HotFreeBooks.com
The Last Chronicle of Barset
by Anthony Trollope
Previous Part     1 ... 3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

"It is certainly true."

"But I wish, dear, you would not send it. Why should you take any step till the trial be over?"

"I shall assuredly send it," he had replied. "If you will peruse it again, you will see that the epistle would be futile were it kept till I shall have been proved to be a thief."

"Oh, Josiah, such words kill me."

"They are not pleasant, but it will be well that you should become used to them. As for the letter, I have taken some trouble to express myself with perspicuity, and I trust that I may have succeeded." At that time Hoggett was altogether in the ascendant; but now, as he started on his walk, his mind was somewhat perturbed by the contrary advice of one, who after all, might be as wise as Hoggett. There would be nothing dogged in the conduct recommended to him by Dr Tempest. Were he to follow the doctor's advice, he would be trimming his sails, so as to catch any slant of a breeze that might be favourable to him. There could be no doggedness in a character that would submit to such trimming.

The postman came to Hogglestock but once a day, so that he could not despatch his letter till the next morning,—unless, indeed, he chose to send it a distance of four miles to the nearest post-office. As there was nothing to justify this, there was another night for the copying of his letter,—should he at last determine to send it. He had declared to Dr Tempest that he would send it. He had sworn to his wife that it should go. He had taken much trouble with it. He believed in Hoggett. But, nevertheless, this incumbency of Hogglestock was his all in the world. It might be that he could still hold it, and have bread at least for his wife to eat. Dr Tempest had told him that he would be probably acquitted. Dr Tempest knew as much of all the circumstances as he did himself, and had told him that he was not guilty. After all, Dr Tempest knew more about it than Hoggett knew.

If he resigned the living, what would become of him,—of him,—of him and of his wife? Whither would they first go when they turned their back upon the door inside which there had at any rate been shelter for them for so many years? He calculated everything that he had, and found that at the end of April, even when he should have received his rent-charge, there would not be five pounds in hand among them. As for his furniture, he still owed enough to make it impossible that he should get anything out of that. And these thoughts all had reference to his position if he should be acquitted. What would become of his wife if he should be convicted? And as for himself, whither should he go when he came out of prison?

He had completely realised the idea that Hoggett's counsel was opposed to that given to him by Dr Tempest; but then it might certainly be the case that Hoggett had not known all the facts. A man should, no doubt, be dogged when the evils of life are insuperable; but need he be so when the evils can be overcome? Would not Hoggett himself undergo any treatment which he believed to be specific for rheumatism? Yes; Hoggett would undergo any treatment that was not in itself opposed to his duty. The best treatment for rheumatism might be to stay away from the brick-field on a rainy day; but if so, there would be no money to keep the pot boiling, and Hoggett would certainly go to the brick-field, rheumatism and all, as long as his limbs would carry him there. Yes; he would send his letter. It was his duty, and he would do it. Men looked askance at him, and pointed at him as a thief. He would send the letter, in spite of Dr Tempest. Let justice be done, though the heaven may fall.

He had heard of Lady Lufton's offer to his wife. The offers of the Lady Luftons of the world had been sorely distressing to his spirit, since it had first come to pass that such offers had reached him in consequence of his poverty. But now there was something almost of relief to him in the thought that the Lady Luftons would, after some fashion, save his wife and children from starvation;—would save his wife from the poorhouse, and enable his children to have a start in the world. For one of his children a brilliant marriage might be provided,—if only he himself were out of the way. How could he take himself out of the way? It had been whispered to him that he might be imprisoned for two months,—or for two years. Would it not be a grand thing if the judge would condemn him to be imprisoned for life? Was there ever a man whose existence was so purposeless, so useless, so deleterious, as his own? And yet he knew Hebrew well, whereas the dean knew but very little Hebrew. He could make Greek iambics, and doubted whether the bishop knew the difference between an iambus and a trochee. He could disport himself with trigonometry, feeling confident that Dr Tempest had forgotten his way over the asses' bridge. He knew "Lycidas" by heart; and as for Thumble, he felt quite sure that Thumble was incompetent of understanding a single allusion in that divine poem. Nevertheless, though all this wealth of acquirement was his, it would be better for himself, better for those who belonged to him, better for the world at large, that he should be put an end to. A sentence of penal servitude for life, without any trial, would be of all things the most desirable. Then there would be ample room for the practice of the virtue that Hoggett had taught him.

When he returned home the Hoggethan doctrine prevailed, and he prepared to copy his letter. But before he commenced his task, he sat down with his youngest daughter, and read,—or made her read to him,—a passage out of a Greek poem, in which are described the troubles and agonies of a blind giant. No giant would have been more powerful,—only that he was blind, and could not see to avenge himself on those who had injured him. "The same story is always coming up," he said, stopping the girl in her reading. "We have it in various versions, because it is so true to life.

Ask for this great deliverer now, and find him Eyeless in Gaza, at the mill with slaves.

It is the same story. Great power reduced to impotence, great glory to misery, by the hand of Fate,—Necessity, as the Greeks called her; the goddess that will not be shunned! At the mill with slaves! People, when they read it, do not appreciate the horror of the picture. Go on my dear. It may be a question whether Polyphemus had mind enough to suffer; but, from the description of his power, I should think that he had. 'At the mill with slaves!' Can any picture be more dreadful than that? Go on, my dear. Of course you remember Milton's Samson Agonistes. Agonistes indeed!" His wife was sitting stitching at the other side of the room; but she heard his words,—heard and understood them; and before Jane could again get herself into the swing of the Greek verse, she was over at her husband's side, with her arms round his neck. "My love!" she said. "My love!"

He turned to her, and smiled as he spoke to her. "These are old thoughts with me. Polyphemus and Belisarius, and Samson and Milton, have always been pets of mine. The mind of the strong blind creature must be so sensible of the injury that has been done to him! The impotency, combined with his strength, or rather the impotency with the memory of former strength and former aspirations, is so essentially tragic!"

She looked into his eyes as he spoke, and there was something of the flash of old days, when the world was young to them, and when he would tell her of his hopes, and repeat to her long passages of poetry, and would criticise for her advantage the works of old writers. "Thank God," she said, "that you are not blind. It may yet be all right with you."

"Yes,—it may be," he said.

"And you shall not be at the mill with slaves."

"Or, at any rate, not eyeless in Gaza, if the Lord is good to me. Come, Jane, we will go on." Then he took up the passage himself, and read it on with clear, sonorous voice, every now and then explaining some passage or expressing his own ideas upon it, as though he were really happy with his poetry.

It was late in the evening before he got out his small stock of best letter-paper, and sat down to work at his letter. He first addressed himself to the bishop; and what he wrote to the bishop was as follows:—

HOGGLESTOCK PARSONAGE, April 11th, 186—

MY LORD BISHOP,

I have been in communication with Dr Tempest, of Silverbridge, from whom I have learned that your lordship has been pleased to appoint a commission of inquiry,—of which commission he is the chairman,—with reference to the proceedings which it may be necessary that you should take, as bishop of the diocese, after my forthcoming trial at the approaching Barchester assizes. My lord, I think it right to inform you, partly with a view to the comfort of the gentlemen named on that commission, and partly with the purport of giving you that information which I think that a bishop should possess in regard to the clerical affairs of his own diocese, that I have by this post resigned my preferment at Hogglestock into the hands of the Dean of Barchester, by whom it was given to me. In these circumstances, it will, I suppose, be unnecessary for you to continue the commission which you have set in force; but as to that, your lordship will, of course, be the only judge.

I have the honour to be, my Lord Bishop, Your most obedient and very humble servant,

JOSIAH CRAWLEY, Perpetual Curate of Hogglestock.

The Right Reverend The Bishop of Barchester, &c, &c, &c The Palace, Barchester.

But the letter which was of real importance,—which was intended to say something,—was that to the dean, and that also shall be given to the reader. Mr Crawley had been for awhile in doubt how he should address his old friend in commencing this letter, understanding that its tone throughout must, in a great degree, be made conformable with its first words. He would fain, in his pride, have begun "Sir". The question was between that and "My dear Arabin". It had once between them always been "Dear Frank," and "Dear Joe"; but the occasions for "Dear Frank" and "Dear Joe" between them had long been past. Crawley would have been very angry had he now been called Joe by the dean, and would have bitten his tongue out before he would have called the dean Frank. His better nature, however, now prevailed, and he began his letter, and completed it as follows:—

MY DEAR ARABIN,

Circumstances, of which you have probably heard something, compel me to write to you, as I fear, at some length. I am sorry that the trouble of such a letter should be forced upon you during your holidays;—[Mr Crawley, as he wrote this, did not forget to remind himself that he never had any holidays] but I think you will admit, if you will bear with me to the end, that I have no alternative.

I have been accused of stealing a cheque for twenty pounds, which cheque was drawn by my Lord Lufton on his London bankers, and was lost out of his pocket by Mr Soames, his lordship's agent, and was so lost, as Mr Soames states,—not with an absolute assertion,—during a visit which he made to my parsonage here at Hogglestock. Of the fact that I paid the cheque to a tradesman in Silverbridge there is no doubt. When questioned about it, I first gave an answer which was so manifestly incorrect that it has seemed odd to me that I should not have had credit for a mistake from those who must have seen that detection was so evident. The blunder was undoubtedly stupid, and it now bears heavy on me. I then, as I have learned, made another error,—of which I am aware that you have been informed. I said that the cheque had come from you, and in saying so, I thought that it had formed a portion of that alms which your open-handed benevolence bestowed upon me when I attended on you, not long before your departure, in your library. I have striven to remember the facts. It may be,—nay, it probably is the case,—that such struggles to catch some accurate glimpse of bygone things do not trouble you. Your mind is, no doubt, clearer and stronger than mine, having been kept to its proper tune by greater and fitter work. With me, memory is all but gone, and the power of thinking is on the wane! I struggled to remember, and I thought that the cheque had been in the envelope which you handed to me,—and I said so. I have since learned, from tidings received, as I am told, direct from yourself, that I was as wrong in the second statement as I had been in the first. The double blunder has, of course, been very heavy on me.

I was taken before the magistrates at Silverbridge, and was by them committed to stand my trial at the assizes to be holden in Barchester on the 28th of this month. Without doubt, the magistrates had no alternative but to commit me, and I am indebted to them that they have allowed me my present liberty upon bail. That my sufferings in all this should have been grievous, you will understand. But on that head I shall not touch, were it not that I am bound to explain to you that my troubles in reference to this parish of Hogglestock, to which I was appointed by you, have not been the slightest of those sufferings. I felt at first, believing then that the world around me would think it unlikely that such a one as I had wilfully stolen a sum of money, that it was my duty to maintain myself in my church. I did so maintain myself against an attack made upon me by the bishop, who sent over to Hogglestock one Mr Thumble, a gentleman doubtless in holy orders, though I know nothing and can learn nothing of the place of his cure, to dispossess me of my pulpit and to remove me from my ministrations among my people. To Mr Thumble I turned a deaf ear, and would not let him so much as open his mouth inside the porch of my church. Up to this time I myself have read the services, and have preached to the people, and have continued, as best I could, my visits to the poor and my labours in the school, though I know,—no one knows as well,—how unfitted I am for such work by the grief which has fallen upon me.

Then the bishop sent for me, and I thought it becoming on my part to go to him. I presented myself to his lordship at his palace, and was minded to be much governed in my conduct by what he might say to me, remembering that I am bound to respect the office, even though I may not approve the man; and I humbled myself before his lordship, waiting patiently for any directions which he in his discretion might think proper to bestow on me. But there arose up between us that very pestilent woman, his wife,—to his dismay, seemingly, as much as to mine,—and she would let there be place for no speech but her own. If there be aught clear to me in ecclesiastical matters, it is this,—that no authority can be delegated to a female. The special laws of this and of some other countries do allow that women shall sit upon the temporal thrones of the earth, but on the lowest step of the throne of the Church no woman has been allowed to sit as bearing authority, the romantic tale of the woman Pope notwithstanding. Thereupon, I left the palace in wrath, feeling myself aggrieved that a woman should have attempted to dictate to me, and finding it hopeless to get a clear instruction from his lordship,—the woman taking up the word whenever I put a question to my lord the bishop. Nothing, therefore, came of that interview but fruitless labour to myself, and anger, of which I have since been ashamed.

Since that time I have continued in my parish,—working, not without zeal, though, in truth, almost without hope,—and learning even from day to day that the opinions of men around me have declared me to be guilty of the crime imputed to me. And now the bishop has issued a commission as preparatory to proceedings against me under the Act for the punishment of clerical offences. In doing this, I cannot say that the bishop has been ill-advised, even though the advice may have come from that evil-tongued lady, his wife. And I hold that a woman may be called on for advice, with most salutary effect, in affairs as to which any show of female authority should be equally false and pernicious. With me it has ever been so, and I have had a counsellor by me as wise as she has been devoted.

It must be noticed that in the draft copy of his letter which Mr Crawley gave to his wife to read this last sentence was not inserted. Intending that she should read his letter, he omitted it till he made the fair copy.

Over this commission his lordship has appointed Dr Tempest of Silverbridge to preside, and with him I have been in communication. I trust that the labours of the gentlemen of whom it is composed may be brought to a speedy close; and, having regard to their trouble, which in such a matter is, I fear, left without remuneration, I have informed Dr Tempest that I should write this letter to you with the intent and assured purpose of resigning the perpetual curacy of Hogglestock into your hands.

You will be good enough, therefore, to understand that I do so resign the living, and that I shall continue to administer the services of the Church only till some clergyman, certified to me as coming from you or from the bishop, may present himself in the parish, and shall declare himself prepared to undertake the cure. Should it be so that Mr Thumble be sent hither again, I will sit under him, endeavouring to catch improvement from his teaching, and striving to overcome the contempt which I felt for him when he before visited this parish. I annex beneath my signature a copy of the letter which I have written to the bishop on this subject.

And now it behoves me, as the guardianship of the souls of those around me was placed in my hands by you, to explain to you as shortly as may be possible the reasons which have induced me to abandon my work. One or two whose judgment I do not discredit,—and I am allowed to name Dr Tempest of Silverbridge as one,—have suggested to me that I should take no step myself till after my trial. They think that I should have regard to the chance of the verdict, so that the preferment may still be mine should I be acquitted; and they say, that should I be acquitted, the bishop's action against me must of necessity cease. That they are right in these facts I do not doubt; but in giving such advice they look only to facts, having no regard to the conscience. I do not blame them. I should give such advice myself, knowing that a friend may give counsel as to outer things, but that a man must satisfy his inner conscience by his own perceptions of what is right and what is wrong.

I find myself to be ill-spoken of, to be regarded with hard eyes by those around me, my people thinking that I have stolen this money. Two farmers in this parish have, as I am aware, expressed opinions that no jury could acquit me honestly, and neither of these men have appeared in my church since the expression of that opinion. I doubt whether they have gone to other churches; and if not they have been deterred from all public worship by my presence. If this be so, how can I with a clear conscience remain among these men? Shall I take from their hands wages for those administrations, which their deliberately formed opinions will not allow them to accept from my hands?

And yet, though he thus pleaded against himself, he knew that the two men of whom he was speaking were thick-headed dolts who were always tipsy on Saturday nights, and who came to church perhaps once in three weeks.

Your kind heart will doubtless prompt you to tell me that no clergyman could be safe in his parish if he were to allow the opinion of chance parishioners to prevail against him; and you would probably lay down for my guidance that grand old doctrine "Nil conscire sibi, nulla pallescere culpa." Presuming that you may do so, I will acknowledge such guidance to be good. If my mind were clear in this matter, I would not budge an inch for any farmer,—no, nor for any bishop, further than he might by law compel me! But my mind is not clear. I do grow pale, and my hair stands on end with horror, as I confess to myself that I do not know whether I stole this money or no! Such is the fact. In all sincerity I tell you that I know not whether I be guilty or innocent. It may be that I picked up the cheque from the floor of my room, and afterwards took it out and used it, not knowing whence it had come to me. If it be so, I stole it, and am guilty before the laws of my country. If it be so, I am not fit to administer the Lord's sacraments to these people. When the cup was last in my hand and I was blessing them, I felt that I was not fit, and I almost dropped the chalice. That God will know my weakness and pardon me the perplexity of my mind,—that is between Him and His creature.

As I read my letter over to myself I feel how weak are my words, and how inefficient to explain to you the exact position in which I stand; but they will suffice to convince you that I am assuredly purposed to resign this parish of Hogglestock, and that it is therefore incumbent on you, as patron of the living, to nominate my successor to the benefice. I have only further to ask your pardon for this long letter, and to thank you again for the many and great marks of friendship which you have conferred on me. Alas, could you have foreseen in those old days how barren of all good would have been the life of him you then esteemed, you might perhaps have escaped the disgrace of being called the friend of one whom no one now regards with esteem.

Nevertheless, I may still say that I am, With all affection, yours truly,

JOSIAH CRAWLEY.

The last paragraph of the letter was also added since his wife had read it. When he had first composed the letter, he had been somewhat proud of his words, thinking that he had clearly told his story. But when, sitting alone at his desk, he read it again, filling his mind as he went on with ideas which he would fain have expressed to his old friend, were it not that he feared to indulge himself with too many words, he began to tell himself that his story was anything but well told. There was no expression there of the Hoggethan doctrine. In answer to such a letter as that the dean might well say, "Think again of it. Try yet to save yourself. Never mind the two farmers, or Mr Thumble, or the bishop. Stick to the ship while there is a plank above the water." Whereas it had been his desire to use words that should make the dean clearly understand that the thing was decided. He had failed,—as he had failed in everything throughout his life; but nevertheless the letter must go. Were he to begin again he would not do it better. So he added to what he had written a copy of his note to the bishop, and the letter was fastened and sent.

Mrs Crawley might probably have been more instant in her efforts to stop the letter, had she not felt that it would not decide everything. In the first place it was not improbable that the letter might not reach the dean till after his return home,—and Mrs Crawley had long since made up her mind that she would see the dean as soon as possible after his return. She had heard from Lady Lufton that it was not doubted in Barchester that he would be back at any rate before the judges came into the city. And then, in the next place, was it probable that the dean would act upon such a letter by filling up the vacancy, even if he did get it? She trusted in the dean, and knew that he would help them, if any help were possible. Should the verdict go against her husband, then indeed it might be that no help would be possible. In such case she thought that the bishop with his commission might prevail. But she still believed that the verdict would be favourable, if not with an assured belief, still with a hope that was sufficient to stand in lieu of a belief. No single man, let alone no twelve men, could think that her husband had intended to appropriate that money dishonestly. That he had taken it improperly,—without real possession,—she herself believed; but he had not taken it as a thief, and could not merit a thief's punishment.

After two days he got a reply from the bishop's chaplain, in which the chaplain expressed the bishop's commendation of Mr Crawley's present conduct. "Mr Thumble shall proceed from hence to Hogglestock on next Sunday," said the chaplain, "and shall relieve you for the present from the burden of your duties. As to the future status of the parish, it will perhaps be best that nothing shall be done till the dean returns,—or perhaps till the assizes shall be over. This is the bishop's opinion." It need hardly be explained that the promised visit of Mr Thumble to Hogglestock was gall and wormwood to Mr Crawley. He had told the dean that should Mr Thumble come, he would endeavour to learn something even from him. But it may be doubted whether Mr Crawley in his present mood could learn anything useful from Mr Thumble. Giles Hoggett was a much more effective teacher.

"I will endure even that," he said to his wife, as she handed to him back the letter from the bishop's chaplain.



CHAPTER LXIII

Two Visitors to Hogglestock

The cross-grainedness of men is so great that things will often be forced to go wrong, even when they have the strongest possible natural tendency of their own to go right. It was so now in these affairs between the archdeacon and his son. The original difficulty was solved by the good feeling of the young lady,—by that and by the real kindness of the archdeacon's nature. They had come to terms which were satisfactory to both of them, and those terms admitted of perfect reconciliation between the father and his son. Whether the major did marry the lady or whether he did not, his allowance was to be continued to him, the archdeacon being perfectly willing to trust himself in the matter to the pledge which he had received from Miss Crawley. All that he had required from his son was simply this,—that he should pull down the bills advertising the sale of his effects. Was any desire more rational? The sale had been advertised for a day just one week in advance of the assizes, and the time must have been selected,—so thought the archdeacon,—with a malicious intention. Why, at any rate, should the things be sold before any one knew whether the father of the young lady was or was not to be regarded as a thief? And why should the things be sold at all, when the archdeacon had tacitly withdrawn his threats,—when he had given his son to understand that the allowance would still be paid quarterly with the customary archidiaconal regularity, and that no alteration was intended in those settlements under which the Plumstead foxes would, in the ripeness of time, become the property of the major himself. It was thus that the archdeacon looked at it, and as he did so, he thought that his son was the most cross-grained of men.

But the major had his own way of looking at the matter. He had, he flattered himself, dealt very fairly with his father. When he had first made up his mind to make Miss Crawley his wife, he had told his father of his intention. The archdeacon declared that, if he did so, such and such results would follow,—results which, as was apparent to every one, would make it indispensable that the major should leave Cosby Lodge. The major had never complained. So he told himself. He had simply said to his father,—"I shall do as I have said. You can do as you have said. Therefore I shall prepare to leave Cosby Lodge." He had so prepared; and as a part of that preparation, the auctioneer's bills had been stuck up on the posts and walls. Then the archdeacon had gone to work surreptitiously with the lady,—the reader will understand that we are still following the workings of the major's mind,—and having succeeded in obtaining a pledge which he had been wrong to demand, came forward very graciously to withdraw his threats. He withdrew his threats because he had succeeded in his object by other means. The major knew nothing of the kiss that had been given, of the two tears that had trickled down his father's nose, of the generous epithets which the archdeacon had applied to Grace. He did not guess how nearly his father had yielded altogether beneath the pressure of Grace's charms,—how willing he was to yield altogether at the first decent opportunity. His father had obtained a pledge from Grace that she would not marry in certain circumstances,—as to which circumstances the major was strongly resolved that they should form no bar to his marriage,—and then came forward with his eager demand that the sale should be stopped! The major could not submit to so much indignity. He had resolved that his father should have nothing to do with his marriage one way or the other. He would not accept anything from his father on the understanding that his father had any such right. His father had asserted such right with threats, and he, the major, taking such threats as meaning something, had seen that he must leave Cosby Lodge. Let his father come forward, and say that they meant nothing, that he abandoned all right to any interference as to his son's marriage, and then the son—would dutifully consent to accept his father's bounty! They were both cross-grained, as Mrs Grantly declared; but I think that the major was the most cross-grained of the two.

Something of the truth made its way into Henry Grantly's mind as he drove home from Barchester after seeing his grandfather. It was not that he began to think that his father was right, but that he almost perceived that it might be becoming in him to forgive some fault in his father. He had been implored to honour his father, and he was willing to do so, understanding that such honour must, to a certain degree, imply obedience,—if it could be done at no more than a moderate expense to his feelings. The threatened auctioneer was the cause of offence to his father, and he might see whether it would not be possible to have the sale postponed. There would, of course, be a pecuniary loss, and that in his diminished circumstances,—he would still talk to himself of his diminished circumstances,—might be inconvenient. But so much he thought himself bound to endure on his father's behalf. At any rate, he would consult the auctioneer at Silverbridge.

But he would not make any pause in the measures which he had proposed to himself as likely to be conducive to his marriage. As for Grace's pledge, such pledges from young ladies never went for anything. It was out of the question that she should be sacrificed, even though her father had taken the money. And, moreover, the very gist of the major's generosity was to consist in his marrying her whether the father were guilty or innocent. He understood that perfectly, and understood also that it was his duty to make his purpose in this respect known to Grace's family. He determined, therefore, that he would go over to Hogglestock, and see Mr Crawley before he saw the auctioneer.

Hitherto Major Grantly had never spoken to Mr Crawley. It may be remembered that the major was at the present moment one of the bailsmen for the due appearance of Mr Crawley before the judge, and that he had been present when the magistrates sat at the inn in Silverbridge. He therefore knew the man's presence, but except on that occasion he had never even seen his intended future father-in-law. From that moment when he had first allowed himself to think of Grace, he had desired, yet almost feared, to make acquaintance with the father; but had been debarred from doing so by the peculiar position in which Mr Crawley was placed. He had felt that it would be impossible to speak to the father of his affection for the daughter without any allusion to the coming trial; and he did not know how such allusion could be made. Thinking of this, he had at different times almost resolved not to call at Hogglestock till the trial should be over. Then he would go there, let the result of the trial have been what it might. But it had now become necessary for him to go on at once. His father had precipitated matters by his appeal to Grace. He would appeal to Grace's father, and reach Grace through his influence.

He drove over to Hogglestock, feeling himself to be anything but comfortable as he came near to the house. And when he did reach the spot he was somewhat disconcerted to find that another visitor was in the house before him. He presumed this to be the case, because there stood a little pony horse,—an animal which did not recommend itself to his instructed eye,—attached by its rein to the palings. It was a poor humble-looking beast, whose knees had very lately become acquainted with the hard and sharp stones of a newly-mended highway. The blood was even now red upon the wounds.

"He'll never be much good again," said the major to his servant.

"That he won't, sir," said the man. "But I don't think he's been very much good for some time back."

"I shouldn't like to have to ride him into Silverbridge," said the major, descending from the gig, and instructing his servant to move the horse and gig about as long as he might remain within the house. Then he walked across the little garden and knocked at the door. The door was immediately opened, and in the passage he found Mr Crawley, and another clergyman whom the reader will recognise as Mr Thumble. Mr Thumble had come over to make arrangements as to the Sunday services and the parochial work, and had been very urgent in impressing on Mr Crawley that the duties were to be left entirely to himself. Hence had come some bitter words, in which Mr Crawley, though no doubt he said the sharper things of the two, had not been able to vanquish his enemy so completely as he had done on former occasions.

"There must be no interference, my dear sir,—none whatever, if you please," Mr Thumble had said.

"There shall be none of which the bishop shall have reason to complain," Mr Crawley had replied.

"There must be none at all, Mr Crawley, if you please. It is only on that understanding that I have consented to take the parish temporarily into my hands. Mrs Crawley, I hope that there may be no mistake about the schools. It must be exactly as though I were residing on the spot."

"Sir," said Mr Crawley, very irate at this appeal to his wife, and speaking in a loud voice, "do you misdoubt my word; or do you think that if I were minded to be false to you, that I should be corrected in my falsehood by the firmer faith of my wife?"

"I meant nothing about falsehood, Mr Crawley."

"Having resigned this benefice for certain reasons of my own, with which I shall not trouble you, and acknowledging as I do,—and have done in writing under my hand to the bishop,—the propriety of his lordship's interference in providing for the services of the parish till my successor shall have been instituted, I shall, with what feelings of regret, I need not say, leave you to the performance of your temporary duties."

"That is all that I require, Mr Crawley."

"But it is wholly unnecessary that you should instruct me in mine."

"The bishop especially desires—" began Mr Thumble. But Mr Crawley interrupted him instantly—

"If the bishop has directed you to give me such instruction, the bishop has been much in error. I will submit to receive none from him through you, sir. If you please, sir, let there be an end of it;" and Mr Crawley waved his hand. I hope the reader will conceive the tone of Mr Crawley's voice, and will appreciate the aspect of his face, and will see the motion of his hand, as he spoke these latter words. Mr Thumble felt the power of the man so sensibly that he was unable to carry on the contest. Though Mr Crawley was now but a broken reed, and was beneath his feet, yet Mr Thumble acknowledged to himself that he could not hold his own in debate with this broken reed. But the words had been spoken, and the tone of the voice had died away, and the fire in the eyes had burned itself out before the moment of the major's arrival. Mr Thumble was now returning to his horse, and having enjoyed,—if he did enjoy,—his little triumph about the parish, was becoming unhappy at the future dangers that awaited him. Perhaps he was the more unhappy because it had been proposed to him by authorities at the palace that he should repeatedly ride on the same animal from Barchester to Hogglestock and back. Mr Crawley was in the act of replying to lamentations on this subject, with his hand on the latch, when the major arrived—"I regret to say, sir that I cannot assist you by supplying any other steed." Then the major had knocked, and Mr Crawley had at once opened the door.

"You probably do not remember me, Mr Crawley?" said the major. "I am Major Grantly." Mrs Crawley, who heard these words inside the room, sprang up from her chair, and could hardly resist the temptation to rush into the passage. She too had barely seen Major Grantly; and now the only bright gleam which appeared on her horizon depended on his constancy under circumstances which would have justified his inconstancy. But had he meant to be inconstant, surely he would never have come to Hogglestock!

"I remember you well, sir," said Mr Crawley. "I am under no common obligation to you. You are at present one of my bailsmen."

"There's nothing in that," said the major.

Mr Thumble, who had caught the name of Grantly, took off his hat, which he had put on his head. He had not been particular in keeping off his hat before Mr Crawley. But he knew very well that Archdeacon Grantly was a big man in the diocese; and though the Grantlys and the Proudies were opposed to each other, still it might be well to take off his hat before any one who had to do with the big ones of the diocese. "I hope your respected father is well, sir?" said Mr Thumble.

"Pretty well, I thank you." The major stood close up against the wall of the passage, so as to allow room for Mr Thumble to pass out. His business was one on which he could hardly begin to speak until the visitor had gone. Mr Crawley was standing with the door wide open in his hand. He also was anxious to be rid of Mr Thumble,—and was perhaps not so solicitous as a brother clergyman should have been touching the future fate of Mr Thumble in the matter of the bishop's old cob.

"Really, I don't know what to do as to getting upon him again," said Mr Thumble.

"If you will allow him to progress slowly," said Mr Crawley, "he will probably travel with the greater safety."

"I don't know what you call slow, Mr Crawley. I was ever so much over two hours coming here from Barchester. He stumbled almost at every step."

"Did he fall while you were on him?" asked the major.

"Indeed he did, sir. You never saw such a thing, Major Grantly. Look here." Then Mr Thumble, turning round, showed that the rear portion of his clothes had not escaped without injury.

"It was well that he was not going fast, or you would have come on to your head," said Grantly.

"It was a mercy," said Thumble. "But, sir, as it was, I came to the ground with much violence. It was on Spigglewick Hill, where the road is covered with loose stones. I see, sir, you have a gig and horse here, with a servant. Perhaps, as the circumstances are so very peculiar,—" Then Mr Thumble stopped, and looked up into the major's face with imploring eyes. But the major had no tenderness for such sufferings. "I'm sorry to say that I am going quite the other way," he said. "I am returning to Silverbridge."

Mr Thumble hesitated, and then made a renewed request. "If you would not mind taking me to Silverbridge, I could get home from thence by railway; and perhaps you would allow your servant to take the horse to Barchester."

Major Grantly was for a moment dumbfounded. "The request is most unreasonable, sir." said Mr Crawley.

"That is as Major Grantly pleases to look at it," said Mr Thumble.

"I am sorry to say that it is quite out of my power," said the major.

"You can surely walk, leading the beast, if you fear to mount him," said Mr Crawley.

"I shall do as I please about that," said Mr Thumble. "And, Mr Crawley, if you will have the kindness to leave things in the parish just as they are,—just as they are, I will be obliged to you. It is the bishop's wish that you should touch nothing." Mr Thumble was by this time on the step, and Mr Crawley instantly slammed the door. "The gentleman is a clergyman from Barchester," said Mr Crawley, modestly folding his hands upon his breast, "whom the bishop has sent over here to take upon himself temporarily the services of the church, and, as it appears, the duties also of the parish. I refrain from animadverting upon his lordship's choice."

"And you are leaving Hogglestock?"

"When I have found a shelter for my wife and children I shall do so; nay, peradventure, I must do so before any such shelter can be found. I shall proceed in that matter as I am bid. I am one who can regard myself as no longer possessing the privilege of free action in anything. But while I have a room at your service, permit me to ask you to enter it." Then Mr Crawley motioned him in with his hand, and Major Grantly found himself in the presence of Mrs Crawley and her younger daughter.

He looked at them both for a moment, and could trace much of the lines of that face which he loved so well. But the troubles of life had almost robbed the elder lady of her beauty; and with the younger, the awkward thinness of the last years of feminine childhood had not yet given place to the fulfilment of feminine grace. But the likeness in each was quite enough to make him feel that he ought to be at home in that room. He thought that he could love the woman as his mother, and the girl as his sister. He found it very difficult to begin any conversation in their presence, and yet it seemed to be his duty to begin. Mr Crawley had marshalled him into the room, and having done so, stood aside near the door. Mrs Crawley had received him very graciously, and having done so, seemed to be ashamed of her own hospitality. Poor Jane had shrunk back into a distant corner, near the open standing desk at which she was accustomed to read Greek to her father, and, of course, could not be expected to speak. If Major Grantly could have found himself alone with any one of the three,—nay, if he could have been there with any two, he could have opened his budget at once; but, before all the family, he felt the difficulty of his situation. "Mrs Crawley," said he, "I have been most anxious to make your acquaintance, and I trust you will excuse the liberty I have taken in calling."

"I feel grateful to you, as I am sure does also my husband." So much she said, and then felt angry with herself for saying so much. Was she not expressing the strong hope that he might stand fast by her child, whereby the whole Crawley family would gain so much,—and the Grantly family lose much, in the same proportion?

"Sir," said Mr Crawley, "I owe you thanks, still unexpressed, in that you came forward together with Mr Robarts of Framley, to satisfy the not unnatural requisition of the magistrates before whom I was called upon to appear in the early winter. I know not why any one should have ventured into such jeopardy on my account."

"There was no jeopardy, Mr Crawley. Any one in the county would have done it."

"I know not that; nor can I see that there was no jeopardy. I trust that I may assure you that there is no danger;—none, I mean, to you. The danger to myself and those belonging to me, is, alas, very urgent. The facts of my position are pressing close upon me. Methinks I suffer more from the visit of the gentleman who has just departed from me than anything that has yet happened to me. And yet he is in his right;—he is altogether in his right."

"No, papa; he is not," said Jane, from her standing ground near the upright desk.

"My dear," said her father, "you should be silent on such a subject. It is a matter hard to be understood in all its bearings,—even by those who are most conversant with them. But as to this we need not trouble Major Grantly."

After that there was silence among them, and for a while it seemed as though there could be no approach to the subject on which Grantly had come hither to express himself. Mrs Crawley, in her despair, said something about the weather; and the major, trying to draw near the special subject, became bold enough to remark "that he had had the pleasure of seeing Miss Crawley at Framley." "Mrs Robarts has been very kind," said Mrs Crawley, "very kind indeed. You can understand, Major Grantly, that this must be a very sad house for any young person." "I don't think it is at all sad," said Jane, still standing in the corner by the upright desk.

Then Major Grantly rose from his seat and walked across to the girl and took her hand. "You are so like your sister," said he. "Your sister is a great friend of mine. She has often spoken to me of you. I hope we shall be friends some day." But Jane could make no answer to this, although she had been able to vindicate the general character of the house while she was left in her corner by herself. "I wonder whether you would be angry with me," continued the major, "if I told you that I wanted to speak a word to your father and mother alone?" To this Jane made no reply, but was out of the room almost before the words had reached the ears of her father and mother. Though she was only sixteen, and had as yet read nothing but Latin and Greek,—unless we are to count the twelve books of Euclid and Wood's Algebra, and sundry smaller exercises of the same description,—she understood, as well as any one then present, the reason why her absence was required.

As she closed the door the major paused for a moment, expecting, or perhaps hoping, that the father or the mother would say a word. But neither of them had a word to say. They sat silent, and as though conscience-stricken. Here was a rich man come, of whom they had heard that he might probably wish to wed their daughter. It was manifest enough to both of them that no man could marry into their family without subjecting himself to a heavy portion of that reproach and disgrace which was attached to them. But how was it possible that they should not care more for their daughter,—for their own flesh and blood, than for the incidental welfare of this rich man? As regarded the man himself they had heard everything that was good. Such a marriage was like the opening of paradise to their child. "Nil conscire sibi," said the father to himself, as he buckled on his armour for the fight.

When he had waited for a moment or two the major began. "Mrs Crawley," he said, addressing himself to the mother, "I do not quite know how far you may be aware that I,—that I have for some time been,—been acquainted with your eldest daughter."

"I have heard from her that she is acquainted with you," said Mrs Crawley, almost panting with anxiety.

"I may as well make a clean breast of it at once," said the major, smiling, "and say outright that I have come here to request your permission and her father's to ask her to be my wife." Then he was silent, and for a few moments neither Mr nor Mrs Crawley replied to him. She looked at her husband, and he gazed at the fire, and the smile died away from the major's face, as he watched the solemnity of them both. There was something almost forbidding in the peculiar gravity of Mr Crawley's countenance when, as at present, something operated within him to cause him to express dissent from any proposition that was made to him. "I do not know how far this may be altogether new to you, Mrs Crawley," said the major, waiting for a reply.

"It is not new to us," said Mrs Crawley.

"May I hope, then, that you will not disapprove?"

"Sir," said Mr Crawley, "I am so placed by the untoward circumstances of my life that I can hardly claim to exercise over my own daughter that authority which should belong to a parent."

"My dear, do not say that," exclaimed Mrs Crawley.

"But I do say it. Within three weeks of this time I may be a prisoner, subject to the criminal laws of my country. At this moment I am without the power of earning bread for myself, or for my wife, or for my children. Major Grantly, you have even now seen the departure of the gentleman who has been sent here to take my place in the parish. I am, as it were, an outlaw here, and entitled neither to obedience nor respect from those who under other circumstances would be bound to give me both."

"Major Grantly," said the poor woman, "no husband or father in the county is more closely obeyed or more thoroughly respected and loved."

"I am sure of it," said the major.

"All this, however, matters nothing," said Mr Crawley, "and all speech on such homely matters would amount to an impertinence before you, sir, were it not that you have hinted at a purpose of connecting yourself at some future time with this unfortunate family."

"I meant to be plain-spoken, Mr Crawley."

"I did not mean to insinuate, sir, that there was aught of reticence in your words, so contrived that you might fall back upon the vagueness of your expression for protection, should you hereafter see fit to change your purpose. I should have wronged you much by such a suggestion. I rather was minded to make known to you that I,—or, I should rather say, we," and Mr Crawley pointed to his wife,—"shall not accept your plainness of speech as betokening aught beyond a conceived idea of furtherance of which you have thought it expedient to make certain inquiries."

"I don't quite follow you," said the major. "But what I want you to do is to give me your consent to visit your daughter; and I want Mrs Crawley to write to Grace and tell her that it's all right." Mrs Crawley was quite sure that it was all right, and was ready to sit down and write the letter that moment, if her husband would permit her to do so.

"I am sorry that I have not been explicit," said Mr Crawley, "but I will endeavour to make myself more plainly intelligible. My daughter, sir, is so circumstanced in reference to her father, that I, as her father and as a gentleman, cannot encourage any man to make a tender to her of his hand."

"But I have made up my mind about all that."

"And I, sir, have made up mine. I dare not tell my girl that I think she will do well to place her hand in yours. A lady, when she does that, should feel at least that her hand is clean."

"It is the cleanest and the sweetest and the fairest hand in Barsetshire," said the major. Mrs Crawley could not restrain herself, but running up to him, took his hand in hers and kissed it.

"There is unfortunately a stain, which is vicarial," began Mr Crawley, sustaining up to that point his voice with Roman fortitude,—with a fortitude which would have been Roman had it not at that moment broken down under the pressure of human feeling. He could keep it up no longer, but continued his speech with broken sobs, and with a voice altogether changed in its tone,—rapid now, whereas it had before been slow,—natural, whereas it had hitherto been affected,—human, whereas it had hitherto been Roman. "Major Grantly," he said, "I am sore beset; but what can I say to you? My darling is as pure as the light of day,—only that she is soiled with my impurity. She is fit to grace the house of the best gentleman in England, had I not made her unfit."

"She shall grace mine," said the major. "By God she shall!—to-morrow, if she'll have me." Mrs Crawley, who was standing beside him, again raised his hand and kissed it.

"It may not be so. As I began by saying,—or rather strove to say, for I have been overtaken by weakness, and cannot speak my mind,—I cannot claim authority over my child as would another man. How can I exercise authority from between a prison's bars?"

"She would obey your slightest wish," said Mrs Crawley.

"I could express no wish," said he. "But I know my girl, and I am sure that she will not consent to take infamy with her into the house of the man who loves her."

"There will be no infamy," said the major. "Infamy! I tell you that I shall be proud of the connexion."

"You, sir, are generous in your prosperity. We will strive to be at least just in our adversity. My wife and children are to be pitied,—because of the husband and the father."

"No!" said Mrs Crawley. "I will not hear that said without denying it."

"But they must take their lot as it has been given to them," continued he. "Such a position in life as that which you have proposed to bestow upon my child would be to her, as regards human affairs, great elevation. And from what I have heard,—I may be permitted to add also from what I now learn by personal experience,—such a marriage would be laden with fair promise of future happiness. But if you ask my mind, I think that my child is not free to make it. You, sir, have many relatives, who are not in love, as you are, all of whom would be affected by the stain of my disgrace. You have a daughter, to whom all your solicitude is due. No one should go to your house as your second wife who cannot feel that she will serve your child. My daughter would feel that she was bringing injury upon the babe. I cannot bid her do this,—and I will not. Nor do I believe that she would do so if I bade her." Then he turned his chair round, and sat with his face to the wall, wiping away the tears with a tattered handkerchief.

Mrs Crawley led the major away to the further window, and there stood looking up into his face. It need hardly be said that they also were crying. Whose eyes could have been dry after such a scene,—upon hearing such words? "You had better go," said Mrs Crawley. "I know him so well. You had better go."

"Mrs Crawley," he said whispering to her, "if I ever desert her, may all that I love desert me! But will you help me?"

"You would want no help, were it not for this trouble."

"But you will help me?"

Then she paused for a moment, "I can do nothing," she said, "but what he bids me."

"You will trust me, at any rate?" said the major.

"I do trust you," she replied. Then he went without saying a word further to Mr Crawley. As soon as he was gone, the wife went over to her husband, and put her arm gently round his neck as he was sitting. For a while the husband took no notice of his wife's caress, but sat motionless, with his face still turned to the wall. Then she spoke to him a word or two, telling him that their visitor was gone. "My child!" he said. "My poor child! my darling! She has found grace in this man's sight; but even of that has her father robbed her! The Lord has visited upon the children the sins of the father, and will do so to the third and fourth generation."



CHAPTER LXIV

The Tragedy in Hook Court

Conway Dalrymple had hurried out of the room in Mrs Broughton's house in which he had been painting Jael and Sisera, thinking that it would be better to meet an angry and perhaps tipsy husband on the stairs, than it would be either to wait for him till he should make his way into his wife's room, or to hide away from him with the view of escaping altogether from so disagreeable an encounter. He had no fear of the man. He did not think that there would be any violence,—nor, as regarded himself, did he much care if there was to be violence. But he felt that he was bound, as far as it might be possible, to screen the poor woman from the ill effects of her husband's temper and condition. He was, therefore, prepared to stop Broughton on the stairs, and to use some force in arresting him on his way, should he find the man to be really intoxicated. But he had not descended above a stair or two before he was aware that the man below him, whose step had been heard in the hall, was not intoxicated, and that he was not Dobbs Broughton. It was Mr Musselboro.

"It is you, is it?" said Conway. "I thought it was Broughton." Then he looked into the man's face and saw that he was ashy pale. All that appearance of low-bred jauntiness which used to belong to him seemed to have been washed out of him. His hair had forgotten to curl, his gloves had been thrown aside, and even his trinkets were out of sight. "What has happened," said Conway. "What is the matter? Something is wrong." Then it occurred to him that Musselboro had been sent to the house to tell the wife of the husband's ruin.

"The servant told me that I should find you upstairs," said Musselboro.

"Yes; I have been painting here. For some time past I have been doing a picture of Miss Van Siever. Mrs Van Siever has been here to-day." Conway thought that this information would produce some strong effect on Clara's proposed husband; but he did not seem to regard the matter of the picture nor the mention of Miss Van Siever's name.

"She knows nothing of it?" said he. "She doesn't know yet?"

"Know what?" said Conway. "She knows that her husband has lost money."

"Dobbs has—destroyed himself."

"What!"

"Blew his brains out this morning just inside the entrance at Hook Court. The horror of drink was on him, and he stood just in the pathway and shot himself. Bangles was standing at the top of their vaults and saw him do it. I don't think Bangles will ever be a man again. Oh lord! I shall never get over it myself. The body was there when I went in." Then Musselboro sank back against the wall of the staircase, and stared at Dalrymple as though he still saw before him the terrible sight of which he had just spoken.

Dalrymple seated himself on the stairs and strove to bring his mind to bear on the tale which he had just heard. What was he to do, and how was that poor woman upstairs to be informed? "You came here intending to tell her," he said in a whisper. He feared every moment that Mrs Broughton would appear on the stairs, and learn from a word or two what had happened without any hint to prepare her for the catastrophe.

"I thought you would be here. I knew you were doing the picture. He knew it. He'd a letter to say so,—one of those anonymous ones."

"But that didn't influence him?"

"I don't think it was that," said Musselboro. "He meant to have had it out with her; but it wasn't that as brought this about. Perhaps you didn't know that he was clean ruined?"

"She had told me."

"Then she knew it?"

"Oh, yes; she knew that. Mrs Van Siever had told her. Poor creature! How are we to break this to her?"

"You and she are very thick," said Musselboro. "I suppose you'll do it best." By this time they were in the drawing-room, and the door was closed. Dalrymple had put his hand on the other man's arm, and had led him downstairs, out of reach of hearing from the room above. "You'll tell her,—won't you?" said Musselboro. Then Dalrymple tried to think what loving female friend there was who could break the news to the unfortunate woman. He knew of the Van Sievers, and he knew of the Demolines, and he almost knew that there was no other woman within reach whom he was entitled to regard as closely connected with Mrs Broughton. He was well aware that the anonymous letter of which Musselboro had just spoken had come from Miss Demolines, and he could not go there for sympathy and assistance. Nor could he apply to Mrs Van Siever after what had passed this morning. To Clara Van Siever he would have applied, but that it was impossible he should reach Clara except through her mother. "I suppose I had better go to her," he said, after a while. And then he went, leaving Musselboro in the drawing-room. "I'm so bad with it," said Musselboro, "that I really don't know how I shall ever go up that court again."

Conway Dalrymple made his way up the stairs with very slow steps, and as he did so he could not but think seriously of the nature of his friendship with this woman, and could not but condemn himself heartily for the folly and iniquity of his own conduct. Scores of times he had professed his love to her with half-expressed words, intended to mean nothing, as he said to himself when he tried to excuse himself, but enough to turn her head, even if they did not reach her heart. Now, this woman was a widow, and it came to be his duty to tell her that she was so. What if she should claim from him now the love which he had so often proffered to her! It was not that he feared that she would claim anything from him at this moment,—neither now, nor to-morrow, nor the next day,—but the agony of the present meeting would produce others in which there would be some tenderness mixed with the agony; and so from one meeting to another the thing would progress. Dalrymple knew well enough how such things might progress. But in this danger before him, it was not of himself that he was thinking, but of her. How could he assist her at such a time without doing her more injury than benefit? And, if he did not assist her, who would do so? He knew her to be heartless; but even heartless people have hearts which can be touched and almost broken by certain sorrows. Her heart would not be broken by her husband's death, but it would become very sore if she were utterly neglected. He was now at the door, with his hand on the lock, and was wondering why she should remain so long within without making herself heard. Then he opened it, and found her seated in a lounging-chair, with her back to the door, and he could see that she had a volume of a novel in her hand. He understood it all. She was pretending to be indifferent to her husband's return. He walked up to her, thinking that she would recognise his step; but she made no sign of turning towards him. He saw the motion of her hair over the back of the chair as she affected to make herself luxuriously comfortable. She was striving to let her husband see that she cared nothing for him, or for his condition, or for his jealousy, if he were jealous,—or even of his ruin. "Mrs Broughton," he said, when he was close to her. Then she jumped up quickly, and turned round facing him. "Where is Dobbs?" she said. "Where is Broughton?"

"He is not here."

"He is in the house, for I heard him. Why have you come back?"

Dalrymple's eye fell on the tattered canvas, and he thought of the doings of the past month. He thought of the picture of the three Graces, which was hanging in the room below, and he thoroughly wished that he had never been introduced to the Broughton establishment. How was he to get through his present difficulty? "No," said he, "Broughton did not come. It was Mr Musselboro whose steps you heard below."

"What is he here for? What is he doing here? Where is Dobbs? Conway, there is something the matter. Has he gone off?"

"Yes;—he has gone off."

"The coward!"

"No; he was not a coward;—not in that way."

The use of the past tense, unintentional as it had been, told the story to the woman at once. "He is dead," she said. Then he took both her hands in his and looked into her face without speaking a word. And she gazed at him with fixed eyes, and rigid mouth, while the quick coming breath just moved the curl of her nostrils. It occurred to him at the moment that he had never before seen her so wholly unaffected, and had never before observed that she was so totally deficient in all the elements of real beauty. She was the first to speak again. "Conway," she said, "tell it me all. Why do you not speak to me?"

"There is nothing further to tell," he said.

Then she dropped his hands and walked away from him to the window,—and stood there looking out upon the stuccoed turret of a huge house that stood opposite. As she did so she was employing herself in counting the windows. Her mind was paralysed by the blow, and she knew not how to make any exertion with it for any purpose. Everything was changed with her,—and was changed in such a way that she could make no guess as to her future mode of life. She was suddenly a widow, a pauper, and utterly desolate,—while the only person in the whole world that she really liked was standing close to her. But in the midst of it all she counted the windows of the house opposite. Had it been possible for her she would have put her mind altogether to sleep.

He let her stand for a few minutes and then joined her at the window. "My friend," he said, "what shall I do for you?"

"Do?" she said. "What do you mean by—doing?"

"Come and sit down and let me talk to you," he replied. Then he led her to the sofa, and as she seated herself I doubt whether she had not almost forgotten that her husband was dead.

"What a pity it was to cut it up," she said, pointing to the rags of Jael and Sisera.

"Never mind the picture now. Dreadful as it is, you must allow yourself to think of him for a few minutes."

"Think of what! Oh, God! yes. Conway, you must tell me what to do. Was everything gone? It isn't about myself. I don't mind about myself. I wish it was me instead of him. I do. I do."

"No wishing is of any avail."

"But, Conway, how did it happen? Do you think it is true? That man would say anything to gain his object. Is he here now?"

"I believe he is here still."

"I won't see him. Remember that. Nothing on earth can make me see him."

"It may be necessary, but I do not think it will be;—at any rate, not yet."

"I will never see him. I believe that he has murdered my husband. I do. I feel sure of it. Now I think of it I am quite sure of it. And he will murder you too;—about that girl. He will. I tell you I know the man." Dalrymple simply shook his head, smiling sadly. "Very well! you will see. But, Conway, how do you know that it is true? Do you believe it yourself?"

"I do believe it."

"And how did it happen?"

"He could not bear the ruin that he had brought upon himself and you."

"Then;—then—" She went no further in her speech; but Dalrymple assented by a slight motion of his head, and she had been informed sufficiently that her husband had perished by his own hand. "What am I to do?" she said. "Oh, Conway;—you must tell me. Was there ever so miserable a woman! Was it—poison?"

He got up and walked quickly across the room and back again to the place where she was sitting. "Never mind about that now. You shall know all that in time. Do not ask any questions about that. If I were you I think I would go to bed. You will be better there than up, and this shock will make you sleep."

"No," she said. "I will not go to bed. How should I know that that man would not come to me and kill me? I believe he murdered Dobbs;—I do. You are not going to leave me, Conway?"

"I think I had better, for a while. There are things which should be done. Shall I send one of the women to you?"

"There is not one of them that cares for me in the least. Oh, Conway, do not go; not yet. I will not be left alone in the house with him. You will be very cruel if you go and leave me now,—when you have so often said that you,—that you,—that you were my friend." And now, at last, she began to weep.

"I think it will be best," he said, "that I should go to Mrs Van Siever. If I can manage it, I will get Clara to come to you."

"I do not want her," said Mrs Broughton. "She is a heartless cold creature, and I do not want to have her near me. My poor husband was ruined among them;—yes, ruined among them. It has all been done that she may marry that horrid man and live here in this house. I have known ever so long that he has not been safe among them."

"You need fear nothing from Clara," said Dalrymple, with some touch of anger in his voice.

"Of course you will say so. I can understand that very well. And it is natural that you should wish to be with her. Pray go."

Then he sat beside her, and took her hand, and endeavoured to speak to her so seriously, that she herself might become serious, and if it might be possible, in some degree contemplative. He told her how necessary it was that she should have some woman near her in her trouble, and explained to her that as far as he knew her female friends, there would be no one who would be so considerate with her as Clara Van Siever. She at one time mentioned the name of Miss Demolines; but Dalrymple altogether opposed the notion of sending for that lady,—expressing his opinion that the amiable Madalina had done all in her power to create quarrels between Mrs Broughton and her husband and between Dobbs Broughton and Mrs Van Siever. And he spoke his opinion very fully about Miss Demolines. "And yet you liked her once," said Mrs Broughton. "I never liked her," said Dalrymple with energy. "But all that matters nothing now. Of course you can send for her if you please; but I do not think her trustworthy, and I will not willingly come in contact with her." Then Mrs Broughton gave him to understand that of course she must give way, but that in giving way she felt herself to be submitting to that ill-usage which is the ordinary lot of women, and to which she, among women, had been specially subjected. She did not exactly say as much, fearing that if she did he would leave her altogether; but that was the gist of her plaints and wails, and final acquiescence.

"And are you going?" she said, catching hold of his arm.

"I will employ myself altogether and only about your affairs, till I see you again."

"But I want you to stay."

"It would be madness. Look here;—lie down till Clara comes or till I return. Do not go beyond this room and your own. If she cannot come this evening I will return. Good-by now. I will see the servants as I go out, and tell them what ought to be told."

"Oh, Conway," she said, clutching hold of him again. "I know that you despise me."

"I do not despise you, and I will be as good a friend to you as I can. God bless you." Then he went, and as he descended the stairs he could not refrain from telling himself that he did in truth despise her.

His first object was to find Musselboro, and to dismiss that gentleman from the house. For though he himself did not attribute to Mrs Van Siever's favourite any of those terrible crimes and potentialities for crime, with which Mrs Dobbs Broughton had invested him, still he thought it reasonable that the poor woman upstairs should not be subjected to the necessity of either seeing him or hearing him. But Musselboro had gone, and Dalrymple could not learn from the head woman-servant whom he saw, whether before going he had told to any one in the house the tale of the catastrophe which had happened in the City. Servants are wonderful actors, looking often as though they knew nothing when they know everything,—as though they understood nothing, when they understand all. Dalrymple made known all that was necessary, and the discreet upper servant listened to the tale with the proper amount of awe and horror and commiseration. "Shot hisself in the City;—laws! You'll excuse me, sir, but we all know'd as master was coming to no good." But she promised to do her best with her mistress,—and kept her promise. It is seldom that servants are not good in such straits as that.

From Mrs Broughton's house Dalrymple went directly to Mrs Van Siever's, and learned that Musselboro had been there about half an hour before, and had then gone off in a cab with Mrs Van Siever. It was now nearly four o'clock in the afternoon, and no one in the house knew when Mrs Van Siever would be back. Miss Van Siever was out, and had been out when Mr Musselboro had called, but was expected in every minute. Conway therefore said that he would call again, and on returning found Clara alone. She had not then heard a word of the fate of Dobbs Broughton. Of course she would go at once to Mrs Broughton, and if necessary stay with her during the night. She wrote a line at once to her mother, saying where she was, and went across to Mrs Broughton leaning on Dalrymple's arm. "Be good to her," said Conway, as he left her at the door. "I will," said Clara. "I will be as kind as my nature will allow me." "And remember," said Conway, whispering into her ear as he pressed her hand at leaving her, "that you are all the world to me." It was perhaps not a proper time for an expression of love, but Clara Van Siever forgave the impropriety.



CHAPTER LXV

Miss Van Siever Makes Her Choice

Clara Van Siever did stay all night with Mrs Broughton. In the course of the evening she received a note from her mother, in which she was told to come home to breakfast. "You can go back to her afterwards," said Mrs Van Siever; "and I will see her myself in the course of the day, if she will let me." The note was written on a scrap of paper, and had neither beginning nor end; but this was after the manner of Mrs Van Siever, and Clara was not in the least hurt or surprised. "My mother will come to see you after breakfast," said Clara, as she was taking her leave.

"Oh, goodness! And what shall I say to her?"

"You will have to say very little. She will speak to you."

"I suppose everything belongs to her now," said Mrs Broughton.

"I know nothing about that. I never do know anything of mamma's money matters."

"Of course she'll turn me out. I do not mind a bit about that,—only I hope she'll let me have some mourning." Then she made Clara promise that she would return as soon as possible, having in Clara's presence overcome all that feeling of dislike which she had expressed to Conway Dalrymple. Mrs Broughton was generally affectionate to those who were near her. Had Musselboro forced himself into her presence, she would have become quite confidential with him before he left her.

"Mr Musselboro will be here directly," said Mrs Van Siever, as she was starting for Mrs Broughton's house. "You had better tell him to come to me there; or, stop,—perhaps you had better keep him here till I come back. Tell him to be sure and wait for me."

"Very well, mamma. I suppose he can wait below?"

"Why should he wait below?" said Mrs Van Siever, very angrily.

Clara had made the uncourteous proposition to her mother with the express intention of making it understood that she would have nothing to say to him. "He can come upstairs if he likes," said Clara; "and I will go up to my room."

"If you fight shy of him, miss, you may remember this,—that you will fight shy of me at the same time."

"I am sorry for that, mamma, for I shall certainly fight shy of Mr Musselboro."

"You can do as you please. I can't force you, and I shan't try. But I can make your life a burden to you,—and I will. What's the matter with the man that he isn't good enough for you? He's as good as any of your own people ever was. I hate your new-fangled airs,—with pictures painted on the sly, and all the rest of it. I hate such ways. See what they have brought that wretched man to, and the poor fool his wife. If you go and marry that painter, some of these days you'll be very much like what she is. Only I doubt whether he has got courage enough to blow his brains out." With these comfortable words, the old woman took herself off, leaving Clara to entertain her lover as best she might choose.

Mr Musselboro was not long in coming, and, in accordance with Mrs Van Siever's implied directions to her daughter, was shown up into the drawing-room. Clara gave him her mother's message in a very few words. "I was expressly told, sir, to ask you to stop, if it is not inconvenient, as she very much wants to see you." Mr Musselboro declared that of course he would stop. He was only too happy to have the opportunity of remaining in such delightful society. As Clara answered nothing to this, he went on to say that he hoped that the melancholy occasion of Mrs Van Siever's visit to Mrs Broughton might make a long absence necessary,—he did not, indeed, care how long it might be. He had recovered now from that paleness, and that want of gloves and jewellery which had befallen him on the previous day immediately after the sight he had seen in the City. Clara made no answer to the last speech, but, putting some things together in her work-basket, prepared to leave the room. "I hope you are not going to leave me?" he said, in a voice that was intended to convey much of love, and something of melancholy.

"I am so shocked by what has happened, Mr Musselboro, that I am altogether unfit for conversation. I was with poor Mrs Broughton last night, and I shall return to her when mamma comes home."

"It is sad, certainly; but what was there to be expected? If you'd only seen how he used to go on." To this Clara made no answer. "Don't go yet," said he; "there is something that I want to say to you. There is, indeed."

Clara Van Siever was a young person whose presence of mind rarely deserted her. It occurred to her now that she must undergo on some occasion the nuisance of a direct offer from this man, and that she could have no better opportunity of answering him after her own fashion than the present. Her mother was absent, and the field was her own. And, moreover, it was a point in her favour that the tragedy which had so lately occurred, and to which she had just now alluded, would give her a fair excuse for additional severity. At such a moment no man could, she told herself, be justified in making an offer of his love, and therefore she might rebuke him with the less remorse. I wonder whether the last words which Conway Dalrymple had spoken to her stung her conscience as she thought of this! She had now reached the door, and was standing close to it. As Mr Musselboro did not at once begin, she encouraged him. "If you have anything special to tell me, of course I will hear you," she said.

"Miss Clara," he began, rising from his chair, and coming into the middle of the room. "I think you know what my wishes are." Then he put his hand upon his heart. "And your respected mother is the same way of thinking. It's that that emboldens me to be so sudden. Not but what my heart has been yours and yours only all along, before the old lady so much as mentioned it." Clara would give him no assistance, not even the aid of a negative, but stood there quite passive, with her hand on the door. "Since I first had the pleasure of seeing you I have always said to myself, 'Augustus Musselboro, that is the woman for you, if you can only win her.' But there was so much against me,—wasn't there?" She would not even take advantage of this by assuring him that there certainly always had been much against him, but allowed him to go on till he should run out all the length of his tether. "I mean, of course, in the way of money," he continued. "I hadn't much that I could call my own when your respected mamma first allowed me to become acquainted with you. But it's different now; and I think I may say that I'm all right in that respect. Poor Broughton's going in this way will make it a deal smoother to me; and I may say that I and your mamma will be all in all to each other now about money." Then he stopped.

"I don't quite understand what you mean by all this," said Clara.

"I mean that there isn't a more devoted fellow in all London than what I am to you." Then he was about to go down on one knee, but it occurred to him that it would not be convenient to kneel to a lady who would stand quite close to the door. "One and one, if they're put together well, will often make more than two, and so they shall with us," said Musselboro, who began to feel that it might be expedient to throw a little spirit into his words.

"If you have done," said Clara, "you may as well hear from me for a minute. And I hope you will have sense to understand that I really mean what I say."

"I hope you will remember what are your mamma's wishes."

"Mamma's wishes have no influence whatsoever with me in such matters as this. Mamma's arrangements with you are for her own convenience, and I am not party to them. I do not know anything about mamma's money, and I do not want to know. But under no possible circumstances will I consent to become your wife. Nothing that mamma could say or do would induce me even to think of it. I hope you will be man enough to take this for an answer, and say nothing more about it."

"But, Miss Clara—"

"It's no good your Miss Claraing me, sir. What I have said you may be sure I mean. Good-morning, sir." Then she opened the door, and left him.

"By Jove, she is a Tartar," said Musselboro to himself, when he was alone. "They're both Tartars, but the younger is the worse." Then he began to speculate whether Fortune was not doing the best for him in so arranging that he might have the use of the Tartar-mother's money without binding himself to endure for life the Tartar qualities of the daughter.

It had been understood that Clara was to wait at home till her mother should return before she again went across to Mrs Broughton. At about eleven Mrs Van Siever came in, and her daughter intercepted her at the dining-room door before she had made her way upstairs to Mr Musselboro. "How is she, mamma?" said Clara with something of hypocrisy in her assumed interest for Mrs Broughton.

"She is an idiot!" said Mrs Van Siever.

"She has had a terrible misfortune!"

"That is no reason why she should be an idiot; and she is heartless too. She never cared a bit for him,—not a bit."

"He was a man whom it was impossible to care for much. I will go to her now, mamma."

"Where is Musselboro?"

"He is upstairs."

"Well?"

"Mamma, that is quite out of the question. Quite. I would not marry him to save myself from starving."

"You do not know what starving is yet, my dear. Tell me the truth at once. Are you engaged to that painter?" Clara paused a moment before she answered, not hesitating as to the expediency of telling her mother any truth on the matter in question, but doubting what the truth might really be. Could she say that she was engaged to Mr Dalrymple, or could she say that she was not? "If you tell me a lie, miss, I'll have you put out of the house."

"I certainly shall not tell you a lie. Mr Dalrymple has asked me to be his wife, and I have made him no answer. If he asks me again I shall accept him."

"Then I order you not to leave this house," said Mrs Van Siever.

"Surely I may go to Mrs Broughton?"

"I order you not to leave this house," said Mrs Van Siever again,—and thereupon she stalked out of the dining-room and went upstairs. Clara had been standing with her bonnet on, ready dressed to go out, and the mother made no attempt to send the daughter up to her room. That she did not expect to be obeyed in her order may be inferred from the first words which she spoke to Mr Musselboro. "She has gone off to that man now. You are no good, Musselboro, at this kind of work."

"You see, Mrs Van, he had the start of me so much. And then being at the West End, and all that, gives a man such a standing with a girl."

"Bother!" said Mrs Van Siever, as her quick ear caught the sound of the closing hall-door. Clara had stood a minute or two to consider, and then had resolved that she would disobey her mother. She tried to excuse her own conduct to her own satisfaction as she went. "There are some things," she said, "which even a daughter cannot hear from her mother. If she chooses to close the door against me, she must do so."

She found Mrs Broughton still in bed, and could not but agree with her mother that the woman was both silly and heartless.

"Your mother says that everything must be sold up," said Mrs Broughton.

"At any rate you would hardly choose to remain here," said Clara.

"But I hope she'll let me have my own things. A great many of them are altogether my own. I know there's a law that a woman may have her own things, even though her husband has—done what poor Dobbs did. And I think she was hard upon me about the mourning. They never do mind giving credit for such things as that, and though there is a bill due to Mrs Morell now, she has had a deal of Dobbs's money." Clara promised her that she should have mourning to her heart's content. "I will see to that myself," she said.

Presently there was a knock at the door, and the discreet head-servant beckoned Clara out of the room. "You are not going away," said Mrs Broughton. Clara promised her that she would not go without coming back again. "He will be here soon, I suppose, and perhaps you had better see him; though, for the matter of that, perhaps you had better not, because he is so much cut up about poor Dobbs." The servant had come to tell Clara that the "he" in question was at the present moment waiting for her below stairs.

The first words which passed between Dalrymple and Clara had reference to the widow. He told her what he had learned in the City,—that Broughton's property had never been great, and that his personal liabilities at the time of his death were supposed to be small. But he had fallen lately altogether into the hands of Musselboro, who, though penniless himself in the way of capital, was backed by the money of Mrs Van Siever. There was no doubt that Broughton had destroyed himself in the manner told by Musselboro, but the opinion in the City was that he had done so rather through the effects of drink than because of his losses. As to the widow, Dalrymple thought that Mrs Van Siever, or nominally, perhaps, Musselboro, might be induced to settle an annuity on her, if she would give up everything quietly. "I doubt whether your mother is not responsible for everything that Broughton owed when he died,—for everything, that is, in the way of business; and if so, Mrs Broughton will certainly have a claim upon the estate." It occurred to Dalrymple once or twice that he was talking to Clara about Mrs Van Siever as though he and Clara were more closely bound together than were Clara and her mother; but Clara seemed to take this in good part, and was as solicitous as was he himself in the matter of Mrs Broughton's interest.

Then the discreet head-servant knocked and told them that Mrs Broughton was very anxious to see Mr Dalrymple, but that Miss Van Siever was on no account to go away. She was up, and in her dressing-gown, and had gone into the sitting-room. "I will come directly," said Dalrymple, and the discreet head-servant retired.

"Clara," said Conway, "I do not know when I may have another chance of asking for an answer to my question. You heard my question?"

"Yes, I heard it."

"And will you answer it?"

"If you wish it, I will."

"Of course I wish it. You understood what I said upon the door-step yesterday?"

"I don't think much of that; men say those things so often. What you said before was serious, I suppose?"

"Serious! Heavens! do you think that I am joking?"

"Mamma wants me to marry Mr Musselboro."

"He is a vulgar brute. It would be impossible."

"It is impossible; but mamma is very obstinate. I have no fortune of my own,—not a shilling. She told me to-day that she would turn me out into the street. She forbade me to come here, thinking I should meet you; but I came, because I had promised Mrs Broughton. I am sure that she will never give me one shilling."

Dalrymple paused for a moment. It was certainly true that he had regarded Clara Van Siever as an heiress, and had at first been attracted to her because he thought it expedient to marry an heiress. But there had since come something beyond that, and there was perhaps less of regret than most men would have felt as he gave up his golden hopes. He took her into his arms and kissed her, and called her his own. "Now we understand each other," he said.

"If you wish it to be so."

"I do wish it."

"And I shall tell my mother to-day that I am engaged to you,—unless she refuses to see me. Go to Mrs Broughton now. I feel that we are almost cruel to be thinking of ourselves in this house at such a time." Upon this Dalrymple went, and Clara Van Siever was left to her reflections. She had never before had a lover. She had never had even a friend whom she loved and trusted. Her life had been passed at school till she was nearly twenty, and since then she had been vainly endeavouring to accommodate herself and her feelings to her mother. Now she was about to throw herself into the absolute power of a man who was nearly a stranger to her! But she did love him, as she had never loved any one else;—and then, on the other side, there was Mr Musselboro!

Dalrymple went upstairs for an hour, and Clara did not see him again before he left the house. It was clear to her, from Mrs Broughton's first words, that Conway had told her what had passed. "Of course I shall never see anything more of either of you now?" said Mrs Broughton.

"I should say that probably you will see a great deal of us both."

"There are some people," said Mrs Broughton, "who can do well for their friends, but can never do well for themselves. I am one of them. I saw at once how great a thing it would be for both of you to bring you two together,—especially for you, Clara; and therefore I did it. I may say that I never had it out of my mind for months past. Poor Dobbs misunderstood what I was doing. God knows how far that may have brought about what has happened."

"Oh, Mrs Broughton!"

"Of course he could not be blind to one thing;—nor was I. I mention it now because it is right, but I shall never, never allude to again. Of course he saw, and I saw, that Conway—was attached to me. Poor Conway meant no harm. I was aware of that. But there was the terrible fact. I knew at once that the only cure for him was a marriage with some girl that he could respect. Admiring you as I do, I immediately resolved on bringing you two together. My dear, I have been successful, and I heartily trust that you may be happier than Maria Broughton."

Miss Van Siever knew the woman, understood all the facts, and pitying the condition of the wretched creature, bore all this without a word of rebuke. She scorned to put out her strength against one who was in truth so weak.



CHAPTER LXVI

Requiescat in Pace

Things were gloomy at the palace. It has already been said that for may days after Dr Tempest's visit to Barchester the intercourse between the bishop and Mrs Proudie had not been of a pleasant nature. He had become so silent, so sullen, and so solitary in his ways, that even her courage had been almost cowed, and for a while she had condescended to use gentler measures, with the hope that she might thus bring her lord round to his usual state of active submission; or perhaps, if we strive to do her full justice, we may say of her that her effort was made conscientiously, with the idea of inducing him to do his duty with proper activity. For she was a woman not without a conscience, and by no means indifferent to the real service which her husband, as bishop of the diocese, was bound to render to the affairs of the Church around her. Of her own struggles after personal dominion she was herself unconscious; and no doubt they gave her, when recognised and acknowledged by herself, many stabs to her inner self, of which no single being in the world knew anything. And now, as after a while she failed in producing any amelioration in the bishop's mood, her temper also gave way, and things were becoming very gloomy and very unpleasant.

The bishop and his wife were at present alone in the palace. Their married daughter and her husband had left them, and their unmarried daughter was also away. How far the bishop's mood may have produced this solitude in the vast house I will not say. Probably Mrs Proudie's state of mind may have prevented her from having other guests in the place of those who were gone. She felt herself to be almost disgraced in the eyes of all those around her by her husband's long absence from the common rooms of the house and by his dogged silence at meals. It was better, she thought, that they two should be alone in the palace.

Her own efforts to bring him back to something like life, to some activity of mind if not of body, were made constantly; and when she failed, as she did fail day after day, she would go slowly to her own room, and lock her door, and look back in her solitude at all the days of her life. She had agonies in these minutes of which no one near her knew anything. She would seize with her arm the part of the bed near which she would stand, and hold by it, grasping it, as though she were afraid to fall; and then, when it was at the worst with her, she would go to her closet,—a closet that no eyes ever saw unlocked but her own,—and fill for herself and swallow some draught; and then she would sit down with the Bible before her, and read it sedulously. She spent hours every day with her Bible before her, repeating to herself whole chapters, which she knew almost by heart.

It cannot be said that she was a bad woman, though she had in her time done an indescribable amount of evil. She had endeavoured to do good, failing partly by ignorance and partly from the effects of an unbridled, ambitious temper. And now, even amidst her keenest sufferings, her ambition was by no means dead. She still longed to rule the diocese by means of her husband, but was made to pause and hesitate by the unwonted mood that had fallen upon him. Before this, on more than one occasion, and on one very memorable occasion, he had endeavoured to combat her. He had fought with her, striving to put her down. He had failed, and given up the hope of any escape for himself in that direction. On those occasions her courage had never quailed for a moment. While he openly struggled to be master, she could openly struggle to be mistress,—and could enjoy the struggle. But nothing like this moodiness had ever come upon him before.

She had yielded to it for many days, striving to coax him by little softnesses of which she herself had been ashamed as she practised them. They had served her nothing, and at last she determined that something else must be done. If only for his sake, to keep some life in him, something else must be done. Were he to continue as he was now, he must give up his diocese, or, at any rate, declare himself too ill to keep the working of it in his own hands. How she hated Mr Crawley for all the sorrow that he had brought upon her and her house!

And it was still the affair of Mr Crawley which urged her on to further action. When the bishop received Mr Crawley's letter he said nothing of it to her; but he handed it over to his chaplain. The chaplain, fearing to act upon it himself, handed it to Mr Thumble, whom he knew to be one of the bishop's commission, and Mr Thumble, equally fearing responsibility in the present state of affairs at the palace, found himself obliged to consult Mrs Proudie. Mrs Proudie had no doubt as to what should be done. The man had abdicated his living, and of course some provision must be made for the services. She would again make an attempt upon her husband, and therefore she went into his room holding Mr Crawley's letter in her hand.

"My dear," she said, "here is Mr Crawley's letter. I suppose you have read it."

"Yes," said the bishop; "I have read it."

"And what will you do about it? Something must be done."

"I don't know," said he. He did not even look at her as he spoke. He had not turned his eyes upon her since she had entered the room.

"But, bishop, it is a letter that requires to be acted upon at once. We cannot doubt that the man is doing right at last. He is submitting himself where his submission is due; but his submission will be of no avail unless you take some action upon his letter. Do you not think that Mr Thumble had better go over?"

"No, I don't. I think Mr Thumble had better stay where he is," said the irritated bishop.

"What, then, would you wish to have done?"

"Never mind," said he.

"But, bishop, that is nonsense," said Mrs Proudie, adding something of severity to the tone of her voice.

"No, it isn't nonsense," said he. Still he did not look at her, nor had he done so for a moment since she had entered the room. Mrs Proudie could not bear this, and as her anger became stronger within her breast, she told herself that she would be wrong to bear it. She had tried what gentleness would do, and she had failed. It was now imperatively necessary that she should resort to sterner measures. She must make him understand that he must give her authority to send Mr Thumble to Hogglestock.

Previous Part     1 ... 3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20     Next Part
Home - Random Browse