Part 6 out of 12
table in Mrs Crawley's bedroom.
'I did venture to bring them,' said Fanny, with a look of shame,
'for I know how a sick child occupies the whole house.'
'Ah! my friend,' said Mrs Crawley, taking hold of Mrs Robarts's
arm and looking into her face, 'that sort of shame is over with
me. God has tried us with want, and for my children's sake I am
glad of such relief.'
'But will he be angry?'
'I will manage it. Dear Mrs Robarts, you must not be surprised at
him. His lot is sometimes very hard to bear; such things are so
much worse for a man than for a woman.' Fanny was not quite
prepared to admit this in her own heart, but she made no reply on
that head. 'I am sure I hope we may be able to be of use to you,'
she said, 'if you will only look upon me as an old friend, and
write to me if you want me. I hesitate to come frequently for fear
that I should offend him.' And then, by degrees, there was
confidence between them, and the poverty-stricken helpmate of the
perpetual curate was able to speak of the weight of her burden to
the well-to-do young wife of the Barchester prebendary. It was
hard, the former said, to feel herself so different from the wives
of other clergymen around her--to know that they lived softly,
while she, with all the work of her hands, and unceasing struggle
of her energies, could hardly manage to place wholesome food before
her husband and children. It was a terrible thing--a grievous
thing to think of, that all the work of her mind should be given up
to such subjects as these. But, nevertheless, she could bear it,
she said, as long he would carry himself like a man, and face his
lot boldly before the world. And then she told how he had been
better there at Hogglestock than in their former residence down in
Cornwall, and in warm language she expressed her thanks to the
friend who had done so much for them. 'Mrs Arabin told me that she
was so anxious you should go to them,' said Mrs Robarts.
'Ah, yes; but that, I fear, is impossible. The children, you know,
'I would take care of two of them for you.'
'Oh, no; I could not punish you for your goodness in that way. But
he would not go. He could go and leave me at home. Sometimes I
have thought that it might be so, and I have done all in my power
to persuade him. I have told him that if he could mix once more
with the world, with the clerical world, you know, that he would be
better fitted for the performance of his own duties. But he
answers me angrily, that it is impossible--that his coat is not fit
for the dean's table,' and Mrs Crawley almost blushed as she spoke
of such a reason.
'What! with an old friend like Dr Arabin? Surely that must be
'I know that it is. The dean would be glad to see him with any
coat. But the fact is that he cannot bear to enter the house of a
rich man unless his duty calls him there.'
'But surely that is a mistake?'
'It is a mistake. But what can I do? I fear that he regards the
rich as his enemies. He is pining for the solace of some friend to
whom he could talk--for some equal with a mind educated like his
own, to whose thoughts he could listen, and to whom he could speak
his own thoughts. But such a friend must be equal, not only in
mind, but in purse; and where can he ever find such a man as that?'
'But you may get better preferment.'
'Ah, no; and if he did, we are hardly fit for it now. If I could
think that I could educate my children; if I could only do
something for my poor Grace--' In answer to this Mrs Robarts said a
word or two, but not much. She resolved, however, that if she
could get her husband's leave, something should be done for Grace.
Would it not be a good work? and was it not incumbent on her to
make some kindly use of all the goods with which Providence had
blessed herself? And then they went back to the sitting-room, each
again with a young child in her arms. Mrs Crawley having stowed
away in the kitchen the chicken broth and the leg of pork and the
supply of eggs. Lucy had been engaged the while with the children,
and when the two married ladies entered, they found that a shop had
been opened at which all manner of luxuries were being readily sold
and purchased at marvellously easy prices; the guava jelly was
there, and the oranges, and the sugar-plums, red and yellow and
striped; and, moreover, the gingerbread had been taken down in the
audacity of their commercial speculations, and the nuts were spread
out upon a board, behind which Lucy stood as shop-girl, disposing
of them for kisses. 'Mamma, mamma,' said Bobby, running up to his
mother, 'you must buy something of her,' and he pointed with his
fingers to the shop-girl. 'You must give her two kisses for that
heap of barley-sugar.' Looking at Bobby's mouth at the time, one
would have said that his kisses might be dispensed with.
When they were again in the pony carriage behind the impatient
Puck, and were well away from the door, Fanny was the first to
speak. 'How very different those two are,' she said; 'different in
their minds, and how false is his shame!'
'But how much higher toned is her mind than his! How weak he is in
many things, and how strong she is in everything! How false is his
pride, and how false his shame!'
'But we must remember what he has to bear. It is not every one
that can endure such a life as his without false pride and false
'But she has neither,' said Lucy.
'Because you have one hero in a family, does that give you a right
to expect another?' said Mrs Robarts. 'Of all my own acquaintance,
Mrs Crawley, I think, comes nearest to heroism.' And then they
passed by the Hogglestock School, and Mr Crawley, when he heard the
noise of the wheels, came out. 'You have been very kind,' said he,
'to remain so long with my poor wife.'
'We had a great many things to talk about, after you went.'
'It is very kind of you, for she does not often see a friend
nowadays. Will you have the goodness to tell Mr Robarts that I shall
be here at the school, at eleven o'clock to-morrow?' And then he
bowed, taking off his hat to them, and they drove on.
'If he really does care about her comfort, I shall not think so
badly of him,' said Lucy.
THE TRIUMPH OF THE GIANTS
And now about the end of April news arrived almost simultaneously
in all quarters of the habitable globe that was terrible in its
import to one of the chief persons of our history;--some may think
to the chief person of it. All high parliamentary people will
doubtless so think, and the wives and daughters of such. The
Titans warring against the gods had been for awhile successful.
Thyphoeus and Mimas, Porphyrion and Rhoecus, the giant brood of
old, steeped in ignorance and wedded to corruption, had scaled the
heights of Olympus, assisted by that audacious flinger of deadly
ponderous missiles, who stands ever ready with his terrific
sling--Supplehouse, the Enceladus of the press. And in this
universal cataclysm of the starry councils, what could a poor Diana
do, Diana of the Petty Bag, but abandon her pride of place to some
rude Orion? In other words, the ministry had been compelled to
resign, and with them Mr Harold Smith. 'And so poor Harold is out,
before he has well tasted the sweets of office,' said Sowerby,
writing to his friend the parson; 'and as far as I know, the only
piece of Church patronage which has fallen in the way of the
ministry since he joined it, has made its way down to Framley--to
my great joy and contentment.' But it hardly tended to Mark's joy
and contentment on the same subject that he should be so often
reminded of the benefit conferred upon him.
Terrible was this break-down of the ministry, and especially to
Harold Smith, who to the last had had confidence in that theory of
new blood. He could hardly believe that a large majority of the
House should vote against a Government which he had only just
joined. 'If we are to go in this way,' he said to his young friend
Green Walker, 'the Queen's Government cannot be carried on.' That
alleged difficulty as to carrying on the Queen's Government has
been frequently mooted in late years since a certain great man
first introduced the idea. Nevertheless, the Queen's Government is
carried on, and the propensity and aptitude of men for this work
seems to be not at all on the decrease. If we have but few young
statesmen, it is because the old stagers are so fond of the rattle
of their harness.
'I really do not see how the Queen's Government is to be carried
on,' said Harold Smith to Green Walker, standing in a corner of one
of the lobbies of the House of Commons on the first of those days
of awful interest, in which the Queen was sending for one crack
statesman after another; and some anxious men were beginning to
doubt whether or no we should, in truth, be able to obtain the
blessing of another Cabinet. The gods had all vanished from their
places. Would the giants be good enough to do anything for us or
no? There were men who seemed to think that the giants would
refuse to do anything for us. 'The House will now be adjourned
over till Monday, and I would not be in Her Majesty's shoes for
something,' said Mr Harold Smith.
'By Jove! no,' said Green Walker, who in these days was a staunch
Harold Smithian, having felt a pride in joining himself on as a
substantial support of a Cabinet minister. Had he contented himself
with being merely a Brockite, he would have counted as nobody. 'By
Jove! no,' and Green Walker opened his eyes and shook his head as
he thought of the perilous condition in which Her Majesty must be
placed. 'I happen to know that Lord --- won't join them unless he has
the Foreign Office,' and he mentioned some hundred-handed Gyas
supposed to be of the utmost importance to the counsels of the
'And that, of course, is impossible. I don't see what on earth
they are to do. There's Sidonia; they do say that he's making some
difficulty now.' Now Sidonia was another giant, supposed to be
'We all know that the Queen won't see him,' said Green Walker, who,
being a member of parliament for the Crewe Junction, and nephew to
Lord Hartletop, of course had perfectly correct means of
ascertaining what the Queen would do, and what she would not.
'The fact is,' said Harold Smith, recurring again to his own
situation as an ejected god, 'that the House does not in the least
understand what it is about;--doesn't know what it wants. The
question I would like to ask them is this: do they intend that the
Queen shall have a Government, or do they not? Are they prepared
to support such men as Sidonia and Lord De Terrier? If so, I am
their obedient humble servant; but I shall be very much surprised,
that's all.' Lord De Terrier was at this time recognized by all men
as the leader of the giants.
'And so shall I, deucedly surprised. They can't do it, you know.
There are the Manchester men. I ought to know something about them
down in my country; and I say they can't support Lord De Terrier.
It wouldn't be natural.'
'Natural! Human nature has come to an end, I think,' said Harold
Smith, who could hardly understand that the world should conspire
to throw over a Government which he had joined, and that, too,
before the world had waited to see how much he would do for it;
'the fact is, Walker, we have no longer among us any strong feeling
'No, not a d-,' said Green Walker, who was very energetic in his
present political aspirations.
'And till we can recover that, we shall never be able to have a
Government firm-seated and sure-handed. Nobody can count on men
from one week to another. The very members who in one month place
a minister in power, are the very first to vote against him in the
'We must put a stop to that sort of thing, otherwise we shall never
do any good.'
'I don't mean to deny that Brock was wrong with reference to Lord
Brittleback. I think he was wrong, and I said so all through. But,
heavens on earth--!' and instead of completing his speech, Harold
Smith turned away his head, and struck his hands together in token
of his astonishment at the fatuity of the age. What he probably
meant to express was this: that if such a good deed as that late
appointment made at the Petty Bag Office were not held sufficient
to atone for that other evil deed to which he had alluded, there
would be an end of justice in sublunary matters. Was no offence to
be forgiven, even when so great virtue had been displayed? 'I
attribute it all to Supplehouse,' said Green Walker, trying to
console his friend.
'Yes,' said Harold Smith, now verging on the bounds of
parliamentary eloquence, although he still spoke with bated breath,
and to one solitary hearer. 'Yes; we are becoming the slaves of a
mercenary and irresponsible press--of one single newspaper. There
is a man endowed with no great talent, enjoying no public
confidence, untrusted as a politician, and unheard of even as a
writer by the world at large, and yet, because he is on the staff
of the Jupiter, he is able to overturn a Government and throw the
whole country into dismay. It is astonishing to me that a man like
Lord Brock should allow himself to be so timid.' And nevertheless
it was not yet a month since Harold Smith had been counselling
with Supplehouse how a series of strong articles in the Jupiter,
together with the expected support of the Manchester men, might
probably be effective in hurling the minister from his seat. But
at that time the minister had not revigorated himself with young
blood. 'How the Queen's Government is to be carried on, that is
the question now,' Harold Smith repeated. A difficulty which had
not caused him much dismay at that period, about a month since, to
which we have alluded. At this moment Sowerby and Supplehouse
together joined them, having come out of the House, in which some
unimportant business had been completed, after the minister's
notice of adjournment.
'Well, Harold,' said Sowerby, 'what do you say to your governor's
'I have nothing to say to it,' said Harold Smith, looking up very
solemnly from under the penthouse of his hat, and, perhaps rather
savagely. Sowerby had supported the Government in the late crisis;
but why was he now seen herding with such a one as Supplehouse?
'He did it pretty well, I think,' said Sowerby.
'Very well, indeed,' said Supplehouse; 'as he always does those
sort of things. No man makes so good an explanation of
circumstances, or comes out with so telling a personal statement.
He ought to keep himself in reserve for those sort of things.'
'And who in the meantime is to carry on the Queen's Government?'
said Harold Smith, looking very stern.
'That should be left to men of lesser mark,' said he of the
Jupiter. 'The points as to which one really listens to a minister,
the subjects about which men really care, are always personal. How
many of us are truly interested as to the best mode of governing
India? But in a question touching the character of a prime
minister we all muster together like bees round a sounding cymbal.'
'That arises from envy, malice, and all uncharitableness,' said
'Yes; and from picking and stealing, evil speaking, lying, and
slandering,' said Mr Sowerby.
'We are so prone to desire and covet other men's places,' said
'Some men are so,' said Sowerby; 'but it is the evil speaking,
lying, and slandering, which does the mischief. Is it not,
'And in the meantime, how is the Queen's Government to be carried
on?' said Mr Green Walker. On the following morning it was known
that Lord De Terrier was with the Queen at Buckingham Palace, and
at about twelve a list of the new ministry was published, which
must have been in the highest degree satisfactory to the whole
brood of giants. Every son of Tellus was included in it, as were
also very many of the daughters. But then, late in the afternoon,
Lord Brock was again summoned to the palace, and it was thought in
the West End among the clubs that the gods had again a chance. 'If
only,' said the Purist, an evening paper which was supposed to be
very much in the interest of Mr Harold Smith, 'if only Lord Brock
can have the wisdom to place the right men in the right places. It
was only the other day that he introduced Mr Smith into his
Government. That this was a step in the right direction every one
acknowledged, though unfortunately it was made too late to prevent
the disturbance which has since occurred. It now appears probable
that his lordship will again have an opportunity of selecting a
list of statesmen with a view of carrying on the Queen's
Government; and it is to be hoped that such men as Mr Smith may be
placed in situations in which their talents, industry, and
acknowledged official aptitudes, may be of permanent service to the
country.' Supplehouse, when he read this at the club with Mr
Sowerby at his elbow, declared that the style was too well marked
to leave any doubt as to the author; but we ourselves are not
inclined to think that Mr Harold Smith wrote the article himself,
although it may be probable that he saw it in type. But the
Jupiter the next morning settled the whole question, and made it
known to the world that, in spite of all the sendings and
resendings, Lord Brock and the gods were permanently out, and Lord
De Terrier and the giants permanently in. That fractious giant who
would only go to the Foreign Office, had, in fact, gone to some
sphere of much less important duty, and Sidonia, in spite of the
whispered dislike of an illustrious personage, opened the campaign
with all the full appanages of a giant of the highest standing. 'We
hope,' said the Jupiter, 'that Lord Brock may not yet be too old to
take a lesson. If so, the present decision of the House of
Commons, and we may say of the country also, may teach him not to
put his trust in such princes as Lord Brittleback, or
such broken reeds as Mr Harold Smith.' Now this parting blow we
always thought to be exceedingly unkind, and altogether unnecessary,
on the part of Mr Supplehouse.
'My dear,' said Mrs Harold Smith, when she first met Miss Dunstable
after the catastrophe was known, 'how am I possibly to endure this
degradation?' And she put her deeply laced handkerchief to her
'Christian resignation,' suggested Miss Dunstable.
'Fiddlestick!' said Mrs Harold Smith. 'You millionaires always
talk of Christian resignation, because you never are called on to
resign anything. If I had any Christian resignation, I shouldn't
have cared for such pomps and vanities. Think of it, my dear; a
Cabinet minister's wife for only three weeks!'
'How does poor Mr Smith endure it?'
'What? Harold? He only lives on the hope of vengeance. When he
has put an end to Mr Supplehouse he will be content to die.' And
then there were further explanations in both Houses of Parliament,
which were altogether satisfactory. The high-bred, courteous giants
assured the gods that they had piled Pelion on Ossa and thus
climbed up into power, very much in opposition to their good-wills;
for they, the giants themselves, preferred the sweets of dignified
retirement. But the voice of the people had been too strong for
them; the effort had been made, not by themselves, but by others,
who were determined that the giants should be at the head of
affairs. Indeed, the spirit of the times was so clearly in favour
of giants that there had been no alternative. So said Briareus to
the Lords and Orion to the Commons. And then the gods were
absolutely happy in ceding their places; and so far were they from
any uncelestial envy or malice which might not be divine, that they
promised to give the giants all the assistance in their power in
carrying on the work of the government; upon which the giants
declared how deeply indebted they would be for such valuable
counsel and friendly assistance. All this was delightful in the
extreme; but not the less did ordinary men seem to expect that the
usual battle would go on in the old customary way. It is easy to
love one's enemy when one is making fine speeches; but so difficult
to do so in the actual everyday work of life. But there was and
always has been this peculiar good point about the giants, that
they are never too proud to follow in the footsteps of the gods.
If the gods, deliberating painfully together, have elaborated any
skilful project, the giants are always willing to adopt it as their
own, not treating the bantling as a foster child, but praising it
and pushing it so that men should regard it as the undoubted
offspring of their own brains. Now just at this time there had
been a plan much thought of for increasing the number of bishops.
Good active bishops were very desirable, and there was a strong
feeling among certain excellent Churchmen that there could hardly
be too many of them. Lord Brock had his measures cut and dry.
There should be a Bishop of Westminster to share the Herculean
toils of the metropolitan prelate, and another up in the North to
Christianize the mining interests and wash white the blackamoors of
Newcastle: Bishop of Beverley he should be called. But, in
opposition to this, the giants, it was known, had intended to put
forth the whole measure of their brute force. More curates, they
said, were wanting, and district incumbents; not more bishops
rolling in carriages. That bishops should roll in carriages was
very good; but of such blessings the English world for the present
had enough. And therefore Lord Brock and the gods had had much
fear as to their little project. But now, immediately on the
accession of the giants, it was known that the bishop bill was to
be gone on with immediately. Some small changes would be effected
so that the bill should be gigantic rather than divine; but the
result would be altogether the same. It must, however, be admitted
that bishops appointed by ourselves may be very good things,
whereas those appointed by our adversaries will be anything but
good. And, no doubt, this feeling went a long way with the
giants. Be that as it may, the new bishop bill was to be their
first work of government, and it was to be brought forward and
carried, and the new prelates selected and put into their chairs
all at once,--before the grouse should begin to crow and put an end
to the doings of gods as well as giants. Among other minor effects
arising from this decision was the following, that Archdeacon and
Mrs Grantly returned to London, and again took the lodgings in
which they had been staying. On various occasions also during the
first week of this second sojourn, Dr Grantly might be seen
entering the official chambers of the First Lord of the Treasury.
Much counsel was necessary among High-Churchmen of great repute
before any fixed resolution could wisely be made in such a matter
as this; and few Churchmen stood in higher repute than the
Archdeacon of Barchester. And then it began to be rumoured in the
world that the minister had disposed at any rate of the see of
Westminster. This present time was a very nervous one for Mrs
Grantly. What might be the aspirations of the archdeacon himself,
we will not stop to inquire. It may be that time and experience
had taught him the futility of earthly honours, and made him
content with the comfortable opulence of his Barsetshire rectory.
But there is no theory of Church discipline which makes it
necessary that a clergyman's wife should have an objection to a
bishopric. The archdeacon probably was only anxious to give a
disinterested aid to the minister, but Mrs Grantly did long to sit
in high places, and be at any rate equal to Mrs Proudie. It was
for her children, she said to herself, that she was thus anxious--
that they should have a good position before the world and the
means of making the best of themselves. 'One is able to do
nothing, you know, shut up there, down at Plumstead,' she had
remarked to Lady Lufton on the occasion of her first visit to
London, and yet the time was not long past when she had thought
that rectory house at Plumstead to be by no means insufficient or
contemptible. And then there came the question whether or no
Griselda should go back to her mother; but this idea was very
strongly opposed by Lady Lufton, and ultimately with success.
'I really think the dear girl is very happy with me,' said Lady
Lufton; 'and if ever she is to belong to me more closely, it will
be so well that we should know and love one another.'
To tell the truth, Lady Lufton had been trying hard to know and
love Griselda, but hitherto she had scarcely succeeded to the full
extent of her wishes. That she loved Griselda was certain,--with
that sort of love which springs from a person's volition and not
from the judgement. She had said all along to herself and others
that she did love Griselda Grantly. She had admired the young
lady's face, liked her manner, approved of her fortune and family,
and had selected her for a daughter-in-law in a somewhat impetuous
manner. Therefore she loved her. But it was by no means clear to
Lady Lufton that she did as yet know her young friend. The match
was a plan of her own, and therefore she stuck to it as warmly as
ever, but she began to have some misgivings whether or no the dear
girl would be to her herself all that she had dreamed of in a
daughter-in-law. 'But, dear Lady Lufton,' said Mrs Grantly, 'is it
not possible that we may put her affections to too severe a test?
What, if she should learn to regard him, and then--'
'Ah! if she did, I should have no fear of the result. If she
showed anything like love for Ludovic, he would be at her feet in a
moment. He is impulsive, but she is not.'
'Exactly, Lady Lufton. It is his privilege to be impulsive and to
sue for her affection, and hers to have her love sought for without
making any demonstration. It is perhaps the fault of young ladies
of the present day that they are too impulsive. They assume
privileges which are not their own, and thus lose those which are.'
'Quite true! I quite agree with you. It is probably that very
feeling that has made me think so highly of Griselda. But then--'
But then a young lady, though she need not jump down a gentleman's
throat, or throw herself into his face, may give some signs that
she is made of flesh and blood; especially when her papa and mamma
all belonging to her are so anxious to make that path of her love
run smooth. That was what was passing through Lady Lufton's mind;
but she did not say it all; she merely looked it.
'I don't think she will ever allow herself to indulge in an
unauthorized passion,' said Mrs Grantly.
'I am sure she will not,' said Lady Lufton, with ready agreement,
fearing perhaps in her heart that Griselda would never indulge in
any passion authorized or unauthorized.
'I don't know whether Lord Lufton sees much of her now,' said Mrs
Grantly, thinking perhaps of that promise of Lady Lufton's with
reference to his lordship's spare time.
'Just lately, during these changes, you know, everybody has been so
much engaged. Ludovic has been constantly at the House, and then
men find it so necessary to be at their clubs just now.'
'Yes, yes, of course,' said Mrs Grantly, who was not at all
disposed to think little of the importance of the present crisis,
or to wonder that men should congregate together when such deeds
were to be done as those which now occupied the breasts of the
Queen's advisers. At last, however, the two mothers perfectly
understood each other. Griselda was still to remain with Lady
Lufton; and was to accept her ladyship's son, if he could only be
induced to exercise his privilege of asking her; but in the
meantime, as this seemed to be doubtful, Griselda was not to be
debarred from her privilege of making what use she could of any
other string which she might have to her bow.
'But, mamma,' said Griselda, in a moment of unwatched intercourse
between the mother and daughter, 'is it really true that they are
going to make papa a bishop?'
'We can tell nothing as yet, my dear. People in the world are
talking about it. Your papa has been a good deal with Lord De
'And isn't he Prime Minister?'
'Oh, yes; I am happy to say that he is.'
'I thought the Prime Minister could make any one a bishop that he
chooses,--any clergyman, that is.'
'But there is no see vacant,' said Mrs Grantly.
'Then there isn't any chance,' said Griselda, looking very glum.
'They are going to have an Act of Parliament for making two more
bishops. That's what they are talking about at least. And if they
'Papa will be made Bishop of Westminster--won't he? And we shall
live in London.'
'But you must not talk about it, my dear.'
'No, I won't. But, mamma, a Bishop of Westminster will be higher
than a Bishop of Barchester, won't he? I shall so like to be able
to snub the Miss Proudies.' It will therefore be seen that there
were matters on which even Griselda Grantly could be animated. Like
the rest of her family she was devoted to the Church. Late on that
afternoon the archdeacon returned home to dine in Mount Street,
having spent the whole of the day between the Treasury chambers, a
meeting of Convocation, and his club. And when he did get home it
was soon manifest to his wife that he was not laden with good
news. 'It is almost incredible,' he said, standing with his back
to the drawing-room fire.
'What is incredible?' said his wife, sharing her husband's anxiety
to the full.
'If I had not learned it as a fact, I would not have believed it,
even of Lord Brock,' said the archdeacon.
'Learned what?' said the anxious wife.
'After all, they are going to oppose the bill.'
'Impossible!' said Mrs Grantly.
'But they are.'
'The bill for the two new bishops, archdeacon? Oppose their own
'Yes--oppose their own bill. It is almost incredible; but so it
is. Some changes have been forced upon us; little things which
they had forgotten--quite minor matters; and they now say that they
will be obliged to divide against us on these twopenny-halfpenny,
hair-splitting points. It is Lord Brock's own doing too, after all
that he has said about abstaining from factious opposition to the
'I believe there is nothing too bad or too false for that man,'
said Mrs Grantly.
'After all they said, too, when they were in power themselves, as
to the present Government opposing the cause of religion! They
declare now that Lord De Terrier cannot be very anxious about it,
as he had so many good reasons against it a few weeks ago. Is it
not dreadful that there should be such double-dealing in men in
'It is sickening,' said Mrs Grantly. And then there was a pause
between them as the thought of the injury that was done to them.
'Could you not give up those small points and shame them into
'Nothing would shame them.'
'But would it not be well to try?' The game was so good a one, and
the stake so important, that Mrs Grantly felt that it would be
worth playing for to the last.
'It is no good.'
'But I certainly would suggest it to Lord De Terrier. I am sure
the country would go along with him; at any rate the Church would.'
'It is impossible,' said the archdeacon. 'To tell the truth, it
did occur to me. But some of them down there seemed to think that
it would not do.' Mrs Grantly sat awhile on the sofa, still
meditating in her mind whether there might not yet be some escape
from so terrible a downfall.
'I'll go upstairs and dress,' said he, in despondency.
'But, archdeacon, surely the present ministry may have a majority
on such a subject as that; I thought they were sure of a majority
'No; not sure.'
'But at any rate the chances are in their favour? I do hope
they'll do their duty, and exert themselves to keep their members
together.' And then the archdeacon told out the whole truth.
'Lord De Terrier says that under the present circumstances he will
not bring the matter forward this session at all. So we had better
go back to Plumstead.' Mrs Grantly then felt that there was
nothing further to be said, and it will be proper that the
historian should drop a veil over their sufferings.
MAGNA EST VERITAS
It was made known to the reader that in the early part of the
winter Mr Sowerby had a scheme for retrieving his lost fortunes,
and setting himself right in the world, by marrying that rich
heiress, Miss Dunstable. I fear my friend Sowerby does not, at
present, stand high in the estimation of those who have come with
me thus far in this narrative. He has been described as a
spendthrift and gambler, and as one scarcely honest in his
extravagance and gambling. But nevertheless there are worse men
than Mr Sowerby, and I am not prepared to say that, should he be
successful with Miss Dunstable, that lady would choose by any means
the worst of the suitors who are continually throwing themselves at
her feet. Reckless as this man always appeared to be, reckless as
he absolutely was, there was still within his heart a desire for
better things, and in his mind an understanding that he had
hitherto missed the career of an honest English gentleman. He was
proud of his position as a member for his county, though hitherto
he had done so little to grace it; he was proud of his domain at
Chaldicotes, though the possession of it had so nearly passed out
of his own hands; he was proud of the old blood that flowed in his
veins; and he was proud also of that easy, comfortable, gay manner,
which went so far in the world's judgement to atone for his
extravagance and evil practices. If only he could get another
chance, as he now said to himself, things should go very
differently with him. He would utterly forswear the whole company
of Tozers. He would cease to deal in bills, and to pay Heaven only
knows how many hundred per centum for his moneys. He would no
longer prey upon his friends, and would redeem his title-deeds
from the Duke of Omnium. If only he could get another chance! Miss
Dunstable's fortune would do all this and ever so much more, and
then, moreover, Miss Dunstable was a woman whom he really liked.
She was not soft, feminine, or pretty, nor was she very young; but
she was clever, self-possessed, and quite able to hold her own in
any class; and as to age, Mr Sowerby was not very young himself.
In making such a match he would have no cause of shame. He could
speak of it before his friends without any fear of their grimaces,
and ask them to his house, with the full assurance that the head of
his table would not disgrace him. And then as the scheme grew
clearer and clearer to him, he declared to himself that if he
should be successful, he would use her well, and not rob her of her
money--beyond what was absolutely necessary. He had intended to
have laid his fortunes at her feet at Chaldicotes; but the lady had
been coy. Then the deed was to have been done at Gatherum Castle,
but the lady ran away from Gatherum Castle just at the time on
which he had fixed. And since that, one circumstance after another
had postponed the affair in London, till now at last he was
resolved that he would know his fate, let it be what it might.
If he could not contrive that things should speedily be arranged,
it might come to pass that he would be altogether debarred from
presenting himself to the lady as Mr Sowerby of Chaldicotes.
Tidings had reached him, through Mr Fothergill, that the duke would
be glad to have matters arranged; and Mr Sowerby well knew the
meaning of that message.
Mr Sowerby was not fighting this campaign alone, without the aid of
an ally. Indeed, no man ever had a more trusty ally in any
campaign than he had in this. And it was this ally, the only
faithful comrade that clung to him through good and ill during his
whole life, who first put it into his head that Miss Dunstable was
a woman and might be married. 'A hundred needy adventurers have
attempted it, and failed already,' Mr Sowerby had said, when the
plan was first proposed to him.
'But, nevertheless, she will some day marry some one; and why not
you as well as another?' his sister had answered. For Mrs Harold
Smith was the ally of whom I have spoken. Mrs Harold Smith,
whatever may have been her faults, could boast of this virtue--that
she loved her brother. He was probably the only human being that
she did love. Children she had none; and as for her husband, it
had never occurred to her to love him. She had married him for a
position; and being a clever woman, with a good digestion and
command of her temper, had managed to get through the world without
much of that unhappiness which usually follows ill-assorted
marriages. At home she managed to keep the upper hand, but she did
so in an easy, good-humoured way that made her rule bearable; and
away from home she assisted her lord's political standing, though
she laughed more keenly than any one else at his foibles. But the
lord of her heart was her brother; and in all his scrapes, all his
extravagances, and all his recklessness, she had ever been willing
to assist him. With the view of doing this she had sought the
intimacy of Miss Dunstable, and for the last year past had indulged
every caprice of that lady. Or rather, she had had the wit to
learn that Miss Dunstable was to be won, not by the indulgence of
caprice, but by free and easy intercourse, with a dash of fun, and,
at any rate, a semblance of honesty. Mrs Harold Smith was not,
perhaps, herself very honest by disposition; but in these latter
days she had taken up a theory of honesty for the sake of Miss
Dunstable--not altogether in vain, for Miss Dunstable and Mrs
Harold Smith were very intimate.
'If I am to do it at all, I must not wait any longer,' said Mr
Sowerby to his sister a day or two after the final breakdown of the
gods. The affection of the sister for the brother may be imagined
from the fact that at such a time she could give up her mind to
such a subject. But, in truth, her husband's position as Cabinet
minister was as nothing as compared with her brother's position as
a county gentleman. 'One time is as good as another.'
'You mean that you would advise me to ask her at once.'
'Certainly. But you must remember, Nat, that you will have no easy
task. It will not do for you to kneel down and swear that you love
'If I do it at all, I shall certainly do it without kneeling--you
may be sure of that, Harriet.'
'Yes, and without swearing that you love her. There is only one
way in which you can be successful with Miss Dunstable--you must
tell her the truth.'
'What! tell her that I am ruined, horse, foot, and dragoons, and
then bid her help me out of the mire?'
'Exactly: that will be your only chance, strange as it may appear.'
'This is very different from what you used to say, down at
'So it is; but I know her much better than I did when we were
there. Since then I have done but little else than study the
freaks of her character. If she really likes you--and I think she
does--she could forgive you any other crime but that of swearing
that you loved her.'
'I should hardly know how to propose without saying something about
'But you must say nothing--not a word; you must tell her that you
are a gentleman of good blood and high station, but sadly out at
'She knows that already.'
'Of course she does; but she must know it as coming directly from
your mouth. And then tell her that you propose to set yourself
right by marrying her--by marrying her for the sake of her money.'
'That will hardly win her, I should say.'
'If it does not, no other way, that I know of, will do so. As I
told you before, it will be no easy task. Of course you must make
her understand that her happiness shall be cared for; but that must
not be put prominently forward as your object. Your first object
is her money, and your only chance for success is in telling the
'It is very seldom that a man finds himself in such a position as
that,' said Sowerby, walking up and down his sister's room; 'and,
upon my word, I don't think that I am up to the task. I should
certainly break down. I don't believe there's a man in London
could go to a woman with such a story as that, and then ask her to
'If you cannot, you may as well give it up,' said Mrs Harold
Smith. 'But if you can do it--if you can go through with it in
that manner--my own opinion is that your chance of success would
not be bad. The fact is,' added the sister after a while, during
which her brother was continuing his walk and meditating on the
difficulties of his position--'the fact is, you men never
understand a woman; you give her credit neither for her strength,
nor for her weakness. You are too bold, and too timid: you think
she is a fool and tell her so, and yet never can trust her to do a
kind action. Why should she not marry you with the intention of
doing you a good turn? After all, she would lose very little:
there is the estate, and if she redeemed it, it would belong to her
as well as you.'
'It would be a good turn, indeed. I fear I should be too modest to
put it to her in that way.'
'Her position would be much better as your wife than it is at
present. You are good-humoured and good-tempered, you would intend
to treat her well, and, on the whole, she would be much happier as
Mrs Sowerby, of Chaldicotes, than she can be in her present
'If she cared about being married, I suppose she could be a peer's
'But I don't think she cares about being a peer's wife. A needy
peer might perhaps win her in the way that I propose to you; but
then a needy peer would not know how to set about it. Needy peers
have tried--half a dozen I have no doubt--and have failed, because
they have pretended that they were in love with her. It may be
difficult, but your only chance is to tell her the truth.'
'And where shall I do it?'
'Here if you choose; but her own house will be better.'
'But I never can see her there--at least, not alone. I believe she
is never alone. She always keeps a lot of people round her in
order to stave off her lovers. Upon my word, Harriet, I think I'll
give it up. It is impossible that I should make such a declaration
to her as that you propose.'
'Faint heart, Nat--you know the rest.'
'But the poet never alluded to such a wooing as that you have
suggested. I suppose I had better begin with a schedule of my
debts, and make reference, if she doubts me, to Fothergill, the
sheriff's officers, and the Tozer family.'
'She will not doubt you, on that head; nor will she be a bit
surprised.' Then there was again a pause, during which Mr Sowerby
still walked up and down the room, thinking whether or no he might
possibly have any chance of success in so hazardous an enterprise.
'I tell you what, Harriet,' at last he said; 'I wish you'd do it
'Well,' said she, 'if you really mean it, I will make the attempt.'
'I am sure of this, that I shall never make it myself. I
positively should not have the courage to tell her in so many
words, that I wanted to marry her for her money.'
'Well, Nat, I will attempt it. At any rate, I am not afraid of
her. She and I are excellent friends, and, to tell the truth, I
think I like her better than any other woman that I know; but I
never should have been intimate with her, had it not been for your
'And now you will have to quarrel with her, also for my sake?'
'Not at all. You'll find that whether she accedes to my
proposition or not, we shall continue to be friends. I do not
think that she would die for me--nor I for her. But as the world
goes we suit each other. Such a little trifle as this will not
break our loves.' And so it was settled. On the following day Mrs
Harold Smith was to find an opportunity of explaining the whole
matter to Miss Dunstable, and was to ask that lady to share her
fortune--some incredible number of thousands of pounds--with the
bankrupt member for West Barsetshire, who in return was to bestow
on her--himself and his debts. Mrs Harold Smith had spoken no more
than the truth in saying that she and Miss Dunstable suited one
another. And she had not improperly described their friendship.
They were not prepared to die, one for the sake of the other. They
had said nothing to each other of mutual love and affection. They
never kissed, or cried, or made speeches, when they met or when
they parted. There was no great benefit for which either had to be
grateful to the other; no terrible injury which either had
forgiven. But they suited each other; and this, I take it, is the
secret of most of pleasantest intercourse in the world. And it was
almost grievous that they should suit each other, for Miss
Dunstable was much the worthier of the two, had she but known it
herself. It was almost to be lamented that she should have found
herself able to live with Mrs Harold Smith on terms that were
perfectly satisfactory to herself. Mrs Harold Smith was worldly,
heartless--to all the world but her brother--and, as has been above
hinted, almost dishonest. Miss Dunstable was not worldly, though
it was possible that her present style of life might make her so;
she was affectionate, fond of truth, and prone to honesty, if those
around would but allow her to exercise it. But she was fond of
ease and humour, sometimes of wit that might almost be called
broad, and she had a thorough love of ridiculing the world's
humbugs. In all the propensities Mrs Harold Smith indulged her.
Under these circumstances they were now together almost every day.
It had become quite a habit with Mrs Harold Smith to have herself
driven early in the forenoon to Miss Dunstable's house; and that
lady, though she could never be found alone by Mr Sowerby, was
habitually so found by his sister. And after that they would go
out together, or each separately as fancy or the business of the
day might direct them. Each was easy to the other in this
alliance, and they so managed that they never trod on each other's
corns. On the day following the agreement made between Mr Sowerby
and Mrs Harold Smith, that lady as usual called on Miss Dunstable,
and soon found herself alone with her friend in a small room which
the heiress kept solely for her own purposes. On special occasions
persons of various sorts were there admitted; occasionally a parson
who had a church to build, or a dowager laden with the last morsel
of town slander, or a poor author who could not get due payment for
the efforts of his brain, or a poor governess on whose feeble
stamina the weight of the world had borne too hardly. But men who
by possibility could be lovers did not make their way thither, nor
women who could be bores. In these latter days, that is, during
the present London season, the doors of it had been oftener open to
Mrs Harold Smith than to any other person. And now the effort was
to be made with the object of which all this intimacy had been
effected. As she came thither in her carriage, Mrs Harold Smith
herself was not altogether devoid of that sinking of the heart
which is so frequently the forerunner of any difficult and
hazardous undertaking. She had declared that she would feel no
fear in making the little proposition. But she did feel something
very like it: and when she made her entrance into the little room
she certainly wished that the work was done and over.
'How is poor Mr Smith to-day?' asked Miss Dunstable, with an air of
mock condolence, as her friend seated herself in her accustomed
easy chair. The downfall of the gods was as yet a history hardly
three days old, and it might well be supposed that the late of the
Petty Bag had hardly recovered from his misfortune. 'Well, he is
better, I think, this morning; at least I should judge so from the
manner in which he confronted his eggs. But still I don't like the
way he handles the carving-knife. I am sure he is always thinking
of Mr Supplehouse at those moments.'
'Poor man! I mean Supplehouse. After all, why shouldn't he follow
his trade as well as another? Live and let live, that's what I
'Aye, but it's kill and let kill with him. That is what Horace
says. However, I am tired of all that now, and I came here to-day
to talk about something else.'
'I rather like Mr Supplehouse myself,' exclaimed Miss Dunstable.
'He never makes any bones about the matter. He has a certain work
to do, and a certain cause to serve--namely, his own; and in order
to do that work, and serve that cause, he uses such weapons as God
has placed in his hands.'
'That's what the wild beasts do.'
'And where will you find men honester than they? The tiger tears
you up because he is hungry and wants to eat you. That's what
Supplehouse does. But there are so many among us tearing up one
another without any excuse of hunger. The mere pleasure of
destroying is reason enough.
'Well, my dear, my mission to you to-day is certainly not one of
destruction, as you will admit when you hear it. It is one,
rather, very absolutely of salvation. I have come to make love to
'Then the salvation, I suppose, is not for myself,' said Miss
Dunstable. It was quite clear to Mrs Harold Smith that Miss
Dunstable had immediately understood the whole purport of this
visit, and that she was not in any great measure surprised. It did
not seem from the tone of the heiress's voice, or from the serious
look which at once settled on her face, that she would be prepared
to give very ready compliance. But then great objects can only be
won with great efforts.
'That's as may be,' said Mrs Harold Smith. 'For you and another
also, I hope. But I trust, at any rate, that I may not offend
'Oh, laws, no; nothing of that kind ever offends me now.'
'Well, I suppose you're used to it.'
'Like the eels, my dear. I don't mind it the least in the
world--only sometimes, you know, it is a little tedious.'
'I'll endeavour to avoid that, so I may as well break the ice at
once. You know enough of Nathaniel's affairs to be aware that he
is not a very rich man.'
'Since you do ask me about it, I suppose there's no harm in saying
that I believe him to be a very poor man.'
'Not the least harm in the world, but just the reverse. Whatever
may come of this, my wish is that the truth should be told
scrupulously on all sides; the truth, the whole truth, and nothing
but the truth.'
'Magna est veritas,' said Miss Dunstable. 'The Bishop of
Barchester taught me as much Latin as that at Chaldicotes; and he
did add some more, but there was a long word, and I forgot it.'
'The bishop was quite right, my dear, I'm sure. But if you go to
your Latin, I'm lost. As we were just now saying, my brother's
pecuniary affairs are in a very bad state. He has a beautiful
property of his own, which has been in the family for I can't say
how many centuries--long before the Conquest, I know.'
'I wonder what my ancestors were then?'
'It does not much signify to any of us,' said Mrs Harold Smith,
with a moral shake of her head, 'what our ancestors were; but it's
a sad thing to see an old property go to ruin.'
'Yes, indeed; we none of us like to see our property going to ruin,
whether it be old or new. I have some of that sort of feeling
already, although mine was only made the other day out of an
'God forbid that I should ever help you ruin it,' said Mrs Harold
Smith. 'I should be sorry to be the means of your losing a
'Magna est veritas, as the dear bishop said,' exclaimed Miss
Dunstable. 'Let us have the truth, the whole truth, and nothing
but the truth, as we agreed just now.' Mrs Harold Smith did begin
to find that the task before her was difficult. There was a
hardness about Miss Dunstable when matters of business were
concerned on which it seemed almost impossible to make any
impression. It was not that she had evinced any determination to
refuse the tender of Mr Sowerby's hand; but she was so painfully
resolute not to have dust thrown in her eyes! Mrs Harold Smith had
commenced with a mind fixed upon avoiding what she called humbug;
but this sort of humbug had become so prominent a part of her usual
rhetoric, that she found it very hard to abandon it. 'And that's
what I wish,' said she. 'Of course my chief object is to secure my
'That's very unkind to poor Mr Harold Smith.'
'Well, well, well--you know what I mean.'
'Yes, I think I do know what you mean. Your brother is a gentleman
of good family, but of no means.'
'Not quite as bad as that.'
'Of embarrassed means, then, or anything that you will; whereas I
am a lady of no family, but of sufficient wealth. You think that
if you brought us together and made a match of it, it would be a
very good thing for--for whom?' said Miss Dunstable.
'Yes, exactly,' said Mrs Harold Smith.
'For which of us? Remember the bishop now and his nice little bit
'For Nathaniel then,' said Mrs Harold Smith, boldly. 'It would be
a very good thing for him.' And a slight smile came across her
face as she said it. 'Now that's honest, or the mischief is in
'Yes, that's honest enough. And did he send you here to tell me
'Well, he did that, and something else.'
'And now let's have the something else. The really important part,
I have no doubt, has been spoken.'
'No, by no means, by no means all of it. But you are so hard on
one, my dear, with your running after honesty, that one is not able
to tell the real facts as they are. You make one speak in such a
bald, naked way.'
'Ah, you think that anything naked must be indecent; even truth.'
'I think it is more proper-looking, and better suited, too, for the
world's work, when it goes about with some sort of garment on it.
We are so used to a leaven of falsehood in all we hear and say,
nowadays, that nothing is more likely to deceive us than the
absolute truth. If a shopkeeper told me that his wares were simply
middling, of course, I should think that they were not worth a
farthing. But all that has nothing to do with my poor brother.
Well, what was I saying?'
'You were going to tell me how well he will use me, no doubt.'
'Something of that kind.'
'That he wouldn't beat me; or spend all my money if I managed to
have it tied up out of his power; or look down on me with contempt
because my father was an apothecary! Was not that what you were
going to say?'
'I was going to tell you that you might be more happy as Mrs
Sowerby of Chaldicotes than you can be as Miss Dunstable--'
'Of Mount Lebanon. And had Mr Sowerby no other message to
send?---nothing about love, or anything of that sort? I should
like, you know, to understand what his feelings are before I take
such a leap.'
'I do believe he has as true a regard for you as any man of his age
'For any woman of mine. That is not putting it in a very devoted
way certainly; but I am glad to see that you remember the bishop's
'What would you have me say? If I told you that he was dying for
love, you would say, I was trying to cheat you; and now because I
don't tell you so, you say that he is wanting of devotion. I must
say you are hard to please.'
'Perhaps I am, and very unreasonable into the bargain. I ought to
ask no questions of the kind when your brother proposes to do me so
much honour. As for my expecting the love of a man who condescends
to wish to be my husband, that, of course, would be monstrous. What
right can I have to think that any man should love me? It ought to
be enough for me to know that as I am rich, I can get a husband.
What business can such as I have to inquire whether the gentleman
who would so honour me really would like my company, or would only
deign to put up with my presence in the household?'
'Now, my dear Miss Dunstable--'
'Of course I am not so much an ass to expect that any gentleman
should love me; and I feel that I ought to be obliged to your
brother for sparing me the string of complimentary declarations
which are usual on such occasions. He, at any rate, is not
tedious--or rather you on his behalf; for no doubt his own time is
so occupied with his parliamentary duties that he cannot attend to
this little matter himself. I do feel grateful to him; and perhaps
nothing more will be necessary than to give him a schedule of the
property, and name an early day for putting him possession.' Mrs
Smith did feel that she was rather badly used. This Miss
Dunstable, in their mutual confidences, had so often ridiculed the
love-making grimaces of her mercenary suitors--had spoken so
fiercely against those who had persecuted her, not because they had
desired her money, but on account of their ill-judgement in
thinking her to be a fool--that Mrs Smith had a right to expect
that the method she had adopted for opening the negotiation would be
taken in a better spirit. Could it be possible, after all, thought
Mrs Smith to herself, that Miss Dunstable was like other women, and
that she did like to have men kneeling at her feet? Could it be
the case that she had advised her brother badly, and that it would
have been better for him to have gone about his work in the
old-fashioned way? 'They are very hard to manage,' said Mrs Harold
Smith to herself, thinking of her own sex.
'He was coming here himself,' said she, 'but I advised him not to
'That was kind of you.'
'I thought that I could explain to you more openly and more freely,
what his intentions really are.'
'Oh! I have no doubt that they are honourable,' said Miss
Dunstable. 'He does not want to deceive me in that way, I am
sure.' It was impossible to help laughing, and Mrs Harold Smith
did laugh. 'Upon my word, you would provoke a saint,' said she.
'I am not likely to get into such company by the alliance that you
are suggesting to me. There are not many saints usually at
Chaldicotes, I believe;--always excepting the dear bishop and his
'But, my dear, what am I to say to Nathaniel?'
'Tell him, of course, how much obliged to him I am.'
'Do listen to me one moment. I dare say that I have done wrong to
speak to you in such a bold, unromantic way.'
'Not at all. The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the
truth. That's what we agreed upon. But one's first efforts in
any line are always apt to be a little uncouth.'
'I will send Nathaniel to you himself.'
'No, do not do so. Why torment either him or me? I do like your
brother; in a certain way, I like him much. But no earthly
consideration would induce me to marry him. Is it not so glaringly
plain that he would marry me for my money only, that you have not
even dared to suggest any other reason?'
'Of course it would have been nonsense to say that he had no regard
whatever towards your money.'
'Of course it would--absolute nonsense. He is a poor man with a
good position, and he wants to marry me because I have got that
which he wants. But, my dear, I do not want that which he has got,
and therefore the bargain would not be a fair one.'
'But he would do his best to make you happy.'
'I am so much obliged to him; but you see, I am very happy as I
am. What should I gain?'
'A companion whom you confess you like.'
'Ah! but I don't know that I should like too much even of such a
companion as your brother. No, my dear--it won't do. Believe me
when I tell you, once for all, that it won't do.'
'Do, you mean, then, Miss Dunstable, that you'll never marry?'
'To-morrow--if I met any one that I fancied, and he would have me.
But I rather think that any that I may fancy won't have me. In the
first place, if I marry any one, the man must be quite indifferent
to my money.'
'Then you'll not find him in the world, my dear.'
'Very possibly not,' said Miss Dunstable. All that was further
said upon the subject need not be here repeated. Mrs Harold Smith
did not give up her cause quite at once, although Miss Dunstable
had spoken so plainly. She tried to explain how eligible would be
her friend's situation as mistress of Chaldicotes, when Chaldicotes
should owe no penny to any man; and went so far as to hint that the
master of Chaldicotes, if relieved of his embarrassments and known
as a rich man, might in all probability be found worthy of a
peerage when the gods should return to Olympus. Mr Harold Smith,
as a Cabinet minister, would, of course, do his best. But it was
all of no use. 'It's not my destiny,' said Miss Dunstable, 'and
therefore do not press it any longer.'
'But we shall not quarrel,' said Mrs Harold Smith, almost tenderly.
'Oh, no--why should we quarrel?'
'And you won't look glum at my brother?'
'Why should I look glum at him? But, Mrs Smith, I'll do more than
not looking glum at him. I do like you, and I do like your
brother, and if I can in any moderate way assist him in his
difficulties, let him tell me so.' Soon after this, Mrs Harold
Smith went her way. Of course, she declared in a very strong
manner that her brother could not think of accepting from Miss
Dunstable any such pecuniary assistance as that offered--and, to
give her her due, such was the feeling of her mind at the moment;
but as she went to meet her brother and gave him an account of this
interview, it did occur to her that possibly Miss Dunstable might
be a better creditor than the Duke of Omnium for the Chaldicotes
It cannot be held as astonishing, that that last decision on the
part of the giants in the matter of the two bishoprics should have
disgusted Archdeacon Grantly. He was a politician, but not a
politician as they were. As is the case with all exoteric men, his
political eyes saw a short way only, and his political aspirations
were as limited. When his friends came into office, that bishop
bill, which as the original product of his enemies had been
regarded by him as being so pernicious--for was it not about to be
made law in order that other Proudies and such like might be
hoisted up into high places and large incomes, to the terrible
detriment of the Church?---that bishop bill, I say, in the hands of
his friends, had appeared to him to be a means of almost national
salvation. And then, how great had been the good fortune of the
giants in this matter! Had they been the originators of such a
measure they would not have had a chance of success; but now--now
that the two bishops were falling into their mouths out of the weak
hands of the gods, was not their success ensured? So Dr Grantly
had girded up his loins and marched up to the fight, almost
regretting that the triumph would be so easy. The subsequent
failure was very trying to his temper as a party man. It always
strikes me that the supporters of the Titans are in this respect
much to be pitied. The giants themselves, those who are actually
handling Pelion and breaking their shins over the lower rocks of
Ossa, are always advancing in some sort towards the councils of
Olympus. Their highest policy is to snatch some ray from heaven.
Why else put Pelion on Ossa, unless it be that a furtive hand,
making its way through Jove's windows, may pluck forth a
thunderbolt or two, or some article less destructive, but of
manufacture equally divine? And in this consists the wisdom of
higher giants--that, in spite of their mundane antecedents,
theories and predilections, they can see that articles of divine
manufacture are necessary. But then they never carry their
supporters with them. Their whole army is an army of martyrs.
'For twenty years I have stuck to them, and see how they have treated
me!' Is not that always the plaint of an old giant-slave? 'I have
been true to my party all my life, and where am I now?' he says.
Where, indeed, my friend? Looking about you, you begin to learn
that you cannot describe your whereabouts. I do not marvel at
that. No one finds himself planted at last in so terribly foul a
morass, as he would fain stand still for ever on dry ground.
Dr Grantly was disgusted; and although he was himself too true and
thorough in all his feelings, to be able to say aloud that any
giant was wrong, still he had a sad feeling within his heart that
the world was sinking from under him. He was still sufficiently
exoteric to think that a good stand-up fight in a good cause was a
good thing. No doubt he did wish to be Bishop of Westminster, and
was anxious to compass that preferment by any means that might
appear to him to be fair. And why not? But this was not the end
of his aspirations. He wished that the giants might prevail in
everything, in bishoprics as in all other matters; and he could not
understand that they should give way on the very first appearance
of a skirmish. In his open talk he was loud against many a god;
but in his heart of hearts he was bitter enough against both
Porphyrion and Orion.
'My dear doctor, it would not do;--not in this session; it would
not indeed.' So had spoken to him a half-fledged but especially
esoteric young monster-cub at the Treasury, who considered himself
as up to all the dodges of his party, and regarded the army of
martyrs who supported it as a rather heavy, but very useful
collection of fogies. Dr Grantly had not cared to discuss the
matter with the half-fledged monster-cub. The best licked of all
the monsters, the giant most like a god of them all, had said a
word or two to him; and he also had said a word or two to that
giant. Porphyrion had told him that the bishop bill would not do;
and he, in return, speaking with a warm face, and blood on his
cheeks, had told Porphyrion that he saw no reason why the bill
should not do. The courteous giant had smiled as he shook his
ponderous head, and then the archdeacon had left him, unconsciously
shaking some dust from his shoes, as he paced the passages of the
Treasury chambers for the last time. As he walked back to his
lodgings in Mount Street, many thoughts, not altogether bad in
their nature, passed through his mind. Why should he trouble
himself about a bishopric? Was he not well as he was, in his
rectory down at Plumstead? Might it not be ill for him at his age
to transplant himself into new soil, to engage in new duties, and
live among new people? Was he not useful at Barchester, and
respected also; and might it not be possible that up there at
Westminster, he might be regarded merely as a tool with which other
men could work? He had not quite liked the tone of that specially
exoteric young monster-cub, who had clearly regarded him as a
distinguished fogy from the army of martyrs. He would take his
wife back to Barsetshire, and there live contented with the good
things which Providence had given him.
Those high political grapes had become sour, my sneering friends
will say. Well? Is it not a good thing that grapes should become
sour which hang out of reach? Is he not wise who can regard all
grapes as sour which are manifestly too high for his hand? Those
grapes of the Treasury bench, for which gods and giants fight,
suffering so much when they are forced to abstain from eating, and
so much more when they do eat,--those grapes are very sour to me.
I am sure that they are indigestible, and that those who eat them
undergo all the ills which the Revalenta Arabica is prepared to
cure. And so it was now with the archdeacon. He thought of the
strain which would have been put on his conscience had he come up
there to sit in London as Bishop of Westminster; and in this frame
of mind he walked home to his wife. During the first few moments
of his interview with her all his regrets had come back upon him.
Indeed, it would have hardly suited for him then to have preached
this new doctrine of rural contentment. The wife of his bosom,
whom he so fully trusted--had so fully loved--wished for grapes
that hung high upon the wall, and he knew that it was past his
power to teach her at the moment to drop her ambition. Any
teaching that he might effect in that way, must come by degrees.
But before many minutes were over he had told her of her fate and
of his own decision. 'So we had better go back to Plumstead,' he
said; and she had not dissented.
'I am sorry for poor Griselda's sake,' Mrs Grantly had remarked
later in the evening, when they were again together.
'But I thought she was to remain with Lady Lufton?'
'Well; so she will for a little time. There is no one with whom I
would so soon trust her out of my own care as with Lady Lufton. She
is all that one can desire.'
'Exactly; and as far as Griselda is concerned, I cannot say that I
think she is to be pitied.'
'Not to be pitied, perhaps,' said Mrs Grantly. 'But, you see,
archdeacon, Lady Lufton, of course, has her own views.'
'Her own views?'
'It is hardly any secret that she is very anxious to make a match
between Lord Lufton and Griselda. And though that might be a very
proper arrangement if it were fixed--'
'Lord Lufton marry Griselda!' said the archdeacon, speaking quick
and raising his eyebrows. His mind had as yet been troubled by but
few thoughts respecting his child's future establishment. 'I had
never dreamt of such a thing.'
'But other people have done more than dreamt of it, archdeacon. As
regards the match itself, it would, I think, be unobjectionable.
Lord Lufton will not be a very rich man, but his property is
respectable, and as far as I can learn, his character is on the
whole good. If they like each other, I should be contented with
such a marriage. But, I must own, I am not quite satisfied at the
idea of leaving her all alone with Lady Lufton. People will look
on it as a settled thing, when it is not settled--and very probably
may not be settled; and that will do the poor girl harm. She is
very much admired; there can be no doubt of that; and Lord
The archdeacon opened his eyes still wider. He had had no idea
that such a choice of sons-in-law was being prepared for him; and,
to tell the truth, was almost bewildered by the height of his
wife's ambition. Lord Lufton, with his barony and twenty thousand
a year, might be accepted as just good enough; but failing him
there was an embryo marquis, whose fortune would be more than ten
times as great, all ready to accept his child! And then he
thought, as husbands sometimes will think, of Susan Harding as she
was when he had gone a-courting to her under the elms before the
house in the warden's garden, at Barchester, and of dear old Mr
Harding, his wife's father, who still lived, in humble lodgings in
that city; and as he thought, he wondered at and admired the
greatness of that lady's mind. 'I never can forgive Lord De
Terrier,' said the lady, connecting various points together in her
'That's nonsense,' said the archdeacon. 'You must forgive him.'
'And I must confess that it annoys me to leave London at present.'
'It can't be helped,' said the archdeacon, somewhat gruffly; for he
was a man who, on certain points, chose to have his own way--and
'Oh, no: I know it can't be helped,' said Mrs Grantly, in a tone
which implied a deep injury. 'I know it can't be helped. Poor
Griselda!' And then they went to bed. On the next morning
Griselda came to her, and in an interview that was strictly
private, her mother said more to her than she had ever yet spoken,
as to the prospects of her future life. Hitherto, on this subject,
Mrs Grantly had said little or nothing. She would have been well
pleased that her daughter should have received the incense of Lord
Lufton's vows--or, perhaps, as well pleased had it been the incense
of Lord Dumbello's vows--without any interference on her part. In
such case her child, she knew, would have told her with quite
sufficient eagerness, and the matter in either case would have been
arranged as a pretty love match. She had no fear of any
impropriety or of any rashness on Griselda's part. She had
thoroughly known her daughter when she boasted that Griselda would
never indulge in an unauthorized passion. But as matters now
stood, with those two strings to her bow, and with that
Lufton-Grantly alliance treaty in existence--of which she, Griselda
herself knew nothing--might it not be possible that the poor child
should stumble through want of adequate direction? Guided by these
thoughts, Mrs Grantly had resolved to say a few words before she
left London. So she wrote a line to her daughter, and Griselda
reached Mount Street at two o'clock in Lady Lufton's carriage,
which during the interview, waited for her at the beer-shop round
'And papa won't be Bishop of Westminster?' said the young lady,
when the doings of the giants had been sufficiently explained to
make her understand that all those hopes were over.
'No, my dear; at any rate not now.'
'What a shame! I thought it was all settled. What's the good,
mamma, of Lord De Terrier being Prime Minister, if he can't make
whom he likes a bishop?'
'I don't think that Lord De Terrier has behaved at all well to your
father. However, that's a long question, and we can't go into it
'How glad those Proudies will be!' Griselda would have talked by
the hour on this subject had her mother allowed her, but it was
necessary that Mrs Grantly should go to other matters. She began
about Lady Lufton, saying what a dear woman her ladyship was; and
then went on to say that Griselda was to remain in London as long
as it suited her friend and hostess to stay there with her; but
added, that this might probably not be very long, as it was
notorious that Lady Lufton, when in London, was always in a hurry
to get back to Framley.
'But I don't think she is in such a hurry this year, mamma,' said
Griselda, who in the month of May preferred Bruton Street to
Plumstead, and had no objection whatever to the coronet on the
panels of Lady Lufton's coach. And then Mrs Grantly commenced her
explanation--very cautiously. 'No, my dear, I dare say she is not
in such a hurry this year,--that is, as long as you remain with
'I am sure she is very kind.'
'She is very kind, and you ought to love her very much. I know I
do. I have no friend in the world for whom I have a greater regard
than for Lady Lufton. It is that which makes me happy to leave you
'All the same, I wish you and papa had remained up; that is, if
they had made papa a bishop.'
'It's no good thinking of that now, my dear. What I particularly
wanted to say to you was this: I think you should know what are the
ideas which Lady Lufton entertains.'
'Her ideas!' said Griselda, who had never troubled herself much in
thinking about other people's thoughts.
'Yes, Griselda. While you were staying down at Framley Court, and
also, I suppose, since you have been up here in Bruton Street, you
must have seen a good deal of--Lord Lufton.'
'He doesn't come very often to Bruton Street,--that is to say, not
'H-m,' ejaculated Mrs Grantly, very gently. She would willingly
have repressed the sound altogether, but it had been too much for
her. If she found reason to think that Lady Lufton was playing her
false, she would immediately take her daughter away, break up the
treaty, and prepare for the Hartletop alliance. Such were the
thoughts that ran through her mind. But she knew all the while
that Lady Lufton was not false. The fault was not with Lady
Lufton; nor, perhaps, altogether with Lord Lufton. Mrs Grantly had
understood the full force of the complaint which Lady Lufton had
made against her daughter; and though she had of course defended
her child, and on the whole had defended her successfully, yet she
confessed to herself that Griselda's chance of a first-rate
establishment would be better if she were a little more impulsive.
A man does not wish to marry a statue, let the statue be ever so
statuesque. She could not teach her daughter to be impulsive, any
more than she could teach her to be six feet high; but might it not
be possible to teach her to seem so? The task was a very delicate
one, even for a mother's hand. 'Of course he cannot be at home now
as much as he was down at the country, when he was living in the
same house,' said Mrs Grantly, whose business it was to take Lord
Lufton's part at the present moment. 'He must be at his club and
at the House of Lords, and in twenty places.'
'He is very fond of going to parties, and he dances beautifully.'
'I am sure he does. I have seen as much as that myself, and I
think I know some one with whom he likes to dance.' And the mother
gave the daughter a loving little squeeze.
'Do you mean me, mamma?'
'Yes, I do mean you, my dear. And is it not true? Lady Lufton
says that he likes dancing with you better than with any one else
'I don't know,' said Griselda, looking down upon the ground. Mrs
Grantly thought that this upon the whole was rather a good
opening. It might have been better. Some point of interest more
serious in its nature than that of a waltz might have been found on
which to connect her daughter's sympathies with those of her future
husband. But any point of interest was better than none; and it is
so difficult to find points of interest in persons who by their
nature are not impulsive.
'Lady Lufton says so, at any rate,' continued Mrs Grantly, ever so
cautiously. 'She thinks that Lord Lufton likes no partner better.
What do you think yourself, Griselda?'
'I don't know, mamma.'
'But young ladies must think of such things, must they not?'
'Must they, mamma?'
'I suppose they do, don't they? The truth is, Griselda, that Lady
Lufton thinks that if--Can you guess what she thinks?'
'No, mamma.' But that was a fib on Griselda's part.
'She thinks that my Griselda would make the best possible wife in
the world for her son: and I think so too. I think her son will be
a very fortunate man if he can get such a wife. And now what do
you think, Griselda?'
'I don't think anything, mamma.' But that would not do. It was
absolutely necessary that she should think, and absolutely
necessary that her mother should tell her so. Such a degree of
unimpulsiveness as this would lead to--Heaven knows what results!
Lufton-Grantly treaties and Hartletop interests would be all thrown
away upon a young lady who would not think anything of a noble
suitor sighing for her smiles. Besides, it was not natural.
Griselda, as her mother knew, had never been a girl of headlong
feeling; but still she had had her likes and dislikes. In that
matter of the bishopric she was keen enough; and no one could
evince a deeper interest in the subject of a well-made new dress
than Griselda Grantly. It was not possible that she should be
indifferent as to her future prospects, and she must know that
those prospects depended mainly on her marriage. Her mother was
almost angry with her, but nevertheless she went on very gently.
'You don't think anything! But, my darling, you must think. You
must make up your mind what would be your answer if Lord Lufton
were to propose to you. That is what Lady Lufton wishes him to
'But he never will, mamma.'
'And if he did?'
'But I'm sure he never will. He doesn't think of such a thing at
'And what, my dear?'
'I don't know, mamma.'
'Surely you can speak out to me, dearest! All I care about is your
happiness. Both Lady Lufton and I think that it would be a happy
marriage if you both cared for each other enough. She thinks that
he is fond of you. But if he were ten times Lord Lufton I would
not tease you about it if I thought that you could not learn to
care about him. What was it you were going to say, my dear?'
'Lord Lufton thinks a great deal more about Lucy Robarts than he
does of--of--of any one else, I believe,' said Griselda, showing
now some little animation by her manner, 'dumpy little black thing
that she is.'
'Lucy Robarts!' said Mrs Grantly, taken by surprise at finding that
her daughter was moved by such a passion as jealousy, and feeling
also perfectly assured that there could not be any possible ground
for jealousy in such a direction as that. 'Lucy Robarts, my dear!
I don't suppose Lord Lufton ever thought of speaking to her, except
in the way of civility.'
'Yes, he did, mamma! Don't you remember at Framley?' Mrs Grantly
began to look back in her mind, and she thought she did remember
having once observed Lord Lufton speaking in rather a confidential
manner with the parson's sister. But she was sure there was
nothing in it. If that were the reason why Griselda was so cold to
her proposed lover, it would be a thousand pities that it should not
be removed. 'Now you mention her, I do remember the young lady,'
said Mrs Grantly, 'a dark girl, very low, and without much figure.
She seemed to me to keep very much in the background.'
'I don't know much about that, mamma.'
'As far as I saw her, she did. But, my dear Griselda, you should
not allow yourself to think of such a thing. Lord Lufton, of
course, is bound to be civil to any young lady in his mother's
house, and I am quite sure that he has no other idea whatever with
regard to Miss Robarts. I certainly cannot speak as to her
intellect, for I do not think she opened her mouth in my presence;
'Oh! she has plenty to say for herself, when she pleases. She's a
sly little thing.'
'But, at any rate, my dear, she has no personal attractions
whatever, and I do not at all think that Lord Lufton is a man to be
taken by--by--by anything that Miss Robarts might do or say.' As
those words 'personal attractions' were uttered, Griselda managed
so to turn her neck to catch a side view of herself in one of the
mirrors on the wall, and then she bridled herself up, and made a
little play with her eyes, and looked, as her mother thought, very
well. 'It is all nothing to me, mamma, of course,' she said.
'Well, my dear, perhaps not. I don't say that it is. I do not
wish to put the slightest constraint upon your feelings. If I did
not have the most thorough dependence on your good sense and high
principles, I should not speak to you in this way. But as I have,
I thought it best to tell you that both Lady Lufton and I should be
well pleased if we thought that you and Lord Lufton were fond of
'I am sure he never thinks of such a thing, mamma.'
'And as for Lucy Robarts, pray get that idea out of your head; if
not for your sake, then for his. You should give him credit for
better taste.' But it was not so easy to take anything out of
Griselda's head that she had once taken into it. 'As for tastes,
mamma, there is no accounting for them,' she said; and then the
colloquy on that subject was over. The result of it on Mrs
Grantly's mind was a feeling amounting almost to a conviction in
favour of the Dumbello interest.
I trust my readers will all remember how Puck the pony was beaten
during that drive to Hogglestock. It may be presumed that Puck
himself on that occasion did not suffer much. His skin was not so
soft as Mrs Robarts's heart. The little beast was full of oats and
all the good things of this world, and therefore, when the whip
touched him, he would dance about and shake his little ears, and
run on at a tremendous pace for twenty yards, making his mistress
think that he had endured terrible things. But, in truth, during
those whippings Puck was not the chief sufferer. Lucy had been
forced to declare--forced by the strength of her own feelings, and
by the impossibility of assenting to the propriety of a marriage
between Lord Lufton and Miss Grantly,--she had been forced to
declare that she did care about Lord Lufton as much as though he
were her brother. She had said all this to herself--nay, much more
than this--very often. But now she had said it out loud to her
sister-in-law; and she knew that what she had said was remembered,
considered, and had, to a certain extent, become the cause of
altered conduct. Fanny alluded very seldom to the Luftons in
casual conversation, and never spoke about Lord Lufton unless when
her husband made it impossible that she should not speak of him.
Lucy had attempted on more than one occasion to remedy this, by
talking about the young lord in a laughing, and, perhaps,
half-jeering way; she had been sarcastic as to his hunting and
shooting, and had boldly attempted to say a word in joke about his
love for Griselda. But she felt that she had failed; that she had
failed altogether as regarded Fanny; and that as to her brother,
she would more probably be the means of opening his eyes, than have
any effect in keeping them closed. So she gave up her efforts and
spoke no further word about Lord Lufton. Her secret had been
told, and she knew that it had been told. At this time the two
ladies were left a great deal alone together in the drawing-room at
the parsonage; more, perhaps, than had ever yet been the case since
Lucy had been there. Lady Lufton was away, and therefore the
almost daily visit to Framley Court was not made; and Mark in these
days was a great deal at Barchester, having, no doubt, very onerous
duties to perform before he could be admitted as one of the
chapter. He went into, what he was pleased to call residence,
almost at once. That is, he took his month of preaching, aiding
also, in some slight and very dignified way, in the general Sunday
morning services. He did not exactly live at Barchester, because
the house was not ready. That at least was the assumed reason.
The chattels of Dr Stanhope, the late prebendary, had not been as
yet removed, and there was likely to be some little delay,
creditors asserting their right to them. This might have been very
inconvenient to a gentleman anxiously expecting the excellent house
which the liberality of past ages had provided for his use; but it
was not so felt by Mr Robarts. If Dr Stanhope's family or
creditors would keep the house for the next twelve months, he would
be well pleased. And by this arrangement he was enabled to get
through his first month of absence from the church at Framley
without any notice from Lady Lufton, seeing that Lady Lufton was in
London all the time. This was also convenient, and taught our
young prebendary to look in his new preferment more favourably than
he had hitherto done.
Fanny and Lucy were thus left much alone: and as out of the full
head the mouth speaks, so is the full heart more prone to speak at
such periods of confidence as these. Lucy, when she first thought
of her own state, determined to endow herself with a powerful gift
of reticence. She would never tell her love, certainly; but
neither would she let concealment feed on her damask cheek, nor
would she ever be found for a moment sitting like Patience on a
monument. She would fight her own fight bravely within her own
bosom, and conquer her enemy altogether. She would either preach,
or starve, or weary her love into subjection, and no one should be
a bit the wiser. She would teach herself to shake hands with Lord
Lufton without a quiver, and would be prepared to like his wife
amazingly--unless indeed that wife should be Griselda Grantly. Such
were her resolutions; but at the end of the first week they were
broken into shivers and scattered to the winds. They had been
sitting in the house together the whole of one wet day; and as Mark
was to dine at Barchester with the dean, they had had dinner early,
eating with the children almost in their laps. It is so that
ladies do, when their husbands leave them to themselves. It was
getting dusk towards evening, and they were sitting in the
drawing-room, the children now having retired, when Mrs Robarts for
the fifth time since her visit to Hogglestock began to express her
wish that she could do some good to the Crawleys,--to Grace Crawley
in particular, who, standing up there at her father's elbow,
learning Greek irregular verbs, had appeared to Mrs Robarts to be
an especial object of pity.
'I don't know how to set about it,' said Mrs Robarts. Now any
allusion to that visit to Hogglestock always drove Lucy's mind back
to the consideration of the subject which had most occupied it at
the time. She at such moments remembered how she had beaten Puck,
and how in her half-bantering but still too serious manner she had
apologized for doing so, and had explained the reason. And
therefore she did not interest herself about Grace Crawley as
vividly as she should have done. 'No; one never does,' she said.
'I was thinking about it all day as I drove home,' said Fanny. 'The
difficulty is this: What can we do with her?'
'Exactly,' said Lucy, remembering the very point of the road at
which she had declared that she did like Lord Lufton very much.
'If we could have her here for a month or so and then send her to
school;--but I know Mr Crawley would not allow us to pay for her
'I don't think he would,' said Lucy, with her thoughts far removed
from Mr Crawley and his daughter Grace.
'And then we should not know what to do with her, should we?'
'No; you would not.'
'It would never do to have the poor girl about the house here, with
no one to teach her anything. Mark would not teach her Greek
verbs, you know.'
'I suppose not.'
'Lucy, you are not attending to a word I say to you, and I don't
think you have for the last hour. I don't believe you know what I
am talking about.'
'Oh, yes, I do--Grace Crawley; I'll try and teach her if you like,
only I don't know anything myself.'
'That's not what I mean at all, and you know I would not ask you to
take such a task on yourself. But I do think you might talk it
over with me.'
'Might I? very well; I will. What is it? Oh, Grace Crawley--you
want to know who is to teach her the irregular Greek verbs. Oh,
dear, Fanny, my head does ache so; pray don't be angry with me.'
And then Lucy, throwing herself back on the sofa, put one hand up
painfully to her forehead, and altogether gave up the battle. Mrs
Robarts was by her side in a moment.
'Dearest Lucy, what is it makes your head ache so often now? You
used not to have those headaches.'
'It's because I'm growing stupid: never mind. We will go on about
poor Grace. It would not do to have a governess, would it?'
'I can see that you are not well, Lucy,' said Mrs Robarts, with a
look of deep concern. 'What is it, dearest? I can see that
something is the matter.'
'Something the matter! No, there's not; nothing worth talking of.
Sometimes I think I'll go back to Devonshire and live there. I
could stay with Blanche for a time, and then get a lodging in
'Go back to Devonshire!' and Mrs Robarts looked as though she
thought that her sister-in-law was going mad. 'Why do you want to
go away from us? This is to be your own, own home, always now.'
'Is it? Then I am in a bad way. Oh dear, oh dear, what a fool I
am! What an idiot I've been! Fanny, I don't think I can stay here;
and I do wish I'd never come. I do--do--do, though you look at me
so horribly,' and jumping up she threw herself into her
sister-in-law's arms and began kissing her violently. 'Don't
pretend to be wounded, for you know that I love you. You know that
I could live with all my life, and think you were perfect--as you
'Has Mark said anything?'
'Not a word--not a ghost of a syllable. It is not Mark; oh,
'I am afraid I know what you mean,' said Mrs Robarts in a low
tremulous voice, and with deep sorrow painted on her face.
'Of course you do; of course you know; you have known it all along;
since that day in the pony carriage. I knew that you knew it. You
do not dare to mention his name; would not that tell me that you
know it? And I, I am hypocrite enough for Mark; but my hypocrisy
won't pass muster before you. And, now, had I not better go to
'Dearest, dearest Lucy.'
'Was I not right about that labelling? O heavens! what idiots we
girls are! That a dozen soft words should have bowled me over like
a ninepin, and left me without an inch of ground to call my own.
And I was so proud of my own strength; so sure that I should never
be missish, and spoony, and sentimental! I was so determined to
like him as Mark does, or you--'
'I shall not like him at all if he has spoken words to you that he
should not have spoken.'
'But he has not.' And then she stopped a moment to consider. 'No,
he has not. He never said a word to me that would make you angry
with him if you knew of it. Except, perhaps, that he called me
Lucy; and that was my fault, not his.'
'Because you talked of soft words.'
'Fanny, you have no idea what an absolute fool I am, what an
unutterable ass. The soft words of which I tell you were of the
kind which he speaks to you when he asks you how the cow gets on
which he sent to you from Ireland, or to Mark about Ponto's
shoulder. He told me that he knew papa, and that he was at school
with Mark, and that as he was such good friends with you here at
the parsonage, he must be good friends with me too. No; it has not
been his fault. The soft words which did the mischief were such as
those. But how well his mother understood the world! In order to
have been safe, I should not have dared to look at him.'
'But, dearest Lucy--'
'I know what you are going to say, and I admit it all. He is no
hero. There is nothing on earth wonderful about him. I never
heard him say a single word of wisdom, or utter a thought that was
akin to poetry. He devotes all his energies to riding after a fox
or killing poor birds, and I never heard of his doing a single
great action in my life. And yet--' Fanny was so astounded by the
way her sister-in-law went on, that she hardly knew how to speak.
'He is an excellent son, I believe,' at last she said.
'Except when he goes to Gatherum Castle. I'll tell you what he
has: he has fine straight legs, and a smooth forehead, and a
good-humoured eye, and white teeth. Was it possible to see such a
catalogue of perfections, and not fall down, stricken to the very
bone? But it was not that that did it all, Fanny. I could have
stood against that. I think I could at least. It was his title
that killed me. I had never spoken to a lord before. Oh, me! what
a fool, what a beast I have been!' And then she burst out into
tears. Mrs Robarts, to tell the truth, could hardly understand
poor Lucy's ailment. It was evident enough that her misery was
real; but yet she spoke of herself and her sufferings with so much
irony, with so near an approach to joking, that it was very hard to
tell how far she was in earnest. Lucy, too, was so much given to a
species of badinage which Mrs Robarts did not always quite
understand, that the latter was afraid sometimes to speak out what
came uppermost to her tongue. But now that Lucy was absolutely in
tears, and was almost breathless with excitement, she could not
remain silent any longer. 'Dearest Lucy, pray do not speak in that
way; it will all come right. Things always do come right when no
one has acted wrongly.'
'Yes, when nobody has done wrongly. That's what papa used to call
begging the question. But I'll tell you what, Fanny; I will not be
beaten. I will either kill myself or get through it. I am so
heartily self-ashamed that I owe it to myself to fight the battle
'To fight what battle, dearest?'
'This battle. Here, now, at the present moment I could not meet
Lord Lufton. I should have to run like a scared fowl if he were to
show himself within the gate; and I should not dare to go out of
the house, if I knew that he was in the parish.'
'I don't see that, for I am sure you have not betrayed yourself.'
'Well, no; as for myself, I believe I have done the lying and the
hypocrisy pretty well. But, dearest Fanny, you don't know half;
and you cannot and must not know.'
'But I thought you said there had been nothing whatever between
'Did I? Well, to you I have not said a word that was not true. I
said that he had spoken nothing that it was wrong for him to say.
It could not be wrong--But never mind. I'll tell you what I mean to
do. I have been thinking of it for the last week--only I shall
have to tell Mark.'
'If I were you, I would tell him all.'
'What, Mark! If you do, Fanny, I'll never, never, never speak to
you again. Would you--when I have given you all my heart in true
sisterly love?' Mrs Robarts had to explain that she had not
proposed to tell anything to Mark herself, and was persuaded,
moreover, to give a solemn promise that she would not tell anything
to him unless specially authorized to do so.
'I'll go into a home, I think,' continued Lucy. 'You know what
these homes are?' Mrs Robarts assured her that she knew very well,
and then Lucy went on: 'A year ago I should have said that I was
the last girl in England to think of such a life, but I do believe
now that it would be the best thing for me. And then I'll starve
myself, and flog myself, and, in that way I'll get back my own mind
and my own soul.'
'Your own soul, Lucy,' said Mrs Robarts, in a tone of horror.
'Well, my own heart, if you like it better; but I hate to hear
myself talking about hearts. I don't care for my heart. I'd let
it go--with this popinjay lord or any one else, so that I could
read, and talk, and walk, and sleep, and eat, without always
feeling that I was wrong here--here--here--' and she pressed her
hand vehemently against her side. 'What is it that I feel, Fanny?
Why am I so weak in body that I cannot take exercise? Why cannot I
keep my mind on a book for one moment? Why can I not write two
sentences together? Why should every mouthful that I eat stick in
my throat? Oh, Fanny, is it his legs, think you, or is it his
title?' Through all her sorrow--and she was very sorrowful--Mrs
Robarts could not help smiling. And, indeed, there was every now
and then something even in Lucy's look that was almost comic. She
acted the irony so well with which she strove to throw ridicule on
herself! 'Do laugh at me,' she said. 'Nothing on earth will do me
so much good as that; nothing, unless it be starvation and a whip.
If you would only tell me that I must be a sneak and an idiot to
care for a man because he is good-looking and a lord!'
'But that has not been the reason. There is a great deal more in
Lord Lufton than that; and since I must speak, dear Lucy, I cannot
but say that I should not wonder at your being in love with him,
'Only what? Come, out with it. Do not mince matters, or think
that I shall be angry with you because you scold me.'