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you, I am indeed. I wouldn't ask it if I was not sure your money is
safe. Good-bye, old fellow, and get rid of that bedfellow of yours,"
and again he was at the door.

"Thorne," said Sir Roger once more. "Thorne, just come back for a
minute. You wouldn't let me send a present would you, - fifty pounds
or so, - just to buy a few flounces?"

The doctor contrived to escape without giving a definite answer
to this question; and then, having paid his compliments to Lady
Scatcherd, remounted his cob and rode back to Greshamsbury.




CHAPTER XIV

Sentence of Exile


Dr Thorne did not at once go home to his own house. When he reached
the Greshamsbury gates, he sent his horse to its own stable by one of
the people at the lodge, and then walked on to the mansion. He had
to see the squire on the subject of the forthcoming loan, and he had
also to see Lady Arabella.

The Lady Arabella, though she was not personally attached to the
doctor with quite so much warmth as some others of her family, still
had reasons of her own for not dispensing with his visits to the
house. She was one of his patients, and a patient fearful of the
disease with which she was threatened. Though she thought the doctor
to be arrogant, deficient as to properly submissive demeanour
towards herself, an instigator to marital parsimony in her lord,
one altogether opposed to herself and her interest in Greshamsbury
politics, nevertheless, she did feel trust in him as a medical man.
She had no wish to be rescued out of his hands by any Dr Fillgrave,
as regarded that complaint of hers, much as she may have desired,
and did desire, to sever him from all Greshamsbury councils in all
matters not touching the healing art.

Now the complaint of which the Lady Arabella was afraid, was cancer:
and her only present confidant in this matter was Dr Thorne.

The first of the Greshamsbury circle whom he saw was Beatrice, and he
met her in the garden.

"Oh, doctor," said she, "where has Mary been this age? She has not
been up here since Frank's birthday."

"Well, that was only three days ago. Why don't you go down and ferret
her out in the village?"

"So I have done. I was there just now, and found her out. She was out
with Patience Oriel. Patience is all and all with her now. Patience
is all very well, but if they throw me over - "

"My dear Miss Gresham, Patience is and always was a virtue."

"A poor, beggarly, sneaking virtue after all, doctor. They should
have come up, seeing how deserted I am here. There's absolutely
nobody left."

"Has Lady de Courcy gone?"

"Oh, yes! All the de Courcys have gone. I think, between ourselves,
Mary stays away because she does not love them too well. They have
all gone, and taken Augusta and Frank with them."

"Has Frank gone to Courcy Castle?"

"Oh, yes; did you not hear? There was rather a fight about it. Master
Frank wanted to get off, and was as hard to catch as an eel, and then
the countess was offended; and papa said he didn't see why Frank was
to go if he didn't like it. Papa is very anxious about his degree,
you know."

The doctor understood it all as well as though it had been described
to him at full length. The countess had claimed her prey, in order
that she might carry him off to Miss Dunstable's golden embrace. The
prey, not yet old enough and wise enough to connect the worship of
Plutus with that of Venus, had made sundry futile feints and dodges
in the vain hope of escape. Then the anxious mother had enforced the
de Courcy behests with all a mother's authority. But the father,
whose ideas on the subject of Miss Dunstable's wealth had probably
not been consulted, had, as a matter of course, taken exactly the
other side of the question. The doctor did not require to be told all
this in order to know how the battle had raged. He had not yet heard
of the great Dunstable scheme; but he was sufficiently acquainted
with Greshamsbury tactics to understand that the war had been carried
on somewhat after this fashion.

As a rule, when the squire took a point warmly to heart, he was
wont to carry his way against the de Courcy interest. He could be
obstinate enough when it so pleased him, and had before now gone so
far as to tell his wife, that her thrice-noble sister-in-law might
remain at home at Courcy Castle - or, at any rate, not come to
Greshamsbury - if she could not do so without striving to rule him and
every one else when she got here. This had of course been repeated to
the countess, who had merely replied to it by a sisterly whisper, in
which she sorrowfully intimated that some men were born brutes, and
always would remain so.

"I think they all are," the Lady Arabella had replied; wishing,
perhaps, to remind her sister-in-law that the breed of brutes was as
rampant in West Barsetshire as in the eastern division of the county.

The squire, however, had not fought on this occasion with all his
vigour. There had, of course, been some passages between him and his
son, and it had been agreed that Frank should go for a fortnight to
Courcy Castle.

"We mustn't quarrel with them, you know, if we can help it," said the
father; "and, therefore, you must go sooner or later."

"Well, I suppose so; but you don't know how dull it is, governor."

"Don't I!" said Gresham.

"There's a Miss Dunstable to be there; did you ever hear of her,
sir?"

"No, never."

"She's a girl whose father used to make ointment, or something of
that sort."

"Oh, yes, to be sure; the ointment of Lebanon. He used to cover all
the walls in London. I haven't heard of him this year past."

"No; that's because he's dead. Well, she carries on the ointment now,
I believe; at any rate, she has got all the money. I wonder what
she's like."

"You'd better go and see," said the father, who now began to have
some inkling of an idea why the two ladies were so anxious to carry
his son off to Courcy Castle at this exact time. And so Frank had
packed up his best clothes, given a last fond look at the new black
horse, repeated his last special injunctions to Peter, and had then
made one of the stately _cortège_ which proceeded through the county
from Greshamsbury to Courcy Castle.

"I am very glad of that, very," said the squire, when he heard that
the money was to be forthcoming. "I shall get it on easier terms from
him than elsewhere; and it kills me to have continual bother about
such things." And Mr Gresham, feeling that that difficulty was tided
over for a time, and that the immediate pressure of little debts
would be abated, stretched himself on his easy chair as though he
were quite comfortable; - one may say almost elated.

How frequent it is that men on their road to ruin feel elation such
as this! A man signs away a moiety of his substance; nay, that were
nothing; but a moiety of the substance of his children; he puts
his pen to the paper that ruins him and them; but in doing so he
frees himself from a score of immediate little pestering, stinging
troubles: and, therefore, feels as though fortune has been almost
kind to him.

The doctor felt angry with himself for what he had done when he saw
how easily the squire adapted himself to this new loan. "It will make
Scatcherd's claim upon you very heavy," said he.

Mr Gresham at once read all that was passing through the doctor's
mind. "Well, what else can I do?" said he. "You wouldn't have me
allow my daughter to lose this match for the sake of a few thousand
pounds? It will be well at any rate to have one of them settled. Look
at that letter from Moffat."

The doctor took the letter and read it. It was a long, wordy,
ill-written rigmarole, in which that amorous gentleman spoke with
much rapture of his love and devotion for Miss Gresham; but at the
same time declared, and most positively swore, that the adverse
cruelty of his circumstances was such, that it would not allow him to
stand up like a man at the hymeneal altar until six thousand pounds
hard cash had been paid down at his banker's.

"It may be all right," said the squire; "but in my time gentlemen
were not used to write such letters as that to each other."

The doctor shrugged his shoulders. He did not know how far he would
be justified in saying much, even to his friend the squire, in
dispraise of his future son-in-law.

"I told him that he should have the money; and one would have thought
that that would have been enough for him. Well: I suppose Augusta
likes him. I suppose she wishes the match; otherwise, I would give
him such an answer to that letter as would startle him a little."

"What settlement is he to make?" said Thorne.

"Oh, that's satisfactory enough; couldn't be more so; a thousand a
year and the house at Wimbledon for her; that's all very well. But
such a lie, you know, Thorne. He's rolling in money, and yet he talks
of this beggarly sum as though he couldn't possibly stir without it."

"If I might venture to speak my mind," said Thorne.

"Well?" said the squire, looking at him earnestly.

"I should be inclined to say that Mr Moffat wants to cry off,
himself."

"Oh, impossible; quite impossible. In the first place, he was so very
anxious for the match. In the next place, it is such a great thing
for him. And then, he would never dare; you see, he is dependent on
the de Courcys for his seat."

"But suppose he loses his seat?"

"But there is not much fear of that, I think. Scatcherd may be a very
fine fellow, but I think they'll hardly return him at Barchester."

"I don't understand much about it," said Thorne; "but such things do
happen."

"And you believe that this man absolutely wants to get off the match;
absolutely thinks of playing such a trick as that on my daughter; - on
me?"

"I don't say he intends to do it; but it looks to me as though he
were making a door for himself, or trying to make a door: if so, your
having the money will stop him there."

"But, Thorne, don't you think he loves the girl? If I thought not - "

The doctor stood silent for a moment, and then he said, "I am not a
love-making man myself, but I think that if I were much in love with
a young lady I should not write such a letter as that to her father."

"By heavens! If I thought so," said the squire - "but, Thorne, we
can't judge of those fellows as one does of gentlemen; they are so
used to making money, and seeing money made, that they have an eye to
business in everything."

"Perhaps so, perhaps so," muttered the doctor, showing evidently that
he still doubted the warmth of Mr Moffat's affection.

"The match was none of my making, and I cannot interfere now to break
it off: it will give her a good position in the world; for, after
all, money goes a great way, and it is something to be in Parliament.
I can only hope she likes him. I do truly hope she likes him;" and
the squire also showed by the tone of his voice that, though he might
hope that his daughter was in love with her intended husband, he
hardly conceived it to be possible that she should be so.

And what was the truth of the matter? Miss Gresham was no more in
love with Mr Moffat than you are - oh, sweet, young, blooming beauty!
Not a whit more; not, at least, in your sense of the word, nor in
mine. She had by no means resolved within her heart that of all the
men whom she had ever seen, or ever could see, he was far away the
nicest and best. That is what you will do when you are in love, if
you be good for anything. She had no longing to sit near to him - the
nearer the better; she had no thought of his taste and his choice
when she bought her ribbons and bonnets; she had no indescribable
desire that all her female friends should be ever talking to her
about him. When she wrote to him, she did not copy her letters again
and again, so that she might be, as it were, ever speaking to him;
she took no special pride in herself because he had chosen her to
be his life's partner. In point of fact, she did not care one straw
about him.

And yet she thought she loved him; was, indeed, quite confident
that she did so; told her mother that she was sure Gustavus would
wish this, she knew Gustavus would like that, and so on; but as for
Gustavus himself, she did not care a chip for him.

She was in love with her match just as farmers are in love with
wheat at eighty shillings a quarter; or shareholders - innocent
gudgeons - with seven and half per cent. interest on their paid-up
capital. Eighty shillings a quarter, and seven and half per cent.
interest, such were the returns which she had been taught to look
for in exchange for her young heart; and, having obtained them, or
being thus about to obtain them, why should not her young heart be
satisfied? Had she not sat herself down obediently at the feet of her
lady Gamaliel, and should she not be rewarded? Yes, indeed, she shall
be rewarded.

And then the doctor went to the lady. On their medical secrets we
will not intrude; but there were other matters bearing on the course
of our narrative, as to which Lady Arabella found it necessary to say
a word or so to the doctor; and it is essential that we should know
what was the tenor of those few words so spoken.

How the aspirations, and instincts, and feelings of a household
become changed as the young birds begin to flutter with feathered
wings, and have half-formed thoughts of leaving the parental nest! A
few months back, Frank had reigned almost autocratic over the lesser
subjects of the kingdom of Greshamsbury. The servants, for instance,
always obeyed him, and his sisters never dreamed of telling anything
which he directed should not be told. All his mischief, all his
troubles, and all his loves were confided to them, with the sure
conviction that they would never be made to stand in evidence against
him.

Trusting to this well-ascertained state of things, he had not
hesitated to declare his love for Miss Thorne before his sister
Augusta. But his sister Augusta had now, as it were, been received
into the upper house; having duly received, and duly profited by the
lessons of her great instructress, she was now admitted to sit in
conclave with the higher powers: her sympathies, of course, became
changed, and her confidence was removed from the young and giddy
and given to the ancient and discreet. She was as a schoolboy, who,
having finished his schooling, and being fairly forced by necessity
into the stern bread-earning world, undertakes the new duties of
tutoring. Yesterday he was taught, and fought, of course, against the
schoolmaster; to-day he teaches, and fights as keenly for him. So
it was with Augusta Gresham, when, with careful brow, she whispered
to her mother that there was something wrong between Frank and Mary
Thorne.

"Stop it at once, Arabella: stop it at once," the countess had said;
"that, indeed, will be ruin. If he does not marry money, he is lost.
Good heavens! the doctor's niece! A girl that nobody knows where she
comes from!"

"He's going with you to-morrow, you know," said the anxious mother.

"Yes; and that is so far well: if he will be led by me, the evil
may be remedied before he returns; but it is very, very hard to
lead young men. Arabella, you must forbid that girl to come to
Greshamsbury again on any pretext whatever. The evil must be stopped
at once."

"But she is here so much as a matter of course."

"Then she must be here as a matter of course no more: there has been
folly, very great folly, in having her here. Of course she would turn
out to be a designing creature with such temptation before her; with
such a prize within her reach, how could she help it?"

"I must say, aunt, she answered him very properly," said Augusta.

"Nonsense," said the countess; "before you, of course she did.
Arabella, the matter must not be left to the girl's propriety. I
never knew the propriety of a girl of that sort to be fit to be
depended upon yet. If you wish to save the whole family from ruin,
you must take steps to keep her away from Greshamsbury now at once.
Now is the time; now that Frank is to be away. Where so much, so very
much depends on a young man's marrying money, not one day ought to be
lost."

Instigated in this manner, Lady Arabella resolved to open her mind
to the doctor, and to make it intelligible to him that, under
present circumstances, Mary's visits at Greshamsbury had better be
discontinued. She would have given much, however, to have escaped
this business. She had in her time tried one or two falls with the
doctor, and she was conscious that she had never yet got the better
of him: and then she was in a slight degree afraid of Mary herself.
She had a presentiment that it would not be so easy to banish Mary
from Greshamsbury: she was not sure that that young lady would not
boldly assert her right to her place in the school-room; appeal
loudly to the squire, and perhaps, declare her determination of
marrying the heir, out before them all. The squire would be sure to
uphold her in that, or in anything else.

And then, too, there would be the greatest difficulty in wording her
request to the doctor; and Lady Arabella was sufficiently conscious
of her own weakness to know that she was not always very good at
words. But the doctor, when hard pressed, was never at fault: he
could say the bitterest things in the quietest tone, and Lady
Arabella had a great dread of these bitter things. What, also, if he
should desert her himself; withdraw from her his skill and knowledge
of her bodily wants and ailments now that he was so necessary to her?
She had once before taken that measure of sending to Barchester for
Dr Fillgrave, but it had answered with her hardly better than with
Sir Roger and Lady Scatcherd.

When, therefore, Lady Arabella found herself alone with the doctor,
and called upon to say out her say in what best language she could
select for the occasion, she did not feel to very much at her ease.
There was that about the man before her which cowed her, in spite of
her being the wife of the squire, the sister of an earl, a person
quite acknowledged to be of the great world, and the mother of the
very important young man whose affections were now about to be called
in question. Nevertheless, there was the task to be done, and with a
mother's courage she essayed it.

"Dr Thorne," said she, as soon as their medical conference was at
an end, "I am very glad you came over to-day, for I had something
special which I wanted to say to you:" so far she got, and then
stopped; but, as the doctor did not seem inclined to give her any
assistance, she was forced to flounder on as best she could.

"Something very particular indeed. You know what a respect and
esteem, and I may say affection, we all have for you," - here the
doctor made a low bow - "and I may say for Mary also;" here the
doctor bowed himself again. "We have done what little we could to be
pleasant neighbours, and I think you'll believe me when I say that I
am a true friend to you and dear Mary - "

The doctor knew that something very unpleasant was coming, but he
could not at all guess what might be its nature. He felt, however,
that he must say something; so he expressed a hope that he was duly
sensible of all the acts of kindness he had ever received from the
squire and the family at large.

"I hope, therefore, my dear doctor, you won't take amiss what I am
going to say."

"Well, Lady Arabella, I'll endeavour not to do so."

"I am sure I would not give any pain if I could help it, much less
to you. But there are occasions, doctor, in which duty must be
paramount; paramount to all other considerations, you know, and,
certainly, this occasion is one of them."

"But what is the occasion, Lady Arabella?"

"I'll tell you, doctor. You know what Frank's position is?"

"Frank's position! as regards what?"

"Why, his position in life; an only son, you know."

"Oh, yes; I know his position in that respect; an only son, and his
father's heir; and a very fine fellow, he is. You have but one son,
Lady Arabella, and you may well be proud of him."

Lady Arabella sighed. She did not wish at the present moment to
express herself as being in any way proud of Frank. She was desirous
rather, on the other hand, of showing that she was a good deal
ashamed of him; only not quite so much ashamed of him as it behoved
the doctor to be of his niece.

"Well, perhaps so; yes," said Lady Arabella, "he is, I believe, a
very good young man, with an excellent disposition; but, doctor, his
position is very precarious; and he is just at that time of life when
every caution is necessary."

To the doctor's ears, Lady Arabella was now talking of her son as a
mother might of her infant when whooping-cough was abroad or croup
imminent. "There is nothing on earth the matter with him, I should
say," said the doctor. "He has every possible sign of perfect
health."

"Oh yes; his health! Yes, thank God, his health is good; that is a
great blessing." And Lady Arabella thought of her four flowerets that
had already faded. "I am sure I am most thankful to see him growing
up so strong. But it is not that I mean, doctor."

"Then what is it, Lady Arabella?"

"Why, doctor, you know the squire's position with regard to money
matters?"

Now the doctor undoubtedly did know the squire's position with regard
to money matters, - knew it much better than did Lady Arabella; but
he was by no means inclined to talk on that subject to her ladyship.
He remained quite silent, therefore, although Lady Arabella's last
speech had taken the form of a question. Lady Arabella was a little
offended at this want of freedom on his part, and become somewhat
sterner in her tone - a thought less condescending in her manner.

"The squire has unfortunately embarrassed the property, and Frank
must look forward to inherit it with very heavy encumbrances; I
fear very heavy indeed, though of what exact nature I am kept in
ignorance."

Looking at the doctor's face, she perceived that there was no
probability whatever that her ignorance would be enlightened by him.

"And, therefore, it is highly necessary that Frank should be very
careful."

"As to his private expenditure, you mean?" said the doctor.

"No; not exactly that: though of course he must be careful as to
that, too; that's of course. But that is not what I mean, doctor; his
only hope of retrieving his circumstances is by marrying money."

"With every other conjugal blessing that a man can have, I hope he
may have that also." So the doctor replied with imperturbable face;
but not the less did he begin to have a shade of suspicion of what
might be the coming subject of the conference. It would be untrue to
say that he had ever thought it probable that the young heir should
fall in love with his niece; that he had ever looked forward to such
a chance, either with complacency or with fear; nevertheless, the
idea had of late passed through his mind. Some word had fallen from
Mary, some closely watched expression of her eye, or some quiver
in her lip when Frank's name was mentioned, had of late made him
involuntarily think that such might not be impossible; and then, when
the chance of Mary becoming the heiress to so large a fortune had
been forced upon his consideration, he had been unable to prevent
himself from building happy castles in the air, as he rode slowly
home from Boxall Hill. But not a whit the more on that account was
he prepared to be untrue to the squire's interest or to encourage a
feeling which must be distasteful to all the squire's friends.

"Yes, doctor; he must marry money."

"And worth, Lady Arabella; and a pure feminine heart; and youth and
beauty. I hope he will marry them all."

Could it be possible, that in speaking of a pure feminine heart, and
youth and beauty, and such like gewgaws, the doctor was thinking of
his niece? Could it be that he had absolutely made up his mind to
foster and encourage this odious match?

The bare idea made Lady Arabella wrathful, and her wrath gave her
courage. "He must marry money, or he will be a ruined man. Now,
doctor, I am informed that things - words that is - have passed between
him and Mary which never ought to have been allowed."

And now also the doctor was wrathful. "What things? what words?" said
he, appearing to Lady Arabella as though he rose in his anger nearly
a foot in altitude before her eyes. "What has passed between them?
and who says so?"

"Doctor, there have been love-makings, you may take my word for it;
love-makings of a very, very, very advanced description."

This, the doctor could not stand. No, not for Greshamsbury and its
heir; not for the squire and all his misfortunes; not for Lady
Arabella and the blood of all the de Courcys could he stand quiet



Online LibraryAnthony TrollopeDoctor Thorne → online text (page 15 of 49)