Part 8 out of 11
You can take the flour bag off, you know, if you think Mark Antony
won't be quick enough," added Miss Thorne, seeing that her brother's
countenance was not indicative of complete accordance with her little
Now Mark Antony was a valuable old hunter, excellently suited to Mr.
Thorne's usual requirements, steady indeed at his fences, but
extremely sure, very good in deep ground, and safe on the roads. But
he had never yet been ridden at a quintain, and Mr. Thorne was not
inclined to put him to the trial, either with or without the bag of
flour. He hummed and hawed and finally declared that he was afraid
Mark Antony would shy.
"Then try the cob," said the indefatigable Miss Thorne.
"He's in physic," said Wilfred.
"There's the Beelzebub colt," said his sister. "I know he's in the
stable because I saw Peter exercising him just now."
"My dear Monica, he's so wild that it's as much as I can do to manage
him at all. He'd destroy himself and me, too, if I attempted to ride
him at such a rattletrap as that."
A rattletrap! The quintain that she had put up with so much anxious
care; the game that she had prepared for the amusement of the
stalwart yeomen of the country; the sport that had been honoured by
the affection of so many of their ancestors! It cut her to the heart
to hear it so denominated by her own brother. There were but the two
of them left together in the world, and it had ever been one of the
rules by which Miss Thorne had regulated her conduct through life to
say nothing that could provoke her brother. She had often had to
suffer from his indifference to time-honoured British customs, but
she had always suffered in silence. It was part of her creed that
the head of the family should never be upbraided in his own house,
and Miss Thorne had lived up to her creed. Now, however, she was
greatly tried. The colour mounted to her ancient cheek, and the fire
blazed in her still bright eyes, but yet she said nothing. She
resolved that, at any rate, to him nothing more should be said about
the quintain that day.
She sipped her tea in silent sorrow and thought with painful regret
of the glorious days when her great ancestor Ealfried had
successfully held Ullathorne against a Norman invader. There was no
such spirit now left in her family except that small useless spark
which burnt in her own bosom. And she herself, was not she at this
moment intent on entertaining a descendant of those very Normans, a
vain proud countess with a Frenchified name who would only think that
she graced Ullathorne too highly by entering its portals? Was it
likely that an Honourable John, the son of an Earl De Courcy, should
ride at a quintain in company with Saxon yeomen? And why should she
expect her brother to do that which her brother's guests would
decline to do?
Some dim faint idea of the impracticability of her own views flitted
across her brain. Perhaps it was necessary that races doomed to live
on the same soil should give way to each other and adopt each other's
pursuits. Perhaps it was impossible that after more than five
centuries of close intercourse, Normans should remain Normans, and
Saxons, Saxons. Perhaps, after all, her neighbours were wiser than
herself. Such ideas did occasionally present themselves to Miss
Thorne's mind and make her sad enough. But it never occurred to her
that her favourite quintain was but a modern copy of a Norman
knight's amusement, an adaptation of the noble tourney to the tastes
and habits of the Saxon yeomen. Of this she was ignorant, and it
would have been cruelty to instruct her.
When Mr. Thorne saw the tear in her eye, he repented himself of his
contemptuous expression. By him also it was recognized as a binding
law that every whim of his sister was to be respected. He was not
perhaps so firm in his observances to her as she was in hers to him.
But his intentions were equally good, and whenever he found that he
had forgotten them, it was matter of grief to him.
"My dear Monica," said he, "I beg your pardon. I don't in the least
mean to speak ill of the game. When I called it a rattletrap, I
merely meant that it was so for a man of my age. You know you always
forget that I an't a young man."
"I am quite sure you are not an old man, Wilfred," said she,
accepting the apology in her heart and smiling at him with the tear
still on her cheek.
"If I was five-and-twenty, or thirty," continued he, "I should like
nothing better than riding at the quintain all day."
"But you are not too old to hunt or to shoot," said she. "If you can
jump over a ditch and hedge, I am sure you could turn the quintain
"But when I ride over the hedges, my dear--and it isn't very often I
do that--but when I do ride over the hedges, there isn't any bag of
flour coming after me. Think how I'd look taking the countess out to
breakfast with the back of my head all covered with meal."
Miss, Thorne said nothing further. She didn't like the allusion to
the countess. She couldn't be satisfied with the reflection that the
sports at Ullathorne should be interfered with by the personal
attentions necessary for a Lady De Courcy. But she saw that it was
useless for her to push the matter further. It was conceded that Mr.
Thorne was to be spared the quintain, and Miss Thorne determined to
trust wholly to a youthful knight of hers, an immense favourite, who,
as she often declared, was a pattern to the young men of the age and
an excellent sample of an English yeoman.
This was Farmer Greenacre's eldest son, who, to tell the truth, had
from his earliest years taken the exact measure of Miss Thorne's
foot. In his boyhood he had never failed to obtain from her apples,
pocket-money, and forgiveness for his numerous trespasses, and now in
his early manhood he got privileges and immunities which were equally
valuable. He was allowed a day or two's shooting in September; he
schooled the squire's horses; got slips of trees out of the orchard
and roots of flowers out of the garden; and had the fishing of the
little river altogether in his own hands. He had undertaken to come
mounted on a nag of his father's and show the way at the quintain
post. Whatever young Greenacre did the others would do after him.
The juvenile Lookalofts might stand aloof, but the rest of the youth
of Ullathorne would be sure to venture if Harry Greenacre showed the
way. And so Miss Thorne made up her mind to dispense with the noble
Johns and Georges and trust, as her ancestors had done before her, to
the thews and sinews of native Ullathorne growth.
At about nine the lower orders began to congregate in the paddock and
park, under the surveillance of Mr. Plomacy and the head gardener and
head groom, who were sworn in as his deputies and were to assist him
in keeping the peace and promoting the sports. Many of the younger
inhabitants of the neighbourhood, thinking that they could not have
too much of a good thing, had come at a very early hour, and the road
between the house and the church had been thronged for some time
before the gates were thrown open.
And then another difficulty of huge dimensions arose, a difficulty
which Mr. Plomacy had indeed foreseen and for which he was in some
sort provided. Some of those who wished to share Miss Thorne's
hospitality were not so particular as they should have been as to the
preliminary ceremony of an invitation. They doubtless conceived that
they had been overlooked by accident, and instead of taking this in
dudgeon, as their betters would have done, they good-naturedly put up
with the slight and showed that they did so by presenting themselves
at the gate in their Sunday best.
Mr. Plomacy, however, well-knew who were welcome and who were not.
To some, even though uninvited, he allowed ingress. "Don't be too
particular, Plomacy," his mistress had said, "especially with the
children. If they live anywhere near, let them in."
Acting on this hint, Mr. Plomacy did let in many an eager urchin and
a few tidily dressed girls with their swains who in no way belonged
to the property. But to the denizens of the city he was inexorable.
Many a Barchester apprentice made his appearance there that day and
urged with piteous supplication that he had been working all the week
in making saddles and boots for the use of Ullathorne, in compounding
doses for the horses, or cutting up carcasses for the kitchen. No
such claim was allowed. Mr. Plomacy knew nothing about the city
apprentices; he was to admit the tenants and labourers on the estate;
Miss Thorne wasn't going to take in the whole city of Barchester; and
Nevertheless, before the day was half over, all this was found to be
useless. Almost anybody who chose to come made his way into the
park, and the care of the guardians was transferred to the tables on
which the banquet was spread. Even here there was many an
unauthorised claimant for a place, of whom it was impossible to get
quit without more commotion than the place and food were worth.
Ullathorne Sports--Act I
The trouble in civilized life of entertaining company, as it is
called too generally without much regard to strict veracity, is so
great that it cannot but be matter of wonder that people are so fond
of attempting it. It is difficult to ascertain what is the quid pro
quo. If they who give such laborious parties and who endure such
toil and turmoil in the vain hope of giving them successfully really
enjoyed the parties given by others, the matter could be understood.
A sense of justice would induce men and women to undergo, in behalf
of others, those miseries which others had undergone in their behalf.
But they all profess that going out is as great a bore as receiving,
and to look at them when they are out, one cannot but believe them.
Entertain! Who shall have sufficient self-assurance, who shall feel
sufficient confidence in his own powers to dare to boast that he can
entertain his company? A clown can sometimes do so, and sometimes a
dancer in short petticoats and stuffed pink legs; occasionally,
perhaps, a singer. But beyond these, success in this art of
entertaining is not often achieved. Young men and girls linking
themselves kind with kind, pairing like birds in spring because
nature wills it, they, after a simple fashion, do entertain each
other. Few others even try.
Ladies, when they open their houses, modestly confessing, it may be
presumed, their own incapacity, mainly trust to wax candles and
upholstery. Gentlemen seem to rely on their white waistcoats. To
these are added, for the delight of the more sensual, champagne and
such good things of the table as fashion allows to be still
considered as comestible. Even in this respect the world is
deteriorating. All the good soups are now tabooed, and at the houses
of one's accustomed friends--small barristers, doctors, government
clerks, and such-like (for we cannot all of us always live as
grandees, surrounded by an elysium of livery servants)--one gets a
cold potato handed to one as a sort of finale to one's slice of
mutton. Alas for those happy days when one could say to one's
neighbour, "Jones, shall I give you some mashed turnip? May I
trouble you for a little cabbage?" And then the pleasure of drinking
wine with Mrs. Jones and Miss Smith--with all the Joneses and all the
Smiths! These latter-day habits are certainly more economical.
Miss Thorne, however, boldly attempted to leave the modern, beaten
track and made a positive effort to entertain her guests. Alas! She
did so with but moderate success. They had all their own way of
going, and would not go her way. She piped to them, but they would
not dance. She offered to them good, honest household cake made of
currants and flour and eggs and sweetmeat, but they would feed
themselves on trashy wafers from the shop of the Barchester pastry-
cook, on chalk and gum and adulterated sugar. Poor Miss Thorne!
Yours is not the first honest soul that has vainly striven to recall
the glories of happy days gone by! If fashion suggests to a Lady De
Courcy that, when invited to a déjeuner at twelve, she ought to come
at three, no eloquence of thine will teach her the advantage of a
nearer approach to punctuality.
She had fondly thought that when she called on her friends to come at
twelve, and specially begged them to believe that she meant it, she
would be able to see them comfortably seated in their tents at two.
Vain woman--or rather ignorant woman--ignorant of the advances of
that civilization which the world had witnessed while she was growing
old. At twelve she found herself alone, dressed in all the glory of
the newest of her many suits of raiment--with strong shoes however,
and a serviceable bonnet on her head, and a warm, rich shawl on her
shoulders. Thus clad, she peered out into the tent, went to the ha-
ha, and satisfied herself that at any rate the youngsters were
amusing themselves, spoke a word to Mrs. Greenacre over the ditch,
and took one look at the quintain. Three or four young farmers were
turning the machine round and round and poking at the bag of flour in
a manner not at all intended by the inventor of the game, but no
mounted sportsmen were there. Miss Thorne looked at her watch. It
was only fifteen minutes past twelve, and it was understood that
Harry Greenacre was not to begin till the half-hour.
Miss Thorne returned to her drawing-room rather quicker than was her
wont, fearing that the countess might come and find none to welcome
her. She need not have hurried, for no one was there. At half-past
twelve she peeped into the kitchen; at a quarter to one she was
joined by her brother; and just then the first fashionable arrival
took place. Mrs. Clantantram was announced.
No announcement was necessary, indeed, for the good lady's voice was
heard as she walked across the courtyard to the house, scolding the
unfortunate postilion who had driven her from Barchester. At the
moment Miss Thorne could not but be thankful that the other guests
were more fashionable and were thus spared the fury of Mrs.
"Oh, Miss Thorne, look here!" said she as soon as she found herself
in the drawing-room; "do look at my roque-laure. It's clean spoilt,
and forever. I wouldn't but wear it because I knew you wished us all
to be grand to-day, and yet I had my misgivings. Oh dear, oh dear!
It was five-and-twenty shillings a yard."
The Barchester post-horses had misbehaved in some unfortunate manner
just as Mrs. Clantantram was getting out of the chaise and had nearly
thrown her under the wheel.
Mrs. Clantantram belonged to other days, and therefore, though she
had but little else to recommend her, Miss Thorne was to a certain
extent fond of her. She sent the roque-laure away to be cleaned and
lent her one of her best shawls out of her own wardrobe.
The next comer was Mr. Arabin, who was immediately informed of Mrs.
Clantantram's misfortune and of her determination to pay neither
master nor post-boy, although, as she remarked, she intended to get
her lift home before she made known her mind upon that matter. Then
a good deal of rustling was heard in the sort of lobby that was used
for the ladies' outside cloaks, and the door having been thrown wide
open, the servant announced, not in the most confident of voices,
Mrs. Lookaloft, and the Miss Lookalofts, and Mr. Augustus Lookaloft.
Poor man!--we mean the footman. He knew, none better, that Mrs.
Lookaloft had no business there, that she was not wanted there, and
would not be welcome. But he had not the courage to tell a stout
lady with a low dress, short sleeves, and satin at eight shillings a
yard that she had come to the wrong tent; he had not dared to hint to
young ladies with white dancing shoes and long gloves that there was
a place ready for them in the paddock. And thus Mrs. Lookaloft
carried her point, broke through the guards, and made her way into
the citadel. That she would have to pass an uncomfortable time there
she had surmised before. But nothing now could rob her of the power
of boasting that she had consorted on the lawn with the squire and
Miss Thorne, with a countess, a bishop, and the county grandees,
while Mrs. Greenacre and such-like were walking about with the
ploughboys in the park. It was a great point gained by Mrs.
Lookaloft, and it might be fairly expected that from this time
forward the tradesmen of Barchester would, with undoubting pens,
address her husband as T. Lookaloft, Esquire.
Mrs. Lookaloft's pluck carried her through everything, and she walked
triumphant into the Ullathorne drawing-room, but her children did
feel a little abashed at the sort of reception they met with. It was
not in Miss Thorne's heart to insult her own guests, but neither was
it in her disposition to overlook such effrontery.
"Oh, Mrs. Lookaloft, is this you?" said she. "And your daughters and
son? Well, we're very glad to see you, but I'm sorry you've come in
such low dresses, as we are all going out of doors. Could we lend
"Oh dear, no thank ye, Miss Thorne," said the mother; "the girls and
myself are quite used to low dresses, when we're out."
"Are you, indeed?" said Miss Thorne shuddering--but the shudder was
lost on Mrs. Lookaloft.
"And where's Lookaloft?" said the master of the house, coming up to
welcome his tenant's wife. Let the faults of the family be what they
would, he could not but remember that their rent was well paid; he
was therefore not willing to give them a cold shoulder.
"Such a headache, Mr. Thorne!" said Mrs. Lookaloft. "In fact he
couldn't stir, or you may be certain on such a day he would not have
"Dear me," said Miss Thorne. "If he is so ill, I'm sure you'd wish
to be with him."
"Not at all!" said Mrs. Lookaloft. "Not at all, Miss Thorne. It is
only bilious you know, and when he's that way, he can bear nobody
The fact, however, was that Mr. Lookaloft, having either more sense
or less courage than his wife, had not chosen to intrude on Miss
Thorne's drawing-room, and as he could not very well have gone among
the plebeians while his wife was with the patricians, he thought it
most expedient to remain at Rosebank.
Mrs. Lookaloft soon found herself on a sofa, and the Miss Lookalofts
on two chairs, while Mr. Augustus stood near the door; and here they
remained till in due time they were seated, all four together, at the
bottom of the dining-room table.
Then the Grantlys came--the archdeacon and Mrs. Grantly and the two
girls, and Dr. Gwynne and Mr. Harding. As ill-luck would have it,
they were closely followed by Dr. Stanhope's carriage. As Eleanor
looked out of the carriage window, she saw her brother-in-law helping
the ladies out and threw herself back into her seat, dreading to be
discovered. She had had an odious journey. Mr. Slope's civility had
been more than ordinarily greasy, and now, though he had not in fact
said anything which she could notice, she had for the first time
entertained a suspicion that he was intending to make love to her.
Was it after all true that she had been conducting herself in a way
that justified the world in thinking that she liked the man? After
all, could it be possible that the archdeacon and Mr. Arabin were
right, and that she was wrong? Charlotte Stanhope had also been
watching Mr. Slope and had come to the conclusion that it behoved her
brother to lose no further time, if he meant to gain the widow. She
almost regretted that it had not been contrived that Bertie should be
at Ullathorne before them.
Dr. Grantly did not see his sister-in-law in company with Mr. Slope,
but Mr. Arabin did. Mr. Arabin came out with Mr. Thorne to the front
door to welcome Mrs. Grantly, and he remained in the courtyard till
all their party had passed on. Eleanor hung back in the carriage as
long as she well could, but she was nearest to the door, and when Mr.
Slope, having alighted, offered her his hand, she had no alternative
but to take it. Mr. Arabin, standing at the open door while Mrs.
Grantly was shaking hands with someone within, saw a clergyman alight
from the carriage whom he at once knew to be Mr. Slope, and then he
saw this clergyman hand out Mrs. Bold. Having seen so much, Mr.
Arabin, rather sick at heart, followed Mrs. Grantly into the house.
Eleanor was, however, spared any further immediate degradation, for
Dr. Stanhope gave her his arm across the courtyard, and Mr. Slope was
fain to throw away his attention upon Charlotte.
They had hardly passed into the house and from the house to the lawn
when, with a loud rattle and such noise as great men and great women
are entitled to make in their passage through the world, the Proudies
drove up. It was soon apparent that no everyday comer was at the
door. One servant whispered to another that it was the bishop, and
the word soon ran through all the hangers-on and strange grooms and
coachmen about the place. There was quite a little cortège to see
the bishop and his "lady" walk across the courtyard, and the good man
was pleased to see that the church was held in such respect in the
parish of St. Ewold's.
And now the guests came fast and thick, and the lawn began to be
crowded, and the room to be full. Voices buzzed, silk rustled
against silk, and muslin crumpled against muslin. Miss Thorne became
more happy than she had been and again bethought her of her sports.
There were targets and bows and arrows prepared at the further end of
the lawn. Here the gardens of the place encroached with a somewhat
wide sweep upon the paddock and gave ample room for the doings of the
toxophilites. Miss Thorne got together such daughters of Diana as
could bend a bow and marshalled them to the targets. There were the
Grantly girls and the Proudie girls and the Chadwick girls, and the
two daughters of the burly chancellor, and Miss Knowle; and with them
went Frederick and Augustus Chadwick, and young Knowle of Knowle
Park, and Frank Foster of the Elms, and Mr. Vellem Deeds, the dashing
attorney of the High Street, and the Rev. Mr. Green, and the Rev. Mr.
Brown, and the Rev. Mr. White, all of whom, as in duty bound,
attended the steps of the three Miss Proudies.
"Did you ever ride at the quintain, Mr. Foster?" said Miss Thorne as
she walked with her party across the lawn.
"The quintain?" said young Foster, who considered himself a dab at
horsemanship. "Is it a sort of gate, Miss Thorne?"
Miss Thorne had to explain the noble game she spoke of, and Frank
Foster had to own that he never had ridden at the quintain.
"Would you like to come and see?" said Miss Thorne. "There'll be
plenty here you know without you, if you like it."
"Well, I don't mind," said Frank. "I suppose the ladies can come
"Oh, yes," said Miss Thorne; "those who like it. I have no doubt
they'll go to see your prowess, if you'll ride, Mr. Foster."
Mr. Foster looked down at a most unexceptionable pair of pantaloons,
which had arrived from London only the day before. They were the
very things, at least he thought so, for a picnic or fête champêtre,
but he was not prepared to ride in them. Nor was he more encouraged
than had been Mr. Thorne by the idea of being attacked from behind by
the bag of flour, which Miss Thorne had graphically described to him.
"Well, I don't know about riding, Miss Thorne," said he; "I fear I'm
not quite prepared."
Miss Thorne sighed but said nothing further. She left the
toxophilites to their bows and arrows and returned towards the house.
But as she passed by the entrance to the small park, she thought that
she might at any rate encourage the yeomen by her presence, as she
could not induce her more fashionable guests to mix with them in
their manly amusements. Accordingly she once more betook herself to
the quintain post.
Here to her great delight she found Harry Greenacre ready mounted,
with his pole in his hand, and a lot of comrades standing round him,
encouraging him to the assault. She stood at a little distance and
nodded to him in token of her good pleasure.
"Shall I begin, ma'am?" said Harry, fingering his long staff in a
rather awkward way, while his horse moved uneasily beneath him, not
accustomed to a rider armed with such a weapon.
"Yes, yes," said Miss Thorne, standing triumphant as the queen of
beauty on an inverted tub which some chance had brought thither from
"Here goes then," said Harry as he wheeled his horse round to get the
necessary momentum of a sharp gallop. The quintain post stood right
before him, and the square board at which he was to tilt was fairly
in his way. If he hit that duly in the middle, and maintained his
pace as he did so, it was calculated that he would he carried out of
reach of the flour bag, which, suspended at the other end of the
cross-bar on the post, would swing round when the board was struck.
It was also calculated that if the rider did not maintain his pace,
he would get a blow from the flour bag just at the back of his head,
and bear about him the signs of his awkwardness to the great
amusement of the lookers-on.
Harry Greenacre did not object to being powdered with flour in the
service of his mistress and therefore gallantly touched his steed
with his spur, having laid his lance in rest to the best of his
ability. But his ability in this respect was not great, and his
appurtenances probably not very good; consequently, he struck his
horse with his pole unintentionally on the side of the head as he
started. The animal swerved and shied and galloped off wide of the
quintain. Harry, well-accustomed to manage a horse, but not to do so
with a twelve-foot rod on his arm, lowered his right hand to the
bridle, and thus the end of the lance came to the ground and got
between the legs of the steed. Down came rider and steed and staff.
Young Greenacre was thrown some six feet over the horse's head, and
poor Miss Thorne almost fell off her tub in a swoon.
"Oh, gracious, he's killed," shrieked a woman who was near him when
"The Lord be good to him! His poor mother, his poor mother!" said
"Well, drat them dangerous plays all the world over," said an old
"He has broke his neck sure enough, if ever man did," said a fourth.
Poor Miss Thorne. She heard all this and yet did not quite swoon.
She made her way through the crowd as best she could, sick herself
almost to death. Oh, his mother--his poor mother! How could she
ever forgive herself. The agony of that moment was terrific. She
could hardly get to the place where the poor lad was lying, as three
or four men in front were about the horse, which had risen with some
difficulty, but at last she found herself close to the young farmer.
"Has he marked himself? For heaven's sake tell me that: has he
marked his knees?" said Harry, slowly rising and rubbing his left
shoulder with his right hand and thinking only of his horse's legs.
Miss Thorne soon found that he had not broken his neck, nor any of
his bones, nor been injured in any essential way. But from that time
forth she never instigated anyone to ride at a quintain.
Eleanor left Dr. Stanhope as soon as she could do so civilly and went
in quest of her father, whom she found on the lawn in company with
Mr. Arabin. She was not sorry to find them together. She was
anxious to disabuse at any rate her father's mind as to this report
which had got abroad respecting her, and would have been well pleased
to have been able to do the same with regard to Mr. Arabin. She put
her own through her father's arm, coming up behind his back, and then
tendered her hand also to the vicar of St. Ewold's.
"And how did you come?" said Mr. Harding, when the first greeting was
"The Stanhopes brought me," said she; "their carriage was obliged to
come twice, and has now gone back for the signora." As she spoke she
caught Mr. Arabin's eye and saw that he was looking pointedly at her
with a severe expression. She understood at once the accusation
contained in his glance. It said as plainly as an eye could speak,
"Yes, you came with the Stanhopes, but you did so in order that you
might be in company with Mr. Slope."
"Our party," said she, still addressing her father, "consisted of the
doctor and Charlotte Stanhope, myself, and Mr. Slope." As she
mentioned the last name she felt her father's arm quiver slightly
beneath her touch. At the same moment Mr. Arabin turned away from
them and, joining his hands behind his back, strolled slowly away by
one of the paths.
"Papa," said she, "it was impossible to help coming in the same
carriage with Mr. Slope; it was quite impossible. I had promised to
come with them before I dreamt of his coming, and afterwards I could
not get out of it without explaining and giving rise to talk. You
weren't at home, you know. I couldn't possibly help it." She said
all this so quickly that by the time her apology was spoken she was
quite out of breath.
"I don't know why you should have wished to help it, my dear," said
"Yes, Papa, you do. You must know, you do know all the things they
said at Plumstead. I am sure you do. You know all the archdeacon
said. How unjust he was; and Mr. Arabin too. He's a horrid man, a
horrid odious man, but--"
Who is an odious man, my dear? Mr. Arabin?"
"No; but Mr. Slope. You know I mean Mr. Slope. He's the most odious
man I ever met in my life, and it was most unfortunate my having to
come here in the same carriage with him. But how could I help it?"
A great weight began to move itself off Mr. Harding's mind. So,
after all, the archdeacon with all his wisdom, and Mrs. Grantly with
all her tact, and Mr. Arabin with all his talent, were in the wrong.
His own child, his Eleanor, the daughter of whom he was so proud, was
not to become the wife of a Mr. Slope. He had been about to give his
sanction to the marriage, so certified had he been of the fact, and
now he learnt that this imputed lover of Eleanor's was at any rate as
much disliked by her as by any one of the family. Mr. Harding,
however, was by no means sufficiently a man of the world to conceal
the blunder he had made. He could not pretend that he had
entertained no suspicion; he could not make believe that he had never
joined the archdeacon in his surmises. He was greatly surprised and
gratified beyond measure, and he could not help showing that such was
"My darling girl," said he, "I am so delighted, so overjoyed. My own
child; you have taken such a weight off my mind."
"But surely, Papa, you didn't think--"
"I didn't know what to think, my dear. The archdeacon told me
"The archdeacon!" said Eleanor, her face lighting up with passion.
"A man like the archdeacon might, one would think, he better employed
than in traducing his sister-in-law and creating bitterness between a
father and his daughter!"
"He didn't mean to do that, Eleanor."
"What did he mean then? Why did he interfere with me and fill your
mind with such falsehood?"
"Never mind it now, my child; never mind it now. We shall all know
you better now."
"Oh, Papa, that you should have thought it! That you should have
"I don't know what you mean by suspicion, Eleanor. There would be
nothing disgraceful, you know, nothing wrong in such a marriage.
Nothing that could have justified my interfering as your father."
And Mr. Harding would have proceeded in his own defence to make out
that Mr. Slope after all was a very good sort of man and a very
fitting second husband for a young widow, had he not been interrupted
by Eleanor's greater energy.
"It would be disgraceful," said she; "it would be wrong; it would be
abominable. Could I do such a horrid thing, I should expect no one
to speak to me. Ugh--" and she shuddered as she thought of the
matrimonial torch which her friends had been so ready to light on her
behalf. "I don't wonder at Dr. Grantly; I don't wonder at Susan;
but, oh, Papa, I do wonder at you. How could you, how could you
believe it?" Poor Eleanor, as she thought of her father's
defalcation, could resist her tears no longer, and was forced to
cover her face with her handkerchief.
The place was not very opportune for her grief. They were walking
through the shrubberies, and there were many people near them. Poor
Mr. Harding stammered out his excuse as best he could, and Eleanor
with an effort controlled her tears and returned her handkerchief to
her pocket. She did not find it difficult to forgive her father, nor
could she altogether refuse to join him in the returning gaiety of
spirit to which her present avowal gave rise. It was such a load off
his heart to think that he should not be called on to welcome Mr.
Slope as his son-in-law. It was such a relief to him to find that
his daughter's feelings and his own were now, as they ever had been,
in unison. He had been so unhappy for the last six weeks about this
wretched Mr. Slope! He was so indifferent as to the loss of the
hospital, so thankful for the recovery of his daughter, that, strong
as was the ground for Eleanor's anger, she could not find it in her
heart to be long angry with him.
"Dear Papa," she said, hanging closely to his arm, "never suspect me
again: promise me that you never will. Whatever I do you may be sure
I shall tell you first; you may be sure I shall consult you."
And Mr. Harding did promise, and owned his sin, and promised again.
And so, while he promised amendment and she uttered forgiveness, they
returned together to the drawing-room windows.
And what had Eleanor meant when she declared that whatever she did
she would tell her father first? What was she thinking of doing?
So ended the first act of the melodrama which Eleanor was called on
to perform this day at Ullathorne.
The Signora Neroni, the Countess De Courcy, and Mrs. Proudie Meet
Each Other at Ullathorne
And now there were new arrivals. Just as Eleanor reached the
drawing-room the signora was being wheeled into it. She had been
brought out of the carriage into the dining-room and there placed on
a sofa, and was now in the act of entering the other room, by the
joint aid of her brother and sister, Mr. Arabin, and two servants in
livery. She was all in her glory and looked so pathetically happy,
so full of affliction and grace, was so beautiful, so pitiable, and
so charming that it was almost impossible not to be glad she was
Miss Thorne was unaffectedly glad to welcome her. In fact, the
signora was a sort of lion, and though there was no drop of the
Leohunter blood in Miss Thorne's veins, she nevertheless did like to
see attractive people at her house. The signora was attractive, and
on her first settlement in the dining-room she had whispered two or
three soft feminine words into Miss Thorne's ear which, at the
moment, had quite touched that lady's heart.
"Oh, Miss Thorne; where is Miss Thorne?" she said as soon as her
attendants had placed her in her position just before one of the
windows, from whence she could see all that was going on upon the
lawn. "How am I to thank you for permitting a creature like me to be
here? But if you knew the pleasure you give me, I am sure you would
excuse the trouble I bring with me." And as she spoke she squeezed
the spinster's little hand between her own.
"We are delighted to see you here," said Miss Thorne; "you give us no
trouble at all, and we think it a great favour conferred by you to
come and see us--don't we, Wilfred?"
"A very great favour indeed," said Mr. Thorne with a gallant bow but
of a somewhat less cordial welcome than that conceded by his sister.
Mr. Thorne had heard perhaps more of the antecedents of his guest
than his sister had done and had not as yet undergone the power of
the signora's charms.
But while the mother of the last of the Neros was thus in her full
splendour, with crowds of people gazing at her and the élite of the
company standing round her couch, her glory was paled by the arrival
of the Countess De Courcy. Miss Thorne had now been waiting three
hours for the countess, and could not therefore but show very evident
gratification when the arrival at last took place. She and her
brother of course went off to welcome the titled grandees, and with
them, alas, went many of the signora's admirers.
"Oh, Mr. Thorne," said the countess, while in the act of being
disrobed of her fur cloaks and rerobed in her gauze shawls, "what
dreadful roads you have; perfectly frightful."
It happened that Mr. Thorne was waywarden for the district and, not
liking the attack, began to excuse his roads.
"Oh, yes, indeed they are," said the countess not minding him in the
least; "perfectly dreadful--are they not, Margaretta? Why, my dear
Miss Thorne, we left Courcy Castle just at eleven; it was only just
past eleven, was it not, George? And--"
"Just past one I think you mean," said the Honourable George, turning
from the group and eyeing the signora through his glass. The signora
gave him back his own, as the saying is, and more with it, so that
the young nobleman was forced to avert his glance and drop his glass.
"I say, Thorne," whispered he, "who the deuce is that on the sofa?"
"Dr. Stanhope's daughter," whispered back Mr. Thorne. "Signora
Neroni, she calls herself."
"Whew--ew--ew!" whistled the Honourable George. "The devil she is.
I have heard no end of stories about that filly. You must positively
introduce me, Thorne; you positively must."
Mr. Thorne, who was respectability itself, did not quite like having
a guest about whom the Honourable George De Courcy had heard no end
of stories, but he couldn't help himself. He merely resolved that
before he went to bed he would let his sister know somewhat of the
history of the lady she was so willing to welcome. The innocence of
Miss Thorne at her time of life was perfectly charming, but even
innocence may be dangerous.
"George may say what he likes," continued the countess, urging her
excuses to Miss Thorne; "I am sure we were past the castle gate
before twelve--weren't we, Margaretta?"
"Upon my word I don't know," said the Lady Margaretta, "for I was
half-asleep. But I do know that I was called some time in the middle
of the night and was dressing myself before daylight."
Wise people, when they are in the wrong, always put themselves right
by finding fault with the people against whom they have sinned. Lady
De Courcy was a wise woman, and therefore, having treated Miss Thorne
very badly by staying away till three o'clock, she assumed the
offensive and attacked Mr. Thorne's roads. Her daughter, not less
wise, attacked Miss Thorne's early hours. The art of doing this is
among the most precious of those usually cultivated by persons who
know how to live. There is no withstanding it. Who can go
systematically to work and, having done battle with the primary
accusation and settled that, then bring forward a countercharge and
support that also? Life is not long enough for such labours. A man
in the right relies easily on his rectitude and therefore goes about
unarmed. His very strength is his weakness. A man in the wrong
knows that he must look to his weapons; his very weakness is his
strength. The one is never prepared for combat, the other is always
ready. Therefore it is that in this world the man that is in the
wrong almost invariably conquers the man that is in the right, and
invariably despises him.
A man must be an idiot or else an angel who, after the age of forty,
shall attempt to be just to his neighbours. Many like the Lady
Margaretta have learnt their lesson at a much earlier age. But this
of course depends on the school in which they have been taught.
Poor Miss Thorne was altogether overcome. She knew very well that
she had been ill-treated, and yet she found herself making apologies
to Lady De Courcy. To do her ladyship justice, she received them
very graciously and allowed herself, with her train of daughters, to
be led towards the lawn.
There were two windows in the drawing-room wide open for the countess
to pass through, but she saw that there was a woman on a sofa, at the
third window, and that that woman had, as it were, a following
attached to her. Her ladyship therefore determined to investigate
the woman. The De Courcy's were hereditarily shortsighted, and had
been so for thirty centuries at least. So Lady De Courcy, who when
she entered the family had adopted the family habits, did as her son
had done before her and, taking her glass to investigate the Signora
Neroni, pressed in among the gentlemen who surrounded the couch and
bowed slightly to those whom she chose to honour by her acquaintance.
In order to get to the window she had to pass close to the front of
the couch, and as she did so she stared hard at the occupant. The
occupant, in return, stared hard at the countess. The countess, who,
since her countess-ship commenced, had been accustomed to see all
eyes not royal, ducal, or marquesal fall before her own, paused as
she went on, raised her eyebrows, and stared even harder than before.
But she had now to do with one who cared little for countesses. It
was, one may say, impossible for mortal man or woman to abash
Madeline Neroni. She opened her large, bright, lustrous eyes wider
and wider, till she seemed to be all eyes. She gazed up into the
lady's face, not as though she did it with an effort, but as if she
delighted in doing it. She used no glass to assist her effrontery
and needed none. The faintest possible smile of derision played
round her mouth, and her nostrils were slightly dilated, as if in
sure anticipation of her triumph. And it was sure. The Countess De
Courcy, in spite of her thirty centuries and De Courcy Castle and the
fact that Lord De Courcy was grand master of the ponies to the Prince
of Wales, had not a chance with her. At first the little circlet of
gold wavered in the countess's hand, then the hand shook, then the
circlet fell, the countess's head tossed itself into the air, and the
countess's feet shambled out to the lawn. She did not, however, go
so fast but what she heard the signora's voice, asking:
"Who on earth is that woman, Mr. Slope?"
"That is Lady De Courcy."
"Oh, ah. I might have supposed so. Ha, ha, ha. Well, that's as
good as a play."
It was as good as a play to any there who had eyes to observe it and
wit to comment on what they observed.
But the Lady De Courcy soon found a congenial spirit on the lawn.
There she encountered Mrs. Proudie, and as Mrs. Proudie was not only
the wife of a bishop but was also the cousin of an earl, Lady De
Courcy considered her to be the fittest companion she was likely to
meet in that assemblage. They were accordingly delighted to see each
other. Mrs. Proudie by no means despised a countess, and as this
countess lived in the county and within a sort of extensive visiting
distance of Barchester, she was glad to have this opportunity of
"My dear Lady De Courcy, I am so delighted," said she, looking as
little grim as it was in her nature to do. "I hardly expected to see
you here. It is such a distance, and then, you know, such a crowd."
"And such roads, Mrs. Proudie! I really wonder how the people ever
get about. But I don't suppose they ever do."
"Well, I really don't know, but I suppose not. The Thornes don't, I
know," said Mrs. Proudie. "Very nice person, Miss Thorne, isn't
"Oh, delightful, and so queer; I've known her these twenty years. A
great pet of mine is dear Miss Thorne. She is so very strange, you
know. She always makes me think of the Eskimos and the Indians.
Isn't her dress quite delightful?"
"Delightful," said Mrs. Proudie. "I wonder now whether she paints.
Did you ever see such colour?"
"Oh, of course," said Lady De Courcy; "that is, I have no doubt she
does. But, Mrs. Proudie, who is that woman on the sofa by the
window? Just step this way and you'll see her, there--" and the
countess led her to a spot where she could plainly see the signora's
well-remembered face and figure.
She did not however do so without being equally well seen by the
signora. "Look, look," said that lady to Mr. Slope, who was still
standing near to her; "see the high spiritualities and temporalities
of the land in league together, and all against poor me. I'll wager
my bracelet, Mr. Slope, against your next sermon that they've taken
up their position there on purpose to pull me to pieces. Well, I
can't rush to the combat, but I know how to protect myself if the
enemy come near me."
But the enemy knew better. They could gain nothing by contact with
the Signora Neroni, and they could abuse her as they pleased at a
distance from her on the lawn.
"She's that horrid Italian woman, Lady De Courcy; you must have heard
"What Italian woman?" said her ladyship, quite alive to the coming
story. "I don't think I've heard of any Italian woman coming into
the country. She doesn't look Italian, either."
"Oh, you must have heard of her," said Mrs. Proudie. "No, she's not
absolutely Italian. She is Dr. Stanhope's daughter--Dr. Stanhope the
prebendary--and she calls herself the Signora Neroni."
"Oh-h-h-h!" exclaimed the countess.
"I was sure you had heard of her," continued Mrs. Proudie. I don't
know anything about her husband. They do say that some man named
Neroni is still alive. I believe she did marry such a man abroad,
but I do not at all know who or what he was.
"Oh-h-h-h!" exclaimed the countess, shaking her head with much
intelligence, as every additional "h" fell from her lips. "I know
all about it now. I have heard George mention her. George knows all
about her. George heard about her in Rome."
"She's an abominable woman, at any rate," said Mrs. Proudie.
"Insufferable," said the countess.
"She made her way into the palace once, before I knew anything about
her, and I cannot tell you how dreadfully indecent her conduct was."
"Was it?" said the delighted countess.
"Insufferable," said the prelatess.
"But why does she lie on a sofa?" asked Lady De Courcy.
"She has only one leg," replied Mrs. Proudie.
"Only one leg!" said Lady De Courcy, who felt to a certain degree
dissatisfied that the signora was thus incapacitated. "Was she born
"Oh, no," said Mrs. Proudie--and her ladyship felt some what
recomforted by the assurance--"she had two. But that Signor Neroni
beat her, I believe, till she was obliged to have one amputated. At
any rate, she entirely lost the use of it."
"Unfortunate creature!" said the countess, who herself knew something
of matrimonial trials.
"Yes," said Mrs. Proudie, "one would pity her in spite of her past
bad conduct, if she now knew how to behave herself. But she does
not. She is the most insolent creature I ever put my eyes on."
"Indeed she is," said Lady De Courcy.
"And her conduct with men is so abominable that she is not fit to be
admitted into any lady's drawing-room."
"Dear me!" said the countess, becoming again excited, happy and
"You saw that man standing near her--the clergyman with the red
"She has absolutely ruined that man. The bishop--or I should rather
take the blame on myself, for it was I--I brought him down from
London to Barchester. He is a tolerable preacher, an active young
man, and I therefore introduced him to the bishop. That woman, Lady
De Courcy, has got hold of him and has so disgraced him that I am
forced to require that he shall leave the palace; and I doubt very
much whether he won't lose his gown!"
"Why, what an idiot the man must be!" said the countess.
"You don't know the intriguing villainy of that woman," said Mrs.
Proudie, remembering her torn flounces.
"But you say she has only got one leg!"
"She is as full of mischief as tho' she had ten. Look at her eyes,
Lady De Courcy. Did you ever see such eyes in a decent woman's
"Indeed, I never did, Mrs. Proudie."
"And her effrontery, and her voice! I quite pity her poor father,
who is really a good sort of man."
"Dr. Stanhope, isn't he?"
"Yes, Dr. Stanhope. He is one of our prebendaries--a good, quiet
sort of man himself. But I am surprised that he should let his
daughter conduct herself as she does."
"I suppose he can't help it," said the countess.
"But a clergyman, you know, Lady De Courcy! He should at any rate
prevent her from exhibiting in public, if he cannot induce her to
behave at home. But he is to be pitied. I believe he has a
desperate life of it with the lot of them. That apish-looking man
there, with the long beard and the loose trousers--he is the woman's
brother. He is nearly as bad as she is. They are both of them
"Infidels!" said Lady De Courcy, "and their father a prebendary!"
"Yes, and likely to be the new dean, too," said Mrs. Proudie.
"Oh, yes, poor dear Dr. Trefoil!" said the countess, who had once in
her life spoken to that gentleman. "I was so distressed to hear it,
Mrs. Proudie. And so Dr. Stanhope is to be the new dean! He comes
of an excellent family, and I wish him success in spite of his
daughter. Perhaps, Mrs. Proudie, when he is dean, they'll be better
able to see the error of their ways."
To this Mrs. Proudie said nothing. Her dislike of the Signora Neroni
was too deep to admit of her even hoping that that lady should see
the error of her ways. Mrs. Proudie looked on the signora as one of
the lost--one of those beyond the reach of Christian charity--and was
therefore able to enjoy the luxury of hating her without the drawback
of wishing her eventually well out of her sins.
Any further conversation between these congenial souls was prevented
by the advent of Mr. Thorne, who came to lead the countess to the
tent. Indeed, he had been desired to do so some ten minutes since,
but he had been delayed in the drawing-room by the signora. She had
contrived to detain him, to get him near to her sofa, and at last to
make him seat himself on a chair close to her beautiful arm. The
fish took the bait, was hooked, and caught, and landed. Within that
ten minutes he had heard the whole of the signora's history in such
strains as she chose to use in telling it. He learnt from the lady's
own lips the whole of that mysterious tale to which the Honourable
George had merely alluded. He discovered that the beautiful creature
lying before him had been more sinned against than sinning. She had
owned to him that she had been weak, confiding, and indifferent to
the world's opinion, and that she had therefore been ill-used,
deceived, and evil spoken of. She had spoken to him of her mutilated
limb, her youth destroyed in fullest bloom, her beauty robbed of its
every charm, her life blighted, her hopes withered, and as she did so
a tear dropped from her eye to her cheek. She had told him of these
things and asked for his sympathy.
What could a good-natured, genial, Anglo-Saxon Squire Thorne do but
promise to sympathize with her? Mr. Thorne did promise to
sympathize; promised also to come and see the last of the Neros, to
hear more of those fearful Roman days, of those light and innocent
but dangerous hours which flitted by so fast on the shores of Como,
and to make himself the confidant of the signora's sorrows.
We need hardly say that he dropped all idea of warning his sister
against the dangerous lady. He had been mistaken--never so much
mistaken in his life. He had always regarded that Honourable George
as a coarse, brutal-minded young man; now he was more convinced than
ever that he was so. It was by such men as the Honourable George
that the reputations of such women as Madeline Neroni were imperilled
and damaged. He would go and see the lady in her own house; he was
fully sure in his own mind of the soundness of his own judgement; if
he found her, as he believed he should do, an injured, well-disposed,
warm-hearted woman, he would get his sister Monica to invite her out
"No," said she, as at her instance he got up to leave her and
declared that he himself would attend upon her wants; "no, no, my
friend; I positively put a veto upon your doing so. What, in your
own house, with an assemblage round you such as there is here! Do
you wish to make every woman hate me and every man stare at me? I
lay a positive order on you not to come near me again to-day. Come
and see me at home. It is only at home that I can talk, it is only
at home that I really can live and enjoy myself. My days of going
out, days such as these, are rare indeed. Come and see me at home,
Mr. Thorne, and then I will not bid you to leave me."
It is, we believe, common with young men of five-and-twenty to look
on their seniors--on men of, say, double their own age--as so many
stocks and stones--stocks and stones, that is, in regard to feminine
beauty. There never was a greater mistake. Women, indeed, generally
know better, but on this subject men of one age are thoroughly
ignorant of what is the very nature of mankind of other ages. No
experience of what goes on in the world, no reading of history, no
observation of life, has any effect in teaching the truth. Men of
fifty don't dance mazurkas, being generally too fat and wheezy; nor
do they sit for the hour together on river-banks at their mistresses'
feet, being somewhat afraid of rheumatism. But for real true love--
love at first sight, love to devotion, love that robs a man of his
sleep, love that "will gaze an eagle blind," love that "will hear the
lowest sound when the suspicious tread of theft is stopped," love
that is "like a Hercules, still climbing trees in the Hesperides"--we
believe the best age is from forty-five to seventy; up to that, men
are generally given to mere flirting.
At the present moment Mr. Thorne, aetat. fifty, was over head and
ears in love at first sight with the Signora Madeline Vesey Neroni,
Nevertheless, he was sufficiently master of himself to offer his arm
with all propriety to Lady De Courcy, and the countess graciously
permitted herself to be lead to the tent. Such had been Miss
Thorne's orders, as she had succeeded in inducing the bishop to lead
old Lady Knowle to the top of the dining-room. One of the baronets
was sent off in quest of Mrs. Proudie and found that lady on the lawn
not in the best of humours. Mr. Thorne and the countess had left her
too abruptly; she had in vain looked about for an attendant chaplain,
or even a stray curate; they were all drawing long bows with the
young ladies at the bottom of the lawn, or finding places for their
graceful co-toxophilites in some snug corner of the tent. In such
position Mrs. Proudie had been wont in earlier days to fall back upon
Mr. Slope, but now she could never fall back upon him again. She
gave her head one shake as she thought of her lone position, and that
shake was as good as a week deducted from Mr. Slope's longer sojourn
in Barchester. Sir Harkaway Gorse, however, relieved her present
misery, though his doing so by no means mitigated the sinning
And now the eating and drinking began in earnest. Dr. Grantly, to
his great horror, found himself leagued to Mrs. Clantantram. Mrs.
Clantantram had a great regard for the archdeacon, which was not
cordially returned, and when she, coming up to him, whispered in his
ear, "Come, Archdeacon, I'm sure you won't begrudge an old friend the
favour of your arm," and then proceeded to tell him the whole history
of her roquelaure, he resolved that he would shake her off before he
was fifteen minutes older. But latterly the archdeacon had not been
successful in his resolutions, and on the present occasion Mrs.
Clantantram stuck to him till the banquet was over.
Dr. Gwynne got a baronet's wife, and Mrs. Grantly fell to the lot of
a baronet. Charlotte Stanhope attached herself to Mr. Harding in
order to make room for Bertie, who succeeded in sitting down in the
dining-room next to Mrs. Bold. To speak sooth, now that he had love
in earnest to make, his heart almost failed him.
Eleanor had been right glad to avail herself of his arm, seeing that
Mr. Slope was hovering nigh her. In striving to avoid that terrible
Charybdis of a Slope she was in great danger of falling into an
unseen Scylla on the other hand, that Scylla being Bertie Stanhope.
Nothing could be more gracious than she was to Bertie. She almost
jumped at his proffered arm. Charlotte perceived this from a
distance and triumphed in her heart; Bertie felt it and was
encouraged; Mr. Slope saw it and glowered with jealousy. Eleanor and
Bertie sat down to table in the dining-room, and as she took her seat
at his right hand she found that Mr. Slope was already in possession
of the chair at her own.
As these things were going on in the dining-room, Mr. Arabin was
hanging enraptured and alone over the signora's sofa, and Eleanor
from her seat could look through the open door and see that he was
The Bishop Breakfasts, and the Dean Dies
The Bishop of Barchester said grace over the well-spread board in the
Ullathorne dining-room; while he did so, the last breath was flying
from the Dean of Barchester as he lay in his sick room in the
deanery. When the Bishop of Barchester raised his first glass of
champagne to his lips, the deanship of Barchester was a good thing in
the gift of the prime minister. Before the Bishop of Barchester had
left the table, the minister of the day was made aware of the fact at
his country-seat in Hampshire, and had already turned over in his
mind the names of five very respectable aspirants for the preferment.
It is at present only necessary to say that Mr. Slope's name was not
among the five.
"'Twas merry in the hall when the beards wagged all," and the
clerical beards wagged merrily in the hall of Ullathorne that day.
It was not till after the last cork had been drawn, the last speech
made, the last nut cracked, that tidings reached and were whispered
about that the poor dean was no more. It was well for the happiness
of the clerical beards that this little delay took place, as
otherwise decency would have forbidden them to wag at all.
But there was one sad man among them that day. Mr. Arabin's beard
did not wag as it should have done. He had come there hoping the
best, striving to think the best, about Eleanor; turning over in his
mind all the words he remembered to have fallen from her about Mr.
Slope, and trying to gather from them a conviction unfavourable to
his rival. He had not exactly resolved to come that day to some
decisive proof as to the widow's intention, but he had meant, if
possible, to recultivate his friendship with Eleanor, and in his
present frame of mind any such recultivation must have ended in a
declaration of love.
He had passed the previous night alone at his new parsonage, and it
was the first night that he had so passed. It had been dull and
sombre enough. Mrs. Grantly had been right in saying that a
priestess would be wanting at St. Ewold's. He had sat there alone
with his glass before him, and then with his tea-pot, thinking about
Eleanor Bold. As is usual in such meditations, he did little but
blame her; blame her for liking Mr. Slope, and blame her for not
liking him; blame her for her cordiality to himself, and blame her
for her want of cordiality; blame her for being stubborn, headstrong,
and passionate; and yet the more he thought of her the higher she
rose in his affection. If only it should turn out, if only it could
be made to turn out, that she had defended Mr. Slope, not from love,
but on principle, all would be right. Such principle in itself would
be admirable, lovable, womanly; he felt that he could be pleased to
allow Mr. Slope just so much favour as that. But if-- And then Mr.
Arabin poked his fire most unnecessarily, spoke crossly to his new
parlour-maid who came in for the tea-things, and threw himself back
in his chair determined to go to sleep. Why had she been so stiff-
necked when asked a plain question? She could not but have known in
what light he regarded her. Why had she not answered a plain
question and so put an end to his misery? Then, instead of going to
sleep in his armchair, Mr. Arabin walked about the room as though he
had been possessed.
On the following morning, when he attended Miss Thorne's behests, he
was still in a somewhat confused state. His first duty had been to
converse with Mrs. Clantantram, and that lady had found it impossible
to elicit the slightest sympathy from him on the subject of her
roquelaure. Miss Thorne had asked him whether Mrs. Bold was coming
with the Grantlys, and the two names of Bold and Grantly together had
nearly made him jump from his seat.
He was in this state of confused uncertainty, hope, and doubt when he
saw Mr. Slope, with his most polished smile, handing Eleanor out of
her carriage. He thought of nothing more. He never considered
whether the carriage belonged to her or to Mr. Slope, or to anyone
else to whom they might both be mutually obliged without any concert
between themselves. This sight in his present state of mind was
quite enough to upset him and his resolves. It was clear as noon-
day. Had he seen her handed into a carriage by Mr. Slope at a church
door with a white veil over her head, the truth could not be more
manifest. He went into the house and, as we have seen, soon found
himself walking with Mr. Harding. Shortly afterwards Eleanor came
up, and then he had to leave his companion and either go about alone
or find another. While in this state he was encountered by the
"I wonder," said Dr. Grantly, "if it be true that Mr. Slope and Mrs.
Bold came here together. Susan says she is almost sure she saw their
faces in the same carriage as she got out of her own."
Mr. Arabin had nothing for it but to bear his testimony to the
correctness of Mrs. Grantly's eyesight.
"It is perfectly shameful," said the archdeacon; "or, I should rather
say, shameless. She was asked here as my guest, and if she be
determined to disgrace herself, she should have feeling enough not to
do so before my immediate friends. I wonder how that man got himself
invited. I wonder whether she had the face to bring him."
To this Mr. Arabin could answer nothing, nor did he wish to answer
anything. Though he abused Eleanor to himself, he did not choose to
abuse her to anyone else, nor was he well-pleased to hear anyone else
speak ill of her. Dr. Grantly, however, was very angry and did not
spare his sister-in-law. Mr. Arabin therefore left him as soon as he
could and wandered back into the house.
He had not been there long when the signora was brought in. For some
time he kept himself out of temptation and merely hovered round her
at a distance, but as soon as Mr. Thorne had left her he yielded
himself up to the basilisk and allowed himself to be made prey of.
It is impossible to say how the knowledge had been acquired, but the
signora had a sort of instinctive knowledge that Mr. Arabin was an
admirer of Mrs. Bold. Men hunt foxes by the aid of dogs and are
aware that they do so by the strong organ of smell with which the dog
is endowed. They do not, however, in the least comprehend how such a
sense can work with such acuteness. The organ by which women
instinctively, as it were, know and feel how other women are regarded
by men and how also men are regarded by other women is equally strong
and equally incomprehensible. A glance, a word, a motion, suffices:
by some such acute exercise of her feminine senses the signora was
aware that Mr. Arabin loved Eleanor Bold; therefore, by a further
exercise of her peculiar feminine propensities, it was quite natural
for her to entrap Mr. Arabin into her net.
The work was half-done before she came to Ullathorne, and when could
she have a better opportunity of completing it? She had had almost
enough of Mr. Slope, though she could not quite resist the fun of
driving a very sanctimonious clergyman to madness by a desperate and
ruinous passion. Mr. Thorne had fallen too easily to give much
pleasure in the chase. His position as a man of wealth might make
his alliance of value, but as a lover he was very second-rate. We
may say that she regarded him somewhat as a sportsman does a
pheasant. The bird is so easily shot that he would not be worth the
shooting were it not for the very respectable appearance that he
makes in a larder. The signora would not waste much time in shooting
Mr. Thorne, but still he was worth bagging for family uses.
But Mr. Arabin was game of another sort. The signora was herself
possessed of quite sufficient intelligence to know that Mr. Arabin
was a man more than usually intellectual. She knew also that, as a
clergyman, he was of a much higher stamp than Mr. Slope and that, as
a gentleman, he was better educated than Mr. Thorne. She would never
have attempted to drive Mr. Arabin into ridiculous misery as she did
Mr. Slope, nor would she think it possible to dispose of him in ten
minutes as she had done with Mr. Thorne.
Such were her reflexions about Mr. Arabin. As to Mr. Arabin, it
cannot be said that he reflected at all about the signora. He knew
that she was beautiful, and he felt that she was able to charm him.
He required charming in his present misery, and therefore he went and
stood at the head of her couch. She knew all about it. Such were
her peculiar gifts. It was her nature to see that he required
charming, and it was her province to charm him. As the Eastern idler
swallows his dose of opium, as the London reprobate swallows his dose
of gin, so with similar desires and for similar reasons did Mr.
Arabin prepare to swallow the charms of the Signora Neroni.
"Why an't you shooting with bows and arrows, Mr. Arabin?" said she,
when they were nearly alone together in the drawing-room, "or talking
with young ladies in shady bowers, or turning your talents to account
in some way? What was a bachelor like you asked here for? Don't you
mean to earn your cold chicken and champagne? Were I you, I should
be ashamed to be so idle."
Mr. Arabin murmured some sort of answer. Though he wished to be
charmed, he was hardly yet in a mood to be playful in return.
"Why what ails you, Mr. Arabin?" said she. "Here you are in your own
parish--Miss Thorne tells me that her party is given expressly in
your honour--and yet you are the only dull man at it. Your friend
Mr. Slope was with me a few minutes since full of life and spirits;
why don't you rival him?"
It was not difficult for so acute an observer as Madeline Neroni to
see that she had hit the nail on the head and driven the bolt home.
Mr. Arabin winced visibly before her attack, and she knew at once
that he was jealous of Mr. Slope.
"But I look on you and Mr. Slope as the very antipodes of men," said
she. "There is nothing in which you are not each the reverse of the
other, except in belonging to the same profession--and even in that
you are so unlike as perfectly to maintain the rule. He is
gregarious; you are given to solitude. He is active; you are
passive. He works; you think. He likes women; you despise them.
He is fond of position and power; and so are you, but for directly
different reasons. He loves to be praised; you very foolishly abhor
it. He will gain his rewards, which will be an insipid, useful wife,
a comfortable income, and a reputation for sanctimony; you will also
"Well, and what will they be?" said Mr. Arabin, who knew that he was
being flattered and yet suffered himself to put up with it. "What
will be my rewards?"
"The heart of some woman whom you will be too austere to own that you
love, and the respect of some few friends which you will be too proud
to own that you value."
"Rich rewards," said he; "but of little worth, if they are to be so
"Oh, you are not to look for such success as awaits Mr. Slope. He is
born to be a successful man. He suggests to himself an object and
then starts for it with eager intention. Nothing will deter him from
his pursuit. He will have no scruples, no fears, no hesitation. His
desire is to be a bishop with a rising family--the wife will come
first, and in due time the apron. You will see all this, and then--"
"Well, and what then?"
"Then you will begin to wish that you had done the same."
Mr. Arabin looked placidly out at the lawn and, resting his shoulder
on the head of the sofa, rubbed his chin with his hand. It was a
trick he had when he was thinking deeply, and what the signora said
made him think. Was it not all true? Would he not hereafter look
back, if not at Mr. Slope, at some others, perhaps not equally gifted
with himself, who had risen in the world while he had lagged behind,
and then wish that he had done the same?
"Is not such the doom of all speculative men of talent?" said she.
"Do they not all sit wrapt as you now are, cutting imaginary silken
cords with their fine edges, while those not so highly tempered sever
the everyday Gordian knots of the world's struggle and win wealth and
renown? Steel too highly polished, edges too sharp, do not do for
this world's work, Mr. Arabin."
Who was this woman that thus read the secrets of his heart and
re-uttered to him the unwelcome bodings of his own soul? He looked
full into her face when she had done speaking and said, "Am I one of
those foolish blades, too sharp and too fine to do a useful day's
"Why do you let the Slopes of the world outdistance you?" said she.
"Is not the blood in your veins as warm as his? Does not your pulse
beat as fast? Has not God made you a man and intended you to do a
man's work here, ay, and to take a man's wages also?"
Mr. Arabin sat ruminating, rubbing his face, and wondering why these
things were said to him, but he replied nothing. The signora went
"The greatest mistake any man ever made is to suppose that the good
things of the world are not worth the winning. And it is a mistake
so opposed to the religion which you preach! Why does God permit his
bishops one after another to have their five thousands and ten
thousands a year if such wealth be bad and not worth having? Why are
beautiful things given to us, and luxuries and pleasant enjoyments,
if they be not intended to be used? They must be meant for someone,
and what is good for a layman surely cannot be bad for a clerk. You
try to despise these good things, but you only try--you don't
"Don't I?" said Mr. Arabin, still musing, not knowing what he said.
"I ask you the question: do you succeed?"
Mr. Arabin looked at her piteously. It seemed to him , as though he
were being interrogated by some inner spirit of his own, to whom he
could not refuse an answer and to whom he did not dare to give a
"Come, Mr. Arabin, confess; do you succeed? Is money so
contemptible? Is worldly power so worthless? Is feminine beauty a
trifle to be so slightly regarded by a wise man?"
"Feminine beauty!" said he, gazing into her face, as though all the
feminine beauty in the world were concentrated there. "Why do you
say I do not regard it?"
"If you look at me like that, Mr. Arabin, I shall alter my opinion--
or should do so, were I not of course aware that I have no beauty of
my own worth regarding."
The gentleman blushed crimson, but the lady did not blush at all. A
slightly increased colour animated her face, just so much so as to
give her an air of special interest. She expected a compliment from
her admirer, but she was rather gratified than otherwise by finding
that he did not pay it to her. Messrs. Slope and Thorne, Messrs.
Brown, Jones, and Robinson, they all paid her compliments. She was
rather in hopes that she would ultimately succeed in inducing Mr.
Arabin to abuse her.
"But your gaze," said she, "is one of wonder, not of admiration. You
wonder at my audacity in asking you such questions about yourself."
"Well, I do rather," said he.
"Nevertheless, I expect an answer, Mr. Arabin. Why were women made
beautiful if men are not to regard them?"
"But men do regard them," he replied.
"And why not you?"
"You are begging the question, Madame Neroni."
"I am sure I shall beg nothing, Mr. Arabin, which you will not grant,
and I do beg for an answer. Do you not as a rule think women below
your notice as companions? Let us see. There is the Widow Bold
looking round at you from her chair this minute. What would you say
to her as a companion for life?"
Mr. Arabin, rising from his position, leaned over the sofa and looked
through the drawing-room door to the place where Eleanor was seated
between Bertie Stanhope and Mr. Slope. She at once caught his glance
and averted her own. She was not pleasantly placed in her present
position. Mr. Slope was doing his best to attract her attention, and
she was striving to prevent his doing so by talking to Mr. Stanhope,
while her mind was intently fixed on Mr. Arabin and Madame Neroni.
Bertie Stanhope endeavoured to take advantage of her favours, but he
was thinking more of the manner in which he would by and by throw
himself at her feet than of amusing her at the present moment.
"There," said the signora. "She was stretching her beautiful neck to
look at you, and now you have disturbed her. Well, I declare I
believe I am wrong about you; I believe that you do think Mrs. Bold a
charming woman. Your looks seem to say so, and by her looks I should
say that she is jealous of me. Come, Mr. Arabin, confide in me, and
if it is so, I'll do all in my power to make up the match."
It is needless to say that the signora was not very sincere in her
offer.. She was never sincere on such subjects. She never expected
others to be so, nor did she expect others to think her so. Such
matters were her playthings, her billiard table, her hounds and
hunters, her waltzes and polkas, her picnics and summer-day
excursions. She had little else to amuse her and therefore played at
love-making in all its forms. She was now playing at it with Mr.
Arabin, and did not at all expect the earnestness and truth of his
"All in your power would be nothing," said he, "for Mrs. Bold is, I
imagine, already engaged to another."
"Then you own the impeachment yourself."
"You cross-question me rather unfairly," he replied, "and I do not
know why I answer you at all. Mrs. Bold is a very beautiful woman,
and as intelligent as beautiful. It is impossible to know her
without admiring her."
"So you think the widow a very beautiful woman?"
"Indeed I do."
"And one that would grace the parsonage of St. Ewold's."
"One that would well grace any man's house."
"And you really have the effrontery to tell me this," said she; "to
tell me, who, as you very well know, set up to be a beauty myself,
and who am at this very moment taking such an interest in your
affairs, you really have the effrontery to tell me that Mrs. Bold is
the most beautiful woman you know."
"I did not say so," said Mr. Arabin; "you are more beautiful--"
"Ah, come now, that is something like. I thought you could not be so
"You are more beautiful, perhaps more clever."
"Thank you, thank you, Mr. Arabin. I knew that you and I should be
"Not a word further. I will not hear a word further. If you talk
till midnight you cannot improve what you have said."
"But Madame Neroni, Mrs. Bold--"
"I will not hear a word about Mrs. Bold. Dread thoughts of
strychnine did pass across my brain, but she is welcome to the second
"I won't hear anything about her or her place. I am satisfied, and
that is enough. But Mr. Arabin, I am dying with hunger; beautiful
and clever as I am, you know I cannot go to my food, and yet you do
not bring it to me."
This at any rate was so true as to make it necessary that Mr. Arabin
should act upon it, and he accordingly went into the dining-room and
supplied the signora's wants.
"And yourself?" said she.
"Oh," said he, "I am not hungry. I never eat at this hour."
"Come, come, Mr. Arabin, don't let love interfere with your appetite.
It never does with mine. Give me half a glass more champagne and
then go to the table. Mrs. Bold will do me an injury if you stay
talking to me any longer."
Mr. Arabin did as he was bid. He took her plate and glass from her
and, going into the dining-room, helped himself to a sandwich from
the crowded table and began munching it in a corner.
As he was doing so Miss Thorne, who had hardly sat down for a moment,
came into the room and, seeing him standing, was greatly distressed.
"Oh, my dear Mr. Arabin," said she, "have you never sat down yet?
I am so distressed. You of all men, too."
Mr. Arabin assured her that he had only just come into the room.
"That is the very reason why you should lose no more time. Come,
I'll make room for you. Thank'ee, my dear," she said, seeing that
Mrs. Bold was making an attempt to move from her chair, "but I would
not for worlds see you stir, for all the ladies would think it
necessary to follow. But, perhaps, if Mr. Stanhope has done--just
for a minute, Mr. Stanhope, till I can get another chair."
And so Bertie had to rise to make way for his rival. This he did, as
he did everything, with an air of good-humoured pleasantry which made
it impossible for Mr. Arabin to refuse the proffered seat.
"His bishopric let another take," said Bertie, the quotation being
certainly not very appropriate either for the occasion or the person
spoken to. "I have eaten and am satisfied; Mr. Arabin, pray take my
chair. I wish for your sake that it really was a bishop's seat."
Mr. Arabin did sit down, and as he did so Mrs. Bold got up as though
to follow her neighbour.
"Pray, pray don't move," said Miss Thorne, almost forcing Eleanor
back into her chair. "Mr. Stanhope is not going to leave us. He
will stand behind you like a true knight as he is. And now I think
of it, Mr. Arabin, let me introduce you to Mr. Slope. Mr. Slope, Mr.
Arabin." And the two gentlemen bowed stiffly to each other across
the lady whom they both intended to marry, while the other gentleman
who also intended to marry her stood behind, watching them.
The two had never met each other before, and the present was
certainly not a good opportunity for much cordial conversation, even
if cordial conversation between them had been possible. As it was,
the whole four who formed the party seemed as though their tongues
were tied. Mr. Slope, who was wide awake to what he hoped was his
coming opportunity, was not much concerned in the interest of the
moment. His wish was to see Eleanor move, that he might pursue her.
Bertie was not exactly in the same frame of mind; the evil day was
near enough; there was no reason why he should precipitate it. He
had made up his mind to marry Eleanor Bold if he could, and was
resolved to-day to take the first preliminary step towards doing so.
But there was time enough before him. He was not going to make an
offer of marriage over the table-cloth. Having thus good-naturedly
made way for Mr. Arabin, he was willing also to let him talk to the
future Mrs. Stanhope as long as they remained in their present
Mr. Arabin, having bowed to Mr. Slope, began eating his food without
saying a word further. He was full of thought, and though he ate he
did so unconsciously.
But poor Eleanor was the most to be pitied. The only friend on whom
she thought she could rely was Bertie Stanhope, and he, it seemed,
was determined to desert her. Mr. Arabin did not attempt to address
her. She said a few words in reply to some remarks from Mr. Slope
and then, feeling the situation too much for her, started from her
chair in spite of Miss Thorne and hurried from the room. Mr. Slope
followed her, and young Stanhope lost the occasion.
Madeline Neroni when she was left alone, could not help pondering
much on the singular interview she had had with this singular man.
Not a word that she had spoken to him had been intended by her to be
received as true, and yet he had answered her in the very spirit of
truth. He had done so, and she had been aware that he had so done.
She had wormed from him his secret, and he, debarred as it would seem
from man's usual privilege of lying, had innocently laid bare his
whole soul to her. He loved Eleanor Bold, but Eleanor was not in his
eye so beautiful as herself. He would fain have Eleanor for his
wife, but yet he had acknowledged that she was the less gifted of the
two. The man had literally been unable to falsify his thoughts when
questioned and had been compelled to be true malgré lui, even when
truth must have been so disagreeable to him.
This teacher of men, this Oxford pundit, this double-distilled
quintessence of university perfection, this writer of religious
treatises, this speaker of ecclesiastical speeches, had been like a
little child in her hands; she had turned him inside out and read his
very heart as she might have done that of a young girl. She could
not but despise him for his facile openness, and yet she liked him
for it, too. It was a novelty to her, a new trait in a man's
character. She felt also that she could never so completely make a
fool of him as she did of the Slopes and Thornes. She felt that she
never could induce Mr. Arabin to make protestations to her that were
not true, or to listen to nonsense that was mere nonsense.
It was quite clear that Mr. Arabin was heartily in love with Mrs.
Bold, and the signora, with very unwonted good nature, began to turn
it over in her mind whether she could not do him a good turn. Of
course Bertie was to have the first chance. It was an understood
family arrangement that her brother was, if possible, to marry the
Widow Bold. Madeline knew too well his necessities and what was due
to her sister to interfere with so excellent a plan, as long as it
might be feasible. But she had strong suspicion that it was not
feasible. She did not think it likely that Mrs. Bold would accept a
man in her brother's position, and she had frequently said so to
Charlotte. She was inclined to believe that Mr. Slope had more
chance of success, and with her it would be a labour of love to rob
Mr. Slope of his wife.
And so the signora resolved, should Bertie fail, to do a good-natured
act for once in her life and give up Mr. Arabin to the woman whom he
The Lookalofts and the Greenacres
On the whole, Miss Thorne's provision for the amusement and feeding
of the outer classes in the exoteric paddock was not unsuccessful.
Two little drawbacks to the general happiness did take place, but
they were of a temporary nature, and apparent rather than real. The
first was the downfall of young Harry Greenacre, and the other the
uprise of Mrs. Lookaloft and her family.
As to the quintain, it became more popular among the boys on foot
than it would ever have been among the men on horseback, even had
young Greenacre been more successful. It was twirled round and round
till it was nearly twirled out of the ground, and the bag of flour
was used with great gusto in powdering the backs and heads of all who
could be coaxed within its vicinity.
Of course it was reported all through the assemblage that Harry was
dead, and there was a pathetic scene between him and his mother when
it was found that he had escaped scatheless from the fall. A good
deal of beer was drunk on the occasion, and the quintain was
"dratted" and "bothered," and very generally anathematized by all the
mothers who had young sons likely to be placed in similar jeopardy.
But the affair of Mrs. Lookaloft was of a more serious nature.
"I do tell 'ee plainly--face to face--she be there in madam's
drawing-room; herself and Gussy, and them two walloping gals, dressed
up to their very eyeses." This was said by a very positive, very
indignant, and very fat farmer's wife, who was sitting on the end of
a bench leaning on the handle of a huge, cotton umbrella.
"But: you didn't zee her, Dame Guffern?" said Mrs. Greenacre, whom
this information, joined to the recent peril undergone by her son,
almost overpowered. Mr. Greenacre held just as much land as Mr.
Lookaloft, paid his rent quite as punctually, and his opinion in the
vestry room was reckoned to be every whit as good. Mrs. Lookaloft's
rise in the world had been wormwood to Mrs. Greenacre. She had no
taste herself for the sort of finery which had converted Barleystubb
farm into Rosebank and which had occasionally graced Mr. Lookaloft's
letters with the dignity of esquirehood. She had no wish to convert
her own homestead into Violet Villa, or to see her goodman go about
with a new-fangled handle to his name. But it was a mortal injury to
her that Mrs. Lookaloft should be successful in her hunt after such
honours. She had abused and ridiculed Mrs. Lookaloft to the extent
of her little power. She had pushed against her going out of church
and had excused herself with all the easiness of equality. "Ah,
dame, I axes pardon, but you be grown so mortal stout these times."
She had inquired with apparent cordiality of Mr. Lookaloft after "the
woman that owned him," and had, as she thought, been on the whole
able to hold her own pretty well against her aspiring neighbour.
Now, however, she found herself distinctly put into a separate and
inferior class. Mrs. Lookaloft was asked into the Ullathorne
drawing-room merely because she called her house Rosebank and had
talked over her husband into buying pianos and silk dresses instead
of putting his money by to stock farms for his sons.
Mrs. Greenacre, much as she reverenced Miss Thorne, and highly as she
respected her husband's landlord, could not but look on this as an
act of injustice done to her and hers. Hitherto the Lookalofts had
never been recognized as being of a different class from the
Greenacres. Their pretensions were all self-pretensions, their
finery was all paid for by themselves and not granted to them by
others. The local sovereigns of the vicinity, the district fountains
of honour, had hitherto conferred on them the stamp of no rank.
Hitherto their crinoline petticoats, late hours, and mincing gait had
been a fair subject of Mrs. Greenacre's raillery, and this raillery
had been a safety-valve for her envy. Now, however, and from
henceforward, the case would be very different. Now the Lookalofts
would boast that their aspirations had been sanctioned by the gentry
of the country; now they would declare with some show of truth that
their claims to peculiar consideration had been recognized. They had
sat as equal guests in the presence of bishops and baronets; they had
been curtseyed to by Miss Thorne on her own drawing-room carpet; they
were about to sit down to table in company with a live countess! Bab
Lookaloft, as she had always been called by the young Greenacres in
the days of their juvenile equality, might possibly sit next to the
Honourable George, and that wretched Gussy might be permitted to hand
a custard to the Lady Margaretta De Courcy.
The fruition of those honours, or such of them as fell to the lot of
the envied family, was not such as should have caused much envy. The
attention paid to the Lookalofts by the De Courcys was very limited,
and the amount of entertainment which they received from the bishop's
society was hardly in itself a recompense for the dull monotony of
their day. But of what they endured Mrs. Greenacre took no account;
she thought only of what she considered they must enjoy and of the
dreadfully exalted tone of living which would be manifested by the
Rosebank family, as the consequence of their present distinction.
"But did 'ee zee 'em there, dame, did 'ee zee 'em there with your own
eyes?" asked poor Mrs. Greenacre, still hoping that there might be
some ground for doubt.
"And how could I do that, unless so be I was there myself?" asked
Mrs. Guffern. "I didn't zet eyes on none of them this blessed
morning, but I zee'd them as did. You know our John; well, he will
be for keeping company with Betsey Rusk, madam's own maid, you know.
And Betsey isn't none of your common kitchen wenches. So Betsey, she
come out to our John, you know, and she's always vastly polite to me,
is Betsey Rusk, I must say. So before she took so much as one turn
with John she told me every ha'porth that was going on up in the
"Did she now?" said Mrs. Greenacre.
"Indeed she did," said Mrs. Guffern.
"And she told you them people was up there in the drawing-room?"
"She told me she zee'd 'em come in--that they was dressed finer by
half nor any of the family, with all their neckses and buzoms stark
naked as a born babby."
"The minxes!" exclaimed Mrs. Greenacre, who felt herself more put
about by this than any other mark of aristocratic distinction which
her enemies had assumed.
"Yes, indeed," continued Mrs. Guffern, "as naked as you please, while
all the quality was dressed just as you and I be, Mrs. Greenacre."
"Drat their impudence," said Mrs. Greenacre, from whose well-covered
bosom all milk of human kindness was receding, as far as the family
of the Lookalofts were concerned.
"So says I," said Mrs. Guffern; "and so says my goodman, Thomas
Guffern, when he hear'd it. 'Molly,' says he to me, 'if ever you
takes to going about o' mornings with yourself all naked in them
ways, I begs you won't come back no more to the old house.' So says
I, 'Thomas, no more I wull.' 'But,' says he, 'drat it, how the deuce
does she manage with her rheumatiz, and she not a rag on her;' " and
Mrs. Guffern laughed loudly as she thought of Mrs. Lookaloft's
probable sufferings from rheumatic attacks.
"But to liken herself that way to folk that ha' blood in their
veins," said Mrs. Greenacre.
"Well, but that warn't all neither that Betsey told. There they all
swelled into madam's drawing-room, like so many turkey cocks, as much
as to say, 'and who dare say no to us?' and Gregory was thinking of
telling of 'em to come down here, only his heart failed him 'cause of
the grand way they was dressed. So in they went, but madam looked at
them as glum as death."
"Well, now," said Mrs. Greenacre, greatly relieved, "so they wasn't
axed different from us at all then?"
"Betsey says that Gregory says that madam wasn't a bit too well
pleased to see them where they was, and that to his believing they
was expected to come here just like the rest of us."
There was great consolation in this. Not that Mrs. Greenacre was
altogether satisfied. She felt that justice to herself demanded that
Mrs. Lookaloft should not only not be encouraged, but that she should
also be absolutely punished. What had been done at that scriptural
banquet, of which Mrs. Greenacre so often read the account to her
family? Why had not Miss Thorne boldly gone to the intruder and
said, "Friend, thou hast come up hither to high places not fitted to
thee. Go down lower, and thou wilt find thy mates." Let the
Lookalofts be treated at the present moment with ever so cold a
shoulder, they would still be enabled to boast hereafter of their
position, their aspirations, and their honour.
"Well, with all her grandeur, I do wonder that she be so mean,"
continued Mrs. Greenacre, unable to dismiss the subject. "Did you
hear, goodman?" she went on, about to repeat the whole story to her
husband who then came up. "There's Dame Lookaloft and Bab and Gussy
and the lot of 'em all sitting as grand as fivepence in madam's
drawing-room, and they not axed no more nor you nor me. Did you ever
hear tell the like o' that?"
"Well, and what for shouldn't they?" said Farmer Greenacre.
"Likening theyselves to the quality, as though they was estated folk,
or the like o' that!" said Mrs. Guffern.
"Well, if they likes it, and madam likes it, they's welcome for me,"
said the farmer. "Now I likes this place better, 'cause I be more at
home-like, and don't have to pay for them fine clothes for the
missus. Everyone to his taste, Mrs. Guffern, and if neighbour
Lookaloft thinks that he has the best of it, he's welcome."
Mrs. Greenacre sat down by her husband's side to begin the heavy work
of the banquet, and she did so in some measure with restored
tranquillity, but nevertheless she shook her head at her gossip to
show that in this instance she did not quite approve of her husband's
"And I'll tell 'ee what, dames," continued he; "if so be that we
cannot enjoy the dinner that madam gives us because Mother Lookaloft
is sitting up there on a grand sofa, I think we ought all to go home.
If we greet at that, what'll we do when true sorrow comes across us?
How would you be now, Dame, if the boy there had broke his neck when
he got the tumble?
Mrs. Greenacre was humbled and said nothing further on the matter.
But let prudent men such as Mr. Greenacre preach as they will, the
family of the Lookalofts certainly does occasion a good deal of
heart-burning in the world at large.
It was pleasant to see Mr. Plomacy as, leaning on his stout stick, he
went about among the rural guests, acting as a sort of head constable
as well as master of the revels. "Now, young'un, if you can't manage
to get along without that screeching, you'd better go to the other
side of the twelve-acre field and take your dinner with you. Come,
girls, what do you stand there for, twirling of your thumbs? Come
out, and let the lads see you; you've no need to be so ashamed of
your faces. Hollo there, who are you? How did you make your way in
This last disagreeable question was put to a young man of about
twenty-four who did not, in Mr. Plomacy's eye, bear sufficient
vestiges of a rural education and residence.
"If you please, your Worship, Master Barrell the coachman let me in
at the church wicket, 'cause I do be working mostly al'ays for the
"Then Master Barrell the coachman may let you out again," said Mr.
Plomacy, not even conciliated by the magisterial dignity which had
been conceded to him. "What's your name? And what trade are you?
And who do you work for?"
"I'm Stubbs, your worship, Bob Stubbs; and--and--and--"
"And what's your trade, Stubbs?"
"Plasterer, please your worship."
"I'll plaster you, and Barrell too; you'll just walk out of this 'ere
field as quick as you walked in. We don't want no plasterers; when
we do, we'll send for 'em. Come my buck, walk."
Stubbs the plasterer was much downcast at this dreadful edict. He
was a sprightly fellow, and had contrived since his ingress into the
Ullathorne elysium to attract to himself a forest nymph, to whom he
was whispering a plasterer's usual soft nothings, when he was
encountered by the great Mr. Plomacy. It was dreadful to be thus
dissevered from his dryad and sent howling back to a Barchester
pandemonium just as the nectar and ambrosia were about to descend on
the fields of asphodel. He began to try what prayers would do, but
city prayers were vain against the great rural potentate. Not only
did Mr. Plomacy order his exit but, raising his stick to show the way
which led to the gate that had been left in the custody of that false
Cerberus Barrell, proceeded himself to see the edict of banishment
The goddess Mercy, however, the sweetest goddess that ever sat upon a
cloud, and the dearest to poor, frail, erring man, appeared on the
field in the person of Mr. Greenacre. Never was interceding goddess
"Come, man," said Mr. Greenacre, "never stick at trifles such a day
as this. I know the lad well. Let him bide at my axing. Madam
won't miss what he can eat and drink, I know."
Now Mr. Plomacy and Mr. Greenacre were sworn friends. Mr. Plomacy
had at his own disposal as comfortable a room as there was in
Ullathorne House, but he was a bachelor, and alone there, and,
moreover, smoking in the house was not allowed even to Mr. Plomacy.
His moments of truest happiness were spent in a huge armchair in the
warmest corner of Mrs. Greenacre's beautifully clean front kitchen.
'Twas there that the inner man dissolved itself and poured itself out
in streams of pleasant chat; 'twas there that he was respected and
yet at his ease; 'twas there, and perhaps there only, that he could
unburden himself from the ceremonies of life without offending the
dignity of those above him, or incurring the familiarity of those
below. 'Twas there that his long pipe was always to be found on the
accustomed chimney-board, not only permitted but encouraged.
Such being the state of the case it was not to be supposed that Mr.
Plomacy could refuse such a favour to Mr. Greenacre, but nevertheless
he did not grant it without some further show of austere authority.
"Eat and drink, Mr. Greenacre! No. It's not what he eats and
drinks, but the example such a chap shows, coming in where he's not
invited--a chap of his age, too. He too that never did a day's work
about Ullathorne since he was born. Plasterer! I'll plaster him!"
"He worked long enough for me, then, Mr. Plomacy. And a good hand he
is at setting tiles as any in Barchester," said the other not
sticking quite to veracity, as indeed mercy never should. "Come,
come, let him alone to-day and quarrel with him to-morrow. You
wouldn't shame him before his lass there?"
"It goes against the grain with me, then," said Mr. Plomacy. "And
take care, you Stubbs, and behave yourself. If I hear a row, I shall
know where it comes from. I'm up to you Barchester journeymen; I
know what stuff you're made of."
And so Stubbs went off happy, pulling at the forelock of his shock
head of hair in honour of the steward's clemency and giving another
double pull at it in honour of the farmer's kindness. And as he went
he swore within his grateful heart that if ever Farmer Greenacre
wanted a day's work done for nothing, he was the lad to do it for
him. Which promise it was not probable that he would ever be called
on to perform.
But Mr. Plomacy was not quite happy in his mind, for he thought of
the unjust steward and began to reflect whether he had not made for
himself friends of the mammon of unrighteousness. This, however, did
not interfere with the manner in which he performed his duties at the
bottom of the long board; nor did Mr. Greenacre perform his the worse
at the top on account of the good wishes of Stubbs the plasterer.
Moreover the guests did not think it anything amiss when Mr. Plomacy,
rising to say grace, prayed that God would make them all truly
thankful for the good things which Madame Thorne in her great
liberality had set before them!
All this time the quality in the tent on the lawn were getting on
swimmingly--that is, if champagne without restriction can enable
quality folk to swim. Sir Harkaway Gorse proposed the health of Miss
Thorne and likened her to a blood race-horse, always in condition and
not to be tired down by any amount of work. Mr. Thorne returned
thanks, saying he hoped his sister would always be found able to run
when called upon, and then gave the health and prosperity of the De
Courcy family. His sister was very much honoured by seeing so many
of them at her poor board. They were all aware that important
avocations made the absence of the earl necessary. As his duty to
his prince had called him from his family hearth, he, Mr. Thorne,
could not venture to regret that he did not see him at Ullathorne;
but nevertheless he would venture to say--that was, to express a
wish--an opinion, he meant to say-- And so Mr. Thorne became
somewhat gravelled, as country gentlemen in similar circumstances
usually do, but he ultimately sat down, declaring that he had much
satisfaction in drinking the noble earl's health, together with that
of the countess, and all the family of De Courcy Castle.
And then the Honourable George returned thanks. We will not follow
him through the different periods of his somewhat irregular
eloquence. Those immediately in his neighbourhood found it at first
rather difficult to get him on his legs, but much greater difficulty
was soon experienced in inducing him to resume his seat. One of two
arrangements should certainly be made in these days: either let all
speech-making on festive occasions be utterly tabooed and made as it
were impossible; or else let those who are to exercise the privilege
be first subjected to a competing examination before the civil-
service examining commissioners. As it is now, the Honourable
Georges do but little honour to our exertions in favour of British
In the dining-room the bishop went through the honours of the day
with much more neatness and propriety. He also drank Miss Thorne's
health and did it in a manner becoming the bench which he adorned.
The party there was perhaps a little more dull, a shade less lively
than that in the tent. But what was lost in mirth was fully made up
And so the banquets passed off at the various tables with great éclat
and universal delight.
Ullathorne Sports--Act II
"That which has made them drunk has made me bold." 'Twas thus that
Mr. Slope encouraged himself, as he left the dining-room in pursuit
of Eleanor. He had not indeed seen in that room any person really
intoxicated, but there had been a good deal of wine drunk, and Mr.
Slope had not hesitated to take his share, in order to screw himself
up to the undertaking which he had in hand. He is not the first man
who has thought it expedient to call in the assistance of Bacchus on
such an occasion.
Eleanor was out through the window and on the grass before she
perceived that she was followed. Just at that moment the guests were
nearly all occupied at the tables. Here and there were to be seen a
constant couple or two, who preferred their own sweet discourse to
the jingle of glasses or the charms of rhetoric which fell from the
mouths of the Honourable George and the Bishop of Barchester; but the
grounds were as nearly vacant as Mr. Slope could wish them to be.
Eleanor saw that she was pursued, and as a deer when escape is no
longer possible will turn to bay and attack the hounds, so did she
turn upon Mr. Slope.