Part 3 out of 4
"Certainly; what I mean is that you can accept their tender. Then
there is the meeting of creditors."
"I suppose you wish Mr. Eaton's acceptance acknowledged and the sub-
contractors at once informed?"
"Of course, of course; I said necessary action--that covers
everything. With regard to the creditors' meeting, my proposal is--
"Perhaps it will be as well, sir, if you merely say you will
"I thought you would take that for granted. I was considering what
proposal I should make when we meet."
"Probably, sir, you can make it better after you hear his
"Well, possibly it may be so; but I am always in favour of being
prepared. However, we will postpone that for the present. Then
there is the trustee business. That is a private matter of my own,
which you will not understand. I will give you the papers, however,
and you can make an abstract of them. I cannot carry every point in
my head. If you are in any doubt come to me."
"You wish me to say you will go, sir?"
"I should have thought there was no need to ask. You surely do not
suppose that I am to give instructions upon every petty detail!
Then about the navigation: I MUST have some coal, and that is the
long and the short of it."
The "how" was probably a petty detail, for Mr. Furze went no further
with the subject, and was inclined to proceed with the man at the
"It will be too late if we wait till the lock is repaired, sir. I
understand it will be three weeks really. Will you write to
Ditchfield and tell them five tons are to come to Millfield Sluice?
We will then cart it from there. That will be the cheapest and the
"Yes, I do not object; but we MUST have the coal--that is really the
important point. As to Jack in the foundry, I will get somebody
else. I suppose we shall have to pay more."
"How would it be, sir, if you put Sims in Jack's place, and Spurling
in Sims' place? You would then only want a new labourer, and you
would pay no more than you pay now. Sims, too, knows the work, and
it might be awkward to have a new man at the head just now."
"Yes, that may do; but what I wish to impress on you is that the
vacancy MUST be filled up. That is all, I think; you can take the
Tom took them up and went to his little corner near the window to
reperuse them. There was much to be done which had not been
mentioned, particularly with regard to Mr. Eaton's contract. He
took out the specification, jotted down on a piece of paper the
several items, marked methodically with a cross those which required
prompt attention, and began to write. Mr. Furze, seeing his desk
unencumbered, was very well satisfied with himself. He had
"managed" the whole thing perfectly. His head became clear, the
knots were untied, and he hummed a few bars of a hymn. He then went
to his safe, took out the trust papers without looking at them,
handed them over to Tom with a remark that he should like the
abstract the next morning, and at once went up to the Terrace. He
was hungry: he had left Mrs. Furze unwell, and, in his extreme
good-humour, had relented towards her. She had recovered, but did
not mention again the subject of Tom's discharge. He had ham with
his tea, but it was over sooner than usual, and he rose to depart.
"You are going early, father," said Catharine.
"Yes, my dear; it has been a busy day. I have been successful with
my tender for Mr. Eaton's improvements; iron has advanced; the
navigation has stopped; Castle, the blacksmith, has gone to smash; I
have to go to a trustees' meeting under that old Fothergill trust;
and Jack in the foundry has given notice to leave."
"When did you hear all this?"
"All within an hour after breakfast. I have been entirely occupied
this afternoon in directing Tom what to do, and I must be off to see
that he has carried out my instructions. What a coil it is! and yet
I rather like it."
Catharine reflected that her father did not seem to like it at
dinner-time, and went through the familiar operation of putting two
and two together. She accompanied him to the front gate, and as he
passed out she said -
"You have not given Tom notice?"
"No, my dear, not yet. It would be a little inconvenient at
present. I COULD do without him easily, even now; but perhaps it
will be better to wait. Besides, he is a little more teachable
after the talking-to I have given him."
Mr. Furze signed his letters. He did not observe that many others,
of which he had not thought, remained to be written, and when Tom
brought them the next day he made no remark. The assumption was
that he had noticed the day before what remained to be done, saw
that it was not urgent, and consented to the delay. The curious
thing was that he assumed it to himself. It is a tact--not
incredible to those who know that nobody, not the most accomplished
master in flattery, can humbug us so completely as we can and do
humbug ourselves--that Mr. Furze, ten minutes after the letters were
posted, was perfectly convinced that he had foreseen the necessity
of each one--that he had personally and thoroughly controlled the
whole day's operations, and that Tom had performed the duties of a
merely menial clerk. As he went home he thought over Catharine's
attitude with regard to Tom. She, in reality, had been anxious to
protect her father; but such a motive he could not be expected to
suggest to himself. A horrid notion came into his head. She might
be fond of Tom! Did she not once save his life? Had she not, even
when a child, pleaded that something ought to be done for him? Had
she not affirmed that he was indispensable? Had she not inquired
again about him that very day? Had she not openly expressed her
contempt for that most eligible person, Mr. Colston? He determined
to watch most strictly, and again he resolved to dismiss his
assistant. A trifling increase in his attention to small matters
should enable him to do this within a month or two. It would be as
well for Mrs. Furze to watch too. After supper Catharine went to
bed early, and her father hung out the white flag, to which friendly
response was given directly the subject of his communications was
apparent. It became a basis of almost instantaneous reconciliation,
and Mrs. Furze, mindful of the repulse of the brewer's son and the
ruin of her own scheme thereon built, hated Tom more than ever. It
was Tom, then, who had prevented admission into Eastthorpe society.
Mr. Tom Catchpole had never had any schooling. What he had learned
he had learned by himself, and the books he had read were but few,
and chosen rather by chance. He had never had the advantage of the
common introduction to the world of ideas which is given, in a
measure, to all boys who are systematically taught by teachers, and
consequently, not knowing the relative value of what came before
him, his perspective and proportion were incorrect. His mind, too,
was essentially plain. He was perfect in his loyalty to duty; he
was, as we have seen, very good in business matters, had a clear
head, and could give shrewd advice upon any solid, matter-of-fact
difficulty, but the spiritual world was non-existent for him. He
attended chapel regularly, for he was a Dissenter, but his reasons
for going, so far as he had any, were very simple. There was a
great God in heaven, against whom he had sinned and was perpetually
sinning. To save himself from the consequences of his
transgressions certain means were provided and he was bound to use
them. On Monday morning chapel and all thoughts connected with it
entirely disappeared, but he said his prayers twice a day with great
regularity. There are very few, however, of God's creatures to whom
the supernatural does not in some way present itself, and no man
lives by bread alone. To Tom, Catharine was miracle, soul,
inspiration, religion, enthusiasm, patriotism, immortality, the
fact, essentially identical, whatever we like to call it, which is
not bread and yet is life. He never dared to say anything to her.
He felt that she lived in a world beyond him, and he did not know
what kind of a world it was. He knew that she thought about things
which were strange to him, and that she was anxious upon subjects
which never troubled him. She was often greatly depressed when
there was no cause for depression so far as he could see, and he
could not comprehend why a person should be ill when there was
nothing the matter. If he felt unwell--a rare event with him--he
always took two antibilous pills before going to bed, and was all
right the next morning. He wished he himself could be ill without a
reason, and then perhaps he would be able to understand Catharine
better. Her elation and excitement were equally unintelligible. He
once saw her sitting in her father's counting-house with a book.
She was not a great reader--nobody in Eastthorpe read books, and
there were not many to read--but she was so absorbed in this
particular book that she did not lift her eyes from it when he came
in, and it was not until her father had spoken twice to her, and had
told her that he was expecting somebody, that she moved. She then
ran upstairs into a storeroom, and was there for half an hour in the
cold. The book was left open when she went away, and Tom looked at
it. It was a collection of poems by all kinds of people, and the
one over which she had been poring was about a man who had shot an
albatross. Tom studied it, but could make nothing of it, and yet
this was what had so much interested her! "O God!" he said to
himself passionately, "if I could, if I did but know! She cares not
a pin for me; this is what she cares for." Poor Tom! he did not
pride himself on the absence of a sense in him, but knew and
acknowledged to himself that he was defective. It is quite possible
to be aware of a spiritual insensibility which there is no power to
overcome--of the existence of a universe in which other favoured
souls are able to live, one which they can report, and yet its doors
are closed to us, or, if sitting outside we catch a glimpse of what
is within, we have no power to utter a single sufficient word to
acquaint anybody with what we have seen: Catharine respected Tom
greatly, for she understood well enough what her father owed to him,
but she could not love him. One penetrating word from Mr. Cardew
thrilled every fibre in her, no matter what the subject might be.
Tom, in every mood and on every topic, was uninteresting and
ordinary. To tell the truth, plain, common probity taken by itself
was not attractive to her. Horses, dogs, cows, the fields were more
stimulant than perfect integrity, for she was young and did not know
how precious it was; but, after all, the reason of reasons why she
did not love Tom was that she did not love him.
It was announced one day by small handbills in the shop windows that
a sermon was to be preached by Mr. Cardew, of Abchurch, in
Eastthorpe, on behalf of the County Infirmary, and Catharine went to
hear him. It was in the evening, and she was purposely late. She
did no go to her mother's pew, but sat down close to the door. To
her surprise she saw Tom not far off. He was on his way to his
chapel when he noticed Catharine alone, walking towards the church,
and he had followed her. Mr. Cardew took for his text the parable
of the prodigal son. He began by saying that this parable had been
taken to be an exhibition of God's love for man. It seemed rather
intended to set forth, not the magnificence of the Divine nature,
but of human nature--of that nature which God assumed. The
determination on the part of the younger son to arise, to go to his
father, and above everything to say to him simply, "Father, I have
sinned," was as great as God is great: it was God--God moving in
us; in a sense it was far more truly God--far greater than the force
which binds the planets into a system. But the splendour of human
nature--do not suppose any heresy here; it is Bible truth, the very
gospel--is shown in the father as well as in the son.
"When he was yet a great way off." We are as good as told then,
that day after day the father had been watching. How small were the
probabilities that at any particular hour the son would return, and
yet every hour the father's eyes were on that long, dusty road!
When at last he saw what he was dying to see, what did he say? Was
there a word of rebuke? He stopped his boy's mouth with kisses and
cried for the best robe and the ring and the shoes, and proclaimed a
feast--the ring, mark you, a sign of honour!
"Say nothing of pardon; the darkness hath gone:
Shall pardon be asked for the night by the sun?
No word of the past; of the future no fear:
'Tis enough, my beloved, to know thou art here."
"Oh, my friends," said the preacher, "just consider that it is this
upon which Jesus, the Son of God, has put His stamp, not the
lecture, not chastisement, not expiation, but an instant
unquestioning embrace, no matter what the wrong may have been. If
you say this is dangerous doctrine, I say it is HERE. What other
meaning can you give to it? At the same time I am astonished to
find it here, astonished that priestcraft and the enemy of souls
should not have erased it. Sacred truth! Is it not moving to think
of all the millions of men who for eighteen hundred years have read
this parable, philosophers and peasants, in every climate, and now
are we reading it to-day! Is it not moving--nay, awful--to think of
all the good it has done, of the sweet stream of tenderness, broad
and deep, which has flowed down from it through all history?
History would all have been different if this parable had never been
Mr. Cardew paused, and after his emotion had a little subsided he
concluded by an appeal on behalf of the infirmary. He inserted a
saving clause on Christ's mediatorial work, but it had no particular
connection with the former part of his discourse. It was spoken in
a different tone, and it satisfied the congregation that they had
really heard nothing heterodox.
Tom watched Catharine closely. He noted her eager, rapt attention,
and that she did not recover herself till the voluntary was at an
end. He went out after her; she met Mr. and Mrs. Cardew at the
churchyard gates; he saw the excitement of all three, and he saw
Catharine leave her friends at the Rectory, for they were evidently
going to stay the night there. Mrs. Cardew went into the house
first, but Catharine turned down Fosbrooke Street, a street which
did not lead, save by a very roundabout way, to the Terrace.
Presently Mr. Cardew came out and walked slowly down Rectory Lane.
In those days it was hardly a thoroughfare. It ended at the river
bank, and during daylight a boat was generally there, belonging to
an old, superannuated boatman, who carried chance passengers over to
the mill meadows and saved them a walk if they wanted to go that
side of the town. A rough seat had been placed near the boat
moorings for the convenience of the ferryman's customers. At this
time in the evening the place was deserted. Tom followed Mr.
Cardew, and presently overtook him. Mr. Cardew and he knew one
another slightly, for there were few persons for miles round who did
not know and then visit Mr. Furze's shop.
"Good evening, Mr. Cardew."
"Ah! Mr. Catchpole, is that you? What are you doing here?"
"I have been to hear you preach, sir, and I thought I would have a
stroll before I went home."
"I thought I should like a stroll too."
The two went on together, and sat down on the seat. The moon had
just risen, nearly full, sending its rays obliquely across the
water, and lighting up the footpath which went right and left along
the river's edge. Mr. Cardew seemed disinclined to talk, was rather
restless, and walked backwards and forwards by the bank. Tom
reflected that he might be intruding, but there was something on his
mind, and he did not leave. Mr. Cardew sat down again by his side.
They both happened to be looking in the same direction eastwards at
the same moment.
"If that lady thinks to cross to-night," said Tom, "she's mistaken.
I'd take her over myself, though it is Sunday, if the boat were not
"What lady?" asked Mr. Cardew--as if he were frightened, Tom
"The lady coming down there just against the willow."
Mr. Cardew was short-sighted, and could not see her. He made as if
he would go to meet her, but he stopped, returned, and remained
standing. The figure approached, but before Tom could discern
anything more than that it was a woman, it disappeared behind the
hedge up the little bypath that cut off the corner into Rectory
"She's gone," said Tom. "I suppose she was not coming here after
"Which way has she gone?" asked Mr. Cardew, looking straight on the
ground and scratching it with his stick.
"Into the town."
"I must be going, I think, Mr. Catchpole; good-night."
"I'll walk with you as far as your door, sir. There's something I
want to say to you."
Mr. Cardew did not reply, and meditated for a moment.
"It is a lovely evening. We will sit here a little longer. What is
"Mr. Cardew, as I said, I have been to hear you preach, and I thank
you with all my heart for your sermon, but I want to ask you
something about it. What you said about the Mediator was true
enough, but somehow, sir, I feel as if I ought to have liked the
first part most, but I couldn't, and perhaps the reason is that it
was poetry. Oh, Mr. Cardew, if you could but tell me how to like
"I am afraid neither I nor anybody else can teach you that; but why
are you anxious to like it? Why are you dissatisfied with
"I do not think I am stupid. When I am in the shop I know that I am
more of a match for most persons, and yet, Mr. Cardew, there are
some people who seem to me to have something I have not got, and
they value it more than anything besides, and they have nothing to
say really, REALLY, I mean, to those who have not got it, although
they are kind to them."
"It is not very easy to understand what you mean."
"Well now to-night, sir, when you talked about God moving in us, and
the force which binds the planets together, and all that, I am sure
you felt it, and I am sure it is true, and yet I was out of doors,
so to speak."
"Perhaps I may be peculiar, and it is you who are sane and sound."
"Ah, Mr. Cardew, if you were alone in it, and everybody were like
me, that might be true, but it is not so; it is I who am alone."
"Who cares for it whom you know? You are under a delusion."
"Oh, no, I am not. Why there--there." Tom stopped.
"There was what?"
"There was Miss Furze--she took it in."
"Indeed!" Mr Cardew again looked straight on the ground, and again
scratched it with his stick. It was a night of nights, dying
twilight long lingering in the north-west, the low golden moon, the
slow, placid, shining stream, perfect stillness. Tom was not very
susceptible, but even he was overcome and tempted into confidence.
"Mr. Cardew, you are a minister, and I may tell you: I know you
will not betray me. I love Miss Furze; I cannot help it. I have
never loved any girl before. It is very foolish, for I am only her
father's journeyman; but that might be got over. She would not let
that stand in her way, I am sure. But, Mr. Cardew, I am not up to
her; she is strange to me. If I try to mention her subjects, what I
say is not right, and when I drove her home from Chapel Farm, and
admired the view I know she admired, she directly began to speak
about business, as if she did not wish to talk about better things;
perhaps it is because I never was taught. I had no schooling;
cannot you help me, sir? I shall never set eyes on anybody like
her. I would die this instant to save her a moment's pain."
Mr. Cardew was silent. It was characteristic of him that often when
he himself was most personally affected, the situation became an
object of reflection. What a strange pathos there was in this
recognition of superiority and in the inability to rise to it and
appropriate it! Then his thoughts turned to himself again, and the
flame shot up clear and strong, as if oil had been poured on the
fire. She understood him; she alone.
"I am very sorry for you, Mr. Catchpole, more sorry than I can tell
you. I will think over what you have said, and we will have another
talk about it. I must be going now."
Mr. Cardew, however, did not go towards Rectory Lane, but along the
side path. Tom mechanically accompanied him, but without speaking.
At last Mr. Cardew, finding that Tom did not leave him, retraced his
steps and went up the lane. In about two minutes they met Mrs.
"I wondered where you were. I was coming down to the ferry to look
for you, thinking that most likely you were there. Ah, Mr.
Catchpole! is that you? I am glad my husband has had company. Let
me go back and look at the water."
Tom stopped and took his leave.
The two went back to the river and sat on the seat.
Mrs. Cardew took her husband's hand in her own sweet way, kissed it,
and held it fast. At last, with a little struggle, she said -
"My dear, you have never preached--to me, at least--as you have
"You really mean it?"
She kissed his hand again, and leaned her head on his shoulder.
That was her reply. He clasped her tenderly, fervently, more than
fervently, and yet! while his mouth was on her neck, and his arms
were round her body, the face of Catharine presented itself, and it
was not altogether his wife whom he caressed.
Meanwhile Tom, pursuing his way homeward, overtook Miss Furze, to
his great surprise.
"Tom, where have you been?"
"I have just left Mr. and Mrs. Cardew."
Catharine, on her way home, hesitating--for it was Catharine whom
Tom and Mr. Cardew saw--had met Mrs. Cardew just about to leave the
"Why, Catharine! you here?"
"I was tempted by the night."
"Catharine, did you ever hear my husband preach better than he did
"I was so proud of him, and I was so happy, because just what
touched him touched me too. Come back with me: I know he has gone
to the ferry."
"No, thank you; it is late."
"I am sure he will see you home."
"I am sure he shall not. What! walk up to the Terrace after a day's
So they parted. What had passed between Catharine and Mrs. Cardew
when they lingered behind at the Rectory gate, God and they only
know, but what we call an accident prevented their meeting.
Accident! my friend Reuben told me the other day his marriage was an
accident. The more I think about accidents, the less do I believe
in them. By chance he had an invitation to go to Shott Woods one
afternoon, and there he saw the girl who afterwards became his wife
and the mother of children with a certain stamp upon them. They in
turn will have other children, all of them moulded after a fashion
which would have been different if his wife had been another woman.
Nay, THESE children would not have existed if this particular
marriage had not taken place. Thus the whole course of history is
altered, because of that little note and a casual encounter. But,
putting aside the theory of a God who ordains results absolutely
inevitable, although to us it seems as if they might have been
different, it may be observed that the attraction which drew Reuben
to his dear Camilla was not quite fortuitous. What decided her to
go? It was perfect autumn weather; it was just the time of year she
most loved; there would be no crowding or confusion, for many people
had gone away to the seaside, and so she was delighted at the
thought of the picnic. What decided him to go? The very same
reasons. They had both been to Shott during the season, and he had
talked and laughed there with some delightful creatures before she
crossed his path and held him for ever. Why had he waited? Why had
she waited? We have discarded Providence as our forefathers
believed in it; but nevertheless there is a providence without the
big P, if we choose so to spell it, and yet surely deserving it as
much as the Providence of theology, a non-theological Providence
which watches over us and leads us. It appears as instinct
prompting us to do this and not to do that, to decide this way or
that way when we have no consciously rational ground for decision,
to cleave to this person and shun the other, almost before knowing
anything of either: it has been recognised in all ages under
various forms as Demon, Fate, or presiding Genius. But still
further. Suppose they both went to Shott Woods idly; suppose--which
was not the case--they had never heard of one another before, is it
not possible that they were brought together by a law as unevadable
as gravity? There would be nothing more miraculous in such
attraction than there is in that thread which the minutest atom of
gas in the Orion nebula extends across billions of miles to the
minutest atom of dust on the road under my window. However, be all
this as it may, it would be wrong to say that the meeting between
Catharine and Mr. Cardew was prevented by accident. She loitered:
she went up Fosbrooke Street: if she had gone straight to Mr.
Cardew she might have been with him before Tom met him. Tom would
not have interrupted them, for he ventured to speak to Mr. Cardew
merely because he was alone, and Mrs. Cardew would not have
interrupted them, for they would have gone further afield. Tom's
appearance even was not an accident, but a thread carefully woven,
one may say, in the web that night.
"I saw you at church to-night, Miss Catharine," said Tom, as they
"Why did you go? You do not usually go to church."
"I thought I should like to hear Mr. Cardew, and I am very glad I
"Are you? What did you think of him? Did you like him?"
"Oh, yes; it was all true; but what he said about Christ the
Mediator was so clearly put."
"You did not care for the rest then?"
"I did indeed, Miss Catharine, but it is just the same with our
minister; I get along with him so much better when he seems to
follow the catechism, but"--he looked up in her face--"I know that
is not what you cared for. Oh, Miss Catharine," he cried suddenly,
and quite altering his voice and manner, "I do not know when I shall
have another chance; I hardly dare tell you; you won't spurn me,
will you? My father was a poor workman; I was nothing better, and
should have been nothing better if it had not been for you; all my
schooling almost I have done myself; I know nothing compared with
what you know; but, Miss Catharine, I love you to madness: I have
loved no woman but you; never looked at one, I may say. Do you
remember when you rode home with me from Chapel Farm? I have lived
on it ever since. You are far above me: things come and speak to
you which I don't see. If you would teach me I should soon see them
Catharine was silent, and perfectly calm. At last she said -
"My dear Tom."
Tom shuddered at the tone.
"No, Miss Catharine, don't say it now; think a little; don't cast me
off in a moment."
"My dear Tom, I may as well say it now, for what I ought to say is
as clear as that moon in the sky. I can NEVER love you as a wife
ought to love her husband."
"Oh, Miss Catharine! you despise me, you despise me! Why in God's
name?" Tom rose above himself, and became such another self that
Catharine was amazed and half staggered. "Why in God's name did He
make you and me after such a fashion, that you are the one person in
the world able to save me, and you cannot! Why did He do this! Why
did He put me where I saw you every day and torment me with the hope
of you, knowing that you would have nothing to do with me! He
maimed my father and made him a beggar: He prevented me from
learning what would have made me fit for you, and then He drove me
to worship you. Do not say 'never'!"
They were close to her father's door at the Terrace. She stopped,
looked at him sadly, but decisively, straight in the face, and said
"Never! never! Never your lover, but your best friend for ever,"
and she opened the gate and disappeared.
Mr. and Mrs. Furze were not disturbed because their daughter was
late. A neighbour told them that she had gone to the Rectory with
Mr. and Mrs. Cardew, and Mrs. Furze was pleased that Eastthorpe
should behold her daughter apparently on intimate terms with a
clergyman so well known and so respectable. But it was ten o'clock,
and they wished to be in bed. Mrs. Furze had gone to the window,
and had partly pushed aside the blind, watching till Catharine
should appear. Just as the clock struck she saw Catharine
approaching with somebody whom she of course took for Mr. Cardew.
The pair came nearer, and, to her astonishment, she recognised Tom.
Nay more, she saw the couple halt near the gate, and that Tom was
speaking very earnestly. Mrs. Furze was so absorbed that she did
not recover herself until the interview was at an end, and before
she could say a word to her husband, who was asleep in the arm-
chair, her daughter was at the door. Mrs. Furze went to open it.
"Why, Catharine, that surely wasn't Tom!"
"Yes, it was, mother. Why not?"
"To-om!" half shrieked Mrs. Furze.
"Yes, Tom: I suppose father has gone to bed? Good-night, mother,"
and Catharine kissed her on the forehead and went upstairs.
Mrs. Furze shut the door and rushed into the room.
"My dear! my dear!" shaking him, "Catharine has come, and Tom
brought her, and they stood ever so long talking to one another."
Mr. Furze roused himself and took a little brandy-and-water.
"Rubbish! it's all very well for you to say 'rubbish' when you've
been snoring there!"
"Well, where is she? Make her come in; let us hear what she has to
"She's gone to bed. Now take my advice: don't speak to her to-
night, but wait till to-morrow; you know what she is, and you had
better think a bit."
Mrs. Furze, notwithstanding her excitement, dreaded somewhat
attacking Catharine without preparation.
"There's no mistake about it," observed Mr. Furze, rousing himself,
"that I have had my suspicions of Master Tom, but I never thought it
would come to this; nor that Catharine would have anything to say to
him. It was she, though, who said I could not do without him."
"It was she," added Mrs. Furze, "who always stuck out against our
coming up here, and was rude to Mrs. Colston and her son. I do not
blame her so much, though, as I do that wretch of a Catchpole. What
he wants is plain enough: he'll marry her and have the business,
the son of a blind beggar who used to go on errands! Oh me! to
think it has come to this, that my only child should be the wife of
a pauper's son, and we've struggled so hard! What will the Colstons
say, and all the church folk, and all the town, for the matter of
Here Mrs. Furze threw herself down in a chair and became hysterical.
Poor woman! she really cared for Catharine, loved her in a way, and
was horrified for her sake at the supposed engagement, but her
desire for her daughter's welfare was bound up with a desire for her
own, a strand of one interlaced with a strand of the other, so that
they could not be separated. It might be said that the union of the
two impulses was even more intimate, that it was like a mixture of
two liquids. There was no conflict in her. She was not selfish at
one moment, and unselfishly anxious for her child the next; but she
was both together at the same instant, the particular course on
which she might determine satisfying both instincts.
Mr. Furze unfastened his wife's gown and stay-laces, and gave her a
stimulant. Presently, after directing him with a gasp to open the
window, she recovered herself.
"I'll discharge Mr. Tom at once," said her husband, "and tell him
"Now, don't be stupid, Furze; pull down that blind, will you? Fancy
leaving it up, and the moon staring straight down upon me half
undressed! Don't you admit anything of the kind to Tom. I would
not let him believe you could suspect it. Besides, if you were to
dismiss him for a such a reason as that, you would make Catharine
all the more obstinate, and the whole town would hear of it, and we
should perhaps be laughed at, and lots of people would take Tom's
part and say we might go farther and fare worse, and were stuck up,
and all that, for we must remember that all the Furzes were of
humble origin, and Eastthorpe knows it. No, no, we will get rid of
Tom, but it shall not be because of Catharine--something better than
that--you leave it to me."
"Well, how about Catharine?"
"We will have her in to-morrow morning, when we are not so flurried.
I always like to talk to her just after breakfast if there is
anything wrong; but do not you say a word to Tom."
Mrs. Furze took another sip of the brandy-and-water and went to bed.
Mr. Furze shut the window, mixed a little more brandy-and-water,
and, as he drank it, reflected deeply. Most vividly did that
morning come back to him when he had once before decided to eject
"I do not know how it is with other people," he groaned, "but
whenever I have settled on a thing something is sure to turn up
against it, and I never know what to be at for the best. My head,
too, is not quite what it used to be. Half a dozen worries at once
do muddle me. If they would but come, one up and one down, nobody
could beat me." He took another sip of the brandy-and-water. "Want
of practice--that's all. I have been an idiot to let him do so
much. He shall go"; and Mr. Furze put out the candles.
Catharine was down before either her father or mother, and stood at
the window reading when her father came in. She bade him good
morning and kissed him, but he was ill at ease, and pretended to
look for something on the side-table. He felt he was not
sufficiently supported by the main strength of his forces; he was
afraid to speak, and he retreated to his bedroom, sitting down
disconsolately on a rush-bottom chair whilst his wife dressed
"She's there already," he said.
"Then it is as well you came back."
"I think you had better begin with her; you are her mother, and we
will wait till breakfast is over. Perhaps she will say something to
us. How had we better set about it?"
"I shall ask her straight what she means."
"How shall we go on then?"
"How shall we go on then? What! won't YOU have a word to put in
about her marrying a fellow like that, your own servant with such a
father? And how are they to live, pray? Am I to have him up here
to tea with us, and is Phoebe to answer the front door when they
knock, and is she to wait upon him, HIM who always goes down the
area steps to the kitchen? I do not believe Phoebe would stop a
month, for with all her faults she does like a respectable family.
And then, if they go to church, are they to have our pew, and is
Mrs. Colston to call on me and say, 'How is Catharine, and how is
your SON-IN-LAW?' And then--oh dear, oh dear!--is his father to
come here too, and is Catharine to bring him, and is he to be at the
wedding breakfast? And perhaps Mrs. Colston will inquire after him
too. But there, I shall not survive THAT! Oh! Catharine,
Mrs. Furze dropped on the chair opposite the looking-glass, for she
was arranging her back hair while this monologue was proceeding,
although the process was interrupted here and there when her
emotions got the better of her. Her hair fell into confusion again,
and it seemed as if she would again be upset even at that early
hour. Her husband gave her a smelling-bottle, and she slowly
recommenced her toilette.
"Would it not," he said, "be as well to try and soften her a bit,
and remind her of her duty to her parents?"
"You might finish up with that, but I don't believe she'd care; and
what are we to do if she owns it all and sticks out? That's what I
want to know."
Mr. Furze was silent.
"There you sit, Furze; you ARE provoking! Pick up that hairpin,
will you? You always sit and sit whenever there's any difficulty.
You never go beyond what I have in my own head, and when I DO stir
you up to think it is sure to be something of no use."
"I'll do anything you want," said the pensive husband as his wife
rose and put on her cap. "I've told you before I'll get rid of Tom,
and then perhaps it will all come round!"
"At it again! What DID I tell you last night?--and yet you go on
with your old tune. All come round, indeed! Would it! She's your
daughter, but you don't know her as I do."
Here there came a tap at the door. It was Phoebe: Miss Catharine
sent her to say it was a quarter-past eight: should she make the
"Look at that!" said Mrs. Furze: "shall she make the coffee!--after
what has happened! That's the kind of girl she is. It strikes me
you had better have nothing to do with her and leave her to me."
Phoebe tapped again.
"Certainly not," replied Mrs. Furze. "I'll begin," she added to her
husband, "by letting her know that at least I am not dead."
"We'll, we'd better go. You just tackle her, and I'll chime in."
The couple descended, but their plan of campaign was not very
clearly elaborated, and even the one or two lines of assault which
Mrs. Furze had prepared turned out to be useless. It is all very
well to decide what is to be done with a human being if the human
being will but comport himself in a fairly average manner, but if he
will not the plan is likely to fail.
Mr. Furze was very restless during his meal. He went to the window
two or three times, and returned with the remark that it was going
to be wet; but the observation was made in a low, mumbling tone.
Mrs. Furze was also fidgety, and, in reply to her daughter's
questions, complained of headache, and wondered that Catharine could
not see that she had had no sleep. At last the storm broke.
"Catharine!" said Mrs. Furze, "it WAS Tom, then, who came home with
you last night."
"It was Tom, mother."
"Tom! What do you mean, child? How--how did he--where did you meet
Mr. Furze retired from the table, where the sun fell full upon him,
and sat in the easy chair, where he was more in the shade.
"He overtook me somewhere near the Rectory."
"Now, Catharine, don't answer your mother like that," interposed Mr.
Furze; "you know what you heard, or might have heard, last Sunday
morning, that prevarication is very much like a lie; why don't you
speak out the truth?"
Catharine was silent for a moment.
"I have answered exactly the question mother asked."
"Catharine, you know perfectly well what I mean," said Mrs. Furze;
"what is the use of pretending you do not! Tom would never dare to
walk with you in a public street, and at night, too, if there were
not something more than you like to say. Tom Catchpole! whose
father sold laces on the bridge; and to think of all we have done
for you, and the money we have spent on you, and the pains we have
taken to bring you up respectably! I will not say anything about
religion, and all that, for I daresay that is nothing to YOU, but
you might have had some consideration for your mother, especially in
her weak state of health, before you broke her heart, and yet I
blame myself, for you always had low tastes--going to Bellamy's, and
consorting with people of that kind rather than with your mother's
friends. Do you suppose Mrs. Colston will come near us again! And
it all comes of trying to do one's best, for there's Carry Hawkins,
only a grocer's daughter, who never had a sixpence spent on her
compared with what you have, and she is engaged to Carver, the
doctor at Cambridge. Oh, it's a serpent's tooth, it is, and if we
had never scraped and screwed for you, and denied ourselves, but
left you to yourself, you might have been better; oh dear, oh dear!"
Catharine held her tongue. She saw instantly that if she denied any
engagement with Tom she would not be believed, and that in any case
Tom would have to depart. Moreover, one of her defects was a
certain hardness to persons for whom she had small respect, and she
did not understand that just because Mrs. Furze was her mother, she
owed her at least deference, and, if possible, a tenderness due to
no other person. However weak, foolish, and even criminal parents
may be, a child ought to honour them as Moses commanded, for the
injunction is, and should be, entirely unconditional.
"Catharine," said Mr. Furze, "why do you not answer your mother?"
"I cannot; I had better leave."
She opened the door and went to her room. After she had left
further debate arose, and three points were settled: First, that no
opposition should be offered to a visit to Chapel Farm, which had
been proposed for the next day, as she would be better at the Farm
than at the Terrace; secondly, that Tom and she were in love with
one another; and thirdly, that not a word should be said to Tom.
"Leave that to me," said Mrs. Furze again. Although she saw nothing
distinctly, a vague, misty hope dawned upon her, the possibility of
something she could not yet discern, and, notwithstanding the blow
she had received, she was decidedly more herself within an hour
after breakfast than she had been during the twelve hours preceding.
In Mr. Furze's establishment was a man who went by the name of Orkid
Jim, "Orkid" signifying the general contradictoriness and
awkwardness of his temper. He had a brother who was called Orkid
Joe, in the employ of a builder in the town, but it was the general
opinion that Orkid Jim was much the orkider of the two. He was a
person with whom Mr. Furze seldom interfered. He was, it is true, a
good workman in the general fitting department, in setting grates,
and for jobs of that kind, but he was impertinent and disobedient.
Mr. Furze, however, tolerated his insults, and generally allowed him
to have his own way. He was not only afraid of Orkid Jim, but he
was a victim to that unhappy dread of a quarrel which is the torment
and curse of weak minds. It is, no doubt, very horrible to see a
man trample upon opinions and feelings as easily and carelessly as
he would upon the grass, and go on his way undisturbed, but it is
more painful to see faltering, trembling incapacity for self-
assertion, especially before subordinates. Mr. Furze could not have
suffered more than two or three days' inconvenience if Orkid Jim had
been discharged, but a vague terror haunted him of something which
might possibly happen. Partly this distressing weakness is due to
the absence of a clear conviction that we are right; it is an
intellectual difficulty; but frequently it is simple mushiness of
character, the same defect which tempts us, when we know a thing is
true, to whittle it down if we meet with opposition, and to refrain
from presenting it in all its sharpness. Cowardice of this kind is
not only injustice to ourselves, but to our friends. We inflict a
grievous wrong by compromise. We are responsible for what we see,
and the denial or the qualification should be left to take care of
itself. Our duty is, if possible, to give a distinct outline to
what we have in our mind. It is easy to say we should not be
obstinate, pigheaded, and argue for argument's sake. That is true,
just as much as every half truth is true, but the other half is also
Mr. Furze, excepting when he was out of temper, never stood up to
Orkid Jim. He needed the stimulus of passion to do what ought to
have been done by reason, and when we cannot do what is right save
under the pressure of excitement it is generally misdone. Orkid Jim
had a great dislike to Tom, which he took no pains to conceal. It
was difficult to ascertain the cause, but partly it was jealousy.
Tom had got before him. This, however, was not all. It was a case
of pure antipathy, such as may often be observed amongst animals.
Some dogs are the objects of special hatred by others, and are
immediately attacked by them, before any cause of offence can
possibly have been given.
Jim had called at the Terrace on the morning after the explosion
with Catharine. He came to replace a cracked kitchen boiler, and
Mrs. Furze, for some reason or other, felt inclined to go down to
the kitchen and have some talk with him. She knew how matters stood
between him and Tom.
"Well, Jim, how are you getting on now? I have not seen you
"No, marm, I ain't one as comes to the front much now."
"What do you mean? I suppose you might if you liked. I am sure Mr.
Furze values you highly."
Jim was cautious and cunning; not inclined to commit himself. He
consequently replied by an "Ah," and knocked with great energy at
the brickwork from which he was detaching the range.
"Anything been the matter then, Jim?"
"No, marm; nothing's the matter."
"You have not quarrelled with Mr. Furze, I hope? You do not seem
"Me quarrel with Mr. Furze, marm!--no, I never quarrel with HIM.
He's a gentleman, he is."
Mrs. Furze was impatient. She wanted to come to the point, and
could not wait to manoeuvre.
"I am afraid you and Tom do not get on together."
"Well, Mrs. Furze, if we don't it ain't my fault."
"No, I dare say not; in fact, I am sure it is not. I dare say Tom
is a little overbearing. Considering his origin, and the position
he now occupies, it is natural he should be."
"He ain't one as ought to give himself airs, marm. Why--"
Jim all at once dropped his chisel and his mask of indifference and
flashed into ferocity.
"Why, my father was a tradesman, he was, and I was in your husband's
foundry earning a pound a week when Master Tom was in rags. Who
taught him I should like to know?"
"Jim, you must not talk like that; although, to tell you the truth,
Tom is no favourite of mine. Mr. Furze, however, relies on him."
"Relies on him, does he? Leastways, I know he does; just as if
scores of others couldn't do jist as well, only they 'aven't 'ad his
chance! Relies on him, as yer call it! But there, if I wur to
speak, wot 'ud be the use?"
It is always a consolation to incapable people that their lack of
success is due to the absence of chances. From the time of Korah,
Dathan, and Abiram--who accused Moses and Aaron of taking too much
upon themselves, because every man in the congregation was as holy
as his God-selected leaders--it has been a theory, one may even say
a religion, with those who have been passed over, that their sole
reason for their super-session is an election as arbitrary as that
by the Antinomian deity, who, out of pure wilfulness, gives
opportunities to some and denies them to others.
"What do you mean, Jim? What is it that you see?"
"You'll excuse me, missus, if I says no more. I ain't a-goin' to
meddle with wot don't concern me, and get myself into trouble for
nothing: wot for, I should like to know? Wot good would it do me?"
"But, Jim, if you are aware of anything wrong it is your duty to
"Maybe it is, maybe it isn't; but wot thanks should I get?"
"You would get my thanks and the thanks of Mr. Furze, I am sure.
Look here, Jim." Mrs. Furze rose and shut the kitchen door. Phoebe
was upstairs, but she thought it necessary to take every precaution.
"I know you may be trusted, and therefore I do not mind speaking to
you. Tom's conduct has not been very satisfactory of late. I need
not go into particulars, but I shall really be glad if you will
communicate to me anything you may observe which is amiss. You may
depend upon it you shall not suffer."
She put two half-crowns into Jim's hand. He turned and looked at
her with one eye partly shut, and a curious expression on his face--
half smile, half suspicion. He then looked at the money for a few
seconds and put it deliberately in his pocket, but without any sign
"I'll bear wot you say in mind," he replied.
At this instant the kitchen door opened, and Phoebe entered. Mrs.
Furze went on with the conversation immediately, but it took a
"How do you think the old boiler became cracked?" He was taken
aback; his muddled brain did not quite comprehend the situation, but
at last he managed to stammer out that he did not know, and Mrs.
Jim was very slow in arranging his thoughts, especially after a
sudden surprise. A shock, or a quick intellectual movement on the
part of anybody in contact with him, paralysed him, and he recovered
and extended himself very gradually. Presently, however, his wits
returned, and he concluded that the pretext of the shop and business
mismanagement was but very partially the cause of Mrs. Furze's
advances. He knew that although Mr. Furze was restive under Tom's
superior capacity, there was no doubt whatever of his honesty and
ability. Besides, if it was business, why did the mistress
interfere? Why did she thrust herself upon him?--"coming down 'ere
a purpose," thought Mr. Orkid Jim. "No, no, it ain't business,"
and, delighted with his discovery so far, and with the conscious
exercise of mental power, he smote the bricks with more vigour than
"Good-bye, Phoebe," said Catharine, looking in at the door.
"Good-bye, Miss," said Phoebe, running out; "hope you'll enjoy
yourself: I wish I were going with you."
"Where is she a-goin'?" asked Jim, when Phoebe returned.
"Oh, is she? Wot, goin' there agin! She's oftener there than here.
Not much love lost 'twixt her and the missus, is there?"
Phoebe was uncommunicative, and went on with her work.
"I say, Phoebe, has Catchpole been up here lately?"
"Why do you want to know? What is it to you?"
"Now, my beauty, wot is it to me? Why, in course it's nothin' to
me; but you know he's been here."
"Well, then, he hasn't."
Phoebe, going to bed, had seen Tom and Catharine outside the gate.
"Wy, now, I myself see'd 'im out the night afore last, and I'd swear
he come this way afore he went home."
"He did not come in; he only brought Miss Catharine back from
church: she'd gone there alone."
Jim dropped his chisel. The three events presented themselves
together--Tom's escort of Catharine, the interview with Mrs. Furze,
and the departure to Chapel Farm. He was excited, and his
excitement took the form of a sudden passion for Phoebe.
"You're ten times too 'ansom for that chap," he cried, and turning
suddenly, he caught her with one arm round her waist. She strove to
release herself with great energy, and in the struggle he caught his
foot in his tool basket and fell on the floor, cutting his head
severely with a brick. Phoebe was out of the kitchen in an instant.
"You damned cat!" growled he, "I'll be even with you and your Master
Tom! I know all about it now."
As Jim walked home to his dinner he became pensive. He was under a
kind of pledge to his own hatred and to Mrs. Furze to produce
something against Tom, and he had nothing. Even he could see that
to make up a charge would not be safe. It required more skill than
he possessed. The opportunity, however, very soon came. Destiny
delights in offering to the wicked chances of damning themselves.
It was a few days before the end of the quarter. The builder--in
whose service Jim's brother, Joe, was--sent Joe to pay a small
account for ironmongery, which had been due for some weeks. When he
entered the shop Tom was behind his desk, and Jim was taking some
instructions about a job. Mr. Furze was out. Joe produced his
bill, threw it across to Tom, and pulled the money out of his
pocket. It was also market day; the town was crowded, and just at
that moment Mr. Eaton drove by. Tom looked out of the window on his
left hand and saw the horse shy at something in the cattle pens,
pitching Mr. Eaton out. Without saying a word he rushed round the
counter and out into the street, the two men, who had not seen the
accident, thinking he had gone to speak to Mr. Eaton. He was absent
"A nice sort of a chap, this," said Jim; "he's signed your bill, and
he ain't got the money."
"S'pose I must wait, then."
"Look 'ere, Joe: don't you be a b---y fool! You take your account.
If he writes his name afore he's paid, that's HIS look-out."
"Wot are you a-starin' at? You've got the receipt, ain't yer?
Isn't that enough? You ain't a-robbin' of him, for you never giv
him the money, and I tell yer agin as he's the one as ought to lose
if he don't look sharp arter people. That's square enough, ain't
Joe had a remarkably open mind to reasoning of this description,
and, without another word, he took up the bill and was off. Jim
also thought it better to return to the foundry. Mr. Eaton,
happily, was not injured, for he fell on a truss of straw, but the
excitement was great; and, when Tom returned, Joe's visit completely
went out of his head, and did not occur to him again, for two or
three customers were waiting for him, and, as already observed, it
was market day.
Now, it was Mr. Furze's practice always to make out his accounts
himself. It was a pure waste of time, for he would have been much
better employed in looking after his men, and any boy could have
transcribed his ledger. But no, it was characteristic of the man
that he preferred this occupation--that he took the utmost pains to
write his best copybook hand, and to rule red-ink lines with
mathematical accuracy. Two days after the quarter a bill went to
the builder, beginning, "To account delivered." The builder was
astonished, and instantly posted down to the shop, receipt in hand,
signed, "For J. Furze, T. C." Mr. Furze looked at his ledger again,
called for the day-book, found no entry, and then sent for Tom. The
history of that afternoon flashed across him in an instant.
"That's your signature, Mr. Catchpole," said Mr. Furze.
"But here's no entry in the day-book, and, what's more, there
weren't thirty shillings that night in the till."
"I cannot account for it, unless I signed the receipt before I had
the money. It was just when Mr. Eaton's accident happened, and I
ran out of the shop while Joe was waiting. When I came back he had
"Which is as much as to say," said the builder, "that Joe's a thief.
You'd better be careful, young man."
"Well, Mr. Humphries," said Mr. Furze, loftily, "we will not detain
you: there is clearly a mistake somewhere; we will credit you at
once with the amount due for the previous quarter, and if you will
give me your account I will correct it now."
Mr. Furze took it, and ruled through the first line, altering the
"This is very unpleasant, Mr. Catchpole," observed Mr. Furze, after
the builder had departed. "Was there anybody in the shop besides
yourself and Joe?"
"Jim was there."
Mr. Furze rang a bell, and Jim presently appeared. "Jim, were you
in the shop when your brother came to pay Mr. Humphries' bill about
a week ago?"
"Did he pay it? did you see him hand over the money?"
"I did, and Mr. Catchpole took it and put it in the till. I see'd
it go in with my own eyes."
"Well, what happened then?"
"He locked the till all in a hurry, put the key in his waistcoat
pocket; let me see, it wor in his left-hand pocket--no, wot am I a-
sayin'?--it wor in his right-hand pocket--I want to be particklar,
Mr. Furze--and then he run out of the shop. Joe, he took up his
receipt, and he says, says he, 'He might a given me the odd penny,'
and says I, 'He ain't Mr. Furze, he can't give away none of the
guvnor's money. If it wor the guvnor himself he'd a done it,' and
with that we went out of the shop together."
"That will do, Jim; you can go."
"Mr. Catchpole, this assumes a very--I may say--painful aspect."
"I can only repeat, sir, that I have not had the money. It is
inexplicable. I may have been robbed."
"But there is no entry in the day-book."
It did not occur to Tom at the moment to plead that if he was
dishonest he would have contrived not to be so in such a singularly
silly fashion: that he might have taken cash paid for goods bought,
and that the possibility of discovery would have been much smaller.
He was stunned.
"It is so painful," continued Mr. Furze, "that I must have time to
reflect. I will talk to you again about it to-morrow."
The truth was that Mr. Furze wished to consult his wife. When he
went home his first news was what had happened, but he forgot to
mention the corroboration by Jim.
"But," said Mrs. Furze, "Joe may have been mistaken; perhaps, after
all, he did not pay the money."
"Ah! but Jim was in the shop at the time. I had Jim in, and he
swears that he saw Joe give it to Tom, and that Tom put it in the
Mrs. Furze seemed a little uncomfortable, but she soon recovered.
"We ought to have proof beyond all doubt of Tom's dishonesty. I do
not see that this is proof. At any rate, it would not satisfy
Catharine. I should wait a month. It is of no use making two faces
about this business; we must take one line or the other. I should
tell him that, on reconsideration, you cannot bring yourself to
suspect him; that you have perfect confidence in him, and that there
must be some mistake somewhere, though you cannot at present see
how. That will throw him off his guard."
Mr. Furze acknowledged the superiority of his wife's intellect and
obeyed. Tom came to work on the following morning in a state of
great excitement, and with an offer of restitution, but was
appeased, and Orkid Jim, appearing in the shop, was astonished and
dismayed to find Tom and his master on the same footing as before.
He went up to the Terrace, the excuse being that he called to see
how the new boiler was going on. Phoebe came to the door, but he
wanted to see the mistress.
"What do you want her for? She knows nothing about the boiler. It
is all right, I tell you."
"Never you mind. It wor she as give me the directions, worn't it,
when I was 'ere afore?"
Accordingly the mistress appeared, and Phoebe, remaining in the
kitchen, was sent upstairs upon some important business, much
cogitating upon the unusual interest Mrs. Furze took in the kitchen
range, and the evident desire on her part that her instructions to
Jim should be private.
"Well, Jim, the boiler is all right."
"That's more nor some things are."
"Why, what has happened?"
"I s'pose you know. Joe paid Humphries' bill, and Mr. Catchpole
swears he never had the money, but Joe's got his receipt."
"You were in the shop and saw it paid?"
"Of course I was. I s'pose you heerd that too?"
"Yes. We do not think, however, that the case is clear, and we
shall do nothing this time."
"I don't know wot you'd 'ave, Mrs. Furze. If this ere ain't worth
the five shillin' yer gave me, nothin' is--that's all I've got to
"But, Jim, you must see we cannot do anything unless the proof is
complete. Now, if there should happen to be a second instance, that
would be a different thing altogether."
"It ain't very comfortable for ME."
"What do you mean? Mr. Furze sent for you, and you told him what
you saw with your own eyes."
"Ah! you'd better mind wot you're sayin', Mrs. Furze, and you
needn't put it in that way. Jist you look 'ere: I ain't very
particklar myself, I ain't, but it may come to takin' my oath, and,
to tell yer the truth, five shillin' don't pay me."
"But we are not going to prosecute."
"No, not now, but you may, and I shall have to stick to it, and
maybe have to be brought up. Besides, it was put straight to me by
the guvnor and Mr. Tom was there a-lookin' at me right in my face.
As I say, five shillin' don't pay me."
"Well, we shall not let the matter drop. We shall keep our eyes
open: you may be sure of that, Jim. I dare say you have been
worried over the business. Here's another five shillings for you."
Again Jim refrained from thanking her, but slowly put on his cap and
left the house.
Mr. Furze tried several experiments during the next two or three
weeks. It was his custom to look after his shop when Tom went to
his meals, and on those rare occasions when he had to go out during
Tom's absence, Orkid Jim acted as a substitute. Whenever Mr. Furze
found a sovereign in the till he quietly marked it with his knife or
a filet but it was invariably handed over to him in the evening. On
a certain Wednesday afternoon, Tom being at his dinner, Mr. Furze
was summoned to the Bell by a message from Mr. Eaton, and Jim was
ordered to come immediately. He usually went round to the front
door. He preferred to walk down the lane from the foundry, and when
the back rooms were living rooms, passage through them was of course
As the summons, however, was urgent, he came the shortest way, and,
looking in through the window which let in some borrowed light from
the back of the shop to the warehouse behind, he saw Mr. Furze,
penknife in hand, at the till. Wondering what he could be doing,
Jim watched him for a moment. As soon as Mr. Furze's back was
turned he went to the till, took out a sovereign which was in it,
closely examined it, discovered a distinct though faint cross at the
back of his Majesty George the Third's head, pondered a moment, and
then put the coin back again. He looked very abstruse, rubbed his
chin, and finally smiled after his fashion. Tom's shop coat and
waistcoat were hung up just inside the counting-house. Jim went to
them and turned the waistcoat pockets inside out. To put the
sovereign in an empty pocket would be dangerous. Tom would discover
it as soon as he returned, and would probably inform Mr. Furze at
once. A similar test for the future would then be impossible. Jim
thought of a better plan, and it was strange that so slow a brain
was so quick to conceive it. Along one particular line, however,
that brain, otherwise so dull, was even rapid in its movements. It
was Mr. Furze's practice to pay wages at half-past five on Saturday
afternoon, and he paid them himself. He generally went to his tea
at six on that day, Tom waiting till he returned. On the following
Saturday at half-past six Jim came into the shop.
"I met Eaton's man a minute ago as I wur goin' 'ome. He wanted to
see the guvnor particklar, he said."
This was partly true, but the "particklar" was not true.
"I told him the guvnor warn't in, but you was there. He said he was
goin' to the Bell, but he'd call again if he had time. You'd better
go and see wot it is."
Tom took off his black apron and his shop coat and waistcoat, put
them up in the usual place, and went out, leaving Jim in charge.
Jim instantly went to the till. There were several sovereigns in
it, for it had been a busy day. He turned them over, and again
recognised the indubitable cross. With a swift promptitude utterly
beyond his ordinary self, he again went to Tom's waistcoat--Tom
always put gold in his waistcoat pocket--took out a sovereign of the
thirty shillings there, put it in his own pocket, and replaced it by
the marked sovereign. Just before the shop closed, the cash was
taken to Mr. Furze. He tied it carefully in a bag, carried it home,
turned it over, and the sovereign was absent. Meanwhile Orkid Jim
had begun to reflect that the chain of evidence was not complete.
He knew Tom's habits perfectly, and one of them was to buy his
Sunday's dinner on Saturday night. He generally went to a small
butcher near his own house. Jim followed him, having previously
exchanged his own sovereign for twenty shillings in silver. As soon
as Tom had left the butcher's shop Jim walked in. He was well
"Mr. Butterfield, you 'aven't got a sovereign, 'ave you, as you
could give me for twenty shillings in silver?"
"Well, that's a rum 'un, Mr. Jim: generally it's t'other way: you
want the silver for the gold. Besides, we don't take many
sovereigns here--we ain't like people in the High Street."
"Mr. Butterfield, it's jist this: we've 'ad overwork at the
guvnor's, and I'm a-goin' to put a sovereign by safe come next
Whitsuntide, when I'm a-goin' to enjoy myself. I don't get much
enjoyment, Mr. Butterfield, but I mean to 'ave it then."
"All right, Mr. Jim. I've only two sovereigns, and there they are.
There's a bran-new one, and there's the other."
"I don't like bran-new nothin's, Mr. Butterfield. I ain't a
Radical, I ain't. Why, I've seed in my time an election last a
week, and beer a-runnin' down the gutters. It was the only chance a
poor man 'ad. Wot sort of a chance 'as he got now? There's nothin'
to be 'ad now unless yer sweat for it: that's Radicalism, that is,
and if I 'ad my way I'd upset the b---y Act, and all the lot of 'em.
No, thank yer, Mr. Butterfield, I'll 'ave the old sovereign; where
did he come from now, I wonder."
"Come from? Why, from your shop. Mr. Catchpole has just paid it
me. You needn't go a-turnin' of it over and a-smellin' at it, Mr.
Jim; it's as good as you are."
"Good! I worn't a-thinking' about that. I wor jist a-looking at
the picter of his blessed Majesty King George the Third, and the way
he wore his wig. Kewrus, ain't it? Now, somebody's been and
scratched 'im jist on the neck. Do yer see that ere cross?"
"You seem awful suspicious, Mr. Jim. Give it me back again. I
don't want you to have it."
"Lord! suspicious! Ere's your twenty shillin's, Mr. Butterfield. I
wish I'd a 'undred sovereigns as good as this." And Mr. Jim
Mr. Furze lost no time in communicating his discovery to his wife.
"Furze," she said, "you're a fool: where's the sovereign? You
haven't got it, but how are you to prove now that he has got it? We
are just where we were before. You ought to have taxed him with it
at once, and have had him searched."
Mr. Furze was crestfallen, and made no reply. The next morning at
church he was picturing to himself incessantly the dreadful moment
when he would have to do something so totally unlike anything he had
ever done before.
On the Sunday afternoon Jim appeared at the Terrace, and Phoebe, who
was not very well, and was at home, announced that he wished to see
"What can the man want? Tell him I will come down."
"I think," said Mrs. Furze, "Jim had better come up here."
Mr. Furze was surprised, but, as Phoebe was waiting, he said
nothing, and Jim came up.
"Beg pardon for interruptin' yer on Sunday arternoon, but I've 'eerd
as yer ain't satisfied with Mr. Catchpole, and I thought I'd jist
tell yer as soon as I could as yesterday arternoon, while I was
mindin' the shop, and he was out, I 'ad to go to the till, and it
jist so 'appened, as I was a-givin' change, I was a-lookin' at a
George the Third sovereign there, and took particklar notice of it.
There was a mark on it. That werry sovereign was changed by Mr.
Catchpole at Butterfield's that night, and 'ere it is. I 'ad to go
in there, as I wanted a sovereign for a lot of silver, and he giv it
"Can Butterfield swear that Catchpole gave it him?" said Mrs. Furze,
"Of course he can, marm; that's jist wot I asked him."
"That will do, Jim; you can go," said Mrs. Furze.
Jim looked at her, loitered, played with his cap, and seemed
unwilling to leave.
"I'm comm' up to-morrow mornin', marm, just to 'ave one more look at
that biler." He then walked out.
"I suppose I must prosecute now," said Mr. Furze.
"Prosecute! Nothing of the kind. What is your object? It is to
get rid of him, and let Catharine see what he is. Suppose you
prosecute and break down, where will you be, I should like to know?
If you succeed, you won't be a bit better off than you are now.
Discharge him. Everybody will know why, and will say how kind and
forgiving you are, and Catharine cannot say we have been harsh to
Mr. Furze was uneasy. He had a vague feeling that everything was
not quite right; but he said nothing, and mutely assented to his
"Then I am to give him notice to-morrow?"
"You cannot keep him after what has happened. You must give him a
week's wages and let him go."
"Who is to take his place?"
"Why do you not try Jim? He is rough, it is true, but he knows the
shop. He can write well enough for that work, and all you want is
somebody to be there when you are out."
Mr. Furze shuddered. That was not all he wanted, but he had hardly
allowed himself, as we have already seen, to confess his weakness.
"It might be as well, perhaps," added Mrs. Furze, "to have Tom up
to-morrow and talk to him here."
"That will be much better."
It was now tea-time, and immediately afterwards Mr. and Mrs. Furze
went to church.
Soon after nine on the following morning, and before Mr. Furze had
left, Jim appeared with another request "to see the missus."
"I'll go downstairs," she said. "He wants to see me about the
There was nobody but Jim in the kitchen.
"What have you got to say?"
"No, marm, it's wot 'ave you got to say?"
"It is very shocking about Mr. Catchpole, is it not? But, then, we
are not surprised, you know; we have partly suspected something for
a long time, as I have told you."
"'Ave you really? Well, then, it's a good thing as he's found out."
"I am very sorry. He has been with us so long, and we thought him
such a faithful servant."
"You're sorry, are you? Yes, of course you are. Wot are yer goin'
to do with him?"
"We shall not prosecute."
"No, marm, you take my advice, don't yer do that; it wouldn't do
nobody no good."
"We shall discharge him at once."
"Yes, that's all right; but don't you prosecute 'im on no account,
mind that. MIS-SIS Furze," said Jim, deliberately, turning his
head, and with his eyes full upon her in a way she did not like,
"wot am I a-goin' to get out of this?"
"Why, you will be repaid, I am sure, by Mr. Furze for all the time
and trouble you have taken."
"Now, marm, I ain't a-goin' to say nothin' as needn't be said, but I
know that Tom's been makin' up to Miss Catharine, and yer know that
as soon as yer found that out yer come and spoke to me. Mind that,
marm; it was yer as come and spoke to me; it wasn't me as spoke
first, was it?" Jim was unusually excited. "And arter yer spoke to
me, yer spoke to me agin--agin I say it--arter I told you as I seed
Joe pay the money, and then I brought yer that ere sovereign."
Mrs. Furze sat down. In one short minute she lived a lifetime, and
the decision was taken which determined her destiny. She resolved
that she would NOT tread one single step in one particular
direction, nor even look that way. She did not resolve to tell a
lie, or, in fact, to do anything which was not strictly defensible
and virtuous. She simply refused to reflect on the possibility of
perjury on Jim's part. Refusing to reflect on it, she naturally had
no proof of it; and, having no proof of it, she had no ground for
believing that she was not perfectly innocent and upright--a very
pretty process, much commoner than perhaps might be suspected.
After the lapse of two or three hours there was in fact no test by
which to distinguish the validity of this belief from that of her
other beliefs, nor indeed, it may be said, from that of the beliefs
in which many people live, and for the sake of which they die.
"It is true, Jim," said Mrs. Furze, after a pause, "that we thought
Tom had so far forgotten himself as to make proposals to Miss
Catharine, but this was a mere coincidence. It is extremely
fortunate that we have discovered just at this moment what he really
is; most fortunate. I have not the least doubt that he is a very
bad character; your evidence is most decisive, and, as we owe so
much to you, we think of putting you in Tom's place."
Jim had advanced with wariness, and occupied such a position that he
could claim Mrs. Furze as an accomplice, or save appearances, if it
was more prudent to do so. The reward was brilliant, and he saw
what course he ought to take.
"Thank yer, marm; it was very lucky; now I may speak freely I may
say as I've 'ad my eyes on Mr. Catchpole ever so long. I told yer
as much afore, and this ain't the fust time as he's robbed yer, but
I couldn't prove it, and it worn't no good my sayin' wot I worn't
This, then, is the way in which Destiny rewards those who refuse to
listen to the Divine Voice. Destiny supplies them with reasons for
discrediting it. Mrs. Furze was more than ever thankful to Jim; not
so much because of these additional revelations, but because she was
still further released from the obligation to turn her eyes. Had
not Jim said it once, twice, and now thrice? Who could condemn her?
She boldly faced herself, and asked herself what authority this
other self possessed which, just for a moment, whispered something
in her ear. What right had it thus to interrogate her? What right
had it to hint at some horrid villainy? "None, none," it timidly
answered, and was silent. The business of this other self is
suggestion only, and, if it be resisted, it is either dumb or will
reply just as it is bidden.
"You can tell Mr. Catchpole his master wishes to see him here."
"Thankee, marm; good mornin'."
Tom came up to the Terrace much wondering, and was shown into the
dining-room by Phoebe not a little suspicious. Mr. Furze sat back
in the easy-chair with his elbows on the arms and his hands held up
and partly interlaced. It was an attitude he generally assumed when
he was grave or wished to appear so. He had placed himself with his
back to the light. Mrs. Furze sat in the window. Mr. Furze began
with much hesitation.
"Sit down, Mr. Catchpole. I am sorry to be obliged to impart to you
a piece--a something--which is very distressing. For some time, I
must say, I have not been quite satisfied with the--the affairs--
business at the shop, and the case of Humphries' account made me
more anxious. I could not tell who the--delinquent--might be, and,
under advice, under advice, I resorted to the usual means of
detection, and the result is that a marked coin placed in the till
on Saturday was changed by you on Saturday night."
A tremendous blow steadies some men, at least for a time. Tom
quietly replied -
"Well, Mr. Furze, what then?"
"What then?" said Mrs. Furze, with a little titter; "the evidence
"A marked coin," continued Mr. Furze. "I may say at once that I do
not propose to prosecute, although if I were to take proceedings and
to produce the evidence of Jim and his brother with regard to
Humphries, I should obtain a conviction. But I cannot bring myself
to--to--the--forget your past services, and I wish to show no
unchristian malice, even for such a crime as yours. You are
discharged, and there are a week's wages."
"I am not sure," said Mrs. Furze, "that we are not doing wrong in
the eye of the law, and that we might not ourselves be prosecuted
for conniving at a felony."
Tom was silent for a moment, but it never entered into his head to
ask for corroboration or any details.
"I will ask you both"--he spoke with deliberation and emphasis--"do
you, both of you, believe I am a thief?"
"Really," said Mrs. Furze, "what a question to put! Two men declare
money was paid to you for which you never accounted, and a marked
sovereign, to which you had no right, was in your possession last
Saturday evening. You seem rather absurd, Mr. Catchpole."
"Mrs. Furze, I repeat my question: do you believe I am a thief?"
"We are not going to prosecute you: let that be enough for you; I
decline to say any more than it suits me to say: you have had the
reasons for dismissal; ask yourself whether they are conclusive or
not, and what the verdict of a jury would be."
"Then I tell you, Mrs. Furze, and I tell you, Mr. Furze, before the
all-knowing God, who is in this room at this moment, that I am
utterly innocent, and that somebody has wickedly lied."
"Mr. Catchpole," replied Mrs. Furze, "the introduction of the sacred
name in such a conjunction is, I may say, rather shocking, and even
blasphemous. Here is your money: you had better go."
Tom left the money and walked out of the room.
"Are you going to leave, Tom?"
"I knew there was some villainy going on," said Phoebe, greatly
excited, as she took Tom's hand and wrung it, "but you aren't really
going for good?"
"Yes;" and he was out in the street.
"H'm," said Mr. Furze, "it's very disagreeable. I don't quite like
"Don't quite like it?--why, what WOULD you have done? would you have
had Catharine marry him? I have no patience with you, Furze!"
Mr. Furze subsided, but he did not move to go to his business, and
Mrs. Furze went down into the kitchen. Mr. Eaton had called at the
shop at that early hour wishing to see Mr. Furze or Tom. He was to
return shortly, and Mr. Orkid Jim, not knowing exactly what to do
with such a customer, and, moreover, being rather curious, had left
a boy in charge and walked back to the Terrace.
"There's Jim again at the door," said Mrs. Furze to Phoebe; "let him
"Excuse me, ma'am, but never will I go to the door to let that man
in again as long as I live."
"Phoebe! do you know what you are saying? I direct you to let him
"No, ma'am; you may direct, but I shan't. Nothing shall make me go
to the door to the biggest liar and scoundrel in this town, and if
you don't know it yourself, Mrs. Furze, you ought."
"You do not expect me to stand this, Phoebe? You will have a
month's wages and go to-night."
"This morning, ma'am, if you please."
Before noon her box was packed, and she too had departed.
Tom began to understand, as soon as he left the Terrace, that a
consciousness of his own innocence was not all that was necessary
for his peace of mind. What would other people say? There was a
damning chain of evidence, and what was he to do for a living with
He did not return home nor to the shop. He took the road to Chapel
Farm. He did not go to the house direct, but went round it, and
walked about, and at last found himself on the bridge. It was there
that he met Catharine after her jump into the water; it was there,
although he knew nothing about it, that she parted from Mr. Cardew.
It was no thundery, summer day now, but cold and dark. The wind was
north-east, persistent with unvarying force; the sky was covered
with an almost uniform sheet of heavy grey clouds, with no form or
beauty in them; there was nothing in the heavens or earth which
seemed to have any relationship with man or to show any interest in
him. Tom was not a philosopher, but some of his misery was due to a
sense of carelessness and injustice somewhere in the government of
the world. He was religious after his fashion, but the time had
passed when a man could believe, as his forefathers believed, that
the earth is a school of trial, and that after death is the
judgment. What had he done to be visited thus? How was his
integrity to be discovered? He had often thought that it was
possible that a man should be convicted of some dreadful crime; that
he should be execrated, not only by the whole countryside, but by
his own wife and children; that his descendants for ages might curse
him as the solitary ancestor who had brought disgrace into the
family, and that he might be innocent. There might be hundreds of
such; doubtless there have been. Perhaps, even worse, there have
been men who have been misinterpreted, traduced, forsaken, because
they have been compelled for a reason sacredly secret to take a
certain course which seemed disreputable, and the word which would
have explained everything they have loyally sworn, for the sake of a
friend, never to speak, and it has remained unspoken for ever. As
he stood leaning over the parapet he saw Catharine coming along the
path. She did not attempt to avoid him, for she wandered what he
could be doing. He told her the whole story. "Miss Catharine,
there is just one thing I want to know: do you believe I am
"I know you are not."
"Thank God for that."
Both remained silent for a minute or two. At last Tom spoke.
"Oh, Miss Catharine, this makes it harder to bear. You are the one
person, perhaps, in the world now who has any faith in me; there is,
perhaps, no human being at this moment, excepting yourself, who,
after having heard what you have heard, would at once put it all
aside. What do you suppose I think of you now? If I loved you
before, what must my love now be? Miss Catharine, I could tear out
my heart for you, and if you can trust me so much, why can you not
love me too? What is it that prevents your love? Why cannot I
alter it? And yet, what am I saying? You may think me honest, but
how can I expect you to take a discharged felon?"
Catharine knew what Tom did not know. She was perfectly sure that
the accusation against him was the result of the supposed discovery
of their love for one another. If she had denied it promptly
nothing perhaps would have happened. It was all due to her, then.
She gazed up the stream; the leaden clouds drove on; the leaden
water lay rippled; the willows and the rushes, vexed with the bitter
blast, bent themselves continually. She turned and took her ring
off her finger.
"It can never be," she slowly said; "here is my ring; you may keep
it, but while I am alive you must never wear it."
Tom took it mechanically, bent his head over the parapet, and his
anguish broke out in sobs and tears. Catharine took his hand in
hers, leaned over him, and whispered:
"Tom, listen--I shall never be any man's wife."
Before he could say another word she had gone, and he felt that he
should never see her again.
What makes the peculiar pang of parting? The coach comes up; the
friend mounts; there is the wave of a handkerchief. I follow him to
the crest of the hill; he disappears, and I am left to walk down the
dusty lane alone. Am I melancholy simply because I shall not see
him for a month or a year? She whom I have loved for half a life
lies dying. I kiss her and bid her good-bye. Is the bare loss the
sole cause of my misery, my despair, breeding that mad longing that
I myself might die? In all parting there is something infinite. We
see in it a symbol of the order of the universe, and it is because
that death-bed farewell stands for so much that we break down. "If
it pleases God," says Swift to Pope, "to restore me to my health, I
shall readily make a third journey; if not, we must part AS ALL
HUMAN CREATURES HAVE PARTED." As all human creatures have parted!
Swift did not say that by way of consolation.
Tom turned homewards. Catharine's last words were incessantly in
his mind. What they meant he knew not and could not imagine, but in
the midst of his trouble rose up something not worth calling joy, a
little thread of water in the waste: it was a little relief that
nobody was preferred before him, and that nobody would possess what
to him was denied. He told his father, and found his faith
unshakable. There was a letter for him in a handwriting he thought
he knew, but he was not quite sure. It was as follows:-
"DEAR MR. CATCHPOLE,--I hope you will excuse the liberty I have
taken in writing to you. I have left my place at the Terrace. I
cannot help sending these few lines to say that Orkid Jim has been
causing mischief here, and if he's had anything to do with your
going he's a liar. It was all because I wouldn't go to the door and
let him in, and gave missus a bit of my mind about him that I had
notice. I wasn't sorry, however, for my cough is bad, and I
couldn't stand running up and down those Terrace stairs. It was
different at the shop. I thought I should just like to let you know
that whatever missus and master may say, I'M sure you have done
nothing but what is quite straight.
Tom was grateful to Phoebe, and he put her letter in his pocket: it
remained there for some time: it then came out with one or two
other papers, was accidentally burnt with them, and was never
answered. Day after day poor Phoebe watched the postman, but
nothing came. She wondered if she had made any mistake in the
address, but she had not the courage to write again. "He may be
very much taken up," thought she, "but he might have sent me just a
line;" and then she felt ashamed, and wished she had not written,
and would have given the world to have her letter back again. She
had been betrayed into a little tenderness which met with no
response. She was only a housemaid, and yet when she said to
herself that maybe she had been too forward, the blood came to her
cheeks; beautifully, too beautifully white they were. Poor Phoebe!
Tom met Mr. Cardew in Eastthorpe the evening after the interview
with Catharine, and told him his story.
"I am ruined," he said: "I have no character."
"Wait a minute; come with me into the Bell where my horse is."
They went into the coffee-room, and Mr. Cardew took a sheet of note-
paper and wrote:-
"MY DEAR ROBERT,--The bearer of this note, Mr. Thomas Catchpole, is
well known to me as a perfectly honest man, and he thoroughly
understands his business. He is coming to London, and I hope you
will consider it your duty to obtain remunerative employment for
him. He has been wickedly accused of a crime of which he is as
innocent as I am, and this is an additional reason why you should
exert yourself on his behalf.
"Your affectionate cousin,
"TO ROBERT BERDOE, Esq.,
Mr. Cardew married a Berdoe, it will be remembered, and this Robert
Berdoe was a wealthy wholesale ironmonger, who carried on business
"You had better leave Eastthorpe, Mr. Catchpole, and take your
father with you. Are you in want of any money?"
"No, sir, thank you; I have saved a little. I cannot speak very
well, Mr. Cardew; you know I cannot; I cannot say to you what I
"I want no thanks, my dear friend. What I do is a simple duty. I
am a minister of God's Word, and I know no obligation more pressing
which He has laid upon me than that of bearing witness to the
Mr. Cardew went off as usual away from what was before him.
"The duty of Christ's minister is, generally speaking, TO TAKE THE
OTHER SIDE--that is to say, to resist the verdicts passed by the
world upon men and things. Preaching mere abstractions, too, is not
by itself of much use. What we are bound to do is not only to
preserve the eternal standard, but to measure actual human beings
and human deeds by it. I sometimes think, too, it is of more
importance to say THIS IS RIGHT than to say THIS IS WRONG, to save
that which is true than to assist into perdition that which is
false. Especially ought we to defend character unjustly assailed.
A character is something alive, a soul; to rescue it is the
salvation of a soul!"
He stopped and seemed to wake up suddenly.
"Good-bye! God's blessing on you." He shook Tom's hand and was
going out of the yard.
"There is just one thing more, sir: I do not want to leave
Eastthorpe with such a character behind me--to leave in the dark,
one may say, and not defend myself. It looks as if it were an
admission I was wrong. I should, above everything, like to get to
the bottom of it, and see who is the liar or what the mistake is."
"Nobody would listen to you, and if you were to make a noise Mr.
Furze might prosecute, and with the evidence he has we do not know
what the end might be; I will do my part, as I am bound to do, to
set you right. But, above everything, Mr. Catchpole, endeavour to
put yourself where the condemnation of the world and even
crucifixion by it are of no consequence." Mr. Cardew gave Tom one
more shake of the hand, mounted his horse, and rode off. He had
asked Tom for no proofs: he had merely heard the tale and had given
Mr Furze distinctly enjoined Orkid Jim to hold his tongue. Neither
Mr. nor Mrs. Furze wished to appear in court, and they were
uncertain what Catharine might do if they went any further. Mr.
Orkid Jim had the best of reasons for silence, but Mr. Humphries,
the builder, of course repeated what he himself knew, and so it went
about that Tom was wrong in his accounts, and all Eastthorpe
affirmed him to be little better than a rascal. Mr. Cardew, with
every tittle of much stronger and apparently irresistible testimony
before him, never for a moment considered it as a feather's weight
in the balance.
"But the facts, my good sir, the facts; the facts--there they are:
the receipt to the bill; Jim's declaration; his brother's
declaration; the marked coin; the absolute proof that Catchpole gave
it to Butterfield, and he could not, as some may think, have changed
silver of his own for it, for Mr. Furze paid him in gold, and there
was not twenty shillings worth of silver in the till; what HAVE you
got to say? Do you tell me all this may be accident and
coincidence? If you do, we may just as well give up reasoning and
the whole of our criminal procedure."
Mr. Cardew did know the facts, THE facts, and relying on them he
delivered his judgment. Catharine, Phoebe, and Tom's father agreed
with him--four jurors out of one thousand of full age; but the four
were right and the nine hundred odd were wrong. In the four dwelt
what aforetime would have been called faith, nothing magical,
nothing superstitious, but really the noblest form of reason, for it
is the ability to rest upon the one reality which is of value,
neglecting all delusive appearances which may apparently contradict
Tom left Eastthorpe the next morning, and on that day Catharine
received the following letter from her mother:
"MY DEAR CATHARINE,--I write to tell you that we have made an awful
discovery. Catchpole has appropriated money belonging to your
father, and the evidence against him is complete. (Mrs. Furze then
told the story.) You will now, my dear Catharine, be able, I hope,
to do justice to your father and mother, and to understand their
anxiety that you should form no connection with a man like this. It
is true that on the morning when we spoke to you we did not know the
extent of his guilt, but we had suspected him for some time. It is
quite providential that the disclosure comes--at the present moment,
and I hope it will detach you from him for ever. Your father and I
send our love, and please assure Mr. and Mrs. Bellamy of our regard.
"Your affectionate mother,
On the same morning Mr. Furze received the following note from Mr.
"DEAR SIR,--I regret to hear that a false charge has been preferred
against my friend Mr. Catchpole. By my advice he has left
Eastthorpe without any attempt to defend himself, but I consider it
my duty to tell you he is innocent; that you have lost a faithful
servant, and, what is worse, you have done him harm, not only in
body, but in soul, for there are not many men who can be wrongfully
accused and remain calm and resigned. You ask me on what evidence I
acquit him. I know the whole story, but I also know him, and I know
that he cannot lie. I beg you to consider what you do in branding
as foul that which God has made good. I offer no apology for thus
addressing you, for I am a minister of God's Word, and I have to do
all that He bids. I should consider I was but a poor servant of the
Most High if I did not protest against wrong-doing face to face with
the doer of it.