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very; but there's nothing to alter; little or nothing."

There were but few words spoken between Dr Century and the squire;
but few as they were, they frightened Mr Gresham. When Dr Fillgrave
came down the grand stairs, a servant waited at the bottom to ask him
also to go to the squire. Now there never had been much cordiality
between the squire and Dr Fillgrave, though Mr Gresham had consented
to take a preventative pill from his hands, and the little man
therefore swelled himself out somewhat more than ordinarily as he
followed the servant.

"Dr Fillgrave," said the squire, at once beginning the conversation,
"Lady Arabella, is, I fear, in danger?"

"Well, no; I hope not in danger, Mr Gresham. I certainly believe I
may be justified in expressing a hope that she is not in danger. Her
state is, no doubt, rather serious - rather serious - as Dr Century has
probably told you;" and Dr Fillgrave made a bow to the old man, who
sat quiet in one of the dining-room arm-chairs.

"Well, doctor," said the squire, "I have not any grounds on which to
doubt your judgement."

Dr Fillgrave bowed, but with the stiffest, slightest inclination
which a head could possibly make. He rather thought that Mr Gresham
had no ground for doubting his judgement.

"Nor do I."

The doctor bowed, and a little, a very little less stiffly.

"But, doctor, I think that something ought to be done."

The doctor this time did his bowing merely with his eyes and mouth.
The former he closed for a moment, the latter he pressed; and then
decorously rubbed his hands one over the other.

"I am afraid, Dr Fillgrave, that you and my friend Thorne are not the
best friends in the world."

"No, Mr Gresham, no; I may go so far as to say we are not."

"Well, I am sorry for it - "

"Perhaps, Mr Gresham, we need hardly discuss it; but there have been
circumstances - "

"I am not going to discuss anything, Dr Fillgrave; I say I am sorry
for it, because I believe that prudence will imperatively require
Lady Arabella to have Doctor Thorne back again. Now, if you would not
object to meet him - "

"Mr Gresham, I beg pardon; I beg pardon, indeed; but you must really
excuse me. Doctor Thorne has, in my estimation - "

"But, Doctor Fillgrave - "

"Mr Gresham, you really must excuse me; you really must, indeed.
Anything else that I could do for Lady Arabella, I should be most
happy to do; but after what has passed, I cannot meet Doctor Thorne;
I really cannot. You must not ask me to do so; Mr Gresham. And, Mr
Gresham," continued the doctor, "I did understand from Lady Arabella
that his - that is, Dr Thorne's - conduct to her ladyship had been
such - so very outrageous, I may say, that - that - that - of course, Mr
Gresham, you know best; but I did think that Lady Arabella herself
was quite unwilling to see Doctor Thorne again;" and Dr Fillgrave
looked very big, and very dignified, and very exclusive.

The squire did not ask again. He had no warrant for supposing that
Lady Arabella would receive Dr Thorne if he did come; and he saw
that it was useless to attempt to overcome the rancour of a man so
pig-headed as the little Galen now before him. Other propositions
were then broached, and it was at last decided that assistance should
be sought for from London, in the person of the great Sir Omicron
Pie.

Sir Omicron came, and Drs Fillgrave and Century were there to meet
him. When they all assembled in Lady Arabella's room, the poor
woman's heart almost sank within her, - as well it might, at such
a sight. If she could only reconcile it with her honour, her
consistency, with her high de Courcy principles, to send once more
for Dr Thorne. Oh, Frank! Frank! to what misery your disobedience
brought your mother!

Sir Omicron and the lesser provincial lights had their consultation,
and the lesser lights went their way to Barchester and Silverbridge,
leaving Sir Omicron to enjoy the hospitality of Greshamsbury.

"You should have Thorne back here, Mr Gresham," said Sir Omicron,
almost in a whisper, when they were quite alone. "Doctor Fillgrave
is a very good man, and so is Dr Century; very good, I am sure. But
Thorne has known her ladyship so long." And then, on the following
morning, Sir Omicron also went his way.

And then there was a scene between the squire and her ladyship. Lady
Arabella had given herself credit for great good generalship when she
found that the squire had been induced to take that pill. We have
all heard of the little end of the wedge, and we have most of us an
idea that the little end is the difficulty. That pill had been the
little end of Lady Arabella's wedge. Up to that period she had been
struggling in vain to make a severance between her husband and her
enemy. That pill should do the business. She well knew how to make
the most of it; to have it published in Greshamsbury that the squire
had put his gouty toe into Dr Fillgrave's hands; how to let it
be known - especially at that humble house in the corner of the
street - that Fillgrave's prescriptions now ran current through the
whole establishment. Dr Thorne did hear of it, and did suffer. He had
been a true friend to the squire, and he thought the squire should
have stood to him more staunchly.

"After all," said he himself, "perhaps it's as well - perhaps it will
be best that I should leave this place altogether." And then he
thought of Sir Roger and his will, and of Mary and her lover. And
then of Mary's birth, and of his own theoretical doctrines as to pure
blood. And so his troubles multiplied, and he saw no present daylight
through them.

Such had been the way in which Lady Arabella had got in the little
end of the wedge. And she would have triumphed joyfully had not her
increased doubts and fears as to herself then come in to check her
triumph and destroy her joy. She had not yet confessed to any one
her secret regret for the friend she had driven away. She hardly yet
acknowledged to herself that she did regret him; but she was uneasy,
frightened, and in low spirits.

"My dear," said the squire, sitting down by her bedside, "I want to
tell you what Sir Omicron said as he went away."

"Well?" said her ladyship, sitting up and looking frightened.

"I don't know how you may take it, Bell; but I think it very good
news:" the squire never called his wife Bell, except when he wanted
her to be on particularly good terms with him.

"Well?" said she again. She was not over-anxious to be gracious, and
did not reciprocate his familiarity.

"Sir Omicron says that you should have Thorne back again, and upon my
honour, I cannot but agree with him. Now, Thorne is a clever man, a
very clever man; nobody denies that; and then, you know - "

"Why did not Sir Omicron say that to me?" said her ladyship, sharply,
all her disposition in Dr Thorne's favour becoming wonderfully damped
by her husband's advocacy.

"I suppose he thought it better to say it to me," said the squire,
rather curtly.

"He should have spoken to myself," said Lady Arabella, who, though
she did not absolutely doubt her husband's word, gave him credit
for having induced and led on Sir Omicron to the uttering of this
opinion. "Doctor Thorne has behaved to me in so gross, so indecent a
manner! And then, as I understand, he is absolutely encouraging that
girl - "

"Now, Bell, you are quite wrong - "

"Of course I am; I always am quite wrong."

"Quite wrong in mixing up two things; Doctor Thorne as an
acquaintance, and Dr Thorne as a doctor."

"It is dreadful to have him here, even standing in the room with me.
How can one talk to one's doctor openly and confidentially when one
looks upon him as one's worst enemy?" And Lady Arabella, softening,
almost melted into tears.

"My dear, you cannot wonder that I should be anxious for you."

Lady Arabella gave a little snuffle, which might be taken as a not
very eloquent expression of thanks for the squire's solicitude, or as
an ironical jeer at his want of sincerity.

"And, therefore, I have not lost a moment in telling you what Sir
Omicron said. 'You should have Thorne back here;' those were his very
words. You can think it over, my dear. And remember this, Bell; if he
is to do any good no time should be lost."

And then the squire left the room, and Lady Arabella remained alone,
perplexed by many doubts.




CHAPTER XXXII

Mr Oriel


I must now, shortly - as shortly as it is in my power to do
it - introduce a new character to my reader. Mention has been made
of the rectory of Greshamsbury; but, hitherto, no opportunity has
offered itself for the Rev Caleb Oriel to come upon the boards.

Mr Oriel was a man of family and fortune, who, having gone to Oxford
with the usual views of such men, had become inoculated there with
very High-Church principles, and had gone into orders influenced by a
feeling of enthusiastic love for the priesthood. He was by no means
an ascetic - such men, indeed, seldom are - nor was he a devotee. He
was a man well able, and certainly willing, to do the work of a
parish clergyman; and when he became one, he was efficacious in his
profession. But it may perhaps be said of him, without speaking
slanderously, that his original calling, as a young man, was rather
to the outward and visible signs of religion than to its inward and
spiritual graces.

He delighted in lecterns and credence-tables, in services at dark
hours of winter mornings when no one would attend, in high waistcoats
and narrow white neckties, in chanted services and intoned prayers,
and in all the paraphernalia of Anglican formalities which have given
such offence to those of our brethren who live in daily fear of the
scarlet lady. Many of his friends declared that Mr Oriel would sooner
or later deliver himself over body and soul to that lady; but there
was no need to fear for him: for though sufficiently enthusiastic to
get out of bed at five a.m. on winter mornings - he did so, at least,
all through his first winter at Greshamsbury - he was not made of
that stuff which is necessary for a staunch, burning, self-denying
convert. It was not in him to change his very sleek black coat for a
Capuchin's filthy cassock, nor his pleasant parsonage for some dirty
hole in Rome. And it was better so both for him and others. There are
but few, very few, to whom it is given to be a Huss, a Wickliffe,
or a Luther; and a man gains but little by being a false Huss, or a
false Luther, - and his neighbours gain less.

But certain lengths in self-privation Mr Oriel did go; at any rate,
for some time. He eschewed matrimony, imagining that it became him
as a priest to do so. He fasted rigorously on Fridays; and the
neighbours declared that he scourged himself.

Mr Oriel was, as it has been said, a man of fortune; that is to say,
when he came of age he was master of thirty thousand pounds. When he
took it into his head to go into the Church, his friends bought for
him the next presentation to the living at Greshamsbury; and, a year
after his ordination, the living falling in, Mr Oriel brought himself
and his sister to the rectory.

Mr Oriel soon became popular. He was a dark-haired, good-looking
man, of polished manners, agreeable in society, not given to monkish
austerities - except in the matter of Fridays - nor yet to the
Low-Church severity of demeanour. He was thoroughly a gentleman,
good-humoured, inoffensive, and sociable. But he had one fault: he
was not a marrying man.

On this ground there was a feeling against him so strong as almost at
one time to throw him into serious danger. It was not only that he
should be sworn against matrimony in his individual self - he whom
fate had made so able to sustain the weight of a wife and family;
but what an example he was setting! If other clergymen all around
should declare against wives and families, what was to become of the
country? What was to be done in the rural districts? The religious
observances, as regards women, of a Brigham Young were hardly so bad
as this!

There were around Greshamsbury very many unmarried ladies - I believe
there generally are so round most such villages. From the great house
he did not receive much annoyance. Beatrice was then only just on the
verge of being brought out, and was not perhaps inclined to think
very much of a young clergyman; and Augusta certainly intended to fly
at higher game. But there were the Miss Athelings, the daughters of
a neighbouring clergyman, who were ready to go all lengths with him
in High-Church matters, except as that one tremendously papal step
of celibacy; and the two Miss Hesterwells, of Hesterwell Park, the
younger of whom boldly declared her purpose of civilising the savage;
and Mrs Opie Green, a very pretty widow, with a very pretty jointure,
who lived in a very pretty house about a mile from Greshamsbury, and
who declared her opinion that Mr Oriel was quite right in his view of
a clergyman's position. How could a woman, situated as she was, have
the comfort of a clergyman's attention if he were to be regarded
just as any other man? She could now know in what light to regard
Mr Oriel, and would be able without scruple to avail herself of his
zeal. So she did avail herself of his zeal, - and that without any
scruple.

And then there was Miss Gushing, - a young thing. Miss Gushing had a
great advantage over the other competitors for the civilisation of
Mr Oriel, namely, in this - that she was able to attend his morning
services. If Mr Oriel was to be reached in any way, it was probable
that he might be reached in this way. If anything could civilise
him, this would do it. Therefore, the young thing, through all one
long, tedious winter, tore herself from her warm bed, and was to
be seen - no, not seen, but heard - entering Mr Oriel's church at
six o'clock. With indefatigable assiduity the responses were made,
uttered from under a close bonnet, and out of a dark corner, in an
enthusiastically feminine voice, through the whole winter.

Nor did Miss Gushing altogether fail in her object. When a
clergyman's daily audience consists of but one person, and that
person is a young lady, it is hardly possible that he should not
become personally intimate with her; hardly possible that he should
not be in some measure grateful. Miss Gushing's responses came from
her with such fervour, and she begged for ghostly advice with such
eager longing to have her scruples satisfied, that Mr Oriel had
nothing for it but to give way to a certain amount of civilisation.

By degrees it came to pass that Miss Gushing could never get her
final prayer said, her shawl and boa adjusted, and stow away her
nice new Prayer-Book with the red letters inside, and the cross on
the back, till Mr Oriel had been into his vestry and got rid of
his surplice. And then they met at the church-porch, and naturally
walked together till Mr Oriel's cruel gateway separated them. The
young thing did sometimes think that, as the parson's civilisation
progressed, he might have taken the trouble to walk with her as far
as Mr Yates Umbleby's hall door; but she had hope to sustain her, and
a firm resolve to merit success, even though she might not attain it.

"Is it not ten thousand pities," she once said to him, "that none
here should avail themselves of the inestimable privilege which your
coming has conferred upon us? Oh, Mr Oriel, I do so wonder at it! To
me it is so delightful! The morning service in the dark church is so
beautiful, so touching!"

"I suppose they think it is a bore getting up so early," said Mr
Oriel.

"Ah, a bore!" said Miss Gushing, in an enthusiastic tone of
depreciation. "How insensate they must be! To me it gives a new charm
to life. It quiets one for the day; makes one so much fitter for
one's daily trials and daily troubles. Does it not, Mr Oriel?"

"I look upon morning prayer as an imperative duty, certainly."

"Oh, certainly, a most imperative duty; but so delicious at the same
time. I spoke to Mrs Umbleby about it, but she said she could not
leave the children."

"No: I dare say not," said Mr Oriel.

"And Mr Umbleby said his business kept him up so late at night."

"Very probably. I hardly expect the attendance of men of business."

"But the servants might come, mightn't they, Mr Oriel?"

"I fear that servants seldom can have time for daily prayers in
church."

"Oh, ah, no; perhaps not." And then Miss Gushing began to bethink
herself of whom should be composed the congregation which it must be
presumed that Mr Oriel wished to see around him. But on this matter
he did not enlighten her.

Then Miss Gushing took to fasting on Fridays, and made some futile
attempts to induce her priest to give her the comfort of confessional
absolution. But, unfortunately, the zeal of the master waxed cool
as that of the pupil waxed hot; and, at last, when the young thing
returned to Greshamsbury from an autumn excursion which she had made
with Mrs Umbleby to Weston-super-Mare, she found that the delicious
morning services had died a natural death. Miss Gushing did not on
that account give up the game, but she was bound to fight with no
particular advantage in her favour.

Miss Oriel, though a good Churchwoman, was by no means a convert to
her brother's extremist views, and perhaps gave but scanty credit
to the Gushings, Athelings, and Opie Greens for the sincerity of
their religion. But, nevertheless, she and her brother were staunch
friends; and she still hoped to see the day when he might be induced
to think that an English parson might get through his parish work
with the assistance of a wife better than he could do without such
feminine encumbrance. The girl whom she selected for his bride was
not the young thing, but Beatrice Gresham.

And at last it seemed probable to Mr Oriel's nearest friends that he
was in a fair way to be overcome. Not that he had begun to make love
to Beatrice, or committed himself by the utterance of any opinion as
to the propriety of clerical marriages; but he daily became looser
about his peculiar tenets, raved less immoderately than heretofore as
to the atrocity of the Greshamsbury church pews, and was observed to
take some opportunities of conversing alone with Beatrice. Beatrice
had always denied the imputation - this had usually been made by Mary
in their happy days - with vehement asseverations of anger; and Miss
Gushing had tittered, and expressed herself as supposing that great
people's daughters might be as barefaced as they pleased.

All this had happened previous to the great Greshamsbury feud. Mr
Oriel gradually got himself into a way of sauntering up to the great
house, sauntering into the drawing-room for the purpose, as I am sure
he thought, of talking to Lady Arabella, and then of sauntering home
again, having usually found an opportunity for saying a few words to
Beatrice during the visit. This went on all through the feud up to
the period of Lady Arabella's illness; and then one morning, about
a month before the date fixed for Frank's return, Mr Oriel found
himself engaged to Miss Beatrice Gresham.

From the day that Miss Gushing heard of it - which was not however
for some considerable time after this - she became an Independent
Methodist. She could no longer, she said at first, have any faith in
any religion; and for an hour or so she was almost tempted to swear
that she could no longer have any faith in any man. She had nearly
completed a worked cover for a credence-table when the news reached
her, as to which, in the young enthusiasm of her heart, she had not
been able to remain silent; it had already been promised to Mr Oriel;
that promise she swore should not be kept. He was an apostate, she
said, from his principles; an utter pervert; a false, designing man,
with whom she would never have trusted herself alone on dark mornings
had she known that he had such grovelling, worldly inclinations. So
Miss Gushing became an Independent Methodist; the credence-table
covering was cut up into slippers for the preacher's feet; and the
young thing herself, more happy in this direction than she had been
in the other, became the arbiter of that preacher's domestic
happiness.

But this little history of Miss Gushing's future life is premature.
Mr Oriel became engaged demurely, nay, almost silently, to Beatrice,
and no one out of their own immediate families was at the time
informed of the matter. It was arranged very differently from those
two other matches - embryo, or not embryo, those, namely, of Augusta
with Mr Moffat, and Frank with Mary Thorne. All Barsetshire had heard
of them; but that of Beatrice and Mr Oriel was managed in a much more
private manner.

"I do think you are a happy girl," said Patience to her one morning.

"Indeed I am."

"He is so good. You don't know how good he is as yet; he never thinks
of himself, and thinks so much of those he loves."

Beatrice took her friend's hand in her own and kissed it. She was
full of joy. When a girl is about to be married, when she may
lawfully talk of her love, there is no music in her ears so sweet as
the praises of her lover.

"I made up my mind from the first that he should marry you."

"Nonsense, Patience."

"I did, indeed. I made up my mind that he should marry; and there
were only two to choose from."

"Me and Miss Gushing," said Beatrice, laughing.

"No; not exactly Miss Gushing. I had not many fears for Caleb there."

"I declare she's very pretty," said Beatrice, who could afford to be
good-natured. Now Miss Gushing certainly was pretty; and would have
been very pretty had her nose not turned up so much, and could she
have parted her hair in the centre.

"Well, I am very glad you chose me; - if it was you who chose," said
Beatrice, modestly; having, however, in her own mind a strong opinion
that Mr Oriel had chosen for himself, and had never had any doubt in
the matter. "And who was the other?"

"Can't you guess?"

"I won't guess any more; perhaps Mrs Green."

"Oh, no; certainly not a widow. I don't like widows marrying. But of
course you could guess if you would; of course it was Mary Thorne.
But I soon saw Mary would not do, for two reasons; Caleb would never
have liked her well enough nor would she ever have liked him."

"Not like him! oh I hope she will; I do so love Mary Thorne."

"So do I, dearly; and so does Caleb; but he could never have loved
her as he loves you."

"But, Patience, have you told Mary?"

"No, I have told no one, and shall not without your leave."

"Ah, you must tell her. Tell it her with my best, and kindest,
warmest love. Tell her how happy I am, and how I long to talk to
her. Tell that I will have her for my bridesmaid. Oh! I do hope that
before that all this horrid quarrel will be settled."

Patience undertook the commission, and did tell Mary; did give her
also the message which Beatrice had sent. And Mary was rejoiced to
hear it; for though, as Patience had said of her, she had never
herself felt any inclination to fall in love with Mr Oriel, she
believed him to be one in whose hands her friend's happiness would be
secure. Then, by degrees, the conversation changed from the loves of
Mr Oriel and Beatrice to the troubles of Frank Gresham and herself.

"She says, that let what will happen you shall be one of her
bridesmaids."

"Ah, yes, dear Trichy! that was settled between us in auld lang syne;
but those settlements are all unsettled now, must all be broken. No,
I cannot be her bridesmaid; but I shall yet hope to see her once
before her marriage."

"And why not be her bridesmaid? Lady Arabella will hardly object to
that."

"Lady Arabella!" said Mary, curling her lip with deep scorn. "I do
not care that for Lady Arabella," and she let her silver thimble fall
from her fingers on to the table. "If Beatrice invited me to her
wedding, she might manage as to that; I should ask no question as to
Lady Arabella."

"Then why not come to it?"

She remained silent for a while, and then boldly answered. "Though I
do not care for Lady Arabella, I do care for Mr Gresham: - and I do
care for his son."

"But the squire always loved you."

"Yes, and therefore I will not be there to vex his sight. I will tell
you the truth, Patience. I can never be in that house again till
Frank Gresham is a married man, or till I am about to be a married
woman. I do not think they have treated me well, but I will not treat
them ill."

"I am sure you will not do that," said Miss Oriel.

"I will endeavour not to do so; and, therefore, will go to none of
their fêtes! No, Patience." And then she turned her head to the arm
of the sofa, and silently, without audible sobs, hiding her face, she
endeavoured to get rid of her tears unseen. For one moment she had



Online LibraryAnthony TrollopeDoctor Thorne → online text (page 33 of 49)