Part 11 out of 18
More than once or twice he had desired her to leave the room. What was
there to be done with a woman who would not obey her husband--who would
not even leave him to the performance of his own work? What a blessed
thing it would be if a bishop could go away from his home to his work
every day like a clerk in a public office--as a stone-mason does! But
there was no such escape for him. He could not go away. And how was he
to meet her again on this very day?
And then for hours he thought of Dr Tempest and Mr Crawley, considering
what he had better do to repair the shipwreck of the morning. At last he
resolved that he would write to the doctor; and before he had again seen
his wife, he did write his letter, and he sent it off. In this letter he
made no direct illusion to the occurrence of the morning, but wrote as
though there had not been any fixed intention of a personal discussion
between them. 'I think it will be better that there should be a
commission,' he said, 'and I would suggest that you should have four
other clergymen with you. Perhaps you will select two yourself out of
your rural deanery; and, if you do not object, I will name as the other
two Mr Thumble and Mr Quiver, who are both resident in the city.' As he
wrote these two names he felt ashamed of himself, knowing that he had
chosen the two men as being special friends of his wife, and feeling
that he should have been brave enough to throw aside all considerations
of his wife's favour--especially at this moment, in which he was
putting on his armour to do battle against her. 'It is not probable,' he
continued to say in his letter, 'that you will be able to make your
report until after the trial of this unfortunate gentleman shall have
taken place, and a verdict shall have been given. Should he be
acquitted, that, I imagine, should end the matter. There can be no
reason why we should attempt to go beyond the verdict of a jury. But
should he be found guilty, I think we ought to be ready with such steps
as it will be becoming for us to take at the expiration of any sentence
which may be pronounced. It will be, at any rate, expedient that in such
a case the matter should be brought before an ecclesiastical court.' he
knew well as he wrote this, that he was proposing something much milder
than the course intended by his wife when she had instigated him to take
proceedings in the matter; but he did not much regard that now. Though
he had been weak enough to name certain clergymen as assessors with the
rural dean, because he thought that by doing so he would to a certain
degree conciliate his wife--though he had been so far a coward, yet he
was resolved that he would not sacrifice to her his own judgment and his
own conscience in his manner of proceeding. He kept no copy of his
letter, so that he might be unable to show her his very words when she
should ask to see them. Of course he would tell her what he had done;
but in telling her he would keep to himself what he had said as to the
result of an acquittal in a civil court. She need not yet be told that
he had promised to take such a verdict as sufficing also for an
ecclesiastical acquittal. In this spirit his letter was written and sent
off before he again saw his wife.
He did not meet her till they came together in the drawing-room before
dinner. In explaining the whole truth as to circumstances as they
existed at the palace at the moment, it must be acknowledged that Mrs
Proudie herself, great as was her courage, and wide as were the
resources which she possessed within herself, was somewhat appalled by
the position of affairs. I fear that it may now be too late for me to
excite much sympathy in the mind of any reader on behalf of Mrs Proudie.
I shall never be able to make her popular. But she had virtues, and
their existence now made her unhappy. She did regard the dignity of her
husband, and she felt at the present moment that she had almost
compromised it. She did also regard the welfare of the clergymen around
her, thinking of course in a general way that certain of them who agreed
with her were the clergymen whose welfare should be studied, and that
certain of them who disagreed with her were the clergymen whose welfare
should be postponed. But now an idea made its way into her bosom that
she was not perhaps doing the best for the welfare of the diocese
generally. What if it should come to pass that all the clergymen of the
diocese should refuse to open their mouths in her presence on
ecclesiastical subjects, as Dr Tempest had done? This special day was
not one on which she was well contented with herself, though by no means
on that account was her anger mitigated against the offending rural
During dinner she struggled to say a word or two to her husband, as
though there had been no quarrel between them. With him the matter had
gone so deep that he could not answer her in the same spirit. There were
sundry members of the family present--daughters, and a son-in-law, and
a daughter's friend who was staying with them; but even in the hope of
appearing to be serene before them he could not struggle through his
deep despondence. He was very silent, and to his wife's words he
answered hardly anything. He was courteous and gentle with them all, but
he spoke as little as was possible, and during the evening he sat alone,
with his head leaning on his hand--not pretending even to read. He was
aware that it was too late to make even an attempt to conceal his misery
and his disgrace from his own family.
His wife came to him that night in his dressing-room in a spirit of
feminine softness that was very unusual with her. 'My dear,' said she,
'let us forget what occurred this morning. If there has been anger, we
are bound as Christians to forget it.' She stood over him as she spoke,
and put her hand upon his shoulder almost caressingly.
'When a man's heart is broken, he cannot forget it,' was his reply. She
still stood by him, and still kept her hand upon him: but she could
think of no other words of comfort to say. 'I will go to bed,' he said.
'It is the best place for me.' Then she left him, and he went to bed.
THE SOFTNESS OF SIR RAFFLE BUFFLE
We have seen that John Eames was prepared to start on his journey in
search of the Arabins, and have seen him after he had taken farewell of
his office and of his master there, previous to his departure; but that
matter of his departure had not been arranged altogether with comfort as
far as his official interests were concerned. He had been perhaps a
little abrupt in his mode of informing Sir Raffle Buffle, that there was
a pressing cause for his official absence, and Sir Raffle had replied to
him that no private pressure could be allowed to interfere with his
public duties. 'I must go, Sir Raffle, at any rate,' Johnny had said;
'it is a matter affecting my family and must not be neglected.' 'If you
intend to go without leave,' said Sir Raffle, 'I presume you will first
put your resignation into the hands of Mr Kissing.' Now Mr Kissing was
the secretary to the Board. This had been serious undoubtedly. John
Eames was not specially anxious to keep his present position as private
secretary to Sir Raffle, but he certainly had no desire to give up his
profession altogether. He said nothing more to the great man on that
occasion, but before he left the office he wrote a private note to the
chairman expressing the extreme importance of the business, and begging
that he might be given leave of absence. On the next morning he received
it back with a very few words written across it. 'It can't be done,'
were the few words which Sir Raffle Buffle had written across the note
from his private secretary. Here was a difficulty which Johnny had not
anticipated, and which seemed to be insuperable. Sir Raffle would not
have answered him in that strain if he had not been very much in
'I should send him a medical certificate,' said Cordell, his friend of
'Nonsense,' said Eames.
'I don't see that it is nonsense at all. They can't get over a medical
certificate from a respectable man; and everybody has got something the
matter with him of some kind.'
'I should go and let him do his worst,' said Fisher, who was another
clerk. 'It wouldn't be more than putting you down a place or two. As to
losing your present berth you don't mind that, and they would never
think of dismissing you.'
'But I do mind being put down a place or two,' said Johnny, who could
not forget that were he so put down his friend Fisher would gain the
step which he would lose.
'I should give him a barrel of oysters, and talk to him about the
Chancellor of the Exchequer,' said Fit Howard, who had been private
secretary before Eames, and might therefore be supposed to know the man.
'That might have done very well if I had not asked him, and been refused
first,' said John Eames. 'I'll tell what I'll do. I'll write a long
letter on a sheet of foolscap paper, with a regular margin, so that it
must come before the Board, and perhaps that will frighten him.'
When he mentioned his difficulty on that evening to Mr Toogood, the
lawyer begged him to give up his journey. 'It will only be sending a
clerk, and it won't cost so very much after all,' said Toogood. But
Johnny's pride could not allow him to give way. 'I'm not going to be
done about it,' said he. 'I'm not going to resign, but I will go even
though he may dismiss me. I don't think it will come to that, but if it
does it must.' His uncle begged him not to think of such an alternative;
but this discussion took place after dinner, and away from the office,
and Eames would not submit to bow his neck to authority. 'If it comes to
that,' said he, 'a fellow might as well be a slave at once. And what is
the use of a fellow having a little money if it does not make him
independent? You may be sure of one thing, I shall go;' and that on the
On the next morning John Eames was very silent when he went into Sir
Raffle's room at the office. There was now only this day and another
before that fixed for his departure, and it was of course very necessary
that matters should be arranged. But he said nothing to Sir Raffle
during the morning. The great man himself was condescending and
endeavouring to be kind. He knew that his stern refusal had greatly
irritated his private secretary, and was anxious to show that, though in
the cause of public duty he was obliged to be stern, he was quite
willing to forget his sternness when the necessity for it had passed
away. On this morning, therefore, he was very cheery. But in the
afternoon, when most of the men had left the office, Johnny appeared
before the chairman for the last time that day with a very long face. He
was dressed in black, and had changed his ordinary morning coat for a
frock, which gave him an appearance altogether unlike that which was
customary to him. And he spoke almost in a whisper, very slowly; and
when Sir Raffle joked--and Sir Raffle often would joke--he not only did
not laugh, but he absolutely sighed. 'Is there anything the matter with
you, Eames?' asked Sir Raffle.
'I am in great trouble,' said John Eames.
'And what is your trouble?'
'It is essential for the honour of one of my family that I should be at
Florence by this day week. I cannot make up my mind what I ought to do.
I do not wish to lose my position in the public service, to which, as
you know, I am warmly attached; but I cannot submit to see the honour of
my family sacrificed!'
'Eames,' said Sir Raffle, 'that must be nonsense;--that must be
nonsense. There can be no reason why you should always expect to have
your own way in everything.'
'Of course if I go without leave I shall be dismissed.'
'Of course you will. It is out of the question that a young man should
take the bit between his teeth in that way.'
'As for taking the bit between his teeth, Sir Raffle, I do not think
that any man was ever more obedient, perhaps I should say more
submissive, than I have been. But there must be a limit to everything.'
'What do you mean by that, Mr Eames?' said Sir Raffle, turning in anger
upon his private secretary. But Johnny disregarded his anger. Johnny,
indeed, had made up his mind that Sir Raffle should be very angry. 'What
do you mean, Mr Eames, by saying that there must be a limit? I know
nothing about limits. One would suppose you intended to make an
accusation against me.'
'So I do. I think, Sir Raffle, that you are treating me with great
cruelty. I have explained to you my family circumstances--'
'You have explained nothing, Mr Eames.'
'Yes, I have, Sir Raffle. I have explained to you that matters relating
to one of my family, which materially affect the honour of a certain one
of its members, demand that I should go at once to Florence. You tell me
that if I go I shall be dismissed.'
'Of course you must not go without leave. I never heard of such a thing
in my life.' And Sir Raffle lifted his hands towards heaven, almost in
'So I have drawn up a short statement of the circumstances, which I hope
may be read at the Board when the question of my dismissal comes before
'You mean to go, then?'
'Yes, Sir Raffle; I must go. The honour of a certain branch of my
family demands that I should do so. As I have for some time been so
especially under you, I thought it would be proper to show you what I
have said before I send my letter in, and therefore I have brought it
with me. Here it is.' And Johnny handed to Sir Raffle an official
document of large dimensions.
Sir Raffle began to be uncomfortable. He had acquired a character for
tyranny in the public service of which he was aware, though he thought
that he knew well that he had never deserved it. Some official
big-wig--perhaps that Chancellor of the Exchequer of whom he was so
fond--had on one occasion hinted to him that a little softness of usage
would be compatible with the prejudices of the age. Softness was
impossible to Sir Raffle; but his temper was sufficiently under his
control to enable him to encounter the rebuke, and to pull himself up
from time to time when he found himself tempted to speak loud and to
take things with a high hand. He knew that a clerk should not be
dismissed for leaving his office, who could show that his absence had
been caused by some matter really affecting the interest of his family;
and that were he to drive Eames to go on this occasion without leave,
Eames would simply be called in to state what was the matter of moment
which had taken him away. Probably he had stated that matter of moment
in this very document which Sir Raffle was holding in his hand. But Sir
Raffle was not willing to be conquered by the document. If it was
necessary that he should give way, he would much prefer to give way--out
of his own good-nature, let us say--without looking at the document at
all. 'I must, under the circumstances, decline to read this,' he said,
'unless it should come before me officially,' and he handed back the
'I thought it best to let you see it if you pleased,' said John Eames.
Then he turned round as though he were going to leave the room; but
suddenly he turned back again. 'I don't like to leave you, Sir Raffle,
without saying good-bye. I do not suppose we shall meet again. Of course
you must do your duty, and I do not wish you to think that I have any
personal ill-will against you.' So saying, he put out his hand to Sir
Raffle as though to take a final farewell. Sir Raffle looked at him in
amazement. He was dressed, as has been said, in black, and did not look
like the John Eames of every day to whom Sir Raffle was accustomed.
'I don't understand this at all,' said Sir Raffle.
'I was afraid that it was only too plain,' said John Eames.
'And you must go?'
'Oh, yes;--that is certain. I have pledged myself to go.'
'Of course I don't know anything of this matter that is so important to
'No; you do not,' said Johnny.
'Can't you explain it to me, then? so that I may have some reason--if
there is any reason.'
Then John told the story of Mr Crawley--a considerable portion of the
story; and in his telling of it, I think it probable that he put more
weight upon the necessity of his mission to Italy than it could have
fairly been made to bear. In the course of the narration Sir Raffle did
once contrive to suggest that a lawyer going to Florence might do the
business at any rate as well as John Eames. But Johnny denied this. 'No,
Sir Raffle, it is impossible; quite impossible,' he said. 'If you saw
the lawyer who is acting in the matter, Mr Toogood, who is also my
uncle, he would tell you the same.' Sir Raffle had already heard
something of the story of Mr Crawley, and was now willing to accept the
sad tragedy of that case as an excuse for his private secretary's
somewhat insubordinate conduct. 'Under the circumstances, Eames, I
suppose you must go; but I think you should have told me all about it
'I did not like to trouble you, Sir Raffle, with private business.'
'It is always best to tell the whole of the story,' said Sir Raffle.
Johnny being quite content with the upshot of the negotiations accepted
this gentle rebuke in silence and withdrew. On the next day he appeared
again at the office in his ordinary costume, and an idea crossed Sir
Raffle's brain that he had been partly 'done' by the affectation of a
costume. 'I'll be even with him some day,' said Sir Raffle to himself.
'I've got my leave, boys,' said Eames when he went out into the room in
which his three friends sat.
'No!' said Cradell.
'But I have,' said Johnny.
'You don't mean that old Huffle Scuffle has given it out of his own
head?' Said Fisher.
'Indeed he has,' said Johnny; 'and bade God bless me into the bargain.'
'And you didn't give him the oysters?' said Fit Howard.
'Not a shell,' said Johnny.
'I'm blessed if you don't beat cock-fighting,' said Cradell, lost in
admiration at his friend's adroitness.
We know how John passed his evening after that. He went first to see
Lily Dale at her uncle's lodgings in Sackville Street, from thence he
was taken to the presence of the charming Madalina in Porchester
Terrace, and then wound up the night with his friend Conway Dalrymple.
When he got to his bed he felt himself to have been triumphant, but in
spite of his triumph he was ashamed of himself. Why had he left Lily to
go to Madalina? As he thought of this he quoted to himself against
himself Hamlet's often-quoted appeal of the two portraits. How could he
not despise himself in that he could find any pleasure in Madalina,
having a Lily Dale to fill his thoughts? 'But she is not fair to me,' he
said to himself--thinking thus to comfort himself. But he did not
On the next morning early his uncle, Mr Toogood met him at the Dover
Railway Station. 'Upon my word, Johnny, you're a clever fellow,' said
he. 'I never thought you would make it all right with Sir Raffle.'
'As right as a trivet, uncle. There are some people, if you can only
get to learn the length of their feet, you can always fit them with
'You'll go direct to Florence, Johnny?'
'Yes, I think so. From what we have heard, Mrs Arabin must be either
there or at Venice, and I don't suppose I could learn from anyone at
Paris at which town she is staying at this moment.'
'Her address is Florence:--poste restante, Florence. You will be sure
to find out at any of the hotels where she is staying, or where she has
'But when I have found her, I don't suppose she can tell me anything,'
'Who can tell? She may or she may not. My belief is that the money was
her present altogether and not his. It seems that they don't mix their
moneys. He has always some scruple about it because of her son by a
former marriage, and they always have different accounts at their
bankers'. I found that out when I was at Barchester.'
'But Crawley was his friend.'
'Yes, Crawley was his friend; but I don't know that fifty-pound notes
have always been so plentiful with him. Deans' incomes ain't what they
were, you know.'
'I don't know anything about that,' said Johnny.
'Well; they are not. And he has nothing of his own, as far as I can
learn. It would be just the thing for her to do--to give money to his
friend. At any rate she will tell you whether it was or not.'
'And then I will go on to Jerusalem, after him.'
'Should you find it necessary. He will probably be on his way back, and
she will know where you can hit him on the road. You must make him
understand that it is essential that he should be here some little time
before the trial. You can understand, Johnny;--and as he spoke Mr
Toogood lowered his voice to a whisper, though they were walking
together on the platform of the railway station, and could not possibly
have been overheard by anyone. 'You can understand that it may be
necessary to prove that he is not exactly compos mentis, and if so it
will be essential that he should have some influential friend near him.
Otherwise that bishop will trample him into dust.' If Mr Toogood could
have seen the bishop at this time and have read the troubles of the poor
man's heart, he would hardly have spoken of him as being so terrible a
'I understand all that,' said Johnny.
'I hope the dean is a good fellow.'
'They tell me he is a very good fellow.'
'I never did see much in bishops or deans as yet,' said Johnny, 'and I
should feel rather awe-struck travelling with one.'
'I should fancy that a dean is very much like anybody else.'
'But the man's hat would cow me.'
'I daresay you'll find him walking about Jerusalem with a wide-awake
on, and a big stick in his hand, probably smoking a cigar. Deans
contrive to get out of their armour sometimes, as the knights of old
used to. Bishops, I fancy, find it more difficult. Well--good-bye, old
fellow. I'm very much obliged to you for going--I am, indeed. I don't
doubt but what we shall pull through, somehow.'
Then Mr Toogood went home to breakfast, and from his own house he
proceeded to his office. When he had been there an hour or two, there
came to him a messenger from the Income-Tax Office, with an official
note addressed to himself by Sir Raffle Buffle--a note which looked to
be very official. Sir Raffle Buffle presented his compliments to Mr
Toogood, and could Mr Toogood favour Sir R B with the present address of
Mr John Eames. 'Old fox,' said Mr Toogood--'but then such a stupid old
fox! As if it was likely that I should have poached on Johnny if
anything was wrong.' So Mr Toogood sent his compliments to Sir Raffle
Buffle, and begged to inform Sir R B that Mr John Eames was away on very
particular family business, which would take him in the first instance
to Florence;--but that from Florence he would probably have to go onto
Jerusalem without the loss of an hour. 'Stupid old fool!' said Mr
Toogood, as he sent off his reply by the messenger.
NEAR THE CLOSE
I wonder whether anyone will read these pages who has never known
anything of the bitterness of a family quarrel? If so, I shall have a
reader very fortunate, or else very cold-blooded. It would be wrong to
say that love produces quarrels; but love does produce those intimate
relations of which quarrelling is too often one of the consequences--one
of the consequences which frequently seem to be so natural, and
sometimes seem to be unavoidable. One brother rebukes the other--and
what brothers ever lived together between whom there is no such
rebuking?--then some warm word is misunderstood and hotter words follow
and there is a quarrel. The husband tyrannizes, knowing that it is his
duty to direct, and the wife disobeys, or only partially obeys, thinking
that a little independence will become her--and so there is a quarrel.
The father, anxious only for his son's good, looks into that son's
future with other eyes than those of his son himself--and so there is a
quarrel. They come very easily these quarrels, but the quittance from
them is sometimes terribly difficult. Much of thought is necessary
before the angry man can remember that he too in part may have been
wrong; and any attempt at such thinking is almost beyond the power of
him who is carefully nursing his wrath, let it cool! But the nursing of
such quarrelling kills all happiness. The very man who is nursing his
wrath lest it cool--his wrath against one whom he loves perhaps the best
of all whom it has been given to him to love--is himself wretched as
long as it lasts. His anger poisons every pleasure of his life. He is
sullen at his meals, and cannot understand his book as he turns the
pages. His work, let it be what it may, is ill done. He is full of his
quarrel--nursing it. He is telling himself how much he has loved that
wicked one, and that now that wicked one is repaying him simply with
wickedness! And yet the wicked one is at that very moment dearer to him
than ever. If that wicked one would only be forgiven how sweet would be
the world again! And yet he nurses his wrath.
So it was in these days with Archdeacon Grantly. He was very angry with
his son. It is hardly too much to say that in every moment of his life,
whether waking or sleeping, he was thinking of the injury his son was
doing him. He had almost come to forget the fact that his anger had been
first roused by the feeling that his son was about to do himself an
injury--to cut his own throat. Various other considerations had now
added themselves to that, and filled not only his mind but his daily
conversation with his wife. How terrible would be the disgrace to Lord
Hartletop, how incurable the injury to Griselda, the marchioness, should
the brother-in-law of the one, and the brother of the other, marry the
daughter of a convicted thief! Of himself he would say nothing. So he
declared constantly, though of himself he did say a great deal. Of
himself he would say nothing, though of course such a marriage would
ruin him in the county. 'My dear,' said his wife, 'that is nonsense.
That is really nonsense. I feel sure there is not a single person in the
county who would think of the marriage in such a light.' Then the
archdeacon would have quarrelled with his wife, too, had she not been
too wise to admit such a quarrel. Mrs Grantly was very wise and knew
that it took two persons to make a quarrel. He told her over and over
again that she was in league with her son--that she was encouraging her
son to marry Grace Crawley. 'I believe that in your heart you wish it,'
he once said to her. 'No, my dear, I do not wish it. I do not think it a
becoming marriage. But if he does marry her, I should wish to receive
his wife in my house and certainly would not quarrel with him.' 'I will
never receive her,' the archdeacon had replied; 'and as for him, I can
only say that in such a case I will make no provision for his family.'
It will be remembered that the archdeacon had on a former occasion
instructed his wife to write to their son and tell him of his father's
determination. Mrs Grantly had so manoeuvred that a little time had been
gained, and that those instructions had not been insisted upon in all
their bitterness. Since that time Major Grantly had renewed his
assurance that he would marry Grace Crawley if Grace Crawley would
accept him--writing on this occasion direct to his father--and had asked
his father whether, in such a case, he was to look forward to be
disinherited. 'It is essential that I should know,' the major had said,
'because in such a case I must take immediate measures for leaving this
place.' His father had sent back his letter, writing a few words at the
bottom of it. 'If you do as you propose above, you must expect nothing
from me.' The words were written in large round handwriting, very
hurriedly, and the son when he received them perfectly understood the
mood of his father's mind when he wrote them.
Then there came tidings, addressed on this occasion to Mrs Grantly, that
Cosby Lodge was to be given up. Lady-day had come, and the notice
necessarily to be given at that period, was so given. 'I know this will
grieve you,' Major Grantly had said, 'but my father has driven me to
it.' This, in itself, was a cause of great sorrow, both to the
archdeacon and to Mrs Grantly, as there were circumstances connected
with Cosby Lodge which made them think that it was a very desirable
residence for their son. 'I shall sell everything about the place and go
abroad at once,' he said in a subsequent letter. 'My present idea is
that, I shall settle myself at Pau, as my income will suffice for me to
live there, and education for Edith will be cheap. At any rate I will
not continue to live in England. I could never be happy here in
circumstance so altered. Of course I should not have left my profession,
unless I had understood from my father that the income arising from it
would not be necessary to me. I do not, however, mean to complain, but
simply to tell you that I shall go.' There were many letters between the
mother and son in those days.
'I shall stay till after the trial,' he said. 'If she will then go with
me, well and good; but whether she will or not, I shall not remain
here.' All this seemed to Mrs Grantly to be peculiarly unfortunate, for
had he not resolved to go, things might even yet have righted
themselves. From what she could now understand of the character of Miss
Crawley, whom she did not know personally, she thought it probable that
Grace, in the event of her father being found guilty by the jury, would
absolutely and persistently refuse the offer made to her. She would be
too good, as Mrs Grantly put it to herself, to bring misery and disgrace
into another family. But should Mr Crawley be acquitted, and should the
marriage then take place, the archdeacon himself might probably be got
to forgive it. In either case there would be no necessity for breaking
up the house at Cosby Lodge. But her dear son Henry, her best beloved,
was obstinate and stiff-necked and would take no advice. 'He is even
worse than his father,' she said, in her short-lived anger, to her own
father to whom alone at this time she could unburden her griefs, seeking
consolation and encouragement.
It was her habit to go over to the deanery at any rate twice a week at
this time, and on the occasion of one of the visits so made, she
expressed very strongly her distress at the family quarrel which had
come among them. The old man took his grandson's part through and
through. 'I do not at all see why he should not marry the young lady if
he likes her. As for money, there ought to be enough without his having
to look for a wife with a fortune.'
'It is not a question of money, papa.'
'And as to rank,' continued Mr Harding, 'Henry will not at any rate be
going lower than his father did when he married you;--not so low
indeed, for at that time I was only a minor canon, and Mr Crawley is in
possession of a benefice.'
'Papa, all this is nonsense. It is indeed.'
'Very likely, my dear.'
'It is not because Mr Crawley is only perpetual curate of Hogglestock
that the archdeacon objects to the marriage. It has nothing to do with
that at all. At the present moment he is in disgrace.'
'Under a cloud, my dear. Let us pray that it may only be a passing
'All the world thinks that he is guilty. And then he is such a man;--so
singular, so unlike anybody else! You know, papa, that I don't think
very much of money, merely as money.'
'I hope not, my dear. Money is worth thinking of, but it is not worth
very much thought.'
'But it does give advantages, and the absence of advantages must be very
much felt in the education of a girl. You would hardly wish Henry to
marry a young woman who, from the want of money, had not been brought up
among ladies. It is not Miss Crawley's fault, but such has been her lot.
We cannot ignore these deficiencies, papa.'
'Certainly not, my dear.'
'You would not, for instance, wish that Henry should marry a
'But is Miss Crawley a kitchen-maid, Susan?'
'I don't quite say that.'
'I am told that she has been educated infinitely more than most of the
young ladies in the neighbourhood,' said Mr Harding.
'You know what I mean, papa. But the fact is, that it is impossible to
deal with men. They will never be reasonable. A marriage such as this
would be injurious to Henry; but it will not be ruinous; and as to
disinheriting him for it, that would be downright wicked.'
'I think so,' said Mr Harding.
'But the archdeacon will look at it as though it would destroy Henry and
Edith together, while you speak of it as though it were the best thing
in the world.'
'If the young people love each other, I think it would be the best thing
in the world,' said Mr Harding.
'But, papa, you cannot but think that his father's wish should go for
something,' said Mrs Grantly, who, desirous as she was on the one side
to support her son, could not bear that her husband should, on the other
side, be declared to be altogether in the wrong.
'I do not know, my dear,' said Mr Harding; 'but I do think that if the
two young people are fond of each other, and if there is anything for
them to live upon, it cannot be right to keep them apart. You know, my
dear, she is the daughter of a gentleman.' Mrs Grantly upon this left
her father almost brusquely, without speaking another word on the
subject; for though she was opposed to the vehement anger of her
husband, she could not endure the proposition now made by her father.
Mr Harding was at this time living all alone in the deanery. For some
few years the deanery had been his home, and as his youngest daughter
was the dean's wife, there could no more comfortable resting-place for
the evening of his life. During the last month or two the days had gone
tediously long with him; for he had had the large house all to himself,
and he was a man who did not love solitude. It is hard to conceive that
the old, whose thoughts have been all thought out, should ever love to
live alone. Solitude is surely for the young, who have time before them
for the execution of schemes, and who can, therefore, take delight in
thinking. In these days the poor old man would wander about the rooms,
shambling from one chamber to another, and would feel ashamed when the
servants met him ever on the move. He would make little apologies for
his uneasiness, which they would accept graciously, understanding, after
a fashion, why it was that he was uneasy. 'He ain't got nothing to do,'
said the housemaid to the cook 'and as for reading, they say that some
of the young ones can read all day sometimes, and all night too; but
bless you, when you're nigh eighty, reading don't go for much.' The
housemaid was right as to Mr Harding's reading. He was not one who had
read so much in his earlier days as to enable him to make reading go far
with him now that he was near eighty. So he wandered about the room, and
sat here for a few minutes, and there for a few minutes, and though he
did not sleep much, he made the hours of the night as many as possible.
Every morning he shambled across from the deanery to the cathedral, and
attended the morning service, sitting in the stall which he had occupied
for fifty years. The distance was very short, not exceeding, indeed a
hundred yards from a side-door in the deanery to another side-door into
the cathedral; but short as it was there had come to be a question
whether he should be allowed to go alone. It had been feared that he
might fall on his passage and hurt himself; for there was a step here,
and a step there, and the light was not very good in the purlieus of the
old cathedral. A word or two had been said once, and the offer of an arm
to help him had been made; but he had rejected the offered
assistance--softly, indeed, but still firmly--and every day he tottered
off by himself hardly lifting his feet as he went, and aiding himself on
his journey by a hand upon the wall when he thought that nobody was
looking at him. But many did see him, and they who knew him--ladies
generally of the city--would offer him a hand. Nobody was milder in his
dislikings than Mr Harding; but there were ladies in Barchester upon
whose arm he would always decline to lean, bowing courteously as he did
so, and saying a word or two of constrained civility. There were others
whom he would allow to accompany him home to the door of the deanery,
with whom he delighted to linger and chat if the morning was warm, and
to whom he would tell little stories of his own doings in the cathedral
services in the old days, when Bishop Grantly had ruled the diocese.
Never a word did he say against Bishop Proudie, or against Bishop
Proudie's wife; but the many words which he did say in praise of Bishop
Grantly--who, by his showing, was surely one of the best of churchmen
who ever walked through this vale of sorrow--were as eloquent in
dispraise of the existing prelate as could ever have been any more
clearly-pointed phrases. This daily visit to the cathedral, where he
would say his prayers as he had said them for so many years, and listen
to the organ, of which he knew all the power and every blemish as though
he himself had made the stops and fixed the pipes, was the chief
occupation of his life. It was a pity that it could not have been made
to cover a larger portion of his day.
It was sometimes sad enough to watch him as he sat alone. He would have
a book near him, and for a while would keep it in his hands. It would
generally be some volume of good old standard theology with which he had
been, or supposed himself to have been, conversant from his youth. But
the book would soon be laid aside, and gradually he would move himself
away from it, and he would stand about the room, looking now out of a
window from which he would fancy that he could not be seen, or gazing up
at some print which he had known for years; and then he would sit down
for a while in one chair, and for a while in another, while his mind was
wandering back into the old days, thinking of old troubles and
remembering old joys. And he had a habit, when he was sure that he that
he was not watched, of creeping up to a great black wooden case, which
always stood in one corner of the sitting-room which he occupied in the
deanery. Mr Harding, when he was younger, had been a performer on the
violoncello, and in this case there was still the instrument from which
he had been wont to extract the sounds which he had so dearly loved. Now
in these latter days he never made any attempt to play. Soon after he
had come to the deanery there had fallen upon him an illness, and after
that he had never again asked for his bow. They who were around him--his
daughter chiefly and her husband--had given the matter much thought,
arguing with themselves whether or no it would be better to invite him
to resume the task he so loved; for of all the works of his life this
playing on the violoncello had been the sweetest to him; but even before
that illness his hand had greatly failed him, and the dean and Mrs
Arabin had agreed that it would be better to let the matter pass without
a word. He had never asked to be allowed to play. He had expressed no
regrets. When he himself would propose that his daughter should 'give
them a little music'--and he would make such a proposition on every
evening that was suitable--he would never say a word of those former
performances at which he himself had taken a part. But it had become
known to Mrs Arabin, through the servants, that he had once dragged the
instrument forth from its case when he thought the house to be nearly
deserted; and a wail of sounds had been heard, very low, very
short-lived, recurring now and again at fitful intervals. He had at
those times attempted to play, as though with a muffled bow--so that
none should know of his vanity and folly. Then there had been further
consultations at the deanery, and it had been again agreed that it would
be best to say nothing to him of his music.
In these latter days of which I am now speaking he would never draw the
instrument out of its case. Indeed he was aware that it was too heavy
for him to handle without assistance. But he would pass his fingers
among the broad strings, and ever and anon would produce from one of
them a low, melancholy, almost unearthly sound. And then he would pause,
never daring to produce such notes in succession--one close upon the
other. And these last sad moans of the old fiddle were now known through
the household. They were the ghosts of the melody of days long past. He
imagined that his visits to the box were unsuspected--that none knew of
the folly of his old fingers which could not keep themselves from
touching the wires; but the voice of the old violoncello had been
recognised by the servants and by his daughter, and when that low wail
was heard through the house--like the last dying note of a dirge--they
would all know that Mr Harding was visiting his ancient friend.
When the dean and Mrs Arabin had first talked of going abroad for a long
visit, it had been understood that Mr Harding should pass the period of
their absence with his other daughter at Plumstead; but when the time
came he begged Mrs Arabin to be allowed to remain in his old rooms. 'Of
course I shall go backwards and forwards,' he had said. 'There is
nothing I like so much as a change now and then.' The result had been
that he had gone once to Plumstead during the dean's absence. When he
had thus remonstrated, begging go be allowed to remain in Barchester,
Mrs Arabin had declared her intention of giving up her tour. In telling
her father of this she had not said that her altered purpose had arisen
from her disinclination to leave him alone; but he had perceived that it
was so, and had then consented to be taken over to Plumstead. There was
nothing, he said, which he would like so much as going over to Plumstead
for four or five months. It had ended in his having his own way
altogether. The Arabins had gone upon their tour, and he was left in
possession of the deanery. 'I should not like to die out of Barchester,'
he said to himself in excuse to himself for his disinclination to
sojourn long under the archdeacon's roof. But, in truth, the archdeacon,
who loved him well and who, after a fashion, had always been good to
him--who had always spoken of the connexion which had bound the two
families together as the great blessing of his life--was too rough in
his greetings for the old man. Mr Harding had ever mixed something of
fear with his warm affection for his elder son-in-law, and now in these
closing hours of his life he could not avoid a certain amount of
shrinking from that loud voice--a certain inaptitude to be quite at ease
in that commanding presence. The dean, his second son-in-law, had been a
modern friend in comparison with the archdeacon; but the dean was more
gentle with him; and then the dean's wife had ever been the dearest to
him of human beings. It may be a doubt whether one of the dean's
children was not now almost more dear, and whether in these days he did
not have more free communication with that little girl than with any
other human being. Her name was Susan, but he had always called her
Posy, having himself invented for her that soubriquet. When it had been
proposed to him to pass the winter and spring at Plumstead, the
suggestion had been made alluring by a promise that Posy also should be
taken to Mrs Grantly's house. But he, as we have seen, remained at the
deanery, and Posy had remained with him.
Posy was now five years old, and could talk well, and had her own ideas
of things. Posy's eyes--hers, and no others besides her own--were
allowed to see the inhabitant of the big black case; and now that the
deanery was so nearly deserted, Posy's fingers had touched the strings
and had produced an infantine moan. 'Grandpa, let me do it again.'
Twang! It was not, however, in truth, a twang, but a sound as of a
prolonged dull, almost deadly, hum-m-m-m-m! On this occasion the moan
was not entirely infantine--Posy's fingers having been something too
strong--and the case was closed and locked, and grandpa shook his head.
'But Mrs Baxter won't be angry,' said Posy. Mrs Baxter was the
housekeeper in the deanery, and had Mr Harding under her especial
'No, my darling; Mrs Baxter will not be angry, but we mustn't disturb
'No,' said Posy, with much of important awe in her tone; 'we mustn't
disturb the house; must we, grandpa?' And so she gave in her adhesion to
the closing of the case. But Posy could play cat's-cradle, and as
cat's-cradle did not disturb the house at all, there was a good deal of
cat's-cradle played in those days. Posy's fingers were so soft and
pretty, so small and deft, that the dear old man delighted in taking the
strings from them, and in having them taken from his own by those tender
On the afternoon after the conversation respecting Grace Crawley which
is recorded in the early part of this chapter, a messenger from
Barchester went over to Plumstead, and part of his mission consisted of
a note from Mrs Baxter to Mrs Grantly, beginning 'Honoured Madam,' and
informing Mrs Grantly, among other things, that her 'respected papa', as
Mrs Baxter called him, was not quite so well as usual; not that Mrs
Baxter thought that there was much the matter. Mr Harding had been to
the cathedral service, as was usual with him, but had come home leaning
on a lady's arm, who had thought it well to stay with him at the door
till it had been opened for him. After that 'Miss Posy' had found him
asleep, and had been unable--or if not unable, unwilling, to wake him.
'Miss Posy' had come down to Mrs Baxter somewhat in a fright, and hence
this letter had been written. Mrs Baxter thought that there was nothing
'to fright' Mrs Grantly, and she wasn't sure that she should have
written at all only that Dick was bound to go over to Plumstead with the
wool; but as Dick was going, Mrs Baxter thought it proper to send her
duty, and to say that to her humble way of thinking perhaps it might be
best that Mr Harding shouldn't go alone to the cathedral in the morning.
'If the dear reverend gentleman was to get a tumble, ma'am,' said the
letter, 'it would be awkward.' Then Mrs Grantly remembered that she had
left her father almost without a greeting in the previous day, and she
resolved that she would go over very early on the following morning--so
early that she would be at the deanery before her father should have
gone to the cathedral.
'He ought to have come over here. And not stayed there by himself,'
said the archdeacon, when his wife told him of her intention.
'It is too late to think of that now, my dear; and one can understand, I
think, that he should not like leaving the cathedral as long as he can
attend it. The truth is that he does not like being out of Barchester.'
'He would be much better here,' said the archdeacon. 'Of course you can
have the carriage and go over. We can breakfast at eight; and if you can
bring him back with you, do. I should tell him that he ought to come.'
Mrs Grantly made no answer to this, knowing very well that she could not
bring herself to go beyond the gentlest persuasion with her father, and
on the next morning she was at the deanery by ten o'clock. Half-past ten
was the hour at which the service began. Mrs Baxter contrived to meet
her before she saw her father, and begged her not to let it be known
that any special tidings of Mr Harding's failing strength had been sent
from the deanery to Plumstead. 'And how is my father?' asked Mrs
Grantly. 'Well, then, ma'am,' said Baxter, 'in one sense he's finely. He
took a morsel of early lamb to his dinner yesterday, and relished it
ever so well--only he gave Miss Posy the best part of it. And then he
sat with Miss Posy quite happy for an hour or so. And then he slept in
his chair; and you know, ma'am, we never wake him. And after that old
Skulpit toddled up from the hospital'--this was Hiram's Hospital of
which establishment, in the city of Barchester, Mr Harding had once been
the warden and kind master, as has been told in former chronicles of the
city--'and your papa has said, ma'am, you know, that he is always to see
any of the old men when they come up. And Skulpit is sly, and no better
than he should be, and got money from your father, ma'am, I know. And
then he had just a drop of tea, and after that I took him a glass of
port wine with my own hands. And it touched me, ma'am, so it did, when
he said, "Oh, Mrs Baxter, how good you are; you know well what I like."
And then he went to bed. I listened hard--not from idle curiosity,
ma'am, as you, who know me, will believe, but just because it's becoming
to know what he's about, as there might be an accident, you know,
ma'am.' 'You are very good, Mrs Baxter, very good.' 'Thank ye, ma'am,
for saying so. And so I listened hard; but he didn't go to his music,
poor gentleman; and I think he had a quiet night. He doesn't sleep much
at nights, poor gentleman, but he's very quiet; leastwise he was last
night.' This was the bulletin which Mrs Baxter gave Mrs Grantly on that
morning before Mrs Grantly saw her father.
She found him preparing himself for his visit to the cathedral. Some
year or two--but no more--before the date of which we are speaking, he
had still taken some small part in the service; and while he had done so
he had of course worn his surplice. Living so close to the cathedral--so
close that he could almost walk out of the house into the transept--he
had kept his surplice in his own room, and had gone down in his
vestment. It had been a bitter day to him when he had first found
himself constrained to abandon the white garment which he loved. He had
encountered some failure in the performance of the slight clerical task
allotted to him, and the dean had tenderly advised him to desist. He did
not utter one word of remonstrance. 'It will perhaps be better,' the
dean had said. 'Yes--it will be better,' Mr Harding had replied. 'Few
have had accorded to them the high privilege of serving their Master in
His house for so many years--though few more humbly, or with lower
gifts.' But on the following morning, and for nearly a week afterwards,
he had been unable to face the minor canon and the vergers, and the old
women who knew him so well, in his ordinary black garments. At last he
went down with the dean, and occupied a stall close to the dean's seat
--far away from that which he had sat for so many years--and in this
seat he had said his prayers ever since that day. And now his surplices
were washed and ironed and folded and put away; but there were moments
in which he would stealthily visit them, as he also stealthily visited
his friend in the black wooden case. This was very melancholy, and the
sadness of it was felt by all those who lived with him; but he never
alluded himself to any of those bereavements which age had brought him.
Whatever might be his regrets, he kept them ever within his own breast.
Posy was with him when Mrs Grantly went up into his room, holding for
him his hat and stick while he was engaged in brushing a suspicion of
dust from his black gaiters. 'Grandpapa, here is aunt Susan,' said Posy.
The old man looked up with something--with some slightest sign of that
habitual fear which was always aroused within his bosom by visitations
from Plumstead. Had Mrs Arabin thoroughly understood the difference in
her father's feeling toward herself and toward her sister, I think she
would hardly have gone forth upon any tour while he remained with her in
the deanery. It is very hard sometimes to know how intensely we are
loved, and of what value our presence is to those who love us! Mrs
Grantly saw the look--did not analyse it, did not quite understand
it--but felt, as she had often felt before, that it was not altogether
laden with welcome. But all this had nothing to do with the duty on
which she had come; nor did it, in the slightest degree, militate
against her own affection. 'Papa,' she said, kissing him, 'you are
surprised to see me so early?'
'Well, my dear, yes;--but very glad all the same. I hope everybody is
well at Plumstead?'
'Everybody, thank you, papa.'
'That is well. Posy and I are getting ready for church. Are we not,
'Grandpapa is getting ready. Mrs Baxter won't let me go.'
'No, my dear, no--not yet, Posy. When Posy is a great girl she can go
to the cathedral every day. Only then, perhaps, Posy won't want to go.'
'I thought that, perhaps, papa, you would sit with me a little while
this morning, instead of going to morning prayers.'
'Certainly, my dear--certainly. Only I do not like not going;--for who
can say how often I may be able to go again? There is so little time
left, Susan--so very little left.'
After that she did not have the heart to ask him to stay, and therefore
she went with him. As they passed down the stairs and out of the doors
she was astonished to find how weak were his footsteps--how powerless he
was against the slightest misadventure. On this very day he would have
tripped at the upward step at the cathedral door had she not been with
him. 'Oh, papa,' she said 'indeed, indeed, you should not come here
alone.' Then he apologised for his little stumble with many words and
much shame, assuring her that anybody might trip on an occasion. It was
purely an accident; and though it was a comfort to have had her arm, he
was sure that he would have recovered himself even had he been alone. He
always, he said, kept quite close to the wall, so that there might be no
mistake--no possibility of an accident. All this he said volubly, but
with confused words, in the covered stone passage leading into the
transept. And, as he thus spoke, Mrs Grantly made up her mind that her
father should never again go to the cathedral alone. He never did go
again to the cathedral--alone.
When they returned to the deanery, Mr Harding was fluttered, weary, and
unwell. When his daughter left him for a few minutes he told Mrs Baxter
in confidence of the story of his accident, and his great grief that his
daughter should have seen it. 'Laws amercy, sir, it was a blessing she
was with you,' said Mrs Baxter; 'it was, indeed, Mr Harding.' Then Mr
Harding had been angry, and spoke almost crossly to Mrs Baxter; but,
before she left the room, he found an opportunity of begging her
pardon--not in a set speech to that effect, but by a little word of
gentle kindness, which she had understood perfectly. 'Papa,' said Mrs
Grantly to him as soon as she ha succeeded in getting both Posy and Mrs
Baxter out of the room--against the doing of which, Mr Harding had
manoeuvred with all his little impotent skill--'Papa, you must promise
that you will not go to the cathedral again alone, till Eleanor comes
home.' When he heard the sentence he looked at her with blank misery in
his eyes. He made not attempt at remonstrance. He begged for no respite.
The word had gone forth, and he knew that it must be obeyed. Though he
would have hidden the signs of his weakness had he been able, he would
not condescend to plead that he was strong. 'If you think it wrong, my
dear, I will not go alone,' he said. 'Papa, I do; indeed I do. Dear
papa, I would not hurt you by saying it if I did not know that I am
right.' He was sitting with his hand upon the table, and, as she spoke
to him, she put her hand upon his, caressing it. 'My dear,' he said,
'you are always right.'
She left him again for a while, having some business out in the city,
and he was alone in his room for an hour. What was there left to him now
in the world? Old as he was, and in some things almost childish,
nevertheless, he thought of this keenly, and some half-realised
remembrance of the 'lean and slippered pantaloon' flitted across his
mind, causing him a pang. What was there left to him now in the world?
Posy and cat's-cradle! Then, in the midst of his regrets, as he sat with
his back bent in his old easy-chair, with one arm over the shoulder of
the chair, and the other hanging loose by his side, on a sudden there
came across his face a smile as sweet as every brightened the face of
man or woman. He had been able to tell himself that he had no ground for
complaint--great ground rather for rejoicing and gratitude. Had not the
world and all in it been good to him; had he not children who loved him,
who had done him honour, who had been to him always a crown of glory,
never a mark for reproach; had not his lines fallen to him in very
pleasant places; was it not his happy fate to go and leave it all amidst
the good words and kind loving cares of devoted friends? Whose latter
days had ever been more blessed than his? And for the future--? It was
as he thought of this that the smile came across his face--as though it
were already the face of an angel. And then he muttered to himself a
word or two. 'Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace. Lord,
now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace.'
When Mrs Grantly returned she found him in jocund spirits. And yet she
perceived that he was so weak that when he left his chair he could
barely get across the room without assistance. Mrs Baxter, indeed, had
not sent to her too soon, and it was well that the prohibition had come
in time to prevent some terrible accident. 'Papa,' she said, 'I think
you had better go with me to Plumstead. The carriage is here, and I can
take you home so comfortably.' But he would not allow himself to be
taken on this occasion to Plumstead. He smiled and thanked her, and put
his hand into hers, and repeated his promise that he would not leave the
house on any occasion without assistance, and declared himself specially
thankful to her for coming to him on that special morning;--but he would
not be taken to Plumstead. 'When summer comes,' he said, 'then, if you
will have me for a few days!'
He meant no deceit, and yet he had told himself within the last hour
that he should never see another summer. He could not tell even his
daughter that after such a life as this, after more than fifty years
spent in the ministration of his darling cathedral, it specially behoved
him to die--as he had lived--at Barchester. He could not say this to his
eldest daughter; but had his Eleanor been at home, he could have said it
to her. He thought he might yet live to see his Eleanor once again. If
this could be given to him he would ask for nothing more.
On the afternoon of the next day, Mrs Baxter wrote another letter, in
which she told Mrs Grantly that her father had declared, at his usual
hour of rising that morning, that he was not going to the cathedral, he
would, he thought, lie in bed a little longer. And then he had been in
bed the whole day. 'And perhaps, honoured madam, looking at all things,
it's best as he should,' said Mrs Baxter.
LADY LUFTON'S PROPOSITION
It was now known throughout Barchester that a commission was to be held
by the bishop's orders, at which inquiry would be made--that is,
ecclesiastical inquiry--as to the guilt imputed to Mr Crawley in the
matter of Mr Soames's cheque. Sundry rumours had gone abroad as to
quarrels which had taken place on the subject among certain clergymen
high in office; but these were simply rumours, and nothing was in truth
known. There was no more discreet clergyman in the diocese than Dr
Tempest, and not a word had escaped from him as to the stormy nature of
that meeting in the bishop's palace, at which he had attended with the
bishop--and at which Mrs Proudie had attended also. When it is said
that the fact of this coming commission was known to all Barsetshire,
allusion is of course made to that portion of the inhabitants of
Barsetshire to which clerical matters were dear;--and as such matters
were specially dear to the inhabitants of the parish of Framley, the
commission was discussed very eagerly in that parish, and was specially
discussed by the Dowager Lady Lufton.
And there was a double interest attached to the commission in the parish
of Framley by the fact that Mr Robarts, the vicar, had been invited by
Dr Tempest to be one of the clergymen who were to assist in making the
inquiry. 'I also to propose to ask Mr Oriel of Greshambury to join us,'
said Dr Tempest. 'The bishop wishes to appoint the other two, and has
already named Mr Thumble and Mr Quiverful, who are both residents in the
city. Perhaps his lordship may be right in thinking it better that the
matter should not be left altogether in the hands of clergymen who hold
livings in the diocese. You are no doubt aware that neither Mr Thumble
nor Mr Quiverful do hold any benefice.' Mr Robarts felt--as everybody
else did feel who knew anything of the matter--that Bishop Proudie was
singularly ignorant of his knowledge of men, and that he showed his
ignorance on this special occasion. 'If he intended to name two such men
he should at any rate have named three,' said Dr Thorne. 'Mr Thumble and
Mr Quiverful will simply be outvoted on the first day, and after that
will give in their adhesion to the majority.' 'Mr Thumble indeed!' Lady
Lufton had said, with much scorn in her voice. To her thinking, it was
absurd in the highest degree that such men as Dr Tempest and her Mr
Robarts should be asked to meet Mr Thumble and Mr Quiverful on a matter
of ecclesiastical business. Outvoted! Of course whey would be outvoted.
Of course they would be so paralysed by fear at finding themselves in
the presence of real gentlemen, that they would hardly be able to vote
at all. Old Lady Lufton did not in fact utter words so harsh as these;
but thoughts as harsh passed through her mind. The reader therefore will
understand that much interest was felt in the subject at Framley Court,
where Lady Lufton lived with her son and daughter-in-law.
'They tell me,' said Lady Lufton, 'that both the archdeacon and Dr
Tempest think it is right that a commission should be held. If so, I
have no doubt that it is right.'
'Mark says that the bishop could hardly do anything else,' rejoined Mrs
'I daresay not, my dear. I suppose the bishop has somebody near him
to tell him what he may do and what he may not do. It would be
terrible to think of, if it were not so. But yet, when I hear that he
has named such men as Mr Thumble and Mr Quiverful, I cannot but feel
that the whole diocese is disgraced.'
'Oh, Lady Lufton, that is such a strong word,' said Mrs Robarts.
'It may be strong, but it is not the less true,' said Lady Lufton.
And from talking on the subject of the Crawleys, Lady Lufton soon
advanced, first to a desire for some action, and than to acting. 'I
think, my dear, I will go over and see Mrs Crawley,' said Lady Lufton,
the elder to Lady Lufton the younger. Lady Lufton the younger had
nothing to urge against this; but she did not offer to accompany the
elder Lady. I attempted to explain in the earlier part of this story
that there still existed a certain understanding between Mrs Crawley and
Lord Lufton's wife, and that kindnesses had occasionally passed from
Framley Court to Hogglestock Parsonage; but on this occasion, Lady
Lufton--the Lucy Robarts that had once passed certain days of her life
with the Crawleys at Hogglestock--did not choose to accompany her
mother-in-law; and therefore Mrs Robarts was invited to do so. 'I think
it may comfort her to know that she has our sympathy,' the elder woman
said to the younger as they made their journey together.
When the carriage stopped before the little wicker-gate, from whence a
path led through a ragged garden from the road to Mr Crawley's house,
Lady Lufton hardly knew how to proceed. The servant came to the door of
the carriage, and asked for her orders. 'H--m--m, ha, yes; I think I'll
send in my card;--and say that I hope Mrs Crawley will be able to see
me. Won't that be best; eh, Fanny?' Fanny, otherwise Mrs Robarts, said
that she thought that would be best; and the card and message were
It was happily the case that Mr Crawley was not at home. Mr Crawley was
away at Hoggle End, reading to the brickmakers, or turning the mangles
of their wives, or teaching them theology, or politics, or history,
after his fashion. In these days he spent, perhaps, the happiest hours
of his life down at Hoggle End. I say that his absence was a happy
chance, because, had he been at home, he would certainly have said
something, or done something, to offend Lady Lufton. He would either
have refused to see her, or when seeing her he would have bade her hold
her peace and not interfere with matters which did not concern her,
or--more probable still--he would have sat still and sullen, and have
spoken not at all. But he was away and Mrs Crawley sent out word by the
servant that she would be most proud to see her ladyship, if her
ladyship would be pleased to alight. Her ladyship did alight, and walked
into the parsonage, followed by Mrs Robarts.
Grace was with her mother. Indeed Jane had been there also when the
message was brought in, but she fled into the back regions, overcome by
shame as to her frock. Grace, I think, would have fled too, had she not
been bound in honour to support her mother. Lady Lufton, as she entered,
was very gracious, struggling with all the power of her womanhood so to
carry herself that there should be no outwardly visible sign of her rank
or her wealth--but not altogether succeeding. Mrs Robarts, on her first
entrance, said only a word or two of greeting to Mrs Crawley, and kissed
Grace, whom she had known intimately in early years. 'Lady Lufton,' said
Mrs Crawley, 'I am afraid this is a very poor place for you to come to;
but you have known that of old, and therefore I need hardly apologise.'
'Sometimes I like poor places best,' said Lady Lufton. Then there was a
pause, after which Lady Lufton addressed herself to Grace, seeking some
subject for immediate conversation. 'You have been down in Allington, my
dear, have you not?' Grace, in a whisper, said that she had. 'Staying
with the Dales, I believe? I know the Dales well by name, and I have
always heard that they are charming people.'
'I like them very much,' said Grace. And then there was another pause.
'I hope your husband is pretty well, Mrs Crawley?' said Lady Lufton.
'He is pretty well--not quite strong. I daresay you know, Lady Lufton,
that he has things to vex him?' Mrs Crawley felt that it was the need of
the moment that the only possible subject of conversation in that house
should be introduced; and therefore she brought it in at once, not
loving the subject, but being strongly conscious of the necessity. Lady
Lufton meant to be good-natured, and therefore Mrs Crawley would do all
in her power to make Lady Lufton's mission easy to her.
'Indeed yes,' said her ladyship; 'we do know that.'
'We feel so much for you and Mr Crawley,' said Mrs Robarts; 'and are so
sure that your sufferings are unmerited.' This was not discreet on the
part of Mrs Robarts, as she was the wife of one of the clergymen who had
been selected to form the commission of inquiry; and so Lady Lufton told
her on the way home.
'You are very kind,' said Mrs Crawley. 'We must only bear it with such
fortitude as God will give us. We are told that He tempers the wind to
the shorn lamb.'
'And so He does my dear,' said her ladyship very solemnly. 'So He does.
Surely you have felt that it is so?'
'I struggle not to complain,' said Mrs Crawley.
'I know that you struggle bravely. I hear of you, and I admire you for
it, and I love you.' It was still the old lady who was speaking and now
she had at last been roused out of her difficulty as to words, and had
risen from her chair, and was standing before Mrs Crawley. 'It is
because you do not complain, because you are so great and so good,
because your character is so high, and your spirit so firm, that I could
not resist the temptation of coming to you. Mrs Crawley, if you will let
me be your friend, I shall be proud of your friendship.'
'Your ladyship is too good,' said Mrs Crawley.
'Do not talk to me after that fashion,' said Lady Lufton. 'If you do I
shall be disappointed, and feel myself thrown back. You know what I
mean.' She paused for an answer; but Mrs Crawley had no answer to make.
She simply shook her head, not knowing why she did so. But we may know.
We can understand that she had felt that the friendship offered to her
by Lady Lufton was an impossibility. She had decided within her own
breast that it was so, though she did not know that she had come to such
decision. 'I wish you to take me at my word, Mrs Crawley,' continued
Lady Lufton. 'What can we do for you? We know that you are distressed.'
'Yes--we are distressed.'
'And we know how cruel circumstances have been to you. Will you not
forgive me for being plain?'
'I have nothing to forgive,' said Mrs Crawley.
'Lady Lufton means,' said Mrs Robarts, 'that in asking you to talk
openly of your affairs, she wishes you to remember that--I think you
know what I mean,' said Mrs Robarts, knowing very well herself what she
did mean, but not knowing at all how to express herself.
'Lady Lufton is very kind,' said Mrs Crawley, 'and so are you, Mrs
Robarts. I know how good you both are, and for how much it behoves me to
be grateful.' These words were very cold, and the voice in which they
were spoken were very cold. They made Lady Lufton feel that it was
beyond her power to proceed with the work of her mission in its intended
spirit. It is ever so much easier to proffer kindness graciously than to
receive it with grace. Lady Lufton had intended to say, 'Let us be women
together;--women bound by humanity, and not separated by rank, and let
us open our hearts freely. Let us see how we may be of comfort to each
other.' And could she have succeeded in this, she would have spread out
her little plans of succour with so loving a hand that she would have
conquered the woman before her. But the suffering spirit cannot descend
from its dignity of reticence. It has a nobility of its own, made sacred
by many tears, by the flowing of streams of blood from unseen wounds,
which cannot descend from its dais to receive pity and kindness. A
consciousness of undeserved woe produces a grandeur of its own, with
which the high-souled sufferer will not easily part. Baskets full of
eggs, pounds of eleemosynary butter, quarters of given pork, even
second-hand clothing from the wardrobe of some richer sister--even
money, unsophisticated money, she could accept. She had learned how that
it was her portion of her allotted misery to take such things--for the
sake of her children and her husband--and to be thankful for them. She
did take them and was thankful; and in the taking she submitted herself
to the rod of cruel circumstances; but she could not even yet bring
herself to accept spoken pity from a stranger, and to kiss the speaker.
'Can we not do something to help you?' said Mrs Robarts. She would not
have spoken but she perceived that Lady Lufton had completed her appeal,
and that Mrs Crawley did not seem prepared to answer it.
'You have done so much to help us,' said Mrs Crawley. 'The things you
have sent us have been very serviceable.'
'But we mean something more than that,' said Lady Lufton.
'I do not know what there is more,' said Mrs Crawley. 'A bit to eat and
something to wear;--that seems to be all that we have to care for now.'
'But we were afraid that this coming trial must cause you much anxiety.'
'Of course it causes anxiety;--but what can we do? It must be so. It
cannot be put off or avoided. We have made up our minds to it now, and
almost wish that it would come quicker. If it were once over, I think
that he would be better whatever the result might be.'
Then there was another lull in the conversation, and Lady Lufton began
to be afraid that her visit would be a failure. She thought that perhaps
she might get on better if Grace were not in the room, and she turned
over in her mind various schemes for sending her away. And perhaps her
task would be easier if Mrs Robarts also could be banished for a time.
'Fanny, my dear,' she said at last, boldly, 'I know you have a little
plan to arrange with Miss Crawley. Perhaps you will be more likely to be
successful if you can take a turn with her alone.' There was not much
subtlety in her ladyship's scheme; but it answered the proposed purpose,
and the two elder ladies were soon left face to face, so that Lady
Lufton had a fair pretext for making another attempt. 'Dear Mrs
Crawley,' she said, 'I do so long to say a word to you, but I fear that
I may be thought to interfere.'
'Oh, no, Lady Lufton; I have no feeling of that kind.'
'I have asked your daughter and Mrs Robarts to go out because I can
speak to you more easily alone. I wish I could teach you to trust me.'
'I do trust you.'
'As a friend, I mean;--as a real friend. If it should be the case, Mrs
Crawley, that a jury should give a verdict against your husband--what
will you do then? Perhaps I should not suppose that it is possible.'
'Of course we know that it is possible,' said Mrs Crawley. Her voice
was stern, and there was in it a tone almost of offence. As she spoke
she did not look at her visitor, but sat with her face averted and her
arms akimbo on the table.
'Yes;--it is possible,' said Lady Lufton. 'I suppose there is not one
in the county who does not truly wish it may not be so. But it is right
to be prepared for all alternatives. In such case have you thought what
you will do?'
'I do not know what they would do to him,' said she.
'I suppose that for some time he would be--'
'Put in prison,' said Mrs Crawley, speaking very quickly, bringing out
the words with a sharp eagerness that was quite unusual to her. 'They
will send him to gaol. Is it not so, Lady Lufton?'
'I suppose it would be so; not for long I should hope; but I presume
that such would be the sentence for some short period.'
'And I might not go with him?'
'No, that would be impossible.'
'And the house, and the living; would they let him have them again when
he came out?'
'Ah; that I cannot say. That will depend much, probably, in what these
clergymen will report. I hope he will not put himself in opposition to
'I do not know. I cannot say. It is probable that he may do so. It is
not easy for a man so injured as he has been, and one at the same time
so great in intelligence, to submit himself gently to such inquiries.
When ill is being done to himself or others he is very prone to oppose
'But these gentlemen do not wish to do him ill, Mrs Crawley.'
'I cannot say. I do not know. When I think of it I see that there is
nothing but ruin on every side. What is the use of talking of it? Do not
be angry, Lady Lufton, if I say that it is of no use.'
'But I desire to be of use--of real use. If it should be the case, Mrs
Crawley, that your husband should be--detained at Barchester--'
'You mean imprisoned, Lady Lufton.'
'Yes, I mean imprisoned. If it should be so, then do you bring yourself
and your children--all of them--over to Framley, and I will find a home
for you while he is lost to you.'
'Oh, Lady Lufton, I could not do that.'
'Yes, you can. You have not heard me yet. It would not be a comfort to
you in such a home as that to sit at table with people who are partly
strangers to you. But there is a cottage nearly adjoining to the house,
which you shall have all to yourself. The bailiff lived in it once, and
others have lived in it who belong to the place; but it is empty now and
it shall be made comfortable.' The tears were now running down Mrs
Crawley's face, so that she could not answer a word. 'Of course it is my
son's property, and not mine, but he has commissioned me to say that it
is most heartily at your service. He begs that in such a case you will
occupy it. And I beg the same. And your old friend Lucy has desired me
also to ask you in her name.'
'Lady Lufton, I could not do that,' said Mrs Crawley through her tears.
'You must think better of it, my dear. I do not scruple to advise you,
because I am older than you, and have experience of the world.' This, I
think, taken in the ordinary sense of the words, was a boast on the part
of Lady Lufton, for which but little true pretence existed. Lady
Lufton's experience of the world at large was not perhaps extensive.
Nevertheless she knew what one women might offer to another, and what
one woman might receive from another. 'You would be better over with me,
my dear, than you could be elsewhere. You will not misunderstand me if I
say that, under such circumstances, it would do your husband good that
you and your children should be under our protection during his period
of temporary seclusion. We stand well in the county. Perhaps I ought not
to say so, but I do not know how otherwise to explain myself; and when
it is known, by the bishop and others, that you have come to us during
that sad time, it will be understood that we think well of Mr Crawley,
in spite of anything a jury may say of him. Do you see that, my dear?
And we do think well of him. I have known of your husband for many
years, though I have not personally had the pleasure of much
acquaintance with him. He was over at Framley once at my request, and I
had great occasion to respect him. I do respect him; and I shall feel
grateful to him if he will allow you to put yourself and your children
under my wing, as being an old woman, should this misfortune fall upon
him. We hope that it will not fall upon him; but it is always well to be
provided for the worst.'
In this way Lady Lufton at last made her speech and opened out the
proposal with which she had come laden to Hogglestock. While she was
speaking Mrs Crawley's shoulder was still turned to her; but the speaker
could see that the quick tears were pouring themselves down the cheeks
of the woman whom she addressed. There was a downright honesty of
thorough-going well-wishing charity about the proposition which overcame
Mrs Crawley altogether. She did not feel for a moment that it would be
possible for her to go to Framley in such circumstances as those which
had been suggested. As she thought of it all at the present moment, it
seemed to her that her only appropriate home during the terrible period
which was coming upon her, would be under the walls of the prison in
which her husband would be incarcerated. But she fully appreciated the
kindness which had suggested a measure, which, if carried into
execution, would make the outside world feel that her husband was
respected in the county, despite the degradation to which he was
subjected. She felt all this, but her heart was too full to speak.
'Say that it shall be so, my dear,' continued Lady Lufton. 'Just give
me one nod of assent, and the cottage shall be ready for you should it
so chance that you should require it.'
But Mrs Crawley did not give the nod of assent. With her face still
averted, while the tears were still running down her cheeks, she
muttered but a word or two. 'I could not do that, Lady Lufton; I could
not do that.'
'You know at any rate what my wishes are, and as you become calmer you
will think of it. There is quite time enough, and I am speaking of an
alternative which may never happen. My dear friend Mrs Robarts, who is
now with your daughter, wishes Miss Crawley to go over to Framley
Parsonage while this inquiry among the clergymen is going on. They all
say it is the most ridiculous thing in the world--this inquiry. But the
bishop you know is so silly! We all think that if Miss Crawley would go
for a week or so to Framley Parsonage, that it will show how happy we
all are to receive her. It should be while Mr Robarts is employed in his
part of the work. What do you say, Mrs Crawley? We at Framley are all
clearly of the opinion that it will be best that it should be known that
the people in the county uphold your husband. Miss Crawley would be
back, you know, before the trial comes on. I hope you will let her come,
But even to this proposition Mrs Crawley could give no assent, though
she expressed no direct dissent. As regarded her own feelings, she would
much preferred to have been left to live through her misery alone; but
she could not but appreciate the kindness which endeavoured to throw
over and hers in their trouble the aegis of first-rate county
respectability. She was saved from the necessity of giving a direct
answer to this suggestion by the return of Mrs Robarts and Grace
herself. The door was opened slowly, and they crept into the room as
though they were aware that their presence would be hardly welcomed.
'Is the carriage there, Fanny?' said Lady Lufton. 'It is almost time
for us to think of returning home.'
Mrs Robarts said that the carriage was standing within twenty yards of
'Then I think we will make a start,' said Lady Lufton. 'Have you
succeeded in persuading Miss Crawley to come over to Framley in April?'
Mrs Robarts made no answer to this, but looked at Grace; and Grace
looked down upon the ground.
'I have spoken to Mrs Crawley,' said Lady Lufton, 'and they will think
of it.' Then the two ladies took their leave, and walked out to their
'What does she say about your plan?' Mrs Robarts asked.
'She is too broken-hearted to say anything.' Lady Lufton answered.
'Should it happen that he is convicted, we must come over and take her.
She will have no power to resist us in anything.'
MRS DOBBS BROUGHTON PILES HER FAGGOTS
The picture still progressed up in Mrs Dobbs Broughton's room, and the
secret was still kept, or supposed to be kept. Miss Van Siever was, at
any rate, certain that her mother had heard nothing of it, and Mrs
Broughton reported from day to day that her husband had not as yet
interfered. Nevertheless there was in these days a great gloom upon the
Dobbs Broughton household, so much so that Conway Dalrymple had more
than once suggested to Mrs Broughton that the work should be
discontinued. But the mistress of the house would not consent to this.
In answer to these offers, she was wont to declare in somewhat
mysterious language, that any misery coming upon herself was a matter of
moment to nobody--hardly even to herself, as she was quite prepared to
encounter moral and social death without delay, if not an absolute
physical demise; as to which latter alternative, she seemed to think
that even that might not be so far distant as some people chose to
believe. What was the cause of the gloom over the house neither Conway
Dalrymple nor Miss Van Siever understood, and to speak the truth Mrs
Broughton did not quite understand the cause herself. She knew well
enough, no doubt, that her husband came home always sullen, and
sometimes tipsy, and that things were not going well in the City. She
had never understood much about the City, being satisfied with an
assurance that had come to her in the early days from her friends, that
there was a mine of wealth in Hook Court, from whence would always come
for her use, house and furniture, a carriage and some horses, dresses
and jewels, which latter, if not quite real, should be manufactured with
the best sham substitute known. Soon after her brilliant marriage with
Mr Dobbs Broughton, she had discovered that the carriage and horses, and
the sham jewels, did not lift her so completely into a terrestrial
paradise as she had taught herself to expect that they would do. Her
brilliant drawing-room, with Dobbs Broughton for a companion, was not an
elysium. But though she had found out early in her married life that
something was still wanting to her, she had by no means confessed to
herself that the carriage and horses and sham jewels were bad, and it
can hardly be said that she had repented. She had endeavoured to patch
up matters with a little romance, and then had fallen upon Conway
Dalrymple--meaning no harm. Indeed, love with her, as it never could
have meant much good, was not likely to mean much harm. That somebody
should pretend to love her, to which pretence she might reply by a
pretence of friendship--this was the little excitement which she craved,
and by which she had once flattered herself that something of an elysium
might yet be created for her. Mr Dobbs Broughton had unreasonably
expressed a dislike to this innocent amusement--very unreasonably,
knowing, as he ought to have known, that he himself did so very little
towards providing the necessary elysium by any qualities of his own. For
a few weeks this interference from her husband had enhanced the
amusement, giving an additional excitement to the game. She felt herself
to be woman misunderstood and ill-used; and to some women there is
nothing so charming as a little mild ill-usage, which does not interfere
with their creature comforts, with their clothes, or their carriage, or
their sham jewels; but suffices to afford them the indulgence of a
grievance. Of late, however, Mr Dobbs Broughton had become a little too
rough in his language, and things had gone uncomfortably. She suspected
that Conway Dalrymple was not the only cause of all this. She had an
idea that Mr Musselboro and Mrs Van Siever had it in their power to make
themselves unpleasant, and that they were exercising this power. Of his
business in the City her husband never spoke to her, nor she to him. Her
own fortune had been very small, some couple of thousand pounds or so,
and she conceived that she had no pretext on which she could, unasked,
interrogate him about his money. She had no knowledge that marriage of
itself had given her the right to such interference; and had such
knowledge been hers she would have had no desire to interfere. She hoped
that the carriage and sham jewels would be continued to her; but she did
not know how to frame any question on the subject. Touching the other
difficulty--the Conway Dalrymple difficulty--she had her ideas. The
tenderness of her friendship had been trodden upon by and outraged by
the rough foot of an overbearing husband, and she was ill-used. She
would obey. It was becoming to her as a wife that she should submit. She
would give up Conway Dalrymple, and would induce him--in spite of his
violent attachment to herself--to take a wife. She herself would choose
a wife for him. She herself would, with suicidal hands, destroy the love
of her own life, since an overbearing, brutal husband demanded that it
should be destroyed. She would sacrifice her own feelings, and do all in
her power to bring Conway Dalrymple and Clara Van Siever together. If,
after that, some poet did not immortalise her friendship in Byronic
verse, she certainly would not get her due. Perhaps Conway Dalrymple
would himself become a poet in order that this might be done properly.
For it must be understood that, though she expected Conway Dalrymple to
marry, she expected also that he should be Byronically wretched after
his marriage on account of his love for herself.
But there was certainly something wrong over and beyond the Dalrymple
difficulty. The servants were not as civil as they used to be, and her
husband, when she suggested to him a little dinner-party, snubbed her
most unmercifully. The giving of dinner-parties had been his glory, and
she had made the suggestion simply with the view of pleasing him. 'If
the world were going round, the wrong way, a woman would still want a
party,' he had said, sneering at her. 'It was of you I was thinking,
Dobbs,' she replied; 'not of myself. I care little for such gatherings.'
After that she retired to her own room with a romantic tear in each eye,
and told herself that, had chance thrown Conway Dalrymple into her way
before she had seen Dobbs Broughton, she would have been the happiest
woman in the world. She sat for a while looking into vacancy, and
thinking that it would be very nice to break her heart. How should she
set about it? Should she take to her bed and grow thin? She would begin
by eating no dinner for ever so may days altogether. At lunch her
husband was never present, and therefore the broken heart could be
displayed at dinner without much positive suffering. In the meantime she
would implore Conway Dalrymple to get himself married with as little
delay as possible, and she would lay upon him her positive order to
restrain himself from any word of affection addressed to herself. She,
at any rate, would be pure, high-minded, and self-sacrificing--although
romantic and poetic also, as was her nature.
The picture was progressing, and so also, as it had come about, was the
love-affair between the artist and his model. Conway Dalrymple had begun
to think that he might, after all, do worse than make Clara Van Siever
his wife. Clara Van Siever was handsome, and undoubtedly clever, and
Clara Van Siever's mother was certainly rich. And, in addition to this,
the young lady herself began to like the man into whose society she was
thrown. The affair seemed to flourish, and Mrs Dobbs Broughton should
have been delighted. She told Clara, with a very serious air, that she
was delighted, bidding Clara, at the same time, to be very cautious, as
men were so fickle, and as Conway Dalrymple, though the best fellow in
the world, was not, perhaps, altogether free from that common vice of
men. Indeed, it might have been surmised, from a word or two which Mrs
Broughton allowed to escape, that she considered poor Conway to be more
than ordinarily afflicted in that way. Miss Van Siever at first only
pouted, and said that there was nothing in it. 'There is something in
it, my dear, certainly,' said Mrs Dobbs Broughton; 'and there can be no
earthly reason why there should not be a great deal in it.' 'There is
nothing in it,' said Miss Van Siever, impetuously; 'and if you will
continue to speak of Mr Dalrymple in that way, I must give up the
picture.' 'As for that,' said Mrs Broughton, 'I conceive that we are
both of us bound to the young man now, seeing that he has given so much
time to the work.' 'I am not bound to him at all,' said Miss Van Siever.
Mrs Broughton also told Conway Dalrymple that she was delighted--oh, so
much delighted! He had obtained permission to come in one morning before
the time of sitting, so that he might work at his canvas independently
of his model. As was his custom, he made his own way upstairs and
commenced his work alone--having been expressly told by Mrs Broughton
that she would not come to him till she brought Clara with her. But she
did go up to the room in which the artist was painting, without waiting
for Miss Van Siever. Indeed, she was at this time so anxious as the
future welfare of her two young friends that she could not restrain
herself from speaking either to the one of to the other, whenever any
opportunity for such speech came round. To have left Conway Dalrymple at
work upstairs without going to him was impossible to her. So she went,
and then took the opportunity of expressing to her friend her ideas as
to his past and future conduct.
'Yes, it is very good; very good, indeed,' she said, standing before the
easel, and looking at the half-completed work. 'I do not know that you
ever did anything better.'
'I never can tell myself till a picture is finished whether it is going
to be good or not,' said Dalrymple, thinking really of his picture and
of nothing else.
'I am sure this will be good,' she said, 'and I suppose it is because
you have thrown so much heart into it. It is not mere industry that will
produce good work, nor yet skill, nor even genius; more than this is
required. The heart of the artist must be thrust with all its gushing
tides into the performance.' By this time he knew all the tones of her
voice and their various meanings, and immediately became aware that at
the present moment she was intent upon something beyond the picture. She
was preparing for a little scene, and was going to give him some advice.
He understood it all, but as he was really desirous of working at his
canvas, and was rather averse to having a scene at the moment, he made a
little attempt to disconcert her. 'It is the heart that gives success,'
she said, he was considering how he might best put an extinguisher upon
her romance for the occasion.
'Not at all, Mrs Broughton; success depends on elbow-grease.'
'On what, Conway?'
'On elbow-grease--hard work, that is--and I must work hard now if I mean
to take advantage of today's sitting. The truth is, I don't give enough
hours work to it.' And he leaned upon his stick, and daubed away briskly
at the background, and then stood for a moment looking at his canvas
with his head a little on one side, as though he could not withdraw his
attention for a moment from the thing he was doing.
'You mean to say, Conway, that you would rather that I should not speak
'Oh, no, Mrs Broughton, I did not mean that at all.'
'I won't interrupt you at your work. What I have to say is perhaps of
no great moment. Indeed, words between you and me never can have much
importance now. Can they, Conway?'
'I don't see that at all,' said he, working away at his brush.
'Do you not? I do. They should never amount to more--they can never
amount to more than the common ordinary courtesies of life; what I call
the greetings and good-byeings of conversation.' She said this in a low,
melancholy tone of voice, not intending to be in any degree jocose. 'How
seldom is it that conversation between ordinary friends goes beyond
'Don't you think it does?' said Conway, stepping back and taking another
look at the picture. 'I find myself talking to all manner of people
about all manner of things.'
'You are different from me. I cannot talk to all manner of people.'
'Politics, you know, and art, and a little scandal, and the wars, with a
dozen other things, make talking easy enough, I think. I grant you this,
that it is very often a great bore. Hardly a day passes that I don't
wish to cut out somebody's tongue.'
'Do you wish to cut out my tongue, Conway?'
He began to perceive that she was determined to talk about herself, and
that there was no remedy. He dreaded it, not because he did not like the
woman, but from a conviction that she was going to make some comparison
between her and Clara Van Siever. In his ordinary humour he liked a
little pretence at romance, and was rather good at that sort of
love-making which in truth means anything but love. But just now he was
really thinking of matrimony, and had on this very morning acknowledged
to himself that he had become sufficiently attached to Clara Van Siever
to justify him in asking her to be his wife. In his present mood he was
not anxious for one of those tilts with blunted swords and half-severed
lances in the list of Cupid of which Mrs Dobbs Broughton was so fond.
Nevertheless, if she insisted that he should now descend into the arena
and go through the paraphernalia of a mock tournament, he must obey her.
It is the hardship of men that when called upon by women for romance,
they are bound to be romantic, whether the opportunity serves them or
not. A man must produce romance, or at least submit to it, when duly
summoned, even though he should have a sore throat or a headache. He is
a brute if he decline such an encounter--and feels that, should he so
decline persistently, he will ever after be treated as a brute. There
are many Potiphar's wives who never dream of any mischief, and Josephs
who are very anxious to escape, though they are asked to return only
whisper for whisper. Mrs Dobbs Broughton had asked him whether he wished
that her tongue should be cut out, and he had of course replied that her
words had always been a joy to him--never a trouble. It occurred to him
as he made his little speech that it would only have served her right if
he had answered her in quite another strain; but she was a woman, and
was young and pretty, and was entitled to flattery. 'They have always
been a joy to me,' he said, repeating his last words as he strove to
continue his work.
'A deadly joy,' she replied, not quite knowing what she herself meant.
'A deadly joy, Conway. I wish with all my heart that we had never known
'I do not. I will never wish away the happiness of my life, even should
it be followed by misery.'
'You are a man, and if trouble comes upon you, you can bear it on your
shoulders. A woman suffers more, just because another's shoulders may
have to bear the burden.'
'When she has got a husband, you mean.'
'Yes--when she has a husband.'
'It's the same with a man when he has a wife.' Hitherto the
conversation had had so much of milk-and-water in its composition that
Dalrymple found himself able to keep it up and go on with his background
at the same time. If she could only be kept in the same dim cloud of
sentiment, if the hot rays of the sun of romance could be kept from
breaking through the mist till Miss Van Siever should come, it might
still be well. He had known her to wander about within the clouds for an
hour together, without being able to find her way into the light. 'It's
all the same with a man when he has got a wife,' he said. 'Of course one
has to suffer for two, when one, so to say, is two.'
'And what happens when one has to suffer for three?' she asked.
'You mean when a woman has children?'
'I mean nothing of the kind, Conway; and you must know that I do not,
unless your feelings are indeed blunted. But worldly success has, I
suppose, blunted them.'
'I rather fancy not,' he said. 'I think they are pretty nearly as sharp
'I know mine are. Oh, how I wish I could rid myself of them! But it
cannot be done. Age will not blunt them--I am sure of that,' said Mrs
Broughton. 'I wish it could.'
He had determined not to talk about herself if the subject could be in
any way avoided; but now he felt that he was driven up into a
corner;--now he was forced to speak to her of her own personality. 'You
have no experience yet as to that. How can you say what age will do?'
'Age does not go by years,' said Mrs Dobbs Broughton. 'We all know
that. "His hair was grey, but not with years." Look here, Conway,' and
she moved back her tresses from off her temples to show him that there
were grey hairs behind. He did not see them; and had they been very
visible she might not perhaps have been so ready to exhibit them. 'No
one can say that length of years has blanched them. I have no secrets
from you about my age. One should not be grey before one has reached
'I did not see a changed hair.'
''Twas the fault of your eyes, then, for there are plenty of them. And
what is it that has made them grey?'
'They say hot rooms will do it.'
'Hot rooms! No, Conway, it does not come from heated atmosphere. It
comes from a cold heart, a chilled heart, a frozen heart, a heart that
is all ice.' She was getting out of the cloud into the heat now, and he
could only hope that Miss Van Siever would come soon. 'The world is
beginning with you, Conway, and you are as old as I am. It is ending
with me, and yet I am as young as you are. But I do not know why I talk
of this. It is simply folly--utter folly. I had not meant to speak of
myself; but I did wish to say a few words to you of your own future. I
suppose I may still speak to you as a friend?'
'I hope you will always do that.'
'Nay--I will make no such promise. That I will always have a friend's
feeling for you, a friend's interest in your welfare, a friend's triumph
in your success--that I will promise. But friendly words, Conway, are
'Never by me,' said he.
'No, not by you--certainly not by you. I did not mean that. I did not
expect that you should misinterpret them.' Then she laughed
hysterically--a little low, gurgling, hysterical laugh; and after that
she wiped her eyes, and then she smiled, and then she put her hand very
gently upon his shoulder. 'Thank God, Conway, we are quite safe
there--are we not?'
He had made a blunder, and it was necessary that he should correct it.
His watch was lying in the trough of his easel, and he looked at it and
wondered why Miss Van Siever was not there. He had tripped, and he must
make a little struggle and recover his step. 'As I said before, it shall
never be misunderstood by me. I have never been vain enough to suppose
for a moment that there was any other feeling--not for a moment. You
women can be so careful, while we men are always off our guard! A man
loves because he cannot help it; but a woman has been careful, and
answers him--with friendship. Perhaps I am wrong to say that I never
thought of winning anything more; but I never think of winning more
now.' Why the mischief didn't Miss Van Siever come! In another five
minutes, despite himself, he would be on his knees, making a mock
declaration, and she would be pouring forth the vial of her mock wrath,
or giving him mock counsel as to the restraint of his passion. He had
gone through it all before, and was tired of it; but for his life he did
not know how to help himself.
'Conway,' said she, gravely, 'how dare you address me in such language.'
'Of course it is very wrong, I know that.'
'I'm not speaking of myself now. I have learned to think so little of
myself, as even to be indifferent to the feeling of injury you are doing
me. My life is a blank, and I almost think that nothing can hurt me
further. I have not heart left enough to break; no, not enough to be
broken. It is not of myself that I am thinking, when I ask you how do
you dare to address my in such language. Do you not know that it is an
injury to another?'
'To what other?' asked Conway Dalrymple, whose mind was becoming rather
confused, and who was not quite sure whether the other one was Mr Dobbs
Broughton, or somebody else.
'To that poor girl who is coming here now, who is devoted to you, and to
whom, I do not doubt, you have uttered words which ought to have made it
impossible to speak to me as you spoke not a moment since.'
Things were becoming very grave and difficult. They would have been
very grave, indeed, had not some god saved him by sending Miss Van
Siever to his rescue at this moment. He was beginning to think what he
would say in answer to the accusation now made, when his eager ear
caught the sound of her step upon the stairs; and before the pause in
conversation which the circumstances admitted had given place to the
necessity for further speech, Miss Van Siever had knocked at the door
and had entered the room. He was rejoiced, and I think that Mrs
Broughton did not regret the interference. It is always well that these
little dangerous scenes should be brought to sudden ends. The last
details of such romances, if drawn out to their natural conclusions, are
apt to be uncomfortable, if not dull. She did not want him to go down on
his knees, knowing that the getting up again is always awkward.
'Clara, I began to think you were never coming,' said Mrs Broughton,
with her sweetest smile.
'I began to think so myself also,' said Clara. 'And I believe this must
be the last sitting, or, at any rate, the last but one.'
'Is anything the matter at home?' said Mrs Broughton, clasping her hands
'Nothing very much; mamma asked me a question or two this morning, and I
said I was coming here. Had she asked me why, I should have told her.'
'But what did she ask? What did she say?'
'She does not always make herself very intelligible. She complains
without telling you what she complains of. But she muttered something
about artists which was not complimentary, and I suppose therefore she
has a suspicion. She stayed ever so late this morning, and we left the
house together. She will ask some direct question tonight, or before
long, and then there will be an end of it.'
'Let us make the best of our time, then,' said Dalrymple; and the
sitting was arranged; Miss Van Siever went down on her knees with her
hammer in her hand, and the work began. Mrs Broughton had twisted a
turban round Clara's head, as she always did on these occasions, and
assisted to arrange the drapery. She used to tell herself as she did so,
that she was like Isaac, piling the fagots for her own sacrifice. Only
Isaac had piled them in ignorance, and she piled them conscious of the
sacrificial flames. And Isaac had been saved; whereas it was impossible
that the catching of any ram in any thicket would save her. But,
nevertheless, she arranged the drapery with all her skill, piling the
fagots ever so high for her own pyre. In the meantime Conway Dalrymple
painted away, thinking more of his picture than he did of one woman or
of the other.
After a while when Mrs Broughton had piled the fagots as high as she
could pile them, she got up from her seat and prepared to leave the
room. Much of the piling consisted, of course, in her own absence during
a portion of these sittings. 'Conway,' she said, as she went, 'if this
is to be the last sitting, or the last but one, you should make the most
of it.' Then she threw upon him a very peculiar glance over the head of
the kneeling Jael, and withdrew. Jael, who in those moments would be
thinking more of the fatigue of her position than anything else, did not
at all take home to herself the peculiar meaning of her friend's words.
Conway Dalrymple understood them thoroughly, and thought that he might
as well take the advice given to him. He had made up his mind to propose
to Miss Van Siever, and why should he not do so now? He went on with his
brush for a couple of minutes without saying a word, working as well as
he could work, and then resolved that he would at once begin the other
task. 'Miss Van Siever,' he said, 'I am afraid you are tired?'
'Not more than usually tired. It is fatiguing to be slaying Sisera by
the hour together. I do get to hate this block.' The block was the dummy
by which the form of Sisera was supposed to be typified.
'Another sitting will about finish it,' said he, 'so that you need not
positively distress yourself now. Will you rest yourself for a minute or
two?' He had already perceived that the attitude in which Clara was
posed before him was not one in which an offer of marriage could be
received and replied to with advantage.
'Thank you, I am not tired yet,' said Clara, not changing the fixed
glance of national wrath with which she regarded her wooden Sisera as
she held her hammer on high.
'But I am. There; we will rest for a moment.' Dalrymple was aware that
Mrs Dobbs Broughton, though she was very assiduous in piling her fagots,
never piled them for long together. If he did not make haste she would
be back upon them before he could get his word spoken. When he put down
his brush, and got up from his chair, and stretched out his arm as a man
does when he ceases for a moment from his work, Clara of course got up
also, and seated herself. She was used to her turban and her drapery,
and therefore thought of it not at all; and he also was used to it,
seeing her in it two or three times a week; but now that he intended to
accomplish a special purpose, the turban and drapery seemed to be in the
way. 'I do so hope you will like the picture,' he said, as he was
thinking of this.
'I don't think I shall. But you will understand that it is natural that
a girl should not like herself in such a portraiture as that.'
'I don't know why. I can understand that you specially should not like
the picture; but I think that most women in London in your place would
at any rate say that they did.'
'Are you angry with me?'
'What; for telling the truth? No, indeed.' He was standing opposite to
his easel, looking at the canvas, shifting his head about so as to
change the lights, and observing critically this blemish and that; and
yet he was all the while thinking how he had best carry out his purpose.
'It will have been a prosperous picture to me,' he said at last, 'if it
leads to the success of which I am ambitious.'
'I am told that all you do is successful now--merely because you do it.
That is the worst of success.'
'What is the worst of success?'
'That when won by merit it leads to further success, for the gaining of
which no merit is necessary.'
'It may be so in my case. If it is not, I shall have a very poor
chance. Clara, I think you must know that I am not talking about my
'I thought you were.'
'Indeed I am not. As for success in my profession, far as I am from
thinking I merit it, I feel tolerably certain that I shall obtain it.'
'You have obtained it.'
'I am in the way of doing so. Perhaps one out of ten struggling artists
is successful, and for him the profession is very charming. It is
certainly a sad feeling that there is so much of chance in the
distribution of the prizes. It is a lottery. But one cannot complain of
that when one has drawn the prize.' Dalrymple was not a man without
self-possession, nor was he readily abashed, but he found it easier to
talk of his possession than to make his offer. The turban was his
difficulty. He had told himself over and over again within the last five
minutes, that he would have long since said what he had to say had it
not been for that turban. He had been painting all his life from living
models--from women dressed up in this or that costume, to suit the
necessities of his picture--but he had never made love to any of them.
They had been simply models to him, and now he found that there was a
difficulty. 'Of that prize,' he said, 'I have made myself tolerably
sure; but as to the other prize, I do not know. I wonder whether I am to
have that.' Of course Miss Van Siever understood well what was the prize
of which he was speaking; and as she was a young woman with a will and
purpose of her own, no doubt she was ready prepared with an answer. But
it was necessary that the question should be put to her in properly
distinct terms. Conway Dalrymple certainly had not put his question in
properly distinct terms at present. She did not choose to make any
answer to his last words; and therefore simply suggested that as time
was pressing he had better get on with his work. 'I am quite ready now,'
'Stop half a moment. How much more you are thinking of the picture than
I am! I do not care twopence for the picture. I will slit the canvas
from top to bottom without a groan--without a single inner groan--if you
will let me.'
'For heaven's sake, do nothing of the kind! Why should you?'
'Just to show you that it is not for the sake of the picture that I come
here. Clara--' Then the door was opened, and Isaac appeared, nature
could pile no more. Conway Dalrymple, who had made his way almost up to
Clara's seat, turned round sharply towards his easel, in anger, at
having been disturbed. He should have been more grateful for all that
his Isaac had done for him, and have recognised the fact that the fault
had been with himself. Mrs Broughton had been twelve minutes out of the
room. She had counted them to be fifteen--having no doubt made a mistake
as to three--and had told herself that with such a one as Conway
Dalrymple, with so much of the work ready done to his hand for him,
fifteen minutes should have been amply sufficient. When we reflect what
her own thoughts must have been during the interval--what it is to have
to pile up such fagots as those, how she was, as it were, giving away a
fresh morsel of her own heart during each minute that she allowed Clara
and Conway Dalrymple to remain together, it cannot surprise us that her
eyes should have become dizzy, and that she should not have counted the
minutes with accurate correctness. Dalrymple turned to his picture
angrily, but Miss Van Siever kept her seat and did not show the
'My friends,' said Mrs Broughton, 'this will not do. This is not