Part 10 out of 18
Crosbie did not doubt that this was either Burton or Bangles, and that
the man standing inside was either Bangles or Burton. He could not bring
himself to accost these men and tell them of his necessities, and
propose to them that they should relieve him. In spite of what
Musselboro had just said to him, he could not believe it possible that
he should succeed, were he to do so without some introduction. So he
left Hook Court and went out into the lane, hearing as he went the loud
voice of the man with the turned-up hat and the chain.
But what was he to do? At the outset of his pecuniary troubles, when he
first found it necessary to litigate some question with the De Courcy
people, and withstand the web which Mortimer Gazebee wove so
assiduously, his own attorney had introduced him to Dobbs Broughton, and
the assistance which he had needed had come to him, at any rate, without
trouble. He did not especially like Mr Broughton; and when Mr Broughton
first invited him to come and eat a little bit of dinner, he had told
himself with painful remorse that in his early days he had been
accustomed to eat his little bits of dinner with people of a different
kind. But there had been nothing really painful in this. Since his
marriage with a daughter of the De Courcys--by which marriage he had
intended to climb the highest pinnacle of social eating and drinking--he
had gradually found himself to be falling in the scale of such matters,
and could bring himself to dine with Dobbs Broughton without any violent
pain. But now he had fallen so low that Dobbs Broughton had insulted
him, and he was in such distress that he did not know where to turn for
ten pounds. Mr Gazebee had beaten him at litigation, and his own lawyer
had advised him that it would be foolish to try the matter further. In
his marriage with the noble daughter of the De Courcys he had allowed
the framers of the De Courcy settlement to tie him up in such a way that
now, even when chance had done so much for him in freeing him from his
wife, he was still bound to the De Courcy faction. Money had been paid
away--on his behalf, as alleged by Mr Gazebee--like running water; money
for furniture, money for the lease of a house, money when he had been
separated from his wife, money while she was still living abroad. It had
seemed to him that he had been made to pay for the entire support of the
female moiety of the De Courcy family which had settled itself at
Baden-Baden, from the day, and in some respects from before the day, on
which his wife had joined that moiety. He had done all in his power to
struggle against these payments, but every such struggle had only cost
him more money. Mr Gazebee had written to him the most civil notes; but
every note seemed to cost him money--every word of each note seemed to
find its way into some bill. His wife had died and her body had been
brought back, with all the pomp befitting the body of an earl's
daughter, that it might be laid with the De Courcy dust--at his expense.
The embalming of her dear remains had cost a wondrous sum, and was a
terrible blow upon him. All these items were showered upon him by Mr
Gazebee with the most courteously worded demands for settlement as soon
as convenient. And then, when he applied that Lady Alexandrina's small
fortune should be made over to him--according to a certain agreement
under which he had made over all his possessions to his wife, should she
have survived him--Mr Gazebee expressed a mild opinion that he was wrong
in his law, and blandly recommended an amicable lawsuit. The amicable
lawsuit carried on. His own lawyer seemed to throw him over. Mr Gazebee
was successful in everything. No money came to him. Money was demanded
from him on old scores and on new scores--and all that he received to
console him for what he had lost was a mourning ring with his wife's
hair--for which, with sundry other mourning rings, he had to pay--and an
introduction to Mr Dobbs Broughton. To Mr Dobbs Broughton he owed five
hundred pounds; and as regarded a bill for the one-half of that sum
which was due tomorrow, Mr Dobbs Broughton had refused to grant him
renewal for a single month!
I know no more uncomfortable walking than that which falls to the lot of
men who go into the City to look for money, and who find none. Of all
the lost steps trodden by men, surely the steps lost after that fashion
are the most melancholy. It is not only that they are so vain, but that
they are accompanied by so killing a sense of shame! To wait about in
dingy rooms, which look on to bare walls, and are approached through
some Hook Court; or to keep appointments at a low coffee-house, to which
trystings the money-lender will not trouble himself to come unless it
pleases him; to be civil, almost suppliant, to a cunning knave whom the
borrower loathes; to be refused thrice, and then cheated with his eyes
open on the fourth attempt; to submit himself to vulgarity of the
foulest kind, and to have to seem to like it; to be badgered, reviled,
and at last accused of want of honesty by the most fraudulent of
mankind; and at the same time to be clearly conscious of the ruin that
is coming--this is the fate of him who goes into the City to find
money, not knowing where it is to be found!
Crosbie went along the lane into Lombard Street, and then he stood still
for a moment to think. Though he knew a good deal of affairs in general,
he did not quite know what would happen to him of his bill should be
dishonoured. That somebody would bring it to him noted, and require him
instantly to put his hand into his pocket and bring out the amount of
the bill, plus the amount of certain expenses, he thought that he did
know. And he knew that were he in trade he would become a bankrupt; and
he was well aware that such an occurrence would prove him to be
insolvent. But he did not know what his creditors would immediately have
the power of doing. That the fact of the bill having been dishonoured
would reach the Board under which he served--and, therefore, also the
fact that he had had recourse to such bill transactions--this alone was
enough to fill him with dismay. In early life he had carried his head so
high, he had been so much more than a mere Government clerk, that the
idea of the coming disgrace almost killed him. Would it not be well that
he should put an end to himself, and thus escape? What was there in the
world now for which it was worth his while to live? Lily, whom he had
once gained, and by that gain had placed himself high in all hopes of
happiness and riches--whom he had thrown away from him, and who had
again seemed to be almost within his reach--Lily had so refused him that
he knew not how to approach her with a further prayer. And, had she not
refused him, how could he have told her of his load of debt? As he stood
at the corner where the lane runs in Lombard Street, he came for a while
to think almost more of Lily than of his rejected bill. Then, as he
thought of both his misfortunes together, he asked himself whether a
pistol would not conveniently put an end to them together.
At that moment a loud harsh voice greeted his ear. 'Hallo, Crosbie,
what brings you so far east? One does not often see you in the City.' It
was the voice of Sir Raffle Buffle, which in former days had been very
odious to Crosbie's ears;--for Sir Raffle Buffle had once been the
presiding genius of the office to which Crosbie still belonged.
'No, indeed, not very often,' said Crosbie, smiling. Who can tell who
has not felt it, the pain that goes with the forcing of such smiles? But
Sir Raffle was not an acutely observant person, and did not see that
anything was wrong.
'I suppose you're doing a little business?' said Sir Raffle. 'If a man
has kept a trifle of money by him, this certainly is the time for
turning it. You have always been wide awake about such things.'
'No, indeed,' said Crosbie. If he could only make up his mind that he
would shoot himself, would it not be a pleasant thing to inflict some
condign punishment on this odious man before he left the world? But
Crosbie knew that he was not going to shoot himself, and he knew also
that he had no power of inflicting condign punishment on Sir Raffle
Buffle. He could only hate the man, and curse him inwardly.
'Ah, ha!' said Sir Raffle. 'You wouldn't be here unless you knew where
a good thing is to be picked up. But I must be off. I'm on the Rocky
Mountain Canal Company Directory. I'm not above taking my two guineas a
day. Good-bye, my boy. Remember me to old Optimist.' And so Sir Raffle
passed on, leaving Crosbie still standing at the corner of the lane.
What was he to do? This interruption had at least seemed to drive Lily
from his mind, and to send his ideas back to the consideration of his
pecuniary difficulties. He thought of his own bank, a West-End
establishment at which he was personally known to many of the clerks,
and where he had been heretofore treated, with great consideration. But
of late his balances had been very low, and more than once he had been
reminded that he had overdrawn his account. He knew well that the
distinguished firm of Bounce, Bounce, and Bounce would not cash a bill
for him or lend him money without security. He did not even dare to ask
them to do so.
On a sudden he jumped into a cab, and was driven back to his office. A
thought had come upon him. He would throw himself upon the kindness of a
friend there. Hitherto he had contrived to hold his head high above the
clerks below him, so high before the Commissioners who were above him,
that none there suspected him to be a man in difficulty. It not seldom
happens that a man's character stands too high for his interest--so high
that it cannot be maintained, and so high that any fall will be
dangerous. And so it was with Crosbie and his character at the General
Committed Office. The man to whom he was now thinking of applying as his
friend was a certain Mr Butterwell, who had been his predecessor in the
secretary's chair, and who now filled the less onerous but more
dignified position of a Commissioner. Mr Crosbie had somewhat despised
Mr Butterwell, and had of late years not been averse to showing that
he did so. He had snubbed Mr Butterwell, and Mr Butterwell, driven to
his wits' ends, had tried a fall or two with him. In all these struggles
Crosbie had had the best of it, and Butterwell had gone to the wall.
Nevertheless, for the sake of official decency, and from certain wise
remembrances of the sources of official comfort and official discomfort,
Mr Butterwall had always maintained a show of outward friendship with
the secretary. They smiled and were gracious, called each other
Butterwell and Crosbie, and abstained from all cat-and-dog absurdities.
Nevertheless, it was the frequently expressed opinion of every clerk in
the office that Mr Butterwell hated Mr Crosbie like poison. This was the
man to whom Crosbie suddenly made up his mind that he would have
As he was driven back to the office he resolved that he would make a
plunge at once at the difficulty. He knew that Butterwell was fairly
rich, and he knew also that he was good-natured--with that sort of
sleepy good-nature which is not active for philanthropic purposes, but
which dislikes to incur the pain of refusing. And then Mr Butterwell was
nervous, and if the thing was managed well, he might be cheated out of
an assent, before time had been given him in which to pluck up courage
for refusing. But Crosbie doubted his own courage also--fearing that if
he gave himself time for hesitation he would hesitate, and that,
hesitating, he would feel the terrible disgrace of the thing and not do
it. So, without going to his own desk, or ridding himself of his hat, he
went at once to Butterwell's room. When he opened the door, he found Mr
Butterwell alone, reading The Times. 'Butterwell,' said he, beginning to
speak before he had even closed the door, 'I have come to you in great
distress. I wonder whether you can help me; I want you to lend me five
hundred pounds? It must be for not less than three months.'
Mr Butterwell dropped the paper from his hands, and stared at the
secretary over his spectacles.
'I SUPPOSE I MUST LET YOU HAVE IT'
Crosbie had been preparing the exact words with which he assailed Mr
Butterwell for the last quarter of an hour, before they were uttered.
There is always a difficulty in the choice, not only of the words with
which money should be borrowed, but of the fashion after which they
should be spoken. There is the slow deliberate manner, in using which
the borrower attempts to carry the wished-for lender along with him by
force of argument, and to prove that the desire to borrow shows no
imprudence on his own part, and that a tendency to lend will show none
on the part of the intended lender. It may be said that this mode fails
oftener than any other. There is the piteous manner--the plea for
commiseration. 'My dear fellow, unless you will see me through now, upon
my word I shall be very badly off.' And this manner may be divided again
into two. There is the plea piteous with a lie, and the plea piteous
with a truth. 'You shall have it again in two months as sure as the sun
rises.' That is generally the plea piteous with a lie. Or it may be as
follows; 'It is only fair to say that I don't quite know when I can pay
it back.' This is the plea piteous with a truth, and upon the whole I
think that this is generally the most successful mode of borrowing. And
there is the assured demand--which betokens a close intimacy. 'Old
fellow, can you let me have thirty pounds? No? Just put your name, then,
on the back of this, and I'll get it done in the City.' The worst of
that manner is, that the bill so often does not get itself done in the
City. Then there is the sudden attack--that being the manner to which
Crosbie had recourse in the present instance. That there are other modes
of borrowing by means of which youth becomes indebted to age, and love
to respect, and ignorance to experience, is a matter of course. It will
be understood that I am here speaking only of borrowing and lending
between the Butterwells and Crosbies of the world. 'I have come to you
in great distress,' said Crosbie. 'I wonder whether you can help me. I
want you to lend me five hundred pounds.' Mr Butterwell, when he heard
the words, dropped the paper which he was reading from his hand, and
stared at Crosbie over his spectacles.
'Yes it is--a very large sum. Half that is what I want at once; but I
shall want the other half in a month.'
'I thought that you were always so much above the world in money
matters. Gracious me;--nothing that I have heard for a long time has
astonished me more. I don't know why, but I always thought you had your
things so very snug.'
Crosbie was aware that he had made one very great step towards success.
The idea had been presented to Mr Butterwell's mind, and had not been
instantly rejected as a scandalously iniquitous idea, as an idea to
which no reception could be given for a moment. Crosbie had not been
treated as the needy knife-grinder, and had ground to stand upon while
he urged his request. 'I have been so pressed since my marriage,' he
said, 'that it has been impossible for me to keep things straight.'
'But Lady Alexandrina--'
'Yes, of course; I know. I do not like to trouble you with my private
affairs;--there is nothing, I think, so bad as washing one's dirty linen
in public;--but the truth is, that I am only now free from the rapacity
of the De Courcys. You would hardly believe me if I told you what I've
had to pay. What do you think of two hundred and forty-five pounds for
bringing her body over here, and burying it at De Courcy?'
'I'd have left it where it was.'
'And so would I. You don't suppose I ordered it to be done. Poor dear
thing. If it could do her any good, God knows I would not begrudge it.
We had a bad time of it when we were together, but I would have spared
nothing for her, alive or dead, that was reasonable. But to make me pay
for bringing the body over here, when I never had a shilling with her!
By George, it was too bad. And that oaf John De Courcy--I had to pay his
travelling bill too.'
'He didn't come to be buried;--did he?'
'It's too disgusting to talk of, Butterwell; it is indeed. And when I
asked for her money that was settled upon me--it was only two thousand
pounds--they made me go to law, and it seems there was no two thousand
pounds to settle. If I like, I can have another lawsuit with the
sisters, when the mother is dead. Oh, Butterwell, I have made such a
fool of myself. I have come to shipwreck! Oh, Butterwell, if you could
but know it all.'
'Are you free from the De Courcys now?'
'I owe Gazebee, the man who married the other woman, over a thousand
pounds. But I pay that off at two hundred a year, and he has a policy on
'What do you owe that for?'
'Don't ask me. Not that I mind telling you;--furniture, and the lease
of a house, and his bill for the marriage settlement, d-- him.'
'God bless me. They seem to have been very hard upon you.'
'A man doesn't marry an earl's daughter for nothing, Butterwell. And
then to think what I lost! It can't be helped now, you know. As a man
makes his bed he must lie on it. I am sometimes so mad with myself when
I think over it all--that I should like to blow my brains out.'
'You must not talk that way, Crosbie. I hate to hear a man talk like
'I don't mean that I shall. I'm too much of a coward, I fancy.' A man
who desires to soften another man's heart should always abuse himself.
In softening a woman's heart, he should abuse her. 'But life has been so
bitter with me for the last three years! I haven't had an hour of
comfort;--not an hour. I don't know why I should trouble you with all
this Butterwell. Oh--about the money; yes; that's just how I stand. I
owed Gazebee something over a thousand pounds which is arranged as I
have told you. Then there were debts, due by my wife--at least some of
them were, I suppose--and that horrid, ghastly funeral--and debts, I
don't doubt, due by the cursed old countess. At any rate, to get myself
clear, I raised something over four hundred pounds, and now I owe five
which must be paid, part tomorrow, and the remainder this day month.'
'And you've no security?'
'Not a rag, not a shred, not a line, not an acre. There's my salary,
and after paying Gazebee what comes due to him, I can manage to let you
have the money within twelve months--that is, if you can lend it to me.
I can just do that and live; and if you will assist me with the money, I
will do so. That's what I've brought myself to by my own folly.'
'Five hundred pounds is such a large sum of money.'
'Indeed it is.'
'And without any security!'
'I know, Butterwell, that I've no right to ask for it. I feel that. Of
course I should pay you what interest you please.'
'Money's about seven now,' said Butterwell.
'I've not the slightest objection to seven per cent.,' said Crosbie.
'But that's on security,' said Butterwell.
'You can name your own terms,' said Crosbie.
Mr Butterwell got out of his chair, and walked about the room with his
hands in his pockets. He was thinking at the moment of what Mrs
Butterwell would say to him. 'Will an answer do tomorrow morning?' he
said. 'I would much rather have it today,' said Crosbie. Then Mr
Butterwell took another turn about the room. 'I suppose I must let you
'Butterwell,' said Crosbie, 'I'm eternally obliged to you. It's hardly
too much to say that you have saved me from ruin.'
'Of course I was joking about interest,' said Butterwell. 'Five per
cent. is the proper thing. You'd better let me have a little
acknowledgement. I'll give you the first half tomorrow.'
They were genuine tears which filled Crosbie's eyes, as he seized hold
of the senior's hands. 'Butterwell,' he said, 'what am I to say to you?'
'Nothing at all--nothing at all.'
'Your kindness makes me feel that I ought not to have come to you.'
'Oh, nonsense. By-the-by, would you mind telling Thompson to bring
those papers to me which I gave him yesterday? I promised Optimist I
would read them before three, and it's past two now.' So saying he sat
himself down at his table, and Crosbie felt that he was bound to leave
Mr Butterwell, when he was left alone, did not read the papers which
Thompson brought him; but said, instead, thinking of his five hundred
pounds. 'Just put them down,' he said to Thompson. So the papers were
put down, and there they lay all that day and all the next. Then
Thompson took them away again, and it is to be hoped that somebody read
them. Five hundred pounds! It was a large sum of money, and Crosbie was
a man for whom Mr Butterwell in truth felt no very strong affection. 'Of
course he must have it now,' he said to himself. 'But where should I be
if anything should happen to him?' And then he remembered that Mrs
Butterwell especially disliked Mr Crosbie--disliked him because she knew
that he snubbed her husband. 'But it's hard to refuse, when one man has
known another for more than ten years.' Then he comforted himself
somewhat with the reflection, that Crosbie would no doubt make himself
more pleasant for the future than he had done lately, and with a second
reflection, that Crosbie's life was a good life--and with a third, as to
his own great goodness, in assisting a brother officer. Nevertheless, as
he sat looking out of the omnibus window, on his journey home to Putney,
he was not altogether comfortable in his mind. Mrs Butterwell was a very
But Crosbie was very comfortable in his mind on that afternoon. He had
hardly dared to hope for success, but he had been successful. He had not
even thought of Butterwell as a possible fountain of supply, till his
mind had been brought back to the affairs of the office, by the voice of
Sir Raffle Buffle at the corner of the street. The idea that his bill
would be dishonoured, and that tidings of his insolvency would be
conveyed to the Commissioners at his Board, had been dreadful to him.
The way in which he had been treated by Musselboro and Dobbs Broughton
had made him hate City men, and what he supposed to be City ways. Now
there had come to him a relief which suddenly made everything feel
light. He could almost think of Mr Mortimer Gazebee without disgust.
Perhaps after all there might be some happiness yet in store for him.
Might it not be possible that Lily would yet accept him in spite of the
chilling letter--the freezing letter which he had received from Lily's
mother? Of one thing he was quite certain. If ever he had the
opportunity of pleading his own cause with her, he certainly would tell
her everything respecting his money difficulties.
In that last resolve I think we may say that he was right. If Lily
would ever listen to him again at all, she certainly would not be
deterred from marrying him by his own story of his debts.
LILY DALE GOES TO LONDON
One morning towards the end of March the squire rapped at the window of
the drawing-room of the Small House in which Mrs Dale and Lily were
sitting. He had a letter in his hand, and both Lily and her mother knew
that he had come down to speak about the contents of the letter. It was
always a sign of good-humour on the squire's part, this rapping at the
window. When it became necessary to him in his gloomy moods to see his
sister-in-law, he would write a note to her, and she would go across to
him at the Great House. At other times, if, as Lily would say, he was
just then neither sweet nor bitter, he would go round to the front door
and knock, and be admitted after the manner of ordinary people; but when
he was minded to make himself thoroughly pleasant he would come and rap
at the drawing-room window, as he was doing now.
'I'll let you in, uncle; wait a moment,' said Lily, as she unbolted the
window which opened out upon the lawn. 'It's dreadfully cold, so come in
as fast as you can.'
'It's not cold at all,' said the squire. 'It's more like spring than
any morning we've had yet. I've been sitting without a fire.'
'You won't catch us without one for the next two months; will he, mamma?
You have got a letter, uncle. Is it for us to see?'
'Well--yes; I've brought it down to show you. Mary, what do you think
is going to happen?'
A terrible idea occurred to Mrs Dale at that moment, but she was much
too wise to give it expression. Could it be possible that the squire
was going to make a fool of himself and get married? 'I am very bad
at guessing,' said Mrs Dale. 'You had better tell us.'
'Bernard is going to be married,' said Lily.
'How did you know?' said the squire.
'I didn't know. I only guessed.'
'Then you've guessed right,' said the squire, a little annoyed at having
his news thus taken out of his mouth.
'I am so glad,' said Mrs Dale; 'and I know from your manner that you
like the match.'
'Well--yes. I don't know the young lady, but I think that upon the
whole I do like it. It's quite time, you know, that he got married.'
'He's not thirty yet,' said Mrs Dale.
'He will be in a month or two.'
'And who is it, uncle?'
'Well;--as you're so good at guessing, I suppose you can guess that?'
'It's not that Miss Partridge he used to talk about?'
'No; it's not Miss Partridge--I'm glad to say. I don't believe that the
Partridges have a shilling among them.'
'Then I suppose it's an heiress,' said Mrs Dale.
'No; not an heiress; but she will have some money of her own. And she
had connexions in Barsetshire, which makes it pleasant.'
'Connexions in Barsetshire! Who can it be?' said Lily.
'Her name is Emily Dunstable,' said the squire, 'and she is the niece of
Miss Dunstable who married Dr Thorne and who lives at Chaldicotes.'
'She was the woman who had millions upon millions,' said Lily, 'and all
got by selling ointment.'
'Never mind how it was got,' said the squire angrily. 'Miss Dunstable
married most respectably, and has always made a most excellent use of
'And will Bernard's wife have all her fortune?' asked Lily.
'She will have twenty thousand pounds the day she marries, and I suppose
that will be all.'
'And quite enough, too,' said Mrs Dale.
'It seems that old Mr Dunstable, as he was called, who, as Lily says,
sold the ointment, quarrelled with his son or with his son's widow, and
left nothing either to her or to her child. The mother is dead, and the
aunt, Dr Thorne's wife, has always provided for the child. That's how it
is, and Bernard is going to marry her. They are to be married at
Chaldicotes in May.'
'I am delighted to hear it,' said Mrs Dale.
'I've known Dr Thorne for the last forty years;' and the squire now
spoke in a low melancholy tone. 'I've written to him to say that the
young people shall have the old place up there to themselves if they
'What! And turn you out?' said Mrs Dale.
'That would not matter,' said the squire.
'You'd have to come and live with us,' said Lily, taking him by the
'It doesn't matter much now where I live,' said the squire.
'Bernard would never consent to that,' said Mrs Dale.
'I wonder whether she will ask me to be a bridesmaid?' said Lily.
'They say that Chaldicotes is such a pretty place, and I should see
all the Barsetshire people that I've been hearing about from Grace. Poor
Grace! I know that the Grantlys and the Thornes are very intimate. Fancy
Bernard having twenty thousand pounds from the making of ointment!'
'What does it matter where it comes from?' said the squire, half in
'Not in the least; only it sounds so odd. I do hope she's a nice girl.'
Then the squire produced a photograph of Emily Dunstable which his
nephew had sent to him, and they all pronounced her to be very pretty,
very much like a lady, and to be very good-humoured. The squire was
evidently pleased with the match, and therefore the ladies were pleased
also. Bernard Dale was the heir to the estate, and his marriage was of
course a matter of moment; and as on such properties as that of
Allington money is always wanted, the squire may be forgiven for the
great importance which he attached to the young lady's fortune. 'Bernard
could hardly have married prudently without any money,' he said--'unless
he had chosen to wait till I am gone.'
'And then he would have been too old to marry at all,' said Lily.
But the squire's budget of news had not yet been emptied. He told them
soon afterwards that he himself had been summoned up to London. Bernard
had written to him, begging him to come and see the young lady; and the
family lawyer had written also, saying that his presence in town would
be very desirable. 'It is very troublesome, of course; but I shall go,'
said the squire. 'It will do you all the good in the world,' said Mrs
Dale; 'and of course you ought to know her personally before the
marriage.' And then the squire made a clean breast of it and declared
his full purpose. 'I was thinking that, perhaps, Lily would not object
to go up to London with me.'
'Oh, uncle Christopher, I should so like it,' said Lily.
'If your mamma does not object.'
'Mamma never objects to anything. I should like to see her objecting to
that!' And Lily shook her head at her mother.
'Bernard says that Miss Dunstable particularly wants to see you.'
'Does she, indeed? And I particularly want to see Miss Dunstable. How
nice! Mamma, I don't think I've ever been in London since I wore short
frocks. Do you remember taking us to the pantomime? Only think how many
years ago that is. I'm quite sure it's time that Bernard should get
married. Uncle, I hope you're prepared to take me to the play.'
'We must see about that.'
'And the opera, and Madame Tussaud, and the Horticultural Gardens, and
the new conjuror who makes a woman lie upon nothing. The idea of my
going to London! And then I suppose I shall be one of the bridesmaids. I
declare a new vista of life is opening out to me! Mamma, you mustn't be
dull while I'm away. It won't be very long, I suppose, uncle?'
'About a month, probably,' said the squire.
'Oh, mamma; what will you do?'
'Never mind me, Lily.'
'You must get Bell and the children to come. But I cannot imagine
living away from home a month. I was never away from home a month in my
And Lily did go up to town with her uncle, two days only after having
been allowed to her for her preparations. There was very much for to
think of in such a journey. It was not only that she would see Emily
Dunstable who was to be her cousin's wife, and that she would go to the
play and visit the new conjurer's entertainment, but that she would be
in the same city both with Adolphus Crosbie and with John Eames. Not
having personal experience of the wideness of London, and of the
wilderness which it is--of the distance which is set there between
persons who are not purposely brought together--it seemed to her fancy
as though for this month of her absence from home she would be brought
into close contiguity with both her lovers. She had hitherto felt
herself to be at any rate safe in her fortress at Allington. When
Crosbie had written to her mother, making a renewed offer which had been
rejected, Lily had felt that she certainly need not see him unless it
pleased her to do so. He could hardly force himself upon her at
Allington. And as to John Eames, though he would, of course, be welcome
at Allington as often as he pleased to show himself, still there was a
security in the place. She was so much at home there that she could
always be the mistress of the occasion. She knew that she could talk to
him at Allington as though from ground higher than that on which he
stood himself; but she felt that this would hardly be the case if she
should chance to meet him in London. Crosbie probably would not come in
her way. Crosbie, she thought--and she blushed for the man she loved, as
the idea came across her mind--would be afraid of meeting her uncle. But
John Eames would certainly find her; and she was led by the experience
of latter days to image that John would never cross her path without
renewing his attempts.
But she said no word of this, even to her mother. She was contented to
confine her outspoken expectations to Emily Dunstable, and the play, and
the conjurer. 'The chances are ten to one against my liking her, mamma,'
'I don't see that, my dear.'
'I feel to be too old to think that I shall ever like any more new
people. Three years ago I should have been quite sure that I should love
a new cousin. It would have been like having a new dress. But I've come
to think that an old dress is the most comfortable, and an old cousin
certainly the best.'
The squire had taken for them a gloomy lodging in Sackville Street.
Lodgings in London are always gloomy. Gloomy colours wear better than
bright ones for curtains and carpets, and the keepers of lodgings in
London seem to think that a certain dinginess of appearance is
respectable. I never saw a London lodging in which any attempt at
cheerfulness had been made, and I do not think that any such attempt, if
made, would pay. The lodging-seeker would be frightened and dismayed,
and would unconsciously be led to fancy that something was wrong. Ideas
of burglars and improper persons would present themselves. This is so
certainly the case that I doubt whether any well-conditioned
lodging-house matron could be induced to show rooms that were prettily
draped or pleasantly coloured. The big drawing-room and two large
bedrooms which the squire took were all that was proper, and were as
brown, and as gloomy, and as ill-suited for the comforts of ordinary
life as though they had been prepared for two prisoners. But Lily was
not so ignorant as to expect cheerful lodgings in London, and was
satisfied. 'And what are we to do now?' said Lily, as soon as they found
themselves settled. It was still March, and whatever may have been the
nature of the weather at Allington, it was very cold in London. They
reached Sackville Street about five in the evening, and an hour was
taken up in unpacking their trunks and making themselves as comfortable
as their circumstances allowed. 'And now what are we to do now?' said
'I told them to have dinner for us at half-past six.'
'And what after that? Won't Bernard come to us tonight? I expected him
to be standing on the door-steps waiting for us with his bride in his
'I don't suppose Bernard will be here tonight,' said the squire. 'He did
not say that he would, and as for Miss Dunstable, I promised to take you
to her aunt's house tomorrow.'
'But I wanted to see her tonight. Well;--of course bridesmaids must
wait upon brides. And ladies with twenty thousand pounds can't be
expected to run about like common people. As for Bernard--but Bernard
never was in a hurry.' Then they dined, and when the squire had very
nearly fallen asleep over a bottle of port wine which had been sent in
for him from some neighbouring public-house, Lily began to feel that it
was very dull. And she looked round the room, and she though that it was
very ugly. And she calculated that thirty evenings so spent would seem
to be very long. And she reflected that the hours were probably going
much more quickly with Emily Dunstable, who, no doubt, at this moment
had Bernard Dale by her side. And then she told herself that the hours
were not tedious with her at home, while sitting with her mother, with
all her daily occupations within her reach. But in so telling herself
she took herself to task, inquiring of herself whether such an assurance
was altogether true. Were not the hours sometimes tedious even at home?
And in this way her mind wandered off to thoughts upon life in general,
and she repeated to herself over and over again the two words which she
had told John Eames that she would write in her journal. The reader will
remember those two words--Old Maid. And she had written them in her
book, making each letter a capital, and round them she had drawn a
scroll, ornamented after her own fashion, and she had added the date in
quaintly formed figures--for in such matters Lily had some little skill
and a dash of fun to direct it; and she had inscribed below it an
Italian motto:--'Who goes softly, goes safely'; and above her work of
art she had put a heading--As arranged fate for L.D.' Now she thought of
all this, and reflected whether Emily Dunstable was in truth very happy.
Presently the tears came into her eyes, and she got up and went to the
window, as though she were afraid that her uncle might wake and see
them. And as she looked out on the blank street, she muttered a word or
two--'Dear mother! Dearest mother!' Then the door was opened, and her
cousin Bernard announced himself. She had not heard his knock at the
door as she had been thinking of the two words in her book.
'What; Bernard!--ah, yes, of course,' said the squire, rubbing his eyes
as he strove to wake himself. 'I wasn't sure you would come, but I'm
delighted to see you. I wish you joy with all my heart--with all my
'Of course, I should come,' said Bernard. 'Dear Lily, this is so good
of you. Emily is so delighted.' Then Lily spoke her congratulations
warmly, and there was no trace of a tear in her eyes, and she was
thoroughly happy as she sat by her cousin's side, and listened to his
raptures about Emily Dunstable. 'And you will be so fond of her aunt,'
'But is she not awfully rich?' said Lily.
'Frightfully rich,' said Bernard; 'but really you would hardly find it
out if nobody told you. Of course she lives in a big house, and has a
heap of servants; but she can't help that.'
'I hate a heap of servants,' said Lily.
Then there came another knock at the door, and who should enter the room
but John Eames. Lily for a moment was taken aback, but it was only for a
moment. She had been thinking so much of him that his presence disturbed
her for an instant. 'He probably will not know that I am here,' she had
said to herself; but she had not yet been three hours in London, and he
was already with her! At first he hardly spoke to her, addressing
himself to the squire. 'Lady Julia told me you were to be here, and as I
start for the Continent early tomorrow morning, I thought you would let
me come and see you before I went.'
'I'm always glad to see you, John,' said the squire--'very glad. And so
you are going abroad, are you?'
Then Johnny congratulated his old acquaintance, Bernard Dale, as to his
coming marriage, and explained to them how Lady Julia in one of her
letters had told him all about it, and had even given him the number in
Sackville Street. 'I suppose she learned it from you, Lily,' said the
squire. 'Yes uncle, she did.' And then there came questions as to John's
projected journey to the Continent, and he explained that he was going
on law-business, on behalf of Mr Crawley, to catch the dean and Mrs
Arabin, if it might be possible. 'You see, sir, Mr Toogood, who is Mr
Crawley's cousin, and also his lawyer, is my cousin too; and that's why
I'm going.' And still there had been hardly a word spoken between him
'But you're not a lawyer, John; are you?' said the squire.
'No. I'm not a lawyer myself.'
'Nor a lawyer's clerk?'
'Certainly not a lawyer's clerk,' said John, laughing.
'Then why should you go?' asked Bernard Dale.
Then Johnny had to explain, and in doing so he became very eloquent as
to the hardships of Mr Crawley's case. 'You see, sir, nobody can
possibly believe that such a man as that stole twenty pounds.'
'I do not for one,' said Lily.
'God forbid that I should say he did,' said the squire.
'I'm quite sure he didn't,' said Johnny, warming to his subject. 'It
couldn't be that such a man as that should become a thief all at once.
It's not human nature, sir; is it?'
'It's very hard to know what human nature is,' said the squire.
'It's the general opinion down in Barsetshire that he did steal it,'
said Bernard. 'Dr Thorne was one of the magistrates who committed him,
and I know he thinks so.'
'I don't blame the magistrates in the least,' said Johnny.
'That's kind of you,' said the squire.
'Of course you'll laugh at me, sir; but you'll see that we shall come
out right. There's some mystery in it of which we haven't got at the
bottom as yet; and if there is anybody that can help us it is the dean.'
'If the dean knows anything, why has he not written and told what he
knows?' said the squire.
'That's what I can't say. The dean has not had an opportunity of
writing since he heard--even if he has yet heard--that Mr Crawley is to
be tried. And then he and Mrs Arabin are not together. It's a long
story, and I will not trouble you with it all; but at any rate I'm going
off tomorrow. Lily, can I do anything for you in Florence?'
'In Florence?' said Lily; 'and are you really going to Florence? How I
'And who pays your expenses,' said the squire.
'Well;--as to my expenses, they are to be paid by a person who won't
raise any unpleasant questions about the amount.'
'I don't know what you mean,' said the squire.
'He means himself,' said Lily.
'I'm going to have a trip for my own fun,' said Johnny, 'and I shall
pick up evidence on the road, as I'm going--that's all.'
Then Lily began to take an active part in the conversation, and a great
deal was said about Mr Crawley, and about Grace, and Lily declared that
she would be very anxious to hear any news which John Eames might be
able to send. 'You know, John, how fond we are of your cousin Grace, at
Allington? Are we not, uncle?'
'Yes, indeed,' said the squire. 'I thought her a very nice girl.'
'If you should be able to learn anything that may be of use, John, how
happy you will be.'
'Yes, I shall,' said John.
'And I think it's so good of you to go, John. But it is just like you.
You were always generous.' Soon after that he got up and went. It was
very clear to him that he would have no moment in which to say a word
alone to Lily; and if he could find such a moment, what good would such
a word do him? It was as yet but a few weeks since she had positively
refused him. And he too remembered very well those two words which she
had told him she would write in her book. As he had been coming to the
house he had told himself that his coming would be--could be of no use.
And yet he was disappointed with the result of his visit, although she
had spoken to him so sweetly.
'I suppose you'll be gone when I get back,' he said.
'We shall be here a month,' said the squire.
'I shall be back long before that, I hope,' said Johnny. 'Good-bye,
sir. Good-bye, Dale. Good-bye, Lily.' And he put out his hand to her.
'Good-bye, John.' And then she added, almost in a whisper. 'I think
you are very, very right to go.' How could he fail after that to hope as
he walked home that she might still relent. And she also thought much of
him, but her thoughts of him made her cling more firmly than ever to
those two words. She could not bring herself to marry him; but, at
least, she would not break his heart by becoming the wife of anyone
else. Soon after this Bernard Dale went also. I am not sure that he had
been well pleased at seeing John Eames become suddenly the hero of the
hour. When a young man is going to perform so important an act as
marriage he is apt to think that he ought to be the hero of the hour
himself--at any rate among his own family.
Early on the next morning Lily was taken by her uncle to call upon Mrs
Thorne, and to see Emily Dunstable. Bernard was to meet them there, but
it had been arranged that they should reach the house first. 'There is
nothing so absurd as these introductions,' Bernard had said. 'You go and
look at her, and when you've had time to look at her, then I'll come!'
So the squire and Lily went off to look at Emily Dunstable.
'You don't mean to say that she lives in that house?' said Lily, when
the cab was stopped before an enormous mansion in one of the most
fashionable of the London squares.
'I believe she does,' said the squire.
'I never shall be able to speak to anybody living in such a house as
that,' said Lily. 'A duke couldn't have anything grander.'
'Mrs Thorne is richer than half the dukes,' said the squire. Then the
door was opened by a porter, and Lily found herself within the hall.
Everything was very great, and very magnificent, and, as she thought,
very uncomfortable. Presently she heard a loud jovial voice on the
stairs. 'Mr Dale, I'm delighted to see you. And this is your niece Lily.
Come up, my dear. There is a young woman upstairs dying to embrace you.
Never mind the umbrella. Put it down anywhere. I want to have a look at
you, because Bernard swears that you're so pretty.' This was Mrs Thorne,
once Miss Dunstable, the richest woman in England, and the aunt of
Bernard's bride. The reader may perhaps remember the advice which she
once gave to Major Grantly, and her enthusiasm on that occasion. 'There
she is, Mr Dale; what do you think of her?' said Mrs Thorne as she
opened the door of a small sitting-room wedged in between two large
saloons, in which Emily Dunstable was sitting.
'Aunt Martha, how can you be so ridiculous?' said the young lady.
'I suppose it is ridiculous to ask the question to which one really
wants to have an answer,' said Mrs Thorne. 'But Mr Dale has, in truth,
come to inspect you, and to form an opinion; and, in honest truth, I
shall be very anxious to know what he thinks--though, of course, he
won't tell me.'
The old man took the girl in his arms, and kissed her on both cheeks.
'I have no doubt you will find out what I think,' he said, 'though I
should never tell you.'
'I generally do find out what people think,' she said. 'And so you're
'Yes, I'm Lily Dale.'
'I have so often heard of you, particularly of late; for you must know
that a certain Major Grantly is a friend of mine. We must take care that
that affair comes off all right, must we not?'
'I hope it will.' Then Lily turned to Emily Dunstable, and, taking her
hand, went up and sat beside her, while Mrs Thorne and the squire talked
of the coming marriage. 'How long have you been engaged?' said Lily.
'Really engaged about three weeks. I think it is not more than three
'How very discreet Bernard has been. He never said a word about it
while it was going on.'
'Men never do tell, I suppose,' said Emily Dunstable.
'Of course you love him dearly?' said Lily, not knowing what else to
'Of course I do.'
'And so do we. You know he's almost a brother to us; that is, to me and
my sister. We never had a brother of our own.' And so the morning was
passed till Lily was told by her uncle to come away, and was told also
by Mrs Thorne that she was to dine with them in the square on that day.
'You must not be surprised that my husband is not here,' she said. 'He's
a very odd sort of man, and he never comes to London if he can help it.'
THE BAYSWATER ROMANCE
Eames had by no means done his work for that evening when he left Mr
Dale and Lily at their lodgings. He had other business in hand to which
he had promised to give attention, and another person to see who would
welcome his coming quite as warmly, though by no means as pleasantly, as
Lily Dale. It was then just nine o'clock, and as he had told Miss
Demolines--Madalina we may as well call her now--that he would be in
Porchester Terrace by nine at the latest, it was incumbent on him to
make haste. He got into a cab, and bid the cabman drive hard, and
lighting a cigar, began to inquire of himself over and over again
whether it was well for him to hurry away from the presence of Lily Dale
to that of Madalina Demolines. He felt that he was half-ashamed of what
he was doing. Though he declared to himself over and over again that he
never had said a word, and never intended to say a word, to Madalina,
which all the world might not hear, yet he knew that he was doing amiss.
He was doing amiss, and half repented it, and he was half proud of it.
He was most anxious to be able to give himself credit for his constancy
to Lily Dale; to be able to feel that he was steadfast in his passion;
and yet he liked the idea of amusing himself with his Bayswater romance,
as he would call it, and was not without something of conceit as he
thought of the progress he had made in it. 'Love is one thing and
amusement is another,' he said to himself as he puffed the cigar smoke
out of his mouth; and in his heart he was proud of his own capacity for
enjoyment. He thought it a fine thing, although at the same moment he
knew it to be an evil thing--this hurrying away from the young lady whom
he really loved to another as to whom he thought it very likely that he
should be called upon to pretend to love her. And he sang a little song
as he went, 'If she be not fair to me, what care I how fair she be.'
That was intended to apply to Lily, and was used as an excuse for his
fickleness in going to Miss Demolines. And he was perhaps, too, a little
conceited as to his mission to the Continent. Lily had told him that he
was very glad that he was going; that she thought him very right to go.
The words had been very pleasant to his ears, and Lily had never looked
prettier in his eyes than when she had spoken them. Johnny, therefore,
was rather proud of himself as he sat in the cab smoking his cigar. He
had, moreover, beaten his old enemy Sir Raffle Buffle in another
contest, and he felt that the world was smiling on him;--that the world
was smiling on him in spite of his cruel fate in the matter of his real
There was a mystery about the Bayswater romance which was not without
its allurement, and a portion of the mystery was connected with
Madalina's mother. Lady Demolines was very rarely seen, and John Eames
could not quite understand what was the manner of life of that
unfortunate lady. Her daughter usually spoke of her with affectionate
regret as being unable to appear on that particular occasion on account
of some passing malady. She was suffering from a nervous headache, or
was afflicted with bronchitis, or had been touched with rheumatism, so
that she was seldom on the scene when Johnny was passing his time at
Porchester Terrace. And yet he heard of her dining out, and going to
plays and operas; and when he did chance to see her, he found that she
was a sprightly old woman enough. I will not venture to say that he much
regretted the absence of Lady Demolines, or that he was keenly alive to
the impropriety of being left alone with the gentle Madalina; but the
customary absence of the elder lady was an incident in the romance which
did not fail to strike him.
Madalina was alone when he was shown upon into the drawing-room on the
evening of which we are speaking.
'Mr Eames,' she said, 'will you kindly look at that watch which is lying
on the table.' She looked full at him with her great eyes wide open, and
the tone of her voice was intended to show him that she was aggrieved.
'Yes, I see it,' said John, looking down on Miss Demolines' little gold
Geneva watch, with which he had already made sufficient acquaintance to
know that it was worth nothing. 'Shall I give it you?'
'No, Mr Eames; let it remain there, that it may remind me, if it does
not remind you, by how long a time you have broken your word.'
'Upon my word I couldn't help it;--upon my honour I couldn't.'
'Upon your honour, Mr Eames?'
'I was obliged to go and see a friend who has just come to town from my
part of the country.'
'That is the friend, I suppose, of whom I have heard from Maria.' It is
to be feared that Conway Dalrymple had not been so guarded as he should
have been in some of his conversations with Mrs Dobbs Broughton, and
that a word or two had escaped from him as to the love of John Eames for
'I don't know what you may have heard,' said Johnny, 'but I was obliged
to see these people before I left town. There is going to be a marriage
and all that sort of thing.'
'Who is going to be married?'
'One Captain Dale is going to be married to Miss Dunstable.'
'Oh! And as to one Miss Lily Dale--is she to be married to anybody?'
'Not that I have heard of,' said Johnny.
'She is not going to be the wife of one Mr John Eames?'
He did not wish to talk to Miss Demolines about Lily Dale. He did not
choose to disown the imputation, or to acknowledge its truth.
'Silence gives consent,' she said. 'If it be so, I congratulate you. I
have no doubt she is the most charming young woman. It is about seven
years, I believe, since that little affair with Mr Crosbie, and
therefore that, I suppose, may be considered as forgotten.'
'It is only three years,' said Johnny, angrily. 'Besides, I don't know
what that has to do with it.'
'You need not be ashamed,' said Madalina. 'I have heard how well you
behaved on that occasion. You were quite the preux chevalier; and if any
gentleman ever deserved well of a lady you deserved well of her. I
wonder how Mr Crosbie felt when he met you the other day at Maria's. I
had not heard anything about it then, or I should have been much more
interested in watching your meeting.'
'I really can't say how he felt.'
'I daresay not; but I saw him shake hands with you. And so Lily Dale
has come to town.'
'Yes--Miss Dale is here with her uncle.'
'And you are going away tomorrow?'
'Yes--and I am going away tomorrow.'
After that there was a pause in the conversation. Eames was sick of it,
and was very anxious to change the conversation. Miss Demolines was
sitting in the shadow, away from the light, with her face half hidden by
her hands. At last she jumped up, and came round and stood opposite to
him. 'I charge you to tell me truly, John Eames,' she said, 'whether
Miss Lilian Dale is engaged to you as your future wife?' He looked up in
to her face, but made no immediate answer. Then she repeated her demand.
'I ask you whether you are engaged to marry Miss Lilian Dale, and I
expect a reply.'
'What makes you ask me such a question as that?'
'What makes me ask you? Do you deny my right to feel so much interest
in you as to desire to know whether you are about to married? Of course
you can decline to tell me if you choose.'
'And if I were to decline?'
'I should know then that it was true, and I should think you were a
'I don't see any cowardice in the matter. One does not talk about that
kind of thing to everybody.'
'Upon my word, Mr Eames, you are complimentary;--indeed you are. To
everybody! I am everybody--am I? That is your idea of--friendship! You
may be sure that after that I shall ask no further questions.'
'I didn't mean it the way you have taken it, Madalina.'
'In what way did you mean it, sir? Everybody! Mr Eames, you must
excuse me if I say that I am not well enough this evening to bear the
company of--everybody. I think you had better leave me. I think that you
had better go.'
'Are you angry with me?'
'Yes, I am--very angry. Because I have condescended to feel an interest
in your welfare, and have asked you a question which I thought that our
intimacy justified, you tell me that that is a kind of thing that you
will not talk about to--everybody. I beg you to understand that I will
not be your everybody. Mr Eames, there is the door.'
Things had now become very serious. Hitherto Johnny had been seated
comfortably in the corner of a sofa, and had not found himself bound to
move, though Miss Demolines was standing before him. But now it was
absolutely necessary that he should do something. He must either go, or
else he must make entreaty to be allowed to remain. Would it not be
expedient that he should take the lady at her word and escape? She was
still pointing to the door, and the way was open to him. If he were to
walk out now of course he would never return, and there would be the end
of the Bayswater romance. If he remained it might be that the romance
would become troublesome. He got up from his seat, and had almost
resolved that he would go. Had she not somewhat relaxed the majesty of
her anger as he rose, had the fire of her eye not been somewhat quenched
and the lines of her mouth softened, I think that he would have gone.
The romance would have been over, and he would have felt it had come to
an inglorious end; but it would have been well for him that he should
have gone. Though the fire was somewhat quenched and the lines were
somewhat softened, she was still pointing at the door.
'Do you mean it?' he said.
'I do mean it--certainly.'
'And this is to be the end of everything?'
'I do not know what you mean by everything. It is a very little
everything to you, I should say. I do not quite understand your
everything and your everybody.'
'I will go if you wish me to go of course.'
'I do wish it.'
'But before I go, you must permit me to excuse myself. I did not intend
to offend you. I merely meant--'
'You merely meant! Give me an honest answer to a downright question.
Are you engaged to Miss Lilian Dale?'
'No;--I am not.'
'Upon your honour?'
'Do you think that I would tell you a falsehood about it? What I meant
was that it is a kind of thing that one doesn't like talking about,
merely because stories are bandied about. People are so fond of saying
that this man is engaged to that woman, and of making up tales; and it
seems so foolish to contradict such things.'
'But you know that you used to be very fond of her.'
He had taken up his hat when he had risen from the sofa, and was still
standing with it ready in his hand. He was even now half-minded to
escape; and the name of Lily Dale in Miss Demoline's mouth was so
distasteful to him that he would have done so--he would have gone in
sheer disgust, had she not stood in his way, so that he could not escape
without moving her, or going round behind the sofa. She did not stir to
make way for him, and it may be that she understood that he was her
prisoner, in spite of her late command to him to go. It may be, also,
that she understood his vexation and the cause of it, and that she saw
the expediency of leaving Lily Dale alone for the present. At any rate,
she pressed him no more upon the matter. 'Are we to be friends again?'
'I hope so,' said Johnny.
'There is my hand, then.' So Johnny took her hand and pressed it, and
held it for a little while--just long enough to seem to give a meaning
to the action. 'You will get to understand me some day,' she said, 'and
will learn that I do not like to be reckoned among the everybodies by
those for whom I really--really--really have a regard. When I am angry,
I am angry.'
'You were very angry just now, when you showed me the way to the door.'
'And I meant it too--for the minute. Only think--supposing you had
gone! We should never have seen each other again;--never, never! What a
change one word may make!'
'One word often does make a change.'
'Does it not? Just a little "yes" or "no". A "no" is said when a "yes"
is meant, and then there comes no second chance, and what a change that
may be from bright hopes to desolation! Or, worse again, a "yes" is said
when a "no" should be said--when the speaker knows that it should be
"no". What a difference that "no" makes! When one thinks of it, one
wonders that a woman should ever say anything but "no".'
'They never did say anything else to me,' said Johnny.
'I don't believe it. I daresay the truth is, you never asked anybody.'
'Did anybody ever ask you?'
'What would you give to know? But I will tell you frankly;--yes. And
once--once I thought that my answer would not have been a "no".'
'But you changed your mind?'
'When the moment came I could not bring myself to say the word that
should rob me of my liberty for ever. I had said "no" to him often
enough before--poor fellow; and on this occasion, he told me that he had
asked me for the last time. "I shall not give myself another chance," he
said, "for I shall be on board ship within a week." I merely bade him
good-bye. It was the only answer I gave him. He understood me, and since
that day his foot has not pressed his native soil.'
'And was it all because you are so fond of your liberty?' said Johnny.
'Perhaps--I did not--love him,' said Miss Demolines, thoughtfully. She
was now again seated in her chair, and John Eames had gone back to his
corner of the sofa. 'If I had really loved him, I suppose it would have
been otherwise. He was a gallant fellow, and had two thousand a year of
his own, in India stock and other securities.'
'Dear me! And he has not married yet?'
'He wrote me a word to say that he would never marry till I was
married--but that on the day that he should hear of my wedding, he would
go to the first single woman near him and propose. It was a droll thing
to say; was it not?'
'The single woman ought to feel herself flattered.'
'He would find plenty to accept him. Besides being so well off he was a
very handsome fellow, and is connected with people of title. He had
everything to recommend him.'
'And yet you refused him?'
'Yes. You think I was foolish;--do you not?'
'I don't think you were foolish if you didn't care for him.'
'It was my destiny, I suppose; I daresay I was wrong. Other girls marry
without violent love, and do very well afterwards. Look at Maria
The name of Maria Clutterbuck had become odious to John Eames. As long
as Miss Demolines would continue to talk about herself he could listen
with some amount of gratification. Conversation on that subject was the
natural progress of the Bayswater romance. And if Madalina would only
call her friend by her present name, he had no strong objection to an
occasional mention of the lady; but the combined names of Maria
Clutterbuck had come to be absolutely distasteful to him. He did not
believe in the Maria Clutterbuck friendship--either in its past or
present existence, as described by Madalina. Indeed, he did not put
strong faith in anything that Madalina said to him. In the handsome
gentleman with two thousand a year, he did not believe at all. But the
handsome gentleman had only been mentioned once in the course of his
acquaintance with Miss Demolines, whereas Maria Clutterbuck had come up
so often! 'Upon my word I must wish you good-bye,' he said. 'It is going
for eleven o'clock, and I have to start tomorrow at seven.'
'What difference does that make?'
'A fellow wants to get a little sleep, you know.'
'Go, then;--go and get your sleep. What a sleepy-head generation it
is.' Johnny longed to ask whether the last generation was less
sleepy-headed, and whether the gentleman with two thousand a year sat up
talking all night before he pressed his foot for the last time on his
native soil; but he did not dare. As he said to himself afterwards, 'It
would not do to bring the Bayswater romance too suddenly to
termination!' 'But before you go,' she continued, 'I must say the word
to you about that picture. Did you speak to Mr Dalrymple?'
'I did not. I have been so busy with different things that I have not
'And now you are going?'
'Well--to tell the truth, I think I shall see him tonight, in spite of
my being so sleepy-headed. I wrote him a line that I would look in and
smoke a cigar with him if he chanced to be at home!'
'And that is why you want to go. A gentleman cannot live without his
'It is especially at your bidding that I am going to see him.'
'Go then--and make your friend understand that if he continues this
picture of his, he will bring himself to great trouble, and will
probably ruin the woman for whom he professes, I presume, to feel
something like friendship. You may tell him that Mrs Van Siever has
already heard of it.'
'Who told her?' demanded Johnny.
'Never mind. You need not look at me like that. It was not I. Do you
suppose that secrets can be kept when so many people know them? Every
servant in Maria's house knows all about it.'
'As for that, I don't suppose Mrs Broughton makes any great secret of
'Do you think she has told Mr Broughton? I am sure she has not. I may
say that I know she has not. Maria Clutterbuck is infatuated. There is
no other excuse to be made for her.'
'Good-bye,' said Johnny, hurriedly.
'And you are really going?'
'Well--yes. I suppose so.'
'Go then. I have nothing more to say to you.'
'I shall come and call directly I return,' said Johnny.
'You may do as you please about that, sir.'
'Do you mean that you won't be glad to see me again?'
'I am not going to flatter you, Mr Eames. Mamma will be well by that
time, I hope, and I do not mind telling you that you are a favourite
with her.' Johnny thought that this was particularly kind, as he had
seen so very little of the old lady. 'If you choose to call upon her,'
said Madalina, 'of course she will be glad to see you.'
'But I was speaking of yourself, you know?' and Johnny permitted himself
for a moment to look tenderly at her.
'Then from myself pray understand that I will say nothing to flatter
'I thought you would be kinder just when I was going away.'
'I think I have been quite kind enough. As you observed yourself just
now, it is nearly eleven o'clock, and I must ask you to go away. Bon
voyage, and a happy return to you.'
'And you will be glad to see me when I am back? Tell that you will be
glad to see me.'
'I will tell you nothing of the kind. Mr Eames, if you do, I will be
very angry with you.' And then he went.
On his way back to his own lodgings he did call on Conway Dalrymple, and
in spite of his need for early rising, sat smoking with the artist for
an hour. 'If you don't take care, young man,' said his friend, 'you will
find yourself in a scrape with your Madalina.'
'What sort of scrape?'
'As you walk away from Porchester Terrace some fine day, you will have
to congratulate yourself on having made a successful overture towards
'You don't think I am such a fool as that comes to?'
'Other men as wise as you have done the same sought of thing. Miss
Demolines is very clever, and I daresay you find it amusing.'
'It isn't so much that she's clever, and I can hardly say that it is
amusing. One gets awfully tired of it, you know. But a fellow must have
something to do, and that is as good as anything else.'
'I suppose you have not heard that one young man levanted last year to
save himself from a breach of promise case?'
'I wonder whether he had any money in Indian securities?'
'What makes you ask that?'
'Nothing in particular.'
'Whatever little he chose to save, and I think that I heard that he went
to Canada. His name was Shorter; and they say that, on the eve of his
going, Madalina sent him word that she had no objection to the colonies,
and that, under the pressing emergency of his expatriation, she was
willing to become Mrs Shorter with more expedition than usually attends
fashionable weddings. Shorter, however, escaped, and has never been seen
Eames declared that he did not believe a word of it. Nevertheless, as he
walked home he came to the conclusion that if Mr Shorter must have been
the handsome gentleman with Indian securities, to whom 'no' had been
said once too often.
While sitting with Conway Dalrymple, he had forgotten to say a word
about Jael and Sisera.
DR TEMPEST AT THE PALACE.
Intimation had been sent from the palace to Dr Tempest of Silverbridge
of the bishop's intention that a commission should be held by him, as
rural dean, with other neighbouring clergymen, as assessors with him,
that inquiry might be made on the part of the Church into the question
of Mr Crawley's guilt. It must be understood that by this time the
opinion had become very general that Mr Crawley had been guilty--that he
had found the cheque in his house, and that he had, after holding it for
many months, succumbed to temptation, and applied it to his own
purposes. But various excuses were made for him by those who so
believed. In the first place it was felt by all who really knew anything
of the man's character, that the very fact of his committing such a
crime proved him to be hardly responsible for his actions. He must have
known, had not all judgment in such matters been taken from him, that
the cheque would certainly be traced back to his hands. No attempt had
been made in the disposing of it to dispose of it in such a way that the
trace should be obliterated. He had simply given it to a neighbour with
a direction to have it cashed, and had written his own name on the back
of it. And therefore, though there could be no doubt as to the theft in
the mind of those who supposed that he had found the cheque in his own
house, yet the guilt of the theft seemed to be almost annihilated by the
folly of the thief. And then his poverty, and his struggles, and the
sufferings of his wife, were remembered; and stories were told from
mouth to mouth of his industry in his profession, of his great zeal
among the brickmakers of Hoggle End, of acts of charity done by him
which startled the people of the district into admiration:--how he had
worked with his own hands for the sick poor to whom he could not give
relief in money, turning a woman's mangle for a couple of hours, and
carrying a boy's load along the lanes. Dr Tempest and others declared
that he had derogated from the dignity of his position as an English
parish clergyman by such acts; but, nevertheless, the stories of these
deeds acted strongly on the minds of both men and women, creating an
admiration for Mr Crawley which was much stronger than the condemnation
of his guilt.
Even Mrs Walker and her daughter, and the Miss Prettymans, had so far
given way that they had ceased to asseverate their belief in Mr
Crawley's innocence. They contented themselves with simply expressing a
hope that he would be acquitted by a jury, and that when he should be so
acquitted the thing might be allowed to rest. If he had sinned, no doubt
he had repented. And then there were serious debates whether he might
not have stolen the money without much sin, being mad or
half-mad--touched with madness when he took it; and whether he might
not, in spite of such temporary touch of madness, be well fitted for his
parish duties. Sorrow had afflicted him grievously; but that sorrow,
though it had incapacitated him for the management of his own affairs,
had not rendered him unfit for the ministration of his parish. Such were
the arguments now used in his favour by the women around him; and the
men were not keen to contradict them. The wish that he should be
acquitted and allowed to remain in his parsonage was very general.
When therefore it became known that the bishop had decided to put on
foot another investigation, with the view of bringing Mr Crawley's
conduct under ecclesiastical condemnation, almost everybody accused the
bishop of persecution. The world of the diocese declared that Mrs
Proudie was at work, and that the bishop himself was no better than a
puppet. It was in vain that certain clear headed men among the clergy,
of whom Dr Tempest himself was one, pointed out that the bishop after
all might perhaps be right;--that if Mr Crawley were guilty, and if he
should be found to have been so by a jury, it might be absolutely
necessary that an ecclesiastical court should take some cognizance of
the crime beyond that of taken by the civil law. 'The jury,' said Dr
Tempest, discussing the case with Mr Robarts and other clerical
neighbours--'the jury may probably find him guilty and recommend to him
mercy. The judge will have heard his character, and will have been made
acquainted with the manner of his life, and will deal as lightly with
the case as the law will allow him. For aught I know he may be
imprisoned for a month. I wish it might be for no more than a day--or an
hour. But when he comes out from his month's imprisonment--how then?
Surely it should be a case for ecclesiastical inquiry, whether a
clergyman who has committed a theft should be allowed to go into his
pulpit directly he comes out of prison?' But the answer to this was that
Mr Crawley had always been a good clergyman, was a good clergyman at
this moment, and would be a good clergyman when he did come out of
But Dr Tempest, though he had argued in this way, was by no means eager
for the commencement of the commission over which he was to be called
upon to preside. In spite of such arguments as the above, which came
from the man's head when his head was brought to bear on the matter,
there was a thorough desire within his heart to oppose the bishop. He
had no strong sympathy with Mr Crawley, as had others. He would have had
Mr Crawley silenced without regret, presuming Mr Crawley to be guilty.
But he had a much stronger feeling with regard to the bishop. Had there
been any question of silencing the bishop--could it have been possible
to take steps in that direction--he would have been very active. It may
therefore be understood that in spite of his defence of the bishop's
present proceedings as to the commission, he was anxious that the bishop
should fail, and anxious to put impediments in the bishop's way, should
it appear to him that he could do so with justice. Dr Tempest was well
known among his parishioners to be hard and unsympathetic, some said
unfeeling also, and cruel; but it was admitted by those who disliked him
the most that he was both practical and just, and that he cared for the
welfare of many, though he was rarely touched by the misery of one. Such
was the man who was rector of Silverbridge and rural dean in the
district, and who was now called upon by the bishop to assist him in
making further inquiry as to this wretched cheque for twenty pounds.
Once at this period Archdeacon Grantly and Dr Tempest met each other and
discussed the question of Mr Crawley's guilt. Both these men were
inimical to the present bishop of the diocese, and both had perhaps
respected the old bishop beyond all other men. But they were different
in this, that the archdeacon hated Dr Proudie as a partisan--whereas Dr
Tempest opposed the bishop on certain principles which he endeavoured to
make clear, at any rate to himself. 'Wrong!' said the archdeacon,
speaking of the bishop's intention of issuing a commission--'of course
he's wrong. How could anything right come from him or from her? I should
be sorry to have to do his bidding.'
'I think you are a little hard upon Bishop Proudie,' said Dr Tempest.
'One cannot be hard upon him,' said the archdeacon. 'He is so
scandalously weak, and she is so radically vicious, that they cannot but
be wrong together. The very fact that such a man should be a bishop
among us is to me terribly strong evidence of evil days coming.'
'You are more impulsive than I am,' said Dr Tempest. 'In this case I am
sorry for the poor man, who is, I am sure, honest in the main. But I
believe that in such a case your father would have done just what the
present bishop is doing;--that he could have done nothing else; and as I
think that Dr Proudie is right I shall do all that I can to assist him
in the commission.'
The bishop's secretary had written to Dr Tempest, telling him of the
bishop's purpose; and now, in one of the last days in March, the bishop
himself wrote to Dr Tempest, asking him to come over to the palace. The
letter was worded most courteously, and expressed very feelingly the
great regret which the writer felt at being obliged to take these
proceedings against a clergyman in his diocese. Bishop Proudie knew how
to write such a letter. By the writing of such letters, and by the
making of speeches in the same strain, he had become Bishop of
Barchester. Now, in this letter, he begged Dr Tempest to come over to
him, saying how delighted Mrs Proudie would be to see him at the palace.
Then he went on to explain the great difficulty which he felt, and great
sorrow also, in dealing with this matter of Mr Crawley. He looked,
therefore, confidently for Dr Tempest's assistance. Thinking to do the
best for Mr Crawley, and anxious to enable Mr Crawley to remain in quiet
retirement till the trial should be over, he had sent a clergyman over
to Hogglestock, who would have relieved Mr Crawley from the burden of
the church-services;--but Mr Crawley would have none of this relief. Mr
Crawley had been obstinate and overbearing, and had persisted in
claiming his right to his own pulpit. Therefore was the bishop obliged
to interfere legally, and therefore was he under the necessity of asking
Dr Tempest to assist him. Would Dr Tempest come over on the Monday, and
stay till Wednesday?
The letter was a very good letter, and Dr Tempest was obliged to do as
he was asked. He so far modified the bishop's proposition that he
reduced the sojourn at the palace by one night. He wrote to say that he
would have the pleasure of dining with the bishop and Mrs Proudie on the
Monday, but would return home on the Tuesday, as soon as the business in
hand would permit him. 'I shall get on very well with him,' he said to
his wife, before he started; 'but I am afraid of the woman. If she
interferes there will be a row.' 'Then, my dear,' said his wife, 'there
will be a row, for I am told that she always interferes.' On reaching
the palace half-an-hour before dinner-time, Dr Tempest found that other
guests were expected, and on descending to the great yellow
drawing-room, which was used only on state occasions, he encountered Mrs
Proudie, and two of her daughters arrayed in full panoply of female
armour. She received him with her sweetest smiles, and if there had been
any former enmity between Silverbridge and the palace, it was now all
forgotten. She regretted greatly that Mrs Tempest had not accompanied
the doctor;--for Mrs Tempest also had been invited. But Mrs Tempest was
not quite as well as she might have been, the doctor had said, and very
rarely slept away from home. And then the bishop came in and greeted his
guest with his pleasantest good humour. It was quite a sorrow to him
that Silverbridge was so distant, and that he saw so little of Dr
Tempest; but he hoped that that might be somewhat mended now, and that
leisure might be found for social delights;--to all which Dr Tempest
said but little, bowing to the bishop at each separate expression of his
There were guests there that evening who did not often sit at the
bishop's table. The archdeacon and Mrs Grantly had been summoned from
Plumstead, and had obeyed the summons. Great as was the enmity between
the bishop and the archdeacon, it had never quite taken the form of open
palpable hostility. Each, therefore, asked the other to dinner perhaps
once every year; and each went to the other, perhaps, once in two years.
And Dr Thorne from Chaldicotes was there but without his wife, who in
these days was up in London. Mrs Proudie always expressed a warm
friendship for Mrs Thorne, and on this occasion loudly regretted her
absence. 'You must tell her, Dr Thorne, how exceedingly much we miss
her.' Dr Thorne, who was accustomed to hear his wife speak of her dear
friend Mrs Proudie with almost unmeasured ridicule, promised that he
would do so. 'We are sorry the Lufton's couldn't come to us,' said Mrs
Proudie--not alluding to the dowager, of whom it was well known that no
earthly inducement would have sufficed to make her put her foot within
Mrs Proudie's room--'but one of the children is ill, and she couldn't
leave him.' But the Greshams were there from Boxall Hill, and the
Thornes from Ullathorne, and, with the exception of a single chaplain,
who pretended to carve, Dr Tempest and the archdeacon were the only
clerical guests at the table. From all which Dr Temple knew that the
bishop was anxious to treat him with special consideration on the
The dinner was rather long and ponderous, and occasionally, most dull.
The archdeacon talked a good deal, but a bystander with an acute ear
might have understood from the tone of his voice that he was not talking
as he would have talked among friends. Mrs Proudie felt this, and
understood it, and was angry. She could never find herself in the
presence of the archdeacon without becoming angry. Her accurate ear
would always appreciate the defiance of episcopal authority, as now
existing in Barchester, which was concealed, or only half concealed, by
all the archdeacon's words. But the bishop was not so keen, nor so
easily roused, to wrath; and though the presence of the enemy did to a
certain degree cow him, he strove to fight against the feeling with
'You have improved so upon the old days,' said the archdeacon, speaking
of some small matter with reference to the cathedral, 'that one hardly
knows the old place.'
'I hope we have not fallen off,' said the bishop, with a smile.
'We have improved, Dr Grantly,' said Mrs Proudie, with great emphasis on
her words. 'What you say is true. We have improved.'
'Not a doubt about that,' said the archdeacon. Then Mrs Grantly
interposed, strove to change the subject, and threw oil upon the waters.
'Talking of improvements,' said Mrs Grantly, 'what an excellent row of
houses they have built at the bottom of High Street. 'I wonder who is to
live in them?'
'I remember when that was the very worst part of town,' said Dr Thorne.
'And now they're asking seventy pounds apiece for houses which did not
cost above six hundred each to build,' said Mr Thorne of Ullathorne,
with that seeming dislike of modern success which is evinced by most of
the elders of the world.
'And who is to live in them,' asked Mrs Grantly.
'Two have them have been already taken by clergymen,' said the bishop,
in a tone of triumph.
'Yes,' said the archdeacon, 'and the houses in the Close which used to
be the residences of the prebendaries have been leased out to
tallow-chandlers and retired brewers. That comes of the working of the
'And why not?' demanded Mrs Proudie.
'Why not, indeed, if you like to have tallow-chandlers next door to
you?' said the archdeacon. 'In the old days, we would sooner have had
our brethren near to us.'
'There is nothing, Dr Grantly, so objectionable in a cathedral town as a
lot of idle clergymen,' said Mrs Proudie.
'It is beginning to be a question to me,' said the archdeacon, 'whether
there is any use in clergymen at all for the present generation.'
'Dr Grantly, those cannot be your real sentiments,' said Mrs Proudie.
Then Mrs Grantly, working hard in her vocation as a peacemaker, changed
the conversation again and began to talk of the American war. But even
that was made a matter of discord on church matters--the archdeacon
professing an opinion that the Southerners were Christian gentlemen, and
the Northerners idle snobs; whereas Mrs Proudie had an idea that the
Gospel was preached with genuine zeal in the Northern States. And at
each such outbreak the poor bishop would laugh uneasily, and say a word
or two to which no one paid much attention. And so the dinner went on,
not always in the most pleasant manner for those who preferred continued
good-humour to the occasional excitement of a half-suppressed battle.
Not a word was said about Mr Crawley. When Mrs Proudie and the ladies
left the dining-room, the bishop strove to get up a little lay
conversation. He spoke to Mr Thorne about his game, and to Dr Thorne
about his timber, and even to Mr Gresham about his hounds. 'It is not so
very many years, Mr Gresham,' said he, 'since the Bishop of Barchester
was expected to keep hounds himself,' and the bishop laughed at his own
'Your lordship shall have them back at the palace next season,' said
young Frank Gresham, 'if you will promise to do the county justice.'
'Ha, ha, ha!' laughed the bishop. 'What do you say, Mr Tozer?' Mr Tozer
was the chaplain on duty.
'I have not least objection in the world, my lord,' said Mr Tozer, 'to
act as second whip.'
'I'm afraid you'll find them an expensive adjunct to the episcopate,'
said the archdeacon. And then the joke was over; for there had been a
rumour, now for some years prevalent in Barchester, that Bishop Proudie
was not liberal in his expenditure. As Mr Thorne said afterwards to his
cousin the doctor, the archdeacon might have spared that sneer. 'The
archdeacon will never spare the man who sits in his father's seat,' said
the doctor. 'The pity of it is that men who are so thoroughly different
in all their sympathies should ever be brought into contact.' 'Dear,
dear,' said the archdeacon, as he stood afterwards on the rug before the
drawing-room fire, 'how many of rubbers of whist I have seen played in
this room.' 'I sincerely hope that you will never see another played
here,' said Mrs Proudie. 'I'm quite sure that I shall not,' said the
archdeacon. For this last sally his wife scolded him bitterly on the way
home. 'You know very well,' she said, 'that the times are changed, and
that if you were Bishop of Barchester yourself, you would not have whist
played in the palace.' 'I only know,' said he, 'that when we had the
whist we had the true religion along with it, and some good sense and
good feeling also.' 'You cannot be right to sneer at others for doing
what you would do yourself,' said his wife. Then the archdeacon threw
himself sulkily into the corner of his carriage, and nothing more was
said between him and his wife about the bishop's dinner-party.
Not a word was spoken that night about Mr Crawley; and when that
obnoxious guest from Plumstead was gone, Mrs Proudie resumed her
good-humour towards Dr Tempest. So intent was she on conciliating him
that she refrained even from abusing the archdeacon, whom she knew to
have been intimate for very many years with the rector of Silverbridge.
In her accustomed moods she would have broken forth in loud anger,
caring nothing for old friendships; but at present she was thoughtful of
the morrow, and desirous that Dr Tempest should, if possible, meet her
in a friendly humour when the great discussion as to Hogglestock should
be opened between them. But Dr Tempest understood her bearing, and as he
pulled on his nightcap made certain resolutions of his own as to the
morrow's proceedings. 'I don't suppose she will dare to interfere,' he
had said to his wife; 'but if she does I shall certainly tell the bishop
that I cannot speak on the subject in her presence.'
At breakfast on the following morning there was no one present but the
bishop, Mrs Proudie, and Dr Tempest. Very little was said at the meal.
Mr Crawley's name was not mentioned, but there seemed to be a general
feeling among them that there was a task hanging over them which
prevented any general conversation. The eggs were eaten and the coffee
was drunk, but the eggs and the coffee disappeared almost in silence.
When these ceremonies had been altogether completed, and it was clearly
necessary that something further should be done, the bishop spoke: 'Dr
Tempest,' he said, 'perhaps you will join me in my study at eleven. We
can then say a few words to each other about the unfortunate matter on
which I shall have to trouble you.' Dr Tempest said he would be punctual
to his appointment, and then the bishop withdrew, muttering something as
to the necessity of looking at his letters. Dr Tempest took a newspaper
in his hand, which had been brought in by a servant, but Mrs Proudie did
not allow him to read it. 'Dr Tempest,' she said, 'this is a matter of
most vital importance. I am quite sure that you feel that it is so.'
'What matter, madam?' said the doctor.
'This terrible affair of Mr Crawley's. If something is not done the
whole diocese will be disgraced.' Then she turned for an answer, but
receiving none she was obliged to continue. 'Of the poor man's guilt
there can, I fear, be no doubt.' Then there was another pause, but still
the doctor made no answer. 'And if he be guilty,' said Mrs Proudie,
resolving that she would ask a question that must bring forth some
reply, 'can any experienced clergyman think that he can be fit to preach
from the pulpit of a parish church? I am sure that you must agree with
me, Dr Tempest? Consider the souls of the people!'
'Mrs Proudie,' said he, 'I think that we had better not discuss the
'Not discuss it?'
'I think that we had better not do so. If I understand the bishop
aright, he wishes it that I should take some step in the matter.'
'Of course he does.'
'And therefore I must decline to make it a matter of common
'Common conversation, Dr Tempest! I should be the last person in the
world to make it a matter of common conversation. I regard this as by no
means a common conversation. God forbid that it should be a common
conversation. I am speaking very seriously with reference to the
interests of the Church, which I think will be endangered by having
among her active servants a man who has been guilty of so base a crime
as theft. Think of it, Dr Tempest. Theft! Stealing money! Appropriating
to his own use a cheque for twenty pounds which did not belong to him!
And then telling such terrible falsehoods about it! Can anything be
worse, anything more scandalous, anything more dangerous? Indeed, Dr
Tempest, I do not regard this as any common conversation.' The whole of
this speech was not made at once, fluently, or without a break. From
stop to stop Mrs Proudie paused, waiting for her companion's words; but
as he would not speak she was obliged to continue. 'I am sure that you
cannot but agree with me, Dr Tempest?' she said.
'I am quite sure I will not discuss it with you,' said the doctor, very
'And why not? Are you not here to discuss it?'
'Not with you, Mrs Proudie. You must excuse me for saying so, but I am
not here to discuss any such matter with you. Were I to do so, I should
be guilty of a very great impropriety.'
'All these things are in common between me and the bishop,' said Mrs
Proudie, with an air that was intended to be dignified, but which
nevertheless displayed her rising anger.
'As to that I know nothing, but they cannot be in common between you and
me. It grieves me much that I should have to speak to you in such a
strain, but my duty allows me no alternative. I think, if you will
permit me, I will take a turn round the garden before I keep my
appointment with his lordship.' And so saying he escaped from the lady
without hearing her further remonstrance.
It still wanted an hour to the time named by the bishop, and Dr Tempest
used it in preparing for his withdrawal from the palace as soon as his
interview with the bishop should be over. After what had passed he
thought he would be justified in taking his departure without bidding
adieu formally to Mrs Proudie. He would say a word or two, explaining
his haste, to the bishop; and then, if he could get out of the house at
once, it might be that he would never see Mrs Proudie again. He was
rather proud of his success in their late battle, but he felt that,
having been so completely victorious, it would be foolish in him to risk
his laurels in the chance of another encounter. He would say not a word
of what had happened to the bishop, and he thought it probable that
neither would Mrs Proudie speak of it--at any rate till after he was
gone. Generals who are beaten out of the field are not quick to talk of
their own repulses. He, indeed, had not beaten Mrs Proudie out of the
field. He had, in fact, himself run away. But he had left his foe
silenced; and with such a foe, and in such a contest, that was
everything. He put up his portmanteau, therefore, and prepared for his
final retreat. Then he rang his bell and desired the servant to show him
to the bishop's study. The servant did so, and when he entered the room
the first thing he saw was Mrs Proudie sitting in an arm-chair near the
window. The bishop was also in the room, sitting with his arms upon the
writing-table, and his head upon his hands. It was very evident that Mrs
Proudie did not consider herself to have been beaten and that she was
prepared for another battle. 'Will you sit down, Dr Tempest?' she said,
motioning him with her hand to a chair opposite to that occupied by the
bishop. Dr Tempest sat down. He felt that at the moment he had nothing
else to do, and that he must restrain any remonstrance that he might
make till Mr Crawley's name should be mentioned. He was almost lost in
admiration of the woman. He had left her, as he thought, utterly
vanquished and prostrated by his determined but uncourteous usage of
her; and here she was, present again on the field of battle as though
she had never been wounded. He could see that there had been words
between her and the bishop, and that she had carried a point on which
the bishop had been very anxious to have his own way. He could perceive
at once that the bishop had begged her to absent herself and was greatly
chagrined that he should not have prevailed with her. There she was--and
as Dr Tempest was resolved that he would neither give advice nor receive
instructions respecting Mr Crawley in her presence, he could only draw
upon his courage and his strategy for the coming warfare. For a few
moments no one said a word. The bishop felt that if Dr Tempest would
only begin, the work on hand might be got through, even in his wife's
presence. Mrs Proudie was aware that her husband should begin. If he
would do so, and if Dr Tempest would listen and then reply, she might
gradually make her way into the conversation; and if her words were once
accepted then she could say all that she desired to say; then she could
play her part and become somebody in the episcopal work. When once she
should have been allowed liberty of speech, the enemy would be powerless
to stop her. But all this Dr Tempest understood quite as well as she
understood it, and had they waited till night he would not have been the
first to mention Mr Crawley's name.
The bishop sighed aloud. The sigh might be taken as expressing grief
over the sin of an erring brother whose conduct they were then to
discuss, and was not amiss. But when the sigh with its attendant murmurs
had passed away it was necessary that some initiative step should be
taken. 'Dr Tempest,' said the bishop, 'what are we to do about this poor
stiff-necked gentleman?' Still Dr Tempest did not speak. 'There is no
clergyman in the diocese,' continued the bishop, 'in whose prudence and
wisdom I have more confidence than in yours. And I know, too, that you
are by no means disposed to severity where severe measures are not
necessary. What ought we to do? If he has been guilty, he should not
surely return to his pulpit after the expiration of such punishment as
the law of this country may award him.'
Dr Tempest looked at Mrs Proudie, thinking that she might perhaps say a
word now; but Mrs Proudie knew her part better and was silent. Angry as
she was, she contrived to hold her peace. Let the debate once begin and
she would be able to creep into it, and then to lead it--and so she
would hold her own. But she had met a foe as wary as herself. 'My lord,'
said the doctor, 'it will perhaps be well that you should communicate
your wishes to me in writing. If it be possible for me to comply with
them I will do so.'
'Yes;--exactly; no doubt;--but I thought that perhaps we might better
understand each other if we had a few words of quiet conversation upon
the subject. I believe you know the steps that I have--'
But here the bishop was interrupted. Dr Tempest rose from his chair,
and advancing to the table put both hands upon it. 'My lord,' he said,
'I feel myself compelled to say that which I would very much rather
leave unsaid, were it possible. I feel the difficulty, and I may say
delicacy, of my position; but I should be untrue to my conscience and to
my feeling of what is right in such matters, if I were take any part on
a discussion on this matter in the presence of--a lady.'
'Dr Tempest, what is your objection?' said Mrs Proudie, rising from her
chair, and coming also to the table, so that from thence she might
confront her opponent; and as she stood opposite to Dr Tempest she also
put both her hands upon the table.
'My dear, perhaps you will leave us for a few moments,' said the bishop.
Poor bishop! Poor weak bishop! As the words came from his mouth he knew
that they would be spoken in vain, and that if so, it would have been
better for him to have left them unspoken.
'Why should I be dismissed from your room without a reason?' said Mrs
Proudie. 'Cannot Dr Tempest understand that a wife may share her
husband's counsels--as she must share his troubles? If he cannot, I pity
him very much as to his own household.'
'Dr Tempest,' said the bishop, 'Mrs Proudie takes the greatest possible
interest in everything concerning the diocese.'
'I am sure, my lord,' said the doctor, 'that you will see how unseemly
it would be that I should interfere in any way between you and Mrs
Proudie. I certainly will not do so. I can only say again that if you
will communicate with me your wishes in writing, I will attend to
them--if it be possible.'
'You mean to be stubborn,' said Mrs Proudie, whose prudence was
beginning to give way under the great provocation to which her temper
was being subjected.
'Yes, madam; if it is to be called stubbornness, I must be stubborn. My
lord, Mrs Proudie spoke to me on this subject in the breakfast-room
after you had left it, and I then ventured to explain to her that in
accordance with such light as I have on the matter, I could not discuss
it in her presence. I greatly grieve that I failed to make myself
understood by her--as, otherwise, this unpleasantness might have been
'I understood you very well, Dr Tempest, and I think you to be a most
unreasonable man. Indeed, I might use a much harsher word.'
'You may use any word you please, Mrs Proudie,' said the doctor.
'My dear, I really think you had better leave us for a few minutes,'
said the bishop.
'No, my lord--no,' said Mrs Proudie, turning round upon her husband.
'Not so. It would be most unbecoming that I should be turned out of a
room in this palace by an uncourteous word from a parish clergyman. It
would be unseemly. If Dr Tempest forgets his duty, I will not forget
mine. There are other clergymen in the diocese besides Dr Tempest who
can undertake the very easy task of this commission. As for his having
been appointed rural dean I don't know how many years ago, it is matter
of no consequence whatever. In such a preliminary inquiry any three
clergymen will suffice. It need not be done by the rural dean at all.'
'I will not be turned out of this room by Dr Tempest;--and that is
'My lord,' said the doctor, 'you had better write to me as I proposed to
you just now.'
'His lordship will not write. His lordship will do nothing of the
kind,' said Mrs Proudie.
'My dear!' said the bishop, driven in his perplexity beyond all
carefulness of reticence. 'My dear, I do wish you wouldn't--I do indeed.
If you would only go away!'
'I will not go away, my lord,' said Mrs Proudie.
'But I will,' said Dr Tempest, feeling true compassion for the
unfortunate man whom he saw writhing in agony before him. 'It will
manifestly be for the best that I should retire. My lord, I wish you
good morning. Mrs Proudie, good morning.' And so he left the room.
'A most stubborn and a most ungentlemanlike man,' said Mrs Proudie, as
soon as the door was closed behind the retreating rural dean. 'I do not
think that in the whole course of my life I ever met with anyone so
insubordinate and so ill-mannered. He is worse than the archdeacon.' As
she uttered these words she paced about the room. The bishop said
nothing; and when she herself had been silent for a few minutes she
turned upon him. 'Bishop,' she said, 'I hope that you agree with me. I
expect that will agree with me in a matter that is so of much moment to
my comfort, and I may say to my position generally in the diocese.
Bishop, why do you not speak?'
'You have behaved in such a way that I do not know that I shall ever
speak again,' said the bishop.
'What is that you say?'
'I say that I do not know how I shall ever speak again. You have
'Disgraced you! I disgrace you! It is you that disgrace yourself by
saying such words.'
'Very well. Let it be so. Perhaps you will go away now and leave me to
myself. I have got a bad headache, and I can't talk any more. Oh dear,
oh dear, what will he think of it?'
'And you mean to tell me that I have been wrong?'
'Yes, you have been wrong--very wrong. Why didn't you go away when I
asked you? You are always being wrong. I wish I had never come to
Barchester. In any other position I should not have felt it so much. As
it is I do not know how I can ever show my face again.'
'Not have felt what so much, Mr Proudie?' said the wife, going back in
the excitement of her anger to the nomenclature of old days. 'And this
is to be my return for all my care in your behalf! Allow me to tell you,
sir, that in any position in which you may be placed I know what is due
to you, and that your dignity will never lose anything in my hands. I
wish that you were as well able to take care of it yourself.' Then she
stalked out of the room, and left the poor man alone.
Bishop Proudie sat alone in his study throughout the whole day. Once or
twice in the course of the morning his chaplain came to him on some
matter of business, and was answered with a smile--the peculiar
softness of which the chaplain did not fail to attribute the right
cause. For it was soon known throughout the household that there had
been a quarrel. Could he quite have made up his mind to do so--could he
have resolved that it would be altogether better to quarrel with his
wife--the bishop would have appealed to the chaplain, and have asked at
any rate for sympathy. But even yet he could not bring himself to
confess his misery, and to own himself to another to be the wretch that
he was. Then during the long hours of the day he sat thinking of it all.
How happy could he be if it were only possible for him to go away, and
become even a curate in a parish, without his wife! Would there ever
come to him a time of freedom? Would she ever die? He was older than
she, and of course he would die first. Would it not be a fine thing if
he could die at once, and thus escape from his misery.
What could he do, even supposing himself strong enough to fight the
battle? He could not lock her up. He could not even very well lock her
out of his room. She was his wife, and must have the run of the house.
He could not altogether debar her from the society of the diocesan
clergymen. He had, on this very morning, taken strong measures with her.