Part 9 out of 12
Patience undertook the commission, and did tell Mary; did give her also
the message which Beatrice had sent. And Mary was rejoiced to hear it;
for though, as Patience had said of her, she had never herself felt any
inclination to fall in love with Mr Oriel, she believed him to be one
in whose hands her friend's happiness would be secure. Then, by
degrees, the conversation changed from the loves of Mr Oriel and
Beatrice to the troubles of Frank Gresham and herself.
'She says that let what will happen you shall be one of her
'Ah, yes, dear Trichy! that was settled between us in auld lang syne;
but those settlements are all unsettled now, and must be broken. No, I
cannot be her bridesmaid; but I shall yet hope to see her once before
'And why not be her bridesmaid? Lady Arabella will hardly object to
'Lady Arabella!' said Mary, curling up her lip with deep scorn. 'I do
not care that for Lady Arabella,' and she let her silver thimble fall
from her fingers onto the table. 'If Beatrice invited me to her
wedding, she might manage as to that; I should ask no question as to
'Then why not come to it?'
She remained silent for a while, and then boldly answered. 'Though I
do not care for Lady Arabella, I do care for Mr Gresham:--and I do care
for his son.'
'But the squire always loved you.'
'Yes, and therefore I will not be there to vex his sight. I will tell
you the truth, Patience. I can never be in that house again till Frank
Gresham is a married man, or till I am about to be a married woman. I
do not think they have treated me well, but I will not treat them ill.'
'I am sure you will not do that,' said Miss Oriel.
'I will endeavour not to do so; and, therefore, will go to none of
their fetes! No, Patience.' And then she turned her head to the arm
of the sofa, and silently, without audible sobs, hiding her face, she
endeavoured to get rid of the tears unseen. For one moment she had all
but resolved to pour out the whole truth of her love into her friend's
ears; but suddenly she changed her mind. Why should she talk of her
own unhappiness? Why should she speak of her own love when she was
fully determined not to speak of Frank's promises.
'Mary, dear Mary.'
'Anything, but pity, Patience; anything but that,' said she,
convulsively, swallowing her sobs, and rubbing away her tears. 'I
cannot bear that. Tell Beatrice from me, that I wish her every
happiness; and, with such a husband, I am sure she will be happy. I
wish her every joy; give her my kindest love; but tell her that I
cannot be at her marriage. Oh, I should like to see her; not there,
you know, but here, in my own room, where I still have liberty to
'But why should you decide now? She is not to be married yet, you
'Now, or this day twelvemonth, can make no difference. I will not go
into that house again, unless--but never mind; I will not go into it
all; never, never again. If I could forgive her for myself, I could
not forgive her for my uncle. But tell me, Patience, might not Beatrice
now come here? It is so dreadful to see her every Sunday in church
and never to speak to her, never to kiss her. She seems to look away
from me as though she too had chosen to quarrel with me.'
Miss Oriel promised to do her best. She could not imagine, she said,
that such a visit could be objected to on such an occasion. She would
not advise Beatrice to come without telling her mother; but she could
not think that Lady Arabella would be so cruel as to make any
objection, knowing, as she could not but know, that her daughter, when
married, would be at liberty to choose her own friends.
'Good-bye, Mary,' said Patience. 'I wish I knew how to say more to
'Oh, comfort! I don't want comfort. I want to be let alone.'
'That's just it: you are so ferocious in your scorn, so unbending, so
determined to take all the punishment that comes in your way.'
'What I do take, I'll take without complaint,' said Mary; and then they
kissed each other and parted.
A MORNING VISIT
It must be remembered that Mary, among her miseries, had to suffer
this: that since Frank's departure, now nearly twelve months ago, she
had not heard a word about him; or rather, she had only heard that he
was very much in love with some lady in London. This news reached her
in a manner so circuitous, and from such a doubtful source; it seemed
to her to savour so strongly of Lady Arabella's precautions, that she
attributed it at once to malice, and blew it to the winds. It might
not improbably be the case that Frank was untrue to her; but she would
not take it for granted because she was now told so. It was more than
probable that he should amuse himself with some one; flirting was his
prevailing sin; and if he did flirt, the most would of course be made
But she found it to be very desolate to be thus left alone without a
word of comfort or a word of love; without being able to speak to any
one of what filled her heart; doubting, nay, more than doubting, being
all but sure that her passion must terminate in misery. Why had she
not obeyed her conscience and her better instinct in that moment when
the necessity for deciding had come upon her? Why had she allowed him
to understand that he was master of her heart? Did she not know that
there was everything against such a marriage as that which was
proposed? Had she not done wrong, very wrong, even to think of it? Had
she not sinned deeply, against Mr Gresham, who had ever been so kind to
her? Could she hope, was it possible, that a boy like Frank should be
true to his first love? And, if he were true, if he were ready to go
to the altar with her to-morrow, ought she to allow him to degrade
himself by such a marriage?
There was, alas! some truth about the London lady. Frank had taken
his degree, as arranged, and had then gone abroad for the winter, doing
the fashionable things, going up the Nile, crossing over to Mount
Sinai, thence over the long desert to Jerusalem, and home by Damascus,
Beyrout, and Constantinople, bringing back a long beard, a red cap, and
a chibook, just as our fathers used to go through Italy and
Switzerland, and our grandfathers to spend a season in Paris. He had
then remained for a couple of months in London, going through all the
society which the De Courcys were able to open to him. And it was true
that a certain belle of the season, of that season and some others, had
been captivated--for the tenth time--by the silken sheens of his long
beard. Frank had probably been more demonstrative, perhaps, ever more
susceptible, than he should have been; and hence the rumour, which had
all too willingly been forwarded to Greshamsbury.
But young Gresham had also met another lady in London, namely Miss
Dunstable. Mary would indeed have been grateful to Miss Dunstable,
could she have known all that lady did for her. Frank's love was never
allowed to flag. When he spoke of the difficulties in his way, she
twitted him by being overcome by straws; and told him that no one was
ever worth having who was afraid of every lion he met in his path.
When he spoke of money, she bade him earn it; and always ended by
offering to smooth for him any real difficulty which want of means
might put in his way.
'No,' Frank used to say to himself, when these offers were made, 'I
never intended to take her and her money together; and, therefore, I
certainly will never take the money alone.'
A day or two after Miss Oriel's visit, Mary received the following note
'DEAREST, DEAREST MARY,
'I shall be so happy to see you, and will come to-morrow at
twelve. I have asked mamma, and she says that, for once, she
has no objection. You know it is not my fault that I have
never been with you; don't you? Frank comes home on the
twelfth. Mr Oriel wants the wedding to be on the first of
September; but that seems to be so very, very soon; doesn't
it? However, mamma and papa are all on his side. I won't write
about this, though, for we shall have such a delicious talk.
Oh, Mary! I have been so unhappy without you.
'Ever your own affectionate,
Though Mary was delighted at the idea of once more having her friend in
her arms, there was, nevertheless, something in the letter which
oppressed her. She could not put up with the idea that Beatrice should
have permission given to come to her--just for once. She hardly wished
to be seen by permission. Nevertheless, she did not refuse the proffered
visit, and the first sight of Beatrice's face, the first touch of the
first embrace, dissipated for the moment her anger.
And then Beatrice fully enjoyed the delicious talk which she had
promised herself. Mary let her have her way, and for two hours all the
delights and all the duties, all the comforts and all the
responsibilities of a parson's wife were discussed with almost equal
ardour on both sides. The duties and responsibilities were not exactly
those which too often fall to the lot of the mistress of an English
vicarage. Beatrice was not doomed to make her husband comfortable, to
educate her children, dress herself like a lady, and exercise
open-handed charity on an income of two hundred pounds a year. Her
duties and responsibilities would have to spread themselves over seven
or eight times that amount of worldly burden. Living also close to
Greshamsbury, and not far from Courcy Castle, she would have the full
advantage and all the privileges of county society. In fact, it was all
couleur de rose, and so she chatted deliciously with her friend.
But it was impossible that they should separate without something having
been said as to Mary's own lot. It would, perhaps, have been better that
they should do so; but this was hardly within the compass of human
'And Mary, you know, I shall be able to see you as often as I like;--you
and Dr Thorne, too, when I have a house of my own.'
Mary said nothing, but essayed to smile. It was but a ghastly attempt.
'You know how happy that will make me,' continued Beatrice. 'Of course
mamma won't expect me to be led by her then; if he likes it, there can
be no objection; and he will like it, you may be sure of that.'
'You are very kind, Trichy,' said Mary; but she spoke in a tone very
different from that she would have used eighteen months ago.
'Why, what is the matter, Mary? Shan't you be glad to come and see us?'
'I do not know, dearest; that must depend on circumstances. To see you,
you yourself, your own dear, sweet, loving face must always be pleasant
'And shan't you be glad to see him?'
'Yes, certainly, if he loves you.'
'Of course he loves me.'
'All that alone would be pleasant enough, Trichy. But what if there
should be circumstances which should still make us enemies; should make
your friends and my friends--friend, I should say, for I have only
one--should make them opposed to each other?'
'Circumstances! What circumstances?'
'You are going to be married, Trichy, to the man you love; are you not?'
'Indeed I am!'
'And it is not pleasant? is it not a happy feeling?'
'Pleasant! happy! yes, very pleasant; very happy. But, Mary, I am not
at all in such a hurry as he is,' said Beatrice, naturally thinking of
her own little affairs.
'And, suppose I should wish to be married to the man that I love?' Mary
said this slowly and gravely, and as she spoke she looked her friend
full in the face.
Beatrice was somewhat astonished, and for the moment hardly understood.
'I am sure I hope you will some day.'
'No, Trichy; no, you hope the other way. I love your brother; I love
Frank Gresham; I love him quite as well, quite as warmly, as you love
'Do you?' said Beatrice, staring with all her eyes, and giving one long
sigh, as this new subject for sorrow was so distinctly put before her.
'It that so odd?' said Mary. 'You love Mr Oriel, though you have been
intimate with him hardly more than two years. Is it so odd that I should
love your brother, whom I have known almost all my life?'
'But, Mary, I thought it was always understood between us that--that--I
mean that you were not to care about him; not in the way of loving him,
you know--I thought you always said so--I have always told mamma so as
if it came from yourself.'
'Beatrice, do not tell anything to Lady Arabella as though it came from
me; I do not want anything to be told to her, either of me or from me.
Say what you like to me yourself; whatever you say will not anger me.
Indeed, I know what you would say--and yet I love you. Oh, I love you,
Trichy--Trichy, I do love you so much! Don't turn away from me!'
There was such a mixture in Mary's manner of tenderness and almost
ferocity, that poor Beatrice could hardly follow her. 'Turn away from
you, Mary! no never; but this does make me unhappy.'
'It is better that you should know it all, and then you will not be led
into fighting my battles again. You cannot fight them so that I should
win; I do love your brother; love him truly, fondly, tenderly. I would
wish to have him for my husband as you wish to have Mr Oriel.'
'But, Mary, you cannot marry him!'
'Why not?' said she, in a loud voice. 'Why can I not marry him? If the
priest says a blessing over us, shall we not be married as well as you
and your husband?'
'But you know he cannot marry unless his wife shall have money.'
'Money--money; and he is to sell himself for money? Oh, Trichy! do not
you talk about money. It is horrible. But, Trichy, I will grant it--I
cannot marry him; but still, I love him. He has a name, a place in the
world, and fortune, family, high blood, position, everything. He has all
this, and I have nothing. Of course I cannot marry him. But yet I do
'Are you engaged to him, Mary?'
'He is not engaged to me; but I am to him.'
'Oh, Mary, that is impossible!'
'It is not impossible: it is the cast--I am pledged to him; but he is
not pledged to me.'
'But, Mary, don't look at me in that way. I do not quite understand
you. What is the good of your being engaged if you cannot marry him?'
'Good! there is no good. But can I help it, if I love him? Can I make
myself not love him by just wishing it? Oh, I would do it if I could.
But now you will understand why I shake my head when you talk of coming
to your house. Your ways and my ways must be different.'
Beatrice was startled, and, for a time, silenced. What Mary said of the
difference of their ways was quite true. Beatrice had dearly loved her
friend, and had thought of her with affection through all this long
period in which they had been separated; but she had given her love and
her thoughts on the understanding, as it were, that they were in unison
as to the impropriety of Frank's conduct.
She had always spoken, with a grave face, of Frank and his love as of a
great misfortune, even to Mary herself; and her pity for Mary had been
founded on the conviction of her innocence. Now all those ideas had to
be altered. Mary owned her fault, confessed herself to be guilty of all
that Lady Arabella so frequently laid to her charge, and confessed
herself anxious to commit every crime as to which Beatrice had been ever
so ready to defend her.
Had Beatrice up to this dreamed that Mary was in love with Frank, she
would doubtless have sympathized with her more or less sooner or later.
As it was, is was beyond all doubt that she would soon sympathize with
her. But, at the moment, the suddenness of the declaration seemed to
harden her heart, and she forgot, as it were, to speak tenderly to her
She was silent, therefore, and dismayed; and looked as though she
thought that her ways and Mary's ways must be different.
Mary saw all that was passing in the other's mind: no, not all; all the
hostility, the disappointment, the disapproval, the unhappiness, she did
see; but not the under-current of love, which was strong enough to well
up and drown all these, if only time could be allowed for it to do so.
'I am so glad to have told you,' said Mary, curbing herself, 'for deceit
and hypocrisy are detestable.'
'It was a misunderstanding, not deceit,' said Beatrice.
'Well, now we understand each other; now you know that I have a heart
within me, which like those of some others has not always been under my
own control. Lady Arabella believes that I am intriguing to be the
mistress of Greshamsbury. You, at any rate, will not think that of me.
If it could be discovered to-morrow that Frank were not the heir, I
might have some chance of happiness.'
'You say you love him.'
'Yes; I do say so.'
'But if he does not love you, will you cease to do so?'
'If I have a fever, I will get rid of it if I can; in such a case I must
do so, or die.'
'I fear,' continued Beatrice, 'you hardly know, perhaps do not think,
what is Frank's real character. He is not made to settle down early in
life; even now, I believe he is attached to some lady in London, whom,
of course, he cannot marry.'
Beatrice had said this in perfect trueness of heart. She had heard of
Frank's new love-affair, and believing what she had heard, thought it
best to tell the truth. But the information was not of a kind to quiet
'Very well,' said she, 'let it be so. I have nothing to say against
'But are you not preparing wretchedness and unhappiness for yourself?'
'Oh, Mary, do not be so cold with me! you know how delighted I should
be to have you for a sister-in-law, if only it were possible.'
'Yes, Trichy; but it is impossible, is it not? Impossible that Francis
Gresham of Greshamsbury should disgrace himself by marrying such a poor
creature as I am. Of course I know it; of course, I am prepared for
unhappiness and misery. He can amuse himself as he likes with me or
others--with anybody. It is his privilege. It is quite enough to say
that he is not made for settling down. I know my own position;--and yet
I love him.'
'But, Mary, has he asked you to be his wife? If so--'
'You ask home-questions, Beatrice. Let me ask you one; has he ever told
you that he has done so?'
At this moment Beatrice was not disposed to repeat all that Frank had
said. A year ago, before he went away, he had told his sister a score of
times that he meant to marry Mary Thorne if she would have him; but
Beatrice now looked on all that as idle, boyish vapouring. The pity was,
that Mary should have looked on it differently.
'We will each keep our secret,' said Mary. 'Only remember this: should
Frank marry to-morrow, I shall have no ground for blaming him. He is
free as far I as am concerned. He can take the London lady if he likes.
You may tell him so from me. But, Trichy, what else I have told you, I
have told you only.'
'Oh, yes!' said Beatrice, sadly; 'I shall say nothing of it to anybody.
It is very sad, very, very; I was so happy when I came here, and now I
am so wretched.' This was the end of that delicious talk to which she
had looked forward with so much eagerness.
'Don't be wretched about me, dearest; I shall get through it. I
sometimes think I was born to be unhappy, and that unhappiness agrees
with me best. Kiss me now, Trichy, and don't be wretched any more. You
owe it to Mr Oriel to be as happy as the day is long.'
And then they parted.
Beatrice, as she went out, saw Dr Thorne in his little shop on the
right-hand side of the passage deeply engaged in some derogatory branch
of an apothecary's mechanical trade; mixing a dose, perhaps, for a
little child. She would have passed him without speaking, if she could
have been sure of doing so without notice, for her heart was full, and
her eyes were red with tears; but it was so long since she had been in
his house that she was more than ordinarily anxious not to appear
uncourteous or unkind to him.
'Good morning, doctor,' she said, changing her countenance as best she
might, and attempting a smile.
'Ah, my fairy!' said he, leaving his villainous compounds, and coming
out to her; 'and you, too, are about to become a steady old lady.'
'Indeed, I am not, doctor; I don't mean to be either steady or old, for
the next ten years. But who has told you? I suppose Mary has been a
'Well, I will confess Mary was the traitor. But hadn't I a right to be
told, seeing how often I have brought you sugar-plums in my pocket? But
I wish you joy with all my heart--with all my heart. Oriel is an
excellent, good fellow.'
'Is he not, doctor?'
'An excellent, good fellow. I never heard but of one fault that he
'What was that one fault, Doctor Thorne?'
'He thought that clergymen should not marry. But you have cured that,
and now he's perfect.'
'Thank you, doctor. I declare that you say the prettiest things of all
'And none of your friends wish prettier things for you. I do
congratulate you, Beatrice, and hope you may be happy with the man you
have chosen;' and taking both her hands in his, he pressed them warmly,
and bade God bless her.
'Oh, doctor! I do so hope the time will come when we shall all be
'I hope it as well, my dear. But let it come, or let it not come, my
regard for you will be the same:' and then she parted from him also, and
went her way.
Nothing was spoken of that evening between Dr Thorne and his niece
excepting Beatrice's future happiness; nothing, at least, having
reference to what had passed that morning. But on the following morning,
circumstances led to Frank Gresham's name being mentioned.
At the usual breakfast-hour the doctor entered the parlour with a
harassed face. He had an open letter in his hand, and it was at once
clear to Mary that he was going to speak on some subject that vexed him.
'That unfortunate fellow is again in trouble. Here is a letter from
Greyson.' Greyson was a London apothecary, who had been appointed as
medical attendant to Sir Louis Scatcherd, and whose real business
consisted in keeping a watch on the baronet, and reporting to Dr Thorne
when anything was very much amiss. 'Here is a letter from Greyson; he
has been drunk for the last three days, and is now laid up in a terribly
'You won't go up to town again; will you, uncle?'
'I hardly know what to do. No, I think not. He talks of coming down
here to Greshamsbury.'
'Who, Sir Louis?'
'Yes, Sir Louis. Greyson says that he will be down as soon as he can
get out of his room.'
'What! to this house?'
'What other home can he come to?'
'Oh, uncle! I hope not. Pray, pray do not let him come here.'
'I cannot prevent it, dear. I cannot shut my door on him.'
They sat down to breakfast, and Mary gave him his tea in silence. 'I am
going over to Boxall Hill before dinner,' said he. 'Have you any message
to send to Lady Scatcherd?'
'Message! no, I have no message; not especially: give her my love, of
course,' she said listlessly. And then, as though a thought had suddenly
struck her, she spoke with more energy. 'But, couldn't I go to Boxall
Hill again? I should be so delighted.'
'What! to run away from Sir Louis? No, dearest, we will have no more
running away. He will probably also go to Boxall Hill, and he could
annoy you much more there than he can here.'
'But, uncle, Mr Gresham will be home on the twelfth,' she said,
'Yes. Beatrice said he was to be here on the twelfth.'
'And would you run away from him too, Mary?'
'I do not know: I do not know what to do.'
'No; we will have no more running away: I am sorry that you ever did so.
It was my fault, altogether my fault; but it was foolish.'
'Uncle, I am not happy here.' As she said this, she put down the cup
which she had held, and, leaning her elbows on the table, rested her
forehead on her hands.
'And would you be happier at Boxall Hill? It is not the place that
makes the happiness.'
'No, I know that; it is not the place. I do not look to be happy in any
place; but I should be quieter, more tranquil elsewhere than here.'
'I also sometimes think that it would be better for us to take up our
staves and walk away from Greshamsbury;--leave it altogether, and settle
elsewhere; miles, miles, miles away from here. Should you like that,
Miles, miles, miles away from Greshamsbury! There was something in the
sound that fell very cold on Mary's ears, unhappy as she was.
Greshamsbury had been so dear to her; in spite of all that had passed,
was still so dear to her! Was she prepared to take up her staff, as her
uncle said, and walk forth from the place with the full understanding
that she was to return to it no more; with a mind resolved that there
should be an inseparable gulf between her and its inhabitants? Such she
knew was the proposed nature of the walking away of which her uncle
spoke. So she sat there, resting on her arms, and gave no answer to the
question that had been put to her.
'No, we will stay here a while yet,' said her uncle. 'It may come to
that, but this is not the time. For one season longer let us face--I
will not say our enemies; I cannot call anybody my enemy who bears the
name of Gresham.' And then he went on for a moment with his breakfast.
'So Frank will be here on the twelfth?'
'Well, dearest, I have no questions to ask you; no directions to give. I
know how good you are, and how prudent; I am anxious only for your
happiness; not at all--'
'Happiness, uncle, is out of the question.'
'I hope not. It is never out of the question, never can be out of the
question. But, as I was saying, I am quite satisfied your conduct will
be good, and, therefore, I have no questions to ask. We will remain
here; and, whether good or evil come, we will not be ashamed to show our
She sat for a while again silent; collecting her courage on the subject
that was nearest her heart. She would have given the world that he
should ask her questions; but she could not bid him to do so; and she
found it impossible to talk openly to him about Frank unless he did so.
'Will he come here?' at last she said, in a low-toned voice.
'Who? He, Louis? Yes, I think that in all probability he will.'
'No; but Frank,' she said, in a still lower voice.
'Ah! my darling, that I cannot tell; but will it be well that he should
'I do not know,' she said. 'No, I suppose not. But, uncle, I don't
think he will come.'
She was now sitting on a sofa, away from the table, and he got up sat
down beside her, and took her hands in his. 'Mary,' said he, 'you must
be strong now; strong to endure, not to attack. I think that you have
that strength; but, if not, perhaps it will be better that we should go
'I will be strong,' said she, rising up and going towards the door.
'Never mind me, uncle; don't follow me; I will be strong. It will be
base, cowardly, mean to run away; very base in me to make you do so.'
'No, dearest, not so; it will be the same to me.'
'No,' said she, 'I will not run away from Lady Arabella. And, as for
him--if he loves this other one, he shall hear no reproach from me.
Uncle, I will be strong;' and running back to him, she threw her arms
around him and kissed him. And, still restraining her tears, she got
safely to her bedroom. In what way she may there have shown her
strength, it would not be well for us to inquire.
A BAROUCHE AND FOUR ARRIVES AT GRESHAMSBURY
During the last twelve months Sir Louis Scatcherd had been very
efficacious in bringing trouble, turmoil, and vexation upon
Greshamsbury. Now that it was too late to take steps to save himself, Dr
Thorne found that the will left by Sir Roger was so made as to entail
upon him duties that he would find it almost impossible to perform. Sir
Louis, though his father had wished to make him still a child in the eye
of the law, was no child. He knew his own rights and was determined to
exact them; and before Sir Roger had been dead three months, the doctor
found himself in continual litigation with a low Barchester attorney,
who was acting on behalf of his, the doctor's, own ward.
And if the doctor suffered so did the squire, and so did those who had
hitherto had the management of the squire's affairs. Dr Thorne soon
perceived that he was to be driven into litigation, not only with Mr
Finnie, the Barchester attorney, but with the squire himself. While
Finnie harassed him, he was compelled to harass Mr Gresham. He was no
lawyer himself; and though he had been able to manage very well between
the squire and Sir Roger, and had perhaps given himself some credit for
his lawyer-like ability in so doing, he was utterly unable to manage
between Sir Louis and Mr Gresham.
He had, therefore, to employ a lawyer on his own account, and it seemed
probable that the whole amount of Sir Roger's legacy to himself would by
degrees be expended in this manner. And then the squire's lawyers had to
take up the matter; and they did so greatly to the detriment of poor Mr
Yates Umbleby, who was found to have made a mess of the affairs
entrusted to him. Mr Umbleby's accounts were incorrect; his mind was
anything but clear, and he confessed, when put to it by the very sharp
gentleman that came down from London, that he was 'bothered'; and so,
after a while, he was suspended from his duties, and Mr Gazebee, the
sharp gentleman from London, reigned over the diminished rent-roll of
the Greshamsbury estate.
Thus everything was going wrong at Greshamsbury--with the one exception
of Mr Oriel and his love-suit. Miss Gushing attributed the deposition of
Mr Umbleby to the narrowness of the victory which Beatrice had won in
carrying off Mr Oriel. For Miss Gushing was a relation of the Umblebys,
and had been for many years one of their family. 'If she had only chosen
to exert herself as Miss Gresham had done, she could have had Mr Oriel,
easily; oh, too easily! but she had despised such work,' so she said.
'But though she had despised it, the Greshams had not been less
irritated, and, therefore, Mr Umbleby had been driven out of his house.'
We can hardly believe this, as victory generally makes men generous.
Miss Gushing, however, stated it as a fact so often that it is probable
she was induced to believe it herself.
Thus everything was going wrong at Greshamsbury, and the squire himself
was especially a sufferer. Umbleby had at any rate been his own man, and
he could do what he liked with him. He could see him when he liked, and
where he liked, and how he liked; could scold him if in an ill-humour,
and laugh at him when in a good humour. All this Mr Umbleby knew, and
bore. But Mr Gazebee was a very different sort of gentleman; he was the
junior partner in the firm of Gumption, Gazebee & Gazebee of Mount
Street, a house that never defiled itself with any other business than
the agency business, and that in the very highest line. They drew out
leases, and managed property both for the Duke of Omnium and Lord De
Courcy; and ever since her marriage, it had been one of the objects
dearest to Lady Arabella's heart that the Greshamsbury acres should be
superintended by the polite skill and polished legal ability of that all
but elegant firm in Mount Street.
The squire had long stood firm, and had delighted in having everything
done under his own eye by poor Mr Yates Umbleby. But now, alas! he could
stand it no longer. He had put off the evil day as long as he could; he
had deferred the odious work of investigation till things had seemed
resolved on investigating themselves; and then, when it was absolutely
necessary that Mr Umbleby should go, there was nothing for him left but
to fall into the ready hands of Messrs Gumption, Gazebee and Gazebee.
It must not be supposed that Messrs Gumption, Gazebee and Gazebee were
in the least like the ordinary run of attorneys. They wrote no letters
for six-and-eightpence each: they collected no debts, filed no bills,
made no charge per folio for 'whereases' and 'as aforesaids'; they did
no dirty work, and probably were as ignorant of the interior of a court
of law as any young lady living in their Mayfair vicinity. No; their
business was to manage the property of great people, draw up leases,
make legal assignments, get the family marriage settlements made, and
look after wills. Occasionally, also, they had to raise money; but it
was generally understood that this was done by proxy.
The firm had been going on for a hundred and fifty years, and the
designation had often been altered; but it always consisted of Gumptions
and Gazebees differently arranged, and no less hallowed names had ever
been permitted to appear. It had been Gazebee, Gazebee and Gumption;
then Gazebee and Gumption; then Gazebee, Gumption and Gumption; then
Gumption, Gumption and Gazebee; and now it was Gumption, Gazebee and
Mr Gazebee, the junior member of this firm, was a very elegant young
man. While looking at him riding in Rotten Row, you would hardly have
taken him for an attorney; and had he heard that you had so taken him,
he would have been very much surprised indeed. He was rather bald; not
being, as people say, quite so young as he was once. His exact age was
thirty-eight. But he had a really remarkable pair of jet-black whiskers,
which fully made up for his deficiency as to his head; he had also dark
eyes, and a beaked nose, what may be called a distinguished mouth, and
was always dressed in fashionable attire. The fact was, that Mr Mortimer
Gazebee, junior partner in the firm Gumption, Gazebee, and Gazebee, by
no means considered himself to be made of that very disagreeable
material which mortals call small beer.
When this great firm was applied to get Mr Gresham through his
difficulties, and when the state of his affairs was made known to them,
they at first expressed rather a disinclination for the work. But at
last, moved doubtless by their respect for the De Courcy interest, they
assented; and Mr Gazebee, junior, went down to Greshamsbury. The poor
squire passed many a sad day after that before he again felt himself to
be master even of his own domain.
Nevertheless, when Mr Mortimer Gazebee visited Greshamsbury, which he
did on more than one or two occasions, he was always received en grand
seigneur. To Lady Arabella he was by no means an unwelcome guest, for
she found herself able, for the first time in her life, to speak
confidentially on her husband's pecuniary affairs with the man who had
the management of her husband's property. Mr Gazebee also was a pet with
Lady De Courcy; and being known to be a fashionable man in London, and
quite a different sort of person from poor Mr Umbleby, he was always
received with smiles. He had a hundred little ways of making himself
agreeable, and Augusta declared to her cousin, the Lady Amelia, after
having been acquainted with him for a few months, that he would be a
perfect gentleman, only, that his family had never been anything but
attorneys. The Lady Amelia smiled in her own peculiarly aristocratic
way, shrugged her shoulders slightly, and said, 'that Mr Mortimer
Gazebee was a very good sort of person, very.' Poor Augusta felt herself
snubbed, thinking perhaps of the tailor's son; but as there was never
any appeal against the Lady Amelia, she said nothing more at that moment
in favour of Mr Mortimer Gazebee.
All these evils--Mr Mortimer Gazebee being the worst of them--had Sir
Louis Scatcherd brought down on the poor squire's head. There may be
those who will say that the squire had brought them on himself, by
running into debt; and so, doubtless, he had; but it was not the less
true that the baronet's interference was unnecessary, vexatious, and one
might almost say, malicious. His interest would have been quite safe in
the doctor's hands, and he had, in fact, no legal right to meddle; but
neither the doctor nor the squire could prevent him. Mr Finnie knew very
well what he was about, if Sir Louis did not; and so the three went on,
each with his own lawyer, and each of them distrustful, unhappy, and ill
at ease. This was hard upon the doctor, for he was not in debt, and had
borrowed no money.
There was not much reason to suppose that the visit of Sir Louis to
Greshamsbury would much improve matters. It must be presumed that he was
not coming with any amicable views, but with the object rather of
looking after his own; a phrase which was now constantly in his mouth.
He might probably find it necessary while looking after his own at
Greshamsbury, to say some very disagreeable things to the squire; and
the doctor, therefore, hardly expected that the visit would go off
When last he saw Sir Louis, now nearly twelve months since, he was
intent on making a proposal of marriage to Miss Thorne. This intention
he carried out about two days after Frank Gresham had done the same
thing. He had delayed doing so till he had succeeded in purchasing his
friend Jenkins's Arab pony, imagining that such a present could not but
go far in weaning Mary's heart from her other lover. Poor Mary was put
to the trouble of refusing both the baronet and the pony, and a very bad
time she had of it while doing so. Sir Louis was a man easily angered,
and not very easily pacified, and Mary had to endure a good deal of
annoyance; from any other person, indeed, she would have called it
impertinence. Sir Louis, however, had to bear his rejection as best he
could, and, after a perseverance of three days, returned to London in
disgust; and Mary had not seen him since.
Mr Greyson's first letter was followed by a second; and the second was
followed by the baronet in person. He also required to be received en
grand seigneur, perhaps more imperatively than Mr Mortimer Gazebee
himself. He came with four posters from the Barchester Station, and had
himself rattled up to the doctor's door in a way that took the breath
away from all Greshamsbury. Why! the squire himself for a many long year
had been contented to come home with a pair of horses; and four were
never seen in the place, except when the De Courcys came to
Greshamsbury, or Lady Arabella, with all her daughters returned from her
hard-fought metropolitan campaigns.
Sir Louis, however, came with four, and very arrogant looked, leaning
back in the barouche belonging to the George and Dragon, and wrapped up
in fur, although it was now midsummer. And up in the dicky behind was a
servant, more arrogant, if possible, than his master--the baronet's own
man, who was the object of Dr Thorne's special detestation and disgust.
He was a little fellow, chosen originally on account of his light weight
on horseback; but if that may be considered a merit, it was the only one
he had. His out-door show dress was a little tight frock-coat, round
which a polished strap was always buckled tightly, a stiff white choker,
leather breeches, top-boots, and a hat, with a cockade, stuck on one
side of his head. His name was Jonah, which his master and his master's
friends shortened to Joe; none, however, but those who were very
intimate with his master were allowed to do so with impunity.
This Joe was Dr Thorne's special aversion. In his anxiety to take every
possible step to keep Sir Louis from poisoning himself, he had at first
attempted to enlist the baronet's 'own man' in the cause. Joe had
promised fairly, but had betrayed the doctor at once, and had become the
worst instrument of his master's dissipation. When, therefore, his hat
and the cockade were seen, as the carriage dashed up to the door, the
doctor's contentment was by no means increased.
Sir Louis was now twenty-three years old, and was a great deal too
knowing to allow himself to be kept under the doctor's thumb. It had,
indeed, become his plan to rebel against his guardian in almost
everything. He had at first been decently submissive, with the view of
obtaining increased supplies of ready money; but he had been sharp
enough to perceive that, let his conduct be what it would, the doctor
would keep him out of debt; but that the doing so took so large a sum
that he could not hope for any further advances. In this respect Sir
Louis was perhaps more keen-witted than Dr Thorne.
Mary, when she saw the carriage, at once ran up to her own bedroom. The
doctor, who had been with her in the drawing-room, went down to meet his
ward, but as soon as he saw the cockade he darted almost involuntarily
into his shop and shut the door. This protection, however, lasted only
for a moment; he felt that decency required him to meet his guest, and
so he went forth and faced the enemy.
'I say,' said Joe, speaking to Janet, who stood curtsying at the gate,
with Bridget, the other maid, behind her, 'I say, are there any chaps
about the place to take the things--eh? come, look sharp here.'
It so happened that the doctor's groom was not on the spot, and 'other
chaps' the doctor had none.
'Take those things, Bridget,' he said, coming forward and offering his
hand to the baronet. Sir Louis, when he saw his host, roused himself
slowly from the back of his carriage. 'How do, doctor?' said he. 'What
terrible bad roads you have here! and, upon my word, it's as cold as
winter:' and, so saying, he slowly proceeded to descend.
Sir Louis was a year older than when we last saw him, and, in his
generation, a year wiser. He had then been somewhat humble before the
doctor; but now he was determined to let his guardian see that he knew
how to act the baronet; that he had acquired the manners of a great man;
and that he was not to be put upon. He had learnt some lessons from
Jenkins in London, and other friends of the same sort, and he was about
to profit by them.
The doctor showed him to his room, and then proceeded to ask after his
health. 'Oh, I'm right enough,' said Sir Louis. 'You mustn't believe all
that fellow Greyson tells you: he wants me to take salts and senna,
opodeldoc, and all that sort of stuff; looks after his bill, you
know--eh? like all the rest of you. But I won't have it;--not at any
price; and then he writes to you.'
'I'm glad to see you are able to travel,' said Dr Thorne, who could not
force himself to tell his guest that he was glad to see him at
'Oh, travel; yes, I can travel well enough. But I wish you had some
better sort of trap down in these country parts. I'm shaken to bits.
And, doctor, would you tell your people to send that fellow of mine up
here with hot water.
So dismissed, the doctor went his way, and met Joe swaggering in one of
the passages, while Janet and her colleague dragged along between them a
heavy article of baggage.
'Janet,' said he, 'go downstairs and get Sir Louis some hot water, and
Joe, do you take hold of your master's portmanteau.'
Joe sulkily did as he was bid. 'Seems to me,' said he, turning to the
girl, and speaking before the doctor was out of hearing, 'seems to me,
my dear, you be rather short-handed here; lots of work and nothing to
get; that's about the ticket, ain't it?' Bridget was too demurely modest
to make any answer upon so short an acquaintance; so, putting her end of
the burden down at the strange gentleman's door, she retreated into the
Sir Louis in answer to the doctor's inquiries, had declared himself to
be all right; but his appearance was anything but all right. Twelve
months since, a life of dissipation, or rather, perhaps, a life of
drinking, had not had upon him so strong an effect but that some of the
salt of youth was still left; some of the freshness of young years might
still be seen in his face. But this was now all gone; his eyes were
sunken and watery, his cheeks were hollow and wan, his mouth was drawn
and his lips dry; his back was even bent, and his legs were unsteady
under him, so that he had been forced to step down from his carriage as
an old man would do. Alas, alas! he had no further chance now of ever
being all right again.
Mary had secluded herself in her bedroom as soon as the carriage had
driven up to the door, and there she remained till dinner-time. But she
could not shut herself up altogether. It would be necessary that she
should appear at dinner; and, therefore, a few minutes before the hour,
she crept out into the drawing-room. As she opened the door, she looked
in timidly, expecting Sir Louis to be there; but when she saw that her
uncle was the only occupant of the room, her brow cleared, and she
entered with a quick step.
'He'll come down to dinner; won't he, uncle?'
'Oh, I suppose so.'
'What's he doing now?'
'Dressing, I suppose; he's been at this hour.'
'Will he come up after dinner, do you think?'
Mary spoke of him as though he were some wild beast, whom her uncle
insisted on having in his house.
'Goodness knows what he will do! Come up? Yes. He will not stay in
the dining-room all night.'
'But, dear uncle, do be serious.'
'Yes; serious. Don't you think that I might go to bed, instead of
The doctor was saved the trouble of answering by the entrance of the
baronet. He was dressed in what he considered the most fashionable style
of the day. He had on a new dress-coat lined with satin, new
dress-trousers, a silk waistcoat covered with chains, a white cravat,
polished pumps, and silk stockings, and he carried a scented
handkerchief in his hand; he had rings on his fingers, and carbuncle
studs in his shirt, and he smelt as sweet as patchouli could make him.
But he could hardly do more than shuffle into the room, and seemed
almost to drag one of his legs behind him.
Mary, in spite of her aversion, was shocked and distressed when she saw
him. He, however, seemed to think himself perfect, and was no whit
abashed by the unfavourable reception which twelve months since had been
paid to his suit. Mary came up and shook hands with him, and he received
her with a compliment which no doubt he thought must be acceptable.
'Upon my word, Miss Thorne, every place seems to agree with you; one
better than another. You were looking charming at Boxall Hill; but, upon
my word, charming isn't half strong enough now.'
Mary sat down quietly, and the doctor assumed a face of unutterable
disgust. This was the creature for whom all his sympathies had been
demanded, all his best energies put in requisition; on whose behalf he
was to quarrel with his oldest friends, lose his peace and quietness of
life, and exercise all the functions of a loving friend! This was his
self-invited guest, whom he was bound to foster, and whom he could not
turn from his door.
The dinner came, and Mary had to put her hand upon his arm. She
certainly did not lean upon him, and once or twice felt inclined to give
him some support. They reached the dining-room, however, the doctor
following them, and then sat down, Janet waiting in the room, as was
'I say, doctor,' said the baronet, 'hadn't my man better come in and
help? He's got nothing to do, you know. We should be more cosy,
'Janet will manage pretty well,' said the doctor.
'Oh, you'd better have Joe; there's nothing like a good servant at
table. I say, Janet, just send that fellow in, will you?'
'We shall do very well without him,' said the doctor, becoming rather
red about the cheek-bones, and with a slight gleam of determination
about the eye. Janet, who saw how matters stood, made no attempt to obey
the baronet's order.
'Oh, nonsense, doctor; you think he's an uppish sort of fellow, I know,
and you don't like to trouble him; but when I'm near him, he's all
right; just send him in, will you?'
'Sir Louis,' said the doctor, 'I'm accustomed to none but my own old
woman here in my own house, and if you will allow me, I'll keep my old
ways. I shall be sorry if you are not comfortable.' The baronet said
nothing more, and the dinner passed off slowly and wearily enough.
When Mary had eaten her fruit and escaped, the doctor got into one
arm-chair and the baronet into another, and the latter began the only
work of existence of which he knew anything.
'That's good port,' said he; 'very fair port.'
The doctor loved his port wine, and thawed a little in his manner. He
loved it not as a toper, but as a collector loves his pet pictures. He
liked to talk about it, and think about it; to praise it, and hear it
praised; to look at it turned towards the light, and to count over the
years it had lain in his cellar.
'Yes,' said he, 'it's pretty fair wine. It was, at least, when I got
it, twenty years ago, and I don't suppose time has hurt it;' and he held
the glass up to the window, and looked at the evening light through the
rosy tint of the liquid. 'Ah, dear, there's not much of it left; more's
'A good thing won't last for ever. I'll tell you what now; I wish I had
brought down a dozen or two of claret. I've some prime stuff in London;
got it from Muzzle and Drug, at ninety-six shillings; it was a great
favour, though. I'll tell you what now, I'll send up for a couple of
dozen to-morrow. I mustn't drink you out of the house, high and dry;
must I, doctor?'
The doctor froze immediately.
'I don't think I need trouble you,' said he; 'I never drink claret, at
least not here; and there's enough of the old bin left to last some
little time longer yet.'
Sir Louis drank two or three glasses of wine very quickly after each
other, and they immediately began to tell upon his weak stomach. But
before he was tipsy, he became more impudent and more disagreeable.
'Doctor,' said he, 'when are we going to see any of this Greshamsbury
money? That's what I want to know.'
'Your money is quite safe, Sir Louis; and the interest is paid to the
'Interest yes; but how do I know how long it will be paid? I should
like to see the principal. A hundred thousand pounds, or something like
it, is a precious large stake to have in one man's hands, and he is
preciously hard up himself. I'll tell you what, doctor--I shall look the
squire up myself.'
'Look him up?'
'Yes; look him up; ferret him out; tell him a bit of my mind. I'll thank
you to pass the bottle. D---- me doctor; I mean to know how things are
'Your money is quite safe,' repeated the doctor, 'and, to my mind, could
not be better invested.'
'That's all very well; d---- well I dare say, for you and Squire
'What do you mean, Sir Louis?'
'Mean! why I mean that I'll sell the squire up; that's what I
mean--hallo--beg pardon. I'm blessed if I haven't broken the water-jug.
That comes of having water on the table. Oh, d---- me, it's all over
me.' And then, getting up, to avoid the flood he himself had caused, he
nearly fell into the doctor's arms.
'You're tired with your journey, Sir Louis; perhaps you'd better go to
'Well, I am a bit seedy or so. Those cursed roads of yours shake a
The doctor rang the bell, and, on this occasion, did request that Joe
might be sent for. Joe came in, and, though he was much steadier than
his master, looked as though he also had found some bin of which he had
'Sir Louis wishes to go to bed,' said the doctor; 'you had better give
him your arm.'
'Oh, yes; in course I will,' said Joe, standing immoveable about
half-way between the door and the table.
'I'll just take one more glass of the old port--eh, doctor?' said Sir
Louis, putting out his hand and clutching the decanter.
It is very hard for any man to deny his guest in his own house, and the
doctor, at the moment, did not know how to do it; so Sir Louis got his
wine, after pouring half of it over the table.
'Come in, sir, and give Sir Louis your arm,' said the doctor, angrily.
'So I will in course, if my master tells me; but, if you please, Dr
Thorne--' and Joe put his hand up to his hair in a manner that a great
deal more impudence than reverence in it--'I just want to ax one
question; where be I to sleep?'
Now this was a question which the doctor was not prepared to answer on
the spur of the moment, however well Janet or Mary might have been able
to do so.
'Sleep,' said he, 'I don't know where you are to sleep, and don't care;
'That's all very well, master--'
'Hold your tongue, sirrah!' said Sir Louis. 'What the devil do you want
of sleep?--come here,' and then, with his servant's help, he made his
way up to his bedroom, and was no more heard of that night.
'Did he get tipsy,' asked Mary, almost in a whisper, when her uncle
joined her in the drawing-room.
'Don't talk of it,' said he. 'Poor wretch! poor wretch! Let's have
some tea now, Molly, and pray don't talk any more about him to-night.'
Then Mary did make the tea, and did not talk any more about Sir Louis
What on earth were they to do with him? He had come there self-invited;
but his connexion with the doctor was such, that it was impossible he
should be told to go away, either he himself, or that servant of his.
There was no reason to disbelieve him when he declared that he had come
down to ferret out the squire. Such was, doubtless, his intention. He
would ferret out the squire. Perhaps he might ferret out Lady Arabella
also. Frank would be home in a few days; and he, too, might be ferreted
But the matter took a very singular turn, and one quite unexpected on
the doctor's part. On the morning following the little dinner of which
we have spoken, one of the Greshamsbury grooms rode up to the doctor's
door with two notes. One was addressed to the doctor in the squire's
well-known large handwriting, and the other was for Sir Louis. Each
contained an invitation do dinner for the following day; and that to the
doctor was in this wise:--
Do come and dine here to-morrow, and bring Sir Louis Scatcherd with you.
If you're the man I take you to be, you won't refuse me. Lady Arabella
sends a note for Sir Louis. There will be nobody here but Oriel, and Mr
Gazebee, who's staying in the house.
'Yours ever, F.N.GRESHAM'
'PS--I make a positive request that you'll come, and I think you will
hardly refuse me.'
The doctor read it twice before he could believe it, and then ordered
Janet to take the other note up to Sir Louis. As these invitations were
rather in opposition to the then existing Greshamsbury tactics, the
cause of Lady Arabella's special civility must be explained.
Mr Mortimer Gazebee was now at the house, and therefore, it must be
presumed, that things were not allowed to go on after their old fashion.
Mr Gazebee was an acute as well as fashionable man; one who knew what he
was about, and who, moreover, had determined to give his very best
efforts on behalf of the Greshamsbury property. His energy, in this
respect, will explain itself hereafter. It was not probable that the
arrival in the village of such a person as Sir Louis Scatcherd should
escape attention. He had heard of it before dinner, and, before the
evening was over, had discussed it with Lady Arabella.
Her ladyship was not at first inclined to make much of Sir Louis, and
expressed herself as but little inclined to agree with Mr Gazebee when
that gentleman suggested that he should be treated with civility at
Greshamsbury. But she was at last talked over. She found it pleasant
enough to have more to do with the secret management of the estate than
Mr Gresham himself; and when Mr Gazebee proved to her, by sundry nods
and winks, and subtle allusions to her own infinite good sense, that it
was necessary to catch this obscene bird which had come to prey upon the
estate, by throwing a little salt upon his tail, she also nodded and
winked, and directed Augusta to prepare the salt according to order.
'But won't it be odd, Mr Gazebee, asking him out of Dr Thorne's house?'
'Oh, we must have the doctor, too, Lady Arabella; by all means ask the
Lady Arabella's brow grew dark. 'Mr Gazebee,' she said, 'you can hardly
believe how that man has behaved to me.'
'He is altogether beneath your anger,' said Mr Gazebee, with a bow.
'I don't know: in one way he may be, but not in another. I really do
not think I can sit down to table with Doctor Thorne.'
But, nevertheless, Mr Gazebee gained his point. It was now about a week
since Sir Omicron Pie had been at Greshamsbury, and the squire had,
almost daily, spoken to his wife as to that learned man's advice. Lady
Arabella always answered in the same tone: 'You can hardly know, Mr
Gresham, how that man has insulted me.' But, nevertheless, the
physician's advice had not been disbelieved: it tallied too well with
her own inward convictions. She was anxious enough to have Doctor Thorne
back at her bedside, if she could only get him there without damage to
her pride. Her husband, she thought, might probably send the doctor
there without absolute permission from herself; in which case she would
have been able to scold, and show that she was offended; and, at the
same time, profit by what had been done. But Mr Gresham never thought of
taking so violent a step as this, and, therefore, Dr Fillgrave still
came, and her ladyship's finesse was wasted in vain.
But Mr Gazebee's proposition opened a door by which her point might be
gained. 'Well,' said she, at last, with infinite self-denial, 'if you
think it is for Mr Gresham's advantage, and if he chooses to ask Dr
Thorne, I will not refuse to receive him.'
Mr Gazebee's next task was to discuss the matter with the squire. Nor
was this easy, for Mr Gazebee was no favourite with Mr Gresham. But the
task was at last performed successfully. Mr Gresham was so glad at heart
to find himself able, once more, to ask his old friend to his own house;
and, though it would have pleased him better that this sign of relenting
on his wife's part should have reached him by other means, he did not
refuse to take advantage of it; and so he wrote the above letter to Dr
The doctor, as we have said, read it twice; and he at once resolved
stoutly that he would not go.
'Oh, do, do, do go!' said Mary. She well knew how wretched this feud
had made her uncle. 'Pray, pray go!'
'Indeed, I will not,' said he. 'There are some things a man should
bear, and some he should not.'
'You must go,' said Mary, who had taken the note from her uncle's hand,
and read it. 'You cannot refuse him when he asks you like that.'
'It will greatly grieve me; but I must refuse him.'
'I also am angry, uncle; very angry with Lady Arabella; but for him, for
the squire, I would go to him on my knees if he asked me in that way.'
'Yes; and had he asked you, I also would have gone.'
'Oh! now I shall be so wretched. It is his invitation, not hers: Mr
Gresham could not ask me. As for her, do not think of her; but do, do go
when he asks you like that. You will make me so miserable if you do not.
And then Sir Louis cannot go without you,'--and Mary pointed
upstairs--'and you may be sure that he will go.'
'Yes; and make a beast of himself.'
This colloquy was cut short by a message praying the doctor to go up to
Sir Louis's room. The young man was sitting in his dressing-gown,
drinking a cup of coffee at his toilet-table, while Joe was preparing
his razor and hot water. The doctor's nose immediately told him that
there was more in the coffee-cup than had come out of his own kitchen,
and he would not let the offence pass unnoticed.
'Are you taking brandy this morning, Sir Louis?'
'Just a little chasse-cafe,' said he, not exactly understanding the word
he used. 'It's all the go now; and a capital thing for the stomach.'
'It's not a capital thing for your stomach;--about the least capital
thing you can take; that is, if you wish to live.'
'Never mind about that now, doctor, but look here. This is what we call
the civil thing--eh?' and he showed the Greshamsbury note. 'Not but that
they have an object, of course. I understand all that. Lots of girls
The doctor took the note and read it. 'It is civil,' said he; 'very
'Well; I shall go, of course. I don't bear malice because he can't pay
me the money he owes me. I'll eat his dinner, and look at the girls.
Have you an invite too, doctor?'
'Yes; I have.'
'And you'll go?'
'I think not; but that need not deter you. But, Sir Louis--'
'Well! eh! what is it?'
'Step downstairs a moment,' said the doctor, turning to the servant,
'and wait till you are called for. I wish to speak to your master.' Joe,
for a moment, looked up at the baronet's face, as though he wanted but
the slightest encouragement to disobey the doctor's orders; but not
seeing it, he slowly retired, and placed himself, of course, at the
And then, the doctor began a long and very useless lecture. The first
object of it was to induce his ward not to get drunk at Greshamsbury;
but having got so far, he went on, and did succeed in frightening his
unhappy guest. Sir Louis did not possess the iron nerves of his
father--nerves which even brandy had not been able to subdue. The doctor
spoke, strongly, very strongly; spoke of quick, almost immediate death
in case of further excesses; spoke to him of the certainty there would
be that he could not live to dispose of his own property if he could not
refrain. And thus he did frighten Sir Louis. The father he had never
been able to frighten. But there are men who, though they fear death
hugely, fear present suffering more; who, indeed, will not bear a moment
of pain if there by any mode of escape. Sir Louis was such: he had no
strength of nerve, no courage, no ability to make a resolution and keep
it. He promised the doctor that he would refrain; and, as he did so, he
swallowed down his cup of coffee and brandy, in which the two articles
bore about equal proportions.
The doctor did, at last, make up his mind to go. Whichever way he
determined, he found that he was not contented with himself. He did not
like to trust Sir Louis by himself, and he did not like to show that he
was angry. Still less did he like the idea of breaking bread in Lady
Arabella's house till some amends had been made to Mary. But his heart
would not allow him to refuse the petition contained in the squire's
postscript, and the matter ended in his accepting the invitation.
This visit of his ward's was, in every way, pernicious to the doctor. He
could not go about his business, fearing to leave such a man alone with
Mary. On the afternoon of the second day, she escaped to the parsonage
for an hour or so, and then, walked away among the lanes, calling on
some of her old friends among the farmers' wives. But even then, the
doctor was afraid to leave Sir Louis. What could such a man do, left
alone in a village like Greshamsbury? So he stayed at home, and the two
together went over their accounts. The baronet was particular about his
accounts, and said a good deal as to having Finnie over to Greshamsbury.
To this, however, Dr Thorne positively refused his consent.
The evening passed off better than the preceding one; at least the early
part of it. Sir Louis did not get tipsy; he came up to tea, and Mary,
who did not feel so keenly on the subject as her uncle, almost wished
that he had done so. At ten o'clock he went to bed.
But after that new troubles came on. The doctor had gone downstairs
into his study to make up some of the time which he had lost, and had
just seated himself at his desk, when Janet, without announcing herself,
burst into the room; and Bridget, dissolved in hysterical tears, with
her apron to her eyes, appeared behind the senior domestic.
'Please, sir,' said Janet, driven by excitement much beyond her usual
place of speaking, and becoming unintentionally a little less respectful
than usual, 'please sir, that 'ere young man must go out of this here
house; or else no respectable young 'ooman can't stop here; no, indeed,
sir; and we be sorry to trouble you, Dr Thorne; so we be.'
'What young man? Sir Louis?' asked the doctor.
'Man!' sobbed Bridget from behind. 'He an't no man, no nothing like a
man. If Tummas had been here, he wouldn't have dared; so he wouldn't.'
Thomas was the groom, and, if all Greshamsbury reports were true, it was
probable, that on some happy, future day, Thomas and Bridget would
become one flesh and one bone.
'Please sir,' continued Janet, 'there'll be bad work here if there 'ere
young man doesn't quit this here house this very night, and I'm sorry to
trouble you, doctor; and so I am. But Tom, he be given to fight a'most
for nothin'. He's out now; but if that there young man be's here when
Tom comes home, Tom will be punching his head; I know he will.'
'He wouldn't stand by and see a poor girl put upon; no more he
wouldn't,' said Bridget, through her tears.
After many futile inquiries, the doctor ascertained that Mr Jonah had
expressed some admiration for Bridget's youthful charms, and had, in the
absence of Janet, thrown himself at the lady's feet in a manner which
had not been altogether pleasing to her. She had defended herself
stoutly and loudly, and in the middle of the row Janet had come down.
'And where is he now?' said the doctor.
'Why, sir,' said Janet, 'the poor girl was so put about that she did
give him one touch across the face with the rolling-pin, and he be all
bloody now, in the back kitchen.' At hearing this achievement of hers
thus spoken of, Bridget sobbed more hysterically than ever; but the
doctor, looking at her arm as she held her apron to her face, thought in
his heart that Joe must have had so much the worst of it, that there
could be no possible need for the interference of Thomas the groom.
And such turned out to be the case. The bridge of Joe's nose was
broken; and the doctor had to set it for him in a little bedroom at the
village public-house, Bridget having positively refused to go to bed in
the same house with so dreadful a character.
'Quiet now, or I'll be serving thee the same way; thee see I've found
the trick of it.' The doctor could not but hear so much as he made into
his own house by the back door, after finishing his surgical operation.
Bridget was recounting to her champion the fracas that had occurred; and
he, as was so natural, was expressing his admiration for her valour.
SIR LOUIS GOES OUT TO DINNER
The next day Joe did not make his appearance, and Sir Louis with many
execrations, was driven to the terrible necessity of dressing himself.
Then came an unexpected difficulty: how were they to get up to the
house? Walking out to dinner, though it was merely through the village
and up the avenue seemed to Sir Louis to be a thing impossible. Indeed,
he was not well able to walk at all, and positively declared that he
should never be able to make his way over the gravel in pumps. His
mother would not have thought half as much of walking from Boxall Hill
to Greshamsbury and back again. At last, the one village fly was sent
for, and the matter was arranged.
When they reached the house, it was easy to see that there was some
unwonted bustle. In the drawing-room there was no one but Mr Mortimer
Gazebee, who introduced himself to them both. Sir Louis, who knew that
he was only an attorney, did not take much notice of him, but the doctor
entered into conversation.
'Have you not heard that Mr Gresham has come home?'
'Mr Gresham! I did not know that he had been away.'
'Mr Gresham, junior, I mean.' No, indeed; the doctor had not heard.
Frank had returned unexpectedly, just before dinner, and was now
undergoing his father's smiles, his mother's embraces, and his sisters'
'Quite unexpectedly,' said Mr Gazebee. 'I don't know what has brought
him back before his time. I suppose he found London too hot.'
'Deuced hot,' said the baronet. 'I found it so, at least. I don't know
what keeps men in London when it's so hot; except those fellows who have
business to do: they're paid for it.'
Mr Mortimer Gazebee looked at him. He was managing an estate which owed
Sir Louis an enormous sum of money, and, therefore, he could not afford
to despise the baronet; but he thought to himself, what a very abject
fellow the man would be if he were not a baronet, and had not a large
And the squire came in. His broad, honest face was covered with a smile
when he saw the doctor.
'Thorne,' said he, almost in a whisper, 'you're the best fellow
breathing; I have hardly deserved this.' The doctor, as he took his old
friend's hand, could not but be glad that he had followed Mary's
'So Frank has come home?'
'Oh, yes; quite unexpectedly. He was to have stayed a week longer in
London. You would hardly know him if you met him. Sir Louis, I beg your
pardon.' And the squire went up to his other guest, who had remained
somewhat sullenly standing in one corner of the room. He was the man of
highest rank present, or to be present, and he expected to be treated as
'I am happy to have the pleasure of making your acquaintance, Mr
Gresham,' said the baronet, intending to be very courteous. 'Though we
have not met before, I very often see your name in my accounts--ha! ha!
ha!' and Sir Louis laughed as though he had said something very good.
The meeting between Lady Arabella and the doctor was rather distressing
to the former; but she managed to get over it. She shook hands with him
graciously, and said that it was a fine day. The doctor said that it was
fine, only perhaps a little rainy. And then they went into different
parts of the room.
When Frank came in, the doctor hardly did know him. His hair was darker
than it had been, and so was his complexion; but his chief disguise was
in a long silken beard, which hung down over his cravat. The doctor had
hitherto not been much in favour of long beards, but he could not deny
that Frank looked very well with the appendage.
'Oh, doctor, I am so delighted to find you here,' said he, coming up to
him; 'so very, very glad:' and, taking the doctor's arm, he led him away
into a window, where they were alone. 'And how is Mary?' said he, almost
in a whisper. 'Oh, I wish she were here! But, doctor, it shall all come
in time. But tell me, doctor, there is no news about her, is there?'
'Oh, well; no news is good news: you will give her my love, won't you?'
The doctor said that he would. What else could he say? It appeared
quite clear to him that some of Mary's fears were groundless.
Frank was again very much altered. It has been said, that though he was
a boy at twenty-one, he was a man at twenty-two. But now, at
twenty-three, he appeared to be almost a man of the world. His manners
were easy, his voice under his control, and words were at his command:
he was no longer either shy or noisy; but, perhaps, was open to the
charge of seeming, at least, to be too conscious of his own merits. He
was, indeed, very handsome; tall, manly, and powerfully built, his form
was such as women's eyes have ever loved to look upon. 'Ah, if he would
but marry money!' said Lady Arabella to herself, taken up by a mother's
natural admiration for her son. His sisters clung around him before
dinner, all talking to him at once. How proud a family of girls are of
one, big, tall, burly brother!
'You don't mean to tell me, Frank, that you are going to eat soup with
that beard?' said the squire, when they were seated round the table. He
had not ceased to rally his son as to this patriarchal adornment; but,
nevertheless, any one could have seen, with half and eye, that he was as
proud of it as were the others.
'Don't I, sir? All I require is a relay of napkins for every course;'
and he went to work, covering it with every spoonful, as men with beards
'Well, if you like it!' said the squire, shrugging his shoulders.
'But I do like it,' said Frank.
'Oh, papa, you wouldn't have him cut it off,' said one of the twins. 'It
is so handsome.'
'I should like to work it into a chair-back instead of floss-silk,' said
the other twin.
'Thank 'ee, Sophy; I'll remember you for that.'
'Doesn't it look nice, and grand, and patriarchal?' said Beatrice,
turning to her neighbour.
'Patriarchal, certainly,' said Mr Oriel. 'I should grow one myself if I
had not the fear of the archbishop before my eyes.'
What was next said to him was in a whisper, audible only to himself.
'Doctor, did you know Wildman of the Ninth. He was left as surgeon at
Scutari for two years. Why, my beard to his is only a little down.'
'A little way down, you mean,' said Mr Gazebee.
'Yes,' said Frank, resolutely set against laughing at Mr Gazebee's pun.
'Why, his beard descends to his ankles, and he is obliged to tie it in a
bag at night, because his feet get entangled in it when he is asleep!'
'Oh, Frank!' said one of the girls.
This was all very well for the squire, and Lady Arabella, and the girls.
They were all delighted to praise Frank, and talk about him. Neither did
it come amiss to Mr Oriel and the doctor, who had both a personal
interest in the young hero. But Sir Louis did not like it at all. He was
the only baronet in the room, and yet nobody took any notice of him. He
was seated in the post of honour, next to Lady Arabella; but even Lady
Arabella seemed to think more of her own son than of him. Seeing he was
ill-used, he meditated revenge; but not the less did it behove him to
make some effort to attract attention.
'Was your ladyship in London, this season?'
Lady Arabella had not been in London at all this year, and it was a sore
subject with her. 'No,' said she, very graciously; 'circumstances have
kept us at home.'
'Ah, indeed! I am very sorry for that; that must be very distressing to
a person like your ladyship. But things are mending, perhaps?'
Lady Arabella did not in the least understand him. 'Mending!' she said,
in her peculiar tone of aristocratic indifference; and then turned to Mr
Gazebee, who was on the other side of her.
Sir Louis was not going to stand this. He was the first man in the
room, and he knew his own importance. It was not to be borne that Lady
Arabella should turn to talk to a dirty attorney, and leave him, a
baronet, to eat his dinner without notice. If nothing else would move
her, he would let her know who was the real owner of the Greshamsbury
'I think I saw your ladyship out to-day, taking a ride,' Lady Arabella
had driven through the village in her pony-chair.
'I never ride,' said she, turning her head for one moment from Mr
'In the one-horse carriage, I mean, my lady. I was delighted with the
way you whipped him up round the corner.'
Whipped him up round the corner! Lady Arabella could make no answer to
this; so she went on talking to Mr Gazebee. Sir Louis, repulsed, but not
vanquished--resolved not to be vanquished by any Lady Arabella--turned
his attention to his plate for a minute or two, and then recommenced.
'The honour of a glass of wine with you, Lady Arabella,' said he.'
'I never take wine at dinner,' said Lady Arabella. The man was becoming
intolerable to her, and she was beginning to fear that it would be
necessary for her to fly the room to get rid of him.
The baronet was again silent for a moment; but he was determined not to
be put down.
'This is a nice-looking country about her,' said he.
'Yes; very nice,' said Mr Gazebee, endeavouring to relieve the lady of
'I hardly know which I like best; this, or my own place at Boxall Hill.
You have the advantage here in trees, and those sort of things. But, as
to the house, why, my box there is very comfortable, very. You'd hardly
know the place now, Lady Arabella, if you haven't seen it since my
governor bought it. How much do you think he spent about the house and
grounds, pineries included, you know, and those sort of things.'
Lady Arabella shook her head.
'Now guess, my lady,' said he. But it was not to be supposed that Lady
Arabella should guess on such a subject.
'I never guess,' said she, with a look of ineffable disgust.
'What do you say, Mr Gazebee?'
'Perhaps a hundred thousand pounds.'
'What! for a house! You can't know much about money, nor yet about
building, I think, Mr Gazebee.'
'Not much,' said Mr Gazebee, 'as to such magnificent places as Boxall
'Well, my lady, if you won't guess, I'll tell you. It cost twenty-two
thousand four hundred and nineteen pounds four shillings and eightpence.
I've all the accounts exact. Now, that's a tidy lot of money for a house
for a man to live in.'
Sir Louis spoke this in a loud tone, which at least commanded the
attention of the table. Lady Arabella, vanquished, bowed her head, and
said that it was a large sum; Mr Gazebee went on sedulously eating his
dinner; the squire was struck momentarily dumb in the middle of a long
chat with the doctor; even Mr Oriel ceased to whisper; and the girls
opened their eyes with astonishment. Before the end of his speech, Sir
Louis's voice had become very loud.
'Yes, indeed,' said Frank; 'a very tidy lot of money. I'd have
generously dropped the four and eightpence if I'd been the architect.'
'It wasn't on one bill; but that's the tot. I can show the bills;' and
Sir Louis, well pleased with his triumph, swallowed a glass of wine.
Almost immediately after the cloth was removed, Lady Arabella escaped,
and the gentlemen clustered together. Sir Louis found himself next to Mr
Oriel, and began to make himself agreeable.
'A very nice girl, Miss Beatrice; very nice.'
Now Mr Oriel was a modest man, and, when thus addressed as to his future
wife, found it difficult to make any reply.
'You parsons always have your own luck,' said Sir Louis. 'You get all
the beauty, and generally all the money, too. Not much of the latter in
this case, though--eh?'
Mr Oriel was dumbfounded. He had never said a word to any creature as
to Beatrice's dowry; and when Mr Gresham had told him, with sorrow, that
his daughter's portion must be small, he had at once passed away from
the subject as one that was hardly fit for conversation, even between
him and his future father-in-law; and now he was abruptly questioned on
the subject by a man he had never seen before in his life. Of course,
he could make no answer.
'The squire has muddled his matters most uncommonly,' continued Sir
Louis, filling his glass for the second time before he passed the
bottle. 'What do you suppose now he owes me alone; just at one lump, you
Mr Oriel had nothing for it but to run. He could make no answer, nor
would he sit there for tidings as to Mr Gresham's embarrassments. So he
fairly retreated, without having said one word to his neighbour, finding
such discretion to be the only kind of valour left to him.
'What, Oriel! off already?' said the squire. 'Anything the matter?'
'Oh, no; nothing particular. I'm not just quite--I think I will go out
for a few minutes.'
'See what it is to be in love,' said the squire, half-whispering to Dr
Thorne. 'You're not in the same way, I hope?'
Sir Louis then shifted his seat again, and found himself next to Frank.
Mr Gazebee was opposite to him, and the doctor opposite to Frank.
'Parson seems peekish, I think,' said the baronet.
'Peekish?' said the squire, inquisitively.
'Rather down on his luck. He's decently well off himself, isn't he?'
There was another pause, and nobody seemed inclined to answer the
'I mean, he's got something more than his bare living.'
'Oh, yes,' said Frank, laughing. 'He's got what will buy him bread and
cheese when the Rads shut up the Church:--unless, indeed, they shut up
the Funds too.'
'Ah, there's nothing like land,'said Sir Louis: 'nothing like dirty
acres; is there, squire?'
'Land is a very good investment, certainly,' said the Mr Gresham.
'The best going,' said the other, who was now, as people say when they
mean to be good-natured, slightly under the influence of liquor. 'The
best going--eh, Gazebee?'
Mr Gazebee gathered himself up, and turned away his head, looking out of
'You lawyers never like to give an opinion without money, ha! ha! ha! Do
they, Mr Gresham? You and I have had to pay for plenty of them, and will
have to pay plenty more before they let us alone.'
Here Mr Gazebee got up, and followed Mr Oriel out of the room. He was
not, of course, on such intimate terms in the house as was Mr Oriel; but
he hoped to be forgiven by the ladies in consequence of the severity of
the miseries to which he was subjected. He and Mr Oriel were soon to be
seen through the dining-room window, walking about the grounds with the
two eldest Miss Greshams. And Patience Oriel, who had also been of the
party, was also to be seen with the twins. Frank looked at his father
with almost a malicious smile, and began to think that he too might be
better employed out among the walks. Did he think then of a former
summer evening, when he had half broken Mary's heart by walking there
too lovingly with Patience Oriel?
Sir Louis, if he continued his brilliant career of success, would soon
be left the cock of the walk. The squire, to be sure, could not bolt,
nor could the doctor very well; but they might be equally vanquished,
remaining there in their chairs. Dr Thorne, during all this time, was
sitting with tingling ears. Indeed, it may be said that his whole body
tingled. He was in a manner responsible for this horrible scene; but
what could he do to stop it? He could not take Sir Louis up bodily and
carry him away. One idea did occur to him. The fly had been ordered for
ten o'clock. He could rush out and send for it instantly.
'You're not going to leave me?' said the squire, in a voice of horror,
as he saw the doctor rising from his chair.
'Oh, no, no, no,' said the doctor; and then he whispered the purpose of
his mission. 'I will be back in two minutes.' The doctor would have
given twenty pounds to have closed the scene at once; but he was not the
man to desert his friend in such a strait as that.
'He's a well-meaning fellow, the doctor,' said Sir Louis, when his
guardian was out of the room, 'very; but he's not up to trap--not at
'Up to trap--well, I should say he was; that is, if I know what trap
means,' said Frank.
'Ah, but that's just the ticket. Do you know? Now I say Dr Thorne's
not a man of the world.'
'He's about the best man I know, or ever heard of,' said the squire.
'And if any man ever had a good friend, you have got one in him; and so
have I:' and the squire silently drank the doctor's health.
'All very true, I dare say; but yet he's not up to trap. Now look here,
'If you don't mind, sir,' said Frank, 'I've got something very
'Stay till Thorne returns, thanks Frank.'
Frank did stay till Thorne returned, and then escaped.
'Excuse me, doctor,' said he, 'but I've something very particular to
say; I'll explain to-morrow.' And then the three were left alone.
Sir Louis was now becoming almost drunk, and was knocking his words
together. The squire had already attempted to stop the bottle; but the
baronet had contrived to get hold of a modicum of Madeira, and there was
no preventing him from helping himself; at least, none at the moment.
'As we were saying about lawyers,' continued Sir Louis. 'Let's see,
what were we saying? Why, squire, it's just here. These fellows will
fleece us both if we don't mind what we are after.'
'Never mind about lawyers now,' said Dr Thorne, angrily.
'Ah, but I do mind; most particularly. That's all very well for you,
doctor; you've nothing to lose. You've no great stake in the matter.
Why, now, what sum of money of mine do you think those d---- doctors are
'D---- doctors!' said the squire in a tone of dismay.
'Lawyers, I mean, of course. Why, now, Gresham, we're all totted now,
you see; you're down in my books, I take it, for pretty near a hundred
'Hold your tongue, sir,' said the doctor, getting up.
'Hold my tongue!' said Sir Louis.
'Sir Louis Scatcherd,' said the squire, slowly rising from his chair,
'we will not, if you please, talk about business at the present moment.
Perhaps we had better go to the ladies.'
This latter proposition had certainly not come from the squire's heart:
going to the ladies was the very last thing for which Sir Louis was now
fit. But the squire had said it as being the only recognised formal way
he could think of for breaking up the symposium.
'Oh, very well,' hiccupped the baronet, 'I'm always ready for the
ladies,' and he stretched out his hand to the decanter to get a last
glass of Madeira.
'No,' said the doctor, rising stoutly, and speaking with a determined
voice. 'No; you will have no more wine.'
'What's all this about?' said Sir Louis, with a drunken laugh.
'Of course he cannot go into the drawing-room, Mr Gresham. If you will
leave him here with me, I will stay with him, till the fly comes. Pray
tell Lady Arabella from me how sorry I am that this has occurred.'
The squire took him by the hand affectionately. 'I've seen a tipsy man
before to-night,' said he.
'Yes,' said the doctor, 'and so have I, but--' He did not express the
rest of his thoughts.
WILL HE COME AGAIN?
Long before the doctor returned home after the little dinner-party above
described, Mary had learnt that Frank was already at Greshamsbury. She
had heard nothing of him, not a word, nothing in the shape of a message,
for twelve months; and at her age twelve months is a long period. Would
he come and see her in spite of his mother? Would he send her any
tidings of is return, or notice her in any way? If he did not, what
would she do? and if he did, what then would she do? It was so hard to
resolve; so hard to be deserted; and so hard to dare to wish that she
might not be deserted! She continued to say to herself, that it would be
better that they should be strangers; and she could hardly keep herself
from tears in the fear that they might be so. What chance could there be
that he should care for her, after an absence spent in travelling over
the world? No; she would forget that affair of his hand; and then,
immediately after having so determined, she would confess to herself
that it was a thing not to be forgotten, and impossible of oblivion.
On her uncle's return, she would hear some word about him; and so she
sat alone, with a book before her, of which she could not read a line.
She expected them about eleven, and was, therefore, rather surprised
when the fly stopped at the door before nine.
She immediately heard her uncle's voice, loud and angry, calling for
Thomas. Both Thomas and Bridget were unfortunately out, being, at this
moment, forgetful of all sublunary cares, and seated in happiness under
a beech-tree in the park. Janet flew to the little gate, and there found
Sir Louis insisting that he would be taken at once to his own mansion at
Boxall Hill, and positively swearing that he would not longer submit to
the insult of the doctor's surveillance.
In the absence of Thomas, the doctor was forced to apply for assistance
to the driver of the fly. Between them the baronet was dragged out of
the vehicle, the windows suffered much, and the doctor's hat also. In
this way, he was taken upstairs, and was at last put to bed, Janet
assisting: nor did the doctor leave the room till his guest was asleep.
Then he went into the drawing-room to Mary. It may easily be conceived
that he was hardly in a humour to talk much about Frank Gresham.
'What am I to do with him?' said he, almost in tears: 'what am I to do
'Can you send him to Boxall Hill?' asked Mary.
'Yes; to kill himself there! But it is no matter; he will kill himself
somewhere. Oh! what that family have done for me!' And then, suddenly
remembering a portion of their doings, he took Mary in his arms, and
kissed and blessed her; and declared that, in spite of all this, he was
a happy man.
There was no word about Frank that night. The next morning the doctor
found Sir Louis very weak, and begging for stimulants. He was worse than
weak; he was in such a state of wretched misery and mental prostration;
so low in heart, in such collapse of energy and spirit, that Dr Thorne
thought it prudent to remove his razors from his reach.
'For God's sake do let me have a little chasse-cafe; I'm always used to
it; ask Joe if I'm not! You don't want to kill me, do you?' And the
baronet cried piteously, like a child, and, when the doctor left him for
the breakfast-table, abjectly implored Janet to get him some curacoa
which he knew was in one of his portmanteaus. Janet, however, was true
to her master.
The doctor did give him some wine; and then, having left strict orders
as to his treatment--Bridget and Thomas being now both in the
house--went forth to some of his too much neglected patients.
Then Mary was again alone, and her mind flew away to her lover. How
should she be able to compose herself when she should first see him? See
him she must. People cannot live in the same village without meeting. If
she passed him at the church-door, as she often passed Lady Arabella,
what should she do? Lady Arabella always smiled a peculiar, little,
bitter smile, and this, with half a nod of recognition, carried off the
meeting. Should she try the bitter smile, the half-nod with Frank? Alas!
she knew it was not in her to be so much mistress of her own heart's
As she thus thought, she stood in the drawing-room window, looking out
into her garden; and, as she leant against the sill, her head was
surrounded by the sweet creepers. 'At any rate, he won't come here,' she
said: and so, with a deep sigh, she turned from the window into the
There he was, Frank Gresham himself standing there in her immediate
presence, beautiful as Apollo. Her next thought was how she might escape
from out of his arms. How it happened that she had fallen into them, she
'Mary! my own, own love! my own one! sweetest! dearest! best! Mary! dear
Mary! have you not a word to say to me?'
No; she had not a word, though her life depended on it. The exertion
necessary for not crying was quite enough for her. This, then, was the
bitter smile and the half-nod that was to pass between them; this was
the manner in which estrangement was to grow into indifference; this was
the mode of meeting by which she was to prove that she was mistress of
her conduct, if not her heart! There he held her close bound to his
breast, and she could only protect her face, and that all ineffectually,
with her hands. 'He loves another,' Beatrice had said. 'At any rate, he
will not love me,' her own heart had said also. Here now was the answer.
'You know you cannot marry him,' Beatrice had said, also. Ah! if that
really were so, was not this embrace deplorable for them both? And yet
how could she not be happy? She endeavoured to repel him; but with what
a weak endeavour! Her pride had been wounded to the core, not by Lady
Arabella's scorn, but by the conviction which had grown on her, that
though she had given her own heart absolutely away, had parted with it
wholly and for ever, she had received nothing in return. The world, her
world, would know that she had loved, and loved in vain. But here now
was the loved one at her feet; the first moment that his enforced
banishment was over, had brought him here. How could she not be happy?
They all said that she could not marry him. Well, perhaps it might be
so; nay, when she thought of it, must not that edict too probably be
true? But if so, it would not be his fault. He was true to her, and that
satisfied her pride. He had taken from her, by surprise, a confession of
her love. She had often regretted her weakness in allowing him to do so;
but she could not regret it now. She could endure to suffer; nay, it
would not be suffering while he suffered with her.
'Not one word, Mary? Then after all my dreams, after all my patience,
you do not love me at last?'
Oh, Frank! notwithstanding what has been said in thy praise, what a
fool thou art! Was any word necessary for thee? Had not her heart beat
against thine? Had she not borne thy caresses? Had there been one touch
of anger when she warded off thy threatened kisses? Bridget, in the
kitchen, when Jonah became amorous, smashed his nose with the
rolling-pin. But when Thomas sinned, perhaps as deeply, she only talked
of doing so. Miss Thorne, in the drawing-room, had she needed
self-protection, could doubtless have found the means, though the
process would probably have been less violent.
At last Mary succeeded in her efforts at enfranchisement, and she and
Frank stood at some little distance from each other. She could not but
marvel at him. That long, soft beard, which just now had been so close
to her face, was all new; his whole look was altered; his mien, and
gait, and very voice were not the same. Was this, indeed, the very Frank
who had chattered of his boyish love, two years since, in the gardens at
'Not one word of welcome, Mary?'
'Indeed, Mr Gresham, you are welcome home.'
'Mr Gresham! Tell me, Mary--tell me at once--has anything happened? I
could not ask up there.'
'Frank,' she said, and then stopped; not being able at the moment to get
'Speak to me honestly, Mary; honestly and bravely. I offered you my
hand once before; there it is again. Will you take it?'
She looked wistfully up in his eyes; and would fain have taken it. But
though a girl may be honest in such a case, it is so hard for her to be
He still held out his hand. 'Mary,' said he, 'if you can value it, it
shall be yours through good fortune or ill fortune. There may be
difficulties; but if you can love me, we will get over them. I am a free
man; free to do as I please with myself, except so far as I am bound to
you. There is my hand. Will you have it?' And then he, too, looked into
her eyes, and waited composedly, as though determined to have an answer.
She slowly raised her hand, and, as she did so, her eyes fell to the
ground. It then drooped again, and was again raised; and, at last, her
light tapering fingers rested on his broad open palm.
They were soon clutched, and the whole hand brought absolutely within
his grasp. 'There, now you are my own!' he said, 'and none of them shall
part us; my own Mary, my own wife.'
'Oh, Frank, is not this imprudent? Is it not wrong?'
'Imprudent! I am sick of prudence. I hate prudence. And as for
wrong--no. I say it is not wrong; certainly not wrong if we love each
other. And you do love me, Mary--eh? You do! don't you?'
He would not excuse her, or allow her to escape from saying it in so
many words; and when the words did come at last, they came freely. 'Yes,
Frank, I do love you; if that were all you would have no cause for
'And I will have no cause for fear.'
'Ah; but your father, Frank, and my uncle. I can never bring myself to
do anything that shall bring either of them to sorrow.'
Frank, of course, ran through all his arguments. He would go into a
profession, or take a farm and live in it. He would wait; that is, for a
few months. 'A few months, Frank!' said Mary. 'Well, perhaps six.' 'Oh,
Frank!' But Frank would not be stopped. He would do anything that his
father might ask him. Anything but the one thing. He would not give up