Part 10 out of 12
'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 Greshambury 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 is 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 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 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
'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 or
displeased. If she were displeased, then how had her uncle been
'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 let me
go and finish dressing.'
In the course of the afternoon, an answer was sent back to
Greshambury, 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 very 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.
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 to
the Marquess of Hartletop was, in wealth, the most considerable
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 a 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 for 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
'She has been a good girl,' said the archdeacon, 'but she is about
to be placed in a position of great temptation.'
'She has the 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 then 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 besides the dean, but he was conscious of the
fact, and conscious also of the reflected glory which shone around
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 menage. 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 a half dozen ineffectual attempts, Mrs Arabin abandoned the
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 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 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 as insofar 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, muslins, 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?'
'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 meant, 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 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, and 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
'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 thought in
her mind that when the Hartletop people should hear of the practice
they should 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 old 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 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
'Quite as easy, I believe,' continued he; 'though others will tell
you that it 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 the Proudies should hate each other.
They were essentially Church people, and their views on Church
matters were antagonistic. They had been compelled to fight for
supremacy in the diocese, and neither family had so conquered the
other to 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 the 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 was 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 of a 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 of 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
'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 ear 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
'He'll be down here in August,' said Olivia, boldly, determined not
to be shamefaced about her love affairs.
'You'll be starring about the Continent by that time, my dear,'
said Mrs Proudie to Griselda. 'Lord Dumbello is well known at
Hamburg 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 to 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 of 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
'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 was 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 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 of 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
'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,
'A great deal better 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 to the
Mrs Grantly, as she got into the 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 in such habits of idleness,' she
said. Therefore I conceive that I am justified in saying that in
that encounter Mrs Grantly was the conqueror.
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 a 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,
'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
'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
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 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 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 would 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 to
'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
sued to do. You always used to come in dine with me the day I came
home as a matter of course.' What could she say, poor woman, to
'We were in confusion yesterday about poor Mrs Crawley, and the
dean dined here; he had been over at Hogglestock to see his
'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 should have used had not Lucy's name and character been
at the present moment been of peculiar import to Lady Lufton; but
nevertheless she could 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 coachhouse.'
'What, where Stubbs lives?'
'Yes; Stubbs and his wife have come into the house, and the
children are to remain 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 first time.
'Yes, she is,' said Mrs Robarts, having laid aside all her pleasant
animation, for the discussion which she had dreaded was not at
'A very determined young lady,' continued Lady Lufton. 'Of course,
my dear Fanny, you know all this about Ludovic and your
'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 is 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 Quixote.'
'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
'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 had 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 lying in the desk under Lady Lufton's
'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 have a few words about this unfortunate affair. It
would not be natural if we were to hold our tongues to each other,
'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 blame to Miss Robarts for what has occurred
since,' continued her ladyship. 'I wish you distinctly to
'I do not see how any one could blame her. She has behaved so
'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,
'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 advice 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 could possibly 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 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
'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
'It is generally thought, Fanny, that young ladies should not give
loose to their affections until they have been certified of their
'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
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. 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
'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 acknowledging 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 be engaged 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 her self.' 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 she was concerned, was to
be the 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 the 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 for you?' Poor Mrs Robarts was almost upset
by this. A few months ago, before Lucy's arrival, she would have
declared that the interest of Lady Lufton's family would have been
paramount to her, after and next to her own husband. And even now,
it seemed to argue so black an ingratitude on her part--this
accusation that she was so indifferent to them! From her childhood
upwards she had revered and loved Lady Lufton, and for years had
taught herself to regard her as the 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 her 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 her 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 would 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.
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 men delighted 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 Gagebee; 'Chaldicotes, Gagebee, 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
smells of bad drugs. And nothing can be more ungrateful,' he said,
'than Sowerby's conduct. He has held the county 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 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
'I'll wait about, then,' said Tom, seating himself on an heraldic
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
harrassed 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
'Chaldicotes, July, 185-
'MY DEAR ROBARTS,
'I am so harrassed 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
these 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 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
the 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,
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.
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 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 of giving way
to that temptation would surely bring him no evil. And then he
remembered the evening in Sowerby's bed-room, 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 still at 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--witherward? 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
'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 with 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 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 the 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
documentation 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
'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 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 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 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
ready money. Perhaps 750L or 800L may see you clear of the whole
'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 would probably do
'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?'
'Then those men will sell every stick of furniture about the
place. They know that your property here is enough to secure all
'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 of what you 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 the very deed.
'Thank you, Mr Forrest, but I have made up my mind. Do not think
that I am the less obliged to you on 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 would again induce him to go near
'Was not the man from the bank?' said Fanny, coming into the room
when the sound of the wheels had died away.
'Yes; Mr Forrest.'
'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
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 in 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 250L 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 so the matter went on. During which the roses faded
from day to day on the cheeks of Mrs Robarts, as under the
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, by
writing 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, 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 of 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
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 into 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 that Mr Robarts has embarrassed himself,' said Lady
Lufton, looking very seriously. 'Rumours reach me which are most
distressing. I have said nothing further 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
'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 as any excuse. Is he to consider that 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
'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 Crawley children were at the parsonage.
'I must say 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
'Remained at Hogglestock--through the fever!' exclaimed his
'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 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
'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 the 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
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 going 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.'
'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 for 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 might
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 would 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
'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 to these things can be said
of Miss Robarts. I defy you to say that she is not 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 her catalogue of
her objections, such would have been its extent and nature. But
she did not dare 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 was.'
'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 that 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.'
'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 nearly be the last she would deserve.'
'I have not intended any opprobrium.'
'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 now I 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 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 Fates had destined Miss Grantly for another
throne; for another and 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 for
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
a 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 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 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 dear 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
THE PHILISTINES AT THE PARSONAGE
It has already been 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 go to him?'
'No. If I were to do so it would be the same thing as asking him
for the money.'
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