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tailor; not a Barchester tailor, mind you, so as to give him any
claim on your affections; but a London tailor. Now the question is,
do you want to send the son of a London tailor up to Parliament to
represent you?"

"No, we don't; nor yet we won't either."

"I rather think not. You've had him once, and what has he done for
you? Has he said much for you in the House of Commons? Why, he's so
dumb a dog that he can't bark even for a bone. I'm told it's quite
painful to hear him fumbling and mumbling and trying to get up a
speech there over at the White Horse. He doesn't belong to the city;
he hasn't done anything for the city; and he hasn't the power to do
anything for the city. Then, why on earth does he come here? I'll
tell you. The Earl de Courcy brings him. He's going to marry the
Earl de Courcy's niece; for they say he's very rich - this tailor's
son - only they do say also that he doesn't much like to spend his
money. He's going to marry Lord de Courcy's niece, and Lord de Courcy
wishes that his nephew should be in Parliament. There, that's the
claim which Mr Moffat has here on the people of Barchester. He's Lord
de Courcy's nominee, and those who feel themselves bound hand and
foot, heart and soul, to Lord de Courcy, had better vote for him.
Such men have my leave. If there are enough of such at Barchester to
send him to Parliament, the city in which I was born must be very
much altered since I was a young man."

And so finishing his speech, Sir Roger retired within, and recruited
himself in the usual manner.

Such was the flood of eloquence at the Dragon of Wantly. At the White
Horse, meanwhile, the friends of the de Courcy interest were treated
perhaps to sounder political views; though not expressed in periods
so intelligibly fluent as those of Sir Roger.

Mr Moffat was a young man, and there was no knowing to what
proficiency in the Parliamentary gift of public talking he might yet
attain; but hitherto his proficiency was not great. He had, however,
endeavoured to make up by study for any want of readiness of speech,
and had come to Barchester daily, for the last four days, fortified
with a very pretty harangue, which he had prepared for himself in
the solitude of his chamber. On the three previous days matters
had been allowed to progress with tolerable smoothness, and he had
been permitted to deliver himself of his elaborate eloquence with
few other interruptions than those occasioned by his own want of
practice. But on this, the day of days, the Barchesterian roughs were
not so complaisant. It appeared to Mr Moffat, when he essayed to
speak, that he was surrounded by enemies rather than friends; and in
his heart he gave great blame to Mr Nearthewinde for not managing
matters better for him.

"Men of Barchester," he began, in a voice which was every now and
then preternaturally loud, but which, at each fourth or fifth word,
gave way from want of power, and descended to its natural weak tone.
"Men of Barchester - electors and non-electors - "

"We is hall electors; hall on us, my young kiddy."

"Electors and non-electors, I now ask your suffrages, not for the
first time - "

"Oh! we've tried you. We know what you're made on. Go on, Snip; don't
you let 'em put you down."

"I've had the honour of representing you in Parliament for the last
two years and - "

"And a deuced deal you did for us, didn't you?"

"What could you expect from the ninth part of a man? Never mind,
Snip - go on; don't you be out by any of them. Stick to your wax and
thread like a man - like the ninth part of a man - go on a little
faster, Snip."

"For the last two years - and - and - " Here Mr Moffat looked round to
his friends for some little support, and the Honourable George, who
stood close behind him, suggested that he had gone through it like a
brick.

"And - and I went through it like a brick," said Mr Moffat, with the
gravest possible face, taking up in his utter confusion the words
that were put into his mouth.

"Hurray! - so you did - you're the real brick. Well done, Snip; go it
again with the wax and thread!"

"I am a thorough-paced reformer," continued Mr Moffat, somewhat
reassured by the effect of the opportune words which his friend had
whispered into his ear. "A thorough-paced reformer - a thorough-paced
reformer - "

"Go on, Snip. We all know what that means."

"A thorough-paced reformer - "

"Never mind your paces, man; but get on. Tell us something new. We're
all reformers, we are."

Poor Mr Moffat was a little thrown back. It wasn't so easy to tell
these gentlemen anything new, harnessed as he was at this moment; so
he looked back at his honourable supporter for some further hint.
"Say something about their daughters," whispered George, whose own
flights of oratory were always on that subject. Had he counselled Mr
Moffat to say a word or two about the tides, his advice would not
have been less to the purpose.

"Gentlemen," he began again - "you all know that I am a thorough-paced
reformer - "

"Oh, drat your reform. He's a dumb dog. Go back to your goose,
Snippy; you never were made for this work. Go to Courcy Castle and
reform that."

Mr Moffat, grieved in his soul, was becoming inextricably bewildered
by such facetiæ as these, when an egg, - and it may be feared not a
fresh egg, - flung with unerring precision, struck him on the open
part of his well-plaited shirt, and reduced him to speechless
despair.

An egg is a means of delightful support when properly administered;
but it is not calculated to add much spirit to a man's eloquence, or
to ensure his powers of endurance, when supplied in the manner above
described. Men there are, doubtless, whose tongues would not be
stopped even by such an argument as this; but Mr Moffat was not one
of them. As the insidious fluid trickled down beneath his waistcoat,
he felt that all further powers of coaxing the electors out of their
votes, by words flowing from his tongue sweeter than honey, was
for that occasion denied to him. He could not be self-confident,
energetic, witty, and good-humoured with a rotten egg drying through
his clothes. He was forced, therefore, to give way, and with sadly
disconcerted air retired from the open window at which he had been
standing.

It was in vain that the Honourable George, Mr Nearthewinde, and Frank
endeavoured again to bring him to the charge. He was like a beaten
prize-fighter, whose pluck has been cowed out of him, and who, if he
stands up, only stands up to fall. Mr Moffat got sulky also, and when
he was pressed, said that Barchester and the people in it might be
d - - . "With all my heart," said Mr Nearthewinde. "That wouldn't have
any effect on their votes."

But, in truth, it mattered very little whether Mr Moffat spoke,
or whether he didn't speak. Four o'clock was the hour for closing
the poll, and that was now fast coming. Tremendous exertions had
been made about half-past three, by a safe emissary sent from
Nearthewinde, to prove to Mr Reddypalm that all manner of contingent
advantages would accrue to the Brown Bear if it should turn out that
Mr Moffat should take his seat for Barchester. No bribe was, of
course, offered or even hinted at. The purity of Barchester was not
contaminated during the day by one such curse as this. But a man, and
a publican, would be required to do some great deed in the public
line; to open some colossal tap; to draw beer for the million; and no
one would be so fit as Mr Reddypalm - if only it might turn out that
Mr Moffat should, in the coming February, take his seat as member for
Barchester.

But Mr Reddypalm was a man of humble desires, whose ambitions soared
no higher than this - that his little bills should be duly settled. It
is wonderful what love an innkeeper has for his bill in its entirety.
An account, with a respectable total of five or six pounds, is
brought to you, and you complain but of one article; that fire in the
bedroom was never lighted; or that second glass of brandy and water
was never called for. You desire to have the shilling expunged, and
all your host's pleasure in the whole transaction is destroyed. Oh!
my friends, pay for the brandy and water, though you never drank it;
suffer the fire to pass, though it never warmed you. Why make a good
man miserable for such a trifle?

It became notified to Reddypalm with sufficient clearness that his
bill for the past election should be paid without further question;
and, therefore, at five o'clock the Mayor of Barchester proclaimed
the results of the contest in the following figures: -


Scatcherd 378
Moffat 376


Mr Reddypalm's two votes had decided the question. Mr Nearthewinde
immediately went up to town; and the dinner party at Courcy Castle
that evening was not a particularly pleasant meal.

This much, however, had been absolutely decided before the yellow
committee concluded their labour at the White Horse: there should be
a petition. Mr Nearthewinde had not been asleep, and already knew
something of the manner in which Mr Reddypalm's mind had been
quieted.




CHAPTER XVIII

The Rivals


The intimacy between Frank and Miss Dunstable grew and prospered.
That is to say, it prospered as an intimacy, though perhaps hardly
as a love affair. There was a continued succession of jokes between
them, which no one else in the castle understood; but the very fact
of there being such a good understanding between them rather stood
in the way of, than assisted, that consummation which the countess
desired. People, when they are in love with each other, or even when
they pretend to be, do not generally show it by loud laughter. Nor is
it frequently the case that a wife with two hundred thousand pounds
can be won without some little preliminary despair. Now there was no
despair at all about Frank Gresham.

Lady de Courcy, who thoroughly understood that portion of the world
in which she herself lived, saw that things were not going quite as
they should do, and gave much and repeated advice to Frank on the
subject. She was the more eager in doing this, because she imagined
Frank had done what he could to obey her first precepts. He had not
turned up his nose at Miss Dunstable's curls, nor found fault with
her loud voice: he had not objected to her as ugly, nor even shown
any dislike to her age. A young man who had been so amenable to
reason was worthy of further assistance; and so Lady de Courcy did
what she could to assist him.

"Frank, my dear boy," she would say, "you are a little too noisy, I
think. I don't mean for myself, you know; I don't mind it. But Miss
Dunstable would like it better if you were a little more quiet with
her."

"Would she, aunt?" said Frank, looking demurely up into the
countess's face. "I rather think she likes fun and noise, and that
sort of thing. You know she's not very quiet herself."

"Ah! - but Frank, there are times, you know, when that sort of thing
should be laid aside. Fun, as you call it, is all very well in its
place. Indeed, no one likes it better than I do. But that's not the
way to show admiration. Young ladies like to be admired; and if
you'll be a little more soft-mannered with Miss Dunstable, I'm sure
you'll find it will answer better."

And so the old bird taught the young bird how to fly - very
needlessly - for in this matter of flying, Nature gives her own
lessons thoroughly; and the ducklings will take the water, even
though the maternal hen warn them against the perfidious element
never so loudly.

Soon after this, Lady de Courcy began to be not very well pleased
in the matter. She took it into her head that Miss Dunstable was
sometimes almost inclined to laugh at her; and on one or two
occasions it almost seemed as though Frank was joining Miss Dunstable
in doing so. The fact indeed was, that Miss Dunstable was fond of
fun; and, endowed as she was with all the privileges which two
hundred thousand pounds may be supposed to give to a young lady,
did not very much care at whom she laughed. She was able to make a
tolerably correct guess at Lady de Courcy's plan towards herself;
but she did not for a moment think that Frank had any intention
of furthering his aunt's views. She was, therefore, not at all
ill-inclined to have her revenge on the countess.

"How very fond your aunt is of you!" she said to him one wet morning,
as he was sauntering through the house; now laughing, and almost
romping with her - then teasing his sister about Mr Moffat - and then
bothering his lady-cousins out of all their propriety.

"Oh, very!" said Frank: "she is a dear, good woman, is my Aunt de
Courcy."

"I declare she takes more notice of you and your doings than of any
of your cousins. I wonder they ain't jealous."

"Oh! they're such good people. Bless me, they'd never be jealous."

"You are so much younger than they are, that I suppose she thinks you
want more of her care."

"Yes; that's it. You see she's fond of having a baby to nurse."

"Tell me, Mr Gresham, what was it she was saying to you last night? I
know we had been misbehaving ourselves dreadfully. It was all your
fault; you would make me laugh so."

"That's just what I said to her."

"She was talking about me, then?"

"How on earth should she talk of any one else as long as you are
here? Don't you know that all the world is talking about you?"

"Is it? - dear me, how kind! But I don't care a straw about any world
just at present but Lady de Courcy's world. What did she say?"

"She said you were very beautiful - "

"Did she? - how good of her!"

"No; I forgot. It - it was I that said that; and she said - what was
it she said? She said, that after all, beauty was but skin deep - and
that she valued you for your virtues and prudence rather than your
good looks."

"Virtues and prudence! She said I was prudent and virtuous?"

"Yes."

"And you talked of my beauty? That was so kind of you. You didn't
either of you say anything about other matters?"

"What other matters?"

"Oh! I don't know. Only some people are sometimes valued rather for
what they've got than for any good qualities belonging to themselves
intrinsically."

"That can never be the case with Miss Dunstable; especially not at
Courcy Castle," said Frank, bowing easily from the corner of the sofa
over which he was leaning.

"Of course not," said Miss Dunstable; and Frank at once perceived
that she spoke in a tone of voice differing much from that
half-bantering, half-good-humoured manner that was customary with
her. "Of course not: any such idea would be quite out of the question
with Lady de Courcy." She paused for a moment, and then added
in a tone different again, and unlike any that he had yet heard
from her: - "It is, at any rate, out of the question with Mr Frank
Gresham - of that I am quite sure."

Frank ought to have understood her, and have appreciated the good
opinion which she intended to convey; but he did not entirely do so.
He was hardly honest himself towards her; and he could not at first
perceive that she intended to say that she thought him so. He knew
very well that she was alluding to her own huge fortune, and was
alluding also to the fact that people of fashion sought her because
of it; but he did not know that she intended to express a true
acquittal as regarded him of any such baseness.

And did he deserve to be acquitted? Yes, upon the whole he did; - to
be acquitted of that special sin. His desire to make Miss Dunstable
temporarily subject to his sway arose, not from a hankering after her
fortune, but from an ambition to get the better of a contest in which
other men around him seemed to be failing.

For it must not be imagined that, with such a prize to be struggled
for, all others stood aloof and allowed him to have his own way
with the heiress, undisputed. The chance of a wife with two hundred
thousand pounds is a godsend which comes in a man's life too seldom
to be neglected, let that chance be never so remote.

Frank was the heir to a large embarrassed property; and, therefore,
the heads of families, putting their wisdoms together, had thought it
most meet that this daughter of Plutus should, if possible, fall to
his lot. But not so thought the Honourable George; and not so thought
another gentleman who was at that time an inmate of Courcy Castle.

These suitors perhaps somewhat despised their young rival's efforts.
It may be that they had sufficient worldly wisdom to know that so
important a crisis of life is not settled among quips and jokes, and
that Frank was too much in jest to be in earnest. But be that as it
may, his love-making did not stand in the way of their love-making;
nor his hopes, if he had any, in the way of their hopes.

The Honourable George had discussed the matter with the Honourable
John in a properly fraternal manner. It may be that John had also
an eye to the heiress; but, if so, he had ceded his views to his
brother's superior claims; for it came about that they understood
each other very well, and John favoured George with salutary advice
on the occasion.

"If it is to be done at all, it should be done very sharp," said
John.

"As sharp as you like," said George. "I'm not the fellow to be
studying three months in what attitude I'll fall at a girl's feet."

"No: and when you are there you mustn't take three months more to
study how you'll get up again. If you do it at all, you must do it
sharp," repeated John, putting great stress on his advice.

"I have said a few soft words to her already, and she didn't seem to
take them badly," said George.

"She's no chicken, you know," remarked John; "and with a woman like
that, beating about the bush never does any good. The chances are she
won't have you - that's of course; plums like that don't fall into a
man's mouth merely for shaking the tree. But it's possible she may;
and if she will, she's as likely to take you to-day as this day six
months. If I were you I'd write her a letter."

"Write her a letter - eh?" said George, who did not altogether dislike
the advice, for it seemed to take from his shoulders the burden of
preparing a spoken address. Though he was so glib in speaking about
the farmers' daughters, he felt that he should have some little
difficulty in making known his passion to Miss Dunstable by word of
mouth.

"Yes; write a letter. If she'll take you at all, she'll take you that
way; half the matches going are made up by writing letters. Write her
a letter and get it put on her dressing-table." George said that he
would, and so he did.

George spoke quite truly when he hinted that he had said a few soft
things to Miss Dunstable. Miss Dunstable, however, was accustomed to
hear soft things. She had been carried much about in society among
fashionable people since, on the settlement of her father's will, she
had been pronounced heiress to all the ointment of Lebanon; and many
men had made calculations respecting her similar to those which were
now animating the brain of the Honourable George de Courcy. She was
already quite accustomed to being the target at which spendthrifts
and the needy rich might shoot their arrows: accustomed to being shot
at, and tolerably accustomed to protect herself without making scenes
in the world, or rejecting the advantageous establishments offered
to her with any loud expressions of disdain. The Honourable George,
therefore, had been permitted to say soft things very much as a
matter of course.

And very little more outward fracas arose from the correspondence
which followed than had arisen from the soft things so said. George
wrote the letter, and had it duly conveyed to Miss Dunstable's
bed-chamber. Miss Dunstable duly received it, and had her answer
conveyed back discreetly to George's hands. The correspondence ran as
follows: -


Courcy Castle, Aug. - , 185 - .

MY DEAREST MISS DUNSTABLE,

I cannot but flatter myself that you must have perceived
from my manner that you are not indifferent to me. Indeed,
indeed, you are not. I may truly say, and swear [these
last strong words had been put in by the special counsel
of the Honourable John], that if ever a man loved a woman
truly, I truly love you. You may think it very odd that
I should say this in a letter instead of speaking it out
before your face; but your powers of raillery are so great
["touch her up about her wit" had been the advice of the
Honourable John] that I am all but afraid to encounter
them. Dearest, dearest Martha - oh do not blame me for so
addressing you! - if you will trust your happiness to me
you shall never find that you have been deceived. My
ambition shall be to make you shine in that circle which
you are so well qualified to adorn, and to see you firmly
fixed in that sphere of fashion for which all your tastes
adapt you.

I may safely assert - and I do assert it with my hand on
my heart - that I am actuated by no mercenary motives. Far
be it from me to marry any woman - no, not a princess - on
account of her money. No marriage can be happy without
mutual affection; and I do fully trust - no, not trust, but
hope - that there may be such between you and me, dearest
Miss Dunstable. Whatever settlements you might propose,
I should accede to. It is you, your sweet person, that I
love, not your money.

For myself, I need not remind you that I am the second son
of my father; and that, as such, I hold no inconsiderable
station in the world. My intention is to get into
Parliament, and to make a name for myself, if I can, among
those who shine in the House of Commons. My elder brother,
Lord Porlock, is, you are aware, unmarried; and we
all fear that the family honours are not likely to be
perpetuated by him, as he has all manner of troublesome
liaisons which will probably prevent his settling in life.
There is nothing at all of that kind in my way. It will
indeed be a delight to place a coronet on the head of my
lovely Martha: a coronet which can give no fresh grace to
her, but which will be so much adorned by her wearing it.

Dearest Miss Dunstable, I shall wait with the utmost
impatience for your answer; and now, burning with hope
that it may not be altogether unfavourable to my love, I
beg permission to sign myself -

Your own most devoted,

GEORGE DE COURCY.


The ardent lover had not to wait long for an answer from his
mistress. She found this letter on her toilet-table one night as she
went to bed. The next morning she came down to breakfast and met her
swain with the most unconcerned air in the world; so much so that
he began to think, as he munched his toast with rather a shamefaced
look, that the letter on which so much was to depend had not yet come
safely to hand. But his suspense was not of a prolonged duration.
After breakfast, as was his wont, he went out to the stables with his
brother and Frank Gresham; and while there, Miss Dunstable's man,
coming up to him, touched his hat, and put a letter into his hand.

Frank, who knew the man, glanced at the letter and looked at his
cousin; but he said nothing. He was, however, a little jealous, and
felt that an injury was done to him by any correspondence between
Miss Dunstable and his cousin George.

Miss Dunstable's reply was as follows; and it may be remarked that
it was written in a very clear and well-penned hand, and one which
certainly did not betray much emotion of the heart: -


MY DEAR MR DE COURCY,

I am sorry to say that I had not perceived from your
manner that you entertained any peculiar feelings towards
me; as, had I done so, I should at once have endeavoured
to put an end to them. I am much flattered by the way in
which you speak of me; but I am in too humble a position
to return your affection; and can, therefore, only express
a hope that you may be soon able to eradicate it from your
bosom. A letter is a very good way of making an offer, and
as such I do not think it at all odd; but I certainly did
not expect such an honour last night. As to my raillery, I
trust it has never yet hurt you. I can assure you it never
shall. I hope you will soon have a worthier ambition than
that to which you allude; for I am well aware that no
attempt will ever make me shine anywhere.

I am quite sure you have had no mercenary motives: such
motives in marriage are very base, and quite below your
name and lineage. Any little fortune that I may have must
be a matter of indifference to one who looks forward, as
you do, to put a coronet on his wife's brow. Nevertheless,
for the sake of the family, I trust that Lord Porlock, in



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