THE REV JOSIAH CRAWLEY, M.A., Perpetual Curate of Hogglestock
He was then ushered into a waiting-room, but, to his disappointment, was not kept there waiting long. Within three minutes he was ushered into the bishop's study, and into the presence of the two great luminaries of the diocese. He was at first somewhat disconcerted by finding Mrs Proudie in the room. In the imaginary conversation with the bishop which he had been preparing on the road, he had conceived that the bishop would be attended by a chaplain, and he had suited his words to the joint discomfiture of the bishop and of the lower clergyman;—but now the line of his battle must be altered. This was no doubt an injury, but he trusted to his courage and readiness to enable him to surmount it. He had left his hat behind him in the waiting room, but he kept his old short cloak still upon his shoulders; and when he entered the bishop's room his hands and arms were hid beneath it. There was something lowly in this constrained gait. It showed at least that he had no idea of being asked to shake hands with the August persons he might meet. And his head was somewhat bowed, though his great, bald, broad forehead showed itself so prominent, that neither the bishop nor Mrs Proudie could drop it from their sight during the whole interview. He was a man who when seen could hardly be forgotten. The deep angry remonstrant eyes, the shaggy eyebrows, telling tales of frequent anger,—of anger frequent but generally silent,—the repressed indignation of the habitual frown, the long nose and large powerful mouth, the deep furrows on the cheek, and the general look of thought and suffering, all combined to make the appearance of the man remarkable, and to describe to the beholders at once his true character. No one ever on seeing Mr Crawley took him to be a happy man, or a weak man, or an ignorant man, or a wise man.
"You are very punctual, Mr Crawley," said the bishop. Mr Crawley simply bowed his head, still keeping his hands beneath his cloak. "Will you not take a chair nearer to the fire?" Mr Crawley had not seated himself, but had placed himself in front of a chair at the extreme end of the room,—resolved that he would not use it unless he were duly asked.
"Thank you, my lord," he said. "I am warm with walking, and, if you please, will avoid the fire."
"You have not walked, Mr Crawley?"
"Yes, my lord; I have been walking."
"Not from Hogglestock!"
Now this was a matter which Mr Crawley certainly did not mean to discuss with the bishop. It might be well for the bishop to demand his presence in the palace, but it could be no part of the bishop's duty to inquire how he got there. "That, my lord, is a matter of no moment," said he. "I am glad at any rate that I have been enabled to obey your lordship's order in coming hither on this morning."
Hitherto Mrs Proudie had not said a word. She stood back in the room, near the fire,—more backward a good deal than she was accustomed to do when clergymen made their ordinary visits. On such occasions she would come forward and shake hands with them graciously,—graciously, even if proudly; but she had felt that she must do nothing of that kind now; there must be no shaking hands with a man who had stolen a cheque for twenty pounds! It might probably be necessary to keep Mr Crawley at a distance, and therefore she had remained in the background. But Mr Crawley seemed to be disposed to keep himself in the background, and therefore she could speak. "I hope your wife and children are well, Mr Crawley," she said.
"Thank you, madam, my children are well, and Mrs Crawley suffers no special ailment at present."
"That is much to be thankful for, Mr Crawley." Whether he were or were not thankful for such mercies as these was no business of the bishop or of the bishop's wife. That was between him and his God. So he would not even bow to this civility, but sat with his head erect, and with a great frown on his heavy brow.
Then the bishop rose from his chair to speak, intending to take up a position on the rug. But as he did so Mr Crawley, who had seated himself on an intimation that he was expected to sit down, rose also, and the bishop found that he would thus lose his expected vantage. "Will you not be seated, Mr Crawley?" said the bishop. Mr Crawley smiled, but stood his ground. Then the bishop returned to his arm-chair, and Mr Crawley also sat down again. "Mr Crawley," began the bishop, "this matter which came the other day before the magistrates at Silverbridge has been a most unfortunate affair. It has given me, I can assure you, the most sincere pain."
Mr Crawley had made up his mind how far the bishop should be allowed to go without a rebuke. He had told himself that it would only be natural, and would not be unbecoming, that the bishop should allude to the meeting of the magistrates and to the alleged theft, and that therefore such allusions should be endured with patient humility. And, moreover, the more rope he gave the bishop, the more likely the bishop would be to entangle himself. It certainly was Mr Crawley's wish that the bishop should entangle himself. He, therefore, replied very meekly, "It has been most unfortunate, my lord."
"I have felt for Mrs Crawley very deeply," said Mrs Proudie. Mr Crawley had now made up his mind that as long as it was possible he would ignore the presence of Mrs Proudie altogether; and, therefore, he made no sign that he had heard the latter remark.
"It has been most unfortunate," continued the bishop. "I have never before had a clergyman in my diocese placed in so distressing a position."
"That is a matter of opinion, my lord," said Mr Crawley, who at that moment thought of a crisis which had come in the life of another clergyman in the diocese of Barchester, with the circumstances of which he had by chance been made acquainted.
"Exactly," said the bishop. "And I am expressing my opinion." Mr Crawley, who understood fighting, did not think that the time had yet come for striking a blow, so he simply bowed again. "A most unfortunate position, Mr Crawley," continued the bishop. "Far be it from me to express an opinion on the matter, which will have to come before a jury of your countrymen. It is enough for me to know that the magistrates assembled at Silverbridge, gentlemen to whom no doubt you must be known, as most of them live in your neighbourhood, have heard evidence upon the subject—"
"Most convincing evidence," said Mrs Proudie, interrupting her husband. Mr Crawley's black brow became a little blacker as he heard the word, but still he ignored the woman. He not only did not speak, but did not turn his eye upon her.
"They have heard the evidence on the subject," continued the bishop, "and they have thought it proper to refer the decision as to your innocence or your guilt to a jury of your countrymen."
"And they were right," said Mr Crawley.
"Very possibly. I don't deny it. Probably," said the bishop, whose eloquence was somewhat disturbed by Mr Crawley's ready acquiescence.
"Of course they were right," said Mrs Proudie.
"At any rate it is so," said the bishop. "You are in the position of a man amenable to the criminal laws of the land."
"There are no criminal laws, my lord," said Mr Crawley; "but to such laws as there are we are all amenable,—your lordship and I alike."
"But you are so in a very particular way. I do not wish to remind you what might be your condition now, but for the interposition of private friends."
"I should be in the condition of a man not guilty before the law;—guiltless, as far as the law goes,—but kept in durance, not for the faults of his own, but because otherwise, by reason of laches in the police, his presence at the assizes might not be ensured. In such a position a man's reputation is made to hang for awhile on the trust which some friends or neighbours may have in it. I do not say that the test is a good one."
"You would have been put in prison, Mr Crawley, because the magistrates were of opinion that you had taken Mr Soames's cheque," said Mrs Proudie. On this occasion he did look at her. He turned one glance upon her from under his eyebrows, but he did not speak.
"With all that I have nothing to do," said the bishop.
"Nothing whatever, my lord," said Mr Crawley.
"But, bishop, I think that you have," said Mrs Proudie. "The judgment formed by the magistrates as to the conduct of one of your clergymen makes it imperative upon you to act in the matter."
"Yes, my dear, yes; I am coming to that. What Mrs Proudie says is perfectly true. I have been constrained most unwillingly to take action in this matter. It is undoubtedly the fact that you must at the next assizes surrender yourself at the court-house yonder, to be tried for this offence against the laws."
"That is true. If I be alive, my lord, and have strength sufficient, I shall be there."
"You must be there," said Mrs Proudie. "The police will look to that, Mr Crawley." She was becoming very angry in that the man would not answer her a word. On this occasion again he did not even look at her.
"Yes; you will be there," said the bishop. "Now that is, to say the least of it, an unseemly position for a beneficed clergyman."
"You said before, my lord, that it was an unfortunate position, and the word, methinks, was better chosen."
"It is very unseemly, very unseemly indeed," said Mrs Proudie; "nothing could possibly be more unseemly. The bishop might very properly have used a much stronger word."
"Under these circumstances," continued the bishop, "looking to the welfare of your parish, to the welfare of the diocese, and allow me to say, Mr Crawley, to the welfare of yourself also—"
"And especially the souls of the people," said Mrs Proudie.
The bishop shook his head. It is hard to be impressively eloquent when one is interrupted at every best turned period, even by a supporting voice. "Yes;—and looking of course to the religious interests of your people, Mr Crawley, I came to the conclusion that it would be expedient that you should cease your ministrations for awhile." The bishop paused, and Mr Crawley bowed his head. "I, therefore, sent over to you a gentleman with whom I am well acquainted, Mr Thumble, with a letter from myself, in which I endeavoured to impress upon you, without the use of any severe language, what my convictions were."
"Severe words are often the best mercy," said Mrs Proudie. Mr Crawley had raised his hand, with his finger out, preparatory to answering the bishop. But as Mrs Proudie had spoken he dropped his finger and was silent.
"Mr Thumble brought me back your written reply," continued the bishop, "by which I was grieved to find that you were not willing to submit yourself to my counsel in the matter."
"I was most unwilling, my lord. Submission to authority is at times a duty;—and at times opposition to authority is a duty also."
"Opposition to just authority cannot be a duty, Mr Crawley."
"Opposition to usurped authority is an imperative duty," said Mr Crawley.
"And who is to be the judge?" demanded Mrs Proudie. Then there was silence for a while; when, as Mr Crawley made no reply, the lady repeated her question. "Will you be pleased to answer my question, sir? Who, in such a case, is to be the judge?" But Mr Crawley did not please to answer the question. "The man is obstinate," said Mrs Proudie.
"I had better proceed," said the bishop. "Mr Thumble brought me back your reply, which grieved me greatly."
"It was contumacious and indecent," said Mrs Proudie.
The bishop again shook his head and looked so utterly miserable that a smile came across Mr Crawley's face. After all, others besides himself had their troubles and trials. Mrs Proudie saw and understood the smile, and became more angry than ever. She drew her chair close to the table, and began to fidget with her fingers among the papers. She had never before encountered a clergyman so contumacious, so indecent, so unreverend,—so upsetting. She had had to deal with men difficult to manage;—the archdeacon for instance; but the archdeacon had never been so impertinent to her as this man. She had quarrelled once openly with a chaplain of her husband's, a clergyman whom she herself had introduced to her husband, and who had treated her very badly;—but not so badly, not with such unscrupulous violence, as she was now encountering from this ill-clothed beggarly man, this perpetual curate, with his dirty broken boots, this already half-convicted thief! Such was her idea of Mr Crawley's conduct to her, while she was fingering the papers,—simply because Mr Crawley would not speak to her.
"I forget where I was," said the bishop. "Oh, Mr Thumble came back, and I received your letter;—of course I received it. And I was surprised to learn from that, that in spite of what had occurred at Silverbridge, you were still anxious to continue the usual Sunday ministrations in your church."
"I was determined that I would do my duty at Hogglestock, as long as I might be left there to do it," said Mr Crawley.
"Duty!" said Mrs Proudie.
"Just a moment, my dear," said the bishop. "When Sunday came, I had no alternative but to send Mr Thumble over again to Hogglestock. It occurred to us,—to me and Mrs Proudie,—"
"I will tell Mr Crawley just now what has occurred to me," said Mrs Proudie.
"Yes;—just so. And I am sure that he will take it in good part. It occurred to me, Mr Crawley, that your first letter might have been written in haste."
"It was written in haste, my lord; your messenger was waiting."
"Yes;—just so. Well; so I sent him again, hoping that he might be accepted as a messenger of peace. It was a most disagreeable mission for any gentleman, Mr Crawley."
"Most disagreeable, my lord."
"And you refused him permission to obey the instructions which I had given him! You would not let him read from your desk, or preach from your pulpit."
"Had I been Mr Thumble," said Mrs Proudie, "I would have read from that desk and I would have preached from that pulpit."
Mr Crawley waited for a moment, thinking that the bishop might perhaps speak again; but as he did not, but sat expectant as though he had finished his discourse, and now expected a reply, Mr Crawley got up from his seat and drew near to the table. "My lord," he began, "it has all been just as you have said. I did answer your first letter in haste."
"The more shame for you," said Mrs Proudie.
"And therefore, for aught I know, my letter to your lordship may be so worded as to need some apology."
"Of course it needs an apology," said Mrs Proudie.
"But for the matter of it, my lord, no apology can be made, nor is any needed. I did refuse your messenger permission to perform the services of my church, and if you send twenty more, I shall refuse them all,—till the time may come when it will be your lordship's duty, in accordance with the laws of the Church,—as borne out and backed by the laws of the land, to provide during my constrained absence for the spiritual wants of those poor people at Hogglestock."
"Poor people, indeed," said Mrs Proudie. "Poor wretches!"
"And, my lord, it may well be, that it shall soon be your lordship's duty to take due and legal steps for depriving me of my benefice at Hogglestock;—nay, probably, for silencing me altogether as to the exercise of my sacred profession!"
"Of course it will, sir. Your gown will be taken from you," said Mrs Proudie. The bishop was looking with all his eyes up at the great forehead and great eyebrows of the man, and was so fascinated by the power that was exercised over him by the other man's strength that he hardly now noticed his wife.
"It may well be so," continued Mr Crawley. "The circumstances are strong against me; and, though your lordship has altogether misunderstood the nature of the duty performed by the magistrates in sending my case for trial,—although, as it seems to me, you have come to conclusions in this matter in ignorance of the very theory of our laws—"
"Sir!" said Mrs Proudie.
"Yet I can foresee the probability that a jury will may discover me to have been guilty of theft."
"Of course the jury will do," said Mrs Proudie.
"Should such verdict be given, then, my lord, your interference will be legal, proper, and necessary. And you will find that, even if it be within my power to oppose obstacles to your lordship's authority, I will oppose no such obstacle. There is, I believe, no appeal in criminal cases."
"None at all," said Mrs Proudie. "There is no appeal against your bishop. You should have learned that before."
"But till that time shall come, my lord, I shall hold my own at Hogglestock as you hold your own here at Barchester. Nor have you more power to turn me out of my pulpit by your mere voice, than I have to turn you out of your throne by mine. If you doubt me, my lord, your lordship's ecclesiastical court is open to you. Try it there."
"You defy us, then?" said Mrs Proudie.
"My lord, I grant your authority as bishop is great, but even a bishop can only act as the law allows him."
"God forbid that I should do more," said the bishop.
"Sir, you will find that your wicked threats will fall back upon your own head," said Mrs Proudie.
"Peace, woman," Mr Crawley said, addressing her at last. The bishop jumped out of his chair at hearing the wife of his bosom called a woman. But he jumped rather in admiration than in anger. He had already begun to perceive that Mr Crawley was a man who had better be left to take care of the souls at Hogglestock, at any rate till the trial should come on.
"Woman!" said Mrs Proudie, rising to her feet as though she really intended some personal encounter.
"Madam," said Mr Crawley, "you should not interfere in these matters. You simply debase you husband's high office. The distaff were more fitting for you. My lord, good morning." And before either of them could speak again, he was out of the room, and through the hall, and beyond the gate, and standing beneath the towers of the cathedral. Yes, he had, he thought, in truth crushed the bishop. He had succeeded in crumpling the bishop up within the clutch of his fist.
He started in a spirit of triumph to walk back on his road towards Hogglestock. He did not think of the long distance before him for the first hour of his journey. He had had his victory, and the remembrance of that braced his nerves and gave elasticity to his sinews, and he went stalking along the road with rapid strides, muttering to himself from time to time as he went along some word about Mrs Proudie and her distaff. Mr Thumble would not, he thought, come to him again,—not, at any rate, till the assizes were drawing near. And he had resolved what he would do then. When the day of his trial was near, he would himself write to the bishop, and beg that provision might be made for his church, in the event of the verdict going against him. His friend, Dean Arabin, was to be home before that time, and the idea had occurred to him of asking the dean to see to this; but now the other would be the more independent course, and the better. And there was a matter as to which he was not altogether well pleased with the dean, although he was so conscious of his own peculiarities as to know that he could hardly trust himself for a judgment. But, at any rate, he would apply to the bishop,—to the bishop whom he had just left prostrate in his palace,—when the time of his trial should be close at hand.
Full of such thoughts as these he went along almost gaily, nor felt the fatigue of the road till he had covered the first five miles out of Barchester. It was nearly four o'clock, and the thick gloom of the winter evening was making itself felt. And then he began to be fatigued. He had not as yet eaten since he had left his home in the morning, and he now pulled a crust out of his pocket and leaned against a gate as he crunched it. There were still ten miles before him, and he knew that such an addition to the work he had already done would task him very severely. Farmer Mangle had told him that he would not leave Framley Mill till five, and he had got time to reach Framley Mill by that time. But he had said that he would not return to Framley Mill, and he remembered his suspicion that his wife and farmer Mangle between them had cozened him. No; he would persevere and walk,—walk, though he should drop upon the road. He was now nearer fifty then forty years of age, and hardships as well as time had told upon him. He knew that though his strength was good for the commencement of a hard day's work, it would not hold out for him as it used to do. He knew that the last four miles in the dark night would be very sad with him. But still he persevered, endeavouring, as he went, to cherish himself with the remembrance of his triumph.
He passed the turning going down to Framley with courage, but when he came to the further turning, by which the cart would return from Framley to the Hogglestock road, he looked wistfully down the road for farmer Mangle. But farmer Mangle was still at the Mill, waiting in expectation that Mr Crawley might come to him. But the poor traveller paused here barely for a minute, and then went on, stumbling through the mud, striking his ill-covered feet against the rough stones in the dark, sweating in his weakness, almost tottering at times, and calculating whether his remaining strength would serve to carry him home. He had almost forgotten the bishop and his wife before at last he grasped the wicket gate leading to his own door.
"Oh, mamma, here is papa!"
"But where is the cart? I did not hear the wheels," said Mrs Crawley.
"Oh, mamma, I think papa is ill." Then the wife took her drooping husband by both arms and strove to look him in the face. "He has walked all the way, and he is ill," said Jane.
"No, my dear, I am very tired, but not ill. Let me sit down, and give me some bread and tea, and I shall recover myself." Then Mrs Crawley, from some secret hoard, got him a small modicum of spirits, and gave him meat and tea, and he was docile; and, obeying her behests, allowed himself to be taken to his bed.
"I do not think the bishop will send for me again," he said, as she tucked the clothes around him.
Where Did It Come From?
When Christmas morning came no emissary from the bishop appeared at Hogglestock to interfere with the ordinary performance of the day's services. "I think we need fear no further disturbance," Mr Crawley said to his wife,—and there was no further disturbance.
On the day after his walk from Framley to Barchester, and from Barchester back to Hogglestock, Mr Crawley had risen not much the worse for his labour, and had gradually given to his wife a full account of what had taken place. "A poor weak man," he said, speaking of the bishop. "A poor weak creature, and much to be pitied."
"I have always heard that she is a violent woman."
"Very violent, and very ignorant; and most intrusive withal."
"And you did not answer her a word?"
"At last my forbearance with her broke down, and I bade her mind her distaff."
"What;—really? Did you say those words to her?"
"Nay; as for my exact words I cannot remember them. I was thinking more of the words with which it might be fitting that I should answer the bishop. But I certainly told her that she had better mind her distaff."
"And how did she behave then?"
"I did not wait to see. The bishop had spoken, and I had replied; and why should I tarry to behold the woman's violence? I had told him that he was wrong in law, and that I at least would not submit to usurped authority. There was nothing to keep me longer, and so I went without much ceremony of leave-taking. There had been little ceremony of greeting on their part, and there was less in the making of adieux on mine. They had told me that I was a thief—"
"No, Josiah,—surely not so? They did not use that very word?"
"I say they did;—they did use the very word. But stop. I am wrong. I wrong his lordship, and I crave pardon for having done so. If my memory serve me, no expression so harsh escaped from the bishop's mouth. He gave me, indeed, to understand more than once that the action taken by the magistrates was tantamount to a conviction, and that I must be guilty because they had decided that there was evidence sufficient to justify a trial. But all that arose from my lord's ignorance of the administration of the laws of his country. He was very ignorant,—puzzle-pated, as you may call it,—led by the nose by his wife, weak as water, timid and vacillating. But he did not wish, I think, to be insolent. It was Mrs Proudie who told me to my face that I was a—thief."
"May she be punished for the cruel word!" said Mrs Crawley. "May the remembrance that she has spoken it come, some day, heavily upon her heart!"
"'Vengeance is mine. I will repay,' saith the Lord," answered Mr Crawley. "We may safely leave all that alone, and rid our minds of such wishes, if it be possible. It is well, I think, that violent offences, when committed, should be met by instant rebuke. To turn the other cheek instantly to the smiter can hardly be suitable in these days, when the hands of so many are raised to strike. But the return blow should be given only while the smart remains. She hurt me then; but what is it to me now, that she called me a thief to my face? Do I not know that, all the country round, men and woman are calling me the same behind my back?"
"No, Josiah, you do not know that. They say the thing is very strange,—so strange that it requires a trial; but no one thinks you have taken that which was not your own."
"I think I did. I myself think I took that which was not my own. My poor head suffers so;—so many grievous thoughts distract me, that I am like a child, and know not what I do." As he spoke thus he put both hands up to his head, leaning forward as though in anxious thought,—as though he were striving to bring his mind to bear with accuracy upon past events. "It could not have been mine, and yet—" Then he sat silent, and made no effort to continue his speech.
"And yet?"—said his wife, encouraging him to proceed. If she could only learn the real truth, she thought that she might perhaps yet save him, with assistance from their friends.
"When I said that I had gotten it from that man I must have been mad."
"From which man, love?"
"From the man Soames,—he who accuses me. And yet, as the Lord hears me, I thought so then. The truth is, that there are times when I am not—sane. I am not a thief,—not before God; but I am—mad at times." These last words he spoke very slowly, in a whisper,—without any excitement,—indeed with a composure which was horrible to witness. And what he said was the more terrible because she was so well convinced of the truth of his words. Of course he was no thief. She wanted no one to tell her that. As he himself had expressed it, he was no thief before God, however the money might have come into his possession. That there were times when his reason, once so fine and clear, could not act, could not be trusted to guide him right, she had gradually come to know with fear and trembling. But he himself had never before hinted his own consciousness of this calamity. Indeed he had been so unwilling to speak of himself and of his own state, that she had been unable even to ask him a question about the money, lest he should suspect that she suspected him. Now he was speaking,—but speaking with such heart-rending sadness that she could hardly urge him to go on.
"You have sometimes been ill, Josiah, as any of us may be," she said, "and that has been the cause."
"There are different kinds of sickness. There is sickness of the body, and sickness of the heart, and sickness of the spirit;—and then there is sickness of the mind, the worst of all."
"With you, Josiah, it has chiefly been the first."
"With me, Mary, it has been all of them,—every one! My spirit is broken, and my mind has not been able to keep its even tenour amidst the ruins. But I will strive. I will strive. I will strive still. And if God helps me, I will prevail." Then he took up his hat and cloak, and went forth among the lanes; and on this occasion his wife was glad that he should go alone.
This occurred a day or two before Christmas, and Mrs Crawley during those days said nothing more to her husband on the subject which he had so unexpectedly discussed. She asked him no questions about the money, or as to the possibility of his exercising his memory, nor did she counsel him to plead that the false excuses given by him for his possession of the cheque had been occasioned by the sad slip to which sorrow had in those days subjected his memory and his intellect. But the matter had always been on her mind. Might it not be her paramount duty to do something of this at the present moment? Might it not be that his acquittal or conviction would depend on what she might now learn from him? It was clear to her that he was brighter in spirit since his encounter with the Proudies than he had ever been since the accusation had been first made against him. And she knew well that his present mood would not be of long continuance. He would fall again into his moody silent ways, and then the chance of learning aught from him would be past, and perhaps, for ever.
He performed the Christmas services with nothing of special despondency in his tone or manner, and his wife thought that she had never heard him give the sacrament with more impressive dignity. After the service he stood awhile at the churchyard gate, and exchanged a word of courtesy as to the season with such of the families of the farmers as had stayed for the Lord's supper.
"I waited at Framley for your reverence till arter six,—so I did," said farmer Mangle.
"I kept the road, and walked the whole way," said Mr Crawley, "I think I told you that I should not return to the mill. But I am not the less obliged by your great kindness."
"Say nowt o' that," said the farmer. "No doubt I had business at the mill,—lots to do at the mill." Nor did he think that the fib he was telling was at all incompatible with the Holy Sacrament in which he had just taken a part.
The Christmas dinner at the parsonage was not a repast that did much honour to the season, but it was a better dinner than the inhabitants of that house usually saw on the board before them. There was roast pork and mince-pies, and a bottle of wine. As Mrs Crawley with her own hand put the meat upon the table, and then, as was her custom in their house, proceeded to cut it up, she looked at husband's face to see whether he was scrutinising the food with painful eye. It was better that she should tell the truth at once than that she should be made to tell it, in answer to a question. Everything on the table, except the bread and potatoes, had come in a basket from Framley Court. Pork had been sent instead of beef, because people in the country, when they kill their pigs, do sometimes give each other pork, but do not exchange joints of beef, when they slay their oxen. All this was understood by Mrs Crawley, but she almost wished that beef had been sent, because beef would have attracted less attention. He said, however, nothing to the meat; but when his wife proposed to him that he should eat a mince-pie he resented it. "The bare food," said he, "is bitter enough, coming as it does; but that would choke me." She did not press it, but eat one herself, as otherwise her girl would have been forced also to refuse the dainty.
That evening, as soon as Jane was in bed, she resolved to ask him some further questions. "You will have a lawyer, Josiah,—will you not?"
"Why should I have a lawyer?"
"Because he will know what questions to ask, and how questions on the other side should be answered."
"I have no questions to ask, and there is only one way in which questions should be answered. I have no money to pay a lawyer."
"But, Josiah, in such a case as this, where your honour, and our very life depend upon it—"
"Depend on what?"
"On your acquittal."
"I shall not be acquitted. It is well to look it in the face at once. Lawyer or no lawyer, they will say that I took the money. Were I upon the jury, trying the case myself, knowing all that I know now,"—and as he said this he struck forth with his hands into the air,—"I think that I should say so myself. A lawyer will do no good. It is here. It is here." And again he put his hands up to his head.
So far she had been successful. At this moment it had in truth been her object to induce him to speak of his own memory, and not of the aid that a lawyer might give. The proposition of the lawyer had been brought in to introduce the subject.
It was very hard for her to speak. She could not bear to torment him by any allusion to his own deficiencies. She could not endure to make him think that she suspected him of any frailty either in intellect or thought. Wifelike, she desired to worship him, and that he should know that she worshipped him. But if a word might save him! "Josiah, where did it come from?"
"Yes," said he; "yes; that is the question. Where did it come from?"—and he turned sharp upon her, looking at her with all the power of his eyes. "It is because I cannot tell you where it came from that I ought to be,—either in Bedlam, as a madman, or in the county gaol as a thief." The words were so dreadful to her that she could not utter at the moment another syllable. "How is a man—to think himself—fit—for a man's work, when he cannot answer his wife such a plain question as that?" Then he paused again. "They should take me to Bedlam at once,—at once,—at once. That would not disgrace the children as the gaol will do."
Mrs Crawley could ask no further questions on that evening.
What Mr Walker Thought About It
It had been suggested to Mr Robarts, the parson of Framley, that he should endeavour to induce his old acquaintance, Mr Crawley, to employ a lawyer to defend him at his trial, and Mr Robarts had not forgotten the commission which he had undertaken. But there were difficulties in the matter of which he was well aware. In the first place Mr Crawley was a man whom it had not at any time been easy to advise on matters private to himself; and, in the next place, this was a matter on which it was very hard to speak to the man implicated, let him be who he would. Mr Robarts had come round to the generally accepted idea that Mr Crawley had obtained possession of the cheque illegally,—acquitting his friend in his own mind of theft, simply by supposing that he was wool-gathering when the cheque came in his way. But in speaking to Mr Crawley, it would be necessary,—so he thought,—to pretend a conviction that Mr Crawley was as innocent in fact as in intention.
He had almost made up his mind to dash at the subject when he met Mr Crawley walking through Framley to Barchester, but he had abstained, chiefly because Mr Crawley had been too quick for him, and had got away. After that he resolved that it would be almost useless for him to go to work unless he should be provided with a lawyer ready and willing to undertake the task; and as he was not so provided at present, he made up his mind that he would go into Silverbridge, and see Mr Walker, the attorney there. Mr Walker always advised everybody in those parts about everything, and would be sure to know what would be the proper thing to be done in this case. So Mr Robarts got into his gig, and drove himself into Silverbridge, passing very close to Mr Crawley's house on his road. He drove at once to Mr Walker's office, and on arriving there found that the attorney was not at that moment within. But Mr Winthrop was within. Would Mr Robarts see Mr Winthrop? Now, seeing Mr Winthrop was a very different thing from seeing Mr Walker, although the two gentlemen were partners. But still Mr Robarts said that he would see Mr Winthrop. Perhaps Mr Walker might return while he was there.
"Is there anything I can do for you, Mr Robarts?" asked Mr Winthrop. Mr Robarts said that he had wished to see Mr Walker about that poor fellow Crawley. "Ah, yes; very said case! So much sadder being a clergyman, Mr Robarts. We are really quite sorry for him;—we are indeed. We wouldn't have touched the case ourselves if we could have helped ourselves. We wouldn't indeed. But we are obliged to take all that business here. At any rate he'll get nothing but fair usage from us."
"I am sure of that. You don't know whether he has employed any lawyer as yet to defend him?"
"I can't say. We don't know, you know. I should say he had,—probably some Barchester attorney. Borleys and Bonstock in Barchester are very good people,—very good people indeed;—for that sort of business I mean, Mr Robarts. I don't suppose they have much county property in their hands."
Mr Robarts knew that Mr Winthrop was a fool, and that he could get no useful advice from him. So he suggested that he would take his gig down to the inn, and call back again before long. "You'll find that Walker knows no more than I do about it," said Mr Winthrop, "but of course he'll be glad to see you if he happens to come in." So Mr Robarts went to the inn, put up his horse, and then, as he sauntered back up the street, met Mr Walker coming out of the private door of his house.
"I've been at home all the morning," he said; "but I've had a stiff job of work on hand, and told them to say in the office that I was not in. Seen Winthrop, have you? I don't suppose he did know that I was here. The clerks often know more than the partners. About Mr Crawley, is it? Come into my dining-room, Mr Robarts, where we shall be alone. Yes;—it is a bad case; a very bad case. The pity is that anybody should ever have said anything about it. Lord bless me, if I'd been Soames I'd have let him have the twenty pounds. Lord Lufton would never have allowed Soames to lose it."
"But Soames wanted to find out the truth."
"Yes;—that was just it. Soames couldn't bear to think that he should be left in the dark, and then, when the poor man said that Soames had paid the cheque to him in the way of business,—it was not odd that Soames's back should have been up, was it? But, Mr Robarts, I should have thought a deal about it before I should have brought such a man as Mr Crawley before a bench of magistrates on that charge."
"But between me and you, Mr Walker, did he steal the money?"
"Well, Mr Robarts, you know how I'm placed."
"Mr Crawley is my friend, and of course I want to assist him. I was under a great obligation to Mr Crawley once, and I wish to befriend him, whether he took the money or not. But I could act so much better if I felt sure one way or the other."
"If you ask me, I think he did take it."
"I think he knew it was not his own when he took it. You see I don't think he meant to use it when he took it. He perhaps had some queer idea that Soames had been hard on him, or his lordship, and that the money was fairly his due. Then he kept the cheque by him till he was absolutely badgered out of his life by the butcher up the street there. That was about the long and the short of it, Mr Robarts."
"I suppose so. And now what had he better do?"
"Well; if you ask me,— He is in very bad health, isn't he?"
"No; I should say not. He walked to Barchester and back the other day."
"Did he? But he's very queer, isn't he?"
"Very odd-mannered indeed."
"And does and says all manner of odd things?"
"I think you'd find the bishop would say so after that interview."
"Well; if it would do any good, you might have the bishop examined."
"Examined for what, Mr Walker?"
"If you could show, you know, that Crawley has got a bee in his bonnet; that the mens sana is not there, in short;—I think you might manage to have the trial postponed."
"But then somebody must take charge of his living."
"You parsons could manage that among you;—you and the dean and the archdeacon. The archdeacon has always got half-a-dozen curates about somewhere. And then,—after the assizes, Mr Crawley might come to his senses; and I think,—mind you it's only an idea,—but I think the committal might be quashed. It would have been temporary insanity, and, though mind I don't give my word for it, I think he might go on and keep his living. I think so, Mr Robarts."
"That has never occurred to me."
"No;—I daresay not. You see the difficulty is this. He's so stiff-necked,—will do nothing himself. Well, that will do for one proof of temporary insanity. The real truth is, Mr Robarts, he is as mad as a hatter."
"Upon my word I've often thought so."
"And you wouldn't mind saying so in evidence,—would you? Well, you see, there is no helping such a man in any other way. He won't even employ a lawyer to defend him."
"That was what I had come to you about."
"I'm told he won't. Now a man must be mad who won't employ a lawyer when he wants one. You see, the point we should gain would be this,—if we tried to get him through as being a little touched in the upper storey,—whatever we could do for him, we could do against his own will. The more he opposed us the stronger our case would be. He would swear he was not mad at all, and we should say that that was the greatest sign of his madness. But when I say we, of course I mean you. I must not appear in it."
"I wish you could, Mr Walker."
"Of course I can't; but that won't make any difference."
"I suppose he must have a lawyer?"
"Yes, he must have a lawyer;—or rather, his friends must."
"And who should employ him, ostensibly?"
"Ah;—there's the difficulty. His wife wouldn't do it, I suppose? She couldn't do him a better turn."
"He would never forgive her. And she would never consent to act against him."
"Could you interfere?"
"If necessary, I will;—but I hardly know him well enough."
"Has he no father or mother, or uncles or aunts? He must have somebody belonging to him," said Mr Walker.
Then it occurred to Mr Robarts that Dean Arabin would be the proper person to interfere. Dean Arabin and Mr Crawley had been intimate friends in early life, and Dean Arabin knew more of him than did any man, at least in those parts. All this Mr Robarts explained to Mr Walker, and Mr Walker agreed with him that the services of Dean Arabin should if possible be obtained. Mr Robarts would at once write to Dean Arabin and explain at length all the circumstances of the case. "The worst of it is, he will hardly be home in time," said Mr Walker. "Perhaps he would come a little sooner if you were to press it?"
"But we could act in his name in his absence, I suppose?—of course with his authority?"
"I wish he could be here a month before the assizes, Mr Robarts. It would be better."
"And in the meantime shall I say anything to Mr Crawley, myself, about employing a lawyer?"
"I think I would. If he turns upon you, as like enough he may, and abuses you, that will help us in one way. If he should consent, and perhaps he may, that would help us in the other way. I'm told he's been over and upset the whole coach at the palace."
"I shouldn't think the bishop got much out of him," said the parson.
"I don't like Crawley the less for speaking his mind free to the bishop," said the lawyer, laughing. "And he'll speak it free to you too, Mr Robarts."
"He won't break any of my bones. Tell me, Mr Walker, what lawyer shall I name to him?"
"You can't have a better man than Mr Mason, up the street there."
"Winthrop proposed Borleys at Barchester."
"No, no, no. Borleys and Bonstock are capital people to push a fellow through on a charge of horse-stealing, or to squeeze a man for a little money; but they are not the people for Mr Crawley in such a case as this. Mason is a better man; and then Mason and I know each other." In saying which Mr Walker winked.
There was then a discussion between them whether Mr Robarts should go at once to Mr Mason; but it was decided at last that he should see Mr Crawley and also write to the dean before his did so. The dean might wish to employ his own lawyer, and if so the double expense should be avoided. "Always remember, Mr Robarts, that when you go into an attorney's office door, you will have to pay for it, first or last. In here, you see, the dingy old mahogany, bare as it is, makes you safe. Or else it's the salt-cellar, which will not allow itself to be polluted by six-and-eightpenny considerations. But there is the other kind of tax to be paid. You must go up and see Mrs Walker, or you won't have her help in the matter."
Mr Walker returned to his work, either to some private den within his house, or to his office, and Mr Robarts was taken upstairs to the drawing-room. There he found Mrs Walker and her daughter, and Miss Anne Prettyman, who had just looked in, full of the story of Mr Crawley's walk to Barchester. Mr Thumble had seen one of Dr Tempest's curates, and had told the whole story—he, Mr Thumble, having heard Mrs Proudie's version of what had occurred, and having, of course, drawn his own deductions from her premises. And it seemed that Mr Crawley had been watched as he passed through the close out of Barchester. A minor canon had seen him, and had declared that he was going at the rate of a hunt, swinging his arms on high and speaking very loud, though,—as the minor canon said with regret,—the words were hardly audible. But there had been no doubt as to the man. Mr Crawley's old hat, and short rusty cloak, and dirty boots, had been duly observed and chronicled by the minor canon; and Mr Thumble had been enabled to put together a not altogether false picture of what had occurred. As soon as the greetings between Mr Robarts and the ladies had been made, Miss Anne Prettyman broke out again, just where she had left off when Mr Robarts came in. "They say that Mrs Proudie declared that she will have him sent to Botany Bay!"
"Luckily Mrs Proudie won't have much to do in the matter," said Miss Walker, who ranged herself, as to church matters, in ranks altogether opposed to those commanded by Mrs Proudie.
"She will have nothing to do with it, my dear," said Mrs Walker; "and I daresay Mrs Proudie was not foolish enough to say anything of the kind."
"Mamma, she would be foolish enough to say anything. Would she not Mr Robarts?"
"You forget, Miss Walker, that Mrs Proudie is in authority over me."
"So she is, for the matter of that," said the young lady; "but I know very well what you all think of her, and say of her too, at Framley. Your friend, Lady Lufton, loves her dearly. I wish I could have been hidden behind a curtain in the palace, to hear what Mr Crawley said to her."
"Mr Smillie declares," said Miss Prettyman, "that the bishop has been ill ever since. Mr Smillie went over to his mother's at Barchester for Christmas, and took part of the cathedral duty, and we had Mr Spooner over here in his place. So Mr Smillie of course heard all about it. Only fancy, poor Mr Crawley walking all the way from Hogglestock to Barchester and back;—and I am told he hardly had a shoe to his foot! Is it not a shame, Mr Robarts?"
"I don't think it was quite so bad as you say, Miss Prettyman; but, upon the whole, I do think it is a shame. But what can we do?"
"I suppose there are tithes at Hogglestock? Why are they not given up to the church, as they ought to be?"
"My dear Miss Prettyman, that is a very large subject, and I am afraid it cannot be settled in time to relieve our poor friend from his distress." Then Mr Robarts escaped from the ladies in Mr Walker's house, who, as it seemed to him, were touching upon dangerous ground, and went back to the yard of the George Inn for his gig,—the "George and Vulture" it was properly called, and was the house in which the magistrates had sat when they committed Mr Crawley for trial.
"Footed it every inch of the way, blowed if he didn't," the ostler was saying to a gentleman's groom, whom Mr Robarts recognised to be the servant of his friend Major Grantly; and Mr Robarts knew that they also were talking about Mr Crawley. Everybody in the county was talking about Mr Crawley. At home, at Framley, there was no other subject of discourse. Lady Lufton, the dowager, was full of it, being firmly convinced that Mr Crawley was innocent, because the bishop was supposed to regard him as guilty. There had been a family conclave held at Framley Court over that basket of provisions which had been sent for the Christmas cheer of the Hogglestock parsonage, each of the three ladies, the two Lady Luftons and Mrs Robarts, having special views of their own. How the pork had been substituted for the beef by old Lady Lufton, young Lady Lufton thinking that after all the beef would be less dangerous, and how a small turkey had been rashly suggested by Mrs Robarts, and how certain small articles had been inserted in the bottom of the basket which Mrs Crawley had never shewn to her husband, need not here be told at length. But Mr Robarts, as he heard the two grooms talking about Mr Crawley, began to feel that Mr Crawley had achieved at least celebrity.
The groom touched his hat as Mr Robarts walked up. "Has the major returned home yet?" Mr Robarts asked. The groom said that his master was still at Plumstead, and that he was to go over to Plumstead to fetch the major and Miss Edith in a day or two. Then Mr Robarts got into his gig, and as he drove out of the yard he heard the words of the men as they returned to the same subject. "Footed it all the way," said one. "And yet he's a gen'leman, too," said the other. Mr Robarts thought of this as he drove on, intending to call at Hogglestock on that very day on his way home. It was undoubtedly the fact that Mr Crawley was recognised to be a gentleman by all who knew him, high or low, rich or poor, by those who thought well of him and by those who thought ill. These grooms, who had been telling each other that this parson, who was to be tried as a thief, had been constrained to walk from Hogglestock to Barchester and back, because he could not afford to travel any other way, and that his boots were cracked and his clothes ragged, had still known him to be a gentleman! Nobody doubted it; not even they who thought he had stolen the money. Mr Robarts himself was certain of it, and told himself that he knew it by the evidences which his own education made clear to him. But how was it that the grooms knew it? For my part I think that there are no better judges of the article than the grooms.
Thinking still of all which he had heard, Mr Robarts found himself at Mr Crawley's gate at Hogglestock.
Mr Robarts on His Embassy
Mr Robarts was not altogether easy in his mind as he approached Mr Crawley's house. He was aware that the task before him was a very difficult one, and he had not confidence in himself,—that he was exactly the man fitted for the performance of such a task. He was a little afraid of Mr Crawley, acknowledging tacitly to himself that the man had a power of ascendancy with which he would hardly be able to cope successfully. In old days he had once been rebuked by Mr Crawley, and had been cowed by the rebuke; and though there was no touch of rancour in his heart on this account, no slightest remaining venom,—but rather increased respect and friendship,—still he was unable to overcome the remembrance of the scene in which the perpetual curate of Hogglestock had undoubtedly had the mastery of him. So, when two dogs have fought and one has conquered, the conquered dog will always show an unconscious submission to the conqueror.
He hailed a boy on the road as he drew near to the house, knowing that he would find no one at the parsonage to hold his horse for him, and was thus able without delay to walk through the garden and knock at the door. "Papa was not at home," Jane said. "Papa was at the school. But papa could certainly be summoned." She herself would run across to the school if Mr Robarts would come in. So Mr Robarts entered, and found Mrs Crawley in the sitting-room. Mr Crawley would be in directly, she said. And then, hurrying on to the subject with confused haste, in order that a word or two might be spoken before her husband came back, she expressed her thanks and his for the good things which had been sent to them at Christmas-tide.
"It's old Lady Lufton's doings," said Mr Robarts, trying to laugh the matter over.
"I knew that it came from Framley, Mr Robarts, and I know how good you all are there. I have not written to thank Lady Lufton. I thought it better not to write. Your sister will understand why, if no one else does. But you will tell them from me, I am sure, that it was, as they intended, a comfort to us. Your sister knows too much of us for me to suppose that our great poverty can be a secret from her. And, as far as I am concerned, I do not now much care who knows it."
"There is no disgrace in not being rich," said Mr Robarts.
"No; and the feeling of disgrace which does attach itself to being so poor as we are is deadened by the actual suffering which such poverty brings with it. At least it has become so with me. I am not ashamed to say that I am very grateful for what you all have done for us at Framley. But you must not say anything to him about that."
"Of course I will not, Mrs Crawley."
"His spirit is higher than mine, I think, and he suffers more from the natural disinclination which we all have to receiving alms. Are you going to speak to him about the affair of the—the cheque, Mr Robarts?"
"I am going to ask him to put his case into some lawyer's hands."
"Oh! I wish he would!"
"And will he not?"
"It is very kind of you, your coming to ask him, but—"
"Has he so strong an objection?"
"He will tell you that he has no money to pay a lawyer."
"But, surely, if he were convinced that it was absolutely necessary for the vindication of his innocence, he would submit to charge himself with an expense so necessary, not only for himself, but for his family?"
"He will say it ought not to be necessary. You know, Mr Robarts, that in some respects he is not like other men. You will not let what I say of him set you against him?"
"It is most kind of you to make the attempt. He will be here directly, and when he comes I will leave you together."
While she was yet speaking his step was heard along the gravel-path, and he hurried into the room with quick steps. "I crave your pardon, Mr Robarts," he said, "that I should keep you waiting." now Robarts had not been there ten minutes, and any such asking of pardon was hardly necessary. And, even in his own house, Mr Crawley affected a mock humility, as though, either through his own debasement, or because of the superior station of the other clergyman, he were not entitled to put himself on an equal footing with his visitor. He would not have shaken hands with Mr Robarts,—intending to indicate that he did not presume to do so while the present accusation was hanging over him,—had not the action been forced upon him. And then there was something of a protest in his manner, as though remonstrating against a thing that was unbecoming to him. Mr Robarts, without analysing it, understood it all, and knew that behind the humility there was a crushing pride,—a pride which, in all probability, would rise up and crush him before he could get himself out of the room again. It was, perhaps, after all, a question whether the man was not served rightly by the extremities to which he was reduced. There was something radically wrong within him, which had put him into antagonism with all the world, and which produced these never-dying grievances. There were many clergymen in the country with incomes as small as that which had fallen to the lot of Mr Crawley, but they managed to get on without displaying their sores as Mr Crawley displayed his. They did not wear their old rusty cloaks with all that ostentatious bitterness of poverty which seemed to belong to that garment when displayed on Mr Crawley's shoulders. Such, for a moment, were Mr Robarts' thoughts, and he almost repented himself of his present mission. But then he thought of Mrs Crawley, and remembering that her sufferings were at any rate undeserved, determined that he would persevere.
Mrs Crawley disappeared almost as soon as her husband appeared, and Mr Robarts found himself standing in front of his friend, who remained fixed to the spot, with his hands folded over each other and his neck slightly bent forward, in token also of humility. "I regret," he said, "that your horse should be left there, exposed to the inclemency of the weather; but—"
"The horse won't mind it a bit," said Mr Robarts. "A parson's horse is like a butcher's, and knows he mustn't be particular about waiting in the cold."
"I never have had one myself," said Mr Crawley. Now Mr Robarts had had more horses than one before now, and had been thought by some to have incurred greater expense than was befitting in his stable comforts. The subject, therefore, was a sore one, and he was worried a little. "I just wanted to say a few words to you, Crawley," he said, "and if I am not occupying too much of your time—"
"My time is altogether at your disposal. Will you be seated?"
Then Mr Robarts sat down, and, swinging his hat between his legs, bethought himself how he should begin his work. "We had the archdeacon over at Framley the other day," he said. "Of course you know the archdeacon?"
"I never had the advantage of any acquaintance with Dr Grantly. Of course I know him well by name, and also personally,—that is, by sight."
"And by character?"
"Nay; I can hardly say so much as that. But I am aware that his name stands high with many of his order."
"Exactly; that is what I mean. You know that his judgment is thought more of in clerical matters than that of any other clergyman in the county."
"By a certain party, Mr Robarts."
"Well, yes. They don't think much of him, I suppose, at the palace. But that won't lower him in your estimation."
"I by no means wish to derogate from Dr Grantly's high position in his own archdeaconry,—to which, as you are aware, I am not attached,—nor to criticise his conduct in any respect. It would be unbecoming in me to do so. But I cannot accept it as a point in a clergyman's favour, that he should be opposed to his bishop."
Now this was too much for Mr Robarts. After all that he had heard of the visit paid by Mr Crawley to the palace,—of the venom displayed by Mrs Proudie on that occasion, and of the absolute want of subordination to episcopal authority which Mr Crawley himself was supposed to have shown,—Mr Robarts did feel it hard that his friend the archdeacon should be snubbed in this way because he was deficient in reverence for his bishop! "I thought, Crawley," he said, "that you yourself were inclined to dispute orders coming to you from the palace. The world at least says as much concerning you."
"What the world says of me I have learned to disregard very much, Mr Robarts. But I hope that I shall never disobey the authority of the Church when properly and legally exercised."
"I hope with all my heart you never will; not I either. And the archdeacon, who knows, to the breadth of a hair, what a bishop ought to do and what he ought not, and what he may do and what he may not, will, I should say, be the last man in England to sin in that way."
"Very probably. I am far from contradicting you there. Pray understand, Mr Robarts, that I bring no accusation against the archdeacon. Why should I?"
"I didn't mean to discuss him at all."
"Nor did I, Mr Robarts."
"I only mentioned his name, because, as I said, he was over with us the other day at Framley, and we were all talking about your affair."
"My affair!" said Mr Crawley. And then came a frown upon his brow, and a gleam of fire into his eyes, which effectually banished that look of extreme humility which he had assumed. "And may I ask why the archdeacon was discussing—my affair?"
"Simply from the kindness which he bears to you."
"I am grateful for the archdeacon's kindness, as a man is bound to be for any kindness, whether displayed wisely or unwisely. But it seems to me that my affair, as you call it, Mr Robarts, is of that nature that they who wish well to me will better further their wishes by silence than by any discussion."
"Then I cannot agree with you." Mr Crawley shrugged his shoulders, opened his hands a little and then closed them, and bowed his head. He could not have declared more clearly by any words that he differed altogether from Mr Robarts, and that as the subject was one so peculiarly his own he had a right to expect that his opinion should be allowed to prevail against that of any other person. "If you come to that, you know, how is anybody's tongue to be stopped?"
"That vain tongues cannot be stopped, I am well aware. I do not expect that people's tongues should be stopped. I am not saying what men will do, but what good wishes should dictate."
"Well, perhaps you'll hear me out for a minute." Mr Crawley again bowed his head. "Whether we were wise or unwise, we were discussing this affair."
"Whether I stole Mr Soames's money?"
"No; nobody supposed for a moment you had stolen it."
"I cannot understand how they should suppose anything else, knowing, as they do, that the magistrates have committed me for the theft. This took place at Framley, you say, and probably in Lord Lufton's presence."
"And Lord Lufton was chairman at the sitting of the magistrates at which I was committed. How can it be that he should think otherwise?"
"I am sure that he has not an idea that you were guilty. Nor yet has Dr Thorne, who was also one of the magistrates. I don't suppose one of them then thought so."
"Then their action, to say the least of it, was very strange."
"It was all because you had nobody to manage it for you. I thoroughly believe that if you had placed the matter in the hands of a good lawyer, you would never have heard a word more about it. That seems to be the opinion of everybody I speak to on the subject."
"Then in this country a man is to be punished or not, according to ability to fee a lawyer!"
"I am not talking about punishment."
"And presuming an innocent man to have the ability and not the will to do so, he is to be punished, to be ruined root and branch, self and family, character and pocket, simply because, knowing his own innocence, he does not choose to depend on the mercenary skill of a man whose trade he abhors for the establishment of that which should be clear as sun at noon-day! You say I am innocent, and yet you tell me I am to be condemned as a guilty man, have my gown taken from me, be torn from my wife and children, be disgraced before the eyes of all men, and be made a byword and a thing horrible to be mentioned, because I will not fee an attorney to fee another man to come and lie on my behalf, to browbeat witnesses, to make false appeals, and perhaps shed false tears in defending me. You have come to me asking me to do this, if I understand you, telling me that the archdeacon would so advise me."
"That is my object." Mr Crawley, as he had spoken, had in his vehemence risen from his seat, and Mr Robarts was also standing.
"Then tell the archdeacon," said Mr Crawley, "that I will have none of his advice. I will have no one there paid by me to obstruct the course of justice or to hoodwink a jury. I have been in courts of law, and know what is the work for which these gentlemen are hired. I will have none of it, and I will thank you to tell the archdeacon so, with my respectful acknowledgements of his consideration and condescension. I say nothing as to my own innocence, or my own guilt. But I do say that if I am dragged before that tribunal, an innocent man, and am falsely declared to be guilty, because I lack money to bribe a lawyer to speak for me, then the laws of this country deserve but little of that reverence which we are accustomed to pay to them. And if I be guilty—"
"Nobody supposes you to be guilty."
"And if I be guilty," continued Mr Crawley, altogether ignoring the interruption, except by the repetition of his words, and a slight raising of his voice, "I will not add to my guilt by hiring any one to prove a falsehood or to disprove a truth."
"I'm sorry that you should say so, Mr Crawley."
"I speak according to what light I have, Mr Robarts; and if I have been over-warm with you,—and I am conscious that I have been in fault in that direction,—I must pray you to remember that I am somewhat hardly tried. My sorrows and troubles are so great that they rise against me and disturb me, and drive me on,—whither I would not be driven."
"But, my friend, is not that just the reason why you should trust in this matter to some one who can be more calm than yourself?"
"I cannot trust to any one,—in a matter of conscience. To do as you would have me is to me wrong. Shall I do wrong because I am unhappy?"
"You should cease to think it wrong when so advised by persons you can trust."
"I can trust no one with my own conscience;—not even the archdeacon, great as he is."
"The archdeacon has meant only well to you."
"I will presume so. I will believe so. I do think so. Tell the archdeacon from me that I humbly thank him;—that in a matter of church question, I might probably submit my judgment to his; even though he might have no authority over me, knowing as I do that in such matters his experience has been great. Tell him also, that though I would fain that this unfortunate affair might burden the tongue of none among my neighbours,—at least till I shall have stood before the judge to receive the verdict of the jury, and, if needful, his lordship's sentence—still I am convinced that in what he has spoken, as also in what he has done, he has not yielded to the idleness of gossip, but has exercised his judgment with intended kindness."
"He has certainly intended to do you a service; and as for its not being talked about, that is out of the question."
"And for yourself, Mr Robarts, whom I have ever regarded as a friend since circumstances brought me into your neighbourhood,—for you, whose sister I love tenderly in memory of past kindness, though now she is removed so far above my sphere, as to make it unfit that I should call her my friend—"
"She does not think so at all."
"For yourself, as I was saying, pray believe me that though from the roughness of my manner, being now unused to social intercourse, I seem to be ungracious and forbidding, I am grateful and mindful, and that in the tablets of my heart I have written you down as one in whom I could trust,—were it given to me to trust in men and women." Then he turned round with his face to the wall and his back to his visitor, and so remained till Mr Robarts had left him. "At any rate, I wish you well through your trouble," said Robarts; and as he spoke he found that his own words were nearly choked by a sob that was rising in this throat.
He went away without another word, and got out to his gig without seeing Mrs Crawley. During one period of the interview he had been very angry with the man,—so angry as to make him almost declare to himself that he would take no more trouble on his behalf. Then he had been brought to acknowledge that Mr Walker was right, and that Crawley was certainly mad. He was so mad, so far removed from the dominion of sound sense, that no jury could say that he was guilty and that he ought to be punished for his guilt. And, as he so resolved, he could not but ask himself the question, whether the charge of the parish ought to be left in the hands of such a man? But at last, just before he went, these feelings and these convictions gave way to pity, and he remembered simply the troubles which seemed to have been heaped on the head of this poor victim to misfortune. As he drove home he resolved that there was nothing left for him to do, but to write to the dean. It was known to all who knew them both, that the dean and Mr Crawley had lived together on the closest intimacy at college, and that the friendship had been maintained through life;—though, from the peculiarity of Mr Crawley's character, the two had not been much together of late years. Seeing how things were going now, and hearing how pitiful was the plight in which Mr Crawley was placed, the dean would, no doubt, feel it to be his duty to hasten his return to England. He was believed to be at this moment in Jerusalem, and it would be long before a letter could reach him; but there still wanted three months to the assizes, and his return might be probably effected before the end of February.
"I never was so distressed in my life," Mark Robarts said to his wife.
"And you think you have done no good?"
"Only this, that I have convinced myself that the poor man is not responsible for what he does, and that for her sake as well as for his own, some person should be enabled to interfere for his protection." Then he told Mrs Robarts what Mr Walker had said; also the message which Mr Crawley had sent to the archdeacon. But they both agreed that that message need not be sent on any further.
Major Grantly at Home
Mrs Thorne had spoken very plainly in the advice which she had given to Major Grantly. "If I were you, I'd be at Allington before twelve o'clock to-morrow." That had been Mrs Thorne's advice; and though Major Grantly had no idea of making the journey so rapidly as the lady had proposed, still he thought that he would make it before long, and follow the advice in spirit if not to the letter. Mrs Thorne had asked him if it was fair that the girl should be punished because of the father's fault; and the idea had been sweet to him that the infliction or non-infliction of such punishment should be in his hands. "You go and ask her," Mrs Thorne had said. Well;—he would go and ask her. If it should turn out at last that he had married the daughter of a thief, and that he was disinherited for doing so,—an arrangement of circumstances which he had to teach himself to regard as very probable,—he would not love Grace the less on that account, or allow himself for one moment to repent what he had done. As he thought of all this he became somewhat in love with a small income, and imagined to himself what honours would be done to him by the Mrs Thornes of the county, when they should come to know in what way he had sacrificed himself to his love. Yes;—they would go and live at Pau. He thought Pau would do. He would have enough of income for that;—and Edith would get lessons cheaply, and would learn to talk French fluently. He certainly would do it. He would go down to Allington, and ask Grace to be his wife; and bid her to understand that if she loved him she could not be justified in refusing him by the circumstances of her father's position.
But he must go to Plumstead before he could go to Allington. He was engaged to spend his Christmas there, and must go now at once. There was not time for the journey to Allington before he was due at Plumstead. And, moreover, though he could not bring himself to resolve that he would tell his father what he was going to do;—"It would seem as though I were asking his leave!" he said to himself;—he thought that he would make a clean breast of it to his mother. It made him sad to think that he should cut the rope which fastened his own boat among the other boats in the home harbour at Plumstead, and that he should go out all alone into strange waters,—turned adrift altogether, as it were, from the Grantly fleet. If he could only get the promise of his mother's sympathy for Grace it would be something. He understood,—no one better than he,—the tendency of all his family to an uprising in the world, which tendency was almost as strong in his mother as in his father. And he had been by no means without a similar ambition himself, though with him the ambition had been only fitful, not enduring. He had a brother, a clergyman, a busy, stirring, eloquent London preacher, who got churches built, and was heard of far and wide as a rising man, who had married a certain Lady Anne, the daughter of an earl, and who was already mentioned as a candidate for high places. How his sister was the wife of a marquis, and a leader in the fashionable world, the reader already knows. The archdeacon himself was a rich man, so powerful that he could afford to look down upon a bishop; and Mrs Grantly, though there was left about her something of an old softness of nature, a touch of the former life which had been hers before the stream of her days had run gold, yet she, too, had taken kindly to wealth and high standing, and was by no means one of those who construe literally that passage of scripture which tells us of the camel and the needle's eye. Our Henry Grantly, our major, knew himself to be his mother's favourite child,—knew himself to have become so since something of coolness had grown up between her and her august daughter. The augustness of the daughter had done much to reproduce the old freshness of which I have spoken in the mother's heart, and had specially endeared to her the son, who, of all her children, was the least subject to the family failing. The clergyman, Charles Grantly,—he who had married the Lady Anne,—was his father's darling in these days. The old archdeacon would go up to London and be quite happy in his son's house. He met there the men whom he loved to meet, and heard the talk which he loved to hear. It was very fine, having the Marquis of Hartletop for his son-in-law, but he had never cared to be much at Lady Hartletop's house. Indeed, the archdeacon cared to be in no house in which those around him were supposed to be bigger than himself. Such was the little family fleet from out of which Henry Grantly was now proposing to sail alone with his little boat,—taking Grace Crawley with him at the helm. "My father is a just man at the bottom," he said to himself, "and though he may not forgive me, he will not punish Edith."
But there was still left one of the family,—not a Grantly, indeed, but one so nearly allied to them as to have his boat moored in the same harbour,—who, as the major well knew, would thoroughly sympathise with him. This was old Mr Harding, his mother's father,—the father of his mother and of his aunt Mrs Arabin,—whose home was now at the deanery. He was also to be at Plumstead during this Christmas, and he at any rate would give a ready assent to such a marriage as that which the major was proposing for himself. But then poor old Mr Harding had been thoroughly deficient in that ambition which had served to aggrandize the family into which his daughter had married. He was a poor man who, in spite of good friends,—for the late bishop of the diocese had been his dearest friend,—had never risen high in his profession, and had fallen even from the moderate altitude which he had attained. But he was a man whom all loved who knew him; and it was much to the credit of his son-in-law, the archdeacon, that, with all his tendencies to love rising suns, he had ever been true to Mr Harding.
Major Grantly took his daughter with him, and on his arrival at Plumstead she of course was the first object of attention. Mrs Grantly declared that she had grown immensely. The archdeacon complimented her red cheeks, and said that Cosby Lodge was as healthy a place as any in the county, while Mr Harding, Edith's great-grandfather, drew slowly from his pocket sundry treasures with which he had come prepared for the delight of the little girl. Charles Grantly and Lady Anne had no children, and the heir of all the Hartletops was too august to have been trusted to the embraces of her mother's grandfather. Edith, therefore, was all that he had in that generation, and of Edith he was prepared to be as indulgent as he had been, in their time, of his grandchildren, the Grantlys, and still was of his grandchildren the Arabins, and had been before that of his own daughters. "She's more like Eleanor than any one else," said the old man in a plaintive tone. Now Eleanor was Mrs Arabin, the dean's wife, and was at this time,—if I were to say over forty I do not think I should be uncharitable. No one else saw the special likeness, but no one else remembered, as Mr Harding did, what Eleanor had been when she was three years old.
"Aunt Nelly is in France," said the child.
"Yes, my darling, aunt Nelly is in France, and I wish she were at home. Aunt Nelly has been away a long time."
"I suppose she'll stay till the dean picks her up on his way home?" said Mrs Grantly.
"So she says in her letters. I heard from her yesterday, and I brought the letter, as I thought you'd like to see it." Mrs Grantly took the letter and read it, while her father still played with the child. The archdeacon and the major were standing together on the rug discussing the shooting at Chaldicotes, as to which the archdeacon had a strong opinion. "I'm quite sure that a man with a place like that does more good by preserving than by leaving it alone. The better head of game he has the richer the county will be generally. It is just the same with pheasants as it is with sheep and bullocks. A pheasant doesn't cost more than he's worth any more than a barn-door fowl. Besides, a man who preserves is always respected by the poachers, and the man who doesn't is not."
"There's something in that, sir, certainly," said the major.
"More than you think for, perhaps. Look at poor Sowerby, who went on there for years without a shilling. How he was respected, because he lived as the people around him expected a gentleman to live. Thorne will have a bad time of it, if he tries to change things."
"Only think," exclaimed Mrs Grantly, "when Eleanor wrote she had not heard of that affair of poor Mr Crawley's."
"Does she say anything about him?" asked the major.
"I'll read what she says. 'I see in Galignani that a clergyman in Barsetshire has been committed for theft. Pray tell me who it is. Not the bishop, I hope, for the credit of the diocese?'"
"I wish it were," said the archdeacon
"For shame, my dear," said his wife.
"No shame at all. If we are to have a thief among us, I'd sooner find him in a bad man than a good one. Besides, we should have a change at the palace, which would be a great thing."
"But is it not odd that Eleanor should have heard nothing of it?" said Mrs Grantly.
"It's odd that you should not have mentioned it yourself."
"I did not, certainly; nor you, papa, I suppose?"
Mr Harding acknowledged that he had not spoken of it, and then they calculated that perhaps she might not have received any letter from her husband written since the news had reached him. "Besides, why should he have mentioned it?" said the major. "He only knows as yet of the inquiry about the cheque, and can have heard nothing of what was done by the magistrates."
"Still it seems so odd that Eleanor should not have known of it, seeing that we have been talking of nothing else for the last week," said Mrs Grantly.
For two days the major said not a word of Grace Crawley to any one. Nothing could be more courteous and complaisant than was his father's conduct to him. Anything that he wanted for Edith was to be done. For himself there was no trouble which would not be taken. His hunting, and his shooting, and his fishing seemed to have become matters of paramount consideration to his father. And then the archdeacon became very confidential about money matters,—not offering anything to his son, which, as he well knew, would have been seen through as palpable bribery and corruption,—but telling him of this little scheme and of that, of one investment and of another;—how he contemplated buying a small property here, and spending a few thousands on building there. "Of course it is all for you and your brother," said the archdeacon, with that benevolent sadness which is used habitually by fathers on such occasions; "and I like you to know what it is that I am doing. I told Charles about the London property the last time I was up," said the archdeacon, "and there shall be no difference between him and you, if all goes well." This was very good-natured on the archdeacon's part, and was not strictly necessary, as Charles was the eldest son; but the major understood it perfectly. "There shall be an elysium opened to you, if only you will not do that terrible thing of which you spoke when last here." The archdeacon uttered no such words as these, and did not even allude to Grace Crawley; but the words were as good as spoken, and had they been spoken ever so plainly the major could not have understood them more clearly. He was quite awake to the loveliness of the elysium opened before him. He had had his moment of anxiety, whether his father would or would not make an elder son of his brother Charles. The whole thing was now put before him plainly. Give up Grace Crawley, and you shall share alike with your brother. Disgrace yourself by marrying her, and your brother shall have everything. There was the choice, and it was still open to him to take which side he pleased. Were he never to go near Grace Crawley again no one would blame him, unless it were Miss Prettyman or Mrs Thorne. "Fill your glass, Henry," said the archdeacon. "You'd better, I tell you, for there is no more of it left." Then the major filled his glass and sipped the wine, and swore to himself that he would go down to Allington at once. What! Did his father think to bribe him by giving him '20 port? He would certainly go down to Allington, and he would tell his mother to-morrow morning, or certainly on the next day, what he was going to do. "Pity it should all be gone; isn't it, sir?" said the archdeacon to his father-in-law. "It has lasted my time," said Mr Harding, "and I'm very much obliged to it. Dear, dear; how well I remember your father giving the order for it! There were two pipes, and somebody said it was a heady wine. 'If the prebendaries and rectors can't drink it,' said your father, 'the curates will.'"
"Curates indeed!" said the archdeacon. "It's too good for a bishop, unless one of the right sort."
"Your father used to say those things, but with him the poorer the guest the better the cheer. When he had a few clergymen round him, how he loved to make them happy!"
"Never talked shop to them,—did he?" said the archdeacon.
"Not after dinner, at any rate. Goodness gracious, when one thinks of it! Do you remember how we used to play cards?"
"Every night regularly;—threepenny points, and sixpence on the rubber," said the archdeacon.
"Dear, dear! How things are changed! And I remember when the clergymen did more of the dancing in Barchester than all the other young men in the city put together."
"And a good set they were;—gentlemen every one of them. It's well that some of them don't dance now;—that is, for the girls' sake."
"I sometimes sit and wonder," said Mr Harding, "whether your father's spirit ever comes back to the old house and sees the changes,—and if so whether he approves them."
"Approves them!" said the archdeacon.
"Well;—yes. I think he would, upon the whole. I'm sure of this: he would not disapprove, because the new ways are changed from his ways. He never thought himself infallible. And do you know, my dear, I am not sure that it isn't all for the best. I sometimes think that some of us were very idle when we were young. I was, I know."
"I worked hard enough," said the archdeacon.
"Ah, yes; you. But most of us took it very easily. Dear, dear! When I think of it, and see how hard they work now, and remember what pleasant times we used to have,—I don't feel sometimes quite sure."
"I believe the work was done a great deal better than it is now," said the archdeacon. "There wasn't so much fuss, but there was more reality. And men were men, and clergymen were gentlemen."
"Yes;—they were gentlemen."
"Such a creature as that old woman at the palace couldn't have held his head up among us. That's what has come from Reform. A reformed House of Commons makes Lord Brock Prime Minister, and then your Prime Minister makes Dr Proudie a bishop! Well;—it will last my time, I suppose."
"It has lasted mine,—like the wine," said Mr Harding.
"There's one glass more, and you shall have it, sir." Then Mr Harding drank the last glass of the 1820 port, and they went into the drawing-room.
On the next morning after breakfast the major went out for a walk by himself. His father had suggested to him that he should go over to shoot at Framley, and had offered him the use of everything the archdeacon possessed in the way of horses, dogs, guns and carriages. But the major would have none of these things. He would go out and walk by himself. "He's not thinking of her; is he?" said the archdeacon to his wife, in a whisper. "I don't know. I think he is," said Mrs Grantly. "It will be so much the better for Charles, if he does," said the archdeacon grimly; and the look of his face as he spoke was by no means pleasant. "You will do nothing unjust, archdeacon," said his wife. "I will do as I like with my own," said he. And then he also went out and took a walk by himself.
That evening after dinner, there was no 1820 port, and no recollections of old days. They were rather dull, the three of them, as they sat together,—and dullness is always more endurable than sadness. Old Mr Harding went to sleep and the archdeacon was cross. "Henry," he said, "you haven't a word to throw to a dog." "I've got rather a headache this evening, sir," said the major. The archdeacon drank two glasses of wine, one after another, quickly. Then he woke his father-in-law gently, and went off. "Is there anything the matter?" asked the old man. "Nothing particular. My father seems a little cross." "Ah! I've been to sleep, and I oughtn't. It's my fault. We'll go in and smooth him down." But the archdeacon wouldn't be smoothed down on that occasion. He would let his son see the difference between a father pleased, and a father displeased,—or rather between a father pleasant, and a father unpleasant. "He hasn't said anything to you, has he?" said the archdeacon that night to his wife. "Not a word;—as yet." "If he does it without the courage to tell us, I shall think him a cur," said the archdeacon. "But he did tell you," said Mrs Grantly, standing up for her favourite son; "and, for the matter of that, he has courage enough for anything. If he does it, I shall always say that he has been driven to it by your threats."
"That's sheer nonsense," said the archdeacon.
"It's not nonsense at all," said Mrs Grantly.
"Then I suppose I was to hold my tongue and say nothing?" said the archdeacon; and as he spoke he banged the door between his dressing-room and Mrs Grantly's bedroom.
On the first day of the new year Major Grantly spoke his mind to his mother. The archdeacon had gone into Barchester, having in vain attempted to induce his son to go with him. Mr Harding was in the library reading a little and sleeping a little, and dreaming of old days and old friends, and perhaps, sometimes, of the old wine. Mrs Grantly was alone in a small sitting-room which she frequented upstairs, when suddenly her son entered the room. "Mother," he said, "I think it better to tell you that I am going to Allington."
"To Allington, Henry?" She knew very well who was at Allington, and what must be the business which would take him there.
"Yes, mother. Miss Crawley is there, and there are circumstances which make it incumbent on me to see her without delay."
"What circumstances, Henry?"
"As I intend to ask her to be my wife, I think it best to do so now. I owe it to her and to myself that she should not think that I am deterred by her father's position."
"But would it not be reasonable that you should be deterred by her father's position?"
"No, I think not. I think it would be dishonest as well as ungenerous. I cannot bring myself to brook such delay. Of course I am alive to the misfortune which has fallen upon her,—upon her and me, too, should she ever become my wife. But it is one of those burdens which a man should have shoulders broad enough to bear."
"Quite so, if she were your wife, or even if you were engaged to her. Then honour would require it of you, as well as affection. As it is, your honour does not require it, and I think you should hesitate, for all our sakes, and especially for Edith's."
"It will do Edith no harm; and, mother, if you alone were concerned, I think you would feel that it would not hurt you."
"I was not thinking of myself, Henry."
"As for my father, the very threats which he has used make me conscious that I have only to measure the price. He has told me that he will stop my allowance."
"But that may not be the worst. Think how you are situated. You are the younger son of a man who will be held to be justified in making an elder son, if he thinks fit to do so."
"I can only hope that he will be fair to Edith. If you will tell him that from me, it is all that I will ask you to do."
"But you will see him yourself?"
"No, mother; not till I have been to Allington. Then I will see him again or not, just as he pleases. I shall stop at Guestwick, and will write to you a line from thence. If my father decides on doing anything, let me know at once, as it will be necessary that I should get rid of the lease of my house."
"I have thought a great deal about it, mother, and I believe I am right. Whether I am right or wrong, I shall do it. I will not ask you now for any promise or pledge; but should Miss Crawley become my wife, I hope that you at least will not refuse to see her as your daughter." Having so spoken, he kissed his mother, and was about to leave the room; but she held him by his arm, and he saw that her eyes were full of tears. "Dearest mother, if I grieve you I am sorry indeed."
"Not me, not me, not me," she said.
"For my father, I cannot help it. Had he not threatened me I should have told him also. As he has done so, you must tell him. But give him my kindest love."
"Oh, Henry; you will be ruined. You will, indeed. Can you not wait? Remember how headstrong your father is, and yet how good;—and how he loves you! Think of all that he has done for you. When did he refuse you anything?"
"He has been good to me, but in this I cannot obey him. He should not ask me."
"You are wrong. You are indeed. He has a right to expect that you will not bring disgrace upon the family."
"Nor will I;—except such disgrace as may attend upon poverty. Good-by, mother. I wish you could have said one kind word to me."
"Have I not said a kind word?"
"Not as yet, mother."
"I would not for worlds speak unkindly to you. If it were not for your father I would bid you bring whom you pleased home to me as your wife; and I would be as a mother to her. And if this girl should become your wife—"
"It shall not be my fault if she does not."
"I will try to love her—some day."
Then the major went, leaving Edith at the rectory, as requested by his mother. His own dog-cart and servant were at Plumstead, and he drove himself home to Cosby Lodge.
When the archdeacon returned the news was told to him at once. "Henry has gone to Allington to propose to Miss Crawley," said Mrs Grantly.
"Gone,—without speaking to me!"
"He left his love, and said that it was useless his remaining, as he knew he should only offend you."
"He has made his bed, and he must lie upon it," said the archdeacon. And then there was not another word said about Grace Crawley on that occasion.
Miss Lily Dale's Resolution
The ladies at the Small House at Allington breakfasted always at nine,—a liberal nine; and the postman whose duty it was to deliver letters in that village at half-past eight, being also liberal in his ideas as to time, always arrived punctually in the middle of breakfast, so that Mrs Dale expected her letters, and Lily hers, just before their second cup of tea, as though the letters formed a part of the morning meal. Jane, the maidservant, always brought them in, and handed them to Mrs Dale,—for Lily had in these days come to preside at the breakfast table; and then there would be an examination of the outsides before the envelopes were violated, and as each knew pretty well all the circumstances of the correspondence of the other, there would be some guessing as to what this or that epistle might contain; and after that a reading out loud of passages, and not unfrequently of the entire letter. But now, at the time of which I am speaking, Grace Crawley was at the Small House, and therefore the common practice was somewhat in abeyance.