Part 2 out of 12
registered debt against the property but his own and Armstrong's.'
'But his own is very large already.'
'Armstrong's is nothing; about four-and-twenty thousand pounds.'
'Yes; but he comes first, Mr Gresham.'
'Well, what of that? To hear you talk, one would think that there was
nothing left of Greshamsbury. What's four-and-twenty thousand
pounds? Does Scatcherd know what rent-roll is?'
'Oh, yes, he knows it well enough: I wish he did not.'
'What he means is, that he must have ample security to cover what he
has already advanced before he goes on. I wish to goodness you had no
further need to borrow. I did think that things were settled last
'Oh if there's any difficulty, Umbleby will get it for me.'
'Yes; and what will you have to pay for it?'
'I'd sooner pay double that be talked to in this way,' said the squire,
angrily, and, as he spoke, he got up hurriedly from his chair, thrust
his hands into his trousers-pockets, walked quickly to the window, and
immediately walking back again, threw himself once more into his chair.
'There are some things a man cannot bear, doctor,' said he, beating the
devil's tattoo on the floor with one of his feet, 'though God knows I
ought to be patient now, for I am made to bear a good many things. You
had better tell Scatcherd that I am obliged to him for his offer, but
that I will not trouble him.'
The doctor during this little outburst had stood quite silent with his
back to the fireplace and his coat-tails hanging over his arms; but
though his voice said nothing, his face said much. He was very
unhappy; he was greatly grieved to find that the squire was so soon
again in want of money, and greatly grieved also to find that this want
had made him so bitter and unjust. Mr Gresham had attacked him; but as
he was determined not to quarrel with Mr Gresham, he refrained from
The squire also remained silent for a few minutes; but he was not
endowed with the gift of silence, and was soon, as it were, compelled
to speak again.
'Poor Frank!' said he. 'I could yet be easy about everything if it
were not for the injury I have done him. Poor Frank!'
The doctor advanced a few paces from off the rug, and taking his hand
out of his pocket, he laid it gently on the squire's shoulder. 'Frank
will do very well yet,' said the he. 'It is not absolutely necessary
that a man should have fourteen thousand pounds a year to be happy.'
'My father left me the property entire, and I should leave it entire to
my son;--but you don't understand this.'
The doctor did understand the feeling fully. The fact, on the other
hand, was that, long as he had known him, the squire did not understand
'I would you could, Mr Gresham,' said the doctor, 'so that your mind
might be happier; but that cannot be, and, therefore, I say again, that
Frank will do very well yet, although he will not inherit fourteen
thousand pounds a year; and I would have you say the same thing to
'Ah! you don't understand it,' persisted the squire. 'You don't know
how a man feels when he--Ah, well! it's no use my troubling you with
what cannot be mended. I wonder whether Umbleby is about the place
The doctor was again standing with his back against the chimney-piece,
and with his hands in his pockets.
'You did not see Umbleby as you came in?' again asked the squire.
'No, I did not; and if you will take my advice you will not see him
now; at any rate with reference to this money.'
'I tell you I must get it from someone; you say Scatcherd won't let me
'No, Mr Gresham; I did not say that.'
'Well, you said what was as bad. Augusta is to be married in
September, and the money must be had. I have agreed to give Moffat six
thousand pounds, and he is to have the money down in hard cash.'
'Six thousand pounds,' said the doctor. 'Well, I suppose that is not
more than your daughter should have. But then, five times six are
thirty; thirty thousand pounds will be a large sum to make up.'
The father thought to himself that his younger girls were but children,
and that the trouble of arranging their marriage portions might well be
postponed a while. Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof.
'That Moffat is a gripping, hungry fellow,'said the squire. 'I suppose
Augusta likes him; and, as regards money, it is a good match.'
'If Miss Gresham loves him, that is everything. I am not in love with
him myself; but then, I am not a young lady.'
'The De Courcys are very fond of him. Lady de Courcy says that he is a
perfect gentleman, and thought very much of in London.'
'Oh! if Lady de Courcy says that, of course, it's all right,' said the
doctor, with a quiet sarcasm, that was altogether thrown away on the
The squire did not like any of the De Courcys; especially, he did not
like Lady de Courcy; but still he was accessible to a certain amount of
gratification in the near connexion which he had with the earl and
countess; and when he wanted to support his family greatness, would
sometimes weakly fall back upon the grandeur of Courcy Castle. It was
only when talking to his wife that he invariably snubbed the
pretensions of his noble relatives.
The two men after this remained silent for a while; and then the
doctor, renewing the subject for which he had been summoned into the
book-room, remarked that as Scatcherd was now in the country--he did
not say, was now at Boxall Hill, as he did not wish to wound the
squire's ears--perhaps he had better go and see him, and ascertain in
what way this affair of the money might be arranged. There was no
doubt, he said, that Scatcherd would supply the sum required at a lower
rate of interest than that which it could be procured through Umbleby's
'Very well,' said the squire. 'I'll leave it in your hands, then. I
think ten thousand pounds will do. And now I'll dress for dinner.' And
then the doctor left him.
Perhaps the reader will suppose after this that the doctor had some
pecuniary interest of his own in arranging the squire's loans; or, at
any rate, he will think that the squire must have so thought. Not in
the least; neither had he any such interest, nor did the squire think
that he had any. What Dr Thorne did in this matter the squire well
knew was done for love. But the squire of Greshamsbury was a great man
at Greshamsbury; and it behoved him to maintain the greatness of his
squirehood when discussing his affairs with the village doctor. So
much he had at any rate learnt from his contact with the De Courcys.
And the doctor--proud, arrogant, contradictory, headstrong as he
was--why did he bear to be thus snubbed? Because he knew that the
squire of Greshamsbury, when struggling with debt and poverty, required
an indulgence for his weakness. Had Mr Gresham been in easy
circumstances, the doctor would by no means have stood so placidly with
his hands in his pockets, and have had Mr Umbleby thus thrown in his
teeth. The doctor loved the squire, loved him as his own oldest
friend; but he loved him ten times better as being in adversity than he
could ever done had things gone well at Greshamsbury in his time.
While this was going on downstairs, Mary was sitting upstairs with
Beatrice Gresham in the schoolroom. The old schoolroom, so called, was
now a sitting-room, devoted to the use of the grown-up ladies of the
family, whereas one of the old nurseries was now the modern
schoolroom. Mary well knew her way to the sanctum, and, without asking
any questions, walked up to it when her uncle went to the squire. On
entering the room she found that Augusta and the Lady Alexandrina were
also there, and she hesitated for a moment at the door.
'Come in, Mary,' said Beatrice, 'you know my cousin Alexandrina.' Mary
came in, and having shaken hands with her two friends, was bowing to
the lady, when the lady condescended, put out her noble hand, and
touched Miss Thorne's fingers.
Beatrice was Mary's friend, and many heart-burnings and much mental
solicitude did that young lady give to her mother by indulging in such
a friendship. But Beatrice, with some faults, was true at heart, and
she persisted in loving Mary Thorne in spite of the hints which her
mother so frequently gave as to the impropriety of such an affection.
Nor had Augusta any objection to the society of Miss Thorne. Augusta
was a strong-minded girl, with much of the De Courcy arrogance, but
quite as well inclined to show it in opposition to her mother as in any
other form. To her alone in the house did Lady Arabella show much
deference. She was now going to make a suitable match with a man of
large fortune, who had been procured for her as an eligible _parti_ by
her aunt, the countess. She did not pretend, had never pretended, that
she loved Mr Moffat, but she knew, she said, that in the present state
of her father's affairs such a match was expedient. Mr Moffat was a
young man of very large fortune, in Parliament, and inclined to
business, and in every way recommendable. He was not a man of birth,
to be sure; that was to be lamented;--in confessing that Mr Moffat was
not a man of birth, Augusta did not go so far as to admit that he was
the son of a tailor; such, however, was the rigid truth in this
matter--he was not a man of birth, that was to be lamented; but in the
present state of affairs at Greshamsbury, she understood well that it
was her duty to postpone her own feelings in some respect. Mr Moffat
would bring fortune; she would bring blood and connexion. And as she
so said, her bosom glowed with strong pride to think that she would be
able to contribute so much more towards the proposed future partnership
than her husband would do.
'Twas thus that Miss Gresham spoke of her match to her dear friends, her
cousins the De Courcys for instance, to Miss Oriel, her sister
Beatrice, and even to Mary Thorne. She had no enthusiasm, she
admitted, but she thought she had good judgment. She thought she had
shown good judgment in accepting Mr Moffat's offer, though she did not
pretend to any romance of affection. And, having so said, she went to
work with considerable mental satisfaction, choosing furniture,
carriages, and clothes, not extravagantly as her mother would have
done, not in deference to sterner dictates of the latest fashion as her
aunt would have done, with none of the girlish glee in new purchases
which Beatrice would have felt, but with sound judgment. She bought
things that were rich, for her husband was to be rich, and she meant to
avail herself of his wealth; she bought things that were fashionable,
for she meant to live in the fashionable world; but she bought what was
good, and strong, and lasting, and worth its money.
Augusta Gresham had perceived early in life that she could not obtain
success either as an heiress, or as a beauty, nor could she shine as a
wit; she therefore fell back on such qualities as she had, and
determined to win the world as a strong-minded, useful woman. That
which she had of her own was blood; having that, she would in all ways
do what in her lay to enhance its value. Had she not possessed it, it
would to her mind have been the vainest of pretences.
When Mary came in, the wedding preparations were being discussed. The
number and names of the bridesmaids were being settled, the dresses
were on the tapis, the invitations to be given were talked over.
Sensible as Augusta was, she was not above such feminine cares; she
was, indeed, rather anxious that the wedding should go off well. She
was a little ashamed of her tailor's son, and therefore anxious that
things should be as brilliant as possible.
The bridesmaid's names had just been written on a card as Mary entered
the room. There were the Ladies Amelia, Rosina, Margaretta, and
Alexandrina of course at the head of it; then came Beatrice and the
twins; then Miss Oriel, who, though only a parson's sister, was a
person of note, birth and fortune. After this there had been here a
great discussion whether or not there should be any more. If there
were to be one more there must be two. Now Miss Moffat had expressed a
direct wish, and Augusta, though she would much rather have done
without her, hardly knew how to refuse. Alexandrina--we hope we may
be allowed to drop the 'lady' for the sake of brevity, for the present
scene only--was dead against such an unreasonable request. 'We none of
us know her, you know; and it would not be comfortable.' Beatrice
strongly advocated the future sister-in-law's acceptance into the bevy;
she had her own reasons; she was pained that Mary Thorne should not be
among the number, and if Miss Moffat were accepted, perhaps Mary might
be brought in as her colleague.
'If you have Miss Moffat,' said Alexandrina, 'you must have dear Pussy
too; and I really think that Pussy is too young; it will be
troublesome.' Pussy was the youngest Miss Gresham, who was now only
eight years old, and whose real name was Nina.
'Augusta,' said Beatrice, speaking with some slight hesitation, some
soupcon of doubt before the highest authority of her noble cousin, 'if
you do have Miss Moffat would you mind asking Mary Thorne to join her?
I think Mary would like it, because, you see, Patience Oriel is to be
one; and we have known Mary much longer than we have known Patience.'
Then out and spake the Lady Alexandrina.
'Beatrice, dear, if you think of what you are asking, I am sure you
will see that it would not do; would not do at all. Miss Thorne is a
very nice girl, I am sure; and, indeed, what little I have seen of her
I highly approve. But, after all, who is she? Mamma, I know, thinks
that Aunt Arabella has been wrong to let be here so much, but--'
Beatrice became rather red in the face, and, in spite of the dignity of
her cousin, was preparing to defend her friend.
'Mind, I am not saying a word against Miss Thorne.'
'If I am married before her, she shall be one of my bridesmaids,' said
'That will probably depend on circumstances,' said the Lady
Alexandrina; I find that I cannot bring my courteous pen to drop the
title. 'But Augusta is very peculiarly situated. Mr Moffat, is, you
see, not of the very highest birth; and, therefore, she should take
care that on her side every one about her is well born.'
'Then you cannot have Miss Moffat,' said Beatrice.
'No; I would not if I could help it,' said the cousin.
'But the Thornes are as good a family as the Greshams,' said Beatrice.
She had not quite the courage to say, as good as the De Courcys.
'I dare say they are; and if this was Miss Thorne of Ullathorne,
Augusta probably would not object to her. But can you tell me who Miss
Mary Thorne is?'
'She is Dr Thorne's niece.'
'You mean that she is called so; but do you know who her father was, or
who her mother was? I, for one, must own that I do not. Mamma, I
believe, does, but--'
At this moment the door opened gently and Mary Thorne entered the room.
It may easily be conceived, that while Mary was making her salutations
the three other young ladies were a little cast aback. The Lady
Alexandrina, however, quickly recovered herself, and, by her inimitable
presence of mind and facile grace of manner, soon put the matter on a
'We were discussing Miss Gresham's marriage,' said she; 'I am sure I
may mention to an acquaintance of so long standing as Miss Thorne, that
the first of September has been now fixed for the wedding.'
Miss Gresham! Acquaintance of so long standing! Why, Mary and Augusta
Gresham had for years, we will hardly say for how many, passed their
mornings together in the same schoolroom; had quarrelled, and
squabbled, and caressed and kissed, and been all but sisters to each
other. Acquaintance indeed! Beatrice felt that her ears were
tingling, and even Augusta was a little ashamed. Mary, however, knew
that the cold words had come from a De Courcy, and not from a Gresham,
and did not, therefore, resent them.
'So it's settled, Augusta, is it?' said she; 'the first of September. I
wish you joy with all my heart,' and, coming round, she put her arm
over Augusta's shoulder and kissed her. The Lady Alexandrina could not
but think that the doctor's niece uttered her congratulations very much
as though she were speaking to an equal; very much as though she had a
father and mother of her own.
'You will have delicious weather,' continued Mary. 'September, and the
beginning of October, is the nicest time of the year. If I were going
honeymooning it is just the time of year I would choose.'
'I wish you were, Mary,' said Beatrice.
'So do not I, dear, till I have found some decent sort of a body to
honeymoon along with me. I won't stir out of Greshamsbury till I have
sent you off before me, at any rate. And where will you go, Augusta?'
'We have not settled that,' said Augusta. 'Mr Moffat talks of Paris.'
'Who ever heard of going to Paris in September?' said the Lady
The Lady Alexandrina was not pleased to find how completely the
doctor's niece took upon herself to talk, and sit, and act at
Greshamsbury as though she was on a par with the young ladies of the
family. That Beatrice should have allowed this would not have
surprised her; but it was to be expected that Augusta would have shown
'These things require some tact in their management; some delicacy when
high interests are at stake,' said she; 'I agree with Miss Thorne in
thinking that, in ordinary circumstances, with ordinary people,
perhaps, the lady should have her way. Rank, however, has its
drawbacks, Miss Thorne, as well as its privileges.'
'I should not object to the drawbacks,' said the doctor's niece,
'presuming them to be of some use; but I fear I might fail in getting
on so well with the privileges.'
The Lady Alexandrina looked at her as though not fully aware whether
she intended to be pert. In truth, the Lady Alexandrina was rather in
the dark on the subject. It was almost impossible, it was incredible,
that a fatherless, motherless, doctor's niece should be pert to an
earl's daughter at Greshamsbury, seeing that that earl's daughter was
the cousin of the miss Greshams. And yet the Lady Alexandrina hardly
knew what other construction to put on the words she had just heard.
It was at any rate clear to her that it was not becoming that she
should just then stay any longer in that room. Whether she intended to
be pert or not, Miss Mary Thorne was, to say the least, very free. The
De Courcy ladies knew what was due to them--no ladies better; and,
therefore, the Lady Alexandrina made up her mind at once to go to her
'Augusta,' she said, rising slowly from her chair with much stately
composure, 'it is nearly time to dress; will you come with me? We have
a great deal to discuss, you know.'
So she swam out of the room, and Augusta, telling Mary that she would
see her again at dinner, swam--no, tried to swim--after her. Miss
Gresham had had great advantages; but she had not been absolutely
brought up at Courcy Castle, and could not as yet quite assume the
Courcy style of swimming.
'There,' said Mary, as the door closed behind the rustling muslins of
the ladies. 'There, I have made an enemy for ever, perhaps two; that's
'And why have you done it, Mary? When I am fighting your battles
behind your back, why do you come and upset it all by making the whole
family of the De Courcys dislike you? In such a matter as that,
they'll all go together.'
'I am sure they will,' said Mary; 'whether they would be equally
unanimous in a case of love and charity, that, indeed, is another
'But why should you try to make my cousin angry; you that ought to have
so much sense? Don't you remember that you were saying yourself the
other day, of the absurdity of combatting pretences which the world
'I do, Trichy, I do; don't scold me now. It is so much easier to
preach than to practise. I do so wish I was a clergyman.'
'But you have done so much harm, Mary.'
'Have I?' said Mary, kneeling down on the ground at her friend's feet.
'If I humble myself very low; if I kneel through the whole evening in a
corner; if I put my neck down and let all your cousins trample on it,
and then your aunt, would not that make atonement? I would not object
to wearing sackcloth, either; and I'd eat a little ashes--or, at any
rate, I'd try.'
'I know you're clever, Mary; but still I think you're a fool. I do,
'I am a fool, Trichy, I do confess it; and am not a bit clever; but
don't scold me; you see how humble I am; not only humble but umble,
which I look upon to be the comparative, or, indeed, superlative
degree. Or perhaps there are four degrees; humble, umble, stumble,
tumble; and then, when one is absolutely in the dirt at their feet,
perhaps these big people won't wish one to stoop any further.'
'And, oh, Trichy! you don't mean to say I mayn't speak out before you.
There, perhaps you'd like to put your foot on my neck.' And then she
put her head down to the footstool and kissed Beatrice's feet.
'I'd like, if I dared, to put my hand on your cheek and give you a good
slap for being such a goose.'
'Do; do, Trichy: you shall tread on me, or slap me, or kiss me;
whichever you like.'
'I can't tell you how vexed I am,' said Beatrice; 'I wanted to arrange
'Arrange something! What? arrange what? I love arranging. I fancy
myself qualified to be an arranger-general in female matters. I mean
pots and pans, and such like. Of course I don't allude to
extraordinary people and extraordinary circumstances that require tact,
and delicacy, and drawbacks, and that sort of thing.'
'Very well, Mary.'
'But it's not very well; it's very bad if you look like that. Well, my
pet, there I won't. I won't allude to the noble blood of your noble
relatives either in joke or in earnest. What is it you want to
'I want you to be one of Augusta's bridesmaids.'
'Good heavens, Beatrice! Are you mad? What! Put me, even for a
morning, into the same category of finery as the noble blood from
'Patience is to be one.'
'But that is no reason why Impatience should be another, and I should
be very impatient under such honours. No, Trichy; joking apart, do not
think of it. Even if Augusta wished it I would refuse. I should be
obliged to refuse. I, too, suffer from pride; a pride quite as
unpardonable as that of others: I could not stand with your four
lady-cousins behind your sister at the altar. In such a galaxy they
would be the stars and I--'
'Why, Mary, all the world knows that you are prettier than any of
'I am all the world's very humble servant. But, Trichy, I should not
object if I were as ugly as the veiled prophet and they all as
beautiful as Zuleika. The glory of that galaxy will be held to depend
not on its beauty; but on its birth. You know how they would look at
me; now they would scorn me; and there, in church, at the altar, with
all that is solemn round us, I could not return their scorn as I might
do elsewhere. In a room I'm not a bit afraid of them at all.' And
Mary was again allowing herself to be absorbed by that feeling of
indomitable pride, of antagonism to the pride of others, which she
herself in her cooler moments was the first to blame.
'You often say, Mary, that that sort of arrogance should be despised
and passed over without notice.'
'So it should, Trichy. I tell you that as a clergyman tells you to
hate riches. But though the clergyman tells you so, he is not the less
anxious to be rich himself.'
'I particularly wish you to be one of Augusta's bridesmaids.'
'And I particularly wish to decline the honour; which honour has not
been, and will not be, offered to me. No, Trichy. I will not be
Augusta's bridesmaid, but--but--but--'
'But what, dearest?'
'But, Trichy, when some one else is married, when the new wing has been
built to a house that you know of--'
'Now, Mary, hold your tongue, or you know you'll make me angry.'
'I do so like to see you angry. And when that time comes, when that
wedding does take place, then I will be a bridesmaid, Trichy. Yes! even
though I am not invited. Yes! though all the De Courcys in Barsetshire
should tread upon me and obliterate me. Though I should be dust among
the stars, though I should creep up in calico among their satins and
lace, I will nevertheless be there; close, close to the bride; to hold
something for her, to touch her dress, to feel that I am near to her,
to--to--to--' and she threw her arms round her companion, and kissed her
over and over again. 'No, Trichy; I won't be Augusta's bridesmaid; I'll
bide my time for bridesmaiding.'
What protestations Beatrice made against the probability of such an
event as foreshadowed in her friend's promise we will not repeat. The
afternoon was advancing, and the ladies also had to dress for dinner,
to do honour to the young heir.
FRANK GRESHAM'S FIRST SPEECH
We have said, that over and above those assembled in the house, there
came to the Greshamsbury dinner on Frank's birthday the Jacksons of the
Grange, consisting of Mr and Mrs Jackson; the Batesons from Annesgrove,
viz., Mr and Mrs Bateson, and Miss Bateson, their daughter--an unmarried
lady of about fifty; the Bakers of Mill Hill, father and son; and Mr
Caleb Oriel, the rector, with his beautiful sister, Patience. Dr
Thorne, and his niece Mary, we count among those already assembled at
There was nothing very magnificent in the number of the guests thus
brought together to do honour to young Frank; but he, perhaps, was
called on to take a more prominent part in the proceedings, to be made
more of a hero than would have been the case had half the county been
there. In that case the importance of the guests would have been so
great that Frank would have got off with a half-muttered speech or two;
but now he had to make a separate oration to every one, and very weary
work he found it.
The Batesons, Bakers, and Jacksons were very civil; no doubt the more
so from an unconscious feeling on their part, that as the squire was
known to be a little out at elbows as regards money, any deficiency on
their part might be considered as owing to the present state of affairs
at Greshamsbury. Fourteen thousand a year will receive honour; in that
case there is no doubt, and the man already possessing it is not apt to
be suspicious as to the treatment he may receive; but the ghost of
fourteen thousand a year is not always so self-assured. Mr Baker,
with his moderate income, was a very much richer man than the squire;
and, therefore, he was peculiarly forward in congratulating Frank on
the brilliancy of his prospects.
Poor Frank had hardly anticipated what there would be to do, and before
dinner was announced he was very tired of it. He had no warmer feeling
for any of the grand cousins than a very ordinary cousinly love; and he
had resolved, forgetful of birth and blood, and all those gigantic
considerations which now that manhood had come upon him, he was bound
always to bear in mind,--he had resolved to sneak out to dinner
comfortably with Mary Thorne if possible; and if not with Mary, then
with his other love, Patience Oriel.
Great, therefore, was his consternation at finding that, after being
kept continually in the foreground for half an hour before dinner, he
had to walk out to the dining-room with his aunt the countess, and take
his father's place for the day at the bottom of the table.
'It will now depend altogether upon yourself, Frank, whether you
maintain or lose that high position in the county which has been held
by the Greshams for so many years,' said the countess, as she walked
through the spacious hall, resolving to lose no time in teaching to her
nephew that great lesson which it was so imperative that he should
Frank took this as an ordinary lecture, meant to inculcate general good
conduct, such as old bores of aunts are apt to inflict on youthful
victims in the shape of nephews and nieces.
'Yes,' said Frank; 'I suppose so; and I mean to go along all square,
aunt, and no mistake. When I get back to Cambridge, I'll read like
His aunt did not care two straws about his reading. It was not by
reading that the Greshams of Greshamsbury had held their heads up in
the county, but by having high blood and plenty of money. The blood had
come naturally to this young man; but it behoved him to look for the
money in a great measure himself. She, Lady de Courcy, could doubtless
help him; she might probably be able to fit him with a wife who would
bring her money onto his birth. His reading was a matter in which she
could in no way assist him; whether his taste might lead him to prefer
books or pictures, or dogs and horses, or turnips in drills, or old
Italian plates and dishes, was a matter which did not much signify;
with which it was not at all necessary that his noble aunt should
'Oh! you are going to Cambridge again, are you? Well, if your father
wishes it;--though very little is ever gained now by a university
'I am to take my degree in October, aunt; and I am determined, at any
rate, that I won't be plucked.'
'No; I won't be plucked. Baker was plucked last year, and all because
he got into the wrong set at John's. He's an excellent fellow if you
knew him. He got among a set of men who did nothing but smoke and
drink beer. Malthusians, we call them.'
'"Malt", you know, aunt, and "use"; meaning that they drink beer. So
poor Harry Baker got plucked. I don't know that a fellow's any the
worse; however, I won't get plucked.'
By this time the party had taken their place round the long board, Mr
Gresham sitting at the top, in the place usually occupied by Lady
Arabella. She, on the present occasion, sat next to her son on the one
side, as the countess did on the other. If, therefore, Frank now went
astray, it would not be from want of proper leading.
'Aunt, will you have some beef?' said he, as soon as the soup and fish
had been disposed of, anxious to perform the rites of hospitality now
for the first time committed to his charge.
'Do not be in a hurry, Frank,' said his mother; 'the servants
'Oh! ah! I forgot; there are cutlets and those sort of things. My
hand is not yet in for this work, aunt. Well, as I was saying about
'Is Frank to go back to Cambridge, Arabella?' said the countess to her
sister-in-law, speaking across her nephew.
'So his father seems to say.'
'Is it not a waste of time?' asked the countess.
'You know I never interfere,' said the Lady Arabella; 'I never liked
the idea of Cambridge myself at all. All the De Courcys were
Christchurch men; but the Greshams, it seems, were always at
'Would it not be better to send him abroad at once?'
'Much better, I would think,' said the Lady Arabella; 'but you know, I
never interfere: perhaps you would speak to Mr Gresham.'
The countess smiled grimly, and shook her head with a decidedly
negative shake. Had she said out loud to the young man, 'Your father
is such an obstinate, pig-headed, ignorant fool, that it is no use
speaking to him; it would be wasting fragrance on the desert air,' she
could not have spoken more plainly. The effect on Frank was this: that
he said to himself, speaking quite as plainly as Lady De Courcy had
spoken by her shake of the face, 'My mother and aunt are always down on
the governor, always; but the more they are down on him the more I'll
stick to him. I certainly will take my degree: I will read like
bricks; and I'll begin to-morrow.'
'Now will you take some beef, aunt?' This was said out loud.
The Countess de Courcy was very anxious to go on with her lesson
without loss of time; but she could not, while surrounded by guests and
servants, enunciate the great secret: 'You must marry money, Frank;
that is your one great duty; that is the matter to be borne steadfastly
in your mind.' She could not now, with sufficient weight and impress
of emphasis, pour this wisdom into his ears; the more especially as he
was standing up to his work of carving, and was deep to his elbows in
horse-radish, fat and gravy. So the countess sat silent while the
'Beef, Harry?' shouted the young heir to his friend Baker. 'Oh! but I
see it isn't your turn yet. I beg your pardon, Miss Bateson,' and he
sent to that lady a pound and a half of excellent meat, cut out with
great energy in one slice, about half an inch thick.
And so the banquet went on.
Before dinner Frank had found himself obliged to make numerous small
speeches in answer to the numerous individual congratulations of his
friends; but these were as nothing to the one great accumulated onus of
an oration which he had long known that he should have to sustain after
the cloth was taken away. Some one of course would propose his health,
and then there would be a clatter of voices, ladies and gentlemen, men
and girls; and when that was done he would find himself standing on his
legs, with the room about him, going round and round and round.
Having had a previous hint of this, he had sought advice from his
cousin, the Honourable George, whom he regarded as a dab at speaking;
at least, so he had heard the Honourable George say of himself.
'What the deuce is a fellow to say, George, when he stands up after the
clatter is done?'
'Oh, it's the easiest thing in life,' said the cousin. 'Only remember
this: you mustn't get astray; that is what they call presence of mind,
you know. I'll tell you what I do, and I'm often called up, you know;
at our agriculturals I always propose the farmers' daughters: well,
what I do is this--I keep my eye steadfastly fixed on one of the
bottles, and never move it.'
'On one of the bottles!' said Frank; 'wouldn't it be better if I made a
mark of some old covey's head? I don't like looking at the table.'
'The old covey'd move, and then you'd be done; besides there isn't the
least use in the world in looking up. I've heard people say, who go to
those sort of dinners every day of their lives, that whenever anything
witty is said; the fellow who says it is sure to be looking at the
'Oh, you know I shan't say anything witty; I'll be quite the other
'But there's no reason you shouldn't learn the manner. That's the way
I succeed. Fix your eye on one of the bottles; put your thumbs in your
waist-coat pockets; stick out your elbows, bend your knees a little,
and then go ahead.'
'Oh, ah! go ahead; that's all very well; but you can't go ahead if you
haven't got any steam.'
'A very little does it. There can be nothing so easy as your speech.
When one has to say anything new every year about the farmers'
daughters, why one has to use one's brains a bit. Let's see: how will
you begin? Of course, you'll say that you are not accustomed to this
sort of thing; that the honour conferred upon you is too much for your
feelings; that the bright array of beauty and talent around you quite
overpowers your tongue, and all that sort of thing. Then declare
you're a Gresham to the backbone.'
'Oh, they know that.'
'Well, tell them again. Then of course you must say something about
us; or you'll have the countess as black as old Nick.'
'Abut my aunt, George? What on earth can I say about her when she's
there herself before me?'
'Before you! of course; that's just the reason. Oh, say any lie you
can think of; you must say something about us. You know we've come
down from London on purpose.'
Frank, in spite of the benefit of receiving from his cousin's
erudition, could not help wishing in his heart that they had al
remained in London; but this he kept to himself. He thanked his cousin
for his hints, and though he did not feel that the trouble of his mind
was completely cured, he began to hope that he might go through the
ordeal without disgracing himself.
Nevertheless, he felt rather sick at heart when Mr Baker got up to
propose the toast as soon as the servants were gone. The servants,
that is, were gone officially; but they were there in a body, men and
women, nurses, cooks, and ladies' maids, coachmen, grooms, and footmen,
standing in two doorways to hear what Master Frank would say. The old
housekeeper headed the maids at one door, standing boldly inside the
room; and the butler controlled the men at the other, marshalling them
back with a drawn corkscrew.
Mr Baker did not say much; but what he did say, he said well. They had
all seen Frank Gresham grow up from a child; and were now required to
welcome as a man amongst them one who was well qualified to carry on
the honour of that loved and respected family. His young friend,
Frank, was every inch a Gresham. Mr Baker omitted to make mention of
the infusion of De Courcy blood, and the countess, therefore, drew
herself up on her chair and looked as though she were extremely bored.
He then alluded tenderly to his own long friendship with the present
squire, Francis Newbold Gresham the elder; and sat down, begging them
to drink health, prosperity, long life, and excellent wife to their
dear friend Francis Newbold Gresham the younger.
There was a great jingling of glasses, of course; made the merrier and
the louder by the fact that the ladies were still there as well as the
gentlemen. Ladies don't drink toasts frequently; and, therefore, the
occasion coming rarely was the more enjoyed. 'God bless you, Frank!'
'Your good health, Frank!' 'And especially a good wife, Frank!' 'Two
or three of them, Frank!' 'Good health and prosperity to you, Mr
Gresham!' 'More power to you, Frank, my boy!' 'May God bless you and
preserve you, my dear boy!' and then a merry, sweet, eager voice from
the far end of the table, 'Frank! Frank! Do look at me, pray do
Frank; I am drinking your health in real wine; ain't I, papa?' Such
were the addresses which greeted Mr Francis Newbold Gresham the younger
as he essayed to rise up on his feet for the first time since he had
come to man's estate.
When the clatter was at an end, and he was fairly on his legs, he cast
a glance before him on the table, to look for a decanter. He had not
much liked his cousin's theory of sticking to the bottle; nevertheless,
in the difficulty of the moment, it was well to have any system to go
by. But, as misfortune would have it, though the table was covered
with bottles, his eye could not catch one. Indeed, his eye first could
catch nothing, for the things swam before him, and the guests all
seemed to dance in their chairs.
Up he got, however, and commenced his speech. As he could not follow
his preceptor's advice, as touching the bottle, he adopted his own
crude plan of 'making a mark on some old covey's head,' and therefore
looked dead at the doctor.
'Upon my word, I am very much obliged to you, gentlemen and ladies,
ladies and gentlemen, I should say, for drinking my health, and doing
me so much honour, and all that sort of thing. Upon my word I am.
Especially to you, Mr Baker. I don't mean you, Harry, you're not Mr
'As much as you're Mr Gresham, Master Frank.'
'But I am not Mr Gresham; and I don't mean to be for many a long year
if I can help it; not at any rate till we have had another coming of
'Bravo, Frank; and whose will that be?'
'That will be my son, and a very fine lad he will be; and I hope he'll
make a better speech than his father. Mr Baker said I was every inch a
Gresham. Well, I hope I am.' Here the countess began to look cold and
angry. 'I hope the day will never come when my father won't own me for
'There's no fear, no fear,' said the doctor, who was almost put out of
countenance by the orator's intense gaze. The countess looked colder
and more angry, and muttered something to herself about a bear-garden.
'Gardez Gresham; eh? Harry! mind that when you're sticking in a gap
I'm coming after you. Well, I am sure I am very obliged to you for the
honour you have all done me, especially the ladies who don't do this
sort of things on ordinary occasions. I wish they did; don't you,
doctor? And talking of the ladies, my aunty and cousins have come all
the way from London to hear me take this speech which certainly is not
worth the trouble; but, all the same I am very much obliged to them.'
And he looked round and made a little bow at the countess. 'And so I
am to Mr and Mrs Jackson, and Mr and Mrs and Miss Bateson, and Mr
Baker--I'm not at all obliged to you, Harry--and to Mr Oriel and Miss
Oriel, and to Mr Umbleby, and to Dr Thorne, and to Mary--I beg her
pardon, I mean Miss Thorne.' And then he sat down, amid the loud
plaudits of the company, and a string of blessings which came from the
servants behind him.
After this the ladies rose and departed. As she went, Lady Arabella,
kissed her son's forehead, and then his sisters kissed him, and one or
two of his lady-cousins; and then Miss Bateson shook him by the hand.
'Oh, Miss Bateson,' said he, 'I thought the kissing was to go all round.'
So Miss Bateson laughed and went her way; and Patience Oriel nodded at
him, but Mary Thorne, as she quietly left the room, almost hidden among
the extensive draperies of the grander ladies, hardly allowed her eyes
to meet his.
He got up to hold the door for them as the passed; and as they went, he
managed to take Patience by the hand; he took her hand and pressed it
for a moment, but dropped it quickly, in order that he might go through
the same ceremony with Mary, but Mary was too quick for him.
'Frank,' said Mr Gresham, as soon as the door was closed, 'bring your
glass here, my boy;' and the father made room for his son close beside
himself. 'The ceremony is now over, so you may have your place of
dignity.' Frank sat himself down where he was told, and Mr Gresham put
his hand on his son's shoulder and half caressed him, while the tears
stood in his eyes. 'I think the doctor is right, Baker, I think he'll
never make us ashamed of him.'
'I am sure he never will,' said Baker.
'I don't think he ever will,' said Dr Thorne.
The tones of the men's voices were very different. Mr Baker did not
care a straw about it; why should he? He had an heir of his own as
well as the squire; one also who was the apple of his eye. But the
doctor,--he did care; he had a niece, to be sure, whom he loved, perhaps
as well as these men loved their sons; but there was room in his heart
also for young Frank Gresham.
After this small expose of feeling they sat silent for a moment or
two. But silence was not dear to the heart of the Honourable John, and
so he took up the running.
'That's a niceish nag you gave Frank this morning,' he said to his
uncle. 'I was looking at him before dinner. He is a Monsoon, isn't
'Well I can't say I know how he was bred,' said the squire. 'He shows
a good deal of breeding.'
'He's a Monsoon, I'm sure,' said the Honourable John. 'They've all
those ears, and that peculiar dip in the back. I suppose you gave a
goodish figure for him?'
'Not so very much,' said the squire.
'He's a trained hunter, I suppose?'
'If not, he soon will be,' said the squire.
'Let Frank alone for that,' said Harry Baker.
'He jumps beautifully, sir,' said Frank. 'I haven't tried him myself,
but Peter made him go over the bar two or three times this morning.'
The Honourable John was determined to give his cousin a helping hand,
as he considered it. He thought that Frank was very ill used in being
put off with so incomplete stud, and thinking also that the son had not
spirit enough to attack his father himself on the subject, the
Honourable John determined to do it for him.
'He's the making of a very nice horse, I don't doubt. I wish you had a
string like him, Frank.'
Frank felt the blood rush to his face. He would not for worlds have
his father think that he was discontented, or otherwise than pleased
with the present he had received that morning. He was heartily ashamed
of himself in that he had listened with a certain degree of complacency
to his cousin's tempting; but he had no idea that the subject would be
repeated--and then repeated, too, before his father, in a manner to vex
him on such a day as this, before such people as were assembled here.
He was very angry with his cousin, and for a moment forgot all his
hereditary respect for a De Courcy.
'I tell you what, John,' said he, 'do you choose your day, some day
early in the season, and come out on the best thing you have, and I'll
bring, not the black horse, but my old mare; and then do you try to
keep near me. If I don't leave you at the back of God-speed before
long, I'll give you the mare and the horse too.'
The Honourable John was not known in Barsetshire as one of the most
forward of its riders. He was a man much addicted to hunting, as far
as the get-up of the thing was concerned; he was great in boots and
breeches; wondrously conversant with bits and bridles; he had quite a
collection of saddles; and patronized every newest invention for
carrying spare shoes, sandwiches, and flasks of sherry. He was
prominent at the cover side;--some people, including the master of
hounds, thought him perhaps a little too loudly prominent; he affected
a familiarity with the dogs, and was on speaking acquaintance with
every man's horse. But when the work was cut out, when the pace began
to be sharp, when it behoved a man either to ride or visibly to decline
to ride, then--so at least said they who had not the De Courcy interest
quite closely at heart--then, in those heart-stirring moments, the
Honourable John was too often found deficient.
There was, therefore, a considerable laugh at his expense when Frank,
instigated to this innocent boast by a desire to save his father,
challenged his cousin to a trial of prowess. The Honourable John was
not, perhaps, as much accustomed to the ready use of his tongue as was
his honourable brother, seeing that it was not his annual business to
depict the glories of the farmers' daughters; at any rate, on this
occasion he seemed to be at some loss for words; he shut up, as the
slang phrase goes, and made no further allusion to the necessity of
supplying young Gresham with a proper stream of hunters.
But the old squire had understood it all; had understood the meaning of
his nephew's attack; had thoroughly understood the meaning of his son's
defence, and the feeling which actuated it. He also had thought of the
stableful of horses which had belonged to himself when he became of
age; and of the much more humble position which his son would have to
fill than that which his father had prepared for him. He thought of
this, and was sad enough, though he had sufficient spirit to hide from
his friends around him the fact, that the Honourable John's arrow had
not been discharged in vain.
'He shall have Champion,' said the father to himself. 'It is time for
me to give up.'
Now Champion was one of the two fine old hunters which the squire kept
for his own use. And it might have been said of him now, at the period
of which we are speaking, that the only really happy moments of his
life were those which he spent in the field. So much as to its being
time for him to give up.
FRANK GRESHAM'S EARLY LOVES
It was, we have said, the first of July, and such being the time of the
year, the ladies, after sitting in the drawing-room for half an hour
or so, began to think that they might as well go through the
drawing-room windows on to the lawn. First one slipped out a little
way, and then another; and then they got on to the lawn; and then they
talked of their hats; till, by degrees, the younger ones of the party,
and the last of the elder also, found themselves dressed for walking.
The windows, both of the drawing-room, and the dining-room, looked out
on to the lawn; and it was only natural that the girls should walk from
the former to the latter. It was only natural that they, being there,
should tempt their swains to come to them by the sight of their
broad-brimmed hats and evening dresses; and natural, also, that the
temptation should not be resisted. The squire, therefore, and the
elder male guests soon found themselves alone round their wine.
'Upon my word, we were enchanted by your eloquence, Mr Gresham, were we
not?' said Miss Oriel, turning to one of the De Courcy girls who was
Miss Oriel was a very pretty girl; a little older than Frank
Gresham,--perhaps a year or so. She had dark hair, large round dark
eyes, a nose a little too broad, a pretty mouth, a beautiful chin, and,
as we have said before, a large fortune;--that is, moderately large--let
us say twenty thousand pounds, there or thereabouts. She and her
brother had been living at Greshamsbury for the last two years, the
living having been purchased for him--such were Mr Gresham's
necessities--during the lifetime of the last old incumbent. Miss Oriel
was in every respect a nice neighbour; she was good-humoured,
lady-like, lively, neither too clever nor too stupid, belonging to a
good family, sufficiently fond of this world's good things, as became a
pretty young lady so endowed, and sufficiently fond, also, of the other
world's good things, as became the mistress of a clergyman's house.
'Indeed, yes;' said the Lady Margaretta. 'Frank is very eloquent. When
he described our rapid journey from London, he nearly moved me to
tears. But well as he talks, I think he carves better.'
'I wish you'd had to do it, Margaretta; both the carving and the
'Thank you, Frank; you're very civil.'
'But there's one comfort, Miss Oriel; it's over now, and done. A fellow
can't be made to come of age twice.'
'But you'll take your degree, Mr Gresham; and then, of course, there'll
be another speech; and then you'll get married, and there will be two
or three more.'
'I'll speak at your wedding, Miss Oriel, before I do at my own.'
'I shall not have the slightest objection. It will be so kind of you
to patronize my husband.'
'But, by Jove, will he patronize me? I know you'll marry some awful
bigwig, or some terribly clever fellow; won't she, Margaretta?'
'Miss Oriel was saying so much in praise of you before you came out,'
said Margaretta, 'that I began to think that her mind was intent at
remaining at Greshamsbury all her life.'
Frank blushed, and Patience laughed. There was but a year's difference
in their age; but Frank, however, was still a boy, though Patience was
fully a woman.
'I am ambitious, Lady Margaretta,' said she. 'I own it; but I am
moderate in my ambition. I do love Greshamsbury, and if Mr Gresham had
a younger brother, perhaps, you know--'
'Another just like myself, I suppose,' said Frank.
'Oh, yes. I could not possibly wish for any change.'
'Just as eloquent as you are, Frank,' said the Lady Margaretta.
'And as good a carver,' said Patience.
'Miss Bateson has lost her heart to him for ever, because of his
carving,' said the Lady Margaretta.
'But perfection never repeats itself,' said Patience.
'Well, you see, I have not got any brothers,' said Frank; 'so all I can
do is to sacrifice myself.'
'Upon my word, Mr Gresham, I am under more than ordinary obligations to
you; I am indeed,' said Miss Oriel, stood still in the path, and made a
very graceful curtsy. 'Dear me! only think, Lady Margaretta, that I
should be honoured with an offer from the heir the very moment he is
legally entitled to make one.'
'And done with so much true gallantry, too,' said the other;
'expressing himself quite willing to postpone any views of his own for
'Yes;' said Patience; 'that's what I value so much: had he loved me
now, there would have been no merit on his part; but a sacrifice you
'Yes, ladies are so fond of such sacrifices, Frank, upon my word, I had
no idea you were so very excellent at making speeches.'
'Well,' said Frank, 'I shouldn't have said sacrifice, that was a slip;
what I meant was--'
'Oh, dear me,' said Patience, 'wait a minute; now we are going to have
a regular declaration. Lady Margaretta, you haven't a scent-bottle,
have you? And if I should faint, where's the garden-chair?'
'Oh, but I'm not going to make a declaration at all,' said Frank.
'Are you not? Oh! Now, Lady Margaretta, I appeal to you; did you not
understand him to say something very particular?'
'Certainly, I thought nothing could be plainer,' said the Lady
'And so, Mr Gresham, I am to be told, that after all it means nothing,'
said Patience, putting her handkerchief up to her eyes.
'It means that you are an excellent hand at quizzing a fellow like me.'
'Quizzing! No; but you are an excellent hand at deceiving a poor girl
like me. Well, remember, I have got a witness; here is Lady
Margaretta, who heard it all. What a pity it is that my brother is a
clergyman. You calculated on that, I know; or you would never had
served me so.'
She said so just as her brother joined them, or rather just as he had
joined Lady Margaretta de Courcy; for her ladyship and Mr Oriel walked
on in advance by themselves. Lady Margaretta had found it rather dull
work, making a third in Miss Oriel's flirtation with her cousin; the
more so as she was quite accustomed to take a principal part herself in
all such transactions. She therefore not unwillingly walked on with Mr
Oriel. Mr Oriel, it must be conceived, was not a common, everyday
parson, but had points about him which made him quite fit to associate
with an earl's daughter. And as it was known that he was not a
marrying man, having very exalted ideas on that point connected with
his profession, the Lady Margaretta, of course, had the less objection
to trust herself alone with him.
But directly she was gone, Miss Oriel's tone of banter ceased. It was
very well making a fool of a lad of twenty-one when others were by; but
there might be danger in it when they were alone together.
'I don't know any position on earth more enviable than yours, Mr
Gresham,' said she, quite soberly and earnestly; 'how happy you ought
'What, in being laughed at by you, Miss Oriel, for pretending to be a
man, when you choose to make out that I am only a boy? I can bear to be
laughed at pretty well generally, but I can't say that your laughing at
me makes me feel so happy as you say I ought to be.'
Frank was evidently of an opinion totally different from that of Miss
Oriel. Miss Oriel, when she found herself tete-a-tete with him,
thought it was time to give over flirting; Frank, however, imagined
that it was just the moment for him to begin. So he spoke and looked
very languishing, and put on him quite the airs of an Orlando.
'Oh, Mr Gresham, such good friends as you and I may laugh at each
other, may we not?'
'You may do what you like, Miss Oriel: beautiful women I believe always
may; but you remember what the spider said to the fly, "That which is
sport to you, may be death to me."' Anyone looking at Frank's face as
he said that, might well have imagined that he was breaking his very
heart for love of Miss Oriel. Oh, Master Frank! Master Frank! if you
act thus in the green leaf, what will you do in the dry?
While Frank Gresham was thus misbehaving himself, and going on as
though to him belonged the privilege of falling in love with pretty
faces, as it does to ploughboys and other ordinary people, his great
interests were not forgotten by those guardian saints who were so
anxious to shower down on his head all manner of temporal blessings.
Another conversation had taken place in the Greshamsbury gardens, in
which nothing light had been allowed to present itself; nothing
frivolous had been spoken. The countess, the Lady Arabella, and Miss
Gresham had been talking over Greshamsbury affairs, and they had
latterly been assisted by the Lady Amelia, than whom no De Courcy ever
born was more wise, more solemn, more prudent, more proud. The
ponderosity of her qualifications for nobility was sometimes too much
even for her mother, and her devotion for the peerage was such, that
she would certainly have declined a seat in heaven if offered to her
without the promise that it should be in the upper house.
The subject first discussed had been Augusta's prospects. Mr Moffat
had been invited to Courcy Castle, and Augusta had been taken thither
to meet him, with the express intention on the part of the countess,
that they should be man and wife. The countess had been careful to
make it intelligible to her sister-in-law and niece, that though Mr
Moffat would do excellently well for a daughter of Greshamsbury, he
could not be allowed to raise his eyes to a female scion of Courcy
'Not that we personally dislike him,' said the Lady Amelia; 'but rank
has its drawbacks, Augusta.' As the Lady Amelia was now somewhat
nearer forty than thirty, and was still allowed to walk,
'In maiden meditation, fancy free,'
it may be presumed that in her case rank had been found to have serious
To this Augusta said nothing in objection. Whether desirable by a De
Courcy or not, the match was to be hers, and there was no doubt
whatever as to the wealth of the man whose name she was to take; the
offer had been made, not to her, but to her aunt; the acceptance had
been expressed, not by her, but by her aunt. Had she thought of
recapitulating in her memory all that had ever passed between Mr Moffat
and herself, she would have found that it did not amount to more than
the most ordinary conversation between chance partners in a ball-room.
Nevertheless, she was to be Mrs Moffat. All that Mr Gresham knew of
him was, that when he met the young man for the first and only time in
his life, he found him extremely hard to deal with in the matter of
money. He had insisted on having ten thousand pounds with his wife,
and at last refused to go on with the match unless he got six thousand
pounds. This latter sum the poor squire had undertaken to pay him.
Mr Moffat had been for a year or two MP for Barchester; having been
assisted in his views on that ancient city by all the De Courcy
interest. He was a Whig, of course. Not only had Barchester,
departing from the light of other days, returned a Whig member of
Parliament, but it was declared, that at the next election, now near at
hand, a Radical would be sent up, an man pledged to the ballot, to
economies of all sorts, one who would carry out Barchester politics in
all their abrupt, obnoxious, pestilent virulence. This was one
Scatcherd, a great railway contractor, a man who was a native of
Barchester, who had bought property in the neighbourhood, and who had
achieved a sort of popularity there and elsewhere by the violence of
his democratic opposition to the aristocracy. According to this man's
political tenets, the Conservatives should be laughed at as fools, but
the Whigs should be hated as knaves.
Mr Moffat was now coming down to Courcy Castle to look after his
electioneering interests, and Miss Gresham was to return with her aunt
to meet him. The countess was very anxious that Frank should also
accompany them. Her great doctrine, that he must marry money, had been
laid down with authority, and received without doubt. She now pushed
it further, and said that no time should be lost; that he should not
only marry money, but do so very early in life; there was always a
danger in delay. The Greshams--of course she alluded only to the males
of the family--were foolishly soft-hearted; no one could say what might
happen. There was that Miss Thorne always at Greshamsbury.
This was more than Lady Arabella could stand. She protested that there
was at least no ground for supposing that Frank would absolutely
disgrace his family.
Still the countess continued: 'Perhaps not,' she said; 'but when young
people of perfectly different ranks were allowed to associate together,
there was no saying what danger might arise. They all know that old Mr
Bateson--the present Mr Bateson's father--had gone off with the
governess; and young Mr Everbeery, near Taunton, had only the other day
married a cook-maid.'
'But Mr Everbeery was always drunk, aunt,' said Augusta, feeling called
upon to say something for her brother.
'Never mind, my dear; these things do happen, and they are very
'Horrible!' said the Lady Amelia; 'diluting the best blood of the
country, and paving the way for revolution.' This was very grand; but,
nevertheless, Augusta could not but feel that she perhaps might be
about to dilute the blood of her coming children in marrying the
tailor's son. She consoled herself by trusting that, at any rate, she
paved the way for no revolution.
'When a thing is so necessary,' said the countess, 'it cannot be done
too soon. Now, Arabella, I don't say that anything will come of it;
but it may; Miss Dunstable is coming down to us next week. Now, we all
know that when old Dunstable died last year, he left over two hundred
thousand to his daughter.'
'It is a great deal of money, certainly,' said Lady Arabella.
'It wold pay off everything, and a great deal more,' said the countess.
'It was ointment, was it not, aunt?' said Augusta.
'I believe so, my dear; something called the ointment of Lebanon, or
something of that sort: but there's no doubt about the money.'
'But how old is she, Robina?' asked the anxious mother.
'About thirty, I suppose; but I don't think that much signifies.'
'Thirty,' said Lady Arabella, rather dolefully. 'And what is she
like? I think that Frank already begins to like girls that are young
'But surely, aunt,' said the Lady Amelia, 'now that he has come to
man's discretion, he will not refuse to consider all that he owes to
his family. A Mr Gresham of Greshamsbury has a position to support.'
The De Courcy scion spoke these last words in the sort of tone that a
parish clergyman would use, in warning some young farmer's son that he
should not put himself on an equal footing with the ploughboys.
It was at last decided that the countess should herself convey to Frank
a special invitation to Courcy Castle, and that when she got him there,
she should do all that lay in her power to prevent his return to
Cambridge, and to further the Dunstable marriage.
'We did think of Miss Dunstable for Porlock, once,' she said, naively;
'but when we found that it wasn't much over two hundred thousand, why
that idea fell to the ground.' The terms on which the De Courcy blood
might be allowed to dilute itself were, it must be presumed, very high
Augusta was sent off to find her brother, and to send him to the
countess in the small drawing-room. Here the countess was to have her
tea, apart from the outer common world, and here, without interruption,
she was to teach her great lesson to her nephew.
Augusta did find her brother, and found him in the worst of bad
society--so at least the stern De Courcys would have thought. Old Mr
Bateson and the governess, Mr Everbeery and his cook's diluted blood,
and ways paved for revolutions, all presented themselves to Augusta's
mind when she found her brother walking with no other company than Mary
Thorne, and walking with her, too, in much too close proximity.
How he had contrived to be off with the old love and so soon on with
the new, or rather, to be off with the new love and again on with the
old, we will not stop to inquire. Had Lady Arabella, in truth, known
all her son's doings in this way, could she have guessed how very nigh
he had approached the iniquity of old Mr Bateson, and to the folly of
young Mr Everbeery, she would in truth have been in a hurry to send him
off to Courcy Castle and Miss Dunstable. Some days before the
commencement of our story, young Frank had sworn in sober earnest--in
what he intended for his most sober earnest, his most earnest
sobriety--that he loved Mary Thorne with a love for which words could
find no sufficient expression--with a love that could never die, never
grow dim, never become less, which no opposition on the part of others
could extinguish, which no opposition on her part could repel; that he
might, could, would, and should have her for his wife, and that if she
told him she didn't love him, he would--
'Oh, oh! Mary; do you love me? Don't you love me? Won't you love
me? Say you will. Oh, Mary, dearest Mary, will you? won't you? do
you? don't you? Come now, you have a right to give a fellow an
With such eloquence had the heir of Greshamsbury, when not yet
twenty-one years of age, attempted to possess himself of the affections
of the doctor's niece. And yet three days afterwards he was quite
ready to flirt with Miss Oriel.
If such things are done in the green wood, what will be done in the
And what had Mary said when those fervent protestations of an undying
love had been thrown at her feet? Mary, it must be remembered, was
very nearly of the same age as Frank; but, as I and others have so often
said before, 'Women grow on the sunny side of the wall.' Though Frank
was only a boy, it behoved Mary to be something more than a girl. Frank
might be allowed, without laying himself open to much reproach, to
throw all of what he believed to be his heart into a protestation of
what he believed to be love; but Mary was in duty bound to be more
thoughtful, more reticent, more aware of the facts of their position,
more careful of her own feelings, and more careful also of his.
And yet she could not put him down as another young lady might put down
another young gentleman. It is very seldom that a young man, unless he
be tipsy, assumes an unwelcome familiarity in his early acquaintance
with any girl; but when acquaintance has been long and intimate,
familiarities must follow as a matter of course. Frank and Mary had
been so much together in his holidays, had so constantly consorted
together as boys and girls, that, as regarded her, he had not that
innate fear of a woman which represses a young man's tongue; and she
was so used to his good-humour, his fun, and high jovial spirits, and
was, withal, so fond of them and him, that it was very difficult for
her to mark with accurate feeling, and stop with reserved brow, the
shade of change from a boy's liking to a man's love.
And Beatrice, too, had done harm in this matter. With a spirit
painfully unequal to that of her grand relatives, she had quizzed Mary
and Frank about their early flirtations. This she had done; but had
instinctively avoided doing so before her mother and sister, and had
thus made a secret of it, as it were, between herself, Mary, and her
brother;--had given currency, as it were, to the idea that there might
be something serious between the two. Not that Beatrice had ever
wished to promote a marriage between them, or had even thought of such a
thing. She was girlish, thoughtless, imprudent, inartistic, and very
unlike a De Courcy. Very unlike a De Courcy she was in all that; but,
nevertheless, she had the De Courcy veneration for blood, and, more
than that, she had the Gresham feeling joined to that of the De
Courcys. The Lady Amelia would not for worlds have had the De Courcy
blood defiled; but gold she thought could not defile. Now Beatrice was
ashamed of her sister's marriage, and had often declared, within her
own heart, that nothing could have made her marry a Mr Moffat.
She had said so also to Mary, and Mary had told her that she was
right. Mary was also proud of blood, was proud of her uncle's blood,
and the two girls talked together in all the warmth of girlish
confidence, of the great glories of family traditions and family
honours. Beatrice had talked in utter ignorance as to her friend's
birth; and Mary, poor Mary, she had talked, being as ignorant; but not
without a strong suspicion that, at some future time, a day of sorrow
would tell her some fearful truth.
On one point Mary's mind was strongly made up. No wealth, no mere
worldly advantage could make any one her superior. If she were born a
gentlewoman, then was she fit to match with any gentleman. Let the
most wealthy man in Europe pour all his wealth at her feet, she could,
if so inclined, give him back at any rate more than that. That offered
at her feet she knew she would never tempt her to yield up the fortress
of her heart, the guardianship of her soul, the possession of her mind;
not that alone, nor that, even, as any possible slightest fraction of a
If she were born a gentlewoman! And then came to her mind those
curious questions; what makes a gentleman? what makes a gentlewoman?
What is the inner reality, the spiritualised quintessence of that
privilege in the world which men call rank, which forces the thousands
and hundreds of thousands to bow down before the few elect? What
gives, or can give it, or should give it?'
And she answered the question. Absolute, intrinsic, acknowledged,
individual merit must give it to its possessor, let him be whom, and
what, and whence he might. So far the spirit of democracy was strong
with her. Beyond this it could be had but by inheritance, received as
it were second-hand, or twenty-second hand. And so far the spirit of
aristocracy was strong within her. All this she had, as may be
imagined, learnt in early years from her uncle; and all this she was at
great pains to teach Beatrice Gresham, the chosen of her heart.
When Frank declared that Mary had a right to give him an answer, he
meant that he had a right to expect one. Mary acknowledged this right,
and gave it to him.
'Mr Gresham,' she said.
'Oh, Mary; Mr Gresham!'
'Yes, Mr Gresham. It must be Mr Gresham, after that. And, moreover,
it must be Miss Thorne as well.'
'I'll be shot if it shall, Mary.'
'Well; I can't say that I shall be shot if it be not so; but if it be
not so, if you do not agree that it shall be so, I shall be turned out
'What! you mean my mother?' said Frank.
'Indeed! I mean no such thing,' said Mary, with a flash from her eye
that made Frank almost start. 'I mean no such thing. I mean you, not
your mother. I am not in the least afraid of Lady Arabella; but I am
afraid of you.'
'Afraid of me, Mary!'
'Miss Thorne; pray, pray, remember. It must be Miss Thorne. Do not
turn me out of Greshamsbury. Do not separate me from Beatrice. It is
you that will drive me out; no one else. I could stand my ground
against your mother--I feel I could; but I cannot stand against you if
you treat me otherwise than--than--'
'Otherwise than what? I want to treat you as the girl I have chosen
from all the world as my wife.'
'I am sorry you should so soon have found it necessary to make a
choice. But, Mr Gresham, we must not joke about this at present. I am
sure you would not willingly injure me; but if you speak to me, or of
me, again in that way, you will injure me, injure me so much that I
shall be forced to leave Greshamsbury, in my own defence. I know you
are too generous to drive me to that.'
And so the interview had ended. Frank, of course, went upstairs to see
if his new pocket-pistols were all ready, properly cleaned, loaded, and
capped, should he find, after a few days' experience, that prolonged
existence was unendurable.
However, he managed to live through the subsequent period; doubtless
with a view of preventing any appointment to his father's guests.
THE DOCTOR'S GARDEN
Mary had contrived to quiet her lover with considerable propriety of
demeanour. Then came on her the somewhat harder task of quieting
herself. Young ladies, on the whole, are perhaps quite as susceptible
of the after feelings as young gentlemen are. Now Frank Gresham, was
handsome, amiable, by no means a fool in intellect, excellent in heart;
and he was, moreover, a gentleman, being the son of Mr Gresham of
Greshamsbury. Mary had been, as it were, brought up to love him. Had
aught but good happened to him, she would have cried as for a brother.
It must not therefore be supposed that when Frank Gresham told her that
he loved her, she had heard it altogether unconcerned.
He had not, perhaps, made his declaration with that propriety of
language in which such scenes are generally described as being carried
on. Ladies may perhaps think that Mary should have been deterred, by
the very boyishness of his manner, from thinking at all seriously on
the subject. His 'will you, won't you--do you, don't you?' does not
sound like the poetic raptures of a highly inspired lover. But,
nevertheless, there had been warmth, and a reality in it not in itself
repulsive; and Mary's anger--anger? no, not anger--her objections to the
declarations were probably not based on the absurdity of her lover's
We are inclined to think that these matters are not always discussed by
mortal lovers in the poetically passionate phraseology which is
generally thought to be appropriate for their description. A man
cannot well describe that which he has never seen or heard; but the
absolute words and acts of one such scene did once come to the author's
knowledge. The couple were by no means plebeian, or below the proper
standard of high bearing and high breeding; they were a handsome pair,
living among educated people, sufficiently given to mental pursuits,
and in every way what a pair of polite lovers ought to be. The
all-important conversation passed in this wise. The site of the
passionate scene was the sea-shore, on which they were walking, in
Gentleman. 'Well, Miss--, the long and short of it is this: here I am;
you can take me or leave me.'
Lady--scratching a gutter on the sand with her parasol, so as to allow a
little salt water to run out of one hole into another. 'Of course, I
know that's all nonsense.'
Gentleman. 'Nonsense! By Jove, it isn't nonsense at all: come, Jane;
here I am: come, at any rate you can say something.'
Lady. 'Yes, I suppose I can say something.'
Gentleman. 'Well, which is it to be; take me or leave me?'
Lady--very slowly, and with a voice perhaps hardly articulate, carrying
on, at the same time, her engineering works on a wider scale. 'Well, I
don't exactly want to leave you.'
And so the matter was settled: settled with much propriety and
satisfaction; and both the lady and gentleman would have thought, had
they ever thought about the matter at all, that this, the sweetest
moment of their lives, had been graced by all the poetry by which such
moments ought to be hallowed.
When Mary had, as she thought, properly subdued young Frank, the offer
of whose love she, at any rate, knew was, at such a period of his life,
an utter absurdity, then she found it necessary to subdue herself. What
happiness on earth could be greater than the possession of such a love,
had the true possession been justly and honestly within her reach? What
man could be more lovable than such a man as would grow from such a
boy? And then, did she not love him--love him already, without waiting
for any change? Did she not feel that there was that about him, about
him and about herself, too, which might so well fit them for each
other? It would be so sweet to be the sister of Beatrice, the daughter
of the squire, to belong to Greshamsbury as a part and parcel of
But though she could not restrain these thoughts, it never for a moment
occurred to her to take Frank's offer in earnest. Though she was a
grown woman, he was still a boy. He would have to see the world before
he settled in it, and would change his mind about woman half a score of
times before he married. Then, too, though she did not like the Lady
Arabella, she felt that she owed something, if not to her kindness, at
least to her forbearance; and she knew, felt inwardly certain, that she
would be doing wrong, that the world would say that she was doing
wrong, that her uncle would think her wrong, if she endeavoured to take
advantage of what had passed.
She had not for an instant doubted; not for a moment had she
contemplated it as possible that she should ever become Mrs Gresham
because Frank had offered to make her so; but, nevertheless, she could
not help thinking of what had occurred--of thinking of it, most probably
much more than Frank did himself.
A day or two afterwards, on the evening before Frank's birthday, she
was alone with her uncle, walking in the garden behind their house, and
she then essayed to question him, with the object of learning if she
were fitted by her birth to be the wife of such a one as Frank
Gresham. They were in the habit of walking there together when he
happened to be at home of a summer's evening. This was not often the
case, for his hours of labour extended much beyond those usual to the
upper working world, the hours, namely, between breakfast and dinner;
but those minutes that they did thus pass together, the doctor regarded
as perhaps the pleasantest of his life.
'Uncle,' said she, after a while, 'what do you think of this marriage
of Miss Gresham's?'
'Well, Minnie'--such was his name of endearment for her--'I can't say I
have thought much about it, and I don't suppose anybody else has
'She must think about it, of course; and so must he, I suppose.'
'I'm not so sure of that. Some folks would never get married if they
had to trouble themselves with thinking about it.'
'I suppose that's why you never got married, uncle?'
'Either that, or thinking of it too much. One is as bad as the other.'
'Well, I have been thinking about it, at any rate, uncle.'
'That's very good of you; that will save me the trouble; and perhaps
save Miss Gresham too. If you have thought it over thoroughly, that
will do for all.'
'I believe Mr Moffat is a man of no family.'
'He'll mend in that point, no doubt, when he has got a wife.'
'Uncle, you're a goose; and what is worse, a very provoking goose.'
'Niece, you're a gander; and what is worse, a very silly gander. What
is Mr Moffat's family to you, and me? Mr Moffat has that which ranks
above family honours. He is a very rich man.'
'Yes,' said Mary, 'I know he is rich; and a rich man I suppose can buy
anything--except a woman that is worth having.'
'A rich man can buy anything,' said the doctor; 'not that I meant to
say that Mr Moffat has bought Miss Gresham. I have no doubt that they
will suit each other very well,' he added with an air of decisive
authority, as though he had finished the subject.
But his niece was determined not to let him pass so. 'Now, uncle,'said
she, 'you know you are pretending to a great deal of worldly wisdom,
which, after all, is not wisdom at all in your eyes.'
'You know you are: and as for the impropriety of discussing Miss
'I did not say it was improper.'
'Oh, yes, you did; of course such things must be discussed. How is one
to have an opinion if one does not get it by looking at the things that
happen around us?'
'Now I am going to be blown up,' said Dr Thorne.
'Dear uncle, do be serious with me.'
'Well, then, seriously, I hope Miss Gresham will be very happy as Mrs
'Of course you do: so do I. I hope it as much as I can hope what I
don't at all see ground for expecting.'
'People constantly hope without any such ground.'
'Well, then, I'll hope in this case. But, uncle--'
'Well, my dear?'
'I want your opinion, truly and really. If you were a girl--'
'I am perfectly unable to give any opinion founded on so strange an
'Well; but if you were a marrying man.'
'The hypothesis is quite as much out of my way.'
'But, uncle, I am a girl, and perhaps I may marry;--or at any rate think
of marrying some day.'
'The latter alternative is certainly possible enough.'
'Therefore, in seeing a friend taking such a step, I cannot but
speculate on the matter as though I were myself in her place. If I were
Miss Gresham, should I be right?'
'But, Minnie, you are not Miss Gresham.'
'No, I am Mary Thorne; it is a very different thing, I know. I suppose
I might marry any one without degrading myself.'
It was almost ill-natured of her to say this; but she had not meant to
say it in the sense which the sounds seemed to bear. She had failed in
being able to bring her uncle to the point she wished by the road she
had planned, and in seeking another road, she had abruptly fallen into
'I should be very sorry that my niece should think so,' said he; 'and
am sorry, too, that she should say so. But, Mary, to tell the truth, I
hardly know at what you are driving. You are, I think, not so clear
minded--certainly, not so clear worded--as is usual with you.'
'I will tell you, uncle;' and, instead of looking up into his face, she
turned her eyes down on to the green lawn beneath her feet.
'Well, Minnie, what is it?' and he took both her hands in his.
'I think that Miss Gresham should not marry Mr Moffat. I think so
because her family is high and noble, and because he is low and
ignoble. When one has an opinion on such matters, one cannot but apply
it to things and people around one; and having applied my opinion to
her, the next step naturally is to apply it to myself. Were I Miss
Gresham, I would not marry Mr Moffat though he rolled in gold. I know
where to rank Miss Gresham. What I want to know is, where I ought to
They had been standing when she commenced her last speech; but as she
finished it, the doctor moved on again, and she moved with him. He
walked on slowly without answering her; and she, out of her full mind,
pursued aloud the tenor of her thoughts.
'If a woman feels that she would not lower herself by marrying in a
rank beneath herself, she ought also to feel that she would not lower
a man that she might love by allowing him to marry into a rank beneath
his own--that is, to marry her.'
'That does not follow,' said the doctor quickly. 'A man raises a woman
to his own standard, but a woman must take that of her husband.'
Again they were silent, and again they walked on, Mary holding her
uncle's arm with both her hands. She was determined, however, to come
to the point, and after considering for a while how best she might do
it, she ceased to beat any longer about the bush, and asked him a plain
'The Thornes are as good a family as the Greshams are they not?'
'In absolute genealogy they are, my dear. That is, when I choose to be
an old fool and talk of such matters in a sense different from that in
which they are spoken of by the world at large, I may say that the
Thornes are as good, or perhaps better, than the Greshams, but I should
be sorry to say so seriously to any one. The Greshams now stand much
higher in the county than the Thornes do.'
'But they are of the same class.'
'Yes, yes; Wilfred Thorne of Ullathorne, and our friend the squire
here, are of the same class.'
'But, uncle, I and Augusta Gresham--are we of the same class?'
'Well, Minnie, you would hardly have me boast that I am the same class
with the squire--I, a poor country doctor?'
'You are not answering me fairly, dear uncle; dearest uncle, do you not
know that you are not answering me fairly? You know what I mean. Have
I a right to call the Thornes of Ullathorne my cousins?'
'Mary, Mary, Mary!' said he after a minute's pause, still allowing his
arm to hang loose, that she might hold it with both her hands. 'Mary,
Mary, Mary! I would that you had spared me this!'
'I could not have spared it to you for ever, uncle.'
'I would that you could have done so; I would that you could!'
'It is over now, uncle: it is told now. I will grieve you no more.
Dear, dear, dearest! I should love you more than ever now; I would, I
would, I would if that were possible. What should I be but for you?
What must I have been but for you?' And she threw herself on his
breast, and clinging with her arms round his neck, kissed his forehead,
cheeks, and lips.
There was nothing more said then on the subject between them. Mary
asked no further question, nor did the doctor volunteer further
information. She would have been most anxious to ask about her
mother's history had she dared to do so; but she did not dare to ask;
she could not bear to be told that her mother had been, perhaps was, a
worthless woman. That she was truly a daughter of a brother of the
doctor, that she did know. Little as she had heard of her relatives in
her early youth, few as had been the words which had fallen from her
uncle in her hearing as to her parentage, she did know this, that she
was the daughter of Henry Thorne, a brother of the doctor, and a son of
the old prebendary. Trifling little things that had occurred,
accidents which could not be prevented, had told her this; but not a
word had ever passed any one's lips as to her mother. The doctor, when
speaking of his youth, had spoken of her father; but no one had spoken
of her mother. She had long known that she was the child of a Thorne;
now she knew also that she was no cousin of the Thornes of Ullathorne;
no cousin, at least, in the world's ordinary language, no niece indeed
of her uncle, unless by his special permission that she should be so.
When the interview was over, she went up alone to the drawing-room, and
there she sat thinking. She had not been there long before her uncle
came up to her. He did not sit down, or even take off the hat which he
still wore; but coming close to her, and still standing, he spoke
'Mary, after what has passed I should be very unjust and very cruel to
you not to tell you one thing more than you have now learned. Your
mother was unfortunate in much, not in everything; but the world, which
is very often stern in such matters, never judged her to have disgraced
herself. I tell you this, my child, in order that you may respect her
memory;' and so saying, he again left her without giving her time to
speak a word.
What he then told her he had told in mercy. He felt what must be her
feelings when she reflected that she had to blush for her mother; that
not only could she not speak of her mother, but that she might hardly
think of her with innocence; and to mitigate such sorrow as this, and
also to do justice to the woman whom his brother had so wronged, he had
forced himself to reveal so much as is stated above.
And then he walked slowly by himself, backwards and forwards through
the garden, thinking of what he had done with reference to this girl,
and doubting whether he had done wisely and well. He had resolved, when
first the little infant was given over to his charge, that nothing
should be known of her or by her as to her mother. He was willing to
devote himself to this orphan child of his brother, this last seedling
of his father's house; but he was not willing so to do this as to bring
himself in any manner into familiar contact with the Scatcherds. He
had boasted to himself that he, at any rate, was a gentleman; and that
she, if she were to live in his house, sit at his table, and share his
hearth, must be a lady. He would tell no lie about her; he would not
to any one make her out to be aught other or aught better than she was;
people would talk about her of course, only let them not talk to him;
he conceived of himself--and the conception was not without due
ground--that should any do so, he had that within him which would
silence them. He would never claim for this little creature--thus
brought into the world without a legitimate position in which to
stand--he would never claim for her any station that would not properly
be her own. He would make for her a station as best he could. As he
might sink or swim, so should she.
So he had resolved; but things had arranged themselves, as they often
do, rather than been arranged by him. During ten or twelve years no
one had heard of Mary Thorne; the memory of Henry Thorne and his tragic
death had passed away; the knowledge that an infant had been born whose
birth was connected with that tragedy, a knowledge never widely spread,
had faded down into utter ignorance. At the end of these twelve years,
Dr Thorne had announced, that a young niece, a child of a brother long
since dead, was coming to live with him. As he had contemplated, no
one spoke to him; but some people did no doubt talk among themselves.
Whether or not the exact truth was surmised by any, it matters not to
say; with absolute exactness, probably not; with great approach to it,
probably yes. By one person, at any rate, no guess whatever was made;
no thought relative to Dr Thorne's niece ever troubled him; no idea
that Mary Scatcherd had left a child in England ever occurred to him;
and that person was Roger Scatcherd, Mary's brother.
To one friend, and only one, did the doctor tell the whole truth, and
that was to the old squire. 'I have told you,' said the doctor,
'partly that you may know that the child has no right to mix with your
children if you think much of such things. Do you, however, see to
this. I would rather that no one else should be told.'
No one else had been told; and the squire had 'seen to it,' by
accustoming himself to look at Mary Thorne running about the house with
his own children as though she were of the same brood. Indeed, the
squire had always been fond of Mary, had personally noticed her, and,
in the affair of Mam'selle Larron, had declared that he would have her
placed at once on the bench of magistrates;--much to the disgust of the
And so things had gone on and on, and had not been thought of with much
downright thinking; till now, when she was one-and-twenty years of
age, his niece came to him, asking as to her position, and inquiring in
what rank of life she was to find a husband.
And so the doctor walked, backwards and forwards through the garden,
slowly, thinking now with some earnestness what if, after all, he had
been wrong about his niece? What if by endeavouring to place her in
the position of a lady, he had falsely so placed her, and robbed her of
her legitimate position? What if there was no rank of life in which
she could now properly attach herself?
And then, how had it answered, that plan of his of keeping her all to
himself? He, Dr Thorne, was still a poor man; the gift of saving money
had not been his; he had ever a comfortable house for her to live in,
and, in spite of Doctors Fillgrave, Century, Rerechild, and others, had
made from his profession an income sufficient for their joint wants;
but he had not done as others do: he had no three or four thousand
pounds in the Three per Cents., on which Mary might live in some
comfort when he should die. Late in life he had insured his life for
eight hundred pounds; and to that, and that only, had he to trust for
Mary's future maintenance. How had it answered, then, this plan of
letting her be unknown to, and undreamed of, by, those who were as near
to her on her mother's side as he was on the father's? On that side,
though there had been utter poverty, there was now absolute wealth.
But when he took her to himself, had he not rescued her from the very
depths of the lowest misery: from the degradation of the workhouse;
from the scorn of honest-born charity-children; from the lowest of the
world's low conditions? Was she not now the apple of his eye, his one
great sovereign comfort--his pride, his happiness, his glory? Was he to
make her over, to make any portion of her over to others, if, by doing
so, she might be able to share the wealth, as well as the coarse
manners and uncouth society of her at present unknown connexions? He,
who had never worshipped wealth on his own behalf; he, who had scorned
the idol of the gold, and had ever been teaching her to scorn it; was
he now to show that his philosophy had all been false as soon as the
temptation to do so was put in his way?
But yet, what man would marry this bastard child, without a sixpence,
and bring not only poverty, but ill blood also on his own children? It
might be very well for him, Dr Thorne; for him whose career was made,
whose name, at any rate, was his own; for him who had a fixed
standing-ground in the world; it might be well for him to indulge in
large views of a philosophy antagonistic to the world's practice; but
had he a right to do it for his niece? What man would marry a girl so
placed? For those among whom she might have legitimately found a
level, education had now utterly unfitted her. And then, he well knew
that she would never put out her hand in token of love to any one
without telling all she knew and all she surmised as to her own birth.
And that question of this evening; had it not been instigated by some
appeal on her part? Was there not already within her breast some cause
for disquietude which had made her so pertinacious? Why else had she
told him then, for the first time, that she did not know where to rank
herself? If such an appeal had been made to her, it must have come
from young Frank Gresham. What, in such case, would it behove him to
do? Should he pack up his all, his lancet-case, pestle and mortar, and
seek anew fresh ground in a new world, leaving behind a huge triumph to
those learned enemies of his, Fillgrave, Century, and Rerechild? Better
that than remain at Greshamsbury at the cost of the child's heart and
And so he walked slowly backwards and forwards through his garden,
meditating these things painfully enough.
It will of course be remembered that Mary's interview with the other
girls at Greshamsbury took place some two or three days subsequently to
Frank's generous offer of his hand and heart. Mary had quite made up
her mind that the whole thing was to be regarded as a folly, and that
it was not to be spoken of to any one; but yet her heart was sore
enough. She was full of pride, and yet she knew she must bow her neck
to the pride of others. Being, as she was herself, nameless, she could
not but feel a stern, unflinching antagonism, the antagonism of a
democrat, to the pretensions of others who were blessed with that of
which she had been deprived. She had this feeling; and yet, of all the
things that she coveted, she most coveted that, for glorying in which,
she was determined to heap scorn on others. She said to herself,
proudly, that God's handiwork was the inner man, the inner woman, the
naked creature animated by a living soul; that all other adjuncts were
but man's clothing for the creature; all others, whether stitched by
tailors or contrived by kings. Was it not within her capacity to do as
nobly, to love as truly, to worship her God in heaven with as perfect a
faith, and her god on earth with as leal a troth, as though blood had
descended to her purely through scores of purely born progenitors? So
to herself she spoke; and yet, as she said it, she knew that were she a
man, such a man as the heir of Greshamsbury should be, nothing would
tempt her to sully her children's blood by mating herself with any one
that was base born. She felt that were she Augusta Gresham, no Mr
Moffat, let his wealth be what it might, should win her hand unless he
too could tell of family honours and a line of ancestors.
And so, with a mind at war with itself, she came forth armed to do
battle against the world's prejudices, those prejudices she herself
loved so well.
And was she thus to give up her old affections, her feminine loves,
because she found that she was a cousin to nobody? Was she no longer
to pour out her heart to Beatrice Gresham with all the girlish
volubility of an equal? Was she to be severed from Patience Oriel, and
banished--or rather was she to banish herself--from the free place she
had maintained in the various youthful female conclaves within that
parish of Greshamsbury?
Hitherto, what Mary Thorne would say, what Miss Thorne suggested in
such and such a matter, was quite as frequently asked as any opinion
from Augusta Gresham--quite as frequently, unless when it chanced that
any of the De Courcy girls were at the house. Was this to be given
up? These feelings had grown up among them since they were children,
and had not hitherto been questioned among them. Now they were
questioned by Mary Thorne. Was she in fact to find that her position
had been a false one, and must be changed?
Such had been her feelings when she protested that she would not be
Augusta Gresham's bridesmaid, and offered to put her neck beneath
Beatrice's foot; when she drove the Lady Margaretta out of the room,
and gave her own opinion as to the proper grammatical construction of
the word humble; such also had been her feelings when she kept her hand
so rigidly to herself while Frank held the dining-room door open for
her to pass through.
'Patience Oriel,' said she to herself, 'can talk to him of her father
and mother: let Patience take his hand; let her talk to him;' and then,
not long afterwards, she saw that Patience did talk to him; and seeing
it, she walked along silent, among some of the old people, and with
much effort did prevent a tear from falling down her cheek.
But why was the tear in her eye? Had she not proudly told Frank that
his love-making was nothing but a boy's silly rhapsody? Had she not
said so while she had yet reason to hope that her blood was as good as
his own? Had she not seen at a glance that his love tirade was worthy
of ridicule, and of no other notice? And yet there was a tear now in
her eye because this boy, whom she had scolded from her, whose hand,
offered in pure friendship, she had just refused, because he, so
rebuffed by her, had carried his fun and gallantry to one who would be
less cross to him!
She could hear as she was walking, that while Lady Margaretta was with
them, their voices were loud and merry; and her sharp ear could also
hear, when Lady Margaretta left them, that Frank's voice became low and
tender. So she walked on, saying nothing, looking straight before her,
and by degrees separating herself from all the others.
The Greshamsbury grounds were on one side somewhat too closely hemmed
in by the village. On this side was a path running the length of one
of the streets of the village; and far down the path, near the
extremity of the gardens, and near also to a wicket-gate which led out
into the village, and which could be opened from the inside, was a
seat, under a big yew-tree, from which, through a breach in the houses,
might be seen the parish church, standing in the park on the other
side. Hither Mary walked alone, and here she seated herself,
determined to get rid of her tears and their traces before she again
showed herself to the world.
'I shall never be happy here again,' said she to herself; 'never. I am
no longer one of them, and I cannot live among them unless I am so.'
And then an idea came across her mind that she hated Patience Oriel;
and then, instantly another idea followed--quick as such thoughts are
quick--that she did not hate Patience Oriel at all; that she liked her,
nay, loved her; that Patience Oriel was a sweet girl; and that she
hoped the time would come when she might see her the lady of
Greshamsbury. And then the tear, which had been no whit controlled,
which indeed had now made itself master of her, came to a head, and,
bursting through the floodgates of the eye, came rolling down, and in
its fall, wetted her hand as it lay on her lap. 'What a fool! what an
idiot! what an empty-headed cowardly fool I am!' said she, springing
up from the bench on her feet.
As she did so, she heard voices close to her, at the little gate. They
were those of her uncle and Frank Gresham.
'God bless you, Frank!' said the doctor, as he passed out of the
grounds. 'You will excuse a lecture, won't you, from so old a
friend?--though you are a man now, and discreet of course, by Act of