Kategoria: Obyczajowe i romanse Język: angielski Rok wydania: 1867

The Last Chronicle of Barset ebook

Anthony Trollope

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Opinie o ebooku The Last Chronicle of Barset - Anthony Trollope

Fragment ebooka The Last Chronicle of Barset - Anthony Trollope

Chapter 1 - How Did He Get It?
Chapter 2 - By Heavens He Had Better Not!
Chapter 3 - The Archdeacon's Threat
Chapter 4 - The Clergyman's House at Hogglestock
Chapter 5 - What the World Thought About It
Chapter 6 - Grace Crawley
Chapter 7 - Miss Prettyman's Private Room
Chapter 8 - Mr Crawley Is Taken to Silverbridge

About Trollope:

Anthony Trollope's father, Thomas Anthony Trollope, worked as a barrister. Thomas Trollope, though a clever and well-educated man and a Fellow of New College, Oxford, failed at the bar due to his bad temper. In addition, his ventures into farming proved unprofitable and he lost an expected inheritance when an elderly uncle married and had children. Nonetheless, he came from a genteel background, with connections to the landed gentry, and so wished to educate his sons as gentlemen and for them to attend Oxford or Cambridge. The disparity between his family's social background and its poverty would be the cause of much misery to Anthony Trollope during his boyhood. Born in London, Anthony attended Harrow School as a day-boy for three years from the age of seven, as his father's farm lay in that neighbourhood. After a spell at a private school, he followed his father and two older brothers to Winchester College, where he remained for three years. He returned to Harrow as a day-boy to reduce the cost of his education. Trollope had some very miserable experiences at these two public schools. They ranked as two of the most élite schools in England, but Trollope had no money and no friends, and got bullied a great deal. At the age of twelve, he fantasized about suicide. However, he also daydreamed, constructing elaborate imaginary worlds. In 1827, his mother Frances Trollope moved to America with Trollope's three younger siblings, where she opened a bazaar in Cincinnati, which proved unsuccessful. Thomas Trollope joined them for a short time before returning to the farm at Harrow, but Anthony stayed in England throughout. His mother returned in 1831 and rapidly made a name for herself as a writer, soon earning a good income. His father's affairs, however, went from bad to worse. He gave up his legal practice entirely and failed to make enough income from farming to pay rents to his landlord Lord Northwick. In 1834 he fled to Belgium to avoid arrest for debt. The whole family moved to a house near Bruges, where they lived entirely on Frances's earnings. In 1835, Thomas Trollope died. While living in Belgium, Anthony worked as a Classics usher (a junior or assistant teacher) in a school with a view to learning French and German, so that he could take up a promised commission in an Austrian cavalry regiment, which had to be cut short at six weeks. He then obtained a position as a civil servant in the British Post Office through one of his mother's family connections, and returned to London on his own. This provided a respectable, gentlemanly occupation, but not a well-paid one. (from Wikipedia)

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Chapter 1 How Did He Get It?

"I can never bring myself to believe it, John," said Mary Walker, the pretty daughter of Mr George Walker, attorney of Silverbridge. Walker and Winthrop was the name of the firm, and they were respectable people, who did all the solicitors' business that had to be done in that part of Barsetshire on behalf of the Crown, were employed on the local business of the Duke of Omnium, who is great in those parts, and altogether held their heads up high, as provincial lawyers often do. They—the Walkers—lived in a great brick house in the middle of the town, gave dinners, to which the county gentlemen not unfrequently condescended to come, and in a mild way led the fashion in Silverbridge. "I can never bring myself to believe it, John," said Miss Walker.

"You'll have to bring yourself to believe it," said John, without taking his eyes from his book.

"A clergyman,—and such a clergyman too!"

"I don't see that that has anything to do with it." And as he now spoke, John did take his eyes off his book. "Why should not a clergyman turn thief as well as anybody else? You girls always seem to forget that clergymen are only men after all."

"Their conduct is likely to be better than that of other men, I think."

"I deny it utterly," said John Walker. "I'll undertake to say that at this moment there are more clergymen in debt in Barsetshire than there are either lawyers or doctors. This man has always been in debt. Since he has been in the county I don't think he has ever been able to show his face in the High Street of Silverbridge."

"John, that is saying more than you have a right to say," said Mrs Walker.

"Why, mother, this very cheque was given to a butcher who had threatened a few days before to post bills all about the county, giving an account of the debt that was due to him, if the money was not paid at once."

"More shame for Mr Fletcher," said Mary. "He has made a fortune as butcher in Silverbridge."

"What has that to do with it? Of course a man likes to have his money. He had written three times to the bishop, and he had sent a man over to Hogglestock to get his little bill settled six days running. You see he got it at last. Of course, a tradesman must look for his money."

"Mamma, do you think that Mr Crawley stole the cheque?" Mary, as she asked the question, came and stood over her mother, looking at her with anxious eyes.

"I would rather give no opinion, dear."

"But you must think something when everybody is talking about it, mamma."

"Of course my mother thinks he did," said John, going back to his book. "It is impossible that she should think otherwise."

"That is not fair, John," said Mrs Walker; "and I won't have you fabricate thoughts for me, or put the expression of them into my mouth. The whole affair is very painful, and as your father is engaged in the inquiry, I think that the less said about the matter in this house the better. I am sure that that would be your father's feeling."

"Of course I should say nothing about it before him," said Mary. "I know that papa does not wish to have it talked about. But how is one to help thinking about such a thing? It would be so terrible for all of us who belong to the Church."

"I do not see that at all," said John. "Mr Crawley is not more than any other man just because he's a clergyman. I hate all that kind of clap-trap. There are a lot of people here in Silverbridge who think the matter shouldn't be followed up, just because the man is in a position which makes the crime more criminal in him than it would be in another."

"But I feel sure that Mr Crawley has committed no crime at all," said Mary.

"My dear," said Mrs Walker, "I have just said that I would rather you would not talk about it. Papa will be in directly."

"I won't, mamma;—only—"

"Only! yes; just only!" said John. "She'd go on till dinner if any one would stay to hear her."

"You've said twice as much as I have, John." But John had left the room before his sister's words could reach him.

"You know, mamma, it is quite impossible not to help thinking of it," said Mary.

"I dare say it is, my dear."

"And when one knows the people it does make it so dreadful."

"But do you know them? I never spoke to Mr Crawley in my life, and I do not think I ever saw her."

"I knew Grace very well,—when she used to come first to Miss Prettyman's school."

"Poor girl. I pity her."

"Pity her! Pity is no word for it, mamma. My heart bleeds for them. And yet I do not believe for a moment that he stole the cheque. How can it be possible? For though he may have been in debt because they have been so very, very, poor; yet we all know that he has been an excellent clergyman. When the Robartses were dining here last, I heard Mrs Robarts say that for piety and devotion to his duties she had hardly ever seen any one equal to him. And the Robartses know more of them than anybody."

"They say that the dean is his great friend."

"What a pity it is that the Arabins should be away just now when he is in such trouble." And in this way the mother and daughter went on discussing the question of the clergyman's guilt in spite of Mrs Walker's previously expressed desire that nothing more might be said about it. But Mrs Walker, like many other mothers, was apt to be more free in converse with her daughter than she was with her son. While they were thus talking the father came in from his office, and then the subject was dropped. He was a man between fifty and sixty years of age, with grey hair, rather short, and somewhat corpulent, but still gifted with that amount of personal comeliness which comfortable position and the respect of others will generally seem to give. A man rarely carries himself meanly, whom the world holds high in esteem.

"I am very tired, my dear," said Mr Walker.

"You look tired. Come and sit down for a few minutes before you dress. Mary, get your father's slippers." Mary instantly ran to the door.

"Thanks, my darling," said the father. And then he whispered to his wife, as soon as Mary was out of hearing, "I fear the unfortunate man is guilty. I fear he is! I fear he is!"

"Oh, heavens! what will become of them?"

"What indeed? She has been with me to-day."

"Has she? And what could you say to her?"

"I told her at first that I could not see her, and begged her not to speak to me about it. I tried to make her understand that she should go to some one else. But it was of no use."

"And how did it end?"

"I asked her to go in to you, but she declined. She said you could do nothing for her."

"And does she think her husband guilty?"

"No, indeed. She think him guilty! Nothing on earth,—or from heaven either, as I take it, would make her suppose it to be possible. She came to me simply to tell me how good he was."

"I love her for that," said Mrs Walker.

"So did I. But what is the good of loving her? Thank you, dearest. I'll get your slippers for you some day, perhaps."

The whole county was astir in this matter of this alleged guilt of the Reverend Josiah Crawley,—the whole county, almost as keenly as the family of Mr Walker, of Silverbridge. The crime laid to his charge was the theft of a cheque for twenty pounds, which he was said to have stolen out of a pocket-book left or dropped in his house, and to have passed as money into the hands of one Fletcher, a butcher of Silverbridge, to whom he was indebted. Mr Crawley was in those days the perpetual curate of Hogglestock, a parish in the northern extremity of East Barsetshire; a man known by all who knew anything of him to be very poor,—an unhappy, moody, disappointed man, upon whom the troubles of the world always seemed to come with a double weight. But he had ever been respected as a clergyman, since his old friend Mr Arabin, the dean of Barchester, had given him the small incumbency which he now held. Though moody, unhappy, and disappointed, he was a hard-working, conscientious pastor among the poor people with whom his lot was cast; for in the parish of Hogglestock there resided only a few farmers higher in degree than field labourers, brickmakers, and such like. Mr Crawley had now passed some ten years of his life at Hogglestock; and during those years he had worked very hard to do his duty, struggling to teach the people around him perhaps too much of the mystery, but something also of the comfort, of religion. That he had became popular in his parish cannot be said of him. He was not a man to make himself popular in any position. I have said that he was moody and disappointed. He was even worse than this; he was morose, sometimes almost to insanity. There had been days in which even his wife had found it impossible to deal with him otherwise than as with an acknowledged lunatic. And this was known among the farmers, who talked about their clergyman among themselves as though he were a madman. But among the very poor, among the brickmakers of Hoggle End,—a lawless, drunken, terribly rough lot of humanity,—he was held in high respect; for they knew that he lived hardly, as they lived; that he worked hard, as they worked; and that the outside world was hard to him, as it was to them; and there had been an apparent sincerity of godliness about the man, and a manifest struggle to do his duty in spite of the world's ill-usage, which had won its way even with the rough; so that Mr Crawley's name had stood high with many in his parish, in spite of the unfortunate peculiarity of his disposition. This was the man who was now accused of stealing a cheque for twenty pounds.

But before the circumstances of the alleged theft are stated, a word or two must be said as to Mr Crawley's family. It is declared that a good wife is a crown to her husband, but Mrs Crawley had been much more than a crown to him. As had regarded all the inner life of the man,—all that portion of his life which had not been passed in the pulpit or in pastoral teaching,—she had been crown, throne, and sceptre all in one. That she had endured with him and on his behalf the miseries of poverty, and the troubles of a life which had known no smiles, is perhaps not to be alleged as much to her honour. She had joined herself to him for better or worse, and it was her manifest duty to bear such things; wives always have to bear them, knowing when they marry that they must take their chance. Mr Crawley might have been a bishop, and Mrs Crawley, when she married him, perhaps thought it probable that such would be his fortune. Instead of that he was now, just as he was approaching his fiftieth year, a perpetual curate, with an income of one hundred and thirty pounds per annum,—and a family. That had been Mrs Crawley's luck in life, and of course she bore it. But she had also done much more than this. She had striven hard to be contented, or, rather, to appear to be contented, when he had been most wretched and most moody. She had struggled to conceal from him her own conviction as to his half-insanity, treating him at the same time with the respect due to an honoured father of a family, and with the careful measured indulgence fit for a sick and wayward child. In all the terrible troubles of their life her courage had been higher than his. The metal of which she was made had been tempered to a steel which was very rare and fine, but the rareness and fineness of which he had failed to appreciate. He had often told her that she was without pride, because she was stooped to receive from others on his behalf and on behalf of their children, things which were needful, but which she could not buy. He had told her that she was a beggar, and that it was better to starve than to beg. She had borne the rebuke without a word in reply, and had then begged again for him, and had endured the starvation herself. Nothing in their poverty had, for years past, been a shame to her; but every accident of their poverty was still, and ever had been, a living disgrace to him.

They had had many children, and three were still alive. Of the eldest, Grace Crawley, we shall hear much in the coming story. She was at this time nineteen years old, and there were those who said that, in spite of her poverty, her shabby outward apparel, and a certain thin, unfledged, unrounded form of person, a want of fulness in the lines of her figure, she was the prettiest girl in that part of the world. She was living now at a school in Silverbridge, where for the last year she had been a teacher; and there were many in Silverbridge who declared that very bright prospects were opening to her,—that young Major Grantly of Cosby Lodge, who, though a widower with a young child, was the cynosure of all female eyes in and around Silverbridge, had found beauty in her thin face, and that Grace Crawley's fortune was made in the teeth, as it were, of the prevailing ill-fortune of her family. Bob Crawley, who was two years younger, was now at Marlbro' School, from whence it was intended that he should proceed to Cambridge, and be educated there at the expense of his godfather, Dean Arabin. In this also the world saw a stroke of good luck. But then nothing was lucky to Mr Crawley. Bob, indeed, who had done well at school, might do well at Cambridge,—might achieve great things there. But Mr Crawley would almost have preferred that the boy should work in the fields, than that he should be educated in a manner so manifestly eleemosynary. And then his clothes! How was he to be provided with clothes fit either for school or for college? But the dean and Mrs Crawley between them managed this, leaving Mr Crawley very much in the dark, as Mrs Crawley was in the habit of leaving him. Then there was a younger daughter, Jane, still at home, who passed her life between her mother's work-table and her father's Greek, mending linen, and learning to scan iambics,—for Mr Crawley in his early days had been a ripe scholar.

And now there had come upon them all this terribly-crushing disaster. That poor Mr Crawley had gradually got himself into a mess of debt at Silverbridge, from which he was quite unable to extricate himself, was generally known by all the world both of Silverbridge and Hogglestock. To a great many it was known that Dean Arabin had paid money for him, very much contrary to his own consent, and that he had quarrelled, or attempted to quarrel, with the dean in consequence,—had so attempted, although the money had in part passed through his own hands. There had been one creditor, Fletcher, the butcher of Silverbridge, who had of late been specially hard upon poor Crawley. This man, who had not been without good nature in his dealings, had heard stories of the dean's good-will and such like, and had loudly expressed his opinion that the perpetual curate of Hogglestock would show a higher pride in allowing himself to be indebted to a rich brother clergyman, than in remaining under thrall to a butcher. And thus a rumour had grown up. And then the butcher had written repeated letters to the bishop,—to Bishop Proudie of Barchester, who had at first caused his chaplain to answer them, and had told Mr Crawley somewhat roundly what was his opinion of a clergyman who eat meat and did not pay for it. But nothing that the bishop could say or do enabled Mr Crawley to pay the butcher. It was very grievous to such a man as Mr Crawley to receive these letters from such a man as Bishop Proudie; but the letters came, and made festering wounds, but then there was an end of them. And at last there had come forth from the butcher's shop a threat that if the money were not paid by a certain date, printed bills should be posted about the county. All who heard of this in Silverbridge were very angry with Mr Fletcher, for no one there had ever known a tradesman to take such a step before; but Fletcher swore that he would persevere, and defended himself by showing that six or seven months since, in the spring of the year, Mr Crawley had been paying money in Silverbridge, but had paid none to him,—to him who had been not only his earliest, but his most enduring creditor. "He got money from the dean in March," said Mr Fletcher to Mr Walker, "and he paid twelve pounds ten to Green, and seventeen pounds to Grobury, the baker." It was that seventeen pounds to Grobury, the baker, for flour, which made the butcher so fixedly determined to smite the poor clergyman hip and thigh. "And he paid money to Hall and to Mrs Holt, and to a deal more; but he never came near my shop. If he had even shown himself, I would not have said so much about it." And then a day before the date named, Mrs Crawley had come into Silverbridge, and had paid the butcher twenty pounds in four five-pound notes. So far Fletcher the butcher had been successful.

Some six weeks after this, inquiry began to be made as to a certain cheque for twenty pounds drawn by Lord Lufton on his bankers in London, which cheque had been lost in the early spring by Mr Soames, Lord Lufton's man of business in Barsetshire, together with a pocket-book in which it had been folded. This pocket-book Soames had believed himself to have left at Mr Crawley's house, and had gone so far, even at the time of the loss, as to express his absolute conviction that he had so left it. He was in the habit of paying a rentcharge to Mr Crawley on behalf of Lord Lufton, amounting to twenty pound four shillings, every half-year. Lord Lufton held the large tithes of Hogglestock, and paid annually a sum of forty pounds eight shillings to the incumbent. This amount was, as a rule, remitted punctually by Mr Soames through the post. On the occasion now spoken of, he had had some reason to visit Hogglestock, and had paid the money personally to Mr Crawley. Of so much there was no doubt. But he had paid it by a cheque drawn by himself on his own bankers at Barchester, and that cheque had been cashed in the ordinary way on the next morning. On returning to his own house in Barchester he had missed his pocket-book, and had written to Mr Crawley to make inquiry. There had been no money in it, beyond the cheque drawn by Lord Lufton for twenty pounds. Mr Crawley had answered this letter by another, saying that no pocket-book had been found in his house. All this had happened in March.

In October, Mrs Crawley paid twenty pounds to Fletcher, the butcher, and in November Lord Lufton's cheque was traced back through the Barchester bank to Mr Crawley's hands. A brickmaker of Hoggle End, much favoured by Mr Crawley, had asked for change over the counter of this Barchester bank,—not, as will be understood, the bank on which the cheque was drawn—and had received it. The accommodation had been refused to the man at first, but when he presented the cheque the second day, bearing Mr Crawley's name on the back of it, together with a note from Mr Crawley himself, the money had been given for it; and the identical notes so paid had been given to Fletcher, the butcher, on the next day by Mrs Crawley. When inquiry was made, Mr Crawley stated that the cheque had been paid to him by Mr Soames, on behalf of the rentcharge due to him by Lord Lufton. But the error of this statement was at once made manifest. There was the cheque, signed by Mr Soames himself, for the exact amount,—twenty pounds four shillings. As he himself declared, he had never in his life paid money on behalf of Lord Lufton by a cheque drawn by his lordship. The cheque given by Lord Lufton, and which had been lost, had been a private matter between them. His lordship had simply wanted change in his pocket, and his agent had given it to him. Mr Crawley was speedily shown to be altogether wrong in the statement made to account for possession of the cheque.

Then he became very moody and would say nothing further. But his wife, who had known nothing of his first statement when made, came forward and declared that she believed the cheque for twenty pounds to be part of a present given by Dean Arabin to her husband in April last. There had been, she said, great heartburnings about this gift, and she had hardly dared to speak to her husband on the subject. An execution had been threatened in the house by Grobury, the baker, of which the dean had heard. Then there had been some scenes at the deanery between her husband and the dean and Mrs Arabin, as to which she had subsequently heard much from Mrs Arabin. Mrs Arabin had told her that money had been given,—and at last taken. Indeed, so much had been very apparent, as bills had been paid to the amount of at least fifty pounds. When the threat made by the butcher had reached her husband's ears, the effect upon him had been very grievous. All this was the story told by Mrs Crawley to Mr Walker, the lawyer, when he was pushing his inquiries. She, poor woman, at any rate told all that she knew. Her husband had told her one morning, when the butcher's threat was weighing heavily on his mind, speaking to her in such a humour that she found it impossible to cross-question him, that he had still money left, though it was money which he had hoped that he would not be driven to use; and he had given her the four five-pound notes and had told her to go to Silverbridge and satisfy the man who was so eager for his money. She had done so, and had felt no doubt that the money so forthcoming had been given by the dean. That was the story told by Mrs Crawley.

But how could she explain her husband's statement as to the cheque, which had been shown to be altogether false? All this passed between Mr Walker and Mrs Crawley, and the lawyer was very gentle with her. In the first stages of the inquiry he had simply desired to learn the truth, and place the clergyman above suspicion. Latterly, being bound as he was to follow the matter up officially, he would not have seen Mrs Crawley had he been able to escape that lady's importunity. "Mr Walker," she had said, at last, "you do not know my husband. No one knows him but I. It is hard to have to tell you of all our troubles." "If I can lessen them, trust me that I will do so," said the lawyer. "No one, I think, can lessen them in this world," said the lady. "The truth is, sir, that my husband often knows not what he says. When he declared that the money had been paid to him by Mr Soames, most certainly he thought so. There are times when in his misery he knows not what he says,—when he forgets everything."

Up to this period, Mr Walker had not suspected Mr Crawley of anything dishonest, nor did he suspect him as yet. The poor man had probably received the money from the dean, and had told the lie about it, not choosing to own that he had taken money from his rich friend, and thinking that there would be no further inquiry. He had been very foolish, and that would be the end of it. Mr Soames was by no means so good-natured in his belief. "How should my pocket-book have got into Dean Arabin's hands?" said Mr Soames, almost triumphantly. "And then I felt sure at the time that I had left it at Crawley's house!"

Mr Walker wrote a letter to the dean, who at that moment was in Florence, on his way to Rome, from whence he was going on to the Holy Land. There came back a letter from Mr Arabin, saying that on the 17th of March he had given to Mr Crawley a sum of fifty pounds, and that the payment had been made with five Bank of England notes of ten pounds each, which had been handed by him to his friend in the library at the deanery. The letter was very short, and may, perhaps, be described as having been almost curt. Mr Walker, in his anxiety to do the best he could for Mr Crawley, had simply asked a question as to the nature of the transaction between the two gentlemen, saying that no doubt the dean's answer would clear up a little mystery which existed at present respecting a cheque for twenty pounds. The dean in answer simply stated the fact as it has been given above; but he wrote to Mr Crawley begging to know what was in truth this new difficulty, and offering any assistance in his power. He explained all the circumstances of the money, as he remembered them. The sum advanced had certainly consisted of fifty pounds, and there had certainly been five Bank of England notes. He had put the notes into an envelope, which he had not closed, but had addressed to Mr Crawley, and had placed this envelope in his friend's hands. He went on to say that Mrs Arabin would have written, but that she was in Paris with her son. Mrs Arabin was to remain in Paris during his absence in the Holy Land, and meet him in Italy on his return. As she was so much nearer at hand, the dean expressed a hope that Mrs Crawley would apply to her if there was any trouble.

The letter to Mr Walker was conclusive as to the dean's money. Mr Crawley had not received Lord Lufton's cheque from the dean. Then whence had he received it? The poor wife was left by the lawyer to obtain further information from her husband. Ah, who can tell how terrible were the scenes between that poor pair of wretches, as the wife endeavoured to learn the truth from her miserable, half-maddened husband! That her husband had been honest throughout, she had not any shadow of doubt. She did not doubt that to her at least he endeavoured to tell the truth, as far as his poor racked imperfect memory would allow him to remember what was true and what was not true. The upshot of it all was that the husband declared that he still believed that the money had come to him from the dean. He had kept it by him, not wishing to use it if he could help it. He had forgotten it,—so he said at times,—having understood from Arabin that he was to have fifty pounds, and having received more. If it had not come to him from the dean, then it had been sent to him by the Prince of Evil for his utter undoing; and there were times in which he seemed to think that such had been the manner in which the fatal cheque had reached him. In all that he said he was terribly confused, contradictory, unintelligible,—speaking almost as a madman might speak,—ending always in declaring that the cruelty of the world had been too much for him, that the waters were meeting over his head, and praying to God's mercy to remove him from the world. It need hardly be said that his poor wife in these days had a burden on her shoulders that was more than enough to crush any woman.

She at last acknowledged to Mr Walker that she could not account for the twenty pounds. She herself would write again to the dean about it, but she hardly hoped for any further assistance there. "The dean's answer is very plain," said Mr Walker. "He says that he gave Mr Crawley five ten-pound notes, and those five notes we have traced to Mr Crawley's hands." Then Mrs Crawley could say nothing further beyond making protestations of her husband's innocence.

Chapter 2 By Heavens He Had Better Not!

I must ask the reader to make the acquaintance of Major Grantly of Cosby Lodge, before he is introduced to the family of Mr Crawley, at their parsonage in Hogglestock. It has been said that Major Grantly had thrown a favourable eye on Grace Crawley,—by which report occasion was given to all men and women in those parts to hint that the Crawleys, with all their piety and humility, were very cunning, and that one of the Grantlys was,—to say the least of it,—very soft, admitted as it was throughout the county of Barsetshire, that there was no family therein more widely awake to the affairs generally of this world and the next combined, than the family of which Archdeacon Grantly was the respected head and patriarch. Mrs Walker, the most good-natured woman in Silverbridge, had acknowledged to her daughter that she could not understand it,—that she could not see anything at all in Grace Crawley. Mr Walker had shrugged his shoulders and expressed a confident belief that Major Grantly had not a shilling of his own beyond his half-pay and his late wife's fortune, which was only six thousand pounds. Others, who were ill-natured, had declared that Grace Crawley was little better than a beggar, and that she could not possibly have acquired the manners of a gentlewoman. Fletcher the butcher had wondered whether the major would pay his future father-in-law's debts; and Dr Tempest, the old Rector of Silverbridge, whose four daughters were all as yet unmarried, had turned up his old nose, and had hinted that half-pay majors did not get caught in marriage so easily as that.

Such and such like had been the expressions of the opinion of men and women in Silverbridge. But the matter had been discussed further afield than at Silverbridge, and had been allowed to intrude itself as a most unwelcome subject into the family conclave of the archdeacon's rectory. To those who have not as yet learned the fact from the public character and well-appreciated reputation of the man, let it be known that Archdeacon Grantly was at this time, as he had been for many years previously, Archdeacon of Barchester and Rector of Plumstead Episcopi. A rich and prosperous man he had ever been,—though he also had had his sore troubles, as we all have,—his having arisen chiefly from want of that higher ecclesiastical promotion which his soul had coveted, and for which the whole tenour of his life had especially fitted him. Now, in his green old age, he had ceased to covet, but had not ceased to repine. He had ceased to covet aught for himself, but still coveted much for his children; and for him such a marriage as this which was now suggested for his son, was encompassed almost with the bitterness of death. "I think it would kill me," he said to his wife; "by heavens, I think it would be my death!"

A daughter of the archdeacon had made a splendid matrimonial alliance,—so splendid that its history was at the time known to all the aristocracy of the county, and had not been altogether forgotten by any of those who keep themselves well instructed in the details of the peerage. Griselda Grantly had married Lord Dumbello, the eldest son of the Marquis of Hartletop,—than whom no English nobleman was more puissant, if broad acres, many castles, high title, and stars and ribbons are any sign of puissance,—and she was now, herself, Marchioness of Hartletop, with a little Lord Dumbello of her own. The daughter's visits to the parsonage of her father were of necessity rare, such necessity having come from her own altered sphere of life. A Marchioness of Hartletop has special duties which will hardly permit her to devote herself frequently to the humdrum society of a clerical father and mother. That it would be so, father and mother had understood when they sent the fortunate girl forth to a higher world. But, now and again, since her August marriage, she had laid her coroneted head upon one of the old rectory pillows for a night or so, and, on such occasions all the Plumsteadians had been loud in praise of her condescension. Now it happened that when this second and more aggravated blast of the evil wind reached the rectory,—the renewed waft of the tidings as to Major Grantly's infatuation regarding Miss Grace Crawley, which, on its renewal, seemed to bring with it something of confirmation,—it chanced, I say, that at that moment Griselda, Marchioness of Hartletop, was gracing the paternal mansion. It need hardly be said that the father was not slow to invoke such a daughter's counsel, and such a sister's aid.

I am not quite sure that the mother would have been equally quick to ask her daughter's advice, had she been left in the matter entirely to her own propensities. Mrs Grantly had ever loved her daughter dearly, and had been very proud of that great success in life which Griselda had achieved; but in late years, the child had become, as a woman, separate from the mother, and there had arisen not unnaturally, a break of that close confidence which in early years had existed between them. Griselda, Marchioness of Hartletop, was more than ever a daughter of the archdeacon, even though he might never see her. Nothing could rob him of the honour of such a progeny,—nothing, even though there had been actual estrangement between them. But it was not so with Mrs Grantly. Griselda had done very well, and Mrs Grantly had rejoiced; but she had lost her child. Now the major, who had done well also, though in a much lesser degree, was still her child, moving in the same sphere of life with her, still dependent in a great degree upon his father's bounty, a neighbour in the county, a frequent visitor at the parsonage, and a visitor who could be received without any of that trouble that attended the unfrequent comings of Griselda, the Marchioness, to the home of her youth. And for this reason Mrs Grantly, terribly put out as she was at the idea of a marriage between her son and one standing so poorly in the world's esteem as Grace Crawley, would not have brought forward the matter before her daughter, had she been left to her own desires. A marchioness in one's family is a tower of strength, no doubt; but there are counsellors so strong that we do not wish to trust them, lest in the trusting we ourselves be overwhelmed by their strength. Now Mrs Grantly was by no means willing to throw her influence into the hands of her titled daughter.

But the titled daughter was consulted and gave her advice. On the occasion of the present visit to Plumstead she had consented to lay her head for two nights on the parsonage pillows, and on the second evening her brother the major was to come over from Cosby Lodge to meet her. Before his coming the affair of Grace Crawley was discussed.

"It would break my heart, Griselda," said the archdeacon, piteously—"and your mother's."

"There is nothing against the girl's character," said Mrs Grantly, "and the father and mother are gentlefolks by birth; but such a marriage for Henry would be very unseemly."

"To make it worse, there is this terrible story about him," said the archdeacon.

"I don't suppose there is much in that," said Mrs Grantly.

"I can't say. There is no knowing. They told me to-day in Barchester that Soames is pressing the case against him."

"Who is Soames, papa?" asked the marchioness.

"He is Lord Lufton's man of business, my dear."

"Oh, Lord Lufton's man of business!" There was something of a sneer in the tone of the lady's voice as she mentioned Lord Lufton's name.

"I am told," continued the archdeacon, "that Soames declares the cheque was taken from a pocket-book which he left by accident in Crawley's house."

"You don't mean to say, archdeacon, that you think that Mr Crawley—a clergyman—stole it!" said Mrs Grantly.

"I don't say anything of the kind, my dear. But supposing Mr Crawley to be as honest as the sun, you wouldn't wish Henry to marry his daughter."

"Certainly not," said the mother. "It would be an unfitting marriage. The poor girl has no advantages."

"He is not able even to pay his baker's bill. I always though Arabin was very wrong to place such a man in such a parish as Hogglestock. Of course the family could not live there." The Arabin here spoken of was Dr Arabin, dean of Barchester. The dean and the archdeacon had married sisters, and there was much intimacy between the families.

"After all it is only rumour, as yet," said Mrs Grantly.

"Fothergill told me only yesterday, that he sees her almost every day," said the father. "What are we to do, Griselda? You know how headstrong Henry is." The marchioness sat quite still, looking at the fire, and made no immediate answer to his address.

"There is nothing for it, but that you should tell him what you think," said the mother.

"If his sister were to speak to him, it might do much," said the archdeacon. To this Mrs Grantly said nothing; but Mrs Grantly's daughter understood very well that her mother's confidence in her was not equal to her father's. Lady Hartletop said nothing, but still sat, with impassive face, and eyes fixed upon the fire. "I think that if you were to speak to him, Griselda, and tell him that he would disgrace his family, he would be ashamed to go on with such a marriage," said the father. "He would feel, connected as he is with Lord Hartletop—"

"I don't think he would feel anything about that," said Mrs Grantly.

"I dare say not," said Lady Hartletop.

"I am sure he ought to feel it," said the father. They were all silent, and sat looking at the fire.

"I suppose, papa, you allow Henry an income," said Lady Hartletop, after a while.

"Indeed I do,—eight hundred a year."

"Then I think I should tell him that that must depend upon his conduct. Mamma, if you won't mind ringing the bell, I will send for Cecile, and go upstairs and dress." Then the marchioness went upstairs to dress, and in about an hour the major arrived in his dog-cart. He also was allowed to go upstairs to dress before anything was said to him about his great offence.

"Griselda is right," said the archdeacon, speaking to his wife out of his dressing-room. "She is always right. I never knew a young woman with more sense than Griselda."

"But you do not mean to say that in any event you would stop Henry's income?" Mrs Grantly also was dressing, and made reply out of her bedroom.

"Upon my word, I don't know. As a father I would do anything to prevent such a marriage as that."

"But if he did marry her in spite of the threat? And he would if he had once said so."

"Is a father's word, then, to go for nothing; and a father who allows his son eight hundred a year? If he told the girl that he would be ruined she couldn't hold him to it."

"My dear, they'd know as well as I do, that you would give way after three months."

"But why should I give way? Good heavens—!"

"Of course you'd give way, and of course we should have the young woman here, and of course we should make the best of it."

The idea of having Grace Crawley as a daughter at the Plumstead Rectory was too much for the archdeacon, and he resented it by additional vehemence to the tone of his voice, and a nearer personal approach to the wife of his bosom. All unaccoutred as he was, he stood in the doorway between the two rooms, and thence fulminated at his wife his assurances that he would never allow himself to be immersed in such a depth of humility as that she had suggested. "I can tell you this, then, that if ever she comes here, I shall take care to be away. I will never receive her here. You can do as you please."

"That is just what I cannot do. If I could do as I pleased, I would put a stop to it at once."

"It seems to me that you want to encourage him. A child about sixteen years of age!"

"I am told she is nineteen."

"What does it matter if she is fifty-nine? Think of what her bringing up has been. Think what it would be to have all the Crawleys in our house for ever, and all their debts, and all their disgrace!"

"I do not know that they have ever been disgraced."

"You'll see. The whole county has heard of the affair of this twenty pounds. Look at that dear girl upstairs, who has been such a comfort to us. Do you think it would be fit that she and her husband should meet such a one as Grace Crawley at our table?"

"I don't think it would do them a bit of harm," said Mrs Grantly. "But there would be no chance of that, seeing that Griselda's husband never comes to us."

"He was here the year before last."

"And I never was so tired of a man in all my life."

"Then you prefer the Crawleys, I suppose. This is what you get from Eleanor's teaching." Eleanor was the dean's wife, and Mrs Grantly's younger sister. "It has always been a sorrow to me that I ever brought Arabin into the diocese."

"I never asked you to bring him, archdeacon. But nobody was so glad as you when he proposed to Eleanor."

"Well, the long and short of it is this, I shall tell Henry to-night that if he makes a fool of himself with this girl, he must not look to me any longer for an income. He has about six hundred a year of his own, and if he chooses to throw himself away, he had better go and live in the south of France, or in Canada, or where he pleases. He shan't come here."

"I hope he won't marry the girl, with all my heart," said Mrs Grantly.

"He had better not. By heavens, he had better not!"

"But if he does, you'll be the first to forgive him."

On hearing this the archdeacon slammed the door, and retired to his washing apparatus. At the present moment he was very angry with his wife, but then he was so accustomed to such anger, and was so well aware that it in truth meant nothing, that it did not make him unhappy. The archdeacon and Mrs Grantly had now been man and wife for more than a quarter of a century and had never in truth quarrelled. He had the most profound respect for her judgment, and the most implicit reliance on her conduct. She had never yet offended him, or caused him to repent the hour in which he had made her Mrs Grantly. But she had come to understand that she might use a woman's privilege with her tongue; and she used it,—not altogether to his comfort. On the present occasion he was the more annoyed because he felt that she might be right. "It would be a positive disgrace, and I never would see him again," he said to himself. And yet as he said it, he knew that he would not have the strength of character to carry him through a prolonged quarrel with his son. "I never would see her,—never, never!" he said to himself. "And then such an opening as he might have at his sister's house!"

Major Grantly had been a successful man in life,—with the one exception of having lost the mother of his child within a twelvemonth of his marriage and within a few hours of that child's birth. He had served in India as a very young man, and had been decorated with the Victoria Cross. Then he had married a lady with some money, and had left the active service of the army, with the concurring advice of his own family and that of his wife. He had taken a small place in his father's county, but the wife for whose comfort he had taken it had died before she was permitted to see it. Nevertheless he had gone to reside there, hunting a good deal and farming a little, making himself popular in the district, and keeping up the good name of Grantly in a successful way, till—alas,—it had seemed good to him to throw those favouring eyes on poor Grace Crawley. His wife had now been dead just two years, and he was still under thirty; no one could deny it would be right that he should marry again. No one did deny it. His father had hinted that he ought to do so, and had generously whispered that if some little increase to the major's present income were needed, he might possibly be able to do something. "What is the good of keeping it?" the archdeacon had said in liberal after-dinner warmth; "I only want it for your brother and yourself." The brother was a clergyman.

And the major's mother had strongly advised him to marry again without loss of time. "My dear Henry," she had said, "you'll never be younger, and youth does go for something. As for dear little Edith, being a girl, she is almost no impediment. Do you know those two girls at Chaldicotes?"

"What, Mrs Thorne's nieces?"

"No; they are not her nieces but her cousins. Emily Dunstable is very handsome;—and as for money—!"

"But what about birth, mother?"

"One can't have everything, my dear."

"As far as I am concerned, I should like to have everything or nothing," the major said, laughing. Now for him to think of Grace Crawley after that,—of Grace Crawley who had no money, and no particular birth, and not even beauty itself,—so at least Mrs Grantly said,—who had not even enjoyed the ordinary education of a lady, was too bad. Nothing had been wanting to Emily Dunstable's education, and it was calculated that she would have at least twenty thousand pounds on the day of her marriage.

The disappointment of the mother would be the more sore because she had gone to work upon her little scheme with reference to Miss Emily Dunstable, and had at first, as she thought, seen her way to success,—to success in spite of the disparaging words which her son had spoken to her. Mrs Thorne's house at Chaldicotes,—or Dr Thorne's house as it should, perhaps, be more properly called, for Dr Thorne was the husband of Mrs Thorne,—was in these days the pleasantest house in Barsetshire. No one saw so much company as the Thornes, or spent so much money in so pleasant a way. The great county families, the Pallisers and the De Courcys, the Luftons and the Greshams, were no doubt grander, and some of them were perhaps richer than the Chaldicote Thornes,—as they were called to distinguish them from the Thornes of Ullathorne; but none of these people were so pleasant in their ways, so free in their hospitality, or so easy in their modes of living, as the doctor and his wife. When first Chaldicotes, a very old country seat, had by the chances of war fallen into their hands and been newly furnished, and newly decorated, and newly gardened, and newly greenhoused and hot-watered by them, many of the county people had turned up their noses at them. Dear old Lady Lufton had done so, and had been greatly grieved,—saying nothing, however, of her grief, when her son and daughter-in-law had broken away from her, and submitted themselves to the blandishments of the doctor's wife. And the Grantlys had stood aloof, partly influenced, no doubt, by their dear and intimate old friend Miss Monica Thorne of Ullathorne, a lady of the very old school, who, though good as gold and kind as charity, could not endure that an interloping Mrs Thorne, who never had a grandfather, should come to honour and glory in the county, simply because of her riches. Miss Monica Thorne stood out, but Mrs Grantly gave way, and having once given way found that Dr Thorne, and Mrs Thorne, and Emily Dunstable, and Chaldicote House together, were very charming. And the major had been once there with her, and had made himself very pleasant, and there had certainly been some little passage of incipient love between him and Miss Dunstable, as to which Mrs Thorne, who managed everything, seemed to be well pleased. This had been after the first mention made by Mrs Grantly to her son of Emily Dunstable's name, but before she had heard any faintest whispers of his fancy for Grace Crawley; and she had therefore been justified in hoping,—almost in expecting, that Emily Dunstable would be her daughter-in-law, and was therefore the more aggrieved when this terrible Crawley peril first opened itself before her eyes.

Chapter 3 The Archdeacon's Threat

The dinner-party at the rectory comprised none but the Grantly family. The marchioness had written to say that she preferred to have it so. The father had suggested that the Thornes of Ullathorne, very old friends, might be asked, and the Greshams from Boxall Hill, and had even promised to endeavour to get old Lady Lufton over to the rectory, Lady Lufton having in former years been Griselda's warm friend. But Lady Hartletop had preferred to see her dear mother and father in privacy. Her brother Henry she would be glad to meet, and hoped to make some arrangement with him for a short visit to Hartlebury, her husband's place in Shropshire,—as to which latter hint, it may, however, be at once said, that nothing further was spoken after the Crawley alliance had been suggested. And there had been a very sore point mooted by the daughter in a request made by her to her father that she might not be called upon to meet her grandfather, her mother's father. Mr Harding, a clergyman of Barchester, who was now stricken in years.—"Papa would not have come," said Mrs Grantly, "but I think,—I do think—" Then she stopped herself.

"Your father has odd ways sometimes, my dear. You know how fond I am of having him here myself."

"It does not signify," said Mrs Grantly. "Do not let us say anything more about it. Of course we cannot have everything. I am told the child does her duty in her sphere of life, and I suppose we ought to be contented." Then Mrs Grantly went up to her own room, and there she cried. Nothing was said to the major on the unpleasant subject of the Crawleys before dinner. He met his sister in the drawing-room, and was allowed to kiss her noble cheek. "I hope Edith is well, Henry," said the sister. "Quite well; and little Dumbello is the same, I hope?" "Thank you, yes; quite well." Then there seemed to be nothing more to be said between the two. The major never made inquiries after the august family, or would allow it to appear that he was conscious of being shone upon by the wife of a marquis. Any adulation which Griselda received of that kind came from her father, and therefore, unconsciously she had learned to think that her father was better bred than the other members of her family, and more fitted by nature to move in that sacred circle to which she herself had been exalted. We need not dwell upon the dinner, which was but a dull affair. Mrs Grantly strove to carry on the family party exactly as it would have been carried on had her daughter married the son of some neighbouring squire; but she herself was conscious of the struggle, and the fact of there being a struggle produced failure. The rector's servants treated the daughter of the house with special awe, and the marchioness herself moved, and spoke, and ate, and drank with a cold magnificence, which I think had become a second nature with her, but which was not on that account the less oppressive. Even the archdeacon, who enjoyed something in that which was so disagreeable to his wife, felt a relief when he was left alone after dinner with his son. He felt relieved as his son got up to open the door for his mother and sister, but was aware at the same time that he had before him a most difficult and possibly a most disastrous task. His dear son Henry was not a man to be talked smoothly out of, or into, any propriety. He had a will of his own, and having hitherto been a successful man, who in youth had fallen into few youthful troubles,—who had never justified his father in using stern parental authority,—was not now inclined to bend his neck. "Henry," said the archdeacon, "what are you drinking? That's '34 port, but it's not just what it should be. Shall I send for another bottle?"

"It will do for me, sir. I shall only take a glass."

"I shall drink two or three glasses of claret. But you young fellows have become so desperately temperate."

"We take our wine at dinner, sir."

"By-the-bye, how well Griselda is looking."

"Yes, she is. It's always easy for women to look well when they're rich." How would Grace Crawley look, then, who was poor as poverty itself, and who should remain poor, if his son was fool enough to marry her? That was the train of thought which ran through the archdeacon's mind. "I do not think much of riches," said he, "but it is always well that a gentleman's wife or a gentleman's daughter should have a sufficiency to maintain her position in life."

"You may say the same, sir, of everybody's wife and everybody's daughter."

"You know what I mean, Henry."

"I am not quite sure that I do, sir."

"Perhaps I had better speak out at once. A rumour has reached your mother and me, which we don't believe for a moment, but which, nevertheless, makes us unhappy even as a report. They say that there is a young woman living in Silverbridge to whom you are becoming attached."

"Is there any reason why I should not become attached to a young woman in Silverbridge?—though I hope any young woman to whom I may become attached will be worthy at any rate of being called a young lady."

"I hope so, Henry; I hope so. I do hope so."

"So much I will promise, sir; but I will promise nothing more."

The archdeacon looked across at his son's face, and his heart sank within him. His son's voice and his son's eyes seemed to tell him two things. They seemed to tell him, firstly, that the rumour about Grace Crawley was true; and, secondly, that the major was resolved not to be talked out of his folly. "But you are not engaged to any one, are you?" said the archdeacon. The son did not at first make any answer, and then the father repeated the question. "Considering our mutual positions, Henry, I think you ought to tell me if you are engaged."

"I am not engaged. Had I become so, I should have taken the first opportunity of telling you or my mother."

"Thank God. Now, my dear boy, I can speak out more plainly. The young woman whose name I have heard is daughter to that Mr Crawley who is perpetual curate at Hogglestock. I knew that there could be nothing in it."

"But there is something in it, sir."

"What is there in it? Do not keep me in suspense, Henry. What is it you mean?"

"It is rather hard to be cross-questioned in this way on such a subject. When you express yourself as thankful that there is nothing in the rumour, I am forced to stop you, as otherwise it is possible that hereafter you may say that I have deceived you."

"But you don't mean to marry her?"

"I certainly do not pledge myself not to do so."

"Do you mean to tell me, Henry, that you are in love with Miss Crawley?" Then there was another pause, during which the archdeacon sat looking for an answer; but the major never said a word. "Am I to suppose that you intend to lower yourself by marrying a young woman who cannot possibly have enjoyed any of the advantages of a lady's education? I say nothing of the imprudence of the thing; nothing of her own want of fortune; nothing of your having to maintain a whole family steeped in poverty; nothing of the debts and character of the father, upon whom, as I understand, at this moment there rests a very grave suspicion of—of—of—what I'm afraid I must call downright theft."

"Downright theft, certainly, if he were guilty."

"I say nothing of all that; but looking at the young woman herself—"

"She is simply the best educated girl whom it has ever been my lot to meet."

"Henry, I have a right to expect that you will be honest with me."

"I am honest with you."

"Do you mean to ask this girl to marry you?"

"I do not think that you have any right to ask me that question, sir."

"I have a right at any rate to tell you this, that if you so far disgrace yourself and me, I shall consider myself bound to withdraw from you all the sanction which would be conveyed by my—my—my continued assistance."

"Do you intend me to understand that you will stop my income?"

"Certainly I should."

"Then, sir, I think you would behave to me most cruelly. You advised me to give up my profession."

"Not in order that you might marry Grace Crawley."

"I claim the privilege of a man of my age to do as I please in such a matter as marriage. Miss Crawley is a lady. Her father is a clergyman, as is mine. Her father's oldest friend is my uncle. There is nothing on earth against her except her poverty. I do not think I ever heard of such cruelty on a father's part."

"Very well, Henry."

"I have endeavoured to do my duty by you, sir, always; and by my mother. You can treat me in this way, if you please, but it will not have any effect on my conduct. You can stop my allowance to-morrow, if you like it. I had not as yet made up my mind to make an offer to Miss Crawley, but I shall now do so to-morrow morning."

This was very bad indeed, and the archdeacon was extremely unhappy. He was by no means at heart a cruel man. He loved his children dearly. If this disagreeable marriage were to take place, he would doubtless do exactly as his wife had predicted. He would not stop his son's income for a single quarter; and, though he went on telling himself that he would stop it, he knew in his own heart that any such severity was beyond his power. He was a generous man in money matters,—having a dislike for poverty which was not generous,—and for his own sake could not have endured to see a son of his in want. But he was terribly anxious to exercise the power which the use of the threat might give him. "Henry," he said, "you are treating me badly, very badly. My anxiety has always been for the welfare of my children. Do you think that Miss Crawley would be a fitting sister-in-law for that dear girl upstairs?"

"Certainly I do, or for any other dear girl in the world; excepting that Griselda, who is not clever, would hardly be able to appreciate Miss Crawley, who is clever."

"Griselda not clever! Good heavens!" Then there was another pause, and as the major said nothing, the father continued his entreaties. "Pray, pray think of what my wishes are, and your mother's. You are not committed as yet. Pray think of us while there is time. I would rather double your income if I saw you marry any one that we could name here."

"I have enough as it is, if I may only be allowed to know that it will not be capriciously withdrawn." The archdeacon filled his glass unconsciously, and sipped his wine, while he thought what further he might say. Perhaps it might be better that he should say nothing further at the present moment. The major, however, was indiscreet, and pushed the question. "May I understand, sir, that your threat is withdrawn, and that my income is secure?"

"What, if you marry this girl?"

"Yes sir; will my income be continued to me if I marry Miss Crawley?"

"No, it will not." Then the father got up hastily, pushed the decanter back angrily from his hand, and without saying another word walked away into the drawing-room. That evening at the rectory was very gloomy. The archdeacon now and again said a word or two to his daughter, and his daughter answered him in monosyllables. The major sat apart moodily, and spoke to no one. Mrs Grantly, understanding well what had passed, knew that nothing could be done at the present moment to restore family comfort; so she sat by the fire and knitted. Exactly at ten they all went to bed.

"Dear Henry," said the mother to her son the next morning; "think much of yourself, and of your child, and of us, before you take any great step in life."

"I will, mother," said he. Then he went out and put on his wrapper, and got into his dog-cart, and drove himself off to Silverbridge. He had not spoken to his father since they were in the dining-room on the previous evening. When he started, the marchioness had not yet come downstairs; but at eleven she breakfasted, and at twelve she also was taken away. Poor Mrs Grantly had not had much comfort from her children's visits.

Chapter 4 The Clergyman's House at Hogglestock

Mrs Crawley had walked from Hogglestock to Silverbridge on the occasion of her visit to Mr Walker, the attorney, and had been kindly sent back by that gentleman in his wife's little open carriage. The tidings she brought home with her to her husband were very grievous. The magistrates would sit on the next Thursday,—it was then Friday,—and Mr Crawley had better appear before them to answer the charge made by Mr Soames. He would be served with a summons, which he could obey of his own accord. There had been many points very closely discussed between Walker and Mrs Crawley, as to which there had been great difficulty in the choice of words which should be tender enough in regard to the feelings of the poor lady, and yet strong enough to convey to her the very facts as they stood. Would Mr Crawley come, or must a policeman be sent to fetch him? The magistrates had already issued a warrant for his apprehension. Such in truth was the fact, but they had agreed with Mr Walker, that as there was no reasonable ground for anticipating any attempt at escape on the part of the reverend gentleman, the lawyer might use what gentle means he could for ensuring the clergyman's attendance. Could Mrs Crawley undertake to say that he would appear? Mrs Crawley did undertake either that her husband should appear on the Thursday, or else that she would send over in the early part of the week and declare her inability to ensure his appearance. In that case it was understood the policeman must come. Then Mr Walker had suggested that Mr Crawley had better employ a lawyer. Upon this Mrs Crawley had looked beseechingly up into Mr Walker's face, and had asked him to undertake the duty. He was of course obliged to explain that he was already employed on the other side. Mr Soames had secured his services, and though he was willing to do all in his power to mitigate the sufferings of the family, he could not abandon the duty he had undertaken. He named another attorney, however, and then sent the poor woman home in his wife's carriage. "I fear that unfortunate man is guilty. I fear he is," Mr Walker had said to his wife within ten minutes of the departure of the visitor.

Mrs Crawley would not allow herself to be driven up to the garden gate before her own house, but had left the carriage some three hundred yards off down the road, and from thence she walked home. It was now quite dark. It was nearly six in the evening on a wet December night, and although cloaks and shawls had been supplied to her, she was wet and cold when she reached her home. But at such a moment, anxious as she was to prevent the additional evil which would come to them all from illness to herself, she could not pass through to her room till she had spoken to her husband. He was sitting in the one sitting-room on the left side of the passage as the house was entered, and with him was their daughter Jane, a girl now nearly sixteen years of age. There was no light in the room, and hardly more than a spark of fire showed in the grate. The father was sitting on one side of the hearth, in an old arm-chair, and there he had sat for the last hour without speaking. His daughter had been in and out of the room, and had endeavoured to gain his attention now and again by a word, but he had never answered her, and had not even noticed her presence. At the moment when Mrs Crawley's step was heard upon the gravel which led to the door, Jane was kneeling before the fire with a hand upon her father's arm. She had tried to get her hand into his, but he had either been unaware of the attempt, or had rejected it.

"Here is mamma, at last," said Jane, rising to her feet as her mother entered the house.

"Are you all in the dark," said Mrs Crawley, striving to speak in a voice that should not be sorrowful.

"Yes, mamma; we are in the dark. Papa is here. Oh, mamma, how wet you are!"

"Yes, dear. It is raining. Get a light out of the kitchen, Jane, and I will go upstairs in two minutes." Then, when Jane was gone, the wife made her way in the dark over to her husband's side, and spoke a word to him. "Josiah," she said, "will you not speak to me?"

"What should I speak about? Where have you been?"

"I have been to Silverbridge. I have been to Mr Walker. He, at any rate, is very kind."

"I don't want his kindness. I want no man's kindness. Mr Walker is the attorney, I believe. Kind indeed!"

"I mean considerate. Josiah, let us do the best we can in this trouble. We have had others as heavy before."

"But none to crush me as this will crush me. Well; what am I to do? Am I to go to prison—to-night?" At this moment his daughter returned with a candle, and the mother could not make her answer at once. It was a wretched, poverty-stricken room. By degrees the carpet had disappeared, which had been laid down some nine or ten years since, when they had first come to Hogglestock, and which even then had not been new. Now nothing but a poor fragment of it remained in front of the fireplace. In the middle of the room there was a table which had once been large; but one flap of it was gone altogether, and the other flap sloped grievously towards the floor, the weakness of old age having fallen into its legs. There were two or three smaller tables about, but they stood propped against walls, thence obtaining a security which their own strength would not give them. At the further end of the room there was an ancient piece of furniture, which was always called "papa's secretary", at which Mr Crawley customarily sat and wrote his sermons, and did all work that was done by him within the house. The man who had made it, some time in the last century, had intended it to be a locked guardian for domestic documents, and the receptacle for all that was most private in the house of some pater-familias. But beneath the hands of Mr Crawley it always stood open; and with the exception of the small space at which he wrote, was covered with dog's-eared books, from nearly all of which the covers had disappeared. There were there two odd volumes of Euripides, a Greek Testament, an Odyssey, a duodecimo Pindar, and a miniature Anacreon. There was half a Horace,—the two first books of the Odes at the beginning and the De Arte Poetica at the end having disappeared. There was a little bit of a volume of Cicero, and there were Caesar's Commentaries, in two volumes, so stoutly bound that they had defied the combined ill-usage of time and the Crawley family. All these were piled upon the secretary, with many others,—odd volumes of sermons and the like; but the Greek and Latin lay at the top, and showed signs of most frequent use. There was one arm-chair in the room,—a Windsor chair, as such used to be called, made soft by an old cushion in the back, in which Mr Crawley sat when both he and his wife were in the room, and Mrs Crawley when he was absent. And there was an old horsehair sofa,—now almost denuded of its horsehair,—but that, like the tables, required the assistance of a friendly wall. Then there was half a dozen of other chairs,—all of different sorts,—and they completed the furniture of the room. It was not such a room as one would wish to see inhabited by a beneficed clergyman of the Church of England; but they who know what money will do and what it will not, will understand how easily a man with a family, and with a hundred and thirty pounds a year, may be brought to the need of inhabiting such a chamber. When it is remembered that three pounds of meat a day, at ninepence a pound, will cost over forty pounds a year, there need be no difficulty in understanding that it may be so. Bread for such a family must cost at least twenty-five pounds. Clothes for five persons, of whom one must at any rate wear the raiment of a gentleman, can hardly be found for less than ten pounds a year a head. Then there remains fifteen pounds for tea, sugar, beer, wages, education, amusements, and the like. In such circumstances a gentleman can hardly pay much for the renewal of his furniture!

Mrs Crawley could not answer her husband's question before her daughter, and was therefore obliged to make another excuse for again sending her out of the room. "Jane, dear," she said, "bring my things down to the kitchen and I will change them by the fire. I will be there in two minutes, when I have had a word with your papa." The girl went immediately and then Mrs Crawley answered her husband's question. "No, my dear; there is no question of your going to prison."

"But there will be."

"I have undertaken that you shall attend before the magistrates at Silverbridge on Thursday next, at twelve o'clock. You will do that?"

"Do it! You mean, I suppose, to say that I must go there. Is anybody to come and fetch me?"

"Nobody will come. Only you must promise that you will be there. I have promised for you. You will go; will you not?" She stood leaning over him, half embracing him, waiting for an answer; but for a while he gave none. "You will tell me that you will do what I have undertaken for you, Josiah?"

"I think I would rather that they fetched me. I think that I will not go myself."

"And have policemen come for you into the parish! Mr Walker has promised that he will send over his phaeton. He sent me home in it to-day."

"I want nobody's phaeton. If I go I will walk. If it were ten times the distance, and though I had not a shoe left to my feet I would walk. If I go there at all, of my own accord, I will walk there."

"But you will go?"

"What do I care for the parish? What matters who sees me now? I cannot be degraded worse than I am. Everybody knows it."

"There is no disgrace without guilt," said his wife.

"Everybody thinks me guilty. I see it in their eyes. The children know of it, and I hear whispers in the school. 'Mr Crawley has taken some money.' I heard the girl say it myself."

"What matters what the girl says?"

"And yet you would have me go in a fine carriage to Silverbridge, as though to a wedding. If I am wanted let them take me as they would another. I shall be here for them,—unless I am dead."

At this moment Jane appeared, pressing her mother to take off her wet clothes, and Mrs Crawley went with her daughter to the kitchen. The one red-armed young girl who was their only servant was sent away, and then the mother and the child discussed how best they might prevail with the head of the family. "But, mamma, it must come right; must it not?"

"I trust it will; I think it will. But I cannot see my way as yet."

"Papa cannot have done anything wrong."

"No, my dear; he has done nothing wrong. He has made great mistakes, and it is hard to make people understand that he has not intentionally spoken untruths. He is ever thinking of other things, about the school, and his sermons, and he does not remember."

"And about how poor we are, mamma."

"He has much to occupy his mind, and he forgets things which dwell in the memory with other people. He said that he had got his money from Mr Soames, and of course he thought that it was so."

"And where did he get it, mamma?"

"Ah,—I wish I knew. I should have said that I had seen every shilling that came into the house; but I know nothing of this cheque,—whence it came."

"But will not papa tell you?"

"He would tell me if he knew. He thinks it came from the dean."

"And are you sure it did not?"

"Yes; quite sure; as sure as I can be of anything. The dean told me he would give him fifty pounds, and the fifty pounds came. I had them in my own hands. And he has written to say that it was so."

"But couldn't this be part of the fifty pounds?"

"No, dear, no."

"Then where did papa get it? Perhaps he picked it up and has forgotten?"

To this Mrs Crawley made no reply. The idea that the cheque had been found by her husband,—had been picked up as Jane had said,—had occurred also to Jane's mother. Mr Soames was confident that he had dropped the pocket-book at the parsonage. Mrs Crawley had always disliked Mr Soames, thinking him to be hard, cruel, and vulgar. She would not have hesitated to believe him guilty of a falsehood, or even of direct dishonesty, if by so believing she could in her own mind have found the means of reconciling her husband's possession of the cheque with absolute truth on his part. But she could not do so. Even though Soames had, with devilish premeditated malice, slipped the cheque into her husband's pocket, his having done so would not account for her husband's having used the cheque when he found it there. She was driven to make excuses for him which, valid as they might be with herself, could not be valid with others. He had said that Mr Soames had paid the cheque to him. That was clearly a mistake. He had said that the cheque had been given to him by the dean. That was clearly another mistake. She knew, or thought she knew, that he, being such as he was, might make such blunders as these, and yet be true. She believed that such statements might be blunders and not falsehoods,—so convinced was she that her husband's mind would not act at all times as do the minds of other men. But having such a conviction she was driven to believe also that almost anything might be possible. Soames may have been right, or he might have dropped, not the book, but the cheque. She had no difficulty in presuming Soames to be wrong in any detail, if by so supposing she could make the exculpation of her husband easier to herself. If villainy on the part of Soames was needful to her theory, Soames would become to her a villain at once,—of the blackest dye. Might it not be possible that the cheque having thus fallen into her husband's hands, he had come, after a while, to think that it had been sent to him by his friend, the dean? And if it were so, would it be possible to make others so believe? That there was some mistake which would be easily explained were her husband's mind lucid at all points, but which she could not explain because of the darkness of his mind, she was thoroughly convinced. But were she herself to put forward such a defence on her husband's part, she would in doing so be driven to say that he was a lunatic,—that he was incapable of managing the affairs of himself or his family. It seemed to her that she would be compelled to have him proved to be either a thief or a madman. And yet she knew that he was neither. That he was not a thief was as clear to her as the sun at noonday. Could she have lain on this man's bosom for twenty years, and not yet have learned the secrets of the heart beneath? The whole mind of the man was, as she told herself, within her grasp. He might have taken the twenty pounds; he might have taken it and spent it, though it was not his own; but yet he was no thief. Nor was he a madman. No man more sane in preaching the gospel of his Lord, in making intelligible to the ignorant the promises of his Saviour, ever got into a parish pulpit, or taught in a parish school. The intellect of the man was as clear as running water in all things not appertaining to his daily life and its difficulties. He could be logical with a vengeance,—so logical as to cause infinite trouble to his wife, who, with all her good sense, was not logical. And he had Greek at his fingers' ends,—as his daughter knew very well. And even to this day he would sometimes recite to them English poetry, lines after lines, stanzas upon stanzas, in a sweet low melancholy voice, on long winter evenings when occasionally the burden of his troubles would be lighter to him than was usual. Books in Latin and in French he read with as much ease as in English, and took delight in such as came to him, when he would condescend to accept such loans from the deanery. And there was at times a lightness of heart about the man. In the course of the last winter he had translated into Greek irregular verse the very noble ballad of Lord Bateman, maintaining the rhythm and the rhyme, and had repeated it with uncouth glee till his daughter knew it all by heart. And when there had come to him a five-pound note from some admiring magazine editor as the price of the same,—still through the dean's hands,—he had brightened up his heart and had thought for an hour or two that even yet the world would smile upon him. His wife knew well that he was not mad; but yet she knew that there were dark moments with him, in which his mind was so much astray that he could not justly be called to account as to what he might remember and what he might forget. How would it be possible to explain all this to a judge and jury, so that they might neither say that he was dishonest, nor yet that he was mad? "Perhaps he picked it up, and had forgotten," her daughter said to her. Perhaps it was so, but she might not as yet admit as much even to her child.

"It is a mystery, dear, as yet, which, with God's aid, will be unravelled. Of one thing we at least may be sure; that your papa has not wilfully done anything wrong."

"Of course we are sure of that, mamma."

Mrs Crawley had many troubles during the next four or five days, of which the worst, perhaps, had reference to the services of the Sunday which intervened between the day of her visit to Silverbridge, and the sitting of the magistrates. On the Saturday it was necessary that he should prepare his sermons, of which he preached two on every Sunday, though his congregation consisted only of farmers, brickmakers, and agricultural labourers, who would willingly have dispensed with the second. Mrs Crawley proposed to send over to Mr Robarts, a neighbouring clergyman, for the loan of a curate. Mr Robarts was a warm friend to the Crawleys, and in such an emergency would probably have come himself; but Mr Crawley would not hear of it. The discussion took place early on the Saturday morning, before it was as yet daylight, for the poor woman was thinking day and night of her husband's troubles, and it had this good effect, that immediately after breakfast he seated himself at his desk, and worked at his task as though he had forgotten all else in the world.

And on the Sunday morning he went into his school before the hour of the church service, as had been his wont, and taught there as though everything with him was as usual. Some of the children were absent, having heard of their teacher's tribulation, and having been told probably that he would remit his work; and for these absent ones he sent in great anger. The poor bairns came creeping in, for he was a man who by his manners had been able to secure their obedience in spite of his poverty. And he preached to the people of his parish on that Sunday, as he had always preached; eagerly, clearly, and with an eloquence fitted for the hearts of such an audience. No one would have guessed from his tones and gestures and appearance on that occasion, that there was aught wrong with him,—unless there had been some observer keen enough to perceive that the greater care which he used, and the special eagerness of his words, denoted a special frame of mind.

After that, after those church services were over, he sank again and never roused himself till the dreaded day had come.

Chapter 5 What the World Thought About It

Opinion in Silverbridge, at Barchester, and throughout the county, was very much divided as to the guilt or innocence of Mr Crawley. Up to the time of Mrs Crawley's visit to Silverbridge, the affair had not been much discussed. To give Mr Soames his due, he had been by no means anxious to press the matter against the clergyman; but he had been forced to go on with it. While the first cheque was missing, Lord Lufton had sent him a second cheque for the money, and the loss had thus fallen upon his lordship. The cheque had of course been traced, and inquiry had of course been made as to Mr Crawley's possession of it. When that gentleman declared that he had received it from Mr Soames, Mr Soames had been forced to contradict and to resent such an assertion. When Mr Crawley had afterwards said that the money had come to him from the dean, and when the dean had shown that this also was untrue, Mr Soames, confident as he was that he had dropped the pocket-book at Mr Crawley's house, could not but continue the investigation. He had done so with as much silence as the nature of the work admitted. But by the day of the magistrates' meeting at Silverbridge, the subject had become common through the county, and men's minds were very much divided.

All Hogglestock believed their parson to be innocent; but then all Hogglestock believed him to be mad. At Silverbridge the tradesmen with whom he had dealt, and to whom he had owed, and still owed, money, all declared him to be innocent. They knew something of the man personally, and could not believe him to be a thief. All the ladies in Silverbridge, too, were sure of his innocence. It was to them impossible that such a man should have stolen twenty pounds. "My dear," said the eldest Miss Prettyman to poor Grace Crawley, "in England, where the laws are good, no gentleman is ever made out to be guilty when he is innocent; and your papa, of course, is innocent. Therefore you should not trouble yourself." "It will break papa's heart," Grace had said, and she did trouble herself. But the gentlemen in Silverbridge were made of sterner stuff, and believed the man to be guilty, clergyman and gentleman though he was. Mr Walker, who among the lights in Silverbridge was the leading light, would not speak a word upon the subject to anybody; and then everybody, who was anybody, knew that Mr Walker was convinced of the man's guilt. Had Mr Walker believed him to be innocent, his tongue would have been ready enough. John Walker, who was in the habit of laughing at his father's good nature, had no doubt upon the subject. Mr Winthrop, Mr Walker's partner, shook his head. People did not think much of Mr Winthrop, excepting certain unmarried ladies; for Mr Winthrop was a bachelor, and had plenty of money. People did not think much of Mr Winthrop; but still on this subject he might know something, and when he shook his head he manifestly intended to indicate guilt. And Dr Tempest, the rector of Silverbridge, did not hesitate to declare his belief in the guilt of the incumbent of Hogglestock. No man reverences a clergyman, as a clergyman, so slightly as a brother clergyman. To Dr Tempest it appeared to be neither very strange nor very terrible that Mr Crawley should have stolen twenty pounds. "What is a man to do," he said, "when he sees his children starving? He should not have married on such a preferment as that." Mr Crawley had married, however, long before he got the living of Hogglestock.

There were two Lady Luftons,—mother-in-law and daughter-in-law,—who at this time were living together at Framley Hall, Lord Lufton's seat in the county of Barset, and they were both thoroughly convinced of Mr Crawley's innocence. The elder lady had lived much among clergymen, and could hardly, I think, by any means have been brought to believe in the guilt of any man who had taken upon himself the orders of the Church of England. She had also known Mr Crawley personally for some years, and was one of those who could not admit to herself that any one was vile who had been near to herself. She believed intensely in the wickedness of the outside world, of the world which was far away from herself, and of which she never saw anything; but they who were near to her, and who had even become dear to her, or who even had been respected by her, were made, as it were, saints in her imagination. They were brought into the inner circle, and could hardly be expelled. She was an old woman who thought all evil of those she did not know, and all good of those whom she did know; and as she did know Mr Crawley, she was quite sure that he had not stolen Mr Soames's twenty pounds. She did know Mr Soames also; and thus there was a mystery for the unravelling of which she was very anxious. And the young Lady Lufton was equally sure, and perhaps with better reason for such certainty. She had, in truth, known more of Mr Crawley personally, than had any one in the county, unless it was the dean. The younger Lady Lufton, the present Lord Lufton's wife, had sojourned at one time in Mr Crawley's house, amidst the Crawley poverty, living as they lived, and nursing Mrs Crawley through an illness which had wellnigh been fatal to her; and the younger Lady Lufton believed in Mr Crawley,—as Mr Crawley also believed in her.

"It is quite impossible, my dear," the old woman said to her daughter-in-law.

"Quite impossible, my lady." The dowager was always called "my lady", both by her own daughter and by her son's wife, except in the presence of their children, when she was addressed as "grandmamma". "Think how well I knew him. It's no use talking of evidence. No evidence would make me believe it."

"Nor me; and I think it a great shame that such a report should be spread about."

"I suppose Mr Soames could not help himself?" said the younger lady, who was not herself very fond of Mr Soames.

"Ludovic says that he has only done what he was obliged to do." The Ludovic spoken of was Lord Lufton.

This took place in the morning, but in the evening the affair was again discussed at Framley Court. Indeed, for some days, there was hardly any other subject held to be worthy of discussion in the county. Mr Robarts, the clergyman of the parish and the brother of the younger Lady Lufton, was dining at the hall with his wife, and the three ladies had together expressed their perfect conviction of the falseness of the accusation. But when Lord Lufton and Mr Robarts were together after the ladies had left them, there was much less of this certainty expressed. "By Jove," said Lord Lufton, "I don't know what to think of it. I wish with all my heart that Soames had said nothing about it, and that the cheque had passed without remark."

"That was impossible. When the banker sent to Soames, he was obliged to take the matter up."

"Of course he was. But I'm sorry that it was so. For the life of me I can't conceive how the cheque got into Crawley's hands."

"I imagine that it had been lying in the house, and that Crawley had come to think that it was his own."

"But, my dear Mark," said Lord Lufton, "excuse me if I say that that's nonsense. What do we do when a poor man has come to think that another man's property is his own? We send him to prison for making the mistake."

"I hope they won't send Crawley to prison."

"I hope so too; but what is a jury to do?"

"You think it will go to a jury, then?"

"I do," said Lord Lufton. "I don't see how the magistrates can save themselves from committing him. It is one of those cases in which every one concerned would wish to drop it if it were only possible. But it is not possible. On the evidence, as one sees it at present, one is bound to say that it is a case for a jury."

"I believe that he is mad," said the brother parson.

"He always was, as far as I could learn," said the lord. "I never knew him, myself. You do, I think?"

"Oh yes, I know him." and the vicar of Framley became silent and thoughtful as the memory of a certain interview between himself and Mr Crawley came back upon his mind. At that time the waters had nearly closed over his head and Mr Crawley had given him some assistance. When the gentlemen had again found the ladies, they kept their own doubts to themselves; for at Framley Hall, as at present tenanted, female voices and female influences predominated over those which came from the other sex.

At Barchester, the cathedral city of the county in which the Crawleys lived, opinion was violently against Mr Crawley. In the city Mrs Proudie, the wife of the bishop, was the leader of opinion in general, and she was very strong in her belief in the man's guilt. She had known much of clergymen all her life, as it behoved a bishop's wife to do, and she had none of that mingled weakness and ignorance which taught so many ladies in Barsetshire to suppose that an ordained clergyman could not become a thief. She hated old Lady Lufton with all her heart, and old Lady Lufton hated her as warmly. Mrs Proudie would say frequently that Lady Lufton was a conceited old idiot, and Lady Lufton would declare as frequently that Mrs Proudie was a vulgar virago. It was known at the palace in Barchester that kindness had been shown to the Crawleys by the family at Framley Hall, and this alone would have been sufficient to make Mrs Proudie believe that Mr Crawley could have been guilty of any crime. And as Mrs Proudie believed, so did the bishop believe. "It is a terrible disgrace to the diocese," said the bishop, shaking his head, and patting his apron as he sat by his study fire.

"Fiddlestick!" said Mrs Proudie.

"But, my dear,—a beneficed clergyman!"

"You must get rid of him; that's all. You must be firm whether he be acquitted or convicted."

"But if he be acquitted, I cannot get rid of him, my dear."

"Yes, you can, if you are firm. And you must be firm. Is it not true that he has been disgracefully involved in debt ever since he has been there; that you have been pestered by letters from unfortunate tradesmen who cannot get their money from him?"

"That is true, my dear, certainly."

"And is that kind of thing to go on? He cannot come to the palace as all clergymen should do, because he has got no clothes to come in. I saw him once about the lanes, and I never set my eyes on such an object in all my life! I would not believe that the man was a clergyman till John told me. He is a disgrace to the diocese, and he must be got rid of. I feel sure of his guilt, and I hope he will be convicted. One is bound to hope that a guilty man should be convicted. But if he escape conviction, you must sequestrate the living because of the debts. The income is enough to get an excellent curate. It would just do for Thumble." To all of which the bishop made no further reply, but simply nodded his head and patted his apron. He knew that he could not do exactly what his wife required of him; but if it should so turn out that poor Crawley was found to be guilty, then the matter would be comparatively easy.

"It should be an example to us, that we should look to our own steps, my dear," said the bishop.

"That's all very well," said Mrs Proudie, "but it has become your duty, and mine too, to look to the steps of other people; and that duty we must do."

"Of course, my dear; of course." That was the tone in which the question of Mr Crawley's alleged guilt was discussed at the palace.

We have already heard what was said on the subject at the house of Archdeacon Grantly. As the days passed by, and as other tidings came in, confirmatory of those which had before reached him, the archdeacon felt himself unable not to believe in the man's guilt. And the fear which he entertained as to his son's intended marriage with Grace Crawley, tended to increase the strength of his belief. Dr Grantly had been a very successful man in the world, and on all ordinary occasions had been able to show that bold front with which success endows a man. But he still had his moments of weakness, and feared greatly lest anything of misfortune should touch him, and mar the comely roundness of his prosperity. He was very wealthy. The wife of his bosom had been to him all that a wife should be. His reputation in the clerical world stood very high. He had lived all his life on terms of equality with the best of the gentry around him. His only daughter had made a splendid marriage. His two sons had hitherto done well in the world, not only as regarded their happiness, but as to marriage also, and as to social standing. But how great would be the fall if his son should at last marry the daughter of a convicted thief! How would the Proudies rejoice over him,—the Proudies who had been crushed to the ground by the success of the Hartletop alliance; and how would the low-church curates, who swarmed in Barsetshire, gather together and scream in delight over his dismay! "But why should we say that he is guilty?" said Mrs Grantly.

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

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

Chapter 6 Grace Crawley

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

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

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

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

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

Silverbridge, –– December, 186––

Dearest Lily,

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

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

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

Your affectionate friend,

Grace Crawley.

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

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

Allington, –– December, 186––

Dear Grace,

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

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

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

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

Your affectionate friend,

Lily Dale.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"You mother has your sister with her."

"Yes, Miss Prettyman; Jane is there."

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

"Of course there are."

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

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

"But, Grace—"

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

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

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

"And what are the other reasons, Grace?"

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

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

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

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

"I must go home," said Grace.

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

"I know that you have not."

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

"I know that," said Grace.

"Well, my dear. If we think so—"

"But the servants, Miss Prettyman?"

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

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

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

"Yes, I have."

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

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

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

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

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

"Grace Crawley is here," said Miss Prettyman.

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

"Never mind now," said Miss Prettyman.

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

"To me, in private?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chapter 7 Miss Prettyman's Private Room

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Anything that I can do, Major Grantly—"

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

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

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

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

"By Jove, you may say that!"

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

"You think so, Miss Prettyman?"

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

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

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

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

"Of course she does not think him guilty."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"I have no fear about that at all."

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

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

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

"You think I ought not to see her?"

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

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

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

"You think she would refuse me?"

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

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

"I think that would be the wiser course."

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

"I thought so, Major Grantly."

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

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

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

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

"And will you give Grace my love?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chapter 8 Mr Crawley Is Taken to Silverbridge

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

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

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

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

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

"But Josiah—"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Come along, then," said Thompson.

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

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

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

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

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

"At Silverbridge, dearest."

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

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

"But this is the Inn?"

"Yes dear, it is the Inn."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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