Anthony Trollope.

Doctor Thorne online

. (page 10 of 49)
Online LibraryAnthony TrollopeDoctor Thorne → online text (page 10 of 49)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

doing her duty by her family by marrying a tailor's son for whom she
did not care a chip, seeing the tailor's son was possessed of untold
wealth. Now when one member of a household is making a struggle for a
family, it is painful to see the benefit of that struggle negatived
by the folly of another member. The future Mrs Moffat did feel
aggrieved by the fatuity of the young heir, and, consequently, took
upon herself to look as much like her Aunt de Courcy as she could do.

"Well, what is it?" said Frank, looking rather disgusted. "What makes
you stick your chin up and look in that way?" Frank had hitherto been
rather a despot among his sisters, and forgot that the eldest of
them was now passing altogether from under his sway to that of the
tailor's son.

"Frank," said Augusta, in a tone of voice which did honour to the
great lessons she had lately received. "Aunt de Courcy wants to see
you immediately in the small drawing-room;" and, as she said so, she
resolved to say a few words of advice to Miss Thorne as soon as her
brother should have left them.

"In the small drawing-room, does she? Well, Mary, we may as well go
together, for I suppose it is tea-time now."

"You had better go at once, Frank," said Augusta; "the countess will
be angry if you keep her waiting. She has been expecting you these
twenty minutes. Mary Thorne and I can return together."

There was something in the tone in which the words, "Mary Thorne,"
were uttered, which made Mary at once draw herself up. "I hope," said
she, "that Mary Thorne will never be any hindrance to either of you."

Frank's ear had also perceived that there was something in the tone
of his sister's voice not boding comfort to Mary; he perceived that
the de Courcy blood in Augusta's veins was already rebelling against
the doctor's niece on his part, though it had condescended to submit
itself to the tailor's son on her own part.

"Well, I am going," said he; "but look here Augusta, if you say one
word of Mary - "

Oh, Frank! Frank! you boy, you very boy! you goose, you silly goose!
Is that the way you make love, desiring one girl not to tell of
another, as though you were three children, tearing your frocks and
trousers in getting through the same hedge together? Oh, Frank!
Frank! you, the full-blown heir of Greshamsbury? You, a man already
endowed with a man's discretion? You, the forward rider, that did but
now threaten young Harry Baker and the Honourable John to eclipse
them by prowess in the field? You, of age? Why, thou canst not as yet
have left thy mother's apron-string!

"If you say one word of Mary - "

So far had he got in his injunction to his sister, but further than
that, in such a case, was he never destined to proceed. Mary's
indignation flashed upon him, striking him dumb long before the sound
of her voice reached his ears; and yet she spoke as quick as the
words would come to her call, and somewhat loudly too.

"Say one word of Mary, Mr Gresham! And why should she not say as many
words of Mary as she may please? I must tell you all now, Augusta!
and I must also beg you not to be silent for my sake. As far as I am
concerned, tell it to whom you please. This was the second time your
brother - "

"Mary, Mary," said Frank, deprecating her loquacity.

"I beg your pardon, Mr Gresham; you have made it necessary that I
should tell your sister all. He has now twice thought it well to
amuse himself by saying to me words which it was ill-natured in him
to speak, and - "

"Ill-natured, Mary!"

"Ill-natured in him to speak," continued Mary, "and to which it would
be absurd for me to listen. He probably does the same to others," she
added, being unable in heart to forget that sharpest of her wounds,
that flirtation of his with Patience Oriel; "but to me it is almost
cruel. Another girl might laugh at him, or listen to him, as she
would choose; but I can do neither. I shall now keep away from
Greshamsbury, at any rate till he has left it; and, Augusta, I can
only beg you to understand, that, as far as I am concerned, there is
nothing which may not be told to all the world."

And, so saying, she walked on a little in advance of them, as proud
as a queen. Had Lady de Courcy herself met her at this moment, she
would almost have felt herself forced to shrink out of the pathway.
"Not say a word of me!" she repeated to herself, but still out loud.
"No word need be left unsaid on my account; none, none."

Augusta followed her, dumfounded at her indignation; and Frank also
followed, but not in silence. When his first surprise at Mary's
great anger was over, he felt himself called upon to say some word
that might tend to exonerate his lady-love; and some word also of
protestation as to his own purpose.

"There is nothing to be told, nothing, at least of Mary," he said,
speaking to his sister; "but of me, you may tell this, if you choose
to disoblige your brother - that I love Mary Thorne with all my heart;
and that I will never love any one else."

By this time they had reached the lawn, and Mary was able to turn
away from the path which led up to the house. As she left them she
said in a voice, now low enough, "I cannot prevent him from talking
nonsense, Augusta; but you will bear me witness, that I do not
willingly hear it." And, so saying, she started off almost in a run
towards the distant part of the gardens, in which she saw Beatrice.

Frank, as he walked up to the house with his sister, endeavoured to
induce her to give him a promise that she would tell no tales as to
what she had heard and seen.

"Of course, Frank, it must be all nonsense," she had said; "and you
shouldn't amuse yourself in such a way."

"Well, but, Guss, come, we have always been friends; don't let us
quarrel just when you are going to be married." But Augusta would
make no promise.

Frank, when he reached the house, found the countess waiting for him,
sitting in the little drawing-room by herself, - somewhat impatiently.
As he entered he became aware that there was some peculiar gravity
attached to the coming interview. Three persons, his mother, one of
his younger sisters, and the Lady Amelia, each stopped him to let
him know that the countess was waiting; and he perceived that a
sort of guard was kept upon the door to save her ladyship from any
undesirable intrusion.

The countess frowned at the moment of his entrance, but soon smoothed
her brow, and invited him to take a chair ready prepared for him
opposite to the elbow of the sofa on which she was leaning. She had a
small table before her, on which was her teacup, so that she was able
to preach at him nearly as well as though she had been ensconced in a

"My dear Frank," said she, in a voice thoroughly suitable to the
importance of the communication, "you have to-day come of age."

Frank remarked that he understood that such was the case, and added
that "that was the reason for all the fuss."

"Yes; you have to-day come of age. Perhaps I should have been glad to
see such an occasion noticed at Greshamsbury with some more suitable
signs of rejoicing."

"Oh, aunt! I think we did it all very well."

"Greshamsbury, Frank, is, or at any rate ought to be, the seat of the
first commoner in Barsetshire.

"Well; so it is. I am quite sure there isn't a better fellow than
father anywhere in the county."

The countess sighed. Her opinion of the poor squire was very
different from Frank's. "It is no use now," said she, "looking back
to that which cannot be cured. The first commoner in Barsetshire
should hold a position - I will not of course say equal to that of a

"Oh dear no; of course not," said Frank; and a bystander might have
thought that there was a touch of satire in his tone.

"No, not equal to that of a peer; but still of very paramount
importance. Of course my first ambition is bound up in Porlock."

"Of course," said Frank, thinking how very weak was the staff on
which his aunt's ambition rested; for Lord Porlock's youthful career
had not been such as to give unmitigated satisfaction to his parents.

"Is bound up in Porlock:" and then the countess plumed herself; but
the mother sighed. "And next to Porlock, Frank, my anxiety is about

"Upon my honour, aunt, I am very much obliged. I shall be all right,
you'll see."

"Greshamsbury, my dear boy, is not now what it used to be."

"Isn't it?" asked Frank.

"No, Frank; by no means. I do not wish to say a word against your
father. It may, perhaps have been his misfortune, rather than his
fault - "

"She is always down on the governor; always," said Frank to himself;
resolving to stick bravely to the side of the house to which he had
elected to belong.

"But there is the fact, Frank, too plain to us all; Greshamsbury is
not what it was. It is your duty to restore it to its former

"My duty!" said Frank, rather puzzled.

"Yes, Frank, your duty. It all depends on you now. Of course you know
that your father owes a great deal of money."

Frank muttered something. Tidings had in some shape reached his ear
that his father was not comfortably circumstances as regarded money.

"And then, he has sold Boxall Hill. It cannot be expected that Boxall
Hill shall be repurchased, as some horrid man, a railway-maker, I
believe - "

"Yes; that's Scatcherd."

"Well, he has built a house there, I'm told; so I presume that it
cannot be bought back: but it will be your duty, Frank, to pay all
the debts that there are on the property, and to purchase what, at
any rate, will be equal to Boxall Hill."

Frank opened his eyes wide and stared at his aunt, as though doubting
much whether or no she were in her right mind. He pay off the
family debts! He buy up property of four thousand pounds a year!
He remained, however, quite quiet, waiting the elucidation of the

"Frank, of course you understand me."

Frank was obliged to declare, that just at the present moment he did
not find his aunt so clear as usual.

"You have but one line of conduct left you, Frank: your position,
as heir to Greshamsbury, is a good one; but your father has
unfortunately so hampered you with regard to money, that unless you
set the matter right yourself, you can never enjoy that position. Of
course you must marry money."

"Marry money!" said he, considering for the first time that in all
probability Mary Thorne's fortune would not be extensive. "Marry

"Yes, Frank. I know no man whose position so imperatively demands it;
and luckily for you, no man can have more facility for doing so. In
the first place you are very handsome."

Frank blushed like a girl of sixteen.

"And then, as the matter is made plain to you at so early an age,
you are not of course hampered by any indiscreet tie; by any absurd

Frank blushed again; and then saying to himself, "How much the old
girl knows about it!" felt a little proud of his passion for Mary
Thorne, and of the declaration he had made to her.

"And your connexion with Courcy Castle," continued the countess, now
carrying up the list of Frank's advantages to its great climax, "will
make the matter so easy for you, that really, you will hardly have
any difficulty."

Frank could not but say how much obliged he felt to Courcy Castle and
its inmates.

"Of course I would not wish to interfere with you in any underhand
way, Frank; but I will tell you what has occurred to me. You have
heard, probably, of Miss Dunstable?"

"The daughter of the ointment of Lebanon man?"

"And of course you know that her fortune is immense," continued
the countess, not deigning to notice her nephew's allusion to the
ointment. "Quite immense when compared with the wants and position of
any commoner. Now she is coming to Courcy Castle, and I wish you to
come and meet her."

"But, aunt, just at this moment I have to read for my degree like
anything. I go up, you know, in October."

"Degree!" said the countess. "Why, Frank, I am talking to you of
your prospects in life, of your future position, of that on which
everything hangs, and you tell me of your degree!"

Frank, however, obstinately persisted that he must take his degree,
and that he should commence reading hard at six a.m. to-morrow

"You can read just as well at Courcy Castle. Miss Dunstable will
not interfere with that," said his aunt, who knew the expediency of
yielding occasionally; "but I must beg you will come over and meet
her. You will find her a most charming young woman, remarkably well
educated I am told, and - "

"How old is she?" asked Frank.

"I really cannot say exactly," said the countess; "but it is not, I
imagine, matter of much moment."

"Is she thirty?" asked Frank, who looked upon an unmarried woman of
that age as quite an old maid.

"I dare say she may be about that age," said the countess, who
regarded the subject from a very different point of view.

"Thirty!" said Frank out loud, but speaking, nevertheless, as though
to himself.

"It is a matter of no moment," said his aunt, almost angrily. "When
the subject itself is of such vital importance, objections of no
real weight should not be brought into view. If you wish to hold up
your head in the country; if you wish to represent your county in
Parliament, as has been done by your father, your grandfather, and
your great-grandfathers; if you wish to keep a house over your head,
and to leave Greshamsbury to your son after you, you must marry
money. What does it signify whether Miss Dunstable be twenty-eight
or thirty? She has got money; and if you marry her, you may then
consider that your position in life is made."

Frank was astonished at his aunt's eloquence; but, in spite of
that eloquence, he made up his mind that he would not marry Miss
Dunstable. How could he, indeed, seeing that his troth was already
plighted to Mary Thorne in the presence of his sister? This
circumstance, however, he did not choose to plead to his aunt, so he
recapitulated any other objections that presented themselves to his

In the first place, he was so anxious about his degree that he could
not think of marrying at present; then he suggested that it might be
better to postpone the question till the season's hunting should be
over; he declared that he could not visit Courcy Castle till he got a
new suit of clothes home from the tailor; and ultimately remembered
that he had a particular engagement to go fly-fishing with Mr Oriel
on that day week.

None, however, of these valid reasons were sufficiently potent to
turn the countess from her point.

"Nonsense, Frank," said she, "I wonder that you can talk of
fly-fishing when the property of Greshamsbury is at stake. You will
go with Augusta and myself to Courcy Castle to-morrow."

"To-morrow, aunt!" he said, in the tone in which a condemned criminal
might make his ejaculation on hearing that a very near day had been
named for his execution. "To-morrow!"

"Yes, we return to-morrow, and shall be happy to have your company.
My friends, including Miss Dunstable, come on Thursday. I am quite
sure you will like Miss Dunstable. I have settled all that with your
mother, so we need say nothing further about it. And now, good-night,

Frank, finding that there was nothing more to be said, took his
departure, and went out to look for Mary. But Mary had gone home with
Janet half an hour since, so he betook himself to his sister

"Beatrice," said he, "I am to go to Courcy Castle to-morrow."

"So I heard mamma say."

"Well; I only came of age to-day, and I will not begin by running
counter to them. But I tell you what, I won't stay above a week
at Courcy Castle for all the de Courcys in Barsetshire. Tell me,
Beatrice, did you ever hear of a Miss Dunstable?"


Sir Roger Scatcherd

Enough has been said in this narrative to explain to the reader that
Roger Scatcherd, who was whilom a drunken stone-mason in Barchester,
and who had been so prompt to avenge the injury done to his sister,
had become a great man in the world. He had become a contractor,
first for little things, such as half a mile or so of a railway
embankment, or three or four canal bridges, and then a contractor for
great things, such as Government hospitals, locks, docks, and quays,
and had latterly had in his hands the making of whole lines of

He had been occasionally in partnership with one man for one thing,
and then with another for another; but had, on the whole, kept his
interests to himself, and now at the time of our story, he was a very
rich man.

And he had acquired more than wealth. There had been a time when the
Government wanted the immediate performance of some extraordinary
piece of work, and Roger Scatcherd had been the man to do it. There
had been some extremely necessary bit of a railway to be made in half
the time that such work would properly demand, some speculation to
be incurred requiring great means and courage as well, and Roger
Scatcherd had been found to be the man for the time. He was then
elevated for the moment to the dizzy pinnacle of a newspaper hero,
and became one of those "whom the king delighteth to honour." He went
up one day to kiss Her Majesty's hand, and come down to his new grand
house at Boxall Hill, Sir Roger Scatcherd, Bart.

"And now, my lady," said he, when he explained to his wife the high
state to which she had been called by his exertions and the Queen's
prerogative, "let's have a bit of dinner, and a drop of som'at hot."
Now the drop of som'at hot signified a dose of alcohol sufficient to
send three ordinary men very drunk to bed.

While conquering the world Roger Scatcherd had not conquered his old
bad habits. Indeed, he was the same man at all points that he had
been when formerly seen about the streets of Barchester with his
stone-mason's apron tucked up round his waist. The apron he had
abandoned, but not the heavy prominent thoughtful brow, with the
wildly flashing eye beneath it. He was still the same good companion,
and still also the same hard-working hero. In this only had he
changed, that now he would work, and some said equally well, whether
he were drunk or sober. Those who were mostly inclined to make a
miracle of him - and there was a school of worshippers ready to adore
him as their idea of a divine, superhuman, miracle-moving, inspired
prophet - declared that his wondrous work was best done, his
calculations most quickly and most truly made, that he saw with most
accurate eye into the far-distant balance of profit and loss, when
he was under the influence of the rosy god. To these worshippers his
breakings-out, as his periods of intemperance were called in his own
set, were his moments of peculiar inspiration - his divine frenzies,
in which he communicated most closely with those deities who preside
over trade transactions; his Eleusinian mysteries, to approach him in
which was permitted only to a few of the most favoured.

"Scatcherd has been drunk this week past," they would say one to
another, when the moment came at which it was to be decided whose
offer should be accepted for constructing a harbour to hold all the
commerce of Lancashire, or to make a railway from Bombay to Canton.
"Scatcherd has been drunk this week past; I am told that he has taken
over three gallons of brandy." And then they felt sure that none but
Scatcherd would be called upon to construct the dock or make the

But be this as it may, be it true or false that Sir Roger was most
efficacious when in his cups, there can be no doubt that he could not
wallow for a week in brandy, six or seven times every year, without
in a great measure injuring, and permanently injuring, the outward
man. Whatever immediate effect such symposiums might have on the
inner mind - symposiums indeed they were not; posiums I will call
them, if I may be allowed; for in latter life, when he drank heavily,
he drank alone - however little for evil, or however much for good the
working of his brain might be affected, his body suffered greatly. It
was not that he became feeble or emaciated, old-looking or inactive,
that his hand shook, or that his eye was watery; but that in the
moments of his intemperance his life was often not worth a day's
purchase. The frame which God had given to him was powerful beyond
the power of ordinary men; powerful to act in spite of these violent
perturbations; powerful to repress and conquer the qualms and
headaches and inward sicknesses to which the votaries of Bacchus are
ordinarily subject; but this power was not without its limit. If
encroached on too far, it would break and fall and come asunder, and
then the strong man would at once become a corpse.

Scatcherd had but one friend in the world. And, indeed, this friend
was no friend in the ordinary acceptance of the word. He neither ate
with him nor drank with him, nor even frequently talked with him.
Their pursuits in life were wide asunder. Their tastes were all
different. The society in which each moved very seldom came together.
Scatcherd had nothing in unison with this solitary friend; but he
trusted him, and he trusted no other living creature on God's earth.

He trusted this man; but even him he did not trust thoroughly; not at
least as one friend should trust another. He believed that this man
would not rob him; would probably not lie to him; would not endeavour
to make money of him; would not count him up or speculate on him, and
make out a balance of profit and loss; and, therefore, he determined
to use him. But he put no trust whatever in his friend's counsel, in
his modes of thought; none in his theory, and none in his practice.
He disliked his friend's counsel, and, in fact, disliked his
society, for his friend was somewhat apt to speak to him in a manner
approaching to severity. Now Roger Scatcherd had done many things
in the world, and made much money; whereas his friend had done but
few things, and made no money. It was not to be endured that the
practical, efficient man should be taken to task by the man who
proved himself to be neither practical nor efficient; not to be
endured, certainly, by Roger Scatcherd, who looked on men of his own
class as the men of the day, and on himself as by no means the least
among them.

The friend was our friend Dr Thorne.

The doctor's first acquaintance with Scatcherd has been already
explained. He was necessarily thrown into communication with the man
at the time of the trial, and Scatcherd then had not only sufficient
sense, but sufficient feeling also to know that the doctor behaved
very well. This communication had in different ways been kept up
between them. Soon after the trial Scatcherd had begun to rise, and
his first savings had been entrusted to the doctor's care. This had
been the beginning of a pecuniary connexion which had never wholly
ceased, and which had led to the purchase of Boxall Hill, and to the
loan of large sums of money to the squire.

In another way also there had been a close alliance between them, and
one not always of a very pleasant description. The doctor was, and
long had been, Sir Roger's medical attendant, and, in his unceasing
attempts to rescue the drunkard from the fate which was so much to
be dreaded, he not unfrequently was driven into a quarrel with his

One thing further must be told of Sir Roger. In politics he was as
violent a Radical as ever, and was very anxious to obtain a position
in which he could bring his violence to bear. With this view he was
about to contest his native borough of Barchester, in the hope of
being returned in opposition to the de Courcy candidate; and with
this object he had now come down to Boxall Hill.

Nor were his claims to sit for Barchester such as could be despised.
If money were to be of avail, he had plenty of it, and was prepared
to spend it; whereas, rumour said that Mr Moffat was equally
determined to do nothing so foolish. Then again, Sir Roger had a sort
of rough eloquence, and was able to address the men of Barchester in
language that would come home to their hearts, in words that would
endear him to one party while they made him offensively odious to the
other; but Mr Moffat could make neither friends nor enemies by his
eloquence. The Barchester roughs called him a dumb dog that could not
bark, and sometimes sarcastically added that neither could he bite.
The de Courcy interest, however, was at his back, and he had also the
advantage of possession. Sir Roger, therefore, knew that the battle
was not to be won without a struggle.

Dr Thorne got safely back from Silverbridge that evening, and found
Mary waiting to give him his tea. He had been called there to a

Online LibraryAnthony TrollopeDoctor Thorne → online text (page 10 of 49)