Anthony Trollope.

Doctor Thorne online

. (page 34 of 49)
Online LibraryAnthony TrollopeDoctor Thorne → online text (page 34 of 49)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


all but resolved to pour out the whole truth of her love into her
friend's ears; but suddenly she changed her mind. Why should she talk
of her own unhappiness? Why should she speak of her own love when she
was fully determined not to speak of Frank's promises.

"Mary, dear Mary."

"Anything but pity, Patience; anything but that," said she,
convulsively, swallowing down her sobs, and rubbing away her tears.
"I cannot bear that. Tell Beatrice from me, that I wish her every
happiness; and, with such a husband, I am sure she will be happy. I
wish her every joy; give her my kindest love; but tell her I cannot
be at her marriage. Oh, I should so like to see her; not there, you
know, but here, in my own room, where I still have liberty to speak."

"But why should you decide now? She is not to be married yet, you
know."

"Now, or this day twelvemonth, can make no difference. I will not go
into that house again, unless - but never mind; I will not go into it
all; never, never again. If I could forgive her for myself, I could
not forgive her for my uncle. But tell me, Patience, might not
Beatrice now come here? It is so dreadful to see her every Sunday in
church and never to speak to her, never to kiss her. She seems to
look away from me as though she too had chosen to quarrel with me."

Miss Oriel promised to do her best. She could not imagine, she said,
that such a visit could be objected to on such an occasion. She would
not advise Beatrice to come without telling her mother; but she
could not think that Lady Arabella would be so cruel as to make any
objection, knowing, as she could not but know, that her daughter,
when married, would be at liberty to choose her own friends.

"Good-bye, Mary," said Patience. "I wish I knew how to say more to
comfort you."

"Oh, comfort! I don't want comfort. I want to be let alone."

"That's just it: you are so ferocious in your scorn, so unbending, so
determined to take all the punishment that comes in your way."

"What I do take, I'll take without complaint," said Mary; and then
they kissed each other and parted.




CHAPTER XXXIII

A Morning Visit


It must be remembered that Mary, among her miseries, had to suffer
this: that since Frank's departure, now nearly twelve months ago, she
had not heard a word about him; or rather, she had only heard that he
was very much in love with some lady in London. This news reached her
in a manner so circuitous, and from such a doubtful source; it seemed
to her to savour so strongly of Lady Arabella's precautions, that
she attributed it at once to malice, and blew it to the winds. It
might not improbably be the case that Frank was untrue to her; but
she would not take it for granted because she was now told so. It
was more than probable that he should amuse himself with some one;
flirting was his prevailing sin; and if he did flirt, the most would
of course be made of it.

But she found it to be very desolate to be thus left alone without
a word of comfort or a word of love; without being able to speak to
any one of what filled her heart; doubting, nay, more than doubting,
being all but sure that her passion must terminate in misery. Why had
she not obeyed her conscience and her better instinct in that moment
when the necessity for deciding had come upon her? Why had she
allowed him to understand that he was master of her heart? Did she
not know that there was everything against such a marriage as that
which he proposed? Had she not done wrong, very wrong, even to think
of it? Had she not sinned deeply, against Mr Gresham, who had ever
been so kind to her? Could she hope, was it possible, that a boy like
Frank should be true to his first love? And, if he were true, if he
were ready to go to the altar with her to-morrow, ought she to allow
him to degrade himself by such a marriage?

There was, alas! some truth about the London lady. Frank had taken
his degree, as arranged, and had then gone abroad for the winter,
doing the fashionable things, going up the Nile, crossing over to
Mount Sinai, thence over the long desert to Jerusalem, and home by
Damascus, Beyrout, and Constantinople, bringing back a long beard, a
red cap, and a chibook, just as our fathers used to go through Italy
and Switzerland, and our grandfathers to spend a season in Paris. He
had then remained for a couple of months in London, going through
all the society which the de Courcys were able to open to him. And
it was true that a certain belle of the season, of that season and
some others, had been captivated - for the tenth time - by the silken
sheen of his long beard. Frank had probably been more demonstrative,
perhaps even more susceptible, than he should have been; and
hence the rumour, which had all too willingly been forwarded to
Greshamsbury.

But young Gresham had also met another lady in London, namely Miss
Dunstable. Mary would indeed have been grateful to Miss Dunstable,
could she have known all that lady did for her. Frank's love was
never allowed to flag. When he spoke of the difficulties in his way,
she twitted him by being overcome by straws; and told him that no
one was worth having who was afraid of every lion that he met in his
path. When he spoke of money, she bade him earn it; and always ended
by offering to smooth for him any real difficulty which want of means
might put in his way.

"No," Frank used to say to himself, when these offers were made, "I
never intended to take her and her money together; and, therefore, I
certainly will never take the money alone."

A day or two after Miss Oriel's visit, Mary received the following
note from Beatrice.


DEAREST, DEAREST MARY,

I shall be so happy to see you, and will come to-morrow at
twelve. I have asked mamma, and she says that, for once,
she has no objection. You know it is not my fault that
I have never been with you; don't you? Frank comes home
on the 12th. Mr Oriel wants the wedding to be on the 1st
of September; but that seems to be so very, very soon;
doesn't it? However, mamma and papa are all on his side.
I won't write about this, though, for we shall have such a
delicious talk. Oh, Mary! I have been so unhappy without
you.

Ever your own affectionate,

TRICHY

Monday.


Though Mary was delighted at the idea of once more having her friend
in her arms, there was, nevertheless, something in this letter which
oppressed her. She could not put up with the idea that Beatrice
should have permission given to come to her - just for once. She
hardly wished to be seen by permission. Nevertheless, she did not
refuse the proffered visit, and the first sight of Beatrice's face,
the first touch of the first embrace, dissipated for the moment all
her anger.

And then Beatrice fully enjoyed the delicious talk which she had
promised herself. Mary let her have her way, and for two hours
all the delights and all the duties, all the comforts and all the
responsibilities of a parson's wife were discussed with almost equal
ardour on both sides. The duties and responsibilities were not
exactly those which too often fall to the lot of the mistress of
an English vicarage. Beatrice was not doomed to make her husband
comfortable, to educate her children, dress herself like a lady, and
exercise open-handed charity on an income of two hundred pounds a
year. Her duties and responsibilities would have to spread themselves
over seven or eight times that amount of worldly burden. Living also
close to Greshamsbury, and not far from Courcy Castle, she would have
the full advantages and all the privileges of county society. In
fact, it was all _couleur de rose_, and so she chatted deliciously
with her friend.

But it was impossible that they should separate without something
having been said as to Mary's own lot. It would, perhaps, have been
better that they should do so; but this was hardly within the compass
of human nature.

"And Mary, you know, I shall be able to see you as often as I
like; - you and Dr Thorne, too, when I have a house of my own."

Mary said nothing, but essayed to smile. It was but a ghastly
attempt.

"You know how happy that will make me," continued Beatrice. "Of
course mamma won't expect me to be led by her then: if he likes it,
there can be no objection; and he will like it, you may be sure of
that."

"You are very kind, Trichy," said Mary; but she spoke in a tone very
different from that she would have used eighteen months ago.

"Why, what is the matter, Mary? Shan't you be glad to come to see
us?"

"I do not know, dearest; that must depend on circumstances. To see
you, you yourself, your own dear, sweet, loving face must always be
pleasant to me."

"And shan't you be glad to see him?"

"Yes, certainly, if he loves you."

"Of course he loves me."

"All that alone would be pleasant enough, Trichy. But what if there
should be circumstances which should still make us enemies; should
make your friends and my friends - friend, I should say, for I have
only one - should make them opposed to each other?"

"Circumstances! What circumstances?"

"You are going to be married, Trichy, to the man you love; are you
not?"

"Indeed, I am!"

"And it is not pleasant? is it not a happy feeling?"

"Pleasant! happy! yes, very pleasant; very happy. But, Mary, I am not
at all in such a hurry as he is," said Beatrice, naturally thinking
of her own little affairs.

"And, suppose I should wish to be married to the man that I love?"
Mary said this slowly and gravely, and as she spoke she looked her
friend full in the face.

Beatrice was somewhat astonished, and for the moment hardly
understood. "I am sure I hope you will, some day."

"No, Trichy; no, you hope the other way. I love your brother; I love
Frank Gresham; I love him quite as well, quite as warmly, as you love
Caleb Oriel."

"Do you?" said Beatrice, staring with all her eyes, and giving one
long sigh, as this new subject for sorrow was so distinctly put
before her.

"It that so odd?" said Mary. "You love Mr Oriel, though you have been
intimate with him hardly more than two years. Is it so odd that I
should love your brother, whom I have known almost all my life?"

"But, Mary, I thought it was always understood between us
that - that - I mean that you were not to care about him; not in the
way of loving him, you know - I thought you always said so - I have
always told mamma so as if it came from yourself."

"Beatrice, do not tell anything to Lady Arabella as though it came
from me; I do not want anything to be told to her, either of me or
from me. Say what you like to me yourself; whatever you say will not
anger me. Indeed, I know what you would say - and yet I love you. Oh,
I love you, Trichy - Trichy, I do love you so much! Don't turn away
from me!"

There was such a mixture in Mary's manner of tenderness and almost
ferocity, that poor Beatrice could hardly follow her. "Turn away from
you, Mary! no never; but this does make me unhappy."

"It is better that you should know it all, and then you will not be
led into fighting my battles again. You cannot fight them so that I
should win; I do love your brother; love him truly, fondly, tenderly.
I would wish to have him for my husband as you wish to have Mr
Oriel."

"But, Mary, you cannot marry him!"

"Why not?" said she, in a loud voice. "Why can I not marry him? If
the priest says a blessing over us, shall we not be married as well
as you and your husband?"

"But you know he cannot marry unless his wife shall have money."

"Money - money; and he is to sell himself for money? Oh, Trichy! do
not you talk about money. It is horrible. But, Trichy, I will grant
it - I cannot marry him; but still, I love him. He has a name, a place
in the world, and fortune, family, high blood, position, everything.
He has all this, and I have nothing. Of course I cannot marry him.
But yet I do love him."

"Are you engaged to him, Mary?"

"He is not engaged to me; but I am to him."

"Oh, Mary, that is impossible!"

"It is not impossible: it is the case - I am pledged to him; but he is
not pledged to me."

"But, Mary, don't look at me in that way. I do not quite understand
you. What is the good of your being engaged if you cannot marry him?"

"Good! there is no good. But can I help it, if I love him? Can I make
myself not love him by just wishing it? Oh, I would do it if I could.
But now you will understand why I shake my head when you talk of my
coming to your house. Your ways and my ways must be different."

Beatrice was startled, and, for a time, silenced. What Mary said of
the difference of their ways was quite true. Beatrice had dearly
loved her friend, and had thought of her with affection through all
this long period in which they had been separated; but she had given
her love and her thoughts on the understanding, as it were, that they
were in unison as to the impropriety of Frank's conduct.

She had always spoken, with a grave face, of Frank and his love as of
a great misfortune, even to Mary herself; and her pity for Mary had
been founded on the conviction of her innocence. Now all those ideas
had to be altered. Mary owned her fault, confessed herself to be
guilty of all that Lady Arabella so frequently laid to her charge,
and confessed herself anxious to commit every crime as to which
Beatrice had been ever so ready to defend her.

Had Beatrice up to this dreamed that Mary was in love with Frank,
she would doubtless have sympathised with her more or less, sooner
or later. As it was, is was beyond all doubt that she would soon
sympathise with her. But, at the moment, the suddenness of the
declaration seemed to harden her heart, and she forgot, as it were,
to speak tenderly to her friend.

She was silent, therefore, and dismayed; and looked as though she
thought that her ways and Mary's ways must be different.

Mary saw all that was passing in the other's mind: no, not all; all
the hostility, the disappointment, the disapproval, the unhappiness,
she did see; but not the under-current of love, which was strong
enough to well up and drown all these, if only time could be allowed
for it to do so.

"I am glad I have told you," said Mary, curbing herself, "for deceit
and hypocrisy are detestable."

"It was a misunderstanding, not deceit," said Beatrice.

"Well, now we understand each other; now you know that I have a heart
within me, which like those of some others has not always been under
my own control. Lady Arabella believes that I am intriguing to be the
mistress of Greshamsbury. You, at any rate, will not think that of
me. If it could be discovered to-morrow that Frank were not the heir,
I might have some chance of happiness."

"But, Mary - "

"Well?"

"You say you love him."

"Yes; I do say so."

"But if he does not love you, will you cease to do so?"

"If I have a fever, I will get rid of it if I can; in such case I
must do so, or die."

"I fear," continued Beatrice, "you hardly know, perhaps do not think,
what is Frank's real character. He is not made to settle down early
in life; even now, I believe he is attached to some lady in London,
whom, of course, he cannot marry."

Beatrice said this in perfect trueness of heart. She had heard of
Frank's new love-affair, and believing what she had heard, thought
it best to tell the truth. But the information was not of a kind to
quiet Mary's spirit.

"Very well," said she, "let it be so. I have nothing to say against
it."

"But are you not preparing wretchedness and unhappiness for
yourself?"

"Very likely."

"Oh, Mary, do not be so cold with me! you know how delighted I should
be to have you for a sister-in-law, if only it were possible."

"Yes, Trichy; but it is impossible, is it not? Impossible that
Francis Gresham of Greshamsbury should disgrace himself by marrying
such a poor creature as I am. Of course, I know it; of course, I am
prepared for unhappiness and misery. He can amuse himself as he likes
with me or others - with anybody. It is his privilege. It is quite
enough to say that he is not made for settling down. I know my own
position; - and yet I love him."

"But, Mary, has he asked you to be his wife? If so - "

"You ask home-questions, Beatrice. Let me ask you one; has he ever
told you that he has done so?"

At this moment Beatrice was not disposed to repeat all that Frank had
said. A year ago, before he went away, he had told his sister a score
of times that he meant to marry Mary Thorne if she would have him;
but Beatrice now looked on all that as idle, boyish vapouring. The
pity was, that Mary should have looked on it differently.

"We will each keep our secret," said Mary. "Only remember this:
should Frank marry to-morrow, I shall have no ground for blaming him.
He is free as far I as am concerned. He can take the London lady if
he likes. You may tell him so from me. But, Trichy, what else I have
told you, I have told you only."

"Oh, yes!" said Beatrice, sadly; "I shall say nothing of it to
anybody. It is very sad, very, very; I was so happy when I came here,
and now I am so wretched." This was the end of that delicious talk to
which she had looked forward with so much eagerness.

"Don't be wretched about me, dearest; I shall get through it. I
sometimes think I was born to be unhappy, and that unhappiness agrees
with me best. Kiss me now, Trichy, and don't be wretched any more.
You owe it to Mr Oriel to be as happy as the day is long."

And then they parted.

Beatrice, as she went out, saw Dr Thorne in his little shop on the
right-hand side of the passage, deeply engaged in some derogatory
branch of an apothecary's mechanical trade; mixing a dose, perhaps,
for a little child. She would have passed him without speaking if she
could have been sure of doing so without notice, for her heart was
full, and her eyes were red with tears; but it was so long since she
had been in his house that she was more than ordinarily anxious not
to appear uncourteous or unkind to him.

"Good morning, doctor," she said, changing her countenance as best
she might, and attempting a smile.

"Ah, my fairy!" said he, leaving his villainous compounds, and coming
out to her; "and you, too, are about to become a steady old lady."

"Indeed, I am not, doctor; I don't mean to be either steady or old
for the next ten years. But who has told you? I suppose Mary has been
a traitor."

"Well, I will confess, Mary was the traitor. But hadn't I a right
to be told, seeing how often I have brought you sugar-plums in my
pocket? But I wish you joy with all my heart, - with all my heart.
Oriel is an excellent, good fellow."

"Is he not, doctor?"

"An excellent, good fellow. I never heard but of one fault that he
had."

"What was that one fault, Doctor Thorne?"

"He thought that clergymen should not marry. But you have cured that,
and now he's perfect."

"Thank you, doctor. I declare that you say the prettiest things of
all my friends."

"And none of your friends wish prettier things for you. I do
congratulate you, Beatrice, and hope you may be happy with the man
you have chosen;" and taking both her hands in his, he pressed them
warmly, and bade God bless her.

"Oh, doctor! I do so hope the time will come when we shall all be
friends again."

"I hope it as well, my dear. But let it come, or let it not come, my
regard for you will be the same:" and then she parted from him also,
and went her way.

Nothing was spoken of that evening between Dr Thorne and his niece
excepting Beatrice's future happiness; nothing, at least, having
reference to what had passed that morning. But on the following
morning circumstances led to Frank Gresham's name being mentioned.

At the usual breakfast-hour the doctor entered the parlour with a
harassed face. He had an open letter in his hand, and it was at once
clear to Mary that he was going to speak on some subject that vexed
him.

"That unfortunate fellow is again in trouble. Here is a letter from
Greyson." Greyson was a London apothecary, who had been appointed as
medical attendant to Sir Louis Scatcherd, and whose real business
consisted in keeping a watch on the baronet, and reporting to Dr
Thorne when anything was very much amiss. "Here is a letter from
Greyson; he has been drunk for the last three days, and is now laid
up in a terribly nervous state."

"You won't go up to town again; will you, uncle?"

"I hardly know what to do. No, I think not. He talks of coming down
here to Greshamsbury."

"Who, Sir Louis?"

"Yes, Sir Louis. Greyson says that he will be down as soon as he can
get out of his room."

"What! to this house?"

"What other house can he come to?"

"Oh, uncle! I hope not. Pray, pray do not let him come here."

"I cannot prevent it, my dear. I cannot shut my door on him."

They sat down to breakfast, and Mary gave him his tea in silence. "I
am going over to Boxall Hill before dinner," said he. "Have you any
message to send to Lady Scatcherd?"

"Message! no, I have no message; not especially: give her my love,
of course," she said listlessly. And then, as though a thought had
suddenly struck her, she spoke with more energy. "But, couldn't I go
to Boxall Hill again? I should be so delighted."

"What! to run away from Sir Louis? No, dearest, we will have no more
running away. He will probably also go to Boxall Hill, and he could
annoy you much more there than he can here."

"But, uncle, Mr Gresham will be home on the 12th," she said,
blushing.

"What! Frank?"

"Yes. Beatrice said he was to be here on the 12th."

"And would you run away from him too, Mary?"

"I do not know: I do not know what to do."

"No; we will have no more running away: I am sorry that you ever did
so. It was my fault, altogether my fault; but it was foolish."

"Uncle, I am not happy here." As she said this, she put down the cup
which she had held, and, leaning her elbows on the table, rested her
forehead on her hands.

"And would you be happier at Boxall Hill? It is not the place makes
the happiness."

"No, I know that; it is not the place. I do not look to be happy in
any place; but I should be quieter, more tranquil elsewhere than
here."

"I also sometimes think that it will be better for us to take up our
staves and walk away out of Greshamsbury; - leave it altogether, and
settle elsewhere; miles, miles, miles away from here. Should you like
that, dearest?"

Miles, miles, miles away from Greshamsbury! There was something in
the sound that fell very cold on Mary's ears, unhappy as she was.
Greshamsbury had been so dear to her; in spite of all that had
passed, was still so dear to her! Was she prepared to take up her
staff, as her uncle said, and walk forth from the place with the
full understanding that she was to return to it no more; with a mind
resolved that there should be an inseparable gulf between her and its
inhabitants? Such she knew was the proposed nature of the walking
away of which her uncle spoke. So she sat there, resting on her arms,
and gave no answer to the question that had been asked her.

"No, we will stay a while yet," said her uncle. "It may come to
that, but this is not the time. For one season longer let us face - I
will not say our enemies; I cannot call anybody my enemy who bears
the name of Gresham." And then he went on for a moment with his
breakfast. "So Frank will be here on the 12th?"

"Yes, uncle."

"Well, dearest, I have no questions to ask you: no directions to
give. I know how good you are, and how prudent; I am anxious only for
your happiness; not at all - "

"Happiness, uncle, is out of the question."

"I hope not. It is never out of the question, never can be out of the
question. But, as I was saying, I am quite satisfied your conduct
will be good, and, therefore, I have no questions to ask. We will
remain here; and, whether good or evil come, we will not be ashamed
to show our faces."

She sat for a while again silent, collecting her courage on the
subject that was nearest her heart. She would have given the world
that he should ask her questions; but she could not bid him to do so;
and she found it impossible to talk openly to him about Frank unless
he did so. "Will he come here?" at last she said, in a low-toned
voice.

"Who? He, Louis? Yes, I think that in all probability he will."

"No; but Frank," she said, in a still lower voice.

"Ah! my darling, that I cannot tell; but will it be well that he
should come here?"

"I do not know," she said. "No, I suppose not. But, uncle, I don't
think he will come."

She was now sitting on a sofa away from the table, and he got up, sat
down beside her, and took her hands in his. "Mary," said he, "you



Online LibraryAnthony TrollopeDoctor Thorne → online text (page 34 of 49)