Part 7 out of 12
sent him abroad.
Louis and the tutor got as far as Berlin, with what mutual satisfaction
to each other need not be specially described. But from Berlin Sir
Roger received a letter in which the tutor declined to go any further
in the task which he had undertaken. He found that he had no influence
over his pupil, and he could not reconcile it to his conscience to be
the spectator of such a life as that which Mr Scatcherd led. He had no
power in inducing Mr Scatcherd to leave Berlin; but he would remain
there himself till he should hear from Sir Roger. So Sir Roger had to
leave the huge Government works which he was then erecting on the
southern coast, and hurry off to Berlin to see what could be done with
The young Hopeful was by no means a fool; and in some matters was more
than a match for his father. Sir Roger, in his anger, threatened to
cast him off without a shilling. Louis, with mixed penitence and
effrontery, reminded him that he could not change the descent of the
title; promised amendment; declared that he had done only as do other
young men of fortune; and hinted that the tutor was a strait-laced
ass. The father and the son returned together to Boxall Hill, and
three months afterwards Mr Scatcherd set up for himself in London.
And now his life, if not more virtuous, was more crafty than it had
been. He had no tutor to watch his doings and complain of them, and he
had sufficient sense to keep himself from absolute pecuniary ruin. He
lived, it is true, where sharpers and blacklegs had too often
opportunities of plucking him; but, young as he was, he had been
sufficiently long about the world to take care he was not openly
robbed; and as he was not openly robbed, his father, in a certain
sense, was proud of him.
Tidings, however, came--came at least in those last days--which cut Sir
Roger to the quick; tidings of vice in the son which the father could
not but attribute to his own example. Twice his mother was called up
to the sick-bed of her only child, while he lay raving in that horrid
madness by which the outraged mind avenges itself on the body! Twice
he was found raging in delirium tremens, and twice the father was told
that a continuance of such life must end in early death.
It may easily be conceived that Sir Roger was not a happy man. Lying
there with that brandy bottle beneath his pillow, reflecting in his
moments of rest that that son of his had his brandy bottle beneath his
pillow, he could hardly have been happy. But he was not a man to say
much about his misery. Though he could restrain neither himself nor
his heir, he could endure in silence; and in silence he did endure,
till, opening his eyes to the consciousness of death, he at last spoke
a few words to the only friend he knew.
Louis Scatcherd was not a fool, nor was he naturally, perhaps, of a
depraved disposition; but he had to reap the fruits of the worst
education which England was able to give him. There were moments in
his life when he felt that a better, a higher, nay, a much happier
career was open to him than that which he had prepared himself to
lead. Now and then, he would reflect what money and rank might have
done for him; he would look with wishful eyes to the proud doings of
others of his age; would dream of quiet joys, of a sweet wife, a house
to which might be asked friends who were neither jockeys nor drunkards;
he would dream of such things in his short intervals of constrained
sobriety; but the dream would only serve to make him moody.
This was the best side of his character; the worst, probably, was that
which was brought into play by the fact that he was not a fool. He
would have a better chance of redemption in this world--perhaps also in
another--had he been a fool. As it was, he was no fool: he was not to
be done, not he; he knew, no one better, the value of a shilling; he
knew, also, how to keep his shillings, and how to spend them. He
consorted much with blacklegs and such-like because blacklegs were to
his taste. But he boasted daily, nay, hourly to himself, and
frequently to those around him, that the leeches who were stuck round
him could draw but little blood from him. He could spend his money
freely; but he would so spend it that he himself might reap the
gratification of the expenditure. He was acute, crafty, knowing, and
up to every damnable dodge practised by men of the class with whom he
lived. At one-and-twenty he was that most odious of all odious
characters--a close-fisted reprobate.
He was a small man, not ill-made by Nature, but reduced to unnatural
tenuity by dissipation--a corporeal attribute of which he was apt to
boast, as it enabled him, as he said, to put himself up at 7st 7lb
without any 'd---- nonsense of not eating and drinking'. The power,
however, was one of which he did not often avail himself, as his nerves
were seldom in a fit state for riding. His hair was dark red, and he
wore red moustaches, and a great deal of red beard beneath his chin,
cut in a manner to make him look like an American. His voice also had
a Yankee twang, being a cross between that of an American trader and an
English groom; and his eyes were keen and fixed, and cold and knowing.
Such was the son whom Sir Roger saw standing at his bedside when first
he awoke to his consciousness. It must not be supposed that Sir Roger
looked at him with our eyes. To him he was an only child, the heir of
his wealth, the future bearer of his title; the most heart-stirring
remembrancer of those days, when he had been so much a poorer, and so
much a happier man. Let that boy be bad or good, he was all Sir Roger
had; and the father was still able to hope, when others thought that
all ground for hope was gone.
The mother also loved her son with a mother's natural love; but Louis
had ever been ashamed of his mother, and had, as far as possible,
estranged himself from her. Her heart, perhaps, fixed itself almost
with almost a warmer love on Frank Gresham, her foster-son. Frank she
saw but seldom, but when she did see him he never refused her embrace.
There was, too, a joyous, genial lustre about Frank's face which always
endeared him to women, and made his former nurse regard him as the pet
creation of the age. Though she but seldom interfered with any
monetary arrangement of her husband's, yet once or twice she had
ventured to hint that a legacy left to the young squire would make her
a happy woman. Sir Roger, however, on these occasions had not appeared
very desirous of making his wife happy.
'Ah, Louis! is that you?' ejaculated Sir Roger, in tones hardly more
than half-formed: afterwards in a day or two that is, he fully
recovered his voice; but just then he could hardly open his jaws, and
spoke almost through his teeth. He managed, however, to put out his
hand and lay it on the counterpane, so that his son could take it.
'Why, that's well, governor,' said the son; 'you'll be as right as a
trivet in a day or two--eh, governor?'
The 'governor' smiled with a ghastly smile. He already pretty well
knew that he would never again be 'right' as his son called it, on that
side of the grave. It did not, moreover, suit him to say much just at
that moment, so he contented himself with holding his son's hand. He
lay still in this position for a moment, and then, turning round
painfully on his side, endeavoured to put his hand to the place where
his dire enemy usually was concealed. Sir Roger, however, was too weak
now to be his own master; he was at length, though too late, a captive
in the hands of nurses and doctors, and the bottle had now been
Then Lady Scatcherd came in, and seeing that her husband was not longer
unconscious, she could not but believe that Dr Thorne had been wrong;
she could not but think that there must be some ground for hope. She
threw herself on her knees at the bedside bursting into tears as she
did so, and taking Sir Roger's hand in hers and covered it with kisses.
'Bother!' said Sir Roger.
She did not, however, long occupy herself with the indulgence of her
feelings; but going speedily to work, produced such sustenance as the
doctors had ordered to be given when the patient might awake. A
breakfast-cup was brought to him, and a few drops were put into his
mouth; but he soon made it manifest that he would take nothing more of
a description so perfectly innocent.
'A drop of brandy--just a little drop,' said he, half-ordering,
'Ah, Roger,' said Lady Scatcherd.
'Just a little drop, Louis,' said the sick man, appealing to his son.
'A little will be good for him; bring the bottle, mother,' said the
After some altercation the brandy bottle was brought, and Louis, with
what he thought a very sparing hand, proceeded to pour about half a
wine--glass into the cup. As he did so, Sir Roger, weak as he was,
contrived to shake his son's arm, so as greatly to increase the dose.
'Ha! ha! ha!' laughed the sick man, and then greedily swallowed the
SIR ROGER DIES
That night the doctor stayed at Boxall Hill, and the next night; so
that it became a customary thing for him to sleep there during the
latter part of Sir Roger's illness. He returned home to Greshamsbury;
for he had his patients there, to whom he was as necessary as to Sir
Roger, the foremost of whom was Lady Arabella. He had, therefore, no
slight work on his hands, seeing that his nights were by no means
wholly devoted to rest.
Mr Rerechild had not been much wrong as to the remaining space of life
which he had allotted to the dying man. Once or twice Dr Thorne had
thought that the great original strength of his patient would have
enabled him to fight against death for a somewhat longer period; but
Sir Roger would give himself no chance. Whenever he was strong enough
to have a will of his own, he insisted on having his very medicine
mixed with brandy; and in the hours of the doctor's absence, he was too
often successful in his attempts.
'It does not much matter,' Dr Thorne had said to Lady Scatcherd. 'Do
what you can to keep down the quantity, but do not irritate him by
refusing to obey. It does not much signify now.' So Lady Scatcherd
still administered the alcohol, and he from day to day invented little
schemes for increasing the amount, over which he chuckled with ghastly
Two or three times these days Sir Roger essayed to speak seriously to
his son; but Louis always frustrated him. He either got out of the
room on some excuse, or made his mother interfere on the score that so
much talking would be bad for his father. He already knew with
tolerable accuracy what was the purport of his father's will, and by no
means approved of it; but as he could not now hope to induce his father
to alter it so as to make it more favourable to himself, he conceived
that no conversation on matters of business could be of use to him.
'Louis,' said Sir Roger, one afternoon to his son; 'Louis, I have not
done by you as I ought to have done--I know that now.'
'Nonsense, governor; never mind about it now; I shall do well enough I
dare say. Besides, it isn't too late; you can make it twenty-three
years instead of twenty-five.'
'I do not mean as to money, Louis. There are things besides money
which a father ought to look to.'
'Now, father, don't fret yourself--I'm all right; you may be sure of
'Louis, it's that accursed brandy--it's that that I'm afraid of: you see
me here, my boy, I'm lying here now.'
'Don't you be annoying yourself, governor; I'm all right--quite right;
and as for you, why, you'll be up and about yourself in another month
'I shall never be off this bed, my boy, till I'm carried into my
coffin, on those chairs there. But I'm not thinking of myself, Louis,
but you; think what you may have before you if you can't avoid that
'I'm all right, governor; right as a trivet. It's very little I take,
except at an odd time or two.'
'Oh, Louis! Louis!'
'Come, father, cheer up; this sort of thing isn't the thing for you at
all. I wonder where mother is: she ought to be here with the broth;
just let me go, and I'll see for her.'
The father understood it all. He saw that it was now much beyond his
faded powers to touch the heart or conscience of such a youth as his
son had become. What now could he do for his boy except die? What
else, what other benefit, did his son require of him but to die; to die
so that his means of dissipation might be unbounded? He let go the
unresisting hand which he held, and, as the young man crept out of the
room, he turned his face to the wall. He turned his face to the wall,
and held bitter commune with his own heart. To what had he brought
himself? To what had he brought his son? Oh, how happy would it have
been for him could he have remained all his days a working stone-mason
in Barchester! How happy could he have died as such, years ago! Such
tears as those which wet the pillow are the bitterest which human eyes
But while they were dropping, the memoir of his life was in quick
course of preparation. It was, indeed, nearly completed, with
considerable detail. He had lingered on four days longer than might
have been expected, and the author had thus had more than usual time
for the work. In these days a man is nobody unless his biography is
kept so far posted up that it may be ready for the national
breakfast-table on the morning after his demise. When it chances that
the dead hero is one who is taken in his prime of life, of whose
departure from among us the most far-seeing, biographical scribe can
have no prophetic inkling, this must be difficult. Of great men, full
of years, who are ripe of the sickle, who in the course of Nature must
soon fall, it is of course comparatively easy for an active compiler to
have his complete memoir ready in his desk. But in order that the idea
of omnipresent and omniscient information may be kept up, the young
must be chronicled as quickly as the old. In some cases this task
must, one would say, be difficult. Nevertheless it is done.
The memoir of Sir Roger Scatcherd was progressing favourably. In this
it was told how fortunate had been his life; now, in his case, industry
and genius combined had triumphed over the difficulties which humble
birth and deficient education had thrown in his way; how he had made a
name among England's great men; how the Queen had delighted to honour
him, and nobles had been proud to have him as a guest at their
mansions. Then followed a list of all the great works which he had
achieved, of the railroads, canals, docks, harbours, jails, and
hospitals which he had constructed. His name was held up as an example
to the labouring classes of his countrymen, and he was pointed at as
one who had lived and died happy--ever happy, said the biographer,
because ever industrious. And so a great moral question was
inculcated. A short paragraph was devoted to his appearance in
Parliament; and unfortunate Mr Romer was again held up for disgrace,
for the thirtieth time, as having been the means of depriving our
legislative councils of the great assistance of Sir Roger's experience.
'Sir Roger,' said the biographer in his concluding passage, 'was
possessed of an iron frame; but even iron will yield to the repeated
blows of the hammer. In the latter years of his life he was known to
overtask himself; and at length the body gave way, though the mind
remained firm to the last. The subject of this memoir was only
fifty-nine when he was taken from us.'
And thus Sir Roger's life was written, while the tears were yet falling
on his pillow at Boxall Hill. It was a pity that a proof-sheet could
not have been sent to him. No man was vainer of his reputation, and it
would have greatly gratified him to know that posterity was about to
speak of him in such terms--to speak of him with a voice that would be
audible for twenty-four hours.
Sir Roger made no further attempt to give counsel to his son. It was
too evidently useless. The old dying lion felt that the lion's power
had already passed from him, and that he was helpless in the hands of
the young cub who was so soon to inherit the wealth of the forest. But
Dr Thorne was more kind to him. He had something yet to say as to his
worldly hopes and worldly cares; and his old friend did not turn a deaf
ear to him.
It was during the night that Sir Roger was most anxious to talk, and
most capable of talking. He would lie through the day in a state
half-comatose; but towards evening would rouse himself, and by midnight
he would be full of fitful energy. One night, as he lay wakeful and
full of thought, he thus poured forth his whole heart to Dr Thorne.
'Thorne,' said he, 'I told you about my will, you know.'
'Yes,' said the other; 'and I have blamed myself greatly that I have
not again urged you to alter it. Your illness came too suddenly,
Scatcherd; and then I was averse to speak of it.'
'Why should I alter it? It is a good will; as good as I can make. Not
but that I have altered it since I spoke to you. I did it that day
after you left me.'
'Have you definitely named your heir in default of Louis?'
'No--that is--yes--I had done that before; I have said Mary's eldest
child: I have not altered that.'
'But, Scatcherd, you must alter it.'
'Must! well then, I won't; but I'll tell you what I have done. I have
added a postscript--a codicil they call it--saying that you, and you
only, know who is her eldest child. Winterbones and Jack Martin have
Dr Thorne was going to explain how very injudicious such an arrangement
appeared to be; but Sir Roger would not listen to him. It was not
about that that he wished to speak to him. To him it was a matter of
but minor interest who might inherit his money if his son should die
early; his care was solely for his son's welfare. At twenty-five the
heir might make his own will--might bequeath all this wealth according
to his own fancy. Sir Roger would not bring himself to believe that his
son could follow him to the grave in so short a time.
'Never mind that, doctor, now; but about Louis; you will be his
guardian, you know.'
'Not his guardian. He is more than of age.'
'Ah! but doctor, you will be his guardian. The property will not be
his till he be twenty-five. You will not desert him?'
'I will not desert him; but I doubt whether I can do much for him--what
can I do, Scatcherd?'
'Use the power that a strong man has over a weak one. Use the power
that my will will give you. Do for him as you would for a son of your
own if you saw him going in bad courses. Do as a friend should do for
a friend that is dead and gone. I would do so for you, doctor, if our
places were changed.'
'What can I do, that I will do,' said Thorne, solemnly, taking as he
spoke the contractor's own in his own with a tight grasp.
'I know you will; I know you will. Oh! doctor, may you never feel as
I do now! May you on your death-bed have no dread as I have, as to the
fate of those you will leave behind you!'
Doctor Thorne felt that he could not say much in answer to this. The
future fate of Louis Scatcherd was, he could not but own to himself,
greatly to be dreaded. What good, what happiness, could be presaged
for such a one as he was? What comfort could he offer to the father?
And then he was called on to compare, as it were, the prospects of this
unfortunate with those of his own darling; to contrast all that was
murky, foul, and disheartening, with all that was perfect--for to him
she was all but perfect; to liken Louis Scatcherd to the angel who
brightened his own hearthstone. How could he answer to such an appeal?
He said nothing; but merely tightened his grasp of the other's hand, to
signify that he would do, as best he could, all that was asked of him.
Sir Roger looked up sadly into the doctor's face, as though expecting
some word of consolation. There was no comfort, no consolation.
'For three or four years, he must greatly depend on you,' continued Sir
'I will do what I can,' said the doctor. 'What I can do I will do. But
he is not a child, Scatcherd: at his age he must stand or fall mainly
by his own conduct. The best thing for him will be to marry.'
'Exactly; that's just it, Thorne: I was coming to that. If he would
marry, I think he would do well yet, for all that has come and gone. If
he married, of course you would let him have the command of his own
'I will be governed entirely by your wishes: under any circumstances
his income will, as I understand, be quite sufficient for him, married
'Ah!--but, Thorne, I should like to think he should shine with the best
of them. For what I have made the money for if not for that? Now if
he marries--decently, that is--some woman you know that can assist him in
the world, let him have what he wants. It is not to save the money
that I have put it into your hands.'
'No, Scatcherd; not to save the money, but to save him. I think that
while you are yet with him you should advise him to marry.'
'He does not care a straw for what I advise, not one straw. Why should
he? How can I tell him to be sober when I have been a beast all my
life? How can I advise him? That's where it is! It is that that now
kills me. Advise! Why, when I speak to him he treats me like a
'He fears that you are too weak, you know: he thinks that you should
not be allowed to talk.'
'Nonsense! he knows better; you know better. Too weak! what
signifies? Would I not give all that I have of strength at one blow if
I could open his eyes to see as I see but for one minute?' And the
sick man raised himself in his bed as though he were actually going to
expend all that remained to him of vigour in the energy of the moment.
'Gently, Scatcherd; gently. He will listen to you yet; but do not be
'Thorne, you see that bottle there? Give me half a glass of brandy.'
The doctor turned round in his chair; but he hesitated in doing as he
'Do as I ask you, doctor. It can do no harm now; you know that well
enough. Why torture me now?'
'No, I will not torture you; but you will have water with it?'
'Water! No; the brandy by itself. I tell you I cannot speak without
it. What's the use of canting now? You know it can make no
Sir Roger was right. It could make no difference; and Dr Thorne gave
him the half glass of brandy.
'Ah, well; you've a stingy hand, doctor; confounded stingy. You don't
measure your medicines out in such light doses.'
'You will be wanting more before morning, you know.'
'Before morning! indeed I shall; a pint or two before that. I remember
the time, doctor, when I have drunk to my own cheek above two quarts
between dinner and breakfast! aye, and worked all day after it!'
'You have been a wonderful man, Scatcherd, very wonderful.'
'Aye, wonderful! well, never mind. It's over now. But what was I
saying?--about Louis, doctor; you'll not desert him?'
'He's not strong; I know that. How should he be strong, living as he
has done? Not that it seemed to hurt me when I was his age.'
'You had the advantage of hard work.'
'That's it. Sometimes I wish that Louis had not a shilling in the
world; that he had to trudge about with an apron round his waist as I
did. But it's too late now to think of that. If he would marry,
Dr Thorne again expressed an opinion that no step would be so likely to
reform the habits of the young heir as marriage; and repeated his
advice to the father to implore his son to take a wife.
'I'll tell you what, Thorne,' said he. And then, after a pause, he
went on. 'I have not half told you as yet what is on my mind; and I'm
nearly afraid to tell it; though, indeed, I don't know what I should
'I never knew you afraid of anything yet,' said the doctor, smiling
'Well, then, I'll not end by turning coward. Now, doctor, tell the
truth to me; what do you expect me to do for that girl of yours that we
were talking of--Mary's child?'
There was a pause for a moment, for Thorne was slow to answer him.
'You would not let me see her, you know, though she is my niece as
truly as yours.'
'Nothing,' at last said the doctor, slowly. 'I expect nothing. I would
not let you see her, and therefore, I expect nothing.'
'She will have it all if poor Louis should die,' said Sir Roger.
'If you intend it so you should put her name into the will,' said the
other. 'Not that I ask you or wish you to do so. Mary, thank God, can
do without wealth.'
'Thorne, on one condition I will put her name into it. I will alter it
on one condition. Let the two cousins be man and wife--let Louis marry
poor Mary's child.'
The proposition for a moment took away the doctor's breath, and he was
unable to answer. Not for all the wealth of India would he have given
up his lamb to that young wolf, even though he had had the power to do
so. But that lamb--lamb though she was--had, as he well knew, a will of
her own on such a matter. What alliance could be more impossible,
thought he to himself, than one between Mary Thorne and Louis
'I will alter it all if you will give me your hand upon it that you
will do your best to bring about this marriage. Everything shall be
his on the day he marries her; and should he die unmarried, it shall
all then be hers by name. Say the word, Thorne, and she shall come
here at once. I shall yet have time to see her.'
But Dr Thorne did not say the word; just at the moment he said nothing,
but he slowly shook his head.
'Why not, Thorne?'
'My friend, it is impossible.'
'Her hand is not mine to dispose of, nor is her heart.'
'Then let her come over herself.'
'What! Scatcherd, that the son might make love to her while the father
is so dangerously ill! Bid her come to look for a rich husband! That
would not be seemly, would it?'
'No; not for that: let her come merely that I may see her; that we may
all know her. I will leave the matter then in your hands if you will
promise me to do your best.'
'But, my friend, in this matter I cannot do my best. I can do
nothing. And, indeed, I may say at once, that it is altogether out of
the question. I know--'
'What do you know?' said the baronet, turning on him almost angrily.
'What can you know to make you say that it is impossible? Is she a
pearl of such price that a man may not win her?'
'She is a pearl of great price.'
'Believe me, doctor, money goes far in winning such pearls.'
'Perhaps so; I know little about it. But this I do know, that money
will not win her. Let us talk of something else; believe me, it is
useless for us to think of this.'
'Yes; if you set your face against it obstinately. You must think very
poorly of Louis if you suppose that no girl can fancy him.'
'I have not said so, Scatcherd.'
'To have the spending of ten thousand a year, and be a baronet's lady!
Why, doctor, what is it you expect for this girl?'
'Not much, indeed; not much. A quiet heart and a quiet home; not much
'Thorne, if you will be ruled by me in this, she shall be the most
topping woman in this county.'
'My friend, my friend, why thus grieve me? Why should you thus harass
yourself? I tell you it is impossible. They have never seen each
other; they have nothing, and can have nothing in common; their tastes,
and wishes, and pursuits are different. Besides, Scatcherd, marriages
never answer that are so made; believe me, it is impossible.'
The contractor threw himself back on his bed, and lay for some ten
minutes perfectly quiet; so much so that the doctor began to think that
he was sleeping. So thinking, and wearied by the watching, Dr Thorne
was beginning to creep quietly from the room, when his companion again
roused himself, almost with vehemence.
'You won't do this thing for me, then?' said he.
'Do it! It is not for you or me to do such things as that. Such
things must be left to those concerned themselves.'
'You will not even help me?'
'Not in this thing, Sir Roger.'
'Then by ----, she shall not under any circumstances ever have a
shilling of mine. Give me some of that stuff there,' and he again
pointed to the brandy bottle which stood ever within his sight.'
The doctor poured out and handed to him another small modicum of
'Nonsense, man; fill the glass. I'll stand no nonsense now. I'll be
master of my own house to the last. Give it here, I tell you. Ten
thousand devils are tearing me within. You--you could have comforted
me; but you would not. Fill the glass I tell you.'
'I should be killing you were I to do it.'
'Killing me! killing me! you are always talking of killing me. Do
you suppose that I am afraid to die? Do not I know how soon it is
coming? Give me the brandy, I say, or I will be out across the room to
'No, Scatcherd. I cannot give it to you; not while I am here. Do you
remember how you were engaged this morning?'--he had that morning taken
the sacrament from the parish clergyman--'you would not wish to make me
guilty of murder, would you?'
'Nonsense! You are talking nonsense; habit is second nature. I tell
you I shall sink without it. Why, you know, I always get it directly
your back is turned. Come, I will not be bullied in my own house; give
me that bottle, I say!'--and Sir Roger essayed, vainly enough, to raise
himself from the bed.
'Stop, Scatcherd; I will give it to you--I will help you. It may be
that habit is second nature.' Sir Roger in his determined energy had
swallowed, without thinking of it, the small quantity which the doctor
had before poured out for him, and still held the empty glass within
his hand. This the doctor now took and filled nearly to the brim.
'Come, Thorne, a bumper; a bumper for this once. "Whatever the drink,
it a bumper must be." You stingy fellow! I would not treat you so.
'It's about as full as you can hold it, Scatcherd.'
'Try me; try me! my hand is a rock; at least at holding liquor.' And
then he drained the contents of the glass, which were in sufficient
quantity to have taken away the breath of any ordinary man.
'Ah, I'm better now. But, Thorne, I do love a full glass, ha! ha! ha!'
There was something frightful, almost sickening, in the peculiar hoarse
guttural tone of his voice. The sounds came from him as though steeped
in brandy, and told, all too plainly, the havoc which the alcohol had
made. There was a fire too about his eyes which contrasted with his
sunken cheeks: his hanging jaw, unshorn beard, and haggard face were
terrible to look at. His hands and arms were hot and clammy, but so
thin and wasted! Of his lower limbs the lost use had not returned to
him, so that in all his efforts at vehemence he was controlled by his
own want of vitality. When he supported himself, half-sitting against
the pillows, he was in a continual tremor; and yet, as he boasted, he
could still lift his glass steadily to his mouth. Such now was the
hero of whom that ready compiler of memoirs had just finished his
correct and succinct account.
After he had had his brandy, he sat glaring a while at vacancy, as though
he was dead to all around him, and was thinking--thinking--thinking of
things in the infinite distance of the past.
'Shall I go now,' said the doctor, 'and send Lady Scatcherd to you?'
'Wait a while, doctor; just one minute longer. So you will do nothing
for Louis, then?'
'I will do everything for him that I can do.'
'Ah, yes! everything but the one thing that will save him. Well, I
will not ask you again. But remember, Thorne, I shall alter my will
'Do so, by all means; you may well alter it for the better. If I may
advise you, you will have down your own business attorney from London.
If you will let me send he will be here before to-morrow night.'
'Thank you for nothing, Thorne: I can manage that matter myself. Now
leave me; but remember, you have ruined that girl's fortune.'
The doctor did leave him, and went not altogether happy to his room. He
could not but confess to himself that he had, despite himself as it
were, fed himself with hope that Mary's future might be made more
secure, aye, and brighter too, by some small unheeded fraction broken
off from the huge mass of her uncle's wealth. Such hope, if it had
amounted to hope, was now all gone. But this was not all, nor was this
the worst of it. That he had done right in utterly repudiating all
idea of a marriage between Mary and her cousin--of that he was certain
enough; that no earthly consideration would have induced Mary to plight
her troth to such a man--that, with him, was as certain as doom. But
how far had he done right in keeping her from the sight of her uncle?
How could he justify it to himself if he had thus robbed her of her
inheritance, seeing that he had done so from a selfish fear lest she,
who was now all his own, should be known to the world as belonging to
others rather than to him? He had taken upon him on her behalf to
reject wealth as valueless; and yet he had no sooner done so than he
began to consume his hours with reflecting how great to her would be
the value of wealth. And thus, when Sir Roger told him, as he left the
room, that he had ruined Mary's fortune, he was hardly able to bear the
taunt with equanimity.
On the next morning, after paying his professional visit to his
patient, and satisfying himself that the end was now drawing near with
steps terribly quickened, he went down to Greshamsbury.
'How long is this to last, uncle?' said his niece, with sad voice, as
he again prepared to return to Boxall Hill.
'Not long, Mary; do not begrudge him a few more hours of life.'
'No, I do not, uncle. I will say nothing more about it. Is his son
with him?' And then, perversely enough, she persisted in asking
numerous questions about Louis Scatcherd.
'Is he likely to marry, uncle?'
'I hope so, my dear.'
'Will he be so very rich?'
'Yes; ultimately he will be very rich.'
'He will be a baronet, will he not?'
'Yes, my dear.'
'What is he like, uncle?'
'Like--I never know what a young man is like. He is like a man with red
'Uncle, you are the worst hand in describing I ever knew. If I'd seen
him for five minutes, I'd be bound to make a portrait of him; and you,
if you were describing a dog, you'd only say what colour his hair was.'
'Well, he's a little man.'
'Exactly, just as I should say that Mrs Umbleby had a red-haired
little dog. I wish I had known these Scatcherds, uncle. I do admire
people that can push themselves in the world. I wish I had known Sir
'You will never know him, Mary.'
'I suppose not. I am so sorry for him. Is Lady Scatcherd nice?'
'She is an excellent woman.'
'I hope I may know her some day. You are so much there now, uncle; I
wonder whether you ever mention me to them. If you do, tell her from
me how much I grieve for her.'
That same night, Dr Thorne again found himself alone with Sir Roger.
The sick man was much more tranquil, and apparently more at ease than
he had been on the preceding night. He said nothing about his will,
and not a word about Mary Thorne; but the doctor knew that Winterbones
and a notary's clerk from Barchester had been in the bedroom a great
part of the day; and, as he knew also that the great man of business
was accustomed to do his most important work by the hands of such tools
as these, he did not doubt but that the will had been altered and
remodelled. Indeed, he thought it more than probable, that when it was
opened it would be found to be wholly different in its provisions from
that which Sir Roger had already described.
'Louis is clever enough,' he said, 'sharp enough, I mean. He won't
squander the property.'
'He has good natural abilities,' said the doctor.
'Excellent, excellent,' said the father. 'He may do well, very well,
if he can only be kept from this;' and Sir Roger held up the empty
wine-glass which stood by his bedside. 'What a life he may have before
him!--and to throw it away for this!' and as he spoke he took the glass
and tossed it across the room. 'Oh, doctor! would that it were all to
'We all wish that, I dare say, Scatcherd.'
'No, you don't wish it. You ain't worth a shilling, and yet you regret
nothing. I am worth half a million in one way or another, and I regret
'You should not think that way, Scatcherd; you need not think so.
Yesterday you told Mr Clarke that you were comfortable in your mind.'
Mr Clarke was the clergyman who had visited him.
'Of course I did. What else could I say when he asked me? It wouldn't
have been civil to have told him that his time and words were all
thrown away. But, Thorne, believe me, when a man's heart is
sad--sad--sad to the core, a few words from a parson at the last moment
will never make it right.'
'May He have mercy on you, my friend!--if you will think of Him, and
look to Him, He will have mercy on you.'
'Well--I will try, doctor; but would that it were all to do again.
You'll see to the old woman for my sake, won't you?'
'What, Lady Scatcherd?'
'Lady Devil! If anything angers me now it is that "ladyship"--her to be
my lady! Why, when I came out of jail that time, the poor creature had
hardly a shoe to her foot. But it wasn't her fault, Thorne; it was
none of her doing. She never asked for such nonsense.'
'She has been an excellent wife, Scatcherd; and what is more, she is an
excellent woman. She is, and ever will be, one of my dearest friends.'
'Thank'ee, doctor, thank'ee. Yes; she has been a good wife--better for
a poor man than a rich one; but then, that was what she was born to.
You won't let her be knocked about by them, will you, Thorne?'
Dr Thorne again assured him, that as long as he lived Lady Scatcherd
should never want one true friend; in making this promise, however, he
managed to drop all allusion to the obnoxious title.
'You'll be with him as much as possible, won't you?' again asked the
baronet, after lying quite silent for a quarter of an hour.
'With whom?' said the doctor, who was then all but asleep.
'With my poor boy, Louis.'
'If he will let me, I will,' said the doctor.
'And, doctor, when you see a glass at his mouth, dash it down; thrust
it down, though you thrust out the teeth with it. When you see that,
Thorne, tell him of his father--tell him what his father might have been
but for that; tell him how his father died like a beast, because he
could not keep himself from drink.'
These, reader, were the last words spoken by Sir Roger Scatcherd. As
he uttered them he rose up in bed with the same vehemence which he had
shown on the former evening. But in the very act of doing so he was
again struck by paralysis, and before nine on the following morning all
'Oh, my man--my own, own man!' exclaimed the widow, remembering in the
paroxysm of her grief nothing but the loves of their early days; 'the
best, the brightest, the cleverest of them all!'
Some weeks after this Sir Roger was buried, with much pomp and
ceremony, within the precincts of Barchester Cathedral; and a monument
was put up to him soon after, in which he was portrayed, as smoothing a
block of granite with a mallet and chisel; while his eagle eye,
disdaining such humble work, was fixed upon some intricate mathematical
instrument above him. Could Sir Roger have seen it himself, he would
probably have declared, that no workman was ever worth his salt who
looked one way while he rowed another.
Immediately after the funeral the will was opened, and Dr Thorne
discovered that the clauses of it were exactly identical with those his
friend had described to him some months back. Nothing had been
altered; nor had the document been unfolded since that strange codicil
had been added, in which it was declared that Dr Thorne knew--and only
Dr Thorne--who was the eldest child of the testator's only sister. At
the same time, however, a joint executor with Dr Thorne had been
named--one Mr Stock, a man of railway fame--and Dr Thorne himself was
made a legatee to the humble extent of a thousand pounds. A life
income of a thousand pounds a year was left to Lady Scatcherd.
We need not follow Sir Roger to his grave, nor partake of the baked
meats which were furnished for his funeral banquet. Such men as Sir
Roger Scatcherd are always well buried, and we have already seen that
his glories were duly told to posterity in the graphic diction of his
sepulchral monument. In a few days the doctor had returned to his quiet
home, and Sir Louis found himself reigning at Boxall Hill in his
father's stead--with, however, a much diminished sway, and, as he
thought it, but a poor exchequer. We must soon return to him and say
something of his career as a baronet; but for the present, we may go
back to our more pleasant friends at Greshamsbury.
But our friends at Greshamsbury had not been making themselves
pleasant--not so pleasant to each other as circumstances would have
admitted. In those days which the doctor had felt himself bound to
pass, if not altogether at Boxall Hill, yet altogether away from his
own home, so as to admit of his being as much as possible with his
patient, Mary had been thrown more than ever with Patience Oriel, and,
also, almost more than ever with Beatrice Gresham. As regarded Mary,
she would doubtless have preferred the companionship of Patience,
though she loved Beatrice far the best; but she had no choice. When
she went to the parsonage Beatrice came there also, and when Patience
came to the doctor's house Beatrice either accompanied or followed
her. Mary could hardly have rejected their society, even had she felt
it wise to do so. She would in such case have been all alone, and her
severance from the Greshamsbury house and household, from the big
family in which she had for so many years been almost at home, would
have made such solitude almost unendurable.
And then these two girls both knew--not her secret; she had no
secret--but the little history of her ill-treatment. They knew that
though she had been blameless in this matter, yet she had been the one
to bear the punishment; and, as girls and bosom friends, they could not
but sympathize with her, and endow her with heroic attributes; make
her, in fact, as we are doing, their little heroine for the nonce. This
was, perhaps, not serviceable for Mary; but it was far from being
The tendency to finding matter for hero-worship in Mary's endurance was
much stronger with Beatrice than with Miss Oriel. Miss Oriel was the
elder, and naturally less afflicted with the sentimentation of
romance. She had thrown herself into Mary's arms because she had seen
that it was essentially necessary for Mary's comfort that she should do
so. She was anxious to make her friend smile, and to smile with her.
Beatrice was quite as true in her sympathy; but she rather wished that
she and Mary might weep in unison, shed mutual tears, and break their
Patience had spoken of Frank's love as a misfortune, of his conduct as
erroneous, and to be excused only by his youth, and had never appeared
to surmise that Mary also might be in love as well as he. But to
Beatrice the affair was a tragic difficulty, admitting of no solution;
a Gordian knot, not to be cut; a misery now and for ever. She would
always talk about Frank when she and Mary were alone; and, to speak the
truth, Mary did not stop her as she perhaps should have done.
As for a marriage between them, that was impossible; Beatrice was well
sure of that: it was Frank's unfortunate destiny that he must marry
money--money, and, as Beatrice sometimes thoughtlessly added, cutting
Mary to the quick,--money and family also. Under such circumstances a
marriage between them was quite impossible; but not the less did
Beatrice declare, that she would have loved Mary as her sister-in-law
had it been possible; and how worthy Frank was of a girl's love, had
such love been possible.
'It is so cruel,' Beatrice would say; 'so very, very, cruel.
You would have suited him in every way.'
'Nonsense, Trichy; I should have suited him in no possible way at all;
nor he me.'
'Oh, but you would--exactly. Papa loves you so well.'
'And mamma; that would have been so nice.'
'Yes; and mamma, too--that is, had you had a fortune,' said the
daughter, naively. 'She always liked you personally, always.'
'Always. And we all love you so.'
'Especially Lady Alexandrina.'
'That would not have signified, for Frank cannot endure the De Courcys
'My dear, it does not matter one straw whom your brother can endure or
not endure just at present. His character is to be formed, and his
tastes, and his heart also.'
'Oh, Mary!--his heart.'
'Yes, his heart; not the fact of his having a heart. I think he has a
heart; but he himself does not yet understand it.'
'Oh, Mary! you do not know him.'
Such conversations were not without danger to poor Mary's comfort. It
came soon to be the case that she looked rather for this sort of
sympathy from Beatrice, than for Miss Oriel's pleasant but less piquant
So the days of the doctor's absence were passed, and so also the first
week after his return. During this week it was almost daily necessary
that the squire should be with him. The doctor was now the legal
holder of Sir Roger's property, and, as such, the holder also of all
the mortgages on Mr Gresham's property; and it was natural that they
should be much together. The doctor would not, however, go up to
Greshamsbury on any other than medical business; and it therefore
became necessary that the squire should be a good deal at the doctor's
Then the Lady Arabella became unhappy in her mind. Frank, it was true,
was away at Cambridge, and had been successfully kept out of Mary's way
since the suspicion of danger had fallen upon Lady Arabella's mind.
Frank was away, and Mary was systematically banished, with due
acknowledgement from all the powers in Greshamsbury. But this was not
enough for Lady Arabella as long as her daughter still habitually
consorted with the female culprit, and as long as her husband consorted
with the male culprit. It seemed to Lady Arabella at this moment as
though, in banishing Mary from the house, she had in effect banished
herself from the most intimate of the Greshamsbury social circles. She
magnified in her own mind the importance of the conferences between the
girls, and was not without some fear that the doctor might be talking
the squire over into very dangerous compliance.
Her object was to break of all confidential intercourse between
Beatrice and Mary, and to interrupt, as far as she could do it, that
between the doctor and the squire. This, it may be said, could be more
easily done by skilful management within her own household. She had,
however, tried that and failed. She had said much to Beatrice as to
the imprudence of her friendship with Mary, and she had done this
purposely before the squire; injudiciously however--for the squire had
immediately taken Mary's part, and had declared that he had no wish to
see a quarrel between his family and that of the doctor; that Mary
Thorne was in every way a good girl, and an eligible friend for his own
child; and had ended by declaring, that he would not have Mary
persecuted for Frank's fault. This had not been the end, nor nearly
the end of what had been said on the matter at Greshamsbury; but the
end, when it came, came in this wise, that Lady Arabella determined to
say a few words to the doctor as to the expediency of forbidding
familiar intercourse between Mary and any of the Greshamsbury people.
With this view Lady Arabella absolutely bearded the lion in his den,
the doctor in his shop. She had heard that both Mary and Beatrice were
to pass a certain afternoon at the parsonage, and took that opportunity
of calling at the doctor's house. A period of many years had passed
since she had last so honoured that abode. Mary, indeed, had been so
much one of her own family that the ceremony of calling on her had
never been thought necessary; and thus, unless Mary had been absolutely
ill, there would have been nothing to bring her ladyship to the house.
All this she knew would add to the importance of the occasion, and she
judged it prudent to make the occasion as important as it might well
She was so far successful that she soon found herself tete-a-tete with
the doctor in his own study. She was no whit dismayed by the pair of
human thigh-bones which lay close to his hand, and which, when he was
talking in that den of his own, he was in the constant habit of
handling with much energy; nor was she frightened out of her propriety
even by the little child's skull which grinned at her from off the
'Doctor,' she said, as soon as the first complimentary greetings were
over, speaking in her kindest and most would-be-confidential tone.
'Doctor, I am still uneasy about that boy of mine, and I have thought
it best to come and see you at once, and tell you freely what I think.'
The doctor bowed, and said that he was very sorry that she should have
any cause for uneasiness about his young friend Frank.
'Indeed, I am very uneasy, doctor; and having, as I do have, such
reliance on your prudence, and such perfect confidence in your
friendship, I have thought it best to come and speak to you openly:'
thereupon the Lady Arabella paused, and the doctor bowed again.
'Nobody knows so well as you do the dreadful state of the squire's
'Not so dreadful; not so very dreadful,' said the doctor, mildly: 'that
is, as far as I know.'
'Yes they are, doctor; very dreadful; very dreadful indeed. You know
how much he owes to this young man: I do not, for the squire never
tells anything to me; but I know that it is a very large sum of money;
enough to swamp the estate and ruin Frank. Now I call that very
'No, not ruin him, Lady Arabella; not ruin him, I hope.'
'However, I did not come to talk to you about that. As I said before,
I know nothing of the squire's affairs, and, as a matter of course, I
do not ask you to tell me. But I am sure you will agree with me in
this that, as a mother, I cannot but be interested about my only son,'
and Lady Arabella put her cambric handkerchief to her eyes.
'Of course you are; of course you are,' said the doctor; 'and, Lady
Arabella, my opinion of Frank is such, that I feel sure that he will do
well;' and, in his energy, Dr Thorne brandished one of the thigh-bones
almost in the lady's face.
'I hope he will; I am sure I hope he will. But, doctor, he has such
dangers to contend with; he is so warm and impulsive that I fear his
heart will bring him into trouble. Now, you know, unless Frank marries
money he is lost.'
The doctor made no answer to this last appeal, but as he sat and
listened a slight frown came across his brow.
'He must marry money, doctor. Now we have, you see, with your
assistance, contrived to separate him from dear Mary--'
'With my assistance, Lady Arabella! I have given no assistance, nor
have I meddled in the matter; nor will I.'
'Well, doctor, perhaps not meddled; but you agreed with me, you know,
that the two young people had been imprudent.'
'I agreed to no such thing, Lady Arabella; never, never. I not only
never agreed that Mary had been imprudent, but I will not agree to it
now, and will not allow any one to assert it in my presence without
contradicting it:' and then the doctor worked away at the thigh-bones
in a manner that did rather alarm her ladyship.
'At any rate, you thought that the young people had better be kept
'No; neither did I think that: my niece, I felt sure, was safe from
danger. I knew that she would do nothing that would bring either her
or me to shame.'
'Not to shame,' said the lady apologetically, as it were, using the
word perhaps not exactly in the doctor's sense.
'I felt no alarm for her,' continued the doctor, 'and desired no
change. Frank is your son, and it is for you to look to him. You
thought proper to do so by desiring Mary to absent herself from
'Oh, no, no, no!' said Lady Arabella.
'But you did, Lady Arabella; and as Greshamsbury is your home, neither
I nor my niece had any ground of complaint. We acquiesced, not without
much suffering, but we did acquiesce; and you, I think, can have no
ground of complaint against me.'
Lady Arabella had hardly expected that the doctor would reply to her
mild and conciliatory exordium with so much sternness. He had yielded
so easily to her on the former occasion. She did not comprehend that
when she uttered her sentence of exile against Mary, she had given an
order which she had the power of enforcing; but that obedience to that
order had now placed Mary altogether beyond her jurisdiction. She was,
therefore, a little surprised, and for a few moments overawed by the
doctor's manner; but she soon recovered herself, remembering,
doubtless, that fortune favours none but the brave.
'I make no complaint, Dr Thorne,' she said, after assuming a tone more
befitting a De Courcy than that hitherto used, 'I make no complaint
either as regards you or Mary.'
'You are very kind, Lady Arabella.'
'But I think that it is my duty to put a stop, a peremptory stop to
anything like a love affair between my son and your niece.'
'I have not the least objection in life. If there is such a love
affair, put a stop to it--that is, if you have the power.'
Here the doctor was doubtless imprudent. But he had begun to think
that he had yielded sufficiently to the lady; and he had begun to
resolve, also, that though it would not become him to encourage even
the idea of such a marriage, he would make Lady Arabella understand
that he thought his niece quite good enough for her son, and that the
match, if regarded as imprudent, was to be regarded as equally
imprudent on both sides. He would not suffer that Mary and her heart
and feelings and interest should be altogether postponed to those of
the young heir; and, perhaps, he was unconsciously encouraged in this
determination by the reflection that Mary herself might perhaps become
a young heiress.
'It is my duty,' said Lady Arabella, repeating her words with even a
stronger De Courcy intonation; 'and your duty also, Dr Thorne.'
'My duty!' said he, rising from his chair and leaning on the table with
the two thigh-bones. 'Lady Arabella, pray understand at once, that I
repudiate any such duty, and will have nothing whatever to do with it.'
'But you do not mean to say that you will encourage this unfortunate
boy to marry your niece?'
'The unfortunate boy, Lady Arabella--whom, by the by, I regard as a very
fortunate young man--is your son, not mine. I shall take no steps about
his marriage, either one way or the other.'
'You think it right, then, that your niece should throw herself in his
'Throw herself in his way! What would you say if I came up to
Greshamsbury, and spoke of your daughters in such language? What would
my dear friend, Mr Gresham say, if some neighbour's wife should come
and so speak to him? I will tell you what he would say: he would
quietly beg her to go back to her own home and meddle only with her own
This was dreadful to Lady Arabella. Even Dr Thorne had never before
dared thus to lower her to the level of common humanity, and liken her
to any other wife in the country-side. Moreover, she was not quite
sure whether he, the parish doctor, was not desiring her, the earl's
daughter, to go home and mind her own business. On this first point,
however, there seemed to be no room for doubt, of which she gave
herself the benefit.
'It would not become me to argue with you, Dr Thorne,' she said.
'Not at least on this subject,' said he.
'I can only repeat that I mean nothing offensive to our dear Mary; for
whom, I think I may say, I have always shown almost a mother's care.'
'Neither am I, nor is Mary, ungrateful for the kindness she has
received at Greshamsbury.'
'But I must do my duty: my own children must be my first
'Of course they must, Lady Arabella; that's of course.'
'And, therefore, I have called on you to say that I think it is
imprudent that Beatrice and Mary should be so much together.'
The doctor had been standing during the latter part of this
conversation, but now he began to walk about, still holding the two
bones like a pair of dumb-bells.
'God bless my soul!' he said; 'God bless my soul! Why, Lady Arabella,
do you suspect your own daughter as well as your own son? Do you think
that Beatrice is assisting Mary in preparing this wicked clandestine
marriage? I tell you fairly, Lady Arabella, the present tone of your
mind is such that I cannot understand it.'
'I suspect nobody, Dr Thorne; but young people will be young.'
'And old people must be old, I suppose; the more's the pity. Lady
Arabella, Mary is the same to me as my own daughter, and owes me the
obedience of a child; but as I do not disapprove of your daughter
Beatrice as an acquaintance for her, but rather, on the other hand,
regard with pleasure their friendship, you cannot expect that I should
take any steps to put an end to it.'
'But suppose it should lead to renewed intercourse between Frank and
'I have no objection. Frank is a very nice young fellow, gentlemanlike
in his manners, and neighbourly in his disposition.'
'I cannot believe that you really intend to express a wish--'
'You are quite right. I have not intended to express any wish; nor do
I intend to do so. Mary is at liberty, within certain bounds--which I
am sure she will not pass--to choose her own friends. I think she has
not chosen badly as regards Miss Beatrice Gresham; and should she even
add Frank Gresham to the number--'
'Friends! why they were more than friends; they were declared lovers.'
'I doubt that, Lady Arabella, because I have not heard of it from
Mary. But even if it were so, I do not see why I should object.'
'As I said before, Frank is, to my thinking, an excellent young man.
Why should I object?'
'Dr Thorne!' said her ladyship, now also rising from her chair in a
state of too evident perturbation.
'Why should I object? It is for you, Lady Arabella, to look after your
lambs; for me to see that, if possible, no harm shall come to mine. If
you think that Mary is an improper acquaintance for your children, it
is for you to guide them; for you and their father. Say what you think
fit to your own daughter; but pray understand, once for all, that I
will allow no one to interfere with my niece.'
'Interfere!' said Lady Arabella, now absolutely confused by the
severity of the doctor's manner.
'I will allow no one to interfere with her; no one, Lady Arabella. She
has suffered very greatly from imputations which you have most unjustly
thrown on her. It was, however, your undoubted right to turn her out
of your house if you thought fit;--though, as a woman who had known her
for so many years, you might, I think, have treated her with more
forbearance. That, however, was your right, and you exercised it.
There your privilege stops; yes, and must stop, Lady Arabella. You
shall not persecute her here, on the only spot of ground she can call
'Persecute her, Dr Thorne! You do not mean to say that I have
'Ah! but I do mean to say so. You do persecute her, and would
continue to do so did I not defend her. It is not sufficient that she
is forbidden to enter your domain--and so forbidden with the knowledge
of all the country round--but you must come here also with the hope of
interrupting all the innocent pleasures of her life. Fearing lest she
should be allowed even to speak to your son, to hear of word of him
through his own sister, you would put her in prison, tie her up, keep
her from the light of day--'
'Dr Thorne! how can you--'
But the doctor was not to be interrupted.
'It never occurs to you to tie him up, to put him in prison. No; he is
the heir of Greshamsbury; he is your son, an earl's grandson. It is
only natural, after all, that he should throw a few foolish words at
the doctor's niece. But she! it is an offence not to be forgiven on
her part that she should, however, unwillingly, have been forced to
listen to them! Now understand me, Lady Arabella; if any of your
family come to my house I shall be delighted to welcome them; if Mary
should meet any of them elsewhere I shall be delighted to hear of it.
Should she tell me to-morrow that she was engaged to marry Frank, I
should talk the matter over with her, quite coolly, solely with a view
to her interest, as would be my duty; feeling, at the same time, that
Frank would be lucky in having such a wife. Now you know my mind, Lady
Arabella. It is so I should do my duty;--you can do yours as you may
Lady Arabella had by this time perceived that she was not destined, on
this occasion to gain any great victory. She, however, was angry as
well as the doctor. It was not the man's vehemence that provoked her
so much as his evident determination to break down the prestige of her
rank, and place her on a footing in no respect superior to his own. He
had never before been so audaciously arrogant; and, as she moved
towards the door, she determined in her wrath that she would never
again have confidential intercourse with him in any relation of life
'Dr Thorne,' said she. 'I think you have forgotten yourself. You must
excuse me if I say that after what has passed I--I--I--'
'Certainly,' said he, fully understanding what she meant; and bowing
low as he opened first the study-door, then the front-door, then the
And then the Lady Arabella stalked off, not without full observation
from Mrs Yates Umbleby and her friend Miss Gustring, who lived close
MISS THORNE GOES ON A VISIT
And now began the unpleasant things at Greshamsbury of which we have
here told. When Lady Arabella walked away from the doctor's house she
resolved that, let it cost what it might, there should be war to the
knife between her and him. She had been insulted by him--so at least
she said to herself, and so she was prepared to say to others also--and
it was not to be borne that a De Courcy should allow her parish doctor
to insult her with impunity. She would tell her husband with all the
dignity that she could assume, that it had now become absolutely
necessary that he should protect his wife by breaking entirely with his
unmannered neighbour; and, as regarded the young members of her family,
she would use the authority of a mother, and absolutely forbid them to
hold any intercourse with Mary Thorne. So resolving, she walked
quickly back to her own house.
The doctor, when left alone, was not quite satisfied with the part he
had taken in the interview. He had spoken from impulse rather than
from judgement, and, as is generally the case with men who do so speak,
he had afterwards to acknowledge to himself that he had been
imprudent. He accused himself probably with more violence than he had
really used, and was therefore unhappy; but, nevertheless, his
indignation was not at rest. He was angry with himself; but not on
that account the less angry with Lady Arabella. She was cruel of
manners, so he thought; but not on that account was he justified in
forgetting the forbearance due from a gentleman to a lady. Mary,
moreover, had owed much to the kindness of this woman, and, therefore,
Dr Thorne felt that he should have forgiven much.
Thus the doctor walked about his room, much disturbed; now accusing
himself for having been so angry with Lady Arabella, and then feeding
his own anger by thinking of her misconduct.
The only immediate conclusion at which he resolved was this, that it
was unnecessary that he should say anything to Mary on the subject of
her ladyship's visit. There was no doubt, sorrow enough in store for
his darling; why should he aggravate it? Lady Arabella would doubtless
not stop now in her course; but why should he accelerate the evil which
she would doubtless be able to effect?
Lady Arabella, when she returned to the house, allowed no grass to grow
under her feet. As she entered the house she desired that Miss
Beatrice should be sent to her directly she returned; and she desired
also, that as soon as the squire should be in his room a message to
that effect might be immediately brought to her.
'Beatrice,' she said, as soon as the young lady appeared before her,
and in speaking she assumed her firmest tone of authority, 'Beatrice, I
am sorry, my dear, to say anything that is unpleasant to you, but I
must make it a positive request that you will for the future drop all
intercourse with Dr Thorne's family.'
Beatrice, who had received Lady Arabella's message immediately on
entering the house, and had run upstairs imagining that some instant
haste was required, now stood before her mother rather out of breath,
holding her bonnet by the strings.
'Oh, mamma!' she exclaimed, 'what on earth has happened?'
'My dear,' said the mother, 'I cannot really explain to you what has
happened; but I must ask you to give me positive your assurance that
you will comply with my request.'
'You don't mean that I am not to see Mary any more?'
'Yes, I do, my dear; at any rate, for the present. When I tell you
that your brother's interest imperatively demands it, I am sure that
you will not refuse me.'
Beatrice did not refuse, but she did not appear too willing to comply.
She stood silent, leaning against the end of a sofa and twisting her
bonnet-strings in her hand.
'But, mamma, I don't understand.'
Lady Arabella had said that she could not exactly explain: but she
found it necessary to attempt to do so.
'Dr Thorne has openly declared to me that a marriage between poor Frank
and Mary is all he could desire for his niece. After such unparalleled
audacity as that, even your father will see the necessity of breaking
'Dr Thorne! Oh, mamma, you must have misunderstood him.'
'My dear, I am not apt to misunderstand people; especially when I am so
much in earnest as I was in talking to Dr Thorne.'
'But, mamma, I know so well what Mary herself thinks about it.'
'And I know what Dr Thorne thinks about it; he, at any rate, has been
candid in what he said; there can be no doubt on earth that he has
spoken his true thoughts; there can be no reason to doubt him; of
course such a match would be all that he could wish.'
'Mamma, I feel sure that there is some mistake.'
'Very well, my dear. I know that you are infatuated about these
people, and that you are always inclined to contradict what I say to
you; but, remember, I expect that you will obey me when I tell you not
to go to Dr Thorne's house any more.'
'I expect you to obey me, Beatrice. Though you are so prone to
contradict, you have never disobeyed me; and I fully trust that you
will not do so now.'
Lady Arabella had begun by exacting, or trying to exact a promise, but
as she found that this was not forthcoming, she thought it better to
give up the point without a dispute. It might be that Beatrice would
absolutely refuse to pay this respect to her mother's authority, and
then where would she have been?
At this moment a servant came up to say that the squire was in his
room, and Lady Arabella was opportunely saved the necessity of
discussing the matter further with her daughter. 'I am now,' she said,
'going to see your father on the same subject; you may be quite sure,
Beatrice that I should not willingly speak to him on any matter
relating to Dr Thorne did I not find it absolutely necessary to do so.'
This Beatrice knew was true, and she did therefore feel convinced that
something terrible must have happened.
While Lady Arabella opened her budget the squire sat quite silent,
listening to her with appropriate respect. She found it necessary that
her description to him should be much more elaborate than that which
she had vouchsafed to her daughter, and, in telling her grievance, she
insisted most especially on the personal insult which had been offered
'After what has now happened,' said she, not quite able to repress a
tone of triumph as she spoke, 'I do expect, Mr Gresham, that you
'Will what, my dear?'
'Will at least protect me from the repetition of such treatment.'
'You are not afraid that Dr Thorne will come here and attack you? As
far as I can understand, he never comes near the place, unless you send
'No; I do not think that he will come to Greshamsbury any more. I
believe I have put a stop to that.'
'Then what is it, my dear, that you want me to do?'
Lady Arabella paused a minute before she replied. The game which she
now had to play was not very easy; she knew, or thought she knew, that
her husband, in his heart of hearts, much preferred his friend to the
wife of his bosom, and that he would, if he could, shuffle out of
noticing the doctor's iniquities. It behoved her, therefore, to put
them forward in such a way that they must be noticed.
'I suppose, Mr Gresham, you do not wish that Frank should marry the
'I do not think there is the slightest chance of such a thing; and I am
quite sure that Dr Thorne would not encourage it.'
'But I tell you, Mr Gresham, that he says he will encourage it.'
'Oh, you misunderstand him.'
'Of course; I always misunderstand everything. I know that. I
misunderstood it when I told you how you would distress yourself if you
took those nasty hounds.'
'I have had other troubles more expensive than the hounds,' said the
poor squire, sighing.
'Oh, yes; I know what you mean; a wife and family are expensive, of
course. It is a little too late to complain of that.'
'My dear, it is always too late to complain of any troubles when they
are no longer to be avoided. We need not, therefore, talk any more
about hounds at present.'
'I do not wish to speak of them, Mr Gresham.'
'But I hope you will not think me unreasonable if I am anxious to know
what you intend to do about Dr Thorne.'
'Yes; I suppose you will do something: you do not wish to see your son
marry such a girl as Mary Thorne.'
'As far as the girl herself is concerned,' said the squire, turning
rather red, 'I am not sure that he could do much better. I know
nothing whatever against Mary. Frank, however, cannot afford to make
such a match. It would be his ruin.'
'Of course it would; utter ruin; he never could hold up his head
again. Therefore it is I ask, What do you intend to do?'
The squire was bothered. He had no intention whatever of doing
anything, and no belief in his wife's assertion as to Dr Thorne's
iniquity. But he did not know how to get her out of the room. She
asked him the same question over and over again, and on each occasion
urged on him the heinousness of the insult to which she personally had
been subjected; so that at last he was driven to ask her what it was
she wished him to do.
'Well, then, Mr Gresham, if you ask me, I must say, that I think you
should abstain from any intercourse with Dr Thorne whatever.'
'Break off all intercourse with him?'
'What do you mean? He has been turned out of this house, and I'm not
to go to see him at his own.'
'I certainly think that you ought to discontinue your visits to Dr
'Nonsense, my dear; absolute nonsense.'
'Nonsense! Mr Gresham; it is no nonsense. As you speak in that way, I
must let you know plainly what I feel. I am endeavouring to do my duty
by my son. As you justly observe, such a marriage as this would be
utter ruin to him. When I found that the young people were actually
talking of being in love with each other, making vows and all that sort
of thing, I did think it time to interfere. I did not, however, turn
them out of Greshamsbury as you accuse me of doing. In the kindest
'Well--well--well; I know all that. There, they are gone, and that's
enough. I don't complain; surely that ought to be enough.'
'Enough! Mr Gresham. No; it is not enough. I find that, in spite of
what has occurred, the closest intimacy exists between the two
families; that poor Beatrice, who is so very young, and not so prudent
as she should be, is made to act as a go-between; and when I speak to
the doctor, hoping that he will assist me in preventing this, he not
only tells me that he means to encourage Mary in her plans, but
positively insults me to my face, laughs at me for being an earl's
daughter, and tells me--yes, he absolutely told me--to get out of his
Let it be told with some shame as to the squire's conduct, that his
first feeling on hearing this was one of envy--of envy and regret that
he could not make the same uncivil request. Not that he wished to turn
his wife absolutely out of his house; but he would have been very glad
to have had the power of dismissing her summarily from his own room.
This, however, was at present impossible; so he was obliged to make
some mild reply.
'You must have mistaken him, my dear. He could not have intended to
'Oh! of course, Mr Gresham. It is a mistake, of course. It will be a
mistake, only a mistake when you find your son married to Mary Thorne.'
'Well, my dear, I cannot undertake to quarrel with Dr Thorne.' This was
true; for the squire could hardly have quarrelled with Dr Thorne, even
had he wished it.
'Then I think it right to tell you that I shall. And, Mr Gresham, I
did not expect much co-operation from you; but I did think that you
would have shown some little anger when you heard that I had been so
ill-treated. I shall, however, know how to take care of myself; and I
shall continue to do the best I can to protect Frank from these wicked
So saying, her ladyship arose and left the room, having succeeded in
destroying the comfort of all our Greshamsbury friends. It was very
well for the squire to declare that he would not quarrel with Dr
Thorne, and of course he did not do so. But he, himself, had no wish
whatever that his son should marry Mary Thorne; and as a falling drop
will hollow a stone, so did the continual harping of his wife on the
subject give rise to some amount of suspicion in his own mind. Then as
to Beatrice, though she had made no promise that she would not again
visit Mary, she was by no means prepared to set her mother's authority
altogether at defiance; and she also was sufficiently uncomfortable.
Dr Thorne said nothing of the matter to his niece, and she, therefore,
would have been absolutely bewildered by Beatrice's absence, had she
not received some tidings of what had taken place at Greshamsbury
through Patience Oriel. Beatrice and Patience discussed the matter
fully, and it was agreed between them that it would be better that Mary
should know what sterner orders respecting her had gone forth from the
tyrant at Greshamsbury, and that she might understand that Beatrice's
absence was compulsory. Patience was thus placed in this position,
that on one day she walked and talked with Beatrice, and on the next
with Mary; and so matters went on for a while at Greshamsbury--not very
Very unpleasantly and very uncomfortably did the months of May and June
pass away. Beatrice and Mary occasionally met, drinking tea together
at the parsonage, or in some other of the ordinary meetings of the
country society; but there were no more confidentially distressing
confidential discourses, no more whispering of Frank's name, no more
sweet allusions to the inexpediency of a passion, which, according to
Beatrice's views, would have been so delightful had it been expedient.
The squire and the doctor also met constantly; there were unfortunately
many subjects on which they were obliged to meet. Louis Philippe--or Sir
Louis as we must call him--though he had no power over his own property,
was wide awake to all the coming privileges of ownership, and he would
constantly point out to his guardian the manner in which, according to
his ideas, the most should be made of it. The young baronet's ideas of
good taste were not of the most refined description, and he did not
hesitate to tell Dr Thorne that his, the doctor's friendship with Mr
Gresham must be no bar to his, the baronet's interest. Sir Louis also
had his own lawyer, who gave Dr Thorne to understand, that, according
to his ideas, the sum due on Mr Gresham's property was too large to be
left on its present footing; the title-deeds, he said, should be
surrendered or the mortgage foreclosed. All this added to the sadness
which now seemed to envelop the village of Greshamsbury.
Early in July Frank was to come home. The manner in which the comings
and goings of 'poor Frank' were allowed to disturb the arrangements of
all the ladies, and some of the gentlemen, of Greshamsbury was most
abominable. And yet it can hardly be said to have been his fault. He
would have been only too well pleased had things been allowed to go on
after their old fashion. Things were not allowed so to go on. At
Christmas Miss Oriel had submitted to be exiled, in order that she
might carry Mary away from the presence of the young Bashaw, an
arrangement by which all the winter festivities of the poor doctor had
been thoroughly sacrificed; and now it began to be said that some
similar plan for the summer must be arranged.
It must not be supposed that any direction to this effect was conveyed
either to Mary or to the doctor. The suggestion came from them, and was
mentioned only to Patience. But Patience, as a matter of course, told
Beatrice, and Beatrice told her mother, somewhat triumphantly, hoping
thereby to convince the she-dragon of Mary's innocence. Alas!
she-dragons are not easily convinced of the innocence of any one. Lady
Arabella quite coincided the propriety of Mary's being sent
off,--whither she never inquired,--in order that the coast might be
clear for 'poor Frank'; but she did not a whit the more abstain from
talking of the wicked intrigues of those Thornes. As it turned out,
Mary's absence caused her to talk all the more.
The Boxall Hill property, including the house and furniture, had been
left to the contractor's son; it being understood that the property
would not be at present in his own hands, but that he might inhabit the
house if he chose to do so. It would thus be necessary for Lady
Scatcherd to find a home for herself, unless she could remain at Boxall
Hill by her son's permission. In this position of affairs the doctor
had been obliged to make a bargain between them. Sir Louis did wish to
have the comfort, or perhaps the honour, of a country house; but he did
not wish to have the expense of keeping it up. He was also willing to
let his mother live at the house; but not without a consideration.
After a prolonged degree of haggling, terms were agreed upon; and a few
weeks after her husband's death, Lady Scatcherd found herself alone at
Boxall Hill--alone as regards society in the ordinary sense, but not
quite alone as concerned her ladyship, for the faithful Hannah was
still with her.
The doctor was of course often at Boxall Hill, and never left it
without an urgent request from Lady Scatcherd that he would bring his
niece over to see her. Now Lady Scatcherd was no fit companion for
Mary Thorne, and though Mary had often asked to be taken to Boxall
Hill, certain considerations had hitherto induced the doctor to refuse
the request; but there was about Lady Scatcherd,--a kind of homely
honesty of purpose, an absence of all conceit as to her own position,
and a strength of womanly confidence in the doctor as her friend, which
by degrees won upon his heart. When, therefore, both he and Mary felt
that it would be better for her again to absent herself for a while
from Greshamsbury, it was, after much deliberation, agreed that she
should go on a visit to Boxall Hill.
To Boxall Hill, accordingly, she went, and was received almost as a
princess. Mary had all her life been accustomed to women of rank, and
had never habituated herself to feel much trepidation in the presence
of titled grandees; but she had prepared herself to be more than
ordinarily submissive to Lady Scatcherd. Her hostess was a widow, was
not a woman of high birth, was a woman of whom her uncle spoke well;
and, for all these reasons, Mary was determined to respect her, and pay
to her every consideration. But when she settled down in the house she
found it almost impossible to do so. Lady Scatcherd treated her as a
farmer's wife might have treated a convalescent young lady who had been
sent to her charge for a few weeks, in order that she might benefit by
the country air. Her ladyship could hardly bring herself to sit still
and eat her dinner tranquilly in her guest's presence. And then
nothing was good enough for Mary. Lady Scatcherd besought her, almost
with tears, to say what she liked best to eat and drink; and was in
despair when Mary declared she didn't care, that she liked anything,
and that she was in nowise particular in such matters.
'A roast fowl, Miss Thorne?'
'Very nice, Lady Scatcherd.'
'And bread sauce?'
'Bread sauce--yes; oh, yes--I like bread sauce,'--and poor Mary tried
hard to show a little interest.
'And just a few sausages. We make them all in the house, Miss Thorne;
we know what they are. And mashed potatoes--do you like them best
mashed or baked?'
Mary finding herself obliged to vote, voted for mashed potatoes.
'Very well. But, Miss Thorne, if you like boiled fowl better, with a
little bit of ham, you know, I do hope you'll say so. And there's lamb
in the house, quite beautiful; now do'ee say something; do'ee, Miss
So invoked, Mary felt herself obliged to say something, and declared
for the roast fowl and sausages; but she found it very difficult to pay
much outward respect to a person who would pay so much outward respect
to her. A day or two after her arrival it was decided that she should
ride about the place on a donkey; she was accustomed to riding, the
doctor having generally taken care that one of his own horses should,
when required, consent to carry a lady; but there was no steed at
Boxall Hill that she could mount; and when Lady Scatcherd had offered
to get a pony for her, she had willingly compromised matters by
expressing the delight she would have in making a campaign on a
donkey. Upon this, Lady Scatcherd had herself set off in quest of the
desired animal, much to Mary's horror; and did not return till the
necessary purchase had been effected. Then she came back with the
donkey close at her heels, almost holding its collar, and stood there
at the hall-door till Mary came to approve.
'I hope she'll do. I don't think she'll kick,' said Lady Scatcherd,
patting the head of her purchase quite triumphantly.
'Oh, you are so kind, Lady Scatcherd. I'm sure she'll do quite nicely;
she seems very quiet,' said Mary.
'Please, my lady, it's a he,' said the boy who held the halter.
'Oh! a he, is it?' said her ladyship; 'but the he-donkeys are quite as
quiet as the shes ain't they?'
'Oh, yes, my lady; a deal quieter, all the world over, and twice as
'I'm so glad of that, Miss Thorne,' said Lady Scatcherd, her eyes
bright with joy.
And so Mary was established with her donkey, who did all that could be
expected from an animal in his position.
'But, dear Lady Scatcherd,' said Mary, as they sat together at the open
drawing-room window the same evening, 'you must not go on calling me
Miss Thorne; my name is Mary, you know. Won't you call me Mary?' and
she came and knelt at Lady Scatcherd's feet, and took hold of her,
looking up into her face.
Lady Scatcherd's cheeks became rather red, as though she was somewhat
ashamed of her position.
'You are very kind to me,' continued Mary, 'and it seems so cold to
hear you call me Miss Thorne.'
'Well, Miss Thorne, I'm sure I'd call you anything to please you. Only
I didn't know whether you'd like it from me. Else I do think Mary is
the prettiest name in all the language.'
'I should like it very much.'
'My dear Roger always loved that name better than any other; ten times
better. I used to wish sometimes that I'd been called Mary.'
'Did he! Why?'
'He once had a sister called Mary; such a beautiful creature! I declare
that sometimes think you are like her.'
'Oh, dear! then she must have been very beautiful indeed!' said Mary,
'She was very beautiful. I just remember her--oh, so beautiful! she was
quite a poor girl, you know; and so was I then. Isn't it odd that I
should have to be called "my lady" now. Do you know Miss Thorne--'
'Mary! Mary!' said her guest.
'Ah, yes; but somehow, I hardly like to make so free; but, as I was
saying, I do so dislike being called "my lady": I always think the
people are laughing at me; and so they are.'
'Yes they are though: poor dear Roger, he used to call me "my lady"
just to make fun of me; I didn't mind it so much from him. But, Miss
'Mary, Mary, Mary.'
'Ah, well! I shall do it in time. But, Miss--Mary, ha! ha! ha! never
mind, let me alone. But what I want to say is this: do you think I
could drop it? Hannah says, that if I go the right way about it she is
sure I can.'
'Oh! but, Lady Scatcherd, you shouldn't think of such a thing.'
'Shouldn't I now?'
'Oh, no; for your husband's sake you should be proud of it. He gained
great honour, you know.'
'Ah, well,' said she, sighing after a short pause; 'if you think it
will do him any good, of course I'll put up with it. And then I know
Louis would be mad if I talked of such a thing. But, Miss Thorne, dear,
a woman like me don't like to have to be made a fool of all the days of
her life if she can help it.'
'But, Lady Scatcherd,' said Mary, when this question of the title had
been duly settled, and her ladyship made to understand that she must
bear the burden for the rest of her life, 'but, Lady Scatcherd, you
were speaking of Sir Roger's sister; what became of her?'
'Oh, she did very well at last, as Sir Roger did himself; but in early
life she was very unfortunate--just at the time of my marriage with
dear Roger--,' and then, just as she was about to commence so much
as she knew of the history of Mary Scatcherd, she remembered that
the author of her sister-in-law's misery had been a Thorne, a
brother of the doctor; and, therefore, as she presumed, a relative
of her guest; and suddenly she became mute.
'Well,' said Mary; 'just as you were married, Lady Scatcherd?'
Poor Lady Scatcherd had very little worldly knowledge, and did not in
the least know how to turn the conversation or escape from the trouble
into which she had fallen. All manner of reflections began to crowd
upon her. In her early days she had known very little of the Thornes,
nor had she thought much of them since, except as regarded her friend
the doctor; but at this moment she began to think that she had never
heard more than two brothers in the family. Who then could have Mary's
father? She felt at once that it would be improper for to say anything
as to Henry Thorne's terrible faults and sudden fate;--improper also, to
say more about Mary Scatcherd; but she was quite unable to drop the
matter otherwise than abruptly, and with a start.
'She was very unfortunate, you say, Lady Scatcherd?'
'Yes, Miss Thorne; Mary, I mean--never mind me--I shall do it in time.
Yes, she was; but now I think of it, I had better say nothing more
about it. There are reasons, and I ought not to have spoken of it. You
won't be provoked with me, will you?'
Mary assured her that she would not be provoked, and of course asked no
more questions about Mary Scatcherd; nor did she think much more about
it. It was not so however with her ladyship, who could not keep
herself from reflecting that the old clergyman at the Close at
Barchester certainly had but two sons, one of whom was now the doctor
at Greshamsbury, and the other of whom had perished so wretchedly at
the gate of that farmyard. Who then was the father of Mary Thorne?
The days passed very quietly at Boxall Hill. Every morning Mary went
out on her donkey, who justified by his demeanour all that had been
said in his praise; then she would read or draw, then walk with Lady
Scatcherd, then dine, then walk again; and so the days passed quietly
away. Once or twice a week the doctor would come over and drink his
tea there, riding home in the cool of the evening. Mary also received
one visit from her friend Patience.
So the days passed quietly away till the tranquillity of the house was
suddenly broken by tidings from London. Lady Scatcherd received a
letter from her son, contained in three lines, in which he intimated
that on the following day he meant to honour them with a visit. He had
intended, he said, to have gone to Brighton with some friends; but as
he felt himself a little out of sorts, he would postpone his marine
trip and do his mother the grace of spending a few days with her.
This news was not very pleasant to Mary, by whom it had been
understood, as it had been also by her uncle, that Lady Scatcherd would
have had the house to herself; but as there was no means of preventing
the evil, Mary could only inform the doctor, and prepare herself to
meet Sir Louis Scatcherd.
THE DOCTOR HEARS SOMETHING TO HIS ADVANTAGE
Sir Louis Scatcherd had told his mother that he was rather out of
sorts, and when he reached Boxall Hill it certainly did not appear that
he had given any exaggerated statement of his own maladies. He
certainly was a good deal out of sorts. He had had more than one attack
of delirium tremens after his father's death, and had almost been at
Nothing had been said about this by Dr Thorne at Boxall Hill; but he
was by no means ignorant of his ward's state. Twice he had gone up to
London to visit him; twice he had begged him to go down into the
country and place himself under his mother's care. On the last
occasion, the doctor had threatened him with all manner of pains and
penalties: with pains, as to his speedy departure from this world and
all its joys; and with penalties, in the shape of poverty if that
departure should by any chance be retarded. But these threats had at
the moment been in vain, and the doctor had compromised matters by
inducing Sir Louis to promise that he would go to Brighton. The
baronet, however, who was at length frightened by some renewed attack,
gave up his Brighton scheme, and, without notice to the doctor, hurried
down to Boxall Hill.
Mary did not see him on the first day of his coming, but the doctor
did. He received such intimation of the visit as enabled him to be at
the house soon after the young man's arrival; and, knowing that his
assistance might be necessary, he rode over to Boxall Hill. It was a
dreadful task to him, this of making the same fruitless endeavour for
the son that he had made for the father, and in the same house. But he
was bound by every consideration to perform the task. He had promised
the father that he would do for the son all that was in his power; and
he had, moreover, the consciousness, that should Sir Louis succeed in
destroying himself, the next heir to all the property was his own
niece, Mary Thorne.
He found Sir Louis in a low, wretched, miserable state. Though he was
a drunkard as his father was, he was not at all such a drunkard as his
father. The physical capacities of the men were very different. The
daily amount of alcohol which the father had consumed would have burnt
up the son in a week; whereas, though the son was continually tipsy,
what he swallowed would hardly have had an injurious effect upon the
'You are all wrong, quite wrong,' said Sir Louis petulantly; 'it isn't
that at all. I have taken nothing this week past--literally nothing. I
think it's the liver.'
Dr Thorne wanted no one to tell him what was the matter with his ward.
It was his liver; his liver, and his head, and his stomach, and his
heart. Every organ in his body had been destroyed, or was in the
course of destruction. His father had killed himself with brandy; the
son more elevated in his tastes, was doing the same thing with curacoa,
maraschino, and cherry-bounce.
'Sir Louis,' said the doctor--he was obliged to be much more punctilious
with him than he had been with the contractor--'the matter is in your
hands entirely: if you cannot keep your lips from that accursed poison,
you have nothing in this world to look forward to; nothing, nothing!'
Mary proposed to return with her uncle to Greshamsbury, and he was at
first inclined that she should do so. But this idea was overruled,
partly in compliance with Lady Scatcherd's entreaties, and partly
because it would have seemed as though they had both thought the
presence of the owner had made the house an unfit habitation for decent
people. The doctor, therefore, returned, leaving Mary there; and Lady
Scatcherd busied herself between her two guests.
On the next day Sir Louis was able to come down to a late dinner, and
Mary was introduced to him. He had dressed himself in his best array;
and as he had--at any rate for the present moment--been frightened out
of his libations, he was prepared to make himself as agreeable as
possible. His mother waited on him almost as a slave might have done;
but she seemed to do so with the fear of a slave rather than the love of
a mother. She was fidgety in her attentions, and worried him by
endeavouring to make her evening sitting-room agreeable.
But Sir Louis, though he was not very sweetly behaved under these
manipulations from his mother's hands, was quite complaisant to Miss
Thorne; nay, after the expiration of a week he was almost more than
complaisant. He piqued himself on his gallantry, and now found that,
in the otherwise dull seclusion of Boxall Hill, he had a good
opportunity of exercising it. To do him justice it must be admitted
that he would not have been incapable of a decent career had he
stumbled on some girl who could have loved him before he stumbled upon
his maraschino bottle. Such might have been the case with many a lost
rake. The things that are bad are accepted because the things that are
good do not come easily in his way. How many a miserable father
reviles with bitterness of spirit the low tastes of his son, who has
done nothing to provide his child with higher pleasures!
Sir Louis--partly in the hopes of Mary's smiles, and partly frightened
by the doctor's threats--did, for a while, keep himself within decent
bounds. He did not usually appear before Mary's eyes till three or
four in the afternoon; but when he did come forth, he came forth sober
and resolute to please. His mother was delighted, and was not slow to
sing his praises; and even the doctor, who now visited Boxall Hill more
frequently than ever, began to have some hopes.
One constant subject, I must not say of conversation, on the part of
Lady Scatcherd, but rather of declamation, had hitherto been the beauty
and manly attributes of Frank Gresham. She had hardly ceased to talk
to Mary of the infinite good qualities of the young squire, and
especially of his prowess in the matter of Mr Moffat. Mary had
listened to all this eloquence, not perhaps with inattention, but
without much reply. She had not been exactly sorry to hear Frank
talked about; indeed, had she been so minded, she could herself have
said something on the same subject; but she did not wish to take Lady
Scatcherd altogether into her confidence, and she had been unable to