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half-way between the door and the table.

"I'll just take one more glass of the old port - eh, doctor?" said Sir
Louis, putting out his hand and clutching the decanter.

It is very hard for any man to deny his guest in his own house, and
the doctor, at the moment, did not know how to do it; so Sir Louis
got his wine, after pouring half of it over the table.

"Come in, sir, and give Sir Louis your arm," said the doctor,

"So I will in course, if my master tells me; but, if you please, Dr
Thorne," - and Joe put his hand up to his hair in a manner that had a
great deal more of impudence than reverence in it - "I just want to ax
one question: where be I to sleep?"

Now this was a question which the doctor was not prepared to answer
on the spur of the moment, however well Janet or Mary might have been
able to do so.

"Sleep," said he, "I don't know where you are to sleep, and don't
care; ask Janet."

"That's all very well, master - "

"Hold your tongue, sirrah!" said Sir Louis. "What the devil do you
want of sleep? - come here," and then, with his servant's help, he
made his way up to his bedroom, and was no more heard of that night.

"Did he get tipsy," asked Mary, almost in a whisper, when her uncle
joined her in the drawing-room.

"Don't talk of it," said he. "Poor wretch! poor wretch! Let's
have some tea now, Molly, and pray don't talk any more about him
to-night." Then Mary did make the tea, and did not talk any more
about Sir Louis that night.

What on earth were they to do with him? He had come there
self-invited; but his connexion with the doctor was such, that it
was impossible he should be told to go away, either he himself, or
that servant of his. There was no reason to disbelieve him when he
declared that he had come down to ferret out the squire. Such was,
doubtless, his intention. He would ferret out the squire. Perhaps he
might ferret out Lady Arabella also. Frank would be home in a few
days; and he, too, might be ferreted out.

But the matter took a very singular turn, and one quite unexpected
on the doctor's part. On the morning following the little dinner of
which we have spoken, one of the Greshamsbury grooms rode up to the
doctor's door with two notes. One was addressed to the doctor in the
squire's well-known large handwriting, and the other was for Sir
Louis. Each contained an invitation do dinner for the following day;
and that to the doctor was in this wise: -


Do come and dine here to-morrow, and bring Sir Louis
Scatcherd with you. If you're the man I take you to be,
you won't refuse me. Lady Arabella sends a note for
Sir Louis. There will be nobody here but Oriel, and Mr
Gazebee, who is staying in the house.

Yours ever,


Greshamsbury, July, 185 - .

P.S. - I make a positive request that you'll come, and I
think you will hardly refuse me.

The doctor read it twice before he could believe it, and then ordered
Janet to take the other note up to Sir Louis. As these invitations
were rather in opposition to the then existing Greshamsbury tactics,
the cause of Lady Arabella's special civility must be explained.

Mr Mortimer Gazebee was now at the house, and therefore, it must
be presumed, that things were not allowed to go on after their old
fashion. Mr Gazebee was an acute as well as a fashionable man; one
who knew what he was about, and who, moreover, had determined to give
his very best efforts on behalf of the Greshamsbury property. His
energy, in this respect, will explain itself hereafter. It was not
probable that the arrival in the village of such a person as Sir
Louis Scatcherd should escape attention. He had heard of it before
dinner, and, before the evening was over, had discussed it with Lady

Her ladyship was not at first inclined to make much of Sir Louis, and
expressed herself as but little inclined to agree with Mr Gazebee
when that gentleman suggested that he should be treated with civility
at Greshamsbury. But she was at last talked over. She found it
pleasant enough to have more to do with the secret management of the
estate than Mr Gresham himself; and when Mr Gazebee proved to her,
by sundry nods and winks, and subtle allusions to her own infinite
good sense, that it was necessary to catch this obscene bird which
had come to prey upon the estate, by throwing a little salt upon his
tail, she also nodded and winked, and directed Augusta to prepare the
salt according to order.

"But won't it be odd, Mr Gazebee, asking him out of Dr Thorne's

"Oh, we must have the doctor, too, Lady Arabella; by all means ask
the doctor also."

Lady Arabella's brow grew dark. "Mr Gazebee," she said, "you can
hardly believe how that man has behaved to me."

"He is altogether beneath your anger," said Mr Gazebee, with a bow.

"I don't know: in one way he may be, but not in another. I really do
not think I can sit down to table with Doctor Thorne."

But, nevertheless, Mr Gazebee gained his point. It was now about a
week since Sir Omicron Pie had been at Greshamsbury, and the squire
had, almost daily, spoken to his wife as to that learned man's
advice. Lady Arabella always answered in the same tone: "You can
hardly know, Mr Gresham, how that man has insulted me." But,
nevertheless, the physician's advice had not been disbelieved: it
tallied too well with her own inward convictions. She was anxious
enough to have Doctor Thorne back at her bedside, if she could only
get him there without damage to her pride. Her husband, she thought,
might probably send the doctor there without absolute permission from
herself; in which case she would have been able to scold, and show
that she was offended; and, at the same time, profit by what had been
done. But Mr Gresham never thought of taking so violent a step as
this, and, therefore, Dr Fillgrave still came, and her ladyship's
_finesse_ was wasted in vain.

But Mr Gazebee's proposition opened a door by which her point might
be gained. "Well," said she, at last, with infinite self-denial, "if
you think it is for Mr Gresham's advantage, and if he chooses to ask
Dr Thorne, I will not refuse to receive him."

Mr Gazebee's next task was to discuss the matter with the squire. Nor
was this easy, for Mr Gazebee was no favourite with Mr Gresham. But
the task was at last performed successfully. Mr Gresham was so glad
at heart to find himself able, once more, to ask his old friend to
his own house; and, though it would have pleased him better that this
sign of relenting on his wife's part should have reached him by other
means, he did not refuse to take advantage of it; and so he wrote the
above letter to Dr Thorne.

The doctor, as we have said, read it twice; and he at once resolved
stoutly that he would not go.

"Oh, do, do go!" said Mary. She well knew how wretched this feud had
made her uncle. "Pray, pray go!"

"Indeed, I will not," said he. "There are some things a man should
bear, and some he should not."

"You must go," said Mary, who had taken the note from her uncle's
hand, and read it. "You cannot refuse him when he asks you like

"It will greatly grieve me; but I must refuse him."

"I also am angry, uncle; very angry with Lady Arabella; but for him,
for the squire, I would go to him on my knees if he asked me in that

"Yes; and had he asked you, I also would have gone."

"Oh! now I shall be so wretched. It is his invitation, not hers: Mr
Gresham could not ask me. As for her, do not think of her; but do, do
go when he asks you like that. You will make me so miserable if you
do not. And then Sir Louis cannot go without you," - and Mary pointed
upstairs - "and you may be sure that he will go."

"Yes; and make a beast of himself."

This colloquy was cut short by a message praying the doctor to go up
to Sir Louis's room. The young man was sitting in his dressing-gown,
drinking a cup of coffee at his toilet-table, while Joe was preparing
his razor and hot water. The doctor's nose immediately told him
that there was more in the coffee-cup than had come out of his own
kitchen, and he would not let the offence pass unnoticed.

"Are you taking brandy this morning, Sir Louis?"

"Just a little _chasse-café_," said he, not exactly understanding
the word he used. "It's all the go now; and a capital thing for the

"It's not a capital thing for your stomach; - about the least capital
thing you can take; that is, if you wish to live."

"Never mind about that now, doctor, but look here. This is what we
call the civil thing - eh?" and he showed the Greshamsbury note. "Not
but what they have an object, of course. I understand all that. Lots
of girls there - eh?"

The doctor took the note and read it. "It is civil," said he; "very

"Well; I shall go, of course. I don't bear malice because he can't
pay me the money he owes me. I'll eat his dinner, and look at the
girls. Have you an invite too, doctor?"

"Yes; I have."

"And you'll go?"

"I think not; but that need not deter you. But, Sir Louis - "

"Well! eh! what is it?"

"Step downstairs a moment," said the doctor, turning to the servant,
"and wait till you are called for. I wish to speak to your master."
Joe, for a moment, looked up at the baronet's face, as though he
wanted but the slightest encouragement to disobey the doctor's
orders; but not seeing it, he slowly retired, and placed himself, of
course, at the keyhole.

And then, the doctor began a long and very useless lecture. The first
object of it was to induce his ward not to get drunk at Greshamsbury;
but having got so far, he went on, and did succeed in frightening
his unhappy guest. Sir Louis did not possess the iron nerves of
his father - nerves which even brandy had not been able to subdue.
The doctor spoke strongly, very strongly; spoke of quick, almost
immediate death in case of further excesses; spoke to him of the
certainty there would be that he could not live to dispose of his own
property if he could not refrain. And thus he did frighten Sir Louis.
The father he had never been able to frighten. But there are men
who, though they fear death hugely, fear present suffering more;
who, indeed, will not bear a moment of pain if there by any mode of
escape. Sir Louis was such: he had no strength of nerve, no courage,
no ability to make a resolution and keep it. He promised the doctor
that he would refrain; and, as he did so, he swallowed down his cup
of coffee and brandy, in which the two articles bore about equal

The doctor did, at last, make up his mind to go. Whichever way he
determined, he found that he was not contented with himself. He did
not like to trust Sir Louis by himself, and he did not like to show
that he was angry. Still less did he like the idea of breaking bread
in Lady Arabella's house till some amends had been made to Mary. But
his heart would not allow him to refuse the petition contained in
the squire's postscript, and the matter ended in his accepting the

This visit of his ward's was, in every way, pernicious to the doctor.
He could not go about his business, fearing to leave such a man alone
with Mary. On the afternoon of the second day, she escaped to the
parsonage for an hour or so, and then walked away among the lanes,
calling on some of her old friends among the farmers' wives. But even
then, the doctor was afraid to leave Sir Louis. What could such a
man do, left alone in a village like Greshamsbury? So he stayed at
home, and the two together went over their accounts. The baronet was
particular about his accounts, and said a good deal as to having
Finnie over to Greshamsbury. To this, however, Dr Thorne positively
refused his consent.

The evening passed off better than the preceding one; at least the
early part of it. Sir Louis did not get tipsy; he came up to tea, and
Mary, who did not feel so keenly on the subject as her uncle, almost
wished that he had done so. At ten o'clock he went to bed.

But after that new troubles came on. The doctor had gone downstairs
into his study to make up some of the time which he had lost, and
had just seated himself at his desk, when Janet, without announcing
herself, burst into the room; and Bridget, dissolved in hysterical
tears, with her apron to her eyes, appeared behind the senior

"Please, sir," said Janet, driven by excitement much beyond her
usual pace of speaking, and becoming unintentionally a little less
respectful than usual, "please sir, that 'ere young man must go out
of this here house; or else no respectable young 'ooman can't stop
here; no, indeed, sir; and we be sorry to trouble you, Dr Thorne; so
we be."

"What young man? Sir Louis?" asked the doctor.

"Oh, no! he abides mostly in bed, and don't do nothing amiss; least
way not to us. 'Tan't him, sir; but his man."

"Man!" sobbed Bridget from behind. "He an't no man, nor nothing
like a man. If Tummas had been here, he wouldn't have dared; so he
wouldn't." Thomas was the groom, and, if all Greshamsbury reports
were true, it was probable, that on some happy, future day, Thomas
and Bridget would become one flesh and one bone.

"Please sir," continued Janet, "there'll be bad work here if that
'ere young man doesn't quit this here house this very night, and I'm
sorry to trouble you, doctor; and so I am. But Tom, he be given to
fight a'most for nothin'. He's hout now; but if that there young man
be's here when Tom comes home, Tom will be punching his head; I know
he will."

"He wouldn't stand by and see a poor girl put upon; no more he
wouldn't," said Bridget, through her tears.

After many futile inquiries, the doctor ascertained that Mr Jonah had
expressed some admiration for Bridget's youthful charms, and had, in
the absence of Janet, thrown himself at the lady's feet in a manner
which had not been altogether pleasing to her. She had defended
herself stoutly and loudly, and in the middle of the row Janet had
come down.

"And where is he now?" said the doctor.

"Why, sir," said Janet, "the poor girl was so put about that she did
give him one touch across the face with the rolling-pin, and he be
all bloody now, in the back kitchen." At hearing this achievement of
hers thus spoken of, Bridget sobbed more hysterically than ever; but
the doctor, looking at her arm as she held her apron to her face,
thought in his heart that Joe must have had so much the worst of it,
that there could be no possible need for the interference of Thomas
the groom.

And such turned out to be the case. The bridge of Joe's nose was
broken; and the doctor had to set it for him in a little bedroom at
the village public-house, Bridget having positively refused to go to
bed in the same house with so dreadful a character.

"Quiet now, or I'll be serving thee the same way; thee see I've found
the trick of it." The doctor could not but hear so much as he made
his way into his own house by the back door, after finishing his
surgical operation. Bridget was recounting to her champion the fracas
that had occurred; and he, as was so natural, was expressing his
admiration at her valour.


Sir Louis Goes Out to Dinner

The next day Joe did not make his appearance, and Sir Louis, with
many execrations, was driven to the terrible necessity of dressing
himself. Then came an unexpected difficulty: how were they to get up
to the house? Walking out to dinner, though it was merely through
the village and up the avenue, seemed to Sir Louis to be a thing
impossible. Indeed, he was not well able to walk at all, and
positively declared that he should never be able to make his way over
the gravel in pumps. His mother would not have thought half as much
of walking from Boxall Hill to Greshamsbury and back again. At last,
the one village fly was sent for, and the matter was arranged.

When they reached the house, it was easy to see that there was some
unwonted bustle. In the drawing-room there was no one but Mr Mortimer
Gazebee, who introduced himself to them both. Sir Louis, who knew
that he was only an attorney, did not take much notice of him, but
the doctor entered into conversation.

"Have you heard that Mr Gresham has come home?" said Mr Gazebee.

"Mr Gresham! I did not know that he had been away."

"Mr Gresham, junior, I mean." No, indeed; the doctor had not heard.
Frank had returned unexpectedly just before dinner, and he was now
undergoing his father's smiles, his mother's embraces, and his
sisters' questions.

"Quite unexpectedly," said Mr Gazebee. "I don't know what has brought
him back before his time. I suppose he found London too hot."

"Deuced hot," said the baronet. "I found it so, at least. I don't
know what keeps men in London when it's so hot; except those fellows
who have business to do: they're paid for it."

Mr Mortimer Gazebee looked at him. He was managing an estate which
owed Sir Louis an enormous sum of money, and, therefore, he could not
afford to despise the baronet; but he thought to himself, what a very
abject fellow the man would be if he were not a baronet, and had not
a large fortune!

And then the squire came in. His broad, honest face was covered with
a smile when he saw the doctor.

"Thorne," he said, almost in a whisper, "you're the best fellow
breathing; I have hardly deserved this." The doctor, as he took his
old friend's hand, could not but be glad that he had followed Mary's

"So Frank has come home?"

"Oh, yes; quite unexpectedly. He was to have stayed a week longer in
London. You would hardly know him if you met him. Sir Louis, I beg
your pardon." And the squire went up to his other guest, who had
remained somewhat sullenly standing in one corner of the room. He was
the man of highest rank present, or to be present, and he expected to
be treated as such.

"I am happy to have the pleasure of making your acquaintance,
Mr Gresham," said the baronet, intending to be very courteous.
"Though we have not met before, I very often see your name in my
accounts - ha! ha! ha!" and Sir Louis laughed as though he had said
something very good.

The meeting between Lady Arabella and the doctor was rather
distressing to the former; but she managed to get over it. She shook
hands with him graciously, and said that it was a fine day. The
doctor said that it was fine, only perhaps a little rainy. And then
they went into different parts of the room.

When Frank came in, the doctor hardly did know him. His hair was
darker than it had been, and so was his complexion; but his chief
disguise was in a long silken beard, which hung down over his cravat.
The doctor had hitherto not been much in favour of long beards, but
he could not deny that Frank looked very well with the appendage.

"Oh, doctor, I am so delighted to find you here," said he, coming up
to him; "so very, very glad:" and, taking the doctor's arm, he led
him away into a window, where they were alone. "And how is Mary?"
said he, almost in a whisper. "Oh, I wish she were here! But, doctor,
it shall all come in time. But tell me, doctor, there is no news
about her, is there?"

"News - what news?"

"Oh, well; no news is good news: you will give her my love, won't

The doctor said that he would. What else could he say? It appeared
quite clear to him that some of Mary's fears were groundless.

Frank was again very much altered. It has been said, that though
he was a boy at twenty-one, he was a man at twenty-two. But now,
at twenty-three, he appeared to be almost a man of the world. His
manners were easy, his voice under his control, and words were at his
command: he was no longer either shy or noisy; but, perhaps, was open
to the charge of seeming, at least, to be too conscious of his own
merits. He was, indeed, very handsome; tall, manly, and powerfully
built, his form was such as women's eyes have ever loved to look
upon. "Ah, if he would but marry money!" said Lady Arabella to
herself, taken up by a mother's natural admiration for her son. His
sisters clung round him before dinner, all talking to him at once.
How proud a family of girls are of one, big, tall, burly brother!

"You don't mean to tell me, Frank, that you are going to eat soup
with that beard?" said the squire, when they were seated round the
table. He had not ceased to rally his son as to this patriarchal
adornment; but, nevertheless, any one could have seen, with half an
eye, that he was as proud of it as were the others.

"Don't I, sir? All I require is a relay of napkins for every course:"
and he went to work, covering it with every spoonful, as men with
beards always do.

"Well, if you like it!" said the squire, shrugging his shoulders.

"But I do like it," said Frank.

"Oh, papa, you wouldn't have him cut it off," said one of the twins.
"It is so handsome."

"I should like to work it into a chair-back instead of floss-silk,"
said the other twin.

"Thank'ee, Sophy; I'll remember you for that."

"Doesn't it look nice, and grand, and patriarchal?" said Beatrice,
turning to her neighbour.

"Patriarchal, certainly," said Mr Oriel. "I should grow one myself if
I had not the fear of the archbishop before my eyes."

What was next said to him was in a whisper, audible only to himself.

"Doctor, did you know Wildman of the 9th. He was left as surgeon at
Scutari for two years. Why, my beard to his is only a little down."

"A little way down, you mean," said Mr Gazebee.

"Yes," said Frank, resolutely set against laughing at Mr Gazebee's
pun. "Why, his beard descends to his ankles, and he is obliged to tie
it in a bag at night, because his feet get entangled in it when he is

"Oh, Frank!" said one of the girls.

This was all very well for the squire, and Lady Arabella, and the
girls. They were all delighted to praise Frank, and talk about him.
Neither did it come amiss to Mr Oriel and the doctor, who had both a
personal interest in the young hero. But Sir Louis did not like it
at all. He was the only baronet in the room, and yet nobody took any
notice of him. He was seated in the post of honour, next to Lady
Arabella; but even Lady Arabella seemed to think more of her own
son than of him. Seeing how he was ill-used, he meditated revenge;
but not the less did it behove him to make some effort to attract

"Was your ladyship long in London, this season?" said he.

Lady Arabella had not been in London at all this year, and it
was a sore subject with her. "No," said she, very graciously;
"circumstances have kept us at home."

Sir Louis only understood one description of "circumstances."
Circumstances, in his idea, meant the want of money, and he
immediately took Lady Arabella's speech as a confession of poverty.

"Ah, indeed! I am very sorry for that; that must be very distressing
to a person like your ladyship. But things are mending, perhaps?"

Lady Arabella did not in the least understand him. "Mending!" she
said, in her peculiar tone of aristocratic indifference; and then
turned to Mr Gazebee, who was on the other side of her.

Sir Louis was not going to stand this. He was the first man in the
room, and he knew his own importance. It was not to be borne that
Lady Arabella should turn to talk to a dirty attorney, and leave him,
a baronet, to eat his dinner without notice. If nothing else would
move her, he would let her know who was the real owner of the
Greshamsbury title-deeds.

"I think I saw your ladyship out to-day, taking a ride." Lady
Arabella had driven through the village in her pony-chair.

"I never ride," said she, turning her head for one moment from Mr

"In the one-horse carriage, I mean, my lady. I was delighted with the
way you whipped him up round the corner."

Whipped him up round the corner! Lady Arabella could make no answer
to this; so she went on talking to Mr Gazebee. Sir Louis, repulsed,
but not vanquished - resolved not to be vanquished by any Lady
Arabella - turned his attention to his plate for a minute or two, and
then recommenced.

"The honour of a glass of wine with you, Lady Arabella," said he.

"I never take wine at dinner," said Lady Arabella. The man was
becoming intolerable to her, and she was beginning to fear that it
would be necessary for her to fly the room to get rid of him.

The baronet was again silent for a moment; but he was determined not
to be put down.

"This is a nice-looking country about here," said he.

"Yes; very nice," said Mr Gazebee, endeavouring to relieve the lady
of the mansion.

"I hardly know which I like best; this, or my own place at Boxall
Hill. You have the advantage here in trees, and those sort of things.

Online LibraryAnthony TrollopeDoctor Thorne → online text (page 36 of 49)