Part 12 out of 12
near Sir Louis was to his last struggle, he would not have spoken of him
in this manner. 'That's all very fine talk, but it won't bear wear and
tear. You do care for Greshamsbury if you are the fellow I take you to
be: care for it very much; and you care too much for your father being
Gresham of Greshamsbury.'
'This won't affect my father at all.'
'Ah, but it will affect him very much. If you were to marry Miss Thorne
to-morrow, there would at once be an end to any hope to save your
'And do you mean to say I'm to be a liar to her for such reasons as
that? Why, Harry, I should be as bad as Moffat. Only it would be ten
times more cowardly, as she has no brother.'
'I must differ from you there altogether; but mind, I don't mean to say
anything. Tell me that you have made up your mind to marry her, and I'll
stick to you through thick and thin. But if you ask my advice, why, I
must give it. It is quite a different affair to that of Moffat's. He had
lots of tin, everything he could want, and there could be no reason why
he should not marry,--except that he was a snob, of whom your sister was
well quit. But this is very different. If I, as your friend, were to put
it to Miss Thorne, what do you think she would say herself?'
'She would say whatever was best for me.'
'Exactly: because she is a trump. And I say the same. There can be no
doubt about it, Frank, my boy: such a marriage would be very foolish for
you both; very foolish. Nobody can admire Miss Thorne more than I do;
but you oughtn't to be a marrying man for the next ten years, unless you
get a fortune. If you tell her the truth, and if she's the girl I take
her to be, she'll not accuse you of being false. She'll peak for a
while; and so will you, old chap. But others have had to do that before
you. They have got over it and so will you.'
Such was the spoken wisdom of Harry Baker, and who can say that he was
wrong? Frank sat a while on his rustle seat, paring his nails with his
penknife, and then looking up, he thus thanked his friend:--
'I'm sure you mean well, Harry; and I'm much obliged to you. I dare say
you're right too. But, somehow, it doesn't come home to me. And what is
more, after what has passed, I could not tell her that I wish to part
from her. I could not do it. And besides, I have that sort of feeling,
that if I heard she was to marry any one else, I am sure I would blow
his brains out. Either his or my own.'
'Well, Frank, you may count on me for anything, except the last
proposition:' and so they shook hands, and Frank rode back to
LAW BUSINESS IN LONDON
On the Monday morning at six o'clock, Mr Oriel and Frank started
together; but early as it was, Beatrice was up to give them a cup of
coffee, Mr Oriel having slept that night in the house. Whether Frank
would have received the coffee from his sister's fair hands had not Mr
Oriel been there, may be doubted. He, however, loudly asserted that he
should not have done so, when she laid claim to great merit for rising
on his behalf.
Mr Oriel had been specially instigated by Lady Arabella to use the
opportunity of their joint journey, for pointing out to Frank the
iniquity as well as madness of the course he was pursuing; and he had
promised to obey her ladyship's request. But Mr Oriel was perhaps not an
enterprising man, and was certainly not a presumptuous one. He did
intend to do as he was bid; but when he began, with the object of
leading up to the subject of Frank's engagement, he always softened down
into some much easier enthusiasm in the matter of his own engagement
with Beatrice. He had not that perspicuous, but not over-sensitive
strength of mind which had enabled Harry Baker to express his opinion
out at once; and boldly as he did it, yet to do so without offence.
Four times before the train arrived in London, he made some little
attempt; but four times he failed. As the subject was matrimony, it was
his easiest course to begin about himself; but never could he get any
'No man was ever more fortunate in a wife than I shall be,' he said,
with a soft, euphuistic self-complacency, which would have been silly
had it been adopted to any other person than the bride's brother. His
intention, however, was very good, for he meant to show, that in his
case marriage was prudent and wise, because his case differed so widely
from that of Frank.
'Yes,' said Frank. 'She is an excellent good girl:' he had said it
three times before, and was not very energetic.
'Yes, and so exactly suited to me; indeed, all that I could have dreamed
of. How very well she looked this morning! Some girls only look well at
night. I should not like that at all.'
'You mustn't expect her to look like that always at six o'clock a.m.,'
said Frank, laughing. 'Young ladies only take that trouble on very
particular occasions. She wouldn't have come down like that if my father
or I had been going alone. No, and she won't do that for you in a couple
of years' time.'
'Oh, but she's always nice. I have seen her at home as much almost as
you could do; and then she's so sincerely religious.'
'Oh, yes, of course; that is, I am sure she is,' said Frank, looking
solemn as became him.
'She's made to be a clergyman's wife.'
'Well, so it seems,'said Frank.
'A married life, I'm sure, the happiest in the world--if people are only
in a position to marry,' said Mr Oriel, gradually drawing near to the
accomplishment of his design.
'Yes; quite so. Do you know, Oriel, I never was so sleepy in my life.
What with all that fuss of Gazebee's, and one thing and another, I could
not get to bed till one o'clock; and then I couldn't sleep. I'll take a
snooze now, if you won't think it uncivil.' And then, putting his feet
on the opposite seat, he settled himself comfortably to his rest. And so
Mr Oriel's last attempt for lecturing Frank in the railway-carriage
faded away and was annihilated.
By twelve o'clock Frank was with Messrs Slow & Bideawhile. Mr
Bideawhile was engaged at the moment, but he found the managing Chancery
clerk to be a very chatty gentleman. Judging from what he saw, he would
have said that the work to be done at Messrs Slow & Bideawhile's was not
'A singular man that Sir Louis,' said the Chancery clerk.
'Yes; very singular,' said Frank.
'Excellent security; no better; and yet he will foreclose; but you see
he has no power himself. But the question is, can the trustee refuse?
Then, again, trustees are so circumscribed nowadays that they are afraid
to do anything. There has been so much said lately, Mr Gresham, that a
man doesn't know where he is, or what he is doing. Nobody trusts
anybody. There have been such terrible things that we can't wonder at
it. Only think of the case of those Hills! How can any one expect that
any one else will ever trust a lawyer again after that? But that's Mr
Bideawhile's bell. How can one expect it? He will see you now, I dare
say, Mr Gresham.'
So it turned out, and Frank was ushered into the presence of Mr
Bideawhile. He had got his lesson by heart, and was going to rush into
the middle of his subject; such a course, however, was not in accordance
with Mr Bideawhile's usual practice. Mr Bideawhile got up from his large
wooden-seated Windsor chair, and, with a soft smile, in which, however,
was mingled some slight dash of the attorney's acuteness, put out his
hand to his young client; not, indeed, as though he were going to shake
hands with him, but as though the hand were some ripe fruit all but
falling, which his visitor might take and pluck if he thought proper.
Frank took hold of the hand, which returned no pressure, and then let it
go again, not making any attempt to gather the fruit.
'I have come up to town, Mr Bideawhile, about this mortgage.'
'Mortgage--ah, sit down, Mr Gresham; sit down. I hope your father is
'Quite well, thank you.'
'I have a great regard for your father. So I had for your grandfather;
a very good man indeed. You, perhaps, don't remember him, Mr Gresham?'
'He died when I was only a year old.'
'Oh, yes; no, you of course, can't remember him; but I do well: he used
to be very fond of some port wine I had. I think it was "11"; and if I
don't mistake, I have a bottle or two of it yet; but it is not worth
drinking now. Port wine, you know, won't keep beyond a certain time.
That was very good wine. I don't exactly remember what it stood me a
dozen then; but such wine can't be had now. As for the Madeira, you know
there's an end of that. Do you drink Madeira, Mr Gresham?'
'No,' said Frank, 'not very often.'
'I'm sorry for that, for it's a fine wine; but then there's none of it
left, you know. I have a few dozen, I'm told they're growing pumpkins
where the vineyards were. I wonder what they do with all the pumpkins
they grow in Switzerland! You've been to Switzerland, Mr Gresham?'
Frank said he had ben in Switzerland.
'It's a beautiful country; my girls made me go there last year. They
said it would do me good; but then you know, they wanted to see it
themselves; ha! ha! ha! However, I believe I shall go again this autumn.
That is to Aix, or some of those places; just for three weeks. I can't
spare any more time, Mr Gresham. Do you like that dining at the tables
'Pretty well, sometimes.'
'One would get tired of it--eh! But they gave us capital dinners at
Zurich. I don't think much of their soup. But they had fish, and about
seven kinds of meats and poultry, and three or four puddings, and things
of that sort. Upon my word, I thought we did very well, and so did my
girls, too. You see a great many ladies travelling now.'
'Yes,' said Frank; 'a great many.'
'Upon my word, I think they are right; that is, if they can afford time.
I can't afford time. I'm here every day till five, Mr Gresham; then I go
out and dine in Fleet Street, and then back to work till nine.'
'Dear me! that's very hard.'
'Well, yes it is hard work. My boys don't like it; but I manage
somehow. I get down to my little place in the country on Saturday. I
shall be most happy to see you there next Saturday.'
Frank, thinking it would be outrageous on his part to take up much of
the time of the gentleman who was constrained to work so unreasonably
hard, began again to talk about his mortgages, and, in so doing, had to
mention the name of Mr Yates Umbleby.
'Ah, poor Umbleby!' said Mr Bideawhile; 'what is he doing now? I am
quite sure your father was right, or he wouldn't have done it; but I
used to think that Umbleby was a decent sort of man enough. Not so
grand, you know, as your Gazebees and Gumptions--eh, Mr Gresham? They do
say young Gazebee is thinking of getting into Parliament. Let me see:
Umbleby married--who was it he married? That was the way your father got
hold of him; not your father, but your grandfather. I used to know all
about it. Well, I was sorry for Umbleby. He has got something, I
Frank said that he believed Mr Yates Umbleby had something wherewith to
keep the wolf from the door.
'So you have got Gazebee down there now? Gumption, Gazebee & Gazebee:
very good people, I'm sure; only, perhaps, they have a little too much
on hand to do your father justice.'
'But about Sir Louis Scatcherd, Mr Bideawhile.'
'Well, about Sir Louis; a very bad sort of fellow, isn't he? Drinks--eh?
I knew his father a little. He was a rough diamond, too. I was once down
in Northamptonshire, about some railway business; let me see; I almost
forget whether I was with him, or against him. But I know he made sixty
thousand pounds by one hour's work; sixty thousand pounds! And then he
got so mad with drinking that we all thought--'
And so Mr Bideawhile went on for two hours, and Frank found no
opportunity of saying one word about the business which had brought him
up to town. What wonder that such a man as this should be obliged to
stay at his office every night till nine o'clock?
During these two hours, a clerk had come in three or four times,
whispering something to the lawyer, who, on the last of such occasions,
turned to Frank, saying, 'Well, perhaps that will do for to-day. If
you'll manage to call to-morrow, say about two, I will have the whole
thing looked up; or, perhaps Wednesday or Thursday would suit you
better.' Frank, declaring that the morrow would suit him very well, took
his departure, wondering much at the manner in which business was done
at the house of Messrs Slow and Bideawhile.
When he called the next day, the office seemed to be rather disturbed,
and he was shown quickly into Mr Bideawhile's room. 'Have you heard
this?' said that gentleman, putting a telegram into his hands. It
contained tidings of the death of Sir Louis Scatcherd. Frank immediately
knew that these tidings must be of importance to his father; but he had
no idea how vitally they concerned his own more immediate interests.
'Dr Thorne will be up in town on Thursday evening after the funeral,'
said the talkative clerk. 'And nothing of course can be done till he
comes,' said Mr Bideawhile. And so Frank, pondering on the mutability of
human affairs, again took his departure.
He could do nothing now but wait for Dr Thorne's arrival, and so he
amused himself in the interval by running down to Malvern, and treating
with Miss Dunstable in person for the oil of Lebanon. He went down on
the Wednesday, and thus, failed to receive, on the Thursday morning,
Mary's letter, which reached London on that day. He returned, however,
on the Friday, and then got it; and perhaps it was well for Mary's
happiness that he had seen Miss Dunstable in the interval. 'I don't care
what your mother says,' said she, with emphasis. 'I don't care for any
Harry, whether it be Harry Baker or old Harry himself. You made her a
promise, and you are bound to keep it; if not on one day, then on
another. What! because you cannot draw back yourself, get out of it by
inducing her to do so! Aunt de Courcy herself could not improve upon
that.' Fortified in this manner, he returned to town on the Friday
morning, and then got Mary's letter. Frank also got a note from Dr
Thorne, stating that he had taken up his temporary domicile at the
Gray's Inn Coffee-house, so as to be near the lawyers.
It has been suggested that the modern English writers of fiction should
among them keep a barrister, in order that they may be set right on such
legal points as will arise in their little narratives, and thus avoid
the exposure of their own ignorance of the laws, which, now, alas! they
too often make. The idea is worthy of consideration, and I can only say,
that if such an arrangement can be made, and if a counsellor adequately
skilful can be found to accept the office, I shall be happy to subscribe
my quota; it would be but a modest tribute towards the cost.
But as the suggestion has not yet been carried out, and as there is at
present no learned gentleman whose duty would induce him to set me
right, I can only plead for mercy if I be wrong allotting all Sir
Roger's vast possessions in perpetuity to Miss Thorne, alleging also, in
excuse, that the course of my narrative absolutely demands that she
shall be ultimately recognized as Sir Roger's undoubted heiress.
Such, after a not immoderate delay, was the opinion expressed to Dr
Thorne by his law advisers; and such, in fact, turned out to be the
case. I will leave the matter so, hoping that my very absence of defence
may serve to protect me from severe attack. If under such a will as that
described as having been made by Sir Roger, Mary would not have been the
heiress, that will must have been described wrongly.
But it was not quite at once that those tidings made themselves
absolutely certain to Dr Thorne's mind; nor was he able to express any
such opinion when he first met Frank in London. At that time Mary's
letter was in Frank's pocket; and Frank, though his real business
appertained much more to the fact of Sir Louis's death, and the effect
that would immediately have on his father's affairs, was much more full
of what so much more nearly concerned himself. 'I will show it Dr Thorne
himself,' said he, 'and ask him what he thinks.'
Dr Thorne was stretched fast asleep on the comfortless horse-hair sofa
in the dingy sitting-room at the Gray's Inn Coffee-house when Frank
found him. The funeral, and his journey to London, and the lawyers had
together conquered his energies, and he lay and snored, with nose
upright, while heavy London summer flies settled on his head and face,
and robbed his slumbers of half their charms.
'I beg your pardon,' said he, jumping up as though he had been detected
in some disgraceful act. 'Upon my word, Frank, I beg your pardon;
but--well, my dear fellow, all well at Greshamsbury--eh?' and as he
shook himself, he made a lunge at one uncommonly disagreeable fly that
had been at him for the last ten minutes. It is hardly necessary to say
that he missed his enemy.
'I should have been with you before, doctor, but I was down at Malvern.'
'At Malvern, eh? Ah! so Oriel told me. The death of poor Sir Louis
was very sudden--was it not?'
'Poor fellow--poor fellow! His fate has for some time been past hope.
It is a madness, Frank; the worst of madness. Only think of it--father
and son! And such a career as the father had--such a career as the son
might have had!'
'It has been very quickly run,' said Frank.
'May it be all forgiven him! I sometimes cannot but believe in a
special Providence. That poor fellow was not able, never would have been
able, to make proper use of the means which fortune had given him. I
hope they may fall into better hands. There is no use in denying it, his
death will be an immense relief to me, and a relief also to your father.
All this law business will now, of course, be stopped. As for me, I hope
I may never be trustee again.'
Frank had put his hand four or five times into his breast-pocket, and
had as often taken out and put back again Mary's letter before he could
find himself able to bring Dr Thorne to the subject. At last there was a
lull in the purely legal discussion, caused by the doctor intimating
that he supposed Frank would now soon return to Greshamsbury.
'Yes; I shall go to-morrow morning.'
'What! so soon as that? I counted on having you one day in London with
'No, I shall go to-morrow. I'm not fit for company for any one. Nor am
I fit for anything. Read that, doctor. It's no use putting it off any
longer. I must get you to talk this over with me. Just read that, and
tell me what you think about it. It was written a week ago, but somehow
I have only got it to-day.' And putting the letter into the doctor's
hands, he turned away to the window, and looked out among the Holborn
omnibuses. Dr Thorne took the letter and read it. Mary, after she had
written it, had bewailed to herself that the letter was cold; but it had
not seemed cold to her lover, nor did it appear so to her uncle. When
Frank turned round from the window, the doctor's handkerchief was up to
his eyes; who, in order to hide the tears that were there, was obliged
to go through a rather violent process of blowing his nose.
'Well,' he said, as he gave back the letter to Frank.
Well! what did well mean? Was it well? or would it be well were he,
Frank, to comply with the suggestion made to him by Mary?
'It is impossible,' he said, 'that matters should go on like that. Think
what her sufferings must have been before she wrote that. I am sure she
'I think she does,' said the doctor.
'And it is out of the question that she should be sacrificed; nor will I
consent to sacrifice my own happiness. I am quite willing to work for my
bread, and I am sure that I am able. I will not submit to--Doctor, what
answer do you think I ought to give to that letter? There can be no
person so anxious for her happiness as you are--except myself.' And as
he asked the question, he again put into the doctor's hands, almost
unconsciously, the letter which he had still been holding in his own.
The doctor turned it over and over, and then opened it again.
'What answer ought I to make to it?' demanded Frank, with energy.
'You see, Frank, I have never interfered in this matter, otherwise than
to tell you the whole truth about Mary's birth.'
'Oh, but you must interfere: you should say what you think.'
'Circumstanced as you are now--that is, just at the present moment--you
could hardly marry immediately.'
'Why not let me take a farm? My father could, at any rate, manage a
couple of thousand pounds or so for me to stock it. That would not be
asking much. If he could not give it me, I would not scruple to borrow
so much elsewhere.' And Frank bethought him of all Miss Dunstable's
'Oh, yes; that could be managed.'
'Then why not marry immediately; say in six months or so? I am not
unreasonable; though, Heaven knows, I have been kept in suspense long
enough. As for her, I am sure she must be suffering frightfully. You
know her best, and, therefore, I ask you what answer I ought to make: as
for myself, I have made up my own mind; I am not a child, nor will I let
them treat me as such.'
Frank, as he spoke, was walking rapidly about the room; and he brought
out his different positions, one after the other, with a little pause,
while waiting for the doctor's answer. The doctor was sitting, with the
letter still in his hands, on the head of the sofa, turning over in his
mind the apparent absurdity of Frank's desire to borrow two thousand
pounds for a farm, when, in all human probability, he might in a few
months be in possession of almost any sum he should choose to name. And
yet he would not tell him of Sir Roger's will. 'If it should turn out to
be all wrong?' said he to himself.
'Do you wish me to give her up?' said Frank, at last.
'No. How can I wish it? How can I expect a better match for her?
Besides, Frank, I love no man in the world so well as I do you.'
'Then will you help me?'
'What! against your father?'
'Against! no, not against anybody. But will you tell Mary she has your
'I think she knows that.'
'But you have never said anything to her?'
'Look here, Frank; you ask me for my advice, and I will give it you: go
home, though, indeed, I would rather you went anywhere else.'
'No, I must go home; and I must see her.'
'Very well, go home: as for seeing Mary, I think you had better put it
off for a fortnight.'
'Well, that's my advice. But, at any rate, make up your mind to nothing
for a fortnight. Wait for one fortnight, and I then will tell you
plainly--you and her too--what I think you ought to do. At the end of a
fortnight come to me, and tell the squire that I will take it as a great
kindness if he will come with you. She has suffered terribly, terribly;
and it is necessary that something should be settled. But a fortnight
can make no great difference.'
'And the letter?'
'Oh! there's the letter.'
'But what shall I say? Of course I shall write to her to-night.'
'Tell her to wait a fortnight. And, Frank, mind you bring your father
Frank could draw nothing further from his friend save constant
repetitions of this charge to him to wait a fortnight,--just one other
'Well, I will come to you at any rate,' said Frank; 'and, if possible, I
will bring my father. But I shall write to Mary to-night.'
On the Saturday morning, Mary, who was then nearly broken-hearted at her
lover's silence, received a short note:--
'MY OWN MARY
'I shall be home to-morrow. I will by no means release you
from your promise. Of course you will perceive that I only
got your letter to-day.'
Your own dearest,
Short as it was, this sufficed Mary. It is one thing for a young lady
to make prudent, heart-breaking suggestions, but quite another to have
them accepted. She did call him dearest Frank, even on that one day,
almost as often as he had desired her.
OUR PET FOX FINDS A TAIL
Frank returned home, and his immediate business was of course with his
father, and with Mr Gazebee, who was still at Greshamsbury.
'But who is the heir?' asked Mr Gazebee, when Frank had explained that
the death of Sir Louis rendered unnecessary any immediate legal steps.
'Upon my word, I don't know,' said Frank.
'You saw Dr Thorne,' said the squire. 'He must have known.'
'I never thought of asking him,' said Frank, naively.
Mr Gazebee looked rather solemn. 'I wonder at that,' said he; 'for
everything depends on the hands the property will go into. Let me see; I
think Sir Roger had a married sister. Was not that so, Mr Gresham?' And
then it occurred for the first time, both to the squire and to his son,
that Mary Thorne was the eldest child of this sister. But it never
occurred to either of them that Mary could be the baronet's heir.
Dr Thorne came down for a couple of days before the fortnight was over
to see his patients, and then returned again to London. But during this
short visit he was utterly dumb on the subject of the heir. He called at
Greshamsbury to see Lady Arabella, and was even questioned by the squire
on the subject. But he obstinately refused to say anything more than
nothing certain could be known for a few days.
Immediately after his return, Frank saw Mary, and told her all that had
happened. 'I cannot understand my uncle,' said she, almost trembling as
she stood close to him in her own drawing-room. 'He usually hates
mysteries, and yet now he is so mysterious. He told me, Frank--that was
after I had written that unfortunate letter--'
'Unfortunate indeed! I wonder what you really thought of me when you
were writing it?'
'If you had heard what your mother said, you would not be surprised.
But, after that, uncle said--'
'He seemed to think--I don't remember what it was he said. But he said,
he hoped that things might yet turn out well; and then I was almost
sorry that I had written the letter.'
'Of course you were sorry, and so you ought to have been. To say that
you would never call me Frank again!'
'I didn't exactly say that.'
'I have told him that I will wait a fortnight, and so I will. After
that, I shall take the matter into my own hands.'
It may be supposed that Lady Arabella was not well pleased to learn that
Frank and Mary had been again together; and, in the agony of her spirit,
she did say some ill-natured things before Augusta, who had now returned
home from Courcy Castle, as to the gross impropriety of Mary's conduct.
But to Frank she said nothing.
Nor was there much said between Frank and Beatrice. If everything could
really be settled at the end of that fortnight which was to witness the
disclosure of the doctor's mystery, there would still be time to arrange
that Mary should be at the wedding. 'It shall be settled then,' he said
to himself; 'and if it be settled, my mother will hardly venture to
exclude my affianced bride from the house.' It was now the beginning of
August, and it wanted yet a month to the Oriel wedding.
But though he said nothing to his mother or to Beatrice, he did say much
to his father. In the first place, he showed him Mary's letter. 'If your
heart be not made of stone it will be softened by that,' he said. Mr
Gresham's heart was not of stone, and he did acknowledge that the letter
was a very sweet letter. But we know how the drop of water hollows
stone. It was not by the violence of his appeal that Frank succeeded in
obtaining from his father a sort of half-consent that he would no longer
oppose the match; but by the assiduity with which the appeal was
repeated. Frank, as we have said, had more stubbornness of will than his
father; and so, before the fortnight was over, the squire had been
talked over, and promised to attend at the doctor's bidding.
'I suppose you had better take the Hazlehurst farm,' said he to his son,
with a sigh. 'It joins the park and the home-fields, and I will give you
them up also. God knows, I don't care about farming any more--or about
anything else either.'
'Don't say that, father.'
'Well, well! But, Frank, where will you live? The old house is big
enough for us all. But how would Mary get on with your mother?'
At the end of this fortnight, true to his time, the doctor returned to
the village. He was a bad correspondent; and though he had written some
short notes to Mary, he had said no word to her about his business. It
was late in the evening when he got home, and it was understood by Frank
and the squire that they were to be with him on the following morning.
Not a word had been said to Lady Arabella on the subject.
It was late in the evening when he got home, and Mary waited for him
with a heart almost sick with expectation. As soon as the fly had
stopped at the little gate she heard his voice, and heard at once that
it was quick, joyful, and telling much of inward satisfaction. He had a
good-natured word for Janet, and called Thomas an old blunder-head in a
manner that made Bridget laugh outright.
'He'll have his nose put out of joint some day; won't he?' said the
doctor. Bridget blushed and laughed again, and made a sign to Thomas
that he had better look to his face.
Mary was in his arms before he was yet within the door. 'My darling,'
said he, tenderly kissing her. 'You are my own darling yet awhile.'
'Of course I am. Am I not always to be so?'
'Well, well; let me have some tea, at any rate, for I'm in a fever of
thirst. They may call that tea at the Junction if they will; but if
China were sunk under the sea it would make no difference to them.'
Dr Thorne always was in a fever of thirst when he got home from the
railway, and always made complaint as to tea at the Junction. Mary went
about her usual work with almost more than her usual alacrity, and so
they were soon seated in the drawing-room together.
She soon found that his manner was more than ordinarily kind to her; and
there was moreover something about him which seemed to make him sparkle
with contentment, but he said no word about Frank, nor did he make any
allusion to the business which had taken him up to town.
'Have you got through all your work?' she said to him once.
'Yes, yes; I think all.'
'Yes; thoroughly, I think. But I am very tired, and so are you too,
darling, with waiting for me.'
'Oh, no, I am not tired,' said she, as she went on continually filling
his cup; 'but I am so happy to have you home again. You have been away
so much lately.'
'Ah, yes; well I suppose I shall not go away any more now. It will be
somebody else's turn now.'
'Uncle, I think you are going to take up writing mystery romances, like
'Yes; and I'll begin to-morrow, certainly with--But, Mary, I will not
say another word to-night. Give me a kiss, dearest, and I'll go.'
Mary did kiss him, and he did go. But as she was still lingering in the
room, putting away a book, or a reel of thread, and then sitting down to
think what the morrow would bring forth, the doctor again came into the
room in his dressing-gown, and with the slippers on.
'What, not gone yet?' said he.
'No, not yet; I'm going now.'
'You and I, Mary, have always affected a good deal of indifference as to
money, and all that sort of thing.'
'I won't acknowledge that it has been an affectation at all,' she
'Perhaps not; but we have often expressed it, have we not?'
'I suppose, uncle, you think that we are like the fox that lost his
tail, or rather some unfortunate fox that might be born without one.'
'I wonder how we should either of us bear it if we found ourselves
suddenly rich. It would be a great temptation--a sore temptation. I
fear, Mary, that when poor people talk disdainfully of money, they often
are like your fox, born without a tail. If nature suddenly should give
that beast a tail, would he not be prouder of it than all the other
foxes in the wood?'
'Well, I suppose he would. That's the very meaning of the story. But
how moral you've become all of a sudden, at twelve o'clock at night!
Instead of being Mrs Radcliffe, I shall think you're Mr Aesop.'
He took up the article which he had come to seek, and kissing her again
on the forehead, went away to his bed-room without further speech. 'What
can he mean by all this about money?' said Mary to herself. 'It cannot
be that by Sir Louis's death he will get any of all this property;' and
then she began to bethink herself whether, after all, she would wish him
to be a rich man. 'If he were very rich, he might do something to assist
Frank; and then--'
There never was a fox yet without a tail who would not be delighted to
find himself suddenly possessed of that appendage. Never; let the
untailed fox have been ever so sincere in his advice to his friends! We
are all of us, the good and the bad, looking for tails--for one tail, or
for more than one; we do so too often by ways that are mean enough: but
perhaps there is no tail-seeker more mean, more sneakingly mean than he
who looks out to adorn his bare back by a tail by marriage.
The doctor was up very early the next morning, long before Mary was
ready with her teacups. He was up, and in his own study behind the shop,
arranging dingy papers, pulling about tin boxes which he had brought
down with him from London, and piling on his writing-table one set of
documents in one place, and one in another. 'I think I understand it
all,' said he; 'but yet I know I shall be bothered. Well, I never will
be anyone's trustee again. Let me see!' and then he sat down, and with
bewildered look recapitulated to himself sundry heavy items. 'What those
shares are really worth I cannot understand, and nobody seems to be able
to tell one. They must make it out among them as best they can. Let me
see; that's Boxall Hill, and this is Greshamsbury. I'll put a newspaper
over Greshamsbury, or the squire will know it!' and then, having made
his arrangements, he went to his breakfast.
I know I am wrong, my much and truly honoured critic, about these
title-deeds and documents. But when we've got a barrister in hand, then
if I go wrong after that, let the blame be on my own shoulders--or on
The doctor ate his breakfast quickly; and did not talk much to his
niece. But what he did say was of a nature to make her feel strangely
happy. She could not analyse her own feelings, or give a reason for her
own confidence; but she certainly did feel, and even trust, that
something was going to happen after breakfast which would make her more
happy than she had been for many months.
'Janet,' said he, looking at his watch, 'if Mr Gresham and Mr Frank
call, show them into my study. What are you going to do with yourself,
'I don't know, uncle; you are so mysterious, and I am in such a twitter,
that I don't know what to do. Why is Mr Gresham coming here--that is,
'Because I have business with him about the Scatcherd property. You know
that he owed Sir Louis money. But don't go out, Mary. I want you to be
in the way if I should have to call for you. You can stay in the
drawing-room, can't you?'
'Oh, yes, uncle; or here.'
'No, dearest; go into the drawing-room.' Mary obediently did as she was
bid; and there she sat, for the next three hours, wondering, wondering,
wondering. During the greater part of that time, however, she well knew
that Mr Gresham, senior, and Mr Gresham, junior, were both with her
At eleven the doctor's visitors came. He had expected them somewhat
earlier, and was beginning to become fidgety. He had so much on his
hands that he could not sit still for a moment till he had, at any rate,
commenced it. The expected footsteps were at last heard on the
gravel-path, and moment or two afterwards Janet ushered the father and
son into the room.
The squire did not look very well. He was worn and sorrowful, and
rather pale. The death of his young creditor might be supposed to have
given him some relief from his more pressing cares, but the necessity of
yielding to Frank's wishes had almost more than balanced this. When a
man has daily to reflect that he is poorer than he was the day before,
he soon becomes worn and sorrowful.
But Frank was well; both in health and spirits. He also felt as Mary
did, that the day was to bring forth something which should end his
present troubles; and he could not but be happy to think that he could
now tell Dr Thorne that his father's consent to his marriage had been
The doctor shook hands with them both, and then they sat down. They were
all rather constrained in their manner; and at first it seemed that
nothing but little speeches of compliment were to be made. At last, the
squire remarked that Frank had been talking to him about Miss Thorne.
'About Mary?' said the doctor.
'Yes; about Mary,' said the squire, correcting himself. It was quite
unnecessary that he should use so cold a name as the other, now that he
had agreed to the match.
'Well!' said Dr Thorne.
'I suppose it must be so, doctor. He has set his heart upon it, and God
knows, I have nothing to say against her--against her personally. No one
could say a word against her. She is a sweet, good girl, excellently
brought up; and, as for myself, I have always loved her.' Frank drew
near to his father, and pressed his hand against the squire's arm, by
way of giving him, in some sort, a filial embrace for his kindness.
'Thank you, squire, thank you,' said the doctor. 'It is very good of
you to say that. She is a good girl, and if Frank chooses to take her,
he will, in my estimation, have made a good choice.'
'Chooses!' said Frank, with all the enthusiasm of a lover.
The squire felt himself perhaps a little ruffled at the way in which the
doctor received his gracious intimation; but he did now show it as he
went on. 'They cannot, you know, doctor, look to be rich people--'
'Ah! well, well,' interrupted the doctor.
'I have told Frank so, and I think that you should tell Mary. Frank
means to take some land into his hand, and he must farm it as a farmer.
I will endeavour to give him three, or perhaps four hundred a year. But
you know better--'
'Stop, squire; stop a minute. We will talk about that presently. This
death of poor Sir Louis will make a difference.'
'Not permanently,' said the squire mournfully.
'And now, Frank,' said the doctor, not attending to the squire's last
words, 'what do you say?'
'What do I say? I say what I said to you in London the other day. I
believe Mary loves me; indeed, I won't be affected--I know she does. I
have loved her--I was going to say always; and, indeed, I almost might
say so. My father knows that this is no light fancy of mine. As to what
he says about our being poor, why--'
The doctor was very arbitrary, and would hear neither of them on the
'Mr Gresham,' said he, interrupting Frank, 'of course I am well aware
how very little suited Mary is by birth to marry your only son.'
'It is too late to think about that now,' said the squire.
'It is not too late for me to justify myself,' replied the doctor. 'We
have long known each other, Mr Gresham, and you said here the other day,
that this is a subject as to which we have been of one mind. Birth and
blood are very valuable gifts.'
'I certainly think so,' said the squire; 'but one can't have
'No; one can't have everything.'
'If I am satisfied in that matter--' began Frank.
'Stop a moment, my dear boy,' said the doctor. 'As your father says,
one can't have everything. My dear friend--' and he gave his hand to the
squire--'do not be angry if I alluded for a moment to the estate. It has
grieved me to see it melting away--the old family acres that have so
long been the heritage of the Greshams.'
'We need not talk about that now, Dr Thorne,' said Frank, in an almost
'But I must, Frank, for one moment, to justify myself. I could not have
excused myself in letting Mary think that she could become your wife if
I had not hoped that good might come of it.'
'Well; good will come of it,' said Frank, who did not quite understand
at what the doctor was driving.
'I hope so. I have had much doubt about this, and have been sorely
perplexed; but now I do hope so. Frank--Mr Gresham--' and then Dr Thorne
rose from his chair; but was, for a moment, unable to go on with his
'We will hope that it is all for the best,' said the squire.
'I am sure it is,' said Frank.
'Yes; I hope it is. I do think it is; I am sure it is, Frank. Mary will
not come to you empty-handed. I wish for your sake--yes, and for hers
too--that her birth were equal to her fortune, as her worth is superior
to both. Mr Gresham, this marriage will, at any rate, put an end to your
pecuniary embarrassments--unless, indeed, Frank should prove a hard
creditor. My niece is Sir Roger Scatcherd's heir.'
The doctor, as soon as he made the announcement, began to employ himself
sedulously about the papers on the table; which, in the confusion caused
by his own emotion, he transferred hither and thither in such a manner
as to upset all his previous arrangements. 'And now,' he said, 'I might
as well explain, as well as I can, of what that fortune consists. Here,
'But, Dr Thorne,' said the squire, now perfectly pale, and almost
gasping for breath, 'what is it you mean?'
'There's not a shadow of doubt,' said the doctor. 'I've had Sir Abraham
Haphazard, and Sir Rickety Giggs, and old Neversaye Dis, and Mr Snilam;
and they are all of the same opinion. There is not the smallest doubt
about it. Of course, she must administer, and all that; and I'm afraid
there'll be a very heavy sum to pay for the tax; for she cannot inherit
as a niece, you know. Mr Snilam pointed out that particularly. But,
after all that, there'll be--I've got it down on a piece of paper,
somewhere--three grains of blue pill. I'm really so bothered, squire,
with all these papers, and all those lawyers, that I don't know whether
I'm sitting or standing. There's ready money enough to pay all the tax
and all the debts. I know that, at any rate.'
'You don't mean to say that Mary Thorne is now possessed of all Sir
Roger Scatcherd's wealth?' at last ejaculated the squire.
'But that's exactly what I do mean to say,' said the doctor, looking up
from his papers with a tear in his eye, and a smile on his mouth; 'and
what is more, squire, you owe her at the present moment exactly--I've
got that down too, somewhere, only I am so bothered with all these
papers. Come, squire, when do you mean to pay her? She's in a great
hurry, as young ladies are when they want to get married.'
The doctor was inclined to joke if possible, so as to carry off, as it
were, some of the great weight of obligation which it might seem that he
was throwing on the father and son; but the squire was by no means in a
state to understand a joke: hardly as yet in a state to comprehend what
was so very serious in this matter.
'Do you mean that Mary is the owner of Boxall Hill?' said he.
'Indeed I do,' said the doctor; and he was just going to add, 'and of
Greshamsbury also,' but he stopped himself.
'What, the whole property there?'
'That's only a small portion,' said the doctor. 'I almost wish it were
all, for then I would not be so bothered. Look here; these are the
Boxall Hill title-deeds; that's the simplest part of the whole affair;
and Frank may go and settle himself there to-morrow if he pleases.'
'Stop a moment, Dr Thorne,' said Frank. These were the only words which
he had yet uttered since the tidings had been conveyed to him.
'And these, squire, are the Greshamsbury papers:' and the doctor, with
considerable ceremony, withdrew the covering newspapers. 'Look at them;
there they all are once again. When I suggested to Mr Snilam that I
supposed they might now all go back to the Greshamsbury muniment room, I
thought he would have fainted. As I cannot return them to you, you will
have to wait till Frank shall give them up.'
'But, Dr Thorne,' said Frank.
'Well, my boy.'
'Does Mary know all about this?'
'Not a word of it. I mean that you shall tell her.'
'Perhaps, under such very altered circumstances--'
'The change is so great and so sudden, so immense in its effects, that
Mary may wish perhaps--'
'Wish! wish what? Wish not to be told of it at all?'
'I shall not think of holding her to her engagement--that is, if--I mean
to say, she should have time at any rate for consideration.'
'Oh, I understand,' said the doctor. 'She shall have time for
consideration. How much shall we give her, squire, three minutes? Go up
to her Frank: she is in the drawing-room.'
Frank went to the door, and then hesitated, and returned. 'I could not
do it,' said he. 'I don't think that I understand it all yet. I am so
bewildered that I could not tell her;' and he sat down at the table, and
began to sob with emotion.
'And she knows nothing of it?' said the squire.
'Not a word. I thought that I would keep the pleasure of telling her
'She should not be left in suspense,' said the squire.
'Come, Frank, go up to her,' again urged the doctor. 'You've been ready
enough with your visits when you knew that you ought to stay away.'
'I cannot do it,' said Frank, after a pause of some moments; 'nor is it
right that I should. It would be taking advantage of her.'
'Go to her yourself, doctor; it is you that should do it,' said the
After some further slight delay, the doctor got up, and did go upstairs.
He, even, was half afraid of the task. 'It must be done,' he said to
himself, as his heavy steps mounted the stairs. 'But how to tell it?'
When he entered, Mary was standing half-way up the room, as though she
had risen to meet him. Her face was troubled, and her eyes were almost
wild. The emotion, the hopes, the fears of the morning had almost been
too much for her. She had heard the murmuring of the voices in the room
below, and had known that one of them was that of her lover. Whether
that discussion was to be for her good or ill she did not know; but she
felt that further suspense would almost kill her. 'I could wait for
years,' she said to herself, 'if I did but know. If I lost him, I
suppose I should bear it, if I did but know.'--Well; she was going to
Her uncle met her in the middle of the room. His face was serious,
though not sad; too serious to confirm her hopes at that moment of
doubt. 'What is it, uncle?' she said, taking one of his hands between
both of her own. 'What is it? Tell me.' And as she looked up into his
face with her wild eyes, she almost frightened him.
'Mary,' he said gravely, 'you have heard much, I know of Sir Roger
Scatcherd's great fortune.'
'Yes, yes, yes!'
'Now that poor Sir Louis is dead--'
'Well, uncle, well?'
'It has been left--'
'To Frank! to Mr Gresham, to the squire!' exclaimed Mary, who felt,
with an agony of doubt, that this sudden accession of immense wealth
might separate her still further from her lover.
'No, Mary, not to the Greshams; but to yourself.'
'To me!' she cried, and putting both her hands to her forehead, she
seemed to be holding her temples together. 'To me!'
'Yes, Mary; it is all your own now. To do as you like best with it
all--all. May God, in His mercy, enable you to bear the burden, and
lighten for you the temptation!'
She had so far moved as to find the nearest chair, and there she was now
seated, staring at her uncle with fixed eyes. 'Uncle,' she said, 'what
does it mean?' Then he came, and sitting beside her, he explained, as
best he could, the story of her birth, and her kinship with the
Scatcherds. 'And where is he, uncle?' she said. 'Why does he not come to
'I wanted him to come, but her refused. They are both there now, the
father and son; shall I fetch them?'
'Fetch them! whom? The squire? No, uncle; but may we go to them?'
'Is it true? are you sure? For his sake, you know; not for my own. The
squire, you know--Oh, uncle! I cannot go.'
'They shall come to you.'
No--no. I have gone to him such hundreds of times; I will never allow
that he shall be sent to me. But, uncle, is it true?'
The doctor, as he went downstairs, muttered something about Sir Abraham
Haphazard, and Sir Rickety Giggs; but these great names were much thrown
away upon poor Mary. The doctor entered the room first, and the heiress
followed him with downcast eyes and timid steps. She was at first afraid
to advance, but when she did look up, and saw Frank standing alone by
the window, her lover restored her courage, and rushing up to him, she
threw herself into his arms. 'Oh, Frank; my own Frank! my own Frank! we
shall never be separated again.'
HOW THE BRIDE WAS RECEIVED, AND WHO WERE ASKED TO THE WEDDING
And thus after all did Frank perform his duty; he did marry money; or
rather, as the wedding has not yet taken place, and is, indeed, as yet
hardly talked of, we should more properly say that he had engaged
himself to marry money. And then, such a quantity of money! the
Scatcherd wealth greatly exceeded the Dunstable wealth; so that our hero
may be looked on as having performed his duties in a manner deserving
the very highest commendation from all classes of the De Courcy
And he received it. But that was nothing. That he should be feted by
the De Courcys and the Greshams, now that he was about to do his duty by
his family in so exemplary a manner: that he should be patted on the
back, now that he no longer meditated that vile crime which had been so
abhorrent to his mother's soul; this was only natural; this is hardly
worthy of remark. But there was another to be feted, another person to
be made a personage, another blessed human mortal about to do her duty
by the family of Gresham in a manner that deserved, and should receive,
Lady Arabella's warmest caresses.
Dear Mary! It was, indeed, not singular that she should be prepared to
act so well, seeing that in early youth she had had the advantage of an
education in the Greshamsbury nursery; but not on that account was it
the less fitting that her virtue should be acknowledged, eulogized, nay,
all but worshipped.
How the party at the doctor's got itself broken up, I am not prepared to
say. Frank, I know, stayed, and dined there, and his poor mother, who
would not retire to rest till she had kissed him, and blessed him, and
thanked him for all he was doing for the family, was kept waiting in her
dressing-room till a very unreasonable hour of the night.
It was the squire who brought the news up to the house. 'Arabella,' he
said, in a low, but somewhat solemn voice, 'you will be surprised at the
news I bring you. Mary Thorne is the heiress to all the Scatcherd
'Oh, heavens! Mr Gresham.'
'Yes, indeed,' continued the squire. 'So it is; it is very, very--' But
Lady Arabella had fainted. She was a woman who generally had her
feelings and her emotions much under her own control; but what she now
heard was too much for her. When she came to her senses, the first words
that escaped her lips were, 'Dear Mary!'
But the household had to sleep on the news before it could be fully
realized. The squire was not by nature a mercenary man. If I have at all
succeeded in putting his character before the reader, he will be
recognized as one not over attached to money for money's sake. But
things had gone so hard with him, the world had become so rough, so
ungracious, so full of thorns, the want of means had become an evil so
keenly felt in every hour, that it cannot be wondered at that his dreams
that night should be of a golden Elysium. The wealth was not coming to
him. True. But his chief sorrow had been for his son. Now that son would
be his only creditor. It was as though mountains of marble had been
taken off his bosom.
But Lady Arabella's dreams flew away at once into the seventh heaven.
Sordid as they certainly were, they were not absolutely selfish. Frank
would now certainly be the first commoner in Barsetshire; of course he
would represent the county; of course there would be the house in town;
it wouldn't be her house, but she was contented that the grandeur should
be that of her child. He would have heaven knows what to spend per
annum. And that it should come through Mary Thorne! What a blessing she
had allowed Mary to be brought into the Greshamsbury nursery! Dear Mary!
'She will of course be one now,' said Beatrice to her sister. With her,
at the present moment, 'one' of course meant one of the bevy that was to
attend her at the altar. 'Oh dear! how nice! I shan't know what to say
to her to-morrow. But I know one thing.'
'What is that?' asked Augusta.
'She will be as mild and meek as a little dove. If she and the doctor
had lost every shilling in the world, she would have been proud as an
eagle.' It must be acknowledged that Beatrice had had the wit to read
Mary's character right.
But Augusta was not quite pleased with the whole affair. Not that she
begrudged her brother his luck, or Mary her happiness. But her ideas of
right and wrong--perhaps we should rather say Lady Amelia's ideas--would
not be fairly carried out.
'After all, Beatrice, this does not alter her birth. I know it is
useless saying anything to Frank.'
'Why, you wouldn't break both their hearts now?'
'I don't want to break their hearts, certainly. But there are those who
put their dearest and warmest feelings under restraint rather than
deviate from what they know to be proper.' Poor Augusta! she was the
stern professor of the order of this philosophy; the last in the family
who practised with unflinching courage its cruel behests; the last,
always excepting the Lady Amelia.
And how slept Frank that night? With him, at least, let us hope, nay,
let us say boldly, that his happiest thoughts were not with the wealth
which he was to acquire. But yet it would be something to restore Boxall
Hill to Greshamsbury; something to give back to his father those rumpled
vellum documents, since the departure of which the squire had never had
a happy day; nay, something to come forth again to his friends as a gay,
young country squire, instead of a farmer, clod-compelling for his
bread. We would not have him thought to be better than he was, nor would
we wish him to make him of other stuff than nature generally uses. His
heart did exult at Mary's wealth; but it leaped higher still when he
thought of purer joys.
And what shall we say of Mary's dreams? With her, it was altogether
what she should give, not at all what she should get. Frank had loved
her so truly when she was so poor, such an utter castaway; Frank, who
with his beauty, and spirit, and his talents might have won the smiles
of the richest, the grandest, the noblest! What lady's heart would not
have rejoiced to be allowed to love her Frank? But he had been true to
her through everything. Ah! how often she thought of that hour, when
suddenly appearing before her, he had strained her to his breast, just
as she had resolved how best to bear the death-like chill of his
supposed estrangements! She was always thinking of that time. She fed
her love by recurring over and over to the altered feeling of that
moment. Any now she could pay him for his goodness. Pay him! No, that
would be a base word, a base thought. Her payment must be made, if God
would so grant it, in many, many years to come. But her store, such as
it was, should be emptied into his lap. It was soothing to her pride
that she would not hurt him by her love, that she would bring no injury
to the old house. 'Dear, dear Frank' she murmured, as her waking dream,
conquered at last by sleep, gave way to those of the fairy world.
But she thought not only of Frank; dreamed not only of him. What had he
not done for her, that uncle of hers, who had been more loving to her
than any father! How was he, too, to be paid? Paid, indeed! Love can
only be paid in its own coin: it knows of no other legal tender. Well,
if her home was to be Greshamsbury, at any rate she would not be
separated from him.
What the doctor dreamed of that, neither he or anyone ever knew. 'Why,
uncle, I think you've been asleep,' said Mary to him that evening as he
moved for a moment uneasily on the sofa. He had been asleep for the last
three-quarters of an hour;--but Frank, his guest, had felt no offence.
'No, I've not been exactly asleep,' said he; 'but I'm very tired. I
wouldn't do it all again, Frank, to double the money. You haven't got
any more tea, have you, Mary?'
On the following morning, Beatrice was of course with her friend. There
was no awkwardness between them in meeting. Beatrice had loved her when
she was poor, and though they had not lately thought alike on one very
important subject, Mary was too gracious to impute that to Beatrice as a
'You will be one now, Mary; of course you will.'
'If Lady Arabella will let me come.'
'Oh, Mary; let you! Do you remember what you said once about coming,
and being near me? I have so often thought of it. And now, Mary, I must
tell you about Caleb;' and the young lady settled herself on the sofa,
so as to have a comfortable long talk. Beatrice had been quite right.
Mary was as meek with her, and as mild as a dove.
And then Patience Oriel came. 'My fine, young darling, magnificent,
overgrown heiress,' said Patience, embracing her. 'My breath deserted
me, and I was nearly stunned when I heard of it. How small we shall all
be, my dear! I am quite prepared to toady to you immensely; but pray be
a little gracious to me, for the sake of auld lang syne.'
Mary gave a long, long kiss. 'Yes, for auld lang syne, Patience; when
you took me away under your wing to Richmond.' Patience also had loved
her when she was in trouble, and that love, too, should never be
But the great difficulty was Lady Arabella's first meeting with her. 'I
think I'll go down to her after breakfast,' said her ladyship to
Beatrice, as the two were talking over the matter while the mother was
finishing her toilet.
'I am sure she will come up if you like it, mamma.'
'She is entitled to every courtesy--as Frank's accepted bride, you
know,' said Lady Arabella. 'I would not for worlds fail in any respect
to her for his sake.'
'He will be glad enough for her to come, I am sure,' said Beatrice. 'I
was talking to Caleb this morning, and he says--'
The matter was of importance, and Lady Arabella gave it her most mature
consideration. The manner of receiving into one's family an heiress
whose wealth is to cure all one's difficulties, disperse all one's
troubles, give a balm to all the wounds of misfortune, must, under any
circumstances, be worthy of much care. But when that heiress has been
already treated as Mary had been treated!
'I must see her, at any rate, before I go to Courcy.' said Lady
'Are you going to Courcy, mamma?'
'Oh, certainly; yes, I must see my sister-in-law now. You don't seem to
realize the importance, my dear, of Frank's marriage. He will be in a
great hurry about it, and, indeed, I cannot blame him. I expect they
will all come here.'
'Who, mamma? The De Courcys?'
'Yes, of course. I shall be very much surprised if the earl does not
come now. And I must consult my sister-in-law as to the asking of the
Duke of Omnium.'
'And I think it will perhaps be better,' continued Lady Arabella, 'that
we should have a larger party than intended at your affair. The
countess, I'm sure, would come now. We couldn't put it off for ten days;
could we, dear?'
'Put it off ten days!'
'Yes; it would be convenient.'
'I don't think Mr Oriel would like that at all, mamma. You know he has
made all his arrangements for his Sundays--'
Pshaw! The idea of the parson's Sundays being allowed to have any
bearing on such a matter as Frank's wedding would now become! Why, they
would have--how much? Between twelve and fourteen thousand a year! Lady
Arabella, who had made her calculations a dozen times during the night,
had never found it to be much less than the larger sum. Mr Oriel's
After much doubt, Lady Arabella acceded to her daughter's suggestion,
that Mary should be received at Greshamsbury instead of being called on
at the doctor's house. 'If you think she won't mind the coming up
first,' said her ladyship. 'I certainly could receive her better here. I
should be more--more--more able, you know, to express what I feel. We
had better go into the big drawing-room to-day, Beatrice. Will you
remember to tell Mrs Richards?'
'Oh, certainly,' was Mary's answer when Beatrice, with a voice a little
trembling, proposed her to walk up to the house. 'Certainly I will, if
Lady Arabella will receive me;--only, one thing, Trichy.'
'What's that, dearest?'
'Frank will think that I come after him.'
'Never mind what he thinks. To tell you the truth, Mary, I often call
on Patience for the sake of finding Caleb. That's all fair now, you
Mary very quietly got put on her straw bonnet, and said she was ready to
go up to the house. Beatrice was a little fluttered, and showed it. Mary
was, perhaps, a good deal fluttered, but she did not show it. She had
thought a good deal about her first interview with Lady Arabella, of her
first return to the house; but she had resolved to carry herself as
though the matter were easy to her. She would not allow it to be seen
that she felt that she brought with her to Greshamsbury, comfort, ease,
and renewed opulence.
So she put on her straw bonnet and walked up with Beatrice. Everybody
about the place had already heard the news. The old woman at the lodge
curtsied low to her; the gardener, who was mowing the lawn. The butler,
who opened the front door--he must have been watching Mary's
approach--had manifestly put on a clean white neckcloth for the
'God bless you once more, Miss Thorne!' said the old man, in a
half-whisper. Mary was somewhat troubled, for everything seemed, in a
manner, to bow down before her. And why should not everything bow down
before her, seeing that she was in truth the owner of Greshamsbury?
And then a servant in livery would open the big drawing-room door. This
rather upset both Mary and Beatrice. It became almost impossible for
Mary to enter the room just as she would have done two years ago; but
she got through the difficulty with much self-control.
'Mamma, here's Mary,' said Beatrice.
Nor was Lady Arabella quite mistress of herself, although she had
studied minutely how to bear herself.
'Oh, Mary, dear Mary; what can I say to you?' and then, with a
handkerchief to her eyes, she ran forward and hid her face in Miss
Thorne's shoulders. 'What can I say--can you forgive my anxiety for my
'How do you do, Lady Arabella?' said Mary.
'My daughter! my child! my Frank's own bride! Oh, Mary! oh, my child!
If I have seemed unkind to you, it has been through love to him.'
'All these things are over now,' said Mary. 'Mr Gresham told me
yesterday that I should be received as Frank's future wife; and so, you
see, I have come.' And then she slipped through Lady Arabella's arms,
and sat down, meekly down, on a chair. In five minutes she had escaped
with Beatrice into the school-room, and was kissing the children, and
turning over the new trousseau. They were, however, soon interrupted,
and there was, perhaps, some other kissing besides that of the children.
'You have no business here at all, Frank,' said Beatrice. 'Has he,
'None in the world, I should think.'
'See what he has done to my poplin; I hope you won't have your things
treated so cruelly. He'll be careful enough about them.'
'Is Oriel a good hand at packing up finery--eh, Beatrice,' said Frank.
'He is, at any rate, too well-behaved to spoil it.' Thus Mary was again
made at home on the household of Greshamsbury.
Lady Arabella did not carry out her little plan of delaying the Oriel
wedding. Her idea had been to add some grandeur to it, in order to make
it a more fitting precursor of that other greater wedding which was to
follow soon in its wake. But this, with the assistance of the countess,
she found herself able to do without interfering with poor Mr Oriel's
Sunday arrangements. The countess herself, with the Ladies Alexandrina
and Margaretta, now promised to come, even to the first affair; and for
the other, the whole De Courcy family would turn out, count and
countess, lords and ladies, Honourable Georges and Honourable Johns.
What honour, indeed, could be too great to show to a bride who had
fourteen thousand a year in her own right, or to a cousin, who had done
his duty by securing such a bride to himself!
'If the duke be in the country, I am sure he will be happy to come,'
said the countess. 'Of course, he will be talking to Frank about
politics. I suppose the squire won't expect Frank to belong to the old
'Frank, of course, will judge for himself, Rosina;--with his position,
you know!' And so things were settled at Courcy Castle.
And then Beatrice was wedded and carried off to the Lakes. Mary, as she
had promised, did stand near her; but not exactly in the gingham frock
of which she had once spoken. She wore on that occasion--But it will be
too much, perhaps, to tell the reader what she wore as Beatrice's
bridesmaid, seeing that a couple of pages, at least, must be devoted to
her marriage-dress, and seeing, also, that we have only a few pages to
finish everything; the list of visitors, the marriage settlements, the
dress, and all included.
It was in vain that Mary endeavoured to repress Lady Arabella's ardour
for grand doings. After all, she was to be married from the doctor's
house, and not from Greshamsbury, and it was the doctor who should have
invited the guests; but, in this matter, he did not choose to oppose her
ladyship's spirit, and she had it all her own way.
'What can I do?' said he to Mary. 'I have been contradicting her in
everything for the last two years. The least we can do is to let her
have her own way now in a trifle like this.'
But there was one point on which Mary would let nobody have his or her
own way; on which the way to be taken was very manifestly to be her own.
This was touching the marriage settlements. It must not be supposed,
that if Beatrice were married on a Tuesday, Mary could be married on the
Tuesday week following. Ladies with twelve thousand a year cannot be
disposed of in that way: and bridegrooms who do their duty by marrying
money often have to be kept waiting. It was spring, the early spring,
before Frank was made altogether a happy man.
But a word about the settlements. On this subject the doctor thought he
would have been driven mad. Messrs Slow and Bideawhile, as the lawyers
of the Greshamsbury family--it will be understood that Mr Gazebee's law
business was of quite a different nature, and his work, as regarded
Greshamsbury, was now nearly over--Messrs Slow and Bideawhile declared
that it would never do for them to undertake alone to draw out the
settlements. An heiress, such as Mary, must have lawyers of her own;
half a dozen at least, according to the apparent opinion of Messrs Slow
and Bideawhile. And so the doctor had to go to other lawyers, and they
again had to consult Sir Abraham, and Mr Snilam on a dozen different
If Frank became tenant in tail, in right of his wife, but under his
father, would he be able to grant leases for more than twenty-one years?
and, if so, to whom would the right of trover belong? As to flotsam and
jetsam--there was a little property, Mr Critic, on the sea-shore--that
was a matter that had to be left unsettled at the last. Such points as
these do take a long time to consider. All this bewildered the doctor
sadly, and Frank himself began to make accusations that he was to be
done out of his wife altogether.
But, as we have said, there was one point on which Mary would have her
own way. The lawyers might tie up as they would on her behalf all the
money, and shares, and mortgages which had belonged to the late Sir
Roger, with this exception, all that had ever appertained to
Greshamsbury should belong to Greshamsbury again; not in perspective,
not to her children, or to her children's children, but at once. Frank
should be lord of Boxall Hill in his own right; and as to those other
liens on Greshamsbury, let Frank manage that with his father as he might
think fit. She would only trouble herself to see that he was empowered
to do as he did think fit.
'But,' argued the ancient, respectable family attorney to the doctor,
'that amounts to two-thirds of the whole estate. Two-thirds, Dr Thorne!
It is preposterous; I should almost say impossible.' And the scanty
hairs on the poor man's head almost stood on end as he thought of the
outrageous manner in which the heiress prepared to sacrifice herself.
'It will all be the same in the end,' said the doctor, trying to make
things smooth. 'Of course, their joint object will be to put the
Greshamsbury property together again.'
'But, my dear sir,'--and then, for twenty minutes, the lawyer went on
proving that it would be no means be the same thing; but, nevertheless,
Mary Thorne did have her own way.
In the course of the winter, Lady de Courcy tried very hard to induce
the heiress to visit Courcy Castle, and this request was so backed by
Lady Arabella, that the doctor said he thought she might as well go
there for three or four days. But here, again, Mary was obstinate.
'I don't see it at all,' she said. 'If you make a point of it, or
Frank, or Mr Gresham, I will go; but I can't see any possible reason.'
The doctor, when so appealed to, would not absolutely say that he made a
point of it, and Mary was tolerably safe as regarded Frank or the
squire. If she went, Frank would be expected to go, and Frank disliked
Courcy Castle almost more than ever. His aunt was now more than civil to
him, and, when they were together, never ceased to compliment him on the
desirable way in which he had done his duty by the family.
And soon after Christmas a visitor came to Mary, and stayed a fortnight
with her: one whom neither she nor the doctor had expected, and of whom
they had not much more than heard. This was the famous Miss Dunstable.
'Birds of a feather flock together,' said Mrs Rantaway--late Miss
Gushing--when she heard of the visit. 'The railway man's niece--if you
can call her a niece--and the quack's daughter will do very well
together, no doubt.'
'At any rate, they can count their money-bags,' said Mrs Umbleby.
And in fact, Mary and Miss Dunstable did get on very well together; and
Miss Dunstable made herself quite happy at Greshamsbury, although some
people--including Mrs Rantaway--contrived to spread a report, that Dr
Thorne, jealous of Mary's money was going to marry her.
'I shall certainly come and see you turned off,' said Miss Dunstable,
taking leave of her new friend. Miss Dunstable, it must be acknowledged,
was a little too fond of slang; but then, a lady with her fortune, and
of her age, may be fond of almost whatever she pleases.
And so by degrees the winter wore away--very slowly to Frank, as he
declared often enough; and slowly, perhaps, to Mary also, but she did
not say so. The spring came round. The comic almanacs give us dreadful
pictures of January and February; but, in truth, the months which should
be made to look gloomy in England are March and April. Let no man boast
himself that he has got through the perils of winter till at least the
seventh of May.
It was early in April, however, that the great doings were to be done at
Greshamsbury. Not exactly on the first. It may be presumed, that in
spite of the practical, common-sense spirit of the age, very few people
do choose to have themselves united on that day. But some day in the
first week of that month was fixed for the ceremony, and from the end of
February all through March, Lady Arabella worked and strove in a manner
that entitled her to profound admiration.
It was at last settled that the breakfast should be held in the large
dining-room at Greshamsbury. There was a difficulty about it which taxed
Lady Arabella to the utmost, for, in making the proposition, she could
not but seem to be throwing some slight on the house in which the
heiress had lived. But when the affair was once opened to Mary, it was
astonishing how easy it became.
'Of course,' said Mary, 'all the rooms in our house would not hold half
the people you are talking about--if they must come.'
Lady Arabella looked so beseechingly, nay, so piteously, that Mary had
not another word to say. It was evident that they must all come: the De
Courcys to the fifth generation; the Duke of Omnium himself, and others
in concatenation accordingly.
'But will your uncle be angry if we have the breakfast up there? He has
been so very handsome to Frank, that I wouldn't make him angry for all
'If you don't tell him anything about it, Lady Arabella, he'll think
that it is all done properly. He will never know, if he's not told, that
he ought to give the breakfast, not you.'
'Won't he, my dear?' And Lady Arabella looked her admiration for this
very talented suggestion. And so that matter was arranged. The doctor
never knew, till Mary told him some year or so afterwards, that he had
been remiss in any part of his duty.
And who was asked to the wedding? In the first place, we have said that
the Duke of Omnium was there. This was, in fact, the one circumstance
that made this wedding so superior to any other that had ever taken
place in that neighbourhood. The Duke of Omnium never went anywhere; and
yet he went to Mary's wedding! And Mary, when the ceremony was over,
absolutely found herself kissed by a duke. 'Dearest Mary!' exclaimed
Lady Arabella, in her ecstasy of joy, when she saw the honour that was
done to her daughter-in-law.
'I hope we shall induce you to come to Gatherum Castle soon,' said the
duke to Frank. 'I shall be having a few friends there in the autumn. Let
me see; I declare, I have not seen you since you were good enough to
come to my collection. Ha! ha! ha! It wasn't bad fun, was it?' Frank was
not very cordial with his answer. He had not quite reconciled himself to
the difference of his position. When he was treated as one of the
'collection' at Gatherum Castle, he had not married money.
It would be vain to enumerate all the De Courcys that were there. There
was the earl, looking very gracious, and talking to the squire about the
county. And there was Lord Porlock, looking very ungracious, and not
talking to anybody about anything. And there was the countess, who for
the last week had done nothing but pat Frank on the back whenever she
could catch him. And there were the Ladies Alexandrina, Margaretta, and
Selina, smiling at everybody. And the Honourable George, talking in
whispers to Frank about his widow--'Not such a catch as yours, you know;
but something extremely snug;--and have it all my own way, too, old
fellow, or I shan't come to the scratch.' And the Honourable John
prepared to toady Frank about his string of hunters; and the Lady
Amelia, by herself, not quite contented with these democratic
nuptials--'After all, she is so absolutely nobody; absolutely,
absolutely,' she said confidentially to Augusta, shaking her head. But
before Lady Amelia had left Greshamsbury, Augusta was quite at a loss to
understand how there could be need for so much conversation between her
cousin and Mr Mortimer Gazebee.
And there were many more De Courcys, whom to enumerate would be much too
And the bishop of the diocese, and Mrs Proudie were there. A hint had
even been given, that his lordship would himself condescend to perform
the ceremony, if this should be wished; but that work had already been
anticipated by a very old friend of the Greshams. Archdeacon Grantly,
the rector of Plumstead Episcopi, had long since undertaken this part of
the business; and the knot was eventually tied by the joint efforts of
himself and Mr Oriel. Mrs Grantly came with him, and so did Mrs
Grantly's sister, the new dean's wife. The dean himself was at the time
unfortunately absent at Oxford.
And all the Bakers and the Jacksons were there. The last time they had
all met together under the squire's roof, was on the occasion of Frank's
coming of age. The present gala doings were carried on a very different
spirit. That had been a very poor affair, but this was worthy of the
best of Greshamsbury.
Occasion also had been taken of this happy moment to make up, or rather
to get rid of the last shreds of the last feud that had so long
separated Dr Thorne from his own relatives. The Thornes of Ullathorne
had made many overtures in a covert way. But our doctor had contrived to
reject them. 'They would not receive Mary as their cousin,' said he,
'and I will go nowhere that she cannot go.' But now all this was
altered. Mrs Gresham would certainly be received in any house in the
county. And thus, Mr Thorne of Ullathorne, an amiable, popular old
bachelor, came to the wedding; and so did his maiden sister Miss Thorne,
than whose no kinder heart glowed all through Barsetshire.
'My dear,' said she to Mary, kissing her, and offering her some little
tribute, 'I am very glad to make your acquaintance; very. It was not her
fault,' she added, speaking to herself. 'And now that she will be a
Gresham, that need not be any longer be thought of.' Nevertheless, could
Miss Thorne have spoken her inward thoughts out loud, she would have
declared, that Frank would have done better to have borne his poverty
than marry wealth without blood. But then, there are but few so stanch
as Miss Thorne; perhaps none in the county--always excepting the lady
And Miss Dunstable, also, was a bridesmaid. 'Oh, no' said she, when
asked; 'you should have them young and pretty.' But she gave way when
she found that Mary did not flatter her by telling her that she was
either the one or the other. 'The truth is,' said Miss Dunstable, 'I
have always been a little in love with your Frank, and so I shall do it
for his sake.' There were but four: the other two were the Gresham
twins. Lady Arabella exerted herself greatly in framing hints to induce
Mary to ask some of the De Courcy ladies to do her so much honour; but
on this head Mary would please herself. 'Rank,' she said to Beatrice,
with a curl on her lip, 'has its drawbacks--and must put up with them.'
And now I find that I have not one page--not half a page--for the
wedding-dress. But what matters? Will it not be all found written in the
columns of the Morning Post?
And thus Frank married money, and became a great man. Let us hope that
he will be a happy man. As the time of the story has been brought down
so near to the present era, it is not practicable for the novelist to
tell much of his future career. When I last heard from Barsetshire, it
seemed to be quite settled that he is to take the place of one of the
old members at the next election; and they say, also, that there is no
chance of any opposition. I have heard, too, that there have been many
very private consultations between him and various gentlemen of the
county, with reference to the hunt; and the general feeling is said to
be that the hounds should go to Boxall Hill.
At Boxall Hill the young people established themselves on their return
from the continent. And that reminds me that one word must be said of
'You will always stay here with us,' said Mary to her, caressing her
ladyship's rough hand, and looking kindly into that kind face.
But Lady Scatcherd would not consent to this. 'I will come and see you
sometimes, and then I shall enjoy myself. Yes, I will come and see you,
and my own dear boy.' The affair was ended by her taking Mrs Opie
Green's cottage, in order that she might be near the doctor; Mrs Opie
Green having married--somebody.
And of whom else must we say a word? Patience, also, of course, got a
husband--or will do so. Dear Patience! it would be a thousand pities
that so good a wife should be lost to the world. Whether Miss Dunstable
will ever be married, or Augusta Gresham, or Mr Moffat, or any of the
tribe of the De Courcys--except Lady Amelia--I cannot say. They have all
of them still their future before them. That Bridget was married to
Thomas--that I am able to assert; for I know that Janet was much put out
by their joint desertion.
Lady Arabella has not yet lost her admiration for Mary, and Mary, in
return, behaves admirably. Another event is expected, and her ladyship
is almost as anxious about that as she was about the wedding. 'A matter,
you know, of much importance in the county!' she whispered to Lady De
Nothing can be more happy than the intercourse between the squire and
his son. What their exact arrangements are, we need not specially
inquire; but the demon of pecuniary embarrassment has lifted his black
wings from the demesne of Greshamsbury.
And now we have but one word left for the doctor. 'If you don't come
and dine with me,' said the squire to him, when they found themselves
both deserted, 'mind I shall come and dine with you.' And on this
principle they seem to act. Dr Thorne continues to extend his practice,
to the great disgust of Dr Fillgrave; and when Mary suggested to him
that he should retire, he almost boxed her ears. He knows the way,
however, to Boxall Hill as well as he ever did, and is willing to
acknowledge, that the tea there is almost as good as it ever was at