Part 5 out of 18
'I don't like Crawley the less for speaking his mind free to the
bishop,' said the lawyer, laughing. 'And he'll speak it free to you too,
'He won't break any of my bones. Tell me, Mr Walker, what lawyer shall
I name to him?'
'You can't have a better man than Mr Mason, up the street there.'
'Winthrop proposed Borleys at Barchester.'
'No, no, no. Borleys and Bonstock are capital people to push a fellow
through on a charge of horse-stealing, or to squeeze a man for a little
money; but they are not the people for Mr Crawley in such a case as
this. Mason is the better man; and then Mason and I know each other.' In
saying which Mr Walker winked.
There was then a discussion between them whether Mr Robarts should go at
once to Mr Mason; but it was decided at last that he should see Mr
Crawley and also write to the dean before his did so. The dean might
wish to employ his own lawyer, and if so the double expense should be
avoided. 'Always remember, Mr Robarts, that when you go into an
attorney's office door, you will have to pay for it, first or last. In
here, you see, the dingy old mahogany, bare as it is, makes you safe. Or
else it's the salt-cellar, which will not allow itself to be polluted
by six-and-eightpenny considerations. But there is the other kind of
tax to be paid. You must go up and see Mrs Walker, or you won't get her
help in the matter.'
Mr Walker returned to his work, either to some private den within his
house, or to his office, and Mr Robarts was taken upstairs to the
drawing-room. There he found Mrs Walker and her daughter, and Miss Anne
Prettyman, who had just looked in, full of the story of Mr Crawley's
walk to Barchester. Mr Thumble had seen one of Dr Tempest's curates, and
had told the whole story--he, Mr Thumble, having heard Mrs Proudie's
version of what had occurred, and having, of course, drawn his own
deductions from her premises. And it seemed that Mr Crawley had been
watched as he passed through the close out of Barchester. A minor canon
had seen him, and had declared that he was going at the rate of a hunt,
swinging his arms on high and speaking very loud, though--as the minor
canon said with regret--the words were hardly audible. But there had
been no doubt as to the man. Mr Crawley's old hat, and short rusty
cloak, and dirty boots, had been duly observed and chronicled by the
minor canon; and Mr Thumble had been enabled to put together a not
altogether false picture of what had occurred. As soon as the greetings
between Mr Robarts and the ladies had been made, Miss Anne Prettyman
broke out again, just where she had left off when Mr Robarts came in.
'They say that Mrs Proudie declared that she will have him sent to
'Luckily Mrs Proudie won't have much to do in the matter,' said Miss
Walker, who ranged herself, as to church matters, in the ranks
altogether opposed to those commanded by Mrs Proudie.
'She will have nothing to do with it, my dear,' said Mrs Walker; 'and I
daresay Mrs Proudie was not foolish enough to say anything of the kind.'
'Mamma, she would be foolish enough to say anything. Would she not Mr
'You forget, Miss Walker, that Mrs Proudie is in authority over me.'
'So she is, for the matter of that,' said the young lady; 'but I know
very well what you all think of her, and say of her too, at Framley.
Your friend, Lady Lufton, loves her dearly. I wish I could have been
behind a curtain in the palace, to hear what Mr Crawley said to her.'
'Mr Smilie declares,' said Miss Prettyman, 'that the bishop has been ill
ever since. Mr Smilie went over to his mother's at Barchester for
Christmas, and took part of the cathedral duty, and we had Mr Spooner
over here in his place. So Mr Smilie of course heard all about it. Only
fancy, poor Mr Crawley walking all the way from Hogglestock to
Barchester and back;--and I am told he hardly had a shoe to his foot! Is
it not a shame, Mr Robarts?'
'I don't think it was quite as bad as you say, Miss Prettyman; but, upon
the whole, I do think it is a shame. But what can we do?'
'I suppose there are tithes at Hogglestock? Why are they not given up
to the church, as they ought to be?'
'My dear, Miss Prettyman, that is a very long subject, and I am afraid
it cannot be settled in time to relieve our poor friend from his
distress.' Then Mr Robarts escaped from the ladies in Mr Walker's house,
who, as it seemed to him, were touching upon dangerous ground, and went
back to the yard of the George Inn for his gig--the George and Vulture
it was properly called, and was the house in which the magistrates had
sat when they committed Mr Crawley for trial.
'Footed it every inch of the way, blowed if he didn't,' the ostler was
saying to a gentleman's groom, whom Mr Robarts recognised to be the
servant of his friend Major Grantly; and Mr Robarts knew that they also
were talking about Mr Crawley. Everybody in the county was talking about
Mr Crawley. At home, at Framley, there was no other subject of
discourse. Lady Lufton, the dowager, was full of it, being firmly
convinced that Mr Crawley was innocent, because the bishop was supposed
to regard him as guilty. There had been a family conclave held at
Framley Court over that basket of provisions which had been sent for the
Christmas cheer of the Hogglestock parsonage, each of the three ladies,
the two Lady Luftons and Mrs Robarts, having special views of their own.
How the pork had been substituted for the beef by old Lady Lufton, young
Lady Lufton thinking that after all the beef might be dangerous, and how
a small turkey had been rashly suggested by Mrs Robarts, and how certain
small articles had been inserted in the bottom of the basket which Mrs
Crawley had never shown to her husband, need not here be told at length.
But Mr Robarts, as he heard the two grooms talking about Mr Crawley,
began to feel that Mr Crawley had achieved at least celebrity.
The groom touched his hat as Mr Robarts walked up. 'Has the major
returned home yet?' Mr Robarts asked. The groom said that his master was
still at Plumstead, and that he was to go over to fetch the major and
Miss Edith in a day or two. Then Mr Robarts got into his gig, and as he
drove out of the yard he heard the words of the men as they returned to
the same subject. 'Footed it all the way,' said one. 'And yet he's a
gen'leman, too,' said the other. Mr Robarts thought of this as he drove
on, intending to call at Hogglestock on that very day on his way home.
It was undoubtedly the fact that Mr Crawley was recognised to be a
gentleman by all who knew him, high or low, rich or poor, by those who
thought well of him and by those who thought ill. These grooms, who had
been telling each other that this parson, who was to be tried as a
thief, had been constrained to walk from Hogglestock to Barchester and
back, because he could not afford to travel any other way, and that his
boots were cracked and his clothes ragged, had still known him to be a
gentleman! Nobody doubted it; not even they who thought he had stolen
the money. Mr Robarts himself was certain of it, and told himself that
he knew it by the evidences which his own education made clear to him.
But how was it that the grooms knew it? For my part I think that there
are no better judges of the article than the grooms.
Thinking of all which he had heard, Mr Robarts found himself at Mr
Crawley's gate at Hogglestock.
MR ROBARTS ON HIS EMBASSY
Mr Robarts was not altogether easy in his mind as he approached Mr
Crawley's house. He was aware that the task before him was a very
difficult one, and he had not confidence in himself--that he was exactly
the man fitted for the performance of such a task. He was a little
afraid of Mr Crawley, acknowledging tacitly to himself that the man had
a power of ascendancy with which he would hardly be able to cope
successfully. In old days he had once been rebuked by Mr Crawley, and
had been cowed by the rebuke; and though there was no touch of rancour
in his heart on this account, no slightest remaining venom--but rather
increased respect and friendship--still he was unable to overcome his
remembrance of the scene in which the perpetual curate of Hogglestock
had undoubtedly the mastery of him. So, when two dogs have fought and
one has conquered, the conquered dog will always show an unconscious
submission to the conqueror.
He hailed a boy on the road as he drew near to the house, knowing that
he would find no one at the parsonage to hold his horse for him, and was
thus able without delay to walk through the garden and knock at the
door. 'Papa was not at home,' Jane said. 'Papa was at the school. But
papa could certainly be summoned.' She herself would run across to the
school if Mr Robarts would come in. So Mr Robarts entered, and found Mrs
Crawley in the sitting-room. Mr Crawley would be in directly, she said.
And then, hurrying on to the subject with confused haste, in order that
a word or two might be spoken before her husband came back, she
expressed her thanks and his for the good things which had been sent to
them at Christmas-tide.
'It's old Lady Lufton's doings,' said Mr Robarts, trying to laugh the
'I knew that it came from Framley, Mr Robarts, and I know how good you
all are there. I have not written to thank Lady Lufton. I thought it
better not to write. Your sister will understand why, if no one else
does. But you will tell them from me, I am sure, that it was, as they
intended, a comfort to us. Your sister knows too much of us for me to
suppose that our great poverty can be a secret from her. And, as far as
I am concerned, I do not much care who knows it.'
'There is no disgrace in not being rich,' said Mr Robarts.
'No; and the feeling of disgrace which does attach itself to being so
poor as we are is deadened by the actual suffering which such poverty
brings with it. At least it has become so with me. I am not ashamed to
say that I am very grateful for what you all have done for us at
Framley. But you must not say anything to him about it.'
'Of course I will not, Mrs Crawley.'
'His spirit is higher than mine, I think, and he suffers more from the
natural disinclination which we all have from receiving alms. Are you
going to speak to him about the affair--the cheque, Mr Robarts?'
'I am going to ask him to put his case into some lawyer's hands.'
'Oh! I wish he would!'
'And will he not?'
'It is very kind of you, your coming to ask him, but--'
'Has he so strong an objection?'
'He will tell you that he has no money to pay a lawyer.'
'But, surely, if he were convinced that it was absolutely necessary for
the vindication of his innocence, he would submit to charge himself with
an expense so necessary, not only for himself, but for his family?'
'He will say it ought not to be necessary. You know, Mr Robarts, that
in some respects he is not like other men. You will not let what I say
of him set you against him?'
'It is most kind of you to make the attempt. He will be here directly,
and when he comes I will leave you together.'
While she was yet speaking his step was heard along the gravel-path,
and he hurried into the room with quick steps. 'I crave your pardon, Mr
Robarts,' he said, 'that I should keep you waiting.' now Mr Robarts had
not been there ten minutes, and any such asking of pardon was hardly
necessary. And, even in his own house, Mr Crawley affected a mock
humility, as though, either through his own debasement, or because of
the superior station of the other clergyman, he were not entitled to put
himself on an equal footing with his visitor. He would not have shaken
hands with Mr Robarts--intending to indicate that he did not presume to
do so while the present accusation was hanging over him--had not the
action been forced upon him. And then there was something of a protest
in his manner, as though remonstrating against a thing that was
unbecoming to him. Mr Robarts, without analysing it, understood it all,
and knew that behind the humility there was a crushing pride--a pride
which, in all probability, would rise up and crush him before he could
get himself out of the room again. It was, perhaps, after all, a
question whether the man was not served rightly by the extremities to
which he was reduced. There was something radically wrong within him,
which had put him into antagonism with all the world, and which produced
these never-dying grievances. There were many clergymen in the country
with incomes as small as that which had fallen to the lot of Mr Crawley,
but they managed to get on without displaying their sores as Mr Crawley
displayed his. They did not wear their old rusty cloaks with all that
ostentatious bitterness of poverty which seemed to belong to that
garment when displayed on Mr Crawley's shoulders. Such, for a moment,
were Mr Robarts' thoughts, and he almost repented himself of his present
mission. But then he thought of Mrs Crawley, and remembering that her
sufferings were at any rate undeserved, determined that he would
Mrs Crawley disappeared almost as soon as her husband appeared, and Mr
Robarts found himself standing in front of his friend, who remained
fixed to the spot, with his hands folded over each other and his neck
bent slightly forward, in token also of humility. 'I regret,' he said,
'that your horse should be left there, exposed to the inclemency of the
'The horse won't mind it a bit,' said Mr Robarts. 'A parson's horse is
like a butcher's, and knows he mustn't be particular about waiting in
'I never have had one myself,' said Mr Crawley. Now Mr Robarts had had
more horses than one before now, and had been thought by some to have
incurred greater expense than was befitting in his stable comforts. The
subject, therefore, was a sore one, and he was worried a little. 'I just
wanted to say a few words to you, Crawley,' he said, 'and if I am not
occupying too much of your time--'
'My time is altogether at your disposal. Will you be seated?'
Then Mr Robarts sat down, and, swinging his hat between his legs,
bethought himself how he should begin his work. 'We had the archdeacon
over at Framley the other day,' he said. 'Of course you know the
'I never had the advantage of any acquaintance with Dr Grantly. Of
course I know him well by name, and also personally--that is, by sight.'
'And by character?'
'Nay; I can hardly so much as that. But I am aware that his name stands
high with many of his order.'
'Exactly; that is what I mean. You know that his judgment is thought
more of in clerical matters than that of any other clergyman in the
'By a certain party, Mr Robarts.'
'Well, yes. They don't think much of him, I suppose, in the palace. But
that won't lower him in your estimation.'
'I by no means derogate from Dr Grantly's high position in his own
archdeaconry--to which, as you are aware, I am not attached--nor to
criticise his conduct in any respect. It would therefore be unbecoming
in me to do so. But I cannot accept it as a point in a clergyman's
favour, that he should be opposed to his bishop.'
Now this was too much for Mr Robarts. After all that he had heard of
the visit paid by Mr Crawley to the palace--of the venom displayed by
Mrs Proudie on that occasion, and of the absolute want of subordination
to episcopal authority which Mr Crawley himself was supposed to have
shown--Mr Robarts did feel it hard that his friend the archdeacon should
be snubbed in this way because he was deficient in reverence for his
bishop! 'I thought, Crawley,' he said, 'that you yourself were inclined
to dispute orders coming to you from the palace. That world at least
says as much concerning you.'
'What the world says of me I have learned to disregard very much, Mr
Robarts. But I hope that I shall never disobey the authority of the
Church when properly and legally exercised.'
'I hope with all my heart you never will; not I either. And the
archdeacon, who knows, to the breadth of a hair, what a bishop ought to
do and what he ought not, and what he may do and what he may not, will,
I should say, be the last man in England to sin in that way.'
'Very probably. I am far from contradicting you there. Pray
understand, Mr Robarts, that I bring no accusation against the
archdeacon. Why should I?'
'I didn't mean to discuss him at all.'
'Nor did I, Mr Robarts.'
'I only mentioned his name, because, as I said, he was over with us the
other day at Framley, and we were all talking about your affair.'
'My affair!' said Mr Crawley. And then came a frown upon his brow, and
a gleam of fire into his eyes, which effectually banished that look of
humility which he had assumed. 'And may I ask why the archdeacon was
'Simply from the kindness which he bears to you.'
'I am grateful for the archdeacon's kindness, as a man is bound to be
for any kindness, whether displayed wisely or unwisely. But it seems to
me that my affair, as you call it, Mr Robarts, is of that nature that
they who wish well to me will better further their wishes by silence
than by any discussion.'
'Then I cannot agree with you.' Mr Crawley shrugged his shoulders,
opened his hands a little and then closed them, and bowed his head. He
could not have declared more clearly by any words that he differed
altogether from Mr Robarts, and that as the subject was one so
peculiarly his own he had a right to expect that his opinion should be
allowed to prevail against that of any other person. 'If you come to
that, you know, how is anybody's tongue to be stopped?'
'That vain tongues cannot be stopped, I am well aware. I do not expect
that people's tongues should be stopped. I am not saying what men will
do, but what good wishes should dictate.'
'Well, perhaps you'll hear me out for a minute.' Mr Crawley again bowed
his head. 'Whether we were wise or unwise, we were discussing this
'Whether I stole Mr Soames's money?'
'No; nobody supposed for a moment you had stolen it.'
'I cannot understand how they can suppose anything else, knowing, as
they do, that the magistrates have committed me for the theft. This took
place at Framley, you say, and probably in Lord Lufton's presence.'
'And Lord Lufton was chairman at the sitting of the magistrates at which
I was committed. How can it be that he should think otherwise?'
'I am sure that he has not an idea that you were guilty. Nor yet has Dr
Thorne, who was also one of the magistrates. I don't suppose one of them
then thought so.'
'Then their action, to say the least of it, was very strange.'
'It was all because you had nobody to manage it for you. I thoroughly
believe that if you had placed the matter in the hands of a good lawyer,
you would never have heard a word more about it. That seems to be the
opinion of everybody I speak to on the subject.'
'Then in this country a man is to be punished or not, according to
ability to fee a lawyer!'
'I am not talking about punishment.'
'And presuming an innocent man to have the ability and not the will to
do so, he is to be punished, to be ruined root and branch, self and
family, character and pocket, simply because, knowing his own innocence,
he does not choose to depend on the mercenary skill of a man whose trade
he abhors for the establishment of that which should be clear as sun at
noonday! You say I am innocent, and yet you tell me I am to be condemned
as a guilty man, have my gown taken from me, be torn from my wife and
children, be disgraced before the eyes of all men, and made a byword and
a thing horrible to be mentioned, because I will not fee an attorney to
fee another man to come and lie on my behalf, to browbeat witnesses, to
make false appeals, and perhaps shed false tears in defending me. You
have come to me asking me to do this, if I understand you, telling me
that the archdeacon would so advise me.'
'That is my object.' Mr Crawley, as he had spoken, had in his
vehemence, risen from his seat, and Mr Robarts was also standing.
'Then tell the archdeacon,' said Mr Crawley, 'that I will have none of
his advice. I will have no one there paid by me to obstruct the course
of justice or to hoodwink a jury. I have been in the courts of law, and
know what is the work for which these gentlemen are hired. I will have
none of it, and I will thank you to tell the archdeacon so, with my
respectful acknowledgements of his consideration and condescension. I
say nothing as to my own innocence, or my own guilt. But I do say that
if I am dragged before that tribunal, an innocent man, and am falsely
declared to be guilty, because I lack money to bribe a lawyer to speak
for me, then the laws of this country deserve but little of that
reverence which we are accustomed to pay them. And if I be guilty--'
'Nobody supposes you to be guilty.'
'And if I be guilty,' continued Mr Crawley, altogether ignoring the
interruption, except by the repetition of his words, and a slight
raising of his voice, 'I will not add to my guilt by hiring anyone to
prove a falsehood or to disprove a truth.'
'I'm sorry that you should say so, Mr Crawley.'
'I speak according to what light I have, Mr Robarts; and if I have been
over-warm with you--and I am conscious that I have been at fault in that
direction--I must pray you to remember that I am somewhat hardly tried.
My sorrows and troubles are so great that they rise against me and
disturb me, and drive me on--whither I would not be driven.'
'But, my friend, is not that just the reason why you should trust in
this matter to someone who can be more calm than yourself?'
'I cannot trust to anyone--in a matter of conscience. To do as you
would have me is to me wrong. Shall I do wrong because I am unhappy?'
'You should cease to think it wrong when so advised by persons you can
'I can trust no one with my own conscience;--not even the archdeacon,
great as he is.'
'The archdeacon has meant only well by you.'
'I will presume so. I will believe so. I do think so. Tell the
archdeacon from me that I humbly thank him;--that in a matter of church
question, I might probably submit my judgment to his; even though he
might have no authority over me, knowing as I do that in such matters
his experience has been great. Tell him also, that though I would fain
that this unfortunate affair might burden the tongue of none of my
neighbours--at least till I shall have stood before the judge to receive
the verdict of the jury, and, if needful, his lordship's sentence--still
I am convinced that in what he has spoken, as also in what he has done,
he has not yielded to the idleness of gossip, but has exercised his
judgment with intended kindness.'
'He has certainly intended to do you a service; and as for its not being
talked about, that is out of the question.'
'And for yourself, Mr Robarts, whom I have ever regarded as a friend
since circumstances brought me into your neighbourhood--for you, whose
sister I love tenderly in memory of past kindness, though now she is
removed so far above my sphere, as to make it unfit I should call her my
'She does not think so at all.'
'For yourself, as I was saying, pray believe me that though from the
roughness of my manner, being now unused to social intercourse, I seem
to be ungracious and forbidding, I am grateful and mindful, and that in
the tablets of my heart I have written you down as one in whom I could
trust--were it given to me to trust in men and women.' Then he turned
round with his face to the wall and his back to his visitor, and so
remained till Mr Robarts had left him. 'At any rate, I wish you well
through your trouble,' said Robarts; and as he spoke he found that his
own words were nearly choked by a sob that was rising in this throat.
He went away without another word, and got out to his gig without seeing
Mrs Crawley. During one period of the interview he had been very angry
with the man--so angry as to make him almost declare to himself that he
would take no more trouble on his behalf. Then he had been brought to
acknowledge that Mr Walker was right, and that Crawley was certainly
mad. He was so mad, so far removed from the dominion of sound sense,
that no jury could say that he was guilty and that he ought to be
punished for his guilt. And, as he so resolved, he could not but ask
himself the question, whether the charge of the parish ought to be left
in the hands of such a man? But, at last, just before he went, these
feelings and these convictions gave way to pity, and he remembered
simply the troubles which seemed to have been heaped on the head of this
poor victim to misfortune. As he drove home he resolved that there was
nothing left for him to do, but to write to the dean. It was known by
all who knew them both, that the dean and Mr Crawley had lived together
on the closest intimacy at college, and that the friendship had been
maintained through life;--though, from the peculiarity of Mr Crawley's
character, the two had not been much together of late years. Seeing how
things were going now, and hearing how pitiful was the plight in which
Mr Crawley was placed, the dean would, no doubt, feel it to be his duty
to hasten his return to England. He was believed to be at this moment in
Jerusalem, and it would be long before a letter could reach him; but
there still wanted three months to the assizes, and his return might be
probably effected before the end of February.
'I was never so distressed in my life,' Mark Robarts said to his wife.
'And you think you have done no good?'
'Only this, that I have convinced myself that the poor man is to
responsible for what he does, and that for her sake as well as for his
own, some person should be enabled to interfere for his protection.'
Then he told Mrs Robarts what Mr Walker had said; also the message which
Mr Crawley had sent to the archdeacon. But they both agreed that that
message need not be sent any further.
MAJOR GRANTLY AT HOME
Mrs Thorne had spoken very plainly in the advice which she had given to
Major Grantly. That had been Mrs Thorne's advice; and though Major
Grantly had no idea of making the journey so rapidly as the lady had
proposed, still he thought that he would make it before long, and follow
the advice in spirit if not to the letter. Mrs Thorne had asked him if
it was fair that the girl should be punished because of the father's
fault; and the idea had been sweet to him that the infliction or
non-infliction of such punishment should be in his hands. 'You go and
ask her,' Mrs Thorne had said. Well;--he would go and ask her. If it
should turn out at last that he had married the daughter of a thief, and
that he was disinherited for doing so--an arrangement of circumstances
which had to teach himself to regard as very probable--he would not love
Grace the less on that account, or allow himself for one moment to
repent what he had done. As he thought of all this he became somewhat in
love with a small income, and imagined to himself what honours would be
done to him by the Mrs Thornes of the county, when they should come to
know in what way he had sacrificed himself to his love. Yes;--they would
go and live in Pau. He thought Pau would do. He would have enough income
for that;--and Edith would get lessons cheaply, and would learn to talk
French fluently. He certainly would do it. He would go down to
Allington, and ask Grace to be his wife; and bid her to understand that
if she loved him she could not be justified in refusing him by the
circumstances of her father's position.
But he must go to Plumstead before he could go to Allington. He was
engaged to spend Christmas there, and must go now at once. There was not
time for the journey to Allington before he was due at Plumstead. And,
moreover, though he could not bring himself to resolve that he would
tell his father what he was going to do;--'It would seem as though I
were asking his leave!' he said to himself;--he thought he would make a
clean breast of it to his mother. It made him sad to think that he
should cut the rope which fastened his own boat among the other boats in
the home harbour at Plumstead, and that he should go out all alone into
strange waters--turned adrift altogether, as it were, from the Grantly
fleet. If he could only get the promise of his mother's sympathy for
Grace it would be something. He understood--no one better than he--the
tendency of all his family to an uprising in the world, which tendency
was almost as strong in his mother as his father. And he had been by no
means without a similar ambition himself, though with him the ambition
had been only fitful, not enduring. He had a brother, a clergyman, a
busy, stirring, eloquent London preacher, who got churches built, and
was heard of far and wide as a rising man, who had married a certain
Lady Anne, the daughter of an earl, and who was already mentioned as a
candidate for high places. How his sister was the wife of a marquis, and
a leader in the fashionable world, the reader already knows. The
archdeacon himself was a rich man, so powerful that he could afford to
look down upon a bishop; and Mrs Grantly, though there was left about
her something of an old softness of nature, a touch of the former life
which had been hers before the stream of her days had run to gold, yet
she, too, had taken kindly to wealth and high standing, and was by no
means one of those who construe literally that passage of scripture
which tells of the camel and the needle's eye. Our Henry Grantly, our
major, knew himself to be his mother's favourite child--knew himself to
have become so since something of a coolness had grown up between her
and her daughter. The augustness of the daughter had done much to
reproduce the old freshness of which I spoke of in the mother's heart,
and had specially endeared to her the son, who, of all her children, was
the least subject to the family's failing. The clergyman, Charles
Grantly--he who had married the Lady Anne--was his father's darling in
these days. The old archdeacon would go up to London and be quite happy
in his son's house. He met there the men whom he loved to meet, and
heard the talk which he loved to hear. It was very fine, having the
Marquis of Hartletop for his son-in-law, but he had never cared to be
much at Lady Hartletop's house. Indeed, the archdeacon cared to be in no
house in which those around him were supposed to be bigger than himself.
Such was the little family fleet from which Henry Grantly was now
proposing to sail alone with his little boat--taking Grace Crawley with
him at the helm. 'My father is a just man at the bottom,' he said to
himself, 'and though he may not forgive me, he will not punish Edith.'
But there was still left one of the family--not a Grantly, indeed, but
one so nearly allied to them as to have his boat moored in the same
harbour--who, as the major well knew, would thoroughly sympathise with
him. This was old Mr Harding, his mother's father--the father of his
mother and of his aunt Mrs Arabin--whose home was now at the deanery. He
was also to be at Plumstead during this Christmas, and he at any rate
would give a ready assent to such a marriage as that which the major was
proposing to himself. But then poor old Mr Harding had been thoroughly
deficient in that ambition which had served to aggrandize the family
into which his daughter had married. He was a poor old man who, in spite
of good friends--for the late bishop of the diocese had been his dearest
friend--had never risen high in his profession, and had fallen even from
the moderate altitude which he had attained. But he was a man whom all
loved who knew him; and it was much to the credit of his son-in-law the
archdeacon, that, with all his tendencies to love rising suns, he had
ever been true to Mr Harding.
Major Grantly took his daughter with him, and on his arrival at
Plumstead she of course was the first object of attention. Mrs Grantly
declared that she had grown immensely. The archdeacon complimented her
red cheeks, and said that Cosby Lodge was as healthy a place as any in
the county, while Mr Harding, Edith's great-grandfather, drew slowly
from his pocket sundry treasures with which he had come prepared for the
delight of the little girl. Charles Grantly and Lady Anne had no
children, and the heir of all the Hartletops was too august to have been
trusted to the embraces of her mother's grandfather. Edith, therefore,
was all that he had in that generation, and of Edith he was prepared to
be as indulgent as he had been, in their time, of his grandchildren, the
Grantlys, and still was of his grandchildren the Arabins, and before
that of his own daughters. 'She's more like Eleanor than anyone else,'
said the old man in a plaintive tone. Now Eleanor was Mrs Arabin, the
dean's wife, and was at this time--if I were to say over forty I do not
think I should be uncharitable. No one else saw the special likeness,
but no one else remembered, as Mr Harding did, what Eleanor had been
when she was three years old.
'Aunt Nelly is in France,' said the child.
'Yes, my darling, aunt Nelly is in France, and I wish she were at home.
Aunt Nelly has been away a long time.'
'I suppose she'll stay till the dean picks her up on his way home?'
'So she says in her letters. I heard from her yesterday, and I brought
the letter, as I thought you'd like to see it.' Mrs Grantly took the
letter and read it, while her father still played with the child. The
archdeacon and the major were standing together on the rug discussing
the shooting at Chaldicotes, as to which the archdeacon had a strong
opinion. 'I'm quite sure that a man with a place like that does more
good by preserving than by leaving it alone. The better head of game he
has the richer the county will be generally. It is just the same with
pheasants as it is with sheep and bullocks. A pheasant doesn't cost more
than he's worth any more than a barn-door fowl. Besides, a man who
preserves is always respected by the poachers, and the man who doesn't
'There's something in that, sir, certainly,' said the major.
'More than you think for, perhaps. Look at poor Sowerby, who went on
there for years without a shilling. How he was respected, because he
lived as the people around him expected a gentleman to live. Thorne will
have a bad time of it, if he tries to change things.'
'Only think,' exclaimed Mrs Grantly, 'when Eleanor wrote she had not
heard of that affair of poor Mr Crawley's.'
'Does she say anything about him?' asked the major.
'I'll read what it says. "I see in Galignani that a clergyman in
Barsetshire has been committed for theft. Pray tell me who it is. Not
the bishop, I hope, for the credit of the diocese?"'
'I wish it were,' said the archdeacon
'For shame, my dear,' said his wife.
'No shame at all. If we are to have a thief among us, I'd sooner find
him in a bad man than a good one. Besides, we should have a change at
the palace, which would be a great thing.'
'But is it not odd that Eleanor should have heard nothing of it?' said
'It's odd that you should not have mentioned it yourself.'
'I did not, certainly; nor you, papa, I suppose?'
Mr Harding acknowledged that he had not spoken of it, and then they
calculated that perhaps she might not have received any letter from her
husband since the news had reached him. 'Besides, why should he have
mentioned it?' said the major. 'He only knows as yet of the inquiry
about the cheque, and can have heard nothing of what was done by the
'Still it seems odd that Eleanor should not have known of it, seeing
that we have been talking of nothing else for the last week.'
For two days the major said not a word of Grace Crawley to anyone.
Nothing could be more courteous and complaisant than was his father's
conduct to him. Anything that he wanted for Edith was to be done. For
himself there was no trouble which would not be taken. His hunting, and
his shooting, and his fishing seemed to have become matters of paramount
consideration to his father. And then the archdeacon became very
confidential about money matters--not offering anything to his son,
which, as he well knew, would be seen through as palpable bribery and
corruption--but telling him of this little scheme and of that, of one
investment and of another;--how he contemplated buying a small property
here, and spending a few thousands on building there. 'Of course it is
all for you and your brother,' said the archdeacon, with that benevolent
sadness which is used habitually by fathers on such occasions; 'and I
like you to know what it is I am doing. I told Charles about the London
property the last time I was up,' said the archdeacon, 'and there shall
be no difference between him and you, if all goes well.' This was very
good-natured on the archdeacon's part, and was not strictly necessary,
as Charles was the eldest son; but the major understood it perfectly.
'There shall be an elysium opened to you, if only you will not do that
terrible thing of which you spoke when last you were here.' The
archdeacon uttered no such words as these, and did not even allude to
Grace Crawley; but the words were as good as spoken, and had they been
spoken ever so plainly the major could not have understood them more
clearly. He was quite awake to the loveliness of the elysium before him.
He had had his moment of anxiety, whether his father would or would not
make an elder son of his brother Charles. The whole thing was now put
before him plainly. Give up Grace Crawley, and you shall share alike
with your brother. Disgrace yourself by marrying her, and you brother
shall have everything. There was the choice, and it was till open to him
to take which side he pleased. Were he never to go near Grace Crawley
again no one would blame him, unless it were Miss Prettyman or Mrs
Thorne. 'Fill your glass, Henry,' said the archdeacon. 'You'd better, I
tell you, for there is no more of it left.' Then the major filled his
glass and sipped the wine, and swore to himself that he would go down to
Allington at once. What! Did his father think to bribe him by giving him
'20 port? He would certainly go down to Allington, and he would tell his
mother tomorrow morning, or certainly on the next day, what he was going
to do. 'Pity it should all be gone; isn't it, sir?' said the archdeacon
to his father-in-law. 'It has lasted my time,' said Mr Harding, 'and I'm
very much obliged to it. Dear, dear; how well I remember your father
giving the order for it! There were two pipes, and somebody said it was
a heady wine. "If the prebendaries and rectors can't drink it," said
your father, "the curates will."'
'Curates indeed!' said the archdeacon. 'It's too good for a bishop,
unless it is of the right sort.'
'Your father used to say those things, but with him the poorer the guest
the better the cheer. When he had a few clergymen round him, how he
loved to make them happy!'
'Never talked shop to them--did he?' said the archdeacon.
'Not after dinner, at any rate. Goodness gracious, when one thinks of
it! Do you remember how we used to play cards?'
'Every night regularly;--threepenny points, and sixpence on the rubber,'
said the archdeacon.
'Dear, dear! How things are changed! And I remember when the clergymen
did more of the dancing in Barchester than all the other young men in
the city put together.'
'And a good set they were;--gentlemen every one of them. It's well that
some of them don't dance now;--that is, for the girl's sake.'
'I sometimes sit and wonder,' said Mr Harding, 'whether your father's
spirit ever comes back to the old house and sees the changes--and if so
whether he approves of them.'
'Approves them!' said the archdeacon.
'Well;--yes. I think he would, upon the whole. I'm sure of this: he
would not disapprove, because the new ways are changed from his ways. He
never thought himself infallible. And do you know, my dear, I am not
sure that it isn't all for the best. I sometimes think that some of us
were very idle when we were young. I was, I know.'
'I worked hard enough,' said the archdeacon.
'Ah, yes; you. But most of us took it very easily. Dear, dear! When I
think of it, and see how hard they work now, and remember what pleasant
times we used to have--I don't feel sometimes quite sure.'
'I believe the work was done a great deal better than it is now,' said
the archdeacon. 'There wasn't so much fuss, but there was more reality.
And men were men, and clergymen were gentlemen.'
'Yes;--they were gentlemen.'
'Such a creature as that old woman at the palace couldn't have held his
head up among us. That's what has come from Reform. A reformed House of
Commons makes Lord Brock Prime Minister, and then your Prime Minister
makes Dr Proudie a bishop! Well;--it will last my time, I suppose.'
'It has lasted mine--like the wine,' said Mr Harding.
'There's one glass more, and you shall have it, sir.' Then Mr Harding
drank the last of the 1820 port, and they went into the drawing-room.
On the next morning after breakfast the major went out for a walk by
himself. His father had suggested to him that he should go over to shoot
at Framley, and had offered him the use of everything the archdeacon
possessed in the way of horses, dogs, guns and carriages. But the major
would have none of these things. He would go out and walk by himself.
'He's not thinking of her; is he?' said the archdeacon to his wife, in a
whisper. 'I don't know. I think he is,' said Mrs Grantly. 'It will be so
much better for Charles, if he does,' said the archdeacon grimly; and
the look of his face as he spoke was by no means pleasant. 'You will do
nothing unjust, archdeacon,' said his wife. 'I will do as I like with my
own,' said he. And then he also went out and took a walk by himself.
That evening after dinner, there was no 1820 port, and no recollection
of old days. They were rather dull, the three of them, as they sat
together--and dullness is always more endurable than sadness. Old Mr
Harding went to sleep and the archdeacon was cross. 'Henry,' he said,
'you haven't said a word to throw to a dog.' 'I've got rather a headache
this evening, sir,' said the major. The archdeacon drank two glasses of
wine, one after another, quickly. Then he woke his father-in-law gently,
and went off. 'Is there anything the matter?' asked the old man.
'Nothing particular. My father seems a little cross.' 'Ah! I've been to
sleep, and I oughtn't. It's my fault. We'll go in and smooth him down.'
But the archdeacon wouldn't be smoothed down on that occasion. He would
let his son see the difference between a father pleased, and a father
displeased--or rather between a father pleasant, and a father
unpleasant. 'He hasn't said anything to you, has he?' said the
archdeacon that night to his wife. 'Not a word;--as yet.' 'If he does it
without the courage to tell us, I shall think him a cur,' said the
archdeacon. 'But he did tell you,' said Mrs Grantly, standing up for her
favourite son; 'and, for the matter of that, he has courage enough for
anything. If he does it, I shall always say that he has been driven to
it by your threats.'
'That's sheer nonsense,' said the archdeacon.
'It's not nonsense at all,' said Mrs Grantly.
'Then I suppose I was to hold my tongue and say nothing?' said the
archdeacon; and as he spoke he banged the door between his dressing-room
and Mrs Grantly's bedroom.
On the first day of the new year Major Grantly spoke his mind to his
mother. The archdeacon had gone into Barchester, having in vain
attempted to induce his son to go with him. Mr Harding was in the
library reading a little and sleeping a little, and dreaming of old days
and old friends, and perhaps sometimes, of the old wine. Mrs Grantly was
alone in a small sitting-room which she frequented upstairs, when
suddenly her son entered the room. 'Mother,' he said, 'I think it better
to tell you that I am going to Allington.'
'To Allington, Henry?' She knew very well who was at Allington, and
what must be the business which would take him there.
'Yes, mother. Miss Crawley is there, and there are circumstances which
make it incumbent on me to see her without delay.'
'What circumstances, Henry?'
'As I intend to ask her to be my wife, I think it best to do so now. I
owe it to her and to myself that she should not think I am deterred by
her father's position.'
'But would it not be reasonable that you should be deterred by her
'No, I think not. I think it would be dishonest as well as ungenerous.
I cannot bring myself to brook such delay. Of course I am alive to the
misfortune which has fallen upon her--upon her and me, too, should she
ever become my wife. But it is one of those burdens which a man should
have shoulders broad enough to bear.'
'Quite so, if she were your wife, or even if you were engaged to her.
Then honour would require it of you, as well as affection. As it is,
your honour does not require it, and I think you should hesitate, for
all our sakes, and especially for Edith's.'
'It will do Edith no harm; and, mother, if you alone were concerned, I
think you would feel that it would not hurt you.'
'I was not thinking of myself, Henry.'
'As for my father, the very threats which he has made make me conscious
that I have only to measure the price. He has told me that he will stop
'But that may not be the worst. Think how you are situated. You are
the younger son of a man who will be held to be justified in making an
elder son, if he thinks fit to do so.'
'I can only hope that he will be fair to Edith. If you will tell him
that from me, it is all that I wish you to do.'
'But you will see him yourself?'
'No, mother; not till I have been to Allington. Then I will see him
again or not, just as he pleases. I shall stop at Guestwick, and will
write to you a line from thence. If my father decides on doing anything,
let me know at once, as it will be necessary that I should get rid of
the lease of my house.'
'I have thought a great deal about it, mother, and I believe I am right.
Whether I am right or wrong, I shall do it. I will not ask you now for
any promise or pledge; but should Miss Crawley become my wife, I hope
that you at least will not refuse to see her as your daughter.' Having
so spoken, he kissed his mother, and was about to leave the room; but
she held him by his arm, and he saw that her eyes were full of tears.
'Dearest mother, if I grieve you I am sorry indeed.'
'Not me, not me, not me,' she said.
'For my father, I cannot help it. Had he not threatened me I should
have told him also. As he has done so, you must tell him. But give him
my kindest love.'
'Oh, Henry; you will be ruined. You will, indeed. Can you not wait?
Remember how headstrong your father is, and how good;--and how he loves
you! Think of all he that he has done for you. When did he refuse you
'He has been good to me, but in this I cannot obey him. He should not
'You are wrong. You are indeed. He has a right to expect that you will
not bring disgrace upon the family.'
'Nor will I;--except such disgrace as shall attend upon poverty.
Good-bye, mother. I wish you could have said one kind word to me.'
'Have I not said a kind word?'
'Not as yet, mother.'
'I would not for the world speak unkindly to you. If it were not for
your father I would bid you bring whom you pleased home to me as your
wife; and I would be as a mother to her. And if this girl should become
'It shall not be my fault if she does not.'
'I will try to love her--some day.'
Then the major went, leaving Edith at the rectory, as requested by his
mother. His own dog-cart and servant were at Plumstead, and he drove
himself home to Cosby Lodge.
When the archdeacon returned the news was told to him at once. 'Henry
has gone to Allington to propose to Miss Crawley,' said Mrs Grantly.
'Gone--without speaking to me!'
'He left his love, and said that it was useless remaining, as he knew he
should only offend you.'
'He has made his bed, and he must lie upon it,' said the archdeacon.
And then there was not another word said about Grace Crawley on that
MISS LILY DALE'S RESOLUTION
The ladies at the Small House at Allington breakfasted always at nine--a
liberal nine; and the postman whose duty it was to deliver letters in
that village at half-past eight, being also liberal in his ideas as to
time, always arrived punctually in the middle of breakfast, so that Mrs
Dale expected her letters, and Lily hers, just before the second cup of
tea, as though the letters formed a part of the morning meal. Jane, the
maidservant, always brought them in, and handed them to Mrs Dale--for
Lily had in these days come to preside at the breakfast table; and then
there would be an examination of the outsides before the envelopes were
violated, and as each party knew pretty well the circumstances of the
correspondence of the other, there would be some guessing as to what
this or that epistle might contain; and after that a reading out loud of
passages, and not unfrequently the entire letter. But now, at the time
of which I am speaking, Grace Crawley was at the Small House, and
therefore the common practice was somewhat in abeyance.
On one of the first days of the new year Jane brought in the letters as
usual, and handed them to Mrs Dale. Lily was at the time occupied with
the teapot, but still she saw the letters, and had not her hands so full
as to be debarred from the expression of her usual anxiety. 'Mamma, I'm
sure I see two there for me,' she said. 'Only one for you, Lily,' said
Mrs Dale. Lily instantly knew from the tone of the voice that some
letter had come, which by the very aspect of the handwriting had
disturbing her mother. 'There is one for you, my dear,' said Mrs Dale,
throwing a letter across the table to Grace. 'And one for you, Lily,
from Bell. The others are for me.' 'And whom are you yours from, mamma?'
asked Lily. 'One is from Mrs Jones; and the other, I think, is a letter
on business.' Then Lily said nothing further, but she observed that her
mother only opened one of her letters at the breakfast-table. Lily was
very patient;--not by nature, I think, but by exercise and practice. She
had, once in her life, been too much in a hurry; and having then burned
herself grievously, she now feared the fire. She did not therefore
follow her mother after breakfast, but sat with Grace over the fire,
hemming diligently at certain articles of clothing which were intended
for use in the Hogglestock parsonage. The two girls were making a set of
new shirts for Mr Crawley. 'But I know he will ask where they come
from,' said Grace; 'and then mamma will be scolded.' 'But I hope he'll
wear them,' said Lily. 'Sooner of later he will,' said Grace; 'because
mamma manages generally to have her way at last.' Then they went on for
an hour or so, talking about the home affairs at Hogglestock. But during
the whole time Lily's mind was intent upon her mother's letter.
Nothing was said about it at lunch, and nothing when they walked out
after lunch, for Lily was very patient. But during the walk Mrs Dale
became aware that her daughter was uneasy. These two watched each other
unconsciously with a closeness which hardly allowed a glance of the eye,
certainly not a tone of the voice, to pass unobserved. To Mrs Dale it
was everything in the world that her daughter should be, if not happy at
heart, at least tranquil; and to Lily, who knew that her mother was
always thinking of her, and of her alone, her mother was the only human
divinity now worthy of adoration. But nothing was said about the letter
during the walk.
When they came home it was nearly dusk, and it was their habit to sit up
for a while without candles, talking, till the evening had in truth set
in and the unmistakable and enforced idleness of remaining without
candles was apparent. During this time, Lily, demanding patience of
herself all the while, was thinking what she would do, or rather what
she would say, about the letter. That nothing would be done or said in
the presence of Grace Crawley was a matter of course, nor would she do
or say anything to get rid of Grace. She would be very patient; but she
would, at last, ask her mother about the letter.
And then, as luck would have it, Grace Crawley got up and left the room.
Lily still waited for a few minutes, and, in order that her patience
might be thoroughly exercised, she said a word or two about her sister
Bell; how the eldest child's whooping-cough was nearly well, and how
the baby was doing wonderful things with its first tooth. But as Mrs
Dale had already seen Bell's letter, all this was not intensely
interesting. At last Lily came to the point and asked her question.
'Mamma, from whom was that other letter which you got this morning?'
Our story will perhaps be best told by communicating the letter to the
reader before it was discussed with Lily. The letter was as follows:-
'GENERAL COMMITTEE OFFICE,--January, 186-'
I should have said that Mrs Dale had not opened the letter till she had
found herself in the solitude of her own bedroom; and that then, before
doing so, she had examined the handwriting with anxious eyes. When she
first received it she thought she knew the writer, but was not sure.
Then she had glanced at the impression over the fastening, and had known
at once from whom the letter had come. It was from Mr Crosbie, the man
who had brought so much trouble into her house, who had jilted her
daughter; the only man in the world whom she had a right to regard as a
positive enemy to herself. She had no doubt about it, as she tore the
envelope open; and yet, when the address given made her quite sure, a
new feeling of shivering came upon her, and she asked herself whether it
might not be better that she should send his letter back to him without
reading it. But she read it.
'MADAM,' the letter began--
'You will be very much surprised to hear from
me, and I am quite aware that I am not entitled to the
ordinary courtesy of an acknowledgement from you,
should you be pleased to throw my letter on some side
as unworthy of your notice. But I cannot refrain from
addressing you, and must leave it to you to reply or
not, as you may think fit.
'I will only refer to that episode of my life
with which you are acquainted, for the sake of
acknowledging my great fault and of assuring you that
I did not go unpunished. It would be useless for me
now to attempt to explain to you the circumstances
which led me into that difficulty which ended in so
great a blunder; but I will ask you to believe that my
folly was greater than my sin.
'But I will come to my point at once. You are,
no doubt, aware that I married the daughter of Lord De
Courcy, and that I was separated from my wife a few
weeks after our unfortunate marriage. It is now
something over twelve months since she died at Baden-
Baden in her mother's house. I never saw her since
the day we first parted. I have not a word to say
against her. The fault was mine in marrying a woman
whom I did not love and had never loved. When I
married Lady Alexandrina I loved, not her, but your
'I believe I may venture to say to you that your
daughter once loved me. From the day on which I last
wrote to you that terrible letter which told you of my
fate, I have never mentioned the name of Lily Dale to
human ears. It has been too sacred for my mouth--too
sacred for the intercourse of any friendship with
which I have been blessed. I now use it for the first
time to you, in order that I may ask whether it be
possible that her old love should ever live again.
Mine has lived always--has never faded for an hour,
making me miserable during the last years that have
passed since I saw her, but capable of making me very
happy, if I may be allowed to see her again.
'You will understand my purpose now as well as
though I were to write pages. I have no scheme formed
in my head for seeing your daughter again. How can I
dare to form a scheme, when I am aware that the chance
of success must be so strong against me? But if you
will tell me that there can be a gleam of hope, I will
obey any commands that you can put upon me in any way
that you may point out. I am free again--and she is
free. I love her with all my heart, and seem to long
for nothing in the world but that she should become my
wife. Whether any of her old love may still abide
with her, you will know. If it do, it may even yet
prompt her to forgive one, who, in spite of falseness
of conduct, has yet been true to her in heart.
'I have the honour to be, Madam,
'Your most obedient servant,
This was the letter which Mrs Dale had received, and as to which she had
not as yet said a word to Lily, or even made up her mind whether she
would say a word or not. Dearly as the mother and daughter loved each
other, thorough as was the confidence between them, yet the name of
Adolphus Crosbie had not been mentioned between them oftener, perhaps,
than half-a-dozen times since the blow had been struck. Mrs Dale knew
that their feelings about the man were altogether different. She,
herself, not only condemned him for what he had done, believing it to be
impossible that any shadow of excuse could be urged for his offence,
thinking that the fault had shown the man to be mean beyond
redemption--but she had allowed herself actually to hate him. He had in
one sense murdered her daughter, and she believed that she could never
forgive him. But, Lily, as her mother well knew, had forgiven this man
altogether, had made excuses for him which cleansed his sin of all its
blackness in her own eyes, and was to this day anxious as ever for his
welfare and his happiness. Mrs Dale feared that Lily did in truth love
him still. If it was so, was she not bound to show her this letter? Lily
was old enough to judge for herself--old enough, and wise enough too.
Mrs Dale told herself half-a-score of times that morning that she could
not be justified in keeping the letter from her daughter.
But yet much she wished that the letter had never been written, and
would have given very much to be able to put it out of the way without
injustice to Lily. To her thinking it would be impossible that Lily
should be happy marrying such a man. Such a marriage now would be, as
Mrs Dale thought, a degradation to her daughter. A terrible injury had
been done to her; but such reparation as this would, in Mrs Dale's eyes,
only make the injury deeper. And yet Lily loved the man; and, loving
him, how could she resist the temptation of his offer? 'Mamma, from whom
was that letter which you got this morning? Lily asked. For a few
moments Mrs Dale remained silent. 'Mamma,' continued Lily, 'I think I
know whom it was from. If you tell me to ask nothing further, of course
I will not.'
'No, Lily; I cannot tell you that.'
'Then, mamma, out with it at once. What is the use of shivering on the
'It was from Mr Crosbie.'
'I knew it. I cannot tell you why, but I knew it. And now, mamma;--am
I to read it?'
'You shall do as you please, Lily.'
'Then I please to read it.'
'Listen to me a moment first. For myself, I wish that the letter had
never been written. It tells badly for the man, as I think of it. I
cannot understand how any man could have brought himself to address
either you or me, after having acted as he acted.'
'But, mamma, we differ about all that, you know.'
'Now he has written, and there is the letter--if you choose to read it.'
Lily had it in her hand, but she still sat motionless, holding it. 'You
think, mamma, I ought not to read it?'
'You must judge for yourself, dearest.'
'And if I do not read it, what shall you do, mamma?'
'I shall do nothing;--or, perhaps, I should in such a case acknowledge
it, and tell him that we have nothing more to say to him.'
'That should be very stern.'
'He has done that which makes some sternness necessary.'
Then Lily was again silent, and still she sat motionless, with the
letter in her hand. 'Mamma,' she said at last, 'if you tell me not to
read it, I will give it back to you unread. If you bid me exercise my
own judgment, I shall take it upstairs and read it.'
'You must exercise your own judgment,' said Mrs Dale. Then Lily got up
from her chair and walked slowly out of the room, and went to her
mother's chamber. The thoughts which passed through Mrs Dale's mind
while her daughter was reading the letter were very sad. She could find
no comfort anywhere. Lily, she had told herself, would surely give way
to this man's renewed expressions of affection, and she, Mrs Dale
herself, would be called upon to give her child to a man whom she could
neither love nor respect;--who, for aught she knew, she could never
cease to hate. And she could not bring herself to believe that Lily
could be happy with such a man. As for her own life, desolate as it
would be--she cared little for that. Mothers know that their daughters
will leave them. Even widowed mothers, mothers with but one child
left--such a one as was this mother---are aware that they will be left
alone, and they can bring themselves to welcome the sacrifice of
themselves with something of satisfaction. Mrs Dale and Lily had,
indeed, of late become bound together especially, so that the mother had
been justified in regarding the link which joined them as being firmer
than that by which most daughters are bound to their mothers;--but in
all that she would have found no regret. Even now, in these very days,
she was hoping that Lily might yet be brought to give herself to John
Eames. But she could not, after all that was come and gone, be happy in
thinking that Lily should be given to Adolphus Crosbie.
When Mrs Dale went upstairs to her own room before dinner Lily was not
there; nor were they alone together again that evening except for a
moment, when Lily, as usual, went into her mother's room when she was
undressing. But neither of them then said a word about the letter. Lily
during dinner and throughout the evening had borne herself well, giving
no sign of special emotion, keeping to herself entirely her own thoughts
about the proposition made to her. And afterwards she had progressed
diligently with the fabrication of Mr Crawley's shirts, as though she
had no such letter in her pocket. And yet there was not a moment in
which she was not thinking of it. To Grace, just before she went to bed,
she did say one word. 'I wonder whether it can ever come to a person to
be so placed that there can be no doing right, let what will be
done;--that, do or not do, as you may, it must be wrong?'
'I hope you are not in such a condition,' said Grace.
'I am something near it,' said Lily, 'but perhaps if I look long enough
I shall see the light.'
'I hope that it will be a happy light at last,' said Grace, who thought
that Lily was referring only to John Eames.
At noon on the next day Lily had still said nothing to her mother about
the letter; and then what she said was very little. 'When must you
answer Mr Crosbie, mamma?'
'When, my dear?'
'I mean how long may you take? It need not be today.'
'No;--certainly not today.'
'Then I will talk it over with you tomorrow. It wants some
thinking;--does it not, mamma?'
'It would not want much with me, Lily.'
'But then, mamma, you are not I. Believing as I believe, feeling as I
feel, it wants some thinking. That's what I mean.'
'I wish I could help you, my dear.'
'You shall help me--tomorrow.' The morrow came and Lily was still very
patient; but she had prepared herself, and had prepared the time also,
so that in the hour of the gloaming she was alone with her mother, and
sure that she might remain alone with her for an hour or so. 'Mamma, sit
there,' she said; 'I will sit down here, and then I can lean against you
and be comfortable. You can bear as much of me as that--can't you,
mamma?' Then Mrs Dale put her arm over Lily's shoulder, and embraced her
daughter. 'And now, mamma, we will talk about this wonderful letter.'
'I do not know, dear, that I have anything to say about it.'
'But you must have something to say about it, mamma. You must bring
yourself to have something to say--to have a great deal to say.'
'You know what I think as well as though I talked for a week.'
'That won't do, mamma. Come, you must not be hard with me.'
'I don't mean that you will hurt me, or not give me any food--or that
you will not go on caring about me more than anything else in the whole
world ten times over--' And Lily as she spoke, tightened the embrace of
her mother's arm round her neck. I'm not afraid you'll be hard in that
way. But you must soften your heart so as to be able to mention his name
and talk about him, and tell me what I ought to do. You must see with my
eyes, and hear with my ears, and feel with my heart;--and then, when I
know that you have done that, I must judge with your judgment.'
'I wish you to use your own.'
'Yes;--because you won't see with my eyes and hear with my ears. That's
what I call being hard. Though you should feed me with blood from your
breast, I should call you a hard pelican, unless you could give me also
the sympathy which I demand from you. You see, mamma, we have never
allowed ourselves to speak of this man.'
'What need has there been, dearest?'
'Only because we have been thinking of him. Out of the full heart the
mouth speaketh;--that is, the mouth does so, when the full heart is
allowed to have its own comfortably.'
'There are things which should be forgotten.'
'The memory of which should not be fostered by much talking.'
'I have never blamed you, mamma; never, even in my heart. I have known
how good and gracious and sweet you have been. But I have often accused
myself of cowardice because I have not allowed his name to cross my lips
either to you or to Bell. To talk of forgetting such an accident as that
is a farce. And as for fostering the memory of it--! Do you think that I
have ever spent a night from that time to this without thinking of him?
Do you imagine that I have ever crossed our own lawn, or gone down
through the garden-path there, without thinking of the times when he and
I walked there together? There needs no fostering for such memories as
those. They are weeds which will go rank and strong though nothing be
done to foster them. There is the earth and the rain, and that is enough
for them. You cannot kill them if you would, and they certainly will not
die because you are careful not to hoe and rake the ground.
'Lily, you forget how short the time has been as yet.'
'I have thought it very long; but the truth is, mamma, that this
non-fostering of memories, as you call it, has not been the real cause
of our silence. We have not spoken of Mr Crosbie because we have not
thought alike about him. Had you spoken you would have spoken with
anger, and I could not endure to hear him abused. That has been it.'
'Partly so, Lily.'
'Now you must talk of him, and you must not abuse him. We must talk of
him, because something must be done about his letter. Even it be left
unanswered, it cannot be so left without discussion. And yet you must
say no evil of him.'
'Am I to think he behaved well?'
'No, mamma; you are not to think that; but you are to look upon his
fault as a fault that has been forgiven.'
'It cannot be forgiven, dear.'
'But, mamma, when you go to heaven--'
'But you will go to heaven, mamma, and why should I not speak of it?
You will go to heaven, and yet I suppose you have been very wicked,
because we are all very wicked. But you won't be told of your wickedness
there. You won't be hated there, because you were this or that when you
'I hope not, Lily; but isn't your argument almost profane?'
'No; I don't think so. We ask to be forgiven just as we forgive. That
is the way in which we hope to be forgiven, and therefore it is the way
in which we ought to forgive. When you say that prayer at night, mamma,
do you ever ask yourself whether you have forgiven him?'
'I forgive him as far as humanity can forgive. I would do him no
'But if you and I are forgiven only after that fashion we shall never
get to heaven.' Lily paused for some further answer from her mother, but
as Mrs Dale was silent she allowed that portion of the subject to pass
as completed. 'And now, mamma, what answer do you think we ought to send
to his letter?'
'My dear, how am I to say? You know I have said already that if I could
act on my own judgment, I would send none.'
'But that was said in the bitterness of gall.'
'Come, Lily, say what you think yourself. We shall get on better when
you have brought yourself to speak. Do you think that you wish to see
'I don't know, mamma. Upon the whole, I think not.'
'Then in heaven's name, let me write and tell him so.'
'Stop a moment, mamma. There are two persons here to be considered--or
'I would not have you think of me in such a question.'
'I know you would not; but never mind, and let me go on. The three of
us are concerned, at any rate; you, he, and I. I am thinking of him now.
We have all suffered, but I do believe that hitherto he has had the
worst of it.'
'And who had deserved the worst?'
'Mamma, how can you go back in that way? We have agreed that that
should be regarded as done and gone. He has been very unhappy, and now
we see what remedy he proposes to himself for his misery. Do I flatter
myself if I allow myself to look at it in that way?'
'Perhaps he thinks he is offering a remedy for your misery.'
As this was said, Lily turned round slowly and looked up into her
mother's face. 'Mamma,' she said, 'that is very cruel. I did not think
you could be so cruel. How can you, who believe him to be so selfish,
'It is very hard to judge of men's motives. I have never supposed him
to be so black that he would not wish to make atonement for the evil he
'If I thought that there certainly could be no answer.'
'Who can look into a man's heart and judge all the sources of his
actions? There are mixed feelings there, no doubt. Remorse for what he
has done; regret for what he has lost;--something, perhaps, of the
purity of love.'
'Yes, something--I hope something--for his sake.'
'But when a horse kicks and bites, you know his nature and do not go
near him. When a man has cheated you once, you think he will cheat you
again, and you do not deal with him. You do not look to gather grapes
from thistles, after you have found that they are thistles.'
'I still go for the roses though I have often torn my hand with thorns
in looking for them.'
'But you do not pluck those that have become cankered in the blowing.'
'Because he was once at fault, will he be cankered always?'
'I would not trust him.'
'Now, mamma, see how different we are; or, rather, how different it is
when one judges for oneself or another. If it were simply myself, and my
own future fate in life, I would trust him with it all tomorrow, without
a word. I should go to him as a gambler goes to the gaming-table,
knowing that I lose everything, I could hardly be poorer than I was
before. But I should have a better hope than the gambler is justified in
having. That, however, is not my difficulty. And when I think of him I
can see a prospect for success for the gambler. I think so well of
myself that, loving him, as I do;--yes, mamma, do not be uneasy;--loving
him as I do, I believe I could be a comfort to him. I think that he
might be better with me than without me. That is, he would be so, if he
could teach himself to look back upon the past as I can do, and to judge
of me as I can judge of him.'
'He has nothing, at least, for which to condemn you.'
'But he would have, were I to marry him now. He would condemn me
because I had forgiven him. He would condemn me because I had borne what
he had done to me, and had still loved him--loved him through it all. He
would feel and know the weakness--and there is weakness. I have been
weak in not being able to rid myself of him altogether. He would
recognise this after a while, and would despise me for it. But he would
not see what there is of devotion to him in my being able to bear the
taunts of the world in going back to him, and to your taunts, and my own
taunts. I should have to bear his also--not spoken aloud, but to be seen
in his face and heard in his voice--and that I could not endure. If he
despised me, and he would, that would make us both unhappy. Therefore,
mamma, tell him not to come; tell him that he can never come; but, if it
be possible, tell him tenderly.' Then she got up and walked away, as
though she were going out of the room, but her mother had caught her
before the door was opened.
'Lily,' she said, 'if you think you can be happy with him, he shall
'No, mamma, no. I have been looking for the light ever since I read his
letter, and I think I see it. And now, mamma, I will make a clean breast
of it. From the moment in which I heard that that poor woman was dead, I
have been in a state of flutter. It has been weak of me, and silly, and
contemptible. But I could not help it. I kept on asking myself whether
he would ever think of me now. Well; he has answered the question; and
has so done it that he has forced upon me the necessity of a resolution.
I have resolved, and I believe that I shall be the better for it.'
The letter which Mrs Dale wrote to Mr Crosbie was as follows:-
'Mrs Dale presents her compliments to Mr Crosbie, and begs to assure him
that it will not now be possible that he should renew the relations
which were broken off three years ago, between him and Mrs Dale's
family.' It was very short, certainly, and it did not by any means
satisfy Mrs Dale. But she did not know how to say more without saying
too much. The object of her letter was to save him the trouble of a
futile perseverance, and them from the annoyance of persecution; and
this she wished to do without mentioning her daughter's name. And she
was determined that no word should escape her in which there was any
touch of severity, any hint of an accusation. So much she owed to Lily
in return for all that Lily was prepared to abandon. 'There is my note,'
she said at last, offering it to her daughter. 'I did not mean to see
it,' said Lily, 'and, mamma, I will not read it now. Let it go. I know
you have been good and have not scolded him.' 'I have not scolded him,
certainly,' said Mrs Dale. And then the letter was sent.
MRS DOBBS BROUGHTON'S DINNER-PARTY
Mr John Eames of the Income-Tax Office, had in three days risen so high
in that world that people in the west-end of town, and very respectable
people too--people living in South Kensington, in neighbourhoods not far
from Belgravia, and in very handsome houses round Bayswater--were glad
to ask him out to dinner. Money had been left to him by an earl, and
rumour had of course magnified that money. He was a private secretary,
which is in itself a great advance on being a mere clerk. And he had
become the particular intimate friend of an artist who had pushed
himself into high fashion during the last year or two--one Conway
Dalrymple, whom the rich English world was beginning to pet and pelt
with gilt sugar-plums, and who seemed to take very kindly to petting and
gilt sugar-plums. I don't know whether the friendship of Conway
Dalrymple had not done as much to secure John Eames his position at the
Bayswater dinner-tables, as had either the private secretaryship, or the
earl's money; and yet, when they had first known each other, now only two
or three years ago, Conway Dalrymple had been the poorer man of the two.
Some chance had brought them together, and they had lived in the same
room for nearly two years. This arrangement had been broken up, and the
Conway Dalrymple of these days had a studio of his own, somewhere near
Kensington Palace, where he painted portraits of young countesses, and
in which he had even painted a young duchess. It was the peculiar merit
of his pictures--so at least said the art-loving world--that though the
likeness was always good, the stiffness of the modern portrait was never
there. There was also ever some story told in Dalrymple's pictures over
and above the story of the portraiture. This countess was drawn as a
fairy with wings, that countess as a goddess with a helmet. The thing
took for a time, and Conway Dalrymple was picking up his gilt
sugar-plums with considerable rapidity.
On a certain day he and John Eames were to dine out together at a
certain house in that Bayswater district. It was a large mansion, if not
made of stone yet looking very stony, with thirty windows at least, all
of them with cut-stone frames, requiring, let me say, at least four
thousand a year for its maintenance. And its owner, Dobbs Broughton, a
man very well known both in the City and over the grass in
Northamptonshire, was supposed to have a good deal more than four
thousand a year. Mrs Dobbs Broughton, a very beautiful woman, who
certainly was not yet thirty-five, let her worst enemies say what they
might, had been painted by Conway Dalrymple as a Grace. There were, of
course, three Graces in the picture, but each Grace was Mrs Dobbs
Broughton repeated. We all know how Graces stand sometimes; two Graces
looking one way, and one the other. In this picture, Mrs Dobbs Broughton
as centre Grace looked you full in the face. For this pretty toy Mr
Conway Dalrymple had picked up a gilt sugar-plum to the tune of six
hundred pounds, and had, moreover, won the heart of both Mr and Mrs
Dobbs Broughton. 'Upon my word, Johnny,' Dalrymple had said to his
friend, 'he's a deuced good fellow, has really a good glass of
claret--which is getting rarer and rarer every day--and will mount you
for a day, whenever you please, down Market Harboro'. Come and dine with
them.' Johnny Eames condescended, and did go and dine with Mr Dobbs
Broughton. I wonder whether he remembered, when Conway Dalrymple was
talking of the rarity of good claret, how much beer the young painter
used to drink when they were out together in the country, as they used
to do occasionally, three years ago; and how the painter had then been
used to complain that bitter cost threepence a glass, instead of
twopence, which had hitherto been the recognised price of the article.
In those days the sugar-plums had not been gilt, and had been much
Johnny Eames and his friend went together to the house of Mr Dobbs
Broughton. As Dalrymple lived close to the Broughtons, Eames picked him
up in a cab. 'Filthy things, these cabs are,' said Dalrymple, as he got
into the hansom.
'I don't know about that,' said Johnny. 'They're pretty good, I think.'
'Foul things,' said Conway. 'Don't you feel what a draught comes in
here because the glass is cracked. I'd have one of my own, only I should
never know what to do with it.'
'The greatest nuisance on earth, I should think,' said Johnny.
'If you could always have it standing ready round the corner,' said the
artist, 'it would be delightful. But one would want half-a-dozen horses,
and two or three men for that.'
'I think the stands are the best,' said Johnny.
They were a little late--a little later than they should have been had
they considered that Eames was to be introduced to his new
acquaintances. But he had already lived long enough before the world to
be quite at his ease in such circumstances, and he entered Mrs
Broughton's drawing-room with his pleasantest smile upon his face. But
as he entered he saw a sight which made him look serious in spite of his
efforts to the contrary. Mr Adolphus Crosbie, secretary to the Board at
the General Committee Office, was standing on the rug before the fire.
'Who will be there?' Eames had asked of his friend, when the suggestion
to go and dine with Dobbs Broughton had been made to him.
'Impossible to say,' Conway had replied. 'A certain horrible fellow by
the name of Musselbro, will almost certainly be there. He always is when
they have anything of a swell dinner-party. He is a sort of partner of
Broughton's in the City. He wears a lot of chains, and has elaborate
whiskers, and an elaborate waistcoat, which is worse; and he doesn't
wash his hands as often as he ought to do.'
'An objectionable party, rather, I should say,' said Eames.
'Well, yes; Musselbro is objectionable. He's very good-humoured you
know, and good-looking in a sort of way, and goes everywhere; that is
among people of this sort. Of course he's not hand-and-glove with Lord
Derby; and I wish he could be made to wash his hands. They haven't any
other standing dish, and you may meet anybody. They always have a Member
of Parliament; they generally manage to catch a Baronet; and I have met
a Peer there. On that august occasion Musselbro was absent.'
So instructed, Eames, on entering that room, looked round at once for Mr
Musselbro. 'If I don't see the whiskers and chain,' he had said, I shall
know there's a Peer.' Mr Musselbro was in the room, but Eames had
descried Mr Crosbie long before he had seen Mr Musselbro.
There was no reason for confusion on his part in meeting Crosbie. They
had both loved Lily Dale. Crosbie might have been successful, but for
his own fault. Eames had on one occasion been thrown into contact with
him, and on that occasion had quarrelled with him and had beaten him,
giving him a black eye, and in this way obtained some mastery over him.
There was no reason why he should be ashamed of meeting Crosbie; and
yet, when he saw him, the blood mounted all over his face, and he forgot
to make any further search for Mr Musselbro.
'I am so much obliged to Mr Dalrymple for bringing you,' said Mrs Dobbs
Broughton very sweetly, 'only he ought to have come sooner. Naughty man!
I know it was his fault. Will you take Miss Demolines down? Miss
Mr Dobbs Broughton was somewhat sulky and had not welcomed our hero very
cordially. He was beginning to think that Conway gave himself airs and
did not sufficiently understand that a man who had horses at Market
Harboro' and '41 Lafitte was at any rate as good as a painter who was
pelted with gilt sugar-plums for painting countesses. But he was a man
whose ill-humour never lasted long, and he was soon pressing his wine on
Johnny Eames as though he loved him dearly.
But there was a few minutes before they went down to dinner, and Johnny
Eames, as he endeavoured to find something to say to Miss
Demolines--which was difficult, as he did not in the least know Miss
Demolines' line of conversation--was aware that his efforts were impeded
by thoughts of Mr Crosbie. The man looked older than when he had last
seen him--so much older that Eames was astonished. He was bald, or
becoming bald; and his whiskers were grey, or were becoming grey, and he
was much fatter. Johnny Eames, who was always thinking of Lily Dale,
could not now keep himself from thinking of Adolphus Crosbie. He saw at
a glance that the man was in mourning, though there was nothing but his
shirt-studs by which to tell it; and he knew that he was in mourning for
his wife. 'I wish she might have lived for ever,' Johnny said to
He had not yet been definitely called upon by the entrance of the
servant to offer his arm to Miss Demolines, when Crosbie walked across
to him from the rug and addressed him.
'Mr Eames,' said he, 'it is some time since we met.' And he offered his
hand to Johnny.
'Yes, it is' said Johnny, accepting the proffered salutation. 'I don't
know exactly how long, but ever so long.'
'I am very glad to have the opportunity of shaking hands with you,' said
Crosbie; and then he retired, as it had become his duty to wait with his
arm ready for Mrs Dobbs Broughton. Having married an earl's daughter he
was selected for that honour. There was a barrister in the room, and Mrs
Dobbs Broughton ought to have known better. As she professed to be
guided in such matters by the rules laid down by the recognised
authorities, she ought to have been aware that a man takes no rank from
his wife. But she was entitled I think to merciful consideration for her
error. A woman situated as was Mrs Dobbs Broughton cannot altogether
ignore these terrible rules. She cannot let her guests draw lots for
precedence. She must select someone for the honour of her arm. And
amidst the intricacies of rank how is it possible for woman to learn and
to remember everything? If Providence would only send Mrs Dobbs
Broughton a Peer for every dinner-party, the thing would go more easily;
but what woman will tell me, off-hand, which should go out of a room
first; a C.B., and Admiral of the Blue, the Dean of Barchester, or the
Dean of Arches? Who is to know who was everybody's father? How am I to
remember that young Thompson's progenitor was made a baronet and not a
knight when he was Lord Mayor? Perhaps Mrs Dobbs Broughton ought to have
known that Mr Crosbie could have gained nothing by his wife's rank, and
the barrister may be considered to have been not immoderately severe
when he simply spoke of her afterwards as the silliest and most ignorant
old woman he had ever met in his life. Eames with the lovely Miss
Demolines on his arm was the last to move before the hostess. Mr Dobbs
Broughton had led the way energetically with old Lady Demolines. There
was no doubt about Lady Demolines--as his wife had told him, because her
title marked her. Her husband had been a physician in Paris, and had
been knighted in consequence of some benefit supposed to have been done
to some French scion of royalty--when such scions in France were royal
and not imperial. Lady Demolines' rank was not much certainly; but it
served to mark her, and was beneficial.
As he went downstairs Eames was still thinking of his meeting with
Crosbie, and had as yet hardly said a word to his neighbour, and his
neighbour had not said a word to him. Now Johnny understood dinners
quite well enough to know that in a party of twelve, among whom six are
ladies, everything depends of your next neighbour, and generally on the
next neighbour who specially belongs to you; and as he took his seat he
was a little alarmed as to his prospect for the next two hours. On his
other hand sat Mrs Ponsonby, the barrister's wife, and he did not much
like the look of Mrs Ponsonby. She was fat, heavy, and good-looking;
with a broad space between her eyes, and light smooth hair;--a youthful
British matron every inch of her, of whom any barrister with a young
family of children might be proud. Now Miss Demolines, though she was
hardly to be called beautiful, was at any rate remarkable. She had
large, dark, well-shaped eyes, and very dark hair, which she wore
tangled about in an extraordinary manner, and she had an expressive
face--a face made expressive by the owner's will. Such power of
expression is often attained by dint of labour--though it never reaches
to the expression of anything in particular. She was almost sufficiently
good-looking to be justified in considering herself a beauty.
But Miss Demolines, though she had said nothing as yet, knew her game
very well. A lady cannot begin conversation to any good purpose in the
drawing-room, when she is seated and the man is standing;--nor can she
know then how the table may subsequently arrange itself. Powder may be
wasted, and often is wasted, and the spirit rebels against the necessity
of commencing a second enterprise. But Miss Demolines, when she found
herself seated, and perceived that on the other side of her was Mr
Ponsonby, a married man, commenced her enterprise at once, and our
friend John Eames was immediately aware that he would have no difficulty
as to conversation.
'Don't you like winter dinner-parties?' began Miss Demolines. This was
said just as Johnny was taking his seat, and he had time to declare that
he liked dinner-parties at all periods of the year if the dinner was
good and the people pleasant before the host had muttered something
which was intended to be understood to be a grace. 'But I mean specially
the winter,' continued Miss Demolines. 'I don't think daylight should
ever be admitted at a dinner-table; and though you may shut out the
daylight, you can't shut out the heat. And then there are always so many
other things to go to in May and June and July. Dinners should be
stopped by Act of Parliament for those three months. I don't care what
people do afterwards, because we always fly away on the first of
'That is good-natured on your part.'
'I'm sure what I say would be for the good of society;--but at this time
of the year a dinner is warm and comfortable.'
'Very comfortable, I think.'
'And people get to know each other';--in saying which Miss Demolines
looked very pleasantly into Johnny's face.
'There is a great deal in that,' said he. 'I wonder whether you and I
will get to know each other.'
'Of course we shall;--that is, if I'm worth knowing.'
'There can be no doubt about that, I should say.'
'Time alone can tell. But, Mr Eames, I see that Mr Crosbie is a friend
'Hardly a friend.'
'I know very well that men are friends when they step up and shake hands
with each other. It is the same when women kiss.'
'When I see women kiss, I always think there is deep hatred at the
bottom of it.'
'And there may be deep hatred between you and Mr Crosbie for anything I
know to the contrary,' said Miss Demolines.
'The very deepest,' said Johnny, pretending to look grave.
'Ah; then I know he is your bosom friend, and that you will tell him
anything I say. What a strange history that was of his marriage.'
'So I have heard;--but he is not quite bosom friend enough with me to
have told me all the particulars. I know that his wife is dead.'
'Dead; oh, yes; she has been dead these two years I should say.'
'Not so long as that, I should think.'
'Well--perhaps not. But it's ever so long ago;--quite long enough for
him to be married again. Did you know her?'
'I never saw her in my life.'
'I knew her--not well indeed; but I am intimate with her sister, Lady
Amelia Gazebee, and I have met her there. None of that family have
married what you may call well. And now, Mr Eames, pray look at the menu
and tell me what I am to eat. Arrange for me a little dinner of my own,
out of the great bill of fare provided. I always expect some gentleman
to do that for me. Mr Crosbie, you know, only lived with his wife for
'So I've been told.'
'And a terrible month they had of it. I used to hear of it. He doesn't
look that sort of man, does he?'
'Well;--no. I don't think he does. But what sort of man do you mean?'
'Why, such a regular Bluebeard! Of course you know how he treated
another girl before he married Lady Alexandrina. She died of it--with a
broken heart; absolutely died; and there he is, indifferent as
possible;--and would treat me in the same way tomorrow if I would let
Johnny Eames, finding it impossible to talk to Miss Demolines about Lily
Dale, took up the card of the dinner and went to work in earnest,
recommending his neighbour what to eat and what to pass by. 'But you
have skipped the pate?' said she, with energy.
'Allow me to ask you to choose mine for me instead. You are much more
fit to do it.' And she did choose his dinner for him.
They were sitting at a round table, and in order that the ladies and
gentlemen should alternate themselves properly, Mr Musselboro was
opposite to the host. Next to him on his right was old Mrs Van Siever,
the widow of a Dutch merchant, who was very rich. She was a ghastly
thing to look at, as well from the quantity as from the nature of the
wiggeries she wore. She had not only a false front, but long false
curls, as to which it cannot be conceived that she would suppose that
anyone would be ignorant as to their falseness. She was very thin, too,
and very small, and putting aside her wiggeries, you would think her to
be all eyes. She was a ghastly old woman to the sight, and not
altogether pleasant in her mode of talking. She seemed to know Mr
Musselboro very well, for she called him by his name without any prefix.
He had, indeed, begun life as a clerk in her husband's office.
'Why doesn't What's-his-name have real silver forks?' she said to him.
Now Mrs What's-his-name--Mrs Dobbs Broughton we will call her--was
sitting on the other side of Mr Musselboro, between him and Mr Crosbie;
and, so placed, Mr Musselboro found it rather hard to answer the
question, more especially as he was probably aware that other questions
'What's the use?' said Mr Musselboro. 'Everybody has these plated
things now. What's the use of a lot of capital lying dead?'
'Everybody doesn't. I don't. You know as well as I do, Musselboro,
that the appearance of the thing goes for a great deal. Capital isn't
lying dead as long as people know that you've got it.'
Before answering this Mr Musselboro was driven to reflect that Mrs Dobbs
Broughton would probably hear his reply. 'You won't find that there is
any doubt on that head in the City as to Broughton,' he said.
'I shan't ask in the City, and if I did, I should not believe what
people told me. I think there are sillier folks in the City than
anywhere else. What did he give for that picture upstairs which the
young man painted?'
'What, Mrs Dobbs Broughton's portrait?'
'You don't call that a portrait, do you? I mean the one with the three
naked women?' Mr Musselboro glanced around with one eye, and felt sure
that Mrs Dobbs Broughton had heard the question. But the old woman was
determined to have an answer. 'How much did he give for it, Musselboro?'
'Six hundred pounds, I believe,' said Mr Musselboro, looking straight
before him as he answered, and pretending to treat the subject with
'Did he indeed, now? Six hundred pounds! And yet he hasn't got silver
spoons. How things are changed! Tell me, Musselboro, who was that young
man who came in with the painter?'
Mr Musselboro turned round and asked Mrs Dobbs Broughton. 'A Mr John
Eames, Mrs Van Siever,' said Mrs Dobbs Broughton, whispering across the
front of Mr Musselboro. 'He is private secretary to Lord--Lord--Lord I
forget who. Some one of the Ministers, I know. And he had a great
fortune left him the other day by Lord--Lord--Lord somebody else.'
'All among the lords, I see,' said Mrs Van Siever. Then Mrs Dobbs
Broughton drew herself back, remembering some little attack which had
been made on her by Mrs Van Siever when she herself had had the real
lord to dine with her.
There was a Miss Van Siever there also, sitting between Crosbie and
Conway Dalrymple. Conway Dalrymple had been specially brought there to
sit next to Miss Van Siever. 'There's no knowing how much she'll have,'
said Mrs Dobbs Broughton, in the warmth of their friendship. 'But it's
all real. It is, indeed. The mother is awfully rich.'
'But she's awful in another way, too,' said Dalrymple.
'Indeed she is, Conway.' Mrs Dobbs Broughton had got into a way of
calling her young friend by his Christian name. 'All the world calls him
Conway,' she had said to her husband once when her husband had caught
her doing so. 'She is awful. Her husband made the business in the City,
when things were very different from what they are now, and I can't help
having her. She has transactions of business with Dobbs. But there's no
mistake about the money.'
'She needn't leave it to her daughter, I suppose?'
'But why shouldn't she? She has nobody else. You might offer to paint
her, you know. She'd make an excellent picture. So much character. You
come and see her.'
Conway Dalrymple had expressed his willingness to meet Miss Van Siever,
saying something, however, as to his present position being one which
did not admit of any matrimonial speculation. Then Mrs Dobbs Broughton
had told him, with much seriousness, that he was altogether wrong, and
that were he to forget himself, or commit himself, or misbehave himself,
there must be an end to their pleasant intimacy. In answer to which, Mr
Dalrymple had said that his Grace was surely of all Graces the least
gracious. And now he had come to meet Miss Van Siever, and was now
seated next to her at table.
Miss Van Siever, who at this time had perhaps reached her twenty-fifth
year, was certainly a handsome young woman. She was fair and large,
bearing no likeness whatever to her mother. Her features were regular,
and her full, clear eyes had a brilliance of their own, looking at you
always steadfastly and boldly, though very seldom pleasantly. Her mouth
would have been beautiful had it not been too strong for feminine
beauty. Her teeth were perfect--too perfect--looking like miniature
walls of carved ivory. She knew the fault of this perfection, and showed
her teeth as little as she could. Her nose and chin were finely
chiselled, and her head stood well upon her shoulders. But there was
something hard about it all which repelled you. Dalrymple, when he saw
her, recoiled from her, not outwardly, but inwardly. Yes, she was
handsome, as may be horse or a tiger; but there was about her nothing of
feminine softness. He could not bring himself to think of taking Clara
Van Siever as the model that was to sit before him for the rest of his
life. He certainly could make a picture of her, as had been suggested by
his friend, Mrs Broughton, but it must be as Judith with the dissevered
head, or as Jael using her hammer over the temple of Sisera. Yes--he
thought she would do as Jael; and if Mrs Van Siever would throw him a
sugar-plum--for he would want the sugar-plum, seeing that any other
result was out of the question--the thing might be done. Such was the
idea of Mr Conway Dalrymple respecting Miss Van Siever--before he led
her down to dinner.
At first he found it hard to talk to her. She answered him, and not
with monosyllables. But she answered him without sympathy, or apparent
pleasure in talking. Now the young artist was in the habit of being
flattered by ladies, and expected to have his small talk made very easy
for him. He liked to give himself little airs, and was not generally
disposed to labour very hard at the task of making himself agreeable.
'Were you ever painted yet?' he asked after they had both been sitting
silent for two or three minutes.
'Was I ever--painted? In what way?'
'I don't mean rouged, or enamelled, or got up by Madame Rachel; but have
you ever had your portrait taken?'
'I have been photographed of course.'
'That's why I asked you if you had been painted--so as to make some
little distinction between the two. I am a painter by profession, and do
'So Mrs Broughton told me.'
'I am not asking for a job, you know.'
'I am quite sure of that.'
'But I should have thought you would have been sure to have sat to
'I never did. I never thought of doing so. One does those things at
the instigation of one's intimate friends--fathers, mothers, uncles, and
aunts and the like.'
'Or husbands, perhaps--or lovers?'
'Well, yes; my intimate friend is my mother, and she would never dream
of such a thing. She hates pictures.'
'And especially portraits. And I'm afraid, Mr Dalrymple, she hates
'Good heavens; how cruel! I suppose there is some story attached to it.
There has been some fatal likeness--some terrible picture--something in
her early days.'
'Nothing of the kind, Mr Dalrymple. It is merely the fact that her
sympathies are with ugly things, rather than with pretty things. I think
she loves the mahogany dinner-table better than anything else in the
house; and she likes to have everything dark, and plain, and solid.'
'Good of its kind, certainly.'
'If everyone was like your mother, how would the artist live?'
'There would be none.'
'And the world, you think, would be none the poorer?'
'I did not speak for myself. I think the world would be very much the
poorer. I am very fond of ancient masters, though I do not suppose that
I understand them.'
'They are easier understood than the modern, I can tell you. Perhaps you
don't care for modern pictures?'
'Not in comparison, certainly. If that is uncivil, you have brought it
on yourself. But I do not in truth mean anything derogatory to the
painters of the day. When their pictures are old, they--that is the good
ones among them--will be nice also.'
'Pictures are like wine, and want age, you think?'
'Yes, and statues too, and buildings above all things. The colours of
new paintings are so glaring, and the faces are so bright and
self-conscious, that they look to me when I go to the exhibition like
coloured prints in a child's new picture-book. It is the same thing with
buildings. One sees all the points, and nothing is left to the
'I find I have come across a real critic.'