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some short notes to Mary, he had said no word to her about his
business. It was late in the evening when he got home, and it was
understood by Frank and the squire that they were to be with him on
the following morning. Not a word had been said to Lady Arabella on
the subject.

It was late in the evening when he got home, and Mary waited for him
with a heart almost sick with expectation. As soon as the fly had
stopped at the little gate she heard his voice, and heard at once
that it was quick, joyful, and telling much of inward satisfaction.
He had a good-natured word for Janet, and called Thomas an old
blunder-head in a manner that made Bridget laugh outright.

"He'll have his nose put out of joint some day; won't he?" said the
doctor. Bridget blushed and laughed again, and made a sign to Thomas
that he had better look to his face.

Mary was in his arms before he was yet within the door. "My darling,"
said he, tenderly kissing her. "You are my own darling yet awhile."

"Of course I am. Am I not always to be so?"

"Well, well; let me have some tea, at any rate, for I'm in a fever of
thirst. They may call that tea at the Junction if they will; but if
China were sunk under the sea it would make no difference to them."

Dr Thorne always was in a fever of thirst when he got home from the
railway, and always made complaint as to the tea at the Junction.
Mary went about her usual work with almost more than her usual
alacrity, and so they were soon seated in the drawing-room together.

She soon found that his manner was more than ordinarily kind to her;
and there was moreover something about him which seemed to make him
sparkle with contentment, but he said no word about Frank, nor did he
make any allusion to the business which had taken him up to town.

"Have you got through all your work?" she said to him once.

"Yes, yes; I think all."

"And thoroughly?"

"Yes; thoroughly, I think. But I am very tired, and so are you too,
darling, with waiting for me."

"Oh, no, I am not," said she, as she went on continually filling his
cup; "but I am so happy to have you home again. You have been away so
much lately."

"Ah, yes; well I suppose I shall not go away any more now. It will be
somebody else's turn now."

"Uncle, I think you're going to take up writing mystery romances,
like Mrs Radcliffe's."

"Yes; and I'll begin to-morrow, certainly with - But, Mary, I will
not say another word to-night. Give me a kiss, dearest, and I'll go."

Mary did kiss him, and he did go. But as she was still lingering in
the room, putting away a book, or a reel of thread, and then sitting
down to think what the morrow would bring forth, the doctor again
came into the room in his dressing-gown, and with the slippers on.

"What, not gone yet?" said he.

"No, not yet; I'm going now."

"You and I, Mary, have always affected a good deal of indifference as
to money, and all that sort of thing."

"I won't acknowledge that it has been an affectation at all," she
answered.

"Perhaps not; but we have often expressed it, have we not?"

"I suppose, uncle, you think that we are like the fox that lost his
tail, or rather some unfortunate fox that might be born without one."

"I wonder how we should either of us bear it if we found ourselves
suddenly rich. It would be a great temptation - a sore temptation. I
fear, Mary, that when poor people talk disdainfully of money, they
often are like your fox, born without a tail. If nature suddenly
should give that beast a tail, would he not be prouder of it than all
the other foxes in the wood?"

"Well, I suppose he would. That's the very meaning of the story. But
how moral you've become all of a sudden at twelve o'clock at night!
Instead of being Mrs Radcliffe, I shall think you're Mr Æsop."

He took up the article which he had come to seek, and kissing her
again on the forehead, went away to his bed-room without further
speech. "What can he mean by all this about money?" said Mary to
herself. "It cannot be that by Sir Louis's death he will get any of
all this property;" and then she began to bethink herself whether,
after all, she would wish him to be a rich man. "If he were very
rich, he might do something to assist Frank; and then - "

There never was a fox yet without a tail who would not be delighted
to find himself suddenly possessed of that appendage. Never; let the
untailed fox have been ever so sincere in his advice to his friends!
We are all of us, the good and the bad, looking for tails - for one
tail, or for more than one; we do so too often by ways that are
mean enough: but perhaps there is no tail-seeker more mean, more
sneakingly mean than he who looks out to adorn his bare back with a
tail by marriage.

The doctor was up very early the next morning, long before Mary was
ready with her teacups. He was up, and in his own study behind the
shop, arranging dingy papers, pulling about tin boxes which he had
brought down with him from London, and piling on his writing-table
one set of documents in one place, and one in another. "I think I
understand it all," said he; "but yet I know I shall be bothered.
Well, I never will be anybody's trustee again. Let me see!" and then
he sat down, and with bewildered look recapitulated to himself sundry
heavy items. "What those shares are really worth I cannot understand,
and nobody seems able to tell one. They must make it out among
them as best they can. Let me see; that's Boxall Hill, and this is
Greshamsbury. I'll put a newspaper over Greshamsbury, or the squire
will know it!" and then, having made his arrangements, he went to his
breakfast.

I know I am wrong, my much and truly honoured critic, about these
title-deeds and documents. But when we've got that barrister in
hand, then if I go wrong after that, let the blame be on my own
shoulders - or on his.

The doctor ate his breakfast quickly; and did not talk much to his
niece. But what he did say was of a nature to make her feel strangely
happy. She could not analyse her own feelings, or give a reason for
her own confidence; but she certainly did feel, and even trust, that
something was going to happen after breakfast which would make her
more happy than she had been for many months.

"Janet," said he, looking at his watch, "if Mr Gresham and Mr
Frank call, show them into my study. What are you going to do with
yourself, my dear?"

"I don't know, uncle; you are so mysterious, and I am in such a
twitter, that I don't know what to do. Why is Mr Gresham coming
here - that is, the squire?"

"Because I have business with him about the Scatcherd property. You
know that he owed Sir Louis money. But don't go out, Mary. I want you
to be in the way if I should have to call for you. You can stay in
the drawing-room, can't you?"

"Oh, yes, uncle; or here."

"No, dearest; go into the drawing-room." Mary obediently did as she
was bid; and there she sat, for the next three hours, wondering,
wondering, wondering. During the greater part of that time, however,
she well knew that Mr Gresham, senior, and Mr Gresham, junior, were
both with her uncle, below.

At eleven o'clock the doctor's visitors came. He had expected them
somewhat earlier, and was beginning to become fidgety. He had so much
on his hands that he could not sit still for a moment till he had, at
any rate, commenced it. The expected footsteps were at last heard on
the gravel-path, and a moment or two afterwards Janet ushered the
father and son into the room.

The squire did not look very well. He was worn and sorrowful, and
rather pale. The death of his young creditor might be supposed to
have given him some relief from his more pressing cares, but the
necessity of yielding to Frank's wishes had almost more than balanced
this. When a man has daily to reflect that he is poorer than he was
the day before, he soon becomes worn and sorrowful.

But Frank was well; both in health and spirits. He also felt as Mary
did, that the day was to bring forth something which should end his
present troubles; and he could not but be happy to think that he
could now tell Dr Thorne that his father's consent to his marriage
had been given.

The doctor shook hands with them both, and then they sat down. They
were all rather constrained in their manner; and at first it seemed
that nothing but little speeches of compliment were to be made. At
last, the squire remarked that Frank had been talking to him about
Miss Thorne.

"About Mary?" said the doctor.

"Yes; about Mary," said the squire, correcting himself. It was quite
unnecessary that he should use so cold a name as the other, now that
he had agreed to the match.

"Well!" said Dr Thorne.

"I suppose it must be so, doctor. He has set his heart upon it, and
God knows, I have nothing to say against her - against her personally.
No one could say a word against her. She is a sweet, good girl,
excellently brought up; and, as for myself, I have always loved her."
Frank drew near to his father, and pressed his hand against the
squire's arm, by way of giving him, in some sort, a filial embrace
for his kindness.

"Thank you, squire, thank you," said the doctor. "It is very good of
you to say that. She is a good girl, and if Frank chooses to take
her, he will, in my estimation, have made a good choice."

"Chooses!" said Frank, with all the enthusiasm of a lover.

The squire felt himself perhaps a little ruffled at the way in which
the doctor received his gracious intimation; but he did now show it
as he went on. "They cannot, you know, doctor, look to be rich
people - "

"Ah! well, well," interrupted the doctor.

"I have told Frank so, and I think that you should tell Mary. Frank
means to take some land into his hand, and he must farm it as a
farmer. I will endeavour to give him three, or perhaps four hundred a
year. But you know better - "

"Stop, squire; stop a minute. We will talk about that presently. This
death of poor Sir Louis will make a difference."

"Not permanently," said the squire mournfully.

"And now, Frank," said the doctor, not attending to the squire's last
words, "what do you say?"

"What do I say? I say what I said to you in London the other day. I
believe Mary loves me; indeed, I won't be affected - I know she does.
I have loved her - I was going to say always; and, indeed, I almost
might say so. My father knows that this is no light fancy of mine. As
to what he says about our being poor, why - "

The doctor was very arbitrary, and would hear neither of them on this
subject.

"Mr Gresham," said he, interrupting Frank, "of course I am well aware
how very little suited Mary is by birth to marry your only son."

"It is too late to think about it now," said the squire.

"It is not too late for me to justify myself," replied the doctor.
"We have long known each other, Mr Gresham, and you said here the
other day, that this is a subject as to which we have been both of
one mind. Birth and blood are very valuable gifts."

"I certainly think so," said the squire; "but one can't have
everything."

"No; one can't have everything."

"If I am satisfied in that matter - " began Frank.

"Stop a moment, my dear boy," said the doctor. "As your father says,
one can't have everything. My dear friend - " and he gave his hand to
the squire - "do not be angry if I alluded for a moment to the estate.
It has grieved me to see it melting away - the old family acres that
have so long been the heritage of the Greshams."

"We need not talk about that now, Dr Thorne," said Frank, in an
almost angry tone.

"But I must, Frank, for one moment, to justify myself. I could not
have excused myself in letting Mary think that she could become your
wife if I had not hoped that good might come of it."

"Well; good will come of it," said Frank, who did not quite
understand at what the doctor was driving.

"I hope so. I have had much doubt about this, and have been sorely
perplexed; but now I do hope so. Frank - Mr Gresham - " and then Dr
Thorne rose from his chair; but was, for a moment, unable to go on
with his tale.

"We will hope that it is all for the best," said the squire.

"I am sure it is," said Frank.

"Yes; I hope it is. I do think it is; I am sure it is, Frank. Mary
will not come to you empty-handed. I wish for your sake - yes, and for
hers too - that her birth were equal to her fortune, as her worth is
superior to both. Mr Gresham, this marriage will, at any rate, put an
end to your pecuniary embarrassments - unless, indeed, Frank should
prove a hard creditor. My niece is Sir Roger Scatcherd's heir."

The doctor, as soon as he made the announcement, began to employ
himself sedulously about the papers on the table; which, in the
confusion caused by his own emotion, he transferred hither and
thither in such a manner as to upset all his previous arrangements.
"And now," he said, "I might as well explain, as well as I can, of
what that fortune consists. Here, this is - no - "

"But, Dr Thorne," said the squire, now perfectly pale, and almost
gasping for breath, "what is it you mean?"

"There's not a shadow of doubt," said the doctor. "I've had Sir
Abraham Haphazard, and Sir Rickety Giggs, and old Neversaye Die, and
Mr Snilam; and they are all of the same opinion. There is not the
smallest doubt about it. Of course, she must administer, and all
that; and I'm afraid there'll be a very heavy sum to pay for the tax;
for she cannot inherit as a niece, you know. Mr Snilam pointed that
out particularly. But, after all that, there'll be - I've got it down
on a piece of paper, somewhere - three grains of blue pill. I'm really
so bothered, squire, with all these papers, and all those lawyers,
that I don't know whether I'm sitting or standing. There's ready
money enough to pay all the tax and all the debts. I know that, at
any rate."

"You don't mean to say that Mary Thorne is now possessed of all Sir
Roger Scatcherd's wealth?" at last ejaculated the squire.

"But that's exactly what I do mean to say," said the doctor, looking
up from his papers with a tear in his eye, and a smile on his
mouth; "and what is more, squire, you owe her at the present moment
exactly - I've got that down too, somewhere, only I am so bothered
with all these papers. Come, squire, when do you mean to pay her?
She's in a great hurry, as young ladies are when they want to get
married."

The doctor was inclined to joke if possible, so as to carry off, as
it were, some of the great weight of obligation which it might seem
that he was throwing on the father and son; but the squire was by no
means in a state to understand a joke: hardly as yet in a state to
comprehend what was so very serious in this matter.

"Do you mean that Mary is the owner of Boxall Hill?" said he.

"Indeed, I do," said the doctor; and he was just going to add, "and
of Greshamsbury also," but he stopped himself.

"What, the whole property there?"

"That's only a small portion," said the doctor. "I almost wish it
were all, for then I should not be so bothered. Look here; these are
the Boxall Hill title-deeds; that's the simplest part of the whole
affair; and Frank may go and settle himself there to-morrow if he
pleases."

"Stop a moment, Dr Thorne," said Frank. These were the only words
which he had yet uttered since the tidings had been conveyed to him.

"And these, squire, are the Greshamsbury papers:" and the doctor,
with considerable ceremony, withdrew the covering newspapers. "Look
at them; there they all are once again. When I suggested to Mr Snilam
that I supposed they might now all go back to the Greshamsbury
muniment room, I thought he would have fainted. As I cannot return
them to you, you will have to wait till Frank shall give them up."

"But, Dr Thorne," said Frank.

"Well, my boy."

"Does Mary know all about this?"

"Not a word of it. I mean that you shall tell her."

"Perhaps, under such very altered circumstances - "

"Eh?"

"The change is so great and so sudden, so immense in its effects,
that Mary may perhaps wish - "

"Wish! wish what? Wish not to be told of it at all?"

"I shall not think of holding her to her engagement - that is, if - I
mean to say, she should have time at any rate for consideration."

"Oh, I understand," said the doctor. "She shall have time for
consideration. How much shall we give her, squire? three minutes? Go
up to her Frank: she is in the drawing-room."

Frank went to the door, and then hesitated, and returned. "I could
not do it," said he. "I don't think that I understand it all yet. I
am so bewildered that I could not tell her;" and he sat down at the
table, and began to sob with emotion.

"And she knows nothing of it?" said the squire.

"Not a word. I thought that I would keep the pleasure of telling her
for Frank."

"She should not be left in suspense," said the squire.

"Come, Frank, go up to her," again urged the doctor. "You've been
ready enough with your visits when you knew that you ought to stay
away."

"I cannot do it," said Frank, after a pause of some moments; "nor is
it right that I should. It would be taking advantage of her."

"Go to her yourself, doctor; it is you that should do it," said the
squire.

After some further slight delay, the doctor got up, and did go
upstairs. He, even, was half afraid of the task. "It must be done,"
he said to himself, as his heavy steps mounted the stairs. "But how
to tell it?"

When he entered, Mary was standing half-way up the room, as though
she had risen to meet him. Her face was troubled, and her eyes were
almost wild. The emotion, the hopes, the fears of that morning had
almost been too much for her. She had heard the murmuring of the
voices in the room below, and had known that one of them was that
of her lover. Whether that discussion was to be for her good or ill
she did not know; but she felt that further suspense would almost
kill her. "I could wait for years," she said to herself, "if I did
but know. If I lost him, I suppose I should bear it, if I did but
know." - Well; she was going to know.

Her uncle met her in the middle of the room. His face was serious,
though not sad; too serious to confirm her hopes at that moment of
doubt. "What is it, uncle?" she said, taking one of his hands between
both of her own. "What is it? Tell me." And as she looked up into his
face with her wild eyes, she almost frightened him.

"Mary," he said gravely, "you have heard much, I know, of Sir Roger
Scatcherd's great fortune."

"Yes, yes, yes!"

"Now that poor Sir Louis is dead - "

"Well, uncle, well?"

"It has been left - "

"To Frank! to Mr Gresham, to the squire!" exclaimed Mary, who felt,
with an agony of doubt, that this sudden accession of immense wealth
might separate her still further from her lover.

"No, Mary, not to the Greshams; but to yourself."

"To me!" she cried, and putting both her hands to her forehead, she
seemed to be holding her temples together. "To me!"

"Yes, Mary; it is all your own now. To do as you like best with it
all - all. May God, in His mercy, enable you to bear the burden, and
lighten for you the temptation!"

She had so far moved as to find the nearest chair, and there she
was now seated, staring at her uncle with fixed eyes. "Uncle," she
said, "what does it mean?" Then he came, and sitting beside her, he
explained, as best he could, the story of her birth, and her kinship
with the Scatcherds. "And where is he, uncle?" she said. "Why does he
not come to me?"

"I wanted him to come, but her refused. They are both there now, the
father and son; shall I fetch them?"

"Fetch them! whom? The squire? No, uncle; but may we go to them?"

"Surely, Mary."

"But, uncle - "

"Yes, dearest."

"Is it true? are you sure? For his sake, you know; not for my own.
The squire, you know - Oh, uncle! I cannot go."

"They shall come to you."

"No - no. I have gone to him such hundreds of times; I will never
allow that he shall be sent to me. But, uncle, is it true?"

The doctor, as he went downstairs, muttered something about Sir
Abraham Haphazard, and Sir Rickety Giggs; but these great names were
much thrown away upon poor Mary. The doctor entered the room first,
and the heiress followed him with downcast eyes and timid steps. She
was at first afraid to advance, but when she did look up, and saw
Frank standing alone by the window, her lover restored her courage,
and rushing up to him, she threw herself into his arms. "Oh, Frank;
my own Frank! my own Frank! we shall never be separated now."




CHAPTER XLVII

How the Bride Was Received, and Who Were Asked to the Wedding


And thus after all did Frank perform his great duty; he did marry
money; or rather, as the wedding has not yet taken place, and is,
indeed, as yet hardly talked of, we should more properly say that
he had engaged himself to marry money. And then, such a quantity of
money! The Scatcherd wealth greatly exceeded the Dunstable wealth; so
that our hero may be looked on as having performed his duties in a
manner deserving the very highest commendation from all classes of
the de Courcy connexion.

And he received it. But that was nothing. That _he_ should be fêted
by the de Courcys and Greshams, now that he was about to do his duty
by his family in so exemplary a manner: that he should be patted on
the back, now that he no longer meditated that vile crime which had
been so abhorrent to his mother's soul; this was only natural; this
is hardly worthy of remark. But there was another to be fêted,
another person to be made a personage, another blessed human mortal
about to do her duty by the family of Gresham in a manner that
deserved, and should receive, Lady Arabella's warmest caresses.

Dear Mary! It was, indeed, not singular that she should be prepared
to act so well, seeing that in early youth she had had the advantage
of an education in the Greshamsbury nursery; but not on that account
was it the less fitting that her virtue should be acknowledged,
eulogised, nay, all but worshipped.

How the party at the doctor's got itself broken up, I am not prepared
to say. Frank, I know, stayed and dined there, and his poor mother,
who would not retire to rest till she had kissed him, and blessed
him, and thanked him for all he was doing for the family, was kept
waiting in her dressing-room till a very unreasonable hour of the
night.

It was the squire who brought the news up to the house. "Arabella,"
he said, in a low, but somewhat solemn voice, "you will be surprised
at the news I bring you. Mary Thorne is the heiress to all the
Scatcherd property!"

"Oh, heavens! Mr Gresham."

"Yes, indeed," continued the squire. "So it is; it is very, very - "
But Lady Arabella had fainted. She was a woman who generally had her
feelings and her emotions much under her own control; but what she
now heard was too much for her. When she came to her senses, the
first words that escaped her lips were, "Dear Mary!"

But the household had to sleep on the news before it could be fully
realised. The squire was not by nature a mercenary man. If I have at
all succeeded in putting his character before the reader, he will be
recognised as one not over attached to money for money's sake. But
things had gone so hard with him, the world had become so rough, so
ungracious, so full of thorns, the want of means had become an evil
so keenly felt in every hour, that it cannot be wondered at that his
dreams that night should be of a golden elysium. The wealth was not
coming to him. True. But his chief sorrow had been for his son. Now
that son would be his only creditor. It was as though mountains of
marble had been taken from off his bosom.

But Lady Arabella's dreams flew away at once into the seventh heaven.
Sordid as they certainly were, they were not absolutely selfish.
Frank would now certainly be the first commoner in Barsetshire; of
course he would represent the county; of course there would be the
house in town; it wouldn't be her house, but she was contented that
the grandeur should be that of her child. He would have heaven
knows what to spend per annum. And that it should come through Mary
Thorne! What a blessing she had allowed Mary to be brought into the
Greshamsbury nursery! Dear Mary!

"She will of course be one now," said Beatrice to her sister. With
her, at the present moment, "one" of course meant one of the bevy
that was to attend her at the altar. "Oh dear! how nice! I shan't
know what to say to her to-morrow. But I know one thing."

"What is that?" asked Augusta.

"She will be as mild and as meek as a little dove. If she and the
doctor had lost every shilling in the world, she would have been as



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