Part 10 out of 12
the wife he had chosen. It would not be reasonable, or proper, or
righteous that he should be asked to do so; and here he mounted a
somewhat high horse.
Mary had no arguments which she could bring from her heart to offer in
opposition of all this. She could only leave her hand in his, and feel
that she was happier than she had been at any time since the day of the
donkey-ride at Boxall Hill.
'But, Mary,' continued he, becoming very grave and serious. 'We must be
true to each other, and firm in this. Nothing that any of them can say
shall drive me from my purpose; will you say as much?'
Her hand was still in his, and so she stood, thinking for a moment
before she answered him. But she could not do less for him than he was
willing to do for her. 'Yes,' said she--said in a very low voice, and
with a manner perfectly quiet--'I will be firm. Nothing that they can
say shall shake me. But, Frank, it cannot be soon.'
Nothing further occurred in this interview which needs recording. Frank
had been three times told by Mary that he had better go before he did
go; and, at last, she was obliged to take the matter into her own hands,
and lead him to the door.
'You are in a great hurry to get rid of me,' said he.
'You have been here two hours, and you must go now; what will they
'Who cares what they think? Let them think the truth: that's after a
year's absence, I have much to say to you.' However, at last, he did go,
and Mary was left alone.
Frank, although he had been so slow to move, had a thousand other things
to do, and went about them at once. He was very much in love, no doubt;
but that did not interfere with his interest in other pursuits. In the
first place, he had to see Harry Baker, and Harry Baker's stud. Harry
had been specially charged to look after the black horse during Frank's
absence, and the holiday doings of that valuable animal had to be
inquired into. Then the kennel of the hounds had to be visited, and--as
a matter of second-rate importance--the master. This could not be done
on the same day; but a plan for doing so must be concocted with
Harry--and then there were the two young pointer pups.
Frank, when he left his betrothed, went about these things quite as
vehemently as though he were not in love at all; quite as vehemently as
though he had said nothing as to going into some profession which must
necessarily separate him from horses and dogs. But Mary sat there at her
window, thinking of her love, and thinking of nothing else. It was all
in all to her now. She had pledged herself not to be shaken from her
troth by anything, by any person; and it would behove her to be true to
this pledge. True to it, though all the Greshams but one should oppose
her with all their power; true to it, even though her own uncle should
And how could she have done any other than to pledge herself, invoked to
it as she had been? How could she do less for him than he was so anxious
to do for her? They would talk to her of maiden delicacy, and tell her
that she had put a stain on that snow-white coat of proof, in confessing
her love for one whose friends were unwilling to receive her. Let them
so talk. Honour, honesty, and truth, out-spoken truth, self-denying
truth, and fealty from man to man, are worth more than maiden delicacy;
more, at any rate, than the talk of it. It was not for herself that this
pledge had been made. She knew her position, and the difficulties of it;
she knew also the value of it. He had much to offer, much to give; she
had nothing but herself. He had name, and old repute, family, honour,
and what eventually would at least be wealth to her. She was nameless,
fameless, portionless. He had come there with all his ardour, with the
impulse of his character, and asked her for her love. It was already his
own. He had then demanded her troth, and she acknowledged that he had a
right to demand it. She would be his if ever it should be in his power
to take her.
But there let the bargain end. She would always remember, that though
it was in her power to keep her pledge, it might too probably not be in
his power to keep his. That doctrine, laid down so imperatively by the
great authorities of Greshamsbury, that edict, which demanded that Frank
should marry money, had come home also to her with a certain force. It
would be sad that the fame of Greshamsbury should perish, and that the
glory should depart from the old house. It might be, that Frank also
should perceive that he must marry money. It would be a pity that he had
not seen it sooner; but she, at any rate, would not complain.
And so she stood, leaning on the open window, with her book unnoticed
lying beside her. The sun had been in the mid-sky when Frank had left
her, but its rays were beginning to stream into the room from the west
before she moved from her position. Her first thought in the morning had
been this: Would he come to see her? Her last now was more soothing to
her, less full of absolute fear: Would it be right that he should come
The first sounds she heard were the footsteps of her uncle, as he came
up to the drawing-room, three steps at a time. His step was always
heavy; but when he was disturbed in spirit, it was slow; when merely
fatigued in body by ordinary work, it was quick.
'What a broiling day!' he said, and he threw himself into a chair. 'For
mercy's sake, give me something to drink.' Now the doctor was a great
man for summer-drinks. In his house, lemonade, currant-juice,
orange-mixtures, and raspberry-vinegar were used by the quart. He
frequently disapproved of these things for his patients, as being apt to
disarrange the digestion; but he consumed enough himself to throw a
large family into such difficulties.
'Ha--a!' he ejaculated after a draught; 'I'm better now. Well, what's
'You've been out, uncle; you ought to have the news. How's Mrs Green?'
'Really as bad as ennui and solitude can make her.'
'And Mrs Oaklerath?'
'She's getting better, because she has ten children to look after, and
twins to suckle. What has he been doing?' And the doctor pointed towards
the room occupied by Sir Louis.
Mary's conscience struck her that she had not even asked. She had
hardly remembered, during the whole day, that the baronet was in the
house. 'I do not think he has been doing much,' she said. 'Janet has
been with him all day.'
'Has he been drinking?'
'Upon my word, I don't know, uncle. I think not, for Janet has been
with him. But, uncle--'
'Well, dear--but just give me a little more of that tipple.'
Mary prepared the tumbler, and as she handed it to him, she said, 'Frank
Gresham has been here to-day.'
The doctor swallowed his draught, and put down the glass before he made
any reply, and even then he said but little.
'Oh! Frank Gresham.'
'You thought him looking pretty well?'
'Yes, uncle; he was very well, I believe.'
Dr Thorne had nothing more to say, so he got up and went to his patient
in the next room.
'If he disapproves of it, why does he not say so?' said Mary to herself.
'Why does he not advise me?'
But it was not so easy to give advice while Sir Louis Scatcherd was
lying there in that state.
SIR LOUIS LEAVES GRESHAMSBURY
Janet had been sedulous in her attentions to Sir Louis, and had not
troubled her mistress; but she had not had an easy time of it. Her
orders had been, that either she or Thomas should remain in the room the
whole day, and those orders had been obeyed.
Immediately after breakfast, the baronet had inquired after his own
servant. 'His confounded nose must be right by this time, I suppose?'
'It was very bad, Sir Louis,' said the old woman, who imagined that it
might be difficult to induce Jonah to come into the house again.
'A man in such a place as his has no business to be laid up,' said his
master, with a whine. 'I'll see and get a man who won't break his nose.'
Thomas was sent to the inn three or four times, but in vain. The man was
sitting up, well enough, in the tap-room; but the middle of his face was
covered with streaks of plaster, and he could not bring himself to
expose his wounds before his conqueror.
Sir Louis began by ordering the woman to bring him chasse-cafe. She
offered him coffee, as much as he would; but no chasse. 'A glass of port
wine,' she said, at twelve o'clock, and another at three had been
ordered for him.
'I don't care a--for the orders,' said Sir Louis; 'send me my own man.'
The man was again sent for; but would not come. 'There's a bottle of
that stuff that I take, in that portmanteau, in the left-hand
corner--just hand it to me.'
But Janet was not to be done. She would give him no stuff, except what
the doctor had ordered, till the doctor came back. The doctor would
then, no doubt, give him anything that was proper.
Sir Louis swore a good deal, and stormed as much as he could. He drank,
however, his two glasses of wine, and he got no more. Once or twice he
essayed to get out of bed and dress; but, at every effort, he found that
he could not do it without Joe: and there he was, still under the
clothes when the doctor returned.
'I'll tell you what it is,' said he, as soon as his guardian entered the
room, 'I'm not going to be made a prisoner of here.'
'A prisoner! no, surely not.'
'It seems very much like it at present. Your servant here--that old
woman--takes it upon her to say she'll do nothing without your orders.'
'Well; she's right there.'
'Right! I don't know what you call right; but I won't stand it. You
are not going to make a child of me, Dr Thorne; so you need not think
And then there was a long quarrel, between them, and but an indifferent
reconciliation. The baronet said that he would go to Boxall Hill, and
was vehement in his intention to do so because the doctor opposed it. He
had not, however, as yet ferreted out the squire, or given a bit of his
mind to Mr Gazebee, and it behoved him to do this before he took himself
off to his own country mansion. He ended, therefore, by deciding to go
on the next day but one.
'Let it be so, if you are well enough,' said the doctor.
'Well enough!' said the other, with a sneer. 'There's nothing to make
me ill that I know of. It certainly won't be drinking too much here.'
On the next day, Sir Louis was in a different mood, and in one more
distressing for the doctor to bear. His compelled absence from
intemperate drinking had, no doubt, been good for him; but his mind had
so much sunk under the pain of the privation, that his state was piteous
to behold. He had cried for his servant, as a child cries for its nurse,
till at last the doctor, moved to pity, had himself gone out and brought
the man in from the public-house. But when he did come, Joe was of but
little service to his master, as he was altogether prevented from
bringing him either wine or spirits; and when he searched for the
liqueur-case, he found that even that had been carried away.
'I believe you want me to die,' he said, as the doctor, sitting by his
bedside, was trying, for the hundredth time, to make him understand that
he had but one chance of living.
The doctor was not in the least irritated. It would have been as wise
to be irritated by the want of reason in a dog.
'I am doing what I can to save your life,' he said calmly; 'but as you
said just now, I have no power over you. As long as you are able to move
and remain in my house, you certainly shall not have the means of
destroying yourself. You will be very wise to stay here for a week or
ten days: a week or ten days of healthy living might, perhaps, bring you
Sir Louis again declared that the doctor wished him to die, and spoke of
sending for his attorney Finnie, to come to Greshamsbury to look after
'Send for him if you choose,' said the doctor. 'His coming will cost
you three or four pounds, but can do no other harm.'
It was certainly hard upon Dr Thorne that he should be obliged to
entertain such a guest in the house;--to entertain him, and foster him,
and care for him, almost as though he were a son. But he had no
alternative; he had accepted the charge from Sir Roger, and he must go
through with it. His conscience, moreover, allowed him no rest in the
matter: it harassed him day and night, driving him on sometimes to great
wretchedness. He could not love this incubus that was on his shoulders;
he could not do other than be very far from loving him. Of what use or
value was he to any one? What could the world make of him that would be
good, or he of the world? Was not an early death his certain fate? The
earlier it might be, would it not be better? Were he to linger on yet
for two years longer--and such a space of life was possible for him--how
great would be the mischief that he might do; nay, certainly would do!
Farewell then to all hopes for Greshamsbury, as far as Mary was
concerned. Farewell then to that dear scheme which lay deep in the
doctor's heart, that hope that he might in his niece's name, give back
to the son the lost property of his father. And might not one year--six
months be as fatal. Frank, they all said, must marry money; and even
he--he the doctor himself, much as he despised the idea for money's
sake--even he could not but confess that Frank, as the heir to an old,
but grievously embarrassed property, had no right to marry, at his early
age, a girl without a shilling. Mary, his niece, his own child, would
probably be the heiress of this immense wealth; but he could not tell
this to Frank; no, nor to Frank's father, while Sir Louis was yet alive.
What, if by so doing he should achieve this marriage for his niece, and
that then Sir Louis should live to dispose of his own? How then would he
face the anger of Lady Arabella?
'I will never hanker after a dead man's shoes, neither for myself nor
for another,' he had said to himself a hundred times; and as often did
he accuse himself of doing so. One path, however, was plainly open
before him. He would keep his peace as to the will; and would use such
efforts as he might use for a son of his own loins to preserve the life
that was so valueless. His wishes, his hopes, his thoughts, he could not
control; but his conduct was at his own disposal.
'I say, doctor, you don't really think that I'm going to die?' Sir Louis
said, when Dr Thorne again visited him.
'I don't think at all; I am sure you will kill yourself if you continue
to live as you have lately done.'
'But suppose I go all right for a while, and live--live just as you tell
me, you know?'
'All of us are in God's hands, Sir Louis. By so doing you will, at any
rate, give yourself the best chance.'
'Best chance? Why, d--n, doctor! there are fellows have done ten times
worse than I; and they are not going to kick. Come, now, I know you are
trying to frighten me; ain't you now?'
'I am trying to do the best I can for you.'
'It's very hard on a fellow like me; I have nobody to say a kind word to
me; no, not one.' And Sir Louis, in his wretchedness, began to weep.
'Come, doctor; if you'll put me once more on my legs, I'll let you draw
on the estate for five hundred pounds; by G--, I will.'
The doctor went away to his dinner, and the baronet also had his in bed.
He could not eat much, but he was allowed two glasses of wine, and also
a little brandy in his coffee. This somewhat invigorated him, and when
Dr Thorne again went to him, in the evening, he did not find him so
utterly prostrated in spirit. He had, indeed, made up his mind to a
great resolve; and thus unfolded his final scheme for his own
'Doctor,' he began again, 'I believe you are an honest fellow; I do
Dr Thorne could not but thank him for his good opinion.
'You ain't annoyed at what I said this morning, are you?'
The doctor had forgotten the particular annoyance to which Sir Louis
alluded; and informed him that his mind might be at rest on any such
'I do believe you'd be glad to see me well; wouldn't you, now?'
The doctor assured him that such was in very truth the case.
'Well, now, I'll tell you what: I've been thinking about it a great deal
to-day; indeed, I have, and I want to do what is right. Mightn't I have
a little drop of that stuff, just in a cup of coffee?'
The doctor poured him out a cup of coffee, and put about a teaspoonful
of brandy in it. Sir Louis took it with a disconsolate face, not having
been accustomed to such measures in the use of his favourite beverage.
'I do wish to do what is right--I do, indeed; only, you see, I'm lonely.
As to those fellows up in London, I don't think that one of them cares a
straw about me.'
Dr Thorne was of the same way of thinking, and he said so. He could not
but feel some sympathy with the unfortunate man as he thus spoke of his
own lot. It was true that he had been thrown on the world without any
one to take care of him.
'My dear friend, I will do the best I can in every way; I will, indeed.
I do believe that your companions in town have been too ready to lead
you astray. Drop them, and you may yet do well.'
'May I though, doctor? Well, I will drop them. There's Jenkins; he's
the best of them; but even he is always wanting to make money of me. Not
but what I'm up to the best of them in that way.'
'You had better leave London, Sir Louis, and change your mode of life.
Go to Boxall Hill for a while; for two or three days or so; live with
your mother there and take to farming.'
'Yes; that's what all country gentlemen do: take the land there into
your own hand, and occupy your mind upon it.'
'Well, doctor, I will--upon one condition.'
Dr Thorne sat still and listened. He had no idea what the condition
might be, but he was not prepared to promise acquiescence till he heard
'You know what I told you once before,' said the baronet.
'I don't remember at this moment.'
'About my getting married, you know.'
The doctor's brow grew black, and promised no help to the poor wretch.
Bad in every way, wretched, selfish, sensual, unfeeling, purse-proud,
ignorant as Sir Louis Scatcherd was still, there was left to him the
power of feeling something like sincere love. It may be presumed that he
did love Mary Thorne, and that he was at the time earnest in declaring
that if she could be given to him, he would endeavour to live according
to her uncle's counsel. It was only a trifle he asked; but, alas! that
trifle could not be vouchsafed.
'I should much approve of your getting married, but I do not know how I
can help you.'
'Of course, I mean Miss Mary: I do love her; I really do, Dr Thorne.'
'It is quite impossible, Sir Louis; quite. You do my niece much honour;
but I am able to answer for her, positively, that such a proposition is
quite out of the question.'
'Look here now, Dr Thorne; anything in the way of settlements--'
'I will not hear a word on the subject: you are very welcome to the use
of my house as long as it may suit you to remain here; but I must insist
that my niece shall not be troubled on this matter.'
'Do you mean to say she's in love with that young Gresham?'
This was too much for the doctor's patience. 'Sir Louis,' said he, 'I
can forgive you much for your father's sake. I can also forgive
something on the score of your own ill-health. But you ought to know,
you ought by this time to have learnt, that there are some things which
a man cannot forgive. I will not talk to you about my niece; and
remember this, also, I will not have her troubled by you:' and, so
saying, the doctor left him.
On the next day the baronet was sufficiently recovered to be able to
resume his braggadocio airs. He swore at Janet; insisted on being served
by his own man; demanded in a loud voice, but in vain, that his
liqueur-case should be restored to him; and desired that post-horses
might be ready for him on the morrow. On that day he got up and ate his
dinner in his bedroom. On the next morning he countermanded the horses,
informing the doctor that he did so because he had little bit of
business to transact with Squire Gresham before he left the place! With
some difficulty, the doctor made him understand that the squire would
not see him on business; and it was at last decided, that Mr Gazebee
should be invited to call on him at the doctor's house; and this Mr
Gazebee agreed to do, in order to prevent the annoyance of having the
baronet up at Greshamsbury.
On this day, the evening before Mr Gazebee's visit, Sir Louis
condescended to come down to dinner. He dined, however, tete-a-tete with
the doctor. Mary was not there, nor was anything said as to her absence.
Sir Louis Scatcherd never set eyes upon her again.
He bore himself arrogantly on that evening, having resumed the airs and
would-be dignity which he thought belonged to him as a man of rank and
property. In his periods of low spirits, he was abject and humble
enough; abject and fearful of the lamentable destiny which at these
moments he believed to be in store for him. But it was one of the
peculiar symptoms of his state, that as he partially recovered his
bodily health, the tone of his mind recovered itself also, and his fears
for the time were relieved.
There was very little said between him and the doctor that evening. The
doctor sat, guarding the wine, and thinking when he should have his
house to himself again. Sir Louis sat moody, every now and then uttering
some impertinence as to the Greshams and the Greshamsbury property, and,
at an early hour, allowed Joe to put him to bed.
The horses were ordered on the next day for three, and, as two, Mr
Gazebee came to the house. He had never been there before, nor had he
ever met Dr Thorne except at the squire's dinner. On this occasion he
asked only for the baronet.
'Ah! ah! I'm glad you're come, Mr Gazebee; very glad,' said Sir Louis;
acting the part of the rich, great man with all the power he had. 'I
want to ask you a few questions so as to make it all clear sailing
'As you have asked to see me, I have come, Sir Louis,' said the other,
putting on much dignity as he spoke. 'But would it not be better that
any business there may be should be done among the lawyers?'
'The lawyers are very well, I dare say; but when a man has so large a
stake at interest as I have in this Greshamsbury property, why, you see,
Mr Gazebee, he feels a little inclined to look after it himself. Now, do
you know, Mr Gazebee, how much it is that Mr Gresham owes me?'
Mr Gazebee, of course, did know very well; but he was not going to
discuss the subject with Sir Louis, if he could help it.
'Whatever claim your father's estate may have on that of Mr Gresham is,
as far as I understand, vested in Dr Thorne's hands as trustee. I am
inclined to believe that you have not yourself at present any claim on
Greshamsbury. The interest, as it becomes due, is paid to Dr Thorne; and
if I may be allowed to make a suggestion, I would say that it will not
be expedient to make any change in that arrangement till the property
shall come into your own hands.'
'I differ from you entirely, Mr Gazebee; in toto as we used to say at
Eton. What you mean to say is--I can't go to law with Mr Gresham; I'm
not so sure of that; but perhaps not. But I can compel Dr Thorne to look
after my interests. I can force him to foreclose. And to tell you the
truth, Gazebee, unless some arrangement is proposed to me which I shall
think advantageous, I shall do so at once. There is near a hundred
thousand pounds owing to me; yes to me. Thorne is only a name in the
matter. The money is my money; and, by ----, I mean to look after it.'
'Haven't you any doubt, Sir Louis, as to the money being secure?'
'Yes, I have. It isn't so easy to have a hundred thousand pounds
secured. The squire is a poor man, and I don't choose to allow a poor
man to owe me such a sum as that. Besides, I mean to invest in land. I
tell you fairly, therefore, I shall foreclose.'
Mr Gazebee, using all the perspicuity which his professional education
had left to him, tried to make Sir Louis understand that he had no power
to do anything of the kind.
'No power! Mr Gresham shall see whether I have no power. When a man
has a hundred thousand pounds owing to him he ought to have some power;
and, as I take it, he has. But we will see. Perhaps you know Finnie, do
Mr Gazebee, with a good deal of scorn in his face, said that he had not
that pleasure. Mr Finnie was not in his line.
'Well, you will know him then, and you'll find he's sharp enough; that
is, unless, I have some offer made to me that I may choose to accept.'
Mr Gazebee declared that he was not instructed to make any offer, and so
he took his leave.
On that afternoon, Sir Louis went off to Boxall Hill, transferring the
miserable task of superintending his self-destruction from the shoulders
of the doctor to those of his mother. Of Lady Scatcherd, the baronet
took no account in his proposed sojourn in the country, nor did he take
much of the doctor in leaving Greshamsbury. He again wrapped himself in
his furs, and, with tottering steps, climbed up into the barouche which
was to carry him away.
'Is my man up behind?' he said to Janet, while the doctor was standing
at the little front garden-gate, making his adieux.
'No, sir, he is not up yet,' said Janet, respectfully.
'Then send him out, will you? I can't lose my time waiting here all
'I shall come over to Boxall Hill and see you,' said the doctor, whose
heart softened towards the man, in spite of his brutality, as the hour
of his departure came.
'I shall be happy to see you if you like to come, of course; that is, in
the way of visiting, and that sort of thing. As for doctoring, if I want
any I shall send for Fillgrave.' Such were his last words as the
carriage, with a rush, went off from the door.
The doctor, as he re-entered the house, could not avoid smiling, for he
thought of Dr Fillgrave's last patient at Boxall Hill. 'It's a question
to me,' said he to himself, 'whether Fillgrave will ever be induced to
make another visit to that house, even with the object of rescuing a
baronet out of my hands.'
'He's gone; isn't he, uncle?' said Mary, coming out of her room.
'Yes, my dear; he's gone, poor fellow.'
'He may be a poor fellow, uncle; but he's a very disagreeable inmate in
a house. I have not had any dinner these two days.'
'And I haven't had what can be called a cup of tea since he's been in
the house. But I'll make up for that to-night.
DE COURCY PRECEPTS AND DE COURCY PRACTICE
There is a mode of novel-writing which used to be much in vogue, but
which has now gone out of fashion. It is, nevertheless, one which is
very expressive when in good hands, and which enables the author to tell
his story, or some portion of his story, with more natural trust than
any other, I mean that of familiar letters. I trust I shall be excused
if I attempt it as regards this one chapter; though, it may be, that I
shall break down and fall into the commonplace narrative, even before
the one chapter be completed. The correspondents are the Lady Amelia De
Courcy and Miss Gresham. I, of course, give precedence to the higher
rank, but the first epistle originated with the latter-named young lady.
Let me hope that they will explain themselves.
'Miss Gresham to Lady Amelia de Courcy
'Greshamsbury House, June 185-
'MY DEAREST AMELIA,
'I wish to consult you on a subject which, as you will
perceive, is of a most momentous nature. You know how much
reliance I place in your judgement and knowledge of what is
proper, and, therefore, I write to you before speaking to any
other living person on the subject: not even to mamma; for,
although her judgement is good too, she has so many cares and
troubles, that it is natural that it should be a little warped
when the interests of her children are involved. Now that it
is all over, I feel that it may possibly have been so in the
case of Mr Moffat.
'You are aware that Mr Mortimer Gazebee is now staying here,
and that he has been here for nearly two months. He is engaged
in managing poor papa's affairs, and mamma, who likes him very
much, says that he is a most excellent man of business. Of
course, you know that he is a junior partner in the very old
firm of Gumption, Gazebee, and Gazebee, who, I understand, do
not undertake any business at all, except what comes to them
from peers, or commoners of the very highest class.
'I soon perceived, dearest Amelia, that Mr Gazebee paid me
more than ordinary attention, and I immediately became very
guarded in my manner. I certainly liked Mr Gazebee from the
first. His manners are quite excellent, his conduct to mamma
is charming, and, as regards myself, I must say that there
has been nothing in his behaviour of which even you could
complain. He has never attempted the slightest familiarity,
and I will do him the justice to say, that, though he has been
very attentive, he has also been very respectful.
'I must confess that, for the last three weeks, I have thought
that he meant something. I might, perhaps, have done more to
repel him; or I might have consulted you earlier as to the
propriety of keeping altogether out of his way. But you know,
Amelia, how often these things lead to nothing, and though I
thought all along that Mr Gazebee was in earnest, I hardly
liked to say anything about it even to you till I was quite
certain. If you had advised me, you know, to accept his offer,
and if, after that, he had never made it, I should have felt
'But now he has made it. He came to me yesterday just before
dinner, in the little drawing-room, and told me, in the most
delicate manner, in words that even you could not have but
approved, that his highest ambition was to be thought worthy
of my regard, and that he felt for me the warmest love, and
the most profound admiration, and the deepest respect. You may
say, Amelia, that he is only an attorney, and I believe that
he is an attorney; but I am sure you would have esteemed him
had you heard the very delicate way in which he expressed his
'Something had given me a presentiment of what he was going to
do when I saw him come into the room, so that I was on my
guard. I tried very hard to show no emotion; but I suppose I
was a little flurried, as I once detected myself calling him
Mr Mortimer: his name, you know, is Mortimer Gazebee. I ought
not to have done so, certainly; but it was not so bad as if I
had called him Mortimer without the Mr, was it? I don't think
there could possibly be a prettier Christian name than Mortimer.
Well, Amelia, I allowed him to express himself without
interruption. He once attempted to take my hand; but even
this was done without any assumption of familiarity; and when
he saw that I would not permit it, he drew back, and fixed
his eyes on the ground as though he were ashamed even of that.
'Of course, I had to give him an answer; and though I had
expected that something of this sort would take place, I had
not made up my mind on the subject. I would not, certainly,
under any circumstances, accept him without consulting you. If
I really disliked him, of course there would be no doubt; but
I can't say, dearest Amelia, that I do absolutely dislike him;
and I really think that we would make each other very happy,
if the marriage were suitable as regarded both our positions.
'I collected myself as well as I could, and I really do think
that you would have said that I did not behave badly, though
the position was rather trying. I told him that, of course, I
was flattered by his sentiments, though much surprised at
hearing them; that since I knew him, I had esteemed and valued
him as an acquaintance, but that, looking on him as a man
of business, I had never expected anything more. I then
endeavoured to explain to him, that I was not perhaps
privileged as some other girls might be, to indulge my
feelings altogether: perhaps that was saying too much, and
might make him think that I was in love with him; but, from
the way I said it, I don't think he would, for I was very much
guarded in my manner, and very collected; and then I told him,
that in any proposal of marriage that might be made to me, it
would be my duty to consult my family as much, if not more
'He said, of course; and asked whether he might speak to papa.
I tried to make him understand, that in talking of my family,
I did not exactly mean papa, or even mamma. Of course I was
thinking what was due to the name of Gresham. I know very well
what papa would say. He would give his consent in half a
minute; he is so broken-hearted by these debts. And, to tell
you the truth, Amelia, I think mamma would too. He did not
seem quite to comprehend what I meant; but he did say that he
knew it was a high ambition to marry into the family of the
Greshams. I am sure you would confess that he has the most
proper feelings; and as for expressing them no man could do it
'He owned that it was ambition to ally himself with a family
above his own rank in life, and that he looked to doing so as
a means of advancing himself. Now this was at any rate honest.
That was one of his motives, he said; though, of course, not
his first: and then he declared how truly he was attached to
me. In answer to this, I remarked that he had known me only a
very short time. This, perhaps, was giving him too much
encouragement; but, at that moment, I hardly knew what to say,
for I did not wish to hurt his feelings. He then spoke of his
income. He has fifteen hundred a year from the business, and
that will be greatly increased when his father leaves it; and
his father is much older then Mr Gumption, though he is only a
second partner. Mortimer Gazebee will be the senior partner
himself before very long; and perhaps that does alter his
position a little.
'He has a very nice place down somewhere in Surrey; I have heard
mamma say it is quite a gentleman's place. It is let now; but he
will live there when he is married. And he has property of his
own besides which he can settle. So, you see, he is quite as
well off as Mr Oriel; better, indeed; and if a man is in a
profession, I believe it is considered that it does not matter
much what. Of course, a clergyman can be a bishop; but then, I
think I have heard that one attorney did once become Lord
Chancellor. I should have my carriage, you know; I remember
his saying that, especially, though I cannot recollect how he
brought it in.
'I told him, at last, that I was so much taken by surprise
that I could not give him an answer then. He was going up to
London, he said, on the next day, and might he be permitted to
address me on the same subject when he returned? I could not
refuse him, you know; and so now I have taken the opportunity
of his absence to write to you for your advice. You understand
the world so very well, and know exactly what one ought to do
in such a strange position!
'I hope I have made it intelligible, at least, as to what I
have written about. I have said nothing as to my own feelings,
because I wish you to think on the matter without consulting
them. If it would be derogatory to accept Mr Gazebee, I
certainly would not do so because I happen to like him. If we
were to act in that way, what would the world come to, Amelia?
Perhaps my ideas may be overstrained; if so, you will tell me.
'When Mr Oriel proposed to Beatrice, nobody seemed to make any
objection. It all seemed to go as a matter of course. She says
that his family is excellent; but as far as I can learn, his
grandfather was a general in India, and came home very rich.
Mr Gazebee's grandfather was a member of the firm, and so, I
believe, was his great-grandfather. Don't you think this ought
to count for something? Besides, they have no business except
with the most aristocratic persons, such as uncle De Courcy,
and the Marquis of Kensington Gore, and that sort. I mention
the marquis because Mr Mortimer Gazebee is there now. And I
know that one of the Gumptions was once in Parliament; and I
don't think that any of the Oriels ever were. The name of
attorney is certainly very bad, is it not, Amelia? but they
certainly do not seem to be all the same, and I do think that
this ought to make a difference. To hear Mr Mortimer Gazebee
talk of some attorney at Barchester, you would say that there
is quite as much difference between them as between a bishop
and a curate. And so I think there is.
'I don't wish at all to speak of my own feelings; but if he
were not an attorney, he is, I think, the sort of man I should
like. He is very nice in every way, and if you were not told,
I don't think you would know he was an attorney. But, dear
Amelia, I will be guided by you altogether. He is certainly
much nicer than Mr Moffat, and has a great deal more to say
for himself. Of course, Mr Moffat having been in Parliament,
and having been taken up by uncle De Courcy, was in a different
sphere; but I really felt almost relieved when he behaved in
that way. With Mortimer Gazebee, I think it would be different.
'I shall wait so impatiently for your answer, so do pray write
at once. I hear some people say that these sort of things are
not so much thought of now as they were once, and that all
manner of marriages are considered to be comme il faut. I do
not want, you know, to make myself foolish by being too
particular. Perhaps all these changes are bad, and I rather
think they are; but if the world changes, one must change too;
one can't go against the world.
'So do write and tell me what you think. Do not suppose that
I dislike the man, for I really cannot say that I do. But I
would not for anything make an alliance for which any one
bearing the name of De Courcy would have to blush.
'Always, dearest Amelia,'
Your most affectionate cousin
'PS--I fear Frank is going to be very foolish with Mary Thorne. You
know it is absolutely important that Frank should marry money.
'It strikes me as quite possible that Mr Mortimer Gazebee may be in
Parliament some of these days. He is just the man for it.'
Poor Augusta prayed very hard for her husband; but she prayed to a
bosom that on this subject was as hard as a flint, and she prayed in
vain. Augusta Gresham was twenty-two, Lady Amelia was thirty-four; was
it likely that Lady Amelia would permit Augusta to marry, the issue
having thus been left in her hands? Why should Augusta derogate from
her position by marrying beneath herself, seeing that Lady Amelia had
spent so many more years in the world without having found it necessary
to do so? Augusta's letter was written on two sheets of note-paper,
crossed all over; and Lady Amelia's answer was almost equally
'Lady Amelia de Courcy to Miss Augusta Gresham
'Courcy Castle, June, 185-
'MY DEAR AUGUSTA,
'I received your letter yesterday morning, but I have put off
answering it till this evening, as I have wished to give it
very mature consideration. The question is one which concerns,
not only your own character, but happiness for life, and
nothing less than very mature consideration would justify me
in giving a decided opinion on the subject.
'In the first place, I may tell you, that I have not a word to
say against Mr Mortimer Gazebee.' (When Augusta had read as
far as this, her heart sank within her; the rest was all
leather and prunella; she saw at once that the fiat had gone
against her, and that her wish to become Mrs Mortimer Gazebee
was not to be indulged.) 'I have known him for a long time,
and I believe him to be a very respectable person, and I have
no doubt a good man of business. The firm of Messrs Gumption
and Gazebee stands probably quite among the first attorneys in
London, and I know that papa has a very high opinion of them.
'All of these would be excellent arguments to use in favour of
Mr Gazebee as a suitor, had his proposals been made to any one
in his own rank in life. But you, in considering the matter,
should, I think, look on it in a very different light. The
very fact that you pronounce him to be so much superior to
other attorneys, shows in how very low esteem you hold the
profession in general. It shows also, dear Augusta, how well
aware you are that they are a class of people among whom you
should not seek a partner for life.
'My opinion is, that you should make Mr Gazebee understand--very
courteously, of course--that you cannot accept his hand. You
observe that he himself confesses that in marrying you he would
seek a wife in a rank above his own. Is it not, therefore,
clear, that in marrying him, you would descend to a rank below
'I shall be very sorry if it grieves you; but still it will
be better that you should bear the grief of overcoming a
temporary fancy, than take a step which may so probably make
you unhappy; and which some of your friends would certainly
regard as disgraceful.
'It is not permitted to us, my dear Augusta, to think of
ourselves in such matters. As you truly say, if we were to act
in this way, what would the world come to? It has been God's
pleasure that we should be born with high blood in our veins.
This is a great boon which we both value, but the boon has its
responsibilities as well as its privileges. It is established
by law, that the royal family shall not intermarry with
subjects. In our case there is no law, but the necessity is
not the less felt; we should not intermarry with those who
are probably of a lower rank. Mr Mortimer Gazebee is, after
all, only an attorney; and, although you speak of his
great-grandfather, he is a man of no blood whatsoever. You
must acknowledge that such an admixture should be looked on by
a De Courcy, or even a Gresham, as a pollution.' (Here Augusta
got very red, and she felt almost inclined to be angry with
her cousin.) 'Beatrice's marriage with Mr Oriel is different;
though, remember, I am by no means defending that; it may be
good or bad, and I have had no opportunity of inquiring
respecting Mr Oriel's family. Beatrice, moreover, has never
appeared to me to feel what was due to herself in such matters;
but, as I said, her marriage with Mr Oriel is very different.
Clergymen--particularly the rectors and vicars of country
parishes--do become privileged above other professional men.
I could explain why, but it would be too long in a letter.
'Your feelings on the subject altogether do you great credit.
I have no doubt that Mr Gresham, if asked, would accede to the
match; but that is just the reason why he should not be asked.
It would not be right that I should say anything against your
father to you; but it is impossible for any of us not to see
that all through life he has thrown away every advantage, and
sacrificed his family. Why is he now in debt, as you say? Why
is he not holding the family seat in Parliament? Even though
you are his daughter, you cannot but feel that you would not
do right to consult him on such a subject.
'As to dear aunt, I feel sure, that were she in good health,
and left to exercise her own judgement, she would not wish to
see you married to the agent for the family estate. For, dear
Augusta, that is the real truth. Mr Gazebee often comes here
in the way of business; and though papa always receives him as
a gentleman--that is, he dines at table and all that--he is not
on the same footing in the house as the ordinary guests and
friends of the family. How would you like to be received at
Courcy Castle in the same way?
'You will say, perhaps, that you would still be papa's niece;
so you would. But you know how strict in such matters papa is,
and you must remember, that the wife always follows the rank
of the husband. Papa is accustomed to the strict etiquette of
a court, and I am sure that no consideration would induce him
to receive the estate-agent in the light of a nephew. Indeed,
were you to marry Mr Gazebee, the house to which he belongs
would, I imagine, have to give up the management of the
'Even were Mr Gazebee in Parliament--and I do not see how it
is probable that he should get there--it would not make any
difference. You must remember, dearest, that I never was an
advocate for the Moffat match. I acquiesced in it, because
mamma did so. If I could have had my own way, I would adhere
to all our old prescriptive principles. Neither money nor
position can atone to me for low birth. But the world, alas!
is retrograding; and, according to the new-fangled doctrines
of the day, a lady of blood is not disgraced by allying herself
to a man of wealth, and what may be called quasi-aristocratic
position. I wish it were otherwise; but so it is. And,
therefore, the match with Mr Moffat was not disgraceful,
though it could not be regarded as altogether satisfactory.
'But with Mr Gazebee the matter would be altogether different.
He is a man earning his bread; honestly, I dare say, but in a
humble position. You say he is very respectable: I do not
doubt it; and so is Mr Scraggs, the butcher at Courcy. You
see, Augusta, to what such arguments reduce you.
'I dare say he may be nicer than Mr Moffat, in one way. That
is, he may have more small-talk at his command, and be more
clever in all those little pursuits and amusements which are
valued by ordinary young ladies. But my opinion is, that
neither I nor you would be justified in sacrificing ourselves
for such amusements. We have high duties before us. It may be
that the performance of those duties will prohibit us from
taking a part in the ordinary arena of the feminine world. It is
natural that girls should wish to marry; and, therefore, those
who are weak, take the first that come. Those who have more
judgement, make some sort of selection. But the strongest-minded
are, perhaps, those who are able to forgo themselves and their
own fancies, and to refrain from any alliance that does not
tend to the maintenance of high principles. Of course, I speak
of those who have blood in their veins. You and I need not
dilate as to the conduct of others.
'I hope what I have said will convince you. Indeed, I know
that it only requires that you and I should have a little
cousinly talk on this matter to be quite in accord. You must
now remain at Greshamsbury till Mr Gazebee shall return.
Immediately that he does so, seek an interview with him; do
not wait till he asks for it; then tell him, that when he
addressed you, the matter had taken you so much by surprise,
that you were not at the moment able to answer him, with that
decision that the subject demanded. Tell him, that you are
flattered--in saying this, however, you must keep a collected
countenance, and be very cold in your manner--but that family
reasons would forbid you to avail yourself of his offer, even
did no other cause prevent it.
'And then, dear Augusta, come to us here. I know you will be
a little down-hearted after going through this struggle; but I
will endeavour to inspirit you. When we are both together, you
will feel more sensibly the value of that high position which
you will preserve by rejecting Mr Gazebee, and will regret
less acutely whatever you may lose.
'Your very affectionate cousin,
'AMELIA DE COURCY.
'PS.--I am greatly grieved about Frank; but I have long feared
that he would do some very silly thing. I have heard lately
that Miss Mary Thorne is not even the legitimate niece of your
Dr Thorne, but is the daughter of some poor creature who was
seduced by the doctor, in Barchester. I do not know how true
this may be, but I think your brother should be put on his
guard: it might do good.'
Poor Augusta! She was in truth to be pitied, for her efforts were
made with the intention of doing right according to her lights. For Mr
Moffat she had never cared a straw; and when, therefore, she lost the
piece of gilding for which she had been instructed by her mother to
sell herself, it was impossible to pity her. But Mr Gazebee she would
have loved with that sort of love which it was in her power to bestow.
With him she would have been happy, respectable, and contented.
She had written her letter with great care. When the offer was
made to her, she could not bring herself to throw Lady Amelia to the
winds and marry the man, as it were, out of her own head. Lady Amelia
had been the tyrant of her life, and so she strove hard to obtain her
tyrant's permission. She used all her little cunning in showing that,
after all, Mr Gazebee was not so very plebeian. All her little cunning
was utterly worthless. Lady Amelia's mind was too strong to be caught
with such chaff. Augusta could not serve God and Mammon. She must
either be true to the god of her cousin's idolatry, and remain single,
or serve the Mammon of her own inclinations, and marry Mr Gazebee.
When re-folding her cousin's letter, after the first perusal, she did
for a moment think of rebellion. Could she not be happy at the nice
place in Surrey, having, as she would have, a carriage, even though all
the De Courcys should drop her? It had been put to her that she would
not like to be received at Courcy Castle with the scant civility which
would be considered due to a Mrs Mortimer Gazebee; but what if she
could put up without being received at Courcy Castle at all? Such ideas
did float through her mind, dimly.
But her courage failed her. It is so hard to throw off a tyrant; so
much easier to yield, when we have been in the habit of yielding. This
third letter, therefore, was written; and it is the end of the
'Miss Augusta Gresham to Lady Amelia de Courcy
'Greshamsbury House, July, 185-
'MY DEAREST AMELIA,
'I did not answer your letter before, because I thought it
better to delay doing so till Mr Gazebee had been here. He
came the day before yesterday, and yesterday I did, as nearly
as possible, what you advised. Perhaps, on the whole, it will
be better. As you say, rank has its responsibilities as well
as its privileges.
'I don't quite understand what you mean about clergymen, but
we can talk that over when we meet. Indeed, it seems to me
that if one is to be particular about family--and I am sure I
think we ought--one ought to be so without exception. If Mr
Oriel be a parvenu, Beatrice's children won't be well born
merely because their father was a clergyman, even though he
is a rector. Since my former letter, I have heard that Mr
Gazebee's great-great-great-grandfather established the firm;
and there are many people who were nobodies then who are
thought to have good blood in their veins now.
'But I do not say this because I differ from you. I agree
with you so fully, that I at once made up my mind to reject
the man; and, consequently, I have done so.
'When I told him I could not accept him from family
considerations, he asked me whether I had spoken to papa. I
told him, no; and that it would be no good, as I had made up
my own mind. I don't think he quite understood me; but it did
not perhaps much matter. You told me to be very cold, and I
think that perhaps he thought me less gracious than before.
Indeed, I fear that when he first spoke, I may seem to have
given him too much encouragement. However, it is all over now;
quite over!' (As Augusta wrote this, she barely managed to
save the paper beneath her hand from being moistened with the
tear which escaped from her eye.)
'I do not mind confessing now,' she continued, 'at any rate to
you, that I did like Mr Gazebee a little. I think his temper
and disposition would have suited me. But I am quite satisfied
that I have done right. He tried very hard to make me change
my mind. That is, he said a great many things as to whether I
would not put off my decision. But I was quite firm. I must
say that he behaved very well, and that I really do think he
liked me honestly and truly; but, of course, I could not
sacrifice family considerations on that account.
'Yes, rank has its responsibilities as well as its privileges.
I will remember that. It is necessary to do so, as otherwise
one would be without consolation for what one has to suffer.
For I find that one has to suffer, Amelia. I know papa would
have advised me to marry this man; and so, I dare say, mamma
would, and Frank, and Beatrice, if they knew that I liked him.
It would not be so bad if we all thought alike about it; but
it is hard to have responsibilities all on one's own shoulder;
is it not?
'But I will go over to you, and you will comfort me. I always
feel stronger on this subject at Courcy than at Greshamsbury.
We will have a long talk about it, and then I shall be happy
again. I purpose going on next Friday, if that will suit you
and dear aunt. I have told mamma that you all wanted me, and
she made no objection. Do write at once, dearest Amelia, for
to hear from you now will be my only comfort.
'Yours, ever most affectionately and obliged,
'PS.--I told mamma what you said about Mary Thorne, and she
said, "Yes; I suppose all the world knows it now; and if all
the world did know it, it makes no difference to Frank." She
seemed very angry; so you see it was true.'
Though, by so doing, we shall somewhat anticipate the end of our story,
it may be desirable that the full tale of Mr Gazebee's loves should be
told here. When Mary is breaking her heart on her death-bed in the last
chapter, or otherwise accomplishing her destiny, we shall hardly find a
fit opportunity of saying much about Mr Gazebee and his aristocratic
For he did succeed at last in obtaining a bride in whose veins ran the
noble De Courcy blood, in spite of the high doctrine preached so
eloquently by the Lady Amelia. As Augusta had truly said, he had failed
to understand her. He was led to think, by her manner of receiving his
first proposal--and justly so, enough--that she liked him, and would
accept him; and he was therefore rather perplexed by his second
interview. He tried again and again, and begged permission to mention
the matter to Mr Gresham; but Augusta was very firm, and he at last
retired in disgust. Augusta went to Courcy Castle, and received from her
cousin that consolation and re-strengthening which she so much required.
Four years afterwards--long after the fate of Mary Thorne had fallen,
like a thunderbolt, on the inhabitants of Greshamsbury; when Beatrice
was preparing for her second baby, and each of the twins had her
accepted lover--Mr Mortimer Gazebee went down to Courcy Castle; of
course, on a matter of business. No doubt he dined at the table, and all
that. We have the word of Lady Amelia, that the earl, with his usual
good-nature, allowed him such privileges. Let us hope that he never
encroached on them.
But on this occasion, Mr Gazebee stayed a long time at the castle, and
singular rumours as to the cause of his prolonged visit became current
in the little town. No female scion of the present family of Courcy had,
as yet, found a mate. We may imagine that eagles find it difficult to
pair when they become scarce in their localities; and we all know how
hard it has sometimes been to get comme il faut husbands when there has
been any number of Protestant princesses on hand.
Some little difficulty had, doubtless, brought it about that the
countess was still surrounded by her full bevy of maidens. Rank has its
responsibilities as well as its privileges, and these young ladies'
responsibilities seemed to have consisted in rejecting any suitor who
may have hitherto kneeled to them. But now it was told through Courcy,
that one suitor had kneeled, and not in vain; from Courcy the rumour
flew to Barchester, and thence came down to Greshamsbury, startling the
inhabitants, and making one poor heart throb with a violence that would
have been piteous had it been known. The suitor, so named, as Mr
Yes; Mr Mortimer Gazebee had now awarded to him many other privileges
than those of dining at the table, and all that. He rode with the young
ladies in the park, and they all talked to him very familiarly before
company; all except Lady Amelia. The countess even called him Mortimer,
and treated him quite as one of the family.
At last came a letter from the countess to her dear sister Arabella. It
should be given at length, but that I fear to introduce another epistle.
It is such an easy mode of writing, and facility is always dangerous. In
this letter it was announced with much preliminary ambiguity, that
Mortimer Gazebee--who had been found to be a treasure in every way;
quite a paragon of men--was about to be taken into the De Courcy bosom
as a child of that house. On that day fortnight, he was destined to lead
to the altar--the Lady Amelia.
The countess then went on to say, that dear Amelia did not write
herself, being so much engaged by her coming duties--the
responsibilities of which she doubtless fully realized, as well as the
privileges; but she had begged her mother to request that the twins
should come and act as bridesmaids on the occasion. Dear Augusta, she
knew, was too much occupied in the coming event in Mr Oriel's family to
be able to attend.
Mr Mortimer Gazebee was taken into the De Courcy family, and did lead
the Lady Amelia to the altar; and the Gresham twins did go there and act
as bridesmaids. And, which is much more to say for human nature, Augusta
did forgive her cousin, and, after a certain interval, went on a visit
to that nice place in Surrey which she had hoped would be her own home.
It would have been a very nice place, Augusta thought, had not Lady
Amelia Gazebee been so very economical.
We must presume that there was some explanation between them. If so,
Augusta yielded to it, and confessed it to be satisfactory. She had
always yielded to her cousin, and loved her with that sort of love which
is begotten between fear and respect. Anything was better than
quarrelling with her cousin Amelia.
And Mr Mortimer Gazebee did not altogether make a bad bargain. He never
received a shilling of dowry, but that he had not expected. Nor did he
want it. His troubles arose from the overstrained economy of his noble
wife. She would have it, that as she had married a poor man--Mr Gazebee,
however, was not a poor man--it behoved her to manage her house with
great care. Such a match as that she had made--this she told in
confidence to Augusta--had its responsibilities as well as its
But, on the whole, Mr Gazebee did not repent his bargain; when he asked
his friends to dine, he could tell them that Lady Amelia would be glad
to see them; his marriage gave him some eclat at his club, and some
additional weight in the firm to which he belonged; he gets his share of
the Courcy shooting, and is asked about to Greshamsbury, and other
Barsetshire houses, not only 'to dine at table and all that', but to
take his part in whatever delights country society there has to offer.
He lives with the great hope that his noble father-in-law may some day
be able to bring him into Parliament.
WHAT THE WORLD SAYS ABOUT BLOOD
'Beatrice,' said Frank, rushing suddenly into his sister's room, 'I want
you to do me one especial favour.' This was three or four days after he
had spoken to Mary Thorne. Since that time he had spoken to none of his
family on the subject; but he was only postponing from day to day the
task of telling his father. He had now completed his round of visits to
the kennel, master huntsman, and stables of the county hunt, and was at
liberty to attend to his own affairs. So he had decided on speaking to
the squire that very day; but he first made his request to his sister.
'I want you to do me one especial favour.' The day for Beatrice's
marriage had now been fixed, and it was not to be very distant. Mr Oriel
had urged that their honeymoon trip would lose half its delights if they
did not take advantage of the fine weather; and Beatrice had nothing to
allege in answer. The day had just been fixed, and when Frank ran into
her room with his special request, she was not in a humour to refuse him
'If you wish me to be at your wedding, you must do it.'
'Wish you to be there! You must be there, of course. Oh, Frank! what
do you mean? I'll do anything you ask; if it is not to go to the moon,
or anything of that sort.'
Frank was too much in earnest to joke. 'You must have Mary for one of
your bridesmaids,' he said. 'Now, mind; there may be some difficulty,
but you must insist on it. I know what has been going on; but it is not
to be borne that she should be excluded on such a day as that. You that
have been like sisters all your lives till a year ago.'
'Now, Beatrice, don't have any buts; say that you will do it, and it
will be done: I am sure Oriel will approve, and so will my father.'
'But, Frank, you won't hear me.'
'Not if you make objections; I have set my heart on your doing it.'
'But I had set my heart on the same thing.'
'And I went to Mary on purpose; and told her just as you tell me now,
that she must come. I meant to make mamma understand that I could not be
happy unless it were so; but Mary positively refused.'
'Refused! What did she say?'
'I could not tell you what she said; indeed, it would not be right if I
could; but she positively declined. She seemed to feel, that after all
that had happened, she never could come to Greshamsbury again.'
'But, Frank, those are her feelings; and, to tell the truth, I could not
combat them. I know she is not happy; but time will cure that. And, to
tell you the truth, Frank--'
'It was before I came back that you asked her, was it not?'
'Yes; just the day before you came, I think.'
'Well, it's altered now. I have seen her since that.'
'Have you Frank?'
'What do you take me for? Of course, I have. The very first day I went
to her. And now, Beatrice, you may believe me or not, as you like; but
if I ever marry, I shall marry Mary Thorne; and if she ever marries, I
think she may marry me. At any rate, I have her promise. And now, you
cannot be surprised that I should wish her to be at your wedding; or
that I should declare, that if she is absent, I will be absent. I don't
want any secrets, and you may tell my mother if you like it--and all the
De Courcys too, for anything I care.'
Frank had ever been used to command his sisters: and they, especially
Beatrice, had ever been used to obey. On this occasion, she was well
inclined to do so, if she only knew how. She again remembered how Mary
had once sworn to be at her wedding, to be near her, and to touch
her--even though all the blood of the De Courcys should be crowded
before the altar railings.
'I should be happy that she should be there; but what am I to do, Frank,
if she refuses? I have asked her, and she has refused.'
'Go to her again; you need not have any scruples with her. Do not I
tell you she will be your sister? Not come here again to Greshamsbury!
Why, I tell you that she will be living here while you are living there
at the parsonage, for years and years to come.'
Beatrice promised that she would go to Mary again, and that she would
endeavour to talk her mother over if Mary would consent to come. But she
could not yet make herself believe that Mary Thorne would ever be
mistress of Greshamsbury. It was so indispensably necessary that Frank
should marry money! Besides, what were these horrid rumours which were
now becoming rife as to Mary's birth; rumours more horrid than any which
had yet been heard.
Augusta had said hardly more than the truth when she spoke of her father
being broken-hearted by his debts. His troubles were becoming almost too
many for him; and Mr Gazebee, though no doubt he was an excellent man of
business, did not seem to lessen them. Mr Gazebee, indeed, was
continually pointing out how much he owed, and in what a quagmire of
difficulties he had entangled himself. Now, to do Mr Umbleby justice, he
had never made himself disagreeable in this manner.
Mr Gazebee had been doubtless right, when he declared that Sir Louis
Scatcherd had not himself the power to take any steps hostile to the
squire; but Sir Louis had also been right, when he boasted that, in
spite of his father's will, he could cause others to move in the matter.
Others did move, and were moving, and it began to be understood that a
moiety, at least, of the remaining Greshamsbury property must be sold.
Even this, however, would by no means leave the squire in undisturbed
possession of the other moiety. And thus, Mr Gresham was nearly
Frank had now been at home a week, and his father had not as yet spoken
to him about the family troubles; nor had a word as yet been said
between them as to Mary Thorne. It had been agreed that Frank should go
away for twelve months, in order that he might forget her. He had been
away the twelvemonth, and had now returned, not having forgotten her.
It generally happens, that in every household, one subject of importance
occupies it at a time. The subject of importance now mostly thought of
in the Greshamsbury household, was the marriage of Beatrice. Lady
Arabella had to supply the trousseau for her daughter; the squire had to
supply the money for the trousseau; Mr Gazebee had the task of obtaining
the money for the squire. While this was going on, Mr Gresham was not
anxious to talk to his son, either about his own debts or his son's
love. There would be time for these things when the marriage-feast was
So thought the father, but the matter was precipitated by Frank. He
also had put off the declaration which he had to make, partly from a
wish to spare the squire, but partly also with a view to spare himself.
We have all some of that cowardice which induces us to postpone an
inevitably evil day. At this time the discussions as to Beatrice's
wedding were frequent in the house, and at one of them Frank had heard
his mother repeat the names of the proposed bridesmaids. Mary's name was
not among them, and hence had arisen the attack on his sister.
Lady Arabella had had her reason for naming the list before her son; but
she overshot her mark. She wished to show him how Mary was forgotten at
Greshamsbury; but she only inspired him with a resolve that she should
not be forgotten. He accordingly went to his sister; and then, the
subject being full on his mind, he resolved at once to discuss it with
'Sir, are you at leisure for five minutes?' he said, entering the room
in which the squire was accustomed to sit majestically, to receive his
tenants, scold his dependants, and in which, in former happy days, he
had always arranged the meets of the Barsetshire hunt.
Mr Gresham was quite at leisure: when was he not so? But had he been
immersed in the deepest business of which he was capable, he would
gladly have put it aside at his son's instance.
'I don't like to have any secret from you, sir,' said Frank; 'nor, for
the matter of that, from anybody else'--the anybody else was intended to
have reference to his mother--'and, therefore, I would rather tell you
at once what I have made up my mind to do.'
Frank's address was very abrupt, and he felt it was so. He was rather
red in the face, and his manner was fluttered. He had quite made up his
mind to break the whole affair to his father; but he had hardly made up
his mind as to the best mode of doing so.
'Good heavens, Frank! what do you mean? you are not going to do
anything rash? What is it you mean, Frank?'
'I don't think it is rash,' said Frank.
'Sit down, my boy; sit down. What is it that you say you are going to
'Nothing immediately, sir,' said he, rather abashed; 'but as I have made
up my mind about Mary Thorne--'
'Oh, about Mary,' said the squire, almost relieved.
And then Frank, in voluble language, which he hardly, however, had quite
under his command, told his father all that had passed between him and
Mary. 'You see, sir,' said he, 'that it is fixed now, and cannot be
altered. Nor must it be altered. You asked me to go away for twelve
months, and I have done so. It has made no difference, you see. As to
our means of living, I am quite willing to do anything that may be best
and most prudent. I was thinking, sir, of taking a farm somewhere near
here, and living on that.'
The squire sat quite silent for some moments after this communication
had been made to him. Frank's conduct, as a son, in this special matter
of his love, how was it possible for him to find fault? He himself was
almost as fond of Mary as of a daughter; and, though he too would have
been desirous that his son should receive the estate from its
embarrassment by a rich marriage, he did not at all share Lady
Arabella's feelings on the subject. No Countess de Courcy had ever
engraved it on the tablets of his mind that the world would come to ruin
if Frank did not marry money. Ruin there was, and would be, but it had
been brought about by no sin of Frank's.
'Do you remember about her birth, Frank?' he said, at last.
'Yes, sir; everything. She told me all she knew; and Dr Thorne finished
'And what do you think of it?'
'It is a pity and a misfortune. It might, perhaps, have been a reason
why you or my mother should not have had Mary in the house many years
ago; but it cannot make any difference now.'
Frank had not meant to lean so heavily on his father; but he did so. The
story had never been told to Lady Arabella; was not even known to her
now, positively, and on good authority. But Mr Gresham had always known
it. If Mary's birth was so great a stain upon her, why had he brought
her into his house among his children?
'It is a misfortune, Frank; a very great misfortune. It will not do for
you and me to ignore birth; too much of the value of one's position
depends on it.'
'But what was Mr Moffat's birth?' said Frank, almost with scorn; 'or
what Miss Dunstable's?' he would have added, had it not been that his
father had not been concerned in that sin of wedding him to the oil of
'True, Frank. But yet, what you would mean to say is not true. We must
take the world as we find it. Were you to marry a rich heiress, were her
birth even as low as that of poor Mary--'
'Don't call her poor Mary, father; she is not poor. My wife will have a
right to take rank in the world, however she was born.'
'Well,--poor in that way. But were she an heiress, the world would
forgive her birth on account of her wealth.'
'The world is very complaisant, sir.'
'You must take it as you find it, Frank. I only say that such is the
fact. If Porlock were to marry the daughter of a shoeblack, without a
farthing, he would make a mesalliance; but if the daughter of the
shoeblack had half a million of money, nobody would dream of saying so.
I am stating no opinion of my own: I am only giving you the world's
'I don't give a straw for the world.'
'That is a mistake, my boy; you do care for it, and would be very
foolish if you did not. What you mean is, that, on this particular
point, you value your love more than the world's opinion.'
'Well, yes, that is what I mean.'
But the squire, though he had been very lucid in his definition, had not
got nearer to his object; had not even yet ascertained what his own
object was. This marriage would be ruinous to Greshamsbury; and yet,
what was he to say against it, seeing that the ruin had been his fault,
and not his son's?
'You could let me have a farm; could you not, sir? I was thinking of
about six or seven hundred acres. I suppose it could be managed
'A farm?' said the father, abstractedly.
'Yes, sir. I must do something for my living. I should make less of a
mess of that than anything else. Besides, it would take such a time to
be an attorney, or a doctor, or anything of that sort.'
Do something for his living! And was the heir of Greshamsbury come to
this--the heir and his only son? Whereas, he, the squire, had succeeded
at an earlier age than Frank's to an unembarrassed income of fourteen
thousand pounds a year! The reflection was very hard to bear.
'Yes: I dare say you could have a farm:' and then he threw himself back
in his chair, closing his eyes. Then, after a while, rose again, and
walked hurriedly about the room. 'Frank,' he said, at last, standing
opposite to his son, 'I wonder what you think of me?'
'Think of you, sir?' ejaculated Frank.
'Yes; what do you think of me, for having thus ruined you. I wonder
whether you hate me?'
Frank, jumping up from his chair, threw his arms round his father's
neck. 'Hate you, sir? How can you speak so cruelly? You know well that I
love you. And, father, do not trouble yourself about the estate for my
sake. I do not care for it; I can be just as happy without it. Let the
girls have what is left, and I will make my own way in the world,
somehow. I will go to Australia; yes, sir, that will be the best. I and
Mary will both go. Nobody will care about her birth there. But, father,
never say, never think, that I do not love you!'
The squire was too much moved to speak at once, so he sat down again and
covered his face with his hands. Frank went on pacing the room, till,
gradually, his first idea recovered possession of his mind, and the
remembrance of his father's grief faded away. 'May I tell Mary,' he said
at last, 'that you consent to our marriage?'
But the squire was not prepared to say this. He was pledged to his wife
to do all that he could to oppose it; and he himself thought, that if
anything could consummate the family ruin, it would be this marriage.
'I cannot say that, Frank; I cannot say that. What would you both live
on? It would be madness.'
'We would go to Australia,' answered he, bitterly. 'I have just said
'Oh, no, my boy; you cannot do that. You must not throw up the old
place altogether. There is no other one but you, Frank; and we have
lived here now for so many, many years.'
'But if we cannot live here any longer, father?'
'But for this scheme of yours, we might do. I will give up everything
to you, the management of the estate, the park, all the land we have in
hand, if you will give up this fatal scheme. For, Frank, it is fatal.
You are only twenty-three; why should you be in such a hurry to marry?'
'You married at twenty-one, sir.'
Frank was again severe on his father, unwittingly. 'Yes, I did,' said
Mr Gresham; 'and see what has come of it! Had I waited ten years longer,
how different would everything have been! No, Frank, I cannot consent to
such a marriage; nor will your mother.'
'It is your consent that I ask, sir; and I am asking for nothing but
'It would be sheer madness; madness for you both. My own Frank, my dear
boy, do not drive me to distraction! Give it up for four years.'
'Yes; for four years. I ask it as a personal favour; as an obligation
to myself, in order that we may be saved from ruin; you, your mother,
and sisters, your family name, and the old house. I do not talk about
myself; but were such a marriage to take place, I should be driven to
Frank found it very hard to resist his father, who now had hold of his
hand and arm, and was thus half retaining him, and half embracing him.
'Frank, say that you will forget this for four years--say for three
But Frank would not say so. To postpone his marriage for four years, or
for three, seemed to him to be tantamount to giving up Mary altogether;
and he would not acknowledge that any one had the right to demand of him
to do that.
'My word is pledged, sir,' he said.
'Pledged! Pledged to whom?'
'To Miss Thorne.'
'But I will see her, Frank;--and her uncle. She was always reasonable.
I am sure she will not wish to bring ruin on her old friends at
'Her old friends at Greshamsbury have done but little lately to deserve
her consideration. She has been treated shamefully. I know it has not
been by you, sir; but I must say so. She has already been treated
shamefully; but I will not treat her falsely.'
'Well, Frank, I can say no more to you. I have destroyed the estate
which should have been yours, and I have no right to expect you should
regard what I say.'
Frank was greatly distressed. He had not any feeling of animosity
against his father with reference to the property, and would have done
anything to make the squire understand this, short of giving up his
engagement to Mary. His feeling rather was, that, as each had a case
against the other, they should cry quits; that he should forgive his
father for his bad management, on condition that he himself was to be
forgiven with regard to his determined marriage. Not that he put it
exactly in that shape, even to himself; but could he have unravelled his
own thoughts, he would have found that such was the web on which they
'Father, I do regard what you say; but you would not have me be false.
Had you doubled the property instead of lessening it, I could not regard
what you say any more.'
'I should be able to speak in a very different tone; I feel that,
'Do not feel it any more, sir; say what you wish, as you would have said
it under any other circumstances; and pray believe this, the idea never
occurs to me, that I have ground for complaint as regards the property;
never. Whatever troubles we may have, do not let that trouble you.'
Soon after this Frank left him. What more was there that could be said
between them? They could not be of one accord; but even yet it might not
be necessary that they should quarrel. He went out, and roamed by
himself through the grounds, rather more in meditation than was his
If he did marry, how was he to live? He talked of a profession; but had
he meant to do as others do, who make their way in professions, he
should have thought of that a year or two ago!--or, rather, have done
more than think of it. He spoke also of a farm, but even that could not
be had in a moment; nor, if it could, would it produce a living. Where
was his capital? Where was his skill? and he might have asked also,
where the industry so necessary for such a trade? He might have set his
father at defiance, and if Mary were equally headstrong with himself, he
might marry her. But, what then?
As he walked slowly about, cutting off the daisies with his stick, he
met Mr Oriel, going up to the house, as was now his custom, to dine
there and spend the evening, close to Beatrice.
'How I envy you, Oriel!' he said. 'What would I not give to have such a
position in the world as yours!'
'Thou shalt not covet a man's house, nor his wife,' said Mr Oriel;
'perhaps it ought to have been added, nor his position.'
'It wouldn't have made much difference. When a man is tempted, the
Commandments, I believe, do not go for much.'
'Do they not, Frank? That's a dangerous doctrine; and one which, if you
had my position, you would hardly admit. But what makes you so much out
of sorts? Your own position is generally considered about the best which
the world has to give.'
'Is it? Then let me tell you that the world has very little to give.
What can I do? Where can I turn? Oriel, if there be an empty, lying
humbug in the world, it is the theory of high birth and pure blood which
some of us endeavour to maintain. Blood, indeed! If my father had been a
baker, I should know by this time where to look for my livelihood. As it
is, I am told of nothing but my blood. Will my blood ever get me half a
And then the young democrat walked on again in solitude, leaving Mr
Oriel in doubt as to the exact line of argument which he had meant to
THE TWO DOCTORS CHANGE PATIENTS
Dr Fillgrave still continued his visits to Greshamsbury, for Lady
Arabella had not yet mustered the courage necessary for swallowing her
pride and sending once more for Dr Thorne. Nothing pleased Dr Fillgrave
more than those visits.
He habitually attended grander families, and richer people; but then, he
had attended them habitually. Greshamsbury was a prize taken from the
enemy; it was his rock of Gibraltar, of which he thought much more than
of any ordinary Hampshire or Wiltshire which had always been within his
He was just starting one morning with his post-horses for Greshamsbury,
when an impudent-looking groom, with a crooked nose, trotted up to his
door. For Joe still had a crooked nose, all the doctor's care having
been inefficacious to remedy the evil effects of Bridget's little tap
with the rolling-pin. Joe had no written credentials, for his master was
hardly equal to writing, and Lady Scatcherd had declined to put herself
to further personal communication with Dr Fillgrave; but he had
effrontery enough to deliver any message.
'Be you Dr Fillgrave?' said Joe, with one finger just raised to his
'Yes,' said Dr Fillgrave, with one foot on the step of the carriage, but
pausing at the sight of the well-turned-out servant. 'Yes; I am Dr
'Then you be to go to Boxall Hill immediately; before anywhere else.'
'Boxall Hill!' said the doctor, with a very angry frown.
'Yes; Boxall Hill: my master's place--my master is Sir Louis Scatcherd,
baronet. You've heard of him, I suppose?'
Dr Fillgrave had not his mind quite ready for such an occasion. So he
withdrew his foot from the carriage step, and rubbing his hands one over
another, looked at his own hall door for inspiration. A single glance at
his face was sufficient to show that no ordinary thoughts were being
turned over within his breast.
'Well!' said Joe, thinking that his master's name had not altogether
produced the magic effect which he had expected; remembering, also, how
submissive Greyson had always been, who, being a London doctor, must be
supposed to be a bigger man than this provincial fellow. 'Do you know my
master is dying, very like, while you stand here?'
'What is your master's disease?' said the doctor, facing Joe, slowly,
and still rubbing his hands. 'What ails him? What is the matter with
'Oh; the matter with him? Well, to say it out at once then, he do take
a drop too much at times, and then he has the horrors--what is it they
call it? Delicious beam-ends, or something of that sort.'
'Ah, ah, yes; I know; and tell me, my man, who is attending him?'
'Attending him? why, I do, and his mother, that is, her ladyship.'
'Yes; but what medical attendant: what doctor?'
'Why, there was Greyson, in London, and--'
'Greyson!' and the doctor looked as though a name so medicinally humble
had never struck the tympanum of his ear.
'Yes; Greyson. And then, down at what's a the man of the place, there
'Yes; Greshamsbury. But he and Thorne didn't hit it off; and so since
that he has had no one but myself.'
'I will be at Boxall Hill in the course of the morning,' said Dr
Fillgrave; 'or, rather, you may say, that I will be there at once: I
will take it in my way.' And having thus resolved, he gave his orders
that the post-horses should make such a detour as would enable him to
visit Boxall Hill on his road. 'It is impossible,' said he to himself,
'that I should be twice treated in such a manner in the same house.'
He was not, however, altogether in a comfortable frame of mind as he was
driven up to the hall door. He could not but remember the smile of
triumph with which his enemy had regarded him in that hall; he could not
but think how he had returned fee-less to Barchester, and how little he
had gained in the medical world by rejecting Lady Scatcherd's bank-note.
However, he also had had his triumphs since that. He had smiled
scornfully at Dr Thorne when he had seen him in the Greshamsbury street;
and had been able to tell, at twenty houses through the county, how Lady
Arabella had at last been obliged to place herself in his hands. And he
triumphed again when he found himself really standing by Sir Louis
Scatcherd's bedside. As for Lady Scatcherd, she did not even show
herself. She kept in her own little room, sending out Hannah to ask him
up the stairs; and she only just got a peep at him through the door as
she heard the medical creak of his shoes as he again descended.
We need say but little of his visit to Sir Louis. It mattered nothing
now, whether it was Thorne, or Greyson, or Fillgrave. And Dr Fillgrave
knew that it mattered nothing: he had skill at least for that--and heart
enough also to feel that he would fain have been relieved from this
task; would fain have left the patient in the hands even of Dr Thorne.
The name which Joe had given to his master's illness was certainly not a
false one. He did find Sir Louis 'in the horrors'. If any father have a
son whose besetting sin was a passion for alcohol, let him take his
child to the room of a drunkard when possessed by 'the horrors'. Nothing
will cure him if not that.
I will not disgust my reader by attempting to describe the poor wretch
in his misery: the sunken, but yet glaring eyes; the emaciated cheeks;
the fallen mouth; the parched, sore lips; the face, now dry and hot, and
then suddenly clammy with drops of perspiration; the shaking hand, and
all but palsied limbs; and worse than this, the fearful mental efforts,
and the struggles for drink; struggles to which it is often necessary to
Dr Fillgrave soon knew what was to be the man's fate; but he did what he
might to relieve it. There, in one big, best bedroom, looking out to the
north, lay Sir Louis Scatcherd, dying wretchedly. There, in the other
big, best bedroom, looking out to the south, had died the other baronet
about twelvemonth since, and each a victim of the same sin. To this had
come the prosperity of the house of Scatcherd!
And then Dr Fillgrave went on to Greshamsbury. It was a long day's
work, both for himself and the horses; but then, the triumph of being
dragged up that avenue compensated for both the expense and the labour.
He always put on his sweetest smile as he came near the hall door, and
rubbed his hands in the most complaisant manner of which he knew. It was
seldom that he saw any of the family but Lady Arabella; but then he
desired to see none other, and when he left her in a good humour, was
quite content to take his glass of sherry and eat his lunch by himself.
On this occasion, however, the servant at once asked him to go into the
dining-room, and there he found himself in the presence of Frank
Gresham. The fact was, that Lady Arabella, having at last decided, had
sent for Dr Thorne; and it had become necessary that some one should be
entrusted with the duty of informing Dr Fillgrave. That some one must be
the squire, or Frank. Lady Arabella would doubtless have preferred a
messenger more absolutely friendly to her own side of the house; but
such messenger there was none: she could not send Mr Gazebee to see the
doctor, and so, of the two evils, she chose the least.
'Dr Fillgrave,' said Frank, shaking hands with him very cordially as he
came up, 'my mother is so much obliged to you for all your care and
anxiety on her behalf! and, so indeed, are we all.'
The doctor shook hands with him very warmly. This little expression of
a family feeling on his behalf was the more gratifying, as he had always
thought that the males of the Greshamsbury family were still wedded to
that pseudo-doctor, that half-apothecary who lived in the village.
'It has been awfully troublesome to you, coming over all this way, I am
sure. Indeed, money could not pay for it; my mother feels that. It must
cut up your time so much.'
'Not at all, Mr Gresham; not at all,' said the Barchester doctor, rising
up on his toes proudly as he spoke. 'A person of your mother's
importance, you know! I should be happy to go any distance to see her.'
'Ah! but, Dr Fillgrave, we cannot allow that.'
'Mr Gresham, don't mention it.'
'Oh, yes; but I must,' said Frank, who thought that he had done enough
for civility, and was now anxious to come to the point. 'The fact is,
doctor, that we are very much obliged for what you have done; but, for
the future, my mother thinks that she can trust to such assistance as
she can get here in the village.'
Frank had been particularly instructed to be very careful how he
mentioned Dr Thorne's name, and, therefore, cleverly avoided it.'
Get what assistance she wanted in the village! What words were those
that he heard? 'Mr Gresham, eh--hem--perhaps I do not completely--' Yes,
alas! he had completely understood what Frank had meant that he should
understand. Frank desired to be civil, but he had no idea of beating
unnecessarily about the bush on such an occasion as this.
'It's by Sir Omicron's advice, Dr Fillgrave. You see, this man
here'--and he nodded his head towards the doctor's house, being still
anxious not to pronounce the hideous name--'has known my mother's
constitution for so many years.'
'Oh, Mr Gresham; of course, if it is wished.'
'Yes, Dr Fillgrave, it is wished. Lunch is coming directly:' and Frank
rang the bell.
'Nothing, I thank you, Mr Gresham.'
'Do take a glass of sherry.'
'Nothing at all, I am very much obliged to you.'
'Won't you let the horses get some oats?'
'I will return at once, if you please, Mr Gresham.' And the doctor did
return, taking with him, on this occasion, the fee that was offered to
him. His experience had at any rate taught him so much.
But though Frank could do this for Lady Arabella, he could not receive
Dr Thorne on her behalf. The bitterness of that interview had to be
borne by herself. A messenger had been sent for him, and he was upstairs
with her ladyship while his rival was receiving his conge downstairs.
She had two objects to accomplish, if it might be possible: she had
found that high words with the doctor were of no avail; but it might be
possible that Frank could be saved by humiliation on her part. If she
humbled herself before this man, would he consent to acknowledge that
his niece was not the fit bride for the heir of Greshamsbury?
The doctor entered the room where she was lying on her sofa, and walking
up to her with a gentle, but yet not constrained step, took the seat
beside her little table, just as he had always been accustomed to do,
and as though there had been no break in the intercourse.
'Well, doctor, you see that I have come back to you,' she said, with a
'Or, rather I have come back to you. And, believe me, Lady Arabella, I
am very happy to do so. There need be no excuses. You were, doubtless,
right to try what other skill could do; and I hope it has not been tried
She had meant to have been so condescending; but now all that was put
quite beyond her power. It was not easy to be condescending to the
doctor: she had been trying all her life, and had never succeeded.
'I have had Sir Omicron Pie,' she said.
'So I was glad to hear. Sir Omicron is a clever man, and has a good
name. I always recommend Sir Omicron myself.'
'And Sir Omicron returns the compliment,' said she, smiling gracefully,
'for he recommends you. He told Mr Gresham that I was very foolish to
quarrel with my best friend. So now we are friends again, are we not?
You see how selfish I am.' And she put out her hand to him.
The doctor took her hand cordially, and assured her that he bore her no
ill-will; that he fully understood her conduct--and that he had never
accused her of selfishness. This was all very well and very gracious;
but, nevertheless, Lady Arabella felt that the doctor kept the upper
hand in those sweet forgivenesses. Whereas, she had intended to keep the
upper hand, at least for a while, so that her humiliation might be more
effective when it did come.
And then the doctor used his surgical lore, as he well knew how to use
it. There was an assured confidence about him, an air which seemed to
declare that he really knew what he was doing. These were very
comfortable to his patients, but they were wanting in Dr Fillgrave. When
he had completed his examinations and questions, and she had completed
her little details and made her answer, she was certainly more at ease
than she had been since the doctor had last left her.
'Don't go yet, for a moment,' she said. 'I have one word to say to
He declared that he was not in the least in a hurry. He desired nothing
better, he said, than to sit there and talk to her. 'And I owe you a
most sincere apology, Lady Arabella.'
'A sincere apology!' said she, becoming a little red. Was he going to
say anything about Mary? Was he going to own that he, and Mary, and
Frank had all been wrong?
'Yes, indeed. I ought not to have brought Sir Louis Scatcherd here: I
ought to have known that he would have disgraced himself.'
'Oh! it does not signify,' said her ladyship in a tone almost of
disappointment. 'I had forgotten it. Mr Gresham and you had more
inconvenience than we had.'
'He is an unfortunate, wretched man--most unfortunate; with an immense
fortune which he can never live to possess.'
'And who will the money go to, doctor?'
This was a question for which Dr Thorne was hardly prepared. 'Go to?' he
repeated. 'Oh, some member of the family, I believe. There are plenty of
nephews and nieces.'
'Yes; but will it be divided, or all go to one?'
'Probably to one, I think. Sir Roger had a strong idea of leaving it
all in one hand.' If it should happen to be a girl, thought Lady
Arabella, what an excellent opportunity would that be for Frank to marry
'And now, doctor, I want to say one word to you; considering the very
long time that we have known each other, it is better that I should be
open with you. This estrangement between us and dear Mary has given us
all so much pain. Cannot we do anything to put an end to it?'
'Well, what can I say, Lady Arabella? That depends so wholly on
'If it depends on me, it shall be done at once.'
The doctor bowed. And though he could hardly be said to do so stiffly,
he did it coldly. His bow seemed to say, 'Certainly; if you choose to
make a proper amende it can be done. But I think it is very unlikely
that you will do so.'
'Beatrice is just going to be married, you know that, doctor.' The
doctor said that he did know it. 'And it will be so pleasant that Mary
should make one of us. Poor Beatrice; you don't know what she has
'Yes,' said the doctor, 'there has been suffering, I am sure; suffering
on both sides.'
'You cannot wonder that we should be so anxious about Frank, Dr Thorne;
an only son, and the heir to an estate that has been so very long in the
family:' and Lady Arabella put her handkerchief to her eyes, as though
these facts were themselves melancholy, and not to be thought of by a
mother without some soft tears. 'Now I wish you could tell me what your
views are, in a friendly manner, between ourselves. You won't find me
'My views, Lady Arabella?'
'Yes, doctor; about your niece, you know: you must have views of some
sort; that's of course. It occurs to me, that perhaps were all in the
dark together. If so, a little candid speaking between you and me may
set it all right.'
Lady Arabella's career had not hitherto been conspicuous for candour, as
far as Dr Thorne had been able to judge of it; but that was no reason
why he should not respond to so very becoming an invitation on her part.
He had no objection to a little candid speaking; at least, so he
declared. As to his views with regard to Mary, they were merely these:
that he would make her as happy and comfortable as he could while she
remained with him; and that he would give her his blessing--for he had
nothing else to give her--when she left him;--if ever she should do so.
Now, it will be said that the doctor was not very candid in this; not
more so, perhaps, than was Lady Arabella herself. But when one is
specially invited to be candid, one is naturally set upon one's guard.
Those who by disposition are most open, are apt to become crafty when so
admonished. When a man says to you, 'Let us be candid with each other,'
you feel instinctively that he desires to squeeze you without giving a
drop of water himself.
'Yes; but about Frank,' said Lady Arabella.
'About Frank!' said the doctor, with an innocent look, which her
ladyship could hardly interpret.
'What I mean is this: can you give me your word that these young people
do not intend to do anything rash? One word like that from you will set
my mind quite at rest. And then we could be so happy together again.'
'Ah! who is to answer for what rash things a young man will do?' said
the doctor, smiling.
Lady Arabella got up from the sofa, and pushed away the little table.
The man was false, hypocritical, and cunning. Nothing could be made of
him. They were all in a conspiracy together to rob her of her son; to
make him marry without money! What should she do? Where should she turn
for advice and counsel? She had nothing more to say to the doctor; and
he, perceiving that this was the case, took his leave. This little
attempt to achieve candour had not succeeded.
Dr Thorne had answered Lady Arabella as had seemed best to him on the
spur of the moment; but he was by no means satisfied with himself. As he
walked away through the gardens, he bethought himself whether it would
be better for all parties if he could bring himself to be really candid.
Would it not be better for him at once to tell the squire what were the
future prospects of his niece, and let the father agree to the marriage,
or not agree to it, as he might think fit. But then, if so, if he did do
this, would he not in fact say, 'There is my niece, there is this girl
of whom you have been talking for the last twelvemonth, indifferent to
what agony of mind you may have occasioned to her; there she is, a