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  • 1861
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‘Beautiful profile, has she not?’ said Miss Dunstable, somewhat later in the evening, to Mrs Proudie. Of course, the profile spoken of belonged to Miss Grantly.

‘Yes, it is beautiful, certainly,’ said Mrs Proudie. ‘The pity is that it means nothing.’

‘The gentlemen seem to think that it means a good deal.’

‘I am not sure of that. She has no conversation, you see; not a word. She has been sitting there with Lord Dumbello at her elbow for the last hour, and yet she has hardly opened her mouth three times.’

‘But, my dear Mrs Proudie, who on earth could talk to Lord Dumbello?’ Mrs Proudie thought that her own daughter Olivia would undoubtedly be able to do so, if only she could get the opportunity. But, then, Olivia had so much conversation. And while the two ladies were yet looking at the youthful pair, Lord Dumbello did speak again. ‘I think I have had enough of this now,’ said he, addressing himself to Griselda.

‘I suppose you have other engagements,’ said she.

‘Oh, yes; and I believe I shall go to Lady Clantelbrocks.’ And then he took his departure. No other word was spoken that evening between him and Miss Grantly beyond those given in this chronicle, and yet the world declared that he and that young lady had passed the evening in so close a flirtation as to make the matter more than ordinarily particular; and Mrs Grantly, as she was driven home to her lodgings, began to have doubts in her mind whether it would be wise to discountenance so great an alliance as that which the head of the great Hartletop family now seemed so desirous to establish. The prudent mother had not yet spoken a word to her daughter on these subjects, but it might soon become necessary to do so. It was all very well for Lady Lufton to hurry up to town, but of what service would that be, if Lord Lufton were not to be found in Bruton Street?

CHAPTER XVIII

THE NEW MINISTER’S PATRONAGE

At that time, just as Lady Lufton was about to leave Framley for London, Mark Robarts received a pressing letter, inviting him also to go up to the metropolis for a day or two–not for pleasure, but on business. The letter was from his indefatigable friend Sowerby. ‘My dear Robarts,’ the letter ran:–‘I have just heard that poor little Burslem, the Barsetshire prebendary, is dead. We must all die some day, you know–as you have told your parishioners from the Framley pulpit more than once, no doubt. The stall must be filled up, and why should not you have it as well as another? It is six hundred a year and a house. Little Burslem had nine, but the good old times are gone. Whether the house is lettable or not under the present ecclesiastical regime, I do not know. It used to be so, for I remember Mrs Wiggins, the tallow-chandler’s widow, living in old Stanhope’s house.

‘Harold Smith has just joined the Government as Lord Petty Bag, and could, I think, at the present moment, get this for asking. He cannot well refuse me, and, if you will say the word, I will speak to him. You had better come up yourself; but say the word “Yes” or “No” by the wires.

‘If you say “Yes”, as of course you will, do not fail to come up. You will find me at the “Travellers”, or at the House. The stall will just suit you,–will give you no trouble, improve your position, and give some little assistance towards bed and board, and rack and manger. –Yours ever faithfully, N. SOWERBY,

‘Singularly enough, I hear your brother is private secretary to the new Lord Petty Bag. I am told that his chief duty will consist in desiring the servants to call my sister’s carriage. I have only seen Harold once since he accepted office; but my Lady Petty Bag says that he has certainly grown an inch since that occurrence.’

This was certainly very good-natured on the part of Mr Sowerby, and showed that he had a feeling within his bosom that he owed something to his friend the parson for the injury he had done him. And such was in truth the case. A more reckless being than the member for West Barsetshire could not exist. He was reckless for himself, and reckless for all others with whom he might be concerned. He could ruin his friends with as little remorse he had ruined himself. All was fair game that came in the way of his net. But, nevertheless, he was good-natured, and willing to move heaven and earth to do a friend a good turn, if it came in his way to do so. He did really love Mark Robarts as much as it was given to him to love any among his acquaintance. He knew that he had already done him an almost irreparable injury, and might very probably injure him still deeper before he had done with him. That he would undoubtedly do so, if it came in his way, was very certain. But then, if it also came in his way to repay his friend by any side blow he would also undoubtedly do that. Such an occasion had now come, and he had desired his sister to give the new Lord Petty Bag no rest till he should have promised to use all his influence in getting the vacant prebend for Mark Robarts.

This letter of Sowerby’s Mark immediately showed to his wife. How lucky, thought he to himself, that not a word was said in it about those accursed money transactions! Had he understood Sowerby better he would have known that that gentleman never said anything about money transactions until it became absolutely necessary. ‘I know you don’t like Mr Sowerby,’ he said; ‘but you must own that this is very good natured.’

‘It is the character I hear of him that I don’t like,’ said Mrs Robarts.

‘But what shall I do now, Fanny? As he says, why should not I have the stall as well as another?’

‘I suppose it would not interfere with your parish?’

‘Not in the least, at the distance we are. I did think of giving up old Jones; but if I take this, of course I must keep the curate.’ His wife could not find it in her heart to dissuade him from accepting promotion when it came in his way–what vicar’s wife would have so persuaded her husband? But yet she did not altogether like it. She feared that Greek from Chaldicotes, even when he came with the present of a prebendal stall in his hands. And then what would Lady Lufton say?

‘And do you think that you must go up to London, Mark?’

‘Oh, certainly; that is, if I intend to accept Harold Smith’s kind offices in the matter.’

‘I suppose it will be better to accept them,’ said Fanny, feeling perhaps that it would be useless in her to hope that they should not be accepted.

‘Prebendal stalls, Fanny, don’t generally go begging long among clergymen. How could I reconcile it to the duty I owe my children to refuse such an increase to my income?’ And so it was settled that he should at once drive to Silverbridge and send off a message by telegraph, and that he should himself proceed to London on the following day. ‘But you must see Lady Lufton first, of course,’ said Fanny, as soon as all this was settled. Mark would have avoided this if he could have decently done so, but he felt that it would be impolite, as well as indecent. And why should he be afraid to tell Lady Lufton that he hoped to receive this piece of promotion from the present Government? There was nothing disgraceful in a clergyman becoming a prebendary of Barchester. Lady Lufton herself had always been very civil to the prebendaries, and especially to little Dr Burslem, the meagre little man who had just now paid the debt of nature. She had always been very fond of the chapter, and her original dislike to Bishop Proudie had been chiefly on his interference, or on that of his wife or chaplain. Considering these things Mark Robarts tried to make himself believe that Lady Lufton would be delighted at his good fortune. But yet he did not believe it. She at any rate would revolt from the gift of the Greek of Chaldicotes. ‘Oh, indeed,’ she said, when the vicar had with some difficulty explained to her all the circumstances of the case. ‘Well, I congratulate you, Mr Robarts, on your powerful new patron.’

‘You will probably feel with me, Lady Lufton, that the benefice is one which I can hold without any detriment to me in my position here at Framley,’ said he, prudently resolving to let the slur upon his friends pass by unheeded.

‘Well, I hope so. Of course, you are a very young man, Mr Robarts, and these things have generally been given to clergymen more advanced in life.’

‘But you do not mean to say that you think I ought to refuse it?’

‘What my advice to you might be if you really came to me for advice, I am hardly prepared to say at so very short a notice. You seem to have made up your mind, and therefore I need not consider it. As it is, I wish you joy, and hope that it may turn out to your advantage in every way.’

‘You understand, Lady Lufton, that I have by no means got it yet.’

‘Oh, I thought it had been offered to you: I thought you spoke of this new minister as having all that in his own hand.’

‘Oh dear no. What may be the amount of his influence in that respect I do not at all know. But my correspondent assures me–‘

‘Mr Sowerby, you mean. Why don’t you call him by his name?’

‘Mr Sowerby assures me that Mr Smith will ask for it; and thinks it most probable that his request will be successful.’

‘Oh, of course. Mr Sowerby and Mr Harold Smith together would no doubt be successful in anything. They are the sort of men who are successful nowadays. Well, Mr Robarts, I wish you joy.’ And she gave him her hand in token of her sincerity. Mark took her hand, resolving to say nothing further on that occasion. That Lady Lufton was not now cordial with him, as she used to be, he was well aware; and sooner or later he was determined to have the matter out with her. He would ask her why she so constantly met with him in a taunt, and so seldom greeted him with that kind old affectionate smile which he knew and appreciated so well. That she was honest and true he was quite sure. If he asked her the question plainly, she would answer him openly. And if he could induce her to say that she would return to her old ways, return to them she would in a hearty manner. But he could not do this just at present. It was but a day or two since Mr Crawley had been with him; and was it not probable that Mr Crawley had been sent hither by Lady Lufton? His own hands were not clean enough for a remonstrance at the present moment. He would cleanse them, and then he would remonstrate. ‘Would you like to live part of the year in Barchester?’ he said to his wife and sister that evening.

‘I think that the two houses are only a trouble,’ said his wife. ‘And we have been happy here.’

‘I have always liked a cathedral town,’ said Lucy; ‘and I am particularly fond of the close.’

‘And Barchester Close is the closest of all closes,’ said Mark. ‘There is not a single house within the gateways that does not belong to the chapter.’

‘But if we are to keep up two houses, the additional income will soon be wasted,’ said Fanny, prudently.

‘The thing would be to let the house furnished every summer,’ said Lucy.

‘But I must take my residence as the terms come,’ said the vicar; ‘and I certainly should not like to be away from Framley all the winter; I should never see anything of Lufton.’ And perhaps he thought of his hunting and then thought again of the cleansing of his hands.

‘I should not a bit mind being away during winter,’ said Lucy, thinking of what the last winter had done for her.

‘But where on earth should we find money to furnish one of those large, old-fashioned houses? Pray, Mark, do not do anything rash.’ And the wife laid her hand affectionately on her husband’s arm. In this manner the question of the prebend was discussed between them on the evening before he started for London. Success had at last crowned the earnest effort with which Harold Smith had carried on the political battle of his life for the last ten years. The late Lord Petty Bag had resigned in disgust, having been unable to digest the Prime Minister’s ideas on Indian Reform, and Mr Harold Smith, after sundry hitches in the business, was installed in his place. It was said that Harold Smith was not exactly the man whom the Premier would himself have chosen for that high office; but the Premier’s hands were a good deal tied by circumstances. The last great appointment he had made had been terribly unpopular,–so much so as to subject him, popular as he undoubtedly was himself, to a screech from the whole nation. The Jupiter, with withering scorn, had asked whether vice of every kind was to be considered, in these days of Queen Victoria, as a passport to the Cabinet. Adverse members of both Houses had arrayed themselves in a pure panoply of morality, and thundered forth their sarcasms with the indignant virtue and keen discontent of political Juvenals; and even his own friends had held up their hands in dismay. Under these circumstances he had thought himself obliged in the present instance to select a man who would not be especially objectionable to any party. Now Harold Smith lived with his wife, and his circumstances were not more than ordinarily embarrassed. He kept no racehorses; and, as Lord Brock now heard for the first time, gave lectures in provincial towns on popular subjects. He had a seat which was tolerably secure, and could talk to the House by the yard if required to do so. Moreover, Lord Brock had a great idea that the whole machinery of his own ministry would break to pieces very speedily. His own reputation was not bad, but it was insufficient for himself and lately for that selected friend of his. Under all the circumstances combined, he chose Harold Smith to fill the vacant office of Lord Petty Bag; and very proud the Lord Petty Bag was. For the last three or four months, he and Mr Supplehouse had been agreeing to consign the ministry to speedy perdition. ‘This sort of dictatorship will never do,’ Harold Smith had himself said, justifying that future vote of his as to want of confidence in the Queen’s Government. And Mr Supplehouse in this matter had fully agreed with him. He was a Juno whose form that wicked old Paris had utterly despised, and he, too, had quite made up his mind as to the lobby in which he would be found when that day of vengeance should arrive. But now things were much altered in Harold Smith’s views. The Premier had shown his wisdom in seeking for new strength where strength ought to be sought, and introducing new blood into the body of his ministry. The people would now feel fresh confidence, and probably the House also. As to Mr Supplehouse–he would use all his influence on Supplehouse. But after all, Mr Supplehouse was not everything.

On the morning after the vicar’s arrival in London he attended at the Petty Bag Office. It was situated in the close neighbourhood of Downing Street and the higher governmental gods; and though the building itself was not much, seeing that it was shored up on one side, that it bulged out on the front, was foul with smoke, dingy with dirt, and was devoid of any single architectural grace or modern scientific improvement, nevertheless its position gave it a status in the world which made the clerks in the Lord Petty Bag’s office quite respectable in their walk of life. Mark had seen his friend Sowerby on the previous evening, and had then made an appointment with him for the following morning, at the new minister’s office. And now he was there a little before his time, in order that he might have a few moments’ chat with his brother. When Mark found himself in the private secretary’s room he was quite astonished to see the change in his brother’s appearance which the change in his official rank had produced. Jack Robarts had been a well-built, straight-legged, lissom young fellow, pleasant to the eye because of his natural advantages, but rather given to a harum-scarum style of gait, and occasionally careless, not to say slovenly, of dress. But now he was the very pink of perfection. His jaunty frock-coat fitted him to perfection; not a hair of his head was out of place; his waistcoat and trousers were glossy and new, and his umbrella, which stood in the umbrella-stand in the corner, was tight and neat, and small and natty. ‘Well, John, you’ve become quite a great man,’ said his brother.

‘I don’t know much about that,’ said John; ‘but I find that I have an enormous deal of fagging to go through.’

‘Do you mean work? I thought you had about the easiest berth in the whole Civil Service.’

‘Ah! that’s just the mistake people make. Because we don’t cover whole reams of foolscap paper at the rate of fifteen lines to a page, and five words to a line, people think that we private secretaries have got nothing to do. Look here,’ and he tossed over scornfully a dozen or so of little notes. ‘I tell you what, Mark; it is no easy matter to manage the patronage of a Cabinet minister. Now I am bound to write to every one of these fellows a letter that will please him; and yet I shall refuse to every one of them the request which he asks.’

‘That must be difficult.’

‘Difficult is no word for it. But, after all, it consists chiefly in the knack of the thing. One must have the wit “from such a sharp and waspish word as No to pluck the sting”. I do it every day, and I really think that the people like it.’

‘Perhaps your refusals are better than people’s acquiescences.’

‘I don’t mean that at all. We private secretaries have all to do the same thing. Now, would you believe it? I have used up three lifts of notepaper already in telling people that there is no vacancy for a lobby messenger in the Petty Bag Office. Seven peeresses have asked for it for their favourite footmen. But there–there’s the Lord Petty Bag!’ A bell rang and the private secretary, jumping up from his notepaper, tripped away quickly to the great man’s room. ‘He’ll see you at once,’ said he, returning. ‘Buggins, show the Reverend Mr Robarts to the Lord Petty Bag.’ Buggins was the messenger for whose vacant place all the peeresses were striving with so much animation. And then Mark, following Buggins for two steps, was ushered into the next room.

If a man be altered by becoming a private secretary, he is much more altered by being made a Cabinet minister. Robarts, as he entered the room, could hardly believe that this was the same Harold Smith whom Mrs Proudie bothered so cruelly in the lecture-room at Barchester. Then he was cross, and touchy, and uneasy, and insignificant. Now, as he stood smiling on the hearth-rug of his official fire-place, it was quite pleasant to see the kind, patronizing smile which lighted up his features. He delighted to stand there, with his hands in his trousers’ pocket, the great man of the place, conscious of his lordship, and feeling himself every inch a minister. Sowerby had come with him, and was standing a little in the background, from which position he winked occasionally at the parson over the minister’s shoulder. ‘Ah, Robarts, delighted to see you. How odd, by the by, that your brother should be my private secretary!’ Mark said that it was a singular coincidence.

‘A very smart young fellow, and, if he minds himself, he’ll do well.’

‘I’m quite sure he’ll do well,’ said Mark.

‘Ah! well, yes; I think he will. And now, what can I do for you, Robarts?’ Hereupon Mr Sowerby struck in, making it apparent by his explanation that Mr Robarts himself by no means intended to ask for anything; but that, as his friends had thought that this stall at Barchester might be put into his hands with more fitness than in those of any other clergyman of the day, he was willing to accept a piece of preferment from a man whom he respected so much as he did the new Lord Petty Bag. The minister did not quite like this, as it restricted him from much of his condescension, and robbed him of the incense of a petition which he had expected Mark Robarts would make to him. But, nevertheless, he was very gracious. ‘He could not take it upon himself to declare,’ he said, ‘what might be Lord Brock’s pleasure with reference to the preferment at Barchester which was vacant. He had certainly already spoken to his lordship on the subject, and had perhaps some reason to believe that his own wishes would be consulted. No distinct promise had been made, but he might perhaps go so far as to say that he expected such result. If so, it would give him the greatest pleasure in the world to congratulate Mr Robarts on the possession of the stall–a stall which he was sure Mr Robarts would fill with dignity, piety, and brotherly love.’ And then, when he had finished, Mr Sowerby gave a final wink, and said that he regarded the matter as settled.

‘No, not settled, Nathaniel,’ said the cautious minister.

‘It’s the same thing,’ rejoined Sowerby. ‘We all know what all that flummery means. Men in office, Mark, never do make a distinct promise,–not even to themselves of the leg of mutton which is roasting before their kitchen fires. It is so necessary in these days to be safe; is it not, Harold?’

‘Most expedient,’ said Harold Smith, shaking his head wisely. ‘Well, Robarts, who is it now?’ This he had said to his private secretary, who came to notice the arrival of some bigwig. ‘Well, yes. I will say good morning, with your leave, for I am a little hurried. And remember, Mr Robarts, I will do what I can for you; but you must distinctly understand that there is no promise.’

‘Oh, no promise at all,’ said Sowerby–‘of course not.’ And then, as he sauntered up Whitehall towards Charing Cross, with Robarts on his arm, he again pressed upon him the sale of that invaluable hunter, who was eating his head off his shoulders in the stable at Chaldicotes.

CHAPTER XIX

MONEY DEALINGS

Mr Sowerby, in his resolution to obtain this good gift for the vicar of Framley, did not depend quite alone on the influence of his near connexion with the Lord Petty Bag. He felt the occasion to be one on which he might endeavour to move even higher powers than that, and therefore he had opened the matter to the duke–not by direct application, but through Mr Fothergill. No man who understood matters ever thought of going direct to the duke in such an affair as that. If one wanted to speak about a woman or a horse or a picture the duke could, on occasions, be affable enough. But through Mr Fothergill the duke was approached. It was represented, with some cunning, that this buying over of the Framley clergyman from the Lufton side would be a praiseworthy spoiling of the Amalekites. The doing so would give the Omnium interest a hold even in the cathedral close. And then it was known to all men that Mr Robarts had considerable influence over Lord Lufton himself. So guided, the Duke of Omnium did say two words to the Prime Minister, and two words from the duke went a great way, even with Lord Brock. The upshot of all this was, that Mark Robarts did get the stall; but he did not hear the tidings of his success till some days after his return to Framley.

Mr Sowerby did not forget to tell him of the great effort–the unusual effort, as he of Chaldicotes called it–which the duke had made on the subject. ‘I don’t know when he has done such a thing before,’ said Sowerby; ‘and you may be quite sure of this, he would not have done it now, had you not gone to Gatherum Castle when he asked you: indeed, Fothergill would have known that it was vain to attempt it. And I’ll tell you what, Mark–it does not do for me to make little of my own nest, but I truly believe the duke’s word will be more efficacious than the Lord Petty Bag’s solemn adjuration.’ Mark, of course, expressed his gratitude in proper terms, and did buy the horse for a hundred and thirty pounds. ‘He’s as well worth it,’ said Sowerby, ‘as any animal that ever stood on four legs; and my only reason for pressing him on you is, that when Tozer’s day does come round, I know you will have to stand us to something about that tune.’ It did not occur to Mark to ask him why the horse should not be sold to some one else, and the money forthcoming in the regular way. But this would not have suited Mr Sowerby.

Mark knew that the beast was good, and as he walked to his lodgings was half proud of his new possession. But then, how would he justify it to his wife, or how introduce the animal into his stables without attempting any justification in the matter? And yet, looking to the absolute amount of his income, surely he might feel himself entitled to buy a new horse when it suited him. He wondered what Mr Crawley would say when he heard of the new purchase. He had lately fallen into a state of much wondering as to what his friends and neighbours would say about him. He had now been two days in town, and was to go down after breakfast on the following morning so that he might reach home by Friday afternoon. But on that evening, just as he was going to bed, he was surprised by Lord Lufton coming into the coffee room at his hotel. He walked in with a hurried step, his face was red, and it was clear that he was very angry. ‘Robarts,’ said he, walking up to his friend and taking the hand that was extended to him, ‘do you know anything about this man Tozer?’

‘Tozer–what Tozer. I have heard Sowerby speak of such a man.’

‘Of course you have. If I do not mistake you have written to me about him yourself.’

‘Very probably. I remember Sowerby mentioning the man with reference to your affairs. But why do you ask me?’

‘This man has not only written to me, but has absolutely forced his way into my rooms when I was dressing for dinner; and absolutely had the impudence to tell me that if I did not honour some bill which he holds for eight hundred pounds he would proceed against me.’

‘But you settled all that matter with Sowerby?’

‘I did settle it at very great cost to me. Sooner than have a fuss, I paid him through the nose–like a fool that I was–everything that he claimed. This is an absolute swindle, and if it goes on I will expose it as such.’ Robarts looked round the room, but luckily there was not a soul in it but themselves. ‘You do not mean that Sowerby is swindling you?’ said the clergyman.

‘It looks very like it,’ said Lord Lufton; ‘and I tell you fairly that I am not in a humour to endure any more of this sort of thing. Some years ago I made an ass of myself through that man’s fault. But four thousand pounds should have covered the whole of what I really lost. I have now paid more than three times that sum; and, by heavens! I will not pay more without exposing the whole affair.’

‘But, Lufton, I do not understand. What is this bill?–has it your name on it?’

‘Yes, it has: I’ll not deny my name, and if there be absolute need, I will pay it; but, if I do so, my lawyer will sift it, and it shall go before a jury.’

‘But I thought all those bills were paid.’

‘I left it to Sowerby to get up the old bills when they were renewed, and now one of them has in truth been already honoured is brought against me.’ Mark could not but think of the two documents which he himself had signed, and both of which were now undoubtedly in the hands of Tozer, or of some other gentleman of the same profession;–which both might be brought against him, the second as soon as he should have satisfied the first. And then he remembered that Sowerby had said something to him about an outstanding bill, for the filling up of which some trifle must be paid, and of this he reminded Lord Lufton.

‘And do you call eight hundred pounds a trifle? If so, I do not.’

‘They will probably make no such demand as that.’

‘But I tell you they do make such a demand, and have made it. The man whom I saw, and who told me that he was Tozer’s friend, but who was probably Tozer himself, positively swore to me that he would be obliged to take legal proceedings if the money were not forthcoming within a week or ten days. When I explained to him that it was an old bill that had been renewed, he declared that his friends had given full value for it.’

‘Sowerby said that you would probably have to pay ten pounds to redeem it. I should offer the man some such sum as that.’

‘My intention is to offer the man nothing, but to leave the affair in the hands of my lawyer with instructions to him to spare none; neither myself nor any one else. I am not going to allow such a man as Sowerby to squeeze me like an orange.’

‘But, Lufton, you seem as though you were angry with me.’

‘No, I am not. But I think it is as well to caution you about this man; my transactions with him lately have chiefly been through you, and therefore–‘

‘But they have only been so through his and your wish: because I have been anxious to oblige you both. I hope you don’t mean to say that I am concerned in these bills.’

‘I know that you are concerned in bills with him.’

‘Why, Lufton, am I to understand then, that you are accusing me of having any interest in these transactions which you have called swindling?’

‘As far as I am concerned there has been swindling, and there is swindling going on now.’

‘But you do not answer my question. Do you bring any accusation against me? If so, I agree with you that you had better go to your lawyer.’

‘I think that is what I shall do.’

‘Very well. But, upon the whole, I never heard of a more unreasonable man, or of one whose thoughts are more unjust than yours. Solely with the view of assisting you, and solely at your request, I spoke to Sowerby about these money transactions of yours. Then, at his request, which originated out of your request, he using me as his ambassador to you, as you had used me as yours to him, I wrote and spoke to you. And now this is the upshot.’

‘I bring no accusation against you, Robarts; but I know you have dealings with this man. You have told me so yourself.’

‘Yes, at his request to accommodate him. I have put my name to a bill.’

‘Only to one?’

‘Only to one; and then to that same renewed, or not exactly the same, but to one which stands for it. The first was for four hundred pounds; the last for five hundred.’

‘All which you will have to make good, and the world will of course tell you that you have paid that price for this stall at Barchester.’ This was terrible to be borne. He had heard much lately which had frightened and scared him, but nothing so terrible as this; nothing which so stunned him, or conveyed to his mind so frightful a reality of misery and ruin. He made no immediate answer, but standing on the hearth-rug with his back to the fire, looked up the whole length of the room. Hitherto his eyes had been fixed upon Lord Lufton’s face, but now it seemed to him as though he had but little more to do with Lord Lufton. Lord Lufton and Lord Lufton’s mother were neither to be counted among those who wished him well. Upon whom indeed could he now count, except that wife of his bosom upon whom he was bringing all this wretchedness? In that moment of agony ideas ran quickly through his brain. He would immediately abandon his preferment at Barchester, of which it might be said with so much colour that he had bought it. He would go to Harold Smith, and say positively that he declined it. Then he would return home and tell his wife all that had occurred;–tell the whole also to Lady Lufton, if that might still be of service. He would make arrangement for the payment of both those bills as they might be presented, asking no questions as to the justice of the claim, making no complaint to any one, not even to Sowerby. He would put half his income, if half were necessary, into the hands of Forrest the banker, till all was paid. He would sell every horse he had. He would part with his footman and groom, and at any rate strive like a man to get again a firm footing on good ground. Then, at that moment, he loathed with his whole soul the position in which he had found himself placed, and his own folly which had placed him there. How could he reconcile it to his conscience that he was there in London with Sowerby and Harold Smith, petitioning for Church preferment to a man who should have been altogether powerless in such a matter, buying horses, and arranging about past due bills? He did not reconcile it to his conscience. Mr Crawley had been right when he told him that he was a castaway.

Lord Lufton whose anger during the whole interview had been extreme, and who had become more angry the more he talked, had now walked once or twice up and down the room; and as he so walked the idea did occur to him that he had been unjust. He had come there with the intention of exclaiming against Sowerby, and of inducing Robarts to convey to that gentleman, that if he, Lord Lufton, were made to undergo any further annoyance about this bill, the whole affair should be thrown into the lawyer’s hands; but instead of doing this, he had brought an accusation against Robarts. That Robarts had latterly become Sowerby’s friend rather than his own in all these horrid money dealings, had galled him; and now he had expressed himself in terms much stronger than he had intended to use. ‘As to you personally, Mark,’ he said, coming back to the spot on which Robarts was standing, ‘I do not wish to say anything that shall annoy you.’

‘You have said quite enough, Lufton.’

‘You cannot be surprised that I should be angry and indignant at the treatment I have received.’

‘You might, I think, have separated in your mind those who have wronged you, if there has been such wrong, from those who have only endeavoured to do your will and pleasure for you. That I, as a clergyman, have been very wrong in taking any part whatsoever in these matters, I am well aware. That as a man I have been outrageously foolish in lending my name to Mr Sowerby, I also know well enough; it is, perhaps, as well that I should be told of this somewhat rudely; but I certainly did not expect the lesson to come from you.’

‘Well, there has been mischief enough. The question is, what we had better now both do?’

‘You have said what you mean to do. You will put the affair in the hands of your lawyer.’

‘Not with any object of exposing you.’

‘Exposing me, Lord Lufton! Why, one would think that I had had the handling of your money.’

‘You will misunderstand me. I think no such thing. But do you not know yourself that if legal steps be taken in this wretched affair, your arrangements with Sowerby will be brought to light?’

‘My arrangements with Sowerby will consist in paying or having to pay, on his account, a large sum of money, for which I have never had and shall never have any consideration whatever.’

‘And what will be said about this stall at Barchester?’

‘After the charge which you brought against me just now, I shall decline to accept it.’ At this moment three or four other gentlemen entered the room, and the conversation between the two friends was stopped. They still remained standing near the fire, but for a few minutes neither of them said anything. Robarts was waiting till Lord Lufton should go away, and Lord Lufton had not yet said that which he had come to say. At last he spoke again, almost in a whisper: ‘I think it will be best to ask Sowerby to come to my rooms to-morrow, and I think also that you should meet him there.’

‘I do not see any necessity for my presence,’ said Robarts. ‘It seems probable that I shall suffer enough for meddling with your affairs, and I will do so no more.’

‘Of course, I cannot make you come; but I think it will be only just to Sowerby, and it will be a favour to me.’ Robarts again walked up and down the room for half a dozen times, trying to resolve what it would most become him to do in the present emergency. If his name were dragged before the courts;–if he should be shown up in the public papers as having been engaged in accommodation bills, that would certainly be ruinous to him. He had already learned from Lord Lufton’s innuendoes what he might expect to hear as the public version of his share in these transactions! And then his wife,–how would she bear such exposure? ‘I will meet Mr Sowerby at your rooms to-morrow, on one condition,’ he at last said.

‘And what is that?’

‘That I receive you positive assurance that I am not suspected by you of having had any pecuniary interest whatever in any matters with Mr Sowerby, either as concerns your affairs of those of anybody else.’

‘I have never suspected you of any such thing. But I have thought that you were compromised with him.’

‘And so I am–I am liable for these bills. But you ought to have known, and do know, that I have never received a shilling on account of such liability. I have endeavoured to oblige a man whom I regarded first as your friend, and then as my own; and this has been the result.’ Lord Lufton did at last give him the assurance that he desired, as they sat with their heads together over one of the coffee-room tables; and then Robarts promised that he would postpone his return to Framley till the Saturday, so that he might meet Sowerby at Lord Lufton’s chambers in the Albany on the following afternoon. As soon as this was arranged, Lord Lufton took his leave and went his way.

After this poor Mark had a very uneasy night of it. It was clear enough that Lord Lufton had thought, if he did not still think, that the stall at Barchester was to be given as pecuniary recompense in return for certain money accommodation to be afforded by the nominee to the dispenser of this patronage. Nothing on earth could be worse than this. In the first place it would be simony; and then it would be simony beyond all description mean and simoniacal. The very thought of it filled Mark’s soul with horror and dismay. It might be that Lord Lufton’s suspicions were now at rest; but others would think the same thing, and their suspicions it would be impossible to allay; those others would consist of the outer world, which is always eager to gloat over the detected vice of a clergyman. And that wretched horse which he had purchased, and the purchase of which should have prohibited him from saying that nothing of value had accrued to him in these transactions with Mr Sowerby! what was he to do about that? And then of late he had been spending, and had continued to spend, more money than he could afford. This very journey of his up to London would be most imprudent, if it should become necessary for him to give up all hope of holding the prebend. As to that he had made up his mind; but then again he unmade it, as men always do in such troubles. That line of conduct which he had laid down for himself in the first moments of his indignation against Lord Lufton, by adopting which he would have to encounter poverty, and ridicule, and discomfort, the annihilation of his high hopes, and the ruin of his ambition–that, he said to himself over and over again, would now be the best for him. But it is so hard for us to give up our high hopes, and willingly encounter poverty, ridicule and discomfort!

On the following morning, however, he boldly walked down to the Petty Bag Office, determined to let Harold Smith know that he was no longer desirous of the Barchester stall. He found his brother there, still writing artistic notes to anxious peeresses on the subject of Buggins’s non-vacant situation; but the great man of the place, the Lord Petty Bag himself, was not there. He might probably look in when the House was beginning to sit, perhaps at four or a little after; but he certainly would not be at the office in the morning. The functions of the Lord Petty Bag he was no doubt performing elsewhere. Perhaps he had carried his work home with him–a practice which the world should know is not uncommon with civil servants of exceeding zeal. Mark did think of opening his heart to his brother, and of leaving a message with him. But his courage failed him, or perhaps it might be more correct to say that his prudence prevented him. It would be better for him, he thought, to tell his wife before he told anyone else. So he merely chatted with his brother for half an hour and then left him. The day was very tedious till the hour came at which he was to attend at Lord Lufton’s rooms; but at last it did come, and just as the clock struck he turned out of Piccadilly into Albany. As he was going across the court before he entered the building, he was greeted by a voice just behind him. ‘As punctual as the big clock on Barchester tower,’ said Mr Sowerby. ‘See what it is to have a summons from a great man, Mr Prebendary.’ He turned round and extended his hand mechanically to Mr Sowerby, and as he looked at him he thought he had never before seen him so pleasant in appearance, so free from care, and so joyous in demeanour.

‘You have heard from Lord Lufton,’ said Mark, in a voice that was certainly very lugubrious.

‘Heard from him! oh, yes, of course I have heard from him. I’ll tell you what it is, Mark,’ and he now spoke almost in a whisper as they walked together along the Albany passage, ‘Lufton is a child in money matters–a perfect child. The dearest finest fellow in the world, you know; but a perfect baby in money matters.’ And then they entered his lordship’s rooms. Lord Lufton’s countenance also was lugubrious enough, but this did not in the least abash Sowerby, who walked quickly up to the young lord with his gait perfectly self-possessed and his face radiant with satisfaction.

‘Well, Lufton, how are you?’ said he. ‘It seems that my worthy friend Tozer has been giving you some trouble?’ Then Lord Lufton with a face by no means radiant with satisfaction again began the story of Tozer’s fraudulent demand upon him. Sowerby did not interrupt him, but listened patiently to the end;–quite patiently, although Lord Lufton, as he made himself more and more angry by the history of his own wrongs, did not hesitate to pronounce certain threats against Mr Sowerby, as he had pronounced them before Mark Robarts. He would not, he said, pay a shilling, except through his lawyer; and he would instruct his lawyer, that before he paid anything, the whole matter should be exposed openly in court. He did not care, he said, what might be the effect on himself or on any one else. He was determined that the whole case should go to a jury. ‘To grand jury, and special jury, and common jury, and Old Jewry, if you like,’ said Sowerby. ‘The truth is, Lufton, you lost some money, and as there was some delay in paying it, you have been harassed.’

‘I have paid more that I lost three times over,’ said Lord Lufton, stamping his foot.

‘I will not go into that question now. It was settled as I thought some time ago by persons to whom you yourself referred it. But will you tell me this: why on earth should Robarts be troubled in this matter? What has he done?’

‘Well, I don’t know. He arranged the matter with you.’

‘No such thing. He was kind enough to carry a message from you to me, and to convey a return message from me to you. That has been his part in it.’

‘You don’t suppose that I want to implicate him: do you?’

‘I don’t think you want to implicate any one, but you are hot-headed and difficult to deal with, and very irrational into the bargain. And, what is worse, I must say you are a little suspicious. In all this matter I have harassed myself greatly to oblige you, and in return I have got more kicks than halfpence.’

‘Did you not give this bill to Tozer–the bill which he now holds?’

‘In the first place he does not hold it; and in the next place I did not give it to him. These things pass through scores of hands before they reach the man who makes the application for payment.’

‘And who came to me the other day?’

‘That, I take it, was Tom Tozer, a brother of our Tozer’s.’

‘Then he holds the bill, for I saw it with him.’

‘Wait a moment; that is very likely. I sent you word that you would have to pay for taking it up. Of course they don’t abandon those sort of things without some consideration.’

‘Ten pounds, you said,’ observed Mark.

‘Ten or twenty; some such sum as that. But you were hardly so soft as to suppose that the man would ask for such a sum. Of course he would demand the full payment. There is the bill, Lord Lufton,’ and Sowerby, producing a document, handed it across the table to his lordship. ‘I gave five-and-twenty pounds for it this morning.’ Lord Lufton took the paper and looked at it.

‘Yes,’ said he, ‘that’s the bill. What am I to do with it now?’

‘Put it with the family archives,’ said Sowerby,–‘or behind the fire, just which you please.’

‘And this is the last of them? Can no other be brought up?’

‘You know better than I do what paper you may have put your hand to. A know of no other. At the last renewal that was the only outstanding bill of which I was aware.’

‘And you have paid five-and-twenty pounds for it?’

‘I have. Only that you have been in such a tantrum about it, and would have made such a noise this afternoon if I had not brought it, I might have had it for fifteen or twenty. In three or four days they would have taken fifteen.’

‘The odd ten pounds does not signify, and I’ll pay you the twenty-five of course,’ said Lord Lufton, who now began to feel a little ashamed of himself.

‘You may do as you please about that.’

‘Oh! it’s my affair, as a matter of course. Any amount of that kind I don’t mind,’ and he sat down to fill in a cheque for the money.

‘Well, now, Lufton, let me say a few words to you,’ said Sowerby, standing with his back against the fireplace, and playing with a small cane which he held in his hand. ‘For heaven’s sake try and be a little more charitable to those around you. When you become fidgety about anything, you indulge in language which the world won’t stand, though men who know you as well as Robarts and I may consent to put up with it. You have accused me, since I have been here, of all manner of iniquity–‘

‘Now, Sowerby–‘

‘My dear fellow, let me have my say out. You have accused me, I say, and I believe that you have accused him. But it has never occurred to you, I dare say, to accuse yourself.’

‘Indeed it has.’

‘Of course you have been wrong in having to do with such men as Tozer. I have also been very wrong. It wants no great moral authority to tell us that. Pattern gentlemen don’t have dealings with Tozer, and very much the better they are for not having them. But a man should have back enough to bear the weight which he himself puts on it. Keep away from Tozer, if you can, for the future; but if you do deal with him, for heaven’s sake keep your temper.’

‘That’s all very fine, Sowerby; but you know as well as I do–‘

‘I know this,’ said the devil, quoting Scripture, as he folded up the cheque for twenty-five pounds, and put it in his pocket, ‘that when a man sows tares, he won’t reap wheat, and it’s no use to expect it. I am tough in these matters, and can bear a great deal–that is, if I be not pushed too far,’ and he looked full into Lord Lufton’s face as he spoke; ‘but I think you have been very hard upon Robarts.’

‘Never mind me, Sowerby; Lord Lufton and I are very old friends.’

‘And may therefore take a liberty with each other. Very well. And now I’ve done my sermon. My dear dignitary, allow me to congratulate you. I hear from Fothergill that that little affair of yours has been definitely settled.’ Mark’s face again became clouded. ‘I rather think,’ said he, ‘that I shall decline the presentation.’

‘Decline it!’ said Sowerby, who, having used his utmost efforts to obtain it, would have been more absolutely offended by such vacillation on the vicar’s part than by any personal abuse which either he or Lord Lufton could heap upon him.

‘I think I shall,’ said Mark.

‘And why?’ Mark looked up at Lord Lufton, and then remained silent for a moment.

‘There can be no occasion for such a sacrifice under the present circumstances,’ said his lordship.

‘And under what circumstances could there be occasion for it?’ asked Sowerby. ‘The Duke of Omnium has used some little influence to get the place for you as a parish clergyman belonging to his county, and I should think it monstrous if you were to reject it.’ And then Robarts openly stated the whole reasons, explaining exactly what Lord Lufton had said with reference to the bill transactions, and to the allegation which would be made as to the stall having been given in payment for the accommodation.

‘Upon my word that’s too bad,’ said Sowerby.

‘Now, Sowerby, I won’t be lectured,’ said Lord Lufton.

‘I have done my lecture,’ said he, aware, perhaps, that it would not do for him to push his friend too far, ‘and I shall not give a second. But, Robarts, let me tell you this: as far as I know, Harold Smith has had little or nothing to do with the appointment. The duke has told the Prime Minister that he was very anxious that a parish clergyman from the county should go to the chapter, and then, at Lord Brock’s request, he named you. If under those circumstances you talk of giving it up, I shall believe you to be insane. As for the bill which you accepted for me, you need have no uneasiness about it. The money will be ready; but of course, when that time comes, you will let me have the hundred and thirty for–‘ And then Mr Sowerby took his leave, having certainly made himself master of the occasion. If a man of fifty have his wits about him, and be not too prosy, he can generally make himself master of the occasion, when his companions are under thirty. Robarts did not stay at the Albany long after him, but took his leave, having received some assurances of Lord Lufton’s regret for what had passed and many promises of his friendship for the future. Indeed Lord Lufton was a little ashamed of himself. ‘And as for the prebend, after what has passed, of course you must accept it.’ Nevertheless his lordship had not omitted to notice Mr Sowerby’s hint about the horse and the hundred and thirty pounds.

Robarts, as he walked back to his hotel, thought that he certainly would accept the Barchester promotion, and was very glad that he had said nothing on the subject to his brother. On the whole his spirits were much raised. That assurance of Sowerby’s about the bill was very comforting to him; and, strange to say, he absolutely believed it. In truth, Sowerby had been completely the winning horse at the late meeting, that both Lord Lufton and Robarts were inclined to believe almost anything he said;–which was not always the case with either of them.

CHAPTER XX

HAROLD SMITH IN CABINET

For a few days the whole Harold Smith party held their heads very high. It was not only that their man had been made a Cabinet minister; but a rumour had got abroad that Lord Brock, in selecting him, had amazingly strengthened his party, and done much to cure the wounds which his own arrogance and lack of judgement had inflicted on the body politic of his Government. So said the Harold-Smithians, much elated. And when we consider what Harold had himself achieved, we need not be surprised that he himself was somewhat elated also. It must be a proud day for any man when he first walks into a Cabinet. But when a humble-minded man thinks of such a phase of life, his mind becomes lost in wondering what a Cabinet is. Are they gods that attend there or men? Do they sit on chairs, or hang about on clouds? When they speak, is the music of the spheres audible in their Olympian mansion, making heaven drowsy with its harmony? In what way do they congregate? In what order do they address each other? Are the voices of all the deities free and equal? If plodding Themis from the Home Department, or Ceres from the Colonies, heard with as rapt attention as powerful Pallas of the Foreign Office, the goddess that is never seen without her lance and helmet? Does our Whitehall Mars make eyes there at bright young Venus of the Privy Seal, disgusting that quaint tinkering Vulcan, who is blowing his bellows at our Exchequer, not altogether unsuccessfully? Old Saturn of the Woolsack sits there mute, we will say, a relic of other days, as seated in this divan. The hall in which he rules is now elsewhere. Is our Mercury of the Post Office ever ready to fly nimbly from globe to globe, as great Jove may order him, while Neptune, unaccustomed to the waves, offers needful assistance to the Apollo of the India Board? How Juno sits apart, glum and huffy, uncared for, Council President though she be, great in name, but despised among gods–that we can guess. If Bacchus and Cupid share Trade and the Board of Words between them, the fitness of things will have been as fully consulted as is usual. And modest Diana of the Petty Bag, latest summoned to these banquets of ambrosia,–does she not cling retiring near the doors, hardly able as yet to make her low voice heard among her brother deities? But Jove, great Jove–old Jove, the King of Olympus, hero among gods and men, how does he carry himself in these councils summoned by his voice? Does he lie there at his ease, with his purple cloak cut from the firmament round his shoulders? Is his thunderbolt ever at his hand to reduce a recreant god to order? Can he proclaim silence in that immortal hall? Is it not there, as elsewhere, in all places, and among all nations, that a king of gods and a king of men is and will be king, rules and will rule, over those who are smaller than himself?

Harold Smith, when he was summoned to the august hall of divine councils, did feel himself to be a proud man; but we may perhaps conclude that at the first meeting or two he did not attempt to take a very leading part. Some of my readers may have sat at vestries, and will remember how mild, and, for the most part, mute is a new-comer at their board. He agrees generally, with abated enthusiasm; but should he differ, he apologizes for the liberty. But anon, when the voices of his colleagues have become habitual in his ears–when the strangeness of the room is gone, and the table before him is known and trusted–he throws off his awe and dismay, and electrifies his brotherhood by the vehemence of his declamation and the violence of his thumping. So let us suppose it will be with Harold Smith, perhaps in the second or third season of his Cabinet practice. Alas! alas! that such pleasures should be so fleeting! And then, too, there came upon him a blow which somewhat modified his triumph–a cruel, dastard blow, from a hand which should have been friendly to him, from one to whom he had fondly looked to buoy him up in the great course that was before him. It had been said by his friends that in obtaining Harold Smith’s services the Prime Minister had infused new young healthy blood into his body. Harold himself had liked the phrase, and had seen at a glance how it might have been made to tell by some friendly Supplehouse or the like. But why should a Supplehouse out of Elysium be friendly to a Harold Smith within it? Men lapped in Elysium, steeped to the neck in bliss, must expect to see their friends fall off from them. Human nature cannot stand it. If I want to get anything from my old friend Jones, I like to see him shoved up into a high place. But if Jones, even in his high place, can do nothing for me, then his exaltation above my head is an insult and an injury. Who ever believes his own dear intimate companion to be fit for the highest promotion? Mr Supplehouse had known Mr Smith too closely to think much of his young blood.

Consequently, there appeared an article in the Jupiter, which was by no means complimentary to the ministry in general. It harped a good deal on the young-blood view of the question, and seemed to insinuate that Harold Smith was not much better than diluted water. ‘The Prime Minister,’ the article said, ‘having lately recruited his impaired vigour by a new infusion of aristocratic influence of the highest moral tone, had again added to himself another tower of strength chosen from among the people. What might he not hope, now that he possessed the services of Lord Brittleback and Mr Harold Smith! Revoted in a Medea’s cauldron of such potency, all his effete limbs–and it must be acknowledged that some of them had become very effete–would come forth young and round and robust. A new energy would diffuse itself through every department; India would be saved and quieted; the ambition of France would be tamed; evenhanded reform would remodel our courts of law and parliamentary elections; and Utopia would be realized. Such, it seems, is the result expected in the ministry from Mr Harold Smith’s young blood!’

This was cruel enough, but even this was hardly so cruel as the words with which the article ended. By that time irony had been dropped, and the writer spoke out earnestly his opinion on the matter. ‘We beg to assure Lord Brock,’ said the article, ‘that such alliances as these will not save him from the speedy fall with which his arrogance and want of judgement threaten to overwhelm it. As regards himself we shall be sorry to hear of his resignation. He is in many respects the best statesman that we possess for the emergencies of the present period. But if he be so ill-judged as to rest on such men as Mr Harold Smith and Lord Brittleback for his assistants in the work which is before him, he must not expect that the country will support him. Mr Harold Smith is not made of the stuff from which Cabinet ministers should be formed.’ Mr Harold Smith, as he read this, seated at his breakfast-table, recognized, or said that he recognized, the hand of Mr Supplehouse in every touch. That phrase about the effete limbs was Supplehouse all over, as was also the realization of Utopia. ‘When he wants to be witty, he always talks about Utopia,’ said Mr Harold Smith–to himself: for Mrs Harold Smith was not usually present in the flesh at these matutinal meals. And then he went down to his office, and saw in the glance of every man that he met an announcement that that article in the Jupiter had been read. His private secretary tittered in evident allusion to the article, and the way in which Buggins took his coat made it clear that it was well known in the messengers’ lobby. ‘He won’t have to fill up my vacancy when I go,’ Buggins was saying to himself. And then in the course of the morning came the Cabinet council, the second that he had attended, and he read in the countenance of every god and goddess there assembled that their chief was thought to have made another mistake. If Mr Supplehouse could have been induced to write in another strain, then indeed that new blood might have been felt to have been efficacious.

All this was a great drawback to his happiness, but still it could not rob him of the fact of his position. Lord Brock could not ask him to resign because the Jupiter had been written against him; nor was Lord Brock the man to desert a new colleague for such a reason. So Harold Smith girded his loins, and went about his duties of the Petty Bag with a new zeal. ‘Upon my word, the Jupiter is right,’ said young Robarts to himself, as he finished his fourth dozen of private notes explanatory of everything in and about the Petty Bag Office. Harold Smith required that his private secretary’s notes should be so terribly precise. But nevertheless, in spite of his drawbacks, Harold Smith was happy in his new honours, and Mrs Harold Smith enjoyed them also. She certainly, among her acquaintances, did quiz the new Cabinet minister not a little, and it may be a question whether she was not as hard upon him as the writer in the Jupiter. She whispered a great deal to Miss Dunstable about new blood, and talked of going down to Westminster Bridge to see whether the Thames were really on fire. But though she laughed, she triumphed, and though she flattered herself that she bore her honours without any outward sign, the world knew that she was triumphing, and ridiculed her elation.

About this time she also gave a party–not a pure-minded conversazione like Mrs Proudie, but a downright wicked worldly dance, at which there were fiddles, ices, and champagne sufficient to run away with the first quarter’s salary accruing to Harold Smith from the Petty Bag Office. To us this ball is chiefly memorable from the fact that Lady Lufton was among the guests. Immediately on her arrival in town she received cards from Mrs H Smith for herself and Griselda, and was about to send back a reply at once declining the honour. What had she to do at the house of Mr Sowerby’s sister? But it so happened that at that moment her son was with her, and as he expressed a wish that she should go, she yielded. Had there been nothing in his tone of persuasion more than ordinary,–had it merely had reference to herself–she would have smiled on him for his kind solicitude, have made out some occasion for kissing his forehead as she thanked him, and would still have declined. But he had reminded her both of himself and Griselda. ‘You might as well go, mother, for the sake of meeting me,’ he said; ‘Mrs Harold Smith caught me the other day, and would not liberate me till I had given her a promise.’

‘That is an attraction, certainly,’ said Lady Lufton. ‘I do like going to a house when I know that you will be there.’

‘And now that Miss Grantly is with you–you owe it to her to do the best you can for her.’

‘I certainly do, Ludovic; and I have to thank you for reminding me of my duty so gallantly.’ And so she said that she would go to Mrs Harold Smith’s. Poor lady! She gave much more weight to those few words about Miss Grantly than they deserved. It rejoiced her heart to think that her son was anxious to meet Griselda–that he should perpetrate this little ruse in order to gain his wish. But he had spoken out of the mere emptiness of his mind, without thought of what he was saying, excepting that he wished to please his mother. But nevertheless he went to Mrs Harold Smith’s, and when there he did dance more than once with Griselda Grantly–to the manifest discomfiture of Lord Dumbello. He came in late, and at the moment Lord Dumbello was moving slowly up the room, with Griselda on his arm, while Lady Lufton was sitting near looking on with unhappy eyes. And then Griselda sat down, with Lord Dumbello stood mute at her elbow.

‘Ludovic,’ whispered his mother, ‘Griselda is absolutely bored by that man, who follows like a ghost. Do go and rescue her.’ He did go and rescue her, and afterwards danced with her for the best part of an hour consequently. He knew that the world gave Lord Dumbello the credit of admiring the young lady, and was quite alive to the pleasure of filling his brother nobleman’s heart with jealousy and anger. Moreover, Griselda was in his eyes very beautiful, and had she been one whit more animated, or had his mother’s tactics been but a thought better concealed, Griselda might have been asked that night to share the vacant throne at Lufton, in spite of all that had been said and sworn in the drawing-room of Framley parsonage. It must be remembered that our gallant, gay Lothario had passed some considerable number of days with Miss Grantly in his mother’s house, and the danger of such contiguity must be remembered also. Lord Lufton was by no means a man capable of seeing beauty unmoved or of spending hours with a young lady without some approach to tenderness. Had there been no such approach it is probable that Lady Lufton would not have pursued the matter. But, according to her ideas on such subjects, her son Ludovic had on some occasions shown quite sufficient partiality for Miss Grantly to justify her in her hopes, and to lead her to think that nothing but opportunity was wanted. Now, at this ball of Mrs Smith’s, he did, for a while, seem to be taking advantage of such opportunity, and his mother’s heart was glad. If things should turn out well on this evening she would forgive Mrs Harold Smith all her sins. And for a while it looked as though things would turn out well. Not that it must be supposed that Lord Lufton had come there with any intention of making love to Griselda, or that he ever had any fixed thought that he was doing so. Young men in such matters are so often without any fixed thoughts! They are such absolute moths. They amuse themselves with the light of the beautiful candle, fluttering about, on and off, in and out of the flame with dazzled eyes, till in a rash moment they rush in too near the wick, and then fall with singed wings and crippled legs, burnt up and reduced to tinder by the consuming fire of matrimony. Happy marriages, men say, are made in heaven, and I believe it. Most marriages are fairly happy, in spite of Sir Cresswell Cresswell; and yet how little care is taken on earth towards such a result!—‘I hope my mother is using you well?’ said Lord Lufton to Griselda, as they were standing together in a doorway between the dances.

‘Oh, yes; she is very kind.’

‘You have been rash to trust yourself in the hands of so very staid and demure a person. And, indeed, you owe your presence to Mrs Harold Smith’s first Cabinet ball altogether to me. I don’t know whether you are aware of that.’

‘Oh, yes; Lady Lufton told me.’

‘And are you grateful or otherwise? Have I done you an injury or a benefit? Which do you find best, sitting with a novel in the corner of a sofa in Bruton Street, or pretending to dance polkas here with Lord Dumbello?’

‘I don’t know what you mean. I haven’t stood up with Lord Dumbello all the evening. We were going to dance a quadrille, but we didn’t.’

‘Exactly; just what I say;–pretending to do it. Even that’s a good deal for Lord Dumbello, isn’t it?’ And then Lord Lufton, not being a pretender himself, put his arm round her waist, and away they went up and down the room, and across and about, with an energy which showed that what Griselda lacked in her tongue, she made up with her feet. Lord Dumbello, in the meantime, stood by, observant, thinking to himself that Lord Lufton was a glib-tongued, empty-headed ass, and reflecting that if his rival were to break the tendons of his leg in one of those rapid evolutions, or suddenly come by any other dreadful misfortune, such as the loss of all his property, absolute blindness, or chronic lumbago, it would only serve him right. And in that frame of mind he went to bed, in spite of the prayer which no doubt he said as to his forgiveness of other people’s trespasses. And then, when they were again standing, Lord Lufton, in the little intervals between his violent gasps for fresh breath, asked Griselda if she liked London. ‘Pretty well,’ said Griselda, gasping also a little herself.

‘I am afraid–you were very dull–down at Framley.’

‘Oh, no;–I liked it particularly.’

‘It was a great bore when you went–away, I know. There wasn’t a soul–about the house worth speaking to.’ And they remained silent for a minute till their lungs had become quiescent.

‘Not a soul,’ he continued–not of falsehood prepense, for he was not in fact thinking of what he was saying. It did not occur to him at the moment that he had truly found Griselda’s going a great relief, and that he had been able to do more in the way of conversation with Lucy Robarts in one hour than with Miss Grantly during a month of intercourse in the same house. But, nevertheless, we should not be hard upon him. All is fair in love and war; and if this was not love, it was the usual thing that stands in counterpart for it.

‘Not a soul,’ said Lord Lufton. ‘I was very nearly hanging myself in the Park next morning–only it rained.’

‘What nonsense! You had your mother to talk to.’

‘Oh, my mother,–yes; and you may tell me too, if you please, that Captain Culpepper was there. I do love my mother dearly; but do you think that she could make up for your absence?’ And then his voice was very tender, and so were his eyes.

‘And Miss Robarts; I thought you admired her very much?’

‘What, Lucy Robarts?’ said Lord Lufton, feeling that Lucy’s name was more than he at present knew how to manage. Indeed that name destroyed all the life there was in that little flirtation. ‘I do like Lucy Robarts, certainly. She is very clever; but it so happened that I saw little or nothing of her after you were gone.’ To this Griselda made no answer, but drew herself up, and looked as cold as Diana when she froze Orion in the cave. Nor could she be got to give more then monosyllabic answers to the three or four succeeding attempts at conversation which Lord Lufton made. And then they danced again, but Griselda’s steps were by no means so lively as before. What took place between them on that occasion was very little more than what has been here related. There may have been an ice or a glass of lemonade into the bargain, and perhaps the faintest possible attempt at hand-pressing. But if so, it was all on one side. To such overtures as that Griselda Grantly was as cold as any Diana. But little as all this was, it was sufficient to fill Lady Lufton’s mind and heart. No mother with six daughters was ever more anxious to get them off her hands, than Lady Lufton was to see her son married,–married, that is, to some girl of the right sort. And now it really did seem as though he were actually going to comply with her wishes. She had watched him during the whole evening, painfully endeavouring not to be observed in doing so. She had seen Lord Dumbello’s failure and wrath, and she had seen her son’s victory and pride. Could it be the case that he had already said something, which was still allowed to be indecisive only through Griselda’s coldness? Might it not be the case, that by some judicious aid on her part, that indecision might be turned into certainty, and that coldness into warmth? But then any such interference requires so delicate a touch,–as Lady Lufton was well aware.–‘Have you had a pleasant evening?’ Lady Lufton said, when she and Griselda were seated together with their feet on the fender of her ladyship’s dressing-room. Lady Lufton had especially invited her guest into this, her most private sanctum, to which as a rule none had admittance but her daughter, and sometimes Fanny Robarts. But to what sanctum might not such a daughter-in-law as Griselda have admittance? ‘Oh, yes–very,’ said Griselda.

‘It seemed to me that you bestowed most of your smiles upon Ludovic.’ And Lady Lufton put on a look of good pleasure that such should have been the case.

‘Oh! I don’t know,’ said Griselda; ‘I did dance with him two or three times.’

‘Not once too often to please me, my dear. I like to see Ludovic dancing with my friends.’

‘I am sure I am very much obliged to you, Lady Lufton.’

‘Not at all, my dear. I don’t know where he could get so nice a partner.’ And then she paused a moment, not feeling how far she might go. In the meantime Griselda sat still, staring at the hot coals. ‘Indeed, I know that he admires you very much,’ continued Lady Lufton.–‘Oh! no, I am sure he doesn’t,’ said Griselda; and then there was another pause.

‘I can only say this,’ said Lady Lufton, ‘that if he does do so–and I believe he does–it would give me very great pleasure. For you know, my dear, that I am very fond of you myself.’

‘Oh! thank you,’ said Griselda, and stared at the coals more perseveringly than before.

‘He is a young man of a most excellent disposition–though he is my own son, I will say that–and if there should be anything between you and him–‘

‘There isn’t, indeed, Lady Lufton.’

‘But if there should be, I should be delighted to think that Ludovic had made so good a choice.’

‘But there will never be anything of the sort, I’m sure, Lady Lufton. He is not thinking of such a thing in the least.’

‘Well, perhaps he may, some day. And now, good night, my dear.’

‘Good night, Lady Lufton.’ And Griselda kissed with the utmost composure, and betook herself to her own bedroom. Before she retired to sleep she looked carefully to her different articles of dress, discovering what amount of damage the evening’s wear and tear might have inflicted.

CHAPTER XXI

WHY PUCK, THE PONY, WAS BEATEN

Mark Robarts returned home the day after the scene at the Albany, considerably relieved in spirit. He now felt that he might accept the stall without discredit to himself as a clergyman in doing so. Indeed, after what Mr Sowerby had said, and after Lord Lufton’s assent to it, it would have been madness, he considered, to decline it. And then, too, Mr Sowerby’s promise about the bills was very comfortable to him. After all, might it not be possible that he might get rid of all these troubles with no other drawback than that of having to pay L 130 for a horse that was well worth the money?

On the day after his return he received proper authentic tidings of his presentation to the prebend. He was, in fact, already prebendary, or would be as soon as the dean and chapter had gone through the form of instituting him in his stall. The income was already his own; and the house also would be given up to him in a week’s time–a part of the arrangement with which he would most willingly have dispensed had it been at all possible to do. His wife congratulated him nicely, with open affection, and apparent satisfaction at the arrangement. The enjoyment of one’s own happiness at such windfalls depends so much on the free and freely expressed enjoyment of others! Lady Lufton’s congratulations had nearly made him throw up the whole thing; but his wife’s smiles re-encouraged him; and Lucy’s warm and eager joy made him feel quite delighted with Mr Sowerby and the Duke of Omnium. And then that splendid animal, Dandy, came home to the parsonage stables, much to the delight of the groom and gardener, and of the assistant stable boy who had been allowed to creep into the establishment, unawares, as it were, since ‘master’ had taken so keenly to hunting. But this satisfaction was not shared in the drawing-room. The horse was seen on his first journey round to the stable gate, and questions were immediately asked. It was a horse, Mark said, ‘which he had bought from Mr Sowerby some little time since, with the object of obliging him. He, Mark, intended to see him again, as soon as he could do so judiciously.’ This, as I have said above was not satisfactory. Neither of the two ladies at Framley parsonage knew much about horses, or of the manner in which one gentleman might think it proper to oblige another by purchasing the superfluities of his stable; but they did both feel that there were horses enough in the parsonage stable without Dandy, and that the purchasing of a hunter with a view of immediately selling him again, was, to say the least of it, an operation hardly congenial with the usual tastes and pursuits of a clergyman. ‘I hope you did not give very much money for him, Mark,’ said Fanny.

‘Not more than I shall get again,’ said Mark; and Fanny saw from the form of his countenance that she had better not pursue the subject any further at that moment.

‘I suppose I shall have to go into residence almost immediately,’ said Mark, recurring to the more agreeable subject of the stall.

‘And shall we all have to go and live at Barchester at once?’ asked Lucy.

‘The house will not be furnished, will it, Mark?’ said his wife. ‘I don’t know how we shall get on.’

‘Don’t frighten yourselves. I shall take lodgings in Barchester.’

‘And we shall not see you all the time,’ said Mrs Robarts with dismay. But the prebendary explained that he would be backwards and forwards at Framley every week, and that in all probability he would only sleep at Barchester on the Saturdays, and Sundays–and, perhaps, not always then.

‘It does not seem very hard work, that of a prebendary,’ said Lucy.

‘But it is very dignified,’ said Fanny. ‘Prebendaries are dignitaries of the Church–are they not, Mark?’

‘Decidedly,’ said he; ‘and their wives also, by special canon law. The worst of it is that both of them are obliged to wear wigs.’

‘Shall you have a hat, Mark, with curly things at the side, and strings through to hold them up?’ asked Lucy.

‘I fear that does not come within my perquisites.’

‘Nor a rosette? Then I shall never believe that you are a dignitary. Do you mean to say that you will wear a hat like a common parson–like Mr Crawley, for instance?’

‘Well–I believe I may give a twist to the leaf; but I am by no means sure till I shall have consulted the dean in chapter.’

And thus at the parsonage they talked over the good things that were coming to them, and endeavoured to forget the new horse, and the hunting boots that had been used so often during the last winter, and Lady Lufton’s altered countenance. It might be that the evils would vanish away, and the good things alone remain to them. It was now the month of April, and the fields were beginning to look green, and the wind had got itself out of the east and was soft and genial, and the early spring flowers were showing their bright colours in the parsonage garden, and all things were sweet and pleasant. This was a period of the year that was usually dear to Mrs Robarts. Her husband was always a better parson when the warm months came than he had been during the winter. The distant county friends whom she did not know and of whom she did not approve, went away when the spring came, leaving their houses innocent and empty. The parish duty was better attended to, and perhaps domestic duties also. At such period he was a pattern parson and a pattern husband, atoning to his own conscience for past shortcomings by present zeal. And then, though she had never acknowledged it to herself, the absence of her dear friend Lady Lufton was perhaps in itself not disagreeable. Mrs Robarts did love Lady Lufton heartily; but it must be acknowledged of her ladyship, that with all her good qualities, she was inclined to be masterful. She liked to rule, and she made people feel that she liked it. Mrs Robarts would never have confessed that she laboured under a sense of thraldom; but perhaps she was mouse enough to enjoy the temporary absence of her kind-hearted cat. When Lady Lufton was away Mrs Robarts herself had more play in the parish. And Mark also was not unhappy, though he did not find it practicable immediately to turn Dandy into money. Indeed, just at this moment, when he was a good deal over at Barchester, going through those deep mysteries before a clergyman can become one of the chapter, Dandy was rather a thorn in his side. Those wretched bills were to come due early in May, and before the end of April Sowerby wrote to him saying that he was doing his utmost to provide for the evil day; but that if the price of Dandy could be remitted to him at once, it would greatly facilitate his object. Nothing could be more different than Mr Sowerby’s tone about money at different times. When he wanted to raise the wind, everything was so important; haste and superhuman efforts and men running to and fro with blank acceptances in their hands, could alone stave off the crack of doom; but at other times, when retaliatory applications were made to him, he could prove with the easiest voice and most jaunty manner that everything was quite serene. Now, at this period, he was in that mood of superhuman efforts, and he called loudly for the hundred and thirty pounds for Dandy. After what had passed, Mark could not bring himself to say that he would pay nothing till the bills were safe; and therefore with the assistance of Mr Forrest of the Bank, he did remit the price of Dandy to his friend Sowerby in London.

And Lucy Robarts–we must now say a word of her. We have seen how, on that occasion, when the world was at her feet, she had sent her noble suitor away, not only dismissed, but so dismissed that he might be taught never again to offer to her the sweet incense of his vows. She had declared to him plainly that she did not love him and could not love him, and had thus thrown away not only riches and honour and high station, but more than that–much worse than that–she had flung away from her the lover to whose love her warm heart clung. That her love did cling to him, she knew even then, and owned more thoroughly as soon as he was gone. So much of her pride had done for her, and that strong resolve that Lady Lufton should not scowl on her and tell her that she had entrapped her son. I know it will be said of Lord Lufton himself that, putting aside his peerage and broad acres, and handsome, sonsy face, he was not worth a girl’s care and love. That will be said because people think that heroes in books should be so much better than heroes got up for the world’s common wear and tear. I may as well confess that of absolute, true heroism there was only a moderate admixture in Lord Lufton’s composition; but what would the world come to if none but absolute true heroes were to be thought worthy of woman’s love? What would the men do? Lucy Robarts in her heart did not give her dismissed lover credit for much more heroism than did truly appertain to him;–did not, perhaps, give him full credit for a certain amount of heroism which did really appertain to him; but, nevertheless, she would have been very glad to take him could she have done so without wounding her pride.

That girls should not marry for money we are all agreed. A lady who can sell herself for a title or an estate, for an income or a set of family diamonds, treats herself as a farmer treats his sheep and oxen–makes hardly more of herself, of her own inner self, in which are comprised a mind and soul, than the poor wretch of her own sex who earns her bread in the lowest stage of degradation. But a title, and an estate, and an income, are matters which will weigh in the balance with all Eve’s daughters–as they do with all Adam’s sons. Pride of place, and the power of living well in front of the world’s eye, are dear to us all;–are, doubtless, intended to be dear. Only in acknowledging so much, let us remember that there are prices at which these good things may be too costly. Therefore, being desirous, too, of telling the truth in this matter, I must confess that Lucy did speculate with some regret on what it would have been to be Lady Lufton. To have been the wife of such a man, the owner of such a heart, the mistress of such a destiny–what more or what better could the world have done for her? And now she had thrown all that aside because she would not endure that Lady Lufton should call her a scheming, artful girl! Actuated by that fear she had repulsed him with a falsehood, though the matter was one on which it was so terribly expedient that she should tell the truth. And yet she was cheerful with her brother and sister-in-law. It was when she was quite alone, at night in her own room, or in her solitary walks, that a single silent tear would gather in the corner of her eye and gradually moisten her eyelids. ‘She never told her love,’ nor did she allow concealment to ‘feed on her damask cheek’. In all her employments, in her ways about the house, and her accustomed quiet mirth, she was the same as ever. In this she showed the peculiar strength which God had given her. But not the less did she in truth mourn for her lost love and spoiled ambition. ‘We are going to drive over to Hogglestock this morning,’ Fanny said one day at breakfast. ‘I suppose, Mark, you won’t go with me?’

‘Well, no; I think not. The pony carriage is wretched for three.’

‘Oh, as for that, I should have thought the new horse might have been able to carry you as far as that. I heard you say you wanted to see Mr Crawley.’

‘So I do; and the new horse, as you call him, shall carry me there to-morrow. Will you say that I’ll be over about twelve o’clock?’

‘You had better say earlier, as he is always out about the parish.’

‘Very well, say eleven. It is parish business about which I am going, so it need not irk his conscience to stay in for me.’

‘Well, Lucy, we must drive ourselves, that’s all. You shall be charioteer going, and then we’ll change coming back.’ To all which Lucy agreed, and as soon as their work in the school was over they started. Not a word had been spoken between them about Lord Lufton since that evening, now more than a month ago, on which they had been walking together in the garden. Lucy had so demeaned herself on that occasion to make her sister-in-law quite sure that there had been no love passages up to that time; and nothing had since occurred which had created any suspicion in Mrs Robarts’s mind. She had seen at once that all the close intimacy between them was over, and thought that everything was as it should be.

‘Do you know, I have an idea,’ she said in the pony carriage that day, ‘that Lord Lufton will marry Griselda Grantly.’ Lucy could not refrain from giving a little check at the reins which she was holding, and she felt that the blood rushed quickly to her heart. But she did not betray herself. ‘Perhaps he may,’ she said, and then gave the pony a little touch with her whip.

‘Oh, Lucy, I won’t have Puck beaten. He was going very nicely.’

‘I beg Puck’s pardon. But you see when one is trusted with a whip one feels such a longing to use it.’

‘Oh, but you should keep it still. I feel almost certain that Lady Lufton would like such a match.’

‘I dare say she might. Miss Grantly will have a large fortune, I believe.’

‘It is not that altogether: but she is the sort of young lady that Lady Lufton likes. She is ladylike and very beautiful–‘

‘Come, Fanny!’

‘I really think she is; not what I would call lovely, you know, but very beautiful. And then she is quiet and reserved; she does not require excitement, and I am sure is conscientious in the performance of her duties.’

‘Very conscientious, I have no doubt,’ said Lucy, with something like a sneer in her tone. ‘But the question, I suppose, is, whether, Lord Lufton likes her.’

‘I think he does,–in a sort of way. He did not talk to her so much as he did to you–‘

‘Ah! that was all Lady Lufton’s fault, because she didn’t have him properly labelled.’

‘There does not seem to have been much harm done?’

‘Oh! by God’s mercy, very little. As for me, I shall get over it in three or four years I don’t doubt–that’s if I can get ass’s milk and a change of air.’

‘We’ll take you to Barchester for that. But as I was saying, I really do think that Lord Lufton likes Griselda Grantly.’

‘Then I really do think that he has uncommon bad taste,’ said Lucy, with a reality in her voice differing much from the tone of banter she had hitherto used.

‘What, Lucy!’ said her sister-in-law, looking at her. ‘Then I fear we shall really want the ass’s milk.’

‘Perhaps, considering my position, I ought to know nothing of Lord Lufton, for you say that it is very dangerous for young ladies to know young gentlemen. But I do know enough of him to understand that he ought not to like such a girl as Griselda Grantly. He ought to know that she is a mere automaton, cold, lifeless, spiritless, and even vapid. There is, I believe, nothing in her mentally, whatever may be her moral excellences. To me she is more absolutely like a statue than any other human being I ever saw. To sit still and be admired is all that she desires; and if she cannot get that, to sit still and not be admired would almost suffice for her. I do not worship Lady Lufton as you do; but I think quite well enough of her to wonder that she could choose such a girl as that for her son’s wife. That she does wish it I do not doubt. But I shall indeed be surprised if he wishes it also.’ And then as she finished her speech, Lucy again flogged the pony. This she did in vexation, because she felt that the tell-tale blood had suffused her face.

‘Why, Lucy, if he were your brother you could not be more eager about it.’

‘No, I could not. He is the only man friend with whom I was ever intimate, and I cannot bear to think that he should throw himself away. It’s horridly improper to care about such a thing, I have no doubt.’

‘I think we might acknowledge that if he and his mother are both satisfied, we may be satisfied also.’

‘I shall not be satisfied. It’s no use your looking at me, Fanny. You will make me talk of it, and I won’t tell a lie on the subject. I do like Lord Lufton very much; and I do dislike Griselda Grantly almost as much. Therefore I shall not be satisfied if they become man and wife. However, I do not suppose that either of them will ask my consent; nor is it probable that Lady Lufton will do so.’ And then they went on for perhaps a quarter of a mile without speaking.

‘Poor Puck!’ Lucy at last said. ‘He shan’t be whipped any more, shall he, because Miss Grantly looks like a statue? And, Fanny, don’t tell Mark to put me into a lunatic asylum. I also know a hawk from a heron, and that’s why I don’t like to see such a very unfitting marriage.’ There was then nothing more said on the subject, and in two minutes they arrived at the house of the Hogglestock clergyman. Mrs Crawley had brought two of the children with her when she came from the Cornish curacy to Hogglestock, and two other babies had been added to her cares since then. One of these was now ill with croup, and it was with the object of offering to the mother some comfort and solace, that the present visit was made. The two ladies got down from their carriage, having obtained the services of a boy to hold Puck, and soon found themselves in Mrs Crawley’s single sitting-room. She was sitting there with her foot on the board of a child’s cradle, rocking it, while an infant about three months old was lying in her lap. For the elder one, who was the sufferer, had in her illness usurped the baby’s place. Two other children, considerably older, were also in the room. The eldest was a girl perhaps nine years of age, and the other a boy three years her junior. These were standing at their father’s elbow, who was studiously endeavouring to initiate them in the early mysteries of grammar. To tell the truth, Mrs Robarts would much preferred that Mr Crawley had not been there, for she had with her and about her certain contraband articles, presents for the children, as they were to be called, but in truth relief for that poor, much-tasked mother, which they knew it would be impossible to introduce in Mr Crawley’s presence. She, as we have said, was not quite so gaunt, not altogether so haggard as in the latter of those dreadful Cornish days. Lady Lufton and Mrs Arabin between them, and the scanty comfort of their improved, though still wretched, income, had done something towards bringing her back to the world in which she had lived in the soft days of her childhood. But even the liberal stipend of a hundred and thirty pounds a year–liberal according to the scale by which the incomes of clergymen in our new districts are now apportioned–would not admit of a gentleman with his wife and four children living with the ordinary comforts of an artisan’s family. As regards the mere eating and drinking, the amount of butcher’s meat and tea and butter, they of course were used in quantities which any artisan would have regarded as compatible only with demi-starvation. Better clothing for her children was necessary, and better clothing for him. As for her own raiment, the wives of artisans would have been content to put up with Mrs Crawley’s best gown. The stuff of which it was made had been paid for by her mother when she with much difficulty bestowed upon her daughter her modest wedding trousseau.

Lucy had never seen Mrs Crawley. These visits to Hogglestock were not frequent, and had generally been made by Lady Lufton and Mrs Robarts together. It was known that they were distasteful to Mr Crawley, who felt a savage satisfaction in being left to himself. It may almost be said of him that he felt angry with those who relieved him, and he had certainly never as yet forgiven the Dean of Barchester for paying his debts. The dean had also given him his present living; and consequently his old friend was not now so dear to him as when in old days he could come down to that farm-house, almost as penniless as the curate himself. Then they would walk together for hours along the rock-bound shore, listening to the waves, discussing deep polemical mysteries, sometimes with hot fury, then again with tender, loving charity, but always with a mutual acknowledgement of each other’s truth. Now they lived comparatively near together, but no opportunities arose for such discussions. At any rate once a quarter Mr Crawley was pressed by his old friend to visit him at the deanery, and Dr Arabin had promised that no one else should be in the house if Mr Crawley objected to society. But this was not what he wanted. The finery and grandeur of the deanery, the comfort of that warm, snug, library, would silence him at once. Why did not Dr Arabin come out there to Hogglestock, and tramp with him through the dirty lanes as they used to tramp? Then he could have enjoyed himself; then he could have talked; then old days would have come back to them. But now!–‘Arabin always rides on a sleek, fine horse, nowadays,’ he once said to his wife with a sneer. His poverty had been so terrible to himself that it was not in his heart to love a rich friend.

CHAPTER XXII

HOGGLESTOCK PARSONAGE

At the end of the last chapter, we left Lucy Robarts waiting for an introduction to Mrs Crawley, who was sitting with one baby in her lap while she was rocking another who lay in a cradle at her feet. Mr Crawley, in the meanwhile, had risen from his seat with his finger between the leaves of an old grammar out of which he had been teaching his two elder children. The whole Crawley family was thus before them when Mrs Robarts and Lucy entered the sitting-room. ‘This is my sister-in-law, Lucy,’ said Mrs Robarts. ‘Pray don’t move now, Mrs Crawley; or if you do, let me take baby.’ And she put out her arms and took the infant into them, making him quite at home there; for she had work of this kind of her own, at home, which she by no means neglected, though the attendance of nurses was more plentiful with her than at Hogglestock. Mrs Crawley did get up and told Lucy that she was glad to see her, and Mr Crawley came forward, grammar in hand, looking humble and meek. Could we have looked into the innermost spirit of him and his life’s partner, we should have seen that mixed with the pride of his poverty there was some feeling of disgrace that he was poor, but that with her, regarding this matter, there was neither pride nor shame. The realities of life had become so stern to her that the outward aspects of them were as nothing. She would have liked a new gown because it would have been useful; but it would have been nothing to her if all the county knew that the one in which she went to church had been turned three times. It galled him, however, to think that he and his were so poorly dressed. ‘I am afraid you can hardly find a chair, Miss Robarts,’ said Mr Crawley.

‘Oh, yes, there is nothing here but this young gentleman’s library,’ said Lucy, moving a pile of ragged, coverless books onto the table. ‘I hope he’ll forgive me for moving them.’

‘They are not Bob’s,–at least, not the most of them,–but mine,’ said the girl.

‘But some of them are mine,’ said the boy; ‘ain’t they, Grace?’

‘And are you a great scholar?’ asked Lucy, drawing the child to her.

‘I don’t know,’ said Grace, with a sheepish face. ‘I am in Greek Delectus and the irregular verbs.’

‘Greek Delectus and the irregular verbs!’ And Lucy put up her hands with astonishment.

‘And she knows an ode of Horace all by heart,’ said Bob.

‘An ode of Horace!’ said Lucy, still holding the young shamefaced prodigy close to her knees.

‘It is all that I can give them,’ said Mr Crawley, apologetically. ‘A little scholarship is the only fortune that has come my way, and I endeavour to share that with my children.’

‘I believe men may say that it is the best fortune any of us can have,’ said Lucy, thinking, however, in her own mind, that Horace and the irregular Greek verbs savoured too much of precocious forcing in a young lady of nine years old. But, nevertheless, Grace was a pretty, simple-looking girl, and clung to her ally closely, and seemed to like being fondled. So that Lucy anxiously wished that Mr Crawley could be got rid of and the presents produced.

‘I hope you have left Mr Robarts quite well,’ said Mr Crawley, with a stiff, ceremonial voice, differing very much from that in which he had so energetically addressed his brother clergyman when they were alone together in the study at Framley. ‘He is quite well, thank you. I suppose you have heard of his good fortune?’

‘Yes; I have heard of it,’ said Mr Crawley, gravely. ‘I hope that his promotion may tend in every way to his advantage here and hereafter.’ It seemed, however, to be manifest from the manner in which he expressed his kind wishes that his hopes and expectation did not go hand in hand together.

‘By the by, he desired us to say that he will call here to-morrow; at about eleven, didn’t he say, Fanny?’

‘Yes; he wishes to see you about some parish business, I think,’ said Mrs Robarts, looking up for a moment from the anxious discussion in which she was already engaged with Mrs Crawley on nursery matters.

‘Pray tell him,’ said Mr Crawley, ‘that I shall be happy to see him; though, perhaps, now that new duties have been thrown upon him, it will be better that I should visit him at Framley.’

‘His new duties do not disturb him much as yet,’ said Lucy. ‘And his riding over here will be no trouble to him.’

‘Yes; there he has the advantage over me. I unfortunately have no horse.’ And then Lucy began petting the little boy, and by degrees slipped a small bag of gingerbread-nuts out of her muff into his hands. She had not the patience necessary for waiting, as had her sister-in-law. The boy took the bag, peeped into it, and then looked up into her face.

‘What is that, Bob?’ said Mr Crawley.

‘Gingerbread,’ faltered Bobby, feeling that a sin had been committed, though, probably feeling also that he himself could hardly as yet be accounted as deeply guilty.

‘Miss Robarts,’ said the father, ‘we are very much obliged to you; but our children are hardly used to such things.’

‘I am a lady with a weak mind, Mr Crawley, and always carry things of this sort about with me when I go to visit children; so you must forgive me, and allow your little boy to accept them.’

‘Oh, certainly, Bob, my child, give the bag to your mamma, and she will let you and Grace have them, one at a time.’ And then the bag in a solemn manner was carried over to their mother, who, taking it from her son’s hands, laid it high on a bookshelf.

‘And not one now?’ said Lucy Robarts, very piteously. ‘Don’t be so hard, Mr Crawley,–not upon them, but upon me. May I not learn whether they are good of their kind?’

‘I am sure they are very good; but I think their mamma will prefer their being put by for the present.’ This was very discouraging to Lucy. If one small bag of gingerbread-nuts created so great a difficulty, how was she to dispose of the pot of guava jelly and a box of bonbons, which were still in her muff; or how distribute the packet of oranges with which the pony carriage was laden? And there was jelly for the sick child, and chicken broth, which was, indeed, another jelly; and, to tell the truth openly, there was also a joint of fresh pork and a basket of eggs from the Framley parsonage farmyard, which Mrs Robarts was to introduce, should she find herself capable of doing so; but which would certainly be cast out with utter scorn by Mr Crawley, if tendered in his immediate presence. There had also been a suggestion as to adding two or three bottles of port: but the courage of the ladies had failed them on that head, and the wine was not now added to their difficulties. Lucy found it very difficult to keep up a conversation with Mr Crawley–the more so as Mrs Robarts and Mrs Crawley presently withdrew into a bedroom, taking the two younger children with them. ‘How unlucky,’ thought Lucy, ‘that she has not got my muff with her!’ But the muff lay in her lap, ponderous with its rich enclosures.

‘I suppose you will live in Barchester for a portion of the year now,’ said Mr Crawley.

‘I really do not know as yet; Mark talks of taking lodgings for his first month’s residence.’

‘But he will have the house, will he not?’

‘Oh, yes; I suppose so.’

‘I fear he will find it interfere with his own parish–with his general utility there: the schools, for instance.’

‘Mark thinks that, as he is so near, he need not be much absent from Framley, even during his residence. And then Lady Lufton is so good about the schools.’

‘Ah! yes: but Lady Lufton is not a clergyman, Miss Robarts.’ It was on Lucy’s tongue to say that her ladyship was pretty nearly as bad, but she stopped herself. At this moment Providence sent great relief to Miss Robarts in the shape of Mrs Crawley’s red-armed maid-of-all-work, who, walking up to her master, whispered into his ear that he was wanted. It was the time of day at which his attendance was always required in his parish school; and that attendance being so punctually given, those who wanted him looked for him there at this hour, and if he were absent, did not scruple to send for him. ‘Miss Robarts, I am afraid you must excuse me,’ said he, getting up and taking his hat and stick. Lucy begged that she might not be at all in the way, and already began to speculate how she might best unload her treasures. ‘Will you make my compliments to Mrs Robarts, and say that I am sorry to miss the pleasure of wishing her good-bye? But I shall probably see her as she passes the school-house.’ And then, stick in hand, he walked forth, and Lucy fancied that Bobby’s eyes immediately rested on the bag of gingerbread-nuts.

‘Bob,’ said she, almost in a whisper, ‘do you like sugar-plumbs?’

‘Very much, indeed,’ said Bob, with exceeding gravity, and with his eye upon the window to see whether his father had passed.

‘Then come here,’ said Lucy. But as she spoke the door again opened, and Mr Crawley reappeared. ‘I have left a book behind me,’ he said; and coming back through the room, he took up the well-worn Prayer Book which accompanied him in all his wanderings through the parish. Bobby, when he saw his father, had retreated a few steps back, as also did Grace, who, to confess the truth, had been attracted by the sound of sugar-plumbs, in spite of the irregular verbs. And Lucy withdrew her hand from the muff and looked guilty. Was she not deceiving the good man–nay, teaching his own children to deceive him? But there are men made of such stuff that an angel could hardly live with them without some deceit. ‘Papa’s gone now,’ whispered Bobby; ‘I saw him turn round the corner.’ He, at any rate, had learned his lesson–as it was natural that he should do. Some one else, also, had learned that papa was gone; for while Bob and Grace were still counting the big lumps of sugar-candy, each employed the while for inward solace with an inch of barley-sugar, the front-door opened, and a big basket, and a bundle done up in kitchen cloth, made surreptitious entrance into the house, and were quickly unpacked by Mrs Robarts herself on the