"He will be very well paid, I think," said John, "when he hears the truth. If you could see the inside his mind at this moment, I'm sure you'd find that he thinks he stole the cheque."
"He cannot think that, Mr Eames. Besides, at this moment I hope he has heard the truth."
"That may be, but he did think so. I do believe that he had not the slightest notion where he got it; and, which is more, not a single person in the whole county had a notion. People thought that he had picked it up, and used it in his despair. And the bishop has been so hard upon him."
"Oh, Mr Eames, that is the worst of all."
"So I am told. The bishop has a wife, I believe."
"Yes, he has a wife, certainly," said Mrs Arabin.
"And people say that she is not very good-natured."
"There are some of us at Barchester who do not love her very dearly. I cannot say that she is one of my own especial friends."
"I believe she has been hard to Mr Crawley," said John Eames.
"I should not be in the least surprised," said Mrs Arabin.
Then they reached Turin, and there, taking up Galignani's Messenger in the reading-room of Trompetta's Hotel, John Eames saw that Mrs Proudie was dead. "Look at that," said he, taking the paragraph to Mrs Arabin; "Mrs Proudie is dead!" "Mrs Proudie dead!" she exclaimed. "Poor woman! Then there will be peace at Barchester!" "I never knew her very intimately," she afterwards said to her companion, "and I do not know that I have a right to say that she ever did me an injury. But I remember well her first coming into Barchester. My sister's father-in-law, the late bishop, was just dead. He was a mild, kind, dear old man, whom my father loved beyond all the world, except his own children. You may suppose we were all a little sad. I was not specially connected with the cathedral then, except through my father,"—and Mrs Arabin, as she told all this, remembered that in the days of which she was speaking she was a young mourning widow,—"but I think I can never forget the sort of harsh-toned paean of low-church trumpets with which that poor woman made her entry into the city. She might have been more lenient, as we had never sinned by being very high. She might, at any rate, have been more gentle with us at first. I think we had never attempted much beyond decency, good-will and comfort. Our comfort she utterly destroyed. Good-will was not to her taste. And as for decency, when I remember some things, I must say that when the comfort and good-will went, the decency went along with them. And now she is dead! I wonder how the bishop will get on without her."
"Like a house on fire, I should think," said Johnny.
"Fie, Mr Eames; you shouldn't speak in such a way on such a subject."
Mrs Arabin and Johnny became fast friends as they journeyed home. There was a sweetness in his character which endeared him readily to women; though, as we have seen, there was a want of something to make one woman cling to him. He could be soft and pleasant-mannered. He was fond of making himself useful, and was a perfect master of all those little caressing modes of behaviour in which the caress is quite impalpable, and of which most women know the value and appreciate the comfort. By the time that they had reached Paris John had told the whole story of Lily Dale and Crosbie, and Mrs Arabin had promised to assist him, if any assistance might be in her power.
"Of course I have heard of Miss Dale," she said, "because we know the De Courcys." Then she turned away her face, almost blushing, as she remembered the first time that she had seen that Lady Alexandrina De Courcy whom Mr Crosbie had married. It had been at Mr Thorne's house at Ullathorne, and on that day she had done a thing which she had never since remembered without blushing. But it was an old story now, and a story of which her companion knew nothing,—of which he never could know anything. That day at Ullathorne Mrs Arabin, the wife of the Dean of Barchester, than whom there was no more discreet clerical matron in the diocese, had—boxed a clergyman's ears!
"Yes," said John, speaking of Crosbie, "he was a wise fellow; he knew what he was about; he married an earl's daughter."
"And now I remember hearing that somebody gave him a terrible beating. Perhaps it was you?"
"It wasn't terrible at all," said Johnny.
"Then it was you?"
"Oh, yes; it was I."
"Then it was you who saved poor old Lord De Guest from the bull?"
"Go on, Mrs Arabin. There is no end to the grand things I've done."
"You're quite a hero of romance."
He bit his lip as he told himself that he was not enough of a hero. "I don't know about that," said Johnny. "I think what a man ought to do in these days is to seem not to care what he eats and drinks, and to have his linen very well got up. Then he'll be a hero." But that was hard upon Lily.
"Is that what Miss Dale requires?" said Mrs Arabin.
"I was not thinking about her particularly," said Johnny, lying.
They slept a night in Paris, as they had done also at Turin,—Mrs Arabin not finding herself able to accomplish such marvels in the way of travelling as her companion had achieved,—and then arrived in London in the evening. She was taken to a certain quiet clerical hotel at the top of Suffolk Street, much patronised by bishops and deans of the better sort, expecting to find a message there from her husband. And there was a message—just arrived. The dean had reached Florence three days after her departure; and as he would do the journey home in twenty-four hours less than she had taken, he would be there, at the hotel, on the day after to-morrow. "I suppose I may wait for him, Mr Eames?" said Mrs Arabin.
"I will see Mr Toogood to-night, and I will call here to-morrow, whether I see him or not. At what hour will you be in?"
"Don't trouble yourself to do that. You must take care of Sir Raffle Buffle, you know."
"I shan't go near Sir Raffle Buffle to-morrow, nor yet the next day. You mustn't suppose that I am afraid of Sir Raffle Buffle."
"You are only afraid of Lily Dale." From all which it may be seen that Mrs Arabin and John Eames had become very intimate on their way home.
It was then arranged that he should call on Mr Toogood that same night or early next morning, and that he should come to the hotel at twelve o'clock on the next day. Going along one of the passages he passed two gentlemen in shovel hats, with very black new coats, and knee-breeches; and Johnny could not but hear a few words which one clerical gentleman said to the other. "She was a woman of great energy, of wonderful spirit, but a firebrand, my lord,—a complete firebrand!" Then Johnny knew that the Dean of A was talking to the Bishop of B about the late Mrs Proudie.
Mr Toogood at Silverbridge
We will now go back to Mr Toogood as he started for Silverbridge, on the receipt of Mrs Arabin's telegram from Venice. "I gave cheque to Mr Crawley. It was part of a sum of money. Will write to Archdeacon Grantly to-day, and return home at once." That was the telegram which Mr Toogood received at his office, and on receiving which he resolved that he must start to Barchester immediately. "It isn't certainly what you may call a paying business," he said to his partner, who continued to grumble; "but it must be done all the same. If it don't get into the ledger in one way it will in another." So Mr Toogood started for Silverbridge, having sent to his house in Tavistock Square for a small bag, a clean shirt, and a toothbrush. And as he went down in the railway-carriage, before he went to sleep, he turned it all over in his mind. "Poor devil! I wonder whether any man ever suffered so much before. And as for that woman,—it's ten thousand pities that she should have died before she heard it. Talk of heart-complaint; she'd have had a touch of heart-complaint if she had known this!" Then, as he was speculating how Mrs Arabin could have become possessed of the cheque, he went to sleep.
He made up his mind that the first person to be seen was Mr Walker, and after that he would, if possible, go to Archdeacon Grantly. He was at first minded to go at once out to Hogglestock; but when he remembered how very strange Mr Crawley was in all his ways, and told himself professionally that telegrams were but bad sources of evidence on which to depend for details, he thought that it would be safer if he were first to see Mr Walker. There would be very little delay. In a day or two the archdeacon would receive his letter, and in a day or two after that Mrs Arabin would probably be at home.
It was late in the evening before Mr Toogood reached the house of the Silverbridge solicitor, having the telegram carefully folded in his pocket; and he was shown into the dining-room while the servant took his name up to Mr Walker. The clerks were gone, and the office was closed; and persons coming on business at such times,—as they often did come to that house,—were always shown into the parlour. "I don't know whether master can see you to-night," said the girl; "but if he can, he'll come down."
When the card was brought up to Mr Walker he was sitting alone with his wife. "It's Toogood," said he; "poor Crawley's cousin."
"I wonder whether he has found anything out," said Mrs Walker. "May he not come up here?" Then Mr Toogood was summoned into the drawing-room, to the maid's astonishment; for Mr Toogood had made no toilet sacrifices to the goddess of grace who presides over evening society in provincial towns,—and presented himself with the telegram in his hand. "We have found out all about poor Crawley's cheque," he said, before the maid-servant had closed the door. "Look at that," and he handed the telegram to Mr Walker. The poor girl was obliged to go, though she would have given one her ears to know the exact contents of that bit of paper.
"Walker, what is it?" said his wife, before Walker had had time to make the contents of the document his own.
"He got it from Mrs Arabin," said Toogood.
"No!" said Mrs Walker. "I thought that was it all along."
"It's a pity you didn't say so before," said Mr Walker.
"So I did; but a lawyer thinks that nobody can ever see anything but himself;—begging your pardon, Mr Toogood, but I forgot you were one of us. But, Walker, do read it." Then the telegram was read; "I gave the cheque to Mr Crawley. It was part of a sum of money,"—with the rest of it. "I knew it would come out," said Mrs Walker. "I was quite sure of it."
"But why the mischief didn't he say so?" said Walker.
"He did say that he got it from the dean," said Toogood.
"But he didn't get it from the dean; and the dean clearly knew nothing about it."
"I'll tell you what it is," said Mrs Walker; "it has been some private transaction between Mr Crawley and Mrs Arabin, which the dean was to know nothing about; and so he wouldn't tell. I must say I honour him."
"I don't think it has been that," said Walker. "Had he known all through that it had come from Mrs Arabin, he would never have said that Mr Soames gave it to him, and then that the dean gave it to him."
"The truth has been that he has known nothing about it," said Toogood; "and we shall have to tell him."
At that moment Mary Walker came into the room, and Mrs Walker could not constrain herself. "Mary, Mr Crawley is right. He didn't steal the cheque. Mrs Arabin gave it to him."
"Who says so? How do you know? Oh, dear; I am so happy, if it's true." Then she saw Mr Toogood and curtseyed.
"It is quite true, my dear," said Mr Walker. "Mr Toogood has had a message by the wires from Mrs Arabin at Venice. She is coming home at once, and no doubt everything will be put right. In the meantime, it may be a question whether we should not hold our tongues. Mr Crawley himself, I suppose, knows nothing of it yet?"
"Not a word," said Toogood.
"Papa, I must tell Miss Prettyman," said Mary.
"I should think that probably all Silverbridge knows it by this time," said Mrs Walker, "because Jane was in the room when the announcement was made. You may be sure that every servant in the house has been told." Mary Walker, not waiting for any further command from her father, hurried out of the room to convey the secret to her special circle of friends.
It was known throughout Silverbridge that night, and indeed it made so much commotion that it kept many people for an hour out of their beds. Ladies who were not in the habit of going out late at night without the fly from the "George and Vulture", tied their heads up in their handkerchiefs, and hurried up and down the street to tell each other that the great secret had been discovered, and that in truth Mr Crawley had not stolen the cheque. The solution of the mystery was not known to all,—was known on that night only to the very select portion of the aristocracy of Silverbridge to whom it was communicated by Mary Walker or Miss Anne Prettyman. For Mary Walker, when earnestly entreated by Jane, the parlour-maid, to tell her something more of the great news, had so far respected her father's caution as to say not a word about Mrs Arabin. "Is it true, Miss Mary, that he didn't steal it?" Jane asked imploringly. "It is true. He did not steal it." "And who did, Miss Mary? Indeed I won't tell anybody." "Nobody. But don't ask any more questions, for I won't answer them. Get me my hat at once, for I want to go up to Miss Prettyman's." Then Jane got Miss Walker's hat, and immediately afterwards scampered into the kitchen with the news. "Oh, law, cook, it's all come out! Mr Crawley's as innocent as the unborn babe. The gentleman upstairs what's just come, and was here once before,—for I know'd him immediate,—I heard him say so. And master said so too."
"Did master say so his own self?" asked the cook.
"Indeed he did; and Miss Mary told me the same this moment."
"If master said so, then there ain't a doubt as they'll find him innocent. And who took'd it, Jane?"
"Miss Mary says as nobody didn't steal it."
"That's nonsense, Jane. It stands to reason as somebody had it as hadn't ought to have had it. But I'm glad as anything as how that poor reverend gent'll come off;—I am. They tells me it's weeks sometimes before a bit of butcher's meat finds its way into his house." Then the groom and the housemaid and the cook, one after another, took occasion to slip out of the back-door, and poor Jane, who had really been the owner of the news, was left alone to answer the bell.
Miss Walker found the two Miss Prettymans sitting together over their accounts in the elder Miss Prettyman's private room. And she could see at once by signs which were not unfamiliar to her that Miss Anne Prettyman was being scolded. It often happened that Miss Anne Prettyman was scolded, especially when the accounts were brought out upon the table. "Sister, they are illegible," Mary Walker heard, as the servant opened the door for her.
"I don't think it's quite so bad as that," said Miss Anne, unable to restrain her defence. Then, as Mary entered the room, Miss Prettyman the elder laid her hands down on certain books and papers as though to hide them from profane eyes.
"I am glad to see you, Mary," said Miss Prettyman gravely.
"I've brought such a piece of news," said Mary. "I knew you'd be glad to hear it, so I ventured to disturb you."
"Is it good news?" said Anne Prettyman.
"Very good news. Mr Crawley is innocent."
Both the ladies sprang on to their legs. Even Miss Prettyman herself jumped up on to her legs. "No!" said Anne. "Your father has discovered it?" said Miss Prettyman.
"Not exactly that. Mr Toogood has come down from London to tell him. Mr Toogood, you know, is Mr Crawley's cousin; and he is a lawyer, like papa." It may be observed that ladies belonging to the families of solicitors always talk about lawyers, and never about attorneys or barristers.
"And does Mr Toogood say that Mr Crawley is innocent?" asked Miss Prettyman.
"He has heard it by a message from Mrs Arabin. But you mustn't mention this. You won't, please, because papa asked me not. I told him that I should tell you." Then, for the first time, the frown passed away entirely from Miss Prettyman's face, and the papers and account books were pushed aside, as being of no moment. The news had been momentous enough to satisfy her. Mary continued her story almost in a whisper. "It was Mrs Arabin who sent the cheque to Mr Crawley. She says so herself. So that makes Mr Crawley quite innocent. I am so glad."
"But isn't it odd he didn't say so?" said Miss Prettyman.
"Nevertheless, it's true." said Mary.
"Perhaps he forgot," said Anne Prettyman.
"Men don't forget such things as that," said the elder sister.
"I really do think that Mr Crawley could forget anything," said the younger sister.
"You may be sure it's true," said Mary Walker, "because papa said so."
"If he said so, it must be true," said Miss Prettyman; "and I am rejoiced. I really am rejoiced. Poor man! Poor ill-used man! And nobody has ever believed that he has really been guilty, even though they may have thought that he spent the money without any proper right to it. And now he will get off. But, dear me, Mary, Mr Smithe told me yesterday that he had already given up his living, and that Mr Spooner, the minor canon, was trying to get it from the dean. But that was because Mr Spooner and Mrs Proudie had quarrelled; and as Mrs Proudie is gone, Mr Spooner very likely won't want to move now."
"They'll never go and put anybody into Hogglestock, Annabella, over Mr Crawley's head," said Anne.
"I didn't say that they would. Surely I may be allowed to repeat what I hear, like another person, without being snapped up."
"I didn't mean to snap you up, Annabella."
"You're always snapping me up. But if this is true, I cannot say how glad I am. My poor Grace! Now, I suppose, there will be no difficulty, and Grace will become a great lady." Then they discussed very minutely the chances of Grace Crawley's promotion.
John Walker, Mr Winthrop, and several others of the chosen spirits of Silverbridge, were playing whist at a provincial club, which had established itself in the town, when the news was brought to them. Though Mr Winthrop was the partner of the great Walker, and though John Walker was the great man's son, I fear that the news reached their ears in but an underhand sort of way. As for the great man himself, he never went near the club, preferring his slippers and tea at home. The Walkerian groom, rushing up the street to the "George and Vulture", paused a moment to tell his tidings to the club porter; from the club porter it was whispered respectfully to the Silverbridge apothecary, who, by special grace, was a member of the club;—and was by him repeated with much cautious solemnity over the card-table. "Who told you that, Balsam?" said John Walker, throwing down his cards.
"I've just heard it," said Balsam.
"I don't believe it," said John.
"I shouldn't wonder if it's true," said Winthrop. "I always said that something would turn up."
"Will you bet three to one he is not found guilty?" said John Walker.
"Done," said Winthrop; "in pounds." That morning the odds in the club against the event had been only two to one. But as the matter was discussed, the men in the club began to believe the tidings, and before he went home, John Walker would have been glad to hedge his bet on any terms. After he had spoken to his father, he gave his money up for lost.
But Mr Walker,—the great Walker,—had more to do that night before his son came home from the club. He and Mr Toogood agreed that it would be right that they should see Dr Tempest at once, and they went over together to the rectory. It was past ten at this time, and they found the doctor almost in the act of putting out the candles for the night. "I could not but come to you, doctor," said Mr Walker, "with the news my friend has brought. Mrs Arabin gave the cheque to Crawley. Here is a telegram from her saying so." And the telegram was handed to the doctor.
He stood perfectly silent for a few minutes, reading it over and over again. "I see it all," he said, when he spoke at last. "I see it all now; and I must own I was never before so much puzzled in my life."
"I own I can't see why she should have given him Mr Soames's cheque," said Mr Walker.
"I can't say where she got it, and I own I don't much care," said Dr Tempest. "But I don't doubt but what she gave it him without telling the dean, and that Crawley thought it came from the dean. I'm very glad. I am, indeed, very glad. I do not know that I ever pitied a man so much in my life as I have pitied Mr Crawley."
"It must have been a hard case when it has moved him," said Mr Walker to Mr Toogood as they left the clergyman's house; and then the Silverbridge attorney saw the attorney from London home to his inn.
It was the general opinion at Silverbridge that the news from Venice ought to be communicated to the Crawleys by Major Grantly. Mary Walker had expressed this opinion very strongly, and her mother had agreed with her. Miss Prettyman also felt that poetical justice, or, at least, the romance of justice, demanded this; and, as she told her sister Anne after Mary Walker left her, she was of opinion that such an arrangement might tend to make things safe. "I do think he is an honest man and a fine fellow," said Miss Prettyman; "but, my dear, you know what the proverb says, 'There's many a slip 'twixt the cup and the lip.'" Miss Prettyman thought than anything which might be done to prevent a slip ought to be done. The idea that the pleasant task of taking the news out to Hogglestock ought to be confided to Major Grantly was very general; but then Mr Walker was of the opinion that the news ought not to be taken to Hogglestock at all till something more certain than the telegram had reached them. Early on the following morning the two lawyers again met, and it was arranged between them that the London lawyer should go over at once to Barchester, and that the Silverbridge lawyer should see Major Grantly. Mr Toogood was still of the opinion that with due diligence something might yet be learned as to the cheque by inquiry among the denizens of "The Dragon of Wantly"; and his opinion to this effect was stronger than ever when he learned from Mr Walker that the "Dragon of Wantly" belonged to Mrs Arabin.
Mr Walker, after breakfast, had himself driven up in his open carriage to Cosby Lodge, and, as he entered the gates, observed that the auctioneer's bills as to the sale had been pulled down. The Mr Walkers of the world know everything, and our Mr Walker had quite understood that the major was leaving Cosby Lodge because of some misunderstanding with his father. The exact nature of the misunderstanding he did not know, even though he was Mr Walker, but had little doubt that it referred in some way to Grace Crawley. If the archdeacon's objection to Grace arose from the imputation against the father, that objection would now be removed, but the abolition of the posters could not as yet have been owing to any such cause as that. Mr Walker found the major at the gate of the farmyard attached to Cosby Lodge, and perceived that at that very moment he was engaged in superintending the abolition of sundry other auctioneer's bills from sundry posts. "What is all this about?" said Mr Walker, greeting the major. "Is there to be no sale after all?"
"It has been postponed," said the major.
"Postponed for good, I hope? Bill to be read again this day six months!" said Mr Walker.
"I rather think not. But circumstances have induced me to have it put off."
Mr Walker had got out of the carriage and had taken Major Grantly aside. "Just come a little further," he said; "I've something special to tell you. News reached me last night which will clear Mr Crawley altogether. We know now where he got the cheque."
"You don't tell me so!"
"Yes, I do. And though the news has reached us in such a way that we cannot act upon it till it's confirmed, I do not in the least doubt it."
"And how did he get it?"
"You cannot guess?"
"Not in the least," said the major; "unless, after all, Soames gave it to him."
"Soames did not give it to him, but Mrs Arabin did."
"Yes, Mrs Arabin."
"Not the dean?"
"No, not the dean. What we know is this, that your aunt has telegraphed to Crawley's cousin, Toogood, to say that she gave Crawley the cheque, and that she has written to your father about it at length. We do not like to tell Crawley till that letter has been received. It is so easy, you know, to misunderstand a telegram, and the wrong copying of a word may make such a mistake!"
"When was it received?"
"Toogood received it in London only yesterday morning. Your father will not get his letter, as I calculate, till the day after to-morrow. But, perhaps, you had better go over and see him, and prepare him for it. Toogood has gone to Barchester this morning." To this proposition Grantly made no immediate answer. He could not but remember the terms on which he had left his father; and though he had, most unwillingly, pulled down the auctioneer's bills, in compliance with his mother's last prayer to him,—and, indeed, had angrily told the auctioneer to send him his bill when the auctioneer had demurred to these proceedings,—nevertheless he was hardly prepared to discuss the matter of Mr Crawley with his father in pleasant words,—in words which should be full of rejoicing. It was a great thing for him, Henry Grantly, that Mr Crawley should be innocent, and he did rejoice; but he had intended his father to understand that he meant to persevere, whether Mr Crawley were innocent or guilty, and thus he would now lose an opportunity for establishing his obstinacy,—an opportunity which had not been without a charm for him. He must console himself as best he might with the returning prospect of assured prosperity, and with his renewed hopes as to the Plumstead foxes! "We think, major, that when the time comes you ought to be the bearer of the news to Hogglestock," said Mr Walker. Then the major did undertake to convey the news to Hogglestock, but he made no promise as to going over to Plumstead.
Mr Toogood at "The Dragon of Wantly"
In accordance with his arrangement with Mr Walker, Mr Toogood went over to Barchester early in the morning and put himself up at "The Dragon of Wantly". He now knew the following facts: that Mr Soames, when he lost the cheque, had had with him one of the servants from that inn,—that the man who had been with Mr Soames had gone to New Zealand,—that the cheque had found its way into the hands of Mrs Arabin, and that Mrs Arabin was the owner of the inn in question. So much he believed to be within his knowledge, and if his knowledge should prove to be correct, his work would be done as far as Mr Crawley was concerned. If Mr Crawley had not stolen the cheque, and if that could be proved, it would be a question of no great moment to Mr Toogood who had stolen it. But he was a sportsman in his own line who liked to account for his own fox. As he was down at Barchester, he thought that he might as well learn how the cheque had got into Mrs Arabin's hands. No doubt that for her own personal possession of it she would be able to account on her return. Probably such account would be given in her first letter home. But it might be well that he should be prepared with any small circumstantial details which he might be able to pick up at the inn.
He reached Barchester before breakfast, and in ordering his tea and toast, reminded the old waiter with the dirty towel of his former acquaintance with him. "I remember you, sir," said the old waiter. "I remember you very well. You was asking questions about the cheque which Mr Soames lost afore Christmas." Mr Toogood certainly had asked one question on the subject. He had inquired whether a certain man who had gone to New Zealand had been the post-boy who accompanied Mr Soames when the cheque was lost; and the waiter had professed to know nothing about Mr Soames or the cheque. He now perceived at once that the gist of the question had remained on the old man's mind, and that he was recognised as being in some way connected with the lost money.
"Did I? Ah, yes; I think I did. And I think you told me that he was the man?"
"No, sir; I never told you that."
"Then you told me that he wasn't."
"Nor I didn't tell you that neither," said the waiter angrily.
"Then what the devil did you tell me?" To this further question the waiter sulkily declined to give any answer, and soon afterwards left the room. Toogood, as soon as he had done his breakfast, rang the bell, and the same man appeared. "Will you tell Mr Stringer that I should be glad to see him if he's disengaged," said Mr Toogood. "I know he's bad with the gout, and therefore if he'll allow me, I'll go to him instead of his coming to me." Mr Stringer was the landlord of the inn. The waiter hesitated a moment, and then declared that to the best of his belief his master was not down. He would go and see. Toogood, however, would not wait for that; but rising quickly and passing the waiter, crossed the hall from the coffee-room, and entered what was called the bar. The bar was a small room connected with the hall by a large open window, at which orders for rooms were given and cash was paid, and glasses of beer were consumed,—and a good deal of miscellaneous conversation was carried on. The barmaid was here at the window, and there was also, in a corner of the room, a man at a desk with a red nose. Toogood knew that the man at the desk with the red nose was Mr Stringer's clerk. So much he had learned in his former rummaging about the inn. And he also remembered at this moment that he had observed the man with the red nose standing under a narrow archway in the close as he was coming out of the deanery, on the occasion of his visit to Mr Harding. It had not occurred to him then that the man with the red nose was watching him, but it did occur to him now that the man with the red nose had been there, under the arch, with the express purpose of watching him on that occasion. Mr Toogood passed quickly through the bar into an inner parlour, in which was sitting Mr Stringer, the landlord, propped among his cushions. Toogood, as he entered the hotel, had seen Mr Stringer so placed, through the two doors, which at that moment had both happened to be open. He knew therefore that his old friend the waiter had not been quite true to him in suggesting that his master was not as yet down. As Toogood cast a glance of his eye on the man with the red nose, he told himself the old story of the apparition under the archway.
"Mr Stringer," said Mr Toogood to the landlord, "I hope I'm not intruding."
"Oh dear, no, sir," said the forlorn man. "Nobody ever intrudes coming in here. I'm always happy to see gentlemen,—only, mostly, I'm so bad with the gout."
"Have you got a sharp touch of it just now, Mr Stringer?"
"Not just to-day, sir. I've been a little easier since Saturday. The worst of this burst is over. But Lord bless you, sir, it don't leave me,—not for a single fortnight at a time, now; it don't. And it ain't what I drink, nor it ain't what I eat."
"Constitutional, I suppose?" said Toogood.
"Look here, sir"; and Stringer showed his visitor the chalk stones in all his knuckles. "They say I'm a mass of chalk. I sometimes think they'll break me up to mark the scores behind my own door with." And Mr Stringer laughed at his own wit.
Mr Toogood laughed too. He laughed loud and cheerily. And then he asked a sudden question, keeping his eye as he did so upon a little square open window, which communicated between the landlord's private room and the bar. Through this small aperture he could see as he stood a portion of the hat worn by the man with the red nose. Since he had been in the room with the landlord, the man with the red nose had moved his head twice, on each occasion drawing himself closer into his corner; but Mr Toogood, by moving also, had still contrived to keep a morsel of the hat in sight. He laughed cheerily at the landlord's joke, and then he asked a sudden question,—looking well at the morsel of the hat as he did so. "Mr Stringer," said he, "how do you pay your rent, and to whom do you pay it?" There was immediately a jerk in the hat, and then it disappeared. Toogood, stepping to the open door, saw that the red-nosed clerk had taken his hat off and was very busy at his accounts.
"How do I pay my rent?" said Mr Stringer, the landlord. "Well, sir, since this cursed gout has been so bad, it's hard enough to pay it at all sometimes. You ain't sent here to look for it, sir, are you?"
"Not I," said Toogood. "It was only a chance question." He felt that he had nothing more to do with Mr Stringer, the landlord. Mr Stringer, the landlord, knew nothing about Mr Soames's cheque. "What's the name of your clerk?" said he.
"The name of my clerk?" said Mr Stringer. "Why do you want to know the name of my clerk?"
"Does he ever pay your rent for you?"
"Well, yes; he does, at times. He pays it into the bank for the lady as owns this house. Is there any reason for your asking these questions, sir. It isn't usual, you know, for a stranger, sir."
Toogood the whole of this time was standing with his eye upon the red-nosed man, and the red-nosed man could not move. The red-nosed man heard all the questions and the landlord's answers, and could not even pretend that he did not hear them. "I am my cousin's clerk," said he, putting on his hat, and coming up to Mr Toogood with a swagger. "My name is Dan Stringer, and I'm Mr John Stringer's cousin. I've lived with Mr John Stringer for twelve year and more, and I'm a'most as well known in Barchester as himself. Have you anything to say to me, sir?"
"Well, yes; I have," said Toogood.
"I believe you're the one of them attorneys from London?" said Mr Dan Stringer.
"That's true. I am an attorney from London."
"I hope there's nothing wrong?" said the gouty man, trying to get off his chair, but not succeeding. "If there is anything wronger than usual, Dan, do tell me. Is there anything wrong, sir?" and the landlord appealed piteously to Mr Toogood.
"Never you mind, John," said Dan. "You keep yourself quiet, and don't answer none of his questions. He's one of them low sort, he is. I know him. I knowed him for what he is directly I saw him. Ferreting about,—that's his game; to see if there's anything to be got."
"But what is he ferreting here for?" said Mr John Stringer.
"I'm ferreting for Mr Soames's cheque for twenty pounds," said Mr Toogood.
"That's the cheque that the parson stole," said Dan Stringer. "He's to be tried for it at the 'sizes."
"You've heard about Mr Soames and his cheque, and about Mr Crawley, I daresay?" said Mr Toogood.
"I've heard a deal about them," said the landlord.
"And so, I daresay, have you?" said Toogood, turning to Dan Stringer. But Dan Stringer did not seem inclined to carry on the conversation any further. When he was hardly pressed, he declared that he just had heard that there was some parson in trouble about a sum of money; but that he knew no more about it than that. He didn't know whether it was a cheque or a note that the parson had taken, and had never been sufficiently interested in the matter to make any inquiry.
"But you've just said that Mr Soames's cheque was the cheque the parson stole," said the astonished landlord, turning with open eyes upon his cousin.
"You be blowed," said Dan Stringer, the clerk, to Mr John Stringer, the landlord; and then walked out of the room back to the bar.
"I understand nothing about it,—nothing at all," said the gouty man.
"I understand nearly all about it," said Mr Toogood, following the red-nosed clerk. There was no necessity that he should trouble the landlord any further. He left the room, and went through the bar, and as he passed out along the hall, he found Dan Stringer with his hat on talking to the waiter. The waiter immediately pulled himself up, and adjusted his dirty napkin under his arm, after the fashion of waiters, and showed that he intended to be civil to the customers of the house. But he of the red nose cocked his hat, and looked with insolence at Mr Toogood, and defied him. "There's nothing I do hate so much as them low-bred Old Bailey attorneys," said Mr Dan Stringer to the waiter, in a voice intended to reach Mr Toogood's ears. Then Mr Toogood told himself that Dan Stringer was not the thief himself, and that it might be very difficult to prove that Dan had even been the receiver of stolen goods. He had, however, no doubt in his own mind but that such was the case.
He first went to the police office, and there explained his business. Nobody at the police office pretended to forget Mr Soames's cheque, or Mr Crawley's position. The constable went so far as to swear that there wasn't a man, woman, or child in all Barchester who was not talking of Mr Crawley at that very moment. Then Mr Toogood went with the constable to the private house of the mayor, and had a little conversation with the mayor. "Not guilty!" said the mayor, with incredulity, when he first heard the news about Crawley. But when he heard Mr Toogood's story, or as much of it as it was necessary that he should hear, he yielded reluctantly. "Dear, dear!" he said. "I'd have bet anything 'twas he who stole it." And after that he mayor was quite sad. Only let us think what a comfortable excitement it would create throughout England if it was surmised that an archbishop had forged a deed; and how England would lose when it was discovered that the archbishop was innocent! As the archbishop and his forgery would be to England, so was Mr Crawley and the cheque for twenty pounds to Barchester and its mayor. Nevertheless, the mayor promised his assistance to Mr Toogood.
Mr Toogood, still neglecting his red-nosed friend, went next to the deanery, hoping that he might again see Mr Harding. Mr Harding was, he was told, too ill to be seen. Mr Harding, Mrs Baxter said, could never be seen now by strangers, nor yet by friends, unless they were very old friends. "There's been a deal of change since you were here last, sir. I remember your coming, sir. You were talking to Mr Harding about the poor clergyman as is to be tried." He did not stop to tell Mrs Baxter the whole story of Mr Crawley's innocence; but having learned that a message had been received to say that Mrs Arabin would be home on the next Tuesday,—this being Friday,—he took his leave of Mrs Baxter. His next visit was to Mr Soames, who lived three miles out in the country.
He found it very difficult to convince Mr Soames. Mr Soames was more staunch in his belief of Mr Crawley's guilt than any one whom Toogood had yet encountered. "I never took the cheque out of his house," said Mr Soames. "But you have not stated that on oath," said Mr Toogood. "No," rejoined the other; "and I never will. I can't swear to it; but yet I'm sure of it." He acknowledged that he had been driven by a man named Scuttle, and that Scuttle might have picked up the cheque, if it had been dropped in the gig. But the cheque had not been dropped in the gig. The cheque had been dropped in Mr Crawley's house. "Why did he say then that I paid it to him?" said Mr Soames, when Mr Toogood spoke confidently of Crawley's innocence. "Ah, why indeed?" answered Toogood. "If he had not been fool enough to do that, we should have been saved all this trouble. All the same, he did not steal your money, Mr Soames; and Jem Scuttle did steal it. Unfortunately, Jem Scuttle is in New Zealand by this time." "Of course, it is possible," said Mr Soames, as he bowed Mr Toogood out. Mr Soames did not like Mr Toogood.
That evening a gentleman with a red nose asked at the Barchester station for a second-class ticket for London by the up night-mail train. He was well-known at the station, and the station-master made some little inquiry. "All the way to London to-night, Mr Stringer?" he said.
"Yes,—all the way," said the red-nosed man, sulkily.
"I don't think you'd better go to London to-night, Mr Stringer," said a tall man, stepping out of the door of the booking-office. "I think you'd better come back with me to Barchester. I do indeed." There was some little argument on the occasion; but the stranger, who was a detective policeman, carried his point, and Mr Dan Stringer did return to Barchester.
There Is Comfort at Plumstead
Henry Grantly had written the following short letter to Mrs Grantly when he had made up his mind to pull down the auctioneer's bills.
I have postponed the sale, not liking to refuse you anything. As far as I can see, I shall be forced to leave Cosby Lodge, as I certainly shall do all I can to make Grace Crawley my wife. I say this that there may be no misunderstanding with my father. The auctioneer has promised to have the bills removed.
Your affectionate son,
This had been written by the major on the Friday before Mr Walker had brought up to him the tidings of Mr Toogood and Mrs Arabin's solution of the Crawley difficulty; but it did not reach Plumstead till the following morning. Mrs Grantly immediately took the glad news about the sale to her husband,—not of course showing him the letter, being far too wise for that, and giving him credit for being too wise to ask for it. "Henry has arranged with the auctioneer," she said joyfully; "and the bills have been all pulled down."
"How do you know?"
"I've just heard from him. He has told me so. Come, my dear, let me have the pleasure of hearing you say that things shall be pleasant again between you and him. He has yielded."
"I don't see much yielding in it."
"He has done what you wanted. What more can he do?"
"I want him to come over here, and take an interest in things, and not treat me as though I were nobody." Within an hour of this the major arrived at Plumstead, laden with the story of Mrs Arabin and the cheque, and of Mr Crawley's innocence,—laden not only with such tidings as he had received from Mr Walker, but also with further details, which he had received from Mr Toogood. For he had come through Barchester, and had seen Mr Toogood on his way. This was on the Saturday morning, and he had breakfasted with Mr Toogood at "The Dragon of Wantly". Mr Toogood had told him of his suspicions,—how the red-nosed man had been stopped and had been summoned as a witness for Mr Crawley's trial,—and how he was now under the surveillance of the police. Grantly had not cared very much about the red-nosed man, confining his present solicitude to the question whether Grace Crawley's father would certainly be shown to have been innocent of the theft. "There's not a doubt about it, major," said Mr Toogood; "no a doubt on earth. But we'd better be a little quiet till your aunt comes home,—just a little quiet. She'll be here in a day or two, and I won't budge till she comes." In spite of his desire for quiescence Mr Toogood consented to a revelation being at once made to the archdeacon and Mrs Grantly. "And I'll tell you what, major; as soon as ever Mrs Arabin is here, and has given us her own word to act on, you and I will go over to Hogglestock and astonish them. I should like to go myself, because, you see, Mrs Crawley is my cousin, and we have taken a little trouble about this matter." To this the major assented; but he altogether declined to assist in Mr Toogood's speculations respecting the unfortunate Dan Stringer. It was agreed between them that for the present no visit should be made to the palace, as it was thought that Mr Thumble had better be allowed to do the Hogglestock duties on the next Sunday. As matters went, however, Mr Thumble did not do so. He had paid his last visit to Hogglestock.
It may be as well to explain here that the unfortunate Mr Snapper was constrained to go out to Hogglestock on the Sunday which was now approaching,—which fell out as follows. It might be all very well for Mr Toogood to arrange that he would not tell this person or that person of the news which he had brought down from London; but as he had told various people in Silverbridge, as he had told Mr Soames, and as he had told the police at Barchester, of course the tale found its way to the palace. Mr Thumble heard it, and having come by this time thoroughly to hate Hogglestock and all that belonged to it, he pleaded to Mr Snapper that this report offered ample reason why he need not again visit that detestable parish. Mr Snapper did not see it in the same light. "You may be sure Mr Crawley will not get into the pulpit after his resignation, Mr Thumble," said he.
"His resignation means nothing," said Thumble.
"It means a great deal," said Snapper; "and the duties must be provided for."
"I won't provide for them," said Thumble; "and so you may tell the bishop." In these days Mr Thumble was very angry with the bishop, for the bishop had not yet seen him since the death of Mrs Proudie.
Mr Snapper had no alternative but to go to the bishop. The bishop in these days was very mild to those whom he saw, given but to few words, and a little astray,—as though he had had one of his limbs cut off,—as Mr Snapper expressed it to Mrs Snapper. "I shouldn't wonder if he felt as though all his limbs were cut off," said Mrs Snapper; "you must give him time, and he'll come round by-and-by." I am inclined to think that Mrs Snapper's opinion of the bishop's feelings and condition was correct. In his difficulty respecting Hogglestock and Mr Thumble, Mr Snapper went to the bishop, and spoke perhaps a little too harshly of Mr Thumble.
"I think, upon the whole, Snapper, that you had better go yourself," said the bishop.
"Do you think so, my lord?" said Snapper. "It will be inconvenient."
"Everything is inconvenient; but you'd better go. And look here, Snapper, if I were you, I wouldn't say anything out at Hogglestock about the cheque. We don't know what it may come to yet." Mr Snapper, with a heavy heart, left his patron, not at all liking the task that was before him. But his wife encouraged him to be obedient. He was the owner of a one-horse carriage, and the work was not, therefore, so hard on him as it would have been and had been to poor Mr Thumble. And, moreover, his wife promised to go with him. Mr Snapper and Mrs Snapper did go over to Hogglestock, and the duty was done. Mrs Snapper spoke a word or two to Mrs Crawley, and Mr Snapper spoke a word or two to Mr Crawley; but not a word was said about the news as to Mr Soames's cheque, which were now almost current in Barchester. Indeed, no whisper about it had as yet reached Hogglestock.
"One word with you, reverend sir," said Mr Crawley to the chaplain, as the latter was coming out of the church, "as to the parish work, sir, during the week;—I should be glad if you would favour me with your opinion."
"About what, Mr Crawley?"
"Whether you think that I may be allowed, without scandal, to visit the sick,—and to give instruction in the school."
"Surely;—surely, Mr Crawley. Why not?"
"Mr Thumble gave me to understand that the bishop was very urgent that I should interfere in no way in the ministrations of the parish. Twice did he enjoin on me that I should not interfere,—unnecessarily, as it seemed to me."
"Quite unnecessary," said Mr Snapper. "And the bishop will be obliged to you, Mr Crawley, if you'll just see that the things go on all straight."
"I wish it were possible to know with accuracy what his idea of straightness is," said Mr Crawley to his wife. "It may be that things are straight to him when they are buried as it were out of sight, and put away without trouble. I hope it be not so with the bishop." When he went into his school and remembered,—as he did remember through every minute of his teaching,—that he was to receive no portion of the poor stipend which was allotted for the clerical duties of the parish, he told himself that there was gross injustice in the way in which things were being made straight at Hogglestock.
But we must go back to the major and to the archdeacon at Plumstead,—in which comfortable parish things were generally made straight more easily than at Hogglestock. Henry Grantly went over from Barchester to Plumstead in a gig from the the "Dragon", and made his way at once into his father's study. The archdeacon was seated there with sundry manuscripts before him, and with one half-finished manuscript,—as was his wont on every Saturday morning. "Halloo, Harry," he said. "I didn't expect you in the least." It was barely an hour since he had told Mrs Grantly that his complaint against his son was that he wouldn't come and make himself comfortable at the rectory.
"Father," said he, giving the archdeacon his hand, "you have heard nothing yet about Mr Crawley?"
"No," said the archdeacon, jumping up; "nothing new;—what is it?" Many ideas about Mr Crawley at that moment flitted across the archdeacon's mind. Could it be that the unfortunate man had committed suicide, overcome by his troubles?
"It has all come out. He got the cheque from my aunt."
"From your aunt Eleanor?"
"Yes; from my aunt Eleanor. She has telegraphed over from Venice to say that she gave the identical cheque to Crawley. That is all we know at present,—except that she has written an account of the matter to you, and that she will be here herself as quick as she can come."
"Who got the message, Henry?"
"Crawley's lawyer,—a fellow named Toogood, a cousin of his wife's;—a very decent fellow," added the major, remembering how necessary it was that he should reconcile his father to all the Crawley belongings. "He's to be over here on Monday, and then will arrange what is to be done."
"Done in what way, Henry?"
"There's a great deal to be done yet. Crawley does not know himself at this moment how the cheque got into his hands. He must be told, and something must be settled about the living. They've taken the living away from him among them. And then the indictment must be quashed, or something of that kind done. Toogood has got hold of the scoundrel at Barchester who really stole the cheque from Soames;—or thinks he has. It's that Dan Stringer."
"He's got hold of a regular scamp, then. I never knew any good of Dan Stringer," said the archdeacon.
Then Mrs Grantly was told, and the whole story was repeated again, with many expressions of commiseration in reference to all the Crawleys. The archdeacon did not join in these at first, being rather shy on that head. It was very hard for him to have to speak to his son about the Crawleys as though they were people in all respects estimable and well-conducted, and satisfactory. Mrs Grantly understood this so well, that every now and then she said some half-laughing word respecting Mr Crawley's peculiarities, feeling that in this way she might ease her husband's difficulties. "He must be the oddest man that ever lived," said Mrs Grantly, "not to have known where he got the cheque." The archdeacon shook his head, and rubbed his hands as he walked about the room. "I suppose too much learning has upset him," said the archdeacon. "They say he's not very good at talking English, but put him on in Greek and he never stops."
The archdeacon was perfectly aware that he had to admit Mr Crawley to his goodwill, and that as for Grace Crawley,—it was essentially necessary that she should be admitted to his heart of hearts. He had promised as much. It must be acknowledged that Archdeacon Grantly always kept his promises, and especially such promises as these. And indeed it was the nature of the man that when he had been angry with those he loved, he should be unhappy until he had found some escape from his anger. He could not endure to have to own himself to have been in the wrong, but he could be content with a very incomplete recognition of his having been in the right. The posters had been pulled down and Mr Crawley, as he was now told, had not stolen the cheque. That was sufficient. If his son would only drink a glass or two of wine with him comfortably, and talk dutifully about the Plumstead foxes, all should be held to be right, and Grace Crawley should be received with lavish paternal embraces. The archdeacon had kissed Grace once, and he felt that he could do so again without an unpleasant strain upon his feelings.
"Say something to your father about the property after dinner," said Mrs Grantly to her son when they were alone together.
"About what property?"
"About this property, or any property; you know what I mean;—something to show that you are interested about his affairs. He is doing the best he can to make things right." After dinner, over the claret, Mr Thorne's terrible sin in reference to the trapping of foxes was accordingly again brought up, and the archdeacon became beautifully irate, and expressed his animosity,—which he did not in the least feel,—against an old friend with an energy which would have delighted his wife, if she could have heard him. "I shall tell Thorne my mind, certainly. He and I are very old friends; we have known each other all our lives; but I cannot put up with this kind of thing,—and I will not. It's all because he's afraid of his own gamekeeper." And yet the archdeacon had never ridden after a fox in his life, and never meant to do so. Nor had he in truth been always so very anxious that foxes should be found in his covers. That fox which had been so fortunately trapped just outside the Plumstead property afforded a most pleasant escape for the steam of his anger. When he began to talk to his wife that evening about Mr Thorne's wicked gamekeeper, she was so sure that all was right, that she said a word of her extreme desire to see Grace Crawley.
"If he is to marry her, we might as well have her over here," said the archdeacon.
"That's just what I was thinking," said Mrs Grantly. And thus things at the rectory got themselves arranged.
On the Sunday morning the expected letter from Venice came to hand, and was read on that morning very anxiously, not only by Mrs Grantly and the major, but by the archdeacon also, in spite of the sanctity of the day. Indeed the archdeacon had been very stoutly anti-sabbatarial when the question of stopping the Sunday post to Plumstead had been mooted in the village, giving those who on that occasion were the special friends of the postman to understand that he considered them to be numbskulls, and little better than idiots. The postman, finding the parson to be against him, had seen that there was no chance for him, and had allowed the matter to drop. Mrs Arabin's letter was long and eager, and full of repetitions, but it did explain clearly to them the exact manner in which the cheque had found its way into Mr Crawley's hand. "Francis came up to me," she said in her letter,—Francis being her husband, the dean,—"and asked me for the money, which I had promised to make up in a packet. The packet was not ready, and he would not wait, declaring that Mr Crawley was in such a flurry that he did not like to leave him. I was therefore to bring it down to the door. I went to my desk, and thinking that I could spare the twenty pounds as well as the fifty, I put the cheque into the envelope, together with the notes, and handed the packet to Francis at the door. I think I told Francis afterwards that I put seventy pounds into the envelope, instead of fifty, but of this I will not be sure. At any rate Mr Crawley got Mr Soames's cheque from me." These last words she underscored, and then went on to explain how the cheque had been paid to her a short time before by Dan Stringer.
"Then Toogood has been right about the fellow," said the archdeacon.
"I hope they'll hang him," said Mrs Grantly. "He must have known all the time what dreadful misery he was bringing upon this unfortunate family."
"I don't suppose Dan Stringer cared much about that," said the major.
"Not a straw," said the archdeacon, and then all hurried off to church; and the archdeacon preached the sermon in the fabrication of which he had been interrupted by his son, and which therefore barely enabled him to turn the quarter of an hour from the giving out of his text. It was his constant practice to preach for full twenty minutes.
As Barchester lay on the direct road from Plumstead to Hogglestock, it was thought well that word should be sent to Mr Toogood, desiring him not to come out to Plumstead on the Monday morning. Major Grantly proposed to call for him at "The Dragon", and to take him on from thence to Hogglestock. "You had better take your mother's horses all through," said the archdeacon. The distance was very nearly twenty miles, and it was felt by both the mother and the son, that the archdeacon must be in a good humour when he made such a proposition as that. It was not often that the rectory carriage-horses were allowed to make long journeys. A run into Barchester and back, which altogether was under ten miles, was generally the extent of their work. "I meant to have posted from Barchester," said the major. "You may as well take the horses through," said the archdeacon. "Your mother will not want them. And I suppose you might as well bring your friend Toogood back to dinner. We'll give him a bed."
"He must be a good sort of man," said Mrs Grantly; "for I suppose he has done all this for love?"
"Yes; and spent a lot of money out of his own pocket too!" said the major enthusiastically. "And the joke of it is, that he has been defending Crawley in Crawley's teeth. Mr Crawley had refused to employ counsel; but Toogood had made up his mind to have a barrister, on purpose that there might be a fuss about it in court. He thought that it would tell with the jury in Crawley's favour."
"Bring him here, and we'll hear all about that from himself," said the archdeacon. The major, before he started, told his mother that he should call at Framley Parsonage on his way back; but he said nothing on this subject to his father.
"I'll write to her in a day or two," said Mrs Grantly, "and we'll have things settled pleasantly."
The Crawleys Are Informed
Major Grantly made an early start, knowing that he had a long day's work before him. He had written over-night to Mr Toogood, naming the hour at which he would reach "The Dragon", and was there punctual to the moment. When the attorney came out and got into the open carriage, while the groom held the steps for him, it was plain to be seen that the respect in which he was held at "The Dragon" was greatly increased. It was already known that he was going to Plumstead that night, and it was partly understood that he was engaged with the Grantly and Arabin faction in defending Mr Crawley the clergyman against the Proudie faction. Dan Stringer, who was still at the inn, as he saw his enemy get into the Plumstead carriage, felt himself to be one of the palace party, and felt that if Mrs Proudie had only lived till after the assizes all this heavy trouble would not have befallen him. The waiter with the dirty napkin stood at the door and bowed, thinking perhaps that as the Proudie party was going down in Barchester, it might be as well to be civil to Mr Toogood. The days of the Stringers were probably drawing to a close at the "The Dragon of Wantly", and there was no knowing who might be the new landlord.
Henry Grantly and the lawyer found very little to say to each other on their long way out to Hogglestock. They were thinking, probably, much of the coming interview, and hardly knew how to express their thoughts to each other. "I will not take the carriage up to the house," said the major, as they were entering the parish of Hogglestock; "particularly as the man must feed the horses." So they got out at a farm-house about half a mile from the church, where the offence of the carriage and the livery-servant would be well out of Mr Crawley's sight, and from thence walked towards the parsonage. The church, and the school close to it, lay on their way, and as they passed by the school door they heard voices within. "I'll bet twopence he's there," said Toogood. "They tell me he's always either in one shop or the other. I'll slip in and bring him out." Mr Toogood had assumed a comfortable air, as though the day's work was to be good pastime, and even made occasional attempts at drollery. He had had his jokes about Dan Stringer, and had attempted to describe the absurdities of Mr Crawley's visit to Bedford Row. All this would have angered the major, had he not seen that it was assumed to cover something below of which Mr Toogood was a little ashamed, but of which, as the major thought, Mr Toogood had no cause to be ashamed. When, therefore, Toogood proposed to go into the school and bring Mr Crawley out, as though the telling of their story would be the easiest thing in the world, the major did not stop him. Indeed he had no plan of his own ready. His mind was too intent on the tragedy which had occurred, and which was now to be brought to a close, to enable him to form any plan as to the best way of getting up the last scene. So Mr Toogood, with quick and easy steps, entered the school, leaving the major still standing in the road. Mr Crawley was in the school,—as also was Jane Crawley. "So here you are," said Toogood. "That's fortunate. I hope I find you pretty well?"
"If I am not mistaken in the identity, my wife's relative, Mr Toogood?" said Mr Crawley, stepping down from his humble desk.
"Just so, my friend," said Toogood, with his hand extended, "just so; and there's another gentleman outside who wants to have a word with you also. Perhaps you won't mind stepping out. These are the young Hogglestockians; are they?"
The young Hogglestockians stared at him, and so did Jane. Jane, who had before heard of him, did not like him at first sight, seeing that her father was clearly displeased by the tone of the visitor's address. Mr Crawley was displeased. There was a familiarity about Mr Toogood which made him sore, as having been exhibited before his pupils. "If you will be pleased to step out, sir, I will follow you," he said, waving his hand towards the door. "Jane, my dear, if you will remain with the children I will return to you presently. Bobby Studge has failed in saying his Belief. You had better set him on again from the beginning. Now, Mr Toogood." And again he waved his hand towards the door.
"So that's my young cousin, is it?" said Toogood, stretching over and just managing to touch Jane's fingers,—of which act of touching Jane was very chary. Then he went forth, and Mr Crawley followed him. There was the major standing in the road, and Toogood was anxious to be the first to communicate the good news. It was the only reward he had proposed to himself for the money he had expended and the time he had lost and the trouble he had taken. "It's all right, old fellow," he said, clapping his hand on Mr Crawley's shoulder. "We've got the right sow by the ear at last. We know all about it." Mr Crawley could hardly remember the time when he had been called an old fellow last, and now he did not like it; nor, in the confusion of his mind, could he understand the allusion to the right sow. He supposed that Mr Toogood had come to him about his trial, but it did not occur to him that the lawyer might be bringing him news which might make the trial altogether unnecessary. "If my eyes are not mistaken, there is my friend, Major Grantly," said Mr Crawley.
"There he is, as large as life," said Toogood. "But stop a moment before you go to him, and give me your hand. I must have the first shake of it." Hereupon Crawley extended his hand. "That's right. And now let me tell you we know all about the cheque,—Soames's cheque. We know where you got it. We know who stole it. We know how it came to the person who gave it to you. It's all very well talking, but when you're in trouble always go to a lawyer."
By this time Mr Crawley was looking full into Mr Toogood's face, and seeing that his cousin's eyes were streaming with tears, began to get some insight into the man's character, and also some very dim insight into the facts which the man intended to communicate to himself. "I do not as yet fully understand you, sir," he said, "being perhaps in such matters somewhat dull of intellect, but it seemeth to me that you are the messenger of glad tidings, whose feet are beautiful upon the mountains."
"Beautiful!" said Toogood. "By George, I should think they are beautiful! Don't you hear me tell you that we have found out all about the cheque, and that you're as right as a trivet?" They were still on the little causeway leading from the school up to the road, and Henry Grantly was waiting for them at the small wicket-gate. "Mr Crawley," said the major, "I congratulate you with all my heart. I could not but accompany my friend, Mr Toogood, when he brought you this good news."
"I do not even yet altogether comprehend what has been told to me," said Crawley, now standing out on the road between the other two men. "I am doubtless dull,—very dull. May I beg some clearer word of explanation before I ask you to go with me to my wife?"
"The cheque was given to you by my aunt Eleanor."
"Your aunt Eleanor!" said Crawley, now altogether in the clouds. Who was the major's aunt Eleanor? Though he had, no doubt, at different times heard all the circumstances of the connexion, he had never realised the fact that his daughter's lover was the nephew of his old friend Arabin.
"Yes; by my aunt, Mrs Arabin."
"She put it into the envelope with the notes," said Toogood,—"slipped it in without saying a word to any one. I never heard of a woman doing such a mad thing in my life before. If she had died, or if we hadn't caught her, where should we all have been? Not but what I think I should have run Dan Stringer to ground too, and worked it out of him."
"Then, after all it was given to me by the dean?" said Crawley, drawing himself up.
"It was in the envelope, but the dean did not know it," said the major.
"Gentlemen," said Mr Crawley. "I was sure of it. I knew it. Weak as my mind may be,—and at times it is very weak,—I was certain that I could not have erred in such a matter. The more I struggled with my memory the more fixed with me became the fact,—which I had forgotten but for a moment,—that the document had formed a part of that small packet handed to me by the dean. But look you, sirs,—bear with me yet for a moment. I said that it was so, and the dean denied it."
"The dean did not know it, man," said Toogood, almost in a passion.
"Bear with me yet awhile. So far have I been from misdoubting the dean,—whom I have long known to be in all things a true and honest gentleman,—that I postponed the elaborated result of my own memory to his word. And I felt myself the more constrained to do this, because, in a moment of forgetfulness, in the wantonness of inconsiderate haste, with wicked thoughtlessness, I had allowed myself to make a false statement,—unwittingly false, indeed, nonetheless very false, unpardonably false. I had declared without thinking, that the money had come to me from the hands of Mr Soames, thereby seeming to cast a reflection upon that gentleman. When I had been guilty of so great a blunder, of so gross a violation of that ordinary care which should govern all words between man and man, especially when any question of money may be in doubt,—how could I expect that any one should accept my statement when contravened by that made by the dean? How, in such embarrassment, could I believe in my own memory? Gentlemen, I did not believe my own memory. Though all the little circumstances of that envelope, with its rich but perilous freightage, came back upon me from time to time with an exactness that has appeared to me to be almost marvellous, yet I have told myself that it was not so! Gentlemen, if you please, we will go into the house; my wife is there, and should no longer be left in suspense." They passed on in silence for a few steps, till Crawley spoke again. "Perhaps you will allow me the privilege to be alone with her for one minute,—but for a minute. Her thanks shall not be delayed, where thanks are so richly due."
"Of course," said Toogood, wiping his eyes with a large red bandana handkerchief. "By all means. We'll take a little walk. Come along, major." The major had turned his face away, and he also was weeping. "By George! I never heard such a thing in all my life," said Toogood. "I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it. I wouldn't indeed. If I were to tell that up in London, nobody would believe me."
"I call that man a hero," said Grantly.
"I don't know about being a hero. I never quite knew what makes a hero, if it isn't having three or four girls dying in love for you at once. But to find a man who was going to let everything in the world go against him, because he believed another fellow better than himself! There's many a chap thinks another man is wool-gathering; but this man has thought he was wool-gathering himself! It's not natural; and the world wouldn't go on if there many like that. He's beckoning us, and we had better go in."
Mr Toogood went first, and the major followed him. When they entered the front door they saw the skirt of a woman's dress flitting away through the door at the end of the passage, and on entering the room to the left they found Mr Crawley alone. "She has fled, as though from an enemy," he said, with a little attempt at a laugh; "but I will pursue her, and bring her back."
"No, Crawley, no," said the lawyer. "She's a little upset, and all that kind of thing. We know what women are. Let her alone."
"Nay, Mr Toogood; but then she would be angered with herself afterwards, and would lack the comfort of having spoken a word of gratitude. Pardon me, Major Grantly; but I would not have you leave us till she has seen you. It is as her cousin says. She is somewhat over-excited. But still it will be best that she should see you. Gentlemen, you will excuse me."
Then he went out to fetch his wife, and while he was away not a word was spoken. The major looked out of one window and Mr Toogood out of the other, and they waited patiently till they heard the coming steps of the husband and wife. When the door was opened, Mr Crawley appeared, leading his wife by the hand. "My dear," he said, "you know Major Grantly. This is your cousin, Mr Toogood. It is well that you know him too, and remember his great kindness to us." But Mrs Crawley could not speak. She could only sink on the sofa, and hide her face, while she strove in vain to repress her sobs. She had been very strong through all her husband's troubles,—very strong in bearing for him what he could not bear for himself, and in fighting on his behalf battles in which he was altogether unable to couch a lance; but the endurance of so many troubles, and the great overwhelming sorrow at last, had so nearly overpowered her, that she could not sustain the shock of this turn in their fortunes. "She was never like this, sirs, when ill news came to us," said Mr Crawley, standing somewhat apart from her.
The major sat himself by her side, and put his hand upon hers, and whispered some word to her about her daughter. Upon this she threw her arms around him, and kissed his face, and then his hands, and then looked up into his face through her tears. She murmured some few words, or attempted to do so. I doubt whether the major understood their meaning, but he knew very well what was in her heart.
"And now I think we might as well be moving," said Mr Toogood. "I'll see about having the indictment quashed. I'll arrange all that with Walker. It may be necessary that you should go into Barchester the first day the judges sit; and if so, I'll come and fetch you. You may be sure I won't leave the place till it's all square."
As they were going, Grantly,—speaking now altogether with indifference as to Toogood's presence,—asked Mr Crawley's leave to be the bearer of these tidings to his daughter.
"She can hear it in no tones that can be more grateful to her," said Mr Crawley.
"I shall ask her for nothing for myself now," said Grantly. "It would be ungenerous. But hereafter,—in a few days,—when she shall be more at ease, may I then use your permission—?"
"Major Grantly," said Mr Crawley solemnly. "I respect you so highly, and esteem you so thoroughly, that I give willingly that which you ask. If my daughter can bring herself to regard you, as a woman should regard her husband, with the love that can worship and cling and be constant, she will, I think, have a fair promise of worldly happiness. And for you, sir, in giving you my girl,—if so be it that she is given to you,—I shall bestow upon you a great treasure." Had Grace been a king's daughter, with a queen's dowry, the permission to address her could not have been imparted to her lover with a more thorough appreciation of the value of the privilege conferred.
"He is a rum 'un," said Mr Toogood, as they got into the carriage together; "but they say he's a very good 'un to go."
After their departure Jane was sent for, that she might hear the family news; and when she expressed some feeling not altogether in favour of Mr Toogood, Mr Crawley thus strove to correct her views. "He is a man, my dear, who conceals a warm heart, and an active spirit, and healthy sympathies, under an affected jocularity of manner, and almost with a touch of vulgarity. But when the jewel itself is good, any fault in the casket may be forgiven."
"Then, papa, the next time I see him I'll like him,—if I can," said Jane.
The village of Framley lies slightly off the road from Hogglestock to Barchester,—so much so as to add perhaps a mile to the journey if the traveller goes by the parsonage gate. On their route to Hogglestock our two travellers had passed Framley without visiting the village, but on the return journey the major asked Mr Toogood's permission to make the deviation. "I'm not in a hurry," said Toogood. "I never was more comfortable in my life. I'll just light a cigar while you go in and see your friends." Toogood lit his cigar, and the major, getting down from the carriage, entered the parsonage. It was his fortune to find Grace alone. Robarts was in Barchester, and Mrs Robarts was across the road, at Lufton Court. "Miss Crawley was certainly in," the servant told him, and he soon found himself in Miss Crawley's presence.
"I have only called to tell you the news about your father," said he.
"We have just come from Hogglestock,—your cousin Mr Toogood, that is, and myself. They have found out all about the cheque. My aunt, Mrs Arabin, the dean's wife, you know,—she gave it to your father."
"Oh, Major Grantly!"
"It seems so easily settled, does it not?"
"And is it settled?"
"Yes; everything. Everything about that." Now he had hold of her hand as if he were going. "Good-by. I told your father that I would just call and tell you."
"It seems almost more than I can believe."
"You may believe it; indeed you may." He still held her hand. "You will write to your mother I daresay to-night. Tell her I was here. Good-by now."
"Good-by," she said. Her hand was still in his, as she looked up into his face.
"Dear, dear, dearest Grace! My darling Grace!" Then he took her into his arms and kissed her, and went his way without another word, feeling that he had kept his word to her father like a gentleman. Grace, when she was left alone, thought that she was the happiest girl in Christendom. If she could only get to her mother, and tell everything, and be told everything! She had no idea of any promise that her lover might have made to her father, nor did she make inquiry of her own thoughts as to his reasons for staying with her so short a time; but looking back at it all she thought his conduct had been perfect.
In the meantime the major, with Mr Toogood, was driven home to dinner at Plumstead.
Madalina's Heart Is Bleeding
John Eames, as soon as he had left Mrs Arabin at the hotel and had taken his travelling-bag to his own lodgings, started off for his uncle Toogood's house. There he found Mrs Toogood, not in the most serene state of mind as to her husband's absence. Mr Toogood had now been at Barchester for the best part of a week,—spending a good deal of money at the inn. Mrs Toogood was quite sure that he must be doing that. Indeed, how could he help himself? Johnny remarked that he did not see how in such circumstances his uncle was to help himself. And then Mr Toogood had only written one short scrap of a letter,—just three words, and they were written in triumph. "Crawley is all right, and I think I've got the real Simon Pure by the heels." "It's all very well, John," Mrs Toogood said; "and of course it would be a terrible thing to the family if anybody connected with it were made out to be a thief." "It would be quite dreadful," said Johnny. "Not that I ever looked upon the Crawleys as connexions of ours. But, however, let that pass. I'm sure I'm very glad that your uncle should have been able to be of service to them. But there's reason in the roasting of eggs, and I can tell you that money is not so plenty in this house that your uncle can afford to throw it into the Barchester gutters. Think what twelve children are, John. It might be all very well if Toogood were a bachelor, and if some lord had left him a fortune." John Eames did not stay very long in Tavistock Square. His cousins Polly and Lucy were gone to the play with Mr Summerkin, and his aunt was not in one of her best humours. He took his uncle's part as well as he could, and then left Mrs Toogood. The little allusion to Lord De Guest's generosity had not been pleasant to him. It seemed to rob him of all his own merit. He had been rather proud of his journey to Italy, having contrived to spend nearly forty pounds in ten days. He had done everything in the most expensive way, feeling that every napoleon wasted had been laid out on behalf of Mr Crawley. But, as Mrs Toogood had just told him, all this was nothing to what Toogood was doing. Toogood with twelve children was living at his own charges at Barchester, and was neglecting his business besides. "There's Mr Crump," said Mrs Toogood. "Of course he doesn't like it, and what can I say to him when he comes to me?" This was not quite fair on the part of Mrs Toogood, as Mr Crump had not troubled her even once as yet since her husband's departure.
What was Johnny to do, when he left Tavistock Square? His club was open to him. Should he go to his club, play a game of billiards, and have some supper? When he asked himself the question he knew that he would not go to his club, and yet he pretended to doubt about it, as he made his way to a cabstand in Tottenham Court Road. It would be slow, he told himself, to go to his club. He would have gone to see Lily Dale, only that his intimacy with Mrs Thorne was not sufficient to justify his calling at her house between nine and ten o'clock at night. But, as he must go somewhere,—and as his intimacy with Lady Demolines was, he thought, sufficient to justify almost anything,—he would go to Bayswater. I regret to say that he had written a mysterious note from Paris to Madalina Demolines, saying that he should be in London on this very night, and that it was just on the cards that he might make his way up to Porchester Terrace before he went to bed. The note was mysterious, because it had neither beginning nor ending. It did not contain even initials. It was written like a telegraph message, and was about as long. It was the kind of thing Miss Demolines liked, Johnny thought; and there could be no reason why he should not gratify her. It was her favourite game. Some people like whist, some like croquet, and some like intrigue. Madalina probably would have called it romance,—because by nature she was romantic. John, who was made of sterner stuff, laughed at this. He knew that there was no romance in it. He knew that he was only amusing himself, and gratifying her at the same time, by a little innocent pretence. He told himself that it was his nature to prefer the society of women to that of men. He would have liked the society of Lily Dale, no doubt, much better than that of Miss Demolines; but as the society of Lily Dale was not to be had at that moment, the society of Miss Demolines was the best substitute within his reach. So he got into a cab and had himself driven to Porchester Terrace. "Is Lady Demolines at home?" he said to the servant. He always asked for Lady Demolines. But the page who was accustomed to open the door for him was less false, being young, and would now tell him, without any further fiction, that Miss Madalina was in the drawing-room. Such was the answer he got from the page on this evening. What Madalina did with her mother on these occasions he had never yet discovered. There used to be some little excuses given about Lady Demolines' state of health, but latterly Madalina had discontinued her references to her mother's headaches. She was standing in the centre of the drawing-room when he entered it, with both her hands raised, and an almost terrible expression of mystery in her face. Her hair, however, had been very carefully arranged so as to fall with copious carelessness down her shoulders, and altogether she was looking her best. "Oh, John," she said. She called him John by accident in the tumult of the moment. "Have you heard what has happened? But of course you have heard it."
"Heard what? I have heard nothing," said Johnny, arrested almost in the doorway by the nature of the question,—and partly also, no doubt, by the tumult of the moment. He had no idea how terrible a tragedy was in truth in store for him; but he perceived that the moment was to be tumultuous, and that he must carry himself accordingly.
"Come in and close the door," she said. He came in and closed the door. "Do you mean to say that you haven't heard what has happened in Hook Court?"
"No;—what has happened in Hook Court?" Miss Demolines threw herself back into an arm-chair, closed her eyes, and clasped both her hands upon her forehead. "What has happened in Hook Court?" said Johnny, walking up to her.
"I do not think I can bring myself to tell you," she answered.
Then he took one of her hands down from her forehead and held it in his,—which she allowed passively. She was thinking, no doubt, of something far different from that.
"I never saw you looking better in my life," said Johnny.
"Don't," said she. "How can you talk in that way, when my heart is bleeding,—bleeding." Then she pulled away her hand, and again clasped it with the other upon her forehead.
"But why is your heart bleeding? What has happened in Hook Court?" Still she answered nothing, but she sobbed violently and the heaving of her bosom showed how tumultuous was the tumult within it. "You don't mean to say that Dobbs Broughton has come to grief:—that he's to be sold out?"
"Man," said Madalina, jumping up from her chair, standing at her full height, and stretching out both her arms, "he has destroyed himself!" The revelation was at last made with so much tragic propriety, in so excellent a tone, and with such an absence of all the customary redundancies of commonplace relation, that I think that she must have rehearsed the scene,—either with her mother or with the page. Then there was a minute's silence, during which she did not move even an eyelid. She held her outstretched hands without dropping a finger half an inch. Her face was thrust forward, her chin projecting, with tragic horror; but there was no vacillation even in her chin. She did not wink an eye, or alter to the breadth of a hair the aperture of her lips. Surely she was a great genius if she did it all without previous rehearsal. Then, before he had thought of words in which to answer her, she let her hands fall to her side, she closed her eyes, and shook her head, and fell back again into her chair. "It is too horrible to be spoken of,—or to be thought about," she said. "I could not have brought myself to tell the tale to a living being,—except to you."
This would naturally have been flattering to Johnny had it not been that he was in truth absorbed by the story which he had heard.
"Do you mean to tell me," he said, "that Broughton has—committed suicide?" She could not speak of it again, but nodded her head at him thrice, while her eyes were still closed. "And how was the manner of it?" said he, asking the question in a low voice. He could not even as yet bring himself to believe it. Madalina was so fond of a little playful intrigue, that even this story might have something in it of the nature of fiction. He was not quite sure of the facts, and yet he was shocked by what he had heard.
"Would you have me repeat to you all the bloody details of that terrible scene?" she said. "It is impossible. Go to your friend Dalrymple. He will tell you. He knows it all. He has been with Maria all through. I wish,—I wish it had not been so." But nevertheless she did bring herself to narrate all the details with something more of circumstance than Eames desired. She soon succeeded in making him understand that the tragedy of Hook Court was a reality, and that poor Dobbs Broughton had brought his career to an untimely end. She had heard everything,—having indeed gone to Musselboro in the City, and having penetrated even to the sanctum of Mr Bangles. To Mr Bangles she had explained that she was the bosom-friend of the widow of the unfortunate man, and that it was her miserable duty to make herself the mistress of all the circumstances. Mr Bangles,—the reader may remember him, Burton and Bangles, who kept the stores for Himalaya wines at 22s 6d the dozen, in Hook Court,—was a bachelor, and rather liked the visit, and told Miss Demolines very freely all he had seen. And when she suggested that it might be expedient for the sake of the family that she should come back to Mr Bangles for further information at a subsequent period, he very politely assured her that she would "do him proud", whenever she might please to call in Hook Court. And then he saw her into Lombard Street, and put her into an omnibus. She was therefore well qualified to tell Johnny all the particulars of the tragedy,—and she did so far overcome her horror as to tell them all. She told her tale somewhat after the manner of AEneas, not forgetting the "quorum pars magna fui." "I feel that it almost makes an old woman of me," said she, when she had finished.
"No," said Johnny, remonstrating, "not that."
"But it does. To have been concerned in so terrible a tragedy takes more of life out of one than years of tranquil existence." As she had told him nothing of her intercourse with Bangles,—with Bangles who had literally picked the poor wretch up,—he did not see how she herself had been concerned in the matter; but he said nothing about that, knowing the character of his Madalina. "I shall see—that—body, floating before my eyes while I live," she said, "and the gory wound, and,—and—" "Don't," said Johnny, recoiling in truth from the picture by which he was revolted. "Never again," she said, "never again! But you forced it from me, and now I shall not close my eyes for a week."
She then became very comfortably confidential, and discussed the affairs of poor Mrs Dobbs Broughton with a great deal of satisfaction. "I went to see her, of course, but she sent me down word to say that the shock would be too much for her. I do not wonder that she should not see me. Poor Maria! She came to me for advice, you know, when Dobbs Broughton first proposed to her; and I was obliged to tell her what I really thought. I knew her character so well! 'Dear Maria,' I said, 'if you think that you can love him, take him!' 'I think I can,' she replied. 'But,' said I, 'make yourself quite sure about the business.' And how has it turned out? She never loved him. What heart she has she has given to the wretched Dalrymple."
"I don't see that he is particularly wretched," said Johnny, pleading for his friend.
"He is wretched, and so you'll find. She gave him her heart after giving her hand to poor Dobbs; and as for the business, there isn't as much left as will pay for her mourning. I don't wonder that she could not bring herself to see me."
"And what has become of the business?"
"It belongs to Mrs Van Siever,—to her and Musselboro. Poor Broughton had some little money, and it has gone among them. Musselboro, who never had a penny, will be a rich man. Of course you know that he is going to marry Clara?"