Part 6 out of 12
His sister and one of his cousins were in the room, but his aunt, who
was quite on the alert, soon got them out of it, and Frank and Miss
Dunstable were alone.
'So all our fun and all our laughter is come to an end,' said she,
beginning the conversation. 'I don't know how you feel, but for myself
I really am a little melancholy at the idea of parting;' and she looked
up at him with her laughing black eyes, as though she never had, and
never could have a care in the world.
'Melancholy! oh, yes; you look so,' said Frank, who really did feel
somewhat lackadaisically sentimental.
'But how thoroughly glad the countess must be that we are both going,'
continued she. 'I declare we have treated her most infamously. Ever
since we've been here we've had the amusement to ourselves. I've
sometimes thought she would turn me out of the house.'
'I wish with all my heart she had.'
'Oh, you cruel barbarian! why on earth should you wish that?'
'That I might have joined you in your exile. I hate Courcy Castle, and
should have rejoiced to leave--and--and--'
'And I love Miss Dunstable, and should have doubly, trebly rejoiced to
leave it with her.'
Frank's voice quivered a little as he made this gallant profession; but
still Miss Dunstable only laughed the louder. 'Upon my word, of all my
knights you are by far the best behaved,' said she, 'and say much the
prettiest things.' Frank became rather red in the face, and felt that
he did so. Miss Dunstable was treating him like a boy. While she
pretended to be so fond of him she was only laughing at him, and
corresponding the while with his cousin George. Now Frank Gresham
already entertained a sort of contempt for his cousin, which increased
the bitterness of his feelings. Could it really be possible that
George had succeeded while he had utterly failed; that his stupid
cousin had touched the heart of the heiress while she was playing with
him as with a boy?
'Of all your knights! Is that the way you talk to me when we are going
to part? When was it, Miss Dunstable, that George de Courcy became one
Miss Dunstable for a while looked serious enough. 'What makes you ask
that?' said she. 'What makes you inquire about Mr de Courcy?'
'Oh, I have eyes, you know, and can't help seeing. Not that I see, or
have seen anything that I could possibly help.'
'And what have you seen, Mr Gresham?'
'Why, I know you have been writing to him.'
'Did he tell you so?'
'No; he did not tell me; but I know it.'
For a moment she sat silent, and then her face again resumed its usual
happy smile. 'Come, Mr Gresham, you are not going to quarrel with me,
I hope, even if I did write a letter to your cousin. Why should I not
write to him? I correspond with all manner of people. I'll write to
you some of these days if you'll let me, and will promise to answer my
Frank threw himself back on the sofa on which he was sitting, and, in
doing so, brought himself somewhat nearer to his companion than he had
been; he then drew his hand slowly across his forehead, pushing back
his thick hair, and as he did so he sighed somewhat plaintively.
'I do not care,' said he, 'for the privilege of correspondence on such
terms. If my cousin George is to be a correspondent of yours also, I
will give up my claim.'
And then he sighed again, so that it was piteous to hear him. He was
certainly an arrant puppy, and an egregious ass into the bargain; but
then, it must be remembered in his favour that he was only twenty-one,
and that much had been done to spoil him. Miss Dunstable did remember
this, and therefore abstained from laughing at him.
'Why, Mr Gresham, what on earth do you mean? In all human probability
I shall never write another line to Mr de Courcy; but, if I did, what
possible harm could it do you?'
'Oh, Miss Dunstable! you do not in the least understand what my
'Don't I? Then I hope I never shall. I thought I did. I thought
they were the feelings of a good, true-hearted friend; feelings that I
could sometimes look back upon with pleasure as being honest when so
much that one meets is false. I have become very fond of you, Mr
Gresham, and I should be sorry to think that I did not understand your
This was almost worse and worse. Young ladies like Miss Dunstable--for
she was still to be numbered in the category of young ladies--do not
usually tell young gentlemen that they are very fond of them. To boys
and girls they may make such a declaration. Now Frank Gresham regarded
himself as one who had already fought his battles, and fought them not
without glory; he could not therefore endure to be thus openly told by
Miss Dunstable that she was very fond of him.
'Fond of me, Miss Dunstable! I wish you were.'
'So I am--very.'
'You little know how fond I am of you, Miss Dunstable,' and he put out
his hand to take hold of hers. She then lifted up her own, and slapped
him lightly on the knuckles.
'And what can you have say to Miss Dunstable that can make it
necessary that you should pinch her hand? I tell you fairly, Mr
Gresham, if you make a fool of yourself, I shall come to a conclusion
that you are all fools, and that it is hopeless to look out for any one
worth caring for.'
Such advice as this, so kindly given, so wisely meant, so clearly
intelligible he should have taken and understood, young as he was. But
even yet he did not do so.
'A fool of myself! Yes; I suppose I must be a fool if I have so much
regard for Miss Dunstable as to make it painful for me to know that I
am to see her no more: a fool: yes, of course I am a fool--a man is
always a fool when he loves.'
Miss Dunstable could not pretend to doubt his meaning any longer; and
was determined to stop him, let it cost what it would. She now put out
her hand, not over white, and, as Frank soon perceived, gifted with a
very fair allowance of strength.
'Now, Mr Gresham,' said she, 'before you go any further you shall
listen to me. Will you listen to me for a moment without interrupting
Frank was of course obliged to promise that he would do so.
'You are going--or rather you were going, for I shall stop you--to make
a profession of love.'
'A profession!' said Frank making a slight unsuccessful effort to get
his hand free.
'Yes; a profession--a false profession, Mr Gresham,--a false profession--
a false profession. Look into your heart--into your heart of hearts. I
know you at any rate have a heart; look into it closely. Mr Gresham,
you know you do not love me; not as a man should love the woman he
swears to love.'
Frank was taken aback. So appealed to he found that he could not any
longer say that he did love her. He could only look into her face with
all his eyes, and sit there listening to her.
'How is it possible that you should love me? I am Heaven knows how
many years your senior. I am neither young nor beautiful, nor have I
been brought up as she should be whom you in time will really love and
make your wife. I have nothing that should make you love me; but--but I
'It is not that,' said Frank, stoutly, feeling himself imperatively
called upon to utter something in his own defence.
'Ah, Mr Gresham, I fear it is that. For what other reason can you have
laid your plans to talk in this way to such a woman as I am?'
'I have laid no plans,' said Frank, now getting his hand to himself.
'At any rate, you wrong me there, Miss Dunstable.'
'I like you so well--nay, love you, if a woman may talk of love in the
way of friendship--that if money, money alone would make you happy, you
should have it heaped on you. If you want it, Mr Gresham, you shall
'I have never thought of your money,' said Frank, surlily.
'But it grieves me,' continued she, 'it does grieve me, to think that
you, you, you--so young and gay, so bright--that you should have looked
for it in this way. From others I have taken it just as the wind that
whistles;' and now two big slow tears escaped from her eyes, and would
have rolled down her rosy cheeks were it not that she brushed them off
with the back of her hand.
'You have utterly mistaken me, Miss Dunstable,' said Frank.
'If I have, I will humbly beg your pardon,' said she, 'but--but--but--'
Frank had nothing further to say in his own defence. He had not wanted
Miss Dunstable's money--that was true; but he could not deny that he had
been about to talk that absolute nonsense of which she spoke with so
'You would almost make me think that there are none honest in this
fashionable world of yours. I well know why Lady de Courcy has had me
here: how could I help knowing it? She has been so foolish in her
plans that ten times a day she has told me her own secret. But I have
said to myself twenty times, that if she were crafty, you were honest.'
'And am I dishonest?'
'I have laughed in my sleeve to see how she played her game, and to
hear others around playing theirs; all of them thinking that they could
get the money of the poor fool who had come at their beck and call; but
I was able to laugh at them as long as I thought that I had one true
friend to laugh with me. But one cannot laugh with all the world
'I am not against you, Miss Dunstable.'
'Sell yourself for money! why, if I were a man I would not sell one jot
of liberty for mountains of gold. What! tie myself in the heyday of my
youth to a person I could never love, for a price! perjure myself,
destroy myself--and not only myself, but her also, in order that I might
live idly! Oh, heavens! Mr Gresham! can it be that the words of such
a woman as your aunt have sunk so deeply in your heart; have blackened
you so foully as this? Have you forgotten your soul, your spirit, your
man's energy, the treasure of your heart? And you, so young! For
shame, Mr Gresham! for shame--for shame.'
Frank found the task before him by no means an easy one. He had to
make Miss Dunstable understand that he had never had the slightest idea
of marrying her, and that he had made love to her merely with the
object of keeping his hand in for the work as it were; with that
object, and the other equally laudable one of interfering with his
And yet there was nothing for him but to get through this task as best
he might. He was goaded to it by the accusations which Miss Dunstable
brought against him; and he began to feel, that though her invective
against him might be bitter when he had told the truth, they could not
be so bitter as those she now kept hinting at under her mistaken
impression as to his views. He had never had any strong propensity for
money-hunting; but now that offence appeared in his eyes abominable,
unmanly, and disgusting. Any imputation would be better than that.
'Miss Dunstable, I never for a moment thought of doing what you accuse
me of; on my honour, I never did. I have been very foolish--very
wrong--idiotic, I believe; but I have never intended that.'
'Then, Mr Gresham, what did you intend?'
This was rather a difficult question to answer; and Frank was not very
quick in attempting it. 'I know you will not forgive me,' he said at
last; 'and, indeed, I do not see how you can. I don't know how it came
about; but this is certain, Miss Dunstable; I have never for a moment
thought about your fortune; that is, thought about it in the way of
'You never thought of making me your wife, then?'
'Never,' said Frank, looking boldly into her face.
'You never intended really to propose to go with me to the altar, and
then make yourself rich by one great perjury?'
'Never for a moment,' said he.
'You have never gloated over me as the bird of prey gloats over the
poor beast that is soon to become carrion beneath its claws? You have
not counted me out as equal to so much land, and calculated on me as a
balance at your banker's? Ah, Mr Gresham,' she continued, seeing that
he stared as though struck almost with awe by her strong language; 'you
little guess what a woman situated as I am has to suffer.'
'I have behaved badly to you, Miss Dunstable, and I beg your pardon;
but I have never thought of your money.'
'Then we will be friends again, Mr Gresham, won't we? It is so nice to
have a friend like you. There, I think I understand it now; you need
not tell me.'
'It was half by way of making a fool of my aunt,' said Frank, in an
'There is merit in that, at any rate,' said Miss Dunstable. 'I
understand it all now; you thought to make a fool of me in real
earnest. Well, I can forgive that; at any rate it is not mean.'
It may be, that Miss Dunstable did not feel much acute anger at finding
that this young man had addressed her with words of love in the course
of an ordinary flirtation, although that flirtation had been unmeaning
and silly. This was not the offence against which her heart and breast
had found peculiar cause to arm itself; this was not the injury from
which she had hitherto experienced suffering.
At any rate, she and Frank again became friends, and, before the
evening was over, they perfectly understood each other. Twice during
this long tete-a-tete Lady de Courcy came into the room to see how
things were going on, and twice she went out almost unnoticed. It was
quite clear to her that something uncommon had taken place, was taking
place, or would take place; and that should this be for weal or for
woe, no good could not come from her interference. On each occasion,
therefore, she smiled sweetly on the pair of turtle-doves, and glided
out of the room as quietly as she had glided into it.
But at last it became necessary to remove them; for the world had gone
to bed. Frank, in the meantime, had told to Miss Dunstable all his
love for Mary Thorne, and Miss Dunstable had enjoined him to be true to
his vows. To her eyes there was something of heavenly beauty in young,
true love--of beauty that was heavenly because it had been unknown to
'Mind you let me hear, Mr Gresham,' said she. 'Mind you do; and, Mr
Gresham, never, never forget her for one moment; not for one moment, Mr
Frank was about to swear that he never would--again, when the countess,
for the third time, sailed into the room.
'Young people,' said she, 'do you know what o'clock it is?'
'Dear me, Lady de Courcy, I declare it is past twelve; I really am
ashamed of myself. How glad you will be to get rid of me to-morrow!'
'No, no, indeed we shan't; shall we, Frank?' and so Miss Dunstable
Then once again the aunt tapped her nephew with her fan. It was the
last time in her life that she did so. He looked up in her face, and
his look was enough to tell her that the acres of Greshamsbury were not
to be reclaimed by the ointment of Lebanon.
Nothing further on the subject was said. On the following morning Miss
Dunstable took her departure, not much heeding the rather cold words of
farewell which her hostess gave her; and on the following day Frank
started for Greshamsbury.
MR MOFFAT FALLS INTO TROUBLE
We will now, with the reader's kind permission, skip over some months
in our narrative. Frank returned from Courcy Castle to Greshamsbury,
and having communicated to his mother--much in the same manner as he had
to the countess--the fact that his mission had been unsuccessful, he
went up after a day or two to Cambridge. During his short stay at
Greshamsbury he did not even catch a glimpse of Mary. He asked for
her, of course, and was told that it was not likely that she would be
at the house just at present. He called at the doctor's, but she was
denied to him there; 'she was out,' Janet said,--'probably with Miss
Oriel.' He went to the parsonage and found Miss Oriel at home; but
Mary had not been seen that morning. He then returned to the house;
and, having come to the conclusion that she had not thus vanished into
air, otherwise than by preconcerted arrangement, he boldly taxed
Beatrice on the subject.
Beatrice looked very demure; declared that no one in the house had
quarrelled with Mary; confessed that it had been thought prudent that
she should for a while stay away from Greshamsbury; and, of course,
ended by telling her brother everything, including all the scenes that
had passed between Mary and herself.
'It is out of the question your thinking of marrying her, Frank,' said
she. 'You must know that nobody feels it more strongly than poor Mary
herself;' and Beatrice looked the very personification of domestic
'I know nothing of the kind,' said he, with the headlong imperative air
that was usual with him in discussing matters with his sisters. 'I
know nothing of the kind. Of course I cannot say what Mary's feelings
may be: a pretty life she must have had of it among you. But you may
be sure of this, Beatrice, and so may my mother, that nothing on earth
shall make me give her up--nothing.' And Frank, as he made this
protestation, strengthened his own resolution by thinking of all the
counsel that Miss Dunstable had given him.
The brother and sister could hardly agree, as Beatrice was dead against
the match. Not that she would not have liked Mary Thorne for a
sister-in-law, but that she shared to a certain degree the feeling
which was now common to all the Greshams--that Frank must marry money.
It seemed, at any rate, to be imperative that he should either do that
or not marry at all. Poor Beatrice was not very mercenary in her
views: she had no wish to sacrifice her brother to any Miss Dunstable;
but yet she felt, as they all felt--Mary Thorne included--that such as a
match as that, of the young heir with the doctor's niece, was not to be
thought of;--not to be spoken of as a thing that was in any way
possible. Therefore, Beatrice, though she was Mary's great friend,
though she was her brother's favourite sister, could give Frank no
encouragement. Poor Frank! circumstances had made but one bride
possible to him: he must marry money.
His mother said nothing to him on the subject: when she learnt that the
affair with Miss Dunstable was not to come off, she merely remarked
that it would perhaps be best for him to return to Cambridge as soon as
possible. Had she spoken her mind out, she would probably have also
advised him to remain there as long as possible. The countess had not
omitted to write to her when Frank had left Courcy Castle; and the
countess's letter certainly made the anxious mother think that her
son's education had hardly yet been completed. With this secondary
object, but with that of keeping him out of the way of Mary Thorne in
the first place, Lady Arabella was now quite satisfied that her son
should enjoy such advantages as an education completed at the
university might give him.
With his father Frank had a long conversation; but, alas! the gist of
his father's conversation was this, that it behoved him, Frank, to
marry money. The father, however, did not put it to him in the cold,
callous way in which his lady-aunt had done, and his lady-mother. He
did not bid him go and sell himself to the first female he could find
possessed of wealth. It was with inward self-reproaches, and true grief
of spirit, that the father told the son that it was not possible for
him to do as those who may do who are born really rich, or really poor.
'If you marry a girl without a fortune, Frank, how are you to live?'
the father asked, after having confessed how deep he himself had
injured his own heir.
'I don't care about money, sir,' said Frank. 'I shall be just as happy
if Boxall Hill had never been sold. I don't care a straw about that
sort of thing.'
'Ah! my boy; but you will care: you will soon find that you do care.'
'Let me go into some profession. Let me go to the Bar. I am sure I
could earn my own living. Earn it! of course I could, why not I as
well as others? I should like of all things to be a barrister.'
There was much more of the same kind, in which Frank said all that he
could think of to lessen his father's regrets. In their conversation
not a word was spoken about Mary Thorne. Frank was not aware whether
or no his father had been told of the great family danger which was
dreaded in that quarter. That he had been told, we may surmise, as
Lady Arabella was not wont to confine the family dangers to her own
bosom. Moreover, Mary's presence had, of course, been missed. The
truth was, that the squire had been told, with great bitterness, of
what had come to pass, and all the evil had been laid at his door. He
it had been who hand encouraged Mary to be regarded almost as a
daughter of the house of Greshamsbury: he it was who taught that odious
doctor--odious on all but his aptitude for good doctoring--to think
himself a fit match for the aristocracy of the county. It had been his
fault, this great necessity that Frank should marry money; and now it
was his fault that Frank was absolutely talking of marrying a pauper.
By no means in quiescence did the squire hear these charges brought
against him. The Lady Arabella, in each attack, got quite as much as
she gave, and, at last, was driven to retreat in a state of headache,
which she declared to be chronic; and which, so she assured her
daughter Augusta, must prevent her from having any more lengthened
conversations with her lord--at any rate for the next three months. But
though the squire may be said to have come off on the whole as the
victor in these combats, they did not perhaps have, on that account,
the less effect upon him. He knew it was true that he had done much
towards ruining his son; and he also could think of no other remedy
than matrimony. It was Frank's doom, pronounced even by the voice of
his father, that he must marry money.
And so, Frank went off again to Cambridge, feeling himself, as he went,
to be a much lesser man in Greshamsbury estimation than he had been
some two months earlier, when his birthday had been celebrated. Once
during his short stay at Greshamsbury he had seen the doctor; but the
meeting had been anything but pleasant. He had been afraid to ask
after Mary; and the doctor had been too diffident of himself to speak
of her. They had met casually on the road, and, though each in his
heart loved the other, the meeting had been anything but pleasant.
And so Frank went to Cambridge; and, as he did so, he stoutly resolved
that nothing should make him untrue to Mary Thorne. 'Beatrice,' said
he, on the morning he went away, when she came into his room to
superintend his packing--'Beatrice, if she ever talks about me--'
'Oh, Frank, my darling Frank, don't think of it--it is madness; she
knows it is madness.'
'Never mind; if she ever talks about me, tell her that the last word I
said was, that I would never forget her. She can do as she likes.'
Beatrice made no promise, never hinted that she would give the message;
but it may be taken for granted that she had not been long in company
with Mary Thorne before she did give it.
And then there were other troubles at Greshamsbury. It had been
decided that Augusta's marriage was to take place in September; but Mr
Moffat had, unfortunately, been obliged to postpone the happy day. He
himself had told Augusta--not, of course, without protestations as to
his regret--and had written to this effect to Mr Gresham,
'Electioneering matters, and other troubles had,' he said, 'made this
peculiarly painful postponement absolutely necessary.'
Augusta seemed to bear her misfortune with more equanimity than is, we
believe, usual with young ladies under such circumstances. She spoke
of it to her mother in a very matter-of-fact way, and seemed almost
contented at the idea of remaining at Greshamsbury till February; which
was the time now named for the marriage. But Lady Arabella was not
equally well satisfied, nor was the squire.
'I half believe that fellow is not honest,' he had once said out loud
before Frank, and this set Frank a-thinking of what dishonesty in the
matter it was probable that Mr Moffat might be guilty, and what would
be the fitting punishment for such a crime. Nor did he think on the
subject in vain; especially after a conference on the matter which he
had with his friend Harry Baker. This conference took place during the
It should be mentioned, that the time spent by Frank at Courcy Castle
had not done much to assist him in his views as to an early degree, and
that it had at last been settled that he should stay up at Cambridge
another year. When he came home at Christmas he found that the house
was not peculiarly lively. Mary was absent on a visit with Miss
Oriel. Both these young ladies were staying with Miss Oriel's aunt, in
the neighbourhood of London; and Frank soon learnt that there was no
chance that either of them would be home before his return. No message
had been left for him by Mary--none at least had been left with
Beatrice; and he began in his heart to accuse her of coldness and
perfidy;--not, certainly, with much justice, seeing that she had never
given him the slightest encouragement.
The absence of Patience Oriel added to the dullness of the place. It
was certainly hard upon Frank that all the attraction of the village
should be removed to make way and prepare for his return--harder,
perhaps, on them; for, to tell the truth, Miss Oriel's visit had been
entirely planned to enable her to give Mary a comfortable way of
leaving Greshamsbury during the time that Frank should remain at home.
Frank thought himself cruelly used. But what did Mr Oriel think when
doomed to eat his Christmas pudding alone, because the young squire
would be unreasonable in his love? What did the doctor think, as he
sat solitary by his deserted hearth--the doctor, who no longer permitted
himself to enjoy the comforts of the Greshamsbury dining-table? Frank
hinted and grumbled; talked to Beatrice of the determined constancy of
his love, and occasionally consoled himself by a stray smile from some
of the neighbouring belles. The black horse was made perfect; the old
grey pony was by no means discarded; and much that was satisfactory was
done in the sporting line. But still the house was dull, and Frank
felt that he was the cause of its being so. Of the doctor he saw but
little: he never came to Greshamsbury, unless to see Lady Arabella as
doctor, or to be closeted with the squire. There were no special
evenings with him; no animated confabulations at the doctor's house; no
discourses between them, as there was wont to be, about the merits of
the different covers, and the capacities of the different hounds. These
were dull days on the whole for Frank; and sad enough, we may say, for
our friend the doctor.
In February Frank again went back to college; having settled with Harry
Baker certain affairs which weighed on his mind. He went back to
Cambridge, promising to be home on the twentieth of the month, so as to
be present at his sister's wedding. A cold and chilling time had been
named for these hymeneal joys, but one not altogether unsuited to the
feelings of the happy pair. February is certainly not a warm month;
but with the rich it is generally a cosy, comfortable time. Good
fires, winter cheer, groaning tables, and warm blankets, make a
fictitious summer, which, to some tastes, is more delightful than the
long days and the hot sun. And some marriages are especially winter
matches. They depend for their charm on the same substantial
attractions: instead of heart beating to heart in sympathetic unison,
purse chinks to purse. The rich new furniture of the new abode is
looked to instead of the rapture of a pure embrace. The new carriage
is depended on rather than the new heart's companion; and the first
bright gloss, prepared by the upholsterer's hands, stands in lieu of
the rosy tints which young love lends to his true votaries.
Mr Moffat had not spent his Christmas at Greshamsbury. That eternal
election petition, those eternal lawyers, the eternal care of his
well-managed wealth, forbade him the enjoyment of any such pleasures.
He could not come to Greshamsbury for Christmas, nor yet for the
festivities of the new year; but now and then he wrote prettily worded
notes, sending occasionally a silver-gilt pencil-case, or a small
brooch, and informed Lady Arabella that he looked forward to the
twentieth of February with great satisfaction. But, in the meanwhile,
the squire became anxious, and at last went up to London; and Frank,
who was at Cambridge, bought the heaviest-cutting whip to be found in
that town, and wrote a confidential letter to Harry Baker.
Poor Mr Moffat! It is well known that none but the brave deserve the
fair; but thou, without much excuse for bravery, had secured for
thyself one who, at any rate, was fair enough for thee. Would it not
have been well hadst thou looked to thyself to see what real bravery
might be in thee, before thou hadst prepared to desert this fair one
thou hadst already won? That last achievement, one may say, did require
some special courage.
Poor Mr Moffat! It is wonderful that as he sat in that gig, going to
Gatherum Castle, planning how he would be off with Miss Gresham and
afterwards on with Miss Dunstable, it is wonderful that he should not
then have cast his eye behind him, and looked at that stalwart pair of
shoulders which were so close to his own back. As he afterwards
pondered on his scheme while sipping the duke's claret, it is odd that
he should not have observed the fiery pride of purpose and power of
wrath which was so plainly written on that young man's brow: or, when
he matured, and finished, and carried out his purpose, that he did not
think of that keen grasp which had already squeezed his own hand with
somewhat too warm a vigour, even in the way of friendship.
Poor Mr Moffat! it is probable that he forgot to think of Frank at all
as connected with his promised bride; it is probable that he looked
forward only to the squire's violence and the enmity of the house of
Courcy; and that he found from enquiry at his heart's pulses, that he
was man enough to meet these. Could he have guessed what a whip Frank
Gresham would have bought at Cambridge--could he have divined what a
letter would have been written to Harry Baker--it is probable, nay, we
think we may say certain, that Miss Gresham would have become Mrs
Miss Gresham, however, never did become Mrs Moffat. About two days
after Frank's departure for Cambridge--it is just possible that Mr
Moffat was so prudent as to make himself aware of the fact--but just two
days after Frank's departure, a very long, elaborate, and clearly
explanatory letter was received at Greshamsbury. Mr Moffat was quite
sure that Miss Gresham and her very excellent parents would do him the
justice to believe that he was not actuated, &c, &c, &c. The long and
the short of this was, that Mr Moffat signified his intention of
breaking off the match without offering any intelligible reason.
Augusta again bore her disappointment well: not, indeed, without sorrow
and heartache, and inward, hidden tears; but still well. She neither
raved, nor fainted, nor walked about by moonlight alone. She wrote no
poetry, and never once thought of suicide. When, indeed, she
remembered the rosy-tinted lining, the unfathomable softness of that
Long-acre carriage, her spirit did for one moment give way; but, on the
whole, she bore it as a strong-minded woman and a De Courcy should do.
But both Lady Arabella and the squire were greatly vexed. The former
had made the match, and the latter, having consented to it, had
incurred deeper responsibilities to enable him to bring it about. The
money which was to have been given to Mr Moffat was still to the fore;
but alas! how much, how much that he could ill spare, had been thrown
away in bridal preparations! It is, moreover, an unpleasant thing for
a gentleman to have his daughter jilted; perhaps peculiarly so to have
her jilted by a tailor's son.
Lady Arabella's woe was really piteous. It seemed to her as though
cruel fate were heaping misery after misery upon the wretched house of
Greshamsbury. A few weeks since things were going so well with her!
Frank then was still all but the accepted husband of almost untold
wealth--so, at least, she was informed by her sister-in-law--whereas,
Augusta, was the accepted wife of wealth, not indeed untold, but of
dimensions quite sufficiently respectable to cause much joy in the
telling. Where now were her golden hopes? Where now the splendid
future of her poor duped children? Augusta was left to pine alone; and
Frank, in a still worse plight, insisted on maintaining his love for a
bastard and a pauper.
For Frank's affairs she had received some poor consolation by laying
all the blame on the squire's shoulders. What she had then said was
now repaid to her with interest; for not only had she been the maker of
Augusta's match, but she had boasted of the deed with all a mother's
It was from Beatrice that Frank had obtained his tidings. This last
resolve on the part of Mr Moffat had not altogether been unsuspected by
some of the Greshams, though altogether unsuspected by the Lady
Arabella. Frank had spoken of it as a possibility to Beatrice, and was
not quite unprepared when the information reached him. He consequently
bought his cutting-whip, and wrote his confidential letter to Harry
On the following day Frank and Harry might have been seen, with their
heads nearly close together, leaning over one of the tables in the
large breakfast-room at the Tavistock Hotel in Covent Garden. The
ominous whip, to the handle of which Frank had already made his hand
well accustomed, was lying on the table between them; and ever and anon
Harry Baker would take it up and feel its weight approvingly. Oh, Mr
Moffat! poor Mr Moffat! go not out into the fashionable world to-day;
above all, go not to that club of thine in Pall Mall; but, oh!
especially go not there, as is thy wont to do, at three o'clock in the
With much care did those two young generals lay their plans of attack.
Let it not for a moment be thought that it was ever in the minds of
either of them that two men should attack one. But it was thought that
Mr Moffat might be rather coy in coming out from his seclusion to meet
the proffered hand of his once intended brother-in-law when he should
see that hand armed with a heavy whip. Baker, therefore, was content
to act as a decoy duck, and remarked that he might no doubt make
himself useful in restraining the public mercy, and, probably, in
controlling the interference of policemen.
'It will be deuced hard if I can't get five or six shies at him,' said
Frank, again clutching his weapon almost spasmodically. Oh, Mr
Moffat! five or six shies with such a whip, and such an arm! For
myself, I would sooner join the second Balaclava gallop than encounter
At ten minutes before four these two heroes might be seen walking up
Pall Mall, towards the ---- Club. Young Baker walked with an eager
disengaged air. Mr Moffat did not know his appearance; he had,
therefore, no anxiety to pass along unnoticed. But Frank had in some
mysterious way drawn his hat very far over his forehead, and had
buttoned his shooting-coat up round his chin. Harry had recommended to
him a great-coat, in order that he might the better conceal his face;
but Frank had found the great-coat was an encumbrance to his arm. He
put it on, and when thus clothed he had tried the whip, he found that
he cut the air with much less potency than in the lighter garment. He
contented himself, therefore, with looking down on the pavement as he
walked along, letting the long point of the whip stick up from his
pocket, and flattering himself that even Mr Moffat would not recognise
him at the first glance. Poor Mr Moffat! If he had but had the
And now, having arrived at the front of the club, the two friends for a
moment separate: Frank remains standing on the pavement, under the
shade of the high stone area-railing, while Harry jauntily skips up
three steps at a time, and with a very civil word of inquiry of the
hall porter, sends his card to Mr Moffat--
'MR HARRY BAKER'
Mr Moffat, never having heard of such a gentleman in his life,
unwittingly comes out into the hall, and Harry, with the sweetest
smile, addresses him.
Now the plan of the campaign had been settled in this wise: Baker was
to send into the club for Mr Moffat, and invite that gentleman down
into the street. It was probable that the invitation might be
declined; and it had been calculated in such case the two gentlemen
would retire for parley into the strangers' room, which was known to be
immediately opposite the hall door. Frank was to keep his eye on the
portals, and if he found that Mr Moffat did not appear as readily as
might be desired, he also was to ascend the steps and hurry into the
strangers' room. Then, whether he met Mr Moffat there or elsewhere, or
wherever, he might meet him, he was to greet him with all the friendly
vigour in his power, while Harry disposed of the club porters.
But fortune, who ever favours the brave, specially favoured Frank
Gresham on this occasion. Just as Harry Baker had put his card into the
servant's hand, Mr Moffat, with his hat on, prepared for the street,
appeared in the hall; Mr Baker addressed him with his sweetest smile,
and begged the pleasure of saying a word or two as they descended into
the street. Had not Mr Moffat been going thither it would have been very
improbable that he should have done so at Harry's instance. But, as it
was, he merely looked rather solemn at his visitor--it was his wont to
look solemn--and continued the descent of the steps.
Frank, his heart leaping the while, saw his prey, and retreated two
steps behind the area-railing, the dread weapon already well poised in
his hand. Oh! Mr Moffat! Mr Moffat! if there be any goddess to
interfere in thy favour, let her come forward now without delay; let
her now bear thee off on a cloud if there be one to whom thou art
sufficiently dear! But there is no such goddess.
Harry smiled blandly till they were well on the pavement, saying some
nothing, and keeping the victim's face averted from the avenging angel;
and then, when the raised hand was sufficiently nigh, he withdrew two
steps towards the nearest lamp-post. Not for him was the honour of the
interview;--unless, indeed, succouring policemen might give occasion
for some gleam of glory.
But succouring policemen were no more to be come by than goddesses.
Where were ye, men, when that savage whip fell about the ears of the
poor ex-legislator? In Scotland Yard, sitting dozing on your benches,
or talking soft nothings to the housemaids round the corner; for ye
were not walking on your beats, nor standing at coign of vantage, to
watch the tumults of the day. Had Sir Richard himself been on the spot
Frank Gresham would still, we may say, have had his five shies at that
When Harry Baker quickly seceded from the way, Mr Moffat at once saw
the fate before him. His hair doubtless stood on end, and his voice
refused to give the loud screech with which he sought to invoke the
club. An ashy paleness suffused his cheeks, and his tottering steps
were unable to bear him away in flight. Once, and twice, the cutting
whip came well down across his back. Had he been wise enough to stand
still and take his thrashing in that attitude, it would have been well
for him. But men so circumstanced have never such prudence. After two
blows he made a dash at the steps, thinking to get back into the club;
but Harry, who had by no means reclined in idleness against the
lamp-post, here stopped him: 'You had better go back into the street,'
said Harry; 'indeed you had,' giving him a shove from off the second
Then of course Frank could do no other than hit him anywhere. When a
gentleman is dancing about with much energy it is hardly possible to
strike him fairly on his back. The blows, therefore, came now on his
legs and now on his head; and Frank unfortunately got more than his
five or six shies before he was interrupted.
The interruption however came, all too soon for Frank's idea of
justice. Though there be no policeman to take part in a London row,
there are always others ready enough to do so; amateur policemen, who
generally sympathize with the wrong side, and, in nine cases out of
ten, expend their generous energy in protecting thieves and
pickpockets. When it was seen with what tremendous ardour that dread
weapon fell about the ears of the poor undefended gentleman,
interference was at last, in spite of Harry Baker's best endeavours,
and loudest protestations.
'Do not interrupt them, sir,' said he; 'pray do not. It is a family
affair, and they will neither of them like it.'
In the teeth, however, of these assurances, rude people did interfere,
and after some nine or ten shies Frank found himself encompassed by the
arms, and encumbered by the weight of a very stout gentleman, who hung
affectionately about his neck and shoulders; whereas, Mr Moffat was
already sitting in a state of syncope on the good-natured knees of a
Frank was thoroughly out of breath: nothing came from his lips but
half-muttered expletives and unintelligible denunciations of the
iniquity of his foe. But still he struggled to be at him again. We
all know how dangerous is the taste of blood; now cruelly it will
become a custom even with the most tender-hearted. Frank felt that he
had hardly fleshed his virgin lash: he thought, almost with despair,
that he had not yet at all succeeded as became a man and a brother; his
memory told him of but one or two of the slightest touches that had
gone well home to the offender. He made a desperate effort to throw
off that incubus round his neck and rush again to the combat.
'Harry--Harry; don't let him go--don't let him go,' he barely
'Do you want to murder the man, sir; to murder him?' said the stout
gentleman over his shoulder, speaking solemnly into his very ear.
'I don't care,' said Frank, struggling manfully but uselessly. 'Let me
out, I say; I don't care--don't let him go, Harry, whatever you do.'
'He has got it prettily tidily,' said Harry; 'I think that will perhaps
do for the present.'
By this time there was a considerable concourse. The club steps were
crowded with members; among whom there were many of Mr Moffat's
acquaintance. Policemen now flocked up, and the question arose as to
what should be done with the originators of the affray. Frank and
Harry found that they were to consider themselves under a gentle
arrest, and Mr Moffat, in a fainting state, was carried into the
interior of the club.
Frank, in his innocence, had intended to have celebrated this little
affair when it was over by a light repast and a bottle of claret with
his friend, and then to have gone back to Cambridge by the mail train.
He found, however, that his schemes in this respect were frustrated. He
had to get bail to attend at Marlborough Street police-office should he
be wanted within the next two or three days; and was given to
understand that he would be under the eye of the police, at any rate
until Mr Moffat should be out of danger.
'Out of danger!' said Frank to his friend with a startled look. 'Why I
hardly got at him.' Nevertheless, they did have their slight repast,
and also their bottle of claret.
On the second morning after this occurrence, Frank was again sitting in
that public room at the Tavistock, and Harry was again sitting opposite
to him. The whip was not now so conspicuously produced between them,
having been carefully packed up and put away among Frank's other
travelling properties. They were so sitting, rather glum, when the
door swung open, and a heavy quick step was heard advancing towards
them. It was the squire; whose arrival there had been momentarily
'Frank,' said he--'Frank, what on earth is all this?' and as he spoke he
stretched out both hands, the right to his son and the left to his
'He has given a blackguard a licking, that is all,' said Harry.
Frank felt that his hand was held with a peculiarly warm grasp; and he
could not but think that his father's face, raised though his eyebrows
were--though there was on it an intended expression of amazement and,
perhaps, regret--nevertheless he could not but think that his father's
face looked kindly at him.
'God bless my soul, my dear boy! what have you done to the man?'
'He's not a ha'porth the worse, sir,' said Frank, still holding his
'Oh, isn't he!' said Harry, shrugging his shoulders. 'He must be made
of some very strong article then.'
'But my dear boys, I hope there's no danger. I hope there's no
'Danger!' said Frank, who could not yet induce himself to believe that
he had been allowed a fair chance with Mr Moffat.
'Oh, Frank! Frank! how could you be so rash? In the middle of Pall
Mall, too. Well! well! well! All the women down at Greshamsbury will
have it that you have killed him.'
'I almost wish I had,' said Frank.
'Oh, Frank! Frank! But now tell me--'
And then the father sat well pleased while he heard, chiefly from Harry
Baker, the full story of his son's prowess. And then they did not
separate without another slight repast and another bottle of claret.
Mr Moffat retired to the country for a while, and then went abroad;
having doubtless learnt that the petition was not likely to give him a
seat for the city of Barchester. And this was the end of the wooing
with Miss Gresham.
SIR ROGER IS UNSEATED
After this, little occurred at Greshamsbury, or among Greshamsbury
people, which it will be necessary for us to record. Some notice was,
of course, taking of Frank's prolonged absence from his college; and
tidings, perhaps exaggerated tidings, of what had happened at Pall Mall
were not slow to reach the High Street of Cambridge. But that affair
was gradually hushed up; and Frank went on with his studies.
He went back to his studies: it then being an understood arrangement
between him and his father that he should not return to Greshamsbury
till the summer vacation. On this occasion, the squire and Lady
Arabella had, strange to say, been of the same mind. They both wished
to keep their son away from Miss Thorne; and both calculated, that at
his age and with his disposition, it was not probable that any passion
would last out a six month absence. 'And when that summer comes it
will be an excellent opportunity for us to go abroad,' said Lady
Arabella. 'Poor Augusta will require some change to renovate her
To this last proposition the squire did not assent. It was, however,
allowed to pass over; and this much was fixed, that Frank was not to
return till midsummer.
It will be remembered that Sir Roger Scatcherd had been elected as
sitting member for the city of Barchester; but it will also be
remembered that a petition against his return was threatened. Had the
petition depended solely on Mr Moffat, Sir Roger's seat no doubt would
have been saved by Frank Gresham's cutting whip. But such was not the
case. Mr Moffat had been put forward by the De Courcy interest; and
that noble family with its dependants was not to go to the wall because
Mr Moffat had had a thrashing. No; the petition was to go on; and Mr
Nearthewinde declared, that no petition in his hands had half so good a
chance of success. 'Chance, no, but certainty,' said Mr Nearthewinde;
for Mr Nearthewinde had learnt something with reference to that honest
publican and the payment of his little bill.
The petition was presented and duly backed; the recognisances were
signed, and all the proper formalities formally executed; and Sir Roger
found that his seat was in jeopardy. His return had been a great
triumph to him; and, unfortunately, he had celebrated that triumph as
he had been in the habit of celebrating most of the very triumphant
occasions of his life. Though he was than hardly yet recovered from the
effects of his last attack, he indulged in another violent drinking
bout; and, strange to say, did so without any immediate visible bad
In February he took his seat amidst the warm congratulations of all men
of his own class, and early in the month of April his case came on for
trial. Every kind of electioneering sin known to the electioneering
world was brought to his charge; he was accused of falseness,
dishonesty, and bribery of every sort: he had, it was said in the paper
of indictment, bought votes, obtained them by treating, carried them
off by violence, conquered them by strong drink, polled them twice
over, counted those of dead men, stolen them, forged them, and created
them by every possible, fictitious contrivance: there was no
description of wickedness appertaining to the task of procuring votes
of which Sir Roger had not been guilty, either by himself or by his
agents. He was quite horror-struck at the list of his own enormities.
But he was somewhat comforted when Mr Closerstil told him that the
meaning of it all was that Mr Romer, the barrister, had paid a former
bill due to Mr Reddypalm, the publican.
'I fear he was indiscreet, Sir Roger; I really fear he was. Those
young mean always are. Being energetic, they work like horses; but
what's the use of energy without discretion, Sir Roger?'
'But, Mr Closerstil, I knew nothing of it from first to last.'
'The agency can be proved, Sir Roger,' said Mr Closerstil, shaking his
head. And then there was nothing further to be said on the matter.
In these days of snow-white purity all political delinquency is
abominable in the eyes of British politicians; but no delinquency is so
abominable than the venality at elections. The sin of bribery is
damnable. It is the one sin for which, in the House of Commons, there
can be no forgiveness. When discovered, it should render the culprit
liable to political death, without hope of pardon. It is treason
against a higher throne than that on which the Queen sits. It is a
heresy which requires an auto-da-fe. It is a pollution to the whole
House, which can only be cleansed by a great sacrifice. Anathema
maranatha! out with it from amongst us, even though half of our heart's
blood be poured from the conflict! Out with it, and for ever!
Such is the language of patriotic members with regard to bribery; and
doubtless, if sincere, they are in the right. It is a bad thing,
certainly, that a rich man should buy votes; bad also that a poor man
should sell them. By all means let us repudiate such a system with
With heartfelt disgust, if we can do so, by all means; but not with
disgust pretended only and not felt in the heart at all. The laws
against bribery at elections are now so stringent that an unfortunate
candidate may easily become guilty, even though actuated by the purest
intentions. But not the less on that account does any gentleman,
ambitious of the honour of serving his country in Parliament, think it
necessary as a preliminary measure to provide a round sum of money at
his banker's. A candidate must pay for no treating, no refreshments,
no band of music; he must give neither ribbons to the girls nor ale to
the men. If a huzza be uttered in his favour, it is at his peril; it
may be necessary for him to prove before a committee that it was the
spontaneous result of British feeling in his favour, and not the
purchased result of British beer. He cannot safely ask any one to
share his hotel dinner. Bribery hides itself now in the most
impalpable shapes, and may be effected by the offer of a glass of
sherry. But not the less on this account does a poor man find that he
is quite unable to overcome the difficulties of a contested election.
We strain at our gnats with a vengeance, but we swallow our camels with
ease. For what purpose is it that we employ those peculiarly safe men
of business--Messrs Nearthewinde and Closerstil--when we wish to win our
path through all obstacles into that sacred recess? Alas! the money is
still necessary, is still prepared, or at any rate, expended. The poor
candidate of course knows nothing of the matter till the attorney's
bill is laid before him, when all danger of petitions has passed away.
He little dreamed till then, not he, that there had been banquetings
and junketings, secret doings and deep drinkings at his expense. Poor
candidate! Poor member! Who was so ignorant as he! 'Tis true he has
paid bills before; but 'tis equally true that he specially begged his
managing friend Mr Nearthewinde, to be very careful that all was done
according to law! He pays the bill, however, and on the next election
will again employ Mr Nearthewinde.
Now and again, at rare intervals, some glimpse into the inner sanctuary
does reach the eyes of ordinary mortal men without; some slight
accidental peep into those mysteries from when all corruption has been
so thoroughly expelled; and then, how delightfully refreshing is the
sight, when, perhaps, some ex-member, hurled from his paradise like a
fallen peri, reveals the secret of that pure heaven, and, in the agony
of his despair, tells us all that it cost him to sit for--through those
few halcyon years!
But Mr Nearthewinde is a safe man, and easy to be employed with but
little danger. All these stringent bribery laws only enhance the value
of such very safe men as Mr Nearthewinde. To him, stringent laws
against bribery are the strongest assurance of valuable employment.
Were these laws of a nature to be evaded with ease, any indifferent
attorney might manage a candidate's affairs and enable him to take his
seat with security.
It would have been well for Sir Roger if he had trusted solely to Mr
Closerstil; well also for Mr Romer had he never fished in those
troubled waters. In due process of time the hearing of the petition
came on, and then who so happy, sitting at his ease in the London inn,
blowing his cloud from a long pipe, with measureless content, as Mr
Reddypalm? Mr Reddypalm was the one great man of the contest. All
depended on Mr Reddypalm; and well he did his duty.
The result of the petition was declared by the committee to be read as
follows:--that Sir Roger's election was null and void--that Sir Roger
had, by his agent, been guilty of bribery in obtaining a vote, by the
payment of a bill alleged to have been previously refused payment--this
is always a matter of course;--but that Sir Roger's agent, Mr Romer, had
been willingly guilty of bribery with reference to the transaction above
declared. Poor Sir Roger! Poor Mr Romer.
Poor Mr Romer indeed! His fate was perhaps as sad as well might be,
and as foul a blot to the purism of these very pure times in which we
live. Not long after those days, it so happening that some
considerable amount of youthful energy and quidnunc ability were
required to set litigation afloat at Hong Kong, Mr Romer was sent
thither as the fittest man for such work, with rich assurance of future
guerdon. Who are so happy then as Mr Romer! But even among the pure
there is room for envy and detraction. Mr Romer had not yet ceased to
wonder at new worlds, as he skimmed among the islands of that southern
ocean, before the edict had gone forth for his return. There were men
sitting in that huge court of Parliament on whose breasts it lay as an
intolerable burden, that England should be represented among the
antipodes by one who had tampered with the purity of the franchise. For
them there was no rest till this great disgrace should be wiped out and
atoned for. Men they were of that calibre, that the slightest
reflection on them of such a stigma seemed to themselves to blacken
their own character. They could not break bread with satisfaction till
Mr Romer was recalled. He was recalled, and of course ruined--and the
minds of those just men were then at peace.
To any honourable gentleman who really felt his brow suffused with a
patriotic blush, as he thought of his country dishonoured by Mr Romer's
presence at Hong Kong--to any such gentleman, if any such there were,
let all honour be given, even though the intensity of his purity may
create amazement to our less finely organized souls. But if no such
blush suffused the brow of any honourable gentleman; if Mr Romer was
recalled from quite other feelings--what then in lieu of honour shall we
allot to those honourable gentlemen who were most concerned?
Sir Roger, however, lost his seat, and, after three months of the joys
of legislation, found himself reduced by a terrible blow to the low
level of private life.
And the blow to him was very heavy. Men but seldom tell the truth of
what is in them, even to their dearest friends; they are ashamed of
having feelings, or rather of showing that they are troubled by any
intensity of feeling. It is the practice of the time to treat all
pursuits as though they were only half important to us, as though in
what we desire we were only half in earnest. To be visibly eager seems
childish, and is always bad policy; and men, therefore, nowadays,
though they strive as hard as ever in the service of ambition--harder
than ever in that of mammon--usually do so with a pleasant smile on, as
though after all they were but amusing themselves with the little
matter in hand.
Perhaps it had been so with Sir Roger in those electioneering days when
he was looking for votes. At any rate, he had spoken of his seat in
Parliament as but a doubtful good. 'He was willing, indeed, to stand,
having been asked; but the thing would interfere wonderfully with his
business; and then, what did he know about Parliament? Nothing on
earth: it was the maddest scheme, but nevertheless, he was not going to
hang back when called upon--he had always been rough and ready when
wanted--and there he was now ready as ever, and rough enough too, God
'Twas thus that he had spoken of his coming parliamentary honours; and
men had generally taken him at his word. He had been returned, and
this success had been hailed as a great thing for the cause and class
to which he belonged. But men did not know that his inner heart was
swelling with triumph, and that his bosom could hardly contain his
pride as he reflected that the poor Barchester stone-mason was now the
representative of his native city. And so, when his seat was attacked,
he still laughed and joked. 'They were welcome to it for him,' he
said; 'he could keep it or want it; and of the two, perhaps, the want
of it would come most convenient to him. He did not exactly think that
he had bribed any one; but if the bigwigs chose to say so, it was all
one to him. He was rough and ready, now as ever,' &c &c.
But when the struggle came, it was to him a fearful one; not the less
fearful because there was no one, no, not one friend in all the world,
to whom he could open his mind and speak out honestly what was in his
heart. To Dr Thorne he might perhaps have done so had his intercourse
with the doctor been sufficiently frequent; but it was only now and
then when he was ill, or when the squire wanted to borrow money, that
he saw Dr Thorne. He had plenty of friends, heaps of friends in the
parliamentary sense; friends who talked about him, and lauded him at
public meetings; who shook hands with him on platforms and drank his
health at dinners; but he had no friends who could sit with him over
his own hearth, in true friendship, and listen to, and sympathize with,
and moderate the sighings of the inner man. For him there was no
sympathy; no tenderness of love; no retreat, save into himself, from
the loud brass band of the outer world.
The blow hit him terribly hard. It did not come altogether
unexpectedly, and yet, when it did come, it was all but unendurable. He
had made so much of the power of walking into that august chamber, and
sitting shoulder to shoulder in legislative equality with the sons of
dukes and the curled darlings of the nation. Money had given him
nothing, nothing but the mere feeling of brute power: with his three
hundred thousand pounds he had felt himself to be no more palpably near
to the goal of his ambition than when he had chipped stones for three
shillings and sixpence a day. But when he was led up and introduced at
that table, when he shook the old premier's hand on the floor of the
House of Commons, when he heard the honourable member for Barchester
alluded to in grave debate as the greatest living authority on railway
matters, then, indeed, he felt that he had achieved something.
And now this cup was ravished from his lips, almost before it was
tasted. When he was first told as a certainty that the decision of the
committee was against him, he bore up against the misfortune like a
man. He laughed heartily, and declared himself well rid of a very
profitless profession; cut some little joke about Mr Moffat and his
thrashing, and left on those around him an impression that he was a man
so constituted, so strong in his own resolves, so steadily pursuant of
his own work, that no little contentions of this kind could affect
him. Men admired his easy laughter, as, shuffling his half-crowns with
both his hands in his trouser-pockets, he declared that Messrs Romer
and Reddypalm were the best friends he had known for many a day.
But not the less did he walk out from the room in which he was standing
a broken-hearted man. Hope could not buoy him up as she may do other
ex-members in similarly disagreeable circumstances. He could not
afford to look forward to what further favours parliamentary future
have in store for him after a lapse of five or six years. Five or six
years! Why, his life was not worth four years' purchase; of that he
was perfectly aware: he could not now live without the stimulus of
brandy; and yet, while he took it, he knew he was killing himself.
Death he did not fear; but he would fain have wished, after his life of
labour, to have lived, while yet he could live, in the blaze of that
high world to which for a moment he had attained.
He laughed loud and cheerily as he left his parliamentary friends, and,
putting himself into the train, went down to Boxall Hill. He laughed
loud and cheerily; but he never laughed again. It had not been his
habit to laugh much at Boxall Hill. It was there he kept his wife, and
Mr Winterbones, and the brandy bottle behind his pillow. He had not
often there found it necessary to assume that loud and cheery laugh.
On this occasion he was apparently well in health when he got home; but
both Lady Scatcherd and Mr Winterbones found him more than ordinarily
cross. He made an affectation at sitting very hard to business, and
even talked of going abroad to look at some of his foreign contracts.
But even Winterbones found that his patron did not work as he had been
wont to do; and at last, with some misgivings, he told Lady Scatcherd
that he feared that everything was not right.
'He's always at it, my lady, always,' said Mr Winterbones.
'Is he?' said Lady Scatcherd, well understanding what Mr Winterbones's
'Always, my lady. I never saw nothing like it. Now, there's me--I can
always go my half-hour when I've had my drop; but he, why, he don't go
ten minutes, not now.'
This was not cheerful to Lady Scatcherd; but what was the poor woman to
do? When she spoke to him on any subject he only snarled at her; and
now that the heavy fit was on him, she did not dare even to mention the
subject of his drinking. She had never known him so savage in his
humour as he was now, so bearish in his habits, so little inclined to
humanity, so determined to rush headlong down, with his head between
his legs, into the bottomless abyss.
She thought of sending for Dr Thorne; but she did not know under what
guise to send for him,--whether as doctor or as friend: under neither
would he now be welcome; and she well knew that Sir Roger was not the
man to accept in good part either a doctor or a friend who might be
unwelcome. She knew that this husband of hers, this man, who, with all
his faults, was the best of her friends whom she loved best--she knew
that he was killing himself, and yet she could do nothing. Sir Roger
was his own master, and if kill himself he would, kill himself he must.
And kill himself he did. Not indeed by one sudden blow. He did not
take one huge dose of his consuming poison, and then fall dead upon the
floor. It would perhaps have been better for himself, and better for
those around him, had he done so. No; the doctors had time to
congregate round his bed; Lady Scatcherd was allowed a period of
nurse-tending; the sick man was able to say his last few words and bid
his adieu to his portion of the lower world with dying decency. As
these last words will have some lasting effect upon the surviving
personages of our story, the reader must be content to stand for a
short while by the side of Sir Roger's sick-bed, and help us bid him
God-speed on the journey which lies before him.
It was declared in the early pages of this work that Dr Thorne was to
be our hero; but it would appear very much as though he had latterly
been forgotten. Since that evening when he retired to rest without
letting Mary share the grievous weight which was on his mind, we have
neither seen nor heard aught of him.
It was then full midsummer, and it now early spring: and during the
intervening months the doctor had not had a happy time of it. On that
night, as we have before told, he took his niece to his heart; but he
could not then bring himself to tell her that which it was so
imperative that she should know. Like a coward, he would put off the
evil hour, till the next morning, and thus robbed himself of his
But when the morning came the duty could not be postponed. Lady
Arabella had given him to understand that his niece would no longer be
a guest at Greshamsbury; and it was quite out of the question that
Mary, after this, should be allowed to put her foot within the gate of
the domain without having learnt what Lady Arabella had said. So he
told it before breakfast, walking round their little garden, she with
her hand in his.
He was perfectly thunderstruck by the collected--nay, cool way in which
she received his tidings. She turned pale, indeed; he felt also that
her hand somewhat trembled in his own, and he perceived that for a
moment her voice shook; but no angry word escaped her lip, nor did she
even deign to repudiate the charge, which was, as it were, conveyed in
Lady Arabella's request. The doctor knew, or thought he knew--nay, he
did know--that Mary was wholly blameless in the matter: that she had at
least given no encouragement to any love on the part of the young heir;
but, nevertheless, he had expected that she would avouch her own
innocence. This, however, she by no means did.
'Lady Arabella is quite right,' she said, 'quite right; if she has any
fear of that kind, she cannot be too careful.'
'She is a selfish, proud woman,' said the doctor; 'quite indifferent to
the feelings of others; quite careless how deeply she may hurt her
neighbours, if, in doing so, she may possibly benefit herself.'
'She will not hurt me, uncle, nor yet you. I can live without going to
'But it is not to be endured that she should dare to cast an imputation
on my darling.'
'On me, uncle? She casts no imputation on me. Frank has been foolish:
I have said nothing of it, for it was not worth while to trouble you.
But as Lady Arabella chooses to interfere, I have no right to blame
her. He has said what he should not have said; he has been foolish.
Uncle, you know I could not prevent it.'
'Let her send him away then, not you; let her banish him.'
'Uncle, he is her son. A mother can hardly send her son away so
easily: could you send me away, uncle?'
He merely answered her by twining his arm round her waist and pressing
her to his side. He was well sure that she was badly treated; and yet
now that she so unaccountably took Lady Arabella's part, he hardly knew
how to make this out plainly to be the case.
'Besides, uncle, Greshamsbury is in a manner his own; how can he be
banished from his father's house? No, uncle; there is an end of my
visits there. They shall find that I will not thrust myself in their
And then Mary, with a calm brow and steady gait, went in and made the
And what might be the feelings of her heart when she so sententiously
told her uncle that Frank had been foolish? She was of the same age
with him; as impressionable, though more powerful in hiding such
impressions,--as all women should be; her heart was as warm, her blood
as full of life, her innate desire for the companionship of some
much-loved object as strong as his. Frank had been foolish in avowing
his passion. No such folly as that could be laid at her door. But had
she been proof against the other folly? Had she been able to walk
heart-whole by his side, while he chatted his commonplaces about love?
Yes, they are commonplaces when we read them in novels; common enough,
too, to some of us when we write them; but they are by no means
commonplace when first heard by a young girl in the rich, balmy
fragrance of July evening stroll.
Nor are they commonplaces when so uttered for the first or second time
at least, or perhaps the third. 'Tis a pity that so heavenly a
pleasure should pall upon the senses.
If it was so that Frank's folly had been listened to with a certain
amount of pleasure, Mary did not even admit so much to herself. But
why should it have been otherwise? Why should she have been less prone
to love than he was? Had he not everything which girls do love? which
girls should love? which God created noble, beautiful, all but godlike,
in order that women, all but goddesslike, might love? To love
thoroughly, truly, heartily, with her whole body, soul, heart, and
strength; should not that be counted for a merit in a woman? And yet
we are wont to make a disgrace of it. We do so most unnaturally, most
unreasonably; for we expect our daughters to get themselves married off
our hands. When the period of that step comes, then love is proper
enough; but up to that--before that--as regards all those preliminary
passages which must, we suppose, be necessary--in all those it becomes a
young lady to be icy-hearted as a river-god in winter.
'O whistle and I'll come to you my lad!
O whistle and I'll come to you my lad!
Tho' father and mither and a'should go mad
O whistle and I'll come to you my lad!'
This is the kind of love which a girl should feel before she puts her
hand proudly in that of her lover, and consents that they two shall be
made one flesh.
Mary felt no such love as this. She, too, had some inner perception of
that dread destiny by which it behoved Frank Gresham to be forewarned.
She, too--though she had never heard so much said in words--had an
almost instinctive knowledge that his fate required him to marry money.
Thinking over this in her own way, she was not slow to convince herself
that it was out of the question that she should allow herself to love
Frank Gresham. However well her heart might be inclined to such a
feeling, it was her duty to repress it. She resolved, therefore, to do
so; and she sometimes flattered herself that she had kept her
These were bad times for the doctor, and bad times for Mary too. She
had declared that she could live without going to Greshamsbury; but she
did not find it so easy. She had been going to Greshamsbury all her
life, and it was customary with her to be there as at home. Such old
customs are not broken without pain. Had she left the place it would
have been far different; but, as it was, she daily passed the gates,
daily saw and spoke to some of the servants, who knew her as well as
they did the young ladies of the family--was in hourly contact, as it
were, with Greshamsbury. It was not only that she did not go there,
but that every one knew that she had suddenly discontinued doing so.
Yes, she could live without going to Greshamsbury; but for some time
she had but a poor life of it. She felt, nay, almost heard, that
every man and woman, boy and girl in the village was telling his and
her neighbour that Mary Thorne no longer went to the house because of
Lady Arabella and the young squire.
But Beatrice, of course, came to her. What was she to say to
Beatrice? The truth! Nay, but it is not always so easy to say the
truth, even to one's dearest friends.
'But you'll come up now he has gone?' said Beatrice.
'No, indeed,' said Mary; 'that would hardly be pleasant to Lady
Arabella, nor to me either. No, Trichy, dearest; my visits to dear old
Greshamsbury are done, done, done: perhaps in some twenty years' time I
may be walking down the lawn with your brother, and discussing the
childish days--that is, always, if the then Mrs Gresham shall have
'How can Frank have been so wrong, so unkind, so cruel?' said Beatrice.
This, however, was a light in which Miss Thorne did not take any
pleasure, in discussing the matter. Her ideas of Frank's fault, and
unkindness and cruelty, were doubtless different from those of her
sister. Such cruelty was not unnaturally excused in her eyes by many
circumstances which Beatrice did not fully understand. Mary was quite
ready to go hand in hand with Lady Arabella and the rest of
Greshamsbury fold in putting an end, if possible, to Frank's passion:
she would give not one a right to accuse her of assisting to ruin the
young heir; but she could hardly bring herself to admit that he was so
very wrong--no, nor yet even so very cruel.
And then the squire came to see her, and this was a yet harder trial
than the visit of Beatrice. It was so difficult for her to speak to
him that she could not but wish him away; and yet, had he not come, had
he altogether neglected her, she would have felt it to be unkind. She
had ever been his pet, had always received kindness from him.
'I am sorry for all this, Mary; very sorry,' said he, standing up, and
holding both her hands in his.
'It can't be helped, sir,' said she, smiling.
'I don't know,' said he; 'I don't know--it ought to be helped somehow--I
am quite sure you have not been to blame.'
'No,' said she, very quietly, as though the position was one quite a
matter of course. 'I don't think I have been very much to blame. There
will be misfortunes sometimes when nobody is to blame.'
'I do not quite understand it all,' said the squire; 'but if Frank--'
'Oh! we will not talk about him,' said she, still laughing gently.
'You can understand, Mary, how dear he must be to me; but if--'
'Mr Gresham, I would not for worlds be the cause of any unpleasantness
between you and him.'
'But I cannot bear to think that we have banished you, Mary.'
'It cannot be helped. Things will all come right in time.'
'But you will be lonely here.'
'Oh! I shall get over all that. Here, you know, Mr Gresham, "I am
monarch of all I survey"; and there is a great deal in that.'
The squire did not catch her meaning, but a glimmering of it did reach
him. It was competent to Lady Arabella to banish her from
Greshamsbury; it was within the sphere of the squire's duties to
prohibit his son from an imprudent match; it was for the Greshams to
guard their Greshamsbury treasure as best they could within their own
territories: but let them beware that they did not attack her on hers.
In obedience to the first expression of their wishes, she had submitted
herself to this public mark of their disapproval because she had seen
at once, with her clear intellect, that they were only doing that which
her conscience must approve. Without a murmur, therefore, she
consented to be pointed at as the young lady who had been turned out of
Greshamsbury because of the young squire. She had no help for it. But
let them take care that they did not go beyond that. Outside those
Greshamsbury gates she and Frank Gresham, she and Lady Arabella met on
equal terms; let them each fight their own battle.
The squire kissed her forehead affectionately and took his leave,
feeling somehow, that he had been excused and pitied, and made much of;
whereas he had called on his young neighbour with the intention of
excusing, and pitying, and making much of her. He was not quite
comfortable as he left the house; but, nevertheless, he was
sufficiently honest-hearted to own to himself that Mary Thorne was a
fine girl. Only that it was so absolutely necessary that Frank should
marry money--and only, also, that poor Mary was such a birthless
foundling in the world's esteem--only, but for these things, what a wife
she would have made for that son of his!
To one person only did she talk freely on the subject, and that one was
Patience Oriel; and even with her the freedom was rather of the mind
than of the heart. She never said a word of her feeling with reference
to Frank, but she said much of her position in the village, and of the
necessity she was under to keep out of the way.
'It is very hard,' said Patience, 'that the offence should be all with
him, and the punishment all with you.'
'Oh! as for that,' said Mary, laughing, 'I will not confess to any
offence, not yet to any punishment; certainly not to any punishment.'
'It comes to the same thing in the end.'
'No, not so, Patience; there is always some little sting of disgrace in
punishment: now I am not going to hold myself in the least disgraced.'
'But, Mary, you must meet the Greshams sometimes.'
'Meet them! I have not the slightest objection on earth to meet all,
or any of them. They are not a whit dangerous to me, my dear. 'Tis
that I am the wild beast, and 'tis that they must avoid me,' and then
she added, after a pause--slightly blushing--'I have not the slightest
objection even to meet him if chance brings him in my way. Let them
look to that. My undertaking goes no further than this, that I will
not be seen within their gates.'
But the girls so far understood each other that Patience undertook,
rather than promised, to give Mary what assistance she could; and,
despite Mary's bravado, she was in such a position that she much wanted
the assistance of such a friend as Patience Oriel.
After an absence of some six weeks, Frank, as we have seen, returned
home. Nothing was said to him, except by Beatrice, as to those new
Greshamsbury arrangements; and he, when he found Mary was not at the
place, went boldly to the doctor's house to seek her. But it has been
seen, also, that she discreetly kept out of his way. This she had
thought fit to do when the time came, although she had been so ready
with her boast that she had no objection on earth to meet him.
After that there had been the Christmas vacation, and Mary had again
found discretion the better part of valour. This was doubtless
disagreeable enough. She had no particular wish to spend her Christmas
with Miss Oriel's aunt instead of at her uncle's fireside. Indeed, her
Christmas festivities had hitherto been kept at Greshamsbury, the
doctor and herself having a part of the family circle there assembled.
This was out of the question now; and perhaps the absolute change to
old Miss Oriel's house was better for her than the lesser change to her
uncle's drawing-room. Besides, how could she have demeaned herself
when she met Frank in their parish church? All this had been fully
understood by Patience, and, therefore, had this Christmas visit been
And then this affair of Frank and Mary Thorne ceased for a while to be
talked of at Greshamsbury, for that other affair of Mr Moffat and
Augusta monopolized the rural attention. Augusta, as we have said,
bore it well, and sustained the public gaze without much flinching. Her
period of martyrdom, however, did not last long, for soon the news
arrived of Frank's exploit in Pall Mall; and then the Greshamsburyites
forgot to think much more of Augusta, being fully occupied in thinking
of what Frank had done.
The tale, as it was first told, declared the Frank had followed Mr
Moffat up into his club; had dragged him thence into the middle of Pall
Mall, and had then slaughtered him on the spot. This was by degrees
modified till a sobered fiction became generally prevalent, that Mr
Moffat was lying somewhere, still alive, but with all his bones in a
state of compound fracture. This adventure again brought Frank into the
ascendant, and restored to Mary her former position as the Greshamsbury
'One cannot wonder at his being very angry,' said Beatrice, discussing
the matter with Mary--very imprudently.
'Wonder--no; the wonder would have been if he had not been angry. One
might have been quite sure that he would have been angry enough.'
'I suppose it was not absolutely right for him to beat Mr Moffat,' said
'Not right, Trichy? I think he was very right.'
'Not to beat him so much, Mary!'
'Oh, I suppose a man can't exactly stand measuring how much he does
these things. I like your brother for what he has done, and I may say
so frankly--though I suppose I ought to eat my tongue out before I
should say such a thing, eh Trichy?'
'I don't know that there's any harm in that,' said Beatrice, demurely.
'If you both liked each other there would be no harm in that--if that
'Wouldn't there?' said Mary, in a low tone of bantering satire; 'that
is so kind, Trichy, coming from you--from one of the family, you know.'
'You are well aware, Mary, that if I could have my wishes--'
'Yes: I am well aware what a paragon of goodness you are. If you could
have your way I should be admitted into heaven again; shouldn't I? Only
with this proviso, that if a stray angel should ever whisper to me with
bated breath, mistaking me, perchance, for one of his own class, I
should be bound to close my ears to his whispering, and remind him
humbly that I was only a poor mortal. You would trust me so far,
wouldn't you, Trichy?'
'I would trust you in any way, Mary. But I think you are unkind in
saying such things to me.'
'Into whatever heaven I am admitted, I will go only on this
understanding: that I am to be as good an angel as any of those around
'But, Mary dear, why do you say this to me?'
'Because--because--because--ah me! Why, indeed, but because I have no
one else to say it to. Certainly not because you have deserved it.'
'It seems as if you were finding fault with me.'
'And so I am; how can I do other than find fault? How can I help being
sore? Trichy, you hardly realize my position; you hardly see how I am
treated; how I am forced to allow myself to be treated without a sign
of complaint. You don't see it all. If you did, you would not wonder
that I should be sore.'
Beatrice did not quite see it all; but she saw enough of it to know
that Mary was to be pitied; so, instead of scolding her friend for
being cross, she threw her arms round her and kissed her
But the doctor all this time suffered much more than his niece did. He
could not complain out loudly; he could not aver that his pet lamb had
been ill treated; he could not even have the pleasure of openly
quarrelling with Lady Arabella; but not the less did he feel it to be
most cruel that Mary should have to live before the world as an
outcast, because it had pleased Frank Gresham to fall in love with her.
But his bitterness was not chiefly against Frank. That Frank had been
very foolish he could not but acknowledge; but it was a kind of folly
for which the doctor was able to find excuse. For Lady Arabella's cold
propriety he could find no excuse.
With the squire he had spoken no word on the subject up to this period
of which we are now writing. With her ladyship he had never spoken on
it since that day when she had told him that Mary was to come no more
to Greshamsbury. He never now dined or spent his evenings at
Greshamsbury, and seldom was to be seen at the house, except when
called in professionally. The squire, indeed, he frequently met; but
he either did so in the village, or out on horseback, or at his own
When the doctor first heard that Sir Roger had lost his seat, and had
returned to Boxall Hill, he resolved to go over and see him. But the
visit was postponed from day to day, as visits are postponed which may
be made any day, and he did not in fact go till summoned there somewhat
peremptorily. A message was brought to him one evening to say that Sir
Roger had been struck by paralysis, and that not a moment was to be
'It always happens at night,' said Mary, who had more sympathy for the
living uncle whom she did know, than for the other dying uncle whom she
did not know.
'What matters?--there--just give me my scarf. In all probability I may
not be home to-night--perhaps not till late to-morrow. God bless you,
Mary!' and away the doctor went on his cold bleak ride to Boxall Hill.
'Who is to be his heir?' As the doctor rode along, he could not quite
rid his mind of the question. The poor man now about to die had wealth
enough to make many heirs. What if his heart should have softened
towards his sister's child! What if Mary should be found to be
possessed of such wealth that the Greshams should be again be happy to
welcome her at Greshamsbury!
The doctor was not a lover of money--and he did his best to get rid of
such pernicious thoughts. But his longings, perhaps, were not so much
that Mary should be rich, as that she should have the power of heaping
coals of fire upon the heads of those people who had so injured her.
When Dr Thorne reached Boxall Hill he found Mr Rerechild from
Barchester there before him. Poor Lady Scatcherd, when her husband was
stricken by the fit, hardly knew in her dismay what adequate steps to
take. She had, as a matter of course, sent for Dr Thorne; but she had
thought it so grave a peril that the medical skill of no one man could
suffice. It was, she knew, quite out of the question for her to invoke
the aid of Dr Fillgrave, whom no earthly persuasion could have brought
to Boxall Hill; and as Mr Rerechild was supposed in the Barchester
world to be second--though at a long interval--to that great man, she
had applied for his assistance.
Now Mr Rerechild was a follower and humble friend of Dr Fillgrave; and
was wont to regard anything that came from the Barchester doctor as
sure as light from the lamp of Aesculapius. He could not therefore be
other than an enemy of Dr Thorne. But he was a prudent, discreet man,
with a long family, averse to professional hostilities, as knowing that
he could make more by medical friends than medical foes, and not at all
inclined to take up any man's cudgel to his own detriment. He had, of
course, heard of that dreadful affront which had been put upon his
friend, as had all the 'medical world'--and all the medical world at
least of Barsetshire; and he had often expressed sympathy with Dr
Fillgrave and his abhorrence of Dr Thorne's anti-professional
practices. But now that he found himself about to be brought in
contact with Dr Thorne, he reflected that the Galen of Greshamsbury was
at any rate equal in reputation to him of Barchester; that the one was
probably on the rise, whereas the other was already considered by some
as rather antiquated; and he therefore wisely resolved that the present
would be an excellent opportunity for him to make a friend of Dr
Poor Lady Scatcherd had an inkling that Dr Fillgrave and Mr Rerechild
were accustomed to row in the same boat, and she was not altogether
free from fear that there might be an outbreak. She therefore took an
opportunity before Dr Thorne's arrival to deprecate any wrathful
'Oh, Lady Scatcherd! I have the greatest respect for Dr Thorne,'
said he; 'the greatest possible respect; a most skilful
practitioner--something brusque, certainly, and perhaps a little
obstinate. But what then? we have all our faults, Lady Scatcherd.'
'Oh--yes; we all have, Mr Rerechild; that's a certain.'
'There's my friend Fillgrave--Lady Scatcherd. He cannot bear anything
of that sort. Now I think he's wrong; and so I tell him.' Mr Rerechild
was in error here; for he had never yet ventured to tell Dr Fillgrave
that he was wrong in anything. 'We must bear and forbear, you know. Dr
Thorne is an excellent man--in his way very excellent, Lady Scatcherd.'
This little conversation took place after Mr Rerechild's first visit to
his patient: what steps were immediately taken for the relief of the
sufferer we need not describe. They were doubtless well intended, and
were, perhaps, as well adapted to stave off the coming evil day as any
that Dr Fillgrave, or even the great Sir Omicron Pie might have used.
And then Dr Thorne arrived.
'Oh, doctor! doctor!' exclaimed Lady Scatcherd, almost hanging round
his neck in the hall. 'What are we to do? What are we to do? He's
'Has he spoken?'
'No; nothing like a word: he has made one or two muttered sounds; but,
poor soul, you could make nothing of it--oh, doctor! doctor! he has
never been like this before.
It was easy to see where Lady Scatcherd placed any such faith as she
might still have in the healing art. 'Mr Rerechild is here and has
seen him,' she continued. 'I thought it best to send for two, for fear
of accidents. He has done something--I don't know what. But, doctor,
do tell the truth now; I look to you to tell me the truth.'
Dr Thorne went up and saw his patient; and had he literally complied
with Lady Scatcherd's request, he might have told her at once that
there was no hope. As, however, he had not the heart to do this, he
mystified the case as doctors so well know how to do, and told her that
'there was cause to fear, great cause for fear; he was sorry to say,
very great cause for much fear.'
Dr Thorne promised to stay the night there, and, if possible, the
following night also; and then Lady Scatcherd became troubled in her
mind as to what she should do with Mr Rerechild. He also declared,
with much medical humanity, that, let the inconvenience be what it
might, he too would stay the night. 'The loss,' he said, 'of such a
man as Sir Roger Scatcherd was of such paramount importance as to make
other matters trivial. He would certainly not allow the whole weight
to fall on the shoulders of his friend Dr Thorne: he also would stay at
any rate that night by the sick man's bedside. By the following
morning some change might be expected.'
'I say, Dr Thorne,' said her ladyship, calling the doctor into the
housekeeping-room, in which she and Hannah spent any time that they
were not required upstairs; 'just come in, doctor: you wouldn't tell
him we don't want him no more, could you?'
'Tell whom?' said the doctor.
'Why--Mr Rerechild: mightn't he go away, do you think?'
Dr Thorne explained that Mr Rerechild might go away if he pleased; but
that it would by no means be proper for one doctor to tell another to
leave the house. And so Mr Rerechild was allowed to share the glories
of the night.
In the meantime the patient remained speechless; but it soon became
evident that Nature was using all her efforts to make one final rally.
From time to time he moaned and muttered as though he was conscious,
and it seemed as though he strove to speak. He gradually became awake,
at any rate to suffering, and Dr Thorne began to think that the last
scene would be postponed for yet a while longer.
'Wonderful constitution--eh, Dr Thorne? wonderful!' said Mr Rerechild.
'Yes; he has been a strong man.'
'Strong as a horse, Dr Thorne. Lord, what that man would have been if
he had given himself a chance! You know his constitution of course.'
'Yes; pretty well. I've attended him for many years.'
'Always drinking, I suppose; always at it--eh?'
'He has not been a temperate man, certainly.'
'The brain, you see, clean gone--and not a particle of coating left to
the stomach; and yet what a struggle he makes--an interesting case,
'It's very sad to see such an intellect so destroyed.'
'Very sad, very sad indeed. How Fillgrave would have liked to have
seen this case. He is a very clever man, is Fillgrave--in his way, you
'I'm sure he is,' said Dr Thorne.
'Not that he'd make anything of a case like this now--he's not, you
know, quite--quite--perhaps not quite up to the new time of day, one
might say so.'
'He has had a very extensive provincial practice,' said Dr Thorne.
'Oh, very--very; and made a tidy lot of money too, has Fillgrave. He's
worth six thousand pounds, I suppose; now that's a good deal of money
to put by in a little town like Barchester.'
'What I say to Fillgrave is--keep your eyes open; one should never be
too old to learn--there's always something new worth picking up. But
no--he won't believe that. He can't believe that any new ideas can be
worth anything. You know a man must go to the wall in that way--eh,
And then again they were called to their patient. 'He's doing finely,
finely,' said Mr Rerechild to Lady Scatcherd. 'There's fair ground to
hope he'll rally; fair ground, is there not, doctor?'
'Yes; he'll rally; but how long that may last, that we can hardly say.'
'Oh, no, certainly not, certainly not--that is not with any certainty;
but still he's doing finely, Lady Scatcherd, considering everything.'
'How long will you give him, doctor?' said Mr Rerechild to his new
friend, when they were again alone. 'Ten days? I dare say ten days,
or from that to a fortnight.'
'Perhaps so,' said the doctor. 'I should not like to say exactly to a
'No, certainly not. We cannot say exactly to a day; but I say ten
days; as for anything like a recovery, that you know--'
'Is out of the question,' said Dr Thorne, gravely.
'Quite so; quite so; coating of the stomach clean gone, you know; brain
destroyed: did you observe the periporollida? I never saw them so
swelled before: now when the periporollida are swollen like that--'
'Yes, very much; it's always the case when paralysis has been brought
about by intemperance.'
'Always, always; I have remarked that always; the periporollida in such
cases are always extended; most interesting case, isn't it? I do wish
Fillgrave could have seen it. But, I believe you and Dr Fillgrave
'No, not quite,'said Dr Thorne; who, as he thought of his last
interview with Dr Fillgrave, and of that gentleman's exceeding anger as
he stood in the hall below, could not keep himself from smiling, sad as
the occasion was.
Nothing would induce Lady Scatcherd to go to bed; but the two doctors
agreed to lie down, each in a room on one side of the patient. How was
it possible that anything but good should come to him, being so
guarded? 'He's going on finely, Lady Scatcherd, quite finely,' were
the last words Mr Rerechild said as he left the room.
And then Dr Thorne, taking Lady Scatcherd's hand and leading her out
into another chamber, told her the truth.
'Lady Scatcherd,' said he, in his tenderest voice--and his voice could
be very tender when occasion required it--'Lady Scatcherd, do not hope;
you must not hope; it would be cruel to bid you to do so.'
'Oh, doctor! oh, doctor!'
'My dear friend, there is no hope.'
'Oh, Dr Thorne!' said the wife, looking wildly up into her companion's
face, though she hardly yet realized the meaning of what he said,
although her senses were half stunned by the blow.
'Dear Lady Scatcherd, is it not better that I should tell you the
'Oh, I suppose so; oh yes, oh yes; ah me! ah me! ah me!' And then she
began rocking herself backwards and forwards on her chair, with her
apron up to her eyes.
'Look to Him, Lady Scatcherd, who only can make such grief endurable.'
'Yes, yes, yes; I suppose so. Ah me! ah me! But, Dr Thorne, there
must be some chance--isn't there any chance? That man says he's going
on so well.'
'I fear there is no chance--as far as my knowledge goes there is no
'Then why does that chattering magpie tell such lies to a woman? Ah
me! ah me! oh, doctor! doctor! what shall I do? what shall I do?' and
poor Lady Scatcherd, fairly overcome by her sorrow, burst out crying
like a great school-girl.
And yet what had her husband done for her that she should thus weep for
him? Would not her life be much more blessed when this cause of all
her troubles should be removed from her? Would she not then be a free
woman instead of a slave? Might she not then expect to begin to taste
the comforts of life? What had that harsh tyrant of hers done that was
good or serviceable for her? Why should she thus weep for him in
paroxysms of truest grief?
We hear a good deal of jolly widows; and the slanderous raillery of the
world tell much of conjugal disturbances as a cure for which women will
look forward to a state of widowhood with not unwilling eyes. The
raillery of the world is very slanderous. In our daily jests we
attribute to each other vices of which neither we, nor our neighbours,
nor our friends, nor even our enemies are ever guilty. It is our
favourite parlance to talk of the family troubles of Mrs Green on our
right, and to tell now Mrs Young on our left is strongly suspected of
having raised her hand to her lord and master. What right have we to
make these charges? What have we seen in our own personal walks
through life to make us believe that women are devils? There may
possibly have been Xantippe here and there, but Imogenes are to be
found in every bush. Lady Scatcherd, in spite of the life she had led,
was one of them.
'You should send a message up to London for Louis,' said the doctor.
'We did that, doctor; we did that to-day--we sent up a telegraph. Oh
me! oh me! poor boy, what will he do? I shall never know what to do
with him, never! never!' And with such sorrowful wailings she sat
rocking herself through the long night, every now and then comforting
herself by the performance of some menial service in the sick man's
Sir Roger passed the night much as he had passed the day, except that
he appeared gradually to be growing nearer to a state of
consciousness. On the following morning they succeeded at last in
making Mr Rerechild understand that they were not desirous of keeping
him longer from his Barchester practice; and at about twelve o'clock Dr
Thorne also went, promising that he would return in the evening, and
again pass the night at Boxall Hill.
In the course of the afternoon Sir Roger once more awoke to his senses,
and when he did so his son was standing at his bedside. Louis Philippe
Scatcherd--or as it may be more convenient to call him, Louis--was a
young man just of the age of Frank Gresham. But there could hardly be
two youths more different in their appearance. Louis, though his
father and mother were both robust persons, was short and slight, and
now of a sickly frame. Frank was a picture of health and strength;
but, though manly in disposition, was by no means precocious either in
appearance or manners. Louis Scatcherd looked as though he was four
years the other's senior. He had been sent to Eton when he was
fifteen, his father being under the impression that this was the most
ready and best-recognized method of making him a gentleman. Here he
did not altogether fail as regarded the coveted object of his becoming
the companion of gentlemen. He had more pocket-money than any other
lad in the school, and was possessed of a certain effrontery which
carried him ahead among boys of his own age. He gained, therefore, a
degree of eclat, even among those who knew, and very frequently said
to each other, that young Scatcherd was not fit to be their companion
except on such open occasions as those of cricket-matches and
boat-races. Boys, in this respect, are at least as exclusive as men,
and understand as well the difference between an inner and outer circle.
Scatcherd had many companions at school who were glad enough to go up
to Maidenhead with him in his boat; but there was not one among them
who would have talked to him of his sister.
Sir Roger was vastly proud of his son's success, and did his best to
stimulate it by lavish expenditure at the Christopher, whenever he
could manage to run down to Eton. But this practice, though
sufficiently unexceptionable to the boys, was not held in equal delight
by the masters. To tell the truth, neither Sir Roger nor his son were
favourites with these stern custodians. At last it was felt necessary
to get rid of them both; and Louis was not long in giving them an
opportunity, by getting tipsy twice in one week. On the second
occasion he was sent away, and he and Sir Roger, though long talked of,
were seen no more at Eton.
But the universities were still open to Louis Philippe, and before he
was eighteen he was entered as a gentleman-commoner at Trinity. As he
was, moreover, the eldest son of a baronet, and had almost unlimited
command of money, here also he was enabled for a while to shine.
To shine! but very fitfully; and one may say almost with a ghastly
glare. The very lads who had eaten his father's dinners at Eton, and
shared his four-oar at Eton, knew much better than to associate with
him at Cambridge now that they had put on the toga virilis. They were
still as prone as ever to fun, frolic, and devilry--perhaps more so than
ever, seeing that more was in their power; but they acquired an idea
that it behoved them to be somewhat circumspect as to the men with whom
their pranks were perpetrated. So, in those days, Louis Scatcherd was
coldly looked on by his whilom Eton friends.
But young Scatcherd did not fail to find companions at Cambridge also.
There are few places indeed in which a rich man cannot buy
companionship. But the set with whom he lived, were the worst of the
place. They were fast, slang men, who were fast and slang, and nothing
else--men who imitated grooms in more than their dress, and who looked
on the customary heroes of race-courses as the highest lords of the
ascendant upon earth. Among those at college young Scatcherd did shine
as long as such lustre was permitted him. Here, indeed, his father, who
had striven only to encourage him at Eton, did strive somewhat to
control him. But that was not now easy. If he limited his son's
allowance, he only drove him to do his debauchery on credit. There
were plenty to lend money to the son of a great millionaire; and so,
after eighteen months' trial of a university education, Sir Roger had
no alternative but to withdraw his son from his alma mater.
What was he to do with him? Unluckily it was considered quite
unnecessary to take any steps towards enabling him to earn his bread.
Now nothing on earth can be more difficult than bringing up well a
young man who has not to earn his own bread, and who has no recognized
station among other men similarly circumstanced. Juvenile dukes, and
sprouting earls, find their duties and their places as easily as embryo
clergymen and sucking barristers. Provision is made for their peculiar
positions: and, though they may possibly go astray, they have a fair
chance given to them of running within the posts. The same may be said
of such youths as Frank Gresham. There are enough of them in the
community to have made it necessary that their well-being should be a
matter of care and forethought. But there are but few men turned out
in the world in the position of Louis Scatcherd; and, of those few, but
very few enter the real battle of life under good auspices.
Poor Sir Roger though he had hardly time with all his multitudinous
railways to look into this thoroughly, had a glimmering of it. When he
saw his son's pale face, and paid his wine bills, and heard of his
doings in horse-flesh, he did know that things were not going well; he
did understand that the heir to a baronetcy and a fortune of some ten
thousand a year might be doing better. But what was he to do? he
could not watch over his boy himself; so he took a tutor for him and