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  • 1861
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‘Why not borrow it of him, dearest? Surely it would not be so much for him to lend?’

‘I could not do it. Think of Lucy, and how she stands with him. Besides, I have already had words with Lufton about Sowerby and his money matters. He thinks that I am to blame, and he would tell me so; and then there would sharp things said between us. He would advance me the money if I pressed him for it, but he would do so in a way that would make it impossible that I should take it.’

There was nothing more, then, to be said. If she had had her own way, Mrs Robarts would have gone at once to Lady Lufton, but she could not induce her husband to sanction such a proceeding. The objection to seeking assistance from her ladyship was as strong as that which prevailed as to her son. There had already been some little beginning of ill-feeling, and under such circumstances it was impossible to ask for pecuniary assistance. Fanny, however, had a prophetic assurance that assistance out of these difficulties must in the end come to them from that quarter, or not at all; and she would fain, had she been allowed, make everything known at the big house. On the following morning they breakfasted at the usual hour, but in great sadness. A maid-servant whom Mrs Robarts had brought with her when she married, told that a rumour of what was to happen had reached the kitchen. Stubbs, the groom, had been in Barchester on the preceding day, and, according to his account–so said Mary–everybody in the city was talking about it. ‘Never mind, Mary,’ said Mrs Robarts, and Mary replied, ‘Oh, no, of course not, ma’am.’ In these days Mrs Robarts was ordinarily very busy, seeing that there were six children in the house, four of whom had come to her but ill supplied with infantine belongings; and now, as usual, she went about her work immediately after breakfast. But she moved about the house very slowly, and was almost unable to give her orders to the servants, and spoke sadly to the children who hung about her wondering what was the matter. Her husband at the same time took himself to his book-room, but when there did not attempt any employment. He thrust his hands into his pockets, and, leaning against the fire-place, fixed his eyes upon the table before him without looking at anything that was on it; it was impossible for him to betake himself to his work. Remember what is the ordinary labour of a clergyman in his study, and think how fit he must have been for such employment! What would have been the nature of a sermon composed at such a moment, and with what satisfaction could he have used the sacred volume in referring to it for arguments? He, in this respect, was worse off than his wife; she did employ herself, but he stood there without moving, doing nothing, with fixed eyes thinking of what men would say of him. Luckily for him, this state of suspense was not long, for within half an hour of his leaving the breakfast-table, the footman knocked at his door–that footman with whom, at the beginning of his difficulties, he had made up his mind to dispense, but who had been kept on because of the Barchester prebend.

‘If it please you reverence, there are two men outside,’ said the footman. Two men! Mark knew well enough what men they were, but he could hardly take the coming of two such men to his quiet country parsonage quite as a matter of course.

‘Who are they, John?’ said he, not wishing any answer, but because the question was forced upon him.

‘I’m afeard they’re–bailiffs, sir.’

‘Very well, John; that will do; of course they must do what they please about the place.’ And then when the servant left him, he still stood without moving, exactly as he stood before. There he remained for ten minutes, but the time went by very slowly. When about noon some circumstances told him what was the hour, he was astonished to find that the day had not nearly passed away. And then another tap was struck on the door–a sound which he well recognized–and his wife crept silently into the room. She came close up to him before she spoke, and put her arm within his.’

‘Mark,’ she said, ‘the men are here; they are in the yard.’

‘I know it,’ he answered gruffly.

‘Will it be better that you should see them, dearest?’

‘See them; no; what good can I do by seeing them? But I shall see them soon enough; they will be here, I suppose, in a few minutes.’

‘They are taking an inventory, cook says; they are in the stable now.’

‘Very well; they must do as they please; I cannot help them.’

‘Cook says that if they are allowed their meals and some beer, and if nobody takes anything away, they will be quite civil.’

‘Civil! But what does it matter! Let them eat and drink what they please, as long as the food lasts. I don’t suppose the butcher will send you more.’

‘But, Mark, there’s nothing due to the butcher,–only the regular monthly bill.’

‘Very well; you’ll see.’

‘Oh, Mark, don’t look at me in that way. Do not turn away from me. What is to comfort us if we do not cling to each other now?’

‘Comfort us! God help you! I wonder, Fanny, that you can bear to stay in the room with me.’

‘Mark, dearest Mark, my own dear, dearest husband! Who is to be true to you, if I am not? You shall not turn from me. How can anything like this make a difference between you and me?’ And then she threw her arms round his neck and embraced him. It was a terrible morning to him, and one of which every incident will dwell in his memory to the last day of his life. He had been so proud in his position–had assumed to himself so prominent a standing–had contrived, by some trick which he had acquired, to carry his head so high above the heads of neighbouring parsons. It was this that had taken him among great people, had introduced him to the Duke of Omnium, had procured for him the stall at Barchester. But how was he to carry his head now? What would the Arabins and Grantlys say? How would the bishop sneer at him, and Mrs Proudie and her daughters tell of him in all their quarters? How would Crawley look at him–Crawley, who had already once had him on the hip? The stern severity of Crawley’s face loomed upon him now. Crawley, with his children half naked, and his wife a drudge, and himself half starved, had never had a bailiff in his house at Hogglestock. And then his own curate, Evans, whom he had patronized, and treated almost as a dependant–how was he to look at his curate in the face and arrange with him for the sacred duties of the next Sunday? His wife still stood by him, gazing into his face; and as he looked at her and thought of her misery, he could not control his heart with reference to the wrongs which Sowerby had heaped on him. It was Sowerby’s falsehood and Sowerby’s fraud which had brought upon him and his wife this terrible anguish.

‘If there be justice on earth he will suffer for it yet,’ he said at last, not speaking intentionally to his wife, but unable to repress his feelings.

‘Do not wish him evil, Mark; you may be sure he has his own sorrows.’

‘His own sorrows! No; he is callous to such misery as this. He has become so hardened by dishonesty that all this is mirth to him. If there be punishment in heaven for falsehood–‘

‘Oh, Mark, do not curse him!’

‘How am I to keep myself from cursing when I see what he has brought upon you?’

‘”Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord,”‘ answered the young wife, not with solemn, preaching accent, as though bent on reproof, but with the softest whisper into his ear. ‘Leave that to Him, Mark; and for us, let us pray that He may soften the hearts of us all;–of him who has caused us to suffer, and of our own.’ Mark was not called upon to reply to this, for he was again disturbed by a servant at the door. It was the cook this time herself, who had come with a message from the men of the law. And she had come, be it remembered, not from any necessity that she as cook should do this line of work; for the footman, or Mrs Robarts’s maid, might have come as well as she. But when things are out of course servants are always out of course also. As a rule, nothing will induce a butler to go into a stable, or persuade a housemaid to put her hand to a frying-pan. But now that this new excitement had come upon the household–seeing that the bailiffs were in possession, and that the chattels were being entered into a catalogue, everybody was willing to do everything–everything but his or her own work. The gardener was looking after the dear children; the nurse was doing the rooms before the bailiffs could reach them; the groom had gone into the kitchen to get their lunch ready for them; and the cook was walking about with an inkstand, obeying all the orders of the great potentates. As far as the servants were concerned, it may be a question whether the coming of the bailiffs had not hitherto been regarded as a treat.

‘If you please, ma’am,’ said Jemima cook, ‘they wishes to know in which room you’d be pleased to have the inmin-tory took fust. ‘Cause ma’am, they wouldn’t disturb you nor master more than can be avoided. For their line of life, ma’am, they is very civil–very civil indeed.’

‘I suppose they may go into the drawing-room,’ said Mrs Robarts, in a sad low voice. All nice women are proud of their drawing-rooms, and she was very proud of hers. It had been furnished when money was plenty with them, immediately after their marriage, and everything in it was pretty, good, and dear to her. O, ladies, who have drawing-rooms in which the things are pretty, good, and dear to you, think of what it would be to have two bailiffs rummaging among them with pen and ink-horn, making a catalogue preparatory to a sheriff’s auction; and all without fault or extravagance of your own! There were things there that had been given to her by Lady Lufton, by Lady Meredith, and other friends, and the idea did occur to her that it might be possible to save them from contamination; but she would not say a word, lest by so saying she might add to Mark’s misery.

‘And then the dining-room,’ said Jemima cook, in a tone almost of elation.

‘Yes; if they please.’

‘And then master’s book-room here; or perhaps the bedrooms, if you and master be still here.’

‘Any way they please, cook; it does not much signify,’ said Mrs Robarts. But for some days after that Jemima was by no means a favourite with her.

The cook was hardly out of the room before a quick footstep was heard on the gravel before the window, and the hall door was immediately opened.

‘Where is your master?’ said the well-known voice of Lord Lufton; and then in half a minute he also was in the book-room.

‘Mark, my dear fellow, what’s all this?’ said he, in a cheery tone and with a pleasant face. ‘Did you not know that I was here? I came down yesterday; landed from Hamburg only yesterday morning. How do you do, Mrs Robarts? This is a terrible bore, isn’t it?’ Robarts, at the first moment, hardly knew how to speak to his old friend. He was struck dumb by the disgrace of his position; the more so as his misfortune was one which it was partly in the power of Lord Lufton to remedy. He had never yet borrowed money since he had filled a man’s position, but he had had words about money with the young peer, in which he knew that his friend had wronged him; and for this double reason he was now speechless.

‘Mr Sowerby has betrayed him,’ said Mrs Robarts, wiping the tears from her eyes. Hitherto she had said no word against Sowerby, but now it was necessary to defend her husband.

‘No doubt about it. I believe he has always betrayed every one who has ever trusted him. I told you what he was some time since; did I not? But, Mark, why on earth have you let it go so far as this? Would not Forrest help you?’

‘Mr Forrest wanted him to sign more bills, and he would not do that,’ said Mrs Robarts, sobbing.

‘Bills are like dram-drinking,’ said the discreet young lord: ‘when one once begins, it is very hard to leave off. Is it true that the men are here now, Mark?’

‘Yes, they are in the next room.’

‘What, in the drawing-room?’

‘They are making out a list of the things,’ said Mrs Robarts.

‘We must stop that at any rate,’ said his lordship, walking off towards the scene of operations; and as he left the room Mrs Robarts followed him, leaving her husband by himself.

‘Why did you not send down to my mother?’ said he, speaking hardly above a whisper, as they stood together in the hall.

‘He would not let me.’

‘But why not go yourself? or why not have written to me,– considering how intimate we are!’ Mrs Robarts could not explain to him that the peculiar intimacy between him and Lucy must have hindered her from doing so, even if otherwise it might have been possible; but she felt that such was the case.

‘Well, my men, this is bad work you’re doing here,’ said he, walking into the drawing-room. Whereupon the cook curtsied low, and the bailiffs, knowing his lordship, stopped from their business and put their hands to their foreheads. ‘You must stop this, if you please,–at once. Come let’s go out into the kitchen, or some place outside. I don’t like to see you here with your big boots and the pen and ink among the furniture.’

‘We ain’t a-done no harm, my lord, so please your lordship,’ said Jemima cook.

‘And we is only a-doing our bounden dooties,’ said one of the bailiffs.

‘As we is sworn to do, so please your lordship,’ said the other.

‘And is wery sorry to be unconwenient, my lord, to any gen’leman or lady as is a gen’leman or lady. But accidents will happen, and then what can the likes of us do?’ said the first.

‘Because we is sworn, my lord,’ said the second. But, nevertheless, in spite of their oaths, and in spite also of the stern necessity which they pleaded, they ceased their operations at the instance of the peer. For the name of a lord is still great in England.

‘And now leave this, and let Mrs Robarts go into her drawing-room.’

‘And, please your lordship, what is we to do? Who is we to look to?’ In satisfying them absolutely on this point Lord Lufton had to use more than his influence as a peer. It was necessary that he should have pen and paper. But with pen and paper he did satisfy them;–satisfy them so far that they agreed to return to Stubbs’s room, the former hospital, due stipulation having been made for the meals and beer, and there await the order to evacuate the premises which would no doubt, under his lordship’s influence, reach them on the following day. The meaning of all which was that Lord Lufton had undertaken to bear upon his own shoulder the whole debt due by Mr Robarts. And then he returned to the book-room where Mark was still standing almost on the spot in which he had placed himself immediately after breakfast. Mrs Robarts did not return, but went up among the children to counter-order such directions as she had given for the preparation of the nursery for the Philistines. ‘Mark,’ he said, ‘do not trouble yourself about this more than you can help. The men have ceased doing anything, and they shall leave the place to-morrow morning.’

‘And how will the money–be paid?’ said the poor clergyman.

‘Do not bother yourself about that at present. It shall be so managed that the burden shall fall ultimately on yourself–not on any one else. But I am sure it must be a comfort to you to know that your wife need not be driven out of her drawing-room.’

‘But, Lufton, I cannot allow you–after what has passed–and at the present moment–‘

‘My dear fellow, I know all about it, and I am coming to that just now. You have employed Curling, and he shall settle it; and upon my word, Mark, you shall pay the bill. But, for the present emergency, the money is at my banker’s.’

‘But, Lufton–‘

‘And to deal honestly, about Curling’s bill I mean, it ought to be as much my affair as your own. It was I that brought you into this mess with Sowerby, and I know now how unjust about it I was to you up in London. But the truth is that Sowerby’s treachery has nearly driven me wild. It has done the same to you since, no doubt.’

‘He has ruined me,’ said Robarts.

‘No, he has not done that. No thanks to him though; he would not have scrupled to do it had it come in his way. The fact is, Mark, that you and I cannot conceive the depth of fraud in such a man as that. He is always looking for money; I believe that in all his hours of most friendly intercourse,–when he is sitting with you over your wine, and riding beside you in the field,–he is still thinking how he can make use of you to tide him over some difficulty. He has lived in that way till he has a pleasure in cheating, and has become so clever in his line of life that if you or I were with him again to-morrow he would again get the better of us. He is a man that must be absolutely avoided; I, at any rate, have learned to know so much.’ In the expression of which opinion Lord Lufton was too hard upon poor Sowerby; as indeed we are all apt to be too hard in forming an opinion upon the rogues of the world. That Mr Sowerby had been a rogue, I cannot deny. It is roguish to lie, and he had been a great liar. It is roguish to make promises which the promiser know he cannot perform, and such had been Mr Sowerby’s daily practice. It is roguish to live on other men’s money, and Mr Sowerby had long been doing do. It is roguish, at least, so I would hold it, to deal willingly with rogues; and Mr Sowerby had been constant in such dealings. I do not know whether he had not at times fallen even into more palpable roguery than is proved by such practices as those enumerated. Though I have for him some tender feeling, knowing that there was still a touch of gentle bearing round his heart, an abiding taste for better things within him, I cannot acquit him from the great accusation. But, for all that, in spite of his acknowledged roguery, Lord Lufton was too hard upon him in his judgement. There was yet within him the means of repentance, could a locus penitentiae have been supplied to him. He grieved bitterly over his own ill-doings, and knew well what changes gentlehood would have demanded from him. Whether or no he had gone too far for all changes–whether the locus penitentiae was for him still a possibility–that was between him and the higher power.

‘I have no one to blame but myself,’ said Mark, still speaking in the same heart-broken tone and with his face averted from his friend.

The debt would now be paid, and the bailiffs would be expelled; but that would not set him right before the world. It would be known to all men–to all clergymen in the diocese, that the sheriff’s officers had been in charge of Framley parsonage, and he could never again hold up his head in the close of Barchester. ‘My dear fellow, if we were all to make ourselves miserable for such a trifle as this,–‘ said Lord Lufton, putting his arm affectionately on his friend’s shoulder.

‘But we are not all clergymen,’ said Mark, and as he spoke he turned away to the window and Lord Lufton knew that the tears were on his cheek.

Nothing was then said between them for some moments, after which Lord Lufton again spoke,–

‘Mark, my dear fellow!’

‘Well,’ said Mark, with his face still turned towards the window.

‘You must remember one thing; in helping you over this trifle, which will really be a matter of no inconvenience to me. I have a better right than that even of an old friend; I look upon you as my brother-in-law.’ Mark turned slowly round, plainly showing the tears upon his face.

‘Do you mean,’ said he, ‘that anything more has taken place?’

‘I mean to make your sister my wife; she sent me word by you to say that she loved me, and I am not going to stand upon any nonsense after that. If she and I are both willing no one alive has a right to stand between us, and, by heavens, no one shall. I will do nothing secretly, so I tell you that, exactly as I have told her ladyship.’

‘But what does she say?’

‘She says nothing; but it cannot go on like that. My mother and I cannot live here together if she opposes me in this way. I do not want to frighten your sister by going over to her at Hogglestock, but I expect you to tell her so much as I now tell you, as coming from me; otherwise she will think I have forgotten her.’

‘She will not think that.’

‘She need not; good-bye, old fellow. I’ll make it all right between you and her ladyship about this affair of Sowerby’s.’ And then he took his leave and walked off to settle about the payment of the money.

‘Mother,’ said he to Lady Lufton that evening, ‘you must not bring this affair of the bailiffs up against Robarts. It has been more my fault than his.’

Hitherto not a word had been spoken between Lady Lufton and her son on the subject. She had heard with terrible dismay of what had happened, and had heard also that Lord Lufton had immediately gone to the parsonage. It was impossible, therefore, that she should now interfere. That the necessary money would be forthcoming she was aware, but that would not wipe out the terrible disgrace attached to an execution in a clergyman’s house. And then, too, he was her clergyman,–her own clergyman, selected and appointed, and brought to Framley by herself, endowed with a wife of her own choosing, filled with good things by her own hand! It was a terrible misadventure, and she had begun to repent that she had ever heard of the name of Robarts. She would not, however, have been slow to put forth the hand to lessen the evil by giving her own money, had this been either necessary or possible. But how could she interfere between Robarts and her son, especially when she remembered the proposed connexion between Lucy and Lord Lufton?

‘Your fault, Ludovic?’

‘Yes, mother. It was I who introduced him to Mr Sowerby; and, to tell the truth, I do not think he would ever have been intimate with Sowerby if I had not given him some sort of commission with reference to money matters then pending between Mr Sowerby and me. They are all over now,–thanks to you, indeed.’

‘Mr Robarts’s character as a clergyman should have kept him from such troubles, if no other feeling did so.’

‘At any rate, mother, oblige me by letting it pass by.’

‘Oh, I shall say nothing to him.’

‘You had better say something to her, or otherwise it will be strange; and even to him I would say a word of two,–a word in kindness, as you so well know how. It will be easier for him in that way, than if you were altogether silent.’

No further conversation took place between them at the time, but later in the evening she brushed her hand across her son’s forehead, sweeping the long silken hairs into their place, as she was wont to do when moved by any special feeling of love. ‘Ludovic,’ she said, ‘no one, I think, has so good a heart as you. I will do exactly as you would have me about this affair of Mr Robarts and the money.’ And then there was nothing more said about it.

CHAPTER XLV

PALACE BLESSINGS

And now, at this period, terrible rumours found their way into Barchester, and flew about the cathedral towers and round the cathedral door; aye, and into the canons’ houses and the humbler sitting-rooms of the vicars choral. Whether they made their way thence up to the bishop’s palace, or whether they descended from the palace to the close, I will not pretend to say. But they were shocking, unnatural, and no doubt grievous to all those excellent ecclesiastical hearts which cluster so thickly in those quarters. The first of these had reference to the new prebendary, and to the disgrace which he had brought on the chapter; a disgrace, as some of them boasted, which Barchester had never known before. This, however, like most other boasts, was hardly true; for within but a very few years there had been an execution in the house of a late prebendary, old Dr Stanhope; and on that occasion the doctor himself had been forced to fly away to Italy, starting in the night, lest he also should fall into the hands of the Philistines, as well as his chairs and tables. ‘It is a scandalous shame,’ said Mrs Proudie, speaking not of the old doctor, but of the new offender; ‘a scandalous shame: and it would only serve him right if the gown were stripped from his back.’

‘I suppose his living will be sequestered,’ said a young minor canon who attended much to the ecclesiastical injunctions of the lady of the diocese, and was deservedly held in high favour. If Framley were sequestered, why should not he, as well as another, undertake the duty–with such stipend as the bishop might award?

‘I am told that he is over his head and ears in debt,’ said the future Mrs Tickler, ‘and chiefly for horses which he has bought and not paid for.’

‘I see him riding very splendid animals when he comes over for the cathedral duties,’ said a minor canon.

‘The sheriff’s officers are in the house at present, I am told,’ said Mrs Proudie.

‘And is he not in jail?’ said Mrs Tickler.

‘If not, he ought to be,’ said Mrs Tickler’s mother.

‘And no doubt soon will be,’ said the minor canon; ‘for I hear that he is linked up with the most discreditable gang of persons.’

This was what was said in the palace on that heading; and though, no doubt, more spirit and poetry was displayed there than in the houses of the less gifted clergy, this shows the manner in which the misfortune of Mr Robarts was generally discussed. Nor, indeed, had he deserved any better treatment at their hands. But his name did not run the gauntlet for the usual nine days; nor, indeed, did his fame endure at its height for more than two. This sudden fall was occasioned by other tidings of a still more depressing nature; by a rumour which so affected Mrs Proudie that it caused, as she said, her blood to creep. And she was very careful that the blood of others should creep also, if the blood of others was equally sensitive. It was said that Lord Dumbello had jilted Miss Grantly. From what adverse spot in the world these cruel tidings fell upon Barchester I have never been able to discover. We know how quickly rumour flies, making herself common through all the cities. That Mrs Proudie should have known more of the facts connected with the Hartletop family than any one else in Barchester was not surprising, seeing that she was so much more conversant with the great world in which such people lived. She knew, and was therefore correct enough in declaring, that Lord Dumbello had already jilted one other young lady–the Lady Julia Mac Mull, to whom he had been engaged three seasons back, and that therefore his character in such matters was not to be trusted. That Lady Julia had been a terrible flirt and greatly given to waltzing with a certain German count, with whom she had since gone off–that, I suppose, Mrs Proudie did not know, much as she was conversant with the great world,–seeing that she said nothing about it to any of her ecclesiastical listeners on the present occasion.

‘It will be a terrible warning, Mrs Quiverful, to us all; a most useful warning to us–not to trust to the things of this world. I fear they made no inquiry about this young nobleman before they agreed that his name should be linked with that of their daughter.’ This she said to the wife of the present warden of Hiram’s Hospital, a lady who had received favours from her, and was therefore bound to listen attentively to her voice.

‘But I hope it may not be true,’ said Mrs Quiverful, who, in spite of the allegiance due by her to Mrs Proudie, had reasons of her own for wishing well to the Grantly family.

‘I hope so, indeed,’ said Mrs Proudie, with a slight tinge of anger in her voice; ‘but I fear that there is no doubt. And I must confess that it is no more than we had a right to expect. I hope that it may be taken by all of us as a lesson, and an ensample, and a teaching of the Lord’s mercy. And I wish you would request your husband–from me, Mrs Quiverful–to dwell on this subject in morning and evening lecture at the hospital on Sabbath next, showing how false is the trust which we put in the good things of this world;’ which behest, to a certain extent, Mr Quiverful did obey, feeling that a quiet life at Barchester was of great value to him; but he did not go so far as to caution his hearers, who consisted of the aged bedesmen of the hospital, against matrimonial projects of an ambitious nature. In this case, as in all others of the kind, the report was known to all the chapter before it had been heard by the archdeacon or his wife. The dean heard it, and disregarded it; as did also the dean’s wife–at first; and those who generally sided with the Grantlys in the diocesan battles pooh-poohed the tidings, saying to each other that both the archdeacon and Mrs Grantly were very well able to take care of their own affairs. But dripping water hollows a stone; and at last it was admitted on all sides that there was ground for fear,–on all sides, except at Plumstead.

‘I am sure there is nothing in it; I really am sure of it,’ said Mrs Arabin, whispering to her sister; ‘but after turning it over in my mind, I thought it right to tell you. And yet I don’t know now but I am wrong.’

‘Quite right, dearest Eleanor,’ said Mrs Grantly. ‘And I am much obliged to you. But we understand it, you know. It comes, of course, like all other Christian blessings, from the palace.’ And then there was nothing more said on it between Mrs Grantly and her sister. But on the following morning there arrived a letter by post, addressed to Mrs Grantly, bearing the postmark of Littlebath. The letter ran:-

‘MADAM,
‘It is known to the writer that Lord Dumbello has arranged with certain friends how he may escape from his present engagement. I think, therefore, that it is my duty as a Christian to warn you of this. ‘Yours truly,
‘A WELLWISHER’

Now it had happened that the embryo Mrs Tickler’s most intimate bosom friend and confidante was known at Plumstead to live at Littlebath, and it had also happened–most unfortunately–that the embryo Mrs Tickler, in the warmth of her neighbourly regard, had written a friendly line to her friend Griselda Grantly, congratulating her with all the female sincerity on her splendid nuptials with the Lord Dumbello.

‘It is not her natural hand,’ said Mrs Grantly, talking the matter over with her husband, ‘but you may be sure it has come from her. It is part of the new Christianity which we learn day by day from the palace teaching.’ But these things had some effect on the archdeacon’s mind. He had learned lately the story of Lady Julia Mac Mull, and was not sure that his son-in-law–as ought to be about to be–had been entirely blameless in that matter. And then in these days Lord Dumbello made no great sign. Immediately on Griselda’s return he had sent her a magnificent present of emeralds, which, however, had come to her direct from the jewellers, and might have been–and probably was–ordered by his man of business. Since that he had neither come, nor sent, nor written. Griselda did not seem to be in any way annoyed by this absence of the usual sign of love, and went on steadily with her great duties. Nothing, as she told her mother, had been said about writing, and, therefore, she did not expect it. But the archdeacon was not quite at his ease. ‘Keep Dumbello up to his p’s and q’s, you know,’ a friend of his had whispered to him at his club. By heavens, yes. The archdeacon was not a man to bear with indifference a wrong in such a quarter. In spite of his clerical profession, few men were more inclined to fight against personal wrongs–and few men more able.

‘Can there by anything wrong, I wonder?’ said he to his wife. ‘Is it worth while that I should go up to London?’ But Mrs Grantly attributed it all to the palace doctrine. What could be more natural, looking at all the circumstances of the Tickler engagement? She therefore gave her voice against any steps being taken by the archdeacon. A day or two after that Mrs Proudie met Mrs Arabin in the close and condoled with her openly on the termination of the marriage treaty;–quite openly, for Mrs Tickler–as she was to be–was with her mother, and Mrs Arabin was accompanied by her sister-in-law, Mary Bold.

‘It must be very grievous to Mrs Grantly, very grievous indeed,’ said Mrs Proudie, ‘and I sincerely feel for her. But, Mrs Arabin, all these lessons are sent to us for our eternal welfare.’

‘Of course,’ said Mrs Arabin. ‘But as to this special lesson, I am inclined to doubt that it–‘

‘Ah-h! I fear it is too true. I fear that there is no room for doubt. Of course you are aware that Lord Dumbello is off for the Continent.’ Mrs Arabin was not aware of it and she was obliged to admit as much.

‘He started four days ago, by way of Boulogne,’ said Mrs Tickler, who seemed to be very well up in the whole affair. ‘I am so sorry for poor dear Griselda. I am told she has got all her things. It is such a pity, you know.’

‘But why should not Lord Dumbello come back from the Continent?’ said Miss Bold, very quietly.

‘Why not, indeed? I’m sure I hope he may,’ said Mrs Proudie. ‘And no doubt he will some day. But if he be such a man as they say he is, it is really well for Griselda that she should be relieved from such a marriage. For, after all, Mrs Arabin, what are the things of this world?–dust beneath our feet, ashes between our teeth, grass cut for the oven, vanity, vexation, and nothing more!’–well pleased with which variety of Christian metaphors, Mrs Proudie walked on, still muttering, however, something about worms and grubs, by which she intended to signify her own species and the Dumbello and Grantly sects of it in particular. This now had gone so far that Mrs Arabin conceived herself bound in duty to see her sister, and it was then settled in consultation at Plumstead that the archdeacon should call officially at the palace and beg that the rumour might be contradicted. This he did early on the next morning, and was shown into the bishop’s study, in which he found both his lordship and Mrs Proudie. The bishop rose to greet him with special civility, smiling his very sweetest smile on him, as though of all his clergy the archdeacon were the favourite; but Mrs Proudie wore something of a gloomy aspect, as though she knew that such a visit at such an hour must have reference to some special business. The morning calls made by the archdeacon at the palace in the way of ordinary civility were not numerous. On the present occasion he dashed at once into his subject. ‘I have called this morning, Mrs Proudie,’ said he, ‘because I wish to ask a favour from you.’ Whereupon Mrs Proudie bowed.

‘Mrs Proudie will be most happy, I am sure,’ said the bishop.

‘I find that some foolish people have been talking in Barchester about my daughter,’ said the archdeacon; ‘and I wish to ask Mrs Proudie–‘

Most women under such circumstances would have felt the awkwardness of their situation, and would have prepared to eat their past words with wry faces. But not so Mrs Proudie. Mrs Grantly had the imprudence to throw Mr Slope in her face–there, in her own drawing-room, and she was resolved to be revenged. Mrs Grantly, too, had ridiculed the Tickler match, and no too great niceness should now prevent Mrs Proudie from speaking her mind about the Dumbello match.

‘A great many people are talking about her, I am sorry to say,’ said Mrs Proudie; ‘but, poor dear, it is not her fault. It might have happened to any girl; only, perhaps a little more care–; you’ll excuse me, Dr Grantly.’

‘I have come here to allude to a report which has been spread about in Barchester, that the match between Lord Dumbello and my daughter has been broken off and–‘

‘Everybody in Barchester knows it, I believe,’ said Mrs Proudie.

–‘and,’ continued the archdeacon, ‘to request that that report may be contradicted.’

‘Contradicted! Why, he has gone right away,–out of the country!’

‘Never mind where he has gone to, Mrs Proudie; I beg that that report may be contradicted.’

‘You’ll have to go round to every house in Barchester then,’ said she.

‘By no means,’ replied the archdeacon. ‘And, perhaps, it may be right that I should explain to the bishop that I came here because–‘

‘The bishop knows nothing about it,’ said Mrs Proudie.

‘Nothing in the world,’ said his lordship. ‘And I am sure I hope that the young lady may not be disappointed.’

–‘because the matter was so distinctly mentioned to Mrs Arabin by yourself yesterday.’

‘Distinctly mentioned! Of course it was distinctly mentioned. There are some things which can’t be kept under a bushel, Dr Grantly; and this seems to be one of them. Your going about in this way won’t make Lord Dumbello marry the young lady.’ That was true; nor would it make Mrs Proudie hold her tongue. Perhaps the archdeacon was wrong in his present errand, and so now he began to bethink himself. ‘At any rate,’ said he, ‘when I tell you that there is no ground whatever for such a report you will do me the kindness to say that, as far as you are concerned, it shall go no further. I think, my lord, I am not asking too much in asking that.’

‘The bishop knows nothing about it,’ said Mrs Proudie again.

‘Nothing at all,’ said the bishop.

‘And as I must protest that I believe the information which has reached me on this head,’ said Mrs Proudie, ‘I do not see how it is possible that I should contradict it. I can understand your feelings, Dr Grantly. Considering your daughter’s position the match, as regards earthly wealth, is a very great one. I do not wonder that you should be grieved at its being broken off; but I trust that this sorrow may eventuate in a blessing to you and to Miss Griselda. These worldly disappointments are precious balms, and I trust you know how to accept them as such.’ The fact was that Dr Grantly had done altogether wrong in coming to the palace. His wife might have some chance with Mrs Proudie, but he had none. Since she had come to Barchester he had had only two or three encounters with her, and in all of these cases he had gone to the wall. His visits to the palace have always resulted in his leaving the presence of the inhabitants in a frame of mind by no means desirable, and he now found that he had to do it once again. He could not compel Mrs Proudie to say that the report was untrue; nor could he condescend to make counter hits at her about her own daughter, as his wife would have done. And thus having utterly failed, he got up and took his leave. But the worst of the matter was, that, in going home, he could not divest his mind of the idea that there might be some truth in the report. What if Lord Dumbello had gone to the Continent resolved to send back from thence some reason why it was impossible that he should make Miss Grantly his wife? Such things had been done before now by men in his rank. Whether or no Mrs Tickler had been the letter-writing wellwisher from Littlebath, or had induced her friend to do so, it did seem manifest to him, Dr Grantly, that Mrs Proudie absolutely believed the report which she promulgated so diligently. The wish might be father to the thought, no doubt; but that the thought was truly there, Dr Grantly could not induce himself to disbelieve. His wife was less credulous, and to a certain degree comforted him; but that evening he received a letter which greatly confirmed the suspicions set on foot by Mrs Proudie, and even shook his wife’s faith in Lord Dumbello. It was from a mere acquaintance, who in the ordinary course of things would not have written to him. And the bulk of the letter referred to ordinary things, as to which the gentleman in question would hardly have thought of giving himself the trouble of writing a letter. But at the end of the note he said,–‘Of course you are aware that Dumbello is off to Paris; I have not heard whether the exact day of his return is fixed.’

‘It is true, then,’ said the archdeacon, striking the library table with his hand, and becoming absolutely white about the mouth and jaws.

‘It cannot be,’ said Mrs Grantly; but even she was now trembling.

‘If it be so, I’ll drag him back to England by the collar of his coat, and disgrace him before the steps of his father’s hall.’ And the archdeacon as he uttered the threat looked his character as an irate British father much better than he did his other character as a clergyman of the Church of England. The archdeacon had been greatly worsted by Mrs Proudie, but he was a man who knew how to fight his battles among men–sometimes without too close a regard to his cloth.

‘Had Lord Dumbello intended any such thing he would have written or got some friend to write by this time,’ said Mrs Grantly. ‘It is quite possible that he might wish to be off, but he would be too chary of his name not to endeavour to do so with decency.’

Thus the matter was discussed, and it appeared to them both to be so serious that the archdeacon resolved to go at once to London. That Lord Dumbello had gone to France he did not doubt; but he would find some one in town acquainted with the young man’s intentions, and he would, no doubt, be able to hear when his return was expected. If there were real reason for apprehension he would follow the runagate to the Continent, but he would not do this without absolute knowledge. According to Lord Dumbello’s present engagements he was bound to present himself in August next at Plumstead Episcopi, with the view then and there taking Griselda Grantly in marriage; but if he kept his word in this respect no one had a right to quarrel with him for going to Paris in the meantime. Most expectant bridegrooms would, no doubt, under such circumstances, have declared their intelligence to future brides; but if Lord Dumbello were different from others, who had a right on that account to be indignant with him? He was unlike other men in other things; and especially unlike other men in being the eldest son of the Marquess of Hartletop. It would be all very well for Tickler to proclaim his whereabouts from week to week; but the eldest son of a marquess might find it inconvenient to be precise! Nevertheless the archdeacon thought it only prudent to go up to London. ‘Susan,’ said the archdeacon to his wife, just as he was starting;–at this moment neither of them were in the happiest of spirits–‘I think I would say a word of caution to Griselda.’

‘Do you feel so much doubt about it as that?’ said Mrs Grantly. But even she did not dare to put a direct negative to this proposal, so much had she been moved by what she had heard!

‘I think I would do so, not frightening her more than I could help. It will lessen the blow if it be that the blow is to fall.’

‘It will kill me,’ said Mrs Grantly; ‘but I think that she will be able to bear it.’ On the next morning Mrs Grantly, with much cunning preparation, went about the task that her husband had left her to perform. It took her long to do, for she was very cunning in the doing of it; but at last it dropped form in words that there was a possibility–a bare possibility–that some disappointment might even yet be in store for them.

‘Do you mean, mamma, that the marriage will be put off?’

‘I don’t mean to say that I think it will; God forbid! but it is just possible. I dare say that I am very wrong to tell you this, but I know you have sense enough to bear it. Papa has gone to London, and we shall hear from him soon.’

‘Then, mamma, I had better give them orders not to go on with the marking.’

CHAPTER XLVI

LADY LUFTON’S REQUEST

The bailiffs on that day had their meals regular–and their beer, which state of things, together with an absence of all duty in the way of making inventories and the like, I take to be the earthly paradise of bailiffs; and on the next morning they walked off with civil speeches and many apologies as to their intrusion. ‘They was very sorry,’ they said, ‘to have troubled a gen’leman as were a gen’leman, but in their way of business what could they do?’ To which one of them added a remark that, ‘business is business.’ This statement I am not prepared to contradict, but I would recommend all men in choosing a profession to avoid any that may require an apology at every turn; either an apology or else a somewhat violent assertion of right. Each younger male reader may, perhaps, reply that he has no thought of becoming a sheriff’s officer; but then are there not other cognate lines of life to which, perhaps, the attention of some such may be attracted? On the evening of the day on which they went Mark received a note from Lady Lufton begging him to call early on the following morning, and immediately after breakfast he went across to Framley Court. It may be imagined that he was not in a very happy frame of mind, but he felt the truth of his wife’s remark that the first plunge into cold water was always the worst. Lady Lufton was not a woman who would continually throw his disgrace into his teeth, however terribly cold might be the first words with which she spoke of it. He strove hard as he entered her room to carry his usual look and bearing, and to put out his hand to greet her with his customary freedom, but he knew that he failed. And it may be said that no good man who has broken down in this goodness can carry the disgrace of his fall without some look of shame. When a man is able to do that, he ceases to be in any way good.

‘This has been a distressing affair,’ said Lady Lufton, after her first salutation.

‘Yes, indeed,’ said he. ‘It has been very sad for poor Fanny.’

‘Well; we must all have our little periods of grief; and it may perhaps be fortunate if none of us have worse than this. She will not complain herself, I am sure.’

‘She complain!’

‘No, I am sure she will not. And now all I’ve got to say, Mr Robarts is this: I hope you and Lufton have had enough to do with black sheep to last you your lives; for I must protest that your late friend Mr Sowerby is a black sheep.’ In no possible way could Lady Lufton have alluded to the matter with greater kindness than thus joining Mark’s name with that of her son. It took away all the bitterness of the rebuke, and made the subject one on which even he might have spoken without difficulty. But now, seeing that she was so gentle to him, he could not but lean the more hardly on himself.

‘I have been very foolish,’ said he, ‘very foolish, and very wrong, and very wicked.’

‘Very foolish, I believe, Mr Robarts–to speak frankly and once for all; but, as I also believe, nothing worse. I thought it best for both of us that we should have just one word about it, and now I recommend that the matter be never mentioned between us again.’

‘God bless you, Lady Lufton,’ he said, ‘I think no man ever had such a friend as you are.’ She had been very quiet during the interview, and almost subdued, not speaking with the animation that was usual to her; for this affair with Mr Robarts was not the only one she had to complete that day, nor, perhaps, the one most difficult of completion. But she cheered up a little under the praise now bestowed on her, for it was the sort of praise she loved best. She did hope, and perhaps flatter herself, that she was a good friend.

‘You must be good enough, then, to gratify my friendship by coming to dinner this evening; and Fanny, too, of course. I cannot take any excuses, for the matter is completely arranged; I have a particular reason for wishing it.’ These last violent injunctions had been added because Lady Lufton had seen a refusal rising in the parson’s face. Poor Lady Lufton! Her enemies–for even she had enemies–used to declare of her, that an invitation to dinner was the only method of showing itself of which her good-humour was cognizant. But let me ask of her enemies whether it is not as good a method as any other known to be extant? Under such orders as these obedience was of course a necessity, and he promised that he, with his wife, would come across to dinner. And then, when he went away, Lady Lufton ordered her carriage.

During these doings at Framley, Lucy Robarts still remained at Hogglestock, nursing Mrs Crawley. Nothing occurred to take her back to Framley, for the same note from Fanny which gave her the first tidings of the arrival of the Philistines told her also of their departure–and also of the source whence relief had reached them. ‘Don’t come, therefore, for that reason,’ said the note, ‘but, nevertheless, do come as quickly as you can, for the whole house is sad without you.’

On the morning after the receipt of this note Lucy was sitting, as was now usual with her, beside an old arm-chair to which her patient had been lately promoted. The fever had gone, and Mrs Crawley was slowly regaining her strength–very slowly, and with frequent caution from the Silverbridge doctor that any attempt at being well too fast might again precipitate her into an abyss of illness and domestic inefficiency.

‘I really think I can get about to-morrow,’ said she; ‘and then, dear Lucy, I need not keep you longer from your home.’

‘You are in a great hurry to get rid of me, I think. I suppose Mr Crawley has been complaining about the cream in his tea.’

Mr Crawley had on one occasion stated his assured conviction that surreptitious daily supplies were being brought to the house, because he had detected the presence of cream instead of milk in his own cup. As, however, the cream had been going for sundry days before this, Miss Robarts had not thought much of his ingenuity in making the discovery.

‘Ah, you do not know how he speaks of you when your back is turned.’

‘And how does he speak of me? I know you would not have the courage to tell me the whole.’

‘No, I have not; for you would think it absurd coming from one who looks like him. He says that if he were to write a poem about womanhood, he would make you the heroine.’

‘With a cream-jug in my hand, or else sewing buttons on to a shirt-collar. But he never forgave me about the mutton-broth. He told me, in so many words, that I was a–story-teller. And for the matter of that, my dear, so I was.’

‘He told me you were an angel.’

‘Goodness gracious!’

‘A ministering angel. And so you have been. I can almost feel it in my heart to be glad that I have been ill, seeing that I have had you for my friend.’

‘But you might have had that good fortune without the fever.’

‘No, I should not. In my married life I have made no friends till my illness brought you to me; nor should I ever really known you but for that. How should I get to know any one?’

‘You will now, Mrs Crawley; will you not? Promise that you will. You will come to us at Framley when you are well? You have promised already, you know.’

‘You made me do so when I was too weak to refuse.’

‘And I shall make you keep your promise, too. He shall come also, if he likes; but you shall come whether he likes or no, and I won’t hear a word about your old dresses. Old dresses will wear as well at Framley as at Hogglestock.’ From all which it will appear that Mrs Crawley and Lucy Robarts had become very intimate during the period of the nursing; as two women always will, or, at least, should do, when shut up for weeks together in the same sick room.

The conversation was still going on between them when the sound of wheels was heard upon the road. It was no highway that passed before the house, and carriages of any sort were not frequent there.

‘It is Fanny, I am sure,’ said Lucy, rising from her chair.

‘There are two horses,’ said Mrs Crawley, distinguishing the noise with the accurate sense of hearing which is always attached to sickness; ‘and it is not the noise of the pony-carriage.’

‘It is a regular carriage,’ said Lucy, speaking from the window, ‘and stopping here. It is somebody from Framley Court, for I know the servant.’ And as she spoke a blush came to her forehead. Might it not be Lord Lufton, she thought to herself–forgetting, at the moment, that Lord Lufton did not go about the country in a close chariot with a fat footman. Intimate as she had become with Mrs Crawley she had said nothing to her new friend on the subject of her love affair. The carriage stopped, and down came the footman, but nobody spoke to him from the inside.

‘He has probably brought something from Framley,’ said Lucy, having cream and such-like matters in her mind; for cream and such-like matters had come from Framley Court more than once during her sojourn there. ‘And the carriage, probably, happened to be coming this way.’ But the mystery soon elucidated itself partially, or, perhaps, became more mysterious in another way. The red-armed little girl who had been taken away by her frightened mother in the first burst of fever had now returned to her place, and at the present moment entered the room, with awe-struck face, declaring that Miss Robarts was to go at once to the big lady in the carriage.

‘I suppose it’s Lady Lufton,’ said Mrs Crawley. Lucy’s heart was so absolutely in her mouth that any kind of speech was at the moment impossible to her. Why should Lady Lufton have come hither to Hogglestock, and why should she want to see her, Lucy Robarts, in the carriage? Had not everything between them been settled? And yet–! Lucy, in the moment for thought that was allowed to her, could not determine what might be the probable upshot of such an interview. Her chief feeling was a desire to postpone it for the present instant. But the red-armed little girl would not allow that.

‘You are to come at once,’ said she.

And then Lucy, without having spoken a word, got up and left the room. She walked downstairs, along the little passage, and out through the small garden, with firm steps, but hardly knowing whither she went or why. Her presence of mind and self-possession had all deserted her. She knew that she was unable to speak as she should do; she felt that she would have to regret her present behaviour, but yet she could not help herself. Why should Lady Lufton have come to her here? She went on, and the big footman stood with the carriage door open. She stepped up almost unconsciously, and, without knowing how she got there, she found herself seated by Lady Lufton. To tell the truth her ladyship also was a little at a loss to know how she was to carry through her present plan of operations. The duty of beginning, however, was clearly with her, and therefore, having taken Lucy by the hand, she spoke. ‘Miss Robarts,’ she said, ‘my son has come home. I don’t know whether you are aware of it.’ She spoke with a low gentle voice, not quite like herself, but Lucy was much too confused to notice this.

‘I was not aware of it,’ said Lucy. She had, however, been so informed in Fanny’s letter, but all that had gone out of her head.

‘Yes; he has come back. He has been in Norway, you know– fishing.’

‘Yes,’ said Lucy.

‘I am sure you will remember all that took place when you came to me, not long ago, in my little room upstairs at Framley Court.’ In answer to which, Lucy, quivering in every nerve, and wrongly thinking that she was visibly shaking in every limb, timidly answered that she did remember. Why was it that she had then been so bold, and now was so poor a coward?

‘Well, my dear, all that I said to you then I said to you thinking that it was for the best. You, at any rate, will not be angry with me for loving my son better than I love any one else.’

‘Oh, no,’ said Lucy.

‘He is the best of sons, and the best of men, and I am sure that he will be the best of husbands.’

Lucy had an idea, by instinct, however, rather than by sight, that Lady Lufton’s eyes were full of tears as she spoke. As for herself she was altogether blinded, and did not dare lift her face or to turn her head. As for the utterances of any sound, that was quite out of the question. ‘And now, I have come here, Lucy, to ask you to be his wife.’

She was quite sure that she heard the words. They came plainly to her ears, leaving on her brain their proper sense, but yet she could not move or make any sign that she had understood them. It seemed as though it would be ungenerous in her to take advantage of such conduct and to accept an offer made with so much self-sacrifice. She had not time at the first moment to think even of his happiness, let alone her own, but she thought only of the magnitude of the concession which had been made to her. When she had constituted Lady Lufton as the arbiter of her destiny she had regarded the question of her love as decided against herself.

She had found herself unable to endure the position of being Lady Lufton’s daughter-in-law while Lady Lufton would be scorning her, and therefore she had given up the game. She had given up the game, sacrificing herself, and, as far as it might be a sacrifice, sacrificing him also. She had been resolute to stand to her word in this respect, but she had never allowed herself to think it possible that Lady Lufton should comply with the conditions which she, Lucy, had laid upon her. And yet such was the case, as she so plainly heard. ‘And now I have come here, Lucy, to ask you to be his wife.’ How long they sat together silent, I cannot say; counted by minutes the time would not probably have amounted to many, but to each of them the duration seemed considerable. Lady Lufton, while she was speaking, had contrived to get hold of Lucy’s hand, and she sat, still holding it, trying to look into Lucy’s face,–which, however, she could hardly see, so much of it was turned away. Neither, indeed, were Lady Lufton’s eyes perfectly dry. No answer came to her question, and therefore, after a while, it was necessary that she should speak again.

‘Must I go back to him, Lucy, and tell him that there is some other objection–something besides a stern old mother; some hindrance, perhaps, not so easily overcome?’

‘No,’ said Lucy, and it was all which at the moment she could say.

‘What shall I tell him then? Shall I say yes–simply yes?’

‘Simply yes,’ said Lucy.

‘And as to the stern old mother who thought her only son too precious to be parted with at the first word–is nothing to be said to her?’

‘Oh, Lady Lufton!’

‘No forgiveness to be spoken, no sign of affection to be given? Is she always to be regarded as stern and cross, vexatious and disagreeable?’ Lucy slowly turned round her head and looked up into her companion’s face. Though she had as yet no voice to speak of affection she could fill her eyes with love, and in that way make to her future mother all the promises that were needed. ‘Lucy, dearest Lucy, you must be very dear to me now.’ And then they were in each other’s arms, kissing each other. Lady Lufton now desired her coachman to drive up and down for some little space along the road while she completed her necessary conversation with Lucy. She wanted at first to carry her back to Framley that evening, promising to send her again to Mrs Crawley on the following morning–’till some permanent arrangement could be made,’ by which Lady Lufton intended the substitution of a regular nurse for her future daughter-in-law, seeing that Lucy Robarts was now invested in her eyes with attributes which made it unbecoming that she should sit in attendance at Mrs Crawley’s bedside. But Lucy would not go back to Framley on that evening; no, nor on the next morning. She would be so glad if Fanny would come to her there, and then she would arrange about going home. ‘But, Lucy, dear, what am I to say to Ludovic? Perhaps you would feel it awkward if he were to come to see you here.’

‘Oh, yes, Lady Lufton; pray tell him not to do that.’

‘And is that all that I am to tell him?’

‘Tell him–tell him–he won’t want you to tell him anything;–only I should like to be quiet for a day, Lady Lufton.’

‘Well, dearest, you shall be quiet; the day after to-morrow then.–Mind, we must not spare you any longer, because it will be right that you should be at home now. He would think it very hard if you were to be so near, and he was not to be allowed to see you. And there will be some one else who will want to see you. I shall want to have you very near to me, for I shall be wretched, Lucy, if I cannot teach you to love me.’ In answer to which Lucy did find voice enough to make sundry promises. And then she was put out of the carriage at the little wicket gate, and Lady Lufton was driven back to Framley. I wonder whether the servant when he held the door for Miss Robarts was conscious that he was waiting on his future mistress. I fancy that he was, for these sort of people always know everything, and the peculiar courtesy of his demeanour as he let down the carriage was very observable.

Lucy felt almost beside herself as she returned upstairs, not knowing what to do or how to look, and with what words to speak. It behoved her to go at once to Mrs Crawley’s room, and yet she longed to be alone. She knew that she was quite unable either to conceal her thoughts or express them; nor did she at the present moment want to talk to any one about her happiness,–seeing that she could not at the present moment talk to Fanny Robarts. She went, however, without delay into Mrs Crawley’s room, and with that little eager way of speaking quickly which is so common with people who know that they are confused, said that she feared she had been a very long time away. ‘And was it Lady Lufton?’

‘Yes; it was Lady Lufton.’

‘Why, Lucy; I did not know that you and her ladyship were such friends.’

‘She had something particular she wanted to say,’ said Lucy, avoiding the question, and avoiding also Mrs Crawley’s eyes; and then she sat down in her usual chair.

‘It was nothing unpleasant, I hope.’

‘No, nothing at all unpleasant; nothing of that kind.–Oh, Mrs Crawley, I’ll tell you some other time, but pray do not ask me now.’ And then she got up and escaped, for it was absolutely necessary that she should be alone.

When she reached her own room–that in which the children always slept–she made a great effort to compose herself, but not altogether successfully. She got out her paper and blotting book, intending, as she said to herself, to write to Fanny, knowing, however, that the letter when written would be destroyed; but she was not able even to form a word. Her hand was unsteady and her eyes were dim and her thoughts were incapable of being fixed. She could only sit, and think, and wonder and hope; occasionally wiping the tears from her eyes, and asking herself why her present frame of mind was so painful to her? During the last two or three months she had felt no fear of Lord Lufton, had always carried herself before him on equal terms, and had been signally capable of doing so when he made his declaration to her at the parsonage; but now she looked forward with an undefined dread to the first moment in which she should see him. And then she thought of a certain evening she had passed at Framley Court, and acknowledged to herself that there was some pleasure in looking back to that. Griselda Grantly had been there, and all the constitutional powers of the two families had been at work to render easy a process of love-making between her and Lord Lufton. Lucy had seen and understood it all, without knowing that she understood it, and had, in a certain degree, suffered from beholding it. She had placed herself apart, not complaining–painfully conscious of some inferiority, but, at the same time, almost boasting to herself that in her own way she was the superior. And then he had come behind her chair, whispering to her, speaking to her his first words of kindness and good-nature, and she had resolved that she would be his friend–his friend, even though Griselda Grantly might be his wife. What those resolutions were worth had soon become manifest to her. She had soon confessed to herself the result of that friendship, and had determined to bear the punishment with courage. But now–

She sate so for about an hour, and would fain have so sat out the day. But as this could not be, she got up, and having washed her face and eyes returned to Mrs Crawley’s room. There she found Mr Crawley also, to her great joy, for she knew that while he was there no questions would be asked of her. He was always very gentle with her, treating her with an old-fashioned, polished respect–except when compelled on that one occasion by his sense of duty to accuse her of mendacity respecting the purveying of victuals–, but he had never become absolutely familiar with her as his wife had done; and it was well for her now that he had not done so, for she could not have talked about Lady Lufton. In the evening, when the three were present, she did manage to say that she expected Mrs Robarts would come over on the following day. ‘We shall part with you, Miss Robarts, with the deepest regret,’ said Mr Crawley; ‘but we would not on any account keep you longer. Mrs Crawley can do without you now. What she would have done, had you not come, I am a loss to think.’

‘I did not say that I should go,’ said Lucy.

‘But you will,’ said Mr Crawley. ‘Yes, dear you will. I know that it is proper now that you should return. Nay, but we will not have you any longer. And the poor dear children, too,–they may return. How am I to thank Mrs Robarts for what she has done for us?’ It was settled that if Mrs Robarts came on the following day Lucy should go back to her; and then, during the long watches of the night–for on this last night Lucy would not leave the bedside of her new friend till long after the dawn had broken, she did tell Mrs Crawley what was to be her destiny in life. To herself there seemed nothing strange in her new position; but to Mrs Crawley it was wonderful that she–she, poor as she was,–should have an embryo peeress at her bedside, handing her her cup to drink, and smoothing her pillow that she might be at rest. It was strange, and she could hardly maintain her accustomed familiarity. Lucy felt this at the moment.

‘It must make no difference, you know,’ said she, eagerly; ‘none at all between you and me. Promise me that it will make no difference.’ The promise was, of course, exacted; but it was not possible that such a promise should be kept. Very early on the following morning–so early that it woke her while still on her first sleep–there came a letter for her from the parsonage. Mrs Robarts had written it, after her return home from Lady Lufton’s dinner. The letter said:-

‘MY OWN DEAR DARLING,
‘How am I to congratulate you, and be eager enough in wishing you joy? I do wish you joy, and am so very happy. I write now chiefly to say that I shall be over with you about twelve to-morrow, and that I must bring you away with me. If I did not some one else, by no means so trustworthy, would insist on doing it.’

But this, though it was thus stated to be the chief part of the letter, and though it might be so in matter, was by no means so in space. It was very long, for Mrs Robarts had sat in writing it till past midnight. She went on to say, after two pages had been filled with his name:-

‘I will not say anything about him, but I must tell you how beautifully she has behaved. You will own that she is a dear woman; will you not?’

Lucy had already owned it many times since the visit of yesterday, and had declared to herself, as she has continued to declare ever since, that she never doubted it.

‘She took us by surprise when we got into the drawing- room before dinner, and she told us first of all that she had been to see you at Hogglestock. Lord Lufton, of course, could not keep the secret, but brought it out instantly. I can’t tell you now how he told it all, but I am sure you will believe that he did it in the best possible manner. He took my hand and pressed it half a dozen times, and I thought he was going to do something else; but he did not, so you need not be jealous. And she was so nice to Mark, saying such things in praise of you, and paying all manner of compliments to your father. But Lord Lufton scolded her immediately for not bringing you. He said it was lackadaisical and nonsensical; but I could see how much he loved her for what she had done; and she could see it too, for I know her ways, and know that she was delighted with him. She could not keep her eyes off him all the evening, and certainly I never did see him so well.

‘And then while Lord Lufton and Mark were in the dining-room, where they remained a terribly long time, she would make me go through the house that she might show me your rooms, and explain how you were to be the mistress there. She has got it all arranged to perfection, and I am sure she has been thinking about it for years. Her great fear at present is that you and he should go and live at Lufton. If you have any gratitude in you, either to her or to me, you will not let him do this. I consoled her by saying that there are not two stones upon one another at Lufton as yet; and I believe such is the case. Besides, everybody says that it is the ugliest spot in the world. She went on to declare, with tears in her eyes, that if you were content to remain at Framley, she would never interfere in anything. I do think that she is the best woman that ever lived.’

So much have I given of this letter formed but a small portion of it, but it comprises all that it is necessary that we should know. Exactly at twelve o’clock on that day Puck the pony appeared, with Mrs Robarts and Grace Crawley behind him, Grace having been brought back as being capable of some service in the house. Nothing that was confidential, and very little that was loving, could be said at the moment, because Mr Crawley was there, waiting to bid Miss Robarts adieu; and he had not as yet been informed of what was to be the future fate of his visitor. So they could only press each other’s hands and embrace, which to Lucy was almost a relief; for even to her sister-in-law she hardly as yet knew how to speak openly on this subject.

‘May God Almighty bless you, Miss Robarts,’ said Mr Crawley, as he stood in his dingy sitting-room ready to lead her out to the pony-carriage. ‘You have brought sunshine into this house, even in the time of sickness, when there was no sunshine; and He will bless you. You have been the Good Samaritan, binding up the wounds of the afflicted, pouring in oil and balm. To the mother of my children you have given life, and to me you have brought light, and comfort and good words,–making my spirit glad within me as it had not been gladdened before. All this hath come of charity, which vaunteth not itself and is not puffed up. Faith and hope are great and beautiful, but charity exceedeth them all.’ And having so spoken, instead of leading her he went away and hid himself. How Puck behaved himself as Fanny drove him back to Framley, and how those two ladies in the carriage behaved themselves–of that, perhaps, nothing need be said.

CHAPTER XLVII

NEMESIS

But in spite of these joyful tidings it must, alas! be remembered that Poena, that just but Rhadamanthine goddess, whom moderns ordinarily call Punishment, or Nemesis when we wish to speak of her goddess-ship, very seldom fails to catch a wicked man though she have sometimes a lame foot of her own, and though the wicked man may possibly get a start of her. In this instance the wicked man had been our unfortunate Mark Robarts; wicked in that he had unwittingly touched pitch, gone to Gatherum Castle, ridden fast mares across the country to Cobbold’s Ashes, and fallen very imprudently among the Tozers; and the instrument used by Nemesis was Mr Tom Towers of the Jupiter, than whom, in these our days, there is no deadlier scourge in the hands of that goddess. In the first instance, however, I must mention, though I will not relate, a little conversation that took place between Lady Lufton and Mr Robarts. That gentleman thought it right to say a few words more to her ladyship respecting those money transactions. He could not but feel, he said, that he had received the prebendal stall from the hands of Mr Sowerby; and under such circumstances, considering all that had happened, he could not be easy in his mind as long as he held it. What he was about to do would, he was aware, delay considerably his final settlement with Lord Lufton; but Lufton, he hoped, would pardon that, and agree with him as to the propriety of what he was about to do.

On the first blush of the thing Lady Lufton did not quite go along with him. Now that Lord Lufton was to marry the parson’s sister it might be well that the parson should be a dignitary of the Church; and it might be well, also, that one so nearly connected with her son should be comfortable in money matters. There loomed, also, in the future, some distant possibility of higher clerical honours for a peer’s brother-in-law; and the top rung of the ladder is always more easily attained when a man has already ascended a step or two. But, nevertheless, when the matter came to be fully explained to her, when she saw clearly the circumstances under which the stall had been conferred, she did agree that it had better be given up. And well for both of them that it was–well for them all at Framley–that this conclusion had been reached before the scourge of Nemesis had fallen. Nemesis, of course, declared that her scourge had produced the resignation; but it was generally understood that this was a false boast, for all clerical men at Barchester knew that the stall had been restored to the chapter, or, in other words, into the hands of the Government, before Tom Towers had twirled the fatal lash above his head. But the manner of the twirling was as follows:-

‘It is with difficulty enough,’ said the article in the Jupiter, ‘that the Church of England maintains at the present moment that ascendancy among the religious sects of this country which it so loudly claims. And perhaps it is rather from an old-fashioned and time-honoured affection for its standing than from any intrinsic merits of its own that some such general acknowledgement of its ascendancy is still allowed to prevail. If, however, the patrons and clerical members of this Church are bold enough to disregard all general rules of decent behaviour, we think we may predict that this chivalrous feeling will be found to give way. From time to time we hear of instances of such imprudence, and are made to wonder at the folly of those who are supposed to hold the State Church in the greatest reverence.

‘Among those positions of dignified ease to which fortunate clergymen may be promoted are the stalls of the canons or prebendaries in our cathedrals. Some of these, as is well known, carry little or no emolument with them, but some are rich in the good things of the world. Excellent family houses are attached to them, with we hardly know what domestic privileges, and clerical incomes, moreover, of an amount which, if divided, would make glad the hearts of many a hard-working clerical slave. Reform has been busy even among these stalls, attaching some amount of work to the pay, and paring off some superfluous wealth from such of them as were over full; but reform has been lenient with them, acknowledging that it was well to have some such places of comfortable and dignified retirement for those who have worn themselves out in the hard work of their profession. There has of late prevailed a taste for the appointment of young bishops, produced no doubt a feeling that bishops should be men fitted to get through really hard work; but we have never heard that young prebendaries were considered desirable. A clergyman selected for such a position should, we have always thought, have earned an evening of ease by a long day of work, and should, above all things, be one whose life has been, and therefore in human probability will be, so decorous as to be honourable to the cathedral of his adoption.

‘We were, however, the other day given to understand that one of these luxurious benefices belonging to the cathedral of Barchester, had been bestowed in the Rev Mark Robarts, the vicar of a neighbouring parish, on the understanding that he should hold the living and the stall together; and on making further inquiry we were surprised to learn that this fortunate gentleman is as yet under thirty years of age. We were desirous, however of believing that his learning, his piety, and his conduct, might be of a nature to add peculiar grace to his chapter, and therefore, though almost unwillingly, we were silent. But now it has come to our ears, and, indeed, to the ears of all the world, that this piety and conduct are sadly wanting; and judging of Mr Robarts by his life and associates, we are inclined to doubt even his learning. He has at this moment, or at any rate had but a few days since, an execution in his parsonage house at Framley, on the suit of certain most disreputable bill discounters in London; and probably would have another execution in his other house in Barchester close, but for the fact that he has never thought it necessary to go into residence.’

Then followed some very stringent, and, no doubt, much-needed advice to those clerical members of the Church of England who are supposed to be mainly responsible for the conduct of their brethren; and the article ended as follows:-

‘Many of these stalls are in the gift of the respective deans and chapters, and in such cases the dean and chapters are bound to see that proper persons are appointed; but in other instances the power of selection is vested in the Crown, and then an equal responsibility rests on the Government of the day. Mr Robarts, we learn, was appointed to the stall in Barchester by the late Prime Minister, and we really think that a grave censure rests on him for the manner in which his patronage has been exercised. It may be impossible that he should himself in all such cases satisfy himself by personal inquiry. But our Government is altogether conducted on the footing of vicarial responsibility. Quod facit per alium, facit per se, is a special manner true of our ministers, and any man who rises to high position among them must abide by the danger thereby incurred. In this peculiar case we are informed that the recommendation was made by a very recently admitted member of the Cabinet, to whose appointment we alluded at the time as a great mistake. The gentleman in question held no high individual office of his own; but evil such as this which has now been done at Barchester, is exactly the sort of mischief which follows the exaltation of unfit men to high positions, even though no great hope of executive failure may be placed within their reach.

‘If Mr Robarts will allow us to tender to him our advice he will lose no time in going through such ceremony as may be necessary again to place the stall at the disposal of the Crown!’

I may observe that poor Harold Smith, when he read this, writhing in agony, declared it to be the handiwork of his hated enemy, Mr Supplehouse. He knew the mark; so, at least, he said; but I myself am inclined to believe that his animosity misled him. I think that one greater than Mr Supplehouse had taken upon himself the punishment of our poor vicar. This was very dreadful to them all at Framley, and, when first read, seemed to crush them to atoms. Poor Mrs Robarts, when she heard it, seemed to think that for them the world was over. An attempt had been made to keep it from her, but such attempts always fail, as did this. The article was copied into all the good-natured local newspapers and she soon discovered that something was being hidden. At last it was shown to her by her husband, and then for a few hours she was annihilated; for a few days she was unwilling to show herself; and for a few weeks she was very sad. But after that the world seemed to go on much as it had done before; the sun shone upon them as warmly as though the article had not been written; and not only the sun of heaven, which, as a rule, is not limited in his shining in any display of pagan thunder, but also the genial sun of their own sphere, the warmth and light of which were so essentially necessary to their happiness. Neighbouring rectors did not look glum, nor did the rectors’ wives refuse to call. The people in the shops at Barchester did not regard her as though she were a disgraced woman, though it must be acknowledged that Mrs Proudie passed her in the close with the coldest nod of recognition.

On Mrs Proudie’s mind alone did the article seem to have any enduring effect. In one respect it was, perhaps, beneficial; Lady Lufton was at once induced by it to make common cause with her own clergyman, and thus the remembrance of Mr Robarts’s sins passed away the quicker from the minds of the whole Framley Court household. And, indeed, the county at large was not able to give to the matter that undivided attention which would have been considered its due at periods of no more than ordinary interest. At the present moment preparations were being made for a general election, and although no contest was to take place in the eastern division, a very violent fight was being carried on in the west; and the circumstances of that fight were so exciting that Mr Robarts and his article were forgotten before their time. An edict had gone forth from Gatherum Castle directing that Mr Sowerby should be turned out, and an answering note of defiance had been sounded from Chaldicotes, protesting on behalf of Mr Sowerby, that the duke’s behest would not be obeyed.

There are two classes of persons in this realm who are constitutionally inefficient to take any part in returning members of Parliament–peers, namely and women; and yet it was soon known through the whole length and breadth of the county that the present electioneering fight was being carried on between a peer and a woman. Miss Dunstable had been declared the purchaser of the Chace of Chaldicotes, as it were, just in the very nick of time; which purchase–so men in Barsetshire declared, not knowing anything of the facts,–would have gone altogether the other way, had not the giants obtained temporary supremacy over the gods. The duke was a supporter of the gods, and therefore, so Mr Fothergill hinted, his money had been refused. Miss Dunstable was prepared to beard this ducal friend of the gods in his own county, and therefore her money had been taken. I am inclined, however, to think that Mr Fothergill knew nothing about it, and to opine that Miss Dunstable, in her eagerness for victory, offered to the Crown more money than the property was worth in the duke’s opinion, and that the Crown took advantage of her anxiety, to the manifest profit of the public at large. And it soon became known also that Miss Dunstable was, in fact, the proprietor of the whole Chaldicotes estate, and that in promoting the success of Mr Sowerby as a candidate for the county, she was standing by her own tenant. It also became known, in the course of the battle, that Miss Dunstable had herself at last succumbed, and that she was about to marry Dr Thorne of Greshambury, or the “Greshambury apothecary”, as the adverse party now delighted to call him. ‘He has been little better than a quack all his life,’ said Dr Fillgrave, the eminent physician of Barchester, ‘and now he is going to marry a quack’s daughter.’ By which, and the like to which, Dr Thorne did not allow himself to be much annoyed. But all this gave rise to a very petty series of squibs arranged between Mr Fothergill and Mr Closerstill, the electioneering agent. Mr Sowerby was named ‘the lady’s pet’, and descriptions were given of the lady who kept this pet, which were by no means flattering to Miss Dunstable’s appearance, or manners, or age. And then the western division of the county was asked in a grave tone–as counties and boroughs are asked by means of advertisements stuck up on blind walls and barn doors–whether it was fitting and proper that it should be represented by a woman. Upon which the county was again asked whether it was fitting and proper that it should be represented by a duke. And then the question became more personal as against Miss Dunstable, and inquiry was urged whether the county would not be indelibly disgraced if it were not only handed over to a woman, but handed over to a woman who sold the oil of Lebanon. But little was got by this move, for an answering placard explained to the unfortunate county how deep would be its shame, if it allowed itself to became the appanage of any peer, but more especially of a peer who was known to be the most immoral lord that ever disgraced the benches of the Upper House. And so the battle went on very prettily, and, as money was allowed to flow freely, the West Barsetshire world at large was not ill satisfied. It is wonderful how much disgrace of that kind a borough or county can endure without flinching; and wonderful, also, seeing how supreme is the value attached to the Constitution by the realm at large, how very little the principles of that Constitution are valued by the people in detail. The duke, of course, did not show himself. He rarely did on any occasion, and never on such occasions as this; but Mr Fothergill was to be seen everywhere. Miss Dunstable, also, did not hide her light under a bushel; though here I declare, on the faith of an historian, that the rumour spread abroad of her having made a speech to the electors from the top of the porch over the hotel-door at Courcy was not founded on fact. No doubt she was at Courcy, and her carriage stopped at the hotel; but neither there nor elsewhere did she make any public exhibition. ‘They must have mistaken me for Mrs Proudie,’ she said, when the rumour reached her ears. But there was, alas! one great element of failure on Miss Dunstable’s side of the battle. Mr Sowerby himself could not be induced to fight it as became a man. Any positive injunctions that were laid upon him he did, in a sort, obey. It had been a part of the bargain that he should stand the contest, and from that bargain he could not well go back. But he had not the spirit left to him for any true fighting on his own part. He could not go up on the hustings, and there defy the duke. Early in the affair Mr Fothergill challenged him to do so, and Mr Sowerby never took up the gauntlet.

‘We have heard,’ said Mr Fothergill, in that great speech which he made at the Omnium arms at Silverbridge–‘we have heard much during this election of the Duke of Omnium, of the injuries which he is supposed to have inflicted on one of the candidates. The duke’s name is very frequent in the mouths of the gentlemen–and of the lady–who support Mr Sowerby’s claims. But I do not think that Mr Sowerby himself has dared to say much about the duke. I defy Mr Sowerby to mention the duke’s name upon the hustings.’ And it so happened that Mr Sowerby never did mention the duke’s name.

It is ill fighting when the spirit is gone, and Mr Sowerby’s spirit for such things was not wellnigh broken. It is true that he had escaped from the net in which the duke, by Mr Fothergill’s aid, had entangled him; but he had only broken out of one captivity into another. Money is a serious thing; and when gone cannot be had back by a shuffle in the game, or a fortunate blow with the battledore, as may political power, or reputation, or fashion. One hundred thousand pounds gone, must remain as gone, let the person who claims to have had the honour of advancing it be Mrs B or my Lord C. No lucky dodge can erase such a claim from the things that be–unless, indeed, such dodge be possible as Mr Sowerby tried with Miss Dunstable. It was better for him, undoubtedly, to have the lady for a creditor than the duke, seeing that it was possible for him to live as a tenant in his own old house under the lady’s reign. But this he found to be a sad enough life, after all that was come and gone.

The election on Miss Dunstable’s part was lost. She carried on the contest nobly, fighting it to the last moment, and sparing neither her own money nor that of her antagonist; but she carried it on unsuccessfully. Many gentlemen did support Mr Sowerby because they were willing enough to emancipate their county from the duke’s thraldom; but Mr Sowerby was felt to be a black sheep, as Lady Lufton had called him, and at the close of the election he found himself banished from the representation of West Barsetshire; –banished for ever, after having held the county for five-and-twenty years. Unfortunate Mr Sowerby! I cannot take leave of him here without some feeling of regret, knowing that there was that within him which might, under better guidance, have produced better things. There are men, even of high birth, who seem as though they were born to be rogues; but Mr Sowerby was, to my thinking, born to be a gentleman. That he had not been a gentleman–that he had bolted from his appointed course, going terribly on the wrong side of the posts–let us all acknowledge. It is not a gentlemanlike deed, but a very blackguard action, to obtain a friend’s acceptance to a bill in an unguarded hour of social intercourse. That and other similar doings have stamped his character too plainly. But, nevertheless, I claim a tear of Mr Sowerby, and lament that he has failed to run his race discreetly, in accordance with the rules of the Jockey Club. He attempted that plan of living as a tenant in his old house at Chaldicotes, and of making a living out of the land which he farmed; but he soon abandoned it. He had no aptitude for such industry, and he could not endure his altered position in the county. He soon relinquished Chaldicotes of his own accord, and has vanished away, as such men do vanish–not altogether without necessary income; to which point in the final arrangement of their joint affairs, Mrs Thorne’s man of business–if I may be allowed so far to anticipate–paid special attention. And thus Lord Dumbello, the duke’s nominee, got in, as the duke’s nominee had done for very many years past. There was no Nemesis here–none as yet. Nevertheless, she with the lame foot will assuredly catch him, the duke, if it be that he deserve to be caught. With us his grace’s appearance has been so unfrequent that I think we may omit to make any further inquiry as to his concerns.

One point, however, is worthy of notice, as showing the good sense with which we manage our affairs here in England. In an early portion of this story the reader was introduced to the interior of Gatherum Castle, and there saw Miss Dunstable entertained by the duke in the most friendly manner. Since those days the lady has become the duke’s neighbour, and has waged a war with him, which he probably felt to be very vexatious. But, nevertheless, on the next great occasion at Gatherum Castle, Doctor and Mrs Thorne were among the visitors, and to no one was the duke more personally courteous than to his opulent neighbour, the late Miss Dunstable.

CHAPTER XLVIII

HOW THEY WERE ALL MARRIED, HAD TWO CHILDREN, AND LIVED HAPPY EVER AFTER

Dear affectionate, sympathetic readers, we have four couple of sighing lovers with whom to deal in this our last chapter, and I, as leader of the chorus, disdain to press you further with doubts as to the happiness of any of that quadrille. They were all made happy, in spite of that little episode which so lately took place at Barchester; and in telling of their happiness–shortly, as is now necessary–we will take them chronologically, giving precedence to those who first appeared at the hymeneal altar. In July, then, at the cathedral, by the father of the bride, assisted by his examining chaplain, Olivia Proudie, the eldest daughter of the Bishop of Barchester, was joined in marriage to the Rev Tobias Tickler, incumbent of the Trinity district church in Bethnal Green. Of the bridegroom in this instance, our acquaintance has been so short, that it is not, perhaps, necessary to say much. When coming to the wedding he proposed to bring his three darling children with him; but in this measure he was, I think prudently, stopped by the advice, rather strongly worded, from his future valued mother-in-law. Mr Tickler was not an opulent man, nor had he hitherto attained any great fame in his profession; but, at the age of forty-three he still had sufficient opportunity before him, and now that his merit has been properly viewed by high ecclesiastical eyes the refreshing dew of deserved promotion will no doubt fall upon him. The marriage was very smart, and Olivia carried herself through the trying ordeal with an excellent propriety of conduct. Up to that time, and even for a few days longer, there was doubt at Barchester as to that strange journey which Lord Dumbello did take to France. When a man so circumstanced will suddenly go to Paris, without notice given even to his future bride, people must doubt; and grave were the apprehensions expressed on this occasion by Mrs Proudie, even at her child’s wedding breakfast. ‘God bless you, my dear children,’ she said, standing up at the head of her table as she addressed Mr Tickler and his wife; ‘when I see your perfect happiness–perfect, that is, as far a human happiness can be made perfect in this vale of tears–and think of the terrible calamity which has fallen on our unfortunate neighbours, I cannot but acknowledge His infinite mercy and goodness. The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.’ By which she intended, no doubt, to signify that whereas Mr Tickler had been given to her Olivia, Lord Dumbello had been taken away from the archdeacon’s Griselda. The happy couple then went in Mrs Proudie’s carriage to the nearest railway station but one, and from thence proceeded to Malvern, and there spent their honeymoon. And a great comfort it was, I am sure, to Mrs Proudie when authenticated tidings reached Barchester that Lord Dumbello had returned from Paris and that the Hartletop-Grantly alliance was to be carried to its completion. She still, however, held her opinion–whether correctly or not who shall say?–that the young lord had intended to escape. ‘The archdeacon has shown great firmness in the way in which he has done it,’ said Mrs Proudie; ‘but whether he has consulted the child’s best interests in forcing her into a marriage with an unwilling husband, I for one must take leave to doubt. But then, unfortunately, we all know how completely the archdeacon is devoted to worldly matters.’

In this instance the archdeacon’s devotion to worldly matters was rewarded by that success which he no doubt desired. He did go up to London, and did see one or two of Lord Dumbello’s friends. This he did, not obtrusively, as though in fear of any falsehood or vacillation on the part of the viscount, but with that discretion and tact for which he has been so long noted. Mrs Proudie declares that during the few days of his absence from Barsetshire he himself crossed to France and hunted down Lord Dumbello at Paris. As to this I am not prepared to say anything; but I am quite sure, as will be all those who knew the archdeacon, that he was not a man to see his daughter wronged as long as any measure remained by which such wrong might be avoided. But, be that as it may–that mooted question as to the archdeacon’s journey to Paris–Lord Dumbello was forthcoming at Plumstead on the 5th August, and went through his work like a man. The Hartletop family, when the alliance was found to be inevitable, endeavoured to arrange that the wedding should be held at Hartletop Priory, in order that the clerical dust and dinginess of Barchester Close might not soil the splendour of the marriage gala doings; for, to tell the truth, the Hartletopians, as a rule, were not proud of their new clerical connexions. But on this subject Mrs Grantly was very properly inexorable; nor when an attempt was made on the bride to induce her to throw over her mamma at the last moment and pronounce for herself that she would be married at the priory, was it attended with any success. The Hartletops knew nothing of the Grantly fibre and calibre, or they would have made no such attempt. The marriage took place at Plumstead, and on the morning of the day Lord Dumbello posted over from Barchester to the rectory. The ceremony was performed by the archdeacon, without assistance, although the dean, and the precentor, and two other clergymen, were at the ceremony. Griselda’s propriety of conduct was quite equal to that of Olivia Proudie; indeed, nothing could exceed the statuesque grace and fine aristocratic bearing with which she carried herself on the occasion. The three or four words which the service required of her she said with ease and dignity; there was neither sobbing nor crying to disturb the work or embarrass her friends, and she signed her name in the church books as “Griselda Grantly” without a tremor–and without a regret.

Mrs Grantly kissed her and blessed her in the halls as she was about to step forward to her travelling carriage leaning on her father’s arm, and the child put up her face to her mother for a last whisper. ‘Mamma,’ she said, ‘I suppose Jane can put out her hand at once on the moire antique when we reach Dover?’ Mrs Grantly smiled and nodded, and again blessed the child. There was not a tear shed–at least, not then–nor a sign of sorrow to cloud for a moment the gay splendour of the day. But the mother did bethink herself, in the solitude of her own room, of those last words, and did acknowledge a lack of something for which her heart had sighed. She had boasted to her sister that she had nothing to regret as to her daughter’s education; but now, when she was alone after her success, did she feel that she could still support herself with that boast? For, be it known, Mrs Grantly had a heart within her bosom and a faith within her heart. The world, it is true, had pressed upon her sorely with all its weight of accumulated clerical wealth, but it had not utterly crushed her–not her, but only her child. For the sins of the father, are they not visited on the third and fourth generation? But if any such feeling of remorse did for awhile mar the fullness of Mrs Grantly’s joy, it was soon dispelled by the perfect success of her daughter’s married life. At the end of the autumn the bride and bridegroom returned from their tour, and it was evident to all the circle at Hartletop Priory that Lord Dumbello was by no means dissatisfied with his bargain. His wife had been admired everywhere to the top of his bent. All the world at Ems, and Baden, and at Nice, had been stricken by the stately beauty of the young countess. And then, too, her manner, style, and high dignity of demeanour altogether supported the reverential feeling which her grace and form first inspired. She never derogated from her husband’s honour by the fictitious liveliness of gossip, or allowed any one to forget the peeress in the woman. Lord Dumbello soon found that his reputation for discretion was quite safe in her hands, and that there were no lessons as to conduct in which it was necessary that he should give instruction. Before the winter was over she had equally won the hearts of all the circle at Hartletop Priory. The duke was there and declared to the marchioness that Dumbello could not possibly have done better. ‘Indeed, I do think he could,’ said the happy mother. ‘She sees all that she ought to see, and nothing that she ought not.’

And then, in London, when the season came, all men sang all manner of praises in her favour and Lord Dumbello was made aware that he was reckoned among the wisest of his age. He was married a wife who managed everything for him, who never troubled him, whom no woman disliked, and whom every man admired. As for feast of reason and for flow of soul, is not a question whether any such flows and feasts are necessary between a man and his wife? How many men can truly assert that they ever enjoy connubial flows of soul, or that connubial feasts of reason are in their nature enjoyable? But a handsome woman at the head of your table, who knows how to dress, and how to sit, and how to get in and out of her carriage–who will not disgrace her lord by her ignorance, or fret him by her coquetry, or disparage him by her talent–how beautiful a thing it is! For my own part I think that Griselda Grantly was born to be the wife of a great English peer.

‘After all, then,’ said Miss Dunstable, speaking of Lady Dumbello–she was Mrs Thorne at this time–‘ after all, there is some truth in what our quaint latter-day philosophers tell us–“Great are thy powers, O Silence!”‘ The marriage of our friends, Dr Thorne and Miss Dunstable, was the third on the list, but that did not take place till the end of September. The lawyers on such an occasion had no inconsiderable work to accomplish, and though the lady was not coy, nor the gentleman slow, it was not found practicable to arrange an earlier wedding. The ceremony was performed at St George’s, Hanover Square, and was not brilliant in any special degree. London at the time was empty, and the few persons whose presence was actually necessary were imported from the country for the occasion. The bride was given away by Dr Easyman, and the two bridesmaids were ladies who had lived with Miss Dunstable as companions. Young Mr Gresham and his wife were there, as was also Mrs Harold Smith, who was not at all prepared to drop her own friend in her new sphere of life. ‘We shall call her Mrs Thorne instead of Miss Dunstable, and I really think that will be all the difference,’ said Mrs Harold Smith. To Mrs Harold Smith that probably was all the difference, but it was not so to the persons most concerned.

According to the plan of life arranged between the doctor and his wife she was still to keep up her house in London, remaining there during such period of the season as she might choose, and receiving him when it might appear good to him to visit her; but he was to be the master in the country. A mansion at the Chace was to be built, and till such time as that was completed, they would keep the old house at Greshambury. Into this, small as it was, Mrs Thorne,–in spite of her great wealth,–did not disdain to enter. But subsequent circumstances changed their plans. It was found that Mr Sowerby could not or would not live at Chaldicotes; and, therefore, in the second year of their marriage, that place was prepared for them. They are now well known to the whole county as Dr and Mrs Thorne of Chaldicotes,–of Chaldicotes, in distinction to the well-known Thornes of Ullathorne in the eastern division. Here they live respected by their neighbours, and on terms of alliance both with the Duke of Omnium and with Lady Lufton. ‘Of course those dear old avenues will be very sad to me,’ said Mrs Harold Smith, when at the end of a London season she was invited down to Chaldicotes; and as she spoke she put her handkerchief up to her eyes.

‘Well, dear, what can I do?’ said Mrs Thorne. ‘I can’t cut them down; the doctor would not let me.’

‘Oh, no,’ said Mrs Harold Smith, sighing; and in spite of her feeling she did visit Chaldicotes.

But it was October before Lord Lufton was made a happy man;–that is, if the fruition of his happiness was a greater joy than the anticipation of it. I will not say that the happiness of marriage is like the Dead Sea fruit–an apple which, when eaten, turns to bitter ashes in the mouth. Such pretended sarcasm would be very false. Nevertheless, is it not a fact that the sweetest morsel of love’s feast has been eaten, that the freshest, fairest blush of the flower has been snatched and has passed away, when the ceremony at the altar has been performed, and legal possession has been given? There is an aroma of love, an undefinable delicacy of flavour, which escapes and is gone before the church portal is left, vanishing with the maiden name, and incompatible with the solid comfort appertaining to the rank of wife. To love one’s own spouse, and to be loved by her, is the ordinary lot of man, and is a duty exacted under penalties. But to be allowed to love youth and beauty that is not one’s own–to know that one is loved by a soft being who still hangs cowering from the eye of the world as though her love were all but illicit–can it be that a man is made happy when a state of anticipation such as this is brought to a close? No; when the husband walks back from the altar, he has already swallowed the choicest dainties of his banquet. The beef and pudding of married life are then in store for him;–or perhaps only the bread of cheese. Let him take care lest hardly a crust remain–or perhaps not a crust. But before we finish, let us go back for one moment to the dainties–to the time before the beef and pudding were served–while Lucy was still at the parsonage, and Lord Lufton still staying at Framley Court. He had come up one morning, as was now frequently his wont, and, after a few minutes’ conversation, Mrs Robarts had left the room–as not unfrequently on such occasions was her wont. Lucy was working and continued her work, and Lord Lufton for a moment or two sat looking at her; then he got up abruptly, and, standing before her, thus questioned her:-

‘Lucy,’ said he.

‘Well, what of Lucy now? Any particular fault this morning?’

‘Yes, a most particular fault. When I asked you, here, in this