Part 17 out of 18
'How can I tell till I hear?'
'You must promise me not to speak of me when you see her.'
'But why must I promise that?'
'Not unless you tell me why.' Johnny had already assured himself that
nothing could be more improbable than that he should mention the name of
Miss Demolines to Lily Dale.
'Very well, sir. Then you may go. And I must say that unless you can
comply with so slight a request as that, I shall not care to see you
here again. Mr Eames, why should you want to speak evil of me to Miss
'I do not want to speak evil of you.'
'I know that you could not speak of me to her without at least ridicule.
Come, promise me. You shall come here Thursday evening, and I will tell
you why I have asked you.'
'Tell me now.'
She hesitated a moment, and then shook her head. 'No. I cannot tell
you now. My heart is still bleeding with the memory of that poor man's
face. I will not tell you now. And yet is not that you must give me the
promise. Will you not trust me so far as that?'
'I will not speak of you to Miss Dale.'
'There is my own friend! And now, John, mind you are here at half-past
eight on Thursday. Punctually at half-past eight. There is a thing I
have to tell you, which I will tell you then if you will come. I had
thought to have told you today.'
'And why not now?'
'I cannot. My feelings are too many for me. I should never go through
with it after all that has between us about poor Broughton. I should
break down; indeed I should. Go now, for I am tired.' Then having
probably taken a momentary advantage of that more potent attraction to
which we have before alluded, he left the room very suddenly.
He left the room very suddenly because Madalina's movements had been so
sudden, and her words so full of impulse. He had become aware that in
this little game in which he was playing in Porchester Terrace
everything ought to be done after some unaccustomed and special fashion.
So--having clasped Madalina for one moment in his arms--he made a rush
at the room door, and was out on the landing in a second. He was a
little too quick for old Lady Demolines. The skirt of whose
night-dress--as it seemed to Johnny--he saw whisking away, in at another
door. It was nothing, however, to him if old Lady Demolines, who was
always too ill to be seen, chose to roam about her own house in her
When he found himself alone in the street, his mind reverted to Dobbs
Broughton and the fate of the wretched man, and he sauntered slowly down
Paris Gardens, that he might look at the house in which he had dined
with a man who had destroyed himself by his own hands. He stood for a
moment looking up at the windows, in which there was now no light,
thinking of the poor woman whom he had seen in the midst of luxury, and
who was now left a widow in such miserable circumstances! As for the
suggestion that his friend Conway would marry her, he did not believe it
for a moment. He knew too well what the suggestions of his Madalina were
worth, and the motives from which they sprung. But he thought it might
be true that Mrs Van Siever had absorbed all there was of the property,
and possibly, also, that Musselboro was to marry her daughter. At any
rate, he would go to Dalrymple's rooms, and if he could find him, would
learn the truth. He knew enough of Dalrymple's ways of life, and of the
ways of his friend's chambers and studio, to care nothing for the
lateness of the hour, and in a very few minutes he was sitting in
Dalrymple's arm-chair. He found Siph Dunn there, smoking in unperturbed
tranquillity, and as long as that lasted he could ask no questions about
Mrs Broughton. He told them, therefore, of his adventures abroad, and of
Crawley's escape. But at last, having finished his third pipe, Siph Dunn
took his leave.
'Tell me,' said John, as soon as Dunn had closed the door, 'what is this
I hear about Dobbs Broughton?'
'He has blown his brains out. That is all.'
'How terribly shocking!'
'Yes; it shocked us all at first. We are used to it now.'
'And the business?'
'That has gone to the dogs. They say at least that his share of it had
'And he was ruined?'
'They say so. That is, Musselboro says so, and Mrs Van Siever.'
'And what do you say, Conway?'
'The less I say the better. I have my hopes--only you're such a
talkative fellow, one can't trust you.'
'I never told any secret of yours, old fellow.'
'Well--that fact is, I have an idea that something may be saved for the
poor woman. I think that they are wronging her. Of course all I can do
is put the matter into lawyer's hands and pay the lawyer's bill. So I
went to your cousin, and he has taken the case up. I hope he won't ruin
'Then I suppose you are quarrelling with Mrs Van?'
'That doesn't matter. She has quarrelled with me.'
'And what about Jael, Conway? They tell me Jael is going to become Mrs
'Who told you that?'
'Yes; I know who the bird is. I don't think that Jael will become Mrs
Musselboro. I don't think Jael would become Mrs Musselboro, if Jael were
the only woman, and Musselboro the only man in London. To tell you a
little bit of a secret, Johnny, I think that Jael will become the wife
of Conway Dalrymple. That is my opinion; and as far as I can judge, it
is the opinion of Jael also.'
'But not the opinion of Mrs Van. The bird told me another thing,
'What other thing?'
'The bird hinted that all this would end in your marrying the widow of
that poor wretch who destroyed himself.'
'Johnny, my boy,' said the artist after a moment's silence, 'if I give
you a bit of advice, will you profit by it?'
'I'll try, if it's not disagreeable.'
'Whether you profit by it, or whether not, keep it to yourself. I know
the bird better than you do, and I strongly caution you to beware of the
bird. The bird is a bird of prey, and altogether an unclean bird. The
bird wants a mate, and doesn't much care how she gets it. And the bird
wants money, and doesn't care how she gets it. The bird is a decidedly
bad bird, and not at all fit to take the place of domestic hen in a
decent farmyard. In plain English, Johnny, you'll find some day, if you
go over to often to Porchester Terrace, either that you are going to
marry the bird, or else that you are employing your cousin Toogood for
you defence in an action for breach of promise, brought against you by
that venerable old bird, the bird's mamma.'
'If it's to be either, it will be the latter,' said Johnny, as he took
up his hat to go away.
I THINK HE IS LIGHT OF HEART
Mrs Arabin remained one day in town. Mr Toogood in spite of his
asseveration that he would not budge from Barchester till he had seen Mr
Crawley through all his troubles, did run up to London as soon as the
news reached him that John Eames had returned. He came up and took Mrs
Arabin's deposition, which he sent down to Mr Walker. It might still be
necessary, Mrs Arabin was told, that she should go into court, and there
state on oath that she had given the cheque to Mr Crawley; but Mr Walker
was of the opinion that the circumstances would enable the judge to call
upon the grand jury not to find a true bill against Mr Crawley, and that
the whole affair, as far as Mr Crawley was concerned, would thus be
brought to an end. Toogood was still very anxious to place Dan Stringer
in the dock, but Mr Walker declared that they would fail if they made
the attempt. Dan had been examined before the magistrates at Barchester,
and having persisted in his statement that he had heard nothing about Mr
Crawley and the cheque. This he said in the teeth of the words which had
fallen from him unawares in the presence of Mr Toogood. But they could
not punish him for a lie--not even for such a lie as that! He was not
upon oath, and they could not make him responsible to the law because he
had held his tongue upon a matter as to which it was manifest to them
all that he had known the whole history during the entire period of Mr
Crawley's persecution. They could only call upon him to account for his
possession of the cheque, and this he did by saying that it had been
paid to him by Jem Scuttle, who received all moneys appertaining to the
hotel stables, and accounted for them once a week. Jem Scuttle had
simply told him that he had taken the cheque from Mr Soames, and Jem had
since gone to New Zealand. It was quite true that Jem's departure had
followed suspiciously close upon the payment of the rent to Mrs Arabin,
and that Jem had been in close amity with Dan Stringer up to the moment
of his departure. That Dan Stringer had not become honestly possessed of
the cheque, everybody knew; but, nevertheless, the magistrates were of
the opinion, Mr Walker coinciding with them, that there was no evidence
against him sufficient to secure a conviction. The story, however, of Mr
Crawley's injuries was so well known in Barchester, and the feeling
against the man who had permitted him to be thus injured was so strong,
that Dan Stringer did not altogether escape without punishment. Some
rough spirits in Barchester called one night at 'The Dragon of Wantly'
and begged Mr Dan Stringer would be kind enough to come and take a walk
with them that evening; and when it was intimated to them that Dan
Stringer had not just then any desire for exercise, they requested to be
allowed to go into the back parlour and make an evening with Dan
Stringer in that recess. There was a terrible row at 'The Dragon of
Wantly' that night, and Dan with difficulty was rescued by the police.
On the following morning he was smuggled out of Barchester by an early
train, and has never more been seen in that city. Rumours of him,
however, were soon heard, from which it appeared that he had made
himself acquainted with the casual ward of more than one workhouse in
London. His cousin John left the inn almost immediately--as, indeed, he
must have done had there been no question of Mr Soames's cheque--and
then there was nothing more heard of the Stringers in Barchester.
Mrs Arabin remained in town one day, and would have remained longer,
waiting for her husband, had not a letter from her sister impressed upon
her that it might be well that she should be with her father as soon as
possible. 'I don't mean to make you think that there is any immediate
danger,' Mrs Grantly said, 'and, indeed, we cannot say that he is ill;
but it seems that the extremity of old age has come upon him almost
suddenly, and that he is as weak as a child. His only delight is with
children, especially with Posy, whose gravity in her management of him
is wonderful. He has not left his room now for more than a week, and he
eats very little. It may be that he will live for years; but I should be
deceiving you if I did not let you know that both the archdeacon and I
think that the time of his departure from us is near at hand.' After
reading this letter, Mrs Arabin could not wait in town for her husband,
even though he was expected in two days and though she had been told
that her presence in Barchester was not immediately required on behalf
of Mr Crawley.
But during that one day she kept her promise to John Eames by going to
Lily Dale. Mrs Arabin had become very fond of Johnny, and felt that he
deserved the prize which he had been so long trying to win. The reader,
perhaps, may not agree with Mrs Arabin. The reader, who may have caught
a closer insight into Johnny's character than Mrs Arabin had obtained,
may, perhaps, think that a young man who could amuse himself with Miss
Demolines was unworthy of Lily Dale. If so, I may declare for myself
that I and the reader are in accord about John Eames. It is hard to
measure worth and worthlessness in such matters, as there is no standard
for such measurement. My old friend John as certainly no hero--was very
unheroic in many phases of his life; but then, if all the girls are to
wait for heroes, I fear that the difficulties in the way of matrimonial
arrangements, great as they are at present, will be very seriously
enhanced. Johnny was not ecstatic, nor heroic, nor transcendental, nor
very beautiful in his manliness; he was not a man to break his heart for
love or to have his story written in epic; but he was an affectionate,
kindly, honest young man; and I think most girls might have done worse
than take him. Whether he was wise to ask assistance in his love-making
so often as he had done, that may be another question.
Mrs Arabin was intimately acquainted with Mrs Thorne, and therefore
there was nothing odd in her going to Mrs Thorne's house. Mrs Thorne was
very glad to see her, and told her all the Barsetshire news--much more
than Mrs Arabin would have learned in a week at the deanery; for Mrs
Thorne had a marvellous gift of picking up news. She had already heard
the whole story of Mr Soames's cheque, and expressed her conviction that
the least that could be done in amends to Mr Crawley was to make him a
bishop. 'And you see the palace is vacant,' said Mrs Thorne.
'The palace vacant!' said Mrs Arabin.
'It is just as good. Now that Mrs Proudie has gone, I don't suppose the
bishop will account for much. I can assure you, Mrs Arabin, I felt that
poor woman's death so much! She used to regard me as one of the
staunchest of the Proudieites! She once whispered to me such a
delightfully wicked story about the dean and the archdeacon. When I told
her that they were my particular friends, she put on a look of horror.
But I don't think she believed me.' Then Emily Dunstable entered the
room, and with her came Lily Dale. Mrs Arabin had never before seen
Lily, and course they were introduced. 'I am sorry to say that Miss Dale
is going home to Allington tomorrow,' said Emily. 'But she is coming to
Chaldicotes in May,' said Mrs Thorne. 'Of course, Mrs Arabin, you know
what gala doings we are going to have in May?' Then there were various
civil little speeches made on each side, and Mrs Arabin expressed a wish
that she might meet Miss Dale in Barsetshire. But all this did not bring
her nearer to her object.
'I particularly wish to say a word to Miss Dale--here today, if she will
allow me,' said Mrs Arabin.
'I'm sure she will--twenty words; won't you, Lily?' said Mrs Thorne,
preparing to leave the room. Then Mrs Arabin apologised, and Mrs Thorne,
bustling up, said that it did not signify, and Lily, remaining quite
still on the sofa, wondered what it was all about--and in two minutes
Lily and Mrs Arabin were alone together. Lily had just time to surmised
that Mrs Arabin's visit must have some reference to Mr
Crosbie--remembering that Crosbie had married his wife out of
Barsetshire, and forgetting altogether that Mrs Arabin had been just
brought home from Italy by John Eames.
'I am afraid, Miss Dale, you will think me very impertinent,' said Mrs
'I am sure I shall not think that,' said Lily.
'I believe you knew, before Mr Eames started, that he was going to Italy
to find me and my husband?' said Mrs Arabin. Then Lily put Mr Crosbie
altogether out of her head, and became aware that he was not to be the
subject of the coming conversation. She was almost sorry that it was not
so. There was no doubt in her mind as to what she would have said to
anyone who might have taken up Crosbie's cause. On that matter she could
now have given a very decisive answer in a few words. But on that other
matter she was much more in doubt. She remembered, however, every word
of the note she had received from M D. She remembered also the words of
John's note to that young woman. And her heart was still hard against
him. 'Yes,' she said; 'Mr Eames came here one night and told us why he
was going. I was very glad that he was going, because I thought it was
'You know, of course, how successful he has been? It was I who gave the
cheque to Mr Crawley.'
'So Mrs Thorne has heard. Dr Thorne has written to tell her the whole
'And now I have come to look for Mr Eames's reward.'
'His reward, Mrs Arabin?'
'Yes; or rather to plead for him. You will not, I hope, be angry with
him because he has told me much of his life story while we were
travelling home together.'
'Oh, no,' said Lily, smiling. 'How could he have chosen a better friend
in whom to trust?'
'He could certainly have chosen none who would take his part more
sincerely. He is so good and amiable! He is so pleasant in his ways, and
so fitted to make a woman happy! And then, Miss Dale, he is also so
'He is an old friend, Mrs Arabin.'
'So he has told me.'
'And we all of us love him dearly. Mamma is very much attached to him.'
'Unless he flatters himself, there is no one belonging to you who would
not wish that he should be nearer and dearer still.'
'It may be so. I do not say that it is not so. Mamma and my uncle are
both fond of him.'
'And does that not go a long way?' said Mrs Arabin.
'It ought not to do so,' said Lily. 'It ought not to go any way at
'Ought it not? It seems to me that I could never have brought myself to
marry anyone whom my friends had not liked.'
'Ah! that is another thing.'
'But is it not a recommendation to a man that has been so successful
with your friends as to make them all feel that you might trust yourself
to him with perfect safety?' To this Lily made no answer, and Mrs Arabin
went on to plead her friend's cause with all the eloquence she could
use, insisting on all his virtues, his good temper, his kindness, his
constancy--and not forgetting the fact that the world was inclined to
use him very well. Still Lily made no answer. She had promised Mrs
Arabin that she would not regard her interference as impertinent, and
therefore she refrained from any word that might seem to show offence.
Nor did she feel offence. It was something gained by John Eames in
Lily's estimation that he should have such a friend as Mrs Arabin to
take an interest in his welfare. But there was a self-dependence,
perhaps one may call it an obstinacy about Lily Dale, which made her
determined that she would not be driven hither or thither by any
pressure from without. Why had John Eames, at the very moment when he
should have been doing his best to drive from her breast the memory of
past follies--when he would have striven to do so had he really been
earnest in his suit--why at such a moment had he allowed himself to
correspond in terms of affection with such a woman as M D? While Mrs
Arabin was pleading for John Eames, Lily was repeating to herself
certain words which John had written to that woman--'Ever and always
yours unalterably'. Such were not the exact words, but such was the form
in which Lily, dishonestly, chose to repeat them to herself. And why was
it so with her? In the old days she would have forgiven Crosbie any
offence at a word or a look--any possible letter to any M D, let her
have been ever so abominable! Nay--had she not even forgiven him the
offence of deserting herself altogether on behalf of a woman as
detestable as could be any M D of Johnny's choosing--a woman whose only
recommendation had been her title? And yet she would not forgive John
Eames, though the evidence against him was of so flimsy a nature--but
rather strove to turn the flimsiness of that evidence into strength! Why
was it so? Unheroic as he might be, John Eames was surely a better man
and a bigger man that Adolphus Crosbie. It was simply this: she had
fallen in love with the one, and had never fallen in love with the
other! She had fallen in love with the one man, though in her simple way
she had made a struggle against such feeling; and she had not come to
love the other man, though she had told herself that it would be well
that she should do so if it were possible. Again and again she had half
declared to herself that she would take him as her husband and leave the
love to come afterwards; but when the moment came for doing so, she
could not do it.
'May I not say a word of comfort to him?' said Mrs Arabin.
'He will be very comfortable without any such word,' said Lily,
'But he is not comfortable; of that you may be very sure.'
'Yours ever and unalterably, J E,' said Lily to herself. 'You do not
doubt his affection?' continued Mrs Arabin.
'I neither doubt it nor credit it.'
'Then I think you wrong him. And the reason why I have ventured to come
to you is that you may know the impression which he has made upon one
who was but the other day a stranger to him. I am sure that he loves
'I think he is light of heart.'
'Oh, no, Miss Dale.'
'And how am I to become his wife unless I love him well enough myself?
Mrs Arabin, I have made up my mind about it. I shall never become any
man's wife. Mamma and I are all in all together, and we shall remain
together.' And as soon as these words were out of her mouth, she hated
herself for having spoken them. There was a maudlin, missish,
namby-pamby sentimentality about them which disgusted her. She specially
desired to be straightforward, resolute of purpose, honest-spoken, and
free from all touch of affectation. And yet she had excused herself from
marrying John Eames after the fashion of a sick schoolgirl. 'It is not
good talking about it any more,' she said, getting up from her chair
'You are not angry with me;--or at any rate you will forgive me?'
'I'm quite sure you have meant to be very good, and I am not a bit
'And you will see him before you go?'
'Oh, yes; that is if he likes to come today, or early tomorrow. I go
home tomorrow. I cannot refuse him, because he is such an old
friend--almost like a brother. But it is of no use, Mrs Arabin.' Then
Mrs Arabin kissed her and left her, telling her that Mr Eames would come
to her that afternoon at half-past five. Lily promised that she would be
at home to receive him.
'Won't you ride with us for the last time?' said Emily Dunstable when
Lily gave notice that she would not want the horse on that afternoon.
'No; not today.'
'You'll never have another opportunity of riding with Emily Dunstable,'
said the bride elect; 'at least I hope not.'
'Even under those circumstances I must refuse, though I would give a
guinea to be with you. John Eames is coming here to say good-bye.'
'Oh; then indeed you must not come with us. Lily, what will you say to
'Oh, Lily, think of it.'
'I have thought of it. I have thought of nothing else. I am tired of
thinking of it. It is no good to think of anything so much. What does it
'It is very good to have someone to love better than all the world
'I have someone,' said Lily, thinking of her mother, but not caring to
descend to the mawkish weakness of talking about her.
'Yes; but someone who will always be with you, to do everything for you;
to be your very own.'
'It is all very well for you,' said Lily, 'and I think that Bernard is
the luckiest fellow in the world; but it will not do for me. I know in
what college I'll take my degree, and I wish they'd let me write the
letters after my name as the men do.'
'What letters, Lily?'
'O M, for Old Maid. I don't see why it shouldn't be as good as BA for
Bachelor of Arts. It would mean a great deal more.'
THE SHATTERED TREE
When Mrs Arabin saw Johnny in the middle of the day, she could hardly
give him much encouragement. And yet she felt by no means sure that he
might not succeed even yet. Lily had been very positive in her answers,
and yet there had been something either in her words or in the tone of
her voice, which had made Mrs Arabin feel that even Lily was not quite
sure of herself. There was still room for relenting. Nothing, however,
had been said which could justify her in bidding John Eames simply to
'go and win'. 'I think he is light of heart,' Lily had said. Those were
the words which, of all that had been spoken, most impressed themselves
on Mrs Arabin's memory. She would not repeat them to her friend, but she
would graft upon them such advice as she had to give him.
And this she did, telling him that she thought perhaps Lily doubted his
actual earnestness. 'I would marry her this moment,' said Johnny. But
that was not enough, as Mrs Arabin knew, to prove his earnestness. Many
men, fickle as weathercocks, are ready to marry at the moment--are ready
to marry at the moment, because they are fickle, and think so little
about it. 'But she hears, perhaps, of your liking other people,' said
Mrs Arabin. 'I don't care a straw for any other person,' said Johnny. 'I
wonder whether if I was to shut myself up in a cage for six months, it
would do any good?' 'If she had the keeping of the cage, perhaps it
might,' said Mrs Arabin. She had nothing more to say on that subject,
but to tell him that Miss Dale would expect him that afternoon at
half-past five. 'I told her that you would come to wish her good-bye,
and she promised to see you.'
'I wish she'd say she wouldn't see me. Then there would be some
Between him and Mrs Arabin, the parting was very affectionate. She told
him how thankful she was for the kindness in coming to her, and how
grateful she would ever be--and the dean also--for his attention to her.
'Remember, Mr Eames, that you will always be most welcome at the Deanery
of Barchester. And I do hope that before long you may be there with your
wife.' And so they parted.
He left her at about two, and went to Mr Toogood's office in Bedford
Row. He found his uncle, and the two went out to lunch together in
Holborn. Between them there was no word said about Lily Dale, and John
was glad to have some other subject in his mind for half an hour.
Toogood was full of his triumph about Mr Crawley and of his successes in
Barsetshire. He gave John a long account of his visit to Plumstead, and
expressed his opinion that if all clergymen were like the archdeacon
there would not be much room for Dissenters. 'I've seen a good many
parsons in my time,' said Toogood; 'but I don't think I ever saw such a
one as him. You know he is a clergyman somehow, and he never lets you
forget it; but that's about all. Most of 'em are never contented without
choking you with their white cravats all the time you're with 'em. As
for Crawley himself,' Mr Toogood continued, 'he's not like anybody that
ever was born, saint or sinner, parson or layman. I never heard of such
a man in all my experience. Though he knew where he got the cheque as
well I know it now, he wouldn't say so, because the dean had said it
wasn't so. Somebody ought to write a book about it--indeed they ought.'
Then he told the whole story of Dan Stringer, and how he had found Dan
out, looking at the tope of Dan's hat through the little aperture in the
wall of the inn parlour. 'When I saw the twitch in his hand, John, I
knew he had handled the cheque himself. I don't mean to say that I'm
sharper than another man, and I don't think so; but I do mean to say
that when you are in any difficulty of that sort, you ought to go to a
lawyer. It's his business, and a man does what is his business with
patience and perseverance. It's a pity, though, that the scoundrel
should get off.' Then Eames gave his uncle an account of his Italian
trip, to and fro, and was congratulated also upon his success. John's
great triumph lay in the fact that he had been only two nights in bed,
and that he would not have so far condescended on those occasions but
for the feminine weakness of his fellow-traveller. 'We shan't forget it
all in a hurry--shall we, John?' said Mr Toogood, in a pleasant voice,
as they parted at the door of the luncheon-house in Holborn. Toogood was
returning to his office, and John Eames was to prepare himself for his
He went back to his lodgings, intending at first to change his dress to
make himself smarter for the work before him--but after standing for a
moment or two leaning on the chest of drawers in his bedroom, he gave up
this idea. 'After all that's come and gone,' he said to himself, 'if I
cannot win her as I am now, I cannot win her at all.' And then he swore
to himself a solemn oath, resolving that he would repeat the purport of
it to Lily herself--that this should be the last attempt. 'What's the
use of it? Everybody ridicules me. And I am ridiculous. I am an ass.
It's all very well wanting to be the prime minister; but if you can't be
prime minister, you must do without being prime minister.' Then he
attempted to sing the old song--'Shall I, sighing in despair, die
because a woman's fair? If she be not fair to me, what care I how fair
she be?' But he did care, and he told himself that the song did him no
good. As it was not time for him as yet to go to Lily, he threw himself
on the sofa, and strove to read a book. Then all the weary nights of his
journey prevailed over him, and he fell asleep.
When he woke it wanted quarter to six. He sprang up, and rushing out,
jumped into a cab. 'Berkeley Square--as hard as you can go,' he said.
'Number--.' He thought of Rosalind, and her counsels to lovers as to
the keeping of time, and reflected that in such an emergency as this, he
might really have ruined himself by that unfortunate slumber. When he
got to Mrs Thorne's door he knocked hurriedly, and bustled up to the
drawing-room as though everything depended on his saving a minute. 'I'm
afraid I'm ever so much behind my time,' he said.
'It does not matter in the least,' said Lily. 'As Mrs Arabin said that
perhaps you might call, I would not be out of the way. I suppose that
Sir Raffle was keeping you and that you wouldn't come.'
'Sir Raffle was not keeping me. I fell asleep. That's the truth of
'I am so sorry that you should have been disturbed!'
'Do not laugh at me, Lily--today. I had been travelling a good deal,
and I suppose I was tired.'
'I won't laugh at you,' she said, and her eyes became full of tears--she
did not know why. But there they were, and she was ashamed to put up her
handkerchief, and she could not bring herself to turn away her face, and
she had no resource but that he should see them.
'Lily!' he said.
'What a paladin you have been, John, rushing all about Europe on your
'Don't talk about that.'
'And such a successful paladin too! Why am I not to talk about it? I am
going home tomorrow, and I mean to talk about nothing else for a week. I
am so very, very, glad that you have saved your cousin.' Then she did
put up her handkerchief, making believe that her tears had been due to
Mr Crawley. But John Eames knew better than that.
'Lily,' he said, 'I've come for the last time. It sounds as though I
meant to threaten you; but you won't take it in that way. I think you
will know what I mean. I have come for the last time--to ask you to be
my wife.' She got up to greet him when he entered, and they were both
still standing. She did not answer him at once, but turning away from
him walked towards the window. 'You knew why I was coming today, Lily?'
'Mrs Arabin told me. I could not be away when you were coming, but
perhaps it would have been better.'
'It is so? Must it be so? Must you say that to me, Lily? Think of it
for a moment, dear.'
'I have thought about it.'
'One word from you, yes or no, spoken is to be everything to me for
always. Lily, cannot you say yes?' She did not answer him, but walked
further away from him to another window. 'Try to say yes. Look round at
me with one look that may only half mean it; that may tell me that it
shall not positively be no for ever.' I think that she almost tried to
turn her face to him; but be that as it may, she kept her eyes steadily
fixed upon the window-pane. 'Lily,' he said, 'it is not that you are
hard-hearted--perhaps not altogether that you do not like me. I think
that you believe things against me that are not true.' As she said this
she moved her foot angrily upon the carpet. She had almost forgotten M
D, but now he had reminded her of the note. She assured herself that she
had never believed anything against him except on evidence that was
incontrovertible. But she was not going to speak to him on such a matter
as that! It would not become her to accuse him. 'Mrs Arabin tells me
that you doubt whether I am earnest,' he said.
Upon hearing this she flashed round upon him almost angrily. 'I never
'If you will ask me for any token of earnestness, I will give it to
'I want no token.'
'The best sign of earnestness a man can give generally in such a matter,
is to show how ready he is to be married.'
'I never said anything about earnestness.'
'At the risk of making you angry I will go on, Lily. Of course when you
tell me that you will have nothing to say to me, I try to amuse
myself'--'Yes; by writing love-letters to M D,' Lily said to
herself--'What is a poor fellow to do? I tell you fairly that when I
leave you I swear to myself that I make love to the first girl I can see
who will listen to me--to twenty, if twenty will let me. I feel I have
failed, and it is so I punish myself for my failure.' There was
something in this which softened her brow, though she did not intend
that it should be so; and she turned away again, that he might not see
that her brow was softened. 'But, Lily, the hope ever comes back again,
and then neither the one nor the twenty are of avail--even to punish me.
When I look forward and see what it might be if you were with me, how
green it all looks and how lovely, in spite of all the vows I have made,
I cannot help coming back again.' She was now again near the window, and
he had not followed her. As she neither turned towards him nor answered
him, he moved from the table near which he was standing on to the rug
before the fire, and leaned with both his elbows on the mantelpiece. He
could still watch her in the mirror above the fireplace, and could see
that she was still seeming to gaze out upon the street. And had he not
moved her? I think he had so far moved her now, that she had ceased to
think of the woman who had written to her--that she had ceased to
reject him in her heart on the score of such levities as that! If there
were M Ds, like sunken rocks, in his course, whose fault was it? He was
ready enough to steer his bark into the tranquil blue waters if only she
would aid him. I think that all his sins on this score were at this
moment forgiven him. He had told her now what to him would be green and
beautiful, and she did not find herself able to disbelieve him. She had
banished M D out of her mind, but in doing so she admitted other
reminiscences into it. And then--was she in a moment to be talked out of
the resolution of years; and was she to give up herself, not because she
loved, but because the man who talked to her talked so well that he
deserved a reward? Was she now to be as light, as foolish, as easy, as
in those former days from which she had learned her wisdom? A picture of
green lovely things could be delicious to her eyes as to his; but even
for such a picture as that the price might be too dear! Of all living
men--of all men living in their present lives--she loved best this man
who was now waiting for some word of answer to his words, and she did
love him dearly; she would have tended him if sick, have supplied him if
in want; have mourned for him if dead, with the bitter grief of true
affection;--but she could not say to herself that he should be her lord
and master, the head of her house, the owner of herself, the ruler of
her life. The shipwreck to which she had once come, and the fierce
regrets which had thence arisen, had forced her to think too much of
these things. 'Lily,' he said, still facing towards the mirror, 'will
you not come to me and speak to me?' She turned round, and stood a
moment looking at him, and then, having again resolved that it could not
be as he wished, she drew near to him. 'Certainly I will speak to you,
John. Here I am.' And she came close to him.
He took both her hands, and looked into her eyes. 'Lily, will you be
'No; dear; it cannot be so.'
'Why not, Lily?'
'Because of that other man.'
'And is that to be a bar for ever?'
'Yes; for ever.'
'Do you still love him?'
'No; no, no!'
'Then why should this be so?'
'I cannot tell, dear. It is so. If you take a young tree and split it,
it still lives, perhaps. But it isn't a tree. It is only a fragment.'
'Then be my fragment.'
'So I will, if I can serve you to give standing ground to such a
fragment in some corner of your garden. But I will not have myself
planted out in the middle, for people to look at. What there is left
would die soon.' He still held her hands, and she did not attempt to
draw them away. 'John,' she said, 'next to mamma, I love you better than
all the world. Indeed I do. I can't be your wife, but you need never be
afraid that I shall be more to another than I am to you.'
'That will not serve me,' he said, grasping both her hands till he
almost hurt them, but not knowing that he did so. 'That is no good.'
'It is all the good that I can do you. Indeed I can do you--can do no
one any good. The trees that the storms have splintered are never of
'And is this to be the end of it, Lily?'
'Not of our loving friendship.'
'Friendship! I hate the word. I hear someone's step, and I had better
leave you. Good-bye.'
'Good-bye, John. Be kinder than that to me as you are going.' He turned
back for a moment, took her hand, and held it tight against his heart,
and then he left her. In the hall he met Mrs Thorne, but, as she said
afterwards, he had been too much knocked about to be able to throw a
word to a dog.
To Mrs Thorne Lily said hardly a word about John Eames, and when her
cousin Bernard questioned her about him she was dumb. And in these days
she could assume a manner, and express herself with her eyes as well as
with her voice, after a fashion, which was apt to silence unwelcome
questions, even though they were intimate with her as was her cousin
Bernard. She had described her feelings more plainly to her lover than
she had ever done to anyone--even to her mother; and having done so she
meant to be silent on that subject for evermore. But of her settled
purpose, she did say some word to Emily Dunstable that night. 'I do
feel,' she said, 'that I have got the thing settled at last.'
'And have you settled it, as you call it, in opposition to the wishes of
all your friends?'
'That is true; and yet I have settled it rightly, and I would not for
worlds have it unsettled again. There are matters on which friends
should not have wishes, or at any rate should not express them.'
'Is that meant to be severe to me?'
'No; not to you. I was thinking about mamma, and Bell, and my uncle,
and Bernard, who all seem to think that I am to be looked upon as a
regular castaway because I am not likely to have a husband of my own. Of
course you, in your position, must think a girl a castaway who isn't
going to be married?'
'I think that a girl who is going to be married has the best of it.'
'And I think a girl who isn't going to be married has the best of
it;--that's all. But I feel that the thing is done now, and I am
contented. For the last six or eight months there has come up, I know
not how, a state of doubt which as made me so wretched that I have done
literally nothing. I haven't been able to finish old Mrs Heard's tippet,
literally because people would talk to me about that dearest of all dear
fellows, John Eames. And yet all along I have known how it would be--as
well as I do now.'
'I cannot understand you, Lily; I can't indeed.'
'I can understand myself. I love him so well--with that intimate,
close, familiar affection--that I could wash his clothes for him
tomorrow, out of pure personal regard, and think it no shame. He could
not ask me to do a single thing for him--except one thing--that I would
refuse. And I'll go further. I would sooner marry him than any other man
I ever saw, or, as I believe, that I ever shall see. And yet I am glad
that it is settled.'
On the next day Lily Dale went down to the Small House of Allington, and
so she passes out of sight. I can only ask the reader to believe that
she was in earnest, and express my opinion, in this last word, that I
shall ever write respecting her, that she will live and die as Lily
THE ARABINS RETURN TO BARCHESTER
In these days Mr Harding was keeping his bed at the deanery, and most of
those who saw him declared that he would never again leave it. The
archdeacon had been slow to believe so, because he had still found his
father-in-law able to talk to him; not indeed with energy--but then Mr
Harding had never been energetic on ordinary matters--but with the same
soft cordial interest in things which had ever been customary with him.
He had latterly been much interested about Mr Crawley, and would make
both the archdeacon and Mrs Grantly tell him all that they had heard,
and what they thought of the case. This of course had been before the
all-important news had been received from Mrs Arabin. Mr Harding was
very anxious. 'Firstly,' he said, 'for the welfare of the poor man, of
whom I cannot bring myself to think ill; and then for the honour of the
cloth in Barchester.' 'We are as liable to have black sheep here as
anywhere,' the archdeacon had replied. 'But, my dear, I do not think the
sheep is black; and we never have had black sheep in Barchester.'
'Haven't we, though?' said the archdeacon, thinking, however, of sheep
who were black of a different kind of blackness from this which was now
attributed to Mr Crawley--of a blackness which was not absolute
blackness to Mr Harding's milder eyes. The archdeacon, when he heard his
father-in-law talk after this fashion, expressed his opinion that he
might live for years. He was just the man to linger on, living in
bed--as indeed he had lingered all his life out of bed. But the doctor
who attended him thought otherwise, as did also Mrs Grantly, and as did
Mrs Baxter, and as also did Posy. 'Grandpa won't get up any more, will
he?' Posy said to Mrs Baxter. 'I hope he will, my dear; and that very
soon.' 'I don't think he will,' said Posy, 'because he said he would
never see the big fiddle again.' 'That comes of being a little
melancholy like, my dear,' said Mrs Baxter.
Mrs Grantly at this time went into Barchester almost every day, and the
archdeacon, who was very often in the city, never went there without
passing half-an-hour with the old man. These two clergymen, essentially
different in their characters and in every detail of conduct, had been
so much thrown together by circumstances that the life of each almost
became part of the life of the other. Although the fact of Mr Harding's
residence at the deanery had of late years thrown him oftener into the
society of the dean than that of his other son-in-law, yet his intimacy
with the archdeacon had been so much earlier, and his memories of the
archdeacon were so much clearer, that he depended almost more upon the
rector of Plumstead, who was absent, than he did upon the dean, whom he
customarily saw every day. It was not so with the daughters. His Nelly,
as he used to call her, had ever been his favourite, and the
circumstances of their joint lives had ever been such, that they had
never been further separated than from one street of Barchester to
another--and that only for a very short period of the married life of
Mrs Arabin's first husband. For all that was soft and tender
therefore--which with Mr Harding was all in the world that was charming
to him--he looked to his youngest daughter; but for authority and
guidance and wisdom, and for information as to what was going on in the
world, he had still turned to his son-in-law the archdeacon--as he had
done for almost forty years. For so long had the archdeacon been potent
as a clergyman in the diocese, and throughout the whole duration of such
potency his word had been law to Mr Harding in most of the affairs of
life--a law generally to be obeyed, and if sometimes broken, still a
law. And now, when all was so nearly over, he would become unhappy if
the archdeacon's visits were far between. Dr Grantly, when he found that
this was so, would not allow that they should be far between.
'He puts me so much in mind of my father,' the archdeacon said to his
wife one day.
'He is not so old as your father was when he died, by many years,' said
Mrs Grantly, 'and I think one sees that difference.'
'Yes; and therefore I say that he may still live for years. My father,
when he took to his bed at last, was manifestly near his death. The
wonder with him was that he continued to live so long. Do you not
remember how the London doctor was put out because his prophecies were
'I remember it well--as if it were yesterday.'
'And in that way there is a great difference. My father, who was
physically a much stronger man, did not succumb so easily. But the
likeness is in their characters. There is the same mild sweetness,
becoming milder and sweeter as they increased in age--a sweetness that
never could believe much evil, but that could believe less, and still
less, as the weakness of age came upon them. No amount of evidence would
induce your father to think that Mr Crawley stole that money.' This was
said of course before the telegram had come from Venice.
'As far as that goes, I agree with him,' said Mrs Grantly, who had her
own reasons for choosing to believe Mr Crawley to be innocent. 'If your
son, my dear, is to marry the man's daughter, it will be as well that
you should at least be able to say that you do not believe that man to
be a thief.'
'That is neither here nor there,' said the archdeacon. 'A jury must
'No jury in Barsetshire shall decide it for me,' said Mrs Grantly.
'I'm sick of Mr Crawley, and I'm sorry I spoke of him,' said the
archdeacon. 'But look at Mrs Proudie. You'll agree that she was not the
most charming woman in the world.'
'She certainly was not,' said Mrs Grantly, who was anxious to encourage
her husband, if she could do so without admitting anything which might
injure herself afterwards.
'And she was at one time violently insolent to your father. And even
the bishop thought to trample on him. Do you remember the bishop's
preaching against your father's chanting? If I ever forget it!' And the
archdeacon slapped his closed fist against his open hand.
'Don't, dear, don't. What is the good of being violent now?'
'Paltry little fool! It will be long enough before such a chaunt as
that is heard in and English cathedral again.' Then Mrs Grantly got up
and kissed her husband, but he, somewhat negligent of the kiss, went on
with his speech. 'But your father remembers nothing of it, and if there
was a single human being who shed a tear in Barchester for that woman, I
believe it was your father. And it was the same with mine. It came to
that at last, that I could not bear to speak to him of any shortcomings
as to one of his own clergymen. I might as well have pricked him with a
penknife. And yet they say men become heartless and unfeeling as they
'Some do, I suppose.'
'Yes; the heartless and unfeeling do. As the bodily strength fails and
the power of control becomes lessened, the natural aptitude of the man
pronounces itself more clearly. I take it that that is it. Had Mrs
Proudie lived to be and hundred and fifty, she would have spoken
spiteful lies on her deathbed.' Then Mrs Grantly told herself that her
husband, should he live to be hundred and fifty, would still be
expressing his horror of Mrs Proudie--even on his deathbed.
As soon as the letter from Mrs Arabin had reached Plumstead, the
archdeacon and his wife arranged that they would both go together to the
deanery. There were the double tidings to be told--those of Mr Crawley's
assured innocence, and those also of Mrs Arabin's instant return. And as
they went together various ideas were passing through their minds in
reference to the marriage of their son with Grace Crawley. They were
both now reconciled to it. Mrs Grantly had long ceased to feel any
opposition to it, even though she had not seen Grace; and the archdeacon
was prepared to give way. Had he not promised that in a certain case he
would give way, and had not that case come to pass? He had no wish to go
back from his word. But he had a difficulty in this--that he liked to
make all the affairs of his life matter for enjoyment, almost for
triumph; but how was he to be triumphant over this marriage, or how even
was he to enjoy it, seeing that he had opposed it so bitterly? Those
posters, though they were now pulled down, had been up on a barn ends
and walls patent--alas, too patent--to all the world of Barsetshire!
'What will Mr Crawley do now, do you suppose?' said Mrs Grantly.
'What will he do?'
'Yes; must he go on at Hogglestock?'
'What else?' said the archdeacon.
'It is a pity something could not be done for him after all he has
undergone. How on earth can he be expected to live there with a wife and
family, and no private means?' To this the archdeacon made no answer.
Mrs Grantly had spoken almost immediately upon their quitting Plumstead,
and the silence was continued till the carriage had entered the suburbs
of the city. Then Mrs Grantly spoke again, asking a question, with some
internal trepidation which, however, she managed to hide from her
husband. 'When poor papa does go, what shall you do about St Ewold's?'
Now, St Ewold's was a rural parish lying about two miles out of
Barchester, the living of which was in the gift of the archdeacon, and
to which the archdeacon had presented to his father-in-law, under
certain circumstances, which need not be repeated in this last chronicle
of Barsetshire. Have they not been written in other chronicles? 'When
poor papa does go, what will you do about St Ewold's?' said Mrs Grantly,
trembling inwardly. A word too much might, as she well knew, settle the
question against Mr Crawley for ever. But were she to postpone the word
till too late, the question would be settled as fatally.
'I haven't thought about it,' he said sharply. 'I don't like thinking
of such things while the incumbent is still living.' Oh, archdeacon,
archdeacon! Unless that other chronicle be a false chronicle, how hast
thou forgotten thyself and thy past life! 'Particularly not, when that
incumbent is your father,' said the archdeacon. Mrs Grantly said nothing
more about St Ewold's. She would have said as much as she had intended
to say if she had succeeded in making the archdeacon understand that St
Ewold's would be a very nice refuge for Mr Crawley after all the
miseries which he had endured at Hogglestock.
They learned as they entered the deanery that Mrs Baxter had already
heard of Mrs Arabin's return. 'Oh yes, ma'am. Mr Harding got a letter
hisself, and I got another--separate; both from Venice, ma'am. But when
master come nobody seems to know.' Mrs Baxter knew that the dean had
gone to Jerusalem, and was inclined to think that from such distant
bournes there was not return to any traveller. The East is always
further than the West in the estimation of the Mrs Baxters of the world.
Had the dean gone to Canada, she would have thought that he might come
back tomorrow. But still there was the news to be told of Mr Crawley,
and there was also joy to be expressed at the sudden coming back of the
much-wished-for mistress of the deanery.
'It's so good of you to come both together,' said Mr Harding.
'We thought that we should be too many for you,' said the archdeacon.
'Too many! Oh dear no. I like to have people by me; and as for voices
and noise, and all that, the more the better. But I am weak. I'm weak in
my legs. I don't think I shall ever stand again.'
'Yes, you will,' said the archdeacon.
'We have brought good news,' said Mrs Grantly.
'It is not good news that Nelly will be home this week? You can't
understand what a joy it is to me. I used to think sometimes, at night,
that I should never see her again. That she would come back in time was
all I have wished for.' He was lying on his back, and as he spoke he
pressed his withered hands together above the bed-clothes. They could
not begin immediately to tell him of Mr Crawley, but as soon as his mind
had turned itself away from the thoughts of his absent daughter, Mrs
Grantly again reverted to the news.'
'We have come to tell you about Mr Crawley, papa.'
'What about him?'
'He is quite innocent.'
'I knew it, my dear. I always said so. Did I not always say so,
'Indeed you did. I'll give you that credit.'
'And is it all found out?' asked Mr Harding.
'As far as he is concerned, everything is found out,' said Mrs Grantly.
'Eleanor gave him the cheque herself.'
'Nelly gave it to him?'
'Yes, papa. The dean meant her to give him fifty pounds. But it seems
she got to be soft of heart and made it seventy. She had the cheque by
her, and put it into the envelope with the notes.'
'Some of Stringer's people seem to have stolen the cheque from Mr
Soames,' said the archdeacon.
'Oh dear, I hope not.'
'Somebody must have stolen it, papa.'
'I had hoped not, Susan,' said Mr Harding. Both the archdeacon and Mrs
Grantly knew that it was useless to argue with him on such a point, and
so they let that go.
Then they came to discuss Mr Crawley's present position, and Mr Harding
ventured to ask a question or two as to Grace's chance of marriage. He
did not often interfere in the family arrangements of his son-in-law and
never did so when those family arrangements were concerned with high
matters. He had hardly opened his mouth in reference to the marriage of
that august lady who was now the Marchioness of Hartletop. And of the
Lady Anne, the wife of the Rev Charles Grantly, who was always
prodigiously civil to him, speaking to him very loud, as though he were
deaf because he was old, and bringing cheap presents from London of
which he did not take much heed--of her he rarely said a word, or of her
children, to either of his daughters. But now his grandson, Henry
Grantly, was going to marry a girl of whom he felt that he might speak
without impropriety. 'I suppose it will be a match; won't it, my dears?'
'Not a doubt about it,' said Mrs Grantly. Mr Harding looked at his
son-in-law, but his son-in-law said nothing. The archdeacon did not even
frown--but only moved a little uneasily in his chair.
'Dear, dear! What a comfort it must be,' said the old man.
'I have not seen yet,' said Mrs Grantly; 'but the archdeacon declares
that she is all the graces rolled into one.'
'I never said anything half so absurd,' said the archdeacon.
'But he is really in love with her, papa,' said Mrs Grantly. 'He
confessed to me that he gave her a kiss, and he only saw her once for
'I should like to give her a kiss,' said Mr Harding.
'So you shall, papa, and I'll bring her here on purpose. As soon as
ever the thing is settled, we mean to ask her to Plumstead.'
'Do you, though? How nice! How happy Henry will be.'
'And if she comes--and of course she will--I'll lose no time in bringing
her over to you. Nelly must see her, of course.'
As they were leaving the room Mr Harding called the archdeacon back, and
taking him by the hand, spoke one word to him in a whisper. 'I don't
like to interfere,' he said; 'but might not Mr Crawley have St Ewold's?'
The archdeacon took up the old man's hand and kissed it. Then he
followed his wife out of the room, without making any answer to Mr
Three days after this Mrs Arabin reached the deanery, and the joy at her
return was very great. 'My dear, I have been sick for you,' said Mr
'Oh, papa, I ought not to have gone.'
'Nay, my dear; do not say that. Would it make my happy that you should
be a prisoner here for ever? It was only when I seemed to get so weak
that I thought about it. I felt that it must be near when they bade me
not to go to the cathedral any more.'
'If I had been here, I could have gone with you, papa.'
'It is better as it is. I know now that I was not fit for it. When your
sister came to me, I never thought of remonstrating. I knew then that I
had seen it for the last time.'
'We need not say that yet, papa.'
'I did think that when you came home we might crawl there together some
warm morning. I did think of that for a time. But it will never be so,
dear. I shall never see anything now that I do not see from here--and
that not for long. Do not cry, Nelly. I have nothing to regret, nothing
to make me unhappy. I know how poor and weak has been my life; but I
know how rich and strong is that other life. Do not cry, Nelly--not till
I am gone; and then not beyond measure. Why should anyone weep for those
who go away full of years--and full of hope?'
On the day but one following the dean reached his home. The final
arrangements of his tour, as well as those of his wife, had been made to
depend on Mr Crawley's trial; for he also had been hurried back by John
Eames's visit to Florence. 'I should have come back at once,' he said to
his wife, 'when they wrote to ask me whether Crawley had taken the
cheque from me, had anybody told me that he was in actual trouble; but I
had no idea that they were charging him with the theft.'
'As far as I can learn, they never really suspected him until after your
answer had come. They had been quite sure that your answer would be in
'What he must have endured it is impossible to conceive. I shall go out
to him tomorrow.'
'Would he not come to us?' said Mrs Arabin.
'I doubt it. I will ask him, of course. I will ask them all here. This
about Henry and the girl may make a difference. He has resigned the
living, and some of the palace people are doing the duty.'
'But he can have it again?'
'Oh, yes; he can have it again. For the matter of that, I need simply
to give him back his letter. Only he is so odd--so unlike other people!
And he has tried to live there, and has failed; and is now in debt. I
wonder whether Grantly will give him St Ewold's?'
'I wish he would. But you must ask him. I should not dare.'
As to the matter of the cheque, the dean acknowledged to his wife at
last that he had some recollection of her having told him that she had
made the sum of money up to seventy pounds. 'I don't feel certain of it
now; but I think you must have done so.' 'I am quite sure I could have
done it without telling you,' she replied. 'At any rate you said nothing
of the cheque,' pleaded the dean. 'I don't suppose I did,' said Mrs
Arabin. 'I thought that cheques were like any other money; but I shall
know better for the future.'
On the following morning the dean rode over to Hogglestock, and as he
drew near to the house of his old friend, his spirits flagged--for to
tell the truth, he dreaded the meeting. Since the day on which he had
brought Mr Crawley from a curacy in Cornwall into the diocese of
Barchester, his friend had been a trouble to him rather than a joy. The
trouble had been a trouble of spirit altogether--not all of pocket. He
would willingly have picked the Crawleys out from the pecuniary mud into
which they were for ever falling, time after time, had it been possible.
For, though the dean was hardly to be called a rich man, his lines had
fallen to him not only in pleasant places, but in easy
circumstances--and Mr Crawley's embarrassments, though overwhelming to
him, were not so great as to have been heavy to the dean. But in
striving to do this he had always failed, had always suffered, and had
generally been rebuked. Crawley would attempt to argue with him as to
the improper allotment of Church endowments--declaring that he did not
do so with any reference to his own circumstances, but simply because
the subject was one naturally interesting to clergymen. And this he
would do, as he was waving off with his hand offers of immediate
assistance which were indispensable. Then there had been scenes between
the dean and Mrs Crawley--terribly painful--and which had taken place in
direct disobedience to the husband's positive injunctions. 'Sir,' he had
once said to the dean, 'I request that nothing may pass from your hands
to the hands of my wife.' 'Tush, tush,' the dean had answered. 'I will
have no tushing or pshawing on such a matter. A man's wife is his very
own, the breath of his nostril, the blood of his heart, the rib from his
body. It is for me to rule my wife, and I tell you that I will not have
it.' After that the gifts had come from the hand of Mrs Arabin; and then
again, after that, in the direst hour of his need, Crawley had himself
come and taken money from the dean's hands! The interview had been so
painful that Arabin would hardly have been able to count the money or to
know of what it had consisted, had he taken the notes and cheque out of
the envelope in which his wife had put them. Since that day the two had
not met each other, and since that day these new troubles had come.
Arabin as yet knew but little of the manner in which they had been
borne, except that Crawley had felt himself compelled to resign the
living of Hogglestock. He knew nothing of Mrs Proudie's persecution,
except what he gathered from the fact of the clerical commission of
which he had been informed; but he could imagine that Mrs Proudie would
not lie easy in her bed while a clergyman was doing duty almost under
her nose, who was guilty of the double offence of being accused of
theft, and of having been put into his living by the dean. The dean,
therefore, as he rode on, pictured to himself his old friend in a
terrible condition. And it might be that even now that condition would
hardly have been improved. He was no longer suspected of being a thief;
but he could have no money in his pocket; and it might well be that his
sufferings would have made him almost mad.
The dean also got down and left his horse at a farmyard, as Grantly had
done with his carriage; and walked on first to the school. He had voices
inside, but could not distinguish from them whether Mr Crawley was there
or not. Slowly he opened the door, and looking round saw that Jane
Crawley was in the ascendant. Jane did not know him at once, but told
him when he had introduced himself that her father had gone down to
Hoggle End. He had started two hours ago, but it was impossible to say
when he might be back. 'He sometimes stays all day long with the
brickmakers,' said Jane. Her mother was at home, and she would take the
dean into the house. As she said this she told him that her father was
sometimes better and sometimes worse. 'But he has never been so very,
very bad, since Henry Grantly and mamma's cousin came and told us about
the cheque.' Those words Henry Grantly made the dean understand that
there might yet be a ray of sunshine among the Crawleys.
'There is papa,' said Jane, as they got to the gate. Then they waited
for a few minutes till Mr Crawley came up, very hot, wiping the sweat
from his forehead.
'Crawley,' said the dean, 'I cannot tell you how glad I am to see you,
and how rejoiced I am that this accusation has fallen from you.'
'Verily the news came in time, Arabin,' said the other, 'but it was a
narrow pinch--a narrow pinch. Will you enter, and see my wife?'
MR CRAWLEY SPEAKS OF HIS COAT
At this time Grace had returned from Framley. As long as the terrible
tragedy of the forthcoming trial was dragging itself on she had been
content to stay away, at her mother's bidding. It has not been possible
in these pages to tell of all the advice that had been given to the
ladies of the Crawley family in their great difficulty, and of all the
assistance that had been offered. The elder Lady Lufton and the younger,
and Mrs Robarts had continually been in consultation on the subject; Mrs
Grantly's opinion had been asked and given; and even the Miss Prettymans
and Mrs Walker had found means of expressing themselves. The
communications to Mrs Crawley had been very frequent--though they had
not of course been allowed to reach the ears of Mr Crawley. What was to
be done when the living should be gone and Mr Crawley should be in
prison? Some said that he might be there for six weeks, and some for two
years. Old Lady Lufton made anxious inquiries about Judge Medlicote,
before whom it was said that the trial would be taken. Judge Medlicote
was a Dissenter, and old Lady Lufton was in despair. When she was
assured by some liberally-disposed friend that this would certainly make
no difference, she shook her head woefully. 'I don't know why we are to
have Dissenteres at all,' she said, 'to try people who belong to the
Established Church.' When she heard that Judge Medlicote would certainly
be the judge, she made up her mind that two years would be the least of
it. She would not have minded, she said, if he had been a Roman
Catholic. And whether the punishment might be for six weeks or for two
years, what should be done with the family? Where should they be housed?
How should they be fed? What should be done with the poor man when he
came out of prison? It was a case in which the generous, soft-hearted
old Lady Lufton was almost beside herself. 'As for Grace,' said young
Lady Lufton, 'it will be a great deal better that we should keep her
amongst us. Of course she will become Mrs Grantly, and it will be nicer
for her that it should be so.' In those days the posters had been seen,
and the flitting to Pau had been talked of, and the Framley opinion was
that Grace had better remain at Framley till she should be carried off
to Pau. There were schemes, too, about Jane, but what was to be done for
the wife? And what was to be done for Mr Crawley? Then came the news
from Mrs Arabin, and all interest in Judge Medlicote was at an end.
But even now, after this great escape, what was to be done? As to
Grace, she had felt the absolute necessity of being obedient to her
friends--with the consent of course of her mother--during the great
tribulation of her family. Things were so bad that she had not the heart
to make them worse by giving any unnecessary trouble as to herself.
Having resolved--and having made her mother so understand--that on one
point she would guide herself by her own feelings, she was contented to
go hither and thither as she was told, and to do as she was bid. Her
hope was that Miss Prettyman would allow her to go back to her teaching,
but it had come to be understood among them all that nothing was to be
said on that subject till the trial should be over. Till that time she
would be passive. But then, as I have said, had come the news from Mrs
Arabin, and Grace, with all the others, understood that there would be
no trial. When this was known and acknowledged, she declared her purpose
of going back to Hogglestock. She would go back at once. When asked both
by Lady Lufton and Mrs Robarts why she was in so great a haste, she
merely said that it must be so. She was, as it were, absolved from her
passive obedience to Framley authorities by the diminution of the family
Mrs Robarts understood the feeling by which Grace was hurried away. 'Do
you know why she is so obstinate?' Lady Lufton asked.
'I think I do,' said Mrs Robarts.
'And what is it?'
'Should Major Grantly renew his offer to her she is under a pledge to
accept him now.'
'Of course he will renew it, and of course she will accept him.'
'Just so. But she prefers that he should come for her to her own
house--because of the poverty. If he chooses to seek her there, I don't
think she will make much difficulty.' Lady Lufton demurred at this, not
however with anger, and expressed a certain amount of mild displeasure.
She did not quite see why Major Grantly should not be allowed to come
and do his love-making comfortably, where there was a decent dinner for
him to eat, and chairs and tables and sofas and carpets. She said that
she thought that something was due to Major Grantly. She was in truth a
little disappointed that she was not allowed to have her own way, and to
arrange the marriage at Framley under her own eye. But, through it all,
she appreciated Grace; and they who knew her well and heard what she
said upon the occasion, understood that her favour was not to be
withdrawn. All young women were divided by the old Lady Lufton into
sheep and goats--very white sheep and very black goats--and Grace was
to be a sheep. Thus it came to pass that Grace Crawley was at home when
the dean visited Hogglestock. 'Mamma,' she said, looking out of the
window, 'there is the dean with papa at the gate.'
'It was a narrow squeak--a very narrow squeak,' Mr Crawley had said when
his friend had congratulated him on his escape. The dean felt at the
moment that not for many years had he heard the incumbent of Hogglestock
speak either of himself or of anything else with so manifest an attempt
at jocularity. Arabin had expected to find the man broken down by the
weight of his sorrows, and lo! at the first moment of their first
interview he himself began to ridicule them! Crawley having thus alluded
to the narrow squeak had asked his visitor to enter the house and see
'Of course I will,' said Arabin, 'but I will speak just a word to you
first.' Jane who had accompanied the dean from the school, now left
them, and went into the house to her mother. 'My wife cannot forgive
herself about the cheque,' continued he.
'There is nothing to be forgiven,' said Mr Crawley; 'nothing.'
'She feels that what she did was awkward and foolish. She ought never
to have paid the cheque away in such a manner. She knows that now.'
'It was given--not paid,' said Crawley; and as he spoke something of the
black cloud came back on his face. 'And I am well aware hard Mrs Arabin
strove to take away from the alms she bestowed the bitterness of the
sting of eleemosynary aid. If you please, Arabin, we will not talk any
more of that. I can never forget that I have been a beggar, but I need
not make my beggary the matter of conversation. I hope the Holy Land has
fulfilled your expectation?'
'It has more than done so,' said the dean, bewildered by the sudden
'For myself, it is, of course, impossible that I should ever visit any
scenes except those to which my immediate work may call me--never in
this world. The new Jerusalem is still within my reach--if it be not
forfeited by pride and obstinacy; but the old Jerusalem I can never
behold. Methinks, because it is so, I would sooner stand with my foot on
Mount Olivet, or drink a cup of water in the village of Bethany, than
visit any other spot within the traveller's compass. The sources of the
Nile, of which men talk so much--I see it in the papers and reviews
which the ladies at Framley are so good as to send to my wife--do not
interest me much. I have no ambition to climb Mont Blanc or the
Matterhorn; Rome makes my mouth water but little, nor even Athens much.
I can realise without seeing all that Athens could show me, and can
fancy that the existing truth would destroy more than it would build up.
But to have stood on Calvary!'
'We don't know where Calvary was,' said the dean.
'I fancy that I should know--should know enough,' said the illogical and
unreasonable Mr Crawley. 'Is it true that you can look over from the
spot on which He stood as He came across the brow of the hill, and see
the huge stones of the temple placed there by Solomon's men--as He saw
them--right across the brook Cedron, is it not?'
'It's all there, Crawley--just as your knowledge of it tells you.'
'In the privilege of seeing those places I can almost envy a man
his--money.' The last words he uttered after a pause. He had been about
to say that underneath temptation he could almost envy a man his
promotion; but he bethought himself that on such an occasion as this it
would be better that he should spare the dean. 'And now, if you wish it,
we will go in. I fancy that I see my wife at the window, as though she
were waiting for us.' So saying, he strode on along the little path, and
the dean was fain to follow him, even though he had said so little of
all that he had intended to say.
As soon as he was in with Mrs Crawley he repeated his apology about the
cheque, and found himself better able to explain himself than he could
do when he was alone with the husband. 'Of course, it has been our
fault,' he said.
'Oh, no,' said Mrs Crawley, 'how can you have been at fault when your
only object was to do us good?' But, nevertheless, the dean took the
blame upon his own shoulders, or, rather, upon those of his wife, and
declared himself to be responsible for all the trouble about the cheque.
'Let it go,' said Crawley, after sitting awhile in silence; 'let it
'You cannot wonder, Crawley,' said the dean, 'that I should have felt
myself obliged to speak of it.'
'For the future it will be well that it should be forgotten,' said
Crawley; 'or, if not forgotten, treated as though forgotten. And now,
dean, what must I do about the living?'
'Just resume it, as though nothing happened.'
'But that may hardly be done without the bishop's authority. I speak,
of course, with deference to your higher and better information on such
subjects. My experience in the taking up and laying down of livings has
not been extended. But it seemeth to me that though it may certainly be
in your power to nominate me again to the perpetual curacy of the
parish--presuming your patronage to be unlimited and not to reach you in
rotation only--yet the bishop may demand to institute again, and must
so demand, unless he pleases to permit that my letter to him shall be
revoked and cancelled.'
'Of course he will do anything of that kind. He must know the
circumstances as well as you and I do.'
'At present they tell me he is much afflicted by the death of his wife,
and, therefore, can hardly be expected to take immediate action. There
came on the last Sunday one Mr Snapper, his chaplain.'
'We all know Snapper,' said the dean. 'Snapper is not a bad little
'I say nothing of his being bad, my friend, but merely mention the fact
that on Sunday morning last he performed the service in our church. On
the Sunday previous Mr Thumble was here.'
'We all know Thumble, too,' said the dean; 'or, at least, we know
something about him.'
'He has been a thorn in our sides,' said Mrs Crawley, unable to restrain
the expression of her dislike when Mr Thumble's name was mentioned.
'Nay, my dear, nay;--do not allow yourself the use of language so strong
against a brother. Our flesh at that time was somewhat prone to fester,
and little thorns made us very sore.'
'He is a horrible man,' said Jane, almost in a whisper; but the words
were distinctly audible to the dean.
'They need not come any more,' said Arabin.
'That is where I fear we differ. I think they must come--or some others
in their place--till the bishop shall have expressed his pleasure to the
contrary. I have submitted myself to his lordship, and, having done so,
I feel that I cannot again go up into my pulpit till he shall have
authorised me to do so. For a time, Arabin, I combatted the bishop,
believing--then as now--that he put forth his hand against me after a
fashion which the law had not sanctioned. And I made bold to stand in
his presence and tell him that I would not obey him, except in things
legal. But afterwards, when he proceeded formally, through the action of
a commission, I submitted myself. And I regard myself still as being
under his submission.'
It was impossible to shake him. Arabin remained there for more than an
hour, trying to pass on to another subject, but being constantly brought
back by Mr Crawley himself to the fact of his own dependent position.
Nor would he condescend to supplicate the bishop. It was, he surmised,
the duty of Dr Tempest, together with the other four clergymen, to
report to the bishop on the question of the alleged theft; and then
doubtless the bishop, when he had duly considered the report, and--as Mr
Crawley seemed to think was essentially necessary--had sufficiently
recovered from the grief of his wife's death, would, at his leisure,
communicate his decision to Mr Crawley. Nothing could be more complete
than Mr Crawley's humility with respect to the bishop; and he never
seemed to be tired of declaring that he had submitted himself!
And then the dean, finding it to be vain to expect to be left alone with
Mr Crawley for a moment--in vain also to wait for a proper opening for
that which he had to say--rushed violently at his other subject. 'And
now, Mrs Crawley,' he said. 'Mrs Arabin wishes you all to come over to
the deanery for a while and stay with us.'
'Mrs Arabin is too kind,' said Mrs Crawley, looking across at her
'We should like of all things,' said the dean, with perhaps more of good
nature than of truth. 'Of course you must have been knocked about a good
'Indeed we have,' said Mrs Crawley.
'And till you are somewhat settled again, I think that the change of
scene would be good for all of you. Come, Crawley, I'll talk to you
every evening about Jerusalem for as long as you please; and then there
will perhaps come back to us something of the pleasantness of old days.'
As she heard this Mrs Crawley's eyes became full of tears, and she could
not altogether hide them. What she had endured during the last four
months had almost broken her spirit. The burden had at last been too
heavy for her strength. 'You cannot fancy, Crawley, how often I have
thought of the old days and wished that they might return. I have found
it very hard to get an opportunity of saying so much to you; but I will
say it now.'
'It may hardly be as you say,' said Crawley, grimly.
'You mean that the old days can never be brought back?'
'Assuredly they cannot. But it was not that I meant. It may not be
that I and mine should transfer ourselves to your roof and sojourn
'Why should you not?'
'The reasons are many, and on the face of things. The reason, perhaps,
the most on the face of it is to be found in my wife's gown, and in my
coat.' This Mr Crawley said very gravely, looking neither to the right
nor to the left nor at the face of any of them, nor at his own garment,
nor hers, but straight before him; and when he had so spoken he said not
a word further--not going on to dilate on his poverty as the dean
expected that he would do.
'At such a time such reasons should stand for nothing,' said the dean.
'And why not now as they always do, and always must till the power of
tailors shall have waned, and the daughters of Eve shall toil and spin
no more? Like to like is true, and should be held to be true, of all
societies and of all compacts for co-operation and mutual living. Here,
where, if I may venture to say so, you and I are like to like;--for the
new gloss of your coat;--the dean, as it happened, had on at the moment
a very old coat, his oldest coat, selected perhaps with some view to
this special visit--'does not obtrude itself in my household, as would
be the threadbare texture of mine in yours;--I can open my mouth to you
and converse with you at my ease; you are now to me that Frank Arabin
who has so comforted me and so often confuted me; whom I may perhaps on
occasion have confuted--and perhaps have comforted. But were I sitting
with you in your library in Barchester, my threadbare coat would be too
much for me. I should be silent, if not sullen. I should feel the weight
of all my poverty, and the greater weight of all your wealth. For my
children let them go. I have come to know that they will be better from
'Papa!' said Jane.
'Papa does not mean it,' said Grace, coming up to him and standing close
There was silence amongst them for a few moments, and then the master of
the house shook himself--literally shook himself, till he had shaken off
the cloud. He had taken Grace by the hand, and thrusting out the other
arm had got it round Jane's waist. 'When a man has girls, Arabin,' he
said, 'as you have, but not big girls yet like Grace here, of course he
knows that they will fly away.'
'I shall not fly away,' said Jane.
'I don't know what papa means,' said Grace.
Upon the whole the dean thought it the pleasantest visit he had ever
made to Hogglestock, and when he got home he told his wife that he
believed that the accusation made against Mr Crawley had done him good.
'I could not say a word in private to her,' he said, 'but I did promise
that you would go over and see her. On the very next day, Mrs Arabin
went over, and I think that the visit was a comfort to Mrs Crawley.
MISS DEMOLINES DESIRES TO BE A FINGER-POST
John Eames had passed Mrs Thorne in the hall of her own house almost
without noticing her as he took his departure from Lily Dale. She had
told him as plainly as words could speak that she could not bring
herself to be his wife--and he had believed her. He had sworn to himself
that if he did not succeed he would never ask again. 'It would be
foolish and unmanly to do so,' he said to himself as he rushed along the
street towards his club. No! That romance was over. At last there had
come an end to it! 'It has taken a good bit out of me,' he said,
arresting his steps suddenly that he might stand still and think of it
all. 'By George, yes! A man doesn't go through that kind of thing
without losing some of the caloric. I couldn't do it again if an angel
came in my way.' he went to his club, and tried to be jolly. But as he
walked home at night, and gave himself time to think over what had taken
place with deliberation, he stopped in the gloom of a deserted street
and leaning against the rails burst into tears. He had really loved her
and she was never to be his. He had wanted her--and it is so painful a
thing to miss what you want when you have done your very best to obtain
it! To struggle in vain always hurts the pride; but the wound made by
the vain struggle for a woman is sorer than any wound so made. He
gnashed his teeth, and struck the railings with his stick; and then he
hurried home, swearing that he would never give another thought to Lily
Dale. In the dead of the night, thinking of it still, he asked himself
whether it would not be a fine thing to wait another ten years, and then
go to her again. In such a way would he not make himself immortal as a
lover beyond any Jacob or Leander?
The next day he went to his office and was very grave. When Sir Raffle
complimented him on being back before his time, he simply said that when
he had accomplished that for which he had gone, he had, of course, come
back. Sir Raffle could not get a word out from him about Mr Crawley. He
was very grave, and intent upon his work. Indeed he was so serious that
he quite afflicted Sir Raffle--whose mock activity felt itself to be
confounded by the official zeal of his private secretary. During the
whole of that day, Johnny was resolving that there could be no cure for
his malady but hard work. He would not only work hard at the office if
he remained there, but he would take to heavy reading. He rather thought
that he would go deep into Greek and do a translation, or take up the
exact sciences and make a name for himself in that way. But as he had
enough for the life of a secluded literary man without his salary, he
rather thought he would give up his office altogether. He had a mutton
chop at home that evening, and spent his time in endeavouring to read
out aloud to himself certain passages from the Iliad--for he had bought
a Homer as he returned from his office. At nine o'clock he went,
half-price, to the Strand Theatre. How he met there his old friend
Boulger and went afterwards to 'The Cock' and had a supper need not here
be told with more accurate detail.
On the evening of the next day he was bound by his appointment to go to
Porchester Terrace. In the moments of his enthusiasm about Homer he had
declared to himself that he would never go near Miss Demolines again.
Why should he? All that kind of thing was nothing to him now. He would
simply send her his compliments and say that he was prevented by
business from keeping his engagement. She, of course, would go on
writing to him for a time, but he would simply leave her letters
unanswered, and the thing, of course, would come to an end at last. He
afterwards said something to Boulger about Miss Demolines--but that was
during the jollity of their supper--and he then declared that he would
follow out that little game. 'I don't see why a fellow isn't to amuse
himself, eh, Boulger, old boy?' Boulger winked and grinned, and said
some amusements were dangerous. 'I don't think that there is any danger
there,' said Johnny. 'I don't believe she is thinking of that kind of
thing herself;--not with me at least. What she likes is the pretence of
mystery; and as it is amusing I don't see why a fellow shouldn't indulge
her.' But that determination was pronounced after two mutton chops at
'The Cock', between one and two o'clock in the morning. On the next day
he was cooler and wiser. Greek he thought might be tedious as he
discovered that he would have to begin again from the very alphabet. He
would therefore abandon that idea. Greek was not the thing for him, but
he would take up the sanitary condition of the poor in London. A fellow
could be of some use in that way. In the meantime he would keep his
appointment with Miss Demolines, simply because it was an appointment. A
gentleman should always his word to a lady!
He did keep his appointment with Miss Demolines, and was with her almost
precisely at the hour she had named. She received him with a mysterious
tranquillity which almost perplexed him. He remembered, however, that
the way to enjoy the society of Miss Demolines was to take her in all
her moods with perfect seriousness, and was therefore very tranquil
himself. On the present occasion she did not rise as she entered the
room, and hardly spoke as she tendered to him the tips of her fingers to
be touched. As she said almost nothing, he said nothing at all, but sank
into a chair and stretched his legs out comfortably before him. It had
been always understood between them that she was to bear the burden of
'You'll have a cup of tea?' she said.
'Yes;--if you do.' Then the page brought the tea, and John Eames amused
himself by swallowing three slices of very thin bread and butter.
'Non for me--thanks,' said Madalina. 'I rarely eat after dinner, and
not often much then. I fancy that I should best like a world in which
there was no eating.'
'A good dinner is a very good thing,' said John. And then there was
again silence. He was aware that some great secret was to be told to him
this evening, but he was much too discreet to show any curiosity upon
that subject. He sipped his tea to the end, and then, having got up to
put his cup down, stood on the rug with his back to the fire. 'Have you
been out today?' he asked.
'Indeed I have.'
'And you are tired.'
'Then perhaps I had better not keep you up.'
'Your remaining will make no difference in that respect. I don't
suppose that I shall be in bed for the next four hours. But do as you
like about going.'
'I am in no hurry,' said Johnny. Then he sat down again, stretched out
his legs and made himself comfortable.
'I have been to see that woman,' said Madalina after a pause.
'Maria Clutterbuck--as I must always call her; for I cannot bring myself
to pronounce the name of that poor wretch who was done to death.'
'He blew his brains out in delirium tremens,' said Johnny.
'And what made him drink?' said Madalina with emphasis. 'Never mind. I
decline altogether to speak of it. Such a scene as I have had! I was
driven at last to tell her what I thought of her. Anything so callous,
so heartless, so selfish, so stone-cold, and so childish, I never saw
before! That Maria was childish and selfish I always knew;--but I
thought there was some heart--a vestige of heart. I found today that
there was none--none. If you please we won't speak of her any more.'
'Certainly not,' said Johnny.
'You need not wonder that I am tired and feverish.'
'That sort of thing is fatiguing, I daresay. I don't know whether we do
not lose more than we gain by those strong emotions.'
'I would rather die and go beneath the sod at once, than live without
them,' said Madalina.
'It's a matter of taste,' said Johnny.
'It is there that the poor wretch is so deficient. She is thinking now,
this moment, of nothing but her creature comforts. That tragedy has not
even stirred her pulses.'
'If her pulses were stirred ever so, that would not make her happy.'
'Happy! Who is happy? Are you happy?'
Johnny thought of Lily Dale and paused before he answered. No;
certainly he was not happy. But he was not going to talk about his
unhappiness with Miss Demolines! 'Of course I am;--as jolly as a
sandboy,' he said.
'Mr Eames,' said Madalina raising herself on her sofa, 'if you can not
express yourself in language more suitable to the occasion and to the
scene than that, I think that you had better--'
'Hold my tongue.'
'Just so;--though I should not have chosen myself to use words so
'What did I say:--jolly as a sandboy? There is nothing wrong in that.
What I meant was that I think that the world is a very good sort of
world, and that a man can get along in it very well if he minds his p's
'But suppose it's a woman?'
'And suppose she does not mind her p's and q's?'
'Women always do.'
'Do they? Your knowledge of women goes as far as that, does it? Tell me
fairly;--do you think you know anything about women?' Madalina as she
asked the question, looked full into his face, and shook her locks and
smiled. When she shook her locks and smiled, there was a certain
attraction about her of which John Eames was fully sensible. She could
throw a special brightness into her eyes, which, though it probably
betokened nothing beyond ill-natured mischief, seemed to convey a
promise of wit and intellect.
'I don't mean to make any boast about it,' said Johnny.
'I doubt whether you know anything. The pretty simplicity of your
excellent Lily Dale has sufficed for you.'
'Never mind about her,' said Johnny impatiently.
'I do not mind about her in the least. But an insight into that sort of
simplicity will not teach the character of a real woman. You cannot
learn the flavour of wines by sipping sherry and water. For myself I do
not think that I am simple. I own it fairly. If you must have
simplicity, I cannot be to your taste.'
'Nobody likes partridge always,' said Johnny, laughing.
'I understand you, sir. And though what you say is not complimentary, I
am willing to forgive that fault for its truth. I don't consider myself
to be always a partridge, I can assure you. I am as changeable as the
'And as fickle?'
'I say nothing about that, sir. I leave you to find that out. It is a
man's business to discover that for himself. If you really do know aught
'I did not say that I did.'
'But if you do, you will perhaps have discovered that a woman may be as
changeable as the moon, and yet as true as the sun;--that she may flit
from flower to flower, quite unheeding while no passion exists, but that
a passion fixes her at once. Do you believe me?' Now she looked into his
eyes again, but did not smile and did not shake her locks.
'Oh, yes;--that's true enough. And when they have a lot of children,
then they become steady as milestones.'
'Children!' said Madalina, getting up and walking about the room.
'They do have them, you know,' said Johnny.
'Do you mean to say, sir, that I should be a milestone?'
'A finger-post,' said Johnny, 'to show a fellow the way he ought to go.'
She walked twice across the room without speaking. Then she came and
stood opposite him, still without speaking--and then she walked about
again. 'What could a woman better be, than a finger-post, as you call
it, with such a purpose?'
'Nothing better, of course;--though a milestone to tell a fellow his
distances, is very good.'
'You don't like the idea of being a milestone?'
'Then you can make up your mind to be a finger-post.'
'John, shall I be finger-post for you?' She stood and looked at him for
a moment or two, with her eyes full of love, as though she were going to
throw herself into his arms. And she would have done so, no doubt,
instantly, had he risen to his legs. As it was, after having gazed at
him for the moment with her love-laden eyes, she flung herself on the
sofa, and hid her face among the cushions.
He had felt that it was coming for the last quarter of an hour--and he
had felt also, that he was quite unable to help himself. He did not
believe that he should ever be reduced to marrying Miss Demolines, but
he did see plainly enough that he was getting into trouble; and yet, for
his life, he could not help himself. The moth who flutters round the
light knows that he is being burned, and yet he cannot fly away from it.
When Madalina had begun to talk to him about woman in general, and then
about herself, and had told him that such a woman as herself--even one
so liable to the disturbance of violent emotions--might yet be as true
and honest as the sun, he knew he ought to get up and make his escape.
He did not exactly know how the catastrophe would come, but he was quite
sure that if he remained there he would be called in some way for a
declaration of his sentiments--and that the call would be one which all
his wit would not enable him to answer with any comfort. It was very
well jesting about milestones, but every jest brought him nearer to the
precipice. He perceived that however ludicrous might be the image which
his words produced, she was clever enough in some way to turn that image
to her own purpose. He had called a woman a finger-post, and forthwith
she had offered to come to him and be a finger-post to him for life!
What was he to say to her? It was clear that he must say something. As
at this moment she was sobbing violently, he could not pass the offer by
as a joke. Women will say that his answer should have been very simple,
and his escape very easy. But men will understand that it is not easy to
reject even a Miss Demolines when she offers herself for matrimony. And,
moreover--as Johnny bethought himself at this crisis of his fate--Lady
Demolines was no doubt at the other side of the drawing-room door, ready
to stop him, should he attempt to run away. In the meantime the sobs on
the sofa became violent, and still more violent. He had not even yet
made up his mind what to do, when Madalina, springing to her feet, stood
before him, with her curls wildly waving and her arms extended. 'Let it
be as though it were unsaid,' she exclaimed. John Eames had not the
slightest objection; but, nevertheless, there was a difficulty even in
this. Were he simply to assent to this latter proposition, it could not
be that the feminine nature of Miss Demolines would be outraged by so
uncomplimentary an acquiescence. He felt that he ought at least to
hesitate a little--to make some pretence at closing upon the rich offer
that had been made to him; only that were he to show any such pretence
the rich offer would, no doubt, be repeated. His Madalina had twitted
him in the earlier part of their interview with knowing nothing of the
nature of women. He did know enough to feel assured that any false step
on his part now would lead him into very serious difficulties. 'Let it
be as though it were unsaid! Why, oh why, have I betrayed myself?'
John had now risen from his chair, and coming up to her took her by the
arm and spoke a word. 'Compose yourself,' he said. He spoke in his most
affectionate voice, and he stood very close to her.
'How easy it is to bid me to do that,' said Madalina. 'Tell the sea to
compose itself when it rages.'
'Madalina!' said he.
'Well--what of Madalina? Madalina has lost her own respect--for ever.'
'Do not say that.'
'Oh, John--why did you ever come here? Why? Why did we meet at that
fatal woman's house? Or, meeting so, why did we not part as strangers?
Sir, why have you come here to my mother's house day after day, evening
after evening, if--Oh, heavens, what am I saying? I wonder whether you
will scorn me always?'
'I will never scorn you.'
'And you will pardon me?'
'There is nothing to pardon.'
'And--you will love me?' Then, without waiting for any more encouraging
reply--unable, probably, to wait a moment longer, she sunk upon his
bosom. He caught her of course--and at that moment the drawing-room door
was opened, and Lady Demolines entered the chamber. John Eames detected
a glance at the skirt of the old white dressing gown which he had seen
whisking away on the occasion of his last visit to Porchester Terrace.
But on the present occasion Lady Demolines wore over it a short red
opera cloak, and the cap on her head was ornamented with coloured
ribbons. 'What is this,' she said, 'and why am I thus disturbed?'
Madalina lay motionless in Johnny's arms, while the old woman glowered
at him from under the coloured ribbons. 'Mr Eames, what is that I
behold?' she said.
'Your daughter, madam, seems to be a little unwell,' said Johnny.
Madalina kept her feet firm on the ground, but did not for a moment lose
her purchase against Johnny's waistcoat. Her respiration came very
strong, but they came a good deal stronger when he mentioned the fact
that she was not so well as she might be.
'Unwell!' said Lady Demolines. And John was stricken at the moment with
a conviction that her ladyship must have passed the early part of her
life upon the stage. 'You would trifle with me, sir. Beware that you do
not trifle with her--with Madalina.'
'My mother,' said Madalina; but still she did not give up her purchase,
and the voice seemed to come half from her and half from Johnny. 'Come
to me, my mother.' Then Lady Demolines hastened to her daughter, and
Madalina between them was gradually laid at her length upon the sofa.
The work of laying her out, however, was left almost entirely to the
strong arm of Mr John Eames. 'Thanks, mother,' said Madalina; but she
had not as yet opened her eyes, even for an instant. 'Perhaps I had
better go now,' said Johnny. The old woman looked at him with eyes which
asked whether 'he didn't wish he might get it' as plainly as though the
words had been pronounced. 'Of course I'll wait if I can be of any
service,' said Johnny.
'I must know more of this, sir, before you leave the house,' said Lady
Demolines. He saw that between them both there might probably be a very
bad quarter of an hour in store for him; but he swore to himself that no
union of dragon and tigress should extract from him a word that could be
taken as a promise of marriage.
The old woman was now kneeling by the head of the sofa, and Johnny was
standing close by her side. Suddenly Madalina opened her eyes--opened
them very wide, and gazed around her. Then slowly she raised herself on
the sofa, and turned her face first upon her mother and then upon
Johnny. 'You here, mamma!' she said.
'Dearest one, I am near you. Be not afraid,' said her ladyship.
'Afraid! Why should I be afraid? John! My own John! Mamma, he is my
own.' And she put out her arms to him, as though calling to him to come
to her. Things were now very bad with John Eames--so bad that he would
have given a very considerable lump out of Lord De Guest's legacy to be
able to escape at once into the street. The power of a woman, when she
chooses to use it recklessly, is, for the moment, almost unbounded.
'I hope you find yourself a little better,' said John, struggling to
speak, as though he were not utterly crushed by the occasion.
Lady Demolines slowly raised herself from her knees, helping herself
with her hands against the shoulder of the sofa--for though still very
clever, she was old and stiff--and then offered both her hands to
Johnny. Johnny cautiously took one of them, finding himself unable to
decline them both. 'My son!' she exclaimed; and before he knew where he
was the old woman had succeeded in kissing his nose and whiskers. 'My
son!' she said again.
Now that the time had come for facing the dragon and the tigress in
their wrath. If they were to be faced at all, the time for facing them
had certainly arrived. 'I don't quite understand,' he said, almost in a
whisper. Madalina put out one arm towards him, and the fingers trembled.
Her lips were opened, and the white row of interior ivory might be seen
plainly; but at the present conjuncture of affairs she spoke not a word.
She spoke not a word; but her arm remained stretched towards him, and
her fingers did not cease to tremble.
'You do not understand!' said Lady Demolines, drawing herself back and
looking, in her short open cloak, like a knight who has donned his
cuirass, but has forgotten to put on his leg-gear. And she shook the
bright ribbons of her cap, as a knight in his wrath shakes the crest of
his helmet. 'You do not understand, Mr Eames! What is it, sir, that you
do not understand?'
'There is some misconception, I mean,' said Johnny.