could not do myself,
except there was one young man slipped off into the mud; and I
shouldn't like that."

"But there was no breaking of bones, was there, my dear?" said Mrs.
Harold Smith.

"And nobody caught any foxes," said Miss Dunstable. "The fact is,
Mrs. Smith, that I don't think much more of their sport than I do of
their business. I shall take to hunting a pack of hounds myself after
this."

"Do, my dear, and I'll be your whipper-in. I wonder whether Mrs.
Proudie would join us."

"I shall be writing to the duke to-night," said Mr. Fothergill to
Mark, as they were all riding up to the stable-yard together. "You
will let me tell his grace that you will accept his invitation--will
you not?"

"Upon my word, the duke is very kind," said Mark.

"He is very anxious to know you, I can assure you," said Fothergill.
What could a young flattered fool of a parson do, but say that he
would go? Mark did say that he would go; and in the course of the
evening his friend Mr. Sowerby congratulated him, and the bishop
joked with him and said that he knew that he would not give up good
company so soon; and Miss Dunstable said she would make him her
chaplain as soon as Parliament would allow quack doctors to have such
articles--an allusion which Mark did not understand, till he learned
that Miss Dunstable was herself the proprietress of the celebrated
Oil of Lebanon, invented by her late respected father, and patented
by him with such wonderful results in the way of accumulated fortune;
and Mrs. Proudie made him quite one of their party, talking to him
about all manner of Church subjects; and then at last, even Miss
Proudie smiled on him, when she learned that he had been thought
worthy of a bed at a duke's castle. And all the world seemed to be
open to him.

But he could not make himself happy that evening. On the next morning
he must write to his wife; and he could already see the look of
painful sorrow which would fall upon his Fanny's brow when she
learned that her husband was going to be a guest at the Duke of
Omnium's. And he must tell her to send him money, and money was
scarce. And then, as to Lady Lufton, should he send her some message,
or should he not? In either case he must declare war against her. And
then did he not owe everything to Lady Lufton? And thus in spite of
all his triumphs he could not get himself to bed in a happy frame of
mind.

On the next day, which was Friday, he postponed the disagreeable
task of writing. Saturday would do as well; and on Saturday morning,
before they all started for Barchester, he did write. And his letter
ran as follows:--


   Chaldicotes,--November, 185--.

   DEAREST LOVE,

   You will be astonished when I tell you how gay we all are
   here, and what further dissipations are in store for us.
   The Arabins, as you supposed, are not of our party; but
   the Proudies are,--as you supposed also. Your suppositions
   are always right. And what will you think when I tell you
   that I am to sleep at the palace on Saturday? You know
   that there is to be a lecture in Barchester on that day.
   Well; we must all go, of course, as Harold Smith, one of
   our set here, is to give it. And now it turns out that we
   cannot get back the same night because there is no moon;
   and Mrs. Bishop would not allow that my cloth should be
   contaminated by an hotel;--very kind and considerate, is
   it not?

   But I have a more astounding piece of news for you than
   this. There is to be a great party at Gatherum Castle
   next week, and they have talked me over into accepting an
   invitation which the duke sent expressly to me. I refused
   at first; but everybody here said that my doing so would
   be so strange; and then they all wanted to know my reason.
   When I came to render it, I did not know what reason I had
   to give. The bishop is going, and he thought it very odd
   that I should not go also, seeing that I was asked. I
   know what my own darling will think, and I know that she
   will not be pleased, and I must put off my defence till I
   return to her from this ogre-land,--if ever I do get back
   alive. But joking apart, Fanny, I think that I should
   have been wrong to stand out, when so much was said about
   it. I should have been seeming to take upon myself to
   sit in judgement upon the duke. I doubt if there be a
   single clergyman in the diocese, under fifty years of
   age, who would have refused the invitation under such
   circumstances,--unless it be Crawley, who is so mad on the
   subject that he thinks it almost wrong to take a walk out
   of his own parish. I must stay at Gatherum Castle over
   Sunday week--indeed, we only go there on Friday. I have
   written to Jones about the duties. I can make it up to
   him, as I know he wishes to go into Wales at Christmas.
   My wanderings will all be over then, and he may go for a
   couple of months if he pleases. I suppose you will take my
   classes in the school on Sunday, as well as your own; but
   pray make them have a good fire. If this is too much for
   you, make Mrs. Podgens take the boys. Indeed I think that
   will be better.

   Of course you will tell her ladyship of my whereabouts.
   Tell her from me, that as regards the bishop, as well as
   regarding another great personage, the colour has been
   laid on perhaps a little too thickly. Not that Lady Lufton
   would ever like him. Make her understand that my going to
   the duke's has almost become a matter of conscience with
   me. I have not known how to make it appear that it would
   be right for me to refuse, without absolutely making a
   party matter of it. I saw that it would be said, that I,
   coming from Lady Lufton's parish, could not go to the Duke
   of Omnium's. This I did not choose.

   I find that I shall want a little more money before I
   leave here, five or ten pounds--say ten pounds. If you
   cannot spare it, get it from Davis. He owes me more than
   that, a good deal. And now, God bless and preserve you, my
   own love. Kiss my darling bairns for papa, and give them
   my blessing.

   Always and ever your own,

   M. R.


And then there was written, on an outside scrap which was folded
round the full-written sheet of paper, "Make it as smooth at Framley
Court as possible." However strong, and reasonable, and unanswerable
the body of Mark's letter may have been, all his hesitation,
weakness, doubt, and fear, were expressed in this short postscript.



CHAPTER V

Amantium Iræ Amoris Integratio


And now, with my reader's consent, I will follow the postman with
that letter to Framley; not by its own circuitous route indeed, or by
the same mode of conveyance; for that letter went into Barchester by
the Courcy night mail-cart, which, on its road, passes through the
villages of Uffley and Chaldicotes, reaching Barchester in time for
the up mail-train to London. By that train, the letter was sent
towards the metropolis as far as the junction of the Barset branch
line, but there it was turned in its course, and came down again by
the main line as far as Silverbridge; at which place, between six
and seven in the morning, it was shouldered by the Framley footpost
messenger, and in due course delivered at the Framley Parsonage
exactly as Mrs. Robarts had finished reading prayers to the four
servants. Or, I should say rather, that such would in its usual
course have been that letter's destiny. As it was, however, it
reached Silverbridge on Sunday, and lay there till the Monday, as
the Framley people have declined their Sunday post. And then again,
when the letter was delivered at the parsonage, on that wet Monday
morning, Mrs. Robarts was not at home. As we are all aware, she was
staying with her ladyship at Framley Court.

"Oh, but it's mortial wet," said the shivering postman as he handed
in that and the vicar's newspaper. The vicar was a man of the world,
and took the _Jupiter_.

"Come in, Robin postman, and warm theeself awhile," said Jemima the
cook, pushing a stool a little to one side, but still well in front
of the big kitchen fire.

"Well, I dudna jist know how it'll be. The wery 'edges 'as eyes
and tells on me in Silverbridge, if I so much as stops to pick a
blackberry."

"There bain't no hedges here, mon, nor yet no blackberries; so sit
thee down and warm theeself. That's better nor blackberries, I'm
thinking," and she handed him a bowl of tea with a slice of buttered
toast. Robin postman took the proffered tea, put his dripping hat on
the ground, and thanked Jemima cook. "But I dudna jist know how it'll
be," said he; "only it do pour so tarnation heavy." Which among us, O
my readers, could have withstood that temptation?

Such was the circuitous course of Mark's letter; but as it left
Chaldicotes on Saturday evening, and reached Mrs. Robarts on the
following morning, or would have done, but for that intervening
Sunday, doing all its peregrinations during the night, it may be held
that its course of transport was not inconveniently arranged. We,
however, will travel by a much shorter route. Robin, in the course of
his daily travels, passed, first the post-office at Framley, then the
Framley Court back entrance, and then the vicar's house, so that on
this wet morning Jemima cook was not able to make use of his services
in transporting this letter back to her mistress; for Robin had got
another village before him, expectant of its letters.

"Why didn't thee leave it, mon, with Mr. Applejohn at the Court?" Mr.
Applejohn was the butler who took the letter-bag. "Thee know'st as
how missus was there." And then Robin, mindful of the tea and toast,
explained to her courteously how the law made it imperative on him to
bring the letter to the very house that was indicated, let the owner
of the letter be where she might; and he laid down the law very
satisfactorily with sundry long-worded quotations. Not to much
effect, however, for the housemaid called him an oaf; and Robin would
decidedly have had the worst of it had not the gardener come in and
taken his part. "They women knows nothin', and understands nothin',"
said the gardener. "Give us hold of the letter. I'll take it up to
the house. It's the master's fist." And then Robin postman went on
one way, and the gardener, he went the other. The gardener never
disliked an excuse for going up to the Court gardens, even on so wet
a day as this.

Mrs. Robarts was sitting over the drawing-room fire with Lady
Meredith, when her husband's letter was brought to her. The Framley
Court letter-bag had been discussed at breakfast; but that was now
nearly an hour since, and Lady Lufton, as was her wont, was away
in her own room writing her own letters, and looking after her own
matters: for Lady Lufton was a person who dealt in figures herself,
and understood business almost as well as Harold Smith. And on that
morning she also had received a letter which had displeased her not a
little. Whence arose this displeasure neither Mrs. Robarts nor Lady
Meredith knew; but her ladyship's brow had grown black at breakfast
time; she had bundled up an ominous-looking epistle into her bag
without speaking of it, and had left the room immediately that
breakfast was over.

"There's something wrong," said Sir George.

"Mamma does fret herself so much about Ludovic's money matters," said
Lady Meredith. Ludovic was Lord Lufton,--Ludovic Lufton, Baron Lufton
of Lufton, in the county of Oxfordshire.

"And yet I don't think Lufton gets much astray," said Sir George,
as he sauntered out of the room. "Well, Justy; we'll put off going
then till to-morrow; but remember, it must be the first train."
Lady Meredith said she would remember, and then they went into the
drawing-room, and there Mrs. Robarts received her letter. Fanny, when
she read it, hardly at first realized to herself the idea that her
husband, the clergyman of Framley, the family clerical friend of Lady
Lufton's establishment, was going to stay with the Duke of Omnium. It
was so thoroughly understood at Framley Court that the duke and all
belonging to him was noxious and damnable. He was a Whig, he was a
bachelor, he was a gambler, he was immoral in every way, he was a man
of no Church principle, a corrupter of youth, a sworn foe of young
wives, a swallower up of small men's patrimonies; a man whom mothers
feared for their sons, and sisters for their brothers; and worse
again, whom fathers had cause to fear for their daughters, and
brothers for their sisters;--a man who, with his belongings, dwelt,
and must dwell, poles asunder from Lady Lufton and her belongings!
And it must be remembered that all these evil things were fully
believed by Mrs. Robarts. Could it really be that her husband was
going to dwell in the halls of Apollyon, to shelter himself beneath
the wings of this very Lucifer? A cloud of sorrow settled upon her
face, and then she read the letter again very slowly, not omitting
the tell-tale postscript.

"Oh, Justinia!" at last she said.

"What, have you got bad news, too?"

"I hardly know how to tell you what has occurred. There; I suppose
you had better read it;" and she handed her husband's epistle to Lady
Meredith,--keeping back, however, the postscript.

"What on earth will her ladyship say now?" said Lady Meredith, as she
folded the paper, and replaced it in the envelope.

"What had I better do, Justinia? how had I better tell her?" And
then the two ladies put their heads together, bethinking themselves
how they might best deprecate the wrath of Lady Lufton. It had been
arranged that Mrs. Robarts should go back to the parsonage after
lunch, and she had persisted in her intention after it had been
settled that the Merediths were to stay over that evening. Lady
Meredith now advised her friend to carry out this determination
without saying anything about her husband's terrible iniquities, and
then to send the letter up to Lady Lufton as soon as she reached the
parsonage. "Mamma will never know that you received it here," said
Lady Meredith. But Mrs. Robarts would not consent to this. Such a
course seemed to her to be cowardly. She knew that her husband was
doing wrong; she felt that he knew it himself; but still it was
necessary that she should defend him. However terrible might be the
storm, it must break upon her own head. So she at once went up and
tapped at Lady Lufton's private door; and as she did so Lady Meredith
followed her.

"Come in," said Lady Lufton, and the voice did not sound soft and
pleasant. When they entered, they found her sitting at her little
writing-table, with her head resting on her arm, and that letter
which she had received that morning was lying open on the table
before her. Indeed there were two letters now there, one from a
London lawyer to herself, and the other from her son to that London
lawyer. It needs only be explained that the subject of those letters
was the immediate sale of that outlying portion of the Lufton
property in Oxfordshire, as to which Mr. Sowerby once spoke. Lord
Lufton had told the lawyer that the thing must be done at once,
adding that his friend Robarts would have explained the whole affair
to his mother. And then the lawyer had written to Lady Lufton, as
indeed was necessary; but unfortunately Lady Lufton had not hitherto
heard a word of the matter. In her eyes the sale of family property
was horrible; the fact that a young man with some fifteen or twenty
thousand a year should require subsidiary money was horrible; that
her own son should have not written to her himself was horrible;
and it was also horrible that her own pet, the clergyman whom she
had brought there to be her son's friend, should be mixed up in the
matter; should be cognizant of it while she was not cognizant; should
be employed in it as a go-between and agent in her son's bad courses.
It was all horrible, and Lady Lufton was sitting there with a black
brow and an uneasy heart. As regarded our poor parson, we may say
that in this matter he was blameless, except that he had hitherto
lacked the courage to execute his friend's commission.

"What is it, Fanny?" said Lady Lufton, as soon as the door was
opened; "I should have been down in half an hour, if you wanted me,
Justinia."

"Fanny has received a letter which makes her wish to speak to you at
once," said Lady Meredith.

"What letter, Fanny?" Poor Fanny's heart was in her mouth; she held
it in her hand, but had not yet quite made up her mind whether she
would show it bodily to Lady Lufton. "From Mr. Robarts," she said.

"Well; I suppose he is going to stay another week at Chaldicotes. For
my part I should be as well pleased;" and Lady Lufton's voice was
not friendly, for she was thinking of that farm in Oxfordshire. The
imprudence of the young is very sore to the prudence of their elders.
No woman could be less covetous, less grasping than Lady Lufton; but
the sale of a portion of the old family property was to her as the
loss of her own heart's blood.

"Here is the letter, Lady Lufton; perhaps you had better read it;"
and Fanny handed it to her, again keeping back the postscript. She
had read and re-read the letter downstairs, but could not make out
whether her husband had intended her to show it. From the line of the
argument she thought that he must have done so. At any rate he said
for himself more than she could say for him, and so, probably, it was
best that her ladyship should see it. Lady Lufton took it, and read
it, and her face grew blacker and blacker. Her mind was set against
the writer before she began it, and every word in it tended to make
her feel more estranged from him. "Oh, he is going to the palace, is
he? well; he must choose his own friends. Harold Smith one of his
party! It's a pity, my dear, he did not see Miss Proudie before he
met you, he might have lived to be the bishop's chaplain. Gatherum
Castle! You don't mean to tell me that he is going there? Then I tell
you fairly, Fanny, that I have done with him."

"Oh, Lady Lufton, don't say that," said Mrs. Robarts, with tears in
her eyes.

"Mamma, mamma, don't speak in that way," said Lady Meredith.

"But, my dear, what am I to say? I must speak in that way. You would
not wish me to speak falsehoods, would you? A man must choose for
himself, but he can't live with two different sets of people; at
least, not if I belong to one and the Duke of Omnium to the other.
The bishop going indeed! If there be anything that I hate it is
hypocrisy."

"There is no hypocrisy in that, Lady Lufton."

"But I say there is, Fanny. Very strange, indeed! 'Put off his
defence!' Why should a man need any defence to his wife if he acts in
a straightforward way? His own language condemns him: 'Wrong to stand
out!' Now, will either of you tell me that Mr. Robarts would really
have thought it wrong to refuse that invitation? I say that that is
hypocrisy. There is no other word for it." By this time the poor
wife, who had been in tears, was wiping them away and preparing for
action. Lady Lufton's extreme severity gave her courage. She knew
that it behoved her to fight for her husband when he was thus
attacked. Had Lady Lufton been moderate in her remarks Mrs. Robarts
would not have had a word to say.

"My husband may have been ill-judged," she said, "but he is no
hypocrite."

"Very well, my dear, I dare say you know better than I; but to me it
looks extremely like hypocrisy; eh, Justinia?

"Oh, mamma, do be moderate."

"Moderate! That's all very well. How is one to moderate one's
feelings when one has been betrayed?"

"You do not mean that Mr. Robarts has betrayed you?" said the wife.

"Oh, no; of course not." And then she went on reading the letter:
"'Seem to have been standing in judgement upon the duke.' Might he
not use the same argument as to going into any house in the kingdom,
however infamous? We must all stand in judgement one upon another in
that sense. 'Crawley!' Yes; if he were a little more like Mr. Crawley
it would be a good thing for me, and for the parish, and for you too,
my dear. God forgive me for bringing him here; that's all."

"Lady Lufton, I must say that you are very hard upon him--very hard.
I did not expect it from such a friend."

"My dear, you ought to know me well enough to be sure that I shall
speak my mind. 'Written to Jones'--yes; it is easy enough to write to
poor Jones. He had better write to Jones, and bid him do the whole
duty. Then he can go and be the duke's domestic chaplain."

"I believe my husband does as much of his own duty as any clergyman
in the whole diocese," said Mrs. Robarts, now again in tears.

"And you are to take his work in the school; you and Mrs. Podgens.
What with his curate and his wife and Mrs. Podgens, I don't see why
he should come back at all."

"Oh, mamma," said Justinia, "pray, pray don't be so harsh to her."

"Let me finish it, my dear;--oh, here I come. 'Tell her ladyship my
whereabouts.' He little thought you'd show me this letter."

"Didn't he?" said Mrs. Robarts, putting out her hand to get it back,
but in vain. "I thought it was for the best; I did indeed."

"I had better finish it now, if you please. What is this? How does
he dare send his ribald jokes to me in such a matter? No, I do not
suppose I ever shall like Dr. Proudie; I have never expected it. A
matter of conscience with him! Well--well, well. Had I not read it
myself, I could not have believed it of him. I would not positively
have believed it. 'Coming from my parish he could not go to the Duke
of Omnium!' And it is what I would wish to have said. People fit for
this parish should not be fit for the Duke of Omnium's house. And I
had trusted that he would have this feeling more strongly than any
one else in it. I have been deceived--that's all."

"He has done nothing to deceive you, Lady Lufton."

"I hope he will not have deceived you, my dear. 'More money;' yes,
it is probable that he will want more money. There is your letter,
Fanny. I am very sorry for it. I can say nothing more." And she
folded up the letter and gave it back to Mrs. Robarts.

"I thought it right to show it to you," said Mrs. Robarts.

"It did not much matter whether you did or no; of course I must have
been told."

"He especially begs me to tell you.

"Why, yes; he could not very well have kept me in the dark in such
a matter. He could not neglect his own work, and go and live with
gamblers and adulterers at the Duke of Omnium's without my knowing
it." And now Fanny Robarts's cup was full, full to the overflowing.
When she heard these words she forgot all about Lady Lufton, all
about Lady Meredith, and remembered only her husband--that he was her
husband, and, in spite of his faults, a good and loving husband;--and
that other fact also she remembered, that she was his wife.

"Lady Lufton," she said, "you forget yourself in speaking in that way
of my husband."

"What!" said her ladyship; "you are to show me such a letter as that,
and I am not to tell you what I think?"

"Not if you think such hard things as that. Even you are not
justified in speaking to me in that way, and I will not hear it."

"Heighty-tighty!" said her ladyship.

"Whether or no he is right in going to the Duke of Omnium's, I will
not pretend to judge. He is the judge of his own actions, and neither
you nor I."

"And when he leaves you with the butcher's bill unpaid and no money
to buy shoes for the children, who will be the judge then?"

"Not you, Lady Lufton. If such bad days should ever come--and neither
you nor I have a right to expect them--I will not come to you in my
troubles; not after this."

"Very well, my dear. You may go to the Duke of Omnium if that suits
you better."

"Fanny, come away," said Lady Meredith. "Why should you try to anger
my mother?"

"I don't want to anger her; but I won't hear him abused in that way
without speaking up for him. If I don't defend him, who will? Lady
Lufton has said terrible things about him; and they are not true."

"Oh, Fanny!" said Justinia.

"Very well, very well!" said Lady Lufton. "This is the sort of return
that one gets."

"I don't know what you mean by return, Lady Lufton: but would you
wish me to stand by quietly and hear such things said of my husband?
He does not live with such people as you have named. He does not
neglect his duties. If every clergyman were as much in his parish,
it would be well for some of them. And in going to such a house as
the Duke of Omnium's it does make a difference that he goes there
in company with the bishop. I can't explain why, but I know that it
does."

"Especially when the bishop is coupled up with the devil, as Mr.
Robarts has done," said Lady Lufton; "he can join the duke with them
and then they'll stand for the three Graces, won't they, Justinia?"
And Lady Lufton laughed a bitter little laugh at her own wit.

"I suppose I may go now, Lady Lufton."

"Oh, yes, certainly, my dear."

"I am sorry if I have made you angry with me; but I will not allow
any one to speak against Mr. Robarts without answering them. You have
been very unjust to him; and even though I do anger you, I must say
so."

"Come, Fanny; this is too bad," said Lady Lufton. "You have been
scolding me for the last half-hour because I would not congratulate
you on this new friend that your husband has made, and now you are
going to begin it all over again. That is more than I can stand. If
you have nothing else particular to say, you might as well leave me."
And Lady Lufton's face as she spoke was unbending, severe, and harsh.
Mrs. Robarts had never before been so spoken to by her old friend;
indeed, she had never been so spoken to by any one, and she hardly
knew how to bear herself.

"Very well, Lady Lufton," she said; "then I will go. Good-bye."

"Good-bye," said Lady Lufton, and turning herself to her table she
began to arrange her papers. Fanny had never before left Framley
Court to go back to her own parsonage without a warm embrace. Now she
was to do so without even having her hand taken. Had it come to this,
that there was absolutely to be a quarrel between them--a quarrel for
ever?

"Fanny is going, you know, mamma," said Lady Meredith. "She will be
home before you are down again."

"I cannot help it, my dear. Fanny must do as she pleases. I am not to
be the judge of her actions. She has just told me so." Mrs. Robarts
had said nothing of the kind, but she was far too proud to point this
out. So with a gentle step she retreated through the door, and then
Lady Meredith, having tried what a conciliatory whisper with her
mother would do, followed her. Alas, the conciliatory whisper was
altogether ineffectual.

The two ladies said nothing as they descended the stairs, but when
they had regained the drawing-room they looked with blank horror into
each other's faces. What were they to do now? Of such a tragedy as
this they had had no remotest preconception. Was it absolutely the
case that Fanny Robarts was to walk out of Lady Lufton's house as a
declared enemy--she who, before her marriage as well as since, had
been almost treated as an adopted daughter of the family?

"Oh, Fanny, why did you answer my mother in that way?" said Lady
Meredith. "You saw that she was vexed, She had other things to vex
her besides this about Mr. Robarts."

"And would not you answer any one who attacked Sir George?"

"No, not my own mother. I would let her say what she pleased, and
leave Sir George to fight his own battles."

"Ah, but it is different with you. You are her daughter, and Sir
George--she would not dare to speak in that way as to Sir George's
doings."

"Indeed she would, if it pleased her. I am sorry I let you go up to
her."

"It is as well that it should be over, Justinia. As those are her
thoughts about Mr. Robarts, it is quite as well that we should know
them. Even for all that I owe to her, and all the love I bear to you,
I will not come to this house if I am to hear my husband abused--not
into any house."

"My dearest Fanny, we all know what happens when two angry people get
together."

"I was not angry when I went up to her; not in the least."

"It is no good looking back. What are we to do now, Fanny?"

"I suppose I had better go home," said Mrs. Robarts. "I will go and
put my things up, and then I will send James for them."

"Wait till after lunch, and then you will be able to kiss my mother
before you leave us."

"No, Justinia; I cannot wait. I must answer Mr. Robarts by this post,
and I must think what I have to say to him. I could not write that
letter here, and the post goes at four." And Mrs. Robarts got up from
her chair, preparatory to her final departure.

"I shall come to you before dinner," said Lady Meredith; "and if I
can bring you good tidings, I shall expect you to come back here with
me. It is out of the question that I should go away from Framley
leaving you and my mother at enmity with each other." To this Mrs.
Robarts made no answer; and in a very few minutes afterwards she was
in her own nursery, kissing her children, and teaching the elder one
to say something about papa. But, even as she taught him, the tears
stood in her eyes, and the little fellow knew that everything was not
right. And there she sat till about two, doing little odds and ends
of things for the children, and allowing that occupation to stand
as an excuse to her for not commencing her letter. But then there
remained only two hours to her, and it might be that the letter would
be difficult in the writing--would require thought and changes, and
must needs be copied, perhaps, more than once. As to the money, that
she had in the house--as much, at least, as Mark now wanted, though
the sending of it would leave her nearly penniless. She could,
however, in case of personal need, resort to Davis as desired by him.

So she got out her desk in the drawing-room and sat down and wrote
her letter. It was difficult, though she found that it hardly took so
long as she expected. It was difficult, for she felt bound to tell
him the truth; and yet she was anxious not to spoil all his pleasure
among his friends. She told him, however, that Lady Lufton was very
angry, "unreasonably angry, I must say," she put in, in order to
show that she had not sided against him. "And, indeed, we have quite
quarrelled, and this has made me unhappy, as it will you, dearest; I
know that. But we both know how good she is at heart, and Justinia
thinks that she had other things to trouble her; and I hope it will
all be made up before you come home; only, dearest Mark, pray do not
be longer than you said in your last letter." And then there were
three or four paragraphs about the babies, and two about the schools,
which I may as well omit. She had just finished her letter, and was
carefully folding it for its envelope, with the two whole five-pound
notes imprudently placed within it, when she heard a footstep on the
gravel path which led up from a small wicket to the front door. The
path ran near the drawing-room window, and she was just in time
to catch a glimpse of the last fold of a passing cloak. "It is
Justinia," she said to herself; and her heart became disturbed at the
idea of again discussing the morning's adventure. "What am I to do,"
she had said to herself before, "if she wants me to beg her pardon? I
will not own before her that he is in the wrong."

And then the door opened--for the visitor made her entrance without
the aid of any servant--and Lady Lufton herself stood before her.
"Fanny," she said at once, "I have come to beg your pardon."

"Oh, Lady Lufton!"

"I was very much harassed when you came to me just now;--by more
things than one, my dear. But, nevertheless, I should not have spoken
to you of your husband as I did, and so I have come to beg your
pardon." Mrs. Robarts was past answering by the time that this was
said, past answering at least in words; so she jumped up, and with
her eyes full of tears, threw herself into her old friend's arms.
"Oh, Lady Lufton!" she sobbed forth again.

"You will forgive me, won't you?" said her ladyship, as she returned
her young friend's caress. "Well, that's right. I have not been at
all happy since you left my den this morning, and I don't suppose you
have. But, Fanny, dearest, we love each other too well, and know each
other too thoroughly, to have a long quarrel, don't we?"

"Oh, yes, Lady Lufton."

"Of course we do. Friends are not to be picked up on the road-side
every day; nor are they to be thrown away lightly. And now sit down,
my love, and let us have a little talk. There, I must take my bonnet
off. You have pulled the strings so that you have almost choked me."
And Lady Lufton deposited her bonnet on the table, and seated herself
comfortably in the corner of the sofa.

"My dear," she said, "there is no duty which any woman owes to any
other human being at all equal to that which she owes to her husband,
and, therefore, you were quite right to stand up for Mr. Robarts this
morning." Upon this Mrs. Robarts said nothing, but she got her hand
within that of her ladyship and gave it a slight squeeze.

"And I loved you for what you were doing all the time. I did, my
dear; though you were a little fierce, you know. Even Justinia admits
that, and she has been at me ever since you went away. And, indeed,
I did not know that it was in you to look in that way out of those
pretty eyes of yours."

"Oh, Lady Lufton!"

"But I looked fierce enough too myself, I dare say; so we'll say
nothing more about that; will we? But now, about this good man of
yours?"

"Dear Lady Lufton, you must forgive him."

"Well, as you ask me, I will. We'll have nothing more said about the
duke, either now or when he comes back; not a word. Let me see--he's
to be back;--when is it?"

"Wednesday week, I think."

"Ah, Wednesday. Well, tell him to come and dine up at the house on
Wednesday. He'll be in time, I suppose, and there shan't be a word
said about this horrid duke."

"I am so much obliged to you, Lady Lufton."

"But look here, my dear; believe me, he's better off without such
friends."

"Oh, I know he is; much better off."

"Well, I'm glad you admit that, for I thought you seemed to be in
favour of the duke."

"Oh, no, Lady Lufton."

"That's right, then. And now, if you'll take my advice, you'll use
your influence, as a good, dear sweet wife as you are, to prevent his
going there any more. I'm an old woman and he is a young man, and
it's very natural that he should think me behind the times. I'm not
angry at that. But he'll find that it's better for him, better for
him in every way, to stick to his old friends. It will be better for
his peace of mind, better for his character as a clergyman, better
for his pocket, better for his children and for you,--and better for
his eternal welfare. The duke is not such a companion as he should
seek;--nor, if he is sought, should he allow himself to be led away."
And then Lady Lufton ceased, and Fanny Robarts kneeling at her feet
sobbed, with her face hidden on her friend's knees. She had not
a word now to say as to her husband's capability of judging for
himself.

"And now I must be going again; but Justinia has made me
promise,--promise, mind you, most solemnly, that I would have you
back to dinner to-night,--by force if necessary. It was the only
way I could make my peace with her; so you must not leave me in the
lurch." Of course, Fanny said that she would go and dine at Framley
Court.

"And you must not send that letter, by any means," said her ladyship
as she was leaving the room, poking with her umbrella at the epistle,
which lay directed on Mis. Robarts's desk. "I can understand very
well what it contains. You must alter it altogether, my dear." And
then Lady Lufton went.

Mrs. Robarts instantly rushed to her desk and tore open her letter.
She looked at her watch and it was past four. She had hardly begun
another when the postman came. "Oh, Mary," she said, "do make him
wait. If he'll wait a quarter of an hour I'll give him a shilling."

"There's no need of that, ma'am. Let him have a glass of beer."

"Very well, Mary; but don't give him too much, for fear he should
drop the letters about. I'll be ready in ten minutes." And in five
minutes she had scrawled a very different sort of letter. But he
might want the money immediately, so she would not delay it for a
day.



CHAPTER VI

Mr. Harold Smith's Lecture


On the whole the party at Chaldicotes was very pleasant, and the
time passed away quickly enough. Mr. Robarts's chief friend there,
independently of Mr. Sowerby, was Miss Dunstable, who seemed to
take a great fancy to him, whereas she was not very accessible to
the blandishments of Mr. Supplehouse, nor more specially courteous
even to her host than good manners required of her. But then Mr.
Supplehouse and Mr. Sowerby were both bachelors, while Mark Robarts
was a married man. With Mr. Sowerby Robarts had more than one
communication respecting Lord Lufton and his affairs, which he would
willingly have avoided had it been possible. Sowerby was one of those
men who are always mixing up business with pleasure, and who have
usually some scheme in their mind which requires forwarding. Men of
this class have, as a rule, no daily work, no regular routine of
labour; but it may be doubted whether they do not toil much more
incessantly than those who have.

"Lufton is so dilatory," Mr. Sowerby said. "Why did he not arrange
this at once, when he promised it? And then he is so afraid of that
old woman at Framley Court. Well, my dear fellow, say what you will;
she is an old woman, and she'll never be younger. But do write to
Lufton, and tell him that this delay is inconvenient to me; he'll
do anything for you, I know." Mark said that he would write, and,
indeed, did do so; but he did not at first like the tone of the
conversation into which he was dragged. It was very painful to him to
hear Lady Lufton called an old woman, and hardly less so to discuss
the propriety of Lord Lufton's parting with his property. This was
irksome to him, till habit made it easy. But by degrees his feelings
became less acute, and he accustomed himself to his friend Sowerby's
mode of talking.

And then on Saturday afternoon they all went over to Barchester.
Harold Smith during the last forty-eight hours had become crammed
to overflowing with Sarawak, Labuan, New Guinea, and the Salomon
Islands. As is the case with all men labouring under temporary
specialities, he for the time had faith in nothing else, and was
not content that any one near him should have any other faith. They
called him Viscount Papua and Baron Borneo; and his wife, who headed
the joke against him, insisted on having her title. Miss Dunstable
swore that she would wed none but a South Sea islander; and to Mark
was offered the income and duties of Bishop of Spices. Nor did the
Proudie family set themselves against these little sarcastic quips
with any overwhelming severity. It is sweet to unbend oneself at the
proper opportunity, and this was the proper opportunity for Mrs.
Proudie's unbending. No mortal can be seriously wise at all hours;
and in these happy hours did that usually wise mortal, the bishop,
lay aside for awhile his serious wisdom.

"We think of dining at five to-morrow, my Lady Papua," said the
facetious bishop; "will that suit his lordship and the affairs of
State? he! he! he!" And the good prelate laughed at the fun. How
pleasantly young men and women of fifty or thereabouts can joke and
flirt and poke their fun about, laughing and holding their sides,
dealing in little innuendoes and rejoicing in nicknames, when they
have no Mentors of twenty-five or thirty near them to keep them in
order! The vicar of Framley might perhaps have been regarded as such
a Mentor, were it not for that capability of adapting himself to the
company immediately around him on which he so much piqued himself.
He therefore also talked to my Lady Papua, and was jocose about
the Baron,--not altogether to the satisfaction of Mr. Harold Smith
himself. For Mr. Harold Smith was in earnest, and did not quite
relish these jocundities. He had an idea that he could in about three
months talk the British world into civilizing New Guinea, and that
the world of Barsetshire would be made to go with him by one night's
efforts. He did not understand why others should be less serious, and
was inclined to resent somewhat stiffly the amenities of our friend
Mark.

"We must not keep the Baron waiting," said Mark, as they were
preparing to start for Barchester.

"I don't know what you mean by the Baron, sir," said Harold Smith.
"But perhaps the joke will be against you, when you are getting up
into your pulpit to-morrow, and sending the hat round among the
clod-hoppers of Chaldicotes."

"Those who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones; eh, Baron?"
said Miss Dunstable. "Mr. Robarts's sermon will be too near akin to
your lecture to allow of his laughing."

"If we can do nothing towards instructing the outer world till it's
done by the parsons," said Harold Smith, "the outer world will have
to wait a long time, I fear."

"Nobody can do anything of that kind short of a member of Parliament
and a would-be minister," whispered Mrs. Harold. And so they were all
very pleasant together, in spite of a little fencing with edge-tools;
and at three o'clock the _cortége_ of carriages started for
Barchester, that of the bishop, of course, leading the way. His
lordship, however, was not in it.

"Mrs. Proudie, I'm sure you'll let me go with you," said Miss
Dunstable, at the last moment, as she came down the big stone steps.
"I want to hear the rest of that story about Mr. Slope." Now this
upset everything. The bishop was to have gone with his wife, Mrs.
Smith, and Mark Robarts; and Mr. Sowerby had so arranged matters that
he could have accompanied Miss Dunstable in his phaeton. But no one
ever dreamed of denying Miss Dunstable anything. Of course Mark gave
way; but it ended in the bishop declaring that he had no special
predilection for his own carriage, which he did in compliance with
a glance from his wife's eye. Then other changes of course followed,
and, at last, Mr. Sowerby and Harold Smith were the joint occupants
of the phaeton. The poor lecturer, as he seated himself, made some
remark such as those he had been making for the last two days--for
out of a full heart the mouth speaketh. But he spoke to an impatient
listener. "D---- the South Sea islanders," said Mr. Sowerby.
"You'll have it all your own way in a few minutes, like a bull in a
china-shop; but for Heaven's sake let us have a little peace till
that time comes." It appeared that Mr. Sowerby's little plan of
having Miss Dunstable for his companion was not quite insignificant;
and, indeed, it may be said that but few of his little plans were
so. At the present moment he flung himself back in the carriage
and prepared for sleep. He could further no plan of his by a
_tête-à-tête_ conversation with his brother-in-law. And then Mrs.
Proudie began her story about Mr. Slope, or rather recommenced it.
She was very fond of talking about this gentleman, who had once been
her pet chaplain, but was now her bitterest foe; and in telling the
story, she had sometimes to whisper to Miss Dunstable, for there
were one or two fie-fie little anecdotes about a married lady, not
altogether fit for young Mr. Robarts's ears. But Mrs. Harold Smith
insisted on having them out loud, and Miss Dunstable would gratify
that lady in spite of Mrs. Proudie's winks.

"What, kissing her hand, and he a clergyman!" said Miss Dunstable.
"I did not think they ever did such things, Mr. Robarts."

"Still waters run deepest," said Mrs. Harold Smith.

"Hush-h-h," looked, rather than spoke, Mrs. Proudie. "The grief
of spirit which that bad man caused me nearly broke my heart, and
all the while, you know, he was courting--" and then Mrs. Proudie
whispered a name.

"What, the dean's wife!" shouted Miss Dunstable, in a voice which
made the coachman of the next carriage give a chuck to his horses as
he overheard her.

"The archdeacon's sister-in-law!" screamed Mrs. Harold Smith.

"What might he not have attempted next?" said Miss Dunstable.

"She wasn't the dean's wife then, you know," said Mrs. Proudie,
explaining.

"Well, you've a gay set in the chapter, I must say," said Miss
Dunstable. "You ought to make one of them in Barchester, Mr.
Robarts."

"Only perhaps Mrs. Robarts might not like it," said Mrs. Harold
Smith.

"And then the schemes which he tried on with the bishop!" said Mrs.
Proudie.

"It's all fair in love and war, you know," said Miss Dunstable.

"But he little knew whom he had to deal with when he began that,"
said Mrs. Proudie.

"The bishop was too many for him," suggested Mrs. Harold Smith, very
maliciously.

"If the bishop was not, somebody else was; and he was obliged to
leave Barchester in utter disgrace. He has since married the wife of
some tallow-chandler."

"The wife!" said Miss Dunstable. "What a man!"

"Widow, I mean; but it's all one to him."

"The gentleman was clearly born when Venus was in the ascendant,"
said Mrs. Smith. "You clergymen usually are, I believe, Mr. Robarts."
So that Mrs. Proudie's carriage was by no means the dullest as they
drove into Barchester that day; and by degrees our friend Mark became
accustomed to his companions, and before they reached the palace he
acknowledged to himself that Miss Dunstable was very good fun. We
cannot linger over the bishop's dinner, though it was very good of
its kind; and as Mr. Sowerby contrived to sit next to Miss Dunstable,
thereby overturning a little scheme made by Mr. Supplehouse, he again
shone forth in unclouded good humour. But Mr. Harold Smith became
impatient immediately on the withdrawal of the cloth. The lecture was
to begin at seven, and according to his watch that hour had already
come. He declared that Sowerby and Supplehouse were endeavouring to
delay matters in order that the Barchesterians might become vexed
and impatient; and so the bishop was not allowed to exercise his
hospitality in true episcopal fashion.

"You forget, Sowerby," said Supplehouse, "that the world here for the
last fortnight has been looking forward to nothing else."

"The world shall be gratified at once," said Mrs. Harold, obeying a
little nod from Mrs. Proudie. "Come, my dear," and she took hold of
Miss Dunstable's arm, "don't let us keep Barchester waiting. We shall
be ready in a quarter of an hour, shall we not, Mrs. Proudie?" and so
they sailed off.

"And we shall have time for one glass of claret," said the bishop.

"There; that's seven by the cathedral," said Harold Smith, jumping
up from his chair as he heard the clock. "If the people have come it
would not be right in me to keep them waiting, and I shall go."

"Just one glass of claret, Mr. Smith, and we'll be off," said the
bishop.

"Those women will keep me an hour," said Harold, filling his glass,
and drinking it standing. "They do it on purpose," He was thinking
of his wife, but it seemed to the bishop as though his guest were
actually speaking of Mrs. Proudie.

It was rather late when they all found themselves in the big room of
the Mechanics' Institute; but I do not know whether this on the whole
did them any harm. Most of Mr. Smith's hearers, excepting the party
from the palace, were Barchester tradesmen with their wives and
families; and they waited, not impatiently, for the big people. And
then the lecture was gratis, a fact which is always borne in mind
by an Englishman when he comes to reckon up and calculate the way
in which he is treated. When he pays his money, then he takes his
choice; he may be impatient or not as he likes. His sense of justice
teaches him so much, and in accordance with that sense he usually
acts. So the people on the benches rose graciously when the palace
party entered the room. Seats for them had been kept in the front.
There were three arm-chairs, which were filled, after some little
hesitation, by the bishop, Mrs. Proudie, and Miss Dunstable--Mrs.
Smith positively declining to take one of them; though, as she
admitted, her rank as Lady Papua of the islands did give her some
claim. And this remark, as it was made quite out loud, reached Mr.
Smith's ears as he stood behind a little table on a small raised
dais, holding his white kid gloves; and it annoyed him and rather put
him out. He did not like that joke about Lady Papua. And then the
others of the party sat upon a front bench covered with red cloth.
"We shall find this very hard and very narrow about the second hour,"
said Mr. Sowerby, and Mr. Smith on his dais again overheard the
words, and dashed his gloves down to the table. He felt that all the
room would hear it.

And there were one or two gentlemen on the second seat who shook
hands with some of our party. There was Mr. Thorne, of Ullathorne,
a good-natured old bachelor, whose residence was near enough
to Barchester to allow of his coming in without much personal
inconvenience; and next to him was Mr. Harding, an old clergyman
of the chapter, with whom Mrs. Proudie shook hands very graciously,
making way for him to seat himself close behind her if he would so
please. But Mr. Harding did not so please. Having paid his respects
to the bishop he returned quietly to the side of his old friend Mr.
Thorne, thereby angering Mrs. Proudie, as might easily be seen by her
face. And Mr. Chadwick also was there, the episcopal man of business
for the diocese; but he also adhered to the two gentlemen above
named. And now that the bishop and the ladies had taken their places,
Mr. Harold Smith relifted his gloves and again laid them down, hummed
three times distinctly, and then began.

"It was," he said, "the most peculiar characteristic of the present
era in the British islands that those who were high placed before the
world in rank, wealth, and education were willing to come forward
and give their time and knowledge without fee or reward, for the
advantage and amelioration of those who did not stand so high in the
social scale." And then he paused for a moment, during which Mrs.
Smith remarked to Miss Dunstable that that was pretty well for a
beginning; and Miss Dunstable replied, "that as for herself she felt
very grateful to rank, wealth, and education." Mr. Sowerby winked
to Mr. Supplehouse, who opened his eyes very wide and shrugged his
shoulders. But the Barchesterians took it all in good part and gave
the lecturer the applause of their hands and feet. And then, well
pleased, he recommenced--"I do not make these remarks with reference
to myself--"

"I hope he's not going to be modest," said Miss Dunstable.

"It will be quite new if he is," replied Mrs. Smith.

"--so much as to many noble and talented lords and members of the
lower House who have lately from time to time devoted themselves to
this good work." And then he went through a long list of peers and
members of Parliament, beginning, of course, with Lord Boanerges, and
ending with Mr. Green Walker, a young gentleman who had lately been
returned by his uncle's interest for the borough of Crewe Junction,
and had immediately made his entrance into public life by giving a
lecture on the grammarians of the Latin language as exemplified at
Eton School. "On the present occasion," Mr. Smith continued, "our
object is to learn something as to those grand and magnificent
islands which lie far away, beyond the Indies, in the Southern Ocean;
the lands of which produce rich spices and glorious fruits, and whose
seas are embedded with pearls and corals,--Papua and the Philippines,
Borneo and the Moluccas. My friends, you are familiar with your maps,
and you know the track which the equator makes for itself through
those distant oceans." And then many heads were turned down, and
there was a rustle of leaves; for not a few of those "who stood not
so high in the social scale" had brought their maps with them, and
refreshed their memories as to the whereabouts of these wondrous
islands.

And then Mr. Smith also, with a map in his hand, and pointing
occasionally to another large map which hung against the wall, went
into the geography of the matter. "We might have found that out from
our atlases, I think, without coming all the way to Barchester,"
said that unsympathizing helpmate, Mrs. Harold, very cruelly--most
illogically too, for there be so many things which we could find out
ourselves by search, but which we never do find out unless they be
specially told us; and why should not the latitude and longitude of
Labuan be one--or rather two of these things? And then, when he had
duly marked the path of the line through Borneo, Celebes, and Gilolo,
through the Macassar Strait and the Molucca passage, Mr. Harold
Smith rose to a higher flight. "But what," said he, "avails all
that God can give to man, unless man will open his hand to receive
the gift? And what is this opening of the hand but the process of
civilization--yes, my friends, the process of civilization? These
South Sea islanders have all that a kind Providence can bestow on
them; but that all is as nothing without education. That education
and that civilization it is for you to bestow upon them--yes, my
friends, for you; for you, citizens of Barchester as you are." And
then he paused again, in order that the feet and hands might go to
work. The feet and hands did go to work, during which Mr. Smith took
a slight drink of water. He was now quite in his element, and had
got into the proper way of punching the table with his fists. A few
words dropping from Mr. Sowerby did now and again find their way to
his ears, but the sound of his own voice had brought with it the
accustomed charm, and he ran on from platitude to truism, and from
truism back to platitude, with an eloquence that was charming to
himself.

"Civilization," he exclaimed, lifting up his eyes and hands to the
ceiling. "O Civilization--"

"There will not be a chance for us now for the next hour and a half,"
said Mr. Supplehouse, groaning. Harold Smith cast one eye down at
him, but it immediately flew back to the ceiling.

"O Civilization! thou that ennoblest mankind and makest him equal to
the gods, what is like unto thee?" Here Mrs. Proudie showed evident
signs of disapprobation, which no doubt would have been shared by
the bishop, had not that worthy prelate been asleep. But Mr. Smith
continued unobservant; or at any rate regardless. "What is like unto
thee? Thou art the irrigating stream which makest fertile the barren
plain. Till thou comest all is dark and dreary; but at thy advent the
noontide sun shines out, the earth gives forth her increase; the deep
bowels of the rocks render up their tribute. Forms which were dull
and hideous become endowed with grace and beauty, and vegetable
existence rises to the scale of celestial life. Then, too, Genius
appears clad in a panoply of translucent armour, grasping in his
hand the whole terrestrial surface, and making every rood of earth
subservient to his purposes;--Genius, the child of Civilization, the
mother of the Arts!" The last little bit, taken from the "Pedigree
of Progress," had a great success, and all Barchester went to work
with its hands and feet;--all Barchester, except that ill-natured
aristocratic front-row together with the three arm-chairs at the
corner of it. The aristocratic front row felt itself to be too
intimate with civilization to care much about it; and the three
arm-chairs, or rather that special one which contained Mrs.
Proudie, considered that there was a certain heathenness, a pagan
sentimentality almost amounting to infidelity, contained in the
lecturer's remarks, with which she, a pillar of the Church, could not
put up, seated as she was now in public conclave.

"It is to civilization that we must look," continued Mr. Harold
Smith, descending from poetry to prose as a lecturer well knows how,
and thereby showing the value of both--"for any material progress in
these islands; and--"

"And to Christianity," shouted Mrs. Proudie, to the great amazement
of the assembled people, and to the thorough wakening of the bishop,
who, jumping up in his chair at the sound of the well-known voice,
exclaimed, "Certainly, certainly."

"Hear, hear, hear," said those on the benches who particularly
belonged to Mrs. Proudie's school of divinity in the city, and among
the voices was distinctly heard that of a new verger in whose behalf
she had greatly interested herself.

"Oh, yes, Christianity of course," said Harold Smith, upon whom the
interruption did not seem to operate favourably.

"Christianity and Sabbath-day observance," exclaimed Mrs. Proudie,
who, now that she had obtained the ear of the public, seemed well
inclined to keep it. "Let us never forget that these islanders can
never prosper unless they keep the Sabbath holy." Poor Mr. Smith,
having been so rudely dragged from his high horse, was never able
to mount it again, and completed the lecture in a manner not at all
comfortable to himself. He had there, on the table before him, a huge
bundle of statistics, with which he had meant to convince the reason
of his hearers, after he had taken full possession of their feelings.
But they fell very dull and flat. And at the moment when he was
interrupted, he was about to explain that that material progress to
which he had alluded could not be attained without money; and that it
behoved them, the people of Barchester before him, to come forward
with their purses like men and brothers. He did also attempt this;
but from the moment of that fatal onslaught from the arm-chair,
it was clear to him, and to every one else, that Mrs. Proudie was
now the hero of the hour. His time had gone by, and the people of
Barchester did not care a straw for his appeal. From these causes
the lecture was over full twenty minutes earlier than any one had
expected, to the great delight of Messrs. Sowerby and Supplehouse,
who, on that evening, moved and carried a vote of thanks to Mrs.
Proudie. For they had gay doings yet before they went to their beds.

"Robarts, here one moment," Mr. Sowerby said, as they were standing
at the door of the Mechanics' Institute. "Don't you go off with Mr.
and Mrs. Bishop. We are going to have a little supper at the Dragon
of Wantly, and, after what we have gone through, upon my word we want
it. You can tell one of the palace servants to let you in." Mark
considered the proposal wistfully. He would fain have joined the
supper party had he dared; but he, like many others of his cloth, had
the fear of Mrs. Proudie before his eyes. And a very merry supper
they had; but poor Mr. Harold Smith was not the merriest of the
party.



CHAPTER VII

Sunday Morning


It was, perhaps, quite as well on the whole for Mark Robarts, that he
did not go to that supper party. It was eleven o'clock before they
sat down and nearly two before the gentlemen were in bed. It must
be remembered that he had to preach, on the coming Sunday morning,
a charity sermon on behalf of a mission to Mr. Harold Smith's
islanders; and, to tell the truth, it was a task for which he had
now very little inclination. When first invited to do this, he had
regarded the task seriously enough, as he always did regard such
work, and he completed his sermon for the occasion before he left
Framley; but, since that, an air of ridicule had been thrown over the
whole affair, in which he had joined without much thinking of his own
sermon, and this made him now heartily wish that he could choose a
discourse upon any other subject. He knew well that the very points
on which he had most insisted, were those which had drawn most mirth
from Miss Dunstable and Mrs. Smith, and had oftenest provoked his own
laughter; and how was he now to preach on those matters in a fitting
mood, knowing, as he would know, that those two ladies would be
looking at him, would endeavour to catch his eye, and would turn him
into ridicule as they had already turned the lecturer? In this he did
injustice to one of the ladies, unconsciously. Miss Dunstable, with
all her aptitude for mirth, and we may almost fairly say for frolic,
was in no way inclined to ridicule religion or anything which she
thought to appertain to it. It may be presumed that among such things
she did not include Mrs. Proudie, as she was willing enough to laugh
at that lady; but Mark, had he known her better, might have been sure
that she would have sat out his sermon with perfect propriety.

As it was, however, he did feel considerable uneasiness; and in the
morning he got up early, with the view of seeing what might be done
in the way of emendation. He cut out those parts which referred most
specially to the islands,--he rejected altogether those names over
which they had all laughed together so heartily,--and he inserted a
string of general remarks, very useful, no doubt, which he flattered
himself would rob his sermon of all similarity to Harold Smith's
lecture. He had, perhaps, hoped, when writing it, to create some
little sensation; but now he would be quite satisfied if it passed
without remark. But his troubles for that Sunday were destined to
be many. It had been arranged that the party at the hotel should
breakfast at eight and start at half-past eight punctually, so as
to enable them to reach Chaldicotes in ample time to arrange their
dresses before they went to church. The church stood in the grounds,
close to that long formal avenue of lime trees, but within the front
gates. Their walk, therefore, after reaching Mr. Sowerby's house,
would not be long.

Mrs. Proudie, who was herself an early body, would not hear of her
guest--and he a clergyman--going out to the inn for his breakfast
on a Sunday morning. As regarded that Sabbath-day journey to
Chaldicotes, to that she had given her assent, no doubt with much
uneasiness of mind; but let them have as little desecration as
possible. It was therefore an understood thing that he was to return
with his friends; but he should not go without the advantage of
family prayers and family breakfast. And so Mrs. Proudie on retiring
to rest gave the necessary orders, to the great annoyance of her
household.

To the great annoyance, at least, of her servants! The bishop himself
did not make his appearance till a much later hour. He in all things
now supported his wife's rule; in all things, now, I say; for
there had been a moment, when in the first flush and pride of his
episcopacy, other ideas had filled his mind. Now, however, he gave no
opposition to that good woman with whom Providence had blessed him;
and in return for such conduct that good woman administered in all
things to his little personal comforts. With what surprise did the
bishop now look back upon that unholy war which he had once been
tempted to wage against the wife of his bosom? Nor did any of the
Miss Proudies show themselves at that early hour. They, perhaps, were
absent on a different ground. With them Mrs. Proudie had not been
so successful as with the bishop. They had wills of their own which
became stronger and stronger every day. Of the three with whom Mrs.
Proudie was blessed one was already in a position to exercise that
will in a legitimate way over a very excellent young clergyman in
the diocese, the Rev. Optimus Grey; but the other two, having as yet
no such opening for their powers of command, were perhaps a little
too much inclined to keep themselves in practice at home. But at
half-past seven punctually Mrs. Proudie was there, and so was the
domestic chaplain; so was Mr. Robarts, and so were the household
servants--all excepting one lazy recreant. "Where is Thomas?" said
she of the Argus eyes, standing up with her book of family prayers in
her hand. "So please you, ma'am, Tummas be bad with the tooth-ache."
"Tooth-ache!" exclaimed Mrs. Proudie; but her eyes said more terrible
things than that. "Let Thomas come to me before church." And then
they proceeded to prayers. These were read by the chaplain, as it was
proper and decent that they should be: but I cannot but think that
Mrs. Proudie a little exceeded her office in taking upon herself
to pronounce the blessing when the prayers were over. She did it,
however, in a clear, sonorous voice, and perhaps with more personal
dignity than was within the chaplain's compass.

Mrs. Proudie was rather stern at breakfast, and the vicar of Framley
felt an unaccountable desire to get out of the house. In the first
place she was not dressed with her usual punctilious attention to the
proprieties of her high situation. It was evident that there was to
be a further toilet before she sailed up the middle of the cathedral
choir. She had on a large loose cap with no other strings than those
which were wanted for tying it beneath her chin, a cap with which the
household and the chaplain were well acquainted, but which seemed
ungracious in the eyes of Mr. Robarts after all the well-dressed
holiday doings of the last week. She wore also a large, loose,
dark-coloured wrapper, which came well up round her neck, and which
was not buoyed out, as were her dresses in general, with an under
mechanism of petticoats. It clung to her closely, and added to the
inflexibility of her general appearance. And then she had encased her
feet in large carpet slippers, which no doubt were comfortable, but
which struck her visitor as being strange and unsightly. "Do you
find a difficulty in getting your people together for early morning
prayers?" she said, as she commenced her operations with the teapot.

"I can't say that I do," said Mark. "But then we are seldom so early
as this."

"Parish clergymen should be early, I think," said she. "It sets a
good example in the village."

"I am thinking of having morning prayers in the church," said Mr.
Robarts.

"That's nonsense," said Mrs. Proudie, "and usually means worse than
nonsense. I know what that comes to. If you have three services on
Sunday and domestic prayers at home, you do very well." And so saying
she handed him his cup.

"But I have not three services on Sunday, Mrs. Proudie."

"Then I think you should have. Where can the poor people be so well
off on Sundays as in church? The bishop intends to express a very
strong opinion on this subject in his next charge; and then I am sure
you will attend to his wishes." To this Mark made no answer, but
devoted himself to his egg.

"I suppose you have not a very large establishment at Framley?" asked
Mrs. Proudie.

"What, at the parsonage?"

"Yes; you live at the parsonage, don't you?"

"Certainly--well; not very large, Mrs. Proudie; just enough to do the
work, make things comfortable, and look after the children."

"It is a very fine living," said she; "very fine. I don't remember
that we have anything so good ourselves,--except it is Plumstead, the
archdeacon's place. He has managed to butter his bread pretty well."

"His father was Bishop of Barchester."

"Oh, yes, I know all about him. Only for that he would barely have
risen to be an archdeacon, I suspect. Let me see; yours is £800, is
it not, Mr. Robarts? And you such a young man! I suppose you have
insured your life highly."

"Pretty well, Mrs. Proudie."

"And then, too, your wife had some little fortune, had she not? We
cannot all fall on our feet like that; can we, Mr. White?" and Mrs.
Proudie in her playful way appealed to the chaplain. Mrs. Proudie
was an imperious woman; but then so also was Lady Lufton; and it may
therefore he said that Mr. Robarts ought to have been accustomed to
feminine domination; but as he sat there munching his toast he could
not but make a comparison between the two. Lady Lufton in her little
attempts sometimes angered him; but he certainly thought, comparing
the lay lady and the clerical together, that the rule of the former
was the lighter and the pleasanter. But then Lady Lufton had given
him a living and a wife, and Mrs. Proudie had given him nothing.
Immediately after breakfast Mr. Robarts escaped to the Dragon of
Wantly, partly because he had had enough of the matutinal Mrs.
Proudie, and partly also in order that he might hurry his friends
there. He was already becoming fidgety about the time, as Harold
Smith had been on the preceding evening, and he did not give Mrs.
Smith credit for much punctuality. When he arrived at the inn he
asked if they had done breakfast, and was immediately told that not
one of them was yet down. It was already half-past eight, and they
ought to be now under weigh on the road. He immediately went to Mr.
Sowerby's room, and found that gentleman shaving himself. "Don't be a
bit uneasy," said Mr. Sowerby. "You and Smith shall have my phaeton,
and those horses will take you there in an hour. Not, however, but
what we shall all be in time. We'll send round to the whole party and
ferret them out." And then Mr. Sowerby, having evoked manifold aid
with various peals of the bell, sent messengers, male and female,
flying to all the different rooms.

"I think I'll hire a gig and go over at once," said Mark. "It would
not do for me to be late, you know."

"It won't do for any of us to be late; and it's all nonsense about
hiring a gig. It would be just throwing a sovereign away, and we
should pass you on the road. Go down and see that the tea is made,
and all that; and make them have the bill ready; and, Robarts, you
may pay it too, if you like it. But I believe we may as well leave
that to Baron Borneo--eh?" And then Mark did go down and make the
tea, and he did order the bill; and then he walked about the room,
looking at his watch, and nervously waiting for the footsteps of his
friends. And as he was so employed, he bethought himself whether it
was fit that he should be so doing on a Sunday morning; whether it
was good that he should be waiting there, in painful anxiety, to
gallop over a dozen miles in order that he might not be too late with
his sermon; whether his own snug room at home, with Fanny opposite to
him, and his bairns crawling on the floor, with his own preparations
for his own quiet service, and the warm pressure of Lady Lufton's
hand when that service should be over, was not better than all this.
He could not afford not to know Harold Smith, and Mr. Sowerby, and
the Duke of Omnium, he had said to himself. He had to look to rise
in the world, as other men did. But what pleasure had come to him
as yet from these intimacies? How much had he hitherto done towards
his rising? To speak the truth he was not over well pleased with
himself, as he made Mrs. Harold Smith's tea and ordered Mr. Sowerby's
mutton-chops on that Sunday morning.

At a little after nine they all assembled; but even then he could
not make the ladies understand that there was any cause for hurry;
at least Mrs. Smith, who was the leader of the party, would not
understand it. When Mark again talked of hiring a gig, Miss Dunstable
indeed said that she would join him; and seemed to be so far earnest
in the matter that Mr. Sowerby hurried through his second egg in
order to prevent such a catastrophe. And then Mark absolutely did
order the gig; whereupon Mrs. Smith remarked that in such case she
need not hurry herself; but the waiter brought up word that all
the horses of the hotel were out, excepting one pair, neither of
which could go in single harness. Indeed, half of their stable
establishment was already secured by Mr. Sowerby's own party. "Then
let me have the pair," said Mark, almost frantic with delay.

"Nonsense, Robarts; we are ready now. He won't want them, James.
Come, Supplehouse, have you done?"

"Then I am to hurry myself, am I?" said Mrs. Harold Smith. "What
changeable creatures you men are! May I be allowed half a cup more
tea, Mr. Robarts?" Mark, who was now really angry, turned away to
the window. There was no charity in these people, he said to himself.
They knew the nature of his distress, and yet they only laughed at
him. He did not, perhaps, reflect that he had assisted in the joke
against Harold Smith on the previous evening. "James," said he,
turning to the waiter, "let me have that pair of horses immediately,
if you please."

"Yes, sir; round in fifteen minutes, sir: only Ned, sir, the
post-boy, sir; I fear he's at his breakfast, sir; but we'll have him
here in less than no time, sir!" But before Ned and the pair were
there, Mrs. Smith had absolutely got her bonnet on, and at ten they
started. Mark did share the phaeton with Harold Smith, but the
phaeton did not go any faster than the other carriages. They led the
way, indeed, but that was all; and when the vicar's watch told him
that it was eleven, they were still a mile from Chaldicotes gate,
although the horses were in a lather of steam; and they had only just
entered the village when the church bells ceased to be heard.

"Come, you are in time, after all," said Harold Smith. "Better time
than I was last night." Robarts could not explain to him that the
entry of a clergyman into church, of a clergyman who is going to
assist in the service, should not be made at the last minute, that it
should be staid and decorous, and not done in scrambling haste, with
running feet and scant breath.

"I suppose we'll stop here, sir," said the postilion, as he pulled up
his horses short at the church-door, in the midst of the people who
were congregated together ready for the service. But Mark had not
anticipated being so late, and said at first that it was necessary
that he should go on to the house; then, when the horses had again
begun to move, he remembered that he could send for his gown, and
as he got out of the carriage he gave his orders accordingly. And
now the other two carriages were there, and so there was a noise
and confusion at the door--very unseemly, as Mark felt it; and the
gentlemen spoke in loud voices, and Mrs. Harold Smith declared that
she had no Prayer-Book, and was much too tired to go in at present;
she would go home and rest herself, she said. And two other ladies
of the party did so also, leaving Miss Dunstable to go alone;--for
which, however, she did not care one button. And then one of the
party, who had a nasty habit of swearing, cursed at something as
he walked in close to Mark's elbow; and so they made their way up
the church as the Absolution was being read, and Mark Robarts felt
thoroughly ashamed of himself. If his rising in the world brought
him in contact with such things as these, would it not be better for
him that he should do without rising? His sermon went off without
any special notice. Mrs. Harold Smith was not there, much to his
satisfaction; and the others who were did not seem to pay any special
attention to it. The subject had lost its novelty, except with the
ordinary church congregation, the farmers and labourers of the
parish; and the "quality" in the squire's great pew were content
to show their sympathy by a moderate subscription. Miss Dunstable,
however, gave a ten-pound note, which swelled up the sum total to a
respectable amount--for such a place as Chaldicotes.

"And now I hope I may never hear another word about New Guinea," said
Mr. Sowerby, as they all clustered round the drawing-room fire after
church. "That subject may be regarded as having been killed and
buried; eh, Harold?"

"Certainly murdered last night," said Mrs. Harold, "by that awful
woman, Mrs. Proudie."

"I wonder you did not make a dash at her and pull her out of the
arm-chair," said Miss Dunstable. "I was expecting it, and thought
that I should come to grief in the scrimmage."

"I never knew a lady do such a brazen-faced thing before," said Miss
Kerrigy, a travelling friend of Miss Dunstable's.

"Nor I--never; in a public place, too," said Dr. Easyman, a medical
gentleman, who also often accompanied her.

"As for brass," said Mr. Supplehouse, "she would never stop at
anything for want of that. It is well that she has enough, for the
poor bishop is but badly provided."

"I hardly heard what it was she did say," said Harold Smith; "so I
could not answer her, you know. Something about Sundays, I believe."

"She hoped you would not put the South Sea islanders up to Sabbath
travelling," said Mr. Sowerby.

"And specially begged that you would establish Lord's-day schools,"
said Mrs. Smith; and then they all went to work and picked Mrs.
Proudie to pieces from the top ribbon of her cap down to the sole of
her slipper.

"And then she expects the poor parsons to fall in love with her
daughters. That's the hardest thing of all," said Miss Dunstable.
But, on the whole, when our vicar went to bed he did not feel that he
had spent a profitable Sunday.



CHAPTER VIII

Gatherum Castle


On the Tuesday morning Mark did receive his wife's letter, and the
ten-pound note, whereby a strong proof was given of the honesty of
the post-office people in Barsetshire. That letter, written as it
had been in a hurry, while Robin post-boy was drinking a single mug
of beer,--well, what of it if it was half filled a second time?--was
nevertheless eloquent of his wife's love and of her great triumph.
"I have only half a moment to send you the money," she said, "for
the postman is here waiting. When I see you I'll explain why I am so
hurried. Let me know that you get it safe. It is all right now, and
Lady Lufton was here not a minute ago. She did not quite like it;
about Gatherum Castle, I mean; but you'll hear nothing about it. Only
remember that _you must dine_ at Framley Court on Wednesday week. _I
have promised for you._ You will; won't you, dearest? I shall come
and fetch you away if you attempt to stay longer than you have said.
But I'm sure you won't. God bless you, my own one! Mr. Jones gave us
the same sermon he preached the second Sunday after Easter. Twice in
the same year is too often. God bless you! The children _are quite
well_. Mark sends a big kiss.--Your own F."

Robarts, as he read this letter and crumpled the note up into his
pocket, felt that it was much more satisfactory than he deserved. He
knew that there must have been a fight, and that his wife, fighting
loyally on his behalf, had got the best of it; and he knew also that
her victory had not been owing to the goodness of her cause. He
frequently declared to himself that he would not be afraid of Lady
Lufton; but nevertheless these tidings that no reproaches were to be
made to him afforded him great relief. On the following Friday they
all went to the duke's, and found that the bishop and Mrs. Proudie
were there before them; as were also sundry other people, mostly
of some note either in the estimation of the world at large or of
that of West Barsetshire. Lord Boanerges was there, an old man who
would have his own way in everything, and who was regarded by all
men--apparently even by the duke himself--as an intellectual king,
by no means of the constitutional kind--as an intellectual emperor,
rather, who took upon himself to rule all questions of mind without
the assistance of any ministers whatever. And Baron Brawl was of the
party, one of Her Majesty's puisne Judges, as jovial a guest as ever
entered a country house; but given to be rather sharp withal in his
jovialities. And there was Mr. Green Walker, a young but rising man,
the same who lectured not long since on a popular subject to his
constituents at the Crewe Junction. Mr. Green Walker was a nephew of
the Marchioness of Hartletop, and the Marchioness of Hartletop was a
friend of the Duke of Omnium's. Mr. Mark Robarts was certainly elated
when he ascertained who composed the company of which he had been so
earnestly pressed to make a portion. Would it have been wise in him
to forgo this on account of the prejudices of Lady Lufton?

As the guests were so many and so great, the huge front portals of
Gatherum Castle were thrown open, and the vast hall, adorned with
trophies--with marble busts from Italy and armour from Wardour
Street--was thronged with gentlemen and ladies, and gave forth
unwonted echoes to many a footstep. His grace himself, when Mark
arrived there with Sowerby and Miss Dunstable--for in this instance
Miss Dunstable did travel in the phaeton, while Mark occupied a
seat in the dicky--his grace himself was at this moment in the
drawing-room, and nothing could exceed his urbanity.

"Oh, Miss Dunstable," he said, taking that lady by the hand, and
leading her up to the fire, "now I feel for the first time that
Gatherum Castle has not been built for nothing."

"Nobody ever supposed it was, your grace," said Miss Dunstable. "I am
sure the architect did not think so when his bill was paid." And Miss
Dunstable put her toes up on the fender to warm them with as much
self-possession as though her father had been a duke also, instead of
a quack doctor.

"We have given the strictest orders about the parrot," said the
duke--

"Ah! but I have not brought him after all," said Miss Dunstable.

--"and I have had an aviary built on purpose,--just such as parrots
are used to in their own country. Well, Miss Dunstable, I do call
that unkind. Is it too late to send for him?"

"He and Dr. Easyman are travelling together. The truth was, I could
not rob the doctor of his companion."

"Why? I have had another aviary built for him. I declare, Miss
Dunstable, the honour you are doing me is shorn of half its glory.
But the poodle--I still trust in the poodle."

"And your grace's trust shall not in that respect be in vain. Where
is he, I wonder?" And Miss Dunstable looked round as though she
expected that somebody would certainly have brought her dog in after
her. "I declare I must go and look for him,--only think if they
were to put him among your grace's dogs,--how his morals would be
destroyed!"

"Miss Dunstable, is that intended to be personal?" but the lady had
turned away from the fire, and the duke was able to welcome his other
guests. This he did with much courtesy. "Sowerby," he said, "I am
glad to find that you have survived the lecture. I can assure you I
had fears for you."

"I was brought back to life after considerable delay by the
administration of tonics at the Dragon of Wantly. Will your grace
allow me to present to you Mr. Robarts, who on that occasion was not
so fortunate. It was found necessary to carry him off to the palace,
where he was obliged to undergo very vigorous treatment." And then
the duke shook hands with Mr. Robarts, assuring him that he was most
happy to make his acquaintance. He had often heard of him since he
came into the county; and then he asked after Lord Lufton, regretting
that he had been unable to induce his lordship to come to Gatherum
Castle.

"But you had a diversion at the lecture, I am told," continued the
duke. "There was a second performer, was there not, who almost
eclipsed poor Harold Smith?" And then Mr. Sowerby gave an amusing
sketch of the little Proudie episode.

"It has, of course, ruined your brother-in-law for ever as a
lecturer," said the duke, laughing.

"If so, we shall feel ourselves under the deepest obligations to Mrs.
Proudie," said Mr. Sowerby. And then Harold Smith himself came up and
received the duke's sincere and hearty congratulations on the success
of his enterprise at Barchester. Mark Robarts had now turned away,
and his attention was suddenly arrested by the loud voice of Miss
Dunstable, who had stumbled across some very dear friends in her
passage through the rooms, and who by no means hid from the public
her delight upon the occasion.

"Well--well--well!" she exclaimed, and then she seized upon a very
quiet-looking, well-dressed, attractive young woman who was walking
towards her, in company with a gentleman. The gentleman and lady, as
it turned out, were husband and wife. "Well--well--well! I hardly
hoped for this." And then she took hold of the lady and kissed her
enthusiastically, and after that grasped both the gentleman's hands,
shaking them stoutly.

"And what a deal I shall have to say to you!" she went on. "You'll
upset all my other plans. But, Mary, my dear, how long are you going
to stay here? I go--let me see--I forget when, but it's all put down
in a book upstairs. But the next stage is at Mrs. Proudie's. I shan't
meet you there, I suppose. And now, Frank, how's the governor?" The
gentleman called Frank declared that the governor was all right--"mad
about the hounds, of course, you know."

"Well, my dear, that's better than the hounds being mad about him,
like the poor gentleman they've put into a statue. But talking of
hounds, Frank, how badly they manage their foxes at Chaldicotes! I
was out hunting all one day--"

"You out hunting!" said the lady called Mary.

"And why shouldn't I go out hunting? I'll tell you what, Mrs. Proudie
was out hunting too. But they didn't catch a single fox; and, if you
must have the truth, it seemed to me to be rather slow."

"You were in the wrong division of the county," said the gentleman
called Frank.

"Of course I was. When I really want to practise hunting I'll go to
Greshamsbury; not a doubt about that."

"Or to Boxall Hill," said the lady; "you'll find quite as much zeal
there as at Greshamsbury."

"And more discretion, you should add," said the gentleman.

"Ha! ha! ha!" laughed Miss Dunstable; "your discretion indeed! But
you have not told me a word about Lady Arabella."

"My mother is quite well," said the gentleman.

"And the doctor? By the by, my dear, I've had such a letter from the
doctor; only two days ago. I'll show it you upstairs to-morrow. But
mind, it must be a positive secret. If he goes on in this way he'll
get himself into the Tower, or Coventry, or a blue-book, or some
dreadful place."

"Why; what has he said?"

"Never you mind, Master Frank: I don't mean to show you the letter,
you may be sure of that. But if your wife will swear three times on
a poker and tongs that she won't reveal, I'll show it to her. And so
you are quite settled at Boxall Hill, are you?"

"Frank's horses are settled; and the dogs nearly so," said Frank's
wife; "but I can't boast much of anything else yet."

"Well, there's a good time coming. I must go and change my things
now. But, Mary, mind you get near me this evening; I have such a deal
to say to you." And then Miss Dunstable marched out of the room.

All this had been said in so loud a voice that it was, as a matter
of course, overheard by Mark Robarts--that part of the conversation
of course I mean which had come from Miss Dunstable. And then Mark
learned that this was young Frank Gresham of Boxall Hill, son of
old Mr. Gresham of Greshamsbury. Frank had lately married a great
heiress; a greater heiress, men said, even than Miss Dunstable;
and as the marriage was hardly as yet more than six months old the
Barsetshire world was still full of it.

"The two heiresses seem to be very loving, don't they?" said Mr.
Supplehouse. "Birds of a feather flock together, you know. But they
did say some little time ago that young Gresham was to have married
Miss Dunstable herself."

"Miss Dunstable! why, she might almost be his mother," said Mark.

"That makes but little difference. He was obliged to marry money, and
I believe there is no doubt that he did at one time propose to Miss
Dunstable."

"I have had a letter from Lufton," Mr. Sowerby said to him the next
morning. "He declares that the delay was all your fault. You were to
have told Lady Lufton before he did anything, and he was waiting to
write about it till he heard from you. It seems that you never said a
word to her ladyship on the subject."

"I never did, certainly. My commission from Lufton was to break the
matter to her when I found her in a proper humour for receiving it.
If you knew Lady Lufton as well as I do, you would know that it is
not every day that she would be in a humour for such tidings."

"And so I was to be kept waiting indefinitely because you two between
you were afraid of an old woman! However, I have not a word to say
against her, and the matter is settled now."

"Has the farm been sold?"

"Not a bit of it. The dowager could not bring her mind to suffer
such profanation for the Lufton acres, and so she sold five
thousand pounds out of the funds and sent the money to Lufton as a
present;--sent it to him without saying a word, only hoping that it
would suffice for his wants. I wish I had a mother, I know."

Mark found it impossible at the moment to make any remark upon what
had been told him, but he felt a sudden qualm of conscience and a
wish that he was at Framley instead of at Gatherum Castle at the
present moment. He knew a good deal respecting Lady Lufton's income
and the manner in which it was spent. It was very handsome for a
single lady, but then she lived in a free and open-handed style; her
charities were noble; there was no reason why she should save money,
and her annual income was usually spent within the year. Mark knew
this, and he knew also that nothing short of an impossibility to
maintain them would induce her to lessen her charities. She had now
given away a portion of her principal to save the property of her
son--her son, who was so much more opulent than herself,--upon whose
means, too, the world made fewer effectual claims. And Mark knew,
too, something of the purpose for which this money had gone. There
had been unsettled gambling claims between Sowerby and Lord Lufton,
originating in affairs of the turf. It had now been going on for four
years, almost from the period when Lord Lufton had become of age.
He had before now spoken to Robarts on the matter with much bitter
anger, alleging that Mr. Sowerby was treating him unfairly, nay,
dishonestly--that he was claiming money that was not due to him;
and then he declared more than once that he would bring the matter
before the Jockey Club. But Mark, knowing that Lord Lufton was not
clear-sighted in those matters, and believing it to be impossible
that Mr. Sowerby should actually endeavour to defraud his friend, had
smoothed down the young lord's anger, and recommended him to get the
case referred to some private arbiter. All this had afterwards been
discussed between Robarts and Mr. Sowerby himself, and hence had
originated their intimacy. The matter was so referred, Mr. Sowerby
naming the referee; and Lord Lufton, when the matter was given
against him, took it easily. His anger was over by that time. "I've
been clean done among them," he said to Mark, laughing; "but it does
not signify; a man must pay for his experience. Of course, Sowerby
thinks it all right; I am bound to suppose so." And then there had
been some further delay as to the amount, and part of the money had
been paid to a third person, and a bill had been given, and Heaven
and the Jews only know how much money Lord Lufton had paid in all;
and now it was ended by his handing over to some wretched villain of
a money-dealer, on behalf of Mr. Sowerby, the enormous sum of five
thousand pounds, which had been deducted from the means of his
mother, Lady Lufton!

Mark, as he thought of all this, could not but feel a certain
animosity against Mr. Sowerby--could not but suspect that he was a
bad man. Nay, must he not have known that he was very bad? And yet he
continued walking with him through the duke's grounds, still talking
about Lord Lufton's affairs, and still listening with interest to
what Sowerby told him of his own. "No man was ever robbed as I have
been," said he. "But I shall win through yet, in spite of them all.
But those Jews, Mark"--he had become very intimate with him in these
latter days--"whatever you do, keep clear of them. Why, I could paper
a room with their signatures; and yet I never had a claim upon one of
them, though they always have claims on me!"

I have said above that this affair of Lord Lufton's was ended, but
it now appeared to Mark that it was not quite ended. "Tell Lufton,
you know," said Sowerby, "that every bit of paper with his name has
been taken up, except what that ruffian Tozer has. Tozer may have
one bill, I believe,--something that was not given up when it was
renewed. But I'll make my lawyer Gumption get that up. It may cost
ten pounds or twenty pounds, not more. You'll remember that when you
see Lufton, will you?"

"You'll see Lufton, in all probability, before I shall."

"Oh, did I not tell you? He's going to Framley Court at once; you'll
find him there when you return."

"Find him at Framley?"

"Yes; this little _cadeau_ from his mother has touched his filial
heart. He is rushing home to Framley to pay back the dowager's hard
moidores in soft caresses. I wish I had a mother; I know that." And
Mark still felt that he feared Mr. Sowerby, but he could not make up
his mind to break away from him.

And there was much talk of politics just then at the castle. Not that
the duke joined in it with any enthusiasm. He was a Whig--a huge
mountain of a colossal Whig--all the world knew that. No opponent
would have dreamed of tampering with his Whiggery, nor would any
brother Whig have dreamed of doubting it. But he was a Whig who gave
very little practical support to any set of men, and very little
practical opposition to any other set. He was above troubling himself
with such sublunar matters. At election time he supported, and always
carried, Whig candidates: and in return he had been appointed lord
lieutenant of the county by one Whig minister, and had received the
Garter from another. But these things were matters of course to a
Duke of Omnium, He was born to be a lord lieutenant and a Knight of
the Garter. But not the less on account of his apathy, or rather
quiescence, was it thought that Gatherum Castle was a fitting place
in which politicians might express to each other their present hopes
and future aims, and concoct together little plots in a half-serious
and half-mocking way. Indeed it was hinted that Mr. Supplehouse and
Harold Smith, with one or two others, were at Gatherum for this
express purpose. Mr. Fothergill, too, was a noted politician, and
was supposed to know the duke's mind well; and Mr. Green Walker, the
nephew of the marchioness, was a young man whom the duke desired to
have brought forward. Mr. Sowerby also was the duke's own member, and
so the occasion suited well for the interchange of a few ideas.

The then prime minister, angry as many men were with him, had not
been altogether unsuccessful. He had brought the Russian war to a
close, which, if not glorious, was at any rate much more so than
Englishmen at one time had ventured to hope. And he had had wonderful
luck in that Indian Mutiny. It is true that many of those even who
voted with him would declare that this was in no way attributable
to him. Great men had risen in India and done all that. Even his
minister there, the Governor whom he had sent out, was not allowed
in those days any credit for the success which was achieved under
his orders. There was great reason to doubt the man at the helm. But
nevertheless he had been lucky. There is no merit in a public man
like success! But now, when the evil days were wellnigh over, came
the question whether he had not been too successful. When a man has
nailed fortune to his chariot-wheels he is apt to travel about in
rather a proud fashion. There are servants who think that their
masters cannot do without them; and the public also may occasionally
have some such servant. What if this too successful minister were
one of them! And then a discreet, commonplace, zealous member of the
Lower House does not like to be jeered at, when he does his duty by
his constituents and asks a few questions. An all-successful minister
who cannot keep his triumph to himself, but must needs drive about in
a proud fashion, laughing at commonplace zealous members--laughing
even occasionally at members who are by no means commonplace, which
is outrageous!--may it not be as well to ostracize him for awhile?

"Had we not better throw in our shells against him?" says Mr. Harold
Smith.

"Let us throw in our shells, by all means," says Mr. Supplehouse,
mindful as Juno of his despised charms. And when Mr. Supplehouse
declares himself an enemy, men know how much it means. They know that
that much-belaboured head of affairs must succumb to the terrible
blows which are now in store for him. "Yes, we will throw in our
shells." And Mr. Supplehouse rises from his chair with gleaming
eyes. "Has not Greece as noble sons as him? aye, and much nobler,
traitor that he is. We must judge a man by his friends," says Mr.
Supplehouse; and he points away to the East, where our dear allies
the French are supposed to live, and where our head of affairs is
supposed to have too close an intimacy.

They all understand this, even Mr. Green Walker. "I don't know that
he is any good to any of us at all, now," says the talented member
for the Crewe Junction. "He's a great deal too uppish to suit my
book: and I know a great many people that think so too. There's my
uncle--"

"He's the best fellow in the world," said Mr. Fothergill, who felt,
perhaps, that that coming revelation about Mr. Green Walker's uncle
might not be of use to them; "but the fact is one gets tired of the
same men always. One does not like partridge every day. As for me,
I have nothing to do with it myself; but I would certainly like to
change the dish."

"If we're merely to do as we are bid, and have no voice of our own,
I don't see what's the good of going to the shop at all," said Mr.
Sowerby.

"Not the least use," said Mr. Supplehouse. "We are false to our
constituents in submitting to such a dominion."

"Let's have a change, then," said Mr. Sowerby. "The matter's pretty
much in our own hands."

"Altogether," said Mr. Green Walker. "That's what my uncle always
says."

"The Manchester men will only be too happy for the chance," said
Harold Smith.

"And as for the high and dry gentlemen," said Mr. Sowerby, "it's not
very likely that they will object to pick up the fruit when we shake
the tree."

"As to picking up the fruit, that's as may be," said Mr. Supplehouse.
Was he not the man to save the nation; and if so, why should he not
pick up the fruit himself? Had not the greatest power in the country
pointed him out as such a saviour? What though the country at the
present moment needed no more saving, might there not, nevertheless,
be a good time coming? Were there not rumours of other wars still
prevalent--if indeed the actual war then going on was being brought
to a close without his assistance by some other species of salvation?
He thought of that country to which he had pointed, and of that
friend of his enemies, and remembered that there might be still work
for a mighty saviour. The public mind was now awake, and understood
what it was about. When a man gets into his head an idea that the
public voice calls for him, it is astonishing how greet becomes his
trust in the wisdom of the public. _Vox populi, vox Dei._ "Has it not
been so always?" he says to himself, as he gets up and as he goes to
bed. And then Mr. Supplehouse felt that he was the master mind there
at Gatherum Castle, and that those there were all puppets in his
hand. It is such a pleasant thing to feel that one's friends are
puppets, and that the strings are in one's own possession. But what
if Mr. Supplehouse himself were a puppet? Some months afterwards,
when the much-belaboured head of affairs was in very truth made
to retire, when unkind shells were thrown in against him in great
numbers, when he exclaimed, "_Et tu, Brute!_" till the words were
stereotyped upon his lips, all men in all places talked much about
the great Gatherum Castle confederation. The Duke of Omnium, the
world said, had taken into his high consideration the state of
affairs, and seeing with his eagle's eye that the welfare of
his countrymen at large required that some great step should be
initiated, he had at once summoned to his mansion many members of the
Lower House, and some also of the House of Lords,--mention was here
especially made of the all-venerable and all-wise Lord Boanerges; and
men went on to say that there, in deep conclave, he had made known
to them his views. It was thus agreed that the head of affairs, Whig
as he was, must fall. The country required it, and the duke did his
duty. This was the beginning, the world said, of that celebrated
confederation, by which the ministry was overturned, and--as the
_Goody Twoshoes_ added--the country saved. But the _Jupiter_ took all
the credit to itself; and the _Jupiter_ was not far wrong. All the
credit was due to the _Jupiter_--in that, as in everything else.

In the meantime the Duke of Omnium entertained his guests in
the quiet princely style, but did not condescend to have much
conversation on politics either with Mr. Supplehouse or with Mr.
Harold Smith. And as for Lord Boanerges, he spent the morning on
which the above-described conversation took place in teaching Miss
Dunstable to blow soap-bubbles on scientific principles.

"Dear, dear!" said Miss Dunstable, as sparks of knowledge came
flying in upon her mind. "I always thought that a soap-bubble was a
soap-bubble, and I never asked the reason why. One doesn't, you know,
my lord."

"Pardon me, Miss Dunstable," said the old lord, "one does; but nine
hundred and ninety-nine do not."

"And the nine hundred and ninety-nine have the best of it," said Miss
Dunstable. "What pleasure can one have in a ghost after one has seen
the phosphorus rubbed on?"

"Quite true, my dear lady. 'If ignorance be bliss, 'tis folly to be
wise.' It all lies in the 'if.'"

Then Miss Dunstable began to sing:--


   "'What tho' I trace each herb and flower
     That sips the morning dew--'


--you know the rest, my lord." Lord Boanerges did know almost
everything, but he did not know that; and so Miss Dunstable went
on:--


   "'Did I not own Jehovah's power
     How vain were all I knew.'"


"Exactly, exactly, Miss Dunstable," said his lordship; "but why not
own the power and trace the flower as well? perhaps one might help
the other." Upon the whole, I am afraid that Lord Boanerges got the
best of it. But, then, that is his line. He has been getting the best
of it all his life.

It was observed by all that the duke was especially attentive to
young Mr. Frank Gresham, the gentleman on whom and on whose wife Miss
Dunstable had seized so vehemently. This Mr. Gresham was the richest
commoner in the county, and it was rumoured that at the next election
he would be one of the members for the East Riding. Now the duke had
little or nothing to do with the East Riding, and it was well known
that young Gresham would be brought forward as a strong Conservative.
But, nevertheless, his acres were so extensive and his money so
plentiful that he was worth a duke's notice. Mr. Sowerby, also, was
almost more than civil to him, as was natural, seeing that this very
young man by a mere scratch of his pen could turn a scrap of paper
into a bank-note of almost fabulous value.

"So you have the East Barsetshire hounds at Boxall Hill; have you
not?" said the duke.

"The hounds are there," said Frank. "But I am not the master."

"Oh! I understood--"

"My father has them. But he finds Boxall Hill more centrical than
Greshamsbury. The dogs and horses have to go shorter distances."

"Boxall Hill is very centrical."

"Oh, exactly!"

"And your young gorse coverts are doing well?"

"Pretty well--gorse won't thrive everywhere, I find. I wish it
would."

"That's just what I say to Fothergill; and then where there's much
woodland you can't get the vermin to leave it."

"But we haven't a tree at Boxall Hill," said Mrs. Gresham.

"Ah, yes; you're new there, certainly; you've enough of it at
Greshamsbury in all conscience. There's a larger extent of wood there
than we have; isn't there, Fothergill?" Mr. Fothergill said that
the Greshamsbury woods were very extensive, but that, perhaps, he
thought--

"Oh, ah! I know," said the duke. "The Black Forest in its old days
was nothing to Gatherum woods, according to Fothergill. And then,
again, nothing in East Barsetshire could be equal to anything in West
Barsetshire. Isn't that it; eh, Fothergill?" Mr. Fothergill professed
that he had been brought up in that faith and intended to die in it.

"Your exotics at Boxall Hill are very fine, magnificent!" said Mr.
Sowerby.

"I'd sooner have one full-grown oak standing in its pride alone,"
said young Gresham, rather grandiloquently, "than all the exotics in
the world."

"They'll come in due time," said the duke.

"But the due time won't be in my days. And so they're going to cut
down Chaldicotes Forest, are they, Mr. Sowerby?"

"Well, I can't tell you that. They are going to disforest it. I have
been ranger since I was twenty-two, and I don't yet know whether that
means cutting down."

"Not only cutting down, but rooting up," said Mr. Fothergill.

"It's a murderous shame," said Frank Gresham; "and I will say one
thing, I don't think any but a Whig government would do it."

"Ha, ha, ha!" laughed his grace. "At any rate, I'm sure of this," he
said, "that if a Conservative government did do so, the Whigs would
be just as indignant as you are now."

"I'll tell you what you ought to do, Mr. Gresham," said Sowerby: "put
in an offer for the whole of the West Barsetshire Crown property;
they will be very glad to sell it."

"And we should be delighted to welcome you on this side of the
border," said the duke. Young Gresham did feel rather flattered.
There were not many men in the county to whom such an offer could
be made without an absurdity. It might be doubted whether the duke
himself could purchase the Chace of Chaldicotes with ready money; but
that he, Gresham, could do so--he and his wife between them--no man
did doubt. And then Mr. Gresham thought of a former day when he had
once been at Gatherum Castle. He had been poor enough then, and the
duke had not treated him in the most courteous manner in the world.
How hard it is for a rich man not to lean upon his riches! harder,
indeed, than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle.

All Barsetshire knew--at any rate all West Barsetshire--that Miss
Dunstable had been brought down in those parts in order that Mr.
Sowerby might marry her. It was not surmised that Miss Dunstable
herself had had any previous notice of this arrangement, but it was
supposed that the thing would turn out as a matter of course. Mr.
Sowerby had no money, but then he was witty, clever, good-looking,
and a member of Parliament. He lived before the world, represented an
old family, and had an old place. How could Miss Dunstable possibly
do better? She was not so young now, and it was time that she
should look about her. The suggestion, as regarded Mr. Sowerby, was
certainly true, and was not the less so as regarded some of Mr.
Sowerby's friends. His sister, Mrs. Harold Smith, had devoted herself
to the work, and with this view had run up a dear friendship with
Miss Dunstable. The bishop had intimated, nodding his head knowingly,
that it would be a very good thing. Mrs. Proudie had given in her
adherence. Mr. Supplehouse had been made to understand that it must
be a case of "Paws off" with him, as long as he remained in that part
of the world; and even the duke himself had desired Fothergill to
manage it.

"He owes me an enormous sum of money," said the duke, who held all
Mr. Sowerby's title-deeds, "and I doubt whether the security will be
sufficient."

"Your grace will find the security quite sufficient," said Mr.
Fothergill; "but nevertheless it would be a good match."

"Very good," said the duke. And then it became Mr. Fothergill's duty
to see that Mr. Sowerby and Miss Dunstable became man and wife as
speedily as possible. Some of the party, who were more wide awake
than others, declared that he had made the offer; others, that he was
just going to do so; and one very knowing lady went so far at one
time as to say that he was making it at that moment. Bets also were
laid as to the lady's answer, as to the terms of the settlement, and
as to the period of the marriage--of all which poor Miss Dunstable of
course knew nothing. Mr. Sowerby, in spite of the publicity of his
proceedings, proceeded in the matter very well. He said little about
it to those who joked with him, but carried on the fight with what
best knowledge he had in such matters. But so much it is given to us
to declare with certainty, that he had not proposed on the evening
previous to the morning fixed for the departure of Mark Robarts.
During the last two days Mr. Sowerby's intimacy with Mark had grown
warmer and warmer. He had talked to the vicar confidentially about
the doings of these bigwigs now present at the castle, as though
there were no other guest there with whom he could speak in so free
a manner. He confided, it seemed, much more in Mark than in his
brother-in-law, Harold Smith, or in any of his brother members of
Parliament, and had altogether opened his heart to him in this affair
of his anticipated marriage. Now Mr. Sowerby was a man of mark in the
world, and all this flattered our young clergyman not a little. On
that evening before Robarts went away Sowerby asked him to come up
into his bedroom when the whole party was breaking up, and there got
him into an easy chair, while he, Sowerby, walked up and down the
room.

"You can hardly tell, my dear fellow," said he, "the state of nervous
anxiety in which this puts me."

"Why don't you ask her and have done with it? She seems to me to be
fond of your society."

"Ah, it is not that only; there are wheels within wheels:" and then
he walked once or twice up and down the room, during which Mark
thought that he might as well go to bed.

"Not that I mind telling you everything," said Sowerby. "I am
infernally hard up for a little ready money just at the present
moment. It may be, and indeed I think it will be, the case that I
shall be ruined in this matter for the want of it."

"Could not Harold Smith give it you?"

"Ha, ha, ha! you don't know Harold Smith. Did you ever hear of his
lending a man a shilling in his life."

"Or Supplehouse?"

"Lord love you! You see me and Supplehouse together here, and he
comes and stays at my house, and all that; but Supplehouse and I are
no friends. Look you here, Mark--I would do more for your little
finger than for his whole hand, including the pen which he holds in
it. Fothergill indeed might--but then I know Fothergill is pressed
himself at the present moment. It is deuced hard, isn't it? I must
give up the whole game if I can't put my hand upon £400 within the
next two days."

"Ask her for it, herself."

"What, the woman I wish to marry! No, Mark, I'm not quite come to
that. I would sooner lose her than that." Mark sat silent, gazing at
the fire and wishing that he was in his own bedroom. He had an idea
that Mr. Sowerby wished him to produce this £400, and he knew also
that he had not £400 in the world, and that if he had he would be
acting very foolishly to give it to Mr. Sowerby. But nevertheless he
felt half fascinated by the man, and half afraid of him.

"Lufton owes it to me to do more than this," continued Mr. Sowerby,
"but then Lufton is not here."

"Why, he has just paid five thousand pounds for you."

"Paid five thousand pounds for me! Indeed he has done no such thing:
not a sixpence of it came into my hands. Believe me, Mark, you don't
know the whole of that yet. Not that I mean to say a word against
Lufton. He is the soul of honour; though so deucedly dilatory in
money matters. He thought he was right all through that affair, but
no man was ever so confoundedly wrong. Why, don't you remember that
that was the very view you took of it yourself?"

"I remember saying that I thought he was mistaken."

"Of course he was mistaken. And dearly the mistake cost me; I had to
make good the money for two or three years. And my property is not
like his--I wish it were."

"Marry Miss Dunstable, and that will set it all right for you."

"Ah! so I would if I had this money. At any rate I would bring it to
the point. Now, I tell you what, Mark, if you'll assist me at this
strait I'll never forget it. And the time will come round when I may
be able to do something for you."

"I have not got a hundred, no, not fifty pounds by me in the world."

"Of course you've not. Men don't walk about the streets with £400 in
their pockets. I don't suppose there's a single man here in the house
with such a sum at his bankers', unless it be the duke."

"What is it you want, then?"

"Why, your name, to be sure. Believe me, my dear fellow, I would not
ask you really to put your hand into your pocket to such a tune as
that. Allow me to draw on you for that amount at three months. Long
before that time I shall be flush enough." And then, before Mark
could answer, he had a bill stamp and pen and ink out on the table
before him, and was filling in the bill as though his friend had
already given his consent.

"Upon my word, Sowerby, I had rather not do that."

"Why? what are you afraid of?"--Mr. Sowerby asked this very sharply.
"Did you ever hear of my having neglected to take up a bill when it
fell due?" Robarts thought that he had heard of such a thing; but in
his confusion he was not exactly sure, and so he said nothing.

"No, my boy; I have not come to that. Look here: just you write,
'Accepted, Mark Robarts,' across that, and then you shall never hear
of the transaction again; and you will have obliged me for ever."

"As a clergyman it would be wrong of me," said Robarts.

"As a clergyman! Come, Mark! If you don't like to do as much as that
for a friend, say so; but don't let us have that sort of humbug. If
there be one class of men whose names would be found more frequent on
the backs of bills in the provincial banks than another, clergymen
are that class. Come, old fellow, you won't throw me over when I am
so hard pushed." Mark Robarts took the pen and signed the bill. It
was the first time in his life that he had ever done such an act.
Sowerby then shook him cordially by the hand, and he walked off to
his own bedroom a wretched man.



CHAPTER IX

The Vicar's Return


The next morning Mr. Robarts took leave of all his grand friends with
a heavy heart. He had lain awake half the night thinking of what he
had done and trying to reconcile himself to his position. He had not
well left Mr. Sowerby's room before he felt certain that at the end
of three months he would again be troubled about that £400. As he
went along the passage, all the man's known antecedents crowded upon
him much quicker than he could remember them when seated in that
arm-chair with the bill stamp before him, and the pen and ink ready
to his hand. He remembered what Lord Lufton had told him--how he had
complained of having been left in the lurch; he thought of all the
stories current through the entire country as to the impossibility
of getting money from Chaldicotes; he brought to mind the known
character of the man, and then he knew that he must prepare himself
to make good a portion at least of that heavy payment. Why had he
come to this horrid place? Had he not everything at home at Framley
which the heart of man could desire? No; the heart of man can desire
deaneries--the heart, that is, of the man vicar; and the heart of the
man dean can desire bishoprics; and before the eyes of the man bishop
does there not loom the transcendental glory of Lambeth? He had owned
to himself that he was ambitious; but he had to own to himself now
also that he had hitherto taken but a sorry path towards the object
of his ambition. On the next morning at breakfast-time, before his
horse and gig arrived for him, no one was so bright as his friend
Sowerby. "So you are off, are you?" said he.

"Yes, I shall go this morning."

"Say everything that's kind from me to Lufton. I may possibly see him
out hunting; otherwise we shan't meet till the spring. As to my going
to Framley, that's out of the question. Her ladyship would look for
my tail, and swear that she smelt brimstone. By-bye, old fellow!"

The German student when he first made his bargain with the devil felt
an indescribable attraction to his new friend; and such was the case
now with Robarts. He shook Sowerby's hand very warmly, said that
he hoped he should meet him soon somewhere, and professed himself
specially anxious to hear how that affair with the lady came off.
As he had made his bargain--as he had undertaken to pay nearly half
a year's income for his dear friend--ought he not to have as much
value as possible for his money? If the dear friendship of this flash
member of Parliament did not represent that value, what else did do
so? But then he felt, or fancied that he felt, that Mr. Sowerby did
not care for him so much this morning as he had done on the previous
evening. "By-bye," said Mr. Sowerby, but he spoke no word as to
such future meetings, nor did he even promise to write. Mr. Sowerby
probably had many things on his mind; and it might be that it behoved
him, having finished one piece of business, immediately to look to
another.

The sum for which Robarts had made himself responsible--which he so
much feared that he would be called upon to pay--was very nearly half
a year's income; and as yet he had not put by one shilling since he
had been married. When he found himself settled in his parsonage,
he found also that all the world regarded him as a rich man. He had
taken the dictum of all the world as true, and had set himself to
work to live comfortably. He had no absolute need of a curate; but he
could afford the £70--as Lady Lufton had said rather injudiciously;
and by keeping Jones in the parish he would be acting charitably to a
brother clergyman, and would also place himself in a more independent
position. Lady Lufton had wished to see her pet clergyman well-to-do
and comfortable; but now, as matters had turned out, she much
regretted this affair of the curate. Mr. Jones, she said to herself,
more than once, must be made to depart from Framley. He had given
his wife a pony-carriage, and for himself he had a saddle-horse, and
a second horse for his gig. A man in his position, well-to-do as he
was, required as much as that. He had a footman also, and a gardener,
and a groom. The two latter were absolutely necessary, but about the
former there had been a question. His wife had been decidedly hostile
to the footman; but in all such matters as that, to doubt is to be
lost. When the footman had been discussed for a week it became quite
clear to the master that he also was a necessary.

As he drove home that morning he pronounced to himself the doom of
that footman, and the doom also of that saddle-horse. They at any
rate should go. And then he would spend no more money in trips
to Scotland; and above all, he would keep out of the bedrooms of
impoverished members of Parliament at the witching hour of midnight.
Such resolves did he make to himself as he drove home; and bethought
himself wearily how that £400 might be made to be forthcoming. As to
any assistance in the matter from Sowerby,--of that he gave himself
no promise. But he almost felt himself happy again as his wife came
out into the porch to meet him with a silk shawl over her head, and
pretending to shiver as she watched him descending from his gig. "My
dear old man," she said, as she led him into the warm drawing-room
with all his wrappings still about him, "you must be starved." But
Mark during the whole drive had been thinking too much of that
transaction in Mr. Sowerby's bedroom to remember that the air was
cold. Now he had his arm round his own dear Fanny's waist; but was he
to tell her of that transaction? At any rate he would not do it now,
while his two boys were in his arms, rubbing the moisture from his
whiskers with their kisses. After all, what is there equal to that
coming home?

"And so Lufton is here. I say, Frank, gently, old boy,"--Frank was
his eldest son--"you'll have baby into the fender."

"Let me take baby; it's impossible to hold the two of them, they
are so strong," said the proud mother. "Oh, yes, he came home early
yesterday."

"Have you seen him?"

"He was here yesterday, with her ladyship; and I lunched there
to-day. The letter came, you know, in time to stop the Merediths.
They don't go till to-morrow, so you will meet them after all. Sir
George is wild about it, but Lady Lufton would have her way. You
never saw her in such a state as she is."

"Good spirits, eh?"

"I should think so. All Lord Lufton's horses are coming, and he's to
be here till March."

"Till March!"

"So her ladyship whispered to me. She could not conceal her triumph
at his coming. He's going to give up Leicestershire this year
altogether. I wonder what has brought it all about?" Mark knew very
well what had brought it about; he had been made acquainted, as the
reader has also, with the price at which Lady Lufton had purchased
her son's visit. But no one had told Mrs. Robarts that the mother had
made her son a present of five thousand pounds.

"She's in a good humour about everything now," continued Fanny; "so
you need say nothing at all about Gatherum Castle."

"But she was very angry when she first heard it; was she not?"

"Well, Mark, to tell the truth, she was; and we had quite a scene
there up in her own room upstairs--Justinia and I. She had heard
something else that she did not like at the same time; and then--but
you know her way. She blazed up quite hot."

"And said all manner of horrid things about me."

"About the duke she did. You know she never did like the duke; and
for the matter of that, neither do I. I tell you that fairly, Master
Mark!"

"The duke is not so bad as he's painted."

"Ah, that's what you say about another great person. However, he
won't come here to trouble us, I suppose. And then I left her, not in
the best temper in the world; for I blazed up too, you must know."

"I am sure you did," said Mark, pressing his arm round her waist.

"And then we were going to have a dreadful war, I thought; and I came
home and wrote such a doleful letter to you. But what should happen
when I had just closed it, but in came her ladyship--all alone,
and-- But I can't tell you what she did or said, only she behaved
beautifully; just like herself too; so full of love and truth and
honesty. There's nobody like her, Mark; and she's better than all the
dukes that ever wore--whatever dukes do wear."

"Horns and hoofs; that's their usual apparel, according to you and
Lady Lufton," said he, remembering what Mr. Sowerby had said of
himself.

"You may say what you like about me, Mark, but you shan't abuse Lady
Lufton. And if horns and hoofs mean wickedness and dissipation,
I believe it's not far wrong. But get off your big coat and make
yourself comfortable." And that was all the scolding that Mark
Robarts got from his wife on the occasion of his great iniquity.

"I will certainly tell her about this bill transaction," he said to
himself; "but not to-day; not till after I have seen Lufton." That
evening they dined at Framley Court, and there they met the young
lord; they found also Lady Lufton still in high good-humour. Lord
Lufton himself was a fine, bright-looking young man; not so tall as
Mark Robarts, and with perhaps less intelligence marked on his face;
but his features were finer, and there was in his countenance a
thorough appearance of good-humour and sweet temper. It was, indeed,
a pleasant face to look upon, and dearly Lady Lufton loved to gaze at
it.

"Well, Mark, So you have been among the Philistines?" that was his
lordship's first remark. Robarts laughed as he took his friend's
hands, and bethought himself how truly that was the case; that he
was, in very truth, already "himself in bonds under Philistian
yoke." Alas, alas, it is very hard to break asunder the bonds of the
latter-day Philistines. When a Samson does now and then pull a temple
down about their ears, is he not sure to be engulfed in the ruin with
them? There is no horse-leech that sticks so fast as your latter-day
Philistine.

"So you have caught Sir George, after all," said Lady Lufton; and
that was nearly all she did say in allusion to his absence. There
was afterwards some conversation about the lecture, and from her
ladyship's remarks it certainly was apparent that she did not like
the people among whom the vicar had been lately staying; but she said
no word that was personal to him himself, or that could be taken
as a reproach. The little episode of Mrs. Proudie's address in the
lecture-room had already reached Framley, and it was only to be
expected that Lady Lufton should enjoy the joke. She would affect to
believe that the body of the lecture had been given by the bishop's
wife; and afterwards, when Mark described her costume at that Sunday
morning breakfast table, Lady Lufton would assume that such had been
the dress in which she had exercised her faculties in public.

"I would have given a five-pound note to have heard it," said Sir
George.

"So would not I," said Lady Lufton. "When one hears of such things
described so graphically as Mr. Robarts now tells it, one can hardly
help laughing. But it would give me great pain to see the wife of one
of our bishops place herself in such a situation. For he is a bishop
after all."

"Well, upon my word, my lady, I agree with Meredith," said Lord
Lufton. "It must have been good fun. As it did happen, you know,--as
the Church was doomed to the disgrace,--I should like to have heard
it."

"I know you would have been shocked, Ludovic."

"I should have got over that in time, mother. It would have been like
a bull-fight, I suppose--horrible to see, no doubt, but extremely
interesting. And Harold Smith, Mark; what did he do all the while?"

"It didn't take so very long, you know," said Robarts.

"And the poor bishop," said Lady Meredith; "how did he look? I really
do pity him."

"Well, he was asleep, I think."

"What, slept through it all?" said Sir George.

"It awakened him; and then he jumped up and said something."

"What, out loud, too?"

"Only one word, or so."

"What a disgraceful scene!" said Lady Lufton. "To those who remember
the good old man who was in the diocese before him it is perfectly
shocking. He confirmed you, Ludovic, and you ought to remember
him. It was over at Barchester, and you went and lunched with him
afterwards."

"I do remember; and especially this, that I never ate such tarts
in my life, before or since. The old man particularly called my
attention to them, and seemed remarkably pleased that I concurred in
his sentiments. There are no such tarts as those going in the palace,
now, I'll be bound."

"Mrs. Proudie will be very happy to do her best for you if you will
go and try," said Sir George.

"I beg that he will do no such thing," said Lady Lufton; and that was
the only severe word she said about any of Mark's visitings. As Sir
George Meredith was there, Robarts could say nothing then to Lord
Lufton about Mr. Sowerby and Mr. Sowerby's money affairs; but he did
make an appointment for a _tête-à-tête_ on the next morning.

"You must come down and see my nags, Mark; they came to-day. The
Merediths will be off at twelve, and then we can have an hour
together." Mark said he would, and then went home with his wife under
his arm.

"Well, now, is not she kind?" said Fanny, as soon as they were out on
the gravel together.

"She is kind; kinder than I can tell you just at present. But did you
ever know anything so bitter as she is to the poor bishop? And really
the bishop is not so bad."

"Yes; I know something much more bitter: and that is what she thinks
of the bishop's wife. And you know, Mark, it was so unladylike, her
getting up in that way. What must the people of Barchester think of
her?"

"As far as I could see, the people of Barchester liked it."

"Nonsense, Mark; they could not. But never mind that now. I want you
to own that she is good." And then Mrs. Robarts went on with another
long eulogy on the dowager. Since that affair of the pardon-begging
at the parsonage, Mrs. Robarts hardly knew how to think well enough
of her friend. And the evening had been so pleasant after the
dreadful storm and threatenings of hurricanes; her husband had been
so well received after his lapse of judgement; the wounds that had
looked so sore had been so thoroughly healed, and everything was so
pleasant. How all of this would have been changed had she known of
that little bill! At twelve the next morning the lord and the vicar
were walking through the Framley stables together. Quite a commotion
had been made there, for the larger portion of those buildings had of
late years seldom been used. But now all was crowding and activity.
Seven or eight very precious animals had followed Lord Lufton from
Leicestershire, and all of them required dimensions that were thought
to be rather excessive by the Framley old-fashioned groom. My lord,
however, had a head man of his own who took the matter quite into his
own hands. Mark, priest as he was, was quite worldly enough to be
fond of a good horse; and for some little time allowed Lord Lufton
to descant on the merit of this four-year-old filly, and that
magnificent Rattlebones colt, out of a Mousetrap mare; but he had
other things that lay heavy on his mind, and after bestowing half
an hour on the stud, he contrived to get his friend away to the
shrubbery walks.

"So you have settled with Sowerby," Robarts began by saying.

"Settled with him; yes, but do you know the price?"

"I believe that you have paid five thousand pounds."

"Yes, and about three before; and that in a matter in which I did not
really owe one shilling. Whatever I do in future, I'll keep out of
Sowerby's grip."

"But you don't think he has been unfair to you."

"Mark, to tell you the truth I have banished the affair from my mind,
and don't wish to take it up again. My mother has paid the money to
save the property, and of course I must pay her back. But I think
I may promise that I will not have any more money dealings with
Sowerby. I will not say that he is dishonest, but at any rate he is
sharp."

"Well, Lufton; what will you say when I tell you that I have put my
name to a bill for him, for four hundred pounds?"

"Say; why I should say--; but you're joking; a man in your position
would never do such a thing."

"But I have done it." Lord Lufton gave a long low whistle.

"He asked me the last night that I was there, making a great favour
of it, and declaring that no bill of his had ever yet been
dishonoured."

Lord Lufton whistled again. "No bill of his dishonoured! Why, the
pocket-books of the Jews are stuffed full of his dishonoured papers!
And you have really given him your name for four hundred pounds?"

"I have certainly."

"At what date?"

"Three months."

"And have you thought where you are to get the money?"

"I know very well that I can't get it, not at least by that time. The
bankers must renew it for me, and I must pay it by degrees. That is,
if Sowerby really does not take it up."

"It is just as likely that he will take up the National Debt."
Robarts then told him about the projected marriage with Miss
Dunstable, giving it as his opinion that the lady would probably
accept the gentleman.

"Not at all improbable," said his lordship, "for Sowerby is an
agreeable fellow; and if it be so, he will have all that he wants
for life. But his creditors will gain nothing. The duke, who has his
title-deeds, will doubtless get his money, and the estate will in
fact belong to the wife. But the small fry, such as you, will not get
a shilling." Poor Mark! He had had an inkling of this before; but it
had hardly presented itself to him in such certain terms. It was,
then, a positive fact, that in punishment for his weakness in having
signed that bill he would have to pay, not only four hundred pounds,
but four hundred pounds with interest, and expenses of renewal, and
commission, and bill stamps. Yes; he had certainly got among the
Philistines during that visit of his to the duke. It began to appear
to him pretty clearly that it would have been better for him to have
relinquished altogether the glories of Chaldicotes and Gatherum
Castle.

And now, how was he to tell his wife?



CHAPTER X

Lucy Robarts


And now, how was he to tell his wife? That was the consideration
heavy on Mark Robarts's mind when last we left him; and he turned
the matter often in his thoughts before he could bring himself to
a resolution. At last he did do so, and one may say that it was
not altogether a bad one, if only he could carry it out. He would
ascertain in what bank that bill of his had been discounted. He
would ask Sowerby, and if he could not learn from him, he would go
to the three banks in Barchester. That it had been taken to one of
them he felt tolerably certain. He would explain to the manager his
conviction that he would have to make good the amount, his inability
to do so at the end of the three months, and the whole state of his
income; and then the banker would explain to him how the matter might
be arranged. He thought that he could pay £50 every three months with
interest. As soon as this should have been concerted with the banker,
he would let his wife know all about it. Were he to tell her at the
present moment, while the matter was all unsettled, the intelligence
would frighten her into illness. But on the next morning there came
to him tidings by the hands of Robin postman, which for a long while
upset all his plans. The letter was from Exeter. His father had been
taken ill, and had very quickly been pronounced to be in danger. That
evening--the evening on which his sister wrote--the old man was much
worse, and it was desirable that Mark should go off to Exeter as
quickly as possible. Of course he went to Exeter--again leaving the
Framley souls at the mercy of the Welsh Low Churchman. Framley is
only four miles from Silverbridge, and at Silverbridge he was on
the direct road to the West. He was, therefore, at Exeter before
nightfall on that day. But, nevertheless, he arrived there too late
to see his father again alive. The old man's illness had been sudden
and rapid, and he expired without again seeing his eldest son. Mark
arrived at the house of mourning just as they were learning to
realize the full change in their position.

The doctor's career had been on the whole successful, but
nevertheless he did not leave behind him as much money as the world
had given him credit for possessing. Who ever does? Dr. Robarts had
educated a large family, had always lived with every comfort, and
had never possessed a shilling but what he had earned himself. A
physician's fees come in, no doubt, with comfortable rapidity as soon
as rich old gentlemen and middle-aged ladies begin to put their faith
in him; but fees run out almost with equal rapidity when a wife and
seven children are treated to everything that the world considers
most desirable. Mark, we have seen, had been educated at Harrow and
Oxford, and it may be said, therefore, that he had received his
patrimony early in life. For Gerald Robarts, the second brother, a
commission had been bought in a crack regiment. He also had been
lucky, having lived and become a captain in the Crimea; and the
purchase-money was lodged for his majority. And John Robarts, the
youngest, was a clerk in the Petty Bag Office, and was already
assistant private secretary to the Lord Petty Bag himself--a place of
considerable trust, if not hitherto of large emolument; and on his
education money had been spent freely, for in these days a young man
cannot get into the Petty Bag Office without knowing at least three
modern languages; and he must be well up in trigonometry too, in
Bible theology, or in one dead language--at his option. And the
doctor had four daughters. The two elder were married, including
that Blanche with whom Lord Lufton was to have fallen in love at the
vicar's wedding. A Devonshire squire had done this in the lord's
place; but on marrying her it was necessary that he should have a few
thousand pounds, two or three perhaps, and the old doctor had managed
that they should be forthcoming. The elder also had not been sent
away from the paternal mansion quite empty-handed. There were,
therefore, at the time of the doctor's death two children left at
home, of whom one only, Lucy, the younger, will come much across us
in the course of our story.

Mark stayed for ten days at Exeter, he and the Devonshire squire
having been named as executors in the will. In this document it was
explained that the doctor trusted that provision had been made for
most of his children. As for his dear son Mark, he said, he was aware
that he need be under no uneasiness. On hearing this read Mark smiled
sweetly, and looked very gracious; but, nevertheless, his heart did
sink somewhat within him, for there had been a hope that a small
windfall, coming now so opportunely, might enable him to rid himself
at once of that dreadful Sowerby incubus. And then the will went on
to declare that Mary, and Gerald, and Blanche, had also, by God's
providence, been placed beyond want. And here, looking into the
squire's face, one might have thought that his heart fell a little
also; for he had not so full a command of his feelings as his
brother-in-law, who had been so much more before the world. To John,
the assistant private secretary, was left a legacy of a thousand
pounds; and to Jane and Lucy certain sums in certain four per cents.,
which were quite sufficient to add an efficient value to the hands
of those young ladies in the eyes of most prudent young would-be
Benedicts. Over and beyond this there was nothing but the furniture,
which he desired might be sold, and the proceeds divided among them
all. It might come to sixty or seventy pounds a piece, and pay the
expenses incidental on his death. And then all men and women there
and thereabouts said that old Dr. Robarts had done well. His life
had been good and prosperous, and his will was just. And Mark, among
others, so declared--and was so convinced in spite of his own little
disappointment. And on the third morning after the reading of the
will Squire Crowdy, of Creamclotted Hall, altogether got over his
grief, and said that it was all right. And then it was decided that
Jane should go home with him--for there was a brother squire who,
it was thought, might have an eye to Jane;--and Lucy, the younger,
should be taken to Framley parsonage. In a fortnight from the receipt
of that letter Mark arrived at his own house with his sister Lucy
under his wing.

All this interfered greatly with Mark's wise resolution as to the
Sowerby-bill incubus. In the first place, he could not get to
Barchester as soon as he had intended, and then an idea came across
him that possibly it might be well that he should borrow the money of
his brother John, explaining the circumstances, of course, and paying
him due interest. But he had not liked to broach the subject when
they were there in Exeter, standing, as it were, over their father's
grave, and so the matter was postponed. There was still ample time
for arrangement before the bill would come due, and he would not tell
Fanny till he had made up his mind what that arrangement would be. It
would kill her, he said to himself over and over again, were he to
tell her of it without being able to tell her also that the means of
liquidating the debt were to be forthcoming.

And now I must say a word about Lucy Robarts. If one might only go
on without those descriptions how pleasant it would all be! But Lucy
Robarts has to play a forward part in this little drama, and those
who care for such matters must be made to understand something of her
form and likeness. When last we mentioned her as appearing, though
not in any prominent position, at her brother's wedding, she was only
sixteen; but now, at the time of her father's death, somewhat over
two years having since elapsed, she was nearly nineteen. Laying aside
for the sake of clearness that indefinite term of girl--for girls
are girls from the age of three up to forty-three, if not previously
married--dropping that generic word, we may say that then, at that
wedding of her brother, she was a child; and now, at the death of her
father, she was a woman. Nothing, perhaps, adds so much to womanhood,
turns the child so quickly into a woman, as such death-bed scenes as
these. Hitherto but little had fallen to Lucy to do in the way of
woman's duties. Of money transactions she had known nothing, beyond
a jocose attempt to make her annual allowance of twenty-five pounds
cover all her personal wants--an attempt which was made jocose by
the loving bounty of her father. Her sister, who was three years her
elder--for John came in between them--had managed the house; that
is, she had made the tea and talked to the house-keeper about the
dinners. But Lucy had sat at her father's elbow, had read to him of
evenings when he went to sleep, had brought him his slippers and
looked after the comforts of his easy chair. All this she had done
as a child; but when she stood at the coffin head, and knelt at the
coffin side, then she was a woman.

She was smaller in stature than either of her three sisters, to all
of whom had been acceded the praise of being fine women--a eulogy
which the people of Exeter, looking back at the elder sisters, and
the general remembrance of them which pervaded the city, were not
willing to extend to Lucy. "Dear--dear!" had been said of her; "poor
Lucy is not like a Robarts at all; is she, now, Mrs. Pole?"--for
as the daughters had become fine women, so had the sons grown into
stalwart men. And then Mrs. Pole had answered: "Not a bit; is she,
now? Only think what Blanche was at her age. But she has fine eyes,
for all that; and they do say she is the cleverest of them all." And
that, too, is so true a description of her that I do not know that
I can add much to it. She was not like Blanche; for Blanche had
a bright complexion, and a fine neck, and a noble bust, _et vera
incessu patuit Dea_--a true goddess, that is, as far as the eye
went. She had a grand idea, moreover, of an apple-pie, and had not
reigned eighteen months at Creamclotted Hall before she knew all the
mysteries of pigs and milk, and most of those appertaining to cider
and green cheese.

Lucy had no neck at all worth speaking of,--no neck, I mean, that
ever produced eloquence; she was brown, too, and had addicted herself
in nowise, as she undoubtedly should have done, to larder utility. In
regard to the neck and colour, poor girl, she could not help herself;
but in that other respect she must be held as having wasted her
opportunities. But then what eyes she had! Mrs. Pole was right there.
They flashed upon you, not always softly; indeed not often softly
if you were a stranger to her; but whether softly or savagely, with
a brilliancy that dazzled you as you looked at them. And who shall
say of what colour they were? Green, probably, for most eyes are
green--green or grey, if green be thought uncomely for an eye-colour.
But it was not their colour, but their fire, which struck one with
such surprise.

Lucy Robarts was thoroughly a brunette. Sometimes the dark tint
of her cheek was exquisitely rich and lovely, and the fringes of
her eyes were long and soft, and her small teeth, which one so
seldom saw, were white as pearls, and her hair, though short, was
beautifully soft--by no means black, but yet of so dark a shade of
brown. Blanche, too, was noted for fine teeth. They were white and
regular and lofty as a new row of houses in a French city. But then
when she laughed she was all teeth; as she was all neck when she sat
at the piano. But Lucy's teeth!--it was only now and again, when in
some sudden burst of wonder she would sit for a moment with her lips
apart, that the fine finished lines and dainty pearl-white colour
of that perfect set of ivory could be seen. Mrs. Pole would have
said a word of her teeth also, but that to her they had never been
made visible. "But they do say that she is the cleverest of them
all," Mrs. Pole had added, very properly. The people of Exeter had
expressed such an opinion, and had been quite just in doing so. I do
not know how it happens, but it always does happen, that everybody
in every small town knows which is the brightest-witted in every
family. In this respect Mrs. Pole had only expressed public opinion,
and public opinion was right. Lucy Robarts was blessed with an
intelligence keener than that of her brothers or sisters.

"To tell the truth, Mark, I admire Lucy more than I do Blanche."
This had been said by Mrs. Robarts within a few hours of her having
assumed that name. "She's not a beauty, I know, but yet I do."

"My dearest Fanny!" Mark had answered in a tone of surprise.

"I do then; of course people won't think so; but I never seem to care
about regular beauties. Perhaps I envy them too much." What Mark
said next need not be repeated, but everybody may be sure that it
contained some gross flattery for his young bride. He remembered
this, however, and had always called Lucy his wife's pet. Neither
of the sisters had since that been at Framley; and though Fanny
had spent a week at Exeter on the occasion of Blanche's marriage,
it could hardly be said that she was very intimate with them.
Nevertheless, when it became expedient that one of them should go
to Framley, the remembrance of what his wife had said immediately
induced Mark to make the offer to Lucy; and Jane, who was of a
kindred soul with Blanche, was delighted to go to Creamclotted
Hall. The acres of Heavybed House, down in that fat Totnes country,
adjoined those of Creamclotted Hall, and Heavybed House still wanted
a mistress.

Fanny was delighted when the news reached her. It would of course
be proper that one of his sisters should live with Mark under their
present circumstances, and she was happy to think that that quiet
little bright-eyed creature was to come and nestle with her under the
same roof. The children should so love her--only not quite so much as
they loved mamma; and the snug little room that looks out over the
porch, in which the chimney never smokes, should be made ready for
her; and she should be allowed her share of driving the pony--which
was a great sacrifice of self on the part of Mrs. Robarts--and Lady
Lufton's best good-will should be bespoken. In fact, Lucy was not
unfortunate in the destination that was laid out for her. Lady Lufton
had of course heard of the doctor's death, and had sent all manner of
kind messages to Mark, advising him not to hurry home by any means
until everything was settled at Exeter. And then she was told of the
new-comer that was expected in the parish. When she heard that it
was Lucy, the younger, she also was satisfied; for Blanche's charms,
though indisputable, had not been altogether to her taste. If a
second Blanche were to arrive there what danger might there not be
for young Lord Lufton! "Quite right," said her ladyship, "just what
he ought to do. I think I remember the young lady; rather small, is
she not, and very retiring?"

"Rather small and very retiring. What a description!" said Lord
Lufton.

"Never mind, Ludovic; some young ladies must be small, and some
at least ought to be retiring. We shall be delighted to make her
acquaintance."

"I remember your other sister-in-law very well," said Lord Lufton.
"She was a beautiful woman."

"I don't think you will consider Lucy a beauty," said Mrs. Robarts.

"Small, retiring, and--" so far Lord Lufton had gone, when Mrs.
Robarts finished by the word, "plain." She had liked Lucy's face, but
she had thought that others probably did not do so.

"Upon my word," said Lady Lufton, "you don't deserve to have a
sister-in-law. I remember her very well, and can say that she is not
plain. I was very much taken with her manner at your wedding, my
dear, and thought more of her than I did of the beauty, I can tell
you."

"I must confess I do not remember her at all," said his lordship. And
so the conversation ended. And then at the end of the fortnight Mark
arrived with his sister. They did not reach Framley till long after
dark--somewhere between six and seven--and by this time it was
December. There was snow on the ground, and frost in the air, and no
moon, and cautious men when they went on the roads had their horses'
shoes cocked. Such being the state of the weather Mark's gig had
been nearly filled with cloaks and shawls when it was sent over to
Silverbridge. And a cart was sent for Lucy's luggage, and all manner
of preparations had been made. Three times had Fanny gone herself to
see that the fire burned brightly in the little room over the porch,
and at the moment that the sound of the wheels was heard she was
engaged in opening her son's mind as to the nature of an aunt.
Hitherto papa and mamma and Lady Lufton were all that he had known,
excepting, of course, the satellites of the nursery. And then in
three minutes Lucy was standing by the fire. Those three minutes
had been taken up in embraces between the husband and the wife. Let
who would be brought as a visitor to the house, after a fortnight's
absence, she would kiss him before she welcomed any one else. But
then she turned to Lucy, and began to assist her with her cloaks.

"Oh, thank you," said Lucy; "I'm not cold,--not very at least. Don't
trouble yourself: I can do it." But here she had made a false boast,
for her fingers had been so numbed that she could not do nor undo
anything. They were all in black, of course; but the sombreness of
Lucy's clothes struck Fanny much more than her own. They seemed to
have swallowed her up in their blackness, and to have made her almost
an emblem of death. She did not look up, but kept her face turned
towards the fire, and seemed almost afraid of her position.

"She may say what she likes, Fanny," said Mark, "but she is very
cold. And so am I,--cold enough. You had better go up with her to her
room. We won't do much in the dressing way to-night; eh, Lucy?" In
the bedroom Lucy thawed a little, and Fanny, as she kissed her, said
to herself that she had been wrong as to that word "plain." Lucy, at
any rate, was not plain.

"You will be used to us soon," said Fanny, "and then I hope we shall
make you comfortable." And she took her sister-in-law's hand and
pressed it. Lucy looked up at her, and her eyes then were tender
enough. "I am sure I shall be happy here," she said, "with you.
But--but--dear papa!" And then they got into each other's arms,
and had a great bout of kissing and crying. "Plain," said Fanny to
herself, as at last she got her guest's hair smoothed and the tears
washed from her eyes--"plain! She has the loveliest countenance that
I ever looked at in my life!"

"Your sister is quite beautiful," she said to Mark, as they talked
her over alone before they went to sleep that night.

"No, she's not beautiful; but she's a very good girl, and clever
enough too, in her sort of way."

"I think her perfectly lovely. I never saw such eyes in my life
before."

"I'll leave her in your hands, then; you shall get her a husband."

"That mayn't be so easy. I don't think she'd marry anybody."

"Well, I hope not. But she seems to me to be exactly cut out for an
old maid;--to be Aunt Lucy for ever and ever to your bairns."

"And so she shall, with all my heart. But I don't think she will,
very long. I have no doubt she will be hard to please; but if I were
a man I should fall in love with her at once. Did you ever observe
her teeth, Mark?"

"I don't think I ever did."

"You wouldn't know whether any one had a tooth in their head, I
believe."

"No one except you, my dear; and I know all yours by heart."

"You are a goose."

"And a very sleepy one; so, if you please, I'll go to roost."
And thus there was nothing more said about Lucy's beauty on that
occasion.

For the first two days Mrs. Robarts did not make much of her
sister-in-law. Lucy, indeed, was not demonstrative: and she was,
moreover, one of those few persons--for they are very few--who are
contented to go on with their existence without making themselves the
centre of any special outward circle. To the ordinary run of minds
it is impossible not to do this. A man's own dinner is to himself
so important that he cannot bring himself to believe that it is a
matter utterly indifferent to every one else. A lady's collection of
baby-clothes, in early years, and of house linen and curtain-fringes
in later life, is so very interesting to her own eyes, that she
cannot believe but what other people will rejoice to behold it. I
would not, however, be held as regarding this tendency as evil. It
leads to conversation of some sort among people, and perhaps to a
kind of sympathy. Mrs. Jones will look at Mrs. White's linen chest,
hoping that Mrs. White may be induced to look at hers. One can only
pour out of a jug that which is in it. For the most of us, if we do
not talk of ourselves, or at any rate of the individual circles of
which we are the centres, we can talk of nothing. I cannot hold with
those who wish to put down the insignificant chatter of the world.
As for myself, I am always happy to look at Mrs. Jones's linen,
and never omit an opportunity of giving her the details of my own
dinners. But Lucy Robarts had not this gift. She had come there as
a stranger into her sister-in-law's house, and at first seemed as
though she would be contented in simply having her corner in the
drawing-room and her place at the parlour-table. She did not seem to
need the comforts of condolence and open-hearted talking. I do not
mean to say that she was moody, that she did not answer when she was
spoken to, or that she took no notice of the children; but she did
not at once throw herself and all her hopes and sorrows into Fanny's
heart, as Fanny would have had her do.

Mrs. Robarts herself was what we call demonstrative. When she was
angry with Lady Lufton she showed it. And as since that time her
love and admiration for Lady Lufton had increased, she showed that
also. When she was in any way displeased with her husband, she could
not hide it, even though she tried to do so, and fancied herself
successful;--no more than she could hide her warm, constant,
overflowing woman's love. She could not walk through a room hanging
on her husband's arm without seeming to proclaim to every one there
that she thought him the best man in it. She was demonstrative, and
therefore she was the more disappointed in that Lucy did not rush at
once with all her cares into her open heart. "She is so quiet," Fanny
said to her husband.

"That's her nature," said Mark. "She always was quiet as a child.
While we were smashing everything, she would never crack a teacup."

"I wish she would break something now," said Fanny, "and then perhaps
we should get to talk about it." But she did not on this account give
over loving her sister-in-law. She probably valued her the more,
unconsciously, for not having those aptitudes with which she herself
was endowed. And then after two days Lady Lufton called: of course
it may be supposed that Fanny had said a good deal to her new inmate
about Lady Lufton. A neighbour of that kind in the country exercises
so large an influence upon the whole tenor of one's life, that to
abstain from such talk is out of the question. Mrs. Robarts had
been brought up almost under the dowager's wing, and of course she
regarded her as being worthy of much talking. Do not let persons
on this account suppose that Mrs. Robarts was a tuft-hunter, or a
toad-eater. If they do not see the difference they have yet got to
study the earliest principles of human nature.

Lady Lufton called, and Lucy was struck dumb. Fanny was particularly
anxious that her ladyship's first impression should be favourable,
and to effect this, she especially endeavoured to throw the two
together during that visit. But in this she was unwise. Lady Lufton,
however, had woman-craft enough not to be led into any egregious
error by Lucy's silence. "And what day will you come and dine with
us?" said Lady Lufton, turning expressly to her old friend Fanny.

"Oh, do you name the day. We never have many engagements, you know."

"Will Thursday do, Miss Robarts? You will meet nobody you know, only
my son; so you need not regard it as going out. Fanny here will tell
you that stepping over to Framley Court is no more going out, than
when you go from one room to another in the parsonage. Is it, Fanny?"
Fanny laughed, and said that that stepping over to Framley Court
certainly was done so often that perhaps they did not think so much
about it as they ought to do.

"We consider ourselves a sort of happy family here, Miss Robarts,
and are delighted to have the opportunity of including you in the
_ménage_." Lucy gave her ladyship one of her sweetest smiles, but
what she said at that moment was inaudible. It was plain, however,
that she could not bring herself even to go as far as Framley Court
for her dinner just at present. "It was very kind of Lady Lufton,"
she said to Fanny; "but it was so very soon, and--and--and if they
would only go without her, she would be so happy." But as the object
was to go with her--expressly to take her there--the dinner was
adjourned for a short time--_sine die_.



CHAPTER XI

Griselda Grantly


It was nearly a month after this that Lucy was first introduced to
Lord Lufton, and then it was brought about only by accident. During
that time Lady Lufton had been often at the parsonage, and had in a
certain degree learned to know Lucy; but the stranger in the parish
had never yet plucked up courage to accept one of the numerous
invitations that had reached her. Mr. Robarts and his wife had
frequently been at Framley Court, but the dreaded day of Lucy's
initiation had not yet arrived. She had seen Lord Lufton in church,
but hardly so as to know him, and beyond that she had not seen him at
all. One day, however--or rather, one evening, for it was already
dusk--he overtook her and Mrs. Robarts on the road walking towards
the vicarage. He had his gun on his shoulder, three pointers were at
his heels, and a gamekeeper followed a little in the rear.

"How are you, Mrs. Robarts?" he said, almost before he had overtaken
them. "I have been chasing you along the road for the last half-mile.
I never knew ladies walk so fast.".

"We should be frozen if we were to dawdle about as you gentlemen do,"
and then she stopped and shook hands with him. She forgot at the
moment that Lucy and he had not met, and therefore she did not
introduce them.

"Won't you make me known to your sister-in-law!" said he taking off
his hat, and bowing to Lucy. "I have never yet had the pleasure of
meeting her, though we have been neighbours for a month and more."
Fanny made her excuses and introduced them, and then they went on
till they came to Framley Gate, Lord Lufton talking to them both, and
Fanny answering for the two, and there they stopped for a moment.

"I am surprised to see you alone," Mrs. Robarts had just said; "I
thought that Captain Culpepper was with you."

"The captain has left me for this one day. If you'll whisper I'll
tell you where he has gone. I dare not speak it out loud, even to the
woods."

"To what terrible place can he have taken himself? I'll have no
whisperings about such horrors."

"He has gone to--to--but you'll promise not to tell my mother?"

"Not tell your mother! Well, now you have excited my curiosity! where
can he be?"

"Do you promise, then?"

"Oh, yes! I will promise, because I am sure Lady Lufton won't ask me
as to Captain Culpepper's whereabouts. We won't tell; will we, Lucy?"

"He has gone to Gatherum Castle for a day's pheasant-shooting. Now,
mind, you must not betray us. Her ladyship supposes that he is shut
up in his room with a toothache. We did not dare to mention the name
to her." And then it appeared that Mrs. Robarts had some engagement
which made it necessary that she should go up and see Lady Lufton,
whereas Lucy was intending to walk on to the parsonage alone.

"And I have promised to go to your husband," said Lord Lufton; "or
rather to your husband's dog, Ponto. And I will do two other good
things--I will carry a brace of pheasants with me, and protect Miss
Robarts from the evil spirits of the Framley roads." And so Mrs.
Robarts turned in at the gate, and Lucy and his lordship walked off
together. Lord Lufton, though he had never before spoken to Miss
Robarts, had already found out that she was by no means plain. Though
he had hardly seen her except at church, he had already made himself
certain that the owner of that face must be worth knowing, and was
not sorry to have the present opportunity of speaking to her. "So you
have an unknown damsel shut up in your castle," he had once said to
Mrs. Robarts. "If she be kept a prisoner much longer, I shall find it
my duty to come and release her by force of arms." He had been there
twice with the object of seeing her, but on both occasions Lucy had
managed to escape. Now we may say she was fairly caught, and Lord
Lufton, taking a pair of pheasants from the gamekeeper, and swinging
them over his shoulder, walked off with his prey. "You have been here
a long time," he said, "without our having had the pleasure of seeing
you."

"Yes, my lord," said Lucy. Lords had not been frequent among her
acquaintance hitherto.

"I tell Mrs. Robarts that she has been confining you illegally, and
that we shall release you by force or stratagem."

"I--I--I have had a great sorrow lately."

"Yes, Miss Robarts; I know you have; and I am only joking, you know.
But I do hope that now you will be able to come amongst us. My mother
is so anxious that you should do so."

"I am sure she is very kind, and you also--my lord."

"I never knew my own father," said Lord Lufton, speaking gravely.
"But I can well understand what a loss you have had." And then, after
pausing a moment, he continued, "I remember Dr. Robarts well."

"Do you, indeed?" said Lucy, turning sharply towards him, and
speaking now with some animation in her voice. Nobody had yet spoken
to her about her father since she had been at Framley. It had been as
though the subject were a forbidden one. And how frequently is this
the case! When those we love are dead, our friends dread to mention
them, though to us who are bereaved no subject would be so pleasant
as their names. But we rarely understand how to treat our own sorrow
or those of others.

There was once a people in some land--and they may be still there
for what I know--who thought it sacrilegious to stay the course of a
raging fire. If a house were being burned, burn it must, even though
there were facilities for saving it. For who would dare to interfere
with the course of the god? Our idea of sorrow is much the same. We
think it wicked, or at any rate heartless, to put it out. If a man's
wife be dead, he should go about lugubrious, with long face, for at
least two years, or perhaps with full length for eighteen months,
decreasing gradually during the other six. If he be a man who can
quench his sorrow--put out his fire as it were--in less time than
that, let him at any rate not show his power!

"Yes: I remember him," continued Lord Lufton. "He came twice to
Framley while I was a boy, consulting with my mother about Mark and
myself,--whether the Eton floggings were not more efficacious than
those at Harrow. He was very kind to me, foreboding all manner of
good things on my behalf."

"He was very kind to every one," said Lucy.

"I should think he would have been--a kind, good, genial man--just
the man to be adored by his own family."

"Exactly; and so he was. I do not remember that I ever heard an
unkind word from him, There was not a harsh tone in his voice. And
he was generous as the day." Lucy, we have said, was not generally
demonstrative, but now, on this subject, and with this absolute
stranger, she became almost eloquent.

"I do not wonder that you should feel his loss, Miss Robarts."

"Oh, I do feel it. Mark is the best of brothers, and, as for Fanny,
she is too kind and too good to me. But I had always been specially
my father's friend. For the last year or two we had lived so much
together!"

"He was an old man when he died, was he not?"

"Just seventy, my lord."

"Ah, then he was old. My mother is only fifty, and we sometimes call
her the old woman. Do you think she looks older than that? We all say
that she makes herself out to be so much more ancient than she need
do."

"Lady Lufton does not dress young."

"That is it. She never has, in my memory. She always used to wear
black when I first recollect her. She has given that up now; but she
is still very sombre; is she not?"

"I do not like ladies to dress very young, that is, ladies of--of--"

"Ladies of fifty, we will say?"

"Very well; ladies of fifty, if you like it."

"Then I am sure you will like my mother."

They had now turned up through the parsonage wicket, a little gate
that opened into the garden at a point on the road nearer than the
chief entrance. "I suppose I shall find Mark up at the house?" said
he.

"I dare say you will, my lord."

"Well, I'll go round this way, for my business is partly in the
stable. You see I am quite at home here, though you never have seen
me before. But, Miss Robarts, now that the ice is broken, I hope that
we may be friends." He then put out his hand, and when she gave him
hers he pressed it almost as an old friend might have done. And,
indeed, Lucy had talked to him almost as though he were an old
friend. For a minute or two she had forgotten that he was a lord and
a stranger--had forgotten also to be stiff and guarded as was her
wont. Lord Lufton had spoken to her as though he had really cared to
know her; and she, unconsciously, had been taken by the compliment.
Lord Lufton, indeed, had not thought much about it--excepting as
thus, that he liked the glance of a pair of bright eyes, as most
other young men do like it. But, on this occasion, the evening had
been so dark, that he had hardly seen Lucy's eyes at all.

"Well, Lucy, I hope you liked your companion," Mrs. Robarts said, as
the three of them clustered round the drawing-room fire before
dinner.

"Oh, yes; pretty well," said Lucy.

"That is not at all complimentary to his lordship."

"I did not mean to be complimentary, Fanny."

"Lucy is a great deal too matter-of-fact for compliments," said Mark.

"What I meant was, that I had no great opportunity for judging,
seeing that I was only with Lord Lufton for about ten minutes."

"Ah! but there are girls here who would give their eyes for ten
minutes of Lord Lufton to themselves. You do not know how he's
valued. He has the character of being always able to make himself
agreeable to ladies at half a minute's warning."

"Perhaps he had not the half-minute's warning in this case," said
Lucy,--hypocrite that she was.

"Poor Lucy," said her brother; "he was coming up to see Ponto's
shoulder, and I am afraid he was thinking more about the dog than
you."

"Very likely," said Lucy; and then they went in to dinner. Lucy had
been a hypocrite, for she had confessed to herself, while dressing,
that Lord Lufton had been very pleasant; but then it is allowed to
young ladies to be hypocrites when the subject under discussion is
the character of a young gentleman.

Soon after that Lucy did dine at Framley Court. Captain Culpepper, in
spite of his enormity with reference to Gatherum Castle, was still
staying there, as was also a clergyman from the neighbourhood of
Barchester with his wife and daughter. This was Archdeacon Grantly,
a gentleman whom we have mentioned before, and who was as well known
in the diocese as the bishop himself--and more thought about by many
clergymen than even that illustrious prelate. Miss Grantly was a
young lady not much older than Lucy Robarts, and she also was quiet,
and not given to much talking in open company. She was decidedly a
beauty, but somewhat statuesque in her loveliness. Her forehead was
high and white, but perhaps too like marble to gratify the taste
of those who are fond of flesh and blood. Her eyes were large and
exquisitely formed, but they seldom showed much emotion. She, indeed,
was impassive herself, and betrayed but little of her feelings. Her
nose was nearly Grecian, not coming absolutely in a straight line
from her forehead, but doing so nearly enough to entitle it to be
considered as classical. Her mouth, too, was very fine--artists, at
least, said so, and connoisseurs in beauty; but to me she always
seemed as though she wanted fullness of lip. But the exquisite
symmetry of her cheek and chin and lower face no man could deny. Her
hair was light, and being always dressed with considerable care, did
not detract from her appearance; but it lacked that richness which
gives such luxuriance to feminine loveliness. She was tall and
slight, and very graceful in her movements; but there were those who
thought that she wanted the ease and abandon of youth. They said that
she was too composed and stiff for her age, and that she gave but
little to society beyond the beauty of her form and face. There can
be no doubt, however, that she was considered by most men and women
to be the beauty of Barsetshire, and that gentlemen from neighbouring
counties would come many miles through dirty roads on the mere hope
of being able to dance with her. Whatever attractions she may have
lacked, she had at any rate created for herself a great reputation.
She had spent two months of the last spring in London, and even there
she had made a sensation; and people had said that Lord Dumbello,
Lady Hartletop's eldest son, had been peculiarly struck with her.

It may be imagined that the archdeacon was proud of her, and so,
indeed, was Mrs. Grantly--more proud, perhaps, of her daughter's
beauty, than so excellent a woman should have allowed herself to be
of such an attribute. Griselda--that was her name--was now an only
daughter. One sister she had had, but that sister had died. There
were two brothers also left, one in the Church, and the other in the
Army. That was the extent of the archdeacon's family, and as the
archdeacon was a very rich man--he was the only child of his father,
who had been Bishop of Barchester for a great many years; and
in those years it had been worth a man's while to be Bishop of
Barchester--it was supposed that Miss Grantly would have a large
fortune. Mrs. Grantly, however, had been heard to say, that she was
in no hurry to see her daughter established in the world;--ordinary
young ladies are merely married, but those of real importance
are established:--and this, if anything, added to the value of
the prize. Mothers sometimes depreciate their wares by an undue
solicitude to dispose of them. But to tell the truth openly and
at once--a virtue for which a novelist does not receive very much
commendation--Griselda Grantly was, to a certain extent, already
given away. Not that she, Griselda, knew anything about it, or that
the thrice happy gentleman had been made aware of his good fortune;
nor even had the archdeacon been told. But Mrs. Grantly and Lady
Lufton had been closeted together more than once, and terms had
been signed and sealed between them. Not signed on parchment, and
sealed with wax, as is the case with treaties made by kings and
diplomats--to be broken by the same; but signed with little words,
and sealed with certain pressings of the hand--a treaty which between
two such contracting parties would be binding enough. And by the
terms of this treaty Griselda Grantly was to become Lady Lufton. Lady
Lufton had hitherto been fortunate in her matrimonial speculations.
She had selected Sir George for her daughter, and Sir George, with
the utmost good-nature, had fallen in with her views. She had
selected Fanny Monsell for Mr. Robarts, and Fanny Monsell had not
rebelled against her for a moment. There was a prestige of success
about her doings, and she felt almost confident that her dear son
Ludovic must fall in love with Griselda. As to the lady herself,
nothing, Lady Lufton thought, could be much better than such a match
for her son. Lady Lufton, I have said, was a good Churchwoman, and
the archdeacon was the very type of that branch of the Church which
she venerated. The Grantlys, too, were of a good family--not noble,
indeed; but in such matters Lady Lufton did not want everything. She
was one of those persons who, in placing their hopes at a moderate
pitch, may fairly trust to see them realized. She would fain that her
son's wife should be handsome; this she wished for his sake, that he
might be proud of his wife, and because men love to look on beauty.
But she was afraid of vivacious beauty, of those soft, sparkling
feminine charms which are spread out as lures for all the world,
soft dimples, laughing eyes, luscious lips, conscious smiles, and
easy whispers. What if her son should bring her home a rattling,
rapid-spoken, painted piece of Eve's flesh such as this? Would not
the glory and joy of her life be over, even though such child of
their first mother should have come forth to the present day ennobled
by the blood of two dozen successive British peers?

And then, too, Griselda's money would not be useless. Lady Lufton,
with all her high-flown ideas, was not an imprudent woman. She knew
that her son had been extravagant, though she did not believe that he
had been reckless; and she was well content to think that some balsam
from the old bishop's coffers should be made to cure the slight
wounds which his early imprudence might have inflicted on the carcass
of the family property. And thus, in this way, and for these reasons,
Griselda Grantly had been chosen out from all the world to be the
future Lady Lufton. Lord Lufton had met Griselda more than once
already; had met her before these high contracting parties had come
to any terms whatsoever, and had evidently admired her. Lord Dumbello
had remained silent one whole evening in London with ineffable
disgust, because Lord Lufton had been rather particular in his
attentions; but then Lord Dumbello's muteness was his most eloquent
mode of expression. Both Lady Hartletop and Mrs. Grantly, when they
saw him, knew very well what he meant. But that match would not
exactly have suited Mrs. Grantly's views. The Hartletop people were
not in her line. They belonged altogether to another set, being
connected, as we have heard before, with the Omnium interest--"those
horrid Gatherum people," as Lady Lufton would say to her, raising
her hands and eyebrows, and shaking her head. Lady Lufton probably
thought that they ate babies in pies during their midnight orgies at
Gatherum Castle; and that widows were kept in cells, and occasionally
put on racks for the amusement of the duke's guests.

When the Robarts's party entered the drawing-room the Grantlys were
already there, and the archdeacon's voice sounded loud and imposing
in Lucy's ears, as she heard him speaking, while she was yet on the
threshold of the door. "My dear Lady Lufton, I would believe anything
on earth about her--anything. There is nothing too outrageous for
her. Had she insisted on going there with the bishop's apron on, I
should not have been surprised." And then they all knew that the
archdeacon was talking about Mrs. Proudie, for Mrs. Proudie was his
bugbear.

Lady Lufton after receiving her guests introduced Lucy to Griselda
Grantly. Miss Grantly smiled graciously, bowed slightly, and then
remarked in the lowest voice possible that it was exceedingly cold. A
low voice, we know, is an excellent thing in woman. Lucy, who thought
that she was bound to speak, said that it was cold, but that she did
not mind it when she was walking. And then Griselda smiled again,
somewhat less graciously than before, and so the conversation ended.
Miss Grantly was the elder of the two, and having seen most of the
world, should have been the best able to talk, but perhaps she was
not very anxious for a conversation with Miss Robarts.

"So, Robarts, I hear that you have been preaching at Chaldicotes,"
said the archdeacon, still rather loudly. "I saw Sowerby the other
day, and he told me that you gave them the fag end of Mrs. Proudie's
lecture."

"It was ill-natured of Sowerby to say the fag end," said Robarts. "We
divided the matter into thirds. Harold Smith took the first part, I
the last--"

"And the lady the intervening portion. You have electrified the
county between you; but I am told that she had the best of it."

"I was so sorry that Mr. Robarts went there," said Lady Lufton, as
she walked into the dining-room leaning on the archdeacon's arm.

"I am inclined to think he could not very well have helped himself,"
said the archdeacon, who was never willing to lean heavily on a
brother parson, unless on one who had utterly and irrevocably gone
away from his side of the Church.

"Do you think not, archdeacon?"

"Why, no: Sowerby is a friend of Lufton's--"

"Not particularly," said poor Lady Lufton, in a deprecating tone.

"Well, they have been intimate; and Robarts, when he was asked to
preach at Chaldicotes, could not well refuse."

"But then he went afterwards to Gatherum Castle. Not that I am vexed
with him at all now, you understand. But it is such a dangerous
house, you know."

"So it is.--But the very fact of the duke's wishing to have a
clergyman there, should always be taken as a sign of grace, Lady
Lufton. The air was impure, no doubt; but it was less impure with
Robarts there than it would have been without him. But, gracious
heavens! what blasphemy have I been saying about impure air? Why,
the bishop was there!"

"Yes, the bishop was there," said Lady Lufton, and they both
understood each other thoroughly.

Lord Lufton took out Mrs. Grantly to dinner, and matters were so
managed that Miss Grantly sat on his other side. There was no
management apparent in this to anybody; but there she was, while
Lucy was placed between her brother and Captain Culpepper. Captain
Culpepper was a man with an enormous moustache, and a great aptitude
for slaughtering game; but as he had no other strong characteristics
it was not probable that he would make himself very agreeable to poor
Lucy. She had seen Lord Lufton once, for two minutes, since the day
of that walk, and then he had addressed her quite like an old friend.
It had been in the parsonage drawing-room, and Fanny had been there.
Fanny now was so well accustomed to his lordship, that she thought
but little of this, but to Lucy it had been very pleasant. He was not
forward or familiar, but kind, and gentle, and pleasant; and Lucy did
feel that she liked him. Now, on this evening, he had hitherto hardly
spoken to her; but then she knew that there were other people in
the company to whom he was bound to speak. She was not exactly
humble-minded in the usual sense of the word; but she did recognise
the fact that her position was less important than that of other
people there, and that therefore it was probable that to a certain
extent she would be overlooked. But not the less would she have liked
to occupy the seat to which Miss Grantly had found her way. She did
not want to flirt with Lord Lufton; she was not such a fool as that;
but she would have liked to have heard the sound of his voice close
to her ear, instead of that of Captain Culpepper's knife and fork.
This was the first occasion on which she had endeavoured to dress
herself with care since her father had died; and now, sombre though
she was in her deep mourning, she did look very well.

"There is an expression about her forehead that is full of poetry,"
Fanny had said to her husband.

"Don't you turn her head, Fanny, and make her believe that she is a
beauty," Mark had answered.

"I doubt it is not so easy to turn her head, Mark. There is more in
Lucy than you imagine, and so you will find out before long." It was
thus that Mrs. Robarts prophesied about her sister-in-law. Had she
been asked she might perhaps have said that Lucy's presence would be
dangerous to the Grantly interest at Framley Court.

Lord Lufton's voice was audible enough as he went on talking to Miss
Grantly--his voice, but not his words. He talked in such a way that
there was no appearance of whispering, and yet the person to whom he
spoke, and she only, could hear what he said. Mrs. Grantly the while
conversed constantly with Lucy's brother, who sat at Lucy's left
hand. She never lacked for subjects on which to speak to a country
clergyman of the right sort, and thus Griselda was left quite
uninterrupted. But Lucy could not but observe that Griselda herself
seemed to have very little to say--or at any rate to say very little.
Every now and then she did open her mouth, and some word or brace
of words would fall from it. But for the most part she seemed to be
content in the fact that Lord Lufton was paying her attention. She
showed no animation, but sat there still and graceful, composed and
classical, as she always was. Lucy, who could not keep her ears from
listening or her eyes from looking, thought that had she been there
she would have endeavoured to take a more prominent part in the
conversation. But then Griselda Grantly probably knew much better
than Lucy did how to comport herself in such a situation. Perhaps it
might be that young men, such as Lord Lufton, liked to hear the sound
of their own voices.

"Immense deal of game about here," Captain Culpepper said to her
towards the end of the dinner. It was the second attempt he had made;
on the former he had asked her whether she knew any of the fellows of
the 9th.

"Is there?" said Lucy. "Oh! I saw Lord Lufton the other day with a
great armful of pheasants."

"An armful! Why we had seven cartloads the other day at Gatherum."

"Seven carts full of pheasants!" said Lucy, amazed.

"That's not so much. We had eight guns, you know. Eight guns will do
a deal of work when the game has been well got together. They manage
all that capitally at Gatherum. Been at the duke's, eh?" Lucy had
heard the Framley report as to Gatherum Castle, and said with a sort
of shudder that she had never been at that place. After this, Captain
Culpepper troubled her no further.

When the ladies had taken themselves to the drawing-room Lucy found
herself hardly better off than she had been at the dinner-table. Lady
Lufton and Mrs. Grantly got themselves on to a sofa together, and
there chatted confidentially into each other's ears. Her ladyship
had introduced Lucy and Miss Grantly, and then she naturally thought
that the young people might do very well together. Mrs. Robarts did
attempt to bring about a joint conversation, which should include the
three, and for ten minutes or so she worked hard at it. But it did
not thrive. Miss Grantly was monosyllabic, smiling, however, at every
monosyllable; and Lucy found that nothing would occur to her at that
moment worthy of being spoken. There she sat, still and motionless,
afraid to take up a book, and thinking in her heart how much happier
she would have been at home at the parsonage. She was not made for
society; she felt sure of that; and another time she would let Mark
and Fanny come to Framley Court by themselves. And then the gentlemen
came in, and there was another stir in the room. Lady Lufton got up
and bustled about; she poked the fire and shifted the candles, spoke
a few words to Dr. Grantly, whispered something to her son, patted
Lucy on the cheek, told Fanny, who was a musician, that they would
have a little music, and ended by putting her two hands on Griselda's
shoulders and telling her that the fit of her frock was perfect. For
Lady Lufton, though she did dress old herself, as Lucy had said,
delighted to see those around her neat and pretty, jaunty and
graceful.

"Dear Lady Lufton!" said Griselda, putting up her hand so as to
press the end of her ladyship's fingers. It was the first piece of
animation she had shown, and Lucy Robarts watched it all. And then
there was music. Lucy neither played nor sang; Fanny did both, and
for an amateur did both well. Griselda did not sing, but she played;
and did so in a manner that showed that neither her own labour nor
her father's money had been spared in her instruction. Lord Lufton
sang also, a little, and Captain Culpepper a very little; so that
they got up a concert among them. In the meantime the doctor and Mark
stood talking together on the rug before the fire; the two mothers
sat contented, watching the billings and the cooings of their
offspring--and Lucy sat alone, turning over the leaves of a book of
pictures. She made up her mind fully, then and there, that she was
quite unfitted by disposition for such work as this. She cared for
no one, and no one cared for her. Well, she must go through with it
now; but another time she would know better. With her own book and a
fireside she never felt herself to be miserable as she was now. She
had turned her back to the music for she was sick of seeing Lord
Lufton watch the artistic motion of Miss Grantly's fingers, and
was sitting at a small table as far away from the piano as a long
room would permit, when she was suddenly roused from a reverie of
self-reproach by a voice close behind her: "Miss Robarts," said
the voice, "why have you cut us all?" and Lucy felt that, though
she heard the words plainly, nobody else did. Lord Lufton was now
speaking to her as he had before spoken to Miss Grantly.

"I don't play, my lord," said Lucy, "nor yet sing."

"That would have made your company so much more valuable to us, for
we are terribly badly off for listeners. Perhaps you don't like
music?"

"I do like it,--sometimes very much."

"And when are the sometimes? But we shall find it all out in time. We
shall have unravelled all your mysteries, and read all your riddles
by--when shall I say?--by the end of the winter. Shall we not?"

"I do not know that I have got any mysteries."

"Oh, but you have! It is very mysterious in you to come and sit
here--with your back to us all--"

"Oh, Lord Lufton; if I have done wrong--!" and poor Lucy almost
started from her chair, and a deep flush came across her dark cheek.

"No--no; you have done no wrong. I was only joking. It is we who
have done wrong in leaving you to yourself--you who are the greatest
stranger among us."

"I have been very well, thank you. I don't care about being left
alone. I have always been used to it."

"Ah! but we must break you of the habit. We won't allow you to make a
hermit of yourself. But the truth is, Miss Robarts, you don't know us
yet, and therefore you are not quite happy among us."

"Oh! yes, I am; you are all very good to me."

"You must let us be good to you. At any rate, you must let me be so.
You know, don't you, that Mark and I have been dear friends since we
were seven years old. His wife has been my sister's dearest friend
almost as long; and now that you are with them, you must be a dear
friend too. You won't refuse the offer, will you?"

"Oh, no," she said, quite in a whisper; and, indeed, she could hardly
raise her voice above a whisper, fearing that tears would fall from
her tell-tale eyes.

"Dr. and Mrs. Grantly will have gone in a couple of days, and then we
must get you down here. Miss Grantly is to remain for Christmas, and
you two must become bosom friends." Lucy smiled, and tried to look
pleased, but she felt that she and Griselda Grantly could never be
bosom friends--could never have anything in common between them.
She felt sure that Griselda despised her, little, brown, plain, and
unimportant as she was. She herself could not despise Griselda in
turn; indeed she could not but admire Miss Grantly's great beauty and
dignity of demeanour; but she knew that she could never love her.
It is hardly possible that the proud-hearted should love those who
despise them; and Lucy Robarts was very proud-hearted.

"Don't you think she is very handsome?" said Lord Lufton.

"Oh, very," said Lucy. "Nobody can doubt that."

"Ludovic," said Lady Lufton--not quite approving of her son's
remaining so long at the back of Lucy's chair--"won't you give us
another song? Mrs. Robarts and Miss Grantly are still at the piano."

"I have sung away all that I knew, mother. There's Culpepper has not
had a chance yet. He has got to give us his dream--how he 'dreamt
that he dwelt in marble halls!'"

"I sang that an hour ago," said the captain, not over-pleased.

"But you certainly have not told us how 'your little lovers came!'"
The captain, however, would not sing any more. And then the party was
broken up, and the Robartses went home to their parsonage.



CHAPTER XII

The Little Bill


Lucy, during those last fifteen minutes of her sojourn in the Framley
Court drawing-room, somewhat modified the very strong opinion she
had before formed as to her unfitness for such society. It was very
pleasant sitting there in that easy chair, while Lord Lufton stood at
the back of it saying nice, soft, good-natured words to her. She was
sure that in a little time she could feel a true friendship for him,
and that she could do so without any risk of falling in love with
him. But then she had a glimmering of an idea that such a friendship
would be open to all manner of remarks, and would hardly be
compatible with the world's ordinary ways. At any rate it would be
pleasant to be at Framley Court, if he would come and occasionally
notice her. But she did not admit to herself that such a visit would
be intolerable if his whole time were devoted to Griselda Grantly.
She neither admitted it, nor thought it; but nevertheless, in a
strange unconscious way, such a feeling did find entrance in her
bosom. And then the Christmas holidays passed away. How much of this
enjoyment fell to her share, and how much of this suffering she
endured, we will not attempt accurately to describe. Miss Grantly
remained at Framley Court up to Twelfth Night, and the Robartses also
spent most of the season at the house. Lady Lufton, no doubt, had
hoped that everything might have been arranged on this occasion in
accordance with her wishes, but such had not been the case. Lord
Lufton had evidently admired Miss Grantly very much: indeed, he
had said so to his mother half a dozen times; but it may almost be
questioned whether the pleasure Lady Lufton derived from this was not
more than neutralized by an opinion he once put forward that Griselda
Grantly wanted some of the fire of Lucy Robarts.

"Surely, Ludovic, you would never compare the two girls," said Lady
Lufton.

"Of course not. They are the very antipodes to each other. Miss
Grantly would probably be more to my taste; but then I am wise enough
to know that it is so because my taste is a bad taste."

"I know no man with a more accurate or refined taste in such
matters," said Lady Lufton. Beyond this she did not dare to go. She
knew very well that her strategy would be vain should her son once
learn that she had a strategy. To tell the truth, Lady Lufton was
becoming somewhat indifferent to Lucy Robarts. She had been very kind
to the little girl; but the little girl seemed hardly to appreciate
the kindness as she should do--and then Lord Lufton would talk to
Lucy, "which was so unnecessary, you know;" and Lucy had got into
a way of talking quite freely with Lord Lufton, having completely
dropped that short, spasmodic, ugly exclamation of "my lord." And so
the Christmas festivities were at an end, and January wore itself
away. During the greater part of this month Lord Lufton did not
remain at Framley, but was nevertheless in the county, hunting with
the hounds of both divisions, and staying at various houses. Two or
three nights he spent at Chaldicotes; and one--let it only be told in
an under voice--at Gatherum Castle! Of this he said nothing to Lady
Lufton. "Why make her unhappy?" as he said to Mark. But Lady Lufton
knew it, though she said not a word to him--knew it, and was unhappy.
"If he would only marry Griselda, there would be an end of that
danger," she said to herself.

But now we must go back for a while to the vicar and his little bill.
It will be remembered, that his first idea with reference to that
trouble, after the reading of his father's will, was to borrow the
money from his brother John. John was down at Exeter at the time,
and was to stay one night at the parsonage on his way to London.
Mark would broach the matter to him on the journey, painful though
it would be to him to tell the story of his own folly to a brother
so much younger than himself, and who had always looked up to him,
clergyman and full-blown vicar as he was, with a deference greater
than that which such difference in age required. The story was told,
however; but was told all in vain, as Mark found out before he
reached Framley. His brother John immediately declared that he would
lend him the money, of course--eight hundred, if his brother wanted
it. He, John, confessed that, as regarded the remaining two, he
should like to feel the pleasure of immediate possession. As for
interest, he would not take any--take interest from a brother! of
course not. Well, if Mark made such a fuss about it, he supposed he
must take it; but would rather not. Mark should have his own way, and
do just what he liked.

This was all very well, and Mark had fully made up his mind that his
brother should not be kept long out of his money. But then arose the
question, how was that money to be reached? He, Mark, was executor,
or one of the executors under his father's will, and, therefore, no
doubt, could put his hand upon it; but his brother wanted five months
of being of age, and could not therefore as yet be put legally in
possession of the legacy. "That's a bore," said the assistant private
secretary to the Lord Petty Bag, thinking, perhaps, as much of
his own immediate wish for ready cash as he did of his brother's
necessities. Mark felt that it was a bore, but there was nothing
more to be done in that direction. He must now find out how far the
bankers could assist him.

Some week or two after his return to Framley he went over to
Barchester, and called there on a certain Mr. Forrest, the manager
of one of the banks, with whom he was acquainted; and with many
injunctions as to secrecy told this manager the whole of his story.
At first he concealed the name of his friend Sowerby, but it soon
appeared that no such concealment was of any avail. "That Sowerby, of
course," said Mr. Forrest. "I know you are intimate with him; and all
his friends go through that, sooner or later." It seemed to Mark as
though Mr. Forrest made very light of the whole transaction.

"I cannot possibly pay the bill when it falls due," said Mark.

"Oh, no, of course not," said Mr. Forrest. "It's never very
convenient to hand out four hundred pounds at a blow. Nobody will
expect you to pay it!"

"But I suppose I shall have to do it sooner or later?"

"Well, that's as may be. It will depend partly on how you manage with
Sowerby, and partly on the hands it gets into. As the bill has your
name on it, they'll have patience as long as the interest is paid,
and the commissions on renewal. But no doubt it will have to be met
some day by somebody." Mr. Forrest said that he was sure that the
bill was not in Barchester; Mr. Sowerby would not, he thought, have
brought it to a Barchester bank. The bill was probably in London, but
doubtless would be sent to Barchester for collection. "If it comes in
my way," said Mr. Forrest, "I will give you plenty of time, so that
you may manage about the renewal with Sowerby. I suppose he'll pay
the expense of doing that."

Mark's heart was somewhat lighter as he left the bank. Mr. Forrest
had made so little of the whole transaction that he felt himself
justified in making little of it also. "It may be as well," said he
to himself, as he drove home, "not to tell Fanny anything about it
till the three months have run round. I must make some arrangement
then." And in this way his mind was easier during the last of those
three months than it had been during the two former. That feeling
of over-due bills, of bills coming due, of accounts overdrawn, of
tradesmen unpaid, of general money cares, is very dreadful at first;
but it is astonishing how soon men get used to it. A load which would
crush a man at first becomes, by habit, not only endurable, but
easy and comfortable to the bearer. The habitual debtor goes along
jaunty and with elastic step, almost enjoying the excitement of his
embarrassments. There was Mr. Sowerby himself; who ever saw a cloud
on his brow? It made one almost in love with ruin to be in his
company. And even now, already, Mark Robarts was thinking to himself
quite comfortably about this bill;--how very pleasantly those bankers
managed these things. Pay it! No; no one will be so unreasonable
as to expect you to do that! And then Mr. Sowerby certainly was a
pleasant fellow, and gave a man something in return for his money. It
was still a question with Mark whether Lord Lufton had not been too
hard on Sowerby. Had that gentleman fallen across his clerical friend
at the present moment, he might no doubt have gotten from him an
acceptance for another four hundred pounds.

One is almost inclined to believe that there is something pleasurable
in the excitement of such embarrassments, as there is also in the
excitement of drink. But then, at last, the time does come when the
excitement is over, and when nothing but the misery is left. If there
be an existence of wretchedness on earth it must be that of the
elderly, worn-out roué, who has run this race of debt and bills of
accommodation and acceptances--of what, if we were not in these
days somewhat afraid of good broad English, we might call lying and
swindling, falsehood and fraud--and who, having ruined all whom he
should have loved, having burnt up every one who would trust him
much, and scorched all who would trust him a little, is at last
left to finish his life with such bread and water as these men get,
without one honest thought to strengthen his sinking heart, or one
honest friend to hold his shivering hand! If a man could only think
of that, as he puts his name to the first little bill, as to which he
is so good-naturedly assured that it can easily be renewed!

When the three months had nearly run out, it so happened that Robarts
met his friend Sowerby. Mark had once or twice ridden with Lord
Lufton as far as the meet of the hounds, and may, perhaps, have gone
a field or two farther on some occasions. The reader must not think
that he had taken to hunting, as some parsons do; and it is singular
enough that whenever they do so they always show a special aptitude
for the pursuit, as though hunting were an employment peculiarly
congenial with a cure of souls in the country. Such a thought would
do our vicar injustice. But when Lord Lufton would ask him what on
earth could be the harm of riding along the roads to look at the
hounds, he hardly knew what sensible answer to give his lordship. It
would be absurd to say that his time would be better employed at home
in clerical matters, for it was notorious that he had not clerical
pursuits for the employment of half his time. In this way, therefore,
he had got into a habit of looking at the hounds, and keeping up his
acquaintance in the county, meeting Lord Dumbello, Mr. Green Walker,
Harold Smith, and other such like sinners; and on one such occasion,
as the three months were nearly closing, he did meet Mr. Sowerby.
"Look here, Sowerby; I want to speak to you for half a moment. What
are you doing about that bill?"

"Bill--bill! what bill?--which bill? The whole bill, and nothing but
the bill. That seems to be the conversation nowadays of all men,
morning, noon, and night?"

"Don't you know the bill I signed for you for four hundred pounds?"

"Did you, though? Was not that rather green of you?" This did seem
strange to Mark. Could it really be the fact that Mr. Sowerby had
so many bills flying about that he had absolutely forgotten that
occurrence in the Gatherum Castle bedroom? And then to be called
green by the very man whom he had obliged!

"Perhaps I was," said Mark, in a tone that showed that he was
somewhat piqued. "But all the same I should be glad to know how it
will be taken up."

"Oh, Mark, what a ruffian you are to spoil my day's sport in this
way. Any man but a parson would be too good a Christian for such
intense cruelty. But let me see--four hundred pounds? Oh, yes--Tozer
has it."

"And what will Tozer do with it?"

"Make money of it; whatever way he may go to work he will do that."

"But will Tozer bring it to me on the 20th?"

"Oh, Lord, no! Upon my word, Mark, you are deliciously green. A cat
would as soon think of killing a mouse directly she got it into her
claws. But, joking apart, you need not trouble yourself. Maybe you
will hear no more about it; or, perhaps, which no doubt is more
probable, I may have to send it to you to be renewed. But you need
do nothing till you hear from me or somebody else."

"Only do not let any one come down upon me for the money."

"There is not the slightest fear of that. Tally-ho, old fellow! He's
away. Tally-ho! right over by Gossetts' barn. Come along, and never
mind Tozer--'Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof.'" And away
they both went together, parson and member of Parliament. And then
again on that occasion Mark went home with a sort of feeling that the
bill did not matter. Tozer would manage it somehow; and it was quite
clear that it would not do to tell his wife of it just at present.

On the 21st of that month of February, however, he did receive a
reminder that the bill and all concerning it had not merely been a
farce. This was a letter from Mr. Sowerby, dated from Chaldicotes,
though not bearing the Barchester post-mark, in which that gentleman
suggested a renewal--not exactly of the old bill, but of a new one.
It seemed to Mark that the letter had been posted in London. If I
give it entire, I shall, perhaps, most quickly explain its purport:


   Chaldicotes,--20th February, 185--.

   MY DEAR MARK,

   "Lend not thy name to the money-dealers, for the same is a
   destruction and a snare." If that be not in the Proverbs,
   it ought to be. Tozer has given me certain signs of his
   being alive and strong this cold weather. As we can
   neither of us take up that bill for £400 at the moment, we
   must renew it, and pay him his commission and interest,
   with all the rest of his perquisites, and pickings, and
   stealings--from all which, I can assure you, Tozer does
   not keep his hands as he should do. To cover this and some
   other little outstanding trifles, I have filled in the new
   bill for £500, making it due 23rd of May next. Before that
   time, a certain accident will, I trust, have occurred to
   your impoverished friend. By the by, I never told you how
   she went off from Gatherum Castle, the morning after you
   left us, with the Greshams. Cart-ropes would not hold her,
   even though the duke held them; which he did, with all the
   strength of his ducal hands. She would go to meet some
   doctor of theirs, and so I was put off for that time; but
   I think that the matter stands in a good train.

   Do not lose a post in sending back the bill accepted, as
   Tozer may annoy you--nay, undoubtedly will, if the matter
   be not in his hand, duly signed by both of us, the day
   after to-morrow. He is an ungrateful brute; he has lived
   on me for these eight years, and would not let me off a
   single squeeze now to save my life. But I am specially
   anxious to save you from the annoyance and cost of
   lawyers' letters; and if delayed, it might get into the
   papers. Put it under cover to me, at No. 7, Duke Street,
   St. James's. I shall be in town by that time.

   Good-bye, old fellow. That was a decent brush we had the
   other day from Cobbold's Ashes. I wish I could get that
   brown horse from you. I would not mind going to a hundred
   and thirty.

   Yours ever,

   N. SOWERBY.


When Mark had read it through he looked down on his table to see
whether the old bill had fallen from the letter; but no, there was
no enclosure, and had been no enclosure but the new bill. And then
he read the letter through again, and found that there was no word
about the old bill--not a syllable, at least, as to its whereabouts.
Sowerby did not even say that it would remain in his own hands. Mark
did not in truth know much about such things. It might be that the
very fact of his signing this second document would render that first
document null and void; and from Sowerby's silence on the subject, it
might be argued that this was so well known to be the case, that he
had not thought of explaining it. But yet Mark could not see how this
should be so. But what was he to do? That threat of cost and lawyers,
and specially of the newspapers, did have its effect upon him--as
no doubt it was intended to do. And then he was utterly dumbfounded
by Sowerby's impudence in drawing on him for £500 instead of £400,
"covering," as Sowerby so good-humouredly said, "sundry little
outstanding trifles."

But at last he did sign the bill, and sent it off, as Sowerby had
directed. What else was he to do? Fool that he was. A man always can
do right, even though he has done wrong before. But that previous
wrong adds so much difficulty to the path--a difficulty which
increases in tremendous ratio, till a man at last is choked in his
struggling, and is drowned beneath the waters. And then he put away
Sowerby's letter carefully, locking it up from his wife's sight. It
was a letter that no parish clergyman should have received. So much
he acknowledged to himself. But nevertheless it was necessary that he
should keep it. And now again for a few hours this affair made him
very miserable.



CHAPTER XIII

Delicate Hints


Lady Lufton had been greatly rejoiced at that good deed which her son
did in giving up his Leicestershire hunting, and coming to reside for
the winter at Framley. It was proper, and becoming, and comfortable
in the extreme. An English nobleman ought to hunt in the county where
he himself owns the fields over which he rides; he ought to receive
the respect and honour due to him from his own tenants; he ought to
sleep under a roof of his own, and he ought also--so Lady Lufton
thought--to fall in love with a young embryo bride of his own
mother's choosing. And then it was so pleasant to have him there in
the house. Lady Lufton was not a woman who allowed her life to be
what people in common parlance call dull. She had too many duties,
and thought too much of them, to allow of her suffering from tedium
and _ennui_. But nevertheless the house was more joyous to her when
he was there. There was a reason for some little gaiety, which
would never have been attracted thither by herself, but which,
nevertheless, she did enjoy when it was brought about by his
presence. She was younger and brighter when he was there, thinking
more of the future and less of the past. She could look at him, and
that alone was happiness to her. And then he was pleasant-mannered
with her; joking with her on her little old-world prejudices in a
tone that was musical to her ear as coming from him; smiling on her,
reminding her of those smiles which she had loved so dearly when as
yet he was all her own, lying there in his little bed beside her
chair. He was kind and gracious to her, behaving like a good son, at
any rate while he was there in her presence. When we add to this, her
fears that he might not be so perfect in his conduct when absent, we
may well imagine that Lady Lufton was pleased to have him there at
Framley Court.

She had hardly said a word to him as to that five thousand pounds.
Many a night, as she lay thinking on her pillow, she said to herself
that no money had ever been better expended, since it had brought him
back to his own house. He had thanked her for it in his own open way,
declaring that he would pay it back to her during the coming year,
and comforting her heart by his rejoicing that the property had not
been sold. "I don't like the idea of parting with an acre of it," he
had said.

"Of course not, Ludovic. Never let the estate decrease in your hands.
It is only by such resolutions as that that English noblemen and
English gentlemen can preserve their country. I cannot bear to see
property changing hands."

"Well, I suppose it's a good thing to have land in the market
sometimes, so that the millionaires may know what to do with their
money."

"God forbid that yours should be there!" And the widow made a little
mental prayer that her son's acres might be protected from the
millionaires and other Philistines.

"Why, yes: I don't exactly want to see a Jew tailor investing his
earnings at Lufton," said the lord.

"Heaven forbid!" said the widow. All this, as I have said, was very
nice. It was manifest to her ladyship, from his lordship's way of
talking, that no vital injury had as yet been done: he had no cares
on his mind, and spoke freely about the property: but nevertheless
there were clouds even now, at this period of bliss, which somewhat
obscured the brilliancy of Lady Lufton's sky. Why was Ludovic so slow
in that affair of Griselda Grantly? why so often in these latter
winter days did he saunter over to the parsonage? And then that
terrible visit to Gatherum Castle! What actually did happen at
Gatherum Castle, she never knew. We, however, are more intrusive,
less delicate in our inquiries, and we can say. He had a very bad
day's sport with the West Barsetshire. The county is altogether short
of foxes, and some one who understands the matter must take that
point up before they can do any good. And after that he had had
rather a dull dinner with the duke. Sowerby had been there, and in
the evening he and Sowerby had played billiards. Sowerby had won a
pound or two, and that had been the extent of the damage done. But
those saunterings over to the parsonage might be more dangerous. Not
that it ever occurred to Lady Lufton as possible that her son should
fall in love with Lucy Robarts. Lucy's personal attractions were not
of a nature to give ground for such a fear as that. But he might turn
the girl's head with his chatter; she might be fool enough to fancy
any folly; and, moreover, people would talk. Why should he go to the
parsonage now more frequently than he had ever done before Lucy came
there?

And then her ladyship, in reference to the same trouble, hardly knew
how to manage her invitations to the parsonage. These hitherto had
been very frequent, and she had been in the habit of thinking that
they could hardly be too much so; but now she was almost afraid
to continue the custom. She could not ask the parson and his wife
without Lucy; and when Lucy was there, her son would pass the greater
part of the evening in talking to her, or playing chess with her. Now
this did disturb Lady Lufton not a little. And then Lucy took it all
so quietly. On her first arrival at Framley she had been so shy, so
silent, and so much awestruck by the grandeur of Framley Court, that
Lady Lufton had sympathized with her and encouraged her. She had
endeavoured to moderate the blaze of her own splendour, in order
that Lucy's unaccustomed eyes might not be dazzled. But all this
was changed now. Lucy could listen to the young lord's voice by
the hour together--without being dazzled in the least. Under these
circumstances two things occurred to her. She would speak either to
her son or to Fanny Robarts, and by a little diplomacy have this evil
remedied. And then she had to determine on which step she would take.
"Nothing could be more reasonable than Ludovic." So at least she said
to herself over and over again. But then Ludovic understood nothing
about such matters; and had, moreover, a habit, inherited from his
father, of taking the bit between his teeth whenever he suspected
interference. Drive him gently without pulling his mouth about, and
you might take him anywhere, almost at any pace; but a smart touch,
let it be ever so slight, would bring him on his haunches, and then
it might be a question whether you could get him another mile that
day. So that on the whole Lady Lufton thought that the other plan
would be the best. I have no doubt that Lady Lufton was right.

She got Fanny up into her own den one afternoon, and seated her
discreetly in an easy arm-chair, making her guest take off her
bonnet, and showing by various signs that the visit was regarded as
one of great moment. "Fanny," she said, "I want to speak to you about
something that is important and necessary to mention, and yet it is
a very delicate affair to speak of." Fanny opened her eyes, and said
that she hoped that nothing was wrong. "No, my dear, I think nothing
is wrong: I hope so, and I think I may say I'm sure of it; but then
it's always well to be on one's guard."

"Yes, it is," said Fanny, who knew that something unpleasant was
coming--something as to which she might probably be called upon to
differ from her ladyship. Mrs. Robarts's own fears, however, were
running entirely in the direction of her husband;--and, indeed,
Lady Lufton had a word or two to say on that subject also, only not
exactly now. A hunting parson was not at all to her taste; but that
matter might be allowed to remain in abeyance for a few days.

"Now, Fanny, you know that we have all liked your sister-in-law,
Lucy, very much." And then Mrs. Robarts's mind was immediately
opened, and she knew the rest as well as though it had all been
spoken. "I need hardly tell you that, for I am sure we have shown
it."

"You have, indeed, as you always do."

"And you must not think that I am going to complain," continued Lady
Lufton.

"I hope there is nothing to complain of," said Fanny, speaking by
no means in a defiant tone, but humbly as it were, and deprecating
her ladyship's wrath. Fanny had gained one signal victory over Lady
Lufton, and on that account, with a prudence equal to her generosity,
felt that she could afford to be submissive. It might, perhaps, not
be long before she would be equally anxious to conquer again.

"Well, no; I don't think there is," said Lady Lufton. "Nothing to
complain of; but a little chat between you and me may, perhaps, set
matters right, which, otherwise, might become troublesome."

"Is it about Lucy?"

"Yes, my dear--about Lucy. She is a very nice, good girl, and a
credit to her father--"

"And a great comfort to us," said Fanny.

"I am sure she is: she must be a very pleasant companion to you, and
so useful about the children; but--" And then Lady Lufton paused for
a moment; for she, eloquent and discreet as she always was, felt
herself rather at a loss for words to express her exact meaning.

"I don't know what I should do without her," said Fanny, speaking
with the object of assisting her ladyship in her embarrassment.

"But the truth is this: she and Lord Lufton are getting into the way
of being too much together--of talking to each other too exclusively.
I am sure you must have noticed it, Fanny. It is not that I suspect
any evil. I don't think that I am suspicious by nature."

"Oh! no," said Fanny.

"But they will each of them get wrong ideas about the other, and
about themselves. Lucy will, perhaps, think that Ludovic means more
than he does, and Ludovic will--" But it was not quite so easy to say
what Ludovic might do or think; but Lady Lufton went on:

"I am sure that you understand me, Fanny, with your excellent sense
and tact. Lucy is clever, and amusing, and all that; and Ludovic,
like all young men, is perhaps ignorant that his attentions may be
taken to mean more than he intends--"

"You don't think that Lucy is in love with him?"

"Oh dear, no--nothing of the kind. If I thought it had come to that,
I should recommend that she should be sent away altogether. I am sure
she is not so foolish as that."

"I don't think there is anything in it at all, Lady Lufton."

"I don't think there is, my dear, and therefore I would not for
worlds make any suggestion about it to Lord Lufton. I would not let
him suppose that I suspected Lucy of being so imprudent. But still,
it may be well that you should just say a word to her. A little
management now and then, in such matters, is so useful."

"But what shall I say to her?"

"Just explain to her that any young lady who talks so much to the
same young gentleman will certainly be observed--that people will
accuse her of setting her cap at Lord Lufton. Not that I suspect
her--I give her credit for too much proper feeling: I know her
education has been good, and her principles are upright. But people
will talk of her. You must understand that, Fanny, as well as I do."
Fanny could not help meditating whether proper feeling, education,
and upright principles did forbid Lucy Robarts to fall in love with
Lord Lufton; but her doubts on this subject, if she held any, were
not communicated to her ladyship. It had never entered into her mind
that a match was possible between Lord Lufton and Lucy Robarts, nor
had she the slightest wish to encourage it now that the idea was
suggested to her. On such a matter she could sympathize with Lady
Lufton, though she did not completely agree with her as to the
expediency of any interference. Nevertheless, she at once offered to
speak to Lucy. "I don't think that Lucy has any idea in her head upon
the subject," said Mrs. Robarts.

"I dare say not--I don't suppose she has. But young ladies sometimes
allow themselves to fall in love, and then to think themselves very
ill-used, just because they have had no idea in their head."

"I will put her on her guard if you wish it, Lady Lufton."

"Exactly, my dear; that is just it. Put her on her guard--that is all
that is necessary. She is a dear, good, clever girl, and it would be
very sad if anything were to interrupt our comfortable way of getting
on with her." Mrs. Robarts knew to a nicety the exact meaning of this
threat. If Lucy would persist in securing to herself so much of Lord
Lufton's time and attention, her visits to Framley Court must become
less frequent. Lady Lufton would do much, very much, indeed, for her
friends at the parsonage; but not even for them could she permit her
son's prospects in life to be endangered. There was nothing more
said between them, and Mrs. Robarts got up to take her leave, having
promised to speak to Lucy.

"You manage everything so perfectly," said Lady Lufton, as she
pressed Mrs. Robarts's hand, "that I am quite at ease now that I find
you will agree with me." Mrs. Robarts did not exactly agree with her
ladyship, but she hardly thought it worth her while to say so. Mrs.
Robarts immediately started off on her walk to her own home, and when
she had got out of the grounds into the road, where it makes a turn
towards the parsonage, nearly opposite to Podgens' shop, she saw Lord
Lufton on horseback, and Lucy standing beside him. It was already
nearly five o'clock, and it was getting dusk; but as she approached,
or rather as she came suddenly within sight of them, she could see
that they were in close conversation. Lord Lufton's face was towards
her, and his horse was standing still; he was leaning over towards
his companion, and the whip, which he held in his right hand, hung
almost over her arm and down her back, as though his hand had touched
and perhaps rested on her shoulder. She was standing by his side,
looking up into his face, with one gloved hand resting on the horse's
neck. Mrs. Robarts, as she saw them, could not but own that there
might be cause for Lady Lufton's fears. But then Lucy's manner, as
Mrs. Robarts approached, was calculated to dissipate any such fears,
and to prove that there was no ground for them. She did not move from
her position, or allow her hand to drop, or show that she was in any
way either confused or conscious. She stood her ground, and when her
sister-in-law came up was smiling and at her ease. "Lord Lufton wants
me to learn to ride," said she.

"To learn to ride!" said Fanny, not knowing what answer to make to
such a proposition.

"Yes," said he. "This horse would carry her beautifully: he is as
quiet as a lamb, and I made Gregory go out with him yesterday with a
sheet hanging over him like a lady's habit, and the man got up into a
lady's saddle."

"I think Gregory would make a better hand of it than Lucy."

"The horse cantered with him as though he had carried a lady all his
life, and his mouth is like velvet; indeed, that is his fault--he is
too soft-mouthed."

"I suppose that's the same sort of thing as a man being
soft-hearted," said Lucy.

"Exactly: you ought to ride them both with a very light hand. They
are difficult cattle to manage, but very pleasant when you know how
to do it."

"But you see I don't know how to do it," said Lucy.

"As regards the horse, you will learn in two days, and I do hope you
will try. Don't you think it will be an excellent thing for her, Mrs.
Robarts?"

"Lucy has got no habit," said Mrs. Robarts, making use of the excuse
common on all such occasions.

"There is one of Justinia's in the house, I know. She always leaves
one here, in order that she may be able to ride when she comes."

"She would not think of taking such a liberty with Lady Meredith's
things," said Fanny, almost frightened at the proposal.

"Of course it is out of the question, Fanny," said Lucy, now speaking
rather seriously. "In the first place, I would not take Lord Lufton's
horse; in the second place, I would not take Lady Meredith's habit;
in the third place, I should be a great deal too much frightened;
and, lastly, it is quite out of the question for a great many other
very good reasons."

"Nonsense," said Lord Lufton.

"A great deal of nonsense," said Lucy, laughing, "but all of it
of Lord Lufton's talking. But we are getting cold--are we not,
Fanny?--so we will wish you good-night." And then the two ladies
shook hands with him, and walked on towards the parsonage. That
which astonished Mrs. Robarts the most in all this was the perfectly
collected manner in which Lucy spoke and conducted herself. This,
connected, as she could not but connect it, with the air of chagrin
with which Lord Lufton received Lucy's decision, made it manifest
to Mrs. Robarts that Lord Lufton was annoyed because Lucy would not
consent to learn to ride; whereas she, Lucy herself, had given her
refusal in a firm and decided tone, as though resolved that nothing
more should be said about it. They walked on in silence for a minute
or two, till they reached the parsonage gate, and then Lucy said,
laughing, "Can't you fancy me sitting on that great big horse? I
wonder what Lady Lufton would say if she saw me there, and his
lordship giving me my first lesson?"

"I don't think she would like it," said Fanny.

"I'm sure she would not. But I will not try her temper in that
respect. Sometimes I fancy that she does not even like seeing Lord
Lufton talking to me."

"She does not like it, Lucy, when she sees him flirting with you."
This Mrs. Robarts said rather gravely, whereas Lucy had been speaking
in a half-bantering tone. As soon as even the word flirting was out
of Fanny's mouth, she was conscious that she had been guilty of an
injustice in using it. She had wished to say something which would
convey to her sister-in-law an idea of what Lady Lufton would
dislike; but in doing so, she had unintentionally brought against her
an accusation.

"Flirting, Fanny!" said Lucy, standing still in the path, and looking
up into her companion's face with all her eyes. "Do you mean to say
that I have been flirting with Lord Lufton?"

"I did not say that."

"Or that I have allowed him to flirt with me?"

"I did not mean to shock you, Lucy."

"What did you mean, Fanny?"

"Why, just this: that Lady Lufton would not be pleased if he paid you
marked attentions, and if you received them; just like that affair of
the riding; it was better to decline it."

"Of course I declined it; of course I never dreamt of accepting such
an offer. Go riding about the country on his horses! What have I
done, Fanny, that you should suppose such a thing?"

"You have done nothing, dearest."

"Then why did you speak as you did just now?"

"Because I wished to put you on your guard. You know, Lucy, that I do
not intend to find fault with you; but you may be sure, as a rule,
that intimate friendships between young gentlemen and young ladies
are dangerous things." They then walked up to the hall-door in
silence. When they had reached it, Lucy stood in the doorway instead
of entering it, and said, "Fanny, let us take another turn together,
if you are not tired."

"No, I'm not tired."

"It will be better that I should understand you at once,"--and then
they again moved away from the house. "Tell me truly now, do you
think that Lord Lufton and I have been flirting?"

"I do think that he is a little inclined to flirt with you."

"And Lady Lufton has been asking you to lecture me about it?" Poor
Mrs. Robarts hardly knew what to say. She thought well of all the
persons concerned, and was very anxious to behave well by all of
them;--was particularly anxious to create no ill feeling, and
wished that everybody should be comfortable, and on good terms with
everybody else. But yet the truth was forced out of her when this
question was asked so suddenly. "Not to lecture you, Lucy," she said
at last.

"Well, to preach to me, or to talk to me, or to give me a lesson;
to say something that shall drive me to put my back up against Lord
Lufton?"

"To caution you, dearest. Had you heard what she said, you would
hardly have felt angry with Lady Lufton."

"Well, to caution me. It is such a pleasant thing for a girl to be
cautioned against falling in love with a gentleman, especially when
the gentleman is very rich, and a lord, and all that sort of thing!"

"Nobody for a moment attributes anything wrong to you, Lucy."

"Anything wrong--no. I don't know whether it would be anything wrong,
even if I were to fall in love with him. I wonder whether they
cautioned Griselda Grantly when she was here? I suppose when young
lords go about, all the girls are cautioned as a matter of course.
Why do they not label him 'dangerous'?" And then again they were
silent for a moment, as Mrs. Robarts did not feel that she had
anything further to say on the matter.

"'Poison' should be the word with any one so fatal as Lord Lufton;
and he ought to be made up of some particular colour, for fear he
should be swallowed in mistake."

"You will be safe, you see," said Fanny, laughing, "as you have been
specially cautioned as to this individual bottle."

"Ah! but what's the use of that after I have had so many doses? It is
no good telling me about it now; when the mischief is done,--after I
have been taking it for I don't know how long. Dear! dear! dear! and
I regarded it as a mere commonplace powder, good for the complexion.
I wonder whether it's too late, or whether there's any antidote?"
Mrs. Robarts did not always quite understand her sister-in-law, and
now she was a little at a loss. "I don't think there's much harm done
yet on either side," she said, cheerily.

"Ah! you don't know, Fanny. But I do think that if I die--as I
shall--I feel I shall;--and if so, I do think it ought to go very
hard with Lady Lufton. Why didn't she label him 'dangerous' in time?"
And then they went into the house and up to their own rooms. It was
difficult for any one to understand Lucy's state of mind at present,
and it can hardly be said that she understood it herself. She felt
that she had received a severe blow in having been thus made the
subject of remark with reference to Lord Lufton. She knew that her
pleasant evenings at Framley Court were now over, and that she
could not again talk to him in an unrestrained tone and without
embarrassment. She had felt the air of the whole place to be very
cold before her intimacy with him, and now it must be cold again.
Two homes had been open to her; Framley Court and the parsonage;
and now, as far as comfort was concerned, she must confine herself
to the latter. She could not again be comfortable in Lady Lufton's
drawing-room. But then she could not help asking herself whether Lady
Lufton was not right. She had had courage enough, and presence of
mind, to joke about the matter when her sister-in-law spoke to her,
and yet she was quite aware that it was no joking matter. Lord Lufton
had not absolutely made love to her, but he had latterly spoken to
her in a manner which she knew was not compatible with that ordinary
comfortable masculine friendship with the idea of which she had once
satisfied herself. Was not Fanny right when she said that intimate
friendships of that nature were dangerous things?

Yes, Lucy, very dangerous. Lucy, before she went to bed that night,
had owned to herself that they were so; and lying there with
sleepless eyes and a moist pillow, she was driven to confess that the
label would in truth be now too late, that the caution had come to
her after the poison had been swallowed. Was there any antidote? That
was all that was left for her to consider. But, nevertheless, on the
following morning she could appear quite at her ease. And when Mark
had left the house after breakfast, she could still joke with Fanny
as to Lady Lufton's poisoned cupboard.



CHAPTER XIV

Mr. Crawley of Hogglestock


And then there was that other trouble in Lady Lufton's mind, the
sins, namely, of her selected parson. She had selected him, and she
was by no means inclined to give him up, even though his sins against
parsondom were grievous. Indeed she was a woman not prone to give up
anything, and of all things not prone to give up a protégé. The very
fact that she herself had selected him was the strongest argument
in his favour. But his sins against parsondom were becoming very
grievous in her eyes, and she was at a loss to know what steps to
take. She hardly dared to take him to task, him himself. Were she to
do so, and should he then tell her to mind her own business--as he
probably might do, though not in those words--there would be a schism
in the parish; and almost anything would be better than that. The
whole work of her life would be upset, all the outlets of her energy
would be impeded if not absolutely closed, if a state of things were
to come to pass in which she and the parson of her parish should not
be on good terms.

But what was to be done? Early in the winter he had gone to
Chaldicotes and to Gatherum Castle, consorting with gamblers, Whigs,
atheists, men of loose pleasure, and Proudieites. That she had
condoned; and now he was turning out a hunting parson on her hands.
It was all very well for Fanny to say that he merely looked at the
hounds as he rode about his parish. Fanny might be deceived. Being
his wife, it might be her duty not to see her husband's iniquities.
But Lady Lufton could not be deceived. She knew very well in what
part of the county Cobbold's Ashes lay. It was not in Framley
parish, nor in the next parish to it. It was half-way across to
Chaldicotes--in the western division; and she had heard of that run
in which two horses had been killed, and in which Parson Robarts had
won such immortal glory among West Barsetshire sportsmen. It was not
easy to keep Lady Lufton in the dark as to matters occurring in her
own county.

All these things she knew, but as yet had not noticed, grieving over
them in her own heart the more on that account. Spoken grief relieves
itself; and when one can give counsel, one always hopes at least
that that counsel will be effective. To her son she had said, more
than once, that it was a pity that Mr. Robarts should follow the
hounds.--"The world has agreed that it is unbecoming in a clergyman,"
she would urge, in her deprecatory tone. But her son would by no
means give her any comfort. "He doesn't hunt, you know--not as I do,"
he would say. "And if he did, I really don't see the harm of it. A
man must have some amusement, even if he be an archbishop." "He has
amusement at home," Lady Lufton would answer. "What does his wife
do--and his sister?" This allusion to Lucy, however, was very soon
dropped.

Lord Lufton would in no wise help her. He would not even passively
discourage the vicar, or refrain from offering to give him a seat in
going to the meets. Mark and Lord Lufton had been boys together, and
his lordship knew that Mark in his heart would enjoy a brush across
the country quite as well as he himself; and then what was the harm
of it? Lady Lufton's best aid had been in Mark's own conscience. He
had taken himself to task more than once, and had promised himself
that he would not become a sporting parson. Indeed, where would be
his hopes of ulterior promotion, if he allowed himself to degenerate
so far as that? It had been his intention, in reviewing what he
considered to be the necessary proprieties of clerical life, in
laying out his own future mode of living, to assume no peculiar
sacerdotal strictness; he would not be known as a denouncer of
dancing or of card-tables, of theatres or of novel-reading; he would
take the world around him as he found it, endeavouring by precept
and practice to lend a hand to the gradual amelioration which
Christianity is producing; but he would attempt no sudden or majestic
reforms. Cake and ale would still be popular, and ginger be hot in
the mouth, let him preach ever so--let him be never so solemn a
hermit; but a bright face, a true trusting heart, a strong arm, and
an humble mind, might do much in teaching those around him that men
may be gay and yet not profligate, that women may be devout and yet
not dead to the world.

Such had been his ideas as to his own future life; and though many
would think that, as a clergyman, he should have gone about his work
with more serious devotion of thought, nevertheless there was some
wisdom in them;--some folly also, undoubtedly, as appeared by the
troubles into which they led him. "I will not affect to think that
to be bad," said he to himself, "which in my heart of hearts does
not seem to be bad." And thus he resolved that he might live without
contamination among hunting squires. And then, being a man only too
prone by nature to do as others did around him, he found by degrees
that that could hardly be wrong for him which he admitted to be right
for others.

But still his conscience upbraided him, and he declared to himself
more than once that after this year he would hunt no more. And then
his own Fanny would look at him on his return home on those days in a
manner that cut him to the heart. She would say nothing to him. She
never inquired in a sneering tone, and with angry eyes, whether he
had enjoyed his day's sport: but when he spoke of it, she could not
answer him with enthusiasm; and in other matters which concerned him
she was always enthusiastic. After a while, too, he made matters
worse, for about the end of March he did another very foolish thing.
He almost consented to buy an expensive horse from Sowerby--an animal
which he by no means wanted, and which, if once possessed, would
certainly lead him into further trouble. A gentleman, when he has a
good horse in his stable, does not like to leave him there eating
his head off. If he be a gig-horse, the owner of him will be keen to
drive a gig; if a hunter, the happy possessor will wish to be with a
pack of hounds.

"Mark," said Sowerby to him one day, when they were out together,
"this brute of mine is so fresh, I can hardly ride him; you are young
and strong; change with me for an hour or so." And then they did
change, and the horse on which Robarts found himself mounted went
away with him beautifully.

"He's a splendid animal," said Mark, when they again met.

"Yes, for a man of your weight. He's thrown away upon me;--too much
of a horse for my purposes. I don't get along now quite as well as
I used to do. He is a nice sort of hunter; just rising six, you
know." How it came to pass that the price of the splendid animal was
mentioned between them, I need not describe with exactness. But it
did come to pass that Mr. Sowerby told the parson that the horse
should be his for £130. "And I really wish you'd take him," said
Sowerby. "It would be the means of partially relieving my mind of a
great weight." Mark looked up into his friend's face with an air of
surprise, for he did not at the moment understand how this should be
the case.

"I am afraid, you know, that you will have to put your hand into your
pocket sooner or later about that accursed bill"--Mark shrank as the
profane words struck his ears--"and I should be glad to think that
you had got something in hand in the way of value."

"Do you mean that I shall have to pay the whole sum of £500?"

"Oh dear, no; nothing of the kind. But something I dare say you will
have to pay: if you like to take Dandy for a hundred and thirty, you
can be prepared for that amount when Tozer comes to you. The horse
is dog cheap, and you will have a long day for your money." Mark at
first declared, in a quiet, determined tone, that he did not want the
horse; but it afterwards appeared to him that if it were so fated
that he must pay a portion of Mr. Sowerby's debts, he might as well
repay himself to any extent within his power. It would be as well
perhaps that he should take the horse and sell him. It did not occur
to him that by so doing he would put it in Mr. Sowerby's power to
say that some valuable consideration had passed between them with
reference to this bill, and that he would be aiding that gentleman
in preparing an inextricable confusion of money-matters between them.
Mr. Sowerby well knew the value of this. It would enable him to make
a plausible story, as he had done in that other case of Lord Lufton.
"Are you going to have Dandy?" Sowerby said to him again.

"I can't say that I will just at present," said the parson. "What
should I want of him now the season's over?"

"Exactly, my dear fellow; and what do I want of him now the season's
over? If it were the beginning of October instead of the end of
March, Dandy would be up at two hundred and thirty instead of one:
in six months' time that horse will be worth anything you like to
ask for him. Look at his bone." The vicar did look at his bones,
examining the brute in a very knowing and unclerical manner. He
lifted the animal's four feet, one after another, handling the frogs,
and measuring with his eye the proportion of the parts; he passed his
hand up and down the legs, spanning the bones of the lower joint; he
peered into his eyes, took into consideration the width of his chest,
the dip of his back, the form of his ribs, the curve of his haunches,
and his capabilities for breathing when pressed by work. And then
he stood away a little, eyeing him from the side, and taking in a
general idea of the form and make of the whole. "He seems to stand
over a little, I think," said the parson.

"It's the lie of the ground. Move him about, Bob. There now, let him
stand there."

"He's not perfect," said Mark. "I don't quite like his heels; but no
doubt he's a niceish cut of a horse."

"I rather think he is. If he were perfect, as you say, he would not
be going into your stables for a hundred and thirty. Do you ever
remember to have seen a perfect horse?"

"Your mare Mrs. Gamp was as nearly perfect as possible."

"Even Mrs. Gamp had her faults. In the first place she was a bad
feeder. But one certainly doesn't often come across anything much
better than Mrs. Gamp." And thus the matter was talked over between
them with much stable conversation, all of which tended to make
Sowerby more and more oblivious of his friend's sacred profession,
and perhaps to make the vicar himself too frequently oblivious of it
also. But no: he was not oblivious of it. He was even mindful of it;
but mindful of it in such a manner that his thoughts on the subject
were nowadays always painful.

There is a parish called Hogglestock lying away quite in the northern
extremity of the eastern division of the county--lying also on the
borders of the western division. I almost fear that it will become
necessary, before this history be completed, to provide a map of
Barsetshire for the due explanation of all these localities. Framley
is also in the northern portion of the county, but just to the
south of the grand trunk line of railway from which the branch to
Barchester strikes off at a point some thirty miles nearer to London.
The station for Framley Court is Silverbridge, which is, however, in
the western division of the county. Hogglestock is to the north of
the railway, the line of which, however, runs through a portion of
the parish, and it adjoins Framley, though the churches are as much
as seven miles apart. Barsetshire, taken altogether, is a pleasant
green tree-becrowded county, with large bosky hedges, pretty damp
deep lanes, and roads with broad grass margins running along them.
Such is the general nature of the county; but just up in its northern
extremity this nature alters. There it is bleak and ugly, with low
artificial hedges and without wood; not uncultivated, as it is all
portioned out into new-looking large fields, bearing turnips, and
wheat, and mangel, all in due course of agricultural rotation; but it
has none of the special beauties of English cultivation. There is not
a gentleman's house in the parish of Hogglestock besides that of the
clergyman; and this, though it is certainly the house of a gentleman,
can hardly be said to be fit to be so. It is ugly, and straight, and
small. There is a garden attached to the house, half in front of it
and half behind; but this garden, like the rest of the parish, is
by no means ornamental, though sufficiently useful. It produces
cabbages, but no trees: potatoes of, I believe, an excellent
description, but hardly any flowers, and nothing worthy of the name
of a shrub. Indeed the whole parish of Hogglestock should have been
in the adjoining county, which is by no means so attractive as
Barsetshire;--a fact well known to those few of my readers who are
well acquainted with their own country.

Mr. Crawley, whose name has been mentioned in these pages, was the
incumbent of Hogglestock. On what principle the remuneration of our
parish clergymen was settled when the original settlement was made,
no deepest, keenest lover of middle-aged ecclesiastical black-letter
learning can, I take it, now say. That the priests were to be paid
from tithes of the parish produce, out of which tithes certain other
good things were to be bought and paid for, such as church repairs
and education, of so much the most of us have an inkling. That
a rector, being a big sort of parson, owned the tithes of his
parish in full,--or at any rate that part of them intended for the
clergyman,--and that a vicar was somebody's deputy, and therefore
entitled only to little tithes, as being a little body: of so much we
that are simple in such matters have a general idea. But one cannot
conceive that even in this way any approximation could have been
made, even in those old mediæval days, towards a fair proportioning
of the pay to the work. At any rate, it is clear enough that there
is no such approximation now. And what a screech would there not be
among the clergy of the Church, even in these reforming days, if any
over-bold reformer were to suggest that such an approximation should
be attempted? Let those who know clergymen, and like them, and have
lived with them, only fancy it! Clergymen to be paid, not according
to the temporalities of any living which they may have acquired,
either by merit or favour, but in accordance with the work to be
done! O Doddington! and O Stanhope, think of this, if an idea so
sacrilegious can find entrance into your warm ecclesiastical bosoms!
Ecclesiastical work to be bought and paid for according to its
quantity and quality!

But, nevertheless, one may prophesy that we Englishmen must come to
this, disagreeable as the idea undoubtedly is. Most pleasant-minded
Churchmen feel, I think, on this subject pretty much in the same way.
Our present arrangement of parochial incomes is beloved as being
time-honoured, gentleman-like, English, and picturesque. We would
fain adhere to it closely as long as we can, but we know that we do
so by the force of our prejudices, and not by that of our judgement.
A time-honoured, gentleman-like, English, picturesque arrangement
is so far very delightful. But are there not other attributes very
desirable--nay, absolutely necessary--in respect to which this
time-honoured, picturesque arrangement is so very deficient?

How pleasant it was, too, that one bishop should be getting fifteen
thousand a year, and another with an equal cure of parsons only four!
That a certain prelate could get twenty thousand one year and his
successor in the same diocese only five the next! There was something
in it pleasant, and picturesque; it was an arrangement endowed with
feudal charms, and the change which they have made was distasteful to
many of us. A bishop with a regular salary, and no appanage of land
and land-bailiffs, is only half a bishop. Let any man prove to me the
contrary ever so thoroughly--let me prove it to my own self ever so
often--my heart in this matter is not thereby a whit altered. One
liked to know that there was a dean or two who got his three thousand
a year, and that old Dr. Purple held four stalls, one of which was
golden, and the other three silver-gilt! Such knowledge was always
pleasant to me! A golden stall! How sweet is the sound thereof to
church-loving ears! But bishops have been shorn of their beauty, and
deans are in their decadence. A utilitarian age requires the fatness
of the ecclesiastical land, in order that it may be divided out into
small portions of provender, on which necessary working clergymen may
live,--into portions so infinitesimally small that working clergymen
can hardly live. And the full-blown rectors and vicars, with
full-blown tithes--with tithes when too full-blown for strict
utilitarian principles--will necessarily follow. Stanhope and
Doddington must bow their heads, with such compensation for temporal
rights as may be extracted,--but probably without such compensation
as may be desired. In other trades, professions, and lines of life,
men are paid according to their work. Let it be so in the Church.
Such will sooner or later be the edict of a utilitarian, reforming,
matter-of-fact House of Parliament.

I have a scheme of my own on the subject, which I will not introduce
here, seeing that neither men nor women would read it. And with
reference to this matter, I will only here further explain that all
these words have been brought about by the fact, necessary to be here
stated, that Mi. Crawley only received one hundred and thirty pounds
a year for performing the whole parochial duty of the parish of
Hogglestock. And Hogglestock is a large parish. It includes two
populous villages, abounding in brickmakers, a race of men very
troublesome to a zealous parson who won't let men go rollicking to
the devil without interference. Hogglestock has full work for two
men; and yet all the funds therein applicable to parson's work is
this miserable stipend of one hundred and thirty pounds a year. It
is a stipend neither picturesque, nor time-honoured, nor feudal, for
Hogglestock takes rank only as a perpetual curacy.

Mr. Crawley has been mentioned before as a clergyman of whom Mr.
Robarts said, that he almost thought it wrong to take a walk out of
his own parish. In so saying Mark Robarts of course burlesqued his
brother parson; but there can be no doubt that Mr. Crawley was a
strict man,--a strict, stern, unpleasant man, and one who feared God
and his own conscience. We must say a word or two of Mr. Crawley and
his concerns. He was now some forty years of age, but of these he had
not been in possession even of his present benefice for more than
four or five. The first ten years of his life as a clergyman had
been passed in performing the duties and struggling through the life
of a curate in a bleak, ugly, cold parish on the northern coast of
Cornwall. It had been a weary life and a fearful struggle, made up
of duties ill requited and not always satisfactorily performed, of
love and poverty, of increasing cares, of sickness, debt, and death.
For Mr. Crawley had married almost as soon as he was ordained, and
children had been born to him in that chill, comfortless Cornish
cottage. He had married a lady well educated and softly nurtured, but
not dowered with worldly wealth. They two had gone forth determined
to fight bravely together; to disregard the world and the world's
ways, looking only to God and to each other for their comfort. They
would give up ideas of gentle living, of soft raiment, and delicate
feeding. Others,--those that work with their hands, even the
bettermost of such workers--could live in decency and health upon
even such provision as he could earn as a clergyman. In such manner
would they live, so poorly and so decently, working out their work,
not with their hands but with their hearts.

And so they had established themselves, beginning the world with
one bare-footed little girl of fourteen to aid them in their small
household matters; and for a while they had both kept heart, loving
each other dearly, and prospering somewhat in their work. But a man
who has once walked the world as a gentleman knows not what it is to
change his position, and place himself lower down in the social rank.
Much less can he know what it is so to put down the woman whom he
loves. There are a thousand things, mean and trifling in themselves,
which a man despises when he thinks of them in his philosophy, but
to dispense with which puts his philosophy to so stern a proof. Let
any plainest man who reads this think of his usual mode of getting
himself into his matutinal garments, and confess how much such a
struggle would cost him. And then children had come. The wife of the
labouring man does rear her children, and often rears them in health,
without even so many appliances of comfort as found their way into
Mrs. Crawley's cottage; but the task to her was almost more than she
could accomplish. Not that she ever fainted or gave way: she was
made of the sterner metal of the two, and could last on while he was
prostrate.

And sometimes he was prostrate--prostrate in soul and spirit. Then
would he complain with bitter voice, crying out that the world was
too hard for him, that his back was broken with his burden, that his
God had deserted him. For days and days, in such moods, he would stay
within his cottage, never darkening the door or seeing other face
than those of his own inmates. Those days were terrible both to him
and her. He would sit there unwashed, with his unshorn face resting
on his hand, with an old dressing-gown hanging loose about him,
hardly tasting food, seldom speaking, striving to pray, but striving
so frequently in vain. And then he would rise from his chair, and,
with a burst of frenzy, call upon his Creator to remove him from this
misery. In these moments she never deserted him. At one period they
had had four children, and though the whole weight of this young
brood rested on her arms, on her muscles, on her strength of mind and
body, she never ceased in her efforts to comfort him. Then at length,
falling utterly upon the ground, he would pour forth piteous prayers
for mercy, and after a night of sleep would once more go forth to his
work.

But she never yielded to despair: the struggle was never beyond
her powers of endurance. She had possessed her share of woman's
loveliness, but that was now all gone. Her colour quickly faded, and
the fresh, soft tints soon deserted her face and forehead. She became
thin, and rough, and almost haggard: thin till her cheek-bones were
nearly pressing through her skin, till her elbows were sharp, and her
finger-bones as those of a skeleton. Her eye did not lose its lustre,
but it became unnaturally bright, prominent, and too large for her
wan face. The soft brown locks which she had once loved to brush
back, scorning, as she would boast to herself, to care that they
should be seen were now sparse enough and all untidy and unclean.
It was matter of little thought now whether they were seen or no.
Whether he could be made fit to go into his pulpit--whether they
might be fed--those four innocents--and their backs kept from the
cold wind--that was now the matter of her thought. And then two of
them died, and she went forth herself to see them laid under the
frost-bound sod, lest he should faint in his work over their graves.
For he would ask aid from no man--such at least was his boast through
all. Two of them died, but their illness had been long; and then
debts came upon them. Debt, indeed, had been creeping on them with
slow but sure feet during the last five years. Who can see his
children hungry, and not take bread if it be offered? Who can see
his wife lying in sharpest want, and not seek a remedy if there be a
remedy within reach? So debt had come upon them, and rude men pressed
for small sums of money--for sums small to the world, but impossibly
large to them. And he would hide himself within there, in that cranny
of an inner chamber--hide himself with deep shame from the world,
with shame, and a sinking heart, and a broken spirit.

But had such a man no friend? it will be said. Such men, I take it,
do not make many friends. But this man was not utterly friendless.
Almost every year one visit was paid to him in his Cornish curacy
by a brother clergyman, an old college friend, who, as far as
might in him lie, did give aid to the curate and his wife. This
gentleman would take up his abode for a week at a farmer's, in the
neighbourhood, and though he found Mr. Crawley in despair, he would
leave him with some drops of comfort in his soul. Nor were the
benefits in this respect all on one side. Mr. Crawley, though at some
periods weak enough for himself, could be strong for others; and,
more than once, was strong to the great advantage of this man whom he
loved. And then, too, pecuniary assistance was forthcoming--in those
earlier years not in great amount, for this friend was not then
among the rich ones of the earth--but in amount sufficient for that
moderate hearth, if only its acceptance could have been managed. But
in that matter there were difficulties without end. Of absolute money
tenders Mr. Crawley would accept none. But a bill here and there was
paid, the wife assisting; and shoes came for Kate--till Kate was
placed beyond the need of shoes; and cloth for Harry and Frank found
its way surreptitiously in beneath the cover of that wife's solitary
trunk--cloth with which those lean fingers worked garments for the
two boys, to be worn--such was God's will--only by the one.

Such were Mr. and Mrs. Crawley in their Cornish curacy, and during
their severest struggles. To one who thinks that a fair day's work is
worth a fair day's wages, it seems hard enough that a man should work
so hard and receive so little. There will be those who think that the
fault was all his own in marrying so young. But still there remains
that question, Is not a fair day's work worth a fair day's wages?
This man did work hard--at a task perhaps the hardest of any that a
man may do; and for ten years he earned some seventy pounds a year.
Will any one say that he received fair wages for his fair work, let
him be married or single? And yet there are so many who would fain
pay their clergy, if they only knew how to apply their money! But
that is a long subject, as Mr. Robarts had told Miss Dunstable. Such
was Mr. Crawley in his Cornish curacy.



CHAPTER XV

Lady Lufton's Ambassador


And then, in the days which followed, that friend of Mr. Crawley's,
whose name, by the by, is yet to be mentioned, received quick
and great promotion. Mr. Arabin by name he was then; Dr. Arabin
afterwards, when that quick and great promotion reached its climax.
He had been simply a Fellow of Lazarus in those former years. Then he
became vicar of St. Ewold's, in East Barsetshire, and had not yet got
himself settled there when he married the Widow Bold, a widow with
belongings in land and funded money, and with but one small baby as
an encumbrance. Nor had he even yet married her, had only engaged
himself so to do, when they made him Dean of Barchester--all which
may be read in the diocesan and county chronicles. And now that he
was wealthy, the new dean did contrive to pay the debts of his poor
friend, some lawyer of Camelford assisting him. It was but a paltry
schedule after all, amounting in the total to something not much
above a hundred pounds. And then, in the course of eighteen months,
this poor piece of preferment fell in the dean's way, this incumbency
of Hogglestock with its stipend reaching one hundred and thirty
pounds a year. Even that was worth double the Cornish curacy, and
there was, moreover, a house attached to it. Poor Mrs. Crawley, when
she heard of it, thought that their struggles of poverty were now
wellnigh over. What might not be done with a hundred and thirty
pounds by people who had lived for ten years on seventy?

And so they moved away out of that cold, bleak country, carrying with
them their humble household gods, and settled themselves in another
country, cold and bleak also, but less terribly so than the former.
They settled themselves, and again began their struggles against
man's hardness and the devil's zeal. I have said that Mr. Crawley was
a stern, unpleasant man; and it certainly was so. The man must be
made of very sterling stuff, whom continued and undeserved misfortune
does not make unpleasant. This man had so far succumbed to grief,
that it had left upon him its marks, palpable and not to be effaced.
He cared little for society, judging men to be doing evil who did
care for it. He knew as a fact, and believed with all his heart, that
these sorrows had come to him from the hand of God, and that they
would work for his weal in the long run; but not the less did they
make him morose, silent, and dogged. He had always at his heart a
feeling that he and his had been ill-used, and too often solaced
himself, at the devil's bidding, with the conviction that eternity
would make equal that which life in this world had made so unequal;
the last bait that with which the devil angles after those who are
struggling to elude his rod and line.

The Framley property did not run into the parish of Hogglestock; but
nevertheless Lady Lufton did what she could in the way of kindness to
these new-comers. Providence had not supplied Hogglestock with a Lady
Lufton, or with any substitute in the shape of lord or lady, squire
or squiress. The Hogglestock farmers, male and female, were a rude,
rough set, not bordering in their social rank on the farmer gentle;
and Lady Lufton, knowing this, and hearing something of these
Crawleys from Mrs. Arabin the dean's wife, trimmed her lamps, so
that they should shed a wider light, and pour forth some of their
influence on that forlorn household. And as regards Mrs. Crawley,
Lady Lufton by no means found that her work and good-will were thrown
away. Mrs. Crawley accepted her kindness with thankfulness, and
returned to some of the softnesses of life under her hand. As for
dining at Framley Court, that was out of the question. Mr. Crawley,
she knew, would not hear of it, even if other things were fitting and
appliances were at command. Indeed Mrs. Crawley at once said that she
felt herself unfit to go through such a ceremony with anything like
comfort. The dean, she said, would talk of their going to stay at
the deanery; but she thought it quite impossible that either of them
should endure even that. But, all the same, Lady Lufton was a comfort
to her; and the poor woman felt that it was well to have a lady near
her in case of need.

The task was much harder with Mr. Crawley, but even with him it was
not altogether unsuccessful. Lady Lufton talked to him of his parish
and of her own; made Mark Robarts go to him, and by degrees did
something towards civilizing him. Between him and Robarts too there
grew up an intimacy rather than a friendship. Robarts would submit
to his opinion on matters of ecclesiastical and even theological law,
would listen to him with patience, would agree with him where he
could, and differ from him mildly when he could not. For Robarts
was a man who made himself pleasant to all men. And thus, under
Lady Lufton's wing, there grew up a connexion between Framley and
Hogglestock, in which Mrs. Robarts also assisted. And now that Lady
Lufton was looking about her, to see how she might best bring proper
clerical influence to bear upon her own recreant fox-hunting parson,
it occurred to her that she might use Mr. Crawley in the matter.
Mr. Crawley would certainly be on her side as far as opinion went,
and would have no fear as to expressing his opinion to his brother
clergyman. So she sent for Mr. Crawley. In appearance he was the
very opposite to Mark Robarts. He was a lean, slim, meagre man, with
shoulders slightly curved, and pale, lank, long locks of ragged hair;
his forehead was high, but his face was narrow; his small grey eyes
were deeply sunken in his head, his nose was well-formed, his lips
thin, and his mouth expressive. Nobody could look at him without
seeing that there was a purpose and a meaning in his countenance.
He always wore, in summer and winter, a long dusky grey coat, which
buttoned close up to his neck and descended almost to his heels. He
was full six feet high, but being so slight in build, he looked as
though he were taller. He came at once at Lady Lufton's bidding,
putting himself into the gig beside the servant, to whom he spoke no
single word during the journey. And the man, looking into his face,
was struck with taciturnity. Now Mark Robarts would have talked with
him the whole way from Hogglestock to Framley Court; discoursing
partly as to horses and land, but partly also as to higher things.
And then Lady Lufton opened her mind and told her griefs to Mr.
Crawley, urging, however, through the whole length of her narrative,
that Mr. Robarts was an excellent parish clergyman,--"just such a
clergyman in his church as I would wish him to be," she explained,
with the view of saving herself from an expression of any of Mr.
Crawley's special ideas as to church teaching, and of confining him
to the one subject-matter in hand; "but he got this living so young,
Mr. Crawley, that he is hardly quite as steady as I could wish him to
be. It has been as much my fault as his own in placing him in such a
position so early in life."

"I think it has," said Mr. Crawley, who might perhaps be a little
sore on such a subject.

"Quite so, quite so," continued her ladyship, swallowing down with
a gulp a certain sense of anger. "But that is done now, and is past
cure. That Mr. Robarts will become a credit to his profession, I do
not doubt, for his heart is in the right place and his sentiments are
good; but I fear that at present he is succumbing to temptation."

"I am told that he hunts two or three times a week. Everybody round
us is talking about it."

"No, Mr. Crawley; not two or three times a week; very seldom above
once, I think. And then I do believe he does it more with the view of
being with Lord Lufton than anything else."

"I cannot see that that would make the matter better," said Mr.
Crawley.

"It would show that he was not strongly imbued with a taste which I
cannot but regard as vicious in a clergyman."

"It must be vicious in all men," said Mr. Crawley. "It is in itself
cruel, and leads to idleness and profligacy." Again Lady Lufton made
a gulp. She had called Mr. Crawley thither to her aid, and felt that
it would be inexpedient to quarrel with him. But she did not like to
be told that her son's amusement was idle and profligate. She had
always regarded hunting as a proper pursuit for a country gentleman.
It was, indeed, in her eyes one of the peculiar institutions of
country life in England, and it may be almost said that she looked
upon the Barsetshire Hunt as something sacred. She could not endure
to hear that a fox was trapped, and allowed her turkeys to be
purloined without a groan. Such being the case, she did not like
being told that it was vicious, and had by no means wished to consult
Mr. Crawley on that matter. But nevertheless she swallowed down her
wrath.

"It is at any rate unbecoming in a clergyman," she said; "and as I
know that Mr. Robarts places a high value on your opinion, perhaps
you will not object to advise him to discontinue it. He might
possibly feel aggrieved were I to interfere personally on such a
question."

"I have no doubt he would," said Mr. Crawley. "It is not within a
woman's province to give counsel to a clergyman on such a subject,
unless she be very near and very dear to him--his wife, or mother, or
sister."

"As living in the same parish, you know, and being, perhaps--" the
leading person in it, and the one who naturally rules the others.
Those would have been the fitting words for the expression of her
ladyship's ideas; but she remembered herself, and did not use them.
She had made up her mind that, great as her influence ought to be,
she was not the proper person to speak to Mr. Robarts as to his
pernicious, unclerical habits, and she would not now depart from her
resolve by attempting to prove that she was the proper person.

"Yes," said Mr. Crawley, "just so. All that would entitle him to
offer you his counsel if he thought that your mode of life was such
as to require it, but could by no means justify you in addressing
yourself to him." This was very hard upon Lady Lufton. She was
endeavouring with all her woman's strength to do her best, and
endeavouring so to do it that the feelings of the sinner might be
spared; and yet the ghostly comforter whom she had evoked to her
aid, treated her as though she were arrogant and overbearing. She
acknowledged the weakness of her own position with reference to her
parish clergyman by calling in the aid of Mr. Crawley; and, under
such circumstances, he might, at any rate, have abstained from
throwing that weakness in her teeth.

"Well, sir; I hope my mode of life may not require it; but that is
not exactly to the point: what I wish to know is, whether you will
speak to Mr. Robarts?"

"Certainly I will," said he.

"Then I shall be much obliged to you. But, Mr. Crawley, pray--pray,
remember this: I would not on any account wish that you should be
harsh with him. He is an excellent young man, and--"

"Lady Lufton, if I do this, I can only do it in my own way, as best
I may, using such words as God may give me at the time. I hope that
I am harsh to no man; but it is worse than useless, in all cases, to
speak anything but the truth."

"Of course--of course."

"If the ears be too delicate to hear the truth, the mind will be
too perverse to profit by it." And then Mr. Crawley got up to take
his leave. But Lady Lufton insisted that he should go with her to
luncheon. He hummed and ha'd and would fain have refused, but on this
subject she was peremptory. It might be that she was unfit to advise
a clergyman as to his duties, but in a matter of hospitality she
did know what she was about. Mr. Crawley should not leave the house
without refreshment. As to this, she carried her point; and Mr.
Crawley--when the matter before him was cold roast-beef and hot
potatoes, instead of the relative position of a parish priest and his
parishioner--became humble, submissive, and almost timid. Lady Lufton
recommended Madeira instead of sherry, and Mr. Crawley obeyed at
once, and was, indeed, perfectly unconscious of the difference. Then
there was a basket of seakale in the gig for Mrs. Crawley; that he
would have left behind had he dared, but he did not dare. Not a word
was said to him as to the marmalade for the children which was hidden
under the seakale, Lady Lufton feeling well aware that that would
find its way to its proper destination without any necessity for his
co-operation. And then Mr. Crawley returned home in the Framley Court
gig.

Three or four days after this he walked over to Framley parsonage.
This he did on a Saturday, having learned that the hounds never
hunted on that day; and he started early, so that he might be sure
to catch Mr. Robarts before he went out on his parish business. He
was quite early enough to attain this object, for when he reached
the parsonage door at about half-past nine, the vicar, with his
wife and sister, were just sitting down to breakfast. "Oh, Crawley,"
said Robarts, before the other had well spoken, "you are a capital
fellow;" and then he got him into a chair, and Mrs. Robarts had
poured him out tea, and Lucy had surrendered to him a knife and
plate, before he knew under what guise to excuse his coming among
them.

"I hope you will excuse this intrusion," at last he muttered; "but I
have a few words of business to which I will request your attention
presently."

"Certainly," said Robarts, conveying a broiled kidney on to the plate
before Mr. Crawley; "but there is no preparation for business like
a good breakfast. Lucy, hand Mr. Crawley the buttered toast. Eggs,
Fanny; where are the eggs?" And then John, in livery, brought in the
fresh eggs. "Now we shall do. I always eat my eggs while they're
hot, Crawley, and I advise you to do the same." To all this Mr.
Crawley said very little, and he was not at all at home under the
circumstances. Perhaps a thought did pass across his brain, as to
the difference between the meal which he had left on his own table,
and that which he now saw before him; and as to any cause which
might exist for such difference. But, if so, it was a very fleeting
thought, for he had far other matter now fully occupying his mind.
And then the breakfast was over, and in a few minutes the two
clergymen found themselves together in the parsonage study.

"Mr. Robarts," began the senior, when he had seated himself
uncomfortably on one of the ordinary chairs at the farther side
of the well-stored library table, while Mark was sitting at his
ease in his own arm-chair by the fire, "I have called upon you on
an unpleasant business." Mark's mind immediately flew off to Mr.
Sowerby's bill, but he could not think it possible that Mr. Crawley
could have had anything to do with that.

"But as a brother clergyman, and as one who esteems you much and
wishes you well, I have thought myself bound to take this matter in
hand."

"What matter is it, Crawley?"

"Mr. Robarts, men say that your present mode of life is one that is
not befitting a soldier in Christ's army."

"Men say so! what men?"

"The men around you, of your own neighbourhood; those who watch
your life, and know all your doings; those who look to see you
walking as a lamp to guide their feet, but find you consorting with
horse-jockeys and hunters, galloping after hounds, and taking your
place among the vainest of worldly pleasure-seekers. Those who have a
right to expect an example of good living, and who think that they do
not see it." Mr. Crawley had gone at once to the root of the matter,
and in doing so had certainly made his own task so much the easier.
There is nothing like going to the root of the matter at once when
one has on hand an unpleasant piece of business.

"And have such men deputed you to come here?"

"No one has or could depute me. I have come to speak my own mind, not
that of any other. But I refer to what those around you think and
say, because it is to them that your duties are due. You owe it to
those around you to live a godly, cleanly life;--as you owe it also,
in a much higher way, to your Father who is in heaven. I now make
bold to ask you whether you are doing your best to lead such a life
as that?" And then he remained silent, waiting for an answer. He
was a singular man; so humble and meek, so unutterably inefficient
and awkward in the ordinary intercourse of life, but so bold and
enterprising, almost eloquent, on the one subject which was the work
of his mind! As he sat there, he looked into his companion's face
from out his sunken grey eyes with a gaze which made his victim
quail. And then repeated his words: "I now make bold to ask you,
Mr. Robarts, whether you are doing your best to lead such a life as
may become a parish clergyman among his parishioners?" And again he
paused for an answer.

"There are but few of us," said Mark, in a low tone, "who could
safely answer that question in the affirmative."

"But are there many, think you, among us who would find the question
so unanswerable as yourself? And even were there many, would you,
young, enterprising, and talented as you are, be content to be
numbered among them? Are you satisfied to be a castaway after you
have taken upon yourself Christ's armour? If you will say so, I am
mistaken in you, and will go my way." There was again a pause, and
then he went on. "Speak to me, my brother, and open your heart, if it
be possible." And rising from his chair, he walked across the room,
and laid his hand tenderly on Mark's shoulder. Mark had been sitting
lounging in his chair, and had at first, for a moment only, thought
to brazen it out. But all idea of brazening had now left him. He had
raised himself from his comfortable ease, and was leaning forward
with his elbow on the table; but now, when he heard these words,
he allowed his head to sink upon his arms, and he buried his face
between his hands.

"It is a terrible falling off," continued Crawley: "terrible in the
fall, but doubly terrible through that difficulty of returning. But
it cannot be that it should content you to place yourself as one
among those thoughtless sinners, for the crushing of whose sin you
have been placed here among them. You become a hunting parson, and
ride with a happy mind among blasphemers and mocking devils--you,
whose aspirations were so high, who have spoken so often and so well
of the duties of a minister of Christ; you, who can argue in your
pride as to the petty details of your Church, as though the broad
teachings of its great and simple lessons were not enough for your
energies! It cannot be that I have had a hypocrite beside me in all
those eager controversies!

"Not a hypocrite--not a hypocrite," said Mark, in a tone which was
almost reduced to sobbing.

"But a castaway! Is it so that I must call you? No, Mr. Robarts,
not a castaway; neither a hypocrite, nor a castaway; but one who
in walking has stumbled in the dark and bruised his feet among
the stones. Henceforth let him take a lantern in his hand, and
look warily to his path, and walk cautiously among the thorns and
rocks--cautiously, but yet boldly, with manly courage, but Christian
meekness, as all men should walk on their pilgrimage through this
vale of tears." And then, without giving his companion time to stop
him he hurried out of the room, and from the house, and without
again seeing any others of the family, stalked back on his road to
Hogglestock, thus tramping fourteen miles through the deep mud in
performance of the mission on which he had been sent.

It was some hours before Mr. Robarts left his room. As soon as he
found that Crawley was really gone, and that he should see him no
more, he turned the lock of his door, and sat himself down to think
over his present life. At about eleven his wife knocked, not knowing
whether that other strange clergyman were there or no, for none had
seen his departure. But Mark, answering cheerily, desired that he
might be left to his studies. Let us hope that his thoughts and
mental resolves were then of service to him.



CHAPTER XVI

Mrs. Podgens' Baby


The hunting season had now nearly passed away, and the great ones
of the Barsetshire world were thinking of the glories of London.
Of these glories Lady Lufton always thought with much inquietude
of mind. She would fain have remained throughout the whole year at
Framley Court, did not certain grave considerations render such a
course on her part improper in her own estimation. All the Lady
Luftons of whom she had heard, dowager and ante-dowager, had always
had their seasons in London, till old age had incapacitated them for
such doings--sometimes for clearly long after the arrival of such
period. And then she had an idea, perhaps not altogether erroneous,
that she annually imported back with her into the country somewhat of
the passing civilization of the times:--may we not say an idea that
certainly was not erroneous? for how otherwise is it that the forms
of new caps and remodelled shapes for women's waists find their
way down into agricultural parts, and that the rural eye learns
to appreciate grace and beauty? There are those who think that
remodelled waists and new caps had better be kept to the towns; but
such people, if they would follow out their own argument, would wish
to see plough-boys painted with ruddle and milkmaids covered with
skins. For these and other reasons Lady Lufton always went to London
in April, and stayed there till the beginning of June. But for her
this was usually a period of penance. In London she was no very great
personage. She had never laid herself out for greatness of that sort,
and did not shine as a lady-patroness or state secretary in the
female cabinet of fashion. She was dull and listless, and without
congenial pursuits in London, and spent her happiest moments in
reading accounts of what was being done at Framley, and in writing
orders for further local information of the same kind. But on this
occasion there was a matter of vital import to give an interest of
its own to her visit to town. She was to entertain Griselda Grantly,
and, as far as might be possible, to induce her son to remain
in Griselda's society. The plan of the campaign was to be as
follows:--Mrs. Grantly and the archdeacon were in the first place to
go up to London for a month, taking Griselda with them; and then,
when they returned to Plumstead, Griselda was to go to Lady Lufton.
This arrangement was not at all points agreeable to Lady Lufton, for
she knew that Mrs. Grantly did not turn her back on the Hartletop
people quite as cordially as she should do, considering the terms of
the Lufton-Grantly family treaty. But then Mrs. Grantly might have
alleged in excuse the slow manner in which Lord Lufton proceeded in
the making and declaring of his love, and the absolute necessity
which there is for two strings to one's bow, when one string may be
in any way doubtful. Could it be possible that Mrs. Grantly had heard
anything of that unfortunate Platonic friendship with Lucy Robarts?

There came a letter from Mrs. Grantly just about the end of March,
which added much to Lady Lufton's uneasiness, and made her more
than ever anxious to be herself on the scene of action, and to have
Griselda in her own hands. After some communications of mere ordinary
importance with reference to the London world in general and the
Lufton-Grantly world in particular, Mrs. Grantly wrote confidentially
about her daughter:--"It would be useless to deny," she said, with
a mother's pride and a mother's humility, "that she is very much
admired. She is asked out a great deal more than I can take her,
and to houses to which I myself by no means wish to go. I could not
refuse her as to Lady Hartletop's first ball, for there will be
nothing else this year like them; and of course when with you, dear
Lady Lufton, that house will be out of the question. So indeed would
it be with me, were I myself only concerned. The duke was there,
of course, and I really wonder Lady Hartletop should not be more
discreet in her own drawing-room when all the world is there. It is
clear to me that Lord Dumbello admires Griselda much more than I
could wish. She, dear girl, has such excellent sense that I do not
think it likely that her head should be turned by it; but with how
many girls would not the admiration of such a man be irresistible?
The marquis, you know, is very feeble, and I am told that since this
rage for building has come on, the Lancashire property is over two
hundred thousand a year!! I do not think that Lord Dumbello has said
much to her. Indeed it seems to me that he never does say much to any
one. But he always stands up to dance with her, and I see that he is
uneasy and fidgety when she stands up with any other partner whom he
could care about. It was really embarrassing to see him the other
night at Miss Dunstable's, when Griselda was dancing with a certain
friend of ours. But she did look very well that evening, and I have
seldom seen her more animated!"

All this, and a great deal more of the same sort in the same letter,
tended to make Lady Lufton anxious to be in London. It was quite
certain--there was no doubt of that, at any rate--that Griselda would
see no more of Lady Hartletop's meretricious grandeur when she had
been transferred to Lady Lufton's guardianship. And she, Lady Lufton,
did wonder that Mrs. Grantly should have taken her daughter to such a
house. All about Lady Hartletop was known to all the world. It was
known that it was almost the only house in London at which the Duke
of Omnium was constantly to be met. Lady Lufton herself would almost
as soon think of taking a young girl to Gatherum Castle; and on these
accounts she did feel rather angry with her friend Mrs. Grantly. But
then perhaps she did not sufficiently calculate that Mrs. Grantly's
letter had been written purposely to produce such feelings--with the
express view of awakening her ladyship to the necessity of action.
Indeed, in such a matter as this, Mrs. Grantly was a more able woman
than Lady Lufton--more able to see her way and to follow it out.
The Lufton-Grantly alliance was in her mind the best, seeing that
she did not regard money as everything. But failing that, the
Hartletop-Grantly alliance was not bad. Regarding it as a second
string to her bow, she thought that it was not at all bad. Lady
Lufton's reply was very affectionate. She declared how happy she was
to know that Griselda was enjoying herself; she insinuated that Lord
Dumbello was known to the world as a fool, and his mother as--being
not a bit better than she ought to be; and then she added that
circumstances would bring herself up to town four days sooner than
she had expected, and that she hoped her dear Griselda would come
to her at once. Lord Lufton, she said, though he would not sleep in
Bruton Street--Lady Lufton lived in Bruton Street--had promised to
pass there as much of his time as his parliamentary duties would
permit.

O Lady Lufton! Lady Lufton! did it not occur to you when you wrote
those last words, intending that they should have so strong an
effect on the mind of your correspondent, that you were telling
a--tarradiddle? Was it not the case that you had said to your son, in
your own dear, kind, motherly way: "Ludovic, we shall see something
of you in Bruton Street this year, shall we not? Griselda Grantly
will be with me, and we must not let her be dull--must we?" And then
had he not answered, "Oh, of course, mother," and sauntered out of
the room, not altogether graciously? Had he, or you, said a word
about his parliamentary duties? Not a word! O Lady Lufton! have you
not now written a tarradiddle to your friend? In these days we are
becoming very strict about truth with our children; terribly strict
occasionally, when we consider the natural weakness of the moral
courage at the ages of ten, twelve, and fourteen. But I do not know
that we are at all increasing the measure of strictness with which
we, grown-up people, regulate our own truth and falsehood. Heaven
forbid that I should be thought to advocate falsehood in children;
but an untruth is more pardonable in them than in their parents.
Lady Lufton's tarradiddle was of a nature that is usually considered
excusable--at least with grown people; but, nevertheless, she would
have been nearer to perfection could she have confined herself to
the truth. Let us suppose that a boy were to write home from school,
saying that another boy had promised to come and stay with him, that
other having given no such promise--what a very naughty boy would
that first boy be in the eyes of his pastors and masters!

That little conversation between Lord Lufton and his mother--in which
nothing was said about his lordship's parliamentary duties--took
place on the evening before he started for London. On that occasion
he certainly was not in his best humour, nor did he behave to his
mother in his kindest manner. He had then left the room when she
began to talk about Miss Grantly; and once again in the course of the
evening, when his mother, not very judiciously, said a word or two
about Griselda's beauty, he had remarked that she was no conjurer,
and would hardly set the Thames on fire. "If she were a conjurer,"
said Lady Lufton, rather piqued, "I should not now be going to take
her out in London. I know many of those sort of girls whom you call
conjurers; they can talk for ever, and always talk either loudly or
in a whisper. I don't like them, and I am sure that you do not in
your heart."

"Oh, as to liking them in my heart--that is being very particular."

"Griselda Grantly is a lady, and as such I shall be happy to have her
with me in town. She is just the girl that Justinia will like to have
with her."

"Exactly," said Lord Lufton. "She will do exceedingly well for
Justinia." Now this was not good-natured on the part of Lord Lufton;
and his mother felt it the more strongly, inasmuch as it seemed to
signify that he was setting his back up against the Lufton-Grantly
alliance. She had been pretty sure that he would do so in the event
of his suspecting that a plot was being laid to catch him; and now
it almost appeared that he did suspect such a plot. Why else that
sarcasm as to Griselda doing very well for his sister?

And now we must go back and describe a little scene at Framley,
which will account for his Lordship's ill-humour and suspicions, and
explain how it came to pass that he so snubbed his mother. This scene
took place about ten days after the evening on which Mrs. Robarts and
Lucy were walking together in the parsonage garden, and during those
ten days Lucy had not once allowed herself to be entrapped into
any special conversation with the young peer. She had dined at
Framley Court during that interval, and had spent a second evening
there; Lord Lufton had also been up at the parsonage on three or
four occasions, and had looked for her in her usual walks; but,
nevertheless, they had never come together in their old familiar
way, since the day on which Lady Lufton had hinted her fears to Mrs.
Robarts.

Lord Lufton had very much missed her. At first he had not attributed
this change to a purposed scheme of action on the part of any one;
nor, indeed, had he much thought about it, although he had felt
himself to be annoyed. But as the period fixed for his departure
grew near, it did occur to him as very odd that he should never hear
Lucy's voice unless when she said a few words to his mother, or to
her sister-in-law. And then he made up his mind that he would speak
to her before he went, and that the mystery should be explained to
him. And he carried out his purpose, calling at the parsonage on one
special afternoon; and it was on the evening of the same day that
his mother sang the praises of Griselda Grantly so inopportunely.
Robarts, he knew, was then absent from home, and Mrs. Robarts was
with his mother down at the house, preparing lists of the poor people
to be specially attended to in Lady Lufton's approaching absence.
Taking advantage of this, he walked boldly in through the parsonage
garden; asked the gardener, with an indifferent voice, whether either
of the ladies were at home, and then caught poor Lucy exactly on the
doorstep of the house.

"Were you going in or out, Miss Robarts?"

"Well, I was going out," said Lucy; and she began to consider how
best she might get quit of any prolonged encounter.

"Oh, going out, were you? I don't know whether I may offer to--"

"Well, Lord Lufton, not exactly, seeing that I am about to pay a
visit to our near neighbour, Mrs. Podgens. Perhaps, you have no
particular call towards Mrs. Podgens' just at present, or to her new
baby?"

"And have you any very particular call that way?"

"Yes, and especially to Baby Podgens. Baby Podgens is a real little
duck--only just two days old." And Lucy, as she spoke, progressed
a step or two, as though she were determined not to remain there
talking on the doorstep. A slight cloud came across his brow as he
saw this, and made him resolve that she should not gain her purpose.
He was not going to be foiled in that way by such a girl as Lucy
Robarts. He had come there to speak to her, and speak to her he
would. There had been enough of intimacy between them to justify him
in demanding, at any rate, as much as that.

"Miss Robarts," he said, "I am starting for London to-morrow, and if
I do not say good-bye to you now, I shall not be able to do so at
all."

"Good-bye, Lord Lufton," she said, giving him her hand, and smiling
on him with her old genial, good-humoured, racy smile. "And mind you
bring into Parliament that law which you promised me for defending my
young chickens."

He took her hand, but that was not all he wanted. "Surely Mrs.
Podgens and her baby can wait ten minutes. I shall not see you again
for months to come, and yet you seem to begrudge me two words."

"Not two hundred if they can be of any service to you," said she,
walking cheerily back into the drawing-room; "only I did not think
it worth while to waste your time, as Fanny is not here." She was
infinitely more collected, more master of herself than he was.
Inwardly, she did tremble at the idea of what was coming, but
outwardly she showed no agitation--none as yet; if only she could so
possess herself as to refrain from doing so, when she heard what he
might have to say to her.

He hardly knew what it was for the saying of which he had so
resolutely come thither. He had by no means made up his mind that
he loved Lucy Robarts; nor had he made up his mind that, loving her,
he would, or that, loving her, he would not, make her his wife. He
had never used his mind in the matter in any way, either for good
or evil. He had learned to like her and to think that she was very
pretty. He had found out that it was very pleasant to talk to her;
whereas, talking to Griselda Grantly, and, indeed, to some other
young ladies of his acquaintance, was often hard work. The half-hours
which he had spent with Lucy had always been satisfactory to him. He
had found himself to be more bright with her than with other people,
and more apt to discuss subjects worth discussing; and thus it had
come about that he thoroughly liked Lucy Robarts. As to whether his
affection was Platonic or anti-Platonic he had never asked himself;
but he had spoken words to her, shortly before that sudden cessation
of their intimacy, which might have been taken as anti-Platonic by
any girl so disposed to regard them. He had not thrown himself at her
feet, and declared himself to be devoured by a consuming passion;
but he had touched her hand as lovers touch those of women whom they
love; he had had his confidences with her, talking to her of his own
mother, of his sister, and of his friends; and he had called her his
own dear friend Lucy. All this had been very sweet to her, but very
poisonous also. She had declared to herself very frequently that
her liking for this young nobleman was as purely a feeling of mere
friendship as was that of her brother; and she had professed to
herself that she would give the lie to the world's cold sarcasms on
such subjects. But she had now acknowledged that the sarcasms of the
world on that matter, cold though they may be, are not the less true;
and having so acknowledged, she had resolved that all close alliance
between herself and Lord Lufton must be at an end. She had come to
a conclusion, but he had come to none; and in this frame of mind he
was now there with the object of reopening that dangerous friendship
which she had had the sense to close.

"And so you are going to-morrow?" she said, as soon as they were both
within the drawing-room.

"Yes: I'm off by the early train to-morrow morning, and Heaven knows
when we may meet again."

"Next winter, shall we not?"

"Yes, for a day or two, I suppose. I do not know whether I shall pass
another winter here. Indeed, one can never say where one will be."

"No, one can't; such as you, at least, cannot. I am not of a
migratory tribe myself."

"I wish you were."

"I'm not a bit obliged to you. Your nomad life does not agree with
young ladies."

"I think they are taking to it pretty freely, then. We have
unprotected young women all about the world."

"And great bores you find them, I suppose?"

"No; I like it. The more we can get out of old-fashioned grooves the
better I am pleased. I should be a Radical to-morrow--a regular man
of the people--only I should break my mother's heart."

"Whatever you do, Lord Lufton, do not do that."

"That is why I have liked you so much," he continued, "because you
get out of the grooves."

"Do I?"

"Yes; and go along by yourself, guiding your own footsteps; not
carried hither and thither, just as your grandmother's old tramway
may chance to take you."

"Do you know I have a strong idea that my grandmother's tramway will
be the safest and the best after all? I have not left it very far,
and I certainly mean to go back to it."

"That's impossible! An army of old women, with coils of ropes made
out of time-honoured prejudices, could not draw you back."

"No, Lord Lufton, that is true. But one--" and then she stopped
herself. She could not tell him that one loving mother, anxious for
her only son, had sufficed to do it. She could not explain to him
that this departure from the established tramway had already broken
her own rest, and turned her peaceful happy life into a grievous
battle.

"I know that you are trying to go back," he said. "Do you think that
I have eyes and cannot see? Come, Lucy, you and I have been friends,
and we must not part in this way. My mother is a paragon among women.
I say it in earnest;--a paragon among women: and her love for me is
the perfection of motherly love."

"It is, it is; and I am so glad that you acknowledge it."

"I should be worse than a brute did I not do so; but, nevertheless, I
cannot allow her to lead me in all things. Were I to do so, I should
cease to be a man."

"Where can you find any one who will counsel you so truly?"

"But, nevertheless, I must rule myself. I do not know whether my
suspicions may be perfectly just, but I fancy that she has created
this estrangement between you and me. Has it not been so?"

"Certainly not by speaking to me," said Lucy, blushing ruby-red
through every vein of her deep-tinted face. But though she could not
command her blood, her voice was still under her control--her voice
and her manner.

"But has she not done so? You, I know, will tell me nothing but the
truth."

"I will tell you nothing on this matter, Lord Lufton, whether true or
false. It is a subject on which it does not concern me to speak."

"Ah! I understand," he said; and rising from his chair, he stood
against the chimney-piece with his back to the fire. "She cannot
leave me alone to choose for myself, my friends, and my own--;" but
he did not fill up the void.

"But why tell me this, Lord Lufton?"

"No! I am not to choose my own friends, though they be amongst the
best and purest of God's creatures. Lucy, I cannot think that you
have ceased to have a regard for me. That you had a regard for me,
I am sure." She felt that it was almost unmanly of him thus to seek
her out, and hunt her down, and then throw upon her the whole weight
of the explanation that his coming thither made necessary. But,
nevertheless, the truth must be told, and with God's help she would
find strength for the telling of it.

"Yes, Lord Lufton, I had a regard for you--and have. By that word you
mean something more than the customary feeling of acquaintance which
may ordinarily prevail between a gentleman and lady of different
families, who have known each other so short a time as we have done."

"Yes, something much more," said he with energy.

"Well, I will not define the much--something closer than that?"

"Yes, and warmer, and dearer, and more worthy of two human creatures
who value each other's minds and hearts."

"Some such closer regard I have felt for you--very foolishly. Stop!
You have made me speak, and do not interrupt me now. Does not your
conscience tell you that in doing so I have unwisely deserted those
wise old grandmother's tramways of which you spoke just now? It
has been pleasant to me to do so. I have liked the feeling of
independence with which I have thought that I might indulge in an
open friendship with such as you are. And your rank, so different
from my own, has doubtless made this more attractive."

"Nonsense!"

"Ah! but it has. I know it now. But what will the world say of me as
to such an alliance?"

"The world!"

"Yes, the world! I am not such a philosopher as to disregard it,
though you may afford to do so. The world will say that I, the
parson's sister, set my cap at the young lord, and that the young
lord had made a fool of me."

"The world shall say no such thing!" said Lord Lufton, very
imperiously.

"Ah! but it will. You can no more stop it, than King Canute could the
waters. Your mother has interfered wisely to spare me from this; and
the only favour that I can ask you is, that you will spare me also."
And then she got up, as though she intended at once to walk forth to
her visit to Mrs. Podgens' baby.

"Stop, Lucy!" he said, putting himself between her and the door.

"It must not be Lucy any longer, Lord Lufton; I was madly foolish
when I first allowed it."

"By heavens! but it shall be Lucy--Lucy before all the world. My
Lucy, my own Lucy--my heart's best friend, and chosen love. Lucy,
there is my hand. How long you may have had my heart it matters not
to say now." The game was at her feet now, and no doubt she felt her
triumph. Her ready wit and speaking lip, not her beauty, had brought
him to her side; and now he was forced to acknowledge that her power
over him had been supreme. Sooner than leave her he would risk all.
She did feel her triumph; but there was nothing in her face to tell
him that she did so. As to what she would now do she did not for a
moment doubt. He had been precipitated into the declaration he had
made not by his love, but by his embarrassment. She had thrown in his
teeth the injury which he had done her, and he had then been moved
by his generosity to repair that injury by the noblest sacrifice
which he could make. But Lucy Robarts was not the girl to accept a
sacrifice. He had stepped forward as though he were going to clasp
her round the waist, but she receded, and got beyond the reach of his
hand. "Lord Lufton!" she said, "when you are more cool you will know
that this is wrong. The best thing for both of us now is to part."

"Not the best thing, but the very worst, till we perfectly understand
each other."

"Then perfectly understand me, that I cannot be your wife."

"Lucy! do you mean that you cannot learn to love me?"

"I mean that I shall not try. Do not persevere in this, or you will
have to hate yourself for your own folly."

"But I will persevere till you accept my love, or say with your hand
on your heart that you cannot and will not love me."

"Then I must beg you to let me go," and having so said, she paused
while he walked once or twice hurriedly up and down the room. "And
Lord Lufton," she continued, "if you will leave me now, the words
that you have spoken shall be as though they had never been uttered."

"I care not who knows they have been uttered. The sooner that they
are known to all the world the better I shall be pleased, unless
indeed--"

"Think of your mother, Lord Lufton."

"What can I do better than give her as a daughter the best and
sweetest girl I have ever met? When my mother really knows you, she
will love you as I do. Lucy, say one word to me of comfort."

"I will say no word to you that shall injure your future comfort. It
is impossible that I should be your wife."

"Do you mean that you cannot love me?"

"You have no right to press me any further," she said; and sat down
upon the sofa, with an angry frown upon her forehead.

"By heavens," he said, "I will take no such answer from you till you
put your hand upon your heart, and say that you cannot love me."

"Oh, why should you press me so, Lord Lufton?"

"Why, because my happiness depends upon it; because it behoves me to
know the very truth. It has come to this, that I love you with my
whole heart, and I must know how your heart stands towards me." She
had now again risen from the sofa, and was looking steadily in his
face.

"Lord Lufton," she said, "I cannot love you," and as she spoke she
did put her hand, as he had desired, upon her heart.

"Then God help me! for I am wretched. Good-bye, Lucy," and he
stretched out his hand to her.

"Good-bye, my lord. Do not be angry with me."

"No, no, no!" and without further speech he left the room and the
house and hurried home. It was hardly surprising that he should that
evening tell his mother that Griselda Grantly would be a companion
sufficiently good for his sister. He wanted no such companion.

And when he was well gone--absolutely out of sight from the
window--Lucy walked steadily up to her room, locked the door, and
then threw herself on the bed. Why--oh! why had she told such
a falsehood? Could anything justify her in a lie? was it not a
lie--knowing as she did that she loved him with all her loving heart?
But, then, his mother! and the sneers of the world, which would have
declared that she had set her trap, and caught the foolish young
lord! Her pride would not have submitted to that. Strong as her
love was, yet her pride was, perhaps, stronger--stronger at any
rate during that interview. But how was she to forgive herself the
falsehood she had told?



CHAPTER XVII

Mrs. Proudie's Conversazione


It was grievous to think of the mischief and danger into which
Griselda Grantly was brought by the worldliness of her mother in
those few weeks previous to Lady Lufton's arrival in town--very
grievous, at least, to her ladyship, as from time to time she heard
of what was done in London. Lady Hartletop's was not the only
objectionable house at which Griselda was allowed to reap fresh
fashionable laurels. It had been stated openly in the _Morning Post_
that that young lady had been the most admired among the beautiful at
one of Miss Dunstable's celebrated _soirées_ and then she was heard
of as gracing the drawing-room at Mrs. Proudie's conversazione.

Of Miss Dunstable herself Lady Lufton was not able openly to allege
any evil. She was acquainted, Lady Lufton knew, with very many people
of the right sort, and was the dear friend of Lady Lufton's highly
conservative and not very distant neighbours, the Greshams. But then
she was also acquainted with so many people of the bad sort. Indeed,
she was intimate with everybody, from the Duke of Omnium to old
Dowager Lady Goodygaffer, who had represented all the cardinal
virtues for the last quarter of a century. She smiled with equal
sweetness on treacle and on brimstone; was quite at home at Exeter
Hall, having been consulted--so the world said, probably not with
exact truth--as to the selection of more than one disagreeably Low
Church bishop; and was not less frequent in her attendance at the
ecclesiastical doings of a certain terrible prelate in the Midland
counties, who was supposed to favour stoles and vespers, and to have
no proper Protestant hatred for auricular confession and fish on
Fridays. Lady Lufton, who was very staunch, did not like this, and
would say of Miss Dunstable that it was impossible to serve both
God and Mammon. But Mrs. Proudie was much more objectionable to her.
Seeing how sharp was the feud between the Proudies and the Grantlys
down in Barsetshire, how absolutely unable they had always been to
carry a decent face towards each other in Church matters, how they
headed two parties in the diocese, which were, when brought together,
as oil and vinegar, in which battles the whole Lufton influence had
always been brought to bear on the Grantly side;--seeing all this, I
say, Lady Lufton was surprised to hear that Griselda had been taken
to Mrs. Proudie's evening exhibition. "Had the archdeacon been
consulted about it," she said to herself, "this would never have
happened." But there she was wrong, for in matters concerning his
daughter's introduction to the world the archdeacon never interfered.

On the whole, I am inclined to think that Mrs. Grantly understood
the world better than did Lady Lufton. In her heart of hearts Mrs.
Grantly hated Mrs. Proudie--that is, with that sort of hatred one
Christian lady allows herself to feel towards another. Of course Mrs.
Grantly forgave Mrs. Proudie all her offences, and wished her well,
and was at peace with her, in the Christian sense of the word, as
with all other women. But under this forbearance and meekness, and
perhaps, we may say, wholly unconnected with it, there was certainly
a current of antagonistic feeling which, in the ordinary unconsidered
language of every day, men and women do call hatred. This raged and
was strong throughout the whole year in Barsetshire, before the eyes
of all mankind. But, nevertheless, Mrs. Grantly took Griselda to
Mrs. Proudie's evening parties in London. In these days Mrs. Proudie
considered herself to be by no means the least among bishops' wives.
She had opened the season this year in a new house in Gloucester
Place, at which the reception rooms, at any rate, were all that a
lady bishop could desire. Here she had a front drawing-room of very
noble dimensions, a second drawing-room rather noble also, though it
had lost one of its back corners awkwardly enough, apparently in a
jostle with the neighbouring house; and then there was a third--shall
we say drawing-room, or closet?--in which Mrs. Proudie delighted to
be seen sitting, in order that the world might know that there was a
third room; altogether a noble suite, as Mrs. Proudie herself said
in confidence to more than one clergyman's wife from Barsetshire.
"A noble suite, indeed, Mrs. Proudie!" the clergymen's wives from
Barsetshire would usually answer.

For some time Mrs. Proudie was much at a loss to know by what sort
of party or entertainment she would make herself famous. Balls and
suppers were of course out of the question. She did not object to her
daughters dancing all night at other houses--at least, of late she
had not objected, for the fashionable world required it, and the
young ladies had perhaps a will of their own--but dancing at her
house--absolutely under the shade of the bishop's apron--would be a
sin and a scandal. And then as to suppers--of all modes in which one
may extend one's hospitality to a large acquaintance, they are the
most costly. "It is horrid to think that we should go out among our
friends for the mere sake of eating and drinking," Mrs. Proudie would
say to the clergymen's wives from Barsetshire. "It shows such a
sensual propensity."

"Indeed it does, Mrs. Proudie; and is so vulgar too!" those ladies
would reply. But the elder among them would remember with regret, the
unsparing, open-handed hospitality of Barchester Palace in the good
old days of Bishop Grantly--God rest his soul! One old vicar's wife
there was whose answer had not been so courteous--

"When we are hungry, Mrs. Proudie," she had said, "we do all have
sensual propensities."

"It would be much better, Mrs. Athill, if the world would provide
for all that at home," Mrs. Proudie had rapidly replied; with which
opinion I must here profess that I cannot by any means bring myself
to coincide. But a conversazione would give play to no sensual
propensity, nor occasion that intolerable expense which the
gratification of sensual propensities too often produces. Mrs.
Proudie felt that the word was not all that she could have desired.
It was a little faded by old use and present oblivion, and seemed to
address itself to that portion of the London world that is considered
blue, rather than fashionable. But, nevertheless, there was a
spirituality about it which suited her, and one may also say an
economy. And then as regarded fashion, it might perhaps not be beyond
the power of a Mrs. Proudie to regild the word with a newly burnished
gilding. Some leading person must produce fashion at first hand, and
why not Mrs. Proudie?

Her plan was to set the people by the ears talking, if talk they
would, or to induce them to show themselves there inert if no more
could be got from them. To accommodate with chairs and sofas as many
as the furniture of her noble suite of rooms would allow, especially
with the two chairs and padded bench against the wall in the back
closet--the small inner drawing-room, as she would call it to the
clergymen's wives from Barsetshire--and to let the others stand
about upright, or "group themselves," as she described it. Then four
times during the two hours' period of her conversazione tea and cake
were to be handed round on salvers. It is astonishing how far a
very little cake will go in this way, particularly if administered
tolerably early after dinner. The men can't eat it, and the women,
having no plates and no table, are obliged to abstain. Mrs. Jones
knows that she cannot hold a piece of crumbly cake in her hand till
it be consumed without doing serious injury to her best dress. When
Mrs. Proudie, with her weekly books before her, looked into the
financial upshot of her conversazione, her conscience told her that
she had done the right thing. Going out to tea is not a bad thing,
if one can contrive to dine early, and then be allowed to sit round
a big table with a tea urn in the middle. I would, however, suggest
that breakfast cups should always be provided for the gentlemen. And
then with pleasant neighbours,--or more especially with a pleasant
neighbour,--the affair is not, according to my taste, by any means
the worst phase of society. But I do dislike that handing round,
unless it be of a subsidiary thimbleful when the business of the
social intercourse has been dinner.

And indeed this handing round has become a vulgar and an intolerable
nuisance among us second-class gentry with our eight hundred a
year--there or thereabouts;--doubly intolerable as being destructive
of our natural comforts, and a wretchedly vulgar aping of men with
large incomes. The Duke of Omnium and Lady Hartletop are undoubtedly
wise to have everything handed round. Friends of mine who
occasionally dine at such houses tell me that they get their wine
quite as quickly as they can drink it, that their mutton is brought
to them without delay, and that the potato bearer follows quick upon
the heels of carnifer. Nothing can be more comfortable, and we may no
doubt acknowledge that these first-class grandees do understand their
material comforts. But we of the eight hundred can no more come up to
them in this than we can in their opera-boxes and equipages. May I
not say that the usual tether of this class, in the way of carnifers,
cup-bearers, and the rest, does not reach beyond neat-handed Phyllis
and the greengrocer? and that Phyllis, neat-handed as she probably
is, and the greengrocer, though he be ever so active, cannot
administer a dinner to twelve people who are prohibited by a
Medo-Persian law from all self-administration whatever? And may I not
further say that the lamentable consequence to us eight hundreders
dining out among each other is this, that we too often get no dinner
at all. Phyllis, with the potatoes, cannot reach us till our mutton
is devoured, or in a lukewarm state past our power of managing; and
Ganymede, the greengrocer, though we admire the skill of his necktie
and the whiteness of his unexceptionable gloves, fails to keep us
going in sherry. Seeing a lady the other day in this strait, left
without a small modicum of stimulus which was no doubt necessary for
her good digestion, I ventured to ask her to drink wine with me. But
when I bowed my head at her, she looked at me with all her eyes,
struck with amazement. Had I suggested that she should join me in a
wild Indian war-dance, with nothing on but my paint, her face could
not have shown greater astonishment. And yet I should have thought
she might have remembered the days when Christian men and women used
to drink wine with each other. God be with the good old days when
I could hob-nob with my friend over the table as often as I was
inclined to lift my glass to my lips, and make a long arm for a hot
potato whenever the exigencies of my plate required it.

I think it may be laid down as a rule in affairs of hospitality, that
whatever extra luxury or grandeur we introduce at our tables when
guests are with us, should be introduced for the advantage of the
guest and not for our own. If, for instance, our dinner be served in
a manner different from that usual to us, it should be so served in
order that our friends may with more satisfaction eat our repast than
our everyday practice would produce on them. But the change should
by no means be made to their material detriment in order that our
fashion may be acknowledged. Again, if I decorate my sideboard and
table, wishing that the eyes of my visitors may rest on that which
is elegant and pleasant to the sight, I act in that matter with a
becoming sense of hospitality; but if my object be to kill Mrs.
Jones with envy at the sight of all my silver trinkets, I am a very
mean-spirited fellow. This, in a broad way, will be acknowledged; but
if we would bear in mind the same idea at all times,--on occasions
when the way perhaps may not be so broad, when more thinking may
be required to ascertain what is true hospitality,--I think we
of the eight hundred would make a greater advance towards really
entertaining our own friends than by any rearrangement of the actual
meats and dishes which we set before them.

Knowing as we do, that the terms of the Lufton-Grantly alliance had
been so solemnly ratified between the two mothers, it is perhaps
hardly open to us to suppose that Mrs. Grantly was induced to take
her daughter to Mrs. Proudie's by any knowledge which she may have
acquired that Lord Dumbello had promised to grace the bishop's
assembly. It is certainly the fact that high contracting parties
do sometimes allow themselves a latitude which would be considered
dishonest by contractors of a lower sort; and it may be possible that
the archdeacon's wife did think of that second string with which
her bow was furnished. Be that as it may, Lord Dumbello was at Mrs.
Proudie's, and it did so come to pass that Griselda was seated at
a corner of a sofa close to which was a vacant space in which his
lordship could--"group himself." They had not been long there before
Lord Dumbello did group himself. "Fine day," he said, coming up and
occupying the vacant position by Miss Grantly's elbow.

"We were driving to-day, and we thought it rather cold," said
Griselda.

"Deuced cold," said Lord Dumbello, and then he adjusted his white
cravat and touched up his whiskers. Having got so far, he did not
proceed to any other immediate conversational efforts; nor did
Griselda. But he grouped himself again as became a marquis, and gave
very intense satisfaction to Mrs. Proudie.

"This is so kind of you, Lord Dumbello," said that lady, coming up to
him and shaking his hand warmly; "so very kind of you to come to my
poor little tea-party."

"Uncommonly pleasant, I call it," said his lordship. "I like this
sort of thing--no trouble, you know."

"No; that is the charm of it: isn't it? no trouble, or fuss,
or parade. That's what I always say. According to my ideas,
society consists in giving people facility for an interchange of
thoughts--what we call conversation."

"Aw, yes, exactly."

"Not in eating and drinking together--eh, Lord Dumbello? And yet the
practice of our lives would seem to show that the indulgence of those
animal propensities can alone suffice to bring people together. The
world in this has surely made a great mistake."

"I like a good dinner all the same," said Lord Dumbello.

"Oh, yes, of course--of course. I am by no means one of those who
would pretend to preach that our tastes have not been given to us for
our enjoyment. Why should things be nice if we are not to like them?"

"A man who can really give a good dinner has learned a great deal,"
said Lord Dumbello, with unusual animation.

"An immense deal. It is quite an art in itself: and one which I, at
any rate, by no means despise. But we cannot always be eating--can
we?"

"No," said Lord Dumbello, "not always." And he looked as though he
lamented that his powers should be so circumscribed. And then Mrs.
Proudie passed on to Mrs. Grantly. The two ladies were quite friendly
in London; though down in their own neighbourhood they waged a
war so internecine in its nature. But nevertheless Mrs. Proudie's
manner might have showed to a very close observer that she knew the
difference between a bishop and an archdeacon. "I am so delighted to
see you," said she. "No, don't mind moving; I won't sit down just at
present. But why didn't the archdeacon come?"

"It was quite impossible; it was indeed," said Mrs. Grantly. "The
archdeacon never has a moment in London that he can call his own."

"You don't stay up very long, I believe."

"A good deal longer than we either of us like, I can assure you.
London life is a perfect nuisance to me."

"But people in a certain position must go through with it, you know,"
said Mrs. Proudie. "The bishop, for instance, must attend the House."

"Must he?" asked Mrs. Grantly, as though she were not at all well
informed with reference to this branch of a bishop's business. "I am
very glad that archdeacons are under no such liability."

"Oh, no; there's nothing of that sort," said Mrs. Proudie, very
seriously. "But how uncommonly well Miss Grantly is looking! I do
hear that she has quite been admired." This phrase certainly was a
little hard for the mother to bear. All the world had acknowledged,
so Mrs. Grantly had taught herself to believe, that Griselda was
undoubtedly the beauty of the season. Marquises and lords were
already contending for her smiles, and paragraphs had been written in
newspapers as to her profile. It was too hard to be told, after that,
that her daughter had been "quite admired." Such a phrase might suit
a pretty little red-cheeked milkmaid of a girl.

"She cannot, of course, come near your girls in that respect," said
Mrs. Grantly, very quietly. Now the Miss Proudies had not elicited
from the fashionable world any very loud encomiums on their beauty.
Their mother felt the taunt in its fullest force, but she would not
essay to do battle on the present arena. She jotted down the item in
her mind, and kept it over for Barchester and the chapter. Such debts
as those she usually paid on some day, if the means of doing so were
at all within her power. "But there is Miss Dunstable, I declare,"
she said, seeing that that lady had entered the room; and away went
Mrs. Proudie to welcome her distinguished guest.

"And so this is a conversazione, is it?" said that lady, speaking, as
usual, not in a suppressed voice. "Well, I declare, it's very nice.
It means conversation, don't it, Mrs. Proudie?"

"Ha, ha, ha! Miss Dunstable, there is nobody like you, I declare."

"Well, but don't it? and tea and cake? and then, when we're tired of
talking, we go away,--isn't that it?"

"But you must not be tired for these three hours yet."

"Oh, I am never tired of talking; all the world knows that. How do,
bishop? A very nice sort of thing this conversazione, isn't it now?"
The bishop rubbed his hands together and smiled, and said that he
thought it was rather nice.

"Mrs. Proudie is so fortunate in all her little arrangements," said
Miss Dunstable.

"Yes, yes," said the bishop. "I think she is happy in these matters.
I do flatter myself that she is so. Of course, Miss Dunstable, you
are accustomed to things on a much grander scale."

"I! Lord bless you, no! Nobody hates grandeur so much as I do. Of
course I must do as I am told. I must live in a big house, and have
three footmen six feet high. I must have a coachman with a top-heavy
wig, and horses so big that they frighten me. If I did not, I should
be made out a lunatic and declared unable to manage my own affairs.
But as for grandeur, I hate it. I certainly think that I shall have
some of these conversaziones. I wonder whether Mrs. Proudie will
come and put me up to a wrinkle or two." The bishop again rubbed his
hands, and said that he was sure she would. He never felt quite at
his ease with Miss Dunstable, as he rarely could ascertain whether
or no she was earnest in what she was saying. So he trotted off,
muttering some excuse as he went, and Miss Dunstable chuckled with an
inward chuckle at his too evident bewilderment. Miss Dunstable was by
nature kind, generous, and open-hearted; but she was living now very
much with people on whom kindness, generosity, and open-heartedness
were thrown away. She was clever also, and could be sarcastic; and
she found that those qualities told better in the world around her
than generosity and an open heart. And so she went on from month to
month, and year to year, not progressing in a good spirit as she
might have done, but still carrying within her bosom a warm affection
for those she could really love. And she knew that she was hardly
living as she should live,--that the wealth which she affected to
despise was eating into the soundness of her character, not by its
splendour, but by the style of life which it had seemed to produce
as a necessity. She knew that she was gradually becoming irreverent,
scornful, and prone to ridicule; but yet, knowing this, and hating
it, she hardly knew how to break from it. She had seen so much of
the blacker side of human nature that blackness no longer startled
her as it should do. She had been the prize at which so many ruined
spendthrifts had aimed; so many pirates had endeavoured to run her
down while sailing in the open waters of life, that she had ceased to
regard such attempts on her money-bags as unmanly or over-covetous.
She was content to fight her own battle with her own weapons, feeling
secure in her own strength of purpose and strength of wit.

Some few friends she had whom she really loved,--among whom her inner
self could come out and speak boldly what it had to say with its own
true voice. And the woman who thus so spoke was very different from
that Miss Dunstable whom Mrs. Proudie courted, and the Duke of Omnium
fêted, and Mrs. Harold Smith claimed as her bosom friend. If only she
could find among such one special companion on whom her heart might
rest, who would help her to bear the heavy burdens of her world!
But where was she to find such a friend?--she with her keen wit,
her untold money, and loud laughing voice. Everything about her was
calculated to attract those whom she could not value, and to scare
from her the sort of friend to whom she would fain have linked her
lot. And then she met Mrs. Harold Smith, who had taken Mrs. Proudie's
noble suite of rooms in her tour for the evening, and was devoting
to them a period of twenty minutes. "And so I may congratulate you,"
Miss Dunstable said eagerly to her friend.

"No, in mercy's name, do no such thing, or you may too probably have
to uncongratulate me again; and that will be so unpleasant."

"But they told me that Lord Brock had sent for him yesterday." Now at
this period Lord Brock was Prime Minister.

"So he did, and Harold was with him backwards and forwards all the
day. But he can't shut his eyes and open his mouth, and see what God
will send him, as a wise and prudent man should do. He is always for
bargaining, and no Prime Minister likes that."

"I would not be in his shoes if, after all, he has to come home and
say that the bargain is off."

"Ha, ha, ha! Well, I should not take it very quietly. But what can we
poor women do, you know? When it is settled, my dear, I'll send you a
line at once." And then Mrs. Harold Smith finished her course round
the rooms, and regained her carriage within the twenty minutes.

"Beautiful profile, has she not?" said Miss Dunstable, somewhat later
in the evening, to Mrs. Proudie. Of course, the profile spoken of
belonged to Miss Grantly.

"Yes, it is beautiful, certainly," said Mrs. Proudie. "The pity is
that it means nothing."

"The gentlemen seem to think that it means a good deal."

"I am not sure of that. She has no conversation, you see; not a word.
She has been sitting there with Lord Dumbello at her elbow for the
last hour, and yet she has hardly opened her mouth three times."

"But, my dear Mrs. Proudie, who on earth could talk to Lord
Dumbello?" Mrs. Proudie thought that her own daughter Olivia would
undoubtedly be able to do so, if only she could get the opportunity.
But, then, Olivia had so much conversation. And while the two ladies
were yet looking at the youthful pair, Lord Dumbello did speak again.
"I think I have had enough of this now," said he, addressing himself
to Griselda.

"I suppose you have other engagements," said she.

"Oh, yes; and I believe I shall go to Lady Clantelbrocks." And then
he took his departure. No other word was spoken that evening between
him and Miss Grantly beyond those given in this chronicle, and yet
the world declared that he and that young lady had passed the evening
in so close a flirtation as to make the matter more than ordinarily
particular; and Mrs. Grantly, as she was driven home to her lodgings,
began to have doubts in her mind whether it would be wise to
discountenance so great an alliance as that which the head of the
great Hartletop family now seemed so desirous to establish. The
prudent mother had not yet spoken a word to her daughter on these
subjects, but it might soon become necessary to do so. It was all
very well for Lady Lufton to hurry up to town, but of what service
would that be, if Lord Lufton were not to be found in Bruton Street?



CHAPTER XVIII

The New Minister's Patronage


At that time, just as Lady Lufton was about to leave Framley for
London, Mark Robarts received a pressing letter, inviting him also to
go up to the metropolis for a day or two--not for pleasure, but on
business. The letter was from his indefatigable friend Sowerby. "My
dear Robarts," the letter ran:--"I have just heard that poor little
Burslem, the Barsetshire prebendary, is dead. We must all die some
day, you know,--as you have told your parishioners from the Framley
pulpit more than once, no doubt. The stall must be filled up, and
why should not you have it as well as another? It is six hundred a
year and a house. Little Burslem had nine, but the good old times
are gone. Whether the house is letable or not under the present
ecclesiastical régime, I do not know. It used to be so, for I
remember Mrs. Wiggins, the tallow-chandler's widow, living in old
Stanhope's house.

"Harold Smith has just joined the Government as Lord Petty Bag, and
could, I think, at the present moment, get this for asking. He cannot
well refuse me, and, if you will say the word, I will speak to him.
You had better come up yourself; but say the word 'Yes,' or 'No,' by
the wires.

"If you say 'Yes,' as of course you will, do not fail to come up.
You will find me at the 'Travellers,' or at the House. The stall
will just suit you,--will give you no trouble, improve your position,
and give some little assistance towards bed and board, and rack and
manger.--Yours ever faithfully, N. SOWERBY.

"Singularly enough, I hear that your brother is private secretary to
the new Lord Petty Bag. I am told that his chief duty will consist in
desiring the servants to call my sister's carriage. I have only seen
Harold once since he accepted office; but my Lady Petty Bag says that
he has certainly grown an inch since that occurrence."

This was certainly very good-natured on the part of Mr. Sowerby, and
showed that he had a feeling within his bosom that he owed something
to his friend the parson for the injury he had done him. And such
was in truth the case. A more reckless being than the member for
West Barsetshire could not exist. He was reckless for himself, and
reckless for all others with whom he might be concerned. He could
ruin his friends with as little remorse as he had ruined himself. All
was fair game that came in the way of his net. But, nevertheless,
he was good-natured, and willing to move heaven and earth to do a
friend a good turn, if it came in his way to do so. He did really
love Mark Robarts as much as it was given him to love any among
his acquaintance. He knew that he had already done him an almost
irreparable injury, and might very probably injure him still deeper
before he had done with him. That he would undoubtedly do so, if it
came in his way, was very certain. But then, if it also came in his
way to repay his friend by any side blow, he would also undoubtedly
do that. Such an occasion had now come, and he had desired his sister
to give the new Lord Petty Bag no rest till he should have promised
to use all his influence in getting the vacant prebend for Mark
Robarts.

This letter of Sowerby's Mark immediately showed to his wife. How
lucky, thought he to himself, that not a word was said in it about
those accursed money transactions! Had he understood Sowerby better
he would have known that that gentleman never said anything about
money transactions until it became absolutely necessary. "I know you
don't like Mr. Sowerby," he said; "but you must own that this is very
good-natured."

"It is the character I hear of him that I don't like," said Mrs.
Robarts.

"But what shall I do now, Fanny? As he says, why should not I have
the stall as well as another?"

"I suppose it would not interfere with your parish?" she asked.

"Not in the least, at the distance at which we are. I did think of
giving up old Jones; but if I take this, of course I must keep a
curate." His wife could not find it in her heart to dissuade him from
accepting promotion when it came in his way--what vicar's wife would
have so persuaded her husband? But yet she did not altogether like
it. She feared that Greek from Chaldicotes, even when he came with
the present of a prebendal stall in his hands. And then what would
Lady Lufton say?

"And do you think that you must go up to London, Mark?"

"Oh, certainly; that is, if I intend to accept Harold Smith's kind
offices in the matter."

"I suppose it will be better to accept them," said Fanny, feeling
perhaps that it would be useless in her to hope that they should not
be accepted.

"Prebendal stalls, Fanny, don't generally go begging long among
parish clergymen. How could I reconcile it to the duty I owe to my
children to refuse such an increase to my income?" And so it was
settled that he should at once drive to Silverbridge and send off a
message by telegraph, and that he should himself proceed to London on
the following day. "But you must see Lady Lufton first, of course,"
said Fanny, as soon as all this was settled. Mark would have avoided
this if he could have decently done so, but he felt that it would be
impolitic, as well as indecent. And why should he be afraid to tell
Lady Lufton that he hoped to receive this piece of promotion from
the present Government? There was nothing disgraceful in a clergyman
becoming a prebendary of Barchester. Lady Lufton herself had always
been very civil to the prebendaries, and especially to little Dr.
Burslem, the meagre little man who had just now paid the debt of
nature. She had always been very fond of the chapter, and her
original dislike to Bishop Proudie had been chiefly founded on his
interference with the cathedral clergy,--on his interference, or on
that of his wife or chaplain. Considering these things Mark Robarts
tried to make himself believe that Lady Lufton would be delighted
at his good fortune. But yet he did not believe it. She at any rate
would revolt from the gift of the Greek of Chaldicotes. "Oh, indeed,"
she said, when the vicar had with some difficulty explained to her
all the circumstances of the case. "Well, I congratulate you, Mr.
Robarts, on your powerful new patron."

"You will probably feel with me, Lady Lufton, that the benefice is
one which I can hold without any detriment to me in my position here
at Framley," said he, prudently resolving to let the slur upon his
friends pass by unheeded.

"Well, I hope so. Of course, you are a very young man, Mr. Robarts,
and these things have generally been given to clergymen more advanced
in life."

"But you do not mean to say that you think I ought to refuse it?"

"What my advice to you might be if you really came to me for advice,
I am hardly prepared to say at so very short a notice. You seem to
have made up your mind, and therefore I need not consider it. As it
is, I wish you joy, and hope that it may turn out to your advantage
in every way."

"You understand, Lady Lufton, that I have by no means got it as yet."

"Oh, I thought it had been offered to you: I thought you spoke of
this new minister as having all that in his own hand."

"Oh dear, no. What may be the amount of his influence in that respect
I do not at all know. But my correspondent assures me--"

"Mr. Sowerby, you mean. Why don't you call him by his name?"

"Mr. Sowerby assures me that Mr. Smith will ask for it; and thinks it
most probable that his request will be successful."

"Oh, of course. Mr. Sowerby and Mr. Harold Smith together would no
doubt be successful in anything. They are the sort of men who are
successful nowadays. Well, Mr. Robarts, I wish you joy." And she gave
him her hand in token of her sincerity. Mark took her hand, resolving
to say nothing further on that occasion. That Lady Lufton was not now
cordial with him, as she used to be, he was well aware; and sooner or
later he was determined to have the matter out with her. He would ask
her why she now so constantly met him with a taunt, and so seldom
greeted him with that kind old affectionate smile which he knew and
appreciated so well. That she was honest and true he was quite sure.
If he asked her the question plainly, she would answer him openly.
And if he could induce her to say that she would return to her old
ways, return to them she would in a hearty manner. But he could not
do this just at present. It was but a day or two since Mr. Crawley
had been with him; and was it not probable that Mr. Crawley had been
sent thither by Lady Lufton? His own hands were not clean enough for
a remonstrance at the present moment. He would cleanse them, and then
he would remonstrate. "Would you like to live part of the year in
Barchester?" he said to his wife and sister that evening.

"I think that two houses are only a trouble," said his wife. "And we
have been very happy here."

"I have always liked a cathedral town," said Lucy; "and I am
particularly fond of the close."

"And Barchester Close is the closest of all closes," said Mark.
"There is not a single house within the gateways that does not belong
to the chapter."

"But if we are to keep up two houses, the additional income will soon
be wasted," said Fanny, prudently.

"The thing would be to let the house furnished every summer," said
Lucy.

"But I must take my residence as the terms come," said the vicar;
"and I certainly should not like to be away from Framley all the
winter; I should never see anything of Lufton." And perhaps he
thought of his hunting, and then thought again of that cleansing of
his hands.

"I should not a bit mind being away during the winter," said Lucy,
thinking of what the last winter had done for her.

"But where on earth should we find money to furnish one of those
large, old-fashioned houses? Pray, Mark, do not do anything rash."
And the wife laid her hand affectionately on her husband's arm. In
this manner the question of the prebend was discussed between them
on the evening before he started for London. Success had at last
crowned the earnest effort with which Harold Smith had carried on the
political battle of his life for the last ten years. The late Lord
Petty Bag had resigned in disgust, having been unable to digest the
Prime Minister's ideas on Indian Reform, and Mr. Harold Smith, after
sundry hitches in the business, was installed in his place. It was
said that Harold Smith was not exactly the man whom the Premier would
himself have chosen for that high office; but the Premier's hands
were a good deal tied by circumstances. The last great appointment he
had made had been terribly unpopular,--so much so as to subject him,
popular as he undoubtedly was himself, to a screech from the whole
nation. The _Jupiter_, with withering scorn, had asked whether vice
of every kind was to be considered, in these days of Queen Victoria,
as a passport to the Cabinet. Adverse members of both Houses had
arrayed themselves in a pure panoply of morality, and thundered forth
their sarcasms with the indignant virtue and keen discontent of
political Juvenals; and even his own friends had held up their hands
in dismay. Under those circumstances he had thought himself obliged
in the present instance to select a man who would not be especially
objectionable to any party. Now Harold Smith lived with his wife, and
his circumstances were not more than ordinarily embarrassed. He kept
no race-horses; and, as Lord Brock now heard for the first time,
gave lectures in provincial towns on popular subjects. He had a seat
which was tolerably secure, and could talk to the House by the yard
if required to do so. Moreover, Lord Brock had a great idea that
the whole machinery of his own ministry would break to pieces very
speedily. His own reputation was not bad, but it was insufficient
for himself and that lately selected friend of his. Under all these
circumstances combined, he chose Harold Smith to fill the vacant
office of Lord Petty Bag. And very proud the Lord Petty Bag was.
For the last three or four months, he and Mr. Supplehouse had been
agreeing to consign the ministry to speedy perdition. "This sort
of dictatorship will never do," Harold Smith had himself said,
justifying that future vote of his as to want of confidence in the
Queen's Government. And Mr. Supplehouse in this matter had fully
agreed with him. He was a Juno whose form that wicked old Paris had
utterly despised, and he, too, had quite made up his mind as to the
lobby in which he would be found when that day of vengeance should
arrive. But now things were much altered in Harold Smith's views.
The Premier had shown his wisdom in seeking for new strength where
strength ought to be sought, and introducing new blood into the body
of his ministry. The people would now feel fresh confidence, and
probably the House also. As to Mr. Supplehouse--he would use all his
influence on Supplehouse. But, after all, Mr. Supplehouse was not
everything.

On the morning after our vicar's arrival in London he attended at
the Petty Bag Office. It was situated in the close neighbourhood of
Downing Street and the higher governmental gods; and though the
building itself was not much, seeing that it was shored up on one
side, that it bulged out in the front, was foul with smoke, dingy
with dirt, and was devoid of any single architectural grace or modern
scientific improvement, nevertheless its position gave it a status in
the world which made the clerks in the Lord Petty Bag's office quite
respectable in their walk in life. Mark had seen his friend Sowerby
on the previous evening, and had then made an appointment with him
for the following morning at the new minister's office. And now he
was there a little before his time, in order that he might have a
few moments' chat with his brother. When Mark found himself in the
private secretary's room he was quite astonished to see the change in
his brother's appearance which the change in his official rank had
produced. Jack Robarts had been a well-built, straight-legged, lissom
young fellow, pleasant to the eye because of his natural advantages,
but rather given to a harum-scarum style of gait, and occasionally
careless, not to say slovenly, in his dress. But now he was the very
pink of perfection. His jaunty frock-coat fitted him to perfection;
not a hair of his head was out of place; his waistcoat and
trousers were glossy and new, and his umbrella, which stood in the
umbrella-stand in the corner, was tight, and neat, and small, and
natty. "Well, John, you've become quite a great man," said his
brother.

"I don't know much about that," said John; "but I find that I have an
enormous deal of fagging to go through."

"Do you mean work? I thought you had about the easiest berth in the
whole Civil Service."

"Ah! that's just the mistake that people make. Because we don't cover
whole reams of foolscap paper at the rate of fifteen lines to a page,
and five words to a line, people think that we private secretaries
have got nothing to do. Look here," and he tossed over scornfully a
dozen or so of little notes. "I tell you what, Mark; it is no easy
matter to manage the patronage of a Cabinet minister. Now I am bound
to write to every one of these fellows a letter that will please him;
and yet I shall refuse to every one of them the request which he
asks."

"That must be difficult."

"Difficult is no word for it. But, after all, it consists chiefly
in the knack of the thing. One must have the wit 'from such a sharp
and waspish word as No to pluck the sting.' I do it every day, and I
really think that the people like it."

"Perhaps your refusals are better than other people's acquiescences."

"I don't mean that at all. We private secretaries have all to do the
same thing. Now, would you believe it? I have used up three lifts of
notepaper already in telling people that there is no vacancy for a
lobby messenger in the Petty Bag Office. Seven peeresses have asked
for it for their favourite footmen. But there--there's the Lord Petty
Bag!" A bell rang and the private secretary, jumping up from his
notepaper, tripped away quickly to the great man's room. "He'll
see you at once," said he, returning. "Buggins, show the Reverend
Mr. Robarts to the Lord Petty Bag." Buggins was the messenger for
whose not vacant place all the peeresses were striving with so much
animation. And then Mark, following Buggins for two steps, was
ushered into the next room.

If a man be altered by becoming a private secretary, he is much more
altered by being made a Cabinet minister. Robarts, as he entered the
room, could hardly believe that this was the same Harold Smith whom
Mrs. Proudie bothered so cruelly in the lecture-room at Barchester.
Then he was cross, and touchy, and uneasy, and insignificant. Now,
as he stood smiling on the hearth-rug of his official fireplace, it
was quite pleasant to see the kind, patronizing smile which lighted
up his features. He delighted to stand there, with his hands in
his trousers' pocket, the great man of the place, conscious of his
lordship, and feeling himself every inch a minister. Sowerby had come
with him, and was standing a little in the background, from which
position he winked occasionally at the parson over the minister's
shoulder. "Ah, Robarts, delighted to see you. How odd, by the by,
that your brother should be my private secretary!" Mark said that it
was a singular coincidence.

"A very smart young fellow, and, if he minds himself, he'll do well."

"I'm quite sure he'll do well," said Mark.

"Ah! well, yes; I think he will. And now, what can I do for you,
Robarts?" Hereupon Mr. Sowerby struck in, making it apparent by his
explanation that Mr. Robarts himself by no means intended to ask for
anything; but that, as his friends had thought that this stall at
Barchester might be put into his hands with more fitness than in
those of any other clergyman of the day, he was willing to accept the
piece of preferment from a man whom he respected so much as he did
the new Lord Petty Bag. The minister did not quite like this, as it
restricted him from much of his condescension, and robbed him of
the incense of a petition which he had expected Mark Roberts would
make to him. But, nevertheless, he was very gracious. "He could not
take upon himself to declare," he said, "what might be Lord Brock's
pleasure with reference to the preferment at Barchester which was
vacant. He had certainly already spoken to his lordship on the
subject, and had perhaps some reason to believe that his own wishes
would be consulted. No distinct promise had been made, but he might
perhaps go so far as to say that he expected such result. If so, it
would give him the greatest pleasure in the world to congratulate Mr.
Robarts on the possession of the stall--a stall which he was sure
Mr. Robarts would fill with dignity, piety, and brotherly love." And
then, when he had finished, Mr. Sowerby gave a final wink, and said
that he regarded the matter as settled.

"No, not settled, Nathaniel," said the cautious minister.

"It's the same thing," rejoined Sowerby. "We all know what all
that flummery means. Men in office, Mark, never do make a distinct
promise,--not even to themselves of the leg of mutton which is
roasting before their kitchen fires. It is so necessary in these days
to be safe; is it not, Harold?

"Most expedient," said Harold Smith, shaking his head wisely. "Well,
Robarts, who is it now?" This he said to his private secretary,
who came to notice the arrival of some bigwig. "Well, yes. I will
say good morning, with your leave, for I am a little hurried. And
remember, Mr. Robarts, I will do what I can for you; but you must
distinctly understand that there is no promise."

"Oh, no promise at all," said Sowerby--"of course not." And then, as
he sauntered up Whitehall towards Charing Cross, with Robarts on his
arm, he again pressed upon him the sale of that invaluable hunter,
who was eating his head off his shoulders in the stable at
Chaldicotes.



CHAPTER XIX

Money Dealings


Mr. Sowerby, in his resolution to obtain this good gift for the vicar
of Framley, did not depend quite alone on the influence of his near
connexion with the Lord Petty Bag. He felt the occasion to be one
on which he might endeavour to move even higher powers than that,
and therefore he had opened the matter to the duke--not by direct
application, but through Mr. Fothergill. No man who understood
matters ever thought of going direct to the duke in such an affair as
that. If one wanted to speak about a woman or a horse or a picture
the duke could, on occasions, be affable enough. But through Mr.
Fothergill the duke was approached. It was represented, with some
cunning, that this buying over of the Framley clergyman from the
Lufton side would be a praiseworthy spoiling of the Amalekites. The
doing so would give the Omnium interest a hold even in the cathedral
close. And then it was known to all men that Mr. Robarts had
considerable influence over Lord Lufton himself. So guided, the Duke
of Omnium did say two words to the Prime Minister, and two words
from the duke went a great way, even with Lord Brock. The upshot of
all this was, that Mark Robarts did get the stall; but he did not
hear the tidings of his success till some days after his return to
Framley.

Mr. Sowerby did not forget to tell him of the great effort--the
unusual effort, as he of Chaldicotes called it--which the duke had
made on the subject. "I don't know when he has done such a thing
before," said Sowerby; "and you may be quite sure of this, he would
not have done it now, had you not gone to Gatherum Castle when he
asked you: indeed, Fothergill would have known that it was vain to
attempt it. And I'll tell you what, Mark--it does not do for me to
make little of my own nest, but I truly believe the duke's word will
be more efficacious than the Lord Petty Bag's solemn adjuration."
Mark, of course, expressed his gratitude in proper terms, and did buy
the horse for a hundred and thirty pounds. "He's as well worth it,"
said Sowerby, "as any animal that ever stood on four legs; and my
only reason for pressing him on you is, that when Tozer's day does
come round, I know you will have to stand to us to something about
that tune." It did not occur to Mark to ask him why the horse should
not be sold to some one else, and the money forthcoming in the
regular way. But this would not have suited Mr. Sowerby.

Mark knew that the beast was good, and as he walked to his lodgings
was half proud of his new possession. But then, how would he justify
it to his wife, or how introduce the animal into his stables without
attempting any justification in the matter? And yet, looking to the
absolute amount of his income, surely he might feel himself entitled
to buy a new horse when it suited him. He wondered what Mr. Crawley
would say when he heard of the new purchase. He had lately fallen
into a state of much wondering as to what his friends and neighbours
would say about him. He had now been two days in town, and was to go
down after breakfast on the following morning so that he might reach
home by Friday afternoon. But on that evening, just as he was going
to bed, he was surprised by Lord Lufton coming into the coffee-room
at his hotel. He walked in with a hurried step, his face was red, and
it was clear that he was very angry. "Robarts," said he, walking up
to his friend and taking the hand that was extended to him, "do you
know anything about this man Tozer?"

"Tozer--what Tozer? I have heard Sowerby speak of such a man."

"Of course you have. If I do not mistake you have written to me about
him yourself."

"Very probably. I remember Sowerby mentioning the man with reference
to your affairs. But why do you ask me?"

"This man has not only written to me, but has absolutely forced his
way into my rooms when I was dressing for dinner; and absolutely had
the impudence to tell me that if I did not honour some bill which he
holds for eight hundred pounds he would proceed against me."

"But you settled all that matter with Sowerby?"

"I did settle it at a very great cost to me. Sooner than have a fuss,
I paid him through the nose--like a fool that I was--everything that
he claimed. This is an absolute swindle, and if it goes on I will
expose it as such." Robarts looked round the room, but luckily there
was not a soul in it but themselves. "You do not mean to say that
Sowerby is swindling you?" said the clergyman.

"It looks very like it," said Lord Lufton; "and I tell you fairly
that I am not in a humour to endure any more of this sort of thing.
Some years ago I made an ass of myself through that man's fault. But
four thousand pounds should have covered the whole of what I really
lost. I have now paid more than three times that sum; and, by
heavens! I will not pay more without exposing the whole affair."

"But, Lufton, I do not understand. What is this bill?--has it your
name to it?

"Yes, it has: I'll not deny my name, and if there be absolute need I
will pay it; but, if I do so, my lawyer shall sift it, and it shall
go before a jury."

"But I thought all those bills were paid?"

"I left it to Sowerby to get up the old bills when they were renewed,
and now one of them that has in truth been already honoured is
brought against me." Mark could not but think of the two documents
which he himself had signed, and both of which were now undoubtedly
in the hands of Tozer, or of some other gentleman of the same
profession;--which both might be brought against him, the second as
soon as he should have satisfied the first. And then he remembered
that Sowerby had said something to him about an outstanding bill,
for the filling up of which some trifle must be paid, and of this he
reminded Lord Lufton.

"And do you call eight hundred pounds a trifle? If so, I do not."

"They will probably make no such demand as that."

"But I tell you they do make such a demand, and have made it. The
man whom I saw, and who told me that he was Tozer's friend, but who
was probably Tozer himself, positively swore to me that he would be
obliged to take legal proceedings if the money were not forthcoming
within a week or ten days. When I explained to him that it was an old
bill that had been renewed, he declared that his friend had given
full value for it."

"Sowerby said that you would probably have to pay ten pounds to
redeem it. I should offer the man some such sum as that."

"My intention is to offer the man nothing, but to leave the affair
in the hands of my lawyer with instructions to him to spare none;
neither myself nor any one else. I am not going to allow such a man
as Sowerby to squeeze me like an orange."

"But, Lufton, you seem as though you were angry with me."

"No, I am not. But I think it is as well to caution you about this
man; my transactions with him lately have chiefly been through you,
and therefore--"

"But they have only been so through his and your wish: because I have
been anxious to oblige you both. I hope you don't mean to say that I
am concerned in these bills."

"I know that you are concerned in bills with him."

"Why, Lufton, am I to understand, then, that you are accusing me
of having any interest in these transactions which you have called
swindling?"

"As far as I am concerned there has been swindling, and there is
swindling going on now."

"But you do not answer my question. Do you bring any accusation
against me? If so, I agree with you that you had better go to your
lawyer."

"I think that is what I shall do."

"Very well. But, upon the whole, I never heard of a more unreasonable
man, or of one whose thoughts are more unjust than yours. Solely
with the view of assisting you, and solely at your request, I spoke
to Sowerby about these money transactions of yours. Then, at his
request, which originated out of your request, he using me as his
ambassador to you, as you had used me as yours to him, I wrote and
spoke to you. And now this is the upshot."

"I bring no accusation against you, Robarts; but I know you have
dealings with this man. You have told me so yourself."

"Yes, at his request to accommodate him. I have put my name to a
bill."

"Only to one?

"Only to one; and then to that same renewed, or not exactly to that
same, but to one which stands for it. The first was for four hundred
pounds; the last for five hundred."

"All which you will have to make good, and the world will of course
tell you that you have paid that price for this stall at Barchester."
This was terrible to be borne. He had heard much lately which had
frightened and scared him, but nothing so terrible as this; nothing
which so stunned him, or conveyed to his mind so frightful a reality
of misery and ruin. He made no immediate answer, but standing on the
hearth-rug with his back to the fire, looked up the whole length of
the room. Hitherto his eyes had been fixed upon Lord Lufton's face,
but now it seemed to him as though he had but little more to do with
Lord Lufton. Lord Lufton and Lord Lufton's mother were neither now to
be counted among those who wished him well. Upon whom indeed could he
now count, except that wife of his bosom upon whom he was bringing
all this wretchedness? In that moment of agony ideas ran quickly
through his brain. He would immediately abandon this preferment at
Barchester, of which it might be said with so much colour that he had
bought it. He would go to Harold Smith, and say positively that he
declined it. Then he would return home and tell his wife all that had
occurred;--tell the whole also to Lady Lufton, if that might still
be of any service. He would make arrangement for the payment of both
those bills as they might be presented, asking no questions as to the
justice of the claim, making no complaint to any one, not even to
Sowerby. He would put half his income, if half were necessary, into
the hands of Forrest the banker, till all was paid. He would sell
every horse he had. He would part with his footman and groom, and
at any rate strive like a man to get again a firm footing on good
ground. Then, at that moment, he loathed with his whole soul the
position in which he found himself placed, and his own folly which
had placed him there. How could he reconcile it to his conscience
that he was there in London with Sowerby and Harold Smith,
petitioning for Church preferment to a man who should have been
altogether powerless in such a matter, buying horses, and arranging
about past due bills? He did not reconcile it to his conscience. Mr.
Crawley had been right when he told him that he was a castaway.

Lord Lufton, whose anger during the whole interview had been extreme,
and who had become more angry the more he talked, had now walked once
or twice up and down the room; and as he so walked the idea did occur
to him that he had been unjust. He had come there with the intention
of exclaiming against Sowerby, and of inducing Robarts to convey to
that gentleman, that if he, Lord Lufton, were made to undergo any
further annoyance about this bill, the whole affair should be thrown
into the lawyer's hands; but instead of doing this, he had brought
an accusation against Robarts. That Robarts had latterly become
Sowerby's friend rather than his own in all these horrid money
dealings, had galled him; and now he had expressed himself in terms
much stronger than he had intended to use. "As to you personally,
Mark," he said, coming back to the spot on which Robarts was
standing, "I do not wish to say anything that shall annoy you."

"You have said quite enough, Lord Lufton."

"You cannot be surprised that I should be angry and indignant at the
treatment I have received."

"You might, I think, have separated in your mind those who have
wronged you, if there has been such wrong, from those who have
only endeavoured to do your will and pleasure for you. That I, as
a clergyman, have been very wrong in taking any part whatsoever
in these matters, I am well aware. That as a man I have been
outrageously foolish in lending my name to Mr. Sowerby, I also know
well enough: it is, perhaps, as well that I should be told of this
somewhat rudely; but I certainly did not expect the lesson to come
from you."

"Well, there has been mischief enough. The question is, what we had
better now both do?"

"You have said what you mean to do. You will put the affair into the
hands of your lawyer."

"Not with any object of exposing you."

"Exposing me, Lord Lufton! Why, one would think that I had had the
handling of your money."

"You will misunderstand me. I think no such thing. But do you not
know yourself that if legal steps be taken in this wretched affair,
your arrangements with Sowerby will be brought to light?"

"My arrangements with Sowerby will consist in paying or having to
pay, on his account, a large sum of money, for which I have never had
and shall never have any consideration whatever."

"And what will be said about this stall at Barchester?"

"After the charge which you brought against me just now, I shall
decline to accept it." At this moment three or four other gentlemen
entered the room, and the conversation between our two friends was
stopped. They still remained standing near the fire, but for a few
minutes neither of them said anything. Robarts was waiting till Lord
Lufton should go away, and Lord Lufton had not yet said that which
he had come to say. At last he spoke again, almost in a whisper: "I
think it will be best to ask Sowerby to come to my rooms to-morrow,
and I think also that you should meet him there."

"I do not see any necessity for my presence," said Robarts. "It seems
probable that I shall suffer enough for meddling with your affairs,
and I will do so no more."

"Of course, I cannot make you come; but I think it will be only just
to Sowerby, and it will be a favour to me." Robarts again walked up
and down the room for half a dozen times, trying to resolve what it
would most become him to do in the present emergency. If his name
were dragged before the courts,--if he should be shown up in the
public papers as having been engaged in accommodation bills, that
would certainly be ruinous to him. He had already learned from Lord
Lufton's innuendoes what he might expect to hear as the public
version of his share in these transactions! And then his wife,--how
would she bear such exposure? "I will meet Mr. Sowerby at your rooms
to-morrow, on one condition," he at last said.

"And what is that?"

"That I receive your positive assurance that I am not suspected
by you of having had any pecuniary interest whatever in any money
matters with Mr. Sowerby, either as concerns your affairs or those
of anybody else."

"I have never suspected you of any such thing. But I have thought
that you were compromised with him."

"And so I am--I am liable for these bills. But you ought to have
known, and do know, that I have never received a shilling on account
of such liability. I have endeavoured to oblige a man whom I regarded
first as your friend, and then as my own; and this has been the
result." Lord Lufton did at last give him the assurance that he
desired, as they sat with their heads together over one of the
coffee-room tables; and then Robarts promised that he would postpone
his return to Framley till the Saturday, so that he might meet
Sowerby at Lord Lufton's chambers in the Albany on the following
afternoon. As soon as this was arranged, Lord Lufton took his leave
and went his way.

After that poor Mark had a very uneasy night of it. It was clear
enough that Lord Lufton had thought, if he did not still think, that
the stall at Barchester was to be given as pecuniary recompense in
return for certain money accommodation to be afforded by the nominee
to the dispenser of this patronage. Nothing on earth could be worse
than this. In the first place it would be simony; and then it would
be simony beyond all description mean and simoniacal. The very
thought of it filled Mark's soul with horror and dismay. It might
be that Lord Lufton's suspicions were now at rest; but others would
think the same thing, and their suspicions it would be impossible to
allay; those others would consist of the outer world, which is always
so eager to gloat over the detected vice of a clergyman. And then
that wretched horse which he had purchased, and the purchase of which
should have prohibited him from saying that nothing of value had
accrued to him in these transactions with Mr. Sowerby! what was he
to do about that? And then of late he had been spending, and had
continued to spend, more money than he could well afford. This very
journey of his up to London would be most imprudent, if it should
become necessary for him to give up all hope of holding the prebend.
As to that he had made up his mind; but then again he unmade it, as
men always do in such troubles. That line of conduct which he had
laid down for himself in the first moments of his indignation against
Lord Lufton, by adopting which he would have to encounter poverty,
and ridicule, and discomfort, the annihilation of his high hopes,
and the ruin of his ambition--that, he said to himself over and over
again, would now be the best for him. But it is so hard for us to
give up our high hopes, and willingly encounter poverty, ridicule,
and discomfort!

On the following morning, however, he boldly walked down to the
Petty Bag Office, determined to let Harold Smith know that he was no
longer desirous of the Barchester stall. He found his brother there,
still writing artistic notes to anxious peeresses on the subject of
Buggins's non-vacant situation; but the great man of the place, the
Lord Petty Bag himself, was not there. He might probably look in when
the House was beginning to sit, perhaps at four or a little after;
but he certainly would not be at the office in the morning. The
functions of the Lord Petty Bag he was no doubt performing elsewhere.
Perhaps he had carried his work home with him--a practice which the
world should know is not uncommon with civil servants of exceeding
zeal. Mark did think of opening his heart to his brother, and of
leaving his message with him. But his courage failed him, or perhaps
it might be more correct to say that his prudence prevented him. It
would be better for him, he thought, to tell his wife before he told
any one else. So he merely chatted with his brother for half an hour
and then left him. The day was very tedious till the hour came at
which he was to attend at Lord Lufton's rooms; but at last it did
come, and just as the clock struck he turned out of Piccadilly into
the Albany. As he was going across the court before he entered the
building, he was greeted by a voice just behind him. "As punctual as
the big clock on Barchester tower," said Mr. Sowerby. "See what it
is to have a summons from a great man, Mr. Prebendary." He turned
round and extended his hand mechanically to Mr. Sowerby, and as he
looked at him he thought he had never before seen him so pleasant in
appearance, so free from care, and so joyous in demeanour.

"You have heard from Lord Lufton," said Mark, in a voice that was
certainly very lugubrious.

"Heard from him! oh, yes, of course I have heard from him. I'll tell
you what it is, Mark," and he now spoke almost in a whisper as they
walked together along the Albany passage, "Lufton is a child in money
matters--a perfect child. The dearest, finest fellow in the world,
you know; but a very baby in money matters." And then they entered
his lordship's rooms. Lord Lufton's countenance also was lugubrious
enough, but this did not in the least abash Sowerby, who walked
quickly up to the young lord with his gait perfectly self-possessed
and his face radiant with satisfaction.

"Well, Lufton, how are you?" said he. "It seems that my worthy friend
Tozer has been giving you some trouble?" Then Lord Lufton with a
face by no means radiant with satisfaction again began the story of
Tozer's fraudulent demand upon him. Sowerby did not interrupt him,
but listened patiently to the end;--quite patiently, although Lord
Lufton, as he made himself more and more angry by the history of his
own wrongs, did not hesitate to pronounce certain threats against Mr.
Sowerby, as he had pronounced them before against Mark Robarts. He
would not, he said, pay a shilling, except through his lawyer; and
he would instruct his lawyer, that before he paid anything, the
whole matter should be exposed openly in court. He did not care, he
said, what might be the effect on himself or any one else. He was
determined that the whole case should go to a jury. "To grand jury,
and special jury, and common jury, and Old Jewry, if you like," said
Sowerby. "The truth is, Lufton, you lost some money, and as there was
some delay in paying it, you have been harassed."

"I have paid more than I lost three times over," said Lord Lufton,
stamping his foot.

"I will not go into that question now. It was settled, as I thought,
some time ago by persons to whom you yourself referred it. But will
you tell me this: Why on earth should Robarts be troubled in this
matter? What has he done?"

"Well, I don't know. He arranged the matter with you."

"No such thing. He was kind enough to carry a message from you to me,
and to convey back a return message from me to you. That has been his
part in it."

"You don't suppose that I want to implicate him: do you?"

"I don't think you want to implicate any one, but you are hot-headed
and difficult to deal with, and very irrational into the bargain.
And, what is worse, I must say you are a little suspicious. In all
this matter I have harassed myself greatly to oblige you, and in
return I have got more kicks than halfpence."

"Did not you give this bill to Tozer--the bill which he now holds?"

"In the first place he does not hold it; and in the next place I did
not give it to him. These things pass through scores of hands before
they reach the man who makes the application for payment."

"And who came to me the other day?"

"That, I take it, was Tom Tozer, a brother of our Tozer's."

"Then he holds the bill, for I saw it with him."

"Wait a moment; that is very likely. I sent you word that you would
have to pay for taking it up. Of course they don't abandon those sort
of things without some consideration."

"Ten pounds, you said," observed Mark.

"Ten or twenty; some such sum as that. But you were hardly so soft
as to suppose that the man would ask for such a sum. Of course he
would demand the full payment. There is the bill, Lord Lufton," and
Sowerby, producing a document, handed it across the table to his
lordship. "I gave five-and-twenty pounds for it this morning." Lord
Lufton took the paper and looked at it.

"Yes," said he, "that's the bill. What am I to do with it now?"

"Put it with the family archives," said Sowerby,--"or behind the
fire, just which you please."

"And is this the last of them? Can no other be brought up?"

"You know better than I do what paper you may have put your hand to.
I know of no other. At the last renewal that was the only outstanding
bill of which I was aware."

"And you have paid five-and-twenty pounds for it?"

"I have. Only that you have been in such a tantrum about it, and
would have made such a noise this afternoon if I had not brought it,
I might have had it for fifteen or twenty. In three or four days they
would have taken fifteen."

"The odd ten pounds does not signify, and I'll pay you the
twenty-five, of course," said Lord Lufton, who now began to feel a
little ashamed of himself.

"You may do as you please about that."

"Oh! it's my affair, as a matter of course. Any amount of that kind I
don't mind," and he sat down to fill in a cheque for the money.

"Well, now, Lufton, let me say a few words to you," said Sowerby,
standing with his back against the fireplace, and playing with a
small cane which he held in his hand. "For heaven's sake try and be a
little more charitable to those around you. When you become fidgety
about anything, you indulge in language which the world won't stand,
though men who know you as well as Robarts and I may consent to put
up with it. You have accused me, since I have been here, of all
manner of iniquity--"

"Now, Sowerby--"

"My dear fellow, let me have my say out. You have accused me, I say,
and I believe that you have accused him. But it has never occurred to
you, I dare say, to accuse yourself."

"Indeed it has.

"Of course you have been wrong in having to do with such men as
Tozer. I have also been very wrong. It wants no great moral authority
to tell us that. Pattern gentlemen don't have dealings with Tozer,
and very much the better they are for not having them. But a man
should have back enough to bear the weight which he himself puts on
it. Keep away from Tozer, if you can, for the future; but if you do
deal with him, for heaven's sake keep your temper."

"That's all very fine, Sowerby; but you know as well as I do--"

"I know this," said the devil, quoting Scripture, as he folded up the
check for twenty-five pounds, and put it in his pocket, "that when a
man sows tares, he won't reap wheat, and it's no use to expect it. I
am tough in these matters, and can bear a great deal--that is, if I
be not pushed too far," and he looked full into Lord Lufton's face as
he spoke; "but I think you have been very hard upon Robarts."

"Never mind me, Sowerby; Lord Lufton and I are very old friends."

"And may therefore take a liberty with each other. Very well. And
now I've done my sermon. My dear dignitary, allow me to congratulate
you. I hear from Fothergill that that little affair of yours has been
definitely settled." Mark's face again became clouded. "I rather
think," said he, "that I shall decline the presentation."

"Decline it!" said Sowerby, who, having used his utmost efforts
to obtain it, would have been more absolutely offended by such
vacillation on the vicar's part than by any personal abuse which
either he or Lord Lufton could heap upon him.

"I think I shall," said Mark.

"And why?" Mark looked up at Lord Lufton, and then remained silent
for a moment.

"There can be no occasion for such a sacrifice under the present
circumstances," said his lordship.

"And under what circumstances could there be occasion for it?" asked
Sowerby. "The Duke of Omnium has used some little influence to get
the place for you as a parish clergyman belonging to his county, and
I should think it monstrous if you were now to reject it." And then
Robarts openly stated the whole of his reasons, explaining exactly
what Lord Lufton had said with reference to the bill transactions,
and to the allegation which would be made as to the stall having been
given in payment for the accommodation.

"Upon my word that's too bad," said Sowerby.

"Now, Sowerby, I won't be lectured," said Lord Lufton.

"I have done my lecture," said he, aware, perhaps, that it would
not do for him to push his friend too far, "and I shall not give a
second. But, Robarts, let me tell you this: as far as I know, Harold
Smith has had little or nothing to do with the appointment. The duke
has told the Prime Minister that he was very anxious that a parish
clergyman from the county should go into the chapter, and then, at
Lord Brock's request, he named you. If under those circumstances you
talk of giving it up, I shall believe you to be insane. As for the
bill which you accepted for me, you need have no uneasiness about it.
The money will be ready; but of course, when that time comes, you
will let me have the hundred and thirty for--" And then Mr. Sowerby
took his leave, having certainly made himself master of the occasion.
If a man of fifty have his wits about him, and be not too prosy,
he can generally make himself master of the occasion, when his
companions are under thirty. Robarts did not stay at the Albany long
after him, but took his leave, having received some assurances of
Lord Lufton's regret for what had passed and many promises of his
friendship for the future. Indeed Lord Lufton was a little ashamed of
himself. "And as for the prebend, after what has passed, of course
you must accept it." Nevertheless his lordship had not omitted to
notice Mr. Sowerby's hint about the horse and the hundred and thirty
pounds.

Robarts, as he walked back to his hotel, thought that he certainly
would accept the Barchester promotion, and was very glad that he had
said nothing on the subject to his brother. On the whole his spirits
were much raised. That assurance of Sowerby's about the bill was very
comforting to him; and, strange to say, he absolutely believed it. In
truth, Sowerby had been so completely the winning horse at the late
meeting, that both Lord Lufton and Robarts were inclined to believe
almost anything he said;--which was not always the case with either
of them.



CHAPTER XX

Harold Smith in the Cabinet


For a few days the whole Harold Smith party held their heads very
high. It was not only that their man had been made a Cabinet
minister; but a rumour had got abroad that Lord Brock, in selecting
him, had amazingly strengthened his party, and done much to cure the
wounds which his own arrogance and lack of judgement had inflicted
on the body politic of his Government. So said the Harold-Smithians,
much elated. And when we consider what Harold had himself achieved,
we need not be surprised that he himself was somewhat elated also. It
must be a proud day for any man when he first walks into a Cabinet.
But when a humble-minded man thinks of such a phase of life, his
mind becomes lost in wondering what a Cabinet is. Are they gods that
attend there or men? Do they sit on chairs, or hang about on clouds?
When they speak, is the music of the spheres audible in their
Olympian mansion, making heaven drowsy with its harmony? In what way
do they congregate? In what order do they address each other? Are the
voices of all the deities free and equal? Is plodding Themis from
the Home Department, or Ceres from the Colonies, heard with as rapt
attention as powerful Pallas of the Foreign Office, the goddess that
is never seen without her lance and helmet? Does our Whitehall Mars
make eyes there at bright young Venus of the Privy Seal, disgusting
that quaint tinkering Vulcan, who is blowing his bellows at our
Exchequer, not altogether unsuccessfully? Old Saturn of the Woolsack
sits there mute, we will say, a relic of other days, as seated in
this divan. The hall in which he rules is now elsewhere. Is our
Mercury of the Post Office ever ready to fly nimbly from globe to
globe, as great Jove may order him, while Neptune, unaccustomed to
the waves, offers needful assistance to the Apollo of the India
Board? How Juno sits apart, glum and huffy, uncared for, Council
President though she be, great in name, but despised among gods--that
we can guess. If Bacchus and Cupid share Trade and the Board of Works
between them, the fitness of things will have been as fully consulted
as is usual. And modest Diana of the Petty Bag, latest summoned to
these banquets of ambrosia,--does she not cling retiring near the
doors, hardy able as yet to make her low voice heard among her
brother deities? But Jove, great Jove--old Jove, the King of Olympus,
hero among gods and men, how does he carry himself in these councils
summoned by his voice? Does he lie there at his ease, with his purple
cloak cut from the firmament around his shoulders? Is his thunderbolt
ever at his hand to reduce a recreant god to order? Can he proclaim
silence in that immortal hall? Is it not there, as elsewhere, in all
places, and among all nations, that a king of gods and a king of men
is and will be king, rules and will rule, over those who are smaller
than himself?

Harold Smith, when he was summoned to the august hall of divine
councils, did feel himself to be a proud man; but we may perhaps
conclude that at the first meeting or two he did not attempt to take
a very leading part. Some of my readers may have sat at vestries, and
will remember how mild, and, for the most part, mute is a new-comer
at their board. He agrees generally, with abated enthusiasm; but
should he differ, he apologizes for the liberty. But anon, when the
voices of his colleagues have become habitual in his ears--when the
strangeness of the room is gone, and the table before him is known
and trusted--he throws off his awe and dismay, and electrifies his
brotherhood by the vehemence of his declamation and the violence of
his thumping. So let us suppose it will be with Harold Smith, perhaps
in the second or third season of his Cabinet practice. Alas! alas!
that such pleasures should be so fleeting! And then, too, there came
upon him a blow which somewhat modified his triumph--a cruel, dastard
blow, from a hand which should have been friendly to him, from one to
whom he had fondly looked to buoy him up in the great course that was
before him. It had been said by his friends that in obtaining Harold
Smith's services the Prime Minister had infused new young healthy
blood into his body. Harold himself had liked the phrase, and had
seen at a glance how it might have been made to tell by some friendly
Supplehouse or the like. But why should a Supplehouse out of Elysium
be friendly to a Harold Smith within it? Men lapped in Elysium,
steeped to the neck in bliss, must expect to see their friends
fall off from them. Human nature cannot stand it. If I want to get
anything from my old friend Jones, I like to see him shoved up into a
high place. But if Jones, even in his high place, can do nothing for
me, then his exaltation above my head is an insult and an injury.
Who ever believes his own dear intimate companion to be fit for the
highest promotion? Mr. Supplehouse had known Mr. Smith too closely to
think much of his young blood.

Consequently, there appeared an article in the _Jupiter_, which was
by no means complimentary to the ministry in general. It harped a
good deal on the young-blood view of the question, and seemed to
insinuate that Harold Smith was not much better than diluted water.
"The Prime Minister," the article said, "having lately recruited
his impaired vigour by a new infusion of aristocratic influence of
the highest moral tone, had again added to himself another tower of
strength chosen from among the people. What might he not hope, now
that he possessed the services of Lord Brittleback and Mr. Harold
Smith! Renovated in a Medea's cauldron of such potency, all his
effete limbs--and it must be acknowledged that some of them had
become very effete--would come forth young and round and robust.
A new energy would diffuse itself through every department; India
would be saved and quieted; the ambition of France would be tamed;
even-handed reform would remodel our courts of law and parliamentary
elections; and Utopia would be realized. Such, it seems, is the
result expected in the ministry from Mr. Harold Smith's young blood!"

This was cruel enough, but even this was hardly so cruel as the words
with which the article ended. By that time irony had been dropped,
and the writer spoke out earnestly his opinion upon the matter. "We
beg to assure Lord Brock," said the article, "that such alliances as
these will not save him from the speedy fall with which his arrogance
and want of judgement threaten to overwhelm it. As regards himself
we shall be sorry to hear of his resignation. He is in many respects
the best statesman that we possess for the emergencies of the present
period. But if he be so ill-judged as to rest on such men as Mr.
Harold Smith and Lord Brittleback for his assistants in the work
which is before him, he must not expect that the country will
support him. Mr. Harold Smith is not made of the stuff from which
Cabinet ministers should be formed." Mr. Harold Smith, as he read
this, seated at his breakfast-table, recognized, or said that he
recognized, the hand of Mr. Supplehouse in every touch. That phrase
about the effete limbs was Supplehouse all over, as was also the
realization of Utopia. "When he wants to be witty, he always talks
about Utopia," said Mr. Harold Smith--to himself: for Mrs. Harold was
not usually present in the flesh at these matutinal meals. And then
he went down to his office, and saw in the glance of every man that
he met an announcement that that article in the _Jupiter_ had been
read. His private secretary tittered in evident allusion to the
article, and the way in which Buggins took his coat made it clear
that it was well known in the messengers' lobby. "He won't have to
fill up my vacancy when I go," Buggins was saying to himself. And
then in the course of the morning came the Cabinet council, the
second that he had attended, and he read in the countenance of every
god and goddess there assembled that their chief was thought to have
made another mistake. If Mr. Supplehouse could have been induced to
write in another strain, then indeed that new blood might have been
felt to have been efficacious.

All this was a great drawback to his happiness, but still it could
not rob him of the fact of his position. Lord Brock could not ask him
to resign because the _Jupiter_ had written against him; nor was Lord
Brock the man to desert a new colleague for such a reason. So Harold
Smith girded his loins, and went about the duties of the Petty Bag
with new zeal. "Upon my word, the _Jupiter_ is right," said young
Robarts to himself, as he finished his fourth dozen of private notes
explanatory of everything in and about the Petty Bag Office. Harold
Smith required that his private secretary's notes should be so
terribly precise. But nevertheless, in spite of his drawbacks, Harold
Smith was happy in his new honours, and Mrs. Harold Smith enjoyed
them also. She certainly, among her acquaintance, did quiz the new
Cabinet minister not a little, and it may be a question whether
she was not as hard upon him as the writer in the _Jupiter_. She
whispered a great deal to Miss Dunstable about new blood, and talked
of going down to Westminster Bridge to see whether the Thames were
really on fire. But though she laughed, she triumphed, and though she
flattered herself that she bore her honours without any outward sign,
the world knew that she was triumphing, and ridiculed her elation.

About this time she also gave a party--not a pure-minded
conversazione like Mrs. Proudie, but a downright wicked worldly
dance, at which there were fiddles, ices, and champagne sufficient to
run away with the first quarter's salary accruing to Harold from the
Petty Bag Office. To us this ball is chiefly memorable from the fact
that Lady Lufton was among the guests. Immediately on her arrival in
town she received cards from Mrs. H. Smith for herself and Griselda,
and was about to send back a reply at once declining the honour.
What had she to do at the house of Mr. Sowerby's sister? But it
so happened that at that moment her son was with her, and as he
expressed a wish that she should go, she yielded. Had there been
nothing in his tone of persuasion more than ordinary,--had it merely
had reference to herself,--she would have smiled on him for his kind
solicitude, have made out some occasion for kissing his forehead as
she thanked him, and would still have declined. But he had reminded
her both of himself and Griselda. "You might as well go, mother, for
the sake of meeting me," he said; "Mrs. Harold caught me the other
day, and would not liberate me till I had given her a promise."

"That is an attraction certainly," said Lady Lufton. "I do like going
to a house when I know that you will be there."

"And now that Miss Grantly is with you--you owe it to her to do the
best you can for her."

"I certainly do, Ludovic; and I have to thank you for reminding me
of my duty so gallantly." And so she said that she would go to Mrs.
Harold Smith's. Poor lady! She gave much more weight to those few
words about Miss Grantly than they deserved. It rejoiced her heart
to think that her son was anxious to meet Griselda--that he should
perpetrate this little ruse in order to gain his wish. But he had
spoken out of the mere emptiness of his mind, without thought of
what he was saying, excepting that he wished to please his mother.
But nevertheless he went to Mrs. Harold Smith's, and when there he
did dance more than once with Griselda Grantly--to the manifest
discomfiture of Lord Dumbello. He came in late, and at the moment
Lord Dumbello was moving slowly up the room, with Griselda on his
arm, while Lady Lufton was sitting near looking on with unhappy eyes.
And then Griselda sat down, and Lord Dumbello stood mute at her
elbow.

"Ludovic," whispered his mother, "Griselda is absolutely bored by
that man, who follows her like a ghost. Do go and rescue her." He did
go and rescue her, and afterwards danced with her for the best part
of an hour consecutively. He knew that the world gave Lord Dumbello
the credit of admiring the young lady, and was quite alive to the
pleasure of filling his brother nobleman's heart with jealousy and
anger. Moreover, Griselda was in his eyes very beautiful, and had she
been one whit more animated, or had his mother's tactics been but a
thought better concealed, Griselda might have been asked that night
to share the vacant throne at Lufton, in spite of all that had been
said and sworn in the drawing-room of Framley parsonage. It must
be remembered that our gallant, gay Lothario had passed some
considerable number of days with Miss Grantly in his mother's house,
and the danger of such contiguity must be remembered also. Lord
Lufton was by no means a man capable of seeing beauty unmoved or of
spending hours with a young lady without some approach to tenderness.
Had there been no such approach, it is probable that Lady Lufton
would not have pursued the matter. But, according to her ideas on
such subjects, her son Ludovic had on some occasions shown quite
sufficient partiality for Miss Grantly to justify her in her hopes,
and to lead her to think that nothing but opportunity was wanted.
Now, at this ball of Mrs. Smith's, he did, for a while, seem to
be taking advantage of such opportunity, and his mother's heart
was glad. If things should turn out well on this evening she would
forgive Mrs. Harold Smith all her sins. And for a while it looked
as though things would turn out well. Not that it must be supposed
that Lord Lufton had come there with any intention of making love to
Griselda, or that he ever had any fixed thought that he was doing so.
Young men in such matters are so often without any fixed thoughts!
They are such absolute moths. They amuse themselves with the light of
the beautiful candle, fluttering about, on and off, in and out of the
flame with dazzled eyes, till in a rash moment they rush in too near
the wick, and then fall with singed wings and crippled legs, burnt
up and reduced to tinder by the consuming fire of matrimony. Happy
marriages, men say, are made in heaven, and I believe it. Most
marriages are fairly happy, in spite of Sir Cresswell Cresswell; and
yet how little care is taken on earth towards such a result!--"I hope
my mother is using you well?" said Lord Lufton to Griselda, as they
were standing together in a doorway between the dances.

"Oh, yes: she is very kind."

"You have been rash to trust yourself in the hands of so very staid
and demure a person. And, indeed, you owe your presence here at Mrs.
Harold Smith's first Cabinet ball altogether to me. I don't know
whether you are aware of that."

"Oh, yes: Lady Lufton told me."

"And are you grateful or otherwise? Have I done you an injury or a
benefit? Which do you find best, sitting with a novel in the corner
of a sofa in Bruton Street, or pretending to dance polkas here with
Lord Dumbello?"

"I don't know what you mean. I haven't stood up with Lord Dumbello
all the evening. We were going to dance a quadrille, but we didn't."

"Exactly; just what I say;--pretending to do it. Even that's a good
deal for Lord Dumbello; isn't it?" And then Lord Lufton, not being a
pretender himself, put his arm round her waist, and away they went up
and down the room, and across and about, with an energy which showed
that what Griselda lacked in her tongue she made up with her feet.
Lord Dumbello, in the meantime, stood by, observant, thinking to
himself that Lord Lufton was a glib-tongued, empty-headed ass, and
reflecting that if his rival were to break the tendons of his leg in
one of those rapid evolutions, or suddenly come by any other dreadful
misfortune, such as the loss of all his property, absolute blindness,
or chronic lumbago, it would only serve him right. And in that frame
of mind he went to bed, in spite of the prayer which no doubt he said
as to his forgiveness of other people's trespasses. And then, when
they were again standing, Lord Lufton, in the little intervals
between his violent gasps for fresh breath, asked Griselda if she
liked London. "Pretty well," said Griselda, gasping also a little
herself.

"I am afraid--you were very dull--down at Framley."

"Oh, no;--I liked it particularly."

"It was a great bore when you went--away, I know. There wasn't a
soul--about the house worth speaking to." And they remained silent
for a minute till their lungs had become quiescent.

"Not a soul," he continued--not of falsehood prepense, for he was not
in fact thinking of what he was saying. It did not occur to him at
the moment that he had truly found Griselda's going a great relief,
and that he had been able to do more in the way of conversation with
Lucy Robarts in one hour than with Miss Grantly during a month of
intercourse in the same house. But, nevertheless, we should not be
hard upon him. All is fair in love and war; and if this was not love,
it was the usual thing that stands as a counterpart for it.

"Not a soul," said Lord Lufton. "I was very nearly hanging myself in
the Park next morning--only it rained."

"What nonsense! You had your mother to talk to."

"Oh, my mother,--yes; and you may tell me too, if you please, that
Captain Culpepper was there. I do love my mother dearly; but do you
think that she could make up for your absence?" And his voice was
very tender, and so were his eyes.

"And Miss Robarts; I thought you admired her very much?"

"What, Lucy Robarts?" said Lord Lufton, feeling that Lucy's name
was more than he at present knew how to manage. Indeed that name
destroyed all the life there was in that little flirtation. "I do
like Lucy Robarts, certainly. She is very clever; but it so happened
that I saw little or nothing of her after you were gone." To this
Griselda made no answer, but drew herself up, and looked as cold
as Diana when she froze Orion in the cave. Nor could she be got to
give more than monosyllabic answers to the three or four succeeding
attempts at conversation which Lord Lufton made. And then they danced
again, but Griselda's steps were by no means so lively as before.
What took place between them on that occasion was very little more
than what has been here related. There may have been an ice or a
glass of lemonade into the bargain, and perhaps the faintest possible
attempt at hand-pressing. But if so, it was all on one side. To such
overtures as that Griselda Grantly was as cold as any Diana. But
little as all this was, it was sufficient to fill Lady Lufton's
mind and heart. No mother with six daughters was ever more anxious
to get them off her hands, than Lady Lufton was to see her son
married,--married, that is, to some girl of the right sort. And now
it really did seem as though he were actually going to comply with
her wishes. She had watched him during the whole evening, painfully
endeavouring not to be observed in doing so. She had seen Lord
Dumbello's failure and wrath, and she had seen her son's victory and
pride. Could it be the case that he had already said something, which
was still allowed to be indecisive only through Griselda's coldness?
Might it not be the case, that by some judicious aid on her part,
that indecision might be turned into certainty, and that coldness
into warmth? But then any such interference requires so delicate a
touch,--as Lady Lufton was well aware.--"Have you had a pleasant
evening?" Lady Lufton said, when she and Griselda were seated
together with their feet on the fender of her ladyship's
dressing-room. Lady Lufton had especially invited her guest into
this, her most private sanctum, to which as a rule none had
admittance but her daughter, and sometimes Fanny Robarts. But to what
sanctum might not such a daughter-in-law as Griselda have admittance?
"Oh, yes--very," said Griselda.

"It seemed to me that you bestowed most of your smiles upon Ludovic."
And Lady Lufton put on a look of good pleasure that such should have
been the case.

"Oh! I don't know," said Griselda; "I did dance with him two or three
times."

"Not once too often to please me, my dear. I like to see Ludovic
dancing with my friends."

"I am sure I am very much obliged to you, Lady Lufton."

"Not at all, my dear. I don't know where he could get so nice a
partner." And then she paused a moment, not feeling how far she might
go. In the meantime Griselda sat still, staring at the hot coals.
"Indeed, I know that he admires you very much," continued Lady
Lufton.--"Oh! no, I am sure he doesn't," said Griselda; and then
there was another pause.

"I can only say this," said Lady Lufton, "that if he does do so--and
I believe he does--it would give me very great pleasure. For you
know, my dear, that I am very fond of you myself."

"Oh! thank you," said Griselda, and stared at the coals more
perseveringly than before.

"He is a young man of a most excellent disposition--though he is my
own son, I will say that--and if there should be anything between you
and him--"

"There isn't, indeed, Lady Lufton."

"But if there ever should be, I should be delighted to think that
Ludovic had made so good a choice."

"But there will never be anything of the sort, I'm sure, Lady Lufton.
He is not thinking of such a thing in the least."

"Well, perhaps he may, some day. And now, good night, my dear."

"Good night, Lady Lufton." And Griselda kissed her with the utmost
composure, and betook herself to her own bedroom. Before she retired
to sleep she looked carefully to her different articles of dress,
discovering what amount of damage the evening's wear and tear might
have inflicted.



CHAPTER XXI

Why Puck, the Pony, Was Beaten


Mark Robarts returned home the day after the scene at the Albany,
considerably relieved in spirit. He now felt that he might accept
the stall without discredit to himself as a clergyman in doing so.
Indeed, after what Mr. Sowerby had said, and after Lord Lufton's
assent to it, it would have been madness, he considered, to decline
it. And then, too, Mr. Sowerby's promise about the bills was very
comfortable to him. After all, might it not be possible that he might
get rid of all these troubles with no other drawback than that of
having to pay £130 for a horse that was well worth the money?

On the day after his return he received proper authentic tidings of
his presentation to the prebend. He was, in fact, already prebendary,
or would be as soon as the dean and chapter had gone through the form
of instituting him in his stall. The income was already his own; and
the house also would be given up to him in a week's time--a part of
the arrangement with which he would most willingly have dispensed had
it been at all possible to do so. His wife congratulated him nicely,
with open affection, and apparent satisfaction at the arrangement.
The enjoyment of one's own happiness at such windfalls depends so
much on the free and freely expressed enjoyment of others! Lady
Lufton's congratulations had nearly made him throw up the whole
thing; but his wife's smiles re-encouraged him; and Lucy's warm and
eager joy made him feel quite delighted with Mr. Sowerby and the Duke
of Omnium. And then that splendid animal, Dandy, came home to the
parsonage stables, much to the delight of the groom and gardener,
and of the assistant stable boy who had been allowed to creep into
the establishment, unawares, as it were, since "master" had taken
so keenly to hunting. But this satisfaction was not shared in the
drawing-room. The horse was seen on his first journey round to the
stable gate, and questions were immediately asked. It was a horse,
Mark said, "which he had bought from Mr. Sowerby some little time
since, with the object of obliging him. He, Mark, intended to sell
him again, as soon as he could do so judiciously." This, as I have
said above, was not satisfactory. Neither of the two ladies at
Framley parsonage knew much about horses, or of the manner in which
one gentleman might think it proper to oblige another by purchasing
the superfluities of his stable; but they did both feel that there
were horses enough in the parsonage stable without Dandy, and that
the purchasing of a hunter with a view of immediately selling him
again, was, to say the least of it, an operation hardly congenial
with the usual tastes and pursuits of a clergyman. "I hope you did
not give very much money for him, Mark," said Fanny.

"Not more than I shall get again," said Mark; and Fanny saw from the
form of his countenance that she had better not pursue the subject
any further at that moment.

"I suppose I shall have to go into residence almost immediately,"
said Mark, recurring to the more agreeable subject of the stall.

"And shall we all have to go and live at Barchester at once?" asked
Lucy.

"The house will not be furnished, will it, Mark!" said his wife. "I
don't know how we shall get on."

"Don't frighten yourselves. I shall take lodgings in Barchester."

"And we shall not see you all the time," said Mrs. Robarts with
dismay. But the prebendary explained that he would be backwards and
forwards at Framley every week, and that in all probability he would
only sleep at Barchester on the Saturdays, and Sundays--and, perhaps,
not always then.

"It does not seem very hard work, that of a prebendary," said Lucy.

"But it is very dignified," said Fanny. "Prebendaries are dignitaries
of the Church--are they not, Mark?"

"Decidedly," said he; "and their wives also, by special canon law.
The worst of it is that both of them are obliged to wear wigs."

"Shall you have a hat, Mark, with curly things at the side, and
strings through to hold them up?" asked Lucy.

"I fear that does not come within my perquisites."

"Nor a rosette? Then I shall never believe that you are a dignitary.
Do you mean to say that you will wear a hat like a common
parson--like Mr. Crawley, for instance?"

"Well--I believe I may give a twist to the leaf; but I am by no means
sure till I shall have consulted the dean in chapter."

And thus at the parsonage they talked over the good things that were
coming to them, and endeavoured to forget the new horse, and the
hunting boots that had been used so often during the last winter, and
Lady Lufton's altered countenance. It might be that the evils would
vanish away, and the good things alone remain to them. It was now
the month of April, and the fields were beginning to look green, and
the wind had got itself out of the east and was soft and genial, and
the early spring flowers were showing their bright colours in the
parsonage garden, and all things were sweet and pleasant. This was a
period of the year that was usually dear to Mrs. Robarts. Her husband
was always a better parson when the warm months came than he had been
during the winter. The distant county friends whom she did not know
and of whom she did not approve, went away when the spring came,
leaving their houses innocent and empty. The parish duty was better
attended to, and perhaps domestic duties also. At such period he was
a pattern parson and a pattern husband, atoning to his own conscience
for past shortcomings by present zeal. And then, though she had never
acknowledged it to herself, the absence of her dear friend Lady
Lufton was perhaps in itself not disagreeable. Mrs. Robarts did love
Lady Lufton heartily; but it must be acknowledged of her ladyship,
that with all her good qualities, she was inclined to be masterful.
She liked to rule, and she made people feel that she liked it. Mrs.
Robarts would never have confessed that she laboured under a sense
of thraldom; but perhaps she was mouse enough to enjoy the temporary
absence of her kind-hearted cat. When Lady Lufton was away Mrs.
Robarts herself had more play in the parish. And Mark also was not
unhappy, though he did not find it practicable immediately to turn
Dandy into money. Indeed, just at this moment, when he was a good
deal over at Barchester, going through those deep mysteries and rigid
ecclesiastical examinations which are necessary before a clergyman
can become one of a chapter, Dandy was rather a thorn in his side.
Those wretched bills were to come due early in May, and before the
end of April Sowerby wrote to him saying that he was doing his utmost
to provide for the evil day; but that if the price of Dandy could
be remitted to him at once, it would greatly facilitate his object.
Nothing could be more different than Mr. Sowerby's tone about money
at different times. When he wanted to raise the wind, everything was
so important; haste and superhuman efforts, and men running to and
fro with blank acceptances in their hands, could alone stave off the
crack of doom; but at other times, when retaliatory applications were
made to him, he could prove with the easiest voice and most jaunty
manner that everything was quite serene. Now, at this period, he was
in that mood of superhuman efforts, and he called loudly for the
hundred and thirty pounds for Dandy. After what had passed, Mark
could not bring himself to say that he would pay nothing till the
bills were safe; and therefore with the assistance of Mr. Forrest of
the Bank, he did remit the price of Dandy to his friend Sowerby in
London.

And Lucy Robarts--we must now say a word of her. We have seen how, on
that occasion, when the world was at her feet, she had sent her noble
suitor away, not only dismissed, but so dismissed that he might be
taught never again to offer to her the sweet incense of his vows. She
had declared to him plainly that she did not love him and could not
love him, and had thus thrown away not only riches and honour and
high station, but more than that--much worse than that--she had flung
away from her the lover to whose love her warm heart clung. That her
love did cling to him, she knew even then, and owned more thoroughly
as soon as he was gone. So much her pride had done for her, and that
strong resolve that Lady Lufton should not scowl on her and tell
her that she had entrapped her son. I know it will be said of Lord
Lufton himself that, putting aside his peerage and broad acres, and
handsome, sonsy face, he was not worth a girl's care and love. That
will be said because people think that heroes in books should be so
much better than heroes got up for the world's common wear and tear.
I may as well confess that of absolute, true heroism there was only
a moderate admixture in Lord Lufton's composition; but what would
the world come to if none but absolute true heroes were to be thought
worthy of women's love? What would the men do? and what--oh! what
would become of the women? Lucy Robarts in her heart did not give her
dismissed lover credit for much more heroism than did truly appertain
to him;--did not, perhaps, give him full credit for a certain amount
of heroism which did really appertain to him; but, nevertheless, she
would have been very glad to take him could she have done so without
wounding her pride.

That girls should not marry for money we are all agreed. A lady who
can sell herself for a title or an estate, for an income or a set
of family diamonds, treats herself as a farmer treats his sheep and
oxen--makes hardly more of herself, of her own inner self, in which
are comprised a mind and soul, than the poor wretch of her own sex
who earns her bread in the lowest stage of degradation. But a title,
and an estate, and an income, are matters which will weigh in the
balance with all Eve's daughters--as they do with all Adam's sons.
Pride of place, and the power of living well in front of the world's
eye, are dear to us all;--are, doubtless, intended to be dear. Only
in acknowledging so much, let us remember that there are prices at
which these good things may be too costly. Therefore, being desirous,
too, of telling the truth in this matter, I must confess that Lucy
did speculate with some regret on what it would have been to be Lady
Lufton. To have been the wife of such a man, the owner of such a
heart, the mistress of such a destiny--what more or what better could
the world have done for her? And now she had thrown all that aside
because she would not endure that Lady Lufton should call her a
scheming, artful girl! Actuated by that fear she had repulsed him
with a falsehood, though the matter was one on which it was so
terribly expedient that she should tell the truth. And yet she was
cheerful with her brother and sister-in-law. It was when she was
quite alone, at night in her own room, or in her solitary walks,
that a single silent tear would gather in the corner of her eye and
gradually moisten her eyelids. "She never told her love," nor did
she allow concealment to "feed on her damask cheek." In all her
employments, in her ways about the house, and her accustomed quiet
mirth, she was the same as ever. In this she showed the peculiar
strength which God had given her. But not the less did she in truth
mourn for her lost love and spoiled ambition. "We are going to drive
over to Hogglestock this morning," Fanny said one day at breakfast.
"I suppose, Mark, you won't go with us?"

"Well, no; I think not. The pony carriage is wretched for three."

"Oh, as for that, I should have thought the new horse might have been
able to carry you as far as that. I heard you say you wanted to see
Mr. Crawley."

"So I do; and the new horse, as you call him, shall carry me there
to-morrow. Will you say that I'll be over about twelve o'clock?"

"You had better say earlier, as he is always out about the parish."

"Very well, say eleven. It is parish business about which I am going,
so it need not irk his conscience to stay in for me."

"Well, Lucy, we must drive ourselves, that's all. You shall be
charioteer going, and then we'll change coming back." To all which
Lucy agreed, and as soon as their work in the school was over they
started. Not a word had been spoken between them about Lord Lufton
since that evening, now more than a month ago, on which they had been
walking together in the garden. Lucy had so demeaned herself on that
occasion as to make her sister-in-law quite sure that there had been
no love passages up to that time; and nothing had since occurred
which had created any suspicion in Mrs. Robarts's mind. She had
seen at once that all the close intimacy between them was over, and
thought that everything was as it should be.

"Do you know, I have an idea," she said in the pony carriage that
day, "that Lord Lufton will marry Griselda Grantly." Lucy could
not refrain from giving a little check at the reins which she was
holding, and she felt that the blood rushed quickly to her heart. But
she did not betray herself. "Perhaps he may," she said, and then gave
the pony a little touch with her whip.

"Oh, Lucy, I won't have Puck beaten. He was going very nicely."

"I beg Puck's pardon. But you see when one is trusted with a whip one
feels such a longing to use it."

"Oh, but you should keep it still. I feel almost certain that Lady
Lufton would like such a match."

"I dare say she might. Miss Grantly will have a large fortune, I
believe."

"It is not that altogether: but she is the sort of young lady that
Lady Lufton likes. She is ladylike and very beautiful--"

"Come, Fanny!"

"I really think she is; not what I should call lovely, you know, but
very beautiful. And then she is quiet and reserved; she does not
require excitement, and I am sure is conscientious in the performance
of her duties."

"Very conscientious, I have no doubt," said Lucy, with something like
a sneer in her tone. "But the question, I suppose, is, whether Lord
Lufton likes her."

"I think he does,--in a sort of way. He did not talk to her so much
as he did to you--"

"Ah! that was all Lady Lufton's fault, because she didn't have him
properly labelled."

"There does not seem to have been much harm done?"

"Oh! by God's mercy, very little. As for me, I shall get over it in
three or four years I don't doubt--that's if I can get ass's milk and
change of air."

"We'll take you to Barchester for that. But as I was saying, I really
do think Lord Lufton likes Griselda Grantly."

"Then I really do think that he has uncommon bad taste," said Lucy,
with a reality in her voice differing much from the tone of banter
she had hitherto used.

"What, Lucy!" said her sister-in-law, looking at her. "Then I fear we
shall really want the ass's milk."

"Perhaps, considering my position, I ought to know nothing of Lord
Lufton, for you say that it is very dangerous for young ladies to
know young gentlemen. But I do know enough of him to understand that
he ought not to like such a girl as Griselda Grantly. He ought to
know that she is a mere automaton, cold, lifeless, spiritless, and
even vapid. There is, I believe, nothing in her mentally, whatever
may be her moral excellences. To me she is more absolutely like a
statue than any other human being I ever saw. To sit still and be
admired is all that she desires; and if she cannot get that, to sit
still and not be admired would almost suffice for her. I do not
worship Lady Lufton as you do; but I think quite well enough of her
to wonder that she should choose such a girl as that for her son's
wife. That she does wish it I do not doubt. But I shall indeed be
surprised if he wishes it also." And then as she finished her speech,
Lucy again flogged the pony. This she did in vexation, because she
felt that the tell-tale blood had suffused her face.

"Why, Lucy, if he were your brother you could not be more eager about
it."

"No, I could not. He is the only man friend with whom I was ever
intimate, and I cannot bear to think that he should throw himself
away. It's horridly improper to care about such a thing, I have no
doubt."

"I think we might acknowledge that if he and his mother are both
satisfied, we may be satisfied also."

"I shall not be satisfied. It's no use your looking at me, Fanny. You
will make me talk of it, and I won't tell a lie on the subject. I do
like Lord Lufton very much; and I do dislike Griselda Grantly almost
as much. Therefore I shall not be satisfied if they become man and
wife. However, I do not suppose that either of them will ask my
consent; nor is it probable that Lady Lufton will do so." And then
they went on for perhaps a quarter of a mile without speaking.

"Poor Puck!" at last Lucy said. "He shan't be whipped any more, shall
he, because Miss Grantly looks like a statue? And, Fanny, don't tell
Mark to put me into a lunatic asylum. I also know a hawk from a
heron, and that's why I don't like to see such a very unfitting
marriage." There was then nothing more said on the subject, and in
two minutes they arrived at the house of the Hogglestock clergyman.
Mrs. Crawley had brought two children with her when she came from the
Cornish curacy to Hogglestock, and two other babies had been added to
her cares since then. One of these was now ill with croup, and it was
with the object of offering to the mother some comfort and solace,
that the present visit was made. The two ladies got down from their
carriage, having obtained the services of a boy to hold Puck, and
soon found themselves in Mrs. Crawley's single sitting-room. She was
sitting there with her foot on the board of a child's cradle, rocking
it, while an infant about three months old was lying in her lap. For
the elder one, who was the sufferer, had in her illness usurped the
baby's place. Two other children, considerably older, were also in
the room. The eldest was a girl, perhaps nine years of age, and the
other a boy three years her junior. These were standing at their
father's elbow, who was studiously endeavouring to initiate them in
the early mysteries of grammar. To tell the truth Mrs. Robarts would
much have preferred that Mr. Crawley had not been there, for she had
with her and about her certain contraband articles, presents for the
children, as they were to be called, but in truth relief for that
poor, much-tasked mother, which they knew it would be impossible to
introduce in Mr. Crawley's presence. She, as we have said, was not
quite so gaunt, not altogether so haggard as in the latter of those
dreadful Cornish days. Lady Lufton and Mrs. Arabin between them, and
the scanty comfort of their improved, though still wretched, income,
had done something towards bringing her back to the world in which
she had lived in the soft days of her childhood. But even the liberal
stipend of a hundred and thirty pounds a year--liberal according
to the scale by which the incomes of clergymen in some of our new
districts are now apportioned--would not admit of a gentleman with
his wife and four children living with the ordinary comforts of
an artisan's family. As regards the mere eating and drinking,
the amounts of butcher's meat and tea and butter, they of course
were used in quantities which any artisan would have regarded as
compatible only with demi-starvation. Better clothing for her
children was necessary, and better clothing for him. As for her own
raiment, the wives of few artisans would have been content to put up
with Mrs. Crawley's best gown. The stuff of which it was made had
been paid for by her mother when she with much difficulty bestowed
upon her daughter her modest wedding _trousseau_.

Lucy had never seen Mrs. Crawley. These visits to Hogglestock were
not frequent, and had generally been made by Lady Lufton and Mrs.
Robarts together. It was known that they were distasteful to Mr.
Crawley, who felt a savage satisfaction in being left to himself.
It may almost be said of him that he felt angry with those who
relieved him, and he had certainly never as yet forgiven the Dean
of Barchester for paying his debts. The dean had also given him his
present living; and consequently his old friend was not now so dear
to him as when in old days he would come down to that farm-house,
almost as penniless as the curate himself. Then they would walk
together for hours along the rock-bound shore, listening to the
waves, discussing deep polemical mysteries, sometimes with hot fury,
then again with tender, loving charity, but always with a mutual
acknowledgement of each other's truth. Now they lived comparatively
near together, but no opportunities arose for such discussions. At
any rate once a quarter Mr. Crawley was pressed by his old friend to
visit him at the deanery, and Dr. Arabin had promised that no one
else should be in the house if Mr. Crawley objected to society. But
this was not what he wanted. The finery and grandeur of the deanery,
and the comfort of that warm, snug library, would silence him at
once. Why did not Dr. Arabin come out there to Hogglestock, and tramp
with him through the dirty lanes as they used to tramp? Then he could
have enjoyed himself; then he could have talked; then old days would
have come back to them. But now!--"Arabin always rides on a sleek,
fine horse, nowadays," he once said to his wife with a sneer. His
poverty had been so terrible to himself that it was not in his heart
to love a rich friend.



CHAPTER XXII

Hogglestock Parsonage


At the end of the last chapter, we left Lucy Robarts waiting for an
introduction to Mrs. Crawley, who was sitting with one baby in her
lap while she was rocking another who lay in a cradle at her feet.
Mr. Crawley, in the meanwhile, had risen from his seat with his
finger between the leaves of an old grammar out of which he had been
teaching his two elder children. The whole Crawley family was thus
before them when Mrs. Robarts and Lucy entered the sitting-room.
"This is my sister-in-law, Lucy," said Mrs. Robarts. "Pray don't move
now, Mrs. Crawley; or if you do, let me take baby." And she put out
her arms and took the infant into them, making him quite at home
there; for she had work of this kind of her own, at home, which she
by no means neglected, though the attendance of nurses was more
plentiful with her than at Hogglestock. Mrs. Crawley did get up, and
told Lucy that she was glad to see her, and Mr. Crawley came forward,
grammar in hand, looking humble and meek. Could we have looked into
the innermost spirit of him and his life's partner, we should have
seen that mixed with the pride of his poverty there was some feeling
of disgrace that he was poor, but that with her, regarding this
matter, there was neither pride nor shame. The realities of life had
become so stern to her that the outward aspects of them were as
nothing. She would have liked a new gown because it would have been
useful; but it would have been nothing to her if all the county knew
that the one in which she went to church had been turned three times.
It galled him, however, to think that he and his were so poorly
dressed. "I am afraid you can hardly find a chair, Miss Robarts,"
said Mr. Crawley.

"Oh, yes, there is nothing here but this young gentleman's library,"
said Lucy, moving a pile of ragged, coverless books on to the table.
"I hope he'll forgive me for moving them."

"They are not Bob's,--at least, not the most of them,--but mine,"
said the girl.

"But some of them are mine," said the boy; "ain't they, Grace?"

"And are you a great scholar?" asked Lucy, drawing the child to her.

"I don't know," said Grace, with a sheepish face. "I am in Greek
Delectus and the irregular verbs."

"Greek Delectus and the irregular verbs!" And Lucy put up her hands
with astonishment.

"And she knows an ode of Horace all by heart," said Bob.

"An ode of Horace!" said Lucy, still holding the young shamefaced
female prodigy close to her knees.

"It is all that I can give them," said Mr. Crawley, apologetically.
"A little scholarship is the only fortune that has come in my way,
and I endeavour to share that with my children."

"I believe men say that it is the best fortune any of us can have,"
said Lucy, thinking, however, in her own mind, that Horace and the
irregular Greek verbs savoured too much of precocious forcing in a
young lady of nine years old. But, nevertheless, Grace was a pretty,
simple-looking girl, and clung to her ally closely, and seemed to
like being fondled. So that Lucy anxiously wished that Mr. Crawley
could be got rid of and the presents produced.

"I hope you have left Mr. Robarts quite well," said Mr. Crawley, with
a stiff, ceremonial voice, differing very much from that in which he
had so energetically addressed his brother clergyman when they were
alone together in the study at Framley. "He is quite well, thank you.
I suppose you have heard of his good fortune?"

"Yes; I have heard of it," said Mr. Crawley, gravely. "I hope that
his promotion may tend in every way to his advantage here and
hereafter." It seemed, however, to be manifest from the manner in
which he expressed his kind wishes, that his hopes and expectations
did not go hand-in-hand together.

"By the by, he desired us to say that he will call here to-morrow; at
about eleven, didn't he say, Fanny?"

"Yes; he wishes to see you about some parish business, I think," said
Mrs. Robarts, looking up for a moment from the anxious discussion in
which she was already engaged with Mrs. Crawley on nursery matters.

"Pray tell him," said Mr. Crawley, "that I shall be happy to see him;
though, perhaps, now that new duties have been thrown upon him, it
will be better that I should visit him at Framley."

"His new duties do not disturb him much as yet," said Lucy. "And his
riding over here will be no trouble to him."

"Yes; there he has the advantage over me. I unfortunately have no
horse." And then Lucy began petting the little boy, and by degrees
slipped a small bag of gingerbread-nuts out of her muff into his
hands. She had not the patience necessary for waiting, as had her
sister-in-law. The boy took the bag, peeped into it, and then looked
up into her face.

"What is that, Bob?" said Mr. Crawley.

"Gingerbread," faltered Bobby, feeling that a sin had been committed,
though, probably, feeling also that he himself could hardly as yet be
accounted as deeply guilty.

"Miss Robarts," said the father, "we are very much obliged to you;
but our children are hardly used to such things."

"I am a lady with a weak mind, Mr. Crawley, and always carry things
of this sort about with me when I go to visit children; so you must
forgive me, and allow your little boy to accept them."

"Oh, certainly. Bob, my child, give the bag to your mamma, and she
will let you and Grace have them, one at a time." And then the bag in
a solemn manner was carried over to their mother, who, taking it from
her son's hands, laid it high on a bookshelf.

"And not one now?" said Lucy Robarts, very piteously. "Don't be so
hard, Mr. Crawley,--not upon them, but upon me. May I not learn
whether they are good of their kind?"

"I am sure they are very good; but I think their mamma will prefer
their being put by for the present." This was very discouraging to
Lucy. If one small bag of gingerbread-nuts created so great a
difficulty, how was she to dispose of the pot of guava jelly and box
of bonbons, which were still in her muff; or how distribute the
packet of oranges with which the pony carriage was laden? And there
was jelly for the sick child, and chicken broth, which was, indeed,
another jelly; and, to tell the truth openly, there was also a joint
of fresh pork and a basket of eggs from the Framley parsonage
farmyard, which Mrs. Robarts was to introduce, should she find
herself capable of doing so; but which would certainly be cast out
with utter scorn by Mr. Crawley, if tendered in his immediate
presence. There had also been a suggestion as to adding two or three
bottles of port: but the courage of the ladies had failed them on
that head, and the wine was not now added to their difficulties. Lucy
found it very difficult to keep up a conversation with Mr.
Crawley--the more so, as Mrs. Robarts and Mrs. Crawley presently
withdrew into a bedroom, taking the two younger children with them.
"How unlucky," thought Lucy, "that she has not got my muff with her!"
But the muff lay in her lap, ponderous with its rich enclosures.

"I suppose you will live in Barchester for a portion of the year
now," said Mr. Crawley.

"I really do not know as yet; Mark talks of taking lodgings for his
first month's residence."

"But he will have the house, will he not?"

"Oh, yes; I suppose so."

"I fear he will find it interfere with his own parish--with his
general utility there: the schools, for instance."

"Mark thinks that, as he is so near, he need not be much absent from
Framley, even during his residence. And then Lady Lufton is so good
about the schools."

"Ah! yes: but Lady Lufton is not a clergyman, Miss Robarts." It was
on Lucy's tongue to say that her ladyship was pretty nearly as bad,
but she stopped herself. At this moment Providence sent great relief
to Miss Robarts in the shape of Mrs. Crawley's red-armed
maid-of-all-work, who, walking up to her master, whispered into his
ear that he was wanted. It was the time of day at which his
attendance was always required in his parish school; and that
attendance being so punctually given, those who wanted him looked for
him there at this hour, and if he were absent, did not scruple to
send for him. "Miss Robarts, I am afraid you must excuse me," said
he, getting up and taking his hat and stick. Lucy begged that she
might not be at all in the way, and already began to speculate how
she might best unload her treasures. "Will you make my compliments to
Mrs. Robarts, and say that I am sorry to miss the pleasure of wishing
her good-bye? But I shall probably see her as she passes the
school-house." And then, stick in hand, he walked forth, and Lucy
fancied that Bobby's eyes immediately rested on the bag of
gingerbread-nuts.

"Bob," said she, almost in a whisper, "do you like sugar-plums?"

"Very much, indeed," said Bob, with exceeding gravity, and with his
eye upon the window to see whether his father had passed.

"Then come here," said Lucy. But as she spoke the door again opened,
and Mr. Crawley reappeared. "I have left a book behind me," he said;
and coming back through the room, he took up the well-worn Prayer
Book which accompanied him in all his wanderings through the parish.
Bobby, when he saw his father, had retreated a few steps back, as
also did Grace, who, to confess the truth, had been attracted by the
sound of sugar-plums, in spite of the irregular verbs. And Lucy
withdrew her hand from her muff, and looked guilty. Was she not
deceiving the good man--nay, teaching his own children to deceive
him? But there are men made of such stuff that an angel could hardly
live with them without some deceit. "Papa's gone now," whispered
Bobby; "I saw him turn round the corner." He, at any rate, had
learned his lesson--as it was natural that he should do. Some one
else, also, had learned that papa was gone; for while Bob and Grace
were still counting the big lumps of sugar-candy, each employed the
while for inward solace with an inch of barley-sugar, the front-door
opened, and a big basket, and a bundle done up in a kitchen-cloth,
made surreptitious entrance into the house, and were quickly unpacked
by Mrs. Robarts herself on the table in Mrs. Crawley's bedroom.

"I did venture to bring them," said Fanny, with a look of shame, "for
I know how a sick child occupies the whole house."

"Ah! my friend," said Mrs. Crawley, taking hold of Mrs. Robarts's arm
and looking into her face, "that sort of shame is over with me. God
has tried us with want, and for my children's sake I am glad of such
relief."

"But will he be angry?"

"I will manage it. Dear Mrs. Robarts, you must not be surprised at
him. His lot is sometimes very hard to bear; such things are so much
worse for a man than for a woman." Fanny was not quite prepared to
admit this in her own heart, but she made no reply on that head. "I
am sure I hope we may be able to be of use to you," she said, "if you
will only look upon me as an old friend, and write to me if you want
me. I hesitate to come frequently for fear that I should offend him."
And then, by degrees, there was confidence between them, and the
poverty-stricken helpmate of the perpetual curate was able to speak
of the weight of her burden to the well-to-do young wife of the
Barchester prebendary. "It was hard," the former said, "to feel
herself so different from the wives of other clergymen around her--to
know that they lived softly, while she, with all the work of her
hands, and unceasing struggle of her energies, could hardly manage to
place wholesome food before her husband and children. It was a
terrible thing--a grievous thing to think of, that all the work of
her mind should be given up to such subjects as these. But,
nevertheless, she could bear it," she said, "as long as he would
carry himself like a man, and face his lot boldly before the world."
And then she told how he had been better there at Hogglestock than in
their former residence down in Cornwall, and in warm language she
expressed her thanks to the friend who had done so much for them.
"Mrs. Arabin told me that she was so anxious you should go to them,"
said Mrs. Robarts.

"Ah, yes; but that, I fear, is impossible. The children, you know,
Mrs. Robarts."

"I would take care of two of them for you."

"Oh, no; I could not punish you for your goodness in that way. But he
would not go. He could go and leave me at home. Sometimes I have
thought that it might be so, and I have done all in my power to
persuade him. I have told him that if he could mix once more with the
world, with the clerical world, you know, that he would be better
fitted for the performance of his own duties. But he answers me
angrily, that it is impossible--that his coat is not fit for the
dean's table," and Mrs. Crawley almost blushed as she spoke of such a
reason.

"What! with an old friend like Dr. Arabin? Surely that must be
nonsense."

"I know that it is. The dean would be glad to see him with any coat.
But the fact is that he cannot bear to enter the house of a rich man
unless his duty calls him there."

"But surely that is a mistake?"

"It is a mistake. But what can I do? I fear that he regards the rich
as his enemies. He is pining for the solace of some friend to whom he
could talk--for some equal, with a mind educated like his own, to
whose thoughts he could listen, and to whom he could speak his own
thoughts. But such a friend must be equal, not only in mind, but in
purse; and where can he ever find such a man as that?"

"But you may get better preferment."

"Ah, no; and if he did, we are hardly fit for it now. If I could
think that I could educate my children; if I could only do something
for my poor Grace--" In answer to this Mrs. Robarts said a word or
two, but not much. She resolved, however, that if she could get her
husband's leave, something should be done for Grace. Would it not be
a good work? and was it not incumbent on her to make some kindly use
of all the goods with which Providence had blessed herself? And then
they went back to the sitting-room, each again with a young child in
her arms, Mrs. Crawley having stowed away in the kitchen the chicken
broth and the leg of pork and the supply of eggs. Lucy had been
engaged the while with the children, and when the two married ladies
entered, they found that a shop had been opened at which all manner
of luxuries were being readily sold and purchased at marvellously
easy prices; the guava jelly was there, and the oranges, and the
sugar-plums, red and yellow and striped; and, moreover, the
gingerbread had been taken down in the audacity of their commercial
speculations, and the nuts were spread out upon a board, behind which
Lucy stood as shop-girl, disposing of them for kisses. "Mamma,
mamma," said Bobby, running up to his mother, "you must buy something
of her," and he pointed with his fingers at the shop-girl. "You must
give her two kisses for that heap of barley-sugar." Looking at
Bobby's mouth at the time, one would have said that his kisses might
be dispensed with.

When they were again in the pony carriage behind the impatient Puck,
and were well away from the door, Fanny was the first to speak. "How
very different those two are," she said; "different in their minds
and in their spirit!"

"But how much higher toned is her mind than his! How weak he is in
many things, and how strong she is in everything! How false is his
pride, and how false his shame!"

"But we must remember what he has to bear. It is not every one that
can endure such a life as his without false pride and false shame."

"But she has neither," said Lucy.

"Because you have one hero in a family, does that give you a right to
expect another?" said Mrs. Robarts. "Of all my own acquaintance, Mrs.
Crawley, I think, comes nearest to heroism." And then they passed by
the Hogglestock school, and Mr. Crawley, when he heard the noise of
the wheels, came out. "You have been very kind," said he, "to remain
so long with my poor wife."

"We had a great many things to talk about, after you went."

"It is very kind of you, for she does not often see a friend,
nowadays. Will you have the goodness to tell Mr. Robarts that I shall
be here at the school, at eleven o'clock to-morrow?" And then he
bowed, taking off his hat to them, and they drove on.

"If he really does care about her comfort, I shall not think so badly
of him," said Lucy.



CHAPTER XXIII

The Triumph of the Giants


And now about the end of April news arrived almost simultaneously in
all quarters of the habitable globe that was terrible in its import
to one of the chief persons of our history;--some may think to the
chief person in it. All high parliamentary people will doubtless
so think, and the wives and daughters of such. The Titans warring
against the gods had been for awhile successful. Typhoeus and
Mimas, Porphyrion and Rhoecus, the giant brood of old, steeped
in ignorance and wedded to corruption, had scaled the heights of
Olympus, assisted by that audacious flinger of deadly ponderous
missiles, who stands ever ready armed with his terrific
sling--Supplehouse, the Enceladus of the press. And in this universal
cataclasm of the starry councils, what could a poor Diana do, Diana
of the Petty Bag, but abandon her pride of place to some rude Orion?
In other words, the ministry had been compelled to resign, and with
them Mr. Harold Smith. "And so poor Harold is out, before he has well
tasted the sweets of office," said Sowerby, writing to his friend the
parson; "and as far as I know, the only piece of Church patronage
which has fallen in the way of the ministry since he joined it, has
made its way down to Framley--to my great joy and contentment." But
it hardly tended to Mark's joy and contentment on the same subject
that he should be so often reminded of the benefit conferred upon
him.

Terrible was this break-down of the ministry, and especially to
Harold Smith, who to the last had had confidence in that theory of
new blood. He could hardly believe that a large majority of the House
should vote against a Government which he had only just joined. "If
we are to go on in this way," he said to his young friend Green
Walker, "the Queen's Government cannot be carried on." That alleged
difficulty as to carrying on the Queen's Government has been
frequently mooted in late years since a certain great man first
introduced the idea. Nevertheless, the Queen's Government is carried
on, and the propensity and aptitude of men for this work seems to be
not at all on the decrease. If we have but few young statesmen, it is
because the old stagers are so fond of the rattle of their harness.

"I really do not see how the Queen's Government is to be carried on,"
said Harold Smith to Green Walker, standing in a corner of one of the
lobbies of the House of Commons on the first of those days of awful
interest, in which the Queen was sending for one crack statesman
after another; and some anxious men were beginning to doubt whether
or no we should, in truth, be able to obtain the blessing of another
Cabinet. The gods had all vanished from their places. Would the
giants be good enough to do anything for us or no? There were men who
seemed to think that the giants would refuse to do anything for us.
"The House will now be adjourned over till Monday, and I would not be
in Her Majesty's shoes for something," said Mr. Harold Smith.

"By Jove! no," said Green Walker, who in these days was a staunch
Harold Smithian, having felt a pride in joining himself on as a
substantial support to a Cabinet minister. Had he contented himself
with being merely a Brockite, he would have counted as nobody. "By
Jove! no," and Green Walker opened his eyes and shook his head, as
he thought of the perilous condition in which Her Majesty must be
placed. "I happen to know that Lord ---- won't join them unless he
has the Foreign Office," and he mentioned some hundred-handed Gyas
supposed to be of the utmost importance to the counsels of the
Titans.

"And that, of course, is impossible. I don't see what on earth
they are to do. There's Sidonia; they do say that he's making some
difficulty now." Now Sidonia was another giant, supposed to be very
powerful.

"We all know that the Queen won't see him," said Green Walker, who,
being a member of Parliament for the Crewe Junction, and nephew to
Lady Hartletop, of course had perfectly correct means of ascertaining
what the Queen would do, and what she would not.

"The fact is," said Harold Smith, recurring again to his own
situation as an ejected god, "that the House does not in the least
understand what it is about;--doesn't know what it wants. The
question I should like to ask them is this: do they intend that the
Queen shall have a Government, or do they not? Are they prepared to
support such men as Sidonia and Lord De Terrier? If so, I am their
obedient humble servant; but I shall be very much surprised, that's
all." Lord De Terrier was at this time recognized by all men as the
leader of the giants.

"And so shall I, deucedly surprised. They can't do it, you know.
There are the Manchester men. I ought to know something about them
down in my country; and I say they can't support Lord De Terrier. It
wouldn't be natural."

"Natural! Human nature has come to an end, I think," said Harold
Smith, who could hardly understand that the world should conspire to
throw over a Government which he had joined, and that, too, before
the world had waited to see how much he would do for it; "the fact
is this, Walker, we have no longer among us any strong feeling of
party."

"No, not a d----," said Green Walker, who was very energetic in his
present political aspirations.

"And till we can recover that, we shall never be able to have a
Government firm-seated and sure-handed. Nobody can count on men
from one week to another. The very members who in one month place a
minister in power, are the very first to vote against him in the
next."

"We must put a stop to that sort of thing, otherwise we shall never
do any good."

"I don't mean to deny that Brock was wrong with reference to Lord
Brittleback. I think that he was wrong, and I said so all through.
But, heavens on earth--!" and instead of completing his speech Harold
Smith turned away his head, and struck his hands together in token of
his astonishment at the fatuity of the age. What he probably meant to
express was this: that if such a good deed as that late appointment
made at the Petty Bag Office were not held sufficient to atone for
that other evil deed to which he had alluded, there would be an end
of all justice in sublunary matters. Was no offence to be forgiven,
even when so great virtue had been displayed? "I attribute it all to
Supplehouse," said Green Walker, trying to console his friend.

"Yes," said Harold Smith, now verging on the bounds of parliamentary
eloquence, although he still spoke with bated breath, and to one
solitary hearer. "Yes; we are becoming the slaves of a mercenary and
irresponsible press--of one single newspaper. There is a man endowed
with no great talent, enjoying no public confidence, untrusted as a
politician, and unheard of even as a writer by the world at large,
and yet, because he is on the staff of the _Jupiter_, he is able to
overturn the Government and throw the whole country into dismay. It
is astonishing to me that a man like Lord Brock should allow himself
to be so timid." And nevertheless it was not yet a month since Harold
Smith had been counselling with Supplehouse how a series of strong
articles in the _Jupiter_, together with the expected support of the
Manchester men, might probably be effective in hurling the minister
from his seat. But at that time the minister had not revigorated
himself with young blood. "How the Queen's Government is to be
carried on, that is the question now," Harold Smith repeated. A
difficulty which had not caused him much dismay at that period, about
a mouth since, to which we have alluded. At this moment Sowerby and
Supplehouse together joined them, having come out of the House,
in which some unimportant business had been completed after the
minister's notice of adjournment.

"Well, Harold," said Sowerby, "what do you say to your governor's
statement?"

"I have nothing to say to it," said Harold Smith, looking up very
solemnly from under the penthouse of his hat, and, perhaps, rather
savagely. Sowerby had supported the Government at the late crisis;
but why was he now seen herding with such a one as Supplehouse?

"He did it pretty well, I think," said Sowerby.

"Very well, indeed," said Supplehouse; "as he always does those sort
of things. No man makes so good an explanation of circumstances, or
comes out with so telling a personal statement. He ought to keep
himself in reserve for those sort of things."

"And who in the meantime is to carry on the Queen's Government?" said
Harold Smith, looking very stern.

"That should be left to men of lesser mark," said he of the
_Jupiter_. "The points as to which one really listens to a minister,
the subjects about which men really care, are always personal. How
many of us are truly interested as to the best mode of governing
India? But in a question touching the character of a prime minister
we all muster together like bees round a sounding cymbal."

"That arises from envy, malice, and all uncharitableness," said
Harold Smith.

"Yes; and from picking and stealing, evil speaking, lying, and
slandering," said Mr. Sowerby.

"We are so prone to desire and covet other men's places," said
Supplehouse.

"Some men are so," said Sowerby; "but it is the evil speaking, lying,
and slandering, which does the mischief. Is it not, Harold?"

"And in the meantime how is the Queen's Government to be carried on?"
said Mr. Green Walker. On the following morning it was known that
Lord De Terrier was with the Queen at Buckingham Palace, and at about
twelve a list of the new ministry was published, which must have
been in the highest degree satisfactory to the whole brood of giants.
Every son of Tellus was included in it, as were also very many of
the daughters. But then, late in the afternoon, Lord Brock was again
summoned to the palace, and it was thought in the West End among the
clubs that the gods had again a chance. "If only," said the _Purist_,
an evening paper which was supposed to be very much in the interest
of Mr. Harold Smith, "if only Lord Brock can have the wisdom to place
the right men in the right places. It was only the other day that he
introduced Mr. Smith into his Government. That this was a step in
the right direction every one has acknowledged, though unfortunately
it was made too late to prevent the disturbance which has since
occurred. It now appears probable that his lordship will again have
an opportunity of selecting a list of statesmen with the view of
carrying on the Queen's Government; and it is to be hoped that such
men as Mr. Smith may be placed in situations in which their talents,
industry, and acknowledged official aptitudes, may be of permanent
service to the country." Supplehouse, when he read this at the club
with Mr. Sowerby at his elbow, declared that the style was too well
marked to leave any doubt as to the author; but we ourselves are not
inclined to think that Mr. Harold Smith wrote the article himself,
although it may be probable that he saw it in type. But the _Jupiter_
the next morning settled the whole question, and made it known to the
world that, in spite of all the sendings and resendings, Lord Brock
and the gods were permanently out, and Lord De Terrier and the
giants permanently in. That fractious giant who would only go to
the Foreign Office, had, in fact, gone to some sphere of much less
important duty, and Sidonia, in spite of the whispered dislike of
an illustrious personage, opened the campaign with all the full
appanages of a giant of the highest standing. "We hope," said the
_Jupiter_, "that Lord Brock may not yet be too old to take a lesson.
If so, the present decision of the House of Commons, and we may say
of the country also, may teach him not to put his trust in such
princes as Lord Brittleback, or such broken reeds as Mr. Harold
Smith." Now this parting blow we always thought to be exceedingly
unkind, and altogether unnecessary, on the part of Mr. Supplehouse.

"My dear," said Mrs. Harold, when she first met Miss Dunstable
after the catastrophe was known, "how am I possibly to endure this
degradation?" And she put her deeply laced handkerchief up to her
eyes.

"Christian resignation," suggested Miss Dunstable.

"Fiddlestick!" said Mrs. Harold Smith. "You millionaires always talk
of Christian resignation, because you never are called on to resign
anything. If I had any Christian resignation, I shouldn't have cared
for such pomps and vanities. Think of it, my dear; a Cabinet
minister's wife for only three weeks!"

"How does poor Mr. Smith endure it?"

"What? Harold? He only lives on the hope of vengeance. When he has
put an end to Mr. Supplehouse, he will be content to die." And then
there were further explanations in both Houses of Parliament, which
were altogether satisfactory. The high-bred, courteous giants assured
the gods that they had piled Pelion on Ossa and thus climbed up into
power, very much in opposition to their own good-wills; for they, the
giants themselves, preferred the sweets of dignified retirement. But
the voice of the people had been too strong for them; the effort had
been made, not by themselves, but by others, who were determined that
the giants should be at the head of affairs. Indeed, the spirit of
the times was so clearly in favour of giants that there had been no
alternative. So said Briareus to the Lords, and Orion to the Commons.
And then the gods were absolutely happy in ceding their places; and
so far were they from any uncelestial envy or malice which might not
be divine, that they promised to give the giants all the assistance
in their power in carrying on the work of government; upon which the
giants declared how deeply indebted they would be for such valuable
counsel and friendly assistance. All this was delightful in the
extreme; but not the less did ordinary men seem to expect that the
usual battle would go on in the old customary way. It is easy to love
one's enemy when one is making fine speeches; but so difficult to do
so in the actual everyday work of life. But there was and always has
been this peculiar good point about the giants, that they are never
too proud to follow in the footsteps of the gods. If the gods,
deliberating painfully together, have elaborated any skilful project,
the giants are always willing to adopt it as their own, not treating
the bantling as a foster child, but praising it and pushing it so
that men should regard it as the undoubted offspring of their own
brains. Now just at this time there had been a plan much thought
of for increasing the number of the bishops. Good active bishops
were very desirable, and there was a strong feeling among certain
excellent Churchmen that there could hardly be too many of them.
Lord Brock had his measure cut and dry. There should be a Bishop of
Westminster to share the Herculean toils of the metropolitan prelate,
and another up in the North to Christianize the mining interests and
wash white the blackamoors of Newcastle: Bishop of Beverley he should
be called. But, in opposition to this, the giants, it was known, had
intended to put forth the whole measure of their brute force. More
curates, they said, were wanting, and district incumbents; not more
bishops rolling in carriages. That bishops should roll in carriages
was very good; but of such blessings the English world for the
present had enough. And therefore Lord Brock and the gods had had
much fear as to their little project. But now, immediately on the
accession of the giants, it was known that the bishop bill was to be
gone on with immediately. Some small changes would be effected so
that the bill should be gigantic rather than divine; but the result
would be altogether the same. It must, however, be admitted that
bishops appointed by ourselves may be very good things, whereas those
appointed by our adversaries will be anything but good. And, no
doubt, this feeling went a long way with the giants. Be that as it
may, the new bishop bill was to be their first work of government,
and it was to be brought forward and carried, and the new prelates
selected and put into their chairs all at once,--before the grouse
should begin to crow and put an end to the doings of gods as well as
giants. Among other minor effects arising from this decision was the
following, that Archdeacon and Mrs. Grantly returned to London, and
again took the lodgings in which they had before been staying. On
various occasions also during the first week of this second sojourn,
Dr. Grantly might be seen entering the official chambers of the First
Lord of the Treasury. Much counsel was necessary among High-Churchmen
of great repute before any fixed resolution could wisely be made in
such a matter as this; and few Churchmen stood in higher repute than
the Archdeacon of Barchester. And then it began to be rumoured in
the world that the minister had disposed at any rate of the see
of Westminster. This present time was a very nervous one for Mrs.
Grantly. What might be the aspirations of the archdeacon himself,
we will not stop to inquire. It may be that time and experience had
taught him the futility of earthly honours, and made him content
with the comfortable opulence of his Barsetshire rectory. But there
is no theory of Church discipline which makes it necessary that
a clergyman's wife should have an objection to a bishopric. The
archdeacon probably was only anxious to give a disinterested aid to
the minister, but Mrs. Grantly did long to sit in high places, and
be at any rate equal to Mrs. Proudie. It was for her children, she
said to herself, that she was thus anxious--that they should have a
good position before the world, and the means of making the best of
themselves. "One is able to do nothing, you know, shut up there, down
at Plumstead," she had remarked to Lady Lufton on the occasion of
her first visit to London, and yet the time was not long past when
she had thought that rectory house at Plumstead to be by no means
insufficient or contemptible. And then there came a question whether
or no Griselda should go back to her mother; but this idea was very
strongly opposed by Lady Lufton, and ultimately with success. "I
really think the dear girl is very happy with me," said Lady Lufton;
"and if ever she is to belong to me more closely, it will be so well
that we should know and love one another."

To tell the truth, Lady Lufton had been trying hard to know and love
Griselda, but hitherto she had scarcely succeeded to the full extent
of her wishes. That she loved Griselda was certain,--with that sort
of love which springs from a person's volition and not from the
judgement. She had said all along to herself and others that she did
love Griselda Grantly. She had admired the young lady's face, liked
her manner, approved of her fortune and family, and had selected her
for a daughter-in-law in a somewhat impetuous manner. Therefore she
loved her. But it was by no means clear to Lady Lufton that she did
as yet know her young friend. The match was a plan of her own, and
therefore she stuck to it as warmly as ever, but she began to have
some misgivings whether or no the dear girl would be to her herself
all that she had dreamed of in a daughter-in-law. "But, dear Lady
Lufton," said Mrs. Grantly, "is it not possible that we may put her
affections to too severe a test? What, if she should learn to regard
him, and then--"

"Ah! if she did, I should have no fear of the result. If she showed
anything like love for Ludovic, he would be at her feet in a moment.
He is impulsive, but she is not."

"Exactly, Lady Lufton. It is his privilege to be impulsive and to
sue for her affection, and hers to have her love sought for without
making any demonstration. It is perhaps the fault of young ladies of
the present day that they are too impulsive. They assume privileges
which are not their own, and thus lose those which are."

"Quite true! I quite agree with you. It is probably that very feeling
that has made me think so highly of Griselda. But then--" But then a
young lady, though she need not jump down a gentleman's throat, or
throw herself into his face, may give some signs that she is made of
flesh and blood; especially when her papa and mamma and all belonging
to her are so anxious to make the path of her love run smooth. That
was what was passing through Lady Lufton's mind; but she did not say
it all; she merely looked it.

"I don't think she will ever allow herself to indulge in an
unauthorized passion," said Mrs. Grantly.

"I am sure she will not," said Lady Lufton, with ready agreement,
fearing perhaps in her heart that Griselda would never indulge in any
passion, authorized or unauthorized.

"I don't know whether Lord Lufton sees much of her now," said Mrs.
Grantly, thinking perhaps of that promise of Lady Lufton's with
reference to his lordship's spare time.

"Just lately, during these changes, you know, everybody has been so
much engaged. Ludovic has been constantly at the House, and then men
find it so necessary to be at their clubs just now."

"Yes, yes, of course," said Mrs. Grantly, who was not at all disposed
to think little of the importance of the present crisis, or to wonder
that men should congregate together when such deeds were to be done
as those which now occupied the breasts of the Queen's advisers.
At last, however, the two mothers perfectly understood each other.
Griselda was still to remain with Lady Lufton; and was to accept her
ladyship's son, if he could only be induced to exercise his privilege
of asking her; but in the meantime, as this seemed to be doubtful,
Griselda was not to be debarred from her privilege of making what use
she could of any other string which she might have to her bow.

"But, mamma," said Griselda, in a moment of unwatched intercourse
between the mother and daughter, "is it really true that they are
going to make papa a bishop?"

"We can tell nothing as yet, my dear. People in the world are talking
about it. Your papa has been a good deal with Lord De Terrier."

"And isn't he Prime Minister?"

"Oh, yes; I am happy to say that he is."

"I thought the Prime Minister could make any one a bishop that he
chooses,--any clergyman, that is."

"But there is no see vacant," said Mrs. Grantly.

"Then there isn't any chance," said Griselda, looking very glum.

"They are going to have an Act of Parliament for making two more
bishops. That's what they are talking about at least. And if they
do--"

"Papa will be Bishop of Westminster--won't he? And we shall live in
London?"

"But you must not talk about it, my dear."

"No, I won't. But, mamma, a Bishop of Westminster will be higher
than a Bishop of Barchester; won't he? I shall so like to be able
to snub those Miss Proudies." It will therefore be seen that there
were matters on which even Griselda Grantly could be animated. Like
the rest of her family she was devoted to the Church. Late on that
afternoon the archdeacon returned home to dine in Mount Street,
having spent the whole of the day between the Treasury chambers, a
meeting of Convocation, and his club. And when he did get home it
was soon manifest to his wife that he was not laden with good news.
"It is almost incredible," he said, standing with his back to the
drawing-room fire.

"What is incredible?" said his wife, sharing her husband's anxiety to
the full.

"If I had not learned it as fact, I would not have believed it, even
of Lord Brock," said the archdeacon.

"Learned what?" said the anxious wife.

"After all, they are going to oppose the bill."

"Impossible!" said Mrs. Grantly.

"But they are."

"The bill for the two new bishops, archdeacon? oppose their own
bill!"

"Yes--oppose their own bill. It is almost incredible; but so it is.
Some changes have been forced upon us; little things which they had
forgotten--quite minor matters; and they now say that they will
be obliged to divide against us on these twopenny-halfpenny,
hair-splitting points. It is Lord Brock's own doing too, after
all that he said about abstaining from factious opposition to the
Government."

"I believe there is nothing too bad or too false for that man," said
Mrs. Grantly.

"After all they said, too, when they were in power themselves, as to
the present Government opposing the cause of religion! They declare
now that Lord De Terrier cannot be very anxious about it, as he had
so many good reasons against it a few weeks ago. Is it not dreadful
that there should be such double-dealing in men in such positions?"

"It is sickening," said Mrs. Grantly. And then there was a pause
between them as each thought of the injury that was done to them.

"But, archdeacon--"

"Well?"

"Could you not give up those small points and shame them into
compliance?"

"Nothing would shame them."

"But would it not be well to try?" The game was so good a one, and
the stake so important, that Mrs. Grantly felt that it would be worth
playing for to the last.

"It is no good."

"But I certainly would suggest it to Lord De Terrier. I am sure the
country would go along with him; at any rate the Church would."

"It is impossible," said the archdeacon. "To tell the truth, it did
occur to me. But some of them down there seemed to think that it
would not do." Mrs. Grantly sat awhile on the sofa, still meditating
in her mind whether there might not yet be some escape from so
terrible a downfall.

"But, archdeacon--"

"I'll go upstairs and dress," said he, in despondency.

"But, archdeacon, surely the present ministry may have a majority on
such a subject as that; I thought they were sure of a majority now."

"No; not sure."

"But at any rate the chances are in their favour? I do hope they'll
do their duty, and exert themselves to keep their members together."
And then the archdeacon told out the whole of the truth.

"Lord De Terrier says that under the present circumstances he will
not bring the matter forward this session at all. So we had better
go back to Plumstead." Mrs. Grantly then felt that there was nothing
further to be said, and it will be proper that the historian should
drop a veil over their sufferings.



CHAPTER XXIV

Magna Est Veritas


It was made known to the reader that in the early part of the winter
Mr. Sowerby had a scheme for retrieving his lost fortunes, and
setting himself right in the world, by marrying that rich heiress,
Miss Dunstable. I fear my friend Sowerby does not, at present, stand
high in the estimation of those who have come on with me thus far in
this narrative. He has been described as a spendthrift and gambler,
and as one scarcely honest in his extravagance and gambling. But
nevertheless there are worse men than Mr. Sowerby, and I am not
prepared to say that, should he be successful with Miss Dunstable,
that lady would choose by any means the worst of the suitors who are
continually throwing themselves at her feet. Reckless as this man
always appeared to be, reckless as he absolutely was, there was still
within his heart a desire for better things, and in his mind an
understanding that he had hitherto missed the career of an honest
English gentleman. He was proud of his position as member for his
county, though hitherto he had done so little to grace it; he was
proud of his domain at Chaldicotes, though the possession of it
had so nearly passed out of his own hands; he was proud of the old
blood that flowed in his veins; and he was proud also of that easy,
comfortable, gay manner, which went so far in the world's judgement
to atone for his extravagance and evil practices. If only he could
get another chance, as he now said to himself, things should go very
differently with him. He would utterly forswear the whole company of
Tozers. He would cease to deal in bills, and to pay Heaven only knows
how many hundred per cent. for his moneys. He would no longer prey
upon his friends, and would redeem his title-deeds from the clutches
of the Duke of Omnium. If only he could get another chance! Miss
Dunstable's fortune would do all this and ever so much more, and
then, moreover, Miss Dunstable was a woman whom he really liked. She
was not soft, feminine, or pretty, nor was she very young; but she
was clever, self-possessed, and quite able to hold her own in any
class; and as to age, Mr. Sowerby was not very young himself. In
making such a match he would have no cause of shame. He could speak
of it before his friends without fear of their grimaces, and ask
them to his house, with the full assurance that the head of his
table would not disgrace him. And then as the scheme grew clearer
and clearer to him, he declared to himself that if he should
be successful, he would use her well, and not rob her of her
money--beyond what was absolutely necessary. He had intended to have
laid his fortunes at her feet at Chaldicotes; but the lady had been
coy. Then the deed was to have been done at Gatherum Castle, but the
lady ran away from Gatherum Castle just at the time on which he had
fixed. And since that, one circumstance after another had postponed
the affair in London, till now at last he was resolved that he would
know his fate, let it be what it might. If he could not contrive that
things should speedily be arranged, it might come to pass that he
would be altogether debarred from presenting himself to the lady
as Mr. Sowerby of Chaldicotes. Tidings had reached him, through Mr.
Fothergill, that the duke would be glad to have matters arranged; and
Mr. Sowerby well knew the meaning of that message.

Mr. Sowerby was not fighting this campaign alone, without the aid of
an ally. Indeed, no man ever had a more trusty ally in any campaign
than he had in this. And it was this ally, the only faithful comrade
that clung to him through good and ill during his whole life, who
first put it into his head that Miss Dunstable was a woman and might
be married. "A hundred needy adventurers have attempted it, and
failed already," Mr. Sowerby had said, when the plan was first
proposed to him.

"But, nevertheless, she will some day marry some one; and why not you
as well as another?" his sister had answered. For Mrs. Harold Smith
was the ally of whom I have spoken. Mrs. Harold Smith, whatever may
have been her faults, could boast of this virtue--that she loved
her brother. He was probably the only human being that she did love.
Children she had none; and as for her husband, it had never occurred
to her to love him. She had married him for a position; and being a
clever woman, with a good digestion and command of her temper, had
managed to get through the world without much of that unhappiness
which usually follows ill-assorted marriages. At home she managed to
keep the upper hand, but she did so in an easy, good-humoured way
that made her rule bearable; and away from home she assisted her
lord's political standing, though she laughed more keenly than
any one else at his foibles. But the lord of her heart was her
brother; and in all his scrapes, all his extravagances, and all his
recklessness, she had ever been willing to assist him. With the view
of doing this she had sought the intimacy of Miss Dunstable, and
for the last year past had indulged every caprice of that lady. Or
rather, she had had the wit to learn that Miss Dunstable was to
be won, not by the indulgence of caprices, but by free and easy
intercourse, with a dash of fun, and, at any rate, a semblance of
honesty. Mrs. Harold Smith was not, perhaps, herself very honest by
disposition; but in these latter days she had taken up a theory of
honesty for the sake of Miss Dunstable--not altogether in vain, for
Miss Dunstable and Mrs. Harold Smith were certainly very intimate.

"If I am to do it at all, I must not wait any longer," said Mr.
Sowerby to his sister a day or two after the final breakdown of the
gods. The affection of the sister for the brother may be imagined
from the fact that at such a time she could give up her mind to
such a subject. But, in truth, her husband's position as a Cabinet
minister was as nothing to her compared with her brother's position
as a county gentleman. "One time is as good as another," said Mrs.
Harold Smith.

"You mean that you would advise me to ask her at once."

"Certainly. But you must remember, Nat, that you will have no easy
task. It will not do for you to kneel down and swear that you love
her."

"If I do it at all, I shall certainly do it without kneeling--you may
be sure of that, Harriet."

"Yes, and without swearing that you love her. There is only one way
in which you can be successful with Miss Dunstable--you must tell her
the truth."

"What! tell her that I am ruined, horse, foot, and dragoons, and then
bid her help me out of the mire?"

"Exactly: that will be your only chance, strange as it may appear."

"This is very different from what you used to say, down at
Chaldicotes."

"So it is; but I know her much better than I did when we were there.
Since then I have done but little else than study the freaks of her
character. If she really likes you--and I think she does--she could
forgive you any other crime but that of swearing that you loved her."

"I should hardly know how to propose without saying something about
it."

"But you must say nothing--not a word; you must tell her that you are
a gentleman of good blood and high station, but sadly out at elbows."

"She knows that already."

"Of course she does; but she must know it as coming directly from
your own mouth. And then tell her that you propose to set yourself
right by marrying her--by marrying her for the sake of her money."

"That will hardly win her, I should say."

"If it does not, no other way, that I know of, will do so. As I told
you before, it will be no easy task. Of course you must make her
understand that her happiness shall be cared for; but that must not
be put prominently forward as your object. Your first object is her
money, and your only chance for success is in telling the truth."

"It is very seldom that a man finds himself in such a position as
that," said Sowerby, walking up and down his sister's room; "and,
upon my word, I don't think I am up to the task. I should certainly
break down. I don't believe there's a man in London could go to a
woman with such a story as that, and then ask her to marry him."

"If you cannot, you may as well give it up," said Mrs. Harold
Smith. "But if you can do it--if you can go through with it in that
manner--my own opinion is that your chance of success would not be
bad. The fact is," added the sister after awhile, during which her
brother was continuing his walk and meditating on the difficulties
of his position--"the fact is, you men never understand a woman; you
give her credit neither for her strength, nor for her weakness. You
are too bold, and too timid: you think she is a fool and tell her so,
and yet never can trust her to do a kind action. Why should she not
marry you with the intention of doing you a good turn? Alter all, she
would lose very little: there is the estate, and if she redeemed it,
it would belong to her as well as to you."

"It would be a good turn, indeed. I fear I should be too modest to
put it to her in that way."

"Her position would be much better as your wife than it is at
present. You are good-humoured and good-tempered, you would intend to
treat her well, and, on the whole, she would be much happier as Mrs.
Sowerby, of Chaldicotes, than she can be in her present position."

"If she cared about being married, I suppose she could be a peer's
wife to-morrow."

"But I don't think she cares about being a peer's wife. A needy peer
might perhaps win her in the way that I propose to you; but then
a needy peer would not know how to set about it. Needy peers have
tried--half a dozen I have no doubt--and have failed, because they
have pretended that they were in love with her. It may be difficult,
but your only chance is to tell her the truth."

"And where shall I do it?"

"Here if you choose; but her own house will be better."

"But I never can see her there--at least not alone. I believe that
she never is alone. She always keeps a lot of people round her in
order to stave off her lovers. Upon my word, Harriet, I think I'll
give it up. It is impossible that I should make such a declaration to
her as that you propose."

"Faint heart, Nat--you know the rest."

"But the poet never alluded to such wooing as that you have
suggested. I suppose I had better begin with a schedule of my debts,
and make reference, if she doubts me, to Fothergill, the sheriff's
officers, and the Tozer family."

"She will not doubt you, on that head; nor will she be a bit
surprised." Then there was again a pause, during which Mr. Sowerby
still walked up and down the room, thinking whether or no he might
possibly have any chance of success in so hazardous an enterprise.

"I tell you what, Harriet," at last he said; "I wish you'd do it for
me."

"Well," said she, "if you really mean it, I will make the attempt."

"I am sure of this, that I shall never make it myself. I positively
should not have the courage to tell her in so many words, that I
wanted to marry her for her money."

"Well, Nat, I will attempt it. At any rate, I am not afraid of her.
She and I are excellent friends, and, to tell the truth, I think I
like her better than any other woman that I know; but I never should
have been intimate with her, had it not been for your sake."

"And now you will have to quarrel with her, also for my sake?"

"Not at all. You'll find that whether she accedes to my proposition
or not, we shall continue friends. I do not think that she would die
for me--nor I for her. But as the world goes we suit each other.
Such a little trifle as this will not break our loves." And so it
was settled. On the following day Mrs. Harold Smith was to find an
opportunity of explaining the whole matter to Miss Dunstable, and
was to ask that lady to share her fortune--some incredible number of
thousands of pounds--with the bankrupt member for West Barsetshire,
who in return was to bestow on her--himself and his debts. Mrs.
Harold Smith had spoken no more than the truth in saying that she
and Miss Dunstable suited one another. And she had not improperly
described their friendship. They were not prepared to die, one for
the sake of the other. They had said nothing to each other of mutual
love and affection. They never kissed, or cried, or made speeches,
when they met or when they parted. There was no great benefit for
which either had to be grateful to the other; no terrible injury
which either had forgiven. But they suited each other; and this, I
take it, is the secret of most of our pleasantest intercourse in the
world. And it was almost grievous that they should suit each other,
for Miss Dunstable was much the worthier of the two, had she but
known it herself. It was almost to be lamented that she should have
found herself able to live with Mrs. Harold Smith on terms that were
perfectly satisfactory to herself. Mrs. Harold Smith was worldly,
heartless--to all the world but her brother--and, as has been above
hinted, almost dishonest. Miss Dunstable was not worldly, though it
was possible that her present style of life might make her so; she
was affectionate, fond of truth, and prone to honesty, if those
around would but allow her to exercise it. But she was fond of ease
and humour, sometimes of wit that might almost be called broad, and
she had a thorough love of ridiculing the world's humbugs. In all
these propensities Mrs. Harold Smith indulged her.

Under these circumstances they were now together almost every day.
It had become quite a habit with Mrs. Harold Smith to have herself
driven early in the forenoon to Miss Dunstable's house; and that
lady, though she could never be found alone by Mr. Sowerby, was
habitually so found by his sister. And after that they would go out
together, or each separately, as fancy or the business of the day
might direct them. Each was easy to the other in this alliance, and
they so managed that they never trod on each other's corns. On the
day following the agreement made between Mr. Sowerby and Mrs. Harold
Smith, that lady as usual called on Miss Dunstable, and soon found
herself alone with her friend in a small room which the heiress kept
solely for her own purposes. On special occasions persons of various
sorts were there admitted; occasionally a parson who had a church to
build, or a dowager laden with the last morsel of town slander, or
a poor author who could not get due payment for the efforts of his
brain, or a poor governess on whose feeble stamina the weight of
the world had borne too hardly. But men who by possibility could be
lovers did not make their way thither, nor women who could be bores.
In these latter days, that is, during the present London season, the
doors of it had been oftener opened to Mrs. Harold Smith than to any
other person. And now the effort was to be made with the object of
which all this intimacy had been effected. As she came thither in her
carriage, Mrs. Harold Smith herself was not altogether devoid of that
sinking of the heart which is so frequently the forerunner of any
difficult and hazardous undertaking. She had declared that she would
feel no fear in making the little proposition. But she did feel
something very like it: and when she made her entrance into the
little room she certainly wished that the work was done and over.

"How is poor Mr. Smith to-day?" asked Miss Dunstable, with an air of
mock condolence, as her friend seated herself in her accustomed easy
chair. The downfall of the gods was as yet a history hardly three
days old, and it might well be supposed that the late lord of the
Petty Bag had hardly recovered from his misfortune. "Well, he is
better, I think, this morning; at least I should judge so from the
manner in which he confronted his eggs. But still I don't like the
way he handles the carving-knife. I am sure he is always thinking of
Mr. Supplehouse at those moments."

"Poor man! I mean Supplehouse. After all, why shouldn't he follow his
trade as well as another? Live and let live, that's what I say."

"Aye, but it's kill and let kill with him. That is what Horace says.
However, I am tired of all that now, and I came here to-day to talk
about something else."

"I rather like Mr. Supplehouse myself," exclaimed Miss Dunstable. "He
never makes any bones about the matter. He has a certain work to do,
and a certain cause to serve--namely, his own; and in order to do
that work, and serve that cause, he uses such weapons as God has
placed in his hands."

"That's what the wild beasts do."

"And where will you find men honester than they? The tiger tears you
up because he is hungry and wants to eat you. That's what Supplehouse
does. But there are so many among us tearing up one another without
any excuse of hunger. The mere pleasure of destroying is reason
enough."

"Well, my dear, my mission to you to-day is certainly not one of
destruction, as you will admit when you hear it. It is one, rather,
very absolutely of salvation. I have come to make love to you."

"Then the salvation, I suppose, is not for myself," said Miss
Dunstable. It was quite clear to Mrs. Harold Smith that Miss
Dunstable had immediately understood the whole purport of this visit,
and that she was not in any great measure surprised. It did not seem
from the tone of the heiress's voice, or from the serious look which
at once settled on her face, that she would be prepared to give a
very ready compliance. But then great objects can only be won with
great efforts.

"That's as may be," said Mrs. Harold Smith. "For you and another
also, I hope. But I trust, at any rate, that I may not offend you?"

"Oh, laws, no; nothing of that kind ever offends me now."

"Well, I suppose you're used to it."

"Like the eels, my dear. I don't mind it the least in the world--only
sometimes, you know, it is a little tedious."

"I'll endeavour to avoid that, so I may as well break the ice at
once. You know enough of Nathaniel's affairs to be aware that he is
not a very rich man."

"Since you do ask me about it, I suppose there's no harm in saying
that I believe him to be a very poor man."

"Not the least harm in the world, but just the reverse. Whatever may
come of this, my wish is that the truth should be told scrupulously
on all sides; the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth."

"_Magna est veritas_," said Miss Dunstable. "The Bishop of Barchester
taught me as much Latin as that at Chaldicotes; and he did add some
more, but there was a long word, and I forgot it."

"The bishop was quite right, my dear, I'm sure. But if you go to your
Latin, I'm lost. As we were just now saying, my brother's pecuniary
affairs are in a very bad state. He has a beautiful property of
his own, which has been in the family for I can't say how many
centuries--long before the Conquest, I know."

"I wonder what my ancestors were then?"

"It does not much signify to any of us," said Mrs. Harold Smith, with
a moral shake of her head, "what our ancestors were; but it's a sad
thing to see an old property go to ruin."

"Yes, indeed; we none of us like to see our property going to ruin,
whether it be old or new. I have some of that sort of feeling
already, although mine was only made the other day out of an
apothecary's shop."

"God forbid that I should ever help you to ruin it," said Mrs. Harold
Smith. "I should be sorry to be the means of your losing a ten-pound
note."

"_Magna est veritas_, as the dear bishop said," exclaimed Miss
Dunstable. "Let us have the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but
the truth, as we agreed just now." Mrs. Harold Smith did begin to
find that the task before her was difficult. There was a hardness
about Miss Dunstable when matters of business were concerned on
which it seemed almost impossible to make any impression. It was not
that she had evinced any determination to refuse the tender of Mr.
Sowerby's hand; but she was so painfully resolute not to have dust
thrown in her eyes! Mrs. Harold Smith had commenced with a mind fixed
upon avoiding what she called humbug; but this sort of humbug had
become so prominent a part of her usual rhetoric, that she found it
very hard to abandon it. "And that's what I wish," said she. "Of
course my chief object is to secure my brother's happiness."

"That's very unkind to poor Mr. Harold Smith."

"Well, well, well--you know what I mean."

"Yes, I think I do know what you mean. Your brother is a gentleman of
good family, but of no means."

"Not quite so bad as that."

"Of embarrassed means, then, or anything that you will; whereas I am
a lady of no family, but of sufficient wealth. You think that if you
brought us together and made a match of it, it would be a very good
thing for--for whom?" said Miss Dunstable.

"Yes, exactly," said Mrs. Harold Smith.

"For which of us? Remember the bishop now and his nice little bit of
Latin."

"For Nathaniel then," said Mrs. Harold Smith, boldly. "It would be a
very good thing for him." And a slight smile came across her face as
she said it. "Now that's honest, or the mischief is in it."

"Yes, that's honest enough. And did he send you here to tell me
this?"

"Well, he did that, and something else."

"And now let's have the something else. The really important part, I
have no doubt, has been spoken."

"No, by no means, by no means all of it. But you are so hard on one,
my dear, with your running after honesty, that one is not able to
tell the real facts as they are. You make one speak in such a bald,
naked way."

"Ah, you think that anything naked must be indecent; even truth."

"I think it is more proper-looking, and better suited, too, for the
world's work, when it goes about with some sort of a garment on
it. We are so used to a leaven of falsehood in all we hear and say,
nowadays, that nothing is more likely to deceive us than the absolute
truth. If a shopkeeper told me that his wares were simply middling,
of course, I should think that they were not worth a farthing. But
all that has nothing to do with my poor brother. Well, what was I
saying?"

"You were going to tell me how well he would use me, no doubt."

"Something of that kind."

"That he wouldn't beat me; or spend all my money if I managed to have
it tied up out of his power; or look down on me with contempt because
my father was an apothecary! Was not that what you were going to
say?"

"I was going to tell you that you might be more happy as Mrs. Sowerby
of Chaldicotes than you can be as Miss Dunstable--"

"Of Mount Lebanon. And had Mr. Sowerby no other message to
send?--nothing about love, or anything of that sort? I should like,
you know, to understand what his feelings are before I take such a
leap."

"I do believe he has as true a regard for you as any man of his age
ever does have--"

"For any woman of mine. That is not putting it in a very devoted
way certainly; but I am glad to see that you remember the bishop's
maxim."

"What would you have me say? If I told you that he was dying for
love, you would say, I was trying to cheat you; and now because I
don't tell you so, you say that he is wanting in devotion. I must say
you are hard to please."

"Perhaps I am, and very unreasonable into the bargain. I ought to ask
no questions of the kind when your brother proposes to do me so much
honour. As for my expecting the love of a man who condescends to wish
to be my husband, that, of course, would be monstrous. What right can
I have to think that any man should love me? It ought to be enough
for me to know that as I am rich, I can get a husband. What business
can such as I have to inquire whether the gentleman who would so
honour me really would like my company, or would only deign to put up
with my presence in his household?"

"Now, my dear Miss Dunstable--"

"Of course I am not such an ass as to expect that any gentleman
should love me; and I feel that I ought to be obliged to your brother
for sparing me the string of complimentary declarations which are
usual on such occasions. He, at any rate, is not tedious--or rather
you on his behalf; for no doubt his own time is so occupied with his
parliamentary duties that he cannot attend to this little matter
himself. I do feel grateful to him; and perhaps nothing more will be
necessary than to give him a schedule of the property, and name an
early day for putting him in possession." Mrs. Smith did feel that
she was rather badly used. This Miss Dunstable, in their mutual
confidences, had so often ridiculed the love-making grimaces of
her mercenary suitors--had spoken so fiercely against those who
had persecuted her, not because they had desired her money, but on
account of their ill-judgement in thinking her to be a fool--that
Mrs. Smith had a right to expect that the method she had adopted for
opening the negotiation would be taken in a better spirit. Could it
be possible, after all, thought Mrs. Smith to herself, that Miss
Dunstable was like other women, and that she did like to have men
kneeling at her feet? Could it be the case that she had advised her
brother badly, and that it would have been better for him to have
gone about his work in the old-fashioned way? "They are very hard to
manage," said Mrs. Harold Smith to herself, thinking of her own sex.

"He was coming here himself," said she, "but I advised him not to do
so."

"That was so kind of you."

"I thought that I could explain to you more openly and more freely,
what his intentions really are."

"Oh! I have no doubt that they are honourable," said Miss Dunstable.
"He does not want to deceive me in that way, I am quite sure." It was
impossible to help laughing, and Mrs. Harold Smith did laugh. "Upon
my word you would provoke a saint," said she.

"I am not likely to get into any such company by the alliance that
you are now suggesting to me. There are not many saints usually at
Chaldicotes, I believe;--always excepting my dear bishop and his
wife."

"But, my dear, what am I to say to Nathaniel?"

"Tell him, of course, how much obliged to him I am."

"Do listen to me one moment. I dare say that I have done wrong to
speak to you in such a bold, unromantic way."

"Not at all. The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
That's what we agreed upon. But one's first efforts in any line are
always apt to be a little uncouth."

"I will send Nathaniel to you himself."

"No, do not do so. Why torment either him or me? I do like
your brother; in a certain way I like him much. But no earthly
consideration would induce me to marry him. Is it not so glaringly
plain that he would marry me for my money only, that you have not
even dared to suggest any other reason?"

"Of course it would have been nonsense to say that he had no regard
whatever towards your money."

"Of course it would--absolute nonsense. He is a poor man with a good
position, and he wants to marry me because I have got that which
he wants. But, my dear, I do not want that which he has got, and
therefore the bargain would not be a fair one."

"But he would do his very best to make you happy."

"I am so much obliged to him; but you see, I am very happy as I am.
What should I gain?"

"A companion whom you confess that you like."

"Ah! but I don't know that I should like too much even of such a
companion as your brother. No, my dear--it won't do. Believe me when
I tell you, once for all, that it won't do."

"Do you mean, then, Miss Dunstable, that you'll never marry?"

"To-morrow--if I met any one that I fancied, and he would have me.
But I rather think that any that I may fancy won't have me. In the
first place, if I marry any one, the man must be quite indifferent
to money."

"Then you'll not find him in this world, my dear."

"Very possibly not," said Miss Dunstable. All that was further said
upon the subject need not be here repeated. Mrs. Harold Smith did not
give up her cause quite at once, although Miss Dunstable had spoken
so plainly. She tried to explain how eligible would be her friend's
situation as mistress of Chaldicotes, when Chaldicotes should owe
no penny to any man; and went so far as to hint that the master of
Chaldicotes, if relieved of his embarrassments and known as a rich
man, might in all probability be found worthy of a peerage when
the gods should return to Olympus. Mr. Harold Smith, as a Cabinet
minister, would, of course, do his best. But it was all of no use.
"It's not my destiny," said Miss Dunstable, "and therefore do not
press it any longer."

"But we shall not quarrel," said Mrs. Harold Smith, almost tenderly.

"Oh, no--why should we quarrel?"

"And you won't look glum at my brother?"

"Why should I look glum at him? But, Mrs. Smith, I'll do more than
not looking glum at him. I do like you, and I do like your brother,
and if I can in any moderate way assist him in his difficulties, let
him tell me so." Soon after this, Mrs. Harold Smith went her way.
Of course, she declared in a very strong manner that her brother
could not think of accepting from Miss Dunstable any such pecuniary
assistance as that offered--and, to give her her due, such was the
feeling of her mind at the moment; but as she went to meet her
brother and gave him an account of this interview, it did occur to
her that possibly Miss Dunstable might be a better creditor than the
Duke of Omnium for the Chaldicotes property.



CHAPTER XXV

Non-Impulsive


It cannot be held as astonishing, that that last decision on the
part of the giants in the matter of the two bishoprics should
have disgusted Archdeacon Grantly. He was a politician, but not a
politician as they were. As is the case with all exoteric men, his
political eyes saw a short way only, and his political aspirations
were as limited. When his friends came into office, that bishop bill,
which as the original product of his enemies had been regarded by
him as being so pernicious--for was it not about to be made law in
order that other Proudies and such like might be hoisted up into
high places and large incomes, to the terrible detriment of the
Church?--that bishop bill, I say, in the hands of his friends, had
appeared to him to be a means of almost national salvation. And then,
how great had been the good fortune of the giants in this matter! Had
they been the originators of such a measure they would not have had
a chance of success; but now--now that the two bishops were falling
into their mouths out of the weak hands of the gods, was not their
success ensured? So Dr. Grantly had girded up his loins and marched
up to the fight, almost regretting that the triumph would be so easy.
The subsequent failure was very trying to his temper as a party man.
It always strikes me that the supporters of the Titans are in this
respect much to be pitied. The giants themselves, those who are
actually handling Pelion and breaking their shins over the lower
rocks of Ossa, are always advancing in some sort towards the councils
of Olympus. Their highest policy is to snatch some ray from heaven.
Why else put Pelion on Ossa, unless it be that a furtive hand, making
its way through Jove's windows, may pluck forth a thunderbolt or two,
or some article less destructive, but of manufacture equally divine?
And in this consists the wisdom of the higher giants--that, in spite
of their mundane antecedents, theories, and predilections, they can
see that articles of divine manufacture are necessary. But then they
never carry their supporters with them. Their whole army is an army
of martyrs. "For twenty years I have stuck to them, and see how
they have treated me!" Is not that always the plaint of an old
giant-slave? "I have been true to my party all my life, and where am
I now?" he says. Where, indeed, my friend? Looking about you, you
begin to learn that you cannot describe your whereabouts. I do not
marvel at that. No one finds himself planted at last in so terribly
foul a morass, as he would fain stand still for ever on dry ground.

Dr. Grantly was disgusted; and although he was himself too true and
thorough in all his feelings, to be able to say aloud that any giant
was wrong, still he had a sad feeling within his heart that the world
was sinking from under him. He was still sufficiently exoteric to
think that a good stand-up fight in a good cause was a good thing.
No doubt he did wish to be Bishop of Westminster, and was anxious to
compass that preferment by any means that might appear to him to be
fair. And why not? But this was not the end of his aspirations. He
wished that the giants might prevail in everything, in bishoprics as
in all other matters; and he could not understand that they should
give way on the very first appearance of a skirmish. In his open talk
he was loud against many a god; but in his heart of hearts he was
bitter enough against both Porphyrion and Orion.

"My dear doctor, it would not do;--not in this session; it would not
indeed." So had spoken to him a half-fledged but especially esoteric
young monster-cub at the Treasury, who considered himself as up to
all the dodges of his party, and regarded the army of martyrs who
supported it as a rather heavy, but very useful collection of fogies.
Dr. Grantly had not cared to discuss the matter with the half-fledged
monster-cub. The best licked of all the monsters, the giant most like
a god of them all, had said a word or two to him; and he also had
said a word or two to that giant. Porphyrion had told him that the
bishop bill would not do; and he, in return, speaking with warm face,
and blood in his cheeks, had told Porphyrion that he saw no reason
why the bill should not do. The courteous giant had smiled as he
shook his ponderous head, and then the archdeacon had left him,
unconsciously shaking some dust from his shoes, as he paced the
passages of the Treasury chambers for the last time. As he walked
back to his lodgings in Mount Street, many thoughts, not altogether
bad in their nature, passed through his mind. Why should he trouble
himself about a bishopric? Was he not well as he was, in his rectory
down at Plumstead? Might it not be ill for him at his age to
transplant himself into new soil, to engage in new duties, and live
among new people? Was he not useful at Barchester, and respected
also; and might it not be possible, that up there at Westminster, he
might be regarded merely as a tool with which other men could work?
He had not quite liked the tone of that specially esoteric young
monster-cub, who had clearly regarded him as a distinguished fogy
from the army of martyrs. He would take his wife back to Barsetshire,
and there live contented with the good things which Providence had
given him.

Those high political grapes had become sour, my sneering friends will
say. Well? Is it not a good thing that grapes should become sour
which hang out of reach? Is he not wise who can regard all grapes as
sour which are manifestly too high for his hand? Those grapes of the
Treasury bench, for which gods and giants fight, suffering so much
when they are forced to abstain from eating, and so much more when
they do eat,--those grapes are very sour to me. I am sure that they
are indigestible, and that those who eat them undergo all the ills
which the Revallenta Arabica is prepared to cure. And so it was now
with the archdeacon. He thought of the strain which would have been
put on his conscience had he come up there to sit in London as Bishop
of Westminster; and in this frame of mind he walked home to his
wife. During the first few moments of his interview with her all his
regrets had come back upon him. Indeed, it would have hardly suited
for him then to have preached this new doctrine of rural contentment.
The wife of his bosom, whom he so fully trusted--had so fully
loved--wished for grapes that hung high upon the wall, and he knew
that it was past his power to teach her at the moment to drop her
ambition. Any teaching that he might effect in that way, must come
by degrees. But before many minutes were over he had told her of
her fate and of his own decision. "So we had better go back to
Plumstead," he said; and she had not dissented.

"I am sorry for poor Griselda's sake," Mrs. Grantly had remarked
later in the evening, when they were again together.

"But I thought she was to remain with Lady Lufton?"

"Well; so she will, for a little time. There is no one with whom I
would so soon trust her out of my own care as with Lady Lufton. She
is all that one can desire."

"Exactly; and as far as Griselda is concerned, I cannot say that I
think she is to be pitied."

"Not to be pitied, perhaps," said Mrs. Grantly. "But, you see,
archdeacon, Lady Lufton, of course, has her own views."

"Her own views?"

"It is hardly any secret that she is very anxious to make a match
between Lord Lufton and Griselda. And though that might be a very
proper arrangement if it were fixed--"

"Lord Lufton marry Griselda!" said the archdeacon, speaking quick and
raising his eyebrows. His mind had as yet been troubled by but few
thoughts respecting his child's future establishment. "I had never
dreamt of such a thing."

"But other people have done more than dream of it, archdeacon. As
regards the match itself, it would, I think, be unobjectionable. Lord
Lufton will not be a very rich man, but his property is respectable,
and as far as I can learn his character is on the whole good. If they
like each other, I should be contented with such a marriage. But, I
must own, I am not quite satisfied at the idea of leaving her all
alone with Lady Lufton. People will look on it as a settled thing,
when it is not settled--and very probably may not be settled; and
that will do the poor girl harm. She is very much admired; there can
be no doubt of that; and Lord Dumbello--"

The archdeacon opened his eyes still wider. He had had no idea that
such a choice of sons-in-law was being prepared for him; and, to
tell the truth, was almost bewildered by the height of his wife's
ambition. Lord Lufton, with his barony and twenty thousand a year,
might be accepted as just good enough; but failing him there was an
embryo marquis, whose fortune would be more than ten times as great,
all ready to accept his child! And then he thought, as husbands
sometimes will think, of Susan Harding as she was when he had gone
a-courting to her under the elms before the house in the warden's
garden at Barchester, and of dear old Mr. Harding, his wife's father,
who still lived in humble lodgings in that city; and as he thought,
he wondered at and admired the greatness of that lady's mind. "I
never can forgive Lord De Terrier," said the lady, connecting various
points together in her own mind.

"That's nonsense," said the archdeacon. "You must forgive him."

"And I must confess that it annoys me to leave London at present."

"It can't be helped," said the archdeacon, somewhat gruffly; for he
was a man who, on certain points, chose to have his own way--and had
it.

"Oh, no: I know it can't be helped," said Mrs. Grantly, in a tone
which implied a deep injury. "I know it can't be helped. Poor
Griselda!" And then they went to bed. On the next morning Griselda
came to her, and in an interview that was strictly private, her
mother said more to her than she had ever yet spoken, as to the
prospects of her future life. Hitherto, on this subject, Mrs. Grantly
had said little or nothing. She would have been well pleased that her
daughter should have received the incense of Lord Lufton's vows--or,
perhaps, as well pleased had it been the incense of Lord Dumbello's
vows--without any interference on her part. In such case her child,
she knew, would have told her with quite sufficient eagerness, and
the matter in either case would have been arranged as a very pretty
love match. She had no fear of any impropriety or of any rashness
on Griselda's part. She had thoroughly known her daughter when she
boasted that Griselda would never indulge in an unauthorized passion.
But as matters now stood, with those two strings to her bow, and
with that Lufton-Grantly alliance treaty in existence--of which she,
Griselda herself, knew nothing--might it not be possible that the
poor child should stumble through want of adequate direction? Guided
by these thoughts, Mrs. Grantly had resolved to say a few words
before she left London. So she wrote a line to her daughter, and
Griselda reached Mount Street at two o'clock in Lady Lufton's
carriage, which, during the interview, waited for her at the
beer-shop round the corner.

"And papa won't be Bishop of Westminster?" said the young lady, when
the doings of the giants had been sufficiently explained to make her
understand that all those hopes were over.

"No, my dear; at any rate not now."

"What a shame! I thought it was all settled. What's the good, mamma,
of Lord De Terrier being Prime Minister, if he can't make whom he
likes a bishop?"

"I don't think that Lord De Terrier has behaved at all well to your
father. However, that's a long question, and we can't go into it
now."

"How glad those Proudies will be!" Griselda would have talked by the
hour on this subject had her mother allowed her, but it was necessary
that Mrs. Grantly should go to other matters. She began about Lady
Lufton, saying what a dear woman her ladyship was; and then went on
to say that Griselda was to remain in London as long as it suited her
friend and hostess to stay there with her; but added, that this might
probably not be very long, as it was notorious that Lady Lufton, when
in London, was always in a hurry to get back to Framley.

"But I don't think she is in such a hurry this year, mamma," said
Griselda, who in the month of May preferred Bruton Street to
Plumstead, and had no objection whatever to the coronet on the
panels of Lady Lufton's coach. And then Mrs. Grantly commenced her
explanation--very cautiously. "No, my dear, I dare say she is not in
such a hurry this year,--that is, as long as you remain with her."

"I am sure she is very kind."

"She is very kind, and you ought to love her very much. I know I do.
I have no friend in the world for whom I have a greater regard than
for Lady Lufton. It is that which makes me so happy to leave you with
her."

"All the same, I wish that you and papa had remained up; that is, if
they had made papa a bishop."

"It's no good thinking of that now, my dear. What I particularly
wanted to say to you was this: I think you should know what are the
ideas which Lady Lufton entertains."

"Her ideas!" said Griselda, who had never troubled herself much in
thinking about other people's thoughts.

"Yes, Griselda. While you were staying down at Framley Court, and
also, I suppose, since you have been up here in Bruton Street, you
must have seen a good deal of--Lord Lufton."

"He doesn't come very often to Bruton Street,--that is to say, not
_very_ often."

"H-m," ejaculated Mrs. Grantly, very gently. She would willingly have
repressed the sound altogether, but it had been too much for her. If
she found reason to think that Lady Lufton was playing her false, she
would immediately take her daughter away, break up the treaty, and
prepare for the Hartletop alliance. Such were the thoughts that ran
through her mind. But she knew all the while that Lady Lufton was not
false. The fault was not with Lady Lufton; nor, perhaps, altogether
with Lord Lufton. Mrs. Grantly had understood the full force of the
complaint which Lady Lufton had made against her daughter; and though
she had of course defended her child, and on the whole had defended
her successfully, yet she confessed to herself that Griselda's chance
of a first-rate establishment would be better if she were a little
more impulsive. A man does not wish to marry a statue, let the
statue be ever so statuesque. She could not teach her daughter to be
impulsive, any more than she could teach her to be six feet high; but
might it not be possible to teach her to seem so? The task was a very
delicate one, even for a mother's hand. "Of course he cannot be at
home now as much as he was down in the country, when he was living
in the same house," said Mrs. Grantly, whose business it was to take
Lord Lufton's part at the present moment. "He must be at his club,
and at the House of Lords, and in twenty places."

"He is very fond of going to parties, and he dances beautifully."

"I am sure he does. I have seen as much as that myself, and I think I
know some one with whom he likes to dance." And the mother gave the
daughter a loving little squeeze.

"Do you mean me, mamma?"

"Yes, I do mean you, my dear. And is it not true? Lady Lufton says
that he likes dancing with you better than with any one else in
London."

"I don't know," said Griselda, looking down upon the ground. Mrs.
Grantly thought that this upon the whole was rather a good opening.
It might have been better. Some point of interest more serious in its
nature than that of a waltz might have been found on which to connect
her daughter's sympathies with those of her future husband. But
any point of interest was better than none; and it is so difficult
to find points of interest in persons who by their nature are not
impulsive.

"Lady Lufton says so, at any rate," continued Mrs. Grantly, ever so
cautiously. "She thinks that Lord Lufton likes no partner better.
What do you think yourself, Griselda?"

"I don't know, mamma."

"But young ladies must think of such things, must they not?"

"Must they, mamma?"

"I suppose they do, don't they? The truth is, Griselda, that Lady
Lufton thinks that if-- Can you guess what it is she thinks?"

"No, mamma." But that was a fib on Griselda's part.

"She thinks that my Griselda would make the best possible wife in the
world for her son: and I think so too. I think that her son will be
a very fortunate man if he can get such a wife. And now what do you
think, Griselda?"

"I don't think anything, mamma." But that would not do. It was
absolutely necessary that she should think, and absolutely necessary
that her mother should tell her so. Such a degree of unimpulsiveness
as this would lead to--Heaven knows what results! Lufton-Grantly
treaties and Hartletop interests would be all thrown away upon a
young lady who would not think anything of a noble suitor sighing
for her smiles. Besides, it was not natural. Griselda, as her mother
knew, had never been a girl of headlong feeling; but still she had
had her likes and her dislikes. In that matter of the bishopric she
was keen enough; and no one could evince a deeper interest in the
subject of a well-made new dress than Griselda Grantly. It was not
possible that she should be indifferent as to her future prospects,
and she must know that those prospects depended mainly on her
marriage. Her mother was almost angry with her, but nevertheless she
went on very gently:

"You don't think anything! But, my darling, you must think. You must
make up your mind what would be your answer if Lord Lufton were to
propose to you. That is what Lady Lufton wishes him to do."

"But he never will, mamma."

"And if he did?"

"But I'm sure he never will. He doesn't think of such a thing at
all--and--and--"

"And what, my dear?"

"I don't know, mamma."

"Surely you can speak out to me, dearest! All I care about is your
happiness. Both Lady Lufton and I think that it would be a happy
marriage if you both cared for each other enough. She thinks that
he is fond of you. But if he were ten times Lord Lufton I would not
tease you about it if I thought that you could not learn to care
about him. What was it you were going to say, my dear?"

"Lord Lufton thinks a great deal more of Lucy Robarts than he does
of--of--of any one else, I believe," said Griselda, showing now some
little animation by her manner, "dumpy little black thing that she
is."

"Lucy Robarts!" said Mrs. Grantly, taken by surprise at finding that
her daughter was moved by such a passion as jealousy, and feeling
also perfectly assured that there could not be any possible ground
for jealousy in such a direction as that. "Lucy Robarts, my dear! I
don't suppose Lord Lufton ever thought of speaking to her, except in
the way of civility."

"Yes, he did, mamma! Don't you remember at Framley?" Mrs. Grantly
began to look back in her mind, and she thought she did remember
having once observed Lord Lufton talking in rather a confidential
manner with the parson's sister. But she was sure that there was
nothing in it. If that was the reason why Griselda was so cold to her
proposed lover, it would be a thousand pities that it should not be
removed. "Now you mention her, I do remember the young lady," said
Mrs. Grantly, "a dark girl, very low, and without much figure. She
seemed to me to keep very much in the background."

"I don't know much about that, mamma."

"As far as I saw her, she did. But, my dear Griselda, you should not
allow yourself to think of such a thing. Lord Lufton, of course, is
bound to be civil to any young lady in his mother's house, and I am
quite sure that he has no other idea whatever with regard to Miss
Robarts. I certainly cannot speak as to her intellect, for I do not
think she opened her mouth in my presence; but--"

"Oh! she has plenty to say for herself, when she pleases. She's a sly
little thing."

"But, at any rate, my dear, she has no personal attractions whatever,
and I do not at all think that Lord Lufton is a man to be taken
by--by--by anything that Miss Robarts might do or say." As those
words "personal attractions" were uttered, Griselda managed so to
turn her neck as to catch a side view of herself in one of the
mirrors on the wall, and then she bridled herself up, and made a
little play with her eyes, and looked, as her mother thought, very
well. "It is all nothing to me, mamma, of course," she said.

"Well, my dear, perhaps not. I don't say that it is. I do not wish to
put the slightest constraint upon your feelings. If I did not have
the most thorough dependence on your good sense and high principles,
I should not speak to you in this way. But as I have, I thought it
best to tell you that both Lady Lufton and I should be well pleased
if we thought that you and Lord Lufton were fond of each other."

"I am sure he never thinks of such a thing, mamma."

"And as for Lucy Robarts, pray get that idea out of your head; if not
for your sake, then for his. You should give him credit for better
taste." But it was not so easy to take anything out of Griselda's
head that she had once taken into it. "As for tastes, mamma, there
is no accounting for them," she said; and then the colloquy on that
subject was over. The result of it on Mrs. Grantly's mind was a
feeling amounting almost to a conviction in favour of the Dumbello
interest.



CHAPTER XXVI

Impulsive


I trust my readers will all remember how Puck the pony was beaten
during that drive to Hogglestock. It may be presumed that Puck
himself on that occasion did not suffer much. His skin was not so
soft as Mrs. Robarts's heart. The little beast was full of oats and
all the good things of this world, and therefore, when the whip
touched him, he would dance about and shake his little ears, and run
on at a tremendous pace for twenty yards, making his mistress think
that he had endured terrible things. But, in truth, during those
whippings Puck was not the chief sufferer. Lucy had been forced to
declare--forced by the strength of her own feelings, and by the
impossibility of assenting to the propriety of a marriage between
Lord Lufton and Miss Grantly--, she had been forced to declare that
she did care about Lord Lufton as much as though he were her brother.
She had said all this to herself--nay, much more than this--very
often. But now she had said it out loud to her sister-in-law; and she
knew that what she had said was remembered, considered, and had, to a
certain extent, become the cause of altered conduct. Fanny alluded
very seldom to the Luftons in casual conversation, and never spoke
about Lord Lufton, unless when her husband made it impossible that
she should not speak of him. Lucy had attempted on more than one
occasion to remedy this, by talking about the young lord in a
laughing and, perhaps, half-jeering way; she had been sarcastic as to
his hunting and shooting, and had boldly attempted to say a word in
joke about his love for Griselda. But she felt that she had failed;
that she had failed altogether as regarded Fanny; and that as to her
brother, she would more probably be the means of opening his eyes,
than have any effect in keeping them closed. So she gave up her
efforts and spoke no further word about Lord Lufton. Her secret had
been told, and she knew that it had been told. At this time the two
ladies were left a great deal alone together in the drawing-room at
the parsonage; more, perhaps, than had ever yet been the case since
Lucy had been there. Lady Lufton was away, and therefore the almost
daily visit to Framley Court was not made; and Mark in these days was
a great deal at Barchester, having, no doubt, very onerous duties to
perform before he could be admitted as one of that chapter. He went
into, what he was pleased to call residence, almost at once. That is,
he took his month of preaching, aiding also, in some slight and very
dignified way, in the general Sunday morning services. He did not
exactly live at Barchester, because the house was not ready. That at
least was the assumed reason. The chattels of Dr. Stanhope, the late
prebendary, had not been as yet removed, and there was likely to be
some little delay, creditors asserting their right to them. This
might have been very inconvenient to a gentleman anxiously expecting
the excellent house which the liberality of past ages had provided
for his use; but it was not so felt by Mr. Robarts. If Dr. Stanhope's
family or creditors would keep the house for the next twelve months,
he would be well pleased. And by this arrangement he was enabled to
get through his first month of absence from the church of Framley
without any notice from Lady Lufton, seeing that Lady Lufton was in
London all the time. This also was convenient, and taught our young
prebendary to look on his new preferment more favourably than he had
hitherto done.

Fanny and Lucy were thus left much alone: and as out of the full
head the mouth speaks, so is the full heart more prone to speak at
such periods of confidence as these. Lucy, when she first thought
of her own state, determined to endow herself with a powerful gift
of reticence. She would never tell her love, certainly; but neither
would she let concealment feed on her damask cheek, nor would she
ever be found for a moment sitting like Patience on a monument. She
would fight her own fight bravely within her own bosom, and conquer
her enemy altogether. She would either preach, or starve, or weary
her love into subjection, and no one should be a bit the wiser. She
would teach herself to shake hands with Lord Lufton without a quiver,
and would be prepared to like his wife amazingly--unless indeed that
wife should be Griselda Grantly. Such were her resolutions; but at
the end of the first week they were broken into shivers and scattered
to the winds. They had been sitting in the house together the whole
of one wet day; and as Mark was to dine in Barchester with the dean,
they had had dinner early, eating with the children almost in their
laps. It is so that ladies do, when their husbands leave them to
themselves. It was getting dusk towards evening, and they were still
sitting in the drawing-room, the children now having retired, when
Mrs. Robarts for the fifth time since her visit to Hogglestock began
to express her wish that she could do some good to the Crawleys,--to
Grace Crawley in particular, who, standing up there at her father's
elbow, learning Greek irregular verbs, had appeared to Mrs. Robarts
to be an especial object of pity.

"I don't know how to set about it," said Mrs. Robarts. Now any
allusion to that visit to Hogglestock always drove Lucy's mind back
to the consideration of the subject which had most occupied it at the
time. She at such moments remembered how she had beaten Puck, and how
in her half-bantering but still too serious manner she had apologized
for doing so, and had explained the reason. And therefore she could
not interest herself about Grace Crawley as vividly as she should
have done. "No; one never does," she said.

"I was thinking about it all that day as I drove home," said Fanny.
"The difficulty is this: What can we do with her?"

"Exactly," said Lucy, remembering the very point of the road at which
she had declared that she did like Lord Lufton very much.

"If we could have her here for a month or so and then send her to
school;--but I know Mr. Crawley would not allow us to pay for her
schooling."

"I don't think he would," said Lucy, with her thoughts far removed
from Mr. Crawley and his daughter Grace.

"And then we should not know what to do with her; should we?"

"No; you would not."

"It would never do to have the poor girl about the house here with no
one to teach her anything. Mark would not teach her Greek verbs, you
know."

"I suppose not."

"Lucy, you are not attending to a word I say to you, and I don't
think you have for the last hour. I don't believe you know what I am
talking about."

"Oh, yes, I do--Grace Crawley; I'll try and teach her if you like,
only I don't know anything myself."

"That's not what I mean at all, and you know I would not ask you to
take such a task as that on yourself. But I do think you might talk
it over with me."

"Might I? very well; I will. What is it? Oh, Grace Crawley--you want
to know who is to teach her the irregular Greek verbs. Oh, dear,
Fanny, my head does ache so: pray don't be angry with me." And then
Lucy, throwing herself back on the sofa, put one hand up painfully to
her forehead, and altogether gave up the battle. Mrs. Robarts was by
her side in a moment.

"Dearest Lucy, what is it makes your head ache so often now? you used
not to have those headaches."

"It's because I'm growing stupid: never mind. We will go on about
poor Grace. It would not do to have a governess, would it?"

"I can see that you are not well, Lucy," said Mrs. Robarts, with a
look of deep concern. "What is it, dearest? I can see that something
is the matter."

"Something the matter! No, there's not; nothing worth talking of.
Sometimes I think I'll go back to Devonshire and live there. I could
stay with Blanche for a time, and then get a lodging in Exeter."

"Go back to Devonshire!" and Mrs. Robarts looked as though she
thought that her sister-in-law was going mad. "Why do you want to go
away from us? This is to be your own, own home, always now."

"Is it? Then I am in a bad way. Oh dear, oh dear, what a fool I am!
What an idiot I've been! Fanny, I don't think I can stay here; and I
do so wish I'd never come. I do--I do--I do, though you look at me so
horribly," and jumping up she threw herself into her sister-in-law's
arms and began kissing her violently. "Don't pretend to be wounded,
for you know that I love you. You know that I could live with you all
my life, and think you were perfect--as you are; but--"

"Has Mark said anything?"

"Not a word,--not a ghost of a syllable. It is not Mark; oh, Fanny!"

"I am afraid I know what you mean," said Mrs. Robarts in a low
tremulous voice, and with deep sorrow painted on her face.

"Of course you do; of course you know; you have known it all along;
since that day in the pony carriage. I knew that you knew it. You do
not dare to mention his name; would not that tell me that you know
it? And I, I am hypocrite enough for Mark; but my hypocrisy won't
pass muster before you. And, now, had I not better go to Devonshire?"

"Dearest, dearest Lucy."

"Was I not right about that labelling? O heavens! what idiots we
girls are! That a dozen soft words should have bowled me over like a
ninepin, and left me without an inch of ground to call my own. And
I was so proud of my own strength; so sure that I should never be
missish, and spoony, and sentimental! I was so determined to like him
as Mark does, or you--"

"I shall not like him at all if he has spoken words to you that he
should not have spoken."

"But he has not." And then she stopped a moment to consider. "No, he
has not. He never said a word to me that would make you angry with
him if you knew of it. Except, perhaps, that he called me Lucy; and
that was my fault, not his."

"Because you talked of soft words."

"Fanny, you have no idea what an absolute fool I am, what an
unutterable ass. The soft words of which I tell you were of the kind
which he speaks to you when he asks you how the cow gets on which he
sent you from Ireland, or to Mark about Ponto's shoulder. He told me
that he knew papa, and that he was at school with Mark, and that as
he was such good friends with you here at the parsonage, he must be
good friends with me too. No; it has not been his fault. The soft
words which did the mischief were such as those. But how well his
mother understood the world! In order to have been safe, I should not
have dared to look at him."

"But, dearest Lucy--"

"I know what you are going to say, and I admit it all. He is no hero.
There is nothing on earth wonderful about him. I never heard him say
a single word of wisdom, or utter a thought that was akin to poetry.
He devotes all his energies to riding after a fox or killing poor
birds, and I never heard of his doing a single great action in my
life. And yet--" Fanny was so astounded by the way her sister-in-law
went on, that she hardly knew how to speak. "He is an excellent son,
I believe," at last she said.

"Except when he goes to Gatherum Castle. I'll tell you what he has:
he has fine straight legs, and a smooth forehead, and a good-humoured
eye, and white teeth. Was it possible to see such a catalogue of
perfections, and not fall down, stricken to the very bone? But it was
not that that did it all, Fanny. I could have stood against that. I
think I could at least. It was his title that killed me. I had never
spoken to a lord before. Oh, me! what a fool, what a beast I have
been!" And then she burst out into tears. Mrs. Robarts, to tell the
truth, could hardly understand poor Lucy's ailment. It was evident
enough that her misery was real; but yet she spoke of herself and her
sufferings with so much irony, with so near an approach to joking,
that it was very hard to tell how far she was in earnest. Lucy, too,
was so much given to a species of badinage which Mrs. Robarts did
not always quite understand, that the latter was afraid sometimes to
speak out what came uppermost to her tongue. But now that Lucy was
absolutely in tears, and was almost breathless with excitement, she
could not remain silent any longer. "Dearest Lucy, pray do not speak
in that way; it will all come right. Things always do come right when
no one has acted wrongly."

"Yes, when nobody has done wrongly. That's what papa used to call
begging the question. But I'll tell you what, Fanny; I will not be
beaten. I will either kill myself or get through it. I am so heartily
self-ashamed that I owe it to myself to fight the battle out."

"To fight what battle, dearest?"

"This battle. Here, now, at the present moment I could not meet Lord
Lufton. I should have to run like a scared fowl if he were to show
himself within the gate; and I should not dare to go out of the
house, if I knew that he was in the parish."

"I don't see that, for I am sure you have not betrayed yourself."

"Well, no; as for myself, I believe I have done the lying and the
hypocrisy pretty well. But, dearest Fanny, you don't know half; and
you cannot and must not know."

"But I thought you said there had been nothing whatever between you."

"Did I? Well, to you I have not said a word that was not true. I said
that he had spoken nothing that it was wrong for him to say. It could
not be wrong-- But never mind. I'll tell you what I mean to do. I
have been thinking of it for the last week--only I shall have to tell
Mark."

"If I were you I would tell him all."

"What, Mark! If you do, Fanny, I'll never, never, never speak to you
again. Would you--when I have given you all my heart in true sisterly
love?" Mrs. Robarts had to explain that she had not proposed to
tell anything to Mark herself, and was persuaded, moreover, to give
a solemn promise that she would not tell anything to him unless
specially authorized to do so.

"I'll go into a home, I think," continued Lucy. "You know what these
homes are?" Mrs. Robarts assured her that she knew very well, and
then Lucy went on: "A year ago I should have said that I was the last
girl in England to think of such a life, but I do believe now that it
would be the best thing for me. And then I'll starve myself, and flog
myself, and in that way I'll get back my own mind and my own soul."

"Your own soul, Lucy!" said Mrs. Robarts, in a tone of horror.

"Well, my own heart, if you like it better; but I hate to hear myself
talking about hearts. I don't care for my heart. I'd let it go--with
this young popinjay lord or any one else, so that I could read, and
talk, and walk, and sleep, and eat, without always feeling that I was
wrong here--here--here--" and she pressed her hand vehemently against
her side. "What is it that I feel, Fanny? Why am I so weak in body
that I cannot take exercise? Why cannot I keep my mind on a book for
one moment? Why can I not write two sentences together? Why should
every mouthful that I eat stick in my throat? Oh, Fanny, is it his
legs, think you, or is it his title?" Through all her sorrow--and she
was very sorrowful--Mrs. Robarts could not help smiling. And, indeed,
there was every now and then something even in Lucy's look that was
almost comic. She acted the irony so well with which she strove to
throw ridicule on herself! "Do laugh at me," she said. "Nothing
on earth will do me so much good as that; nothing, unless it be
starvation and a whip. If you would only tell me that I must be a
sneak and an idiot to care for a man because he is good-looking and
a lord!"

"But that has not been the reason. There is a great deal more in Lord
Lufton than that; and since I must speak, dear Lucy, I cannot but say
that I should not wonder at your being in love with him, only--only
that--"

"Only what? Come, out with it. Do not mince matters, or think that I
shall be angry with you because you scold me."

"Only that I should have thought that you would have been too guarded
to have--have cared for any gentleman till--till he had shown that he
cared for you."

"Guarded! Yes, that's it; that's just the word. But it's he that
should have been guarded. He should have had a fire-guard hung before
him, or a love-guard, if you will. Guarded! Was I not guarded, till
you all would drag me out? Did I want to go there? And when I was
there, did I not make a fool of myself, sitting in a corner, and
thinking how much better placed I should have been down in the
servants' hall. Lady Lufton--she dragged me out, and then cautioned
me, and then, then-- Why is Lady Lufton to have it all her own way?
Why am I to be sacrificed for her? I did not want to know Lady
Lufton, or any one belonging to her."

"I cannot think that you have any cause to blame Lady Lufton, nor,
perhaps, to blame anybody very much."

"Well, no, it has been all my own fault; though, for the life of me,
Fanny, going back and back, I cannot see where I took the first false
step. I do not know where I went wrong. One wrong thing I did, and it
is the only thing that I do not regret."

"What was that, Lucy?"

"I told him a lie."

Mrs. Robarts was altogether in the dark, and feeling that she was
so, she knew that she could not give counsel as a friend or a sister.
Lucy had begun by declaring--so Mrs. Robarts thought--that nothing
had passed between her and Lord Lufton but words of most trivial
import, and yet she now accused herself of falsehood, and declared
that that falsehood was the only thing which she did not regret!

"I hope not," said Mrs. Robarts. "If you did, you were very unlike
yourself."

"But I did, and were he here again, speaking to me in the same way, I
should repeat it. I know I should. If I did not, I should have all
the world on me. You would frown on me, and be cold. My darling
Fanny, how would you look if I really displeasured you?"

"I don't think you will do that, Lucy."

"But if I told him the truth I should, should I not? Speak now. But
no, Fanny, you need not speak. It was not the fear of you; no, nor
even of her: though Heaven knows that her terrible glumness would be
quite unendurable."

"I cannot understand you, Lucy. What truth or what untruth can you
have told him, if, as you say, there has been nothing between you but
ordinary conversation?"

Lucy then got up from the sofa, and walked twice the length of the
room before she spoke. Mrs. Robarts had all the ordinary curiosity--I
was going to say, of a woman, but I mean to say, of humanity; and she
had, moreover, all the love of a sister. She was both curious and
anxious, and remained sitting where she was, silent, and with her
eyes fixed on her companion. "Did I say so?" Lucy said at last. "No,
Fanny, you have mistaken me--I did not say that. Ah, yes, about the
cow and the dog. All that was true. I was telling you of what his
soft words had been while I was becoming such a fool. Since that he
has said more."

"What more has he said, Lucy?"

"I yearn to tell you, if only I can trust you;" and Lucy knelt down
at the feet of Mrs. Robarts, looking up into her face and smiling
through the remaining drops of her tears. "I would fain tell you,
but I do not know you yet--whether you are quite true. I could be
true--true against all the world, if my friend told me. I will
tell you, Fanny, if you say that you can be true. But if you doubt
yourself, if you must whisper all to Mark--then let us be silent."

There was something almost awful in this to Mrs. Robarts. Hitherto,
since their marriage, hardly a thought had passed through her mind
which she had not shared with her husband. But now all this had come
upon her so suddenly, that she was unable to think whether it would
be well that she should become the depositary of such a secret--not
to be mentioned to Lucy's brother, not to be mentioned to her own
husband. But who ever yet was offered a secret and declined it? Who
at least ever declined a love secret? What sister could do so? Mrs.
Robarts, therefore, gave the promise, smoothing Lucy's hair as she
did so, and kissing her forehead and looking into her eyes, which,
like a rainbow, were the brighter for her tears. "And what has he
said to you, Lucy?"

"What? Only this, that he asked me to be his wife."

"Lord Lufton proposed to you?"

"Yes; proposed to me. It is not credible, is it? You cannot bring
yourself to believe that such a thing happened, can you?" And Lucy
rose again to her feet, as the idea of the scorn with which she
felt that others would treat her--with which she herself treated
herself--made the blood rise to her cheek. "And yet it is not a
dream--I think that it is not a dream. I think that he really did."

"Think, Lucy!"

"Well, I may say that I am sure."

"A gentleman would not make you a formal proposal, and leave you in
doubt as to what he meant."

"Oh dear, no. There was no doubt at all of that kind--none in the
least. Mr. Smith, in asking Miss Jones to do him the honour of
becoming Mrs. Smith, never spoke more plainly. I was alluding to the
possibility of having dreamt it all."

"Lucy!"

"Well, it was not a dream. Here, standing here, on this very spot--on
that flower of the carpet--he begged me a dozen times to be his wife.
I wonder whether you and Mark would let me cut it out and keep it."

"And what answer did you make to him?"

"I lied to him, and told him that I did not love him."

"You refused him?"

"Yes; I refused a live lord. There is some satisfaction in having
that to think of, is there not? Fanny, was I wicked to tell that
falsehood?"

"And why did you refuse him?"

"Why? Can you ask? Think what it would have been to go down
to Framley Court, and to tell her ladyship, in the course of
conversation, that I was engaged to her son. Think of Lady Lufton.
But yet it was not that, Fanny. Had I thought that it was good
for him, that he would not have repented, I would have braved
anything--for his sake. Even your frown, for you would have frowned.
You would have thought it sacrilege for me to marry Lord Lufton! You
know you would."

Mrs. Robarts hardly knew how to say what she thought, or indeed what
she ought to think. It was a matter on which much meditation would be
required before she could give advice, and there was Lucy expecting
counsel from her at that very moment. If Lord Lufton really loved
Lucy Robarts, and was loved by Lucy Robarts, why should not they two
become man and wife? And yet she did feel that it would be--perhaps
not sacrilege, as Lucy had said, but something almost as troublesome.
What would Lady Lufton say, or think, or feel? What would she say,
and think, and feel as to that parsonage from which so deadly a blow
would fall upon her? Would she not accuse the vicar and the vicar's
wife of the blackest ingratitude? Would life be endurable at Framley
under such circumstances as those?

"What you tell me so surprises me, that I hardly as yet know how to
speak about it," said Mrs. Robarts.

"It was amazing, was it not? He must have been insane at the time;
there can be no other excuse made for him. I wonder whether there is
anything of that sort in the family?"

"What; madness?" said Mrs. Robarts, quite in earnest.

"Well, don't you think he must have been mad when such an idea as
that came into his head? But you don't believe it; I can see that.
And yet it is as true as heaven. Standing exactly here, on this spot,
he said that he would persevere till I accepted his love. I wonder
what made me specially observe that both his feet were within the
lines of that division."

"And you would not accept his love?"

"No; I would have nothing to say to it. Look you, I stood here, and
putting my hand upon my heart--for he bade me to do that--I said that
I could not love him."

"And what then?"

"He went away--with a look as though he were heartbroken. He crept
away slowly, saying that he was the most wretched soul alive. For a
minute I believed him, and could almost have called him back; but
no, Fanny, do not think that I am over proud, or conceited about my
conquest. He had not reached the gate before he was thanking God for
his escape."

"That I do not believe."

"But I do; and I thought of Lady Lufton too. How could I bear that
she should scorn me, and accuse me of stealing her son's heart? I
know that it is better as it is; but tell me--is a falsehood always
wrong, or can it be possible that the end should justify the means?
Ought I to have told him the truth, and to have let him know that I
could almost kiss the ground on which he stood?"

This was a question for the doctors which Mrs. Robarts would not take
upon herself to answer. She would not make that falsehood matter of
accusation, but neither would she pronounce for it any absolution. In
that matter Lucy must regulate her own conscience.

"And what shall I do next?" said Lucy, still speaking in a tone that
was half tragic and half jeering.

"Do?" said Mrs. Robarts.

"Yes, something must be done. If I were a man I should go to
Switzerland, of course; or, as the case is a bad one, perhaps as far
as Hungary. What is it that girls do? they don't die nowadays, I
believe."

"Lucy, I do not believe that you care for him one jot. If you were in
love you would not speak of it like that."

"There, there. That's my only hope. If I could laugh at myself till
it had become incredible to you, I also, by degrees, should cease to
believe that I had cared for him. But, Fanny, it is very hard. If I
were to starve, and rise before daybreak, and pinch myself, or do
some nasty work,--clean the pots and pans and the candlesticks; that
I think would do the most good. I have got a piece of sack-cloth, and
I mean to wear that, when I have made it up."

"You are joking now, Lucy, I know."

"No, by my word; not in the spirit of what I am saying. How shall
I act upon my heart, if I do not do it through the blood and the
flesh?"

"Do you not pray that God will give you strength to bear these
troubles?"

"But how is one to word one's prayer, or how even to word one's
wishes? I do not know what is the wrong that I have done. I say it
boldly; in this matter I cannot see my own fault. I have simply found
that I have been a fool."

It was now quite dark in the room, or would have been so to any one
entering it afresh. They had remained there talking till their eyes
had become accustomed to the gloom, and would still have remained,
had they not suddenly been disturbed by the sound of a horse's feet.

"There is Mark," said Fanny, jumping up and running to the bell, that
lights might be ready when he should enter.

"I thought he remained in Barchester to-night."

"And so did I; but he said it might be doubtful. What shall we do if
he has not dined?" That, I believe, is always the first thought in
the mind of a good wife when her husband returns home. Has he had his
dinner? What can I give him for dinner? Will he like his dinner? Oh
dear, oh dear! there is nothing in the house but cold mutton. But
on this occasion the lord of the mansion had dined, and came home
radiant with good-humour, and owing, perhaps, a little of his
radiance to the dean's claret. "I have told them," said he, "that
they may keep possession of the house for the next two months, and
they have agreed to that arrangement."

"That is very pleasant," said Mrs. Robarts.

"And I don't think we shall have so much trouble about the
dilapidations after all."

"I am very glad of that," said Mrs. Robarts. But nevertheless she was
thinking much more of Lucy than of the house in Barchester Close.

"You won't betray me," said Lucy, as she gave her sister-in-law a
parting kiss at night.

"No; not unless you give me permission."

"Ah; I shall never do that."



CHAPTER XXVII

South Audley Street


The Duke of Omnium had notified to Mr. Fothergill his wish that some
arrangement should be made about the Chaldicotes mortgages, and Mr.
Fothergill had understood what the duke meant as well as though his
instructions had been written down with all a lawyer's verbosity.
The duke's meaning was this, that Chaldicotes was to be swept up and
garnered, and made part and parcel of the Gatherum property. It had
seemed to the duke that that affair between his friend and Miss
Dunstable was hanging fire, and, therefore, it would be well that
Chaldicotes should be swept up and garnered. And, moreover, tidings
had come into the western division of the county that young Frank
Gresham of Boxall Hill was in treaty with the Government for the
purchase of all that Crown property called the Chace of Chaldicotes.
It had been offered to the duke, but the duke had given no definite
answer. Had he got his money back from Mr. Sowerby he could have
forestalled Mr. Gresham; but now that did not seem to be probable,
and his grace was resolved that either the one property or the other
should be duly garnered. Therefore Mr. Fothergill went up to town,
and therefore Mr. Sowerby was, most unwillingly, compelled to have a
business interview with Mr. Fothergill. In the meantime, since last
we saw him, Mr. Sowerby had learned from his sister the answer which
Miss Dunstable had given to his proposition, and knew that he had no
further hope in that direction. There was no further hope thence of
absolute deliverance, but there had been a tender of money services.
To give Mr. Sowerby his due, he had at once declared that it would be
quite out of the question that he should now receive any assistance
of that sort from Miss Dunstable; but his sister had explained to him
that it would be a mere business transaction; that Miss Dunstable
would receive her interest; and that, if she would be content with
four per cent., whereas the duke received five, and other creditors
six, seven, eight, ten, and Heaven only knows how much more, it
might be well for all parties. He, himself, understood, as well as
Fothergill had done, what was the meaning of the duke's message.
Chaldicotes was to be gathered up and garnered, as had been done with
so many another fair property lying in those regions. It was to be
swallowed whole, and the master was to walk out from his old family
hall, to leave the old woods that he loved, to give up utterly to
another the parks and paddocks and pleasant places which he had known
from his earliest infancy, and owned from his earliest manhood.

There can be nothing more bitter to a man than such a surrender.
What, compared to this, can be the loss of wealth to one who has
himself made it, and brought it together, but has never actually seen
it with his bodily eyes? Such wealth has come by one chance, and
goes by another: the loss of it is part of the game which the man is
playing; and if he cannot lose as well as win, he is a poor, weak,
cowardly creature. Such men, as a rule, do know how to bear a mind
fairly equal to adversity. But to have squandered the acres which
have descended from generation to generation; to be the member of
one's family that has ruined that family; to have swallowed up in
one's own maw all that should have graced one's children, and one's
grandchildren! It seems to me that the misfortunes of this world can
hardly go beyond that! Mr. Sowerby, in spite of his recklessness
and that dare-devil gaiety which he knew so well how to wear and
use, felt all this as keenly as any man could feel it. It had been
absolutely his own fault. The acres had come to him all his own, and
now, before his death, every one of them would have gone bodily into
that greedy maw. The duke had bought up nearly all the debts which
had been secured upon the property, and now could make a clean sweep
of it. Sowerby, when he received that message from Mr. Fothergill,
knew well that this was intended; and he knew well also, that when
once he should cease to be Mr. Sowerby of Chaldicotes, he need never
again hope to be returned as member for West Barsetshire. This
world would for him be all over. And what must such a man feel when
he reflects that this world is for him all over? On the morning
in question he went to his appointment, still bearing a cheerful
countenance. Mr. Fothergill, when in town on such business as this,
always had a room at his service in the house of Messrs. Gumption &
Gazebee, the duke's London law agents, and it was thither that Mr.
Sowerby had been summoned. The house of business of Messrs. Gumption
& Gazebee was in South Audley Street; and it may be said that there
was no spot on the whole earth which Mr. Sowerby so hated as he did
the gloomy, dingy back sitting-room upstairs in that house. He had
been there very often, but had never been there without annoyance. It
was a horrid torture-chamber, kept for such dread purposes as these,
and no doubt had been furnished, and papered, and curtained with the
express object of finally breaking down the spirits of such poor
country gentlemen as chanced to be involved. Everything was of a
brown crimson,--of a crimson that had become brown. Sunlight, real
genial light of the sun, never made its way there, and no amount of
candles could illumine the gloom of that brownness. The windows were
never washed; the ceiling was of a dark brown; the old Turkey carpet
was thick with dust, and brown withal. The ungainly office-table, in
the middle of the room, had been covered with black leather, but that
was now brown. There was a bookcase full of dingy brown law books in
a recess on one side of the fireplace, but no one had touched them
for years, and over the chimney-piece hung some old legal pedigree
table, black with soot. Such was the room which Mr. Fothergill always
used in the business house of Messrs. Gumption & Gazebee, in South
Audley Street, near to Park Lane.

I once heard this room spoken of by an old friend of mine, one
Mr. Gresham of Greshamsbury, the father of Frank Gresham, who was
now about to purchase that part of the Chace of Chaldicotes which
belonged to the Crown. He also had had evil days, though now happily
they were past and gone; and he, too, had sat in that room, and
listened to the voice of men who were powerful over his property,
and intended to use that power. The idea which he left on my mind
was much the same as that which I had entertained, when a boy, of
a certain room in the castle of Udolpho. There was a chair in that
Udolpho room in which those who sat were dragged out limb by limb,
the head one way and the legs another; the fingers were dragged off
from the hands, and the teeth out from the jaws, and the hair off
the head, and the flesh from the bones, and the joints from their
sockets, till there was nothing left but a lifeless trunk seated in
the chair. Mr. Gresham, as he told me, always sat in the same seat,
and the tortures he suffered when so seated, the dislocations of his
property which he was forced to discuss, the operations on his very
self which he was forced to witness, made me regard that room as
worse than the chamber of Udolpho. He, luckily--a rare instance of
good fortune--had lived to see all his bones and joints put together
again, and flourishing soundly; but he never could speak of the room
without horror. "No consideration on earth," he once said to me, very
solemnly,--"I say none, should make me again enter that room." And
indeed this feeling was so strong with him, that from the day when
his affairs took a turn he would never even walk down South Audley
Street. On the morning in question into this torture-chamber Mr.
Sowerby went, and there, after some two or three minutes, he was
joined by Mr. Fothergill.

Mr. Fothergill was, in one respect, like to his friend Sowerby. He
enacted two altogether different persons on occasions which were
altogether different. Generally speaking, with the world at large,
he was a jolly, rollicking, popular man, fond of eating and drinking,
known to be devoted to the duke's interests, and supposed to be
somewhat unscrupulous, or at any rate hard, when they were concerned;
but in other respects a good-natured fellow: and there was a report
about that he had once lent somebody money, without charging him
interest or taking security. On the present occasion Sowerby saw
at a glance that he had come thither with all the aptitudes and
appurtenances of his business about him. He walked into the room with
a short, quick step; there was no smile on his face as he shook hands
with his old friend; he brought with him a box laden with papers and
parchments, and he had not been a minute in the room before he was
seated in one of the old dingy chairs. "How long have you been in
town, Fothergill?" said Sowerby, still standing with his back against
the chimney. He had resolved on only one thing--that nothing should
induce him to touch, look at, or listen to any of those papers. He
knew well enough that no good would come of that. He also had his own
lawyer, to see that he was pilfered according to rule.

"How long? Since the day before yesterday. I never was so busy in my
life. The duke, as usual, wants to have everything done at once."

"If he wants to have all that I owe him paid at once, he is like to
be out in his reckoning."

"Ah, well; I'm glad you are ready to come quickly to business,
because it's always best. Won't you come and sit down here?"

"No, thank you; I'll stand."

"But we shall have to go through these figures, you know."

"Not a figure, Fothergill. What good would it do? None to me, and
none to you either, as I take it. If there is anything wrong,
Potter's fellows will find it out. What is it the duke wants?"

"Well; to tell the truth, he wants his money."

"In one sense, and that the main sense, he has got it. He gets his
interest regularly, does not he?"

"Pretty well for that, seeing how times are. But, Sowerby, that's
nonsense. You understand the duke as well as I do, and you know very
well what he wants. He has given you time, and if you had taken any
steps towards getting the money, you might have saved the property."

"A hundred and eighty thousand pounds! What steps could I take to
get that? Fly a bill, and let Tozer have it to get cash on it in the
City!"

"We hoped you were going to marry."

"That's all off."

"Then I don't think you can blame the duke for looking for his own.
It does not suit him to have so large a sum standing out any longer.
You see, he wants land, and will have it. Had you paid off what you
owed him, he would have purchased the Crown property; and now, it
seems young Gresham has bid against him, and is to have it. This has
riled him, and I may as well tell you fairly, that he is determined
to have either money or marbles."

"You mean that I am to be dispossessed."

"Well, yes; if you choose to call it so. My instructions are to
foreclose at once."

"Then I must say the duke is treating me most uncommonly ill."

"Well, Sowerby, I can't see it."

"I can, though. He has his money like clock-work; and he has bought
up these debts from persons who would have never disturbed me as long
as they got their interest."

"Haven't you had the seat?"

"The seat! and is it expected that I am to pay for that?"

"I don't see that any one is asking you to pay for it. You are like
a great many other people that I know. You want to eat your cake and
have it. You have been eating it for the last twenty years, and now
you think yourself very ill-used because the duke wants to have his
turn."

"I shall think myself very ill-used if he sells me out--worse than
ill-used. I do not want to use strong language, but it will be more
than ill-usage. I can hardly believe that he really means to treat me
in that way."

"It is very hard that he should want his own money!"

"It is not his money that he wants. It is my property."

"And has he not paid for it? Have you not had the price of your
property? Now, Sowerby, it is of no use for you to be angry; you have
known for the last three years what was coming on you as well as I
did. Why should the duke lend you money without an object? Of course
he has his own views. But I do say this; he has not hurried you; and
had you been able to do anything to save the place you might have
done it. You have had time enough to look about you." Sowerby still
stood in the place in which he had first fixed himself, and now for
awhile he remained silent. His face was very stern, and there was
in his countenance none of those winning looks which often told so
powerfully with his young friends,--which had caught Lord Lufton and
had charmed Mark Robarts. The world was going against him, and things
around him were coming to an end. He was beginning to perceive that
he had in truth eaten his cake, and that there was now little left
for him to do,--unless he chose to blow out his brains. He had said
to Lord Lufton that a man's back should be broad enough for any
burden with which he himself might load it. Could he now boast that
his back was broad enough and strong enough for this burden? But he
had even then, at that bitter moment, a strong remembrance that it
behoved him still to be a man. His final ruin was coming on him, and
he would soon be swept away out of the knowledge and memory of those
with whom he had lived. But, nevertheless, he would bear himself
well to the last. It was true that he had made his own bed, and he
understood the justice which required him to lie upon it.

During all this time Fothergill occupied himself with the papers. He
continued to turn over one sheet after another, as though he were
deeply engaged in money considerations and calculations. But, in
truth, during all that time he did not read a word, There was
nothing there for him to read. The reading and the writing, and the
arithmetic in such matters, are done by underlings--not by such big
men as Mr. Fothergill. His business was to tell Sowerby that he was
to go. All those records there were of very little use. The duke had
the power; Sowerby knew that the duke had the power; and Fothergill's
business was to explain that the duke meant to exercise his power.
He was used to the work, and went on turning over the papers and
pretending to read them, as though his doing so were of the greatest
moment. "I shall see the duke myself," Mr. Sowerby said at last, and
there was something almost dreadful in the sound of his voice.

"You know that the duke won't see you on a matter of this kind. He
never speaks to any one about money; you know that as well as I do."

"By ----, but he shall speak to me. Never speak to any one about
money! Why is he ashamed to speak of it when he loves it so dearly?
He shall see me."

"I have nothing further to say, Sowerby. Of course I shan't ask his
grace to see you; and if you force your way in on him you know what
will happen. It won't be my doing if he is set against you. Nothing
that you say to me in that way,--nothing that anybody ever
says,--goes beyond myself."

"I shall manage the matter through my own lawyer," said Sowerby; and
then he took his hat, and, without uttering another word, left the
room.

We know not what may be the nature of that eternal punishment to
which those will be doomed who shall be judged to have been evil at
the last; but methinks that no more terrible torment can be devised
than the memory of self-imposed ruin. What wretchedness can exceed
that of remembering from day to day that the race has been all run,
and has been altogether lost; that the last chance has gone, and has
gone in vain; that the end has come, and with it disgrace, contempt,
and self-scorn--disgrace that never can be redeemed, contempt that
never can be removed, and self-scorn that will eat into one's vitals
for ever? Mr. Sowerby was now fifty; he had enjoyed his chances in
life; and as he walked back, up South Audley Street, he could not
but think of the uses he had made of them. He had fallen into the
possession of a fine property on the attainment of his manhood;
he had been endowed with more than average gifts of intellect;
never-failing health had been given to him, and a vision fairly clear
in discerning good from evil; and now to what a pass had he brought
himself! And that man Fothergill had put all this before him in so
terribly clear a light! Now that the day for his final demolishment
had arrived, the necessity that he should be demolished--finished
away at once, out of sight and out of mind--had not been softened,
or, as it were, half hidden, by any ambiguous phrase. "You have had
your cake, and eaten it--eaten it greedily. Is not that sufficient
for you? Would you eat your cake twice? Would you have a succession
of cakes? No, my friend; there is no succession of these cakes for
those who eat them greedily. Your proposition is not a fair one,
and we who have the whip-hand of you will not listen to it. Be good
enough to vanish. Permit yourself to be swept quietly into the
dunghill. All that there was about you of value has departed from
you; and allow me to say that you are now--rubbish." And then the
ruthless besom comes with irresistible rush, and the rubbish is swept
into the pit, there to be hidden for ever from the sight. And the
pity of it is this--that a man, if he will only restrain his greed,
may eat his cake and yet have it; aye, and in so doing will have
twice more the flavour of the cake than he who with gormandizing maw
will devour his dainty all at once. Cakes in this world will grow by
being fed on, if only the feeder be not too insatiate. On all which
wisdom Mr. Sowerby pondered with sad heart and very melancholy mind
as he walked away from the premises of Messrs. Gumption & Gazebee.
His intention had been to go down to the House after leaving Mr.
Fothergill, but the prospect of immediate ruin had been too much for
him, and he knew that he was not fit to be seen at once among the
haunts of men. And he had intended also to go down to Barchester
early on the following morning--only for a few hours, that he might
make further arrangements respecting that bill which Robarts had
accepted for him. That bill--the second one--had now become due, and
Mr. Tozer had been with him.

"Now it ain't no use in life, Mr. Sowerby," Tozer had said. "I ain't
got the paper myself, nor didn't 'old it, not two hours. It went away
through Tom Tozer; you knows that, Mr. Sowerby, as well as I do."
Now, whenever Tozer, Mr. Sowerby's Tozer, spoke of Tom Tozer, Mr.
Sowerby knew that seven devils were being evoked, each worse than
the first devil. Mr. Sowerby did feel something like sincere regard,
or rather love, for that poor parson whom he had inveigled into
mischief, and would fain save him, if it were possible, from the
Tozer fang. Mr. Forrest, of the Barchester bank, would probably take
up that last five hundred pound bill, on behalf of Mr. Robarts,--only
it would be needful that he, Sowerby, should run down and see that
this was properly done. As to the other bill--the former and lesser
one--as to that, Mr. Tozer would probably be quiet for a while.
Such had been Sowerby's programme for these two days; but now--what
further possibility was there now that he should care for Robarts,
or any other human being; he that was to be swept at once into
the dung-heap? In this frame of mind he walked up South Audley
Street, and crossed one side of Grosvenor Square, and went almost
mechanically into Green Street. At the farther end of Green Street,
near to Park Lane, lived Mr. and Mrs. Harold Smith.



CHAPTER XXVIII

Dr. Thorne


When Miss Dunstable met her friends the Greshams--young Frank Gresham
and his wife--at Gatherum Castle, she immediately asked after one Dr.
Thorne, who was Mrs. Gresham's uncle. Dr. Thorne was an old bachelor,
in whom both as a man and a doctor Miss Dunstable was inclined to
place much confidence. Not that she had ever entrusted the cure of
her bodily ailments to Dr. Thorne--for she kept a doctor of her own,
Dr. Easyman, for this purpose--and it may moreover be said that she
rarely had bodily ailments requiring the care of any doctor. But she
always spoke of Dr. Thorne among her friends as a man of wonderful
erudition and judgement; and had once or twice asked and acted on his
advice in matters of much moment. Dr. Thorne was not a man accustomed
to the London world; he kept no house there, and seldom even visited
the metropolis; but Miss Dunstable had known him at Greshamsbury,
where he lived, and there had for some months past grown up a
considerable intimacy between them. He was now staying at the house
of his niece, Mrs. Gresham; but the chief reason of his coming up had
been a desire expressed by Miss Dunstable, that he should do so. She
had wished for his advice; and at the instigation of his niece he
had visited London and given it. The special piece of business as
to which Dr. Thorne had thus been summoned from the bedsides of his
country patients, and especially from the bedside of Lady Arabella
Gresham, to whose son his niece was married, related to certain
large money interests, as to which one might have imagined that Dr.
Thorne's advice would not be peculiarly valuable. He had never been
much versed in such matters on his own account, and was knowing
neither in the ways of the share market, nor in the prices of land.
But Miss Dunstable was a lady accustomed to have her own way, and
to be indulged in her own wishes without being called on to give
adequate reasons for them. "My dear," she had said to young Mrs.
Gresham, "if your uncle don't come up to London now, when I make such
a point of it, I shall think that he is a bear and a savage; and I
certainly will never speak to him again,--or to Frank--or to you;
so you had better see to it." Mrs. Gresham had not probably taken
her friend's threat as meaning quite all that it threatened. Miss
Dunstable habitually used strong language; and those who knew her
well, generally understood when she was to be taken as expressing her
thoughts by figures of speech. In this instance she had not meant
it all; but, nevertheless, Mrs. Gresham had used violent influence
in bringing the poor doctor up to London. "Besides," said Miss
Dunstable, "I have resolved on having the doctor at my conversazione,
and if he won't come of himself, I shall go down and fetch him. I
have set my heart on trumping my dear friend Mrs. Proudie's best
card; so I mean to get everybody!"

The upshot of all this was, that the doctor did come up to town, and
remained the best part of a week at his niece's house in Portman
Square--to the great disgust of the Lady Arabella, who conceived
that she must die if neglected for three days. As to the matter
of business, I have no doubt but that he was of great use. He was
possessed of common sense and an honest purpose; and I am inclined to
think that they are often a sufficient counterpoise to a considerable
amount of worldly experience. If one could have the worldly
experience also--! True! but then it is so difficult to get
everything. But with that special matter of business we need not
have any further concern. We will presume it to have been discussed
and completed, and will now dress ourselves for Miss Dunstable's
conversazione. But it must not be supposed that she was so poor in
genius as to call her party openly by a name borrowed for the nonce
from Mrs. Proudie. It was only among her specially intimate friends,
Mrs. Harold Smith and some few dozen others, that she indulged in
this little joke. There had been nothing in the least pretentious
about the card with which she summoned her friends to her house on
this occasion. She had merely signified in some ordinary way, that
she would be glad to see them as soon after nine o'clock on Thursday
evening, the ---- instant, as might be convenient. But all the world
understood that all the world was to be gathered together at Miss
Dunstable's house on the night in question--that an effort was to be
made to bring together people of all classes, gods and giants, saints
and sinners, those rabid through the strength of their morality,
such as our dear friend Lady Lufton, and those who were rabid in the
opposite direction, such as Lady Hartletop, the Duke of Omnium, and
Mr. Sowerby. An orthodox martyr had been caught from the East, and an
oily latter-day St. Paul, from the other side of the water--to the
horror and amazement of Archdeacon Grantly, who had come up all the
way from Plumstead to be present on the occasion. Mrs. Grantly also
had hankered to be there; but when she heard of the presence of the
latter-day St. Paul, she triumphed loudly over her husband, who had
made no offer to take her. That Lords Brock and De Terrier were to be
at the gathering was nothing. The pleasant king of the gods and the
courtly chief of the giants could shake hands with each other in
any house with the greatest pleasure; but men were to meet who, in
reference to each other, could shake nothing but their heads or
their fists. Supplehouse was to be there, and Harold Smith, who now
hated his enemy with a hatred surpassing that of women--or even
of politicians. The minor gods, it was thought, would congregate
together in one room, very bitter in their present state of
banishment; and the minor giants in another, terribly loud in their
triumph. That is the fault of the giants, who, otherwise, are not
bad fellows; they are unable to endure the weight of any temporary
success. When attempting Olympus--and this work of attempting is
doubtless their natural condition--they scratch and scramble,
diligently using both toes and fingers, with a mixture of
good-humoured virulence and self-satisfied industry that is
gratifying to all parties. But whenever their efforts are
unexpectedly, and for themselves unfortunately successful, they are
so taken aback that they lose the power of behaving themselves with
even gigantesque propriety.

Such, so great and so various, was to be the intended gathering
at Miss Dunstable's house. She herself laughed, and quizzed
herself--speaking of the affair to Mrs. Harold Smith as though it
were an excellent joke, and to Mrs. Proudie as though she were simply
emulous of rivalling those world-famous assemblies in Gloucester
Place; but the town at large knew that an effort was being made,
and it was supposed that even Miss Dunstable was somewhat nervous.
In spite of her excellent joking it was presumed that she would be
unhappy if she failed. To Mrs. Frank Gresham she did speak with some
little seriousness. "But why on earth should you give yourself all
this trouble?" that lady had said, when Miss Dunstable owned that she
was doubtful, and unhappy in her doubts, as to the coming of one of
the great colleagues of Mr. Supplehouse. "When such hundreds are
coming, big wigs and little wigs of all shades, what can it matter
whether Mr. Towers be there or not?" But Miss Dunstable had answered
almost with a screech,--

"My dear, it will be nothing without him. You don't understand; but
the fact is that Tom Towers is everybody and everything at present."
And then, by no means for the first time, Mrs. Gresham began to
lecture her friend as to her vanity; in answer to which lecture Miss
Dunstable mysteriously hinted, that if she were only allowed her full
swing on this occasion,--if all the world would now indulge her, she
would-- She did not quite say what she would do, but the inference
drawn by Mrs. Gresham was this: that if the incense now offered on
the altar of Fashion were accepted, Miss Dunstable would at once
abandon the pomps and vanities of this wicked world, and all the
sinful lusts of the flesh.

"But the doctor will stay, my dear? I hope I may look on that as
fixed." Miss Dunstable, in making this demand on the doctor's time,
showed an energy quite equal to that with which she invoked the gods
that Tom Towers might not be absent. Now, to tell the truth, Dr.
Thorne had at first thought it very unreasonable that he should be
asked to remain up in London in order that he might be present at an
evening party, and had for a while pertinaciously refused; but when
he learned that three or four prime ministers were expected, and that
it was possible that even Tom Towers might be there in the flesh, his
philosophy also had become weak, and he had written to Lady Arabella
to say that his prolonged absence for two days further must be
endured, and that the mild tonics, morning and evening, might be
continued. But why should Miss Dunstable be so anxious that Dr.
Thorne should be present on this grand occasion? Why, indeed, should
she be so frequently inclined to summon him away from his country
practice, his compounding board, and his useful ministrations to
rural ailments? The doctor was connected with her by no ties of
blood. Their friendship, intimate as it was, had as yet been but of
short date. She was a very rich woman, capable of purchasing all
manner of advice and good counsel, whereas he was so far from being
rich, that any continued disturbance to his practice might be
inconvenient to him. Nevertheless, Miss Dunstable seemed to have no
more compunction in making calls upon his time, than she might have
felt had he been her brother. No ideas on this matter suggested
themselves to the doctor himself. He was a simple-minded man, taking
things as they came, and especially so taking things that came
pleasantly. He liked Miss Dunstable, and was gratified by her
friendship, and did not think of asking himself whether she had a
right to put him to trouble and inconvenience. But such ideas did
occur to Mrs. Gresham, the doctor's niece. Had Miss Dunstable any
object, and if so, what object? Was it simply veneration for the
doctor, or was it caprice? Was it eccentricity--or could it possibly
be love? In speaking of the ages of these two friends it may be
said in round terms that the lady was well past forty, and that the
gentleman was well past fifty. Under such circumstances could it
be love? The lady, too, was one who had had offers almost by the
dozen,--offers from men of rank, from men of fashion, and from men
of power; from men endowed with personal attractions, with pleasant
manners, with cultivated tastes, and with eloquent tongues. Not only
had she loved none such, but by none such had she been cajoled into
an idea that it was possible that she could love them. That Dr.
Thorne's tastes were cultivated, and his manners pleasant, might
probably be admitted by three or four old friends in the country
who valued him; but the world in London, that world to which Miss
Dunstable was accustomed, and which was apparently becoming dearer to
her day by day, would not have regarded the doctor as a man likely to
become the object of a lady's passion. But nevertheless the idea did
occur to Mrs. Gresham. She had been brought up at the elbow of this
country practitioner; she had lived with him as though she had been
his daughter; she had been for years the ministering angel of his
household; and, till her heart had opened to the natural love of
womanhood, all her closest sympathies had been with him. In her eyes
the doctor was all but perfect; and it did not seem to her to be out
of the question that Miss Dunstable should have fallen in love with
her uncle.

Miss Dunstable once said to Mrs. Harold Smith that it was possible
that she might marry, the only condition then expressed being this,
that the man elected should be one who was quite indifferent as to
money. Mrs. Harold Smith, who, by her friends, was presumed to know
the world with tolerable accuracy, had replied that such a man Miss
Dunstable would never find in this world. All this had passed in that
half-comic vein of banter which Miss Dunstable so commonly used when
conversing with such friends as Mrs. Harold Smith; but she had spoken
words of the same import more than once to Mrs. Gresham; and Mrs.
Gresham, putting two and two together as women do, had made four
of the little sum; and as the final result of the calculation,
determined that Miss Dunstable would marry Dr. Thorne if Dr. Thorne
would ask her. And then Mrs. Gresham began to bethink herself of two
other questions. Would it be well that her uncle should marry Miss
Dunstable? and if so, would it be possible to induce him to make such
a proposition? After the consideration of many pros and cons, and the
balancing of very various arguments, Mrs. Gresham thought that the
arrangement on the whole might not be a bad one. For Miss Dunstable
she herself had a sincere affection, which was shared by her husband.
She had often grieved at the sacrifices Miss Dunstable made to
the world, thinking that her friend was falling into vanity,
indifference, and an ill mode of life; but such a marriage as this
would probably cure all that. And then as to Dr. Thorne himself, to
whose benefit were of course applied Mrs. Gresham's most earnest
thoughts in this matter, she could not but think that he would be
happier married than he was single. In point of temper, no woman
could stand higher than Miss Dunstable; no one had ever heard of her
being in an ill-humour; and then though Mrs. Gresham was gifted with
a mind which was far removed from being mercenary, it was impossible
not to feel that some benefit must accrue from the bride's wealth.
Mary Thorne, the present Mrs. Frank Gresham, had herself been a
great heiress. Circumstances had weighted her hand with enormous
possessions, and hitherto she had not realized the truth of that
lesson which would teach us to believe that happiness and riches
are incompatible. Therefore she resolved that it might be well if
the doctor and Miss Dunstable were brought together. But could the
doctor be induced to make such an offer? Mrs. Gresham acknowledged a
terrible difficulty in looking at the matter from that point of view.
Her uncle was fond of Miss Dunstable; but she was sure that an idea
of such a marriage had never entered his head; that it would be very
difficult--almost impossible--to create such an idea; and that if the
idea were there, the doctor could hardly be instigated to make the
proposition. Looking at the matter as a whole, she feared that the
match was not practicable.

On the day of Miss Dunstable's party, Mrs. Gresham and her uncle
dined together alone in Portman Square. Mr. Gresham was not yet in
Parliament, but an almost immediate vacancy was expected in his
division of the county, and it was known that no one could stand
against him with any chance of success. This threw him much among the
politicians of his party--those giants, namely, whom it would be his
business to support--and on this account he was a good deal away from
his own house at the present moment. "Politics make a terrible demand
on a man's time," he said to his wife; and then went down to dine at
his club in Pall Mall, with sundry other young philogeants. On men of
that class politics do make a great demand--at the hour of dinner and
thereabouts.

"What do you think of Miss Dunstable?" said Mrs. Gresham to her
uncle, as they sat together over their coffee. She added nothing to
the question, but asked it in all its baldness.

"Think about her!" said the doctor; "well, Mary, what do you think
about her? I dare say we think the same."

"But that's not the question. What do you think about her? Do you
think she's honest?"

"Honest? Oh, yes, certainly--very honest, I should say."

"And good-tempered?"

"Uncommonly good-tempered."

"And affectionate?"

"Well, yes; and affectionate. I should certainly say that she is
affectionate."

"I'm sure she's clever."

"Yes, I think she's clever."

"And, and--and womanly in her feelings." Mrs. Gresham felt that she
could not quite say lady-like, though she would fain have done so had
she dared.

"Oh, certainly," said the doctor. "But, Mary, why are you dissecting
Miss Dunstable's character with so much ingenuity?"

"Well, uncle, I will tell you why; because--" and Mrs. Gresham, while
she was speaking, got up from her chair, and going round the table to
her uncle's side, put her arm round his neck till her face was close
to his, and then continued speaking as she stood behind him out of
his sight--"because--I think that Miss Dunstable is--is very fond of
you; and that it would make her happy if you would--ask her to be
your wife."

"Mary!" said the doctor, turning round with an endeavour to look his
niece in the face.

"I am quite in earnest, uncle--quite in earnest. From little things
that she has said, and little things that I have seen, I do believe
what I now tell you."

"And you want me to--"

"Dear uncle; my own one darling uncle, I want you only to do that
which will make you--make you happy. What is Miss Dunstable to me
compared to you?" And then she stooped down and kissed him. The
doctor was apparently too much astounded by the intimation given him
to make any further immediate reply. His niece, seeing this, left him
that she might go and dress; and when they met again in the
drawing-room Frank Gresham was with them.



CHAPTER XXIX

Miss Dunstable at Home


Miss Dunstable did not look like a love-lorn maiden, as she stood in
a small ante-chamber at the top of her drawing-room stairs, receiving
her guests. Her house was one of those abnormal mansions, which are
to be seen here and there in London, built in compliance rather with
the rules of rural architecture, than with those which usually govern
the erection of city streets and town terraces. It stood back from
its brethren, and alone, so that its owner could walk round it. It
was approached by a short carriage-way; the chief door was in the
back of the building; and the front of the house looked on to one
of the parks. Miss Dunstable in procuring it had had her usual
luck. It had been built by an eccentric millionaire at an enormous
cost; and the eccentric millionaire, after living in it for twelve
months, had declared that it did not possess a single comfort, and
that it was deficient in most of those details which, in point of
house accommodation, are necessary to the very existence of man.
Consequently the mansion was sold, and Miss Dunstable was the
purchaser. Cranbourn House it had been named, and its present owner
had made no change in this respect; but the world at large very
generally called it Ointment Hall, and Miss Dunstable herself as
frequently used that name for it as any other. It was impossible to
quiz Miss Dunstable with any success, because she always joined in
the joke herself. Not a word further had passed between Mrs. Gresham
and Dr. Thorne on the subject of their last conversation; but the
doctor as he entered the lady's portals amongst a tribe of servants
and in a glare of light, and saw the crowd before him and the crowd
behind him, felt that it was quite impossible that he should ever be
at home there. It might be all right that a Miss Dunstable should
live in this way, but it could not be right that the wife of Dr.
Thorne should so live. But all this was a matter of the merest
speculation, for he was well aware--as he said to himself a dozen
times--that his niece had blundered strangely in her reading of Miss
Dunstable's character.

When the Gresham party entered the ante-room into which the staircase
opened, they found Miss Dunstable standing there surrounded by a few
of her most intimate allies. Mrs. Harold Smith was sitting quite
close to her; Dr. Easyman was reclining on a sofa against the wall,
and the lady who habitually lived with Miss Dunstable was by his
side. One or two others were there also, so that a little running
conversation was kept up in order to relieve Miss Dunstable of the
tedium which might otherwise be engendered by the work she had in
hand. As Mrs. Gresham, leaning on her husband's arm, entered the
room, she saw the back of Mrs. Proudie, as that lady made her way
through the opposite door, leaning on the arm of the bishop. Mrs.
Harold Smith had apparently recovered from the annoyance which she
must no doubt have felt when Miss Dunstable so utterly rejected her
suit on behalf of her brother. If any feeling had existed, even for a
day, calculated to put a stop to the intimacy between the two ladies,
that feeling had altogether died away, for Mrs. Harold Smith was
conversing with her friend, quite in the old way. She made some
remark on each of the guests as they passed by, and apparently did
so in a manner satisfactory to the owner of the house, for Miss
Dunstable answered with her kindest smiles, and in that genial, happy
tone of voice which gave its peculiar character to her good humour:
"She is quite convinced that you are a mere plagiarist in what you
are doing," said Mrs. Harold Smith, speaking of Mrs. Proudie.

"And so I am. I don't suppose there can be anything very original
nowadays about an evening party."

"But she thinks you are copying her."

"And why not? I copy everybody that I see, more or less. You did not
at first begin to wear big petticoats out of your own head? If Mrs.
Proudie has any such pride as that, pray don't rob her of it. Here's
the doctor and the Greshams. Mary, my darling, how are you?" and in
spite of all her grandeur of apparel, Miss Dunstable took hold of
Mrs. Gresham and kissed her--to the disgust of the dozen and a half
of the distinguished fashionable world who were passing up the stairs
behind. The doctor was somewhat repressed in his mode of address
by the communication which had so lately been made to him. Miss
Dunstable was now standing on the very top of the pinnacle of wealth,
and seemed to him to be not only so much above his reach, but also so
far removed from his track in life, that he could not in any way put
himself on a level with her. He could neither aspire so high nor
descend so low; and thinking of this he spoke to Miss Dunstable as
though there were some great distance between them,--as though there
had been no hours of intimate friendship down at Greshamsbury. There
had been such hours, during which Miss Dunstable and Dr. Thorne had
lived as though they belonged to the same world: and this at any rate
may be said of Miss Dunstable, that she had no idea of forgetting
them.

Dr. Thorne merely gave her his hand, and then prepared to pass on.

"Don't go, doctor," she said; "for heaven's sake, don't go yet. I
don't know when I may catch you if you get in there. I shan't be able
to follow you for the next two hours. Lady Meredith, I am so much
obliged to you for coming--your mother will be here, I hope. Oh, I am
so glad! From her you know that is quite a favour. You, Sir George,
are half a sinner yourself, so I don't think so much about it."

"Oh, quite so," said Sir George; "perhaps rather the largest half."

"The men divide the world into gods and giants," said Miss Dunstable.
"We women have our divisions also. We are saints or sinners according
to our party. The worst of it is, that we rat almost as often as you
do." Whereupon Sir George laughed and passed on.

"I know, doctor, you don't like this kind of thing," she continued,
"but there is no reason why you should indulge yourself altogether in
your own way, more than another--is there, Frank?"

"I am not so sure but he does like it," said Mr. Gresham. "There are
some of your reputed friends whom he owns that he is anxious to see."

"Are there? Then there is some hope of his ratting too. But he'll
never make a good staunch sinner; will he, Mary? You're too old to
learn new tricks; eh, doctor?"

"I am afraid I am," said the doctor, with a faint laugh.

"Does Doctor Thorne rank himself among the army of saints?" asked
Mrs. Harold Smith.

"Decidedly," said Miss Dunstable. "But you must always remember that
there are saints of different orders; are there not, Mary? and nobody
supposes that the Franciscans and the Dominicans agree very well
together. Dr. Thorne does not belong to the school of St. Proudie,
of Barchester; he would prefer the priestess whom I see coming round
the corner of the staircase, with a very famous young novice at her
elbow."

"From all that I can hear, you will have to reckon Miss Grantly among
the sinners," said Mrs. Harold Smith--seeing that Lady Lufton with
her young friend was approaching--"unless, indeed, you can make a
saint of Lady Hartletop." And then Lady Lufton entered the room, and
Miss Dunstable came forward to meet her with more quiet respect in
her manner than she had as yet shown to many of her guests. "I am
much obliged to you for coming, Lady Lufton," she said, "and the more
so, for bringing Miss Grantly with you." Lady Lufton uttered some
pretty little speech, during which Dr. Thorne came up and shook hands
with her; as did also Frank Gresham and his wife. There was a county
acquaintance between the Framley people and the Greshamsbury people,
and therefore there was a little general conversation before Lady
Lufton passed out of the small room into what Mrs. Proudie would have
called the noble suite of apartments. "Papa will be here," said Miss
Grantly; "at least so I understand. I have not seen him yet myself."

"Oh, yes, he has promised me," said Miss Dunstable; "and the
archdeacon, I know, will keep his word. I should by no means have the
proper ecclesiastical balance without him."

"Papa always does keep his word," said Miss Grantly, in a tone that
was almost severe. She had not at all understood poor Miss
Dunstable's little joke, or at any rate she was too dignified to
respond to it.

"I understand that old Sir John is to accept the Chiltern Hundreds at
once," said Lady Lufton, in a half whisper to Frank Gresham.

Lady Lufton had always taken a keen interest in the politics of East
Barsetshire, and was now desirous of expressing her satisfaction that
a Gresham should again sit for the county. The Greshams had been old
county members in Barsetshire, time out of mind.

"Oh, yes; I believe so," said Frank, blushing. He was still young
enough to feel almost ashamed of putting himself forward for such
high honours.

"There will be no contest, of course," said Lady Lufton,
confidentially. "There seldom is in East Barsetshire, I am happy to
say. But if there were, every tenant at Framley would vote on the
right side; I can assure you of that. Lord Lufton was saying so to
me only this morning." Frank Gresham made a pretty little speech in
reply, such as young sucking politicians are expected to make; and
this, with sundry other small courteous murmurings, detained the
Lufton party for a minute or two in the ante-chamber. In the meantime
the world was pressing on and passing through to the four or five
large reception-rooms--the noble suite which was already piercing
poor Mrs. Proudie's heart with envy to the very core. "These are the
sort of rooms," she said to herself unconsciously, "which ought to be
provided by the country for the use of its bishops."

"But the people are not brought enough together," she said to her
lord.

"No, no; I don't think they are," said the bishop.

"And that is so essential for a conversazione," continued Mrs.
Proudie. "Now in Gloucester Place--" But we will not record all
her adverse criticisms, as Lady Lufton is waiting for us in the
ante-room. And now another arrival of moment had taken place;--an
arrival indeed of very great moment. To tell the truth, Miss
Dunstable's heart had been set upon having two special persons; and
though no stone had been left unturned,--no stone which could be
turned with discretion,--she was still left in doubt as to both
these two wondrous potentates. At the very moment of which we are
now speaking, light and airy as she appeared to be--for it was her
character to be light and airy--her mind was torn with doubts. If
the wished-for two would come, her evening would be thoroughly
successful; but if not, all her trouble would have been thrown away,
and the thing would have been a failure; and there were circumstances
connected with the present assembly which made Miss Dunstable very
anxious that she should not fail. That the two great ones of the
earth were Tom Towers of the _Jupiter_, and the Duke of Omnium, need
hardly be expressed in words. And now, at this very moment, as Lady
Lufton was making her civil speeches to young Gresham, apparently in
no hurry to move on, and while Miss Dunstable was endeavouring to
whisper something into the doctor's ear, which would make him feel
himself at home in this new world, a sound was heard which made that
lady know that half her wish had at any rate been granted to her. A
sound was heard--but only by her own and one other attentive pair of
ears. Mrs. Harold Smith had also caught the name, and knew that the
duke was approaching. There was great glory and triumph in this; but
why had his grace come at so unchancy a moment? Miss Dunstable had
been fully aware of the impropriety of bringing Lady Lufton and the
Duke of Omnium into the same house at the same time; but when she had
asked Lady Lufton, she had been led to believe that there was no hope
of obtaining the duke; and then, when that hope had dawned upon her,
she had comforted herself with the reflection that the two suns,
though they might for some few minutes be in the same hemisphere,
could hardly be expected to clash, or come across each other's
orbits. Her rooms were large and would be crowded; the duke would
probably do little more than walk through them once, and Lady Lufton
would certainly be surrounded by persons of her own class. Thus Miss
Dunstable had comforted herself. But now all things were going wrong,
and Lady Lufton would find herself in close contiguity to the nearest
representative of Satanic agency, which, according to her ideas, was
allowed to walk this nether English world of ours. Would she scream?
or indignantly retreat out of the house?--or would she proudly raise
her head, and with outstretched hand and audible voice, boldly defy
the devil and all his works? In thinking of these things as the duke
approached Miss Dunstable almost lost her presence of mind. But Mrs.
Harold Smith did not lose hers. "So here at last is the duke," she
said, in a tone intended to catch the express attention of Lady
Lufton.

Mrs. Smith had calculated that there might still be time for her
ladyship to pass on and avoid the interview. But Lady Lufton, if she
heard the words, did not completely understand them. At any rate
they did not convey to her mind at the moment the meaning they were
intended to convey. She paused to whisper a last little speech to
Frank Gresham, and then looking round, found that the gentleman who
was pressing against her dress was--the Duke of Omnium! On this
great occasion, when the misfortune could no longer be avoided, Miss
Dunstable was by no means beneath herself or her character. She
deplored the calamity, but she now saw that it was only left to her
to make the best of it. The duke had honoured her by coming to her
house, and she was bound to welcome him, though in doing so she
should bring Lady Lufton to her last gasp. "Duke," she said, "I am
greatly honoured by this kindness on the part of your grace. I hardly
expected that you would be so good to me."

"The goodness is all on the other side," said the duke, bowing over
her hand. And then in the usual course of things this would have been
all. The duke would have walked on and shown himself, would have said
a word or two to Lady Hartletop, to the bishop, to Mr. Gresham, and
such like, and would then have left the rooms by another way, and
quietly escaped. This was the duty expected from him, and this he
would have done, and the value of the party would have been increased
thirty per cent. by such doing; but now, as it was, the news-mongers
of the West End were likely to get much more out of him.

Circumstances had so turned out that he had absolutely been pressed
close against Lady Lufton, and she, when she heard the voice, and was
made positively acquainted with the fact of the great man's presence
by Miss Dunstable's words, turned round quickly, but still with much
feminine dignity, removing her dress from the contact. In doing this
she was brought absolutely face to face with the duke, so that each
could not but look full at the other. "I beg your pardon," said the
duke. They were the only words that had ever passed between them,
nor have they spoken to each other since; but simple as they were,
accompanied by the little by-play of the speakers, they gave rise
to a considerable amount of ferment in the fashionable world. Lady
Lufton, as she retreated back on to Dr. Easyman, curtsied low; she
curtsied low and slowly, and with a haughty arrangement of her
drapery that was all her own; but the curtsy, though it was eloquent,
did not say half so much,--did not reprobate the habitual iniquities
of the duke with a voice nearly as potent as that which was expressed
in the gradual fall of her eye and the gradual pressure of her lips.
When she commenced her curtsy she was looking full in her foe's face.
By the time that she had completed it her eyes were turned upon the
ground, but there was an ineffable amount of scorn expressed in the
lines of her month. She spoke no word, and retreated, as modest
virtue and feminine weakness must ever retreat, before barefaced vice
and virile power; but nevertheless she was held by all the world
to have had the best of the encounter. The duke, as he begged her
pardon, wore in his countenance that expression of modified sorrow
which is common to any gentleman who is supposed by himself to
have incommoded a lady. But over and above this,--or rather under
it,--there was a slight smile of derision, as though it were
impossible for him to look upon the bearing of Lady Lufton without
some amount of ridicule. All this was legible to eyes so keen as
those of Miss Dunstable and Mrs. Harold Smith, and the duke was known
to be a master of this silent inward sarcasm; but even by them,--by
Miss Dunstable and Mrs. Harold Smith,--it was admitted that Lady
Lufton had conquered. When her ladyship again looked up, the duke
had passed on; she then resumed the care of Miss Grantly's hand, and
followed in among the company.

"That is what I call unfortunate," said Miss Dunstable, as soon as
both belligerents had departed from the field of battle, "The Fates
sometimes will be against one."

"But they have not been at all against you here," said Mrs. Harold
Smith. "If you could arrive at her ladyship's private thoughts
to-morrow morning, you would find her to be quite happy in having
met the duke. It will be years before she has done boasting of her
triumph, and it will be talked of by the young ladies of Framley for
the next three generations."

The Gresham party, including Dr. Thorne, had remained in the
ante-chamber during the battle. The whole combat did not occupy above
two minutes, and the three of them were hemmed off from escape by
Lady Lufton's retreat into Dr. Easyman's lap; but now they, too,
essayed to pass on.

"What, you will desert me," said Miss Dunstable. "Very well; but I
shall find you out by and by. Frank, there is to be some dancing in
one of the rooms,--just to distinguish the affair from Mrs. Proudie's
conversazione. It would be stupid, you know, if all conversaziones
were alike; wouldn't it? So I hope you will go and dance."

"There will, I presume, be another variation at feeding time," said
Mrs. Harold Smith.

"Oh yes, certainly; I am the most vulgar of all wretches in
that respect. I do love to set people eating and drinking--Mr.
Supplehouse, I am delighted to see you; but do tell me--" and then
she whispered with great energy into the ear of Mr. Supplehouse, and
Mr. Supplehouse again whispered into her ear. "You think he will,
then?" said Miss Dunstable. Mr. Supplehouse assented; he did think
so; but he had no warrant for stating the circumstance as a fact. And
then he passed on, hardly looking at Mrs. Harold Smith as he passed.

"What a hang-dog countenance he has," said that lady.

"Ah, you're prejudiced, my dear, and no wonder; as for myself I
always liked Supplehouse. He means mischief; but then mischief is his
trade, and he does not conceal it. If I were a politician I should as
soon think of being angry with Mr. Supplehouse for turning against me
as I am now with a pin for pricking me. It's my own awkwardness, and
I ought to have known how to use the pin more craftily."

"But you must detest a man who professes to stand by his party, and
then does his best to ruin it."

"So many have done that, my dear; and with much more success than Mr.
Supplehouse! All is fair in love and war,--why not add politics to
the list? If we could only agree to do that, it would save us from
such a deal of heartburning, and would make none of us a bit the
worse."

Miss Dunstable's rooms, large as they were--"a noble suite of rooms
certainly, though perhaps a little too--too--too scattered, we
will say, eh, bishop?"--were now nearly full, and would have been
inconveniently crowded, were it not that many who came only remained
for half an hour or so. Space, however, had been kept for the
dancers--much to Mrs. Proudie's consternation. Not that she
disapproved of dancing in London, as a rule; but she was indignant
that the laws of a conversazione, as re-established by herself in the
fashionable world, should be so violently infringed.

"Conversaziones will come to mean nothing," she said to the bishop,
putting great stress on the latter word, "nothing at all, if they are
to be treated in this way."

"No, they won't; nothing in the least," said the bishop.

"Dancing may be very well in its place," said Mrs. Proudie.

"I have never objected to it myself; that is, for the laity," said
the bishop.

"But when people profess to assemble for higher objects," said Mrs.
Proudie, "they ought to act up to their professions."

"Otherwise they are no better than hypocrites," said the bishop.

"A spade should be called a spade," said Mrs. Proudie.

"Decidedly," said the bishop, assenting.

"And when I undertook the trouble and expense of introducing
conversaziones," continued Mrs. Proudie, with an evident feeling that
she had been ill-used, "I had no idea of seeing the word so--so--so
misinterpreted;" and then observing certain desirable acquaintances
at the other side of the room, she went across, leaving the bishop to
fend for himself.

Lady Lufton, having achieved her success, passed on to the dancing,
whither it was not probable that her enemy would follow her, and she
had not been there very long before she was joined by her son. Her
heart at the present moment was not quite satisfied at the state of
affairs with reference to Griselda. She had gone so far as to tell
her young friend what were her own wishes; she had declared her
desire that Griselda should become her daughter-in-law; but in answer
to this Griselda herself had declared nothing. It was, to be sure,
no more than natural that a young lady so well brought up as Miss
Grantly should show no signs of a passion till she was warranted in
showing them by the proceedings of the gentleman; but notwithstanding
this, fully aware as she was of the propriety of such reticence--Lady
Lufton did think that to her Griselda might have spoken some word
evincing that the alliance would be satisfactory to her. Griselda,
however, had spoken no such word, nor had she uttered a syllable to
show that she would accept Lord Lufton if he did offer. Then again
she had uttered no syllable to show that she would not accept him;
but, nevertheless, although she knew that the world had been talking
about her and Lord Dumbello, she stood up to dance with the future
marquess on every possible occasion. All this did give annoyance
to Lady Lufton, who began to bethink herself that if she could not
quickly bring her little plan to a favourable issue, it might be well
for her to wash her hands of it. She was still anxious for the match
on her son's account. Griselda would, she did not doubt, make a good
wife; but Lady Lufton was not so sure as she once had been that
she herself would be able to keep up so strong a feeling for her
daughter-in-law as she had hitherto hoped to do. "Ludovic, have you
been here long?" she said, smiling as she always did smile when her
eyes fell upon her son's face.

"This instant arrived; and I hurried on after you, as Miss Dunstable
told me that you were here. What a crowd she has! Did you see Lord
Brock?"

"I did not observe him."

"Or Lord De Terrier? I saw them both in the centre room."

"Lord De Terrier did me the honour of shaking hands with me as I
passed through."

"I never saw such a mixture of people. There is Mrs. Proudie going
out of her mind because you are all going to dance."

"The Miss Proudies dance," said Griselda Grantly.

"But not at conversaziones. You don't see the difference. And I saw
Spermoil there, looking as pleased as Punch. He had quite a circle of
his own round him, and was chattering away as though he were quite
accustomed to the wickedness of the world."

"There certainly are people here whom one would not have wished to
meet, had one thought of it," said Lady Lufton, mindful of her late
engagement.

"But it must be all right, for I walked up the stairs with the
archdeacon. That is an absolute proof, is it not, Miss Grantly?"

"I have no fears. When I am with your mother I know I must be safe."

"I am not so sure of that," said Lord Lufton, laughing. "Mother, you
hardly know the worst of it yet. Who is here, do you think?"

"I know whom you mean; I have seen him," said Lady Lufton, very
quietly.

"We came across him just at the top of the stairs," said Griselda,
with more animation in her face than ever Lord Lufton had seen there
before.

"What; the duke?"

"Yes, the duke," said Lady Lufton. "I certainly should not have come
had I expected to be brought in contact with that man. But it was an
accident, and on such an occasion as this it could not be helped."
Lord Lufton at once perceived, by the tone of his mother's voice and
by the shades of her countenance that she had absolutely endured some
personal encounter with the duke, and also that she was by no means
so indignant at the occurrence as might have been expected. There she
was, still in Miss Dunstable's house, and expressing no anger as to
Miss Dunstable's conduct. Lord Lufton could hardly have been more
surprised had he seen the duke handing his mother down to supper; he
said, however, nothing further on the subject.

"Are you going to dance, Ludovic?" said Lady Lufton.

"Well, I am not sure that I do not agree with Mrs. Proudie in
thinking that dancing would contaminate a conversazione. What are
your ideas, Miss Grantly?" Griselda was never very good at a joke,
and imagined that Lord Lufton wanted to escape the trouble of dancing
with her. This angered her. For the only species of love-making,
or flirtation, or sociability between herself as a young lady, and
any other self as a young gentleman, which recommended itself to
her taste, was to be found in the amusement of dancing. She was
altogether at variance with Mrs. Proudie on this matter, and gave
Miss Dunstable great credit for her innovation. In society Griselda's
toes were more serviceable to her than her tongue, and she was to
be won by a rapid twirl much more probably than by a soft word. The
offer of which she would approve would be conveyed by two all but
breathless words during a spasmodic pause in a waltz; and then as she
lifted up her arm to receive the accustomed support at her back, she
might just find power enough to say, "You--must ask--papa." After
that she would not care to have the affair mentioned till everything
was properly settled.

"I have not thought about it," said Griselda, turning her face away
from Lord Lufton.

It must not, however, be supposed that Miss Grantly had not thought
about Lord Lufton, or that she had not considered how great might be
the advantage of having Lady Lufton on her side if she made up her
mind that she did wish to become Lord Lufton's wife. She knew well
that now was her time for a triumph, now in this very first season of
her acknowledged beauty; and she knew also that young, good-looking
bachelor lords do not grow on hedges like blackberries. Had Lord
Lufton offered to her, she would have accepted him at once without
any remorse as to the greater glories which might appertain to a
future Marchioness of Hartletop. In that direction she was not
without sufficient wisdom. But then Lord Lufton had not offered to
her, nor given any signs that he intended to do so; and to give
Griselda Grantly her due, she was not a girl to make a first
overture. Neither had Lord Dumbello offered; but he had given
signs,--dumb signs, such as birds give to each other, quite as
intelligible as verbal signs to a girl who preferred the use of her
toes to that of her tongue. "I have not thought about it," said
Griselda, very coldly, and at that moment a gentleman stood before
her and asked her hand for the next dance. It was Lord Dumbello; and
Griselda, making no reply except by a slight bow, got up and put her
hand within her partner's arm.

"Shall I find you here, Lady Lufton, when we have done?" she said;
and then started off among the dancers. When the work before one is
dancing the proper thing for a gentleman to do is, at any rate, to
ask a lady; this proper thing Lord Lufton had omitted, and now the
prize was taken away from under his very nose.

There was clearly an air of triumph about Lord Dumbello as he walked
away with the beauty. The world had been saying that Lord Lufton was
to marry her, and the world had also been saying that Lord Dumbello
admired her. Now this had angered Lord Dumbello, and made him feel as
though he walked about, a mark of scorn, as a disappointed suitor.
Had it not been for Lord Lufton, perhaps he would not have cared so
much for Griselda Grantly; but circumstances had so turned out that
he did care for her, and felt it to be encumbent upon him, as the
heir to a marquisate, to obtain what he wanted, let who would have a
hankering after the same article. It is in this way that pictures are
so well sold at auctions; and Lord Dumbello regarded Miss Grantly
as being now subject to the auctioneer's hammer, and conceived that
Lord Lufton was bidding against him. There was, therefore, an air
of triumph about him as he put his arm round Griselda's waist and
whirled her up and down the room in obedience to the music. Lady
Lufton and her son were left together looking at each other. Of
course, he had intended to ask Griselda to dance, but it cannot
be said that he very much regretted his disappointment. Of course
also Lady Lufton had expected that her son and Griselda would stand
up together, and she was a little inclined to be angry with her
protégée. "I think she might have waited a minute," said Lady Lufton.

"But why, mother? There are certain things for which no one ever
waits: to give a friend, for instance, the first passage through a
gate out hunting, and such like. Miss Grantly was quite right to take
the first that offered." Lady Lufton had determined to learn what was
to be the end of this scheme of hers. She could not have Griselda
always with her, and if anything were to be arranged it must be
arranged now, while both of them were in London. At the close of the
season Griselda would return to Plumstead, and Lord Lufton would
go--nobody as yet knew where. It would be useless to look forward to
further opportunities. If they did not contrive to love each other
now, they would never do so. Lady Lufton was beginning to fear that
her plan would not work, but she made up her mind that she would
learn the truth then and there--at least as far as her son was
concerned.

"Oh, yes; quite so;--if it is equal to her with which she dances,"
said Lady Lufton.

"Quite equal, I should think--unless it be that Dumbello is
longer-winded than I am."

"I am sorry to hear you speak of her in that way, Ludovic."

"Why sorry, mother?"

"Because I had hoped--that you and she would have liked each other."
This she said in a serious tone of voice, tender and sad, looking up
into his face with a plaintive gaze, as though she knew that she were
asking of him some great favour.

"Yes, mother, I have known that you have wished that."

"You have known it, Ludovic!"

"Oh, dear, yes; you are not at all sharp at keeping your secrets
from me. And, mother, at one time, for a day or so, I thought that I
could oblige you. You have been so good to me, that I would almost do
anything for you."

"Oh, no, no, no," she said, deprecating his praise, and the sacrifice
which he seemed to offer of his own hopes and aspirations. "I would
not for worlds have you do so for my sake. No mother ever had a
better son, and my only ambition is for your happiness."

"But, mother, she would not make me happy. I was mad enough for a
moment to think that she could do so--for a moment I did think so.
There was one occasion on which I would have asked her to take me,
but--"

"But what, Ludovic?"

"Never mind; it passed away; and now I shall never ask her. Indeed
I do not think she would have me. She is ambitious, and flying at
higher game than I am. And I must say this for her, that she knows
well what she is doing, and plays her cards as though she had been
born with them in her hand."

"You will never ask her?"

"No, mother; had I done so, it would have been for love of you--only
for love of you."

"I would not for worlds that you should do that."

"Let her have Dumbello; she will make an excellent wife for him, just
the wife that he will want. And you, you will have been so good to
her in assisting her to such a matter."

"But, Ludovic, I am so anxious to see you settled."

"All in good time, mother!"

"Ah, but the good time is passing away. Years run so very quickly. I
hope you think about marrying, Ludovic."

"But, mother, what if I brought you a wife that you did not approve?"

"I will approve of anyone that you love; that is--"

"That is, if you love her also; eh, mother?"

"But I rely with such confidence on your taste. I know that you can
like no one that is not ladylike and good."

"Ladylike and good; will that suffice?" said he, thinking of Lucy
Robarts.

"Yes; it will suffice, if you love her. I don't want you to care for
money. Griselda will have a fortune that would have been convenient;
but I do not wish you to care for that." And thus, as they stood
together in Miss Dunstable's crowded room, the mother and son settled
between themselves that the Lufton-Grantly alliance treaty was not
to be ratified. "I suppose I must let Mrs. Grantly know," said Lady
Lufton to herself, as Griselda returned to her side. There had
not been above a dozen words spoken between Lord Dumbello and his
partner, but that young lady also had now fully made up her mind that
the treaty above mentioned should never be brought into operation.

We must go back to our hostess, whom we should not have left for so
long a time, seeing that this chapter is written to show how well
she could conduct herself in great emergencies. She had declared
that after awhile she would be able to leave her position near the
entrance door, and find out her own peculiar friends among the crowd;
but the opportunity for doing so did not come till very late in the
evening. There was a continuation of arrivals; she was wearied to
death with making little speeches, and had more than once declared
that she must depute Mrs. Harold Smith to take her place. That lady
stuck to her through all her labours with admirable constancy, and
made the work bearable. Without some such constancy on a friend's
part, it would have been unbearable; and it must be acknowledged that
this was much to the credit of Mrs. Harold Smith. Her own hopes with
reference to the great heiress had all been shattered, and her answer
had been given to her in very plain language. But, nevertheless,
she was true to her friendship, and was almost as willing to endure
fatigue on the occasion as though she had a sister-in-law's right
in the house. At about one o'clock her brother came. He had not yet
seen Miss Dunstable since the offer had been made, and had now with
difficulty been persuaded by his sister to show himself.

"What can be the use?" said he. "The game is up with me now;"
--meaning, poor ruined ne'er-do-well, not only that that game
with Miss Dunstable was up, but that the great game of his whole life
was being brought to an uncomfortable termination.

"Nonsense," said his sister; "do you mean to despair because a man
like the Duke of Omnium wants his money? What has been good security
for him will be good security for another;" and then Mrs. Harold
Smith made herself more agreeable than ever to Miss Dunstable.

When Miss Dunstable was nearly worn out, but was still endeavouring
to buoy herself up by a hope of the still-expected great arrival--for
she knew that the hero would show himself only at a very late hour
if it were to be her good fortune that he showed himself at all--Mr.
Sowerby walked up the stairs. He had schooled himself to go through
this ordeal with all the cool effrontery which was at his command;
but it was clearly to be seen that all his effrontery did not stand
him in sufficient stead, and that the interview would have been
embarrassing had it not been for the genuine good-humour of the
lady. "Here is my brother," said Mrs. Harold Smith, showing by the
tremulousness of the whisper that she looked forward to the meeting
with some amount of apprehension.

"How do you do, Mr. Sowerby?" said Miss Dunstable, walking almost
into the doorway to welcome him. "Better late than never."

"I have only just got away from the House," said he, as he gave her
his hand.

"Oh, I know well that you are _sans reproche_ among senators--as Mr.
Harold Smith is _sans peur_;--eh, my dear?"

"I must confess that you have contrived to be uncommonly severe upon
them both," said Mrs. Harold, laughing; "and as regards poor Harold,
most undeservedly so: Nathaniel is here, and may defend himself."

"And no one is better able to do so on all occasions. But, my dear
Mr. Sowerby, I am dying of despair. Do you think he'll come?"

"He? who?"

"You stupid man--as if there were more than one he! There were two,
but the other has been."

"Upon my word, I don't understand," said Mr. Sowerby, now again at
his ease. "But can I do anything? shall I go and fetch anyone? Oh,
Tom Towers; I fear I can't help you. But here he is at the foot of
the stairs!" And then Mr. Sowerby stood back with his sister to make
way for the great representative man of the age.

"Angels and ministers of grace assist me!" said Miss Dunstable. "How
on earth am I to behave myself? Mr. Sowerby, do you think that I
ought to kneel down? My dear, will he have a reporter at his back
in the royal livery?" And then Miss Dunstable advanced two or three
steps--not into the doorway, as she had done for Mr. Sowerby--put out
her hand, and smiled her sweetest on Mr. Towers, of the _Jupiter_.

"Mr. Towers," she said, "I am delighted to have this opportunity of
seeing you in my own house."

"Miss Dunstable, I am immensely honoured by the privilege of being
here," said he.

"The honour done is all conferred on me," and she bowed and curtsied
with very stately grace. Each thoroughly understood the badinage of
the other; and then, in a few moments, they were engaged in very easy
conversation.

"By the by, Sowerby, what do you think of this threatened
dissolution?" said Tom Towers.

"We are all in the hands of Providence," said Mr. Sowerby, striving
to take the matter without any outward show of emotion. But the
question was one of terrible import to him, and up to this time he
had heard of no such threat. Nor had Mrs. Harold Smith, nor Miss
Dunstable, nor had a hundred others who now either listened to the
vaticinations of Mr. Towers, or to the immediate report made of
them. But it is given to some men to originate such tidings, and the
performance of the prophecy is often brought about by the authority
of the prophet. On the following morning the rumour that there would
be a dissolution was current in all high circles. "They have no
conscience in such matters; no conscience whatever," said a small
god, speaking of the giants--a small god, whose constituency was
expensive. Mr. Towers stood there chatting for about twenty minutes,
and then took his departure without making his way into the room. He
had answered the purpose for which he had been invited, and left Miss
Dunstable in a happy frame of mind.

"I am very glad that he came," said Mrs. Harold Smith, with an air of
triumph.

"Yes, I am glad," said Miss Dunstable, "though I am thoroughly
ashamed that I should be so. After all, what good has he done to me
or to anyone?" And having uttered this moral reflection, she made
her way into the rooms, and soon discovered Dr. Thorne standing by
himself against the wall.

"Well, doctor," she said, "where are Mary and Frank? You do not look
at all comfortable, standing here by yourself."

"I am quite as comfortable as I expected, thank you," said he. "They
are in the room somewhere, and, as I believe, equally happy."

"That's spiteful in you, doctor, to speak in that way. What would you
say if you were called on to endure all that I have gone through this
evening?"

"There is no accounting for tastes, but I presume you like it."

"I am not so sure of that. Give me your arm and let me get some
supper. One always likes the idea of having done hard work, and one
always likes to have been successful."

"We all know that virtue is its own reward," said the doctor.

"Well, that is something hard upon me," said Miss Dunstable, as she
sat down to table. "And you really think that no good of any sort can
come from my giving such a party as this?"

"Oh, yes; some people, no doubt, have been amused."

"It is all vanity in your estimation," said Miss Dunstable; "vanity
and vexation of spirit. Well; there is a good deal of the latter,
certainly. Sherry, if you please. I would give anything for a glass
of beer, but that is out of the question. Vanity and vexation of
spirit! And yet I meant to do good."

"Pray, do not suppose that I am condemning you, Miss Dunstable."

"Ah, but I do suppose it. Not only you, but another also, whose
judgement I care for, perhaps, more than yours; and that, let me tell
you, is saying a great deal. You do condemn me, Dr. Thorne, and I
also condemn myself. It is not that I have done wrong, but the game
is not worth the candle."

"Ah; that's the question."

"The game is not worth the candle. And yet it was a triumph to have
both the duke and Tom Towers. You must confess that I have not
managed badly." Soon after that the Greshams went away, and in an
hour's time or so, Miss Dunstable was allowed to drag herself to her
own bed.

That is the great question to be asked on all such occasions, "Is the
game worth the candle?"



CHAPTER XXX

The Grantly Triumph


It has been mentioned cursorily--the reader, no doubt, will have
forgotten it--that Mrs. Grantly was not specially invited by her
husband to go up to town with a view of being present at Miss
Dunstable's party. Mrs. Grantly said nothing on the subject, but she
was somewhat chagrined; not on account of the loss she sustained with
reference to that celebrated assembly, but because she felt that her
daughter's affairs required the supervision of a mother's eye. She
also doubted the final ratification of that Lufton-Grantly treaty,
and, doubting it, she did not feel quite satisfied that her daughter
should be left in Lady Lufton's hands. She had said a word or two to
the archdeacon before he went up, but only a word or two, for she
hesitated to trust him in so delicate a matter. She was, therefore,
not a little surprised at receiving, on the second morning after
her husband's departure, a letter from him desiring her immediate
presence in London. She was surprised; but her heart was filled
rather with hope than dismay, for she had full confidence in her
daughter's discretion. On the morning after the party, Lady Lufton
and Griselda had breakfasted together as usual, but each felt that
the manner of the other was altered. Lady Lufton thought that her
young friend was somewhat less attentive, and perhaps less meek in
her demeanour than usual; and Griselda felt that Lady Lufton was less
affectionate. Very little, however, was said between them, and Lady
Lufton expressed no surprise when Griselda begged to be left alone at
home, instead of accompanying her ladyship when the carriage came to
the door. Nobody called in Bruton Street that afternoon--no one, at
least, was let in--except the archdeacon. He came there late in the
day, and remained with his daughter till Lady Lufton returned. Then
he took his leave, with more abruptness than was usual with him, and
without saying anything special to account for the duration of his
visit. Neither did Griselda say anything special; and so the evening
wore away, each feeling in some unconscious manner that she was on
less intimate terms with the other than had previously been the ease.

On the next day also Griselda would not go out, but at four o'clock
a servant brought a letter to her from Mount Street. Her mother had
arrived in London and wished to see her at once. Mrs. Grantly sent
her love to Lady Lufton, and would call at half-past five, or at
any later hour at which it might be convenient for Lady Lufton to
see her. Griselda was to stay and dine in Mount Street; so said the
letter. Lady Lufton declared that she would be very happy to see
Mrs. Grantly at the hour named; and then, armed with this message,
Griselda started for her mother's lodgings. "I'll send the carriage
for you," said Lady Lufton. "I suppose about ten will do."

"Thank you," said Griselda, "that will do very nicely;" and then she
went. Exactly at half-past five Mrs. Grantly was shown into Lady
Lufton's drawing-room. Her daughter did not come with her, and Lady
Lufton could see by the expression of her friend's face that business
was to be discussed. Indeed, it was necessary that she herself should
discuss business, for Mrs. Grantly must now be told that the family
treaty could not be ratified. The gentleman declined the alliance,
and poor Lady Lufton was uneasy in her mind at the nature of the task
before her.

"Your coming up has been rather unexpected," said Lady Lufton, as
soon as her friend was seated on the sofa.

"Yes, indeed; I got a letter from the archdeacon only this morning,
which made it absolutely necessary that I should come."

"No bad news, I hope?" said Lady Lufton.

"No; I can't call it bad news. But, dear Lady Lufton, things won't
always turn out exactly as one would have them."

"No, indeed," said her ladyship, remembering that it was incumbent
on her to explain to Mrs. Grantly now at this present interview the
tidings with which her mind was fraught. She would, however, let Mrs.
Grantly first tell her own story, feeling, perhaps, that the one
might possibly bear upon the other.

"Poor dear Griselda!" said Mrs. Grantly, almost with a sigh. "I need
not tell you, Lady Lufton, what my hopes were regarding her."

"Has she told you anything--anything that--"

"She would have spoken to you at once--and it was due to you that she
should have done so--but she was timid; and not unnaturally so. And
then it was right that she should see her father and me before she
quite made up her own mind. But I may say that it is settled now."

"What is settled?" asked Lady Lufton.

"Of course it is impossible for anyone to tell beforehand how those
things will turn out," continued Mrs. Grantly, beating about the bush
rather more than was necessary. "The dearest wish of my heart was to
see her married to Lord Lufton. I should so much have wished to have
her in the same county with me, and such a match as that would have
fully satisfied my ambition."

"Well, I should rather think it might!" Lady Lufton did not say this
out loud, but she thought it. Mrs. Grantly was absolutely speaking of
a match between her daughter and Lord Lufton as though she would have
displayed some amount of Christian moderation in putting up with it!
Griselda Grantly might be a very nice girl; but even she--so thought
Lady Lufton at the moment--might possibly be priced too highly.

"Dear Mrs. Grantly," she said, "I have foreseen for the last few days
that our mutual hopes in this respect would not be gratified. Lord
Lufton, I think;--but perhaps it is not necessary to explain-- Had
you not come up to town I should have written to you,--probably
to-day. Whatever may be dear Griselda's fate in life, I sincerely
hope that she may be happy."

"I think she will," said Mrs. Grantly, in a tone that expressed much
satisfaction.

"Has--has anything--"

"Lord Dumbello proposed to Griselda the other night, at Miss
Dunstable's party," said Mrs. Grantly, with her eyes fixed upon
the floor, and assuming on the sudden much meekness in her manner;
"and his lordship was with the archdeacon yesterday, and again this
morning. I fancy he is in Mount Street at the present moment."

"Oh, indeed!" said Lady Lufton. She would have given worlds to have
possessed at the moment sufficient self-command to have enabled her
to express in her tone and manner unqualified satisfaction at the
tidings. But she had not such self-command, and was painfully aware
of her own deficiency.

"Yes," said Mrs. Grantly. "And as it is all so far settled, and as
I know you are so kindly anxious about dear Griselda, I thought
it right to let you know at once. Nothing can be more upright,
honourable, and generous, than Lord Dumbello's conduct; and, on the
whole, the match is one with which I and the archdeacon cannot but be
contented."

"It is certainly a great match," said Lady Lufton. "Have you seen
Lady Hartletop yet?"

Now Lady Hartletop could not be regarded as an agreeable connexion,
but this was the only word which escaped from Lady Lufton that could
be considered in any way disparaging, and, on the whole, I think that
she behaved well.

"Lord Dumbello is so completely his own master that that has not been
necessary," said Mrs. Grantly. "The marquess has been told, and the
archdeacon will see him either to-morrow or the day after." There was
nothing left for Lady Lufton but to congratulate her friend, and this
she did in words perhaps not very sincere, but which, on the whole,
were not badly chosen.

"I am sure I hope she will be very happy," said Lady Lufton, "and
I trust that the alliance"--the word was very agreeable to Mrs.
Grantly's ear--"will give unalloyed gratification to you and to her
father. The position which she is called to fill is a very splendid
one, but I do not think that it is above her merits." This was very
generous, and so Mrs. Grantly felt it. She had expected that her news
would be received with the coldest shade of civility, and she was
quite prepared to do battle if there were occasion. But she had
no wish for war, and was almost grateful to Lady Lufton for her
cordiality.

"Dear Lady Lufton," she said, "it is so kind of you to say so. I have
told no one else, and of course would tell no one till you knew it.
No one has known her and understood her so well as you have done. And
I can assure you of this, that there is no one to whose friendship
she looks forward in her new sphere of life with half so much
pleasure as she does to yours." Lady Lufton did not say much further.
She could not declare that she expected much gratification from an
intimacy with the future Marchioness of Hartletop. The Hartletops and
Luftons must, at any rate for her generation, live in a world apart,
and she had now said all that her old friendship with Mrs. Grantly
required. Mrs. Grantly understood all this quite as well as did Lady
Lufton; but then Mrs. Grantly was much the better woman of the world.
It was arranged that Griselda should come back to Bruton Street for
the night, and that her visit should then be brought to a close.

"The archdeacon thinks that for the present I had better remain up in
town," said Mrs. Grantly, "and under the very peculiar circumstances
Griselda will be--perhaps more comfortable with me." To this Lady
Lufton entirely agreed; and so they parted, excellent friends,
embracing each other in a most affectionate manner. That evening
Griselda did return to Bruton Street, and Lady Lufton had to go
through the further task of congratulating her. This was the more
disagreeable of the two, especially so as it had to be thought over
beforehand. But the young lady's excellent good sense and sterling
qualities made the task comparatively an easy one. She neither cried,
nor was impassioned, nor went into hysterics, nor showed any emotion.
She did not even talk of her noble Dumbello,--her generous Dumbello.
She took Lady Lufton's kisses almost in silence, thanked her gently
for her kindness, and made no allusion to her own future grandeur.

"I think I should like to go to bed early," she said, "as I must see
to my packing up."

"Richards will do all that for you, my dear."

"Oh, yes, thank you, nothing can be kinder than Richards. But I'll
just see to my own dresses." And so she went to bed early.

Lady Lufton did not see her son for the next two days, but when she
did, of course she said a word or two about Griselda. "You have heard
the news, Ludovic?" she asked.

"Oh, yes; it's at all the clubs. I have been overwhelmed with
presents of willow branches."

"You, at any rate, have got nothing to regret," she said.

"Nor you either, mother. I am sure that you do not think you have.
Say that you do not regret it. Dearest mother, say so for my sake. Do
you not know in your heart of hearts that she was not suited to be
happy as my wife,--or to make me happy?"

"Perhaps not," said Lady Lufton, sighing. And then she kissed her
son, and declared to herself that no girl in England could be good
enough for him.



CHAPTER XXXI

Salmon Fishing in Norway


Lord Dumbello's engagement with Griselda Grantly was the talk of the
town for the next ten days. It formed, at least, one of two subjects
which monopolized attention, the other being that dreadful rumour,
first put in motion by Tom Towers at Miss Dunstable's party, as to a
threatened dissolution of Parliament. "Perhaps, after all, it will be
the best thing for us," said Mr. Green Walker, who felt himself to be
tolerably safe at Crewe Junction.

"I regard it as a most wicked attempt," said Harold Smith, who was
not equally secure in his own borough, and to whom the expense of
an election was disagreeable. "It is done in order that they may
get time to tide over the autumn. They won't gain ten votes by a
dissolution, and less than forty would hardly give them a majority.
But they have no sense of public duty--none whatever. Indeed, I don't
know who has."

"No, by Jove; that's just it. That's what my aunt Lady Hartletop
says; there is no sense of duty left in the world. By the by, what an
uncommon fool Dumbello is making himself!" And then the conversation
went off to that other topic.

Lord Lufton's joke against himself about the willow branches was all
very well, and nobody dreamed that his heart was sore in that matter.
The world was laughing at Lord Dumbello for what it chose to call
a foolish match, and Lord Lufton's friends talked to him about it
as though they had never suspected that he could have made an ass
of himself in the same direction; but, nevertheless, he was not
altogether contented. He by no means wished to marry Griselda; he
had declared to himself a dozen times since he had first suspected
his mother's manoeuvres that no consideration on earth should
induce him to do so; he had pronounced her to be cold, insipid, and
unattractive in spite of her beauty: and yet he felt almost angry
that Lord Dumbello should have been successful. And this, too,
was the more inexcusable, seeing that he had never forgotten Lucy
Robarts, had never ceased to love her, and that, in holding those
various conversations within his own bosom, he was as loud in Lucy's
favour as he was in dispraise of Griselda.

"Your hero, then," I hear some well-balanced critic say, "is not
worth very much." In the first place Lord Lufton is not my hero; and
in the next place, a man may be very imperfect and yet worth a great
deal. A man may be as imperfect as Lord Lufton, and yet worthy of a
good mother and a good wife. If not, how many of us are unworthy of
the mothers and wives we have! It is my belief that few young men
settle themselves down to the work of the world, to the begetting of
children, and carving and paying and struggling and fretting for the
same, without having first been in love with four or five possible
mothers for them, and probably with two or three at the same time.
And yet these men are, as a rule, worthy of the excellent wives that
ultimately fall to their lot. In this way Lord Lufton had, to a
certain extent, been in love with Griselda. There had been one moment
in his life in which he would have offered her his hand, had not her
discretion been so excellent; and though that moment never returned,
still he suffered from some feeling akin to disappointment when he
learned that Griselda had been won and was to be worn. He was, then,
a dog in the manger, you will say. Well; and are we not all dogs in
the manger more or less actively? Is not that manger-doggishness one
of the most common phases of the human heart? But not the less was
Lord Lufton truly in love with Lucy Robarts. Had he fancied that any
Dumbello was carrying on a siege before that fortress, his vexation
would have manifested itself in a very different manner. He could
joke about Griselda Grantly with a frank face and a happy tone of
voice; but had he heard of any tidings of a similar import with
reference to Lucy, he would have been past all joking, and I much
doubt whether it would not even have affected his appetite. "Mother,"
he said to Lady Lufton, a day or two after the declaration of
Griselda's engagement, "I am going to Norway to fish."

"To Norway,--to fish!"

"Yes. We've got rather a nice party. Clontarf is going, and
Culpepper--"

"What--that horrid man!"

"He's an excellent hand at fishing; and Haddington Peebles,
and--and--there'll be six of us altogether; and we start this day
week."

"That's rather sudden, Ludovic."

"Yes, it is sudden; but we're sick of London. I should not care to
go so soon myself, but Clontarf and Culpepper say that the season
is early this year. I must go down to Framley before I start--about
my horses: and therefore I came to tell you that I shall be there
to-morrow."

"At Framley to-morrow! If you could put it off for three days I
should be going myself." But Lord Lufton could not put it off for
three days. It may be that on this occasion he did not wish for his
mother's presence at Framley while he was there; that he conceived
that he should be more at his ease in giving orders about his stable
if he were alone while so employed. At any rate he declined her
company, and on the following morning did go down to Framley by
himself.

"Mark," said Mrs. Robarts, hurrying into her husband's book-room
about the middle of the day, "Lord Lufton is at home. Have you heard
it?"

"What! here at Framley?"

"He is over at Framley Court; so the servants say. Carson saw him in
the paddock with some of the horses. Won't you go and see him?"

"Of course I will," said Mark, shutting up his papers. "Lady Lufton
can't be here, and if he is alone he will probably come and dine."

"I don't know about that," said Mrs. Robarts, thinking of poor Lucy.

"He is not in the least particular. What does for us will do for
him. I shall ask him, at any rate." And without further parley the
clergyman took up his hat and went off in search of his friend. Lucy
Robarts had been present when the gardener brought in tidings of Lord
Lufton's arrival at Framley, and was aware that Fanny had gone to
tell her husband.

"He won't come here, will he?" she said, as soon as Mrs. Robarts
returned.

"I can't say," said Fanny. "I hope not. He ought not to do so, and I
don't think he will. But Mark says that he will ask him to dinner."

"Then, Fanny, I must be taken ill. There is nothing else for it."

"I don't think he will come. I don't think he can be so cruel.
Indeed, I feel sure that he won't; but I thought it right to tell
you." Lucy also conceived that it was improbable that Lord Lufton
should come to the parsonage under the present circumstances; and she
declared to herself that it would not be possible that she should
appear at table if he did do so; but, nevertheless, the idea of his
being at Framley was, perhaps, not altogether painful to her. She did
not recognize any pleasure as coming to her from his arrival, but
still there was something in his presence which was, unconsciously
to herself, soothing to her feelings. But that terrible question
remained;--How was she to act if it should turn out that he was
coming to dinner?

"If he does come, Fanny," she said, solemnly, after a pause, "I must
keep to my own room, and leave Mark to think what he pleases. It will
be better for me to make a fool of myself there, than in his presence
in the drawing-room."

Mark Robarts took his hat and stick and went over at once to the
home paddock, in which he knew that Lord Lufton was engaged with the
horses and grooms. He also was in no supremely happy frame of mind,
for his correspondence with Mr. Tozer was on the increase. He had
received notice from that indefatigable gentleman that certain
"overdue bills" were now lying at the bank in Barchester, and were
very desirous of his, Mr. Robarts's, notice. A concatenation of
certain peculiarly unfortunate circumstances made it indispensably
necessary that Mr. Tozer should be repaid, without further loss of
time, the various sums of money which he had advanced on the credit
of Mr. Robarts's name, &c. &c. &c. No absolute threat was put forth,
and, singular to say, no actual amount was named. Mr. Roberts,
however, could not but observe, with a most painfully accurate
attention, that mention was made, not of an overdue bill, but of
overdue bills. What if Mr. Tozer were to demand from him the instant
repayment of nine hundred pounds? Hitherto he had merely written to
Mr. Sowerby, and he might have had an answer from that gentleman this
morning, but no such answer had as yet reached him. Consequently he
was not, at the present moment, in a very happy frame of mind.

He soon found himself with Lord Lufton and the horses. Four or five
of them were being walked slowly about the paddock in the care of as
many men or boys, and the sheets were being taken off them--off one
after another, so that their master might look at them with the more
accuracy and satisfaction. But though Lord Lufton was thus doing his
duty, and going through his work, he was not doing it with his whole
heart,--as the head groom perceived very well. He was fretful about
the nags, and seemed anxious to get them out of his sight as soon
as he had made a decent pretext of looking at them. "How are you,
Lufton?" said Robarts, coming forward. "They told me that you were
down, and so I came across at once."

"Yes; I only got here this morning, and should have been over with
you directly. I am going to Norway for six weeks or so, and it seems
that the fish are so early this year that we must start at once. I
have a matter on which I want to speak to you before I leave; and,
indeed, it was that which brought me down more than anything else."
There was something hurried and not altogether easy about his manner
as he spoke, which struck Robarts, and made him think that this
promised matter to be spoken of would not be agreeable in discussion.
He did not know whether Lord Lufton might not again be mixed up with
Tozer and the bills.

"You will dine with us to-day," he said, "if, as I suppose, you are
all alone."

"Yes, I am all alone."

"Then you'll come?"

"Well, I don't quite know. No, I don't think I can go over to dinner.
Don't look so disgusted. I'll explain it all to you just now." What
could there be in the wind; and how was it possible that Tozer's bill
should make it inexpedient for Lord Lufton to dine at the parsonage?
Robarts, however, said nothing further about it at the moment, but
turned off to look at the horses.

"They are an uncommonly nice set of animals," said he.

"Well, yes; I don't know. When a man has four or five horses to look
at, somehow or other he never has one fit to go. That chestnut mare
is a picture, now that nobody wants her; but she wasn't able to carry
me well to hounds a single day last winter. Take them in, Pounce;
that'll do."

"Won't your lordship run your eye over the old black 'oss?" said
Pounce, the head groom, in a melancholy tone; "he's as fine, sir--as
fine as a stag."

"To tell you the truth, I think they're too fine; but that'll do;
take them in. And now, Mark, if you're at leisure, we'll take a
turn round the place." Mark, of course, was at leisure, and so they
started on their walk.

"You're too difficult to please about your stable," Robarts began.

"Never mind the stable now," said Lord Lufton. "The truth is, I am
not thinking about it. Mark," he then said, very abruptly, "I want
you to be frank with me. Has your sister ever spoken to you about
me?"

"My sister; Lucy?"

"Yes; your sister Lucy."

"No, never; at least nothing especial; nothing that I can remember at
this moment."

"Nor your wife?"

"Spoken about you!--Fanny? Of course she has, in an ordinary way. It
would be impossible that she should not. But what do you mean?"

"Have either of them told you that I made an offer to your sister?"

"That you made an offer to Lucy?"

"Yes, that I made an offer to Lucy."

"No; nobody has told me so. I have never dreamed of such a thing;
nor, as far as I believe, have they. If anybody has spread such a
report, or said that either of them have hinted at such a thing, it
is a base lie. Good heavens! Lufton, for what do you take them?"

"But I did," said his lordship.

"Did what?" said the parson.

"I did make your sister an offer."

"You made Lucy an offer of marriage!"

"Yes, I did;--in as plain language as a gentleman could use to a
lady."

"And what answer did she make?

"She refused me. And now, Mark, I have come down here with the
express purpose of making that offer again. Nothing could be more
decided than your sister's answer. It struck me as being almost
uncourteously decided. But still it is possible that circumstances
may have weighed with her which ought not to weigh with her. If her
love be not given to anyone else, I may still have a chance of it.
It's the old story of faint heart, you know: at any rate, I mean to
try my luck again; and thinking over it with deliberate purpose, I
have come to the conclusion that I ought to tell you before I see
her."

Lord Lufton in love with Lucy! As these words repeated themselves
over and over again within Mark Robarts's mind, his mind added
to them notes of surprise without end. How had it possibly come
about,--and why? In his estimation his sister Lucy was a very simple
girl--not plain indeed, but by no means beautiful; certainly not
stupid, but by no means brilliant. And then, he would have said, that
of all men whom he knew, Lord Lufton would have been the last to
fall in love with such a girl as his sister. And now, what was he
to say or do? What views was he bound to hold? In what direction
should he act? There was Lady Lufton on the one side, to whom
he owed everything. How would life be possible to him in that
parsonage--within a few yards of her elbow--if he consented to
receive Lord Lufton as the acknowledged suitor of his sister? It
would be a great match for Lucy, doubtless; but-- Indeed, he could
not bring himself to believe that Lucy could in truth become the
absolute reigning queen of Framley Court.

"Do you think that Fanny knows anything of all this?" he said after
a moment or two.

"I cannot possibly tell. If she does it is not with my knowledge. I
should have thought that you could best answer that."

"I cannot answer it at all," said Mark. "I, at least, have had no
remotest idea of such a thing."

"Your ideas of it now need not be at all remote," said Lord Lufton,
with a faint smile; "and you may know it as a fact. I did make her an
offer of marriage; I was refused; I am going to repeat it; and I am
now taking you into my confidence, in order that, as her brother, and
as my friend, you may give me such assistance as you can." They then
walked on in silence for some yards, after which Lord Lufton added:
"And now I'll dine with you to-day if you wish it." Mr. Robarts did
not know what to say; he could not bethink himself what answer duty
required of him. He had no right to interfere between his sister and
such a marriage, if she herself should wish it; but still there was
something terrible in the thought of it! He had a vague conception
that it must come to evil; that the project was a dangerous one; and
that it could not finally result happily for any of them. What would
Lady Lufton say? That undoubtedly was the chief source of his dismay.

"Have you spoken to your mother about this?" he said.

"My mother? no; why speak to her till I know my fate? A man does not
like to speak much of such matters if there be a probability of his
being rejected. I tell you because I do not like to make my way into
your house under a false pretence."

"But what would Lady Lufton say?"

"I think it probable that she would be displeased on the first
hearing it; that in four-and-twenty hours she would be reconciled;
and that after a week or so Lucy would be her dearest favourite and
the Prime Minister of all her machinations. You don't know my mother
as well as I do. She would give her head off her shoulders to do me a
pleasure."

"And for that reason," said Mark Robarts, "you ought, if possible, to
do her pleasure."

"I cannot absolutely marry a wife of her choosing, if you mean that,"
said Lord Lufton. They went on walking about the garden for an hour,
but they hardly got any farther than the point to which we have now
brought them. Mark Robarts could not make up his mind on the spur of
the moment; nor, as he said more than once to Lord Lufton, could he
be at all sure that Lucy would in any way be guided by him. It was,
therefore, at last settled between them that Lord Lufton should
come to the parsonage immediately after breakfast on the following
morning. It was agreed also that the dinner had better not come off,
and Robarts promised that he would, if possible, have determined
by the morning as to what advice he would give his sister. He went
direct home to the parsonage from Framley Court, feeling that he was
altogether in the dark till he should have consulted his wife. How
would he feel if Lucy were to become Lady Lufton? and how would he
look Lady Lufton in the face in telling her that such was to be his
sister's destiny? On returning home he immediately found his wife,
and had not been closeted with her five minutes before he knew, at
any rate, all that she knew. "And you mean to say that she does love
him?" said Mark.

"Indeed she does; and is it not natural that she should? When I saw
them so much together I feared that she would. But I never thought
that he would care for her." Even Fanny did not as yet give Lucy
credit for half her attractiveness. After an hour's talking the
interview between the husband and wife ended in a message to Lucy,
begging her to join them both in the book-room.

"Aunt Lucy," said a chubby little darling, who was taken up into his
aunt's arms as he spoke, "papa and mamma 'ant 'oo in te tuddy, and I
musn't go wis 'oo." Lucy, as she kissed the boy and pressed his face
against her own, felt that her blood was running quick to her heart.

"Musn't 'oo go wis me, my own one?" she said as she put her
playfellow down; but she played with the child only because she did
not wish to betray, even to him, that she was hardly mistress of
herself. She knew that Lord Lufton was at Framley; she knew that her
brother had been to him; she knew that a proposal had been made that
he should come there that day to dinner. Must it not, therefore, be
the case that this call to a meeting in the study had arisen out of
Lord Lufton's arrival at Framley? and yet, how could it have done so?
Had Fanny betrayed her in order to prevent the dinner invitation? It
could not be possible that Lord Lufton himself should have spoken on
the subject! And then she again stooped to kiss the child, rubbed
her hands across her forehead to smooth her hair, and erase, if
that might be possible, the look of care which she wore, and then
descended slowly to her brother's sitting-room. Her hand paused for a
second on the door ere she opened it, but she had resolved that, come
what might, she would be brave. She pushed it open and walked in with
a bold front, with eyes wide open, and a slow step. "Frank says that
you want me," she said. Mr. Robarts and Fanny were both standing up
by the fireplace, and each waited a second for the other to speak,
when Lucy entered the room, and then Fanny began,--

"Lord Lufton is here, Lucy."

"Here! Where? At the parsonage?"

"No, not at the parsonage; but over at Framley Court," said Mark.

"And he promises to call here after breakfast to-morrow," said Fanny.
And then again there was a pause. Mrs. Robarts hardly dared to look
Lucy in the face. She had not betrayed her trust, seeing that the
secret had been told to Mark, not by her, but by Lord Lufton; but she
could not but feel that Lucy would think that she had betrayed it.

"Very well," said Lucy, trying to smile; "I have no objection in
life."

"But, Lucy, dear,"--and now Mrs. Roberts put her arm round her
sister-in-law's waist--"he is coming here especially to see you."

"Oh; that makes a difference. I am afraid that I shall be--engaged."

"He has told everything to Mark," said Mrs. Roberts. Lucy now felt
that her bravery was almost deserting her. She hardly knew which way
to look or how to stand. Had Fanny told everything also? There was so
much that Fanny knew that Lord Lufton could not have known. But, in
truth, Fanny had told all--the whole story of Lucy's love, and had
described the reasons which had induced her to reject her suitor; and
had done so in words which, had Lord Lufton heard them, would have
made him twice as passionate in his love. And then it certainly did
occur to Lucy to think why Lord Lufton should have come to Framley
and told all this history to her brother. She attempted for a moment
to make herself believe that she was angry with him for doing so. But
she was not angry. She had not time to argue much about it, but there
came upon her a gratified sensation of having been remembered, and
thought of, and--loved. Must it not be so? Could it be possible that
he himself would have told this tale to her brother, if he did not
still love her? Fifty times she had said to herself that his offer
had been an affair of the moment, and fifty times she had been
unhappy in so saying. But this new coming of his could not be an
affair of the moment. She had been the dupe, she had thought, of an
absurd passion on her own part; but now--how was it now? She did not
bring herself to think that she should ever be Lady Lufton. She had
still, in some perversely obstinate manner, made up her mind against
that result. But yet, nevertheless, it did in some unaccountable
manner satisfy her to feel that Lord Lufton had himself come down
to Framley and himself told this story. "He has told everything to
Mark," said Mrs. Roberts; and then again there was a pause for a
moment, during which these thoughts passed through Lucy's mind.

"Yes," said Mark, "he has told me all, and he is coming here
to-morrow morning that he may receive an answer from yourself."

"What answer?" said Lucy, trembling.

"Nay, dearest; who can say that but yourself?" and her sister-in-law,
as she spoke, pressed close against her. "You must say that
yourself." Mrs. Robarts, in her long conversation with her husband,
had pleaded strongly on Lucy's behalf, taking as it were a part
against Lady Lufton. She had said that if Lord Lufton persevered in
his suit, they at the parsonage could not be justified in robbing
Lucy of all that she had won for herself, in order to do Lady
Lufton's pleasure.

"But she will think," said Mark, "that we have plotted and intrigued
for this. She will call us ungrateful, and will make Lucy's life
wretched." To which the wife bad answered, that all that must be
left in God's hands. They had not plotted or intrigued. Lucy, though
loving the man in her heart of hearts, had already once refused him,
because she would not be thought to have snatched at so great a
prize. But if Lord Lufton loved her so warmly that he had come down
there in this manner, on purpose, as he himself had put it, that he
might learn his fate, then--so argued Mrs. Robarts--they two, let
their loyalty to Lady Lufton be ever so strong, could not justify it
to their consciences to stand between Lucy and her lover. Mark had
still somewhat demurred to this, suggesting how terrible would be
their plight if they should now encourage Lord Lufton, and if he,
after such encouragement, when they should have quarrelled with Lady
Lufton, should allow himself to be led away from his engagement by
his mother. To which Fanny had answered that justice was justice, and
that right was right. Everything must be told to Lucy, and she must
judge for herself.

"But I do not know what Lord Lufton wants," said Lucy, with her eyes
fixed upon the ground, and now trembling more than ever. "He did come
to me, and I did give him an answer."

"And is that answer to be final?" said Mark--somewhat cruelly, for
Lucy had not yet been told that her lover had made any repetition of
his proposal. Fanny, however, determined that no injustice should be
done, and therefore she at last continued the story.

"We know that you did give him an answer, dearest; but gentlemen
sometimes will not put up with one answer on such a subject. Lord
Lufton has declared to Mark that he means to ask again. He has come
down here on purpose to do so."

"And Lady Lufton--" said Lucy, speaking hardly above a whisper, and
still hiding her face as she leaned against her sister's shoulder.

"Lord Lufton has not spoken to his mother about it," said Mark; and
it immediately became clear to Lucy, from the tone of her brother's
voice, that he, at least, would not be pleased, should she accept her
lover's vow.

"You must decide out of your own heart, dear," said Fanny,
generously. "Mark and I know how well you have behaved, for I have
told him everything." Lucy shuddered and leaned closer against her
sister as this was said to her. "I had no alternative, dearest, but
to tell him. It was best so; was it not? But nothing has been told
to Lord Lufton. Mark would not let him come here to-day, because it
would have flurried you, and he wished to give you time to think. But
you can see him to-morrow morning--can you not? and then answer him."

Lucy now stood perfectly silent, feeling that she dearly loved her
sister-in-law for her sisterly kindness--for that sisterly wish to
promote a sister's love; but still there was in her mind a strong
resolve not to allow Lord Lufton to come there under the idea that
he would be received as a favoured lover. Her love was powerful, but
so also was her pride; and she could not bring herself to bear the
scorn which would lay in Lady Lufton's eyes. "His mother will despise
me, and then he will despise me too," she said to herself; and with
a strong gulp of disappointed love and ambition she determined
to persist. "Shall we leave you now, dear; and speak of it again
to-morrow morning before he comes?" said Fanny.

"That will be the best," said Mark. "Turn it in your mind every way
to-night. Think of it when you have said your prayers--and, Lucy,
come here to me;"--then, taking her in his arms, he kissed her with a
tenderness that was not customary with him towards her. "It is fair,"
said he, "that I should tell you this: that I have perfect confidence
in your judgement and feeling; and that I will stand by you as your
brother in whatever decision you may come to. Fanny and I both think
that you have behaved excellently, and are both of us sure that you
will do what is best. Whatever you do I will stick to you;--and so
will Fanny."

"Dearest, dearest Mark!"

"And now we will say nothing more about it till to-morrow morning,"
said Fanny. But Lucy felt that this saying nothing more about it till
to-morrow morning would be tantamount to an acceptance on her part
of Lord Lufton's offer. Mrs. Robarts knew, and Mr. Robarts also now
knew, the secret of her heart; and if, such being the case, she
allowed Lord Lufton to come there with the acknowledged purpose of
pleading his own suit, it would be impossible for her not to yield.
If she were resolved that she would not yield, now was the time for
her to stand her ground and make her fight. "Do not go, Fanny; at
least not quite yet," she said.

"Well, dear?"

"I want you to stay while I tell Mark. He must not let Lord Lufton
come here to-morrow."

"Not let him!" said Mrs. Robarts. Mr. Robarts said nothing, but he
felt that his sister was rising in his esteem from minute to minute.

"No; Mark must bid him not come. He will not wish to pain me when it
can do no good. Look here, Mark;" and she walked over to her brother,
and put both her hands upon his arm. "I do love Lord Lufton. I had no
such meaning or thought when I first knew him. But I do love him--I
love him dearly;--almost as well as Fanny loves you, I suppose. You
may tell him so if you think proper--nay, you must tell him so, or he
will not understand me. But tell him this, as coming from me: that I
will never marry him, unless his mother asks me."

"She will not do that, I fear," said Mark, sorrowfully.

"No; I suppose not," said Lucy, now regaining all her courage.
"If I thought it probable that she should wish me to be her
daughter-in-law, it would not be necessary that I should make such a
stipulation. It is because she will not wish it; because she would
regard me as unfit to--to--to mate with her son. She would hate me,
and scorn me; and then he would begin to scorn me, and perhaps would
cease to love me. I could not bear her eye upon me, if she thought
that I had injured her son. Mark, you will go to him now; will you
not? and explain this to him;--as much of it as is necessary. Tell
him, that if his mother asks me I will--consent. But that as I know
that she never will, he is to look upon all that he has said as
forgotten. With me it shall be the same as though it were forgotten."
Such was her verdict, and so confident were they both of her
firmness--of her obstinacy Mark would have called it on any other
occasion,--that they neither of them sought to make her alter it.

"You will go to him now--this afternoon; will you not?" she said; and
Mark promised that he would. He could not but feel that he himself
was greatly relieved. Lady Lufton might, probably, hear that her son
had been fool enough to fall in love with the parson's sister; but
under existing circumstances she could not consider herself aggrieved
either by the parson or by his sister. Lucy was behaving well, and
Mark was proud of her. Lucy was behaving with fierce spirit, and
Fanny was grieving for her.

"I'd rather be by myself till dinner-time," said Lucy, as Mrs.
Robarts prepared to go with her out of the room. "Dear Fanny, don't
look unhappy; there's nothing to make us unhappy. I told you I should
want goat's milk, and that will be all." Robarts, after sitting for
an hour with his wife, did return again to Framley Court; and, after
a considerable search, found Lord Lufton returning home to a late
dinner.

"Unless my mother asks her," said he, when the story had been told
him. "That is nonsense. Surely you told her that such is not the way
of the world." Robarts endeavoured to explain to him that Lucy could
not endure to think that her husband's mother should look on her with
disfavour.

"Does she think that my mother dislikes her; her specially?" asked
Lord Lufton. No; Robarts could not suppose that that was the
case; but Lady Lufton might probably think that a marriage with a
clergyman's sister would be a mésalliance.

"That is out of the question," said Lord Lufton; "as she has
especially wanted me to marry a clergyman's daughter for some time
past. But, Mark, it is absurd talking about my mother. A man in these
days is not to marry as his mother bids him." Mark could only assure
him, in answer to all this, that Lucy was very firm in what she was
doing, that she had quite made up her mind, and that she altogether
absolved Lord Lufton from any necessity to speak to his mother, if
he did not think well of doing so. But all this was to very little
purpose. "She does love me then?" said Lord Lufton.

"Well," said Mark, "I will not say whether she does or does not. I
can only repeat her own message. She cannot accept you, unless she
does so at your mother's request." And having said that again, he
took his leave, and went back to the parsonage. Poor Lucy, having
finished her interview with so much dignity, having fully satisfied
her brother, and declined any immediate consolation from her
sister-in-law, betook herself to her own bedroom. She had to think
over what she had said and done, and it was necessary that she should
be alone to do so. It might be that, when she came to reconsider the
matter, she would not be quite so well satisfied as was her brother.
Her grandeur of demeanour and slow propriety of carriage lasted her
till she was well into her own room. There are animals who, when
they are ailing in any way, contrive to hide themselves, ashamed, as
it were, that the weakness of their suffering should be witnessed.
Indeed, I am not sure whether all dumb animals do not do so more or
less; and in this respect Lucy was like a dumb animal. Even in her
confidences with Fanny she made a joke of her own misfortunes, and
spoke of her heart ailments with self-ridicule. But now, having
walked up the staircase with no hurried step, and having deliberately
locked the door, she turned herself round to suffer in silence and
solitude--as do the beasts and birds. She sat herself down on a low
chair, which stood at the foot of her bed, and, throwing back her
head, held her handkerchief across her eyes and forehead, holding it
tight in both her hands; and then she began to think. She began to
think and also to cry, for the tears came running down from beneath
the handkerchief; and low sobs were to be heard--only that the animal
had taken itself off, to suffer in solitude. Had she not thrown from
her all her chances of happiness? Was it possible that he should
come to her yet again--a third time? No; it was not possible. The
very mode and pride of this, her second rejection of him, made it
impossible. In coming to her determination, and making her avowal,
she had been actuated by the knowledge that Lady Lufton would regard
such a marriage with abhorrence. Lady Lufton would not and could not
ask her to condescend to be her son's bride. Her chance of happiness,
of glory, of ambition, of love, was all gone. She had sacrificed
everything, not to virtue, but to pride; and she had sacrificed
not only herself, but him. When first he came there--when she had
meditated over his first visit--she had hardly given him credit for
deep love; but now--there could be no doubt that he loved her now.
After his season in London, his days and nights passed with all
that was beautiful, he had returned there, to that little country
parsonage, that he might again throw himself at her feet. And
she--she had refused to see him, though she loved him with all her
heart, she had refused to see him because she was so vile a coward
that she could not bear the sour looks of an old woman! "I will come
down directly," she said, when Fanny at last knocked at the door,
begging to be admitted. "I won't open it, love, but I will be with
you in ten minutes; I will, indeed." And so she was; not, perhaps,
without traces of tears, discernible by the experienced eye of Mrs.
Robarts, but yet with a smooth brow, and voice under her own command.

"I wonder whether she really loves him," Mark said to his wife that
night.

"Love him!" his wife had answered: "indeed she does; and, Mark, do
not be led away by the stern quiet of her demeanour. To my thinking
she is a girl who might almost die for love."

On the next day Lord Lufton left Framley; and started, according to
his arrangements, for the Norway salmon fishing.



CHAPTER XXXII

The Goat and Compasses


Harold Smith had been made unhappy by that rumour of a dissolution;
but the misfortune to him would be as nothing compared to the
severity with which it would fall on Mr. Sowerby. Harold Smith might
or might not lose his borough, but Mr. Sowerby would undoubtedly lose
his county; and, in losing that, he would lose everything. He felt
very certain now that the duke would not support him again, let who
would be master of Chaldicotes; and as he reflected on these things
he found it very hard to keep up his spirits. Tom Towers, it seems,
had known all about it, as he always does. The little remark which
had dropped from him at Miss Dunstable's, made, no doubt, after
mature deliberation, and with profound political motives, was the
forerunner, only by twelve hours, of a very general report that the
giants were going to the country. It was manifest that the giants had
not a majority in Parliament, generous as had been the promises of
support disinterestedly made to them by the gods. This indeed was
manifest, and therefore they were going to the country, although they
had been deliberately warned by a very prominent scion of Olympus
that if they did do so that disinterested support must be withdrawn.
This threat did not seem to weigh much, and by two o'clock on the day
following Miss Dunstable's party, the fiat was presumed to have gone
forth. The rumour had begun with Tom Towers, but by that time it had
reached Buggins at the Petty Bag Office. "It won't make no difference
to hus, sir; will it, Mr. Robarts?" said Buggins, as he leaned
respectfully against the wall near the door, in the room of the
private secretary at that establishment.

A good deal of conversation, miscellaneous, special, and political,
went on between young Robarts and Buggins in the course of the day;
as was natural, seeing that they were thrown in these evil times very
much upon each other. The Lord Petty Bag of the present ministry was
not such a one as Harold Smith. He was a giant indifferent to his
private notes, and careless as to the duties even of patronage; he
rarely visited the office, and as there were no other clerks in the
establishment--owing to a root and branch reform carried out in the
short reign of Harold Smith--to whom could young Robarts talk, if not
to Buggins? "No; I suppose not," said Robarts, as he completed on his
blotting-paper an elaborate picture of a Turk seated on his divan.

"'Cause, you see, sir, we're in the Upper 'Ouse, now--as I always
thinks we hought to be. I don't think it ain't constitutional for
the Petty Bag to be in the Commons, Mr. Robarts. Hany ways, it never
usen't."

"They're changing all those sort of things nowadays, Buggins," said
Robarts, giving the final touch to the Turk's smoke.

"Well; I'll tell you what it is, Mr. Robarts: I think I'll go. I
can't stand all these changes. I'm turned of sixty now, and don't
want any 'stifflicates. I think I'll take my pension and walk. The
hoffice ain't the same place at all since it come down among the
Commons." And then Buggins retired sighing, to console himself with a
pot of porter behind a large open office ledger, set up on end on a
small table in the little lobby outside the private secretary's room.
Buggins sighed again as he saw that the date made visible in the open
book was almost as old as his own appointment; for such a book as
this lasted long in the Petty Bag Office. A peer of high degree had
been Lord Petty Bag in those days; one whom a messenger's heart could
respect with infinite veneration, as he made his unaccustomed visits
to the office with much solemnity--perhaps four times during the
session. The Lord Petty Bag then was highly regarded by his staff,
and his coming among them was talked about for some hours previously
and for some days afterwards; but Harold Smith had bustled in and out
like the managing clerk in a Manchester house. "The service is going
to the dogs," said Buggins to himself, as he put down the porter pot,
and looked up over the book at a gentleman who presented himself at
the door. "Mr. Robarts in his room?" said Buggins, repeating the
gentleman's words. "Yes, Mr. Sowerby; you'll find him there--first
door to the left." And then, remembering that the visitor was a
county member--a position which Buggins regarded as next to that of a
peer--he got up, and, opening the private secretary's door, ushered
in the visitor.

Young Robarts and Mr. Sowerby had, of course, become acquainted in
the days of Harold Smith's reign. During that short time the member
for East Barset had on most days dropped in at the Petty Bag Office
for a minute or two, finding out what the energetic Cabinet minister
was doing, chatting on semi-official subjects, and teaching the
private secretary to laugh at his master. There was nothing,
therefore, in his present visit which need appear to be singular, or
which required any immediate special explanation. He sat himself down
in his ordinary way, and began to speak of the subject of the day.
"We're all to go," said Sowerby.

"So I hear," said the private secretary. "It will give me no trouble,
for, as the respectable Buggins says, we're in the Upper House now."

"What a delightful time those lucky dogs of lords do have!" said
Sowerby. "No constituents, no turning out, no fighting, no necessity
for political opinions; and, as a rule, no such opinions at all!"

"I suppose you're tolerably safe in East Barsetshire?" said Robarts.
"The duke has it pretty much his own way there."

"Yes; the duke does have it pretty much his own way. By the by, where
is your brother?"

"At home," said Robarts; "at least I presume so."

"At Framley or at Barchester? I believe he was in residence at
Barchester not long since."

"He's at Framley now, I know. I got a letter only yesterday from
his wife, with a commission. He was there, and Lord Lufton had just
left."

"Yes; Lufton was down. He started for Norway this morning. I want to
see your brother. You have not heard from him yourself, have you?"

"No; not lately. Mark is a bad correspondent. He would not do at all
for a private secretary."

"At any rate, not to Harold Smith. But you are sure I should not
catch him at Barchester?"

"Send down by telegraph, and he would meet you."

"I don't want to do that. A telegraph message makes such a fuss in
the country, frightening people's wives, and setting all the horses
about the place galloping."

"What is it about?"

"Nothing of any great consequence. I didn't know whether he might
have told you. I'll write down by to-night's post, and then he can
meet me at Barchester to-morrow. Or do you write. There's nothing
I hate so much as letter-writing; just tell him that I called, and
that I shall be much obliged if he can meet me at the Dragon of
Wantly--say at two to-morrow. I will go down by the express."

Mark Robarts, in talking over this coming money trouble with Sowerby,
had once mentioned that if it were necessary to take up the bill for
a short time he might be able to borrow the money from his brother.
So much of the father's legacy still remained in the hands of the
private secretary as would enable him to produce the amount of the
latter bill, and there could be no doubt that he would lend it if
asked. Mr. Sowerby's visit to the Petty Bag Office had been caused by
a desire to learn whether any such request had been made--and also
by a half-formed resolution to make the request himself if he should
find that the clergyman had not done so. It seemed to him to be
a pity that such a sum should be lying about, as it were, within
reach, and that he should not stoop to put his hands upon it. Such
abstinence would be so contrary to all the practice of his life that
it was as difficult to him as it is for a sportsman to let pass a
cock-pheasant. But yet something like remorse touched his heart as he
sat there balancing himself on his chair in the private secretary's
room, and looking at the young man's open face.

"Yes; I'll write to him," said John Robarts; "but he hasn't said
anything to me about anything particular."

"Hasn't he? It does not much signify. I only mentioned it because I
thought I understood him to say that he would." And then Mr. Sowerby
went on swinging himself. How was it that he felt so averse to
mention that little sum of £500 to a young man like John Robarts,
a fellow without wife or children or calls on him of any sort, who
would not even be injured by the loss of the money, seeing that
he had an ample salary on which to live? He wondered at his own
weakness. The want of the money was urgent on him in the extreme. He
had reasons for supposing that Mark would find it very difficult to
renew the bills, but he, Sowerby, could stop their presentation if he
could get this money at once into his own hands.

"Can I do anything for you?" said the innocent lamb, offering his
throat to the butcher. But some unwonted feeling numbed the butcher's
fingers, and blunted his knife. He sat still for half a minute after
the question, and then jumping from his seat, declined the offer.
"No, no; nothing, thank you. Only write to Mark, and say that I shall
be there to-morrow," and then, taking his hat, he hurried out of the
office. "What an ass I am," he said to himself as he went: "as if it
were of any use now to be particular!"

He then got into a cab and had himself driven half-way up Portman
Street towards the New Road, and walking from thence a few hundred
yards down a cross-street he came to a public-house. It was called
the "Goat and Compasses,"--a very meaningless name, one would say;
but the house boasted of being a place of public entertainment very
long established on that site, having been a tavern out in the
country in the days of Cromwell. At that time the pious landlord,
putting up a pious legend for the benefit of his pious customers, had
declared that--"God encompasseth us." The "Goat and Compasses" in
these days does quite as well; and, considering the present character
of the house, was perhaps less unsuitable than the old legend. "Is
Mr. Austen here?" asked Mr. Sowerby of the man at the bar.

"Which on 'em? Not Mr. John; he ain't here. Mr. Tom is in--the little
room on the left-hand side." The man whom Mr. Sowerby would have
preferred to see was the elder brother, John; but as he was not to
be found, he did go into the little room. In that room he found--Mr.
Austen, junior, according to one arrangement of nomenclature, and Mr.
Tom Tozer according to another. To gentlemen of the legal profession
he generally chose to introduce himself as belonging to the
respectable family of the Austens; but among his intimates he had
always been--Tozer. Mr. Sowerby, though he was intimate with the
family, did not love the Tozers: but he especially hated Tom Tozer.
Tom Tozer was a bull-necked, beetle-browed fellow, the expression of
whose face was eloquent with acknowledged roguery. "I am a rogue,"
it seemed to say. "I know it; all the world knows it: but you're
another. All the world don't know that, but I do. Men are all rogues,
pretty nigh. Some are soft rogues, and some are 'cute rogues. I am a
'cute one; so mind your eye." It was with such words that Tom Tozer's
face spoke out; and though a thorough liar in his heart, he was not a
liar in his face. "Well, Tozer," said Mr. Sowerby, absolutely shaking
hands with the dirty miscreant, "I wanted to see your brother."

"John ain't here, and ain't like; but it's all as one."

"Yes, yes; I suppose it is. I know you two hunt in couples."

"I don't know what you mean about hunting, Mr. Sowerby. You gents 'as
all the hunting, and we poor folk 'as all the work. I hope you're
going to make up this trifle of money we're out of so long."

"It's about that I've called. I don't know what you call long, Tozer;
but the last bill was only dated in February."

"It's overdue; ain't it?"

"Oh, yes; it's overdue. There's no doubt about that."

"Well; when a bit of paper is come round, the next thing is to take
it up. Them's my ideas. And to tell you the truth, Mr. Sowerby, we
don't think as 'ow you've been treating us just on the square lately.
In that matter of Lord Lufton's you was down on us uncommon."

"You know I couldn't help myself."

"Well; and we can't help ourselves now. That's where it is, Mr.
Sowerby. Lord love you; we know what's what, we do. And so, the fact
is we're uncommon low as to the ready just at present, and we must
have them few hundred pounds. We must have them at once, or we must
sell up that clerical gent. I'm dashed if it ain't as hard to get
money from a parson as it is to take a bone from a dog. 'E's 'ad 'is
account, no doubt, and why don't 'e pay?" Mr. Sowerby had called
with the intention of explaining that he was about to proceed to
Barchester on the following day with the express view of "making
arrangements" about this bill; and had he seen John Tozer, John would
have been compelled to accord to him some little extension of time.
Both Tom and John knew this; and, therefore, John--the soft-hearted
one--kept out of the way. There was no danger that Tom would be
weak; and, after some half-hour of parley, he was again left by Mr.
Sowerby, without having evinced any symptom of weakness.

"It's the dibs as we want, Mr. Sowerby; that's all," were the last
words which he spoke as the member of Parliament left the room. Mr.
Sowerby then got into another cab, and had himself driven to his
sister's house. It is a remarkable thing with reference to men who
are distressed for money--distressed as was now the case with Mr.
Sowerby--that they never seem at a loss for small sums, or deny
themselves those luxuries which small sums purchase. Cabs, dinners,
wine, theatres, and new gloves are always at the command of men who
are drowned in pecuniary embarrassments, whereas those who don't owe
a shilling are so frequently obliged to go without them! It would
seem that there is no gratification so costly as that of keeping out
of debt. But then it is only fair that, if a man has a hobby, he
should pay for it. Any one else would have saved his shilling, as
Mrs. Harold Smith's house was only just across Oxford Street, in the
neighbourhood of Hanover Square; but Mr. Sowerby never thought of
this. He had never saved a shilling in his life, and it did not occur
to him to begin now. He had sent word to her to remain at home for
him, and he now found her waiting. "Harriet," said he, throwing
himself back into an easy chair, "the game is pretty well up at
last."

"Nonsense," said she. "The game is not up at all if you have the
spirit to carry it on."

"I can only say that I got a formal notice this morning from the
duke's lawyer, saying that he meant to foreclose at once;--not from
Fothergill, but from those people in South Audley Street."

"You expected that," said his sister.

"I don't see how that makes it any better; besides, I am not quite
sure that I did expect it; at any rate I did not feel certain. There
is no doubt now."

"It is better that there should be no doubt. It is much better that
you should know on what ground you have to stand."

"I shall soon have no ground to stand on, none at least of my
own--not an acre," said the unhappy man, with great bitterness in his
tone.

"You can't in reality be poorer now than you were last year. You
have not spent anything to speak of. There can be no doubt that
Chaldicotes will be ample to pay all you owe the duke."

"It's as much as it will; and what am I to do then? I almost think
more of the seat than I do of Chaldicotes."

"You know what I advise," said Mrs. Smith. "Ask Miss Dunstable to
advance the money on the same security which the duke holds. She will
be as safe then as he is now. And if you can arrange that, stand for
the county against him; perhaps you may be beaten."

"I shouldn't have a chance."

"But it would show that you are not a creature in the duke's hands.
That's my advice," said Mrs. Smith, with much spirit; "and if you
wish, I'll broach it to Miss Dunstable, and ask her to get her lawyer
to look into it."

"If I had done this before I had run my head into that other
absurdity!"

"Don't fret yourself about that; she will lose nothing by such an
investment, and therefore you are not asking any favour of her.
Besides, did she not make the offer? and she is just the woman to do
this for you now, because she refused to do that other thing for you
yesterday. You understand most things, Nathaniel; but I am not sure
that you understand women; not, at any rate, such a woman as her." It
went against the grain with Mr. Sowerby, this seeking of pecuniary
assistance from the very woman whose hand he had attempted to gain
about a fortnight since; but he allowed his sister to prevail. What
could any man do in such straits that would not go against the grain?
At the present moment he felt in his mind an infinite hatred against
the duke, Mr. Fothergill, Gumption & Gazebee, and all the tribes of
Gatherum Castle and South Audley Street; they wanted to rob him of
that which had belonged to the Sowerbys before the name of Omnium
had been heard of in the county, or in England! The great leviathan
of the deep was anxious to swallow him up as a prey! He was to be
swallowed up, and made away with, and put out of sight, without a
pang of remorse. Any measure which could now present itself as the
means of staving off so evil a day would be acceptable; and therefore
he gave his sister the commission of making this second proposal
to Miss Dunstable. In cursing the duke--for he did curse the duke
lustily--it hardly occurred to him to think that, after all, the duke
only asked for his own. As for Mrs. Harold Smith, whatever may be
the view taken of her general character as a wife and a member of
society, it must be admitted that as a sister she had virtues.



CHAPTER XXXIII

Consolation


On the next day at two o'clock punctually, Mark Robarts was at the
"Dragon of Wantly," walking up and down the very room in which the
party had breakfasted after Harold Smith's lecture, and waiting for
the arrival of Mr. Sowerby. He had been very well able to divine what
was the business on which his friend wished to see him, and he had
been rather glad than otherwise to receive the summons. Judging of
his friend's character by what he had hitherto seen, he thought that
Mr. Sowerby would have kept out of the way, unless he had it in his
power to make some provision for these terrible bills. So he walked
up and down the dingy room, impatient for the expected arrival, and
thought himself wickedly ill-used in that Mr. Sowerby was not there
when the clock struck a quarter to three. But when the clock struck
three, Mr. Sowerby was there, and Mark Robarts's hopes were nearly at
an end.

"Do you mean that they will demand nine hundred pounds?" said
Robarts, standing up and glaring angrily at the member of Parliament.

"I fear that they will," said Sowerby. "I think it is best to tell
you the worst, in order that we may see what can be done."

"I can do nothing, and will do nothing," said Robarts. "They may do
what they choose--what the law allows them." And then he thought of
Fanny and his nursery, and Lucy refusing in her pride Lord Lufton's
offer, and he turned away his face that the hard man of the world
before him might not see the tear gathering in his eye.

"But, Mark, my dear fellow--" said Sowerby, trying to have recourse
to the power of his cajoling voice. Robarts, however, would not
listen.

"Mr. Sowerby," said he, with an attempt at calmness which betrayed
itself at every syllable, "it seems to me that you have robbed
me. That I have been a fool, and worse than a fool, I know well;
but--but--but I thought that your position in the world would
guarantee me from such treatment as this." Mr. Sowerby was by no
means without feeling, and the words which he now heard cut him very
deeply--the more so because it was impossible that he should answer
them with an attempt at indignation. He had robbed his friend, and,
with all his wit, knew no words at the present moment sufficiently
witty to make it seem that he had not done so. "Robarts," said he,
"you may say what you like to me now; I shall not resent it."

"Who would care for your resentment?" said the clergyman, turning on
him with ferocity. "The resentment of a gentleman is terrible to a
gentleman; and the resentment of one just man is terrible to another.
Your resentment!"--and then he walked twice the length of the room,
leaving Sowerby dumb in his seat. "I wonder whether you ever thought
of my wife and children when you were plotting this ruin for me!" And
then again he walked the room.

"I suppose you will be calm enough presently to speak of this with
some attempt to make a settlement?"

"No; I will make no such attempt. These friends of yours, you tell
me, have a claim on me for nine hundred pounds, of which they demand
immediate payment. You shall be asked in a court of law how much of
that money I have handled. You know that I have never touched--have
never wanted to touch--one shilling. I will make no attempt at any
settlement. My person is here, and there is my house. Let them do
their worst."

"But, Mark--"

"Call me by my name, sir, and drop that affectation of regard. What
an ass I have been to be so cozened by a sharper!" Sowerby had by no
means expected this. He had always known that Robarts possessed what
he, Sowerby, would have called the spirit of a gentleman. He had
regarded him as a bold, open, generous fellow, able to take his own
part when called on to do so, and by no means disinclined to speak
his own mind; but he had not expected from him such a torrent of
indignation, or thought that he was capable of such a depth of anger.
"If you use such language as that, Robarts, I can only leave you."

"You are welcome. Go. You tell me that you are the messenger of these
men who intend to work nine hundred pounds out of me. You have done
your part in the plot, and have now brought their message. It seems
to me that you had better go back to them. As for me, I want my time
to prepare my wife for the destiny before her."

"Robarts, you will be sorry some day for the cruelty of your words."

"I wonder whether you will ever be sorry for the cruelty of your
doings, or whether these things are really a joke to you."

"I am at this moment a ruined man," said Sowerby. "Everything is
going from me,--my place in the world, the estate of my family, my
father's house, my seat in Parliament, the power of living among my
countrymen, or, indeed, of living anywhere;--but all this does not
oppress me now so much as the misery which I have brought upon you."
And then Sowerby also turned away his face, and wiped from his eyes
tears which were not artificial. Robarts was still walking up and
down the room, but it was not possible for him to continue his
reproaches after this. This is always the case. Let a man endure to
heap contumely on his own head, and he will silence the contumely of
others--for the moment. Sowerby, without meditating on the matter,
had had some inkling of this, and immediately saw that there was at
last an opening for conversation. "You are unjust to me," said he,
"in supposing that I have now no wish to save you. It is solely in
the hope of doing so that I have come here."

"And what is your hope? That I should accept another brace of bills,
I suppose."

"Not a brace; but one renewed bill for--"

"Look here, Mr. Sowerby. On no earthly consideration that can be put
before me will I again sign my name to any bill in the guise of an
acceptance. I have been very weak, and am ashamed of my weakness; but
so much strength as that, I hope, is left to me. I have been very
wicked, and am ashamed of my wickedness; but so much right principle
as that, I hope, remains. I will put my name to no other bill; not
for you, not even for myself."

"But, Robarts, under your present circumstances that will be
madness."

"Then I will be mad."

"Have you seen Forrest? If you will speak to him I think you will
find that everything can be accommodated."

"I already owe Mr. Forrest a hundred and fifty pounds, which I
obtained from him when you pressed me for the price of that horse,
and I will not increase the debt. What a fool I was again there!
Perhaps you do not remember that, when I agreed to buy the horse, the
price was to be my contribution to the liquidation of these bills."

"I do remember it; but I will tell you how that was."

"It does not signify. It has been all of a piece."

"But listen to me. I think you would feel for me if you knew all
that I have gone through. I pledge you my solemn word that I
had no intention of asking you for the money when you took the
horse;--indeed I had not. But you remember that affair of Lufton's,
when he came to you at your hotel in London and was so angry about an
outstanding bill."

"I know that he was very unreasonable as far as I was concerned."

"He was so; but that makes no difference. He was resolved, in his
rage, to expose the whole affair; and I saw that, if he did so, it
would be most injurious to you, seeing that you had just accepted
your stall at Barchester." Here the poor prebendary winced terribly.
"I moved heaven and earth to get up that bill. Those vultures stuck
to their prey when they found the value which I attached to it, and I
was forced to raise above a hundred pounds at the moment to obtain
possession of it, although every shilling absolutely due on it had
long since been paid. Never in my life did I wish to get money as I
did to raise that hundred and twenty pounds: and as I hope for mercy
in my last moments, I did that for your sake. Lufton could not have
injured me in that matter."

"But you told him that you got it for twenty-five pounds."

"Yes, I told him so. I was obliged to tell him that, or I should have
apparently condemned myself by showing how anxious I was to get it.
And you know I could not have explained all this before him and you.
You would have thrown up the stall in disgust." Would that he had!
That was Mark's wish now,--his futile wish. In what a slough of
despond had he come to wallow in consequence of his folly on that
night at Gatherum Castle! He had then done a silly thing, and was he
now to rue it by almost total ruin? He was sickened also with all
these lies. His very soul was dismayed by the dirt through which he
was forced to wade. He had become unconsciously connected with the
lowest dregs of mankind, and would have to see his name mingled with
theirs in the daily newspapers. And for what had he done this? Why
had he thus filed his mind and made himself a disgrace to his cloth?
In order that he might befriend such a one as Mr. Sowerby!

"Well," continued Sowerby, "I did get the money, but you would
hardly believe the rigour of the pledge which was exacted from me
for repayment. I got it from Harold Smith, and never, in my worst
straits, will I again look to him for assistance. I borrowed it only
for a fortnight; and in order that I might repay it, I was obliged to
ask you for the price of the horse. Mark, it was on your behalf that
I did all this,--indeed it was."

"And now I am to repay you for your kindness by the loss of all that
I have in the world."

"If you will put the affair into the hands of Mr. Forrest, nothing
need be touched,--not a hair of a horse's back; no, not though you
should be obliged to pay the whole amount yourself gradually out
of your income. You must execute a series of bills, falling due
quarterly, and then--"

"I will execute no bill, I will put my name to no paper in the
matter; as to that my mind is fully made up. They may come and do
their worst." Mr. Sowerby persevered for a long time, but he was
quite unable to move the parson from this position. He would do
nothing towards making what Mr. Sowerby called an arrangement, but
persisted that he would remain at home at Framley, and that any one
who had a claim upon him might take legal steps. "I shall do nothing
myself," he said; "but if proceedings against me be taken, I shall
prove that I have never had a shilling of the money." And in this
resolution he quitted the Dragon of Wantly. Mr. Sowerby at one time
said a word as to the expediency of borrowing that sum of money from
John Robarts; but as to this Mark would say nothing. Mr. Sowerby was
not the friend with whom he now intended to hold consultation in such
matters. "I am not at present prepared," he said, "to declare what
I may do; I must first see what steps others take." And then he
took his hat and went off; and mounting his horse in the yard of the
Dragon of Wantly--that horse which he had now so many reasons to
dislike--he slowly rode back home.

Many thoughts passed through his mind during that ride, but only one
resolution obtained for itself a fixture there. He must now tell his
wife everything. He would not be so cruel as to let it remain untold
until a bailiff were at the door, ready to walk him off to the county
jail, or until the bed on which they slept was to be sold from under
them. Yes, he would tell her everything,--immediately, before his
resolution could again have faded away. He got off his horse in the
yard, and seeing his wife's maid at the kitchen door, desired her to
beg her mistress to come to him in the book-room. He would not allow
one half-hour to pass towards the waning of his purpose. If it be
ordained that a man shall drown, had he not better drown and have
done with it? Mrs. Robarts came to him in his room, reaching him in
time to touch his arm as he entered it. "Mary says you want me. I
have been gardening, and she caught me just as I came in."

"Yes, Fanny, I do want you. Sit down for a moment." And walking
across the room, he placed his whip in its proper place.

"Oh, Mark, is there anything the matter?"

"Yes, dearest; yes. Sit down, Fanny: I can talk to you better if you
will sit." But she, poor lady, did not wish to sit. He had hinted at
some misfortune, and therefore she felt a longing to stand by him and
cling to him.

"Well, there; I will if I must; but, Mark, do not frighten me. Why is
your face so very wretched?"

"Fanny, I have done very wrong," he said. "I have been very foolish.
I fear that I have brought upon you great sorrow and trouble." And
then he leaned his head upon his hand and turned his face away from
her.

"Oh, Mark, dearest Mark, my own Mark! what is it?" and then she was
quickly up from her chair, and went down on her knees before him. "Do
not turn from me. Tell me, Mark! tell me, that we may share it."

"Yes, Fanny, I must tell you now; but I hardly know what you will
think of me when you have heard it."

"I will think that you are my own husband, Mark; I will think
that--that chiefly, whatever it may be." And then she caressed his
knees, and looked up in his face, and, getting hold of one of his
hands, pressed it between her own. "Even if you have been foolish,
who should forgive you if I cannot?" And then he told it her all,
beginning from that evening when Mr. Sowerby had got him into his
bedroom, and going on gradually, now about the bills, and now about
the horses, till his poor wife was utterly lost in the complexity of
the accounts. She could by no means follow him in the details of his
story; nor could she quite sympathize with him in his indignation
against Mr. Sowerby, seeing that she did not comprehend at all the
nature of the renewing of a bill. The only part to her of importance
in the matter was the amount of money which her husband would be
called upon to pay; that, and her strong hope, which was already a
conviction, that he would never again incur such debts.

"And how much is it, dearest, altogether?"

"These men claim nine hundred pounds of me."

"Oh, dear! that is a terrible sum."

"And then there is the hundred and fifty which I have borrowed from
the bank--the price of the horse, you know; and there are some other
debts,--not a great deal, I think; but people will now look for every
shilling that is due to them. If I have to pay it all, it will be
twelve or thirteen hundred pounds."

"That will be as much as a year's income, Mark; even with the stall."
That was the only word of reproach she said--if that could be called
a reproach.

"Yes," he said; "and it is claimed by men who will have no pity in
exacting it at any sacrifice, if they have the power. And to think
that I should have incurred all this debt without having received
anything for it. Oh, Fanny, what will you think of me!" But she swore
to him that she would think nothing of it--that she would never bear
it in her mind against him--that it could have no effect in lessening
her trust in him. Was he not her husband? She was so glad she knew
it, that she might comfort him. And she did comfort him, making the
weight seem lighter and lighter on his shoulders as he talked of it.
And such weights do thus become lighter. A burden that will crush a
single pair of shoulders will, when equally divided--when shared by
two, each of whom is willing to take the heavier part--become light
as a feather. Is not that sharing of the mind's burdens one of the
chief purposes for which a man wants a wife? For there is no folly
so great as keeping one's sorrows hidden. And this wife cheerfully,
gladly, thankfully took her share. To endure with her lord all her
lord's troubles was easy to her; it was the work to which she had
pledged herself. But to have thought that her lord had troubles not
communicated to her,--that would have been to her the one thing not
to be borne. And then they discussed their plans; what mode of escape
they might have out of this terrible money difficulty. Like a true
woman, Mrs. Robarts proposed at once to abandon all superfluities.
They would sell all their horses; they would not sell their cows,
but would sell the butter that came from them; they would sell the
pony-carriage, and get rid of the groom. That the footman must go was
so much a matter of course, that it was hardly mentioned. But then,
as to that house at Barchester, the dignified prebendal mansion in
the close--might they not be allowed to leave it unoccupied for one
year longer--perhaps to let it? The world of course must know of
their misfortune; but if that misfortune was faced bravely, the world
would be less bitter in its condemnation. And then, above all things,
everything must be told to Lady Lufton.

"You may, at any rate, believe this, Fanny," said he, "that for no
consideration which can be offered to me will I ever put my name to
another bill." The kiss with which she thanked him for this was as
warm and generous as though he had brought to her that day news of
the brightest; and when he sat, as he did that evening, discussing it
all, not only with his wife, but with Lucy, he wondered how it was
that his troubles were now so light. Whether or no a man should have
his own private pleasures, I will not now say; but it never can be
worth his while to keep his sorrows private.



CHAPTER XXXIV

Lady Lufton Is Taken by Surprise


Lord Lufton, as he returned to town, found some difficulty in
resolving what step he would next take. Sometimes, for a minute or
two, he was half inclined to think--or rather to say to himself--that
Lucy was perhaps not worth the trouble which she threw in his way.
He loved her very dearly, and would willingly make her his wife, he
thought or said at such moments; but-- Such moments, however, were
only moments. A man in love seldom loves less because his love
becomes difficult. And thus, when those moments were over, he would
determine to tell his mother at once, and urge her to signify her
consent to Miss Robarts. That she would not be quite pleased he knew;
but if he were firm enough to show that he had a will of his own in
this matter, she would probably not gainsay him. He would not ask
this humbly, as a favour, but request her ladyship to go through the
ceremony as though it were one of those motherly duties which she as
a good mother could not hesitate to perform on behalf of her son.
Such was the final resolve with which he reached his chambers in the
Albany. On the next day he did not see his mother. It would be well,
he thought, to have his interview with her immediately before he
started for Norway, so that there might be no repetition of it; and
it was on the day before he did start that he made his communication,
having invited himself to breakfast in Brook Street on the occasion.

"Mother," he said, quite abruptly, throwing himself into one of the
dining-room arm-chairs, "I have a thing to tell you." His mother at
once knew that the thing was important, and with her own peculiar
motherly instinct imagined that the question to be discussed had
reference to matrimony. Had her son desired to speak to her about
money, his tone and look would have been different; as would also
have been the case--in a different way--had he entertained any
thought of a pilgrimage to Pekin, or a prolonged fishing excursion
to the Hudson Bay Territories.

"A thing, Ludovic! well, I am quite at liberty."

"I want to know what you think of Lucy Robarts?" Lady Lufton became
pale and frightened, and the blood ran cold to her heart. She had
feared more than rejoiced in conceiving that her son was about to
talk of love, but she had feared nothing so bad as this.

"What do I think of Lucy Robarts?" she said, repeating her son's
words in a tone of evident dismay.

"Yes, mother; you have said once or twice lately that you thought I
ought to marry, and I am beginning to think so too. You selected one
clergyman's daughter for me, but that lady is going to do much better
with herself--"

"Indeed she is not," said Lady Lufton sharply.

"And therefore I rather think I shall select for myself another
clergyman's sister. You don't dislike Miss Robarts, I hope?"

"Oh, Ludovic!" It was all that Lady Lufton could say at the spur of
the moment.

"Is there any harm in her! Have you any objection to her? Is there
anything about her that makes her unfit to be my wife?"

For a moment or two Lady Lufton sat silent, collecting her thoughts.
She thought that there was very great objection to Lucy Robarts,
regarding her as the possible future Lady Lufton. She could hardly
have stated all her reasons, but they were very cogent. Lucy Robarts
had, in her eyes, neither beauty, nor style, nor manner, nor even the
education which was desirable. Lady Lufton was not herself a worldly
woman. She was almost as far removed from being so as a woman could
be in her position. But, nevertheless, there were certain worldly
attributes which she regarded as essential to the character of any
young lady who might be considered fit to take the place which she
herself had so long filled. It was her desire in looking for a wife
for her son to combine these with certain moral excellences which
she regarded as equally essential. Lucy Robarts might have the moral
excellences, or she might not; but as to the other attributes Lady
Lufton regarded her as altogether deficient. She could never look
like a Lady Lufton, or carry herself in the county as a Lady Lufton
should do. She had not that quiet personal demeanour--that dignity of
repose--which Lady Lufton loved to look upon in a young married woman
of rank. Lucy, she would have said, could be nobody in a room except
by dint of her tongue, whereas Griselda Grantly would have held her
peace for a whole evening, and yet would have impressed everybody
by the majesty of her presence. Then again Lucy had no money--and,
again, Lucy was only the sister of her own parish clergyman. People
are rarely prophets in their own country, and Lucy was no prophet
at Framley; she was none, at least, in the eyes of Lady Lufton.
Once before, as may be remembered, she had had fears on this
subject--fears, not so much for her son, whom she could hardly bring
herself to suspect of such a folly, but for Lucy, who might be
foolish enough to fancy that the lord was in love with her. Alas!
alas! her son's question fell upon the poor woman at the present
moment with the weight of a terrible blow. "Is there anything about
her which makes her unfit to be my wife?" Those were her son's last
words.

"Dearest Ludovic, dearest Ludovic!" and she got up and came over to
him, "I do think so; I do, indeed."

"Think what?" said he, in a tone that was almost angry.

"I do think that she is unfit to be your wife. She is not of that
class from which I would wish to see you choose."

"She is of the same class as Griselda Grantly."

"No, dearest. I think you are in error there. The Grantlys have moved
in a different sphere of life. I think you must feel that they are--"

"Upon my word, mother, I don't. One man is Rector of Plumstead, and
the other is Vicar of Framley. But it is no good arguing that. I want
you to take to Lucy Robarts. I have come to you on purpose to ask it
of you as a favour."

"Do you mean as your wife, Ludovic?"

"Yes; as my wife."

"Am I to understand that you are--are engaged to her?"

"Well, I cannot say that I am--not actually engaged to her. But you
may take this for granted, that, as far as it lies in my power, I
intend to become so. My mind is made up, and I certainly shall not
alter it."

"And the young lady knows all this?"

"Certainly."

"Horrid, sly, detestable, underhand girl," Lady Lufton said to
herself, not being by any means brave enough to speak out such
language before her son. What hope could there be if Lord Lufton had
already committed himself by a positive offer? "And her brother, and
Mrs. Robarts; are they aware of it?"

"Yes; both of them."

"And both approve of it?"

"Well, I cannot say that. I have not seen Mrs. Robarts, and do not
know what may be her opinion. To speak my mind honestly about Mark,
I do not think he does cordially approve. He is afraid of you, and
would be desirous of knowing what you think."

"I am glad, at any rate, to hear that," said Lady Lufton, gravely.
"Had he done anything to encourage this, it would have been very
base." And then there was another short period of silence. Lord
Lufton had determined not to explain to his mother the whole state
of the case. He would not tell her that everything depended on her
word--that Lucy was ready to marry him only on condition that she,
Lady Lufton, would desire her to do so. He would not let her know
that everything depended on her--according to Lucy's present verdict.
He had a strong disinclination to ask his mother's permission to get
married; and he would have to ask it were he to tell her the whole
truth. His object was to make her think well of Lucy, and to induce
her to be kind, and generous, and affectionate down at Framley. Then
things would all turn out comfortably when he again visited that
place, as he intended to do on his return from Norway. So much he
thought it possible he might effect, relying on his mother's probable
calculation that it would be useless for her to oppose a measure
which she had no power of stopping by authority. But were he to tell
her that she was to be the final judge, that everything was to depend
on her will, then, so thought Lord Lufton, that permission would in
all probability be refused.

"Well, mother, what answer do you intend to give me?" he said. "My
mind is positively made up. I should not have come to you had not
that been the case. You will now be going down home, and I would wish
you to treat Lucy as you yourself would wish to treat any girl to
whom you knew that I was engaged."

"But you say that you are not engaged."

"No, I am not; but I have made my offer to her, and I have not been
rejected. She has confessed that she--loves me,--not to myself,
but to her brother. Under these circumstances, may I count upon
your obliging me?" There was something in his manner which almost
frightened his mother, and made her think that there was more behind
than was told to her. Generally speaking, his manner was open,
gentle, and unguarded; but now he spoke as though he had prepared his
words, and was resolved on being harsh as well as obstinate.

"I am so much taken by surprise, Ludovic, that I can hardly give you
an answer. If you ask me whether I approve of such a marriage, I must
say that I do not; I think that you would be throwing yourself away
in marrying Miss Robarts."

"That is because you do not know her."

"May it not be possible that I know her better than you do, dear
Ludovic? You have been flirting with her--"

"I hate that word; it always sounds to me to be vulgar."

"I will say making love to her, if you like it better; and gentlemen
under these circumstances will sometimes become infatuated."

"You would not have a man marry a girl without making love to her.
The fact is, mother, that your tastes and mine are not exactly the
same; you like silent beauty, whereas I like talking beauty, and
then--"

"Do you call Miss Robarts beautiful?"

"Yes, I do; very beautiful; she has the beauty that I admire.
Good-bye now, mother; I shall not see you again before I start. It
will be no use writing, as I shall be away so short a time, and I
don't quite know where we shall be. I shall come down to Framley
immediately I return, and shall learn from you how the land lies. I
have told you my wishes, and you will consider how far you think it
right to fall in with them." He then kissed her, and without waiting
for her reply he took his leave. Poor Lady Lufton, when she was left
to herself, felt that her head was going round and round. Was this
to be the end of all her ambition,--of all her love for her son? and
was this to be the result of all her kindness to the Robartses? She
almost hated Mark Robarts as she reflected that she had been the
means of bringing him and his sister to Framley. She thought over all
his sins, his absences from the parish, his visit to Gatherum Castle,
his dealings with reference to that farm which was to have been sold,
his hunting, and then his acceptance of that stall, given, as she had
been told, through the Omnium interest. How could she love him at
such a moment as this? And then she thought of his wife. Could it be
possible that Fanny Robarts, her own friend Fanny, would be so untrue
to her as to lend any assistance to such a marriage as this; as not
to use all her power in preventing it? She had spoken to Fanny on
this very subject--not fearing for her son, but with a general idea
of the impropriety of intimacies between such girls as Lucy and such
men as Lord Lufton, and then Fanny had agreed with her. Could it be
possible that even she must be regarded as an enemy? And then by
degrees Lady Lufton began to reflect what steps she had better take.
In the first place, should she give in at once, and consent to the
marriage? The only thing quite certain to her was this, that life
would be not worth having if she were forced into a permanent quarrel
with her son. Such an event would probably kill her. When she read of
quarrels in other noble families--and the accounts of such quarrels
will sometimes, unfortunately, force themselves upon the attention
of unwilling readers--she would hug herself, with a spirit that was
almost pharisaical, reflecting that her destiny was not like that of
others. Such quarrels and hatreds between fathers and daughters, and
mothers and sons, were in her eyes disreputable to all the persons
concerned. She had lived happily with her husband, comfortably with
her neighbours, respectably with the world, and, above all things,
affectionately with her children. She spoke everywhere of Lord Lufton
as though he were nearly perfect,--and in so speaking, she had not
belied her convictions. Under these circumstances, would not any
marriage be better than a quarrel? But, then, again, how much of the
pride of her daily life would be destroyed by such a match as that!
And might it not be within her power to prevent it without any
quarrel? That her son would be sick of such a chit as Lucy before he
had been married to her six months--of that Lady Lufton entertained
no doubt, and therefore her conscience would not be disquieted in
disturbing the consummation of an arrangement so pernicious. It was
evident that the matter was not considered as settled even by her
son; and also evident that he regarded the matter as being in some
way dependent on his mother's consent. On the whole, might it not be
better for her--better for them all--that she should think wholly
of her duty, and not of the disagreeable results to which that duty
might possibly lead? It could not be her duty to accede to such an
alliance? and therefore she would do her best to prevent it. Such, at
least, should be her attempt in the first instance.

Having so decided, she next resolved on her course of action.
Immediately on her arrival at Framley, she would send for Lucy
Robarts, and use all her eloquence--and perhaps also a little of that
stern dignity for which she was so remarkable--in explaining to that
young lady how very wicked it was on her part to think of forcing
herself into such a family as that of the Luftons. She would explain
to Lucy that no happiness could come of it, that people placed by
misfortune above their sphere are always miserable; and, in short,
make use of all those excellent moral lessons which are so customary
on such occasions. The morality might perhaps be thrown away; but
Lady Lufton depended much on her dignified sternness. And then,
having so resolved, she prepared for her journey home. Very little
had been said at Framley parsonage about Lord Lufton's offer after
the departure of that gentleman; very little, at least, in Lucy's
presence. That the parson and his wife should talk about it between
themselves was a matter of course; but very few words were spoken on
the matter either by or to Lucy. She was left to her own thoughts,
and possibly to her own hopes. And then other matters came up at
Framley which turned the current of interest into other tracks. In
the first place there was the visit made by Mr. Sowerby to the Dragon
of Wantly, and the consequent revelation made by Mark Robarts to his
wife. And while that latter subject was yet new, before Fanny and
Lucy had as yet made up their minds as to all the little economies
which might be practised in the household without serious detriment
to the master's comfort, news reached them that Mrs. Crawley of
Hogglestock had been stricken with fever. Nothing of the kind could
well be more dreadful than this. To those who knew the family it
seemed impossible that their most ordinary wants could be supplied
if that courageous head were even for a day laid low; and then the
poverty of poor Mr. Crawley was such that the sad necessities of a
sick bed could hardly be supplied without assistance. "I will go over
at once," said Fanny.

"My dear!" said her husband, "it is typhus, and you must first think
of the children. I will go."

"What on earth could you do, Mark?" said his wife. "Men on such
occasions are almost worse than useless; and then they are so much
more liable to infection."

"I have no children, nor am I a man," said Lucy, smiling: "for both
of which exemptions I am thankful. I will go, and when I come back I
will keep clear of the bairns."

So it was settled, and Lucy started in the pony-carriage, carrying
with her such things from the parsonage storehouse as were thought to
be suitable to the wants of the sick lady at Hogglestock. When she
arrived there, she made her way into the house, finding the door
open, and not being able to obtain the assistance of the servant
girl in ushering her in. In the parlour she found Grace Crawley,
the eldest child, sitting demurely in her mother's chair nursing an
infant. She, Grace herself, was still a young child, but not the
less, on this occasion of well-understood sorrow, did she go through
her task, not only with zeal but almost with solemnity. Her brother,
a boy of six years old, was with her, and he had the care of another
baby. There they sat in a cluster, quiet, grave, and silent,
attending on themselves, because it had been willed by fate that no
one else should attend on them. "How is your mamma, dear Grace?" said
Lucy, walking up to her, and holding out her hand.

"Poor mamma is very ill, indeed," said Grace.

"And papa is very unhappy," said Bobby, the boy.

"I can't get up because of baby," said Grace; "but Bobby can go and
call papa out."

"I will knock at the door," said Lucy; and so saying she walked up to
the bedroom door, and tapped against it lightly. She repeated this
for the third time before she was summoned in by a low hoarse voice,
and then on entering she saw Mr. Crawley standing by the bedside with
a book in his hand. He looked at her uncomfortably, in a manner which
seemed to show that he was annoyed by this intrusion, and Lucy was
aware that she had disturbed him while at prayers by the bedside of
his wife. He came across the room, however, and shook hands with her,
and answered her inquiries in his ordinary grave and solemn voice.
"Mrs. Crawley is very ill," he said--"very ill. God has stricken us
heavily, but His will be done. But you had better not go to her, Miss
Robarts. It is typhus."

The caution, however, was too late; for Lucy was already by the
bedside, and had taken the hand of the sick woman, which had been
extended on the coverlid to greet her. "Dear Miss Robarts," said a
weak voice; "this is very good of you; but it makes me unhappy to
see you here." Lucy lost no time in taking sundry matters into her
own hands, and ascertaining what was most wanted in that wretched
household. For it was wretched enough. Their only servant, a girl of
sixteen, had been taken away by her mother as soon as it became known
that Mrs. Crawley was ill with fever. The poor mother, to give her
her due, had promised to come down morning and evening herself, to do
such work as might be done in an hour or so; but she could not, she
said, leave her child to catch the fever. And now, at the period of
Lucy's visit, no step had been taken to procure a nurse, Mr. Crawley
having resolved to take upon himself the duties of that position.
In his absolute ignorance of all sanatory measures, he had thrown
himself on his knees to pray; and if prayers--true prayers--might
succour his poor wife, of such succour she might be confident. Lucy,
however, thought that other aid also was wanting to her. "If you
can do anything for us," said Mrs. Crawley, "let it be for the poor
children."

"I will have them all moved from this till you are better," said
Lucy, boldly.

"Moved!" said Mr. Crawley, who even now--even in his present
strait--felt a repugnance to the idea that any one should relieve him
of any portion of his burden.

"Yes," said Lucy; "I am sure it will be better that you should lose
them for a week or two, till Mrs. Crawley may be able to leave her
room."

"But where are they to go?" said he, very gloomily. As to this Lucy
was not as yet able to say anything. Indeed when she left Framley
parsonage there had been no time for discussion. She would go back
and talk it all over with Fanny, and find out in what way the
children might be best put out of danger. Why should they not all be
harboured at the parsonage, as soon as assurance could be felt that
they were not tainted with the poison of the fever? An English lady
of the right sort will do all things but one for a sick neighbour;
but for no neighbour will she wittingly admit contagious sickness
within the precincts of her own nursery. Lucy unloaded her jellies
and her febrifuges, Mr. Crawley frowning at her bitterly the while.
It had come to this with him, that food had been brought into his
house, as an act of charity, in his very presence, and in his heart
of hearts he disliked Lucy Robarts in that she had brought it.
He could not cause the jars and the pots to be replaced in the
pony-carriage, as he would have done had the position of his wife
been different. In her state it would have been barbarous to refuse
them, and barbarous also to have created the _fracas_ of a refusal;
but each parcel that was introduced was an additional weight laid on
the sore withers of his pride, till the total burden became almost
intolerable. All this his wife saw and recognized even in her
illness, and did make some slight ineffectual efforts to give him
ease; but Lucy in her new power was ruthless, and the chicken to
make the chicken-broth was taken out of the basket under his very
nose. But Lucy did not remain long. She had made up her mind what
it behoved her to do herself, and she was soon ready to return to
Framley. "I shall be back again, Mr. Crawley," she said, "probably
this evening, and I shall stay with her till she is better." "Nurses
don't want rooms," she went on to say, when Mr. Crawley muttered
something as to there being no bed-chamber. "I shall make up some
sort of a litter near her; you'll see that I shall be very snug." And
then she got into the pony-chaise, and drove herself home.



CHAPTER XXXV

The Story of King Cophetua


Lucy as she drove herself home had much as to which it was necessary
that she should arouse her thoughts. That she would go back and nurse
Mrs. Crawley through her fever she was resolved. She was free agent
enough to take so much on herself, and to feel sure that she could
carry it through. But how was she to redeem her promise about the
children? Twenty plans ran through her mind, as to farm-houses in
which they might be placed, or cottages which might be hired for
them; but all these entailed the want of money; and at the present
moment, were not all the inhabitants of the parsonage pledged to a
dire economy? This use of the pony-carriage would have been illicit
under any circumstances less pressing than the present, for it had
been decided that the carriage, and even poor Puck himself, should
be sold. She had, however, given her promise about the children, and
though her own stock of money was very low, that promise should be
redeemed.

When she reached the parsonage she was of course full of her schemes,
but she found that another subject of interest had come up in her
absence, which prevented her from obtaining the undivided attention
of her sister-in-law to her present plans. Lady Lufton had returned
that day, and immediately on her return had sent up a note addressed
to Miss Lucy Robarts, which note was in Fanny's hands when Lucy
stepped out of the pony-carriage. The servant who brought it had
asked for an answer, and a verbal answer had been sent, saying that
Miss Robarts was away from home, and would herself send a reply when
she returned. It cannot be denied that the colour came to Lucy's
face, and that her hand trembled when she took the note from Fanny in
the drawing-room. Everything in the world to her might depend on what
that note contained; and yet she did not open it at once, but stood
with it in her hand, and when Fanny pressed her on the subject, still
endeavoured to bring back the conversation to the subject of Mrs.
Crawley. But yet her mind was intent on the letter, and she had
already augured ill from the handwriting and even from the words of
the address. Had Lady Lufton intended to be propitious, she would
have directed her letter to Miss Robarts, without the Christian name;
so at least argued Lucy--quite unconsciously, as one does argue in
such matters. One forms half the conclusions of one's life without
any distinct knowledge that the premises have even passed through
one's mind. They were now alone together, as Mark was out. "Won't you
open her letter?" said Mrs. Robarts.

"Yes, immediately; but, Fanny, I must speak to you about Mrs. Crawley
first. I must go back there this evening, and stay there; I have
promised to do so, and shall certainly keep my promise. I have
promised also that the children shall be taken away, and we must
arrange about that. It is dreadful, the state she is in. There is no
one to see to her but Mr. Crawley, and the children are altogether
left to themselves."

"Do you mean that you are going back to stay?"

"Yes, certainly; I have made a distinct promise that I would do
so. And about the children; could not you manage for the children,
Fanny--not perhaps in the house; at least not at first, perhaps?"
And yet during all the time that she was thus speaking and pleading
for the Crawleys, she was endeavouring to imagine what might be the
contents of that letter which she held between her fingers.

"And is she so very ill?" asked Mrs. Robarts.

"I cannot say how ill she may be, except this, that she certainly has
typhus fever. They have had some doctor or doctor's assistant from
Silverbridge; but it seems to me that they are greatly in want of
better advice."

"But, Lucy, will you not read your letter? It is astonishing to me
that you should be so indifferent about it." Lucy was anything but
indifferent, and now did proceed to tear the envelope. The note was
very short, and ran in these words--


   MY DEAR MISS ROBARTS,

   I am particularly anxious to see you, and shall feel much
   obliged to you if you can step over to me here, at Framley
   Court. I must apologize for taking this liberty with you,
   but you will probably feel that an interview here would
   suit us both better than one at the parsonage.

   Truly yours,

   M. LUFTON.


"There: I am in for it now," said Lucy, handing the note over to Mrs.
Robarts. "I shall have to be talked to as never poor girl was talked
to before: and when one thinks of what I have done, it is hard."

"Yes; and of what you have not done."

"Exactly; and of what I have not done. But I suppose I must go," and
she proceeded to re-tie the strings of her bonnet, which she had
loosened.

"Do you mean that you are going over at once?"

"Yes; immediately. Why not? it will be better to have it over, and
then I can go to the Crawleys. But, Fanny, the pity of it is that I
know it all as well as though it had been already spoken; and what
good can there be in my having to endure it? Can't you fancy the
tone in which she will explain to me the conventional inconveniences
which arose when King Cophetua would marry the beggar's daughter? how
she will explain what Griselda went through;--not the archdeacon's
daughter, but the other Griselda?"

"But it all came right with her."

"Yes; but then I am not Griselda, and she will explain how it would
certainly all go wrong with me. But what's the good when I know it
all beforehand? Have I not desired King Cophetua to take himself and
sceptre elsewhere?" And then she started, having first said another
word or two about the Crawley children, and obtained a promise of
Puck and the pony-carriage for the afternoon. It was also almost
agreed that Puck on his return to Framley should bring back the four
children with him; but on this subject it was necessary that Mark
should be consulted. The present scheme was to prepare for them a
room outside the house, once the dairy, at present occupied by the
groom and his wife; and to bring them into the house as soon as it
was manifest that there was no danger from infection. But all this
was to be matter for deliberation. Fanny wanted her to send over a
note, in reply to Lady Lufton's, as harbinger of her coming; but Lucy
marched off, hardly answering this proposition.

"What's the use of such a deal of ceremony?" she said. "I know she's
at home; and if she is not, I shall only lose ten minutes in going."
And so she went, and on reaching the door of Framley Court house
found that her ladyship was at home. Her heart almost came to her
mouth as she was told so, and then, in two minutes' time, she found
herself in the little room upstairs. In that little room we found
ourselves once before--you and I, O my reader;--but Lucy had never
before visited that hallowed precinct. There was something in its air
calculated to inspire awe in those who first saw Lady Lufton sitting
bolt upright in the cane-bottomed arm-chair, which she always
occupied when at work at her books and papers; and this she knew when
she determined to receive Lucy in that apartment. But there was there
another arm-chair, an easy, cosy chair, which stood by the fireside;
and for those who had caught Lady Lufton napping in that chair of
an afternoon, some of this awe had perhaps been dissipated. "Miss
Robarts," she said, not rising from her chair, but holding out her
hand to her visitor, "I am much obliged to you for having come over
to me here. You, no doubt, are aware of the subject on which I wish
to speak to you, and will agree with me that it is better that we
should meet here than over at the parsonage." In answer to which Lucy
merely bowed her head, and took her seat on the chair which had been
prepared for her. "My son," continued her ladyship, "has spoken to me
on the subject of-- I think I understand, Miss Robarts, that there
has been no engagement between you and him?"

"None whatever," said Lucy. "He made me an offer and I refused
him." This she said very sharply;--more so undoubtedly than the
circumstances required; and with a brusqueness that was injudicious
as well as uncourteous. Rut at the moment, she was thinking of her
own position with reference to Lady Lufton--not to Lord Lufton; and
of her feelings with reference to the lady--not to the gentleman.

"Oh," said Lady Lufton, a little startled by the manner of the
communication. "Then I am to understand that there is nothing now
going on between you and my son; that the whole affair is over?"

"That depends entirely upon you."

"On me; does it?"

"I do not know what your son may have told you, Lady Lufton. For
myself, I do not care to have any secrets from you in this matter;
and as he has spoken to you about it, I suppose that such is his
wish also. Am I right in presuming that he has spoken to you on the
subject?"

"Yes, he has; and it is for that reason that I have taken the liberty
of sending for you."

"And may I ask what he has told you? I mean, of course, as regards
myself," said Lucy. Lady Lufton, before she answered this question,
began to reflect that the young lady was taking too much of the
initiative in this conversation, and was, in fact, playing the game
in her own fashion, which was not at all in accordance with those
motives which had induced Lady Lufton to send for her. "He has told
me that he made you an offer of marriage," replied Lady Lufton: "a
matter which, of course, is very serious to me, as his mother; and
I have thought, therefore, that I had better see you, and appeal to
your own good sense and judgement and high feeling. Of course you are
aware--"

Now was coming the lecture to be illustrated by King Cophetua and
Griselda, as Lucy had suggested to Mrs. Robarts; but she succeeded
in stopping it for awhile. "And did Lord Lufton tell you what was my
answer?"

"Not in words. But you yourself now say that you refused him; and I
must express my admiration for your good--"

"Wait half a moment, Lady Lufton. Your son did make me an offer. He
made it to me in person, up at the parsonage, and I then refused
him;--foolishly, as I now believe, for I dearly love him. But I did
so from a mixture of feelings which I need not, perhaps, explain;
that most prominent, no doubt, was a fear of your displeasure. And
then he came again, not to me, but to my brother, and urged his suit
to him. Nothing can have been kinder to me, more noble, more loving,
more generous, than his conduct. At first I thought, when he was
speaking to myself, that he was led on thoughtlessly to say all that
he did say. I did not trust his love, though I saw that he did trust
it himself. But I could not but trust it when he came again--to my
brother, and made his proposal to him. I don't know whether you will
understand me, Lady Lufton; but a girl placed as I am feels ten times
more assurance in such a tender of affection as that, than in one
made to herself, at the spur of the moment, perhaps. And then you
must remember that I--I myself--I loved him from the first. I was
foolish enough to think that I could know him and not love him."

"I saw all that going on," said Lady Lufton, with a certain
assumption of wisdom about her; "and took steps which I hoped would
have put a stop to it in time."

"Everybody saw it. It was a matter of course," said Lucy, destroying
her ladyship's wisdom at a blow. "Well; I did learn to love him, not
meaning to do so; and I do love him with all my heart. It is no use
my striving to think that I do not; and I could stand with him at
the altar to-morrow and give him my hand, feeling that I was doing
my duty by him, as a woman should do. And now he has told you of
his love, and I believe in that as I do in my own--" And then for a
moment she paused.

"But, my dear Miss Robarts--" began Lady Lufton. Lucy, however, had
now worked herself up into a condition of power, and would not allow
her ladyship to interrupt her in her speech. "I beg your pardon, Lady
Lufton; I shall have done directly, and then I will hear you. And so
my brother came to me, not urging this suit, expressing no wish for
such a marriage, but allowing me to judge for myself, and proposing
that I should see your son again on the following morning. Had I done
so, I could not but have accepted him. Think of it, Lady Lufton. How
could I have done other than accept him, seeing that in my heart I
had accepted his love already?"

"Well?" said Lady Lufton, not wishing now to put in any speech of her
own.

"I did not see him--I refused to do so--because I was a coward. I
could not endure to come into this house as your son's wife, and be
coldly looked on by your son's mother. Much as I loved him, much as I
do love him, dearly as I prize the generous offer which he came down
here to repeat to me, I could not live with him to be made the object
of your scorn. I sent him word, therefore, that I would have him when
you would ask me, and not before." And, then, having thus pleaded her
cause--and pleaded, as she believed, the cause of her lover also--she
ceased from speaking, and prepared herself to listen to the story
of King Cophetua. But Lady Lufton felt considerable difficulty in
commencing her speech. In the first place she was by no means a
hard-hearted or a selfish woman; and were it not that her own son was
concerned, and all the glory which was reflected upon her from her
son, her sympathies would have been given to Lucy Robarts. As it was,
she did sympathize with her, and admire her, and to a certain extent
like her. She began also to understand what it was that had brought
about her son's love, and to feel that but for certain unfortunate
concomitant circumstances the girl before her might have made
a fitting Lady Lufton. Lucy had grown bigger in her eyes while
sitting there and talking, and had lost much of that missish want
of importance--that lack of social weight--which Lady Lufton in her
own opinion had always imputed to her. A girl that could thus speak
up and explain her own position now, would be able to speak up and
explain her own, and perhaps some other positions at any future time.
But not for all or any of these reasons did Lady Lufton think of
giving way. The power of making or marring this marriage was placed
in her hands, as was very fitting, and that power it behoved her
to use, as best she might use it, to her son's advantage. Much as
she might admire Lucy, she could not sacrifice her son to that
admiration. The unfortunate concomitant circumstances still remained,
and were of sufficient force, as she thought, to make such a marriage
inexpedient. Lucy was the sister of a gentleman who by his peculiar
position as parish clergyman of Framley was unfitted to be the
brother-in-law of the owner of Framley. Nobody liked clergymen better
than Lady Lufton or was more willing to live with them on terms of
affectionate intimacy, but she could not get over the feeling that
the clergyman of her own parish,--or of her son's,--was a part of
her own establishment, of her own appanage,--or of his,--and that
it could not be well that Lord Lufton should marry among his own
dependants. Lady Lufton would not have used the word, but she did
think it. And then, too, Lucy's education had been so deficient. She
had had no one about her in early life accustomed to the ways of,--of
what shall I say without making Lady Lufton appear more worldly than
she was? Lucy's wants in this respect, not to be defined in words,
had been exemplified by the very way in which she had just now stated
her case. She had shown talent, good temper, and sound judgement; but
there had been no quiet, no repose about her. The species of power
in young ladies which Lady Lufton most admired was the _vis inertiæ_
belonging to beautiful and dignified reticence; of this poor Lucy had
none. Then, too, she had no fortune, which, though a minor evil, was
an evil; and she had no birth, in the high-life sense of the word,
which was a greater evil. And then, though her eyes had sparkled
when she confessed her love, Lady Lufton was not prepared to admit
that she was possessed of positive beauty. Such were the unfortunate
concomitant circumstances which still induced Lady Lufton to resolve
that the match must be marred.

But the performance of her part in this play was much more difficult
than she had imagined, and she found herself obliged to sit silent
for a minute or two, during which, however, Miss Robarts made no
attempt at further speech. "I am greatly struck," Lady Lufton said at
last, "by the excellent sense you have displayed in the whole of this
affair; and you must allow me to say, Miss Robarts, that I now regard
you with very different feelings from those which I entertained when
I left London." Upon this Lucy bowed her head, slightly but very
stiffly; acknowledging rather the former censure implied than the
present eulogium expressed.

"But my feelings," continued Lady Lufton, "my strongest feelings in
this matter, must be those of a mother. What might be my conduct if
such a marriage did take place, I need not now consider. But I must
confess that I should think such a marriage very--very ill-judged.
A better-hearted young man than Lord Lufton does not exist, nor one
with better principles, or a deeper regard for his word; but he is
exactly the man to be mistaken in any hurried outlook as to his
future life. Were you and he to become man and wife, such a marriage
would tend to the happiness neither of him nor of you." It was
clear that the whole lecture was now coming; and as Lucy had openly
declared her own weakness, and thrown all the power of decision into
the hands of Lady Lufton, she did not see why she should endure this.

"We need not argue about that, Lady Lufton," she said. "I have told
you the only circumstances under which I would marry your son; and
you, at any rate, are safe."

"No; I was not wishing to argue," answered Lady Lufton, almost
humbly; "but I was desirous of excusing myself to you, so that you
should not think me cruel in withholding my consent. I wished to make
you believe that I was doing the best for my son."

"I am sure that you think you are, and therefore no excuse is
necessary."

"No, exactly; of course it is a matter of opinion, and I do think so.
I cannot believe that this marriage would make either of you happy,
and therefore I should be very wrong to express my consent."

"Then, Lady Lufton," said Lucy, rising from her chair, "I suppose we
have both now said what is necessary, and I will therefore wish you
good-bye."

"Good-bye, Miss Robarts. I wish I could make you understand how very
highly I regard your conduct in this matter. It has been above all
praise, and so I shall not hesitate to say when speaking of it to
your relatives." This was disagreeable enough to Lucy, who cared
but little for any praise which Lady Lufton might express to her
relatives in this matter. "And pray," continued Lady Lufton, "give
my best love to Mrs. Robarts, and tell her that I shall hope to see
her over here very soon, and Mr. Robarts also. I would name a day for
you all to dine; but perhaps it will be better that I should have a
little talk with Fanny first."

Lucy muttered something, which was intended to signify that any
such dinner party had better not be made up with the intention of
including her, and then took her leave. She had decidedly had the
best of the interview, and there was a consciousness of this in her
heart as she allowed Lady Lufton to shake hands with her. She had
stopped her antagonist short on each occasion on which an attempt had
been made to produce the homily which had been prepared, and during
the interview had spoken probably three words for every one which
her ladyship had been able to utter. But, nevertheless, there was
a bitter feeling of disappointment about her heart as she walked
back home; and a feeling, also, that she herself had caused her own
unhappiness. Why should she have been so romantic and chivalrous and
self-sacrificing, seeing that her romance and chivalry had all been
to his detriment as well as to hers,--seeing that she sacrificed
him as well as herself? Why should she have been so anxious to play
into Lady Lufton's hands? It was not because she thought it right,
as a general social rule, that a lady should refuse a gentleman's
hand, unless the gentleman's mother were a consenting party to the
marriage. She would have held any such doctrine as absurd. The lady,
she would have said, would have had to look to her own family and no
further. It was not virtue but cowardice which had influenced her,
and she had none of that solace which may come to us in misfortune
from a consciousness that our own conduct has been blameless. Lady
Lufton had inspired her with awe, and any such feeling on her part
was mean, ignoble, and unbecoming the spirit with which she wished to
think that she was endowed. That was the accusation which she brought
against herself, and it forbade her to feel any triumph as to the
result of her interview. When she reached the parsonage, Mark was
there, and they were of course expecting her. "Well," said she, in
her short, hurried manner, "is Puck ready again? I have no time to
lose, and I must go and pack up a few things. Have you settled about
the children, Fanny?"

"Yes; I will tell you directly; but you have seen Lady Lufton?"

"Seen her! Oh, yes, of course I have seen her. Did she not send for
me? and in that case it was not on the cards that I should disobey
her."

"And what did she say?"

"How green you are, Mark; and not only green, but impolite also, to
make me repeat the story of my own disgrace. Of course she told me
that she did not intend that I should marry my lord, her son; and of
course I said that under those circumstances I should not think of
doing such a thing."

"Lucy, I cannot understand you," said Fanny, very gravely. "I am
sometimes inclined to doubt whether you have any deep feeling in the
matter or not. If you have, how can you bring yourself to joke about
it?"

"Well, it is singular; and sometimes I doubt myself whether I have.
I ought to be pale, ought I not? and very thin, and to go mad by
degrees? I have not the least intention of doing anything of the
kind, and, therefore, the matter is not worth any further notice."

"But was she civil to you, Lucy?" asked Mark: "civil In her manner,
you know?"

"Oh, uncommonly so. You will hardly believe it, but she actually
asked me to dine. She always does, you know, when she wants to
show her good humour. If you'd broken your leg, and she wished to
commiserate you, she'd ask you to dinner."

"I suppose she meant to be kind," said Fanny, who was not disposed to
give up her old friend, though she was quite ready to fight Lucy's
battle, if there were any occasion for a battle to be fought.

"Lucy is so perverse," said Mark, "that it is impossible to learn
from her what really has taken place."

"Upon my word, then, you know it all as well as I can tell you. She
asked me if Lord Lufton had made me an offer. I said, yes. She asked
next, if I meant to accept it. Not without her approval, I said. And
then she asked us all to dinner. That is exactly what took place, and
I cannot see that I have been perverse at all." After that she threw
herself into a chair, and Mark and Fanny stood looking at each other.

"Mark," she said, after a while, "don't be unkind to me. I make as
little of it as I can, for all our sakes. It is better so, Fanny,
than that I should go about moaning, like a sick cow;" and then they
looked at her, and saw that the tears were already brimming over from
her eyes.

"Dearest, dearest Lucy," said Fanny, immediately going down on her
knees before her, "I won't be unkind to you again." And then they had
a great cry together.



CHAPTER XXXVI

Kidnapping at Hogglestock


The great cry, however, did not take long, and Lucy was soon in the
pony-carriage again. On this occasion her brother volunteered to
drive her, and it was now understood that he was to bring back with
him all the Crawley children. The whole thing had been arranged;
the groom and his wife were to be taken into the house, and the
big bedroom across the yard, usually occupied by them, was to be
converted into a quarantine hospital until such time as it might be
safe to pull down the yellow flag. They were about half-way on their
road to Hogglestock when they were overtaken by a man on horseback,
whom, when he came up beside them, Mr. Robarts recognized as Dr.
Arabin, Dean of Barchester, and head of the chapter to which he
himself belonged. It immediately appeared that the dean also was
going to Hogglestock, having heard of the misfortune that had
befallen his friends there; he had, he said, started as soon as the
news reached him, in order that he might ascertain how best he might
render assistance. To effect this he had undertaken a ride of nearly
forty miles, and explained that he did not expect to reach home again
much before midnight. "You pass by Framley?" said Robarts.

"Yes, I do," said the dean.

"Then of course you will dine with us as you go home; you and your
horse also, which will be quite as important." This having been duly
settled, and the proper ceremony of introduction having taken place
between the dean and Lucy, they proceeded to discuss the character of
Mr. Crawley.

"I have known him all my life," said the dean, "having been at school
and college with him, and for years since that I was on terms of the
closest intimacy with him; but in spite of that, I do not know how to
help him in his need. A prouder-hearted man I never met, or one less
willing to share his sorrows with his friends."

"I have often heard him speak of you," said Mark.

"One of the bitterest feelings I have is that a man so dear to me
should live so near to me, and that I should see so little of him.
But what can I do? He will not come to my house; and when I go to
his he is angry with me because I wear a shovel hat and ride on
horseback."

"I should leave my hat and my horse at the borders of the last
parish," said Lucy, timidly.

"Well; yes, certainly; one ought not to give offence even in such
matters as that; but my coat and waistcoat would then be equally
objectionable. I have changed,--in outward matters I mean,--and he
has not. That irritates him, and unless I could be what I was in the
old days, he will not look at me with the same eyes;" and then he
rode on, in order, as he said, that the first pang of the interview
might be over before Robarts and his sister came upon the scene. Mr.
Crawley was standing before his door, leaning over the little wooden
railing, when the dean trotted up on his horse. He had come out after
hours of close watching to get a few mouthfuls of the sweet summer
air, and as he stood there he held the youngest of his children in
his arms. The poor little baby sat there, quiet indeed, but hardly
happy. This father, though he loved his offspring with an affection
as intense as that which human nature can supply, was not gifted with
the knack of making children fond of him; for it is hardly more than
a knack, that aptitude which some men have of gaining the good graces
of the young. Such men are not always the best fathers or the safest
guardians; but they carry about with them a certain _duc ad me_
which children recognize, and which in three minutes upsets all the
barriers between five and five-and-forty. But Mr. Crawley was a
stern man, thinking ever of the souls and minds of his bairns--as
a father should do; and thinking also that every season was fitted
for operating on these souls and minds--as, perhaps, he should not
have done either as a father or as a teacher. And consequently his
children avoided him when the choice was given them, thereby adding
fresh wounds to his torn heart, but by no means quenching any of the
great love with which he regarded them.

He was standing there thus with a placid little baby in his arms--a
baby placid enough, but one that would not kiss him eagerly, and
stroke his face with her soft little hands, as he would have had her
do--when he saw the dean coming towards him. He was sharp-sighted
as a lynx out in the open air, though now obliged to pore over his
well-fingered books with spectacles on his nose; and thus he knew his
friend from a long distance, and had time to meditate the mode of his
greeting. He too doubtless had come, if not with jelly and chicken,
then with money and advice;--with money and advice such as a thriving
dean might offer to a poor brother clergyman; and Mr. Crawley, though
no husband could possibly be more anxious for a wife's safety than
he was, immediately put his back up and began to bethink himself how
these tenders might be rejected.

"How is she?" were the first words which the dean spoke as he pulled
up his horse close to the little gate, and put out his hand to take
that of his friend.

"How are you, Arabin?" said he. "It is very kind of you to come so
far, seeing how much there is to keep you at Barchester. I cannot
say that she is any better, but I do not know that she is worse.
Sometimes I fancy that she is delirious, though I hardly know. At any
rate her mind wanders, and then after that she sleeps."

"But is the fever less?"

"Sometimes less and sometimes more, I imagine."

"And the children?"

"Poor things; they are well as yet."

"They must be taken from this, Crawley, as a matter of course."

Mr. Crawley fancied that there was a tone of authority in the dean's
advice, and immediately put himself into opposition.

"I do not know how that may be; I have not yet made up my mind."

"But, my dear Crawley--"

"Providence does not admit of such removals in all cases," said he.
"Among the poorer classes the children must endure such perils."

"In many cases it is so," said the dean, by no means inclined to make
an argument of it at the present moment; "but in this case they need
not. You must allow me to make arrangements for sending for them,
as of course your time is occupied here." Miss Robarts, though she
had mentioned her intention of staying with Mrs. Crawley, had said
nothing of the Framley plan with reference to the children.

"What you mean is that you intend to take the burden off my
shoulders--in fact, to pay for them. I cannot allow that, Arabin.
They must take the lot of their father and their mother, as it is
proper that they should do." Again the dean had no inclination for
arguing, and thought it might be well to let the question of the
children drop for a little while.

"And is there no nurse with her?" said he.

"No, no; I am seeing to her myself at the present moment. A woman
will be here just now."

"What woman?"

"Well; her name is Mrs. Stubbs; she lives in the parish. She will put
the younger children to bed, and--and--but it's no use troubling you
with all that. There was a young lady talked of coming, but no doubt
she has found it too inconvenient. It will be better as it is."

"You mean Miss Robarts; she will be here directly; I passed her as
I came here;" and as Dr. Arabin was yet speaking, the noise of the
carriage wheels was heard upon the road.

"I will go in now," said Mr. Crawley, "and see if she still sleeps;"
and then he entered the house, leaving the dean at the door still
seated upon his horse. "He will be afraid of the infection, and I
will not ask him to come in," said Mr. Crawley to himself.

"I shall seem to be prying into his poverty, if I enter unasked,"
said the dean to himself. And so he remained there till Puck, now
acquainted with the locality, stopped at the door.

"Have you not been in?" said Robarts.

"No; Crawley has been at the door talking to me; he will be here
directly, I suppose;" and then Mark Robarts also prepared himself to
wait till the master of the house should reappear. But Lucy had no
such punctilious misgivings; she did not much care now whether she
offended Mr. Crawley or no. Her idea was to place herself by the sick
woman's bedside, and to send the four children away;--with their
father's consent if it might be; but certainly without it if that
consent were withheld. So she got down from the carriage, and taking
certain packages in her hand made her way direct into the house.

"There's a big bundle under the seat, Mark," she said; "I'll come and
fetch it directly, if you'll drag it out." For some five minutes the
two dignitaries of the Church remained at the door, one on his cob
and the other in his low carriage, saying a few words to each other
and waiting till some one should again appear from the house. "It is
all arranged, indeed it is," were the first words which reached their
ears, and these came from Lucy. "There will be no trouble at all, and
no expense, and they shall all come back as soon as Mrs. Crawley is
able to get out of bed."

"But, Miss Robarts, I can assure--" That was Mr. Crawley's voice,
heard from him as he followed Miss Robarts to the door; but one of
the elder children had then called him into the sick room, and Lucy
was left to do her worst.

"Are you going to take the children back with you?" said the dean.

"Yes; Mrs. Robarts has prepared for them."

"You can take greater liberties with my friend here than I can."

"It is all my sister's doing," said Robarts. "Women are always bolder
in such matters than men." And then Lucy reappeared, bringing Bobby
with her, and one of the younger children.

"Do not mind what he says," said she, "but drive away when you have
got them all. Tell Fanny I have put into the basket what things I
could find, but they are very few. She must borrow things for Grace
from Mrs. Granger's little girl"--(Mrs. Granger was the wife of a
Framley farmer);--"and, Mark, turn Puck's head round, so that you may
be off in a moment. I'll have Grace and the other one here directly."
And then, leaving her brother to pack Bobby and his little sister on
the back part of the vehicle, she returned to her business in the
house. She had just looked in at Mrs. Crawley's bed, and finding her
awake, had smiled on her, and deposited her bundle in token of her
intended stay, and then, without speaking a word, had gone on her
errand about the children. She had called to Grace to show her where
she might find such things as were to be taken to Framley, and having
explained to the bairns, as well as she might, the destiny which
immediately awaited them, prepared them for their departure without
saying a word to Mr. Crawley on the subject. Bobby and the elder
of the two infants were stowed away safely in the back part of the
carriage, where they allowed themselves to be placed without saying
a word. They opened their eyes and stared at the dean, who sat by on
his horse, and assented to such orders as Mr. Robarts gave them,--no
doubt with much surprise, but nevertheless in absolute silence.

"Now, Grace, be quick, there's a dear," said Lucy, returning with
the infant in her arms. "And, Grace, mind you are very careful about
baby; and bring the basket; I'll give it you when you are in." Grace
and the other child were then packed on to the other seat, and a
basket with children's clothes put in on the top of them. "That'll
do, Mark; good-bye; tell Fanny to be sure and send the day after
to-morrow, and not to forget--" and then she whispered into her
brother's ear an injunction about certain dairy comforts which might
not be spoken of in the hearing of Mr. Crawley. "Good-bye, dears;
mind you are good children; you shall hear about mamma the day after
to-morrow," said Lucy; and Puck, admonished by a sound from his
master's voice, began to move just as Mr. Crawley reappeared at the
house door.

"Oh, oh, stop!" he said. "Miss Robarts, you really had better not--"

"Go on, Mark," said Lucy, in a whisper, which, whether audible or not
by Mr Crawley, was heard very plainly by the dean. And Mark, who had
slightly arrested Puck by the reins on the appearance of Mr. Crawley,
now touched the impatient little beast with his whip; and the vehicle
with its freight darted off rapidly, Puck shaking his head and going
away with a tremendously quick short trot, which soon separated Mr.
Crawley from his family.

"Miss Robarts," he began, "this step has been taken altogether
without--"

"Yes," said she, interrupting him. "My brother was obliged to return
at once. The children, you know, will remain all together at the
parsonage; and that, I think, is what Mrs. Crawley will best like. In
a day or two they will be under Mrs. Robarts's own charge."

"But, my dear Miss Robarts, I had no intention whatever of putting
the burden of my family on the shoulders of another person. They must
return to their own home immediately--that is, as soon as they can be
brought back."

"I really think Miss Robarts has managed very well," said the dean.
"Mrs. Crawley must be so much more comfortable to think that they are
out of danger."

"And they will be quite comfortable at the parsonage," said Lucy.

"I do not at all doubt that," said Mr. Crawley; "but too much of such
comforts will unfit them for their home; and--and I could have wished
that I had been consulted more at leisure before the proceeding had
been taken."

"It was arranged, Mr. Crawley, when I was here before, that the
children had better go away," pleaded Lucy.

"I do not remember agreeing to such a measure, Miss Robarts;
however-- I suppose they cannot be had back to-night?"

"No, not to-night," said Lucy. "And now I will go in to your wife."
And then she returned to the house, leaving the two gentlemen at the
door. At this moment a labourer's boy came sauntering by, and the
dean, obtaining possession of his services for the custody of his
horse, was able to dismount and put himself on a more equal footing
for conversation with his friend.

"Crawley," said he, putting his hand affectionately on his friend's
shoulder, as they both stood leaning on the little rail before the
door; "that is a good girl--a very good girl."

"Yes," said he slowly; "she means well."

"Nay, but she does well; she does excellently. What can be better
than her conduct now? While I was meditating how I might possibly
assist your wife in this strait--"

"I want no assistance; none, at least, from man," said Crawley,
bitterly.

"Oh, my friend, think of what you are saying! Think of the wickedness
which must accompany such a state of mind! Have you ever known any
man able to walk alone, without assistance from his brother men?"
Mr. Crawley did not make any immediate answer, but putting his arms
behind his back and closing his hands, as was his wont when he walked
alone thinking of the general bitterness of his lot in life, began to
move slowly along the road in front of his house. He did not invite
the other to walk with him, but neither was there anything in his
manner which seemed to indicate that he had intended to be left to
himself. It was a beautiful summer afternoon, at that delicious
period of the year when summer has just burst forth from the growth
of spring; when the summer is yet but three days old, and all the
various shades of green which nature can put forth are still in their
unsoiled purity of freshness. The apple blossoms were on the trees,
and the hedges were sweet with May. The cuckoo at five o'clock was
still sounding his soft summer call with unabated energy, and even
the common grasses of the hedgerows were sweet with the fragrance of
their new growth. The foliage of the oaks was complete, so that every
bough and twig was clothed; but the leaves did not yet hang heavy in
masses, and the bend of every bough and the tapering curve of every
twig were visible through their light green covering. There is no
time of the year equal in beauty to the first week in summer: and
no colour which nature gives, not even the gorgeous hues of autumn,
which can equal the verdure produced by the first warm suns of May.

Hogglestock, as has been explained, has little to offer in the way
of landskip beauty, and the clergyman's house at Hogglestock was not
placed on a green slopy bank of land, retired from the road, with its
windows opening on to a lawn, surrounded by shrubs, with a view of
the small church tower seen through them; it had none of that beauty
which is so common to the cosy houses of our spiritual pastors in
the agricultural parts of England. Hogglestock parsonage stood bleak
beside the road, with no pretty paling lined inside by hollies and
laburnum, Portugal laurels and rose-trees. But, nevertheless, even
Hogglestock was pretty now. There were apple-trees there covered with
blossom, and the hedgerows were in full flower. There were thrushes
singing, and here and there an oak-tree stood in the roadside,
perfect in its solitary beauty.

"Let us walk on a little," said the dean. "Miss Robarts is with her
now, and you will be better for leaving the room for a few minutes."

"No," said he; "I must go back; I cannot leave that young lady to do
my work."

"Stop, Crawley!" And the dean, putting his hand upon him, stayed him
in the road. "She is doing her own work, and if you were speaking of
her with reference to any other household than your own, you would
say so. Is it not a comfort to you to know that your wife has a woman
near her at such a time as this; and a woman, too, who can speak to
her as one lady does to another?"

"These are comforts which we have no right to expect. I could not
have done much for poor Mary; but what a man could have done should
not have been wanting."

"I am sure of it; I know it well. What any man could do by himself
you would do--excepting one thing." And the dean as he spoke looked
full into the other's face.

"And what is there I would not do?" said Crawley.

"Sacrifice your own pride."

"My pride?"

"Yes; your own pride."

"I have had but little pride this many a day. Arabin, you do not know
what my life has been. How is a man to be proud who--" And then he
stopped himself, not wishing to go through the catalogue of those
grievances, which, as he thought, had killed the very germs of pride
within him, or to insist by spoken words on his poverty, his wants,
and the injustice of his position. "No; I wish I could be proud; but
the world has been too heavy to me, and I have forgotten all that."

"How long have I known you, Crawley?"

"How long? Ah dear! a lifetime nearly, now."

"And we were like brothers once."

"Yes; we were equal as brothers then--in our fortunes, our tastes,
and our modes of life."

"And yet you would begrudge me the pleasure of putting my hand in my
pocket, and relieving the inconveniences which have been thrown on
you, and those you love better than yourself, by the chances of your
fate in life."

"I will live on no man's charity," said Crawley, with an abruptness
which amounted almost to an expression of anger.

"And is not that pride?"

"No--yes;--it is a species of pride, but not that pride of which
you spoke. A man cannot be honest if he have not some pride. You
yourself; would you not rather starve than become a beggar?"

"I would rather beg than see my wife starve," said Arabin.

Crawley when he heard these words turned sharply round, and stood
with his back to the dean, with his hands still behind him, and with
his eyes fixed upon the ground.

"But in this case there is no question of begging," continued the
dean. "I, out of those superfluities which it has pleased God to put
at my disposal, am anxious to assist the needs of those whom I love."

"She is not starving," said Crawley, in a voice very bitter, but
still intended to be exculpatory of himself.

"No, my dear friend; I know she is not, and do not you be angry
with me because I have endeavoured to put the matter to you in the
strongest language I could use."

"You look at it, Arabin, from one side only; I can only look at it
from the other. It is very sweet to give; I do not doubt that. But
the taking of what is given is very bitter. Gift bread chokes in a
man's throat and poisons his blood, and sits like lead upon the
heart. You have never tried it."

"But that is the very fault for which I blame you. That is the pride
which I say you ought to sacrifice."

"And why should I be called on to do so? Is not the labourer worthy
of his hire? Am I not able to work, and willing? Have I not always
had my shoulder to the collar, and is it right that I should now be
contented with the scraps from a rich man's kitchen? Arabin, you
and I were equal once and we were then friends, understanding each
other's thoughts and sympathizing with each other's sorrows. But it
cannot be so now."

"If there be such inability, it is all with you."

"It is all with me,--because in our connexion the pain would all be
on my side. It would not hurt you to see me at your table with worn
shoes and a ragged shirt. I do not think so meanly of you as that.
You would give me your feast to eat though I were not clad a tithe as
well as the menial behind your chair. But it would hurt me to know
that there were those looking at me who thought me unfit to sit in
your rooms."

"That is the pride of which I speak;--false pride."

"Call it so if you will; but, Arabin, no preaching of yours can alter
it. It is all that is left to me of my manliness. That poor broken
reed who is lying there sick,--who has sacrificed all the world to
her love for me,--who is the mother of my children, and the partner
of my sorrows and the wife of my bosom,--even she cannot change me in
this, though she pleads with the eloquence of all her wants. Not even
for her can I hold out my hand for a dole." They had now come back to
the door of the house, and Mr. Crawley, hardly conscious of what he
was doing, was preparing to enter.

"Will Mrs. Crawley be able to see me if I come in?" said the dean.

"Oh, stop; no; you had better not do so," said Mr. Crawley. "You, no
doubt, might be subject to infection, and then Mrs. Arabin would be
frightened."

"I do not care about it in the least," said the dean.

"But it is of no use; you had better not. Her room, I fear, is
quite unfit for you to see; and the whole house, you know, may be
infected." Dr. Arabin by this time was in the sitting-room; but
seeing that his friend was really anxious that he should not go
farther, he did not persist.

"It will be a comfort to us, at any rate, to know that Miss Robarts
is with her."

"The young lady is very good--very good indeed," said Crawley; "but
I trust she will return to her home to-morrow. It is impossible that
she should remain in so poor a house as mine. There will be nothing
here of all the things that she will want." The dean thought that
Lucy Robarts's wants during her present occupation of nursing would
not be so numerous as to make her continued sojourn in Mrs. Crawley's
sick room impossible, and therefore took his leave with a satisfied
conviction that the poor lady would not be left wholly to the
somewhat unskilful nursing of her husband.



CHAPTER XXXVII

Mr. Sowerby without Company


And now there were going to be wondrous doings in West Barsetshire,
and men's minds were much disturbed. The fiat had gone forth from the
high places, and the Queen had dissolved her faithful Commons. The
giants, finding that they could effect little or nothing with the old
House, had resolved to try what a new venture would do for them, and
the hubbub of a general election was to pervade the country. This
produced no inconsiderable irritation and annoyance, for the House
was not as yet quite three years old; and members of Parliament,
though they naturally feel a constitutional pleasure in meeting
their friends and in pressing the hands of their constituents, are,
nevertheless, so far akin to the lower order of humanity that they
appreciate the danger of losing their seats; and the certainty of
a considerable outlay in their endeavours to retain them is not
agreeable to the legislative mind. Never did the old family fury
between the gods and giants rage higher than at the present moment.
The giants declared that every turn which they attempted to take in
their country's service had been thwarted by faction, in spite of
those benign promises of assistance made to them only a few weeks
since by their opponents; and the gods answered by asserting that
they were driven to this opposition by the Boeotian fatuity of the
giants. They had no doubt promised their aid, and were ready to give
it to measures that were decently prudent; but not to a bill enabling
Government at its will to pension aged bishops! No; there must be
some limit to their tolerance, and when such attempts as these were
made that limit had been clearly passed. All this had taken place
openly only a day or two after that casual whisper dropped by Tom
Towers at Miss Dunstable's party--by Tom Towers, that most pleasant
of all pleasant fellows. And how should he have known it,--he who
flutters from one sweetest flower of the garden to another,


   "Adding sugar to the pink, and honey to the rose,
    So loved for what he gives, but taking nothing as he goes"?


But the whisper had grown into a rumour, and the rumour into a
fact, and the political world was in a ferment. The giants, furious
about their bishops' pension bill, threatened the House--most
injudiciously; and then it was beautiful to see how indignant members
got up, glowing with honesty, and declared that it was base to
conceive that any gentleman in that House could be actuated in his
vote by any hopes or fears with reference to his seat. And so matters
grew from bad to worse, and these contending parties never hit at
each other with such envenomed wrath as they did now;--having entered
the ring together so lately with such manifold promises of good-will,
respect, and forbearance!

But going from the general to the particular, we may say that nowhere
was a deeper consternation spread than in the electoral division
of West Barsetshire. No sooner had the tidings of the dissolution
reached the county than it was known that the duke intended to change
his nominee. Mr. Sowerby had now sat for the division since the
Reform Bill! He had become one of the county institutions, and by the
dint of custom and long establishment had been borne with and even
liked by the county gentlemen, in spite of his well-known pecuniary
irregularities. Now all this was to be changed. No reason had as yet
been publicly given, but it was understood that Lord Dumbello was to
be returned, although he did not own an acre of land in the county.
It is true that rumour went on to say that Lord Dumbello was about to
form close connexions with Barsetshire. He was on the eve of marrying
a young lady, from the other division indeed, and was now engaged,
so it was said, in completing arrangements with the Government for
the purchase of that noble Crown property usually known as the
Chace of Chaldicotes. It was also stated--this statement, however,
had hitherto been only announced in confidential whispers--that
Chaldicotes House itself would soon become the residence of the
marquis. The duke was claiming it as his own--would very shortly
have completed his claims and taken possession:--and then, by some
arrangement between them, it was to be made over to Lord Dumbello.
But very contrary rumours to these got abroad also. Men said--such
as dared to oppose the duke, and some few also who did not dare
to oppose him when the day of battle came--that it was beyond his
grace's power to turn Lord Dumbello into a Barsetshire magnate. The
Crown property--such men said--was to fall into the hands of young
Mr. Gresham, of Boxall Hill, in the other division, and that the
terms of purchase had been already settled. And as to Mr. Sowerby's
property and the house of Chaldicotes--these opponents of the Omnium
interest went on to explain--it was by no means as yet so certain
that the duke would be able to enter it and take possession. The
place was not to be given up to him quietly. A great fight would be
made, and it was beginning to be believed that the enormous mortgages
would be paid off by a lady of immense wealth. And then a dash of
romance was not wanting to make these stories palatable. This lady of
immense wealth had been courted by Mr. Sowerby, had acknowledged her
love,--but had refused to marry him on account of his character. In
testimony of her love, however, she was about to pay all his debts.

It was soon put beyond a rumour, and became manifest enough, that Mr.
Sowerby did not intend to retire from the county in obedience to the
duke's behests. A placard was posted through the whole division in
which no allusion was made by name to the duke, but in which Mr.
Sowerby warned his friends not to be led away by any report that he
intended to retire from the representation of West Barsetshire. "He
had sat," the placard said, "for the same county during the full
period of a quarter of a century, and he would not lightly give up an
honour that had been extended to him so often and which he prized so
dearly. There were but few men now in the House whose connexion with
the same body of constituents had remained unbroken so long as had
that which bound him to West Barsetshire; and he confidently hoped
that that connexion might be continued through another period of
coming years till he might find himself in the glorious position of
being the father of the county members of the House of Commons." The
placard said much more than this, and hinted at sundry and various
questions, all of great interest to the county; but it did not say
one word of the Duke of Omnium, though every one knew what the
duke was supposed to be doing in the matter. He was, as it were, a
great Llama, shut up in a holy of holies, inscrutable, invisible,
inexorable,--not to be seen by men's eyes or heard by their ears,
hardly to be mentioned by ordinary men at such periods as these
without an inward quaking. But, nevertheless, it was he who was
supposed to rule them. Euphemism required that his name should
be mentioned at no public meetings in connexion with the coming
election; but, nevertheless, most men in the county believed that
he could send his dog up to the House of Commons as member for West
Barsetshire if it so pleased him.

It was supposed, therefore, that our friend Sowerby would have no
chance; but he was lucky in finding assistance in a quarter from
which he certainly had not deserved it. He had been a staunch friend
of the gods during the whole of his political life,--as, indeed, was
to be expected, seeing that he had been the duke's nominee; but,
nevertheless, on the present occasion, all the giants connected with
the county came forward to his rescue. They did not do this with the
acknowledged purpose of opposing the duke; they declared that they
were actuated by a generous disinclination to see an old county
member put from his seat; but the world knew that the battle was to
be waged against the great Llama. It was to be a contest between the
powers of aristocracy and the powers of oligarchy, as those powers
existed in West Barsetshire,--and, it may be added, that democracy
would have very little to say to it, on one side or on the other.
The lower order of voters, the small farmers and tradesmen, would no
doubt range themselves on the side of the duke, and would endeavour
to flatter themselves that they were thereby furthering the views of
the Liberal side; but they would in fact be led to the poll by an
old-fashioned, time-honoured adherence to the will of their great
Llama; and by an apprehension of evil if that Llama should arise and
shake himself in his wrath. What might not come to the county if the
Llama were to walk himself off, he with his satellites and armies and
courtiers? There he was, a great Llama; and though he came among them
but seldom, and was scarcely seen when he did come, nevertheless--and
not the less but rather the more--was obedience to him considered as
salutary and opposition regarded as dangerous. A great rural Llama
is still sufficiently mighty in rural England. But the priest of
the temple, Mr. Fothergill, was frequent enough in men's eyes, and
it was beautiful to hear with how varied a voice he alluded to the
things around him and to the changes which were coming. To the small
farmers, not only on the Gatherum property, but on others also, he
spoke of the duke as a beneficent influence shedding prosperity on
all around him, keeping up prices by his presence, and forbidding
the poor rates to rise above one and fourpence in the pound by the
general employment which he occasioned. Men must be mad, he thought,
who would willingly fly in the duke's face. To the squires from a
distance he declared that no one had a right to charge the duke
with any interference; as far, at least, as he knew the duke's mind.
People would talk of things of which they understood nothing. Could
any one say that he had traced a single request for a vote home to
the duke? All this did not alter the settled conviction on men's
minds; but it had its effect, and tended to increase the mystery in
which the duke's doings were enveloped. But to his own familiars, to
the gentry immediately around him, Mr. Fothergill merely winked his
eye. They knew what was what, and so did he. The duke had never been
bit yet in such matters, and Mr. Fothergill did not think that he
would now submit himself to any such operation.

I never heard in what manner and at what rate Mr. Fothergill received
remuneration for the various services performed by him with reference
to the duke's property in Barsetshire; but I am very sure that,
whatever might be the amount, he earned it thoroughly. Never was
there a more faithful partisan, or one who, in his partisanship, was
more discreet. In this matter of the coming election he declared that
he himself--personally, on his own hook--did intend to bestir himself
actively on behalf of Lord Dumbello. Mr. Sowerby was an old friend of
his, and a very good fellow. That was true. But all the world must
admit that Sowerby was not in the position which a county member
ought to occupy. He was a ruined man, and it would not be for his own
advantage that he should be maintained in a position which was fit
only for a man of property. He knew--he, Fothergill--that Mr. Sowerby
must abandon all right and claim to Chaldicotes; and if so, what
would be more absurd than to acknowledge that he had a right and
claim to the seat in Parliament? As to Lord Dumbello, it was probable
that he would soon become one of the largest landowners in the
county; and, as such, who could be more fit for the representation?
Beyond this, Mr. Fothergill was not ashamed to confess--so he
said--that he hoped to hold Lord Dumbello's agency. It would be
compatible with his other duties, and therefore, as a matter of
course, he intended to support Lord Dumbello; he himself, that is. As
to the duke's mind in the matter--! But I have already explained how
Mr. Fothergill disposed of that.

In these days, Mr. Sowerby came down to his own house--for ostensibly
it was still his own house--but he came very quietly, and his arrival
was hardly known in his own village. Though his placard was stuck
up so widely, he himself took no electioneering steps; none, at
least, as yet. The protection against arrest which he derived from
Parliament would soon be over, and those who were most bitter against
the duke averred that steps would be taken to arrest him, should he
give sufficient opportunity to the myrmidons of the law. That he
would, in such case, be arrested was very likely; but it was not
likely that this would be done in any way at the duke's instance. Mr.
Fothergill declared indignantly that this insinuation made him very
angry; but he was too prudent a man to be very angry at anything, and
he knew how to make capital on his own side of charges such as these
which overshot their own mark. Mr. Sowerby came down very quietly to
Chaldicotes, and there he remained for a couple of days, quite alone.
The place bore a very different aspect now to that which we noticed
when Mark Robarts drove up to it, in the early pages of this little
narrative. There were no lights in the windows now, and no voices
came from the stables; no dogs barked, and all was dead and silent
as the grave. During the greater portion of those two days he sat
alone within the house, almost unoccupied. He did not even open his
letters, which lay piled on a crowded table in the small breakfast
parlour in which he sat; for the letters of such men come in piles,
and there are few of them which are pleasant in the reading. There
he sat, troubled with thoughts which were sad enough, now and then
moving to and fro the house, but for the most part occupied in
thinking over the position to which he had brought himself. What
would he be in the world's eye, if he ceased to be the owner of
Chaldicotes, and ceased also to be the member for his county? He
had lived ever before the world, and, though always harassed by
encumbrances, had been sustained and comforted by the excitement of
a prominent position. His debts and difficulties had hitherto been
bearable, and he had borne them with ease so long that he had almost
taught himself to think that they would never be unendurable. But
now--

The order for foreclosing had gone forth, and the harpies of the law,
by their present speed in sticking their claws into the carcass of
his property, were atoning to themselves for the delay with which
they had hitherto been compelled to approach their prey. And the
order as to his seat had gone forth also. That placard had been drawn
up by the combined efforts of his sister, Miss Dunstable, and a
certain well-known electioneering agent, named Closerstill, presumed
to be in the interest of the giants. But poor Sowerby had but little
confidence in the placard. No one knew better than he how great was
the duke's power. He was hopeless, therefore, as he walked about
through those empty rooms, thinking of his past life and of that life
which was to come. Would it not be well for him that he were dead,
now that he was dying to all that had made the world pleasant? We see
and hear of such men as Mr. Sowerby, and are apt to think that they
enjoy all that the world can give, and that they enjoy that all
without payment either in care or labour; but I doubt that, with
even the most callous of them, their periods of wretchedness must
be frequent, and that wretchedness very intense. Salmon and lamb in
February, and green pease and new potatoes in March, can hardly make
a man happy, even though nobody pays for them; and the feeling that
one is an _antecedentem scelestum_ after whom a sure, though lame,
Nemesis is hobbling, must sometimes disturb one's slumbers. On the
present occasion Scelestus felt that his Nemesis had overtaken him.
Lame as she had been, and swift as he had run, she had mouthed him at
last, and there was nothing left for him but to listen to the "whoop"
set up at the sight of his own death-throes.

It was a melancholy, dreary place now, that big house of Chaldicotes;
and though the woods were all green with their early leaves, and the
garden thick with flowers, they also were melancholy and dreary.
The lawns were untrimmed and weeds were growing through the gravel,
and here and there a cracked Dryad, tumbled from her pedestal and
sprawling in the grass, gave a look of disorder to the whole place.
The wooden trellis-work was shattered here and bending there, the
standard rose-trees were stooping to the ground, and the leaves of
the winter still encumbered the borders. Late in the evening of the
second day Mr. Sowerby strolled out, and went through the gardens
into the wood. Of all the inanimate things of the world this wood of
Chaldicotes was the dearest to him. He was not a man to whom his
companions gave much credit for feelings or thoughts akin to poetry,
but here, out in the Chace, his mind would be almost poetical. While
wandering among the forest trees, he became susceptible of the
tenderness of human nature: he would listen to the birds singing,
and pick here and there a wild flower on his path. He would watch
the decay of the old trees and the progress of the young, and make
pictures in his eyes of every turn in the wood. He would mark the
colour of a bit of road as it dipped into a dell, and then, passing
through a water-course, rose brown, rough, irregular, and beautiful
against the bank on the other side. And then he would sit and think
of his old family: how they had roamed there time out of mind in
those Chaldicotes woods, father and son and grandson in regular
succession, each giving them over, without blemish or decrease, to
his successor. So he would sit; and so he did sit even now, and,
thinking of these things, wished that he had never been born.

It was dark night when he returned to the house, and as he did so he
resolved that he would quit the place altogether, and give up the
battle as lost. The duke should take it and do as he pleased with
it; and as for the seat in Parliament, Lord Dumbello, or any other
equally gifted young patrician, might hold it for him. He would
vanish from the scene and betake himself to some land from whence he
would be neither heard nor seen, and there--starve. Such were now his
future outlooks into the world; and yet, as regards health and all
physical capacities, he knew that he was still in the prime of his
life. Yes; in the prime of his life! But what could he do with what
remained to him of such prime? How could he turn either his mind or
his strength to such account as might now be serviceable? How could
he, in his sore need, earn for himself even the barest bread? Would
it not be better for him that he should die? Let not any one covet
the lot of a spendthrift, even though the days of his early pease and
champagne seem to be unnumbered; for that lame Nemesis will surely be
up before the game has been all played out. When Mr. Sowerby reached
his house he found that a message by telegraph had arrived for him
in his absence. It was from his sister, and it informed him that she
would be with him that night. She was coming down by the mail train,
had telegraphed to Barchester for post-horses, and would be at
Chaldicotes about two hours after midnight. It was therefore manifest
enough that her business was of importance. Exactly at two the
Barchester post-chaise did arrive, and Mrs. Harold Smith, before she
retired to her bed, was closeted for about an hour with her brother.
"Well," she said, the following morning, as they sat together at the
breakfast table, "what do you say to it now? If you accept her offer
you should be with her lawyer this afternoon."

"I suppose I must accept it," said he.

"Certainly, I think so. No doubt it will take the property out of
your own hands as completely as though the duke had it, but it will
leave you the house, at any rate, for your life."

"What good will the house be, when I can't keep it up?"

"But I am not so sure of that. She will not want more than her fair
interest; and as it will be thoroughly well managed, I should think
that there would be something over--something enough to keep up the
house. And then, you know, we must have some place in the country."

"I tell you fairly, Harriet, that I will have nothing further to do
with Harold in the way of money."

"Ah! that was because you would go to him. Why did you not come to
me? And then, Nathaniel, it is the only way in which you can have a
chance of keeping the seat. She is the queerest woman I ever met, but
she seems resolved on beating the duke."

"I do not quite understand it, but I have not the slightest
objection."

"She thinks that he is interfering with young Gresham about the Crown
property. I had no idea that she had so much business at her fingers'
ends. When I first proposed the matter she took it up quite as a
lawyer might, and seemed to have forgotten altogether what occurred
about that other matter."

"I wish I could forget it also," said Mr. Sowerby.

"I really think that she does. When I was obliged to make some
allusion to it--at least I felt myself obliged, and was very sorry
afterwards that I did--she merely laughed--a great loud laugh as she
always does, and then went on about the business. However, she was
clear about this, that all the expenses of the election should be
added to the sum to be advanced by her, and that the house should be
left to you without any rent. If you choose to take the land round
the house you must pay for it, by the acre, as the tenants do. She
was as clear about it all as though she had passed her life in a
lawyer's office."

My readers will now pretty well understand what last step that
excellent sister, Mrs. Harold Smith, had taken on her brother's
behalf, nor will they be surprised to learn that in the course
of the day Mr. Sowerby hurried back to town and put himself into
communication with Miss Dunstable's lawyer.



CHAPTER XXXVIII

Is There Cause or Just Impediment?


I now purpose to visit another country house in Barsetshire, but on
this occasion our sojourn shall be in the eastern division, in which,
as in every other county in England, electioneering matters are
paramount at the present moment. It has been mentioned that Mr.
Gresham, junior, young Frank Gresham as he was always called, lived
at a place called Boxall Hill. This property had come to his wife by
will, and he was now settled there,--seeing that his father still
held the family seat of the Greshams at Greshamsbury. At the present
moment Miss Dunstable was staying at Boxall Hill with Mrs. Frank
Gresham. They had left London, as, indeed, all the world had done,
to the terrible dismay of the London tradesmen. This dissolution of
Parliament was ruining everybody except the country publicans, and
had of course destroyed the London season among other things.

Mrs. Harold Smith had only just managed to catch Miss Dunstable
before she left London; but she did do so, and the great heiress
had at once seen her lawyers, and instructed them how to act with
reference to the mortgages on the Chaldicotes property. Miss
Dunstable was in the habit of speaking of herself and her own
pecuniary concerns as though she herself were rarely allowed to
meddle in their management; but this was one of those small jokes
which she ordinarily perpetrated; for in truth few ladies, and
perhaps not many gentlemen, have a more thorough knowledge of their
own concerns or a more potent voice in their own affairs, than was
possessed by Miss Dunstable. Circumstances had lately brought her
much into Barsetshire, and she had there contracted very intimate
friendships. She was now disposed to become, if possible, a
Barsetshire proprietor, and with this view had lately agreed with
young Mr. Gresham that she would become the purchaser of the Crown
property. As, however, the purchase had been commenced in his name,
it was so to be continued; but now, as we are aware, it was rumoured
that, after all, the duke, or, if not the duke, then the Marquis of
Dumbello, was to be the future owner of the Chace. Miss Dunstable,
however, was not a person to give up her object if she could attain
it, nor, under the circumstances, was she at all displeased at
finding herself endowed with the power of rescuing the Sowerby
portion of the Chaldicotes property from the duke's clutches. Why
had the duke meddled with her or with her friend, as to the other
property? Therefore it was arranged that the full amount due to the
duke on mortgage should be ready for immediate payment; but it was
arranged also that the security as held by Miss Dunstable should be
very valid.

Miss Dunstable, at Boxall Hill or at Greshamsbury, was a very
different person from Miss Dunstable in London; and it was this
difference which so much vexed Mrs. Gresham; not that her friend
omitted to bring with her into the country her London wit and
aptitude for fun, but that she did not take with her up to town the
genuine goodness and love of honesty which made her lovable in the
country. She was, as it were, two persons, and Mrs. Gresham could not
understand that any lady should permit herself to be more worldly at
one time of the year than at another--or in one place than in any
other. "Well, my dear, I am heartily glad we've done with that," Miss
Dunstable said to her, as she sat herself down to her desk in the
drawing-room on the first morning after her arrival at Boxall Hill.

"What does 'that' mean?" said Mrs. Gresham.

"Why, London and smoke and late hours, and standing on one's legs
for four hours at a stretch on the top of one's own staircase, to be
bowed at by any one who chooses to come. That's all done--for one
year, at any rate."

"You know you like it."

"No, Mary; that's just what I don't know. I don't know whether I like
it or not. Sometimes, when the spirit of that dearest of all women,
Mrs. Harold Smith, is upon me, I think that I do like it; but then,
again, when other spirits are on me, I think that I don't."

"And who are the owners of the other spirits?"

"Oh, you are one, of course. But you are a weak little thing, by no
means able to contend with such a Samson as Mrs. Harold. And then you
are a little given to wickedness yourself, you know. You've learned
to like London well enough since you sat down to the table of Dives.
Your uncle--he's the real, impracticable, unapproachable Lazarus who
declares that he can't come down because of the big gulf. I wonder
how he'd behave, if somebody left him ten thousand a year?"

"Uncommonly well, I am sure."

"Oh, yes; he is a Lazarus now, so of course we are bound to speak
well of him; but I should like to see him tried. I don't doubt but
what he'd have a house in Belgrave Square, and become noted for his
little dinners before the first year of his trial was over."

"Well, and why not? You would not wish him to be an anchorite?"

"I am told that he is going to try his luck--not with ten thousand a
year, but with one or two."

"What do you mean?"

"Jane tells me that they all say at Greshamsbury that he is going to
marry Lady Scatcherd." Now Lady Scatcherd was a widow living in those
parts; an excellent woman, but one not formed by nature to grace
society of the highest order.

"What!" exclaimed Mrs. Gresham, rising up from her chair, while her
eyes flashed with anger at such a rumour.

"Well, my dear, don't eat me. I don't say it is so; I only say that
Jane said so."

"Then you ought to send Jane out of the house."

"You may be sure of this, my dear: Jane would not have told me if
somebody had not told her."

"And you believed it?"

"I have said nothing about that."

"But you look as if you had believed it."

"Do I? Let us see what sort of a look it is, this look of faith."
And Miss Dunstable got up and went to the glass over the fireplace.
"But, Mary, my dear, ain't you old enough to know that you should not
credit people's looks? You should believe nothing nowadays; and I did
not believe the story about poor Lady Scatcherd. I know the doctor
well enough to be sure that he is not a marrying man."

"What a nasty, hackneyed, false phrase that is--that of a marrying
man! It sounds as though some men were in the habit of getting
married three or four times a month."

"It means a great deal all the same. One can tell very soon whether a
man is likely to marry or no."

"And can one tell the same of a woman?"

"The thing is so different. All unmarried women are necessarily in
the market; but if they behave themselves properly they make no
signs. Now there was Griselda Grantly; of course she intended to get
herself a husband, and a very grand one she has got: but she always
looked as though butter would not melt in her mouth. It would have
been very wrong to call her a marrying girl."

"Oh, of course she was," says Mrs. Gresham, with that sort of
acrimony which one pretty young woman so frequently expresses with
reference to another. "But if one could always tell of a woman, as
you say you can of a man, I should be able to tell of you. Now, I
wonder whether you are a marrying woman? I have never been able to
make up my mind yet."

Miss Dunstable remained silent for a few moments, as though she were
at first minded to take the question as being, in some sort, one made
in earnest; but then she attempted to laugh it off. "Well, I wonder
at that," said she, "as it was only the other day I told you how many
offers I had refused."

"Yes; but you did not tell me whether any had been made that you
meant to accept."

"None such was ever made to me. Talking of that, I shall never forget
your cousin, the Honourable George."

"He is not my cousin."

"Well, your husband's. It would not be fair to show a man's letters;
but I should like to show you his."

"You are determined, then, to remain single?"

"I didn't say that. But why do you cross-question me so?"

"Because I think so much about you. I am afraid that you will become
so afraid of men's motives as to doubt that any one can be honest.
And yet sometimes I think you would be a happier woman and a better
woman, if you were married."

"To such an one as the Honourable George, for instance?"

"No, not to such an one as him; you have probably picked out the
worst."

"Or to Mr. Sowerby?"

"Well, no; not to Mr. Sowerby, either. I would not have you marry any
man that looked to you for your money principally."

"And how is it possible that I should expect any one to look to me
principally for anything else? You don't see my difficulty, my dear?
If I had only five hundred a year, I might come across some decent
middle-aged personage, like myself, who would like me, myself, pretty
well, and would like my little income--pretty well also. He would not
tell me any violent lie, and perhaps no lie at all. I should take to
him in the same sort of way, and we might do very well. But, as it
is, how is it possible that any disinterested person should learn
to like me? How could such a man set about it? If a sheep have two
heads, is not the fact of the two heads the first and, indeed, only
thing which the world regards in that sheep? Must it not be so as a
matter of course? I am a sheep with two heads. All this money which
my father put together, and which has been growing since like grass
under May showers, has turned me into an abortion. I am not the
giantess eight feet high, or the dwarf that stands in the man's
hand--"

"Or the two-headed sheep--"

"But I am the unmarried woman with--half a dozen millions of
money--as I believe some people think. Under such circumstances have
I a fair chance of getting my own sweet bit of grass to nibble, like
any ordinary animal with one head? I never was very beautiful, and I
am not more so now than I was fifteen years ago."

"I am quite sure it is not that which hinders it. You would not call
yourself plain; and even plain women are married every day, and are
loved too, as well as pretty women."

"Are they? Well, we won't say more about that; but I don't expect a
great many lovers on account of my beauty. If ever you hear of such
an one, mind you tell me." It was almost on Mrs. Gresham's tongue to
say that she did know of one such--meaning her uncle. But in truth,
she did not know any such thing; nor could she boast to herself that
she had good grounds for feeling that it was so--certainly none
sufficient to justify her in speaking of it. Her uncle had said no
word to her on the matter, and had been confused and embarrassed when
the idea of such a marriage was hinted to him. But, nevertheless,
Mrs. Gresham did think that each of these two was well inclined to
love the other, and that they would be happier together than they
would be single. The difficulty, however, was very great, for the
doctor would be terribly afraid of being thought covetous in regard
to Miss Dunstable's money; and it would hardly be expected that she
should be induced to make the first overture to the doctor.

"My uncle would be the only man that I can think of that would be at
all fit for you," said Mrs. Gresham, boldly.

"What, and rob poor Lady Scatcherd!" said Miss Dunstable.

"Oh, very well. If you choose to make a joke of his name in that way
I have done."

"Why, God bless the girl, what does she want me to say? And as for
joking, surely that is innocent enough. You're as tender about the
doctor as though he were a girl of seventeen."

"It's not about him; but it's such a shame to laugh at poor dear Lady
Scatcherd. If she were to hear it she'd lose all comfort in having my
uncle near her."

"And I'm to marry him, so that she may be safe with her friend!"

"Very well; I have done." And Mrs. Gresham, who had already got
up from her seat, employed herself very sedulously in arranging
flowers which had been brought in for the drawing-room tables. Thus
they remained silent for a minute or two, during which she began to
reflect that, after all, it might probably be thought that she also
was endeavouring to catch the great heiress for her uncle.

"And now you are angry with me," said Miss Dunstable.

"No, I am not."

"Oh, but you are. Do you think I'm such a fool as not to see when a
person's vexed? You wouldn't have twitched that geranium's head off
if you'd been in a proper frame of mind."

"I don't like that joke about Lady Scatcherd."

"And is that all, Mary? Now do try and be true, it you can. You
remember the bishop? _Magna est veritas._"

"The fact is you've got into such a way of being sharp, and saying
sharp things among your friends up in London, that you can hardly
answer a person without it."

"Can't I! Dear, dear, what a Mentor you are, Mary! No poor lad that
ever ran up from Oxford for a spree in town got so lectured for his
dissipation and iniquities as I do. Well, I beg Dr. Thorne's pardon,
and Lady Scatcherd's, and I won't be sharp any more; and I will--let
me see, what was it I was to do? Marry him myself, I believe; was not
that it?"

"No; you're not half good enough for him."

"I know that. I'm quite sure of that. Though I am so sharp, I'm very
humble. You can't accuse me of putting any very great value on
myself."

"Perhaps not as much as you ought to do--on yourself."

"Now what do you mean, Mary? I won't be bullied and teased, and have
innuendoes thrown out at me, because you've got something on your
mind, and don't quite dare to speak it out. If you have got anything
to say, say it." But Mrs. Gresham did not choose to say it at that
moment. She held her peace, and went on arranging her flowers--now
with a more satisfied air, and without destruction to the geraniums.
And when she had grouped her bunches properly she carried the jar
from one part of the room to another, backwards and forwards, trying
the effect of the colours, as though her mind was quite intent upon
her flowers, and was for the moment wholly unoccupied with any other
subject. But Miss Dunstable was not the woman to put up with this.
She sat silent in her place, while her friend made one or two turns
about the room; and then she got up from her seat also.

"Mary," she said, "give over about those wretched bits of green
branches, and leave the jars where they are. You're trying to fidget
me into a passion."

"Am I?" said Mrs. Gresham, standing opposite to a big bowl, and
putting her head a little on one side, as though she could better
look at her handiwork in that position.

"You know you are; and it's all because you lack courage to speak
out. You didn't begin at me in this way for nothing."

"I do lack courage. That's just it," said Mrs. Gresham, still giving
a twist here and a set there to some of the small sprigs which
constituted the background of her bouquet. "I do lack courage--to
have ill motives imputed to me. I was thinking of saying something,
and I am afraid, and therefore I will not say it. And now, if you
like, I will be ready to take you out in ten minutes." But Miss
Dunstable was not going to be put off in this way. And to tell the
truth, I must admit that her friend Mrs. Gresham was not using her
altogether well. She should either have held her peace on the matter
altogether--which would probably have been her wiser course--or she
should have declared her own ideas boldly, feeling secure in her own
conscience as to her own motives. "I shall not stir from this room,"
said Miss Dunstable, "till I have had this matter out with you. And
as for imputations--my imputing bad motives to you--I don't know how
far you may be joking, and saying what you call sharp things to me;
but you have no right to think that I should think evil of you. If
you really do think so, it is treason to the love I have for you. If
I thought that you thought so, I could not remain in the house with
you. What, you are not able to know the difference which one makes
between one's real friends and one's mock friends! I don't believe
it of you, and I know you are only striving to bully me." And Miss
Dunstable now took her turn of walking up and down the room.

"Well, she shan't be bullied," said Mis. Gresham, leaving her
flowers, and putting her arm round her friend's waist;--"at least,
not here, in this house, although she is sometimes such a bully
herself."

"Mary, you have gone too far about this to go back. Tell me what
it was that was on your mind, and as far as it concerns me, I will
answer you honestly." Mrs. Gresham now began to repent that she had
made her little attempt. That uttering of hints in a half-joking
way was all very well, and might possibly bring about the desired
results, without the necessity of any formal suggestion on her part;
but now she was so brought to book that she must say something
formal. She must commit herself to the expression of her own wishes,
and to an expression also of an opinion as to what had been the
wishes of her friend; and this she must do without being able to say
anything as to the wishes of that third person. "Well," she said, "I
suppose you know what I meant."

"I suppose I did," said Miss Dunstable; "but it is not at all the
less necessary that you should say it out. I am not to commit myself
by my interpretation of your thoughts, while you remain perfectly
secure in having only hinted your own. I hate hints, as I do--the
mischief. I go in for the bishop's doctrine. _Magna est veritas._"

"Well, I don't know," said Mrs. Gresham.

"Ah! but I do," said Miss Dunstable. "And therefore go on, or for
ever hold your peace."

"That's just it," said Mrs. Gresham.

"What's just it?" said Miss Dunstable.

"The quotation out of the Prayer Book which you finished just now.
'If any of you know cause or just impediment why these two persons
should not be joined together in holy matrimony, ye are to declare
it. This is the first time of asking.' Do you know any cause, Miss
Dunstable?"

"Do you know any, Mrs. Gresham?"

"None, on my honour!" said the younger lady, putting her hand upon
her breast.

"Ah! but do you not?" and Miss Dunstable caught hold of her arm, and
spoke almost abruptly in her energy.

"No, certainly not. What impediment? If I did, I should not have
broached the subject. I declare I think you would both be very happy
together. Of course, there is one impediment; we all know that. That
must be your look out."

"What do you mean? What impediment?"

"Your own money."

"Psha! Did you find that an impediment in marrying Frank Gresham?"

"Ah! the matter was so different there. He had much more to give than
I had, when all was counted. And I had no money when we--when we were
first engaged." And the tears came into her eyes as she thought of
the circumstances of her early love;--all of which have been narrated
in the county chronicles of Barsetshire, and may now be read by men
and women interested therein.

"Yes; yours was a love match. I declare, Mary, I often think that you
are the happiest woman of whom I ever heard; to have it all to give,
when you were so sure that you were loved while you yet had nothing."

"Yes; I was sure," and she wiped the sweet tears from her eyes, as
she remembered a certain day when a certain youth had come to her,
claiming all kinds of privileges in a very determined manner. She had
been no heiress then. "Yes; I was sure. But now with you, dear, you
can't make yourself poor again. If you can trust no one--"

"I can. I can trust him. As regards that I do trust him altogether.
But how can I tell that he would care for me?"

"Do you not know that he likes you?"

"Ah, yes; and so he does Lady Scatcherd."

"Miss Dunstable!"

"And why not Lady Scatcherd, as well as me? We are of the same
kind--come from the same class."

"Not quite that, I think."

"Yes, from the same class; only I have managed to poke myself up
among dukes and duchesses, whereas she has been content to remain
where God placed her. Where I beat her in art, she beats me in
nature."

"You know you are talking nonsense."

"I think that we are both doing that--absolute nonsense; such as
schoolgirls of eighteen talk to each other. But there is a relief in
it; is there not? It would be a terrible curse to have to talk sense
always. Well, that's done; and now let us go out." Mrs. Gresham was
sure after this that Miss Dunstable would be a consenting party to
the little arrangement which she contemplated. But of that she had
felt but little doubt for some considerable time past. The difficulty
lay on the other side, and all that she had as yet done was to
convince herself that she would be safe in assuring her uncle of
success if he could be induced to take the enterprise in hand. He was
to come to Boxall Hill that evening, and to remain there for a day or
two. If anything could be done in the matter, now would be the time
for doing it. So at least thought Mrs. Gresham.

The doctor did come, and did remain for the allotted time at Boxall
Hill; but when he left, Mrs. Gresham had not been successful. Indeed,
he did not seem to enjoy his visit as was usual with him; and there
was very little of that pleasant friendly intercourse which for some
time past had been customary between him and Miss Dunstable. There
were no passages of arms between them; no abuse from the doctor
against the lady's London gaiety; no raillery from the lady as to the
doctor's country habits. They were very courteous to each other, and,
as Mrs. Gresham thought, too civil by half; nor, as far as she could
see, did they ever remain alone in each other's company for five
minutes at a time during the whole period of the doctor's visit.
What, thought Mrs. Gresham to herself,--what if she had set these two
friends at variance with each other, instead of binding them together
in the closest and most durable friendship! But still she had an idea
that, as she had begun to play this game, she must play it out. She
felt conscious that what she had done must do evil, unless she could
so carry it on as to make it result in good. Indeed, unless she could
so manage, she would have done a manifest injury to Miss Dunstable
in forcing her to declare her thoughts and feelings. She had already
spoken to her uncle in London, and though he had said nothing to show
that he approved of her plan, neither had he said anything to show
that he disapproved it. Therefore she had hoped through the whole of
those three days that he would make some sign,--at any rate to her;
that he would in some way declare what were his own thoughts on this
matter. But the morning of his departure came, and he had declared
nothing. "Uncle," she said, in the last five minutes of his sojourn
there, after he had already taken leave of Miss Dunstable and shaken
hands with Mrs. Gresham, "have you ever thought of what I said to you
up in London?"

"Yes, Mary; of course I have thought about it. Such an idea as that,
when put into a man's head, will make itself thought about."

"Well; and what next? Do talk to me about it. Do not be so hard and
unlike yourself."

"I have very little to say about it."

"I can tell you this for certain, you may if you like."

"Mary! Mary!"

"I would not say so if I were not sure that I should not lead you
into trouble."

"You are foolish in wishing this, my dear; foolish in trying to tempt
an old man into a folly."

"Not foolish if I know that it will make you both happier." He made
her no further reply, but stooping down that she might kiss him,
as was his wont, went his way, leaving her almost miserable in
the thought that she had troubled all these waters to no purpose.
What would Miss Dunstable think of her? But on that afternoon Miss
Dunstable seemed to be as happy and even-tempered as ever.



CHAPTER XXXIX

How to Write a Love Letter


Dr. Thorne, in the few words which he spoke to his niece before he
left Boxall Hill, had called himself an old man; but he was as yet on
the right side of sixty by five good years, and bore about with him
less of the marks of age than most men of fifty-five do bear. One
would have said, in looking at him, that there was no reason why he
should not marry if he found that such a step seemed good to him;
and, looking at the age of the proposed bride, there was nothing
unsuitable in that respect. But nevertheless he felt almost ashamed
of himself, in that he allowed himself even to think of the
proposition which his niece had made. He mounted his horse that day
at Boxall Hill--for he made all his journeys about the county on
horseback--and rode slowly home to Greshamsbury, thinking not so much
of the suggested marriage as of his own folly in thinking of it. How
could he be such an ass at his time of life as to allow the even
course of his way to be disturbed by any such idea? Of course he
could not propose to himself such a wife as Miss Dunstable without
having some thoughts as to her wealth; and it had been the pride of
his life so to live that the world might know that he was indifferent
about money. His profession was all in all to him; the air which he
breathed as well as the bread which he ate; and how could he follow
his profession if he made such a marriage as this? She would expect
him to go to London with her; and what would he become, dangling
at her heels there, known only to the world as the husband of the
richest woman in the town? The kind of life was one which would be
unsuitable to him; and yet, as he rode home, he could not resolve to
rid himself of the idea. He went on thinking of it, though he still
continued to condemn himself for keeping it in his thoughts. That
night at home he would make up his mind, so he declared to himself;
and would then write to his niece begging her to drop the subject.
Having so far come to a resolution he went on meditating what course
of life it might be well for him to pursue if he and Miss Dunstable
should after all become man and wife.

There were two ladies whom it behoved him to see on the day of
his arrival--whom, indeed, he generally saw every day except when
absent from Greshamsbury. The first of these--first in the general
consideration of the people of the place--was the wife of the squire,
Lady Arabella Gresham, a very old patient of the doctor's. Her it was
his custom to visit early in the afternoon; and then, if he were able
to escape the squire's daily invitation to dinner, he customarily
went to the other, Lady Scatcherd, when the rapid meal in his own
house was over. Such, at least, was his summer practice. "Well,
doctor, how are they at Boxall Hill?" said the squire, way-laying him
on the gravel sweep before the door. The squire was very hard set for
occupation in these summer months.

"Quite well, I believe."

"I don't know what's come to Frank. I think he hates this place now.
He's full of the election, I suppose."

"Oh, yes; he told me to say he should be over here soon. Of course
there'll be no contest, so he need not trouble himself."

"Happy dog, isn't he, doctor? to have it all before him instead of
behind him. Well, well; he's as good a lad as ever lived--as ever
lived. And let me see; Mary's time--" And then there were a few very
important words spoken on that subject.

"I'll just step up to Lady Arabella now," said the doctor.

"She's as fretful as possible," said the squire. "I've just left
her."

"Nothing special the matter, I hope?"

"No, I think not; nothing in your way, that is; only specially
cross, which always comes in my way. You'll stop and dine to-day,
of course?"

"Not to-day, squire."

"Nonsense; you will. I have been quite counting on you. I have a
particular reason for wanting to have you to-day--a most particular
reason." But the squire always had his particular reasons.

"I'm very sorry, but it is impossible to-day. I shall have a letter
to write that I must sit down to seriously. Shall I see you when I
come down from her ladyship?" The squire turned away sulkily, almost
without answering him, for he now had no prospect of any alleviation
to the tedium of the evening; and the doctor went upstairs to his
patient. For Lady Arabella, though it cannot be said that she was
ill, was always a patient. It must not be supposed that she kept her
bed and swallowed daily doses, or was prevented from taking her share
in such prosy gaieties as came from time to time in the way of her
prosy life; but it suited her turn of mind to be an invalid and to
have a doctor; and as the doctor whom her good fates had placed at
her elbow thoroughly understood her case, no great harm was done.

"It frets me dreadfully that I cannot get to see Mary," Lady Arabella
said, as soon as the first ordinary question as to her ailments had
been asked and answered.

"She's quite well, and will be over to see you before long."

"Now I beg that she won't. She never thinks of coming when there can
be no possible objection, and travelling, at the present moment,
would be--" Whereupon the Lady Arabella shook her head very gravely.
"Only think of the importance of it, doctor," she said. "Remember the
enormous stake there is to be considered."

"It would not do her a ha'porth of harm if the stake were twice as
large."

"Nonsense, doctor, don't tell me; as if I didn't know myself. I was
very much against her going to London this spring, but of course what
I said was overruled. It always is. I do believe Mr. Gresham went
over to Boxall Hill, on purpose to induce her to go. But what does he
care? He's fond of Frank; but he never thinks of looking beyond the
present day. He never did, as you know well enough, doctor."

"The trip did her all the good in the world," said Dr. Thorne,
preferring anything to a conversation respecting the squire's sins.

"I very well remember that when I was in that way it wasn't thought
that such trips would do me any good. But, perhaps, things are
altered since then."

"Yes, they are," said the doctor. "We don't interfere so much
nowadays."

"I know I never asked for such amusements when so much depended on
quietness. I remember before Frank was born--and, indeed, when all of
them were born-- But, as you say, things were different then; and I
can easily believe that Mary is a person quite determined to have her
own way."

"Why, Lady Arabella, she would have stayed at home without wishing to
stir if Frank had done so much as hold up his little finger."

"So did I always. If Mr. Gresham made the slightest hint I gave way.
But I really don't see what one gets in return for such implicit
obedience. Now this year, doctor, of course I should have liked
to have been up in London for a week or two. You seemed to think
yourself that I might as well see Sir Omicron."

"There could be no possible objection, I said."

"Well; no; exactly; and as Mr. Gresham knew I wished it, I think he
might as well have offered it. I suppose there can be no reason now
about money."

"But I understood that Mary specially asked you and Augusta?"


"Yes; Mary was very good. She did ask me. But I know very well that
Mary wants all the room she has got in London. The house is not at
all too large for herself, And, for the matter of that, my sister,
the countess, was very anxious that I should be with her. But one
does like to be independent if one can, and for one fortnight I do
think that Mr. Gresham might have managed it. When I knew that he was
so dreadfully out at elbows I never troubled him about it,--though,
goodness knows, all that was never my fault."

"The squire hates London. A fortnight there in warm weather would
nearly be the death of him."

"He might at any rate have paid me the compliment of asking me.
The chances are ten to one I should not have gone. It is that
indifference that cuts me so. He was here just now, and would you
believe it?--"

But the doctor was determined to avoid further complaint for the
present day. "I wonder what you would feel, Lady Arabella, if the
squire were to take it into his head to go away and amuse himself,
leaving you at home. There are worse men than Mr. Gresham, if you
will believe me." All this was an allusion to Earl de Courcy, her
ladyship's brother, as Lady Arabella very well understood; and the
argument was one which was very often used to silence her.

"Upon my word, then, I should like it better than his hanging about
here doing nothing but attend to those nasty dogs. I really sometimes
think that he has no spirit left."

"You are mistaken there, Lady Arabella," said the doctor, rising with
his hat in his hand, and making his escape without further parley. As
he went home he could not but think that that phase of married life
was not a very pleasant one. Mr. Gresham and his wife were supposed
by the world to live on the best of terms. They always inhabited the
same house, went out together when they did go out, always sat in
their respective corners in the family pew, and in their wildest
dreams after the happiness of novelty never thought of Sir Cresswell
Cresswell. In some respects--with regard, for instance, to the
continued duration of their joint domesticity at the family mansion
of Greshamsbury--they might have been taken for a pattern couple. But
yet, as far as the doctor could see, they did not seem to add much to
the happiness of each other. They loved each other, doubtless, and
had either of them been in real danger, that danger would have made
the other miserable; but yet it might well be a question whether
either would not be more comfortable without the other.

The doctor, as was his custom, dined at five, and at seven he went
up to the cottage of his old friend Lady Scatcherd. Lady Scatcherd
was not a refined woman, having in her early days been a labourer's
daughter, and having then married a labourer. But her husband had
risen in the world--as has been told in those chronicles before
mentioned,--and his widow was now Lady Scatcherd with a pretty
cottage and a good jointure. She was in all things the very opposite
to Lady Arabella Gresham; nevertheless, under the doctor's auspices,
the two ladies were in some measure acquainted with each other. Of
her married life, also, Dr. Thorne had seen something, and it may
be questioned whether the memory of that was more alluring than the
reality now existing at Greshamsbury. Of the two women Dr. Thorne
much preferred his humbler friend, and to her he made his visits not
in the guise of a doctor, but as a neighbour. "Well, my lady," he
said, as he sat down by her on a broad garden seat--all the world
called Lady Scatcherd "my lady,"--"and how do these long summer days
agree with you? Your roses are twice better out than any I see up at
the big house."

"You may well call them long, doctor. They're long enough surely."

"But not too long. Come, now, I won't have you complaining. You don't
mean to tell me that you have anything to make you wretched? You had
better not, for I won't believe you."

"Eh; well; wretched! I don't know as I'm wretched. It'd be wicked to
say that, and I with such comforts about me."

"I think it would, almost." The doctor did not say this harshly, but
in a soft, friendly tone, and pressing her hand gently as he spoke.

"And I didn't mean to be wicked. I'm very thankful for
everything--leastways, I always try to be. But, doctor, it is so
lonely like."

"Lonely! not more lonely than I am."

"Oh, yes; you're different. You can go everywheres. But what can a
lone woman do? I'll tell you what, doctor; I'd give it all up to have
Roger back with his apron on and his pick in his hand. How well I
mind his look when he'd come home o' nights!"

"And yet it was a hard life you had then, eh, old woman? It would be
better for you to be thankful for what you've got."

"I am thankful. Didn't I tell you so before?" said she, somewhat
crossly. "But it's a sad life, this living alone. I declares I envy
Hannah, 'cause she's got Jemima to sit in the kitchen with her. I
want her to sit with me sometimes, but she won't."

"Ah! but you shouldn't ask her. It's letting yourself down."

"What do I care about down or up? It makes no difference, as he's
gone. If he had lived one might have cared about being up, as you
call it. Eh, deary; I'll be going after him before long, and it will
be no matter then."

"We shall all be going after him, sooner or later; that's sure
enough."

"Eh, dear, that's true surely. It's only a span long, as Parson Oriel
tells us, when he gets romantic in his sermons. But it's a hard
thing, doctor, when two is married, as they can't have their span,
as he calls it, out together. Well I must only put up with it, I
suppose, as others does. Now, you're not going, doctor? You'll stop
and have a dish of tea with me. You never see such cream as Hannah
has from the Alderney cow. Do'ey now, doctor." But the doctor had
his letter to write, and would not allow himself to be tempted even
by the promise of Hannah's cream. So he went his way, angering Lady
Scatcherd by his departure as he had before angered the squire, and
thinking as he went which was most unreasonable in her wretchedness,
his friend Lady Arabella or his friend Lady Scatcherd. The former
was always complaining of an existing husband who never refused her
any moderate request; and the other passed her days in murmuring at
the loss of a dead husband, who in his life had ever been to her
imperious and harsh, and had sometimes been cruel and unjust.

The doctor had his letter to write, but even yet he had not quite
made up his mind what he would put into it; indeed, he had not
hitherto resolved to whom it should be written. Looking at the matter
as he had endeavoured to look at it, his niece, Mrs. Gresham, would
be his correspondent; but if he brought himself to take this jump
in the dark, in that case he would address himself direct to Miss
Dunstable. He walked home, not by the straightest road, but taking
a considerable curve, round by narrow lanes, and through thick
flower-laden hedges,--very thoughtful. He was told that she wished to
marry him; and was he to think only of himself? And as to that pride
of his about money, was it in truth a hearty, manly feeling; or was
it a false pride, of which it behoved him to be ashamed as it did of
many cognate feelings? If he acted rightly in this matter, why should
he be afraid of the thoughts of any one? A life of solitude was
bitter enough, as poor Lady Scatcherd had complained. But then,
looking at Lady Scatcherd, and looking also at his other near
neighbour, his friend the squire, there was little thereabouts to
lead him on to matrimony. So he walked home slowly through the lanes,
very meditative, with his hands behind his back. Nor when he got home
was he much more inclined to any resolute line of action. He might
have drunk his tea with Lady Scatcherd, as well as have sat there in
his own drawing-room, drinking it alone; for he got no pen and paper,
and he dawdled over his teacup with the utmost dilatoriness, putting
off, as it were, the evil day. To only one thing was he fixed--to
this, namely, that that letter should be written before he went to
bed.

Having finished his tea, which did not take place till near eleven,
he went downstairs to an untidy little room which lay behind his
dépôt of medicines, and in which he was wont to do his writing; and
herein he did at last set himself down to his work. Even at that
moment he was in doubt. But he would write his letter to Miss
Dunstable and see how it looked. He was almost determined not to send
it; so, at least, he said to himself: but he could do no harm by
writing it. So he did write it, as follows:--"Greshamsbury, June,
185--. My dear Miss Dunstable--" When he had got so far, he leaned
back in his chair and looked at the paper. How on earth was he to
find words to say that which he now wished to have said? He had never
written such a letter in his life, or anything approaching to it, and
now found himself overwhelmed with a difficulty of which he had not
previously thought. He spent another half-hour in looking at the
paper, and was at last nearly deterred by this new difficulty. He
would use the simplest, plainest language, he said to himself over
and over again; but it is not always easy to use simple, plain
language,--by no means so easy as to mount on stilts, and to march
along with sesquipodalian words, with pathos, spasms, and notes of
interjection. But the letter did at last get itself written, and
there was not a note of interjection in it.


   MY DEAR MISS DUNSTABLE,

   I think it right to confess that I should not now be
   writing this letter to you, had I not been led to believe
   by other judgement than my own that the proposition which
   I am going to make would be regarded by you with favour.
   Without such other judgement I should, I own, have feared
   that the great disparity between you and me in regard to
   money would have given to such a proposition an appearance
   of being false and mercenary. All I ask of you now, with
   confidence, is to acquit me of such fault as that.

   When you have read so far you will understand what I mean.
   We have known each other now somewhat intimately, though
   indeed not very long, and I have sometimes fancied that
   you were almost as well pleased to be with me as I have
   been to be with you. If I have been wrong in this, tell me
   so simply, and I will endeavour to let our friendship run
   on as though this letter had not been written. But if I
   have been right, and if it be possible that you can think
   that a union between us will make us both happier than we
   are single, I will plight you a word and troth with good
   faith, and will do what an old man may do to make the
   burden of the world lie light on your shoulders. Looking
   at my age I can hardly keep myself from thinking that I
   am an old fool: but I try to reconcile myself to that by
   remembering that you yourself are no longer a girl. You
   see that I pay you no compliments, and that you need
   expect none from me.

   I do not know that I could add anything to the truth of
   this, if I were to write three times as much. All that is
   necessary is, that you should know what I mean. If you do
   not believe me to be true and honest already, nothing that
   I can write will make you believe it.

   God bless you. I know you will not keep me long in
   suspense for an answer.

   Affectionately your friend,

   THOMAS THORNE.


When he had finished he meditated again for another half-hour whether
it would not be right that he should add something about her money.
Would it not be well for him to tell her--it might be said in a
postscript--that with regard to all her wealth she would be free to
do what she chose? At any rate he owed no debts for her to pay, and
would still have his own income, sufficient for his own purposes. But
about one o'clock he came to the conclusion that it would be better
to leave the matter alone. If she cared for him, and could trust him,
and was worthy also that he should trust her, no omission of such a
statement would deter her from coming to him: and if there were no
such trust, it would not be created by any such assurance on his
part. So he read the letter over twice, sealed it, and took it up,
together with his bed candle, into his bedroom. Now that the letter
was written it seemed to be a thing fixed by fate that it must go. He
had written it that he might see how it looked when written; but now
that it was written, there remained no doubt that it must be sent. So
he went to bed, with the letter on the toilette-table beside him; and
early in the morning--so early as to make it seem that the importance
of the letter had disturbed his rest--he sent it off by a special
messenger to Boxall Hill. "I'se wait for an answer?" said the boy.

"No," said the doctor: "leave the letter, and come away."

The breakfast hour was not very early at Boxall Hill in these summer
months. Frank Gresham, no doubt, went round his farm before he came
in for prayers, and his wife was probably looking to the butter
in the dairy. At any rate, they did not meet till near ten, and
therefore, though the ride from Greshamsbury to Boxall Hill was
nearly two hours' work, Miss Dunstable had her letter in her own room
before she came down. She read it in silence as she was dressing,
while the maid was with her in the room; but she made no sign which
could induce her Abigail to think that the epistle was more than
ordinarily important. She read it, and then quietly refolding it and
placing it in the envelope, she put it down on the table at which she
was sitting. It was full fifteen minutes afterwards that she begged
her servant to see if Mrs. Gresham were still in her own room.
"Because I want to see her for five minutes, alone, before
breakfast," said Miss Dunstable.

"You traitor; you false, black traitor!" were the first words which
Miss Dunstable spoke when she found herself alone with her friend.

"Why, what's the matter?"

"I did not think there was so much mischief in you, nor so keen and
commonplace a desire for match-making. Look here. Read the first four
lines; not more, if you please; the rest is private. Whose is the
other judgement of whom your uncle speaks in his letter?"

"Oh, Miss Dunstable! I must read it all."

"Indeed you'll do no such thing. You think it's a love-letter, I dare
say; but indeed there's not a word about love in it."

"I know he has offered. I shall be so glad, for I know you like him."

"He tells me that I am an old woman, and insinuates that I may
probably be an old fool."

"I am sure he does not say that."

"Ah! but I'm sure that he does. The former is true enough, and I
never complain of the truth. But as to the latter, I am by no means
so certain that it is true--not in the sense that he means it."

"Dear, dearest woman, don't go on in that way now. Do speak out to
me, and speak without jesting."

"Whose was the other judgement to whom he trusts so implicitly? Tell
me that."

"Mine, mine, of course. No one else can have spoken to him about it.
Of course I talked to him."

"And what did you tell him?"

"I told him--"

"Well, out with it. Let me have the real facts. Mind, I tell you
fairly that you had no right to tell him anything. What passed
between us, passed in confidence. But let us hear what you did say."

"I told him that you would have him if he offered." And Mrs. Gresham,
as she spoke, looked into her friend's face doubtingly, not knowing
whether in very truth Miss Dunstable were pleased with her or
displeased. If she were displeased, then how had her uncle been
deceived!

"You told him that as a fact?"

"I told him that I thought so."

"Then I suppose I am bound to have him," said Miss Dunstable,
dropping the letter on to the floor in mock despair.

"My dear, dear, dearest woman!" said Mrs. Gresham, bursting into
tears, and throwing herself on to her friend's neck.

"Mind you are a dutiful niece," said Miss Dunstable. "And now let me
go and finish dressing." In the course of the afternoon, an answer
was sent back to Greshamsbury, in these words:--


   DEAR DR. THORNE,

   I do and will trust you in everything; and it shall be as
   you would have it. Mary writes to you; but do not believe
   a word she says. I never will again, for she has behaved
   so bad in this matter.

   Yours affectionately and very truly,

   MARTHA DUNSTABLE.


"And so I am going to marry the richest woman in England," said Dr.
Thorne to himself, as he sat down that day to his mutton-chop.



CHAPTER XL

Internecine


It must be conceived that there was some feeling of triumph at
Plumstead Episcopi, when the wife of the rector returned home with
her daughter, the bride elect of the Lord Dumbello. The heir of the
Marquess of Hartletop was, in wealth, the most considerable unmarried
young nobleman of the day; he was noted, too, as a man difficult to
be pleased, as one who was very fine and who gave himself airs; and
to have been selected as the wife of such a man as this was a great
thing for the daughter of a parish clergyman. We have seen in what
manner the happy girl's mother communicated the fact to Lady Lufton,
hiding, as it were, her pride under a veil; and we have seen also how
meekly the happy girl bore her own great fortune, applying herself
humbly to the packing of her clothes, as though she ignored her own
glory. But nevertheless there was triumph at Plumstead Episcopi.
The mother, when she returned home, began to feel that she had been
thoroughly successful in the great object of her life. While she was
yet in London she had hardly realized her satisfaction, and there
were doubts then whether the cup might not be dashed from her lips
before it was tasted. It might be that even the son of the Marquess
of Hartletop was subject to parental authority, and that barriers
should spring up between Griselda and her coronet; but there had
been nothing of the kind. The archdeacon had been closeted with the
marquess, and Mrs. Grantly had been closeted with the marchioness;
and though neither of those noble persons had expressed themselves
gratified by their son's proposed marriage, so also neither of them
had made any attempt to prevent it. Lord Dumbello was a man who had
a will of his own--as the Grantlys boasted amongst themselves. Poor
Griselda! the day may perhaps come when this fact of her lord's
masterful will may not to her be matter of much boasting. But in
London, as I was saying, there had been no time for an appreciation
of the family joy. The work to be done was nervous in its nature,
and self-glorification might have been fatal; but now, when they were
safe at Plumstead, the great truth, burst upon them in all its
splendour.

Mrs. Grantly had but one daughter, and the formation of that child's
character and her establishment in the world had been the one main
object of the mother's life. Of Griselda's great beauty the Plumstead
household had long been conscious; of her discretion also, of her
conduct, and of her demeanour there had been no doubt. But the father
had sometimes hinted to the mother that he did not think that Grizzy
was quite so clever as her brothers. "I don't agree with you at all,"
Mrs. Grantly had answered. "Besides, what you call cleverness is not
at all necessary in a girl; she is perfectly lady-like; even you
won't deny that." The archdeacon had never wished to deny it, and
was now fain to admit that what he had called cleverness was not
necessary in a young lady. At this period of the family glory the
archdeacon himself was kept a little in abeyance, and was hardly
allowed free intercourse with his own magnificent child. Indeed, to
give him his due, it must be said of him that he would not consent
to walk in the triumphal procession which moved with stately step,
to and fro, through the Barchester regions. He kissed his daughter
and blessed her, and bade her love her husband and be a good wife;
but such injunctions as these, seeing how splendidly she had done
her duty in securing to herself a marquess, seemed out of place and
almost vulgar. Girls about to marry curates or sucking barristers
should be told to do their duty in that station of life to which God
might be calling them; but it seemed to be almost an impertinence in
a father to give such an injunction to a future marchioness.

"I do not think that you have any ground for fear on her behalf,"
said Mrs. Grantly, "seeing in what way she has hitherto conducted
herself."

"She has been a good girl," said the archdeacon, "but she is about
to be placed in a position of great temptation."

"She has a strength of mind suited for any position," replied Mrs.
Grantly, vaingloriously. But nevertheless even the archdeacon moved
about through the close at Barchester with a somewhat prouder step
since the tidings of this alliance had become known there. The time
had been--in the latter days of his father's lifetime--when he was
the greatest man of the close. The dean had been old and infirm, and
Dr. Grantly had wielded the bishop's authority. But since that things
had altered. A new bishop had come there, absolutely hostile to
him. A new dean had also come, who was not only his friend, but the
brother-in-law of his wife; but even this advent had lessened the
authority of the archdeacon. The vicars choral did not hang upon
his words as they had been wont to do, and the minor canons smiled
in return to his smile less obsequiously when they met him in
the clerical circles of Barchester. But now it seemed that his
old supremacy was restored to him. In the minds of many men an
archdeacon, who was the father-in-law of a marquess, was himself
as good as any bishop. He did not say much of his new connexion
to others beside the dean, but he was conscious of the fact, and
conscious also of the reflected glory which shone around his own
head.

But as regards Mrs. Grantly it may be said that she moved in an
unending procession of stately ovation. It must not be supposed that
she continually talked to her friends and neighbours of Lord Dumbello
and the marchioness. She was by far too wise for such folly as that.
The coming alliance having been once announced, the name of Hartletop
was hardly mentioned by her out of her own domestic circle. But she
assumed, with an ease that was surprising even to herself, the airs
and graces of a mighty woman. She went through her work of morning
calls as though it were her business to be affable to the country
gentry. She astonished her sister, the dean's wife, by the simplicity
of her grandeur; and condescended to Mrs. Proudie in a manner which
nearly broke that lady's heart. "I shall be even with her yet," said
Mrs. Proudie to herself, who had contrived to learn various very
deleterious circumstances respecting the Hartletop family since
the news about Lord Dumbello and Griselda had become known to her.
Griselda herself was carried about in the procession, taking but
little part in it of her own, like an Eastern god. She suffered her
mother's caresses and smiled in her mother's face as she listened to
her own praises, but her triumph was apparently within. To no one did
she say much on the subject, and greatly disgusted the old family
housekeeper by declining altogether to discuss the future Dumbello
_ménage_. To her aunt, Mrs. Arabin, who strove hard to lead her
into some open-hearted speech as to her future aspirations, she was
perfectly impassive. "Oh, yes, aunt, of course," and "I'll think
about it, Aunt Eleanor," or "Of course I shall do that if Lord
Dumbello wishes it." Nothing beyond this could be got from her; and
so, after half a dozen ineffectual attempts, Mrs. Arabin abandoned
the matter.

But then there arose the subject of clothes--of the wedding
_trousseau_! Sarcastic people are wont to say that the tailor makes
the man. Were I such a one, I might certainly assert that the
milliner makes the bride. As regarding her bridehood, in distinction
either to her girlhood or her wifehood--as being a line of plain
demarcation between those two periods of a woman's life--the milliner
does do much to make her. She would be hardly a bride if the
_trousseau_ were not there. A girl married without some such
appendage would seem to pass into the condition of a wife without any
such line of demarcation. In that moment in which she finds herself
in the first fruition of her marriage finery she becomes a bride; and
in that other moment when she begins to act upon the finest of these
things as clothes to be packed up, she becomes a wife. When this
subject was discussed Griselda displayed no lack of a becoming
interest. She went to work steadily, slowly, and almost with
solemnity, as though the business in hand were one which it would be
wicked to treat with impatience. She even struck her mother with awe
by the grandeur of her ideas and the depth of her theories. Nor let
it be supposed that she rushed away at once to the consideration of
the great fabric which was to be the ultimate sign and mark of her
status, the quintessence of her briding, the outer veil, as it were,
of the tabernacle--namely, her wedding-dress. As a great poet works
himself up by degrees to that inspiration which is necessary for
the grand turning-point of his epic, so did she slowly approach the
hallowed ground on which she would sit, with her ministers around
her, when about to discuss the nature, the extent, the design, the
colouring, the structure, and the ornamentation of that momentous
piece of apparel. No; there was much indeed to be done before she
came to this; and as the poet, to whom I have already alluded, first
invokes his muse, and then brings his smaller events gradually out
upon his stage, so did Miss Grantly with sacred fervour ask her
mother's aid, and then prepare her list of all those articles
of underclothing which must be the substratum for the visible
magnificence of her _trousseau_. Money was no object. We all know
what that means; and frequently understand, when the words are used,
that a blaze of splendour is to be attained at the cheapest possible
price. But, in this instance, money was no object;--such an amount
of money, at least, as could by any possibility be spent on a lady's
clothes, independently of her jewels. With reference to diamonds and
such like, the archdeacon at once declared his intention of taking
the matter into his own hands--except in so far as Lord Dumbello,
or the Hartletop interest, might be pleased to participate in the
selection. Nor was Mrs. Grantly sorry for such a decision. She was
not an imprudent woman, and would have dreaded the responsibility of
trusting herself on such an occasion among the dangerous temptations
of a jeweller's shop. But as far as silks and satins went--in the
matter of French bonnets, muslims, velvets, hats, riding-habits,
artificial flowers, head-gilding, curious nettings, enamelled
buckles, golden tagged bobbins, and mechanical petticoats--as
regarded shoes, and gloves, and corsets, and stockings, and linen,
and flannel, and calico--money, I may conscientiously assert, was no
object. And, under these circumstances, Griselda Grantly went to work
with a solemn industry and a steady perseverance that was beyond all
praise. "I hope she will be happy," Mrs. Arabin said to her sister,
as the two were sitting together in the dean's drawing-room.

"Oh, yes; I think she will. Why should she not?" said the mother.

"Oh, no: I know of no reason. But she is going up into a station so
much above her own in the eyes of the world that one cannot but feel
anxious for her."

"I should feel much more anxious if she were going to marry a poor
man," said Mrs. Grantly. "It has always seemed to me that Griselda
was fitted for a high position; that nature intended her for rank and
state. You see that she is not a bit elated. She takes it all as if
it were her own by right. I do not think that there is any danger
that her head will be turned, if you mean that."

"I was thinking rather of her heart," said Mrs. Arabin.

"She never would have taken Lord Dumbello without loving him," said
Mrs. Grantly, speaking rather quickly.

"That is not quite what I mean either, Susan. I am sure she would
not have accepted him had she not loved him. But it is so hard to
keep the heart fresh among all the grandeurs of high rank; and it is
harder for a girl to do so who has not been born to it, than for one
who has enjoyed it as her birthright."

"I don't quite understand about fresh hearts," said Mrs. Grantly,
pettishly. "If she does her duty, and loves her husband, and fills
the position in which God has placed her with propriety, I don't know
that we need look for anything more. I don't at all approve of the
plan of frightening a young girl when she is making her first outset
into the world."

"No; I would not frighten her. I think it would be almost difficult
to frighten Griselda."

"I hope it would. The great matter with a girl is whether she has
been brought up with proper notions as to a woman's duty. Of course
it is not for me to boast on this subject. Such as she is, I, of
course, am responsible. But I must own that I do not see occasion to
wish for any change." And then the subject was allowed to drop.

Among those of her relations who wondered much at the girl's fortune,
but allowed themselves to say but little, was her grandfather, Mr.
Harding. He was an old clergyman, plain and simple in his manners,
and not occupying a very prominent position, seeing that he was only
precentor to the chapter. He was loved by his daughter, Mrs. Grantly,
and was treated by the archdeacon, if not invariably with the highest
respect, at least always with consideration and regard. But, old
and plain as he was, the young people at Plumstead did not hold him
in any great reverence. He was poorer than their other relatives,
and made no attempt to hold his head high in Barsetshire circles.
Moreover, in these latter days, the home of his heart had been at the
deanery. He had, indeed, a lodging of his own in the city, but was
gradually allowing himself to be weaned away from it. He had his own
bedroom in the dean's house, his own arm-chair in the dean's library,
and his own corner on a sofa in Mrs. Dean's drawing-room. It was
not, therefore, necessary that he should interfere greatly in this
coming marriage; but still it became his duty to say a word of
congratulation to his granddaughter--and perhaps to say a word of
advice.

"Grizzy, my dear," he said to her--he always called her Grizzy, but
the endearment of the appellation had never been appreciated by the
young lady--"come and kiss me, and let me congratulate you on your
great promotion. I do so very heartily."

"Thank you, grandpapa," she said, touching his forehead with her
lips, thus being, as it were, very sparing with her kiss. But those
lips now were august and reserved for nobler foreheads than that of
an old cathedral hack. For Mr. Harding still chanted the Litany from
Sunday to Sunday, unceasingly, standing at that well-known desk in
the cathedral choir; and Griselda had a thought in her mind that
when the Hartletop people should hear of the practice they would not
be delighted. Dean and archdeacon might be very well, and if her
grandfather had even been a prebendary, she might have put up with
him; but he had, she thought, almost disgraced his family in being,
at his age, one of the working menial clergy of the cathedral. She
kissed him, therefore, sparingly, and resolved that her words with
him should be few.

"You are going to be a great lady, Grizzy," said he.

"Umph!" said she.

What was she to say when so addressed?

"And I hope you will be happy--and make others happy."

"I hope I shall," said she.

"But always think most about the latter, my dear. Think about the
happiness of those around you, and your own will come without
thinking. You understand that; do you not?"

"Oh, yes, I understand," she said. As they were speaking Mr. Harding
still held her hand, but Griselda left it with him unwillingly, and
therefore ungraciously, looking as though she were dragging it from
him.

"And Grizzy--I believe it is quite as easy for a rich countess to be
happy, as for a dairymaid--" Griselda gave her head a little chuck
which was produced by two different operations of her mind. The first
was a reflection that her grandpapa was robbing her of her rank. She
was to be a rich marchioness. And the second was a feeling of anger
at the old man for comparing her lot to that of a dairymaid.

"Quite as easy, I believe," continued he; "though others will tell
you that it is not so. But with the countess as with the dairymaid,
it must depend on the woman herself. Being a countess--that fact
alone won't make you happy."

"Lord Dumbello at present is only a viscount," said Griselda. "There
is no earl's title in the family."

"Oh! I did not know," said Mr. Harding, relinquishing his
granddaughter's hand; and, after that, he troubled her with no
further advice. Both Mrs. Proudie and the bishop had called at
Plumstead since Mrs. Grantly had come back from London, and the
ladies from Plumstead, of course, returned the visit. It was natural
that the Grantlys and Proudies should hate each other. They were
essentially Church people, and their views on all Church matters were
antagonistic. They had been compelled to fight for supremacy in the
diocese, and neither family had so conquered the other as to have
become capable of magnanimity and good-humour. They did hate each
other, and this hatred had, at one time, almost produced an absolute
disseverance of even the courtesies which are so necessary between a
bishop and his clergy. But the bitterness of this rancour had been
overcome, and the ladies of the families had continued on visiting
terms. But now this match was almost more than Mrs. Proudie could
bear. The great disappointment which, as she well knew, the Grantlys
had encountered in that matter of the proposed new bishopric had for
the moment mollified her. She had been able to talk of poor dear
Mrs. Grantly! "She is heartbroken, you know, in this matter, and the
repetition of such misfortunes is hard to bear," she had been heard
to say, with a complacency which had been quite becoming to her. But
now that complacency was at an end. Olivia Proudie had just accepted
a widowed preacher at a district church in Bethnal Green--a man with
three children, who was dependent on pew-rents; and Griselda Grantly
was engaged to the eldest son of the Marquess of Hartletop! When
women are enjoined to forgive their enemies it cannot be intended
that such wrongs as these should be included. But Mrs. Proudie's
courage was nothing daunted. It may be boasted of her that nothing
could daunt her courage. Soon after her return to Barchester, she and
Olivia--Olivia being very unwilling--had driven over to Plumstead,
and, not finding the Grantlys at home, had left their cards; and now,
at a proper interval, Mrs. Grantly and Griselda returned the visit.
It was the first time that Miss Grantly had been seen by the Proudie
ladies since the fact of her engagement had become known.

The first bevy of compliments that passed might be likened to a crowd
of flowers on a hedge rose-bush. They were beautiful to the eye, but
were so closely environed by thorns that they could not be plucked
without great danger. As long as the compliments were allowed to
remain on the hedge--while no attempt was made to garner them and
realize their fruits for enjoyment--they did no mischief; but the
first finger that was put forth for such a purpose was soon drawn
back, marked with spots of blood. "Of course it is a great match for
Griselda," said Mrs. Grantly, in a whisper the meekness of which
would have disarmed an enemy whose weapons were less firmly clutched
than those of Mrs. Proudie; "but, independently of that, the
connexion is one which is gratifying in many ways."

"Oh, no doubt," said Mrs. Proudie.

"Lord Dumbello is so completely his own master," continued Mrs.
Grantly, and a slight, unintended semi-tone of triumph mingled itself
with the meekness of that whisper.

"And is likely to remain so, from all I hear," said Mrs. Proudie, and
the scratched hand was at once drawn back.

"Of course the estab--," and then Mrs. Proudie, who was blandly
continuing her list of congratulations, whispered her sentence close
into the car of Mrs. Grantly, so that not a word of what she said
might be audible by the young people.

"I never heard a word of it," said Mrs. Grantly, gathering herself
up, "and I don't believe it."

"Oh, I may be wrong; and I'm sure I hope so. But young men will be
young men, you know;--and children will take after their parents.
I suppose you will see a great deal of the Duke of Omnium now."
But Mrs. Grantly was not a woman to be knocked down and trampled
on without resistance; and though she had been lacerated by the
rose-bush she was not as yet placed altogether _hors de combat_. She
said some word about the Duke of Omnium very tranquilly, speaking
of him merely as a Barsetshire proprietor, and then, smiling with
her sweetest smile, expressed a hope that she might soon have the
pleasure of becoming acquainted with Mr. Tickler; and as she spoke
she made a pretty little bow towards Olivia Proudie. Now Mr. Tickler
was the worthy clergyman attached to the district church at Bethnal
Green.

"He'll be down here in August," said Olivia, boldly, determined not
to be shamefaced about her love affairs.

"You'll be starring it about the Continent by that time, my dear,"
said Mrs. Proudie to Griselda. "Lord Dumbello is well known at
Homburg and Ems, and places of that sort; so you will find yourself
quite at home."

"We are going to Rome," said Griselda, majestically.

"I suppose Mr. Tickler will come into the diocese soon," said Mrs.
Grantly. "I remember hearing him very favourably spoken of by Mr.
Slope, who was a friend of his." Nothing short of a fixed resolve on
the part of Mrs. Grantly that the time had now come in which she must
throw away her shield and stand behind her sword, declare war to the
knife, and neither give nor take quarter, could have justified such
a speech as this. Any allusion to Mr. Slope acted on Mrs. Proudie
as a red cloth is supposed to act on a bull; but when that allusion
connected the name of Mr. Slope in a friendly bracket with that of
Mrs. Proudie's future son-in-law it might be certain that the effect
would be terrific. And there was more than this: for that very Mr.
Slope had once entertained audacious hopes--hopes not thought to be
audacious by the young lady herself--with reference to Miss Olivia
Proudie. All this Mrs. Grantly knew, and, knowing it, still dared to
mention his name.

The countenance of Mrs. Proudie became darkened with black anger,
and the polished smile of her company manners gave place before
the outraged feelings of her nature. "The man you speak of, Mrs.
Grantly," said she, "was never known as a friend by Mr. Tickler."

"Oh, indeed," said Mrs. Grantly. "Perhaps I have made a mistake. I am
sure I have heard Mr. Slope mention him."

"When Mr. Slope was running after your sister, Mrs. Grantly, and was
encouraged by her as he was, you perhaps saw more of him than I did."

"Mrs. Proudie, that was never the case."

"I have reason to know that the archdeacon conceived it to be so, and
that he was very unhappy about it." Now this, unfortunately, was a
fact which Mrs. Grantly could not deny.

"The archdeacon may have been mistaken about Mr. Slope," she said,
"as were some other people at Barchester. But it was you, I think,
Mrs. Proudie, who were responsible for bringing him here." Mrs.
Grantly, at this period of the engagement, might have inflicted a
fatal wound by referring to poor Olivia's former love affairs, but
she was not destitute of generosity. Even in the extremest heat of
the battle she knew how to spare the young and tender.

"When I came here, Mrs. Grantly, I little dreamed what a depth of
wickedness might be found in the very close of a cathedral city,"
said Mrs. Proudie.

"Then, for dear Olivia's sake, pray do not bring poor Mr. Tickler to
Barchester."

"Mr. Tickler, Mrs. Grantly, is a man of assured morals and of a
highly religious tone of thinking. I wish every one could be so safe
as regards their daughters' future prospects as I am."

"Yes, I know he has the advantage of being a family man," said Mrs.
Grantly, getting up. "Good morning, Mrs. Proudie; good day, Olivia."

"A great deal better that than--" But the blow fell upon the empty
air; for Mrs. Grantly had already escaped on to the staircase while
Olivia was ringing the bell for the servant to attend the front-door.

Mrs. Grantly, as she got into her carriage, smiled slightly, thinking
of the battle, and as she sat down she gently pressed her daughter's
hand. But Mrs Proudie's face was still dark as Acheron when her enemy
withdrew, and with angry tone she sent her daughter to her work. "Mr.
Tickler will have great reason to complain if, in your position, you
indulge such habits of idleness," she said. Therefore I conceive that
I am justified in saying that in that encounter Mrs. Grantly was the
conqueror.



CHAPTER XLI

Don Quixote


On the day on which Lucy had her interview with Lady Lufton the dean
dined at Framley parsonage. He and Robarts had known each other
since the latter had been in the diocese, and now, owing to Mark's
preferment in the chapter, had become almost intimate. The dean was
greatly pleased with the manner in which poor Mr. Crawley's children
had been conveyed away from Hogglestock, and was inclined to open his
heart to the whole Framley household. As he still had to ride home
he could only allow himself to remain half an hour after dinner, but
in that half-hour he said a great deal about Crawley, complimented
Robarts on the manner in which he was playing the part of the Good
Samaritan, and then by degrees informed him that it had come to his,
the dean's, ears, before he left Barchester, that a writ was in the
hands of certain persons in the city, enabling them to seize--he did
not know whether it was the person or the property of the vicar of
Framley.

The fact was that these tidings had been conveyed to the dean with
the express intent that he might put Robarts on his guard; but the
task of speaking on such a subject to a brother clergyman had been so
unpleasant to him that he had been unable to introduce it till the
last five minutes before his departure. "I hope you will not put it
down as an impertinent interference," said the dean, apologizing.

"No," said Mark; "no, I do not think that." He was so sad at heart
that he hardly knew how to speak of it.

"I do not understand much about such matters," said the dean; "but I
think, if I were you, I should go to a lawyer. I should imagine that
anything so terribly disagreeable as an arrest might be avoided."

"It is a hard case," said Mark, pleading his own cause. "Though these
men have this claim against me I have never received a shilling
either in money or money's worth."

"And yet your name is to the bills!" said the dean.

"Yes, my name is to the bills, certainly, but it was to oblige a
friend."

And then the dean, having given his advice, rode away. He could not
understand how a clergyman, situated as was Mr. Robarts, could find
himself called upon by friendship to attach his name to accommodation
bills which he had not the power of liquidating when due! On that
evening they were both wretched enough at the parsonage. Hitherto
Mark had hoped that perhaps, after all, no absolutely hostile steps
would be taken against him with reference to these bills. Some
unforeseen chance might occur in his favour, or the persons holding
them might consent to take small instalments of payment from time to
time; but now it seemed that the evil day was actually coming upon
him at a blow. He had no longer any secrets from his wife. Should he
go to a lawyer? and if so, to what lawyer? And when he had found his
lawyer, what should he say to him? Mrs. Robarts at one time suggested
that everything should be told to Lady Lufton. Mark, however, could
not bring himself to do that. "It would seem," he said, "as though I
wanted her to lend me the money."

On the following morning Mark did ride into Barchester, dreading,
however, lest he should be arrested on his journey, and he did see a
lawyer. During his absence two calls were made at the parsonage--one
by a very rough-looking individual, who left a suspicious document
in the hands of the servant, purporting to be an invitation--not to
dinner--from one of the Judges of the land; and the other call was
made by Lady Lufton in person.

Mrs. Robarts had determined to go down to Framley Court on that day.
In accordance with her usual custom she would have been there within
an hour or two of Lady Lufton's return from London, but things
between them were not now as they usually had been. This affair of
Lucy's must make a difference, let them both resolve to the contrary
as they might. And, indeed, Mrs. Robarts had found that the closeness
of her intimacy with Framley Court had been diminishing from day to
day since Lucy had first begun to be on friendly terms with Lord
Lufton. Since that she had been less at Framley Court than usual;
she had heard from Lady Lufton less frequently by letter during her
absence than she had done in former years, and was aware that she was
less implicitly trusted with all the affairs of the parish. This had
not made her angry, for she was in a manner conscious that it must be
so. It made her unhappy, but what could she do? She could not blame
Lucy, nor could she blame Lady Lufton. Lord Lufton she did blame,
but she did so in the hearing of no one but her husband. Her mind,
however, was made up to go over and bear the first brunt of her
ladyship's arguments, when she was stopped by her ladyship's arrival.
If it were not for this terrible matter of Lucy's love--a matter
on which they could not now be silent when they met--there would
be twenty subjects of pleasant, or, at any rate, not unpleasant
conversation. But even then there would be those terrible bills
hanging over her conscience, and almost crushing her by their weight.
At the moment in which Lady Lufton walked up to the drawing-room
window, Mrs. Robarts held in her hand that ominous invitation from
the Judge. Would it not be well that she should make a clean breast
of it all, disregarding what her husband had said? It might be well:
only this--she had never done anything in opposition to her husband's
wishes. So she hid the slip within her desk, and left the matter
open to consideration. The interview commenced with an affectionate
embrace, as was a matter of course. "Dear Fanny," and "Dear Lady
Lufton," was said between them with all the usual warmth. And then
the first inquiry was made about the children, and the second about
the school. For a minute or two Mrs. Robarts thought that, perhaps,
nothing was to be said about Lucy. If it pleased Lady Lufton to be
silent, she, at least, would not commence the subject. Then there
was a word or two spoken about Mrs. Podgens's baby, after which Lady
Lufton asked whether Fanny were alone. "Yes," said Mrs. Robarts.
"Mark has gone over to Barchester."

"I hope he will not be long before he lets me see him. Perhaps he can
call to-morrow. Would you both come and dine to-morrow?"

"Not to-morrow, I think, Lady Lufton; but Mark, I am sure, will go
over and call."

"And why not come to dinner? I hope there is to be no change among
us, eh, Fanny?" and Lady Lufton as she spoke looked into the other's
face in a manner which almost made Mrs. Robarts get up and throw
herself on her old friend's neck. Where was she to find a friend
who would give her such constant love as she had received from Lady
Lufton? And who was kinder, better, more honest than she?

"Change! no, I hope not, Lady Lufton;" and as she spoke the tears
stood in her eyes.

"Ah, but I shall think there is if you will not come to me as you
used to do. You always used to come and dine with me the day I came
home, as a matter of course." What could she say, poor woman, to
this?

"We were all in confusion yesterday about poor Mrs. Crawley, and the
dean dined here; he had been over at Hogglestock to see his friend."

"I have heard of her illness, and will go over and see what ought
to be done. Don't you go, do you hear, Fanny? You with your young
children! I should never forgive you if you did." And then Mrs.
Robarts explained how Lucy had gone there, had sent the four children
back to Framley, and was herself now staying at Hogglestock with the
object of nursing Mrs. Crawley. In telling the story she abstained
from praising Lucy with all the strong language which she would have
used had not Lucy's name and character been at the present moment of
peculiar import to Lady Lufton; but nevertheless she could not tell
it without dwelling much on Lucy's kindness. It would have been
ungenerous to Lady Lufton to make much of Lucy's virtue at this
present moment, but unjust to Lucy to make nothing of it.

"And she is actually with Mrs. Crawley now?" asked Lady Lufton.

"Oh, yes; Mark left her there yesterday afternoon."

"And the four children are all here in the house?"

"Not exactly in the house--that is, not as yet. We have arranged a
sort of quarantine hospital over the coach-house."

"What, where Stubbs lives?"

"Yes; Stubbs and his wife have come into the house, and the children
are to remain up there till the doctor says that there is no danger
of infection. I have not even seen my visitors myself as yet," said
Mrs. Robarts with a slight laugh.

"Dear me!" said Lady Lufton. "I declare you have been very prompt.
And so Miss Robarts is over there! I should have thought Mr. Crawley
would have made a difficulty about the children."

"Well, he did; but they kidnapped them--that is, Lucy and Mark did.
The dean gave me such an account of it. Lucy brought them out by twos
and packed them in the pony-carriage, and then Mark drove off at a
gallop while Mr. Crawley stood calling to them in the road. The dean
was there at the time and saw it all."

"That Miss Lucy of yours seems to be a very determined young lady
when she takes a thing into her head," said Lady Lufton, now sitting
down for the first time.

"Yes, she is," said Mrs. Robarts, having laid aside all her pleasant
animation, for the discussion which she dreaded was now at hand.

"A very determined young lady," continued Lady Lufton. "Of course, my
dear Fanny, you know all this about Ludovic and your sister-in-law?"

"Yes, she has told me about it."

"It is very unfortunate--very."

"I do not think Lucy has been to blame," said Mrs. Robarts; and as
she spoke the blood was already mounting to her cheeks.

"Do not be too anxious to defend her, my dear, before any one accuses
her. Whenever a person does that it looks as though their cause were
weak."

"But my cause is not weak as far as Lucy is concerned; I feel quite
sure that she has not been to blame."

"I know how obstinate you can be, Fanny, when you think it necessary
to dub yourself any one's champion. Don Quixote was not a better
knight-errant than you are. But is it not a pity to take up your
lance and shield before an enemy is within sight or hearing? But that
was ever the way with your Don Quixotes."

"Perhaps there may be an enemy in ambush." That was Mrs. Robarts's
thought to herself, but she did not dare to express it, so she
remained silent.

"My only hope is," continued Lady Lufton, "that when my back is
turned you fight as gallantly for me."

"Ah, you are never under a cloud, like poor Lucy."

"Am I not? But, Fanny, you do not see all the clouds. The sun does
not always shine for any of us, and the down-pouring rain and the
heavy wind scatter also my fairest flowers--as they have done hers,
poor girl. Dear Fanny, I hope it may be long before any cloud comes
across the brightness of your heaven. Of all the creatures I know you
are the one most fitted for quiet continued sunshine." And then Mrs.
Robarts did get up and embrace her friend, thus hiding the tears
which were running down her face. Continued sunshine indeed! A dark
spot had already gathered on her horizon, which was likely to fall in
a very waterspout of rain. What was to come of that terrible notice
which was now lying in the desk under Lady Lufton's very arm?

"But I am not come here to croak like an old raven," continued Lady
Lufton, when she had brought this embrace to an end. "It is probable
that we all may have our sorrows; but I am quite sure of this,--that
if we endeavour to do our duties honestly, we shall all find our
consolation and all have our joys also. And now, my dear, let you
and I say a few words about this unfortunate affair. It would not be
natural if we were to hold our tongues to each other; would it?"

"I suppose not," said Mrs. Robarts.

"We should always be conceiving worse than the truth--each as to the
other's thoughts. Now, some time ago, when I spoke to you about your
sister-in-law and Ludovic--I dare say you remember--"

"Oh, yes, I remember."

"We both thought then that there would really be no danger. To tell
you the plain truth I fancied, and indeed hoped, that his affections
were engaged elsewhere; but I was altogether wrong then; wrong in
thinking it, and wrong in hoping it." Mrs. Robarts knew well that
Lady Lufton was alluding to Griselda Grantly, but she conceived
that it would be discreet to say nothing herself on that subject
at present. She remembered, however, Lucy's flashing eye when the
possibility of Lord Lufton making such a marriage was spoken of in
the pony-carriage, and could not but feel glad that Lady Lufton had
been disappointed.

"I do not at all impute any blame to Miss Robarts for what has
occurred since," continued her ladyship. "I wish you distinctly to
understand that."

"I do not see how any one could blame her. She has behaved so nobly."

"It is of no use inquiring whether any one can. It is sufficient that
I do not."

"But I think that is hardly sufficient," said Mrs. Robarts,
pertinaciously.

"Is it not?" asked her ladyship, raising her eyebrows.

"No. Only think what Lucy has done and is doing. If she had chosen to
say that she would accept your son I really do not know how you could
have justly blamed her. I do not by any means say that I would have
advised such a thing."

"I am glad of that, Fanny."

"I have not given any advice; nor is it needed. I know no one more
able than Lucy to see clearly, by her own judgement, what course she
ought to pursue. I should be afraid to advise one whose mind is so
strong, and who, of her own nature, is so self-denying as she is.
She is sacrificing herself now, because she will not be the means of
bringing trouble and dissension between you and your son. If you ask
me, Lady Lufton, I think you owe her a deep debt of gratitude. I do,
indeed. And as for blaming her--what has she done that you possibly
could blame?"

"Don Quixote on horseback!" said Lady Lufton. "Fanny, I shall always
call you Don Quixote, and some day or other I will get somebody to
write your adventures. But the truth is this, my dear; there has been
imprudence. You may call it mine, if you will--though I really hardly
see how I am to take the blame. I could not do other than ask Miss
Robarts to my house, and I could not very well turn my son out of it.
In point of fact, it has been the old story."

"Exactly; the story that is as old as the world, and which will
continue as long as people are born into it. It is a story of God's
own telling."

"But, my dear child, you do not mean that every young gentleman and
every young lady should fall in love with each other directly they
meet! Such a doctrine would be very inconvenient."

"No, I do not mean that. Lord Lufton and Miss Grantly did not fall in
love with each other, though you meant them to do so. But was it not
quite as natural that Lord Lufton and Lucy should do so instead?"

"It is generally thought, Fanny, that young ladies should not give
loose to their affections until they have been certified of their
friends' approval."

"And that young gentlemen of fortune may amuse themselves as they
please! I know that is what the world teaches, but I cannot agree to
the justice of it. The terrible suffering which Lucy has to endure
makes me cry out against it. She did not seek your son. The moment
she began to suspect that there might be danger she avoided him
scrupulously. She would not go down to Framley Court, though her not
doing so was remarked by yourself. She would hardly go out about the
place lest she should meet him. She was contented to put herself
altogether in the background till he should have pleased to leave the
place. But he--he came to her here, and insisted on seeing her. He
found her when I was out, and declared himself determined to speak to
her. What was she to do? She did try to escape, but he stopped her at
the door. Was it her fault that he made her an offer?"

"My dear, no one has said so."

"Yes, but you do say so when you tell me that young ladies should not
give play to their affections without permission. He persisted in
saying to her, here, all that it pleased him, though she implored him
to be silent. I cannot tell the words she used, but she did implore
him."

"I do not doubt that she behaved well."

"But he--he persisted, and begged her to accept his hand. She refused
him then, Lady Lufton--not as some girls do, with a mock reserve, not
intending to be taken at their words--but steadily, and, God forgive
her, untruly. Knowing what your feelings would be, and knowing what
the world would say, she declared to him that he was indifferent to
her. What more could she do in your behalf?" And then Mrs. Robarts
paused.

"I shall wait till you have done, Fanny."

"You spoke of girls giving loose to their affections. She did not do
so. She went about her work exactly as she had done before. She did
not even speak to me of what had passed--not then, at least. She
determined that it should all be as though it had never been. She
had learned to love your son; but that was her misfortune, and she
would get over it as she might. Tidings came to us here that he was
engaged, or about to engage himself, to Miss Grantly."

"Those tidings were untrue."

"Yes, we know that now; but she did not know it then. Of course she
could not but suffer; but she suffered within herself." Mrs. Robarts,
as she said this, remembered the pony-carriage and how Puck had been
beaten. "She made no complaint that he had ill-treated her--not even
to herself. She had thought it right to reject his offer; and there,
as far as he was concerned, was to be an end of it."

"That would be a matter of course, I should suppose."

"But it was not a matter of course, Lady Lufton. He returned from
London to Framley on purpose to repeat his offer. He sent for her
brother-- You talk of a young lady waiting for her friends' approval.
In this matter who would be Lucy's friends?"

"You and Mr. Robarts, of course."

"Exactly; her only friends. Well, Lord Lufton sent for Mark and
repeated his offer to him. Mind you, Mark had never heard a word of
this before, and you may guess whether or no he was surprised. Lord
Lufton repeated his offer in the most formal manner, and claimed
permission to see Lucy. She refused to see him. She has never seen
him since that day when, in opposition to all her efforts, he made
his way into this room. Mark,--as I think very properly,--would have
allowed Lord Lufton to come up here. Looking at both their ages and
position he could have had no right to forbid it. But Lucy positively
refused to see your son, and sent him a message instead, of the
purport of which you are now aware--that she would never accept him
unless she did so at your request."

"It was a very proper message."

"I say nothing about that. Had she accepted him I would not have
blamed her; and so I told her, Lady Lufton."

"I cannot understand your saying that, Fanny."

"Well; I did say so. I don't want to argue now about myself,--whether
I was right or wrong, but I did say so. Whatever sanction I could
give she would have had. But she again chose to sacrifice herself,
although I believe she regards him with as true a love as ever a girl
felt for a man. Upon my word I don't know that she is right. Those
considerations for the world may perhaps be carried too far."

"I think that she was perfectly right."

"Very well, Lady Lufton; I can understand that. But after such
sacrifice on her part--a sacrifice made entirely to you--how can you
talk of 'not blaming her'? Is that the language in which you speak
of those whose conduct from first to last has been superlatively
excellent? If she is open to blame at all, it is--it is--" But here
Mrs. Robarts stopped herself. In defending her sister she had worked
herself almost into a passion; but such a state of feeling was not
customary to her, and now that she had spoken her mind she sank
suddenly into silence.

"It seems to me, Fanny, that you almost regret Miss Robarts's
decision," said Lady Lufton.

"My wish in this matter is for her happiness, and I regret anything
that may mar it."

"You think nothing then of our welfare, and yet I do not know to
whom I might have looked for hearty friendship and for sympathy in
difficulties, if not to you?" Poor Mrs. Robarts was almost upset
by this. A few months ago, before Lucy's arrival, she would have
declared that the interests of Lady Lufton's family would have been
paramount with her, after and next to those of her own husband.
And even now, it seemed to argue so black an ingratitude on her
part--this accusation that she was indifferent to them! From her
childhood upwards she had revered and loved Lady Lufton, and for
years had taught herself to regard her as an epitome of all that was
good and gracious in woman. Lady Lufton's theories of life had been
accepted by her as the right theories, and those whom Lady Lufton had
liked she had liked. But now it seemed that all these ideas which it
had taken a life to build up were to be thrown to the ground, because
she was bound to defend a sister-in-law whom she had only known for
the last eight months. It was not that she regretted a word that she
had spoken on Lucy's behalf. Chance had thrown her and Lucy together,
and, as Lucy was her sister, she should receive from her a sister's
treatment. But she did not the less feel how terrible would be the
effect of any disseverance from Lady Lufton. "Oh, Lady Lufton," she
said, "do not say that."

"But Fanny, dear, I must speak as I find. You were talking about
clouds just now, and do you think that all this is not a cloud in my
sky? Ludovic tells me that he is attached to Miss Robarts, and you
tell me that she is attached to him; and I am called upon to decide
between them. Her very act obliges me to do so."

"Dear Lady Lufton," said Mrs. Robarts, springing from her seat. It
seemed to her at the moment as though the whole difficulty were to be
solved by an act of grace on the part of an old friend.

"And yet I cannot approve of such a marriage," said Lady Lufton. Mrs.
Robarts returned to her seat saying nothing further.

"Is not that a cloud on one's horizon?" continued her ladyship. "Do
you think that I can be basking in the sunshine while I have such a
weight upon my heart as that? Ludovic will soon be home, but instead
of looking to his return with pleasure I dread it. I would prefer
that he should remain in Norway. I would wish that he should stay
away for months. And, Fanny, it is a great addition to my misfortune
to feel that you do not sympathize with me." Having said this, in a
slow, sorrowful, and severe tone, Lady Lufton got up and took her
departure. Of course Mrs. Robarts did not let her go without assuring
her that she did sympathize with her,--did love her as she ever
had loved her. But wounds cannot be cured as easily as they may be
inflicted, and Lady Lufton went her way with much real sorrow at her
heart. She was proud and masterful, fond of her own way, and much too
careful of the worldly dignities to which her lot had called her: but
she was a woman who could cause no sorrow to those she loved without
deep sorrow to herself.



CHAPTER XLII

Touching Pitch


In these hot midsummer days, the end of June and the beginning of
July, Mr. Sowerby had but an uneasy time of it. At his sister's
instance, he had hurried up to London, and there had remained for
days in attendance on the lawyers. He had to see new lawyers, Miss
Dunstable's men of business, quiet old cautious gentlemen whose
place of business was in a dark alley behind the Bank, Messrs. Slow
& Bideawhile by name, who had no scruple in detaining him for hours
while they or their clerks talked to him about anything or about
nothing. It was of vital consequence to Mr. Sowerby that this
business of his should be settled without delay, and yet these men,
to whose care this settling was now confided, went on as though law
processes were a sunny bank on which it delighted men to bask easily.
And then, too, he had to go more than once to South Audley Street,
which was a worse infliction; for the men in South Audley Street
were less civil now than had been their wont. It was well understood
there that Mr. Sowerby was no longer a client of the duke's, but
his opponent; no longer his nominee and dependant, but his enemy in
the county. "Chaldicotes," as old Mr. Gumption remarked to young Mr.
Gazebee; "Chaldicotes, Gazebee, is a cooked goose, as far as Sowerby
is concerned. And what difference could it make to him whether the
duke is to own it or Miss Dunstable? For my part I cannot understand
how a gentleman like Sowerby can like to see his property go into the
hands of a gallipot wench whose money still smells of bad drugs. And
nothing can be more ungrateful," he said, "than Sowerby's conduct. He
has held the county for five-and-twenty years without expense; and
now that the time for payment has come, he begrudges the price." He
called it no better than cheating, he did not--he, Mr. Gumption.
According to his ideas Sowerby was attempting to cheat the duke. It
may be imagined, therefore, that Mr. Sowerby did not feel any very
great delight in attending at South Audley Street. And then rumour
was spread about among all the bill-discounting leeches that blood
was once more to be sucked from the Sowerby carcass. The rich Miss
Dunstable had taken up his affairs; so much as that became known in
the purlieus of the Goat and Compasses. Tom Tozer's brother declared
that she and Sowerby were going to make a match of it, and that any
scrap of paper with Sowerby's name on it would become worth its
weight in bank-notes; but Tom Tozer himself--Tom, who was the real
hero of the family--pooh-poohed at this, screwing up his nose, and
alluding in most contemptuous terms to his brother's softness. He
knew better--as was indeed the fact. Miss Dunstable was buying up the
squire, and by Jingo she should buy them up--them, the Tozers, as
well as others! They knew their value, the Tozers did;--whereupon
they became more than ordinarily active. From them and all their
brethren Mr. Sowerby at this time endeavoured to keep his distance,
but his endeavours were not altogether effectual. Whenever he could
escape for a day or two from the lawyers he ran down to Chaldicotes;
but Tom Tozer in his perseverance followed him there, and boldly sent
in his name by the servant at the front door.

"Mr. Sowerby is not just at home at the present moment," said the
well-trained domestic.

"I'll wait about then," said Tom, seating himself on an heraldic
stone griffin which flanked the big stone steps before the house.
And in this way Mr. Tozer gained his purpose. Sowerby was still
contesting the county, and it behoved him not to let his enemies say
that he was hiding himself. It had been a part of his bargain with
Miss Dunstable that he should contest the county. She had taken it
into her head that the duke had behaved badly, and she had resolved
that he should be made to pay for it. "The duke," she said, "had
meddled long enough;" she would now see whether the Chaldicotes
interest would not suffice of itself to return a member for the
county, even in opposition to the duke. Mr. Sowerby himself was so
harassed at the time, that he would have given way on this point if
he had had the power; but Miss Dunstable was determined, and he was
obliged to yield to her. In this manner Mr. Tom Tozer succeeded and
did make his way into Mr. Sowerby's presence--of which intrusion one
effect was the following letter from Mr. Sowerby to his friend Mark
Robarts:--


   Chaldicotes, July, 185--.

   MY DEAR ROBARTS,

   I am so harassed at the present moment by an infinity
   of troubles of my own that I am almost callous to those
   of other people. They say that prosperity makes a man
   selfish. I have never tried that, but I am quite sure that
   adversity does so. Nevertheless I am anxious about those
   bills of yours--


"Bills of mine!" said Robarts to himself, as he walked up and down
the shrubbery path at the parsonage, reading this letter. This
happened a day or two after his visit to the lawyer at Barchester.


   --and would rejoice greatly if I thought that I could save
   you from any further annoyance about them. That kite, Tom
   Tozer, has just been with me, and insists that both of
   them shall be paid. He knows--no one better--that no
   consideration was given for the latter. But he knows also
   that the dealing was not with him, nor even with his
   brother, and he will be prepared to swear that he gave
   value for both. He would swear anything for five hundred
   pounds--or for half the money, for that matter. I do not
   think that the father of mischief ever let loose upon the
   world a greater rascal than Tom Tozer.

   He declares that nothing shall induce him to take one
   shilling less than the whole sum of nine hundred pounds.
   He has been brought to this by hearing that my debts are
   about to be paid. Heaven help me! The meaning of that is
   that these wretched acres, which are now mortgaged to
   one millionaire, are to change hands and be mortgaged to
   another instead. By this exchange I may possibly obtain
   the benefit of having a house to live in for the next
   twelve months, but no other. Tozer, however, is altogether
   wrong in his scent; and the worst of it is that his malice
   will fall on you rather than on me.

   What I want you to do is this: let us pay him one hundred
   pounds between us. Though I sell the last sorry jade of a
   horse I have, I will make up fifty; and I know you can, at
   any rate, do as much as that. Then do you accept a bill,
   conjointly with me, for eight hundred. It shall be done
   in Forrest's presence, and handed to him; and you shall
   receive back the two old bills into your own hands at the
   same time. This new bill should be timed to run ninety
   days; and I will move heaven and earth, during that time,
   to have it included in the general schedule of my debts
   which are to be secured on the Chaldicotes property.


The meaning of which was that Miss Dunstable was to be cozened into
paying the money under an idea that it was a part of the sum covered
by the existing mortgage.


   What you said the other day at Barchester, as to never
   executing another bill, is very well as regards future
   transactions. Nothing can be wiser than such a resolution.
   But it would be folly--worse than folly--if you were
   to allow your furniture to be seized when the means of
   preventing it are so ready to your hand. By leaving the
   new bill in Forrest's hands you may be sure that you are
   safe from the claws of such birds of prey as these Tozers.
   Even if I cannot get it settled when the three months are
   over, Forrest will enable you to make any arrangement that
   may be most convenient.

   For Heaven's sake, my dear fellow, do not refuse this.
   You can hardly conceive how it weighs upon me, this fear
   that bailiffs should make their way into your wife's
   drawing-room. I know you think ill of me, and I do not
   wonder at it. But you would be less inclined to do so if
   you knew how terribly I am punished. Pray let me hear that
   you will do as I counsel you.

   Yours always faithfully,

   N. SOWERBY.


In answer to which the parson wrote a very short reply:--


   Framley, July, 185--.

   MY DEAR SOWERBY,

   I will sign no more bills on any consideration.

   Yours truly,

   MARK ROBARTS.


And then having written this, and having shown it to his wife, he
returned to the shrubbery walk and paced it up and down, looking
every now and then to Sowerby's letter as he thought over all the
past circumstances of his friendship with that gentleman. That the
man who had written this letter should be his friend--that very fact
was a disgrace to him. Sowerby so well knew himself and his own
reputation, that he did not dare to suppose that his own word would
be taken for anything,--not even when the thing promised was an act
of the commonest honesty. "The old bills shall be given back into
your own hands," he had declared with energy, knowing that his friend
and correspondent would not feel himself secure against further fraud
under less stringent guarantee. This gentleman, this county member,
the owner of Chaldicotes, with whom Mark Robarts had been so anxious
to be on terms of intimacy, had now come to such a phase of life that
he had given over speaking of himself as an honest man. He had become
so used to suspicion that he argued of it as of a thing of course. He
knew that no one could trust either his spoken or his written word,
and he was content to speak and to write without attempt to hide this
conviction. And this was the man whom he had been so glad to call
his friend; for whose sake he had been willing to quarrel with Lady
Lufton, and at whose instance he had unconsciously abandoned so many
of the best resolutions of his life. He looked back now, as he walked
there slowly, still holding the letter in his hand, to the day when
he had stopped at the school-house and written his letter to Mr.
Sowerby, promising to join the party at Chaldicotes. He had been so
eager then to have his own way, that he would not permit himself to
go home and talk the matter over with his wife. He thought also of
the manner in which he had been tempted to the house of the Duke of
Omnium, and the conviction on his mind at the time that his giving
way to that temptation would surely bring him to evil. And then he
remembered the evening in Sowerby's bedroom, when the bill had been
brought out, and he had allowed himself to be persuaded to put his
name upon it--not because he was willing in this way to assist his
friend, but because he was unable to refuse. He had lacked the
courage to say, "No," though he knew at the time how gross was the
error which he was committing. He had lacked the courage to say,
"No," and hence had come upon him and on his household all this
misery and cause for bitter repentance.

I have written much of clergymen, but in doing so I have endeavoured
to portray them as they bear on our social life rather than to
describe the mode and working of their professional careers. Had I
done the latter I could hardly have steered clear of subjects on
which it has not been my intention to pronounce an opinion, and I
should either have laden my fiction with sermons or I should have
degraded my sermons into fiction. Therefore I have said but little
in my narrative of this man's feelings or doings as a clergyman. But
I must protest against its being on this account considered that Mr.
Robarts was indifferent to the duties of his clerical position. He
had been fond of pleasure and had given way to temptation,--as is
so customarily done by young men of six-and-twenty, who are placed
beyond control and who have means at command. Had he remained as a
curate till that age, subject in all his movements to the eye of
a superior, he would, we may say, have put his name to no bills,
have ridden after no hounds, have seen nothing of the iniquities of
Gatherum Castle. There are men of twenty-six as fit to stand alone
as ever they will be--fit to be prime ministers, heads of schools,
Judges on the Bench--almost fit to be bishops; but Mark Robarts had
not been one of them. He had within him many aptitudes for good, but
not the strengthened courage of a man to act up to them. The stuff of
which his manhood was to be formed had been slow of growth, as it is
with many men; and, consequently, when temptation was offered to him,
he had fallen. But he deeply grieved over his own stumbling, and from
time to time, as his periods of penitence came upon him, he resolved
that he would once more put his shoulder to the wheel as became one
who fights upon earth that battle for which he had put on the armour.
Over and over again did he think of those words of Mr. Crawley, and
now as he walked up and down the path, crumpling Mr. Sowerby's letter
in his hand, he thought of them again--"It is a terrible falling off;
terrible in the fall, but doubly terrible through that difficulty
of returning." Yes; that is a difficulty which multiplies itself
in a fearful ratio as one goes on pleasantly running down the
path--whitherward? Had it come to that with him that he could not
return--that he could never again hold up his head with a safe
conscience as the pastor of his parish? It was Sowerby who had led
him into this misery, who had brought on him this ruin? But then
had not Sowerby paid him? Had not that stall which he now held in
Barchester been Sowerby's gift? He was a poor man now--a distressed,
poverty-stricken man; but nevertheless he wished with all his
heart that he had never become a sharer in the good things of the
Barchester chapter. "I shall resign the stall," he said to his wife
that night. "I think I may say that I have made up my mind as to
that."

"But, Mark, will not people say that it is odd?"

"I cannot help it--they must say it. Fanny, I fear that we shall have
to bear the saying of harder words than that."

"Nobody can ever say that you have done anything that is unjust or
dishonourable. If there are such men as Mr. Sowerby--"

"The blackness of his fault will not excuse mine." And then again he
sat silent, hiding his eyes, while his wife, sitting by him, held his
hand.

"Don't make yourself wretched, Mark. Matters will all come right yet.
It cannot be that the loss of a few hundred pounds should ruin you."

"It is not the money--it is not the money!"

"But you have done nothing wrong, Mark."

"How am I to go into the church, and take my place before them all,
when every one will know that bailiffs are in the house?" And then,
dropping his head on to the table, he sobbed aloud.

Mark Robarts's mistake had been mainly this,--he had thought to
touch pitch and not to be defiled. He, looking out from his pleasant
parsonage into the pleasant upper ranks of the world around him, had
seen that men and things in those quarters were very engaging. His
own parsonage, with his sweet wife, were exceedingly dear to him, and
Lady Lufton's affectionate friendship had its value; but were not
these things rather dull for one who had lived in the best sets at
Harrow and Oxford;--unless, indeed, he could supplement them with
some occasional bursts of more lively life? Cakes and ale were as
pleasant to his palate as to the palates of those with whom he had
formerly lived at college. He had the same eye to look at a horse,
and the same heart to make him go across a country, as they. And
then, too, he found that men liked him,--men and women also; men and
women who were high in worldly standing. His ass's ears were tickled,
and he learned to fancy that he was intended by nature for the
society of high people. It seemed as though he were following his
appointed course in meeting men and women of the world at the houses
of the fashionable and the rich. He was not the first clergyman that
had so lived and had so prospered. Yes, clergymen had so lived, and
had done their duties in their sphere of life altogether to the
satisfaction of their countrymen--and of their sovereigns. Thus
Mark Robarts had determined that he would touch pitch, and escape
defilement if that were possible. With what result those who have
read so far will have perceived. Late on the following afternoon
who should drive up to the parsonage door but Mr. Forrest, the bank
manager from Barchester--Mr. Forrest, to whom Sowerby had always
pointed as the _Deus ex machina_ who, if duly invoked, could relieve
them all from their present troubles, and dismiss the whole Tozer
family--not howling into the wilderness, as one would have wished to
do with that brood of Tozers, but so gorged with prey that from them
no further annoyance need be dreaded? All this Mr. Forrest could do;
nay, more, most willingly would do! Only let Mark Robarts put himself
into the banker's hand, and blandly sign what documents the banker
might desire. "This is a very unpleasant affair," said Mr. Forrest as
soon as they were closeted together in Mark's book-room. In answer
to which observation the parson acknowledged that it was a very
unpleasant affair.

"Mr. Sowerby has managed to put you into the hands of about the worst
set of rogues now existing in their line of business in London."

"So I suppose; Curling told me the same." Curling was the Barchester
attorney whose aid he had lately invoked.

"Curling has threatened them that he will expose their whole trade;
but one of them who was down here, a man named Tozer, replied, that
you had much more to lose by exposure than he had. He went further,
and declared that he would defy any jury in England to refuse him his
money. He swore that he discounted both bills in the regular way of
business; and, though this is of course false, I fear that it will be
impossible to prove it so. He well knows that you are a clergyman,
and that, therefore, he has a stronger hold on you than on other
men."

"The disgrace shall fall on Sowerby," said Robarts, hardly actuated
at the moment by any strong feeling of Christian forgiveness.

"I fear, Mr. Robarts, that he is somewhat in the condition of the
Tozers. He will not feel it as you will do."

"I must bear it, Mr. Forrest, as best I may."

"Will you allow me, Mr. Robarts, to give you my advice? Perhaps
I ought to apologize for intruding it upon you; but as the bills
have been presented and dishonoured across my counter, I have, of
necessity, become acquainted with the circumstances."

"I am sure I am very much obliged to you," said Mark.

"You must pay this money, at any rate, the most considerable portion
of it;--the whole of it, indeed, with such deduction as a lawyer
may be able to induce these hawks to make on the sight of the ready
money. Perhaps £750 or £800 may see you clear of the whole affair."

"But I have not a quarter of that sum lying by me."

"No, I suppose not; but what I would recommend is this:
that you should borrow the money from the bank, on your own
responsibility,--with the joint security of some friend who may be
willing to assist you with his name. Lord Lufton probably would do
it."

"No, Mr. Forrest--"

"Listen to me first, before you make up your mind. If you took this
step, of course you would do so with the fixed intention of paying
the money yourself,--without any further reliance on Sowerby or on
any one else."

"I shall not rely on Mr. Sowerby again; you may be sure of that."

"What I mean is that you must teach yourself to recognize the debt as
your own. If you can do that, with your income you can surely pay it,
with interest, in two years. If Lord Lufton will assist you with his
name, I will so arrange the bills that the payments shall be made
to fall equally over that period. In that way the world will know
nothing about it, and in two years' time you will once more be a free
man. Many men, Mr. Robarts, have bought their experience much dearer
than that, I can assure you."

"Mr. Forrest, it is quite out of the question."

"You mean that Lord Lufton will not give you his name."

"I certainly shall not ask him; but that is not all. In the first
place, my income will not be what you think it, for I shall probably
give up the prebend at Barchester."

"Give up the prebend! give up six hundred a year!"

"And, beyond this, I think I may say that nothing shall tempt me to
put my name to another bill. I have learned a lesson which I hope I
may never forget."

"Then what do you intend to do?"

"Nothing!"

"Then those men will sell every stick of furniture about the place.
They know that your property here is enough to secure all that they
claim."

"If they have the power, they must sell it."

"And all the world will know the facts."

"So it must be. Of the faults which a man commits he must bear the
punishment. If it were only myself!"

"That's where it is, Mr. Robarts. Think what your wife will have to
suffer in going through such misery as that! You had better take my
advice. Lord Lufton, I am sure--" But the very name of Lord Lufton,
his sister's lover, again gave him courage. He thought, too, of the
accusations which Lord Lufton had brought against him on that night,
when he had come to him in the coffee-room of the hotel, and he felt
that it was impossible that he should apply to him for such aid. It
would be better to tell all to Lady Lufton! That she would relieve
him, let the cost to herself be what it might, he was very sure. Only
this;--that in looking to her for assistance he would be forced to
bite the dust in very deed.

"Thank you, Mr. Forrest, but I have made up my mind. Do not
think that I am the less obliged to you for your disinterested
kindness,--for I know that it is disinterested; but this I think I
may confidently say, that not even to avert so terrible a calamity
will I again put my name to any bill. Even if you could take my own
promise to pay without the addition of any second name, I would
not do it." There was nothing for Mr. Forrest to do under such
circumstances but simply to drive back to Barchester. He had done the
best for the young clergyman according to his lights, and perhaps,
in a worldly view, his advice had not been bad. But Mark dreaded the
very name of a bill. He was as a dog that had been terribly scorched,
and nothing should again induce him to go near the fire.

"Was not that the man from the bank?" said Fanny, coming into the
room when the sound of the wheels had died away.

"Yes; Mr. Forrest."

"Well, dearest?"

"We must prepare ourselves for the worst."

"You will not sign any more papers, eh, Mark?"

"No; I have just now positively refused to do so."

"Then I can bear anything. But, dearest, dearest Mark, will you not
let me tell Lady Lufton?"

Let them look at the matter in any way the punishment was very heavy.



CHAPTER XLIII

Is She Not Insignificant?


And now a month went by at Framley without any increase of comfort to
our friends there, and also without any absolute development of the
ruin which had been daily expected at the parsonage. Sundry letters
had reached Mr. Robarts from various personages acting in the Tozer
interest, all of which he referred to Mr. Curling, of Barchester.
Some of these letters contained prayers for the money, pointing out
how an innocent widow lady had been induced to invest her all on
the faith of Mr. Robarts's name, and was now starving in a garret,
with her three children, because Mr. Robarts would not make good
his own undertakings. But the majority of them were filled with
threats;--only two days longer would be allowed, and then the
sheriff's officers would be enjoined to do their work; then one day
of grace would be added, at the expiration of which the dogs of war
would be unloosed. These, as fast as they came, were sent to Mr.
Curling, who took no notice of them individually, but continued his
endeavour to prevent the evil day. The second bill Mr. Robarts would
take up--such was Mr. Curling's proposition; and would pay by two
instalments of £250 each, the first in two months, and the second
in four. If this were acceptable to the Tozer interest--well; if it
were not, the sheriff's officers must do their worst and the Tozer
interest must look for what it could get. The Tozer interest would
not declare itself satisfied with these terms, and so the matter went
on. During which the roses faded from day to day on the cheeks of
Mrs. Robarts, as under such circumstances may easily be conceived. In
the meantime Lucy still remained at Hogglestock, and had there become
absolute mistress of the house. Poor Mrs. Crawley had been at death's
door; for some days she was delirious, and afterwards remained so
weak as to be almost unconscious; but now the worst was over, and
Mr. Crawley had been informed, that as far as human judgement might
pronounce, his children would not become orphans nor would he become
a widower. During these weeks Lucy had not once been home nor had she
seen any of the Framley people. "Why should she incur the risk of
conveying infection for so small an object?" as she herself argued,
writing by letters, which were duly fumigated before they were opened
at the parsonage. So she remained at Hogglestock, and the Crawley
children, now admitted to all the honours of the nursery, were kept
at Framley. They were kept at Framley, although it was expected from
day to day that the beds on which they lay would be seized for the
payment of Mr. Sowerby's debts. Lucy, as I have said, became mistress
of the house at Hogglestock, and made herself absolutely ascendant
over Mr. Crawley. Jellies, and broth, and fruit, and even butter,
came from Lufton Court, which she displayed on the table, absolutely
on the cloth before him, and yet he bore it. I cannot say that he
partook of these delicacies with any freedom himself, but he did
drink his tea when it was given to him although it contained Framley
cream;--and, had he known it, Bohea itself from the Framley chest. In
truth, in these days, he had given himself over to the dominion of
this stranger; and he said nothing beyond, "Well, well," with two
uplifted hands, when he came upon her as she was sewing the buttons
on to his own shirts--sewing on the buttons and perhaps occasionally
applying her needle elsewhere,--not without utility. He said to her
at this period very little in the way of thanks. Some protracted
conversations they did have, now and again, during the long evenings;
but even in these he did not utter many words as to their present
state of life. It was on religion chiefly that he spoke, not
lecturing her individually, but laying down his ideas as to what the
life of a Christian should be, and especially what should be the life
of a minister. "But though I can see this, Miss Robarts," he said, "I
am bound to say that no one has fallen off so frequently as myself.
I have renounced the devil and all his works; but it is by word of
mouth only--by word of mouth only. How shall a man crucify the old
Adam that is within him, unless he throw himself prostrate in the
dust and acknowledge that all his strength is weaker than water?"
To this, often as it might be repeated, she would listen patiently,
comforting him by such words as her theology would supply; but then,
when this was over, she would again resume her command and enforce
from him a close obedience to her domestic behests.

At the end of the month Lord Lufton came back to Framley Court. His
arrival there was quite unexpected; though, as he pointed out when
his mother expressed some surprise, he had returned exactly at the
time named by him before he started.

"I need not say, Ludovic, how glad I am to have you," said she,
looking to his face and pressing his arm; "the more so, indeed,
seeing that I hardly expected it."

He said nothing to his mother about Lucy the first evening, although
there was some conversation respecting the Robarts family.

"I am afraid Mr. Robarts has embarrassed himself," said Lady Lufton,
looking very seriously. "Rumours reach me which are most distressing.
I have said nothing to anybody as yet--not even to Fanny; but I can
see in her face, and hear in the tones of her voice, that she is
suffering some great sorrow."

"I know all about it," said Lord Lufton.

"You know all about it, Ludovic?"

"Yes; it is through that precious friend of mine, Mr. Sowerby, of
Chaldicotes. He has accepted bills for Sowerby; indeed, he told me
so."

"What business had he at Chaldicotes? What had he to do with such
friends as that? I do not know how I am to forgive him."

"It was through me that he became acquainted with Sowerby. You must
remember that, mother."

"I do not see that that is any excuse. Is he to consider that
all your acquaintances must necessarily be his friends also? It
is reasonable to suppose that you in your position must live
occasionally with a great many people who are altogether unfit
companions for him as a parish clergyman. He will not remember this,
and he must be taught it. What business had he to go to Gatherum
Castle?"

"He got his stall at Barchester by going there."

"He would be much better without his stall, and Fanny has the sense
to know this. What does he want with two houses? Prebendal stalls are
for older men than he--for men who have earned them, and who at the
end of their lives want some ease. I wish with all my heart that he
had never taken it."

"Six hundred a year has its charms all the same," said Lufton,
getting up and strolling out of the room.

"If Mark really be in any difficulty," he said, later in the evening,
"we must put him on his legs."

"You mean, pay his debts?"

"Yes; he has no debts except these acceptances of Sowerby's."

"How much will it be, Ludovic?"

"A thousand pounds, perhaps, more or less. I'll find the money,
mother; only I shan't be able to pay you quite as soon as I
intended." Whereupon his mother got up, and throwing her arms round
his neck declared that she would never forgive him if he ever said
a word more about her little present to him. I suppose there is no
pleasure a mother can have more attractive than giving away her money
to an only son.

Lucy's name was first mentioned at breakfast the next morning. Lord
Lufton had made up his mind to attack his mother on the subject early
in the morning--before he went up to the parsonage; but as matters
turned out, Miss Robarts's doings were necessarily brought under
discussion without reference to Lord Lufton's special aspirations
regarding her. The fact of Mrs. Crawley's illness had been mentioned,
and Lady Lufton had stated how it had come to pass that all the
Crawleys' children were at the parsonage.

"I must say that Fanny has behaved excellently," said Lady Lufton.
"It was just what might have been expected from her. And indeed," she
added, speaking in an embarrassed tone, "so has Miss Robarts. Miss
Robarts has remained at Hogglestock and nursed Mrs. Crawley through
the whole."

"Remained at Hogglestock--through the fever!" exclaimed his lordship.

"Yes, indeed," said Lady Lufton.

"And is she there now?"

"Oh, yes; I am not aware that she thinks of leaving just yet."

"Then I say that it is a great shame--a scandalous shame!"

"But, Ludovic, it was her own doing."

"Oh, yes; I understand. But why should she be sacrificed? Were there
no nurses in the country to be hired, but that she must go and remain
there for a month at the bedside of a pestilent fever? There is no
justice in it."

"Justice, Ludovic? I don't know about justice, but there was great
Christian charity. Mrs. Crawley has probably owed her life to Miss
Robarts."

"Has she been ill? Is she ill? I insist upon knowing whether she
is ill. I shall go over to Hogglestock myself immediately after
breakfast." To this Lady Lufton made no reply. If Lord Lufton chose
to go to Hogglestock she could not prevent him. She thought, however,
that it would be much better that he should stay away. He would be
quite as open to the infection as Lucy Robarts and, moreover, Mrs.
Crawley's bedside would be as inconvenient a place as might be
selected for any interview between two lovers. Lady Lufton felt at
the present moment that she was cruelly treated by circumstances with
reference to Miss Robarts. Of course it would have been her part to
lessen, if she could do so without injustice, that high idea which
her son entertained of the beauty and worth of the young lady; but,
unfortunately, she had been compelled to praise her and to load her
name with all manner of eulogy. Lady Lufton was essentially a true
woman, and not even with the object of carrying out her own views in
so important a matter would she be guilty of such deception as she
might have practised by simply holding her tongue; but nevertheless
she could hardly reconcile herself to the necessity of singing Lucy's
praises.

After breakfast Lady Lufton got up from her chair, but hung about the
room without making any show of leaving. In accordance with her usual
custom she would have asked her son what he was going to do; but
she did not dare so to inquire now. Had he not declared, only a few
minutes since, whither he would go? "I suppose I shall see you at
lunch?" at last she said.

"At lunch? Well, I don't know. Look here, mother. What am I to say to
Miss Robarts when I see her?" and he leaned with his back against the
chimney-piece as he interrogated his mother.

"What are you to say to her, Ludovic?"

"Yes, what am I to say,--as coming from you? Am I to tell her that
you will receive her as your daughter-in-law?"

"Ludovic, I have explained all that to Miss Robarts herself."

"Explained what?"

"I have told her that I did not think that such a marriage would make
either you or her happy."

"And why have you told her so? Why have you taken upon yourself to
judge for me in such a matter, as though I were a child? Mother, you
must unsay what you have said." Lord Lufton, as he spoke, looked full
into his mother's face; and he did so, not as though he were begging
from her a favour, but issuing to her a command. She stood near him,
with one hand on the breakfast-table, gazing at him almost furtively,
not quite daring to meet the full view of his eye. There was only
one thing on earth which Lady Lufton feared, and that was her son's
displeasure. The sun of her earthly heaven shone upon her through the
medium of his existence. If she were driven to quarrel with him, as
some ladies of her acquaintance were driven to quarrel with their
sons, the world to her would be over. Not but what facts might be so
strong as to make it absolutely necessary that she should do this.
As some people resolve that, under certain circumstances, they will
commit suicide, so she could see that, under certain circumstances,
she must consent even to be separated from him. She would not do
wrong,--not that which she knew to be wrong,--even for his sake.
If it were necessary that all her happiness should collapse and be
crushed in ruin around her, she must endure it, and wait God's time
to relieve her from so dark a world. The light of the sun was very
dear to her, but even that might be purchased at too dear a cost.

"I told you before, mother, that my choice was made, and I asked you
then to give your consent; you have now had time to think about it,
and therefore I have come to ask you again. I have reason to know
that there will be no impediment to my marriage if you will frankly
hold out your hand to Lucy."

The matter was altogether in Lady Lufton's hands, but, fond as she
was of power, she absolutely wished that it were not so. Had her son
married without asking her, and then brought Lucy home as his wife,
she would undoubtedly have forgiven him; and much as she might have
disliked the match, she would, ultimately, have embraced the bride.
But now she was compelled to exercise her judgement. If he married
imprudently, it would be her doing. How was she to give her expressed
consent to that which she believed to be wrong? "Do you know anything
against her; any reason why she should not be my wife?" continued he.

"If you mean as regards her moral conduct, certainly not," said Lady
Lufton. "But I could say as much as that in favour of a great many
young ladies whom I should regard as very ill suited for such a
marriage."

"Yes; some might be vulgar, some might be ill-tempered, some might be
ugly; others might be burdened with disagreeable connexions. I can
understand that you should object to a daughter-in-law under any of
these circumstances. But none of these things can be said of Miss
Robarts. I defy you to say that she is not in all respects what a
lady should be."

But her father was a doctor of medicine, she is the sister of the
parish clergyman, she is only five feet two in height, and is so
uncommonly brown! Had Lady Lufton dared to give a catalogue of her
objections, such would have been its extent and nature. But she did
not dare to do this.

"I cannot say, Ludovic, that she is possessed of all that you should
seek in a wife." Such was her answer.

"Do you mean that she has not got money?"

"No, not that; I should be very sorry to see you making money your
chief object, or indeed any essential object. If it chanced that your
wife did have money, no doubt you would find it a convenience. But
pray understand me, Ludovic; I would not for a moment advise you to
subject your happiness to such a necessity as that. It is not because
she is without fortune--"

"Then why is it? At breakfast you were singing her praises, and
saying how excellent she is."

"If I were forced to put my objection into one word, I should say--"
and then she paused, hardly daring to encounter the frown which was
already gathering itself on her son's brow.

"You would say what?" said Lord Lufton, almost roughly.

"Don't be angry with me, Ludovic; all that I think, and all that I
say on this subject, I think and say with only one object--that of
your happiness. What other motive can I have for anything in this
world?" And then she came close to him and kissed him.

"But tell me, mother, what is this objection; what is this terrible
word that is to sum up the list of all poor Lucy's sins, and prove
that she is unfit for married life?"

"Ludovic, I did not say that. You know that I did not."

"What is the word, mother?"

And then at last Lady Lufton spoke it out. "She is--insignificant. I
believe her to be a very good girl, but she is not qualified to fill
the high position to which you would exalt her."

"Insignificant!"

"Yes, Ludovic, I think so."

"Then, mother, you do not know her. You must permit me to say that
you are talking of a girl whom you do not know. Of all the epithets
of opprobrium which the English language could give you, that would
be nearly the last which she would deserve."

"I have not intended any opprobrium."

"Insignificant!"

"Perhaps you do not quite understand me, Ludovic."

"I know what insignificant means, mother."

"I think that she would not worthily fill the position which your
wife should take in the world."

"I understand what you say."

"She would not do you honour at the head of your table."

"Ah, I understand. You want me to marry some bouncing Amazon, some
pink and white giantess of fashion who would frighten the little
people into their proprieties."

"Oh, Ludovic! you are intending to laugh at me now."

"I was never less inclined to laugh in my life--never, I can assure
you. And now I am more certain than ever that your objection to Miss
Robarts arises from your not knowing her. You will find, I think,
when you do know her, that she is as well able to hold her own as
any lady of your acquaintance--aye, and to maintain her husband's
position, too. I can assure you that I shall have no fear of her on
that score."

"I think, dearest, that perhaps you hardly--"

"I think this, mother, that in such a matter as this I must choose
for myself. I have chosen; and I now ask you, as my mother, to go to
her and bid her welcome. Dear mother, I will own this, that I should
not be happy if I thought that you did not love my wife." These last
words he said in a tone of affection that went to his mother's heart,
and then he left the room.

Poor Lady Lufton, when she was alone, waited till she heard her son's
steps retreating through the hall, and then betook herself upstairs
to her customary morning work. She sat down at last as though about
so to occupy herself; but her mind was too full to allow of her
taking up her pen. She had often said to herself, in days which to
her were not as yet long gone by, that she would choose a bride
for her son, and that then she would love the chosen one with all
her heart. She would dethrone herself in favour of this new queen,
sinking with joy into her dowager state, in order that her son's wife
might shine with the greater splendour. The fondest day-dreams of her
life had all had reference to the time when her son should bring home
a new Lady Lufton, selected by herself from the female excellence of
England, and in which she might be the first to worship her new idol.
But could she dethrone herself for Lucy Robarts? Could she give up
her chair of state in order to place thereon the little girl from
the parsonage? Could she take to her heart, and treat with absolute
loving confidence, with the confidence of an almost idolatrous
mother, that little chit who, a few months since, had sat awkwardly
in one corner of her drawing-room, afraid to speak to any one? And
yet it seemed that it must come to this--to this--or else those
day-dreams of hers would in nowise come to pass. She sat herself
down, trying to think whether it were possible that Lucy might fill
the throne; for she had begun to recognize it as probable that her
son's will would be too strong for her; but her thoughts would fly
away to Griselda Grantly. In her first and only matured attempt to
realize her day-dreams, she had chosen Griselda for her queen. She
had failed there, seeing that the Fates had destined Miss Grantly for
another throne; for another and a higher one, as far as the world
goes. She would have made Griselda the wife of a baron, but fate was
about to make that young lady the wife of a marquis. Was there cause
of grief in this? Did she really regret that Miss Grantly, with all
her virtues, should be made over to the house of Hartletop? Lady
Lufton was a woman who did not bear disappointment lightly; but
nevertheless she did almost feel herself to have been relieved from
a burden when she thought of the termination of the Lufton-Grantly
marriage treaty. What if she had been successful, and, after all, the
prize had been other than she had expected? She was sometimes prone
to think that that prize was not exactly all that she had once hoped.
Griselda looked the very thing that Lady Lufton wanted for a queen;
but how would a queen reign who trusted only to her looks? In that
respect it was perhaps well for her that destiny had interposed.
Griselda, she was driven to admit, was better suited to Lord Dumbello
than to her son. But still--such a queen as Lucy! Could it ever come
to pass that the lieges of the kingdom would bow the knee in proper
respect before so puny a sovereign? And then there was that feeling
which, in still higher quarters, prevents the marriage of princes
with the most noble of their people. Is it not a recognized rule
of these realms that none of the blood royal shall raise to royal
honours those of the subjects who are by birth un-royal? Lucy was
a subject of the house of Lufton in that she was the sister of the
parson and a resident denizen of the parsonage. Presuming that Lucy
herself might do for queen--granting that she might have some faculty
to reign, the crown having been duly placed on her brow--how, then,
about that clerical brother near the throne? Would it not come to
this, that there would no longer be a queen at Framley? And yet she
knew that she must yield. She did not say so to herself. She did not
as yet acknowledge that she must put out her hand to Lucy, calling
her by name as her daughter. She did not absolutely say as much to
her own heart--not as yet. But she did begin to bethink herself of
Lucy's high qualities, and to declare to herself that the girl, if
not fit to be a queen, was at any rate fit to be a woman. That there
was a spirit within that body, insignificant though the body might
be, Lady Lufton was prepared to admit. That she had acquired the
power--the chief of all powers in this world--of sacrificing herself
for the sake of others; that, too, was evident enough. That she was a
good girl, in the usual acceptation of the word good, Lady Lufton had
never doubted. She was ready-witted, too, prompt in action, gifted
with a certain fire. It was that gift of fire which had won for her,
so unfortunately, Lord Lufton's love. It was quite possible for her
also to love Lucy Robarts; Lady Lufton admitted that to herself; but
then who could bow the knee before her, and serve her as a queen? Was
it not a pity that she should be so insignificant?

But, nevertheless, we may say that as Lady Lufton sate that morning
in her own room for two hours without employment, the star of Lucy
Robarts was gradually rising in the firmament. After all, love was
the food chiefly necessary for the nourishment of Lady Lufton--the
only food absolutely necessary. She was not aware of this herself,
nor probably would those who knew her best have so spoken of her.
They would have declared that family pride was her daily pabulum, and
she herself would have said so too, calling it, however, by some less
offensive name. Her son's honour, and the honour of her house!--of
those she would have spoken as the things dearest to her in this
world. And this was partly true, for had her son been dishonoured,
she would have sunk with sorrow to the grave. But the one thing
necessary to her daily life was the power of loving those who were
near to her. Lord Lufton, when he left the dining-room, intended
at once to go up to the parsonage, but he first strolled round the
garden in order that he might make up his mind what he would say
there. He was angry with his mother, having not had the wit to
see that she was about to give way and yield to him, and he was
determined to make it understood that in this matter he would have
his own way. He had learned that which it was necessary that he
should know as to Lucy's heart, and such being the case he would
not conceive it possible that he should be debarred by his mother's
opposition. "There is no son in England loves his mother better than
I do," he said to himself; "but there are some things which a man
cannot stand. She would have married me to that block of stone if
I would have let her; and now, because she is disappointed there--
Insignificant! I never in my life heard anything so absurd, so
untrue, so uncharitable, so-- She'd like me to bring a dragon home, I
suppose. It would serve her right if I did--some creature that would
make the house intolerable to her." "She must do it though," he said
again, "or she and I will quarrel," and then he turned off towards
the gate, preparing to go to the parsonage.

"My lord, have you heard what has happened? said the gardener, coming
to him at the gate. The man was out of breath and almost overwhelmed
by the greatness of his own tidings.

"No; I have heard nothing. What is it?"

"The bailiffs have taken possession of everything at the parsonage."



CHAPTER XLIV

The Philistines at the Parsonage


It has been already told how things went on between the Tozers, Mr.
Curling, and Mark Robarts during that month. Mr. Forrest had drifted
out of the business altogether, as also had Mr. Sowerby, as far as
any active participation in it went. Letters came frequently from
Mr. Curling to the parsonage, and at last came a message by special
mission to say that the evil day was at hand. As far as Mr. Curling's
professional experience would enable him to anticipate or foretell
the proceedings of such a man as Tom Tozer, he thought that the
sheriff's officers would be at Framley parsonage on the following
morning. Mr. Curling's experience did not mislead him in this
respect. "And what will you do, Mark?" said Fanny, speaking through
her tears, after she had read the letter which her husband handed to
her.

"Nothing. What can I do? They must come."

"Lord Lufton came to-day. Will you not go to him?"

"No. If I were to do so it would be the same as asking him for the
money."

"Why not borrow it of him, dearest? Surely it would not be so much
for him to lend."

"I could not do it. Think of Lucy, and how she stands with him.
Besides, I have already had words with Lufton about Sowerby and his
money matters. He thinks that I am to blame, and he would tell me
so; and then there would be sharp things said between us. He would
advance me the money if I pressed for it, but he would do so in a way
that would make it impossible that I should take it."

There was nothing more, then, to be said. If she had had her own way
Mrs. Robarts would have gone at once to Lady Lufton, but she could
not induce her husband to sanction such a proceeding. The objection
to seeking assistance from her ladyship was as strong as that which
prevailed as to her son. There had already been some little beginning
of ill-feeling, and under such circumstances it was impossible to ask
for pecuniary assistance. Fanny, however, had a prophetic assurance
that assistance out of these difficulties must in the end come to
them from that quarter, or not come at all; and she would fain, had
she been allowed, make everything known at the big house. On the
following morning they breakfasted at the usual hour, but in great
sadness. A maid-servant, whom Mrs. Robarts had brought with her
when she married, told her that a rumour of what was to happen had
reached the kitchen. Stubbs, the groom, had been in Barchester on the
preceding day, and, according to his account--so said Mary--everybody
in the city was talking about it. "Never mind, Mary," said Mrs.
Robarts, and Mary replied, "Oh, no, of course not, ma'am." In these
days Mrs. Robarts was ordinarily very busy, seeing that there were
six children in the house, four of whom had come to her but ill
supplied with infantine belongings; and now, as usual, she went
about her work immediately after breakfast. But she moved about
the house very slowly, and was almost unable to give her orders
to the servants, and spoke sadly to the children who hung about
her wondering what was the matter. Her husband at the same time
took himself to his book-room, but when there did not attempt any
employment. He thru