The Last Chronicle of Barset
by Anthony Trollope
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18 ... 20     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

"It hardly matters as far as we are concerned, whether they find him guilty or not," said the archdeacon; "if Henry marries that girl my heart will be broken."

But perhaps to no one except the Crawleys themselves had the matter caused so much terrible anxiety as to the archdeacon's son. He had told his father that he had made no offer of marriage to Grace Crawley, and he had told the truth. But there are perhaps few men who make such offers in direct terms without having already said and done that which make such offers simply necessary as the final closing of an accepted bargain. It was so at any rate between Major Grantly and Miss Crawley, and Major Grantly acknowledged to himself that it was so. He acknowledged also to himself that as regarded Grace herself he had no wish to go back from his implied intentions. Nothing that either his father or mother might say would shake him in that. But could it be his duty to bind himself to the family of a convicted thief? Could it be right that he should disgrace his father and his mother and his sister and his one child by such a connexion? He had a man's heart, and the poverty of the Crawleys caused him no solicitude. But he shrank from the contamination of a prison.


Grace Crawley

It has already been said that Grace Crawley was at this time living with the two Miss Prettymans, who kept a girls' school at Silverbridge. Two more benignant ladies than the Miss Prettymans never presided over such an establishment. The younger was fat, and fresh, and fair, and seemed to be always running over with the milk of human kindness. The other was very thin and very small, and somewhat afflicted with bad health;—was weak, too, in the eyes, and subject to racking headaches, so that it was considered generally that she was unable to take much active part in the education of the pupils. But it was considered as generally that she did all the thinking, that she knew more than any other woman in Barsetshire, and that all the Prettyman schemes for education emanated from her mind. It was said, too, by those who knew them best, that her sister's good-nature was as nothing to hers; that she was the most charitable, the most loving, and the most conscientious of schoolmistresses. This was Miss Annabella Prettyman, the elder; and perhaps it may be inferred that some portion of her great character for virtue may have been due to the fact that nobody ever saw her out of her own house. She could not even go to church, because the open air brought on neuralgia. She was therefore perhaps taken to be magnificent, partly because she was unknown. Miss Anne Prettyman, the younger, went about frequently to tea-parties,—would go, indeed, to any party to which she might be invited; and was known to have a pleasant taste for poundcake and sweetmeats. Being seen so much in the outer world, she became common, and her character did not stand so high as did that of her sister. Some people were ill-natured enough to say that she wanted to marry Mr Winthrop; but of what maiden lady that goes out into the world are not such stories told? And all such stories in Silverbridge were told with special reference to Mr Winthrop.

Miss Crawley, at present, lived with the Miss Prettymans, and assisted them in the school. This arrangement had been going on for the last twelve months, since the time in which Grace would have left the school in the natural course of things. There had been no bargain made, and no intention that Grace should stay. She had been invited to fill the place of an absent superintendent, first, for one month, then for another, and then for two more months; and when the assistant came back, the Miss Prettymans thought there were reasons why Grace should be asked to remain a little longer. But they took great care to let the fashionable world of Silverbridge know that Grace Crawley was a visitor with them, and not a teacher. "We pay her no salary, or anything of that kind," said Miss Anne Prettyman; a statement, however, which was by no means true, for during those four months the regular stipend had been paid to her; and twice since then, Miss Annabella Prettyman, who managed all the money matters, had called Grace into her little room, and had made a little speech, and had put a little bit of paper into her hand. "I know I ought not to take it," Grace had said to her friend Anne. "If I was not here, there would be no one in my place." "Nonsense, my dear," Anne Prettyman had said; "it is the greatest comfort to us in the world. And you should make yourself nice, you know, for his sake. All the gentlemen like it." Then Grace had been very angry, and had sworn that she would give the money back again. Nevertheless, I think she did make herself as nice as she knew how to do. And from all this it may be seen that the Miss Prettymans had hitherto quite approved of Major Grantly's attentions.

But when this terrible affair came on about the cheque which had been lost and found and traced to Mr Crawley's hands, Miss Anne Prettyman said nothing further to Grace Crawley about Major Grantly. It was not that she thought that Mr Crawley was guilty, but she knew enough of the world to be aware that suspicion of such guilt might compel such a man as Major Grantly to change his mind. "If he had only popped," Anne said to her sister, "it would have been all right. He would never have gone back from his word." "My dear," said Annabella, "I wish you would not talk about popping. It is a terrible word." "I shouldn't, to any one except you," said Anne.

There had come to Silverbridge some few months since, on a visit to Mrs Walker, a young lady from Allington, in the neighbouring county, between whom and Grace Crawley there had grown up from circumstances a warm friendship. Grace had a cousin in London,—a clerk high up and well-to-do in a public office, a nephew of her mother's,—and this cousin was, and for years had been, violently smitten in love for this young lady. But the young lady's tale had been sad, and though she acknowledged feelings of the most affectionate friendship for the cousin, she could not bring herself to acknowledge more. Grace Crawley had met the young lady at Silverbridge, and words had been spoken about the cousin; and though the young lady from Allington was some years older than Grace, there had grown up to be a friendship, and, as is not uncommon between young ladies, there had been an agreement that they would correspond. The name of the lady was Miss Lily Dale, and the name of the well-to-do cousin was Mr John Eames.

At the present moment Miss Dale was at home with her mother at Allington, and Grace Crawley in her terrible sorrow wrote to her friend, pouring out her whole heart. As Grace's letter and Miss Dale's answer will assist us in our story, I will venture to give them both.

SILVERBRIDGE, — December, 186—


I hardly know how to tell you what has happened, it is so very terrible. But perhaps you will have heard it already, as everybody is talking of it here. It has got into the newspapers, and therefore it cannot be kept secret. Not that I should keep anything from you; only this is so very dreadful that I hardly know how to write it. Somebody says,—a Mr Soames, I believe it is,—that papa has taken some money that does not belong to him, and he is to be brought before the magistrates and tried. Of course papa has done nothing wrong. I do think he would be the last man in the world to take a penny that did not belong to him. You know how poor he is; what a life he has had! But I think he would almost sooner see mamma starving;—I am sure he would rather be starved himself, then even borrow a shilling which he could not pay. To suppose that he would take money [she had tried to write the word "steal" but she could not bring her pen to form the letters] is monstrous. But, somehow, the circumstances have been made to look bad against him, and they say that he must come over here to the magistrates. I often think that of all men in the world papa is the most unfortunate. Everything seems to go against him, and yet he is so good! Poor mamma has been over here, and she is distracted. I never saw her so wretched before. She had been to your friend Mr Walker, and came to me afterwards for a minute. Mr Walker has got something to do with it, though mamma says she thinks he is quite friendly to papa. I wonder whether you could find out, through Mr Walker, what he thinks about it. Of course, mamma knows that papa has done nothing wrong; but she says that the whole thing is most mysterious, and that she does not know how to account for the money. Papa, you know, is not like other people. He forgets things; and is always thinking, thinking, thinking of his great misfortunes. Poor papa! My heart bleeds so when I remember all his sorrows, that I hate myself for thinking about myself.

When mamma left me,—and it was then I first knew that papa would really have to be tried,—I went to Miss Annabella, and told her that I would go home. She asked me why, and I said I would not disgrace her house by staying in it. She got up and took me in her arms, and there came a tear out of both her dear old eyes, and she said that if anything evil came to papa,—which she would not believe, as she knew him to be a good man,—there should be a home in her house not only for me, but for mamma and Jane. Isn't she a wonderful woman? When I think of her, I sometimes think that she must be an angel already. Then she became very serious,—for just before, through her tears, she had tried to smile,—and she told me to remember that all people could not be like her, who had nobody to look to but herself and her sister; and that at present I must task myself not to think of that which I had been thinking of before. She did not mention anybody's name, but of course I understood very well what she meant; and I suppose she is right. I said nothing in answer to her, for I could not speak. She was holding my hand, and I took hers up and kissed it, to show her, if I could, that I knew that she was right; but I could not have spoken about it for all the world. It was not ten days since that she herself, with all her prudence, told me that she thought I ought to make up my mind what answer I would give him. And then I did not say anything; but of course she knew. And after that Miss Anne spoke quite freely about it, so that I had to beg her to be silent even before the girls. You know how imprudent she is. But it is all over now. Of course Miss Annabella is right. He has got a great many people to think of; his father and mother, and his darling little Edith, whom he brought here twice, and left her with us once for two days, so that she got to know me quite well; and I took such a love for her, that I could not bear to part with her. But I think sometimes that all our family are born to be unfortunate, and then I tell myself that I will never hope for anything again.

Pray write to me soon. I feel as though nothing on earth could comfort me, and yet I shall like to have your letter. Dear, dear Lily, I am not even yet so wretched but what I shall rejoice to be told good news of you. If it only could be as John wishes it! And why should it not? It seems to me that nobody has a right or a reason to by unhappy except us. Good-by, dearest Lily,

Your affectionate friend,


P.S.—I think I have made up my mind that I will go back to Hogglestock at once if the magistrates decide against papa. I think I should be doing the school harm if I were to stay here.

The answer to this letter did not reach Miss Crawley till after the magistrates' meeting on the Thursday, but it will be better for our story that it should be given here than postponed until the result of that meeting shall have been told. Miss Dale's answer was as follows:—

ALLINGTON, — December, 186—


Your letter has made me very unhappy. If it can at all comfort you to know that mamma and I sympathise with you altogether, in that you may at any rate be sure. But in such troubles nothing will give comfort. They must be borne, till the fire of misfortune burns itself out.

I had heard about the affair a day or two before I got your note. Our clergyman, Mr Boyce, told us of it. Of course we all know that the charge must be altogether unfounded, and mamma says that the truth will be sure to show itself at last. But that conviction does not cure the evil, and I can well understand that your father should suffer grievously; and I pity your mother quite as much as I do him.

As for Major Grantly, if he be such a man as I took him to be from the little I saw of him, all this would make no difference to him. I am sure that it ought to make none. Whether it should not make a difference in you is another question. I think it should; and I think your answer to him should be that you could not even consider any such proposition while your father was in so great trouble. I am so much older than you, and seem to have had so much experience, that I do not scruple, as you will see, to come down upon you with all the weight of my wisdom.

About that other subject I had rather say nothing. I have known your cousin all my life, almost; and I regard no one more kindly than I do him. When I think of my friends, he is always one of the dearest. But when one thinks of going beyond friendship, even if one tries to do so, there are so many barriers!

Your affectionate friend,


Mamma bids me say that she would be delighted to have you here whenever it might suit you to come; and I add to this message my entreaty that you will come at once. You say that you think you ought to leave Miss Prettyman's for a while. I can well understand your feeling; but as your sister is with your mother, surely you had better come to us,—I mean quite at once. I will not scruple to tell you what mamma says, because I know your good sense. She says that as the interest of the school may possibly be concerned, and as you have no regular engagement, she thinks you ought to leave Silverbridge; but she says that it will be better that you come to us than that you should go home. If you went home, people might say that you had left in some sort of disgrace. Come to us, and when all this has been put right, then you go back to Silverbridge; and then, if a certain person speaks again, you can make a different answer. Mamma quite understands that you are to come; so you have only got to ask your own mamma, and come at once.

This letter, as the reader will understand, did not reach Grace Crawley till after the all-important Thursday; but before that day had come round, Grace had told Miss Prettyman,—had told both the Miss Prettymans,—that she was resolved to leave them. She had done this without even consulting her mother, driven to it by various motives. She knew that her father's conduct was being discussed by the girls in the school, and that things were said of him which it could not but be for the disadvantage of Miss Prettyman that any one should say of a teacher in her establishment. She felt, too, that she could not hold up her head in Silverbridge in these days, as it would become her to do if she retained her position. She did struggle gallantly, and succeeded much more nearly than she was herself aware. She was all but able to carry herself as though no terrible accusation was being made against her father. Of the struggle, however, she was not herself the less conscious, and she told herself that on that account also she must go. And then she must go also because of Major Grantly. Whether he was minded to come and speak to her that one other needed word, or whether he was not so minded, it would be better that she should be away from Silverbridge. If he spoke it she could only answer him by a negative; and if he were minded not to speak it, would it not be better that she should leave herself the power of thinking that his silence had been caused by her absence, and not by his coldness or indifference?

She asked, therefore, for an interview with Miss Prettyman, and was shown into the elder sister's room, at eleven o'clock on the Tuesday morning. The elder Miss Prettyman never came into the school herself till twelve, but was in the habit of having interviews with the young ladies,—which were sometimes very awful in their nature,—for the two previous hours. During these interviews an immense amount of business was done, and the fortunes in life of some girls were said to have been there made or marred; as when, for instance, Miss Crimpton had been advised to stay at home with her uncle in England, instead of going out with her sisters to India, both of which sisters were married within three months of their landing in Bombay. The way in which she gave her counsel on such occasions was very efficacious. No one knew better than Miss Prettyman that a cock can crow most effectively in his own farmyard, and therefore all crowing intended to be effective was done by her within the shrine of her own peculiar room.

"Well, my dear, what is it?" she said to Grace. "Sit in the arm-chair, my dear, and we can then talk comfortably." The teachers, when they were closeted with Miss Prettyman, were always asked to sit in the arm-chair, whereas a small, straight-backed, uneasy chair was kept for the young ladies. And there was, too, a stool of repentance, out against the wall, very uncomfortable indeed for young ladies who had not behaved themselves so prettily as young ladies generally do.

Grace seated herself, and then began her speech very quickly. "Miss Prettyman," she said, "I have made up my mind that I will go home, if you please."

"And why should you go home, Grace? Did I not tell you that you should have a home here?" Miss Prettyman had weak eyes, and was very small, and had never possessed any claim to be called good-looking. And she assumed nothing of the majestical awe from any adornment or studied amplification of the outward woman by means of impressive trappings. The possessor of an unobservant eye might have called her a mean-looking, little old woman. And certainly there would have been nothing awful in her to any one who came across her otherwise than as a lady having authority in her own school. But within her own precincts, she did know how to surround herself with a dignity which all felt who approached her there. Grace Crawley, as she heard the simple question which Miss Prettyman had asked, unconsciously acknowledged the strength of the woman's manner. She already stood rebuked for having proposed a plan so ungracious, so unnecessary, and so unwise.

"I think I ought to be with mamma at present," said Grace.

"You mother has your sister with her."

"Yes, Miss Prettyman; Jane is there."

"If there is no other reason, I cannot think that that can be held to be a reason now. Of course your mother would like to have you always; unless you should be married,—but then there are reasons why this should not be so."

"Of course there are."

"I do not think,—that is, if I know all that there is to be known,—I do not think, I say, that there can be any good ground for your leaving us now,—just now."

Then Grace sat silent for a moment, gathering her courage, and collecting her words; and after that she spoke. "It is because of papa, and because of this charge—"

"But, Grace—"

"I know what you are going to say, Miss Prettyman;—that is, I think I know."

"If you will hear me, you may be sure that you know."

"But I want you to hear me for one moment first. I beg your pardon, Miss Prettyman; I do indeed, but I want to say this before you go on. I must go home, and I know I ought. We are all disgraced, and I won't stop here to disgrace the school. I know papa has done nothing wrong; but nevertheless we are disgraced. The police are to bring him in here on Thursday, and everybody in Silverbridge will know it. It cannot be right that I should be here teaching in the school, while it is all going on;—and I won't. And, Miss Prettyman, I couldn't do it,—indeed I couldn't. I can't bring myself to think of anything I am doing. Indeed I can't; and then, Miss Prettyman, there are other reasons." By the time that she had proceeded thus far, Grace Crawley's words were nearly choked by her tears.

"And what are the other reasons, Grace?"

"I don't know," said Grace, struggling to speak through her tears.

"But I know," said Miss Prettyman. "I know them all. I know all your reasons, and I tell you that in my opinion you ought to remain where you are, and not go away. The very reasons which to you are reasons for your going, to me are reasons for your remaining here."

"I can't remain. I am determined to go. I don't mind you and Miss Anne, but I can't bear to have the girls looking at me,—and the servants."

Then Miss Prettyman paused awhile, thinking what words of wisdom would be most appropriate in the present conjuncture. But words of wisdom did not seem to come easily to her, having for the moment been banished by tenderness of heart. "Come here, my love," she said at last. "Come here, Grace." Slowly Grace got up from her seat and came round, and stood by Miss Prettyman's elbow. Miss Prettyman pushed her chair a little back, and pushed herself a little forward, and stretching out one hand, placed her arm round Grace's waist, and with the other took hold of Grace's hand, and thus drew her down and kissed the girl's forehead and lips. And then Grace found herself kneeling at her friend's feet. "Grace," she said, "do you not know that I love you? Do you not know that I love you dearly?" In answer to this Grace kissed the withered hand she held in hers, while the warm tears trickled upon Miss Prettyman's knuckles. "I love you as though you were my own," exclaimed the schoolmistress; "and will you not trust me, that I know what is best for you?"

"I must go home," said Grace.

"Of course you shall, if you think it right at last; but let us talk of it. No one in the house, you know, has the slightest suspicion that your father has done anything that is in the least dishonourable."

"I know that you have not."

"No, nor has Anne." Miss Prettyman said this as though no one in that house beyond herself and her sister had a right to have any opinion on any subject.

"I know that," said Grace.

"Well, my dear. If we think so—"

"But the servants, Miss Prettyman?"

"If any servant in this house says a word to offend you, I'll—I'll—"

"They don't say anything, Miss Prettyman, but they look. Indeed, I'd better go home. Indeed I had!"

"Do not you think your mother has cares enough upon her, and burden enough, without another mouth to feed, and another head to shelter? You haven't thought of that, Grace!"

"Yes, I have."

"And as for the work, whilst you are not quite well you shall not be troubled with teaching. I have some old papers that want copying and settling, and you shall sit here and do that just for an employment. Anne knows that I've long wanted to have it done, and I'll tell her that you've kindly promised to do it for me."

"No; no; no," said Grace; "I must go home." She was still kneeling at Miss Prettyman's knee, and still holding Miss Prettyman's hand. And then, at that moment, there came a tap on the door, gentle but yet not humble, a tap which acknowledged, on the part of the tapper, the supremacy in that room of the lady who was sitting there, but which still claimed admittance almost as a right. The tap was well known by both of them to be the tap of Miss Anne. Grace immediately jumped up, and Miss Prettyman settled herself in her chair with a motion which almost seemed to indicate some feeling of shame as to her late position.

"I suppose I may come in?" said Miss Anne, opening the door and inserting her head.

"Yes, you may come in,—if you have anything to say," said Miss Prettyman, with an air which seemed to be intended to assert her supremacy. But, in truth, she was simply collecting the wisdom and dignity which had been somewhat dissipated by her tenderness.

"I did not know that Grace Crawley was here," said Miss Anne.

"Grace Crawley is here," said Miss Prettyman.

"What is the matter, Grace?" said Miss Anne, seeing the tears.

"Never mind now," said Miss Prettyman.

"Poor dear, I'm sure I'm sorry as though she were my own sister," said Anne. "But, Annabella, I want to speak to you especially."

"To me, in private?"

"Yes, to you; in private, if Grace won't mind?"

Then Grace prepared to go. But as she was going, Miss Anne, upon whose brow a heavy burden of thought was lying, stopped her suddenly. "Grace, my dear," she said, "go upstairs into your room, will you?—not across the hall to the school."

"And why shouldn't she go to the school?" said Miss Prettyman.

Miss Anne paused for a moment, and then answered,—unwillingly, as though driven to make a reply which she knew to be indiscreet. "Because there is somebody in the hall."

"Go to your room, dear," said Miss Prettyman. And Grace went to her room, never turning an eye down towards the hall. "Who is it?" said Miss Prettyman.

"Major Grantly is here, asking to see you," said Miss Anne.


Miss Prettyman's Private Room

Major Grantly, when threatened by his father with pecuniary punishment, should he demean himself by such a marriage as that he had proposed to himself, had declared that he would offer his hand to Miss Crawley on the next morning. This, however, he had not done. He had not done it, partly because he did not quite believe his father's threat, and partly because he felt that that threat was almost justified,—for the present moment,—by the circumstances in which Grace Crawley's father had placed himself. Henry Grantly acknowledged, as he drove himself home on the morning after his dinner at the rectory, that in this matter of his marriage he did owe much to his family. Should he marry at all, he owed it to them to marry a lady. And Grace Crawley,—so he told himself,—was a lady. And he owed it to them to bring among them as his wife a woman who should not disgrace him or them by her education, manners, or even by her personal appearance. In all these respects Grace Crawley was, in his judgment, quite as good as they had a right to expect her to be, and in some respects a great deal superior to that type of womanhood with which they had been most generally conversant. "If everybody had her due, my sister isn't fit to hold a candle to her," he said to himself. It must be acknowledged, therefore, that he was really in love with Grace Crawley; and he declared to himself, over and over again, that his family had no right to demand that he should marry a woman with money. The archdeacon's son by no means despised money. How could he, having come forth as a bird fledged from such a nest as the rectory at Plumstead Episcopi? Before he had been brought by his better nature and true judgment to see that Grace Crawley was the greater woman of the two, he had nearly submitted himself to the twenty thousand pounds of Miss Emily Dunstable,—to that, and her good-humour and rosy freshness combined. But he regarded himself as the well-to-do son of a very rich father. His only child was amply provided for; and he felt that, as regarded money, he had a right to do as he pleased. He felt this with double strength after his father's threat.

But he had no right to make a marriage by which his family would be disgraced. Whether he was right or wrong in supposing that he would disgrace his family were he to marry the daughter of a convicted thief, it is hardly necessary to discuss here. He told himself that it would be so,—telling himself also that, by the stern laws of the world, the son and the daughter must pay for the offence of the father and the mother. Even among the poor, who would willingly marry the child of a man who had been hanged? But he carried the argument beyond this, thinking much of the matter, and endeavouring to think of it not only justly, but generously. If the accusation against Crawley were false,—if the man were being injured by an unjust charge,—even if he, Grantly, could make himself think that the girl's father had not stolen the money, then he would dare everything and go on. I do not know that his argument was good, or that his mind was logical in the matter. He ought to have felt that his own judgment as to the man's guilt was less likely to be correct than that of those whose duty it was and would be to form and to express a judgment on the matter; and as to Grace herself, she was equally innocent whether her father were guilty or not guilty. If he were to be debarred from asking her for her hand by his feelings for her father and mother, he should hardly have trusted to his own skill in ascertaining the real truth as to the alleged theft. But he was not logical, and thus, meaning to be generous, he became unjust.

He found that among those in Silverbridge whom he presumed to be best informed on such matters, there was a growing opinion that Mr Crawley had stolen the money. He was intimate with all the Walkers, and was able to find out that Mrs Walker knew that her husband believed in the clergyman's guilt. He was by no means alone in his willingness to accept Mr Walker's opinion as the true opinion. Silverbridge, generally, was endeavouring to dress itself in Mr Walker's glass, and to believe as Mr Walker believed. The ladies of Silverbridge, including the Miss Prettymans, were aware that Mr Walker had been very kind both to Mr and Mrs Crawley, and argued from this that Mr Walker must think the man to be innocent. But Henry Grantly, who did not dare to ask a direct question of the solicitor, went cunningly to work, and closeted himself with Mrs Walker,—with Mrs Walker, who knew well of the good fortune which was hovering over Grace's head and was so nearly settling itself upon her shoulders. She would have given a finger to be able to whitewash Mr Crawley in the major's estimation. Nor must it be supposed that she told the major in plain words that her husband had convinced himself of the man's guilt. In plain words no question was asked between them, and in plain words no opinion was expressed. But there was the look of sorrow in the woman's eye, there was the absence of reference to her husband's assurance that the man was innocent, there was the air of settled grief which told of her own conviction; and the major left her, convinced that Mrs Walker believed Mr Crawley to be guilty.

Then he went to Barchester; not open-mouthed with inquiry, but rather with open ears, and it seemed to him that all men in Barchester were of one mind. There was a county-club in Barchester, and at this county-club nine men out of ten were talking about Mr Crawley. It was by no means necessary that a man should ask questions on the subject. Opinion was expressed so freely that no such asking was required; and opinion in Barchester,—at any rate in the county-club,—seemed now to be all of one mind. There had been every disposition at first to believe Mr Crawley to be innocent. He had been believed to be innocent, even after he had said wrongly that the cheque had been paid to him by Mr Soames; but he had since stated that he had received it from Dean Arabin, and that statement was also shown to be false. A man who has a cheque changed on his own behalf is bound at least to show where he got the cheque. Mr Crawley had not only failed to do this, but had given two false excuses. Henry Grantly, as he drove home to Silverbridge on the Sunday afternoon, summed up all the evidence in his own mind, and brought in a verdict of Guilty against the father of the girl whom he loved.

On the following morning he walked into Silverbridge and called at Miss Prettyman's house. As he went along his heart was warmer towards Grace than it had ever been before. He had told himself that he was now bound to abstain, for his father's sake, from doing that which he had told his father that he would certainly do. But he knew also, that he had said that which, though it did not bind him to Miss Crawley, gave her a right to expect that he would so bind himself. And Miss Prettyman could not but be aware of what his intention had been, and could not but expect that he should now be explicit. Had he been a wise man altogether, he would probably have abstained from saying anything at the present moment,—a wise man, that is, in the ways and feelings of the world in such matters. But, as there are men who will allow themselves all imaginable latitude in their treatment of women, believing that the world will condone any amount of fault of that nature, so are there other men, and a class of men which on the whole is the more numerous of the two, who are tremblingly alive to the danger of censure on this head,—and to the danger of censure not only from others, but from themselves also. Major Grantly had done that which made him think it imperative upon him to do something further, and to do that something at once.

Therefore he started off on the Monday morning after breakfast and walked to Silverbridge, and as he walked he built various castles in the air. Why should he not marry Grace,—if she would have him,—and take her away beyond the reach of her father's calamity? Why should he not throw over his own people altogether, money, position, society, and all, and give himself up to love? Were he to do so, men might say that he was foolish, but no one could hint that he was dishonourable. His spirit was high enough to teach him to think that such conduct on his part would have in it something of magnificence; but, yet, such was not his purpose. In going to Miss Prettyman it was his intention to apologise for not doing this magnificent thing. His mind was quite made up. Nevertheless he built castles in the air.

It so happened that he encountered the younger Miss Prettyman in the hall. It would not at all have suited him to reveal to her the purport of his visit, or ask her either to assist his suit or to receive his apologies. Miss Anne Prettyman was too common a personage in the Silverbridge world to be fit for such employment. Miss Anne Prettyman was, indeed, herself submissive to him, and treated him with the courtesy which is due to a superior being. He therefore simply asked her whether he could be allowed to see her sister.

"Surely, Major Grantly;—that is, I think so. It is a little early, but I think she can receive you."

"It is early, I know; but as I want to say a word or two on business—"

"Oh, on business. I am sure she will see you on business; she will only be too proud. If you will be kind enough to step in here for two minutes." Then Miss Anne, having deposited the major in the little parlour, ran upstairs with her message to her sister. "Of course it's about Grace Crawley" she said to herself as she went. "It can't be about anything else. I wonder what it is he's going to say. If he's going to pop, and the father in all this trouble, he's the finest fellow that ever trod." Such were her thoughts as she tapped at the door and announced in the presence of Grace that there was somebody in the hall.

"It's Major Grantly," whispered Anne, as soon as Grace had shut the door behind her.

"So I supposed by your telling her not to go into the hall. What has he come to say?"

"How on earth can I tell you that, Annabella? But I suppose he can have only one thing to say after all that has come and gone. He can only have come with one object."

"He wouldn't have come to me for that. He would have asked to see herself."

"But she never goes out now, and he can't see her."

"Or he would have gone to them over at Hogglestock," said Miss Prettyman. "But of course he must come up now he is here. Would you mind telling him? or shall I ring the bell?"

"I'll tell him. We need not make more fuss than necessary, with the servants, you know. I suppose I'd better not come back with him?"

There was a tone of supplication in the younger sister's voice as she made the last suggestion, which ought to have melted the heart of the elder; but it was unavailing. "As he has asked to see me, I think you had better not," said Annabella. Miss Anne Prettyman bore her cross meekly, offered no argument on the subject, and returning to the little parlour where she had left the major, brought him upstairs and ushered him into her sister's room without even entering it again, herself.

Major Grantly was as intimately acquainted with Miss Anne Prettyman as a man under thirty may well be with a lady nearer fifty than forty, who is not specially connected with him by any family tie; but of Miss Prettyman he knew personally very much less. Miss Prettyman, as has before been said, did not go out, and was therefore not common to the eyes of the Silverbridgians. She did occasionally see her friends in her own house, and Grace Crawley's lover, as the major had come to be called, had been there on more than one occasion; but of real personal intimacy between them there had hitherto existed none. He might have spoken, perhaps, a dozen words to her in his life. He had now more than a dozen to speak to her, but he hardly knew how to commence them.

She had got up and curtseyed, and had then taken his hand and asked him to sit down. "My sister tells me that you want to see me," she said in her softest, mildest voice.

"I do, Miss Prettyman. I want to speak to you about a matter that troubles me very much,—very much indeed."

"Anything that I can do, Major Grantly—"

"Thank you, yes. I know that you are very good, or I should not have ventured to come to you. Indeed I shouldn't trouble you now, of course, if it was only about myself. I know very well what a great friend you are to Miss Crawley."

"Yes, I am. We love Grace dearly here."

"So do I," said the major bluntly; "I love her dearly, too." Then he paused, as though he thought that Miss Prettyman ought to take up the speech. But Miss Prettyman seemed to think quite differently, and he was obliged to go on. "I don't know whether you have ever heard about it, or noticed it, or—or—or—" He felt that he was very awkward, and he blushed. Major as he was, he blushed as he sat before the old woman, trying to tell his story, but not knowing how to tell it. "The truth is, Miss Prettyman, I have done all but ask her to be my wife, and now has come this terrible affair about her father."

"It is a terrible affair, Major Grantly; very terrible."

"By Jove, you may say that!"

"Of course Mr Crawley is as innocent in the matter as you or I are."

"You think so, Miss Prettyman?"

"Think so! I feel sure of it. What; a clergyman of the Church of England, a pious, hard-working country clergyman, whom we have known among us by his good works for years, suddenly turn thief, and pilfer a few pounds! It is not possible, Major Grantly. And the father of such a daughter, too! It is not possible. It may do for men of business to think so, lawyers and such like, who are obliged to think in accordance with the evidence, as they call it; but to my mind the idea is monstrous. I don't know how he got it, and I don't care; but I'm quite sure he did not steal it. Whoever heard of anybody becoming so base as that all at once?"

The major was startled by her eloquence, and by the indignant tone of voice in which it was expressed. It seemed to tell him that she would give him no sympathy in that which he had come to say to her, and to upbraid him already in that he was not prepared to do the magnificent thing of which he had thought when he had been building his castles in the air. Why should he not do the magnificent thing? Miss Prettyman's eloquence was so strong that it half convinced him that the Barchester Club and Mr Walker had come to a wrong conclusion after all.

"And how does Miss Crawley bear it?" he asked, desirous of postponing for a while any declaration of his own purpose.

"She is very unhappy, of course. Not that she thinks evil of her father."

"Of course she does not think him guilty."

"Nobody thinks him so in this house, Major Grantly," said the little woman, very imperiously. "But Grace is, naturally enough, very sad;—very sad indeed. I do not think I can ask you to see her to-day."

"I was not thinking of it," said the major.

"Poor, dear child! it is a great trial for her. Do you wish me to give her any message, Major Grantly?"

The moment had now come in which he must say that which he had come to say. The little woman waited for an answer, and as he was there, within her power as it were, he must speak. I fear that what he said will not be approved by any strong-minded reader. I fear that our lover will henceforth be considered by such a one as being a weak, wishy-washy man, who had hardly any mind of his own to speak of;—that he was a man of no account, as the poor people say. "Miss Prettyman, what message ought I to send to her?" he said.

"Nay, Major Grantly, how can I tell you that? How can I put words into your mouth?"

"It isn't the words," he said; "but the feelings."

"And how can I tell the feelings of your heart?"

"Oh, as for that, I know what my feelings are. I do love her with all my heart;—I do, indeed. A fortnight ago I was only thinking whether she would accept me when I asked her,—wondering whether I was too old for her, and whether she would mind having Edith to take care of."

"She is very fond of Edith,—very fond indeed."

"Is she?" said the major, more distracted than ever. Why should he not do the magnificent thing after all? "But it is a great charge for a young girl when she marries."

"It is a great charge;—a very great charge. It is for you to think whether you should entrust so great a charge to one so young."

"I have no fear about that at all."

"Nor should I have any,—as you ask me. We have known Grace well, thoroughly, and are quite sure that she will do her duty in that state of life to which it may please God to call her."

The major was aware when this was said to him that he had not come to Miss Prettyman for a character of the girl he loved; and yet he was not angry at receiving it. He was neither angry, nor even indifferent. He accepted the character almost gratefully, though he felt that he was being led away from his purpose. He consoled himself for this, however, by remembering that the path by which Miss Prettyman was now leading him, led to the magnificent, and to those pleasant castles in the air which he had been building as he walked into Silverbridge. "I am quite sure that she is all that you say," he replied. "Indeed I had made up my mind about that long ago."

"And what can I do for you, Major Grantly?"

"You think I ought not to see her?"

"I will ask herself, if you please. I have such trust in her judgment that I should leave her altogether to her own discretion."

The magnificent thing must be done, and the major made up his mind accordingly. Something of regret came over his spirit as he thought of a father-in-law disgraced and degraded, and of his own father broken-hearted. But now there was hardly an alternative left to him. And was it not the manly thing for him to do? He had loved the girl before this trouble had come upon her, and was he not bound to accept the burden which his love had brought with it? "I will see her," he said, "at once, if you will let me, and ask her to be my wife. But I must see her alone."

Then Miss Prettyman paused. Hitherto she had undoubtedly been playing her fish cautiously, or rather her young friend's fish,—perhaps I may say cunningly. She had descended to artifice on behalf of the girl whom she loved, admired, and pitied. She had seen some way into the man's mind, and had been partly aware of his purpose,—of his infirmity of purpose, of his double purpose. She had perceived that a word from her might help Grace's chance, and had led the man on till he had committed himself, at any rate to her. In doing this she had been actuated by friendship rather than by abstract principle. But now, when the moment had come in which she must decide upon some action, she paused. Was it right, for the sake of either of them, that an offer of marriage should be made at such a moment as this? It might be very well, in regard to some future time, that the major should have so committed himself. She saw something of the man's spirit, and believed that, having gone so far,—having so far told his love, he would return to his love hereafter, let the result of the Crawley trial be what it might. But,—but, this could be no proper time for love-making. Though Grace loved the man, as Miss Prettyman knew well,—though Grace loved the child, having allowed herself to long to call it her own, though such a marriage would be the making of Grace's fortune as those who loved her could hardly have hoped that it should ever have been made, she would certainly refuse the man, if he were to propose to her now. She would refuse him, and then the man would be free;—free to change his mind if he thought fit. Considering all these things, craftily in the exercise of her friendship, too cunningly, I fear, to satisfy the claims of a high morality, she resolved that the major had better not see Miss Crawley at the present moment. Miss Prettyman paused before she replied, and, when she did speak, Major Grantly had risen from his chair and was standing with his back to the fire. "Major Grantly," she said, "you shall see her if you please, and if she pleases; but I doubt whether her answer at such a moment as this would be that which you would wish to receive."

"You think she would refuse me?"

"I do not think that she would accept you now. She would feel,—I am sure she would feel, that these hours of her father's sorrow are not hours in which love should be either offered or accepted. You shall, however, see her if you please."

The major allowed himself a moment for thought; and as he thought he sighed. Grace Crawley became more beautiful in his eyes than ever, was endowed by these words from Miss Prettyman with new charms and brighter virtues than he had seen before. Let come what might he would ask her to be his wife on some future day, if he did not so ask her now. For the present, perhaps, he had better be guided by Miss Prettyman. "Then I will not see her," he said.

"I think that would be the wiser course."

"Of course you knew before this that I—loved her?"

"I thought so, Major Grantly."

"And that I intended to ask her to be my wife?"

"Well; since you put the question to me so plainly, I must confess that as Grace's friend I should not quite have let things go on as they have gone,—though I am not at all disposed to interfere with any girl whom I believe to be pure and good as I know her to be,—but still I should hardly have been justified in letting things go on as they have gone, if I had not believed that such was your purpose."

"I wanted to set myself right with you, Miss Prettyman."

"You are right with me,—quite right;" and she got up and gave him her hand. "You are a fine, noble-hearted gentleman, and I hope that our Grace may live to be your happy wife, and the mother of your darling child, and the mother of other children. I do not see how a woman could have a happier lot in life."

"And will you give Grace my love?"

"I will tell her at any rate that you have been here, and that you have inquired after her with the greatest kindness. She will understand what that means without any word of love."

"Can I do anything for her,—or her father; I mean in the way of—money? I don't mind mentioning it to you, Miss Prettyman."

"I will tell her that you are ready to do it, if anything can be done. For myself I feel no doubt that the mystery will be cleared up at last; and then, if you will come here, we shall be so glad to see you.—I shall, at least."

Then the major went, and Miss Prettyman herself actually descended with him into the hall, and bade him farewell most affectionately before her sister and two of the maids who came out to open the door. Miss Anne Prettyman, when she saw the great friendship with which the major was dismissed, could not contain herself, but asked most impudent questions, in a whisper indeed, but in such a whisper that any sharp-eared maid-servant could hear and understand them. "Is it settled," she asked when her sister had ascended only the first flight of stairs;—"has he popped?" The look with which the elder sister punished and dismayed the younger, I would not have borne for twenty pounds. She simply looked, and said nothing, but passed on. When she had regained her room she rang the bell, and desired the servant to ask Miss Crawley to be good enough to step to her. Poor Miss Anne retired discomforted into the solitude of one of the lower rooms, and sat for some minutes all alone, recovering from the shock of her sister's anger. "At any rate, he hasn't popped," she said to herself, as she made her way back to the school.

After that Miss Prettyman and Miss Crawley were closeted together for about an hour. What passed between them need not be repeated here word for word; but it may be understood that Miss Prettyman said no more than she ought to have said, and that Grace understood all that she ought to have understood.

"No man ever behaved with more considerate friendship, or more like a gentleman," said Miss Prettyman.

"I am sure he is very good, and I am so glad he did not ask to see me," said Grace. Then Grace went away, and Miss Prettyman sat awhile in thought, considering what she had done, not without some stings of conscience.

Major Grantly as he walked home was not altogether satisfied with himself, though he gave himself credit for some diplomacy which I do not think he deserved. He felt that Miss Prettyman and the world in general, should the world in general ever hear anything about it, would give him credit for having behaved well; and that he had obtained this credit without committing himself to the necessity of marrying the daughter of a thief, should things turn out badly in regard to her father. But,—and this but robbed him of all the pleasure which comes from real success,—but he had not treated Grace Crawley with the perfect generosity which love owes, and he was in some degree ashamed of himself. He felt, however, that he might probably have Grace, should he choose to ask for her when this trouble should have passed by. "And I will," he said to himself, as he entered the gate of his own paddock, and saw his child in her perambulator before the house. "And I will ask her, sooner or later, let things go as they may." Then he took the perambulator under his own charge for half-an-hour, to the satisfaction of the nurse, of the child, and of himself.


Mr Crawley Is Taken to Silverbridge

It had become necessary on the Monday morning that Mrs Crawley should obtain from her husband an undertaking that he would present himself before the magistrates at Silverbridge on the Thursday. She had been made to understand that the magistrates were sinning against the strict rule of the law in not issuing a warrant at once for Mr Crawley's apprehension; and that they were so sinning at the instance of Mr Walker,—at whose instance they would have committed almost any sin practicable by a board of English magistrates, so great was their faith in him; and she knew that she was bound to answer her engagement. She had also another task to perform—that, namely, of persuading him to employ an attorney for his defence; and she was prepared with the name of an attorney, one Mr Mason, also of Silverbridge, who had been recommended to her by Mr Walker. But when she came to the performance of these two tasks on the Monday morning, she found that she was unable to accomplish either of them. Mr Crawley first declared that he would have nothing to do with any attorney. As to that he seemed to have made up his mind beforehand, and she saw at once that she had no hope of shaking him. But when she found that he was equally obstinate in the other matter and that he declared that he would not go before the magistrates unless he were made to do so,—unless the policeman came and fetched him, then she almost sank beneath the burden of her troubles, and for a while was disposed to let things go as they would. How could she strive to bear a load that was so manifestly too heavy for her shoulders?

On the Sunday the poor man had exerted himself to get through his Sunday duties, and he had succeeded. He had succeeded so well that his wife had thought that things might yet come right with him, that he would remember, before it was too late, the true history of that unhappy piece of paper, and that he was rising above that half madness which for months past had afflicted him. On the Sunday evening, when he was tired with his work, she thought it best to say nothing to him about the magistrates and the business of Thursday. But on Monday morning she commenced her task, feeling that she owed it to Mr Walker to lose no more time. He was very decided in his manners and made her to understand that he would employ no lawyer on his own behalf. "Why should I want a lawyer? I have done nothing wrong," he said. Then she tried to make him understand that many who may have done nothing wrong require a lawyer's aid. "And who is to pay him?" he asked. To this she replied, unfortunately, that there would be no need of thinking of that at once. "And I am to get further into debt!" he said. "I am to put myself right before the world by incurring debts which I know I can never pay? When it has been a question of food for the children I have been weak, but I will not be weak in such a matter as this. I will have no lawyer." She did not regard this denial on his part as very material, though she would fain have followed Mr Walker's advice had she been able; but when, later in the day, he declared that the police should fetch him, then her spirits gave way. Early in the morning he had seemed to assent to the expedient of going into Silverbridge on the Thursday, and it was not till after he had worked himself into a rage about the proposed attorney, that he utterly refused to make the journey. During the whole day, however, his state was such as almost to break his wife's heart. He would do nothing. He would not go to the school, nor even stir beyond the house-door. He would not open a book. He would not eat, nor would he even sit at table or say the accustomed grace when the scanty mid-day meal was placed upon the table. "Nothing is blessed to me," he said, when his wife pressed him to say the word for their child's sake. "Shall I say that I thank God when my heart is thankless? Shall I serve my child by a lie?" Then for hours he sat in the same position, in the old arm-chair, hanging over the fire speechless, sleepless, thinking ever, as she well knew, of the injustice of the world. She hardly dared to speak to him, so great was the bitterness of his words when he was goaded to reply. At last, late in the evening, feeling that it would be her duty to send to Mr Walker early on the following morning, she laid her hand gently on his shoulder and asked him for his promise. "I may tell Mr Walker that you will be there on Thursday?"

"No," he said, shouting at her. "No. I will have no such message sent." She started back, trembling. Not that she was accustomed to tremble at his ways, or to show that she feared him in his paroxysms, but that his voice had been louder than she had before known it. "I will hold no intercourse with them at Silverbridge in this matter. Do you hear me, Mary?"

"I hear you, Josiah; but I must keep my word to Mr Walker. I promised that I would send to him."

"Tell him, then, that I will not stir a foot out of this house on Thursday of my own accord. On Thursday I shall be here; and here I will remain all day,—unless they take me hence by force."

"But Josiah—"

"Will you obey me, or shall I walk into Silverbridge myself and tell the man that I will not come to him." Then he arose from his chair and stretched forth his hand to his hat as though he were going forth immediately, on his way to Silverbridge. The night was now pitch dark, and the rain was falling, and abroad he would encounter all the severity of the pitiless winter. Still it might have been better that he should have gone. The exercise and the fresh air, even the wet and the mud, would have served to bring back his mind to reason. But his wife thought of the misery of the journey, of his scanty clothing, of his worn boots, of the need there was to preserve the raiment which he wore; and she remembered that he was fasting,—that he had eaten nothing since the morning, and that he was not fit to be alone. She stopped him, therefore, before he could reach the door.

"Your bidding shall be done," she said,—"of course."

"Tell them, then, that they must seek me here if they want me."

"But, Josiah, think of the parish,—of the people who respect you,—for their sakes let it not be said that you were taken away by policemen."

"Was St Paul not bound in prison? Did he think of what the people might see?"

"If it were necessary, I would encourage you to bear it without a murmur."

"It is necessary, whether you murmur, or do not murmur. Murmur indeed! Why does not your voice ascend to heaven with one loud wail against the cruelty of man?" Then he went forth from the room into an empty chamber on the other side of the passage; and his wife, when she followed him there after a few minutes, found him on his knees, with his forehead against the floor, and with his hands clutching at the scanty hairs of his head. Often before had she seen him so, on the same spot, half grovelling, half prostrate in prayer, reviling in his agony all things around him,—nay, nearly all things above him,—and yet striving to reconcile himself to his Creator by the humiliation of confession.

It might be better for him now, if only he could bring himself to some softness of heart. Softly she closed the door, and placing the candle on the mantle-shelf, softly she knelt beside him, and softly touched his hand with hers. He did not stir nor utter a single word, but seemed to clutch at his thin locks more violently than before. Then she kneeling there, aloud, but with a low voice, with her thin hands clasped, uttered a prayer in which she asked her God to remove from her husband the bitterness of that hour. He listened till she had finished, and then he rose slowly to his feet. "It is all in vain," said he. "It is all in vain. It is all in vain." Then he returned back to the parlour, and seating himself again in the arm-chair, remained there without speaking till past midnight. At last, when she told him that she herself was very cold, and reminded him that for the last hour there had been no fire, still speechless, he went up with her to their bed.

Early on the following morning she contrived to let him know that she was about to send a neighbour's son over with a note to Mr Walker, fearing to urge him further to change his mind; but hoping that he might express his purpose of doing so when he heard that the letter was to be sent; but he took no notice whatever of her words. At this moment he was reading Greek with his daughter, or rather rebuking her because she could not be induced to read Greek.

"Oh, papa," the poor girl said, "don't scold me now. I am so unhappy because of all of this."

"And am not I unhappy?" he said, as he closed the book. "My God, what have I done against thee, that my lines should be cast in such terrible places?"

The letter was sent to Mr Walker. "He knows himself to be innocent," said the poor wife, writing what best excuse she knew how to make, "and thinks that he should take no step himself in such a matter. He will not employ a lawyer, and he says that he should prefer that he should be sent for, if the law requires his presence at Silverbridge on Thursday." All this she wrote, as though she felt that she ought to employ a high tone in defending her husband's purpose; but she broke down altogether in the few words of the postscript. "Indeed, indeed I have done what I could!" Mr Walker understood it all, both the high tone and the subsequent fall.

On the Thursday morning, at about ten o'clock, a fly stopped at the gate at Hogglestock Parsonage, and out of it there came two men. One was dressed in ordinary black clothes, and seemed from his bearing to be a respectable man of the middle class of life. He was, however, the superintendent of police for the Silverbridge district. The other man was a policeman, pure and simple, with the helmet-looking hat which has lately become common, and all the ordinary half-military and wholly disagreeable outward adjuncts of the profession. "Wilkins," said the superintendent, "likely enough I shall want you, for they tell me the gent is uncommon strange. But if I don't call you when I come out, just open the door like a servant, and mount up on the box when we're in. And don't speak nor say nothing." Then the senior policeman entered the house.

He found Mrs Crawley sitting in the parlour with her bonnet and shawl on, and Mr Crawley in the arm-chair, leaning over the fire. "I suppose we had better go with you," said Mrs Crawley directly the door was opened; for of course she had seen the arrival of the fly from the window.

"The gentleman had better come with us if he'll be so kind," said Thompson. "I've brought a close carriage for him."

"But I may go with him?" said the wife, with frightened voice. "I may accompany my husband. He is not well, sir, and wants assistance."

Thompson thought about it for a moment before he spoke. There was room in the fly for only two, or if for three, still he knew his place better than to thrust himself inside together with his prisoner and his prisoner's wife. He had been specially asked by Mr Walker to be very civil. Only one could sit on the box with the driver, and if the request was conceded the poor policeman must walk back. The walk, however, would not kill the policeman. "All right, ma'am," said Thompson;—"that is, if the gentleman will just pass his word not to get out till I ask him."

"He will not! He will not!" said Mrs Crawley.

"I will pass my word for nothing," said Mr Crawley.

Upon hearing this, Thompson assumed a very long face, and shook his head as he turned his eyes first towards the husband and then towards the wife, and shrugged his shoulders, and compressing his lips, blew out his breath, as though in this way he might blow off some of the mingled sorrow and indignation with which the gentleman's words afflicted him.

Mrs Crawley rose and came close to him. "You may take my word for it, he will not stir. You may indeed. He thinks it incumbent on him not to give any undertaking himself, because he feels himself to be so harshly used."

"I don't know about harshness," said Thompson, brindling up. "A close carriage brought and—"

"I will walk. If I am made to go, I will walk," shouted Mr Crawley.

"I did not allude to you,—or to Mr Walker," said the poor wife. "I know you have been most kind. I meant the harshness of the circumstances. Of course he is innocent, and you must feel for him."

"Yes, I feel for him, and for you too, ma'am."

"That is all I meant. He knows his own innocence, and therefore he is unwilling to give way in anything."

"Of course he knows hisself, that's certain. But he'd better come in the carriage, if only because of the dirt and slush."

"He will go in the carriage; and I will go with him. There will be room for you there, sir."

Thompson looked up at the rain, and told himself that it was very cold. Then he remembered Mr Walker's injunction, and bethought himself that Mrs Crawley, in spite of her poverty, was a lady. He conceived even unconsciously the idea that something was due to her because of her poverty. "I'll go with the driver," said he, "but he'll only give hisself a deal of trouble if he attempts to get out."

"He won't; he won't," said Mrs Crawley. "And I thank you with all my heart."

"Come along, then," said Thompson.

She went up to her husband, hat in hand, and looking round to see that she was not watched, put the hat on his head, and then lifted him as it were from the chair. He did not refuse to be led, and allowed her to throw round his shoulders the old cloak which was hanging in the passage, and then he passed out, and was the first to seat himself in the Silverbridge fly. His wife followed him, and did not hear the blandishments with which Thompson instructed his myrmidon to follow through the mud on foot. Slowly they made their way through the lanes, and it was nearly twelve when the fly was driven into the yard of the "George and Vulture" at Silverbridge.

Silverbridge, though it was blessed with a mayor and corporation, and was blessed also with a Member of Parliament all to itself, was not blessed with any courthouse. The magistrates were therefore compelled to sit in the big room at the "George and Vulture", in which the county balls were celebrated, and the meeting of the West Barsetshire freemasons was held. That part of the country was, no doubt, very much ashamed of its backwardness in this respect, but as yet nothing had been done to remedy the evil. Thompson and his fly were therefore driven into the yard of the inn, and Mr and Mrs Crawley were ushered by him up into a little bed-chamber close adjoining to the big room in which the magistrates were already assembled. "There's a bit of fire here," said Thompson, "and you can make yourselves a little warm." He himself was shivering with the cold. "When the gents is ready in there, I'll just come and fetch you."

"I may go in with him?" said Mrs Crawley.

"I'll have a chair for you at the end of the table, just nigh to him," said Thompson. "You can slip into it and say nothing to nobody." Then he left them and went away to the magistrates.

Mr Crawley had not spoken a word since he had entered the vehicle. Nor had she said much to him, but had sat with him holding his hand in hers. Now he spoke to her,—"Where is it that we are?" he asked.

"At Silverbridge, dearest."

"But what is this chamber? And why are we here?"

"We are to wait here till the magistrates are ready. They are in the next room."

"But this is the Inn?"

"Yes dear, it is the Inn."

"And I see crowds of people about." There were crowds of people about. There had been men in the yard, and others standing about on the stairs, and the public room was full of men who were curious to see the clergyman who had stolen twenty pounds, and to hear what would be the result of the case before the magistrates. He must be committed; so, at least said everybody; but then there would be the question of bail. Would the magistrates let him out on bail, and who would be the bailsmen? "Why are the people here?" said Mr Crawley.

"I suppose it is a custom when the magistrates are sitting," said his wife.

"They have come to see the degradation of a clergyman," said he;—"and they will not be disappointed."

"Nothing can degrade but guilt," said his wife.

"Yes,—misfortune can degrade, and poverty. A man is degraded when the cares of the world press so heavily upon him that he cannot rouse himself. They have come to look at me as though I were a hunted beast."

"It is but their custom always on such days."

"They have not always a clergyman before them as a criminal." Then he was silent for a while, while she was chafing his cold hands. "Would that I were dead, before they had brought me to this! Would that I were dead!"

"Is it not right, dear, that we should all bear what He sends us?"

"Would that I were dead!" he repeated. "The load is too heavy for me to bear, and I would that I were dead."

The time seemed to be very long before Thompson returned and asked them to accompany him into the big room. When he did so, Mr Crawley grasped hold of the chair as though he had resolved that he would not go.

But his wife whispered a word to him, and he obeyed her. "He will follow me," she said to the policeman. And in that way they went from the smaller room into the large one. Thompson went first; Mrs Crawley with her veil down came next; and the wretched man followed his wife, with his eyes fixed upon the ground and his hands clasped together upon his breast. He could at first have seen nothing, and could hardly have known where he was when they placed him in a chair. She, with better courage, contrived to look round through her veil, and saw that there was a long board or table covered with green cloth, and that six or seven gentlemen were sitting at one end of it, while there seemed to be a crowd standing along the sides and about the room. Her husband was seated at the other end of the table, near the corner, and round the corner,—so that she might be close to him,—her chair had been placed. On the other side of him there was another chair, now empty, intended for any professional gentleman whom he might choose to employ.

There were five magistrates sitting there. Lord Lufton, from Framley, was in the chair;—a handsome man, still young, who was very popular in the county. The cheque which had been cashed had borne his signature, and he had consequently expressed his intention of not sitting at the board; but Mr Walker, desirous of having him there, had overruled him, showing him that the loss was not his loss. The cheque, if stolen, had not been stolen from him. He was not the prosecutor. "No, by Jove," said Lord Lufton, "if I could quash the whole thing, I'd do it at once!"

"You can't do that, my lord, but you may help us at the board," said Mr Walker.

Then there was the Hon George De Courcy, Lord De Courcy's brother, from Castle Courcy. Lord De Courcy did not live in the county, but his brother did so, and endeavoured to maintain the glory of the family by the discretion of his conduct. He was not, perhaps, among the wisest of men, but he did very well as a county magistrate, holding his tongue, keeping his eyes open, and, on such occasions as this, obeying Mr Walker in all things. Dr Tempest was also there, the rector of the parish, he being both magistrate and clergyman. There were many in Silverbridge who declared that Dr Tempest would have done far better to stay away when a brother clergyman was thus to be brought before the bench; but it had been long since Dr Tempest had cared what was said about him in Silverbridge. He had become so accustomed to the life he led as to like to be disliked, and to be enamoured of unpopularity. So when Mr Walker had ventured to suggest to him that, perhaps, he might not choose to be there, he had laughed Mr Walker to scorn. "Of course I shall be there," he said. "I am interested in the case,—very much interested. Of course I shall be there." And had not Lord Lufton been present he would have made himself more conspicuous by taking the chair. Mr Fothergill was the fourth. Mr Fothergill was man of business to the Duke of Omnium, who was the great owner of property in and about Silverbridge, and he was the most active magistrate in that part of the county. He was a sharp man, and not at all likely to have any predisposition in favour of a clergyman. The fifth was Dr Thorne, of Chaldicotes, a gentleman whose name has been already mentioned in these pages. He had been for many years a medical man practising in a little village in the further end of the county; but it had come to be his fate, late in life, to marry a great heiress, with whose money the ancient house and domain of Chaldicotes had been purchased from the Sowerbys. Since then Dr Thorne had done his duty well as a country gentleman,—not, however, without some little want of smoothness between him and the duke's people.

Chaldicotes lay next to the duke's territory, and the duke had wished to buy Chaldicotes. When Chaldicotes slipped through the duke's fingers and went into the hands of Dr Thorne,—or of Dr Thorne's wife,—the duke had been very angry with Mr Fothergill. Hence it had come to pass that there had not always been smoothness between the duke's people and the Chaldicotes people. It was now rumoured that Dr Thorne intended to stand for the county on the next vacancy, and that did not tend to make things smoother. On the right hand of Lord Lufton sat Lord George and Mr Fothergill, and beyond Mr Fothergill sat Mr Walker, and beyond Mr Walker sat Mr Walker's clerk. On the left hand of the chairman were Dr Tempest and Dr Thorne, and a little lower down was Mr Zachary Winthrop, who held the situation of clerk to the magistrates. Many people in Silverbridge said that this was all wrong, as Mr Winthrop was partner with Mr Walker, who was always employed before the magistrates if there was any employment going for an attorney. For this, however, Mr Walker cared very little. He had so much of his own way in Silverbridge, that he was supposed to care nothing for anybody.

There were many other gentlemen in the room, and some who knew Mr Crawley with more or less intimacy. He, however, took notice of no one, and when one friend, who had really known him well, came up behind and spoke to him gently leaning over his chair, the poor man hardly recognised his friend.

"I'm sure your husband won't forget me," said Mr Robarts, the clergyman at Framley, as he gave his hand to that lady across the back of Mr Crawley's chair.

"No, Mr Robarts, he does not forget you. But you must excuse him if at this moment he is not quite himself. It is a trying situation for a clergyman."

"I can understand all that; but I'll tell you why I have come. I suppose this inquiry will finish the whole affair, and clear up whatever may be the difficulty. But should it not do so, it may be just possible, Mrs Crawley, that something may be said about bail. I don't understand much about it, and I daresay you do not either; but if there should be anything of that sort, let Mr Crawley name me. A brother clergyman will be best, and I'll have some other gentleman with me." Then he left without waiting for any answer.

At the same time there was a conversation going on between Mr Walker and another attorney standing behind him, Mr Mason. "I'll go to him," said Walker, "and try to arrange it." So Mr Walker seated himself in the empty chair beside Mr Crawley, and endeavoured to explain to the wretched man, that he would do well to allow Mr Mason to assist him. Mr Crawley seemed to listen to all that was said, and then turned upon the speaker sharply: "I will have no one to assist me," he said so loudly that every one in the room heard the words. "I am innocent. Why should I want assistance? Nor have I money to pay for it." Mr Mason made a quick movement forward, intending to explain that that consideration need offer no impediment, but was stopped by further speech from Mr Crawley. "I will have no one to help me," said he, standing upright, and for the first time removing his hat from his head. "Go on, and do what it is you have to do." After than he did not sit down till the proceedings were nearly over, though he was invited more than once by Lord Lufton to do so.

We need not go through all the evidence that was brought to bear upon the question. It was proved that money for the cheque was paid to Mr Crawley's messenger, and that this money was given to Mr Crawley. When there occurred some little delay in the chain of evidence necessary to show that Mr Crawley had signed and sent the cheque and got the money, he became impatient. "Why do you trouble the man?" he said. "I had the cheque, and I sent him; I got the money. Has any one denied it, that you would strive to drive a poor man like that beyond his wits?" Then Mr Soames and the manager of the bank showed what inquiry had been made as soon as the cheque came back from the London bank; how at first they had both thought that Mr Crawley could of course explain the matter, and how he had explained it by a statement which was manifestly untrue. Then there was evidence to prove that the cheque could not have been paid to him by Mr Soames, and as this was given, Mr Crawley shook his head and again became impatient. "I erred in that," he exclaimed. "Of course I erred. In my haste I thought it was so, and in my haste I said so. I am not good at reckoning money and remembering sums; but I saw that I had been wrong when my error was shown to me, and I acknowledged at once that I had been wrong."

Up to this point he had behaved not only with so much spirit, but with so much reason, that his wife began to hope that the importance of the occasion had brought back the clearness of his mind, and that he would, even now, be able to place himself right as the inquiry went on. Then it was explained that Mr Crawley had stated that the cheque had been given to him by Dean Arabin, as soon as it was shown that it could not have been given to him by Mr Soames. In reference to this, Mr Walker was obliged to explain that application had been made to the dean, who was abroad, and that the dean had stated that he had given fifty pounds to his friend. Mr Walker explained also that the very notes of which this fifty pounds had consisted had been traced back to Mr Crawley, and that they had no connexion with the cheque or with the money which had been given for the cheque at the bank.

Mr Soames stated that he had lost the cheque with a pocket-book; that he had certainly lost it on the day on which he had called on Mr Crawley at Hogglestock; and that he missed his pocket-book on his journey back from Hogglestock to Barchester. At the moment of missing it he remembered that he had taken the book out from his pocket in Mr Crawley's room, and, at that moment, he had not doubted but that he had left it in Mr Crawley's house. He had written and sent to Mr Crawley to inquire, but had been assured that nothing had been found. There had been no other property of value in the pocket-book,—nothing but a few visiting-cards and a memorandum, and he had therefore stopped the cheque at the London bank, and thought no more about it.

Mr Crawley was then asked to explain in what way he came possessed of the cheque. The question was first put by Lord Lufton; but it soon fell into Mr Walker's hands, who certainly asked it with all the kindness with which such an inquiry could be made. Could Mr Crawley at all remember by what means that bit of paper had come into his possession, or how long he had had it? He answered the last question first. "It had been with him for months." And why had he kept it. He looked round the room sternly, almost savagely, before he answered, fixing his eyes for a moment upon almost every face around him as he did so. Then he spoke. "I was driven by shame to keep it,—and then by shame to use it." That this statement was true, no one in the room doubted.

And then the other question was pressed upon him; and he lifted up his hands, and raised his voice, and swore by the Saviour in whom he trusted, that he knew not from whence the money had come to him. Why then had he said that it had come from the dean? He had thought so. The dean had given him money, covered up, in an enclosure, "so that the touch of the coin might not add to my disgrace in taking his alms," said the wretched man, thus speaking openly and freely in his agony of the shame which he had striven so persistently to hide. He had not seen the dean's monies as they had been given, and he had thought that the cheque had been with them. Beyond that he could tell them nothing.

Then there was a conference between the magistrates and Mr Walker, in which Mr Walker submitted that the magistrates had no alternative but to commit the gentleman. To this Lord Lufton demurred, and with him Dr Thorne.

"I believe, as I am sitting here," said Lord Lufton, "that he has told the truth, and that he does not know any more than I do from whence the cheque came."

"I am quite sure he does not," said Dr Thorne.

Lord George remarked that it was the "queerest go he had ever come across." Dr Tempest merely shook his head. Mr Fothergill pointed out that even supposing the gentleman's statement to be true, it by no means went towards establishing the gentleman's innocence. The cheque had been traced to the gentleman's hands, and the gentleman was bound to show how it had come into his possession. Even supposing that the gentleman had found the cheque in his house, which was likely enough, he was not thereby justified in changing it, and applying the proceeds to his own purposes. Mr Walker told them that Mr Fothergill was right, and that the only excuse to be made for Mr Crawley was that he was out of his senses.

"I don't see it," said Lord Lufton. "I might have a lot of paper money by me, and not know from Adam where I got it."

"But you would have to show where you got it, my lord, when inquiry was made," said Mr Fothergill.

Lord Lufton, who was not particularly fond of Mr Fothergill, and was very unwilling to be instructed by him in any of the duties of a magistrate, turned his back at once upon the duke's agent; but within three minutes afterwards he had submitted to the same instructions from Mr Walker.

Mr Crawley had again seated himself, and during this period of the affair was leaning over the table with his face buried on his arms. Mrs Crawley sat by his side, utterly impotent as to any assistance, just touching him with her hand, and waiting behind her veil till she should be made to understand what was the decision of the magistrates. This was at last communicated to her,—and to him,—in a whisper by Mr Walker. Mr Crawley must understand that he was committed to take his trial at Barchester, at the next assizes, which would be held in April, but that bail would be taken;—his own bail in five hundred pounds, and that of two others in two hundred and fifty pounds each. And Mr Walker explained further that he and the bailmen were ready, and that the bail-bond was prepared. The bailmen were to be the Rev Mr Robarts and Major Grantly. In five minutes the bond was signed and Mr Crawley was at liberty to go away, a free man,—till the Barchester Assizes should come round in April.

Of all that was going on at this time Mr Crawley knew little or nothing, and Mrs Crawley did not know much. She did say a word of thanks to Mr Robarts, and begged that the same might be said to—the other gentleman. If she had heard the Major's name she did not remember it. Then they were led out back into the bedroom, where Mrs Walker was found, anxious to do something, if she only knew what, to comfort the wretched husband and the wretched wife. But what comfort or consolation could there be within their reach? There was tea made ready for them, and sandwiches cut from the Inn larder. And there was sherry in the Inn decanter. But no such comfort as that was possible for either of them.

They were taken home again in the fly, returning without the escort of Mr Thompson, and as they went some few words were spoken by Mrs Crawley. "Josiah," she said, "there will be a way out of this, even yet, if you will only hold up your head and trust."

"There is a way out of it," he said. "There is a way. There is but one way." When he had spoken she said no more, but resolved that her eye should never be off him, no,—not for a moment. Then, when she had gotten him once more into that front parlour, she threw her arms round him and kissed him.


Grace Crawley Goes to Allington

The tidings of what had been done by the magistrates at their petty sessions was communicated the same night to Grace Crawley by Miss Prettyman. Miss Anne Prettyman had heard the news within five minutes of the execution of the bail-bond, and had rushed to her sister with information as to the event. "They have found him guilty; they have, indeed. They have convicted him,—or whatever it is, because he couldn't say where he got it." "You do not mean that they have sent him to prison?" "No;—not to prison; not as yet, that is. I don't understand it altogether; but he's to be tried again at the assizes. In the meantime he's to be out on bail. Major Grantly is to be the bail,—and Mr Robarts. That, I think, was very nice of him." It was undoubtedly the fact that Miss Anne Prettyman had received an accession of pleasurable emotion when she learned that Mr Crawley had not been sent away scatheless, but had been condemned, as it were, to a public trial at the assizes. And yet she would have done anything in her power to save Grace Crawley, or even to save her father. And it must be explained that Miss Anne Prettyman was supposed to be specially efficient in teaching Roman history to her pupils, although she was so manifestly ignorant of the course of the law in the country in which she lived. "Committed him," said Miss Prettyman, correcting her sister with scorn. "They have not convicted him. Had they convicted him, there could be no question of bail." "I don't know how all that is, Annabella, but at any rate Major Grantly is to be the bailsman, and there is to be another trial at Barchester." "There cannot be more than one trial in a criminal case," said Miss Prettyman, "unless the jury should disagree, or something of that kind. I suppose he has been committed and that the trial will take place at the assizes." "Exactly,—that's just it." Had Lord Lufton appeared as lictor and had Thompson carried the fasces, Miss Anne would have known more about it.

The sad tidings were not told to Grace till the evening. Mrs Crawley, when the inquiry was over before the magistrates, would fain have had herself driven to the Miss Prettymans' school, that she might see her daughter; but she felt that to be impossible while her husband was in her charge. The father would of course have gone to his child, had the visit been suggested to him; but that would have caused another terrible scene; and the mother, considering it all in her mind, thought it better to abstain. Miss Prettyman did her best to make poor Grace think that the affair had so far gone favourably,—did her best, that is, without saying anything which her conscience told her to be false. "It is to be settled at the assizes in April," she said.

"And in the meantime what will become of papa?"

"Your papa will be at home, just as usual. He must have some one to advise him. I dare say it would have been all over now if he would have employed an attorney."

"But it seems so hard that an attorney should be wanted."

"My dear Grace, things in this world are hard."

"But they are always harder for papa and mamma than for anybody else." In answer to this, Miss Prettyman made some remarks intended to be wise and kind at the same time. Grace, whose eyes were laden with tears, made no immediate reply to this, but reverted to her former statement, that she must go home. "I cannot remain, Miss Prettyman; I am so unhappy."

"Will you be more happy at home?"

"I can bear it better there."

The poor girl soon learned from the intended consolations of those around her, from the ill-considered kindness of the pupils, and from words which fell from the servants, that her father had in fact been judged to be guilty, as far as judgment had as yet gone. "They do say, miss, it's only because he hadn't a lawyer," said the housekeeper. And if men so kind as Lord Lufton and Mr Walker had made him out to be guilty, what could be expected from a stern judge down from London, who would know nothing about her poor father and his peculiarities, and from twelve jurymen who would be shopkeepers out of Barchester. It would kill her father, and then it would kill her mother; and after that it would kill her also. And there was no money in the house at home. She knew it well. She had been paid three pounds a month for her services at the school, and the money for the last two months had been sent to her mother. Yet, badly as she wanted anything that she might be able to earn, she knew that she could not go on teaching. It had come to be acknowledged by both the Miss Prettymans that any teaching on her part for the present was impossible. She would go home and perish with the rest of them. There was no room left for hope to her, or to any of her family. They had accused her father of being a common thief,—her father whom she knew to be so nobly honest, her father whom she believed to be among the most devoted of God's servants. He was accused of a paltry theft, and the magistrates and lawyers and policemen among them had decided that the accusation was true! How could she look the girls in the face after that, or attempt to hold her own among the teachers!

On the next morning there came a letter from Miss Lily Dale, and with that in her hand she again went to Miss Prettyman. She must go home, she said. She must at any rate go to her mother. Could Miss Prettyman be kind enough to send her home. "I haven't sixpence to pay for anything," she said, bursting into tears; "and I haven't a right to ask for it." Then the statements which Miss Prettyman made in her eagerness to cover this latter misfortune were decidedly false. There was so much money owing to Grace, she said; money for this, money for that, money for anything or nothing! Ten pounds would hardly clear the account. "Nobody owes me anything; but if you'll lend me five shillings!" said Grace, in her agony. Miss Prettyman, as she made her way through this difficulty, thought of Major Grantly and his love. It would have been of no use, she knew. Had she brought them together on that Monday, Grace would have said nothing to him. Indeed such a meeting at such a time would have been improper. But, regarding Major Grantly, as she did, in the light of a millionaire,—for the wealth of the Archdeacon was notorious,—she could not but think it a pity that poor Grace should be begging for five shillings. "You need not at any rate trouble yourself about money, Grace," said Miss Prettyman. "What is a pound or two more or less between you and me? It is almost unkind of you to think about it. Is that letter in your hand anything for me to see, my dear?" Then Grace explained that she did not wish to show Miss Dale's letter, but that Miss Dale had asked her to go to Allington. "And you will go," said Miss Prettyman. "It will be the best thing for you, and the best thing for your mother."

It was at last decided that Grace should go to her friend at Allington, and to Allington she went. She returned home for a day or two, and was persuaded by her mother to accept the invitation that had been given her. At Hogglestock, while she was there, new troubles came up, of which something shall shortly be told; but they were troubles in which Grace could give no assistance to her mother, and which, indeed, though they were in truth troubles, as will be seen, were so far beneficent that they stirred her father up to a certain action which was in itself salutary. "I think it will be better that you should be away, dearest," said her mother, who now, for the first time, heard plainly all that poor Grace had to tell about Major Grantly;—Grace having, heretofore, barely spoken, in most ambiguous words, of Major Grantly as a gentleman whom she had met at Framley, and whom she had described as being "very nice".

In old days, long ago, Lucy Robarts, the present Lady Lufton, sister of the Rev Mark Robarts, the parson of Framley, had sojourned for a while under Mrs Crawley's roof at Hogglestock. Peculiar circumstances, which need not, perhaps, be told here, had given occasion for the visit. She had then resolved,—for her future destiny been known to her before she had left Mrs Crawley's house,—that she would in coming days do much to befriend the family of her friend; but the doing of much had been very difficult. And the doing of anything had come to be very difficult through a certain indiscretion on Lord Lufton's part. Lord Lufton had offered assistance, pecuniary assistance, to Mr Crawley, which Mr Crawley had rejected with outspoken anger. What was Lord Lufton to him that his lordship should dare to come to him with his paltry money in his hand? But after a while, Lady Lufton, exercising some cunning in the operations of her friendship, had persuaded her sister-in-law at the Framley parsonage to have Grace Crawley over there as a visitor,—and there she had been during the summer holidays previous to the commencement of our story. And there, at Framley, she had become acquainted with Major Grantly, who was staying with Lord Lufton at Framley Court. She had then said something to her mother about Major Grantly, something ambiguous, something about his being "very nice", and the mother had thought how great was the pity that her daughter, who was "nice" too in her estimation, should have so few of those adjuncts to assist her which come from full pockets. She had thought no more about it then; but now she felt herself constrained to think more. "I don't quite understand why he should have come to Miss Prettyman on Monday," said Grace, "because he hardly knows her at all."

"I suppose it was on business," said Mrs Crawley.

"No, mamma, it was not on business."

"How can you tell, dear?"

"Because Miss Prettyman said it was,—it was—to ask after me. Oh, mamma, I must tell you. I know he did like me."

"Did he ever say so to you, dearest?"

"Yes, mamma."

"And what did you tell him?"

"I told him nothing, mamma."

"And did he ask to see you on Monday?"

"No, mamma; I don't think he did. I think he understood it all too well, for I could not have spoken to him then."

Mrs Crawley pursued the cross-examination no further, but made up her mind that it would be better that her girl should be away from her wretched home during this period of her life. If it were written in the book of fate that one of her children should be exempted from the series of misfortunes which seemed to fall, one after another, almost as a matter of course, upon her husband, upon her, and upon her family; if so great good fortune were in store for her Grace as such a marriage as this which seemed to be so nearly offered to her, it might probably be well that Grace should be as little at home as possible. Mrs Crawley had heard nothing but good of Major Grantly; but she knew that the Grantlys were proud rich people,—who lived with their heads high up in the county,—and it could hardly be that a son of the archdeacon would like to take his bride direct from Hogglestock parsonage.

It was settled that Grace should go to Allington as soon as a letter could be received from Miss Dale in return to Grace's note, and on the third morning after her arrival at home she started. None but they who have themselves been poor gentry,—gentry so poor as not to know how to raise a shilling,—can understand the peculiar bitterness of the trials which such poverty produces. The poverty of the normal poor does not approach it; or, rather, the pangs arising from such poverty are altogether of a different sort. To be hungry and have no food, to be cold and have no fuel, to be threatened with distraint for one's few chairs and tables, and with the loss of the roof over one's head,—all these miseries, which, if they do not positively reach, are so frequently near to reaching the normal poor, are, no doubt, the severest of the trials to which humanity is subjected. They threaten life,—or, if not life, then liberty,—reducing the abject one to a choice between captivity and starvation. By hook or crook, the poor gentleman or poor lady,—let the one or the other be ever so poor,—does not often come to the last extremity of the workhouse. There are such cases, but they are exceptional. Mrs Crawley, through all her sufferings, had never yet found her cupboard to be absolutely bare, or the bread-pan to be actually empty. But there are pangs to which, at the time, starvation itself would seem to be preferable. The angry eyes of unpaid tradesman, savage with anger which one knows to be justifiable; the taunt of the poor servant who wants her wages; the gradual relinquishment of habits which the soft nurture of earlier, kinder years had made second nature; the wan cheeks of the wife whose malady demands wine; the rags of the husband whose outward occupations demand decency; the neglected children, who are learning not be the children of gentlefolk; and, worse than all, the alms and doles of half-generous friends, the waning pride, the pride that will not wane, the growing doubt whether it be not better to bow the head, and acknowledge to all the world that nothing of the pride of station is left,—that the hand is open to receive and ready to touch the cap, that the fall from the upper to the lower level has been accomplished,—these are the pangs of poverty which drive the Crawleys of the world to the frequent entertaining of that idea of the bare bodkin. It was settled that Grace should go to Allington;—but how about her clothes? And then, whence was to come the price of her journey?

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18 ... 20     Next Part
Home - Random Browse