Anthony Trollope.

Doctor Thorne online

. (page 48 of 49)
Online LibraryAnthony TrollopeDoctor Thorne → online text (page 48 of 49)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


proud as an eagle." It must be acknowledged that Beatrice had had the
wit to read Mary's character aright.

But Augusta was not quite pleased with the whole affair. Not that
she begrudged her brother his luck, or Mary her happiness. But her
ideas of right and wrong - perhaps we should rather say Lady Amelia's
ideas - would not be fairly carried out.

"After all, Beatrice, this does not alter her birth. I know it is
useless saying anything to Frank."

"Why, you wouldn't break both their hearts now?"

"I don't want to break their hearts, certainly. But there are those
who put their dearest and warmest feelings under restraint rather
than deviate from what they know to be proper." Poor Augusta! she was
the stern professor of the order of this philosophy; the last in the
family who practised with unflinching courage its cruel behests; the
last, always excepting the Lady Amelia.

And how slept Frank that night? With him, at least, let us hope, nay,
let us say boldly, that his happiest thoughts were not of the wealth
which he was to acquire. But yet it would be something to restore
Boxall Hill to Greshamsbury; something to give back to his father
those rumpled vellum documents, since the departure of which the
squire had never had a happy day; nay, something to come forth again
to his friends as a gay, young country squire, instead of as a
farmer, clod-compelling for his bread. We would not have him thought
to be better than he was, nor would we wish him to make him of other
stuff than nature generally uses. His heart did exult at Mary's
wealth; but it leaped higher still when he thought of purer joys.

And what shall we say of Mary's dreams? With her, it was altogether
what she should give, not at all what she should get. Frank had loved
her so truly when she was so poor, such an utter castaway; Frank, who
had ever been the heir of Greshamsbury! Frank, who with his beauty,
and spirit, and his talents might have won the smiles of the richest,
the grandest, the noblest! What lady's heart would not have rejoiced
to be allowed to love her Frank? But he had been true to her through
everything. Ah! how often she thought of that hour, when suddenly
appearing before her, he had strained her to his breast, just as she
had resolved how best to bear the death-like chill of his supposed
estrangements! She was always thinking of that time. She fed her love
by recurring over and over to the altered feeling of that moment. Any
now she could pay him for his goodness. Pay him! No, that would be a
base word, a base thought. Her payment must be made, if God would so
grant it, in many, many years to come. But her store, such as it was,
should be emptied into his lap. It was soothing to her pride that she
would not hurt him by her love, that she would bring no injury to the
old house. "Dear, dear Frank" she murmured, as her waking dreams,
conquered at last by sleep, gave way to those of the fairy world.

But she thought not only of Frank; dreamed not only of him. What had
he not done for her, that uncle of hers, who had been more loving to
her than any father! How was he, too, to be paid? Paid, indeed! Love
can only be paid in its own coin: it knows of no other legal tender.
Well, if her home was to be Greshamsbury, at any rate she would not
be separated from him.

What the doctor dreamed of that, neither he or any one ever knew.
"Why, uncle, I think you've been asleep," said Mary to him that
evening as he moved for a moment uneasily on the sofa. He had been
asleep for the last three-quarters of an hour; - but Frank, his guest,
had felt no offence. "No, I've not been exactly asleep," said he;
"but I'm very tired. I wouldn't do it all again, Frank, to double the
money. You haven't got any more tea, have you, Mary?"

On the following morning, Beatrice was of course with her friend.
There was no awkwardness between them in meeting. Beatrice had loved
her when she was poor, and though they had not lately thought alike
on one very important subject, Mary was too gracious to impute that
to Beatrice as a crime.

"You will be one now, Mary; of course you will."

"If Lady Arabella will let me come."

"Oh, Mary; let you! Do you remember what you said once about coming,
and being near me? I have so often thought of it. And now, Mary, I
must tell you about Caleb;" and the young lady settled herself on the
sofa, so as to have a comfortable long talk. Beatrice had been quite
right. Mary was as meek with her, and as mild as a dove.

And then Patience Oriel came. "My fine, young, darling, magnificent,
overgrown heiress," said Patience, embracing her. "My breath deserted
me, and I was nearly stunned when I heard of it. How small we shall
all be, my dear! I am quite prepared to toady to you immensely; but
pray be a little gracious to me, for the sake of auld lang syne."

Mary gave a long, long kiss. "Yes, for auld lang syne, Patience; when
you took me away under your wing to Richmond." Patience also had
loved her when she was in her trouble, and that love, too, should
never be forgotten.

But the great difficulty was Lady Arabella's first meeting with her.
"I think I'll go down to her after breakfast," said her ladyship to
Beatrice, as the two were talking over the matter while the mother
was finishing her toilet.

"I am sure she will come up if you like it, mamma."

"She is entitled to every courtesy - as Frank's accepted bride, you
know," said Lady Arabella. "I would not for worlds fail in any
respect to her for his sake."

"He will be glad enough for her to come, I am sure," said Beatrice.
"I was talking with Caleb this morning, and he says - "

The matter was of importance, and Lady Arabella gave it her most
mature consideration. The manner of receiving into one's family an
heiress whose wealth is to cure all one's difficulties, disperse
all one's troubles, give a balm to all the wounds of misfortune,
must, under any circumstances, be worthy of much care. But when that
heiress has been already treated as Mary had been treated!

"I must see her, at any rate, before I go to Courcy." said Lady
Arabella.

"Are you going to Courcy, mamma?"

"Oh, certainly; yes, I must see my sister-in-law now. You don't seem
to realise the importance, my dear, of Frank's marriage. He will be
in a great hurry about it, and, indeed, I cannot blame him. I expect
that they will all come here."

"Who, mamma? the de Courcys?"

"Yes, of course. I shall be very much surprised if the earl does not
come now. And I must consult my sister-in-law as to asking the Duke
of Omnium."

Poor Mary!

"And I think it will perhaps be better," continued Lady Arabella,
"that we should have a larger party than we intended at your affair.
The countess, I'm sure, would come now. We couldn't put it off for
ten days; could we, dear?"

"Put it off ten days!"

"Yes; it would be convenient."

"I don't think Mr Oriel would like that at all, mamma. You know he
has made all his arrangements for his Sundays - "

Pshaw! The idea of the parson's Sundays being allowed to have any
bearing on such a matter as Frank's wedding would now become! Why,
they would have - how much? Between twelve and fourteen thousand a
year! Lady Arabella, who had made her calculations a dozen times
during the night, had never found it to be much less than the larger
sum. Mr Oriel's Sundays, indeed!

After much doubt, Lady Arabella acceded to her daughter's suggestion,
that Mary should be received at Greshamsbury instead of being called
on at the doctor's house. "If you think she won't mind the coming
up first," said her ladyship. "I certainly could receive her better
here. I should be more - more - more able, you know, to express what I
feel. We had better go into the big drawing-room to-day, Beatrice.
Will you remember to tell Mrs Richards?"

"Oh, certainly," was Mary's answer when Beatrice, with a voice a
little trembling, proposed to her to walk up to the house. "Certainly
I will, if Lady Arabella will receive me; - only one thing, Trichy."

"What's that, dearest?"

"Frank will think that I come after him."

"Never mind what he thinks. To tell you the truth, Mary, I often call
upon Patience for the sake of finding Caleb. That's all fair now, you
know."

Mary very quietly put on her straw bonnet, and said she was ready
to go up to the house. Beatrice was a little fluttered, and showed
it. Mary was, perhaps, a good deal fluttered, but she did not show
it. She had thought a good deal of her first interview with Lady
Arabella, of her first return to the house; but she had resolved
to carry herself as though the matter were easy to her. She would
not allow it to be seen that she felt that she brought with her to
Greshamsbury, comfort, ease, and renewed opulence.

So she put on her straw bonnet and walked up with Beatrice. Everybody
about the place had already heard the news. The old woman at the
lodge curtsied low to her; the gardener, who was mowing the lawn. The
butler, who opened the front door - he must have been watching Mary's
approach - had manifestly put on a clean white neckcloth for the
occasion.

"God bless you once more, Miss Thorne!" said the old man, in a
half-whisper. Mary was somewhat troubled, for everything seemed,
in a manner, to bow down before her. And why should not everything
bow down before her, seeing that she was in truth the owner of
Greshamsbury?

And then a servant in livery would open the big drawing-room door.
This rather upset both Mary and Beatrice. It became almost impossible
for Mary to enter the room just as she would have done two years ago;
but she got through the difficulty with much self-control.

"Mamma, here's Mary," said Beatrice.

Nor was Lady Arabella quite mistress of herself, although she had
studied minutely how to bear herself.

"Oh, Mary, my dear Mary; what can I say to you?" and then, with a
handkerchief to her eyes, she ran forward and hid her face on Miss
Thorne's shoulders. "What can I say - can you forgive me my anxiety
for my son?"

"How do you do, Lady Arabella?" said Mary.

"My daughter! my child! my Frank's own bride! Oh, Mary! oh, my child!
If I have seemed unkind to you, it has been through love to him."

"All these things are over now," said Mary. "Mr Gresham told me
yesterday that I should be received as Frank's future wife; and so,
you see, I have come." And then she slipped through Lady Arabella's
arms, and sat down, meekly down, on a chair. In five minutes she
had escaped with Beatrice into the school-room, and was kissing the
children, and turning over the new trousseau. They were, however,
soon interrupted, and there was, perhaps, some other kissing besides
that of the children.

"You have no business in here at all, Frank," said Beatrice. "Has he,
Mary?"

"None in the world, I should think."

"See what he has done to my poplin; I hope you won't have your things
treated so cruelly. He'll be careful enough about them."

"Is Oriel a good hand at packing up finery - eh, Beatrice?" asked
Frank.

"He is, at any rate, too well-behaved to spoil it." Thus Mary was
again made at home in the household of Greshamsbury.

Lady Arabella did not carry out her little plan of delaying the Oriel
wedding. Her idea had been to add some grandeur to it, in order to
make it a more fitting precursor of that other greater wedding which
was to follow so soon in its wake. But this, with the assistance of
the countess, she found herself able to do without interfering with
poor Mr Oriel's Sunday arrangements. The countess herself, with the
Ladies Alexandrina and Margaretta, now promised to come, even to this
first affair; and for the other, the whole de Courcy family would
turn out, count and countess, lords and ladies, Honourable Georges
and Honourable Johns. What honour, indeed, could be too great to show
to a bride who had fourteen thousand a year in her own right, or to a
cousin who had done his duty by securing such a bride to himself!

"If the duke be in the country, I am sure he will be happy to come,"
said the countess. "Of course, he will be talking to Frank about
politics. I suppose the squire won't expect Frank to belong to the
old school now."

"Frank, of course, will judge for himself, Rosina; - with his
position, you know!" And so things were settled at Courcy Castle.

And then Beatrice was wedded and carried off to the Lakes. Mary, as
she had promised, did stand near her; but not exactly in the gingham
frock of which she had once spoken. She wore on that occasion - But
it will be too much, perhaps, to tell the reader what she wore as
Beatrice's bridesmaid, seeing that a couple of pages, at least, must
be devoted to her marriage-dress, and seeing, also, that we have only
a few pages to finish everything; the list of visitors, the marriage
settlements, the dress, and all included.

It was in vain that Mary endeavoured to repress Lady Arabella's
ardour for grand doings. After all, she was to be married from the
doctor's house, and not from Greshamsbury, and it was the doctor
who should have invited the guests; but, in this matter, he did not
choose to oppose her ladyship's spirit, and she had it all her own
way.

"What can I do?" said he to Mary. "I have been contradicting her in
everything for the last two years. The least we can do is to let her
have her own way now in a trifle like this."

But there was one point on which Mary would let nobody have his or
her own way; on which the way to be taken was very manifestly to be
her own. This was touching the marriage settlements. It must not be
supposed, that if Beatrice were married on a Tuesday, Mary could be
married on the Tuesday week following. Ladies with twelve thousand a
year cannot be disposed of in that way: and bridegrooms who do their
duty by marrying money often have to be kept waiting. It was spring,
the early spring, before Frank was made altogether a happy man.

But a word about the settlements. On this subject the doctor thought
he would have been driven mad. Messrs Slow & Bideawhile, as the
lawyers of the Greshamsbury family - it will be understood that Mr
Gazebee's law business was of quite a different nature, and his
work, as regarded Greshamsbury, was now nearly over - Messrs Slow &
Bideawhile declared that it would never do for them to undertake
alone to draw out the settlements. An heiress, such as Mary, must
have lawyers of her own; half a dozen at least, according to the
apparent opinion of Messrs Slow & Bideawhile. And so the doctor had
to go to other lawyers, and they had again to consult Sir Abraham,
and Mr Snilam on a dozen different heads.

If Frank became tenant in tail, in right of his wife, but under his
father, would he be able to grant leases for more than twenty-one
years? and, if so, to whom would the right of trover belong? As to
flotsam and jetsam - there was a little property, Mr Critic, on the
sea-shore - that was a matter that had to be left unsettled at the
last. Such points as these do take a long time to consider. All
this bewildered the doctor sadly, and Frank himself began to make
accusations that he was to be done out of his wife altogether.

But, as we have said, there was one point on which Mary would have
her own way. The lawyers might tie up as they would on her behalf all
the money, and shares, and mortgages which had belonged to the late
Sir Roger, with this exception, all that had ever appertained to
Greshamsbury should belong to Greshamsbury again; not in perspective,
not to her children, or to her children's children, but at once.
Frank should be lord of Boxall Hill in his own right; and as to those
other _liens_ on Greshamsbury, let Frank manage that with his father
as he might think fit. She would only trouble herself to see that he
was empowered to do as he did think fit.

"But," argued the ancient, respectable family attorney to the doctor,
"that amounts to two-thirds of the whole estate. Two-thirds, Dr
Thorne! It is preposterous; I should almost say impossible." And the
scanty hairs on the poor man's head almost stood on end as he thought
of the outrageous manner in which the heiress prepared to sacrifice
herself.

"It will all be the same in the end," said the doctor, trying to make
things smooth. "Of course, their joint object will be to put the
Greshamsbury property together again."

"But, my dear sir," - and then, for twenty minutes, the lawyer
went on proving that it would by no means be the same thing; but,
nevertheless, Mary Thorne did have her own way.

In the course of the winter, Lady de Courcy tried very hard to induce
the heiress to visit Courcy Castle, and this request was so backed by
Lady Arabella, that the doctor said he thought she might as well go
there for three or four days. But here, again, Mary was obstinate.

"I don't see it at all," she said. "If you make a point of it,
or Frank, or Mr Gresham, I will go; but I can't see any possible
reason." The doctor, when so appealed to, would not absolutely say
that he made a point of it, and Mary was tolerably safe as regarded
Frank or the squire. If she went, Frank would be expected to go, and
Frank disliked Courcy Castle almost more than ever. His aunt was now
more than civil to him, and, when they were together, never ceased to
compliment him on the desirable way in which he had done his duty by
his family.

And soon after Christmas a visitor came to Mary, and stayed a
fortnight with her: one whom neither she nor the doctor had expected,
and of whom they had not much more than heard. This was the famous
Miss Dunstable. "Birds of a feather flock together," said Mrs
Rantaway - late Miss Gushing - when she heard of the visit. "The
railway man's niece - if you can call her a niece - and the quack's
daughter will do very well together, no doubt."

"At any rate, they can count their money-bags," said Mrs Umbleby.

And in fact, Mary and Miss Dunstable did get on very well together;
and Miss Dunstable made herself quite happy at Greshamsbury, although
some people - including Mrs Rantaway - contrived to spread a report,
that Dr Thorne, jealous of Mary's money, was going to marry her.

"I shall certainly come and see you turned off," said Miss Dunstable,
taking leave of her new friend. Miss Dunstable, it must be
acknowledged, was a little too fond of slang; but then, a lady with
her fortune, and of her age, may be fond of almost whatever she
pleases.

And so by degrees the winter wore away - very slowly to Frank, as he
declared often enough; and slowly, perhaps, to Mary also, though she
did not say so. The winter wore away, and the chill, bitter, windy,
early spring came round. The comic almanacs give us dreadful pictures
of January and February; but, in truth, the months which should be
made to look gloomy in England are March and April. Let no man boast
himself that he has got through the perils of winter till at least
the seventh of May.

It was early in April, however, that the great doings were to be done
at Greshamsbury. Not exactly on the first. It may be presumed, that
in spite of the practical, common-sense spirit of the age, very few
people do choose to have themselves united on that day. But some
day in the first week of that month was fixed for the ceremony, and
from the end of February all through March, Lady Arabella worked and
strove in a manner that entitled her to profound admiration.

It was at last settled that the breakfast should be held in the large
dining-room at Greshamsbury. There was a difficulty about it which
taxed Lady Arabella to the utmost, for, in making the proposition,
she could not but seem to be throwing some slight on the house in
which the heiress had lived. But when the affair was once opened to
Mary, it was astonishing how easy it became.

"Of course," said Mary, "all the rooms in our house would not hold
half the people you are talking about - if they must come."

Lady Arabella looked so beseechingly, nay, so piteously, that Mary
had not another word to say. It was evident that they must all come:
the de Courcys to the fifth generation; the Duke of Omnium himself,
and others in concatenation accordingly.

"But will your uncle be angry if we have the breakfast up here? He
has been so very handsome to Frank, that I wouldn't make him angry
for all the world."

"If you don't tell him anything about it, Lady Arabella, he'll think
that it is all done properly. He will never know, if he's not told,
that he ought to give the breakfast, and not you."

"Won't he, my dear?" And Lady Arabella looked her admiration for this
very talented suggestion. And so that matter was arranged. The doctor
never knew, till Mary told him some year or so afterwards, that he
had been remiss in any part of his duty.

And who was asked to the wedding? In the first place, we have said
that the Duke of Omnium was there. This was, in fact, the one
circumstance that made this wedding so superior to any other that
had ever taken place in that neighbourhood. The Duke of Omnium never
went anywhere; and yet he went to Mary's wedding! And Mary, when
the ceremony was over, absolutely found herself kissed by a duke.
"Dearest Mary!" exclaimed Lady Arabella, in her ecstasy of joy, when
she saw the honour that was done to her daughter-in-law.

"I hope we shall induce you to come to Gatherum Castle soon," said
the duke to Frank. "I shall be having a few friends there in the
autumn. Let me see; I declare, I have not seen you since you were
good enough to come to my collection. Ha! ha! ha! It wasn't bad fun,
was it?" Frank was not very cordial with his answer. He had not quite
reconciled himself to the difference of his position. When he was
treated as one of the "collection" at Gatherum Castle, he had not
married money.

It would be vain to enumerate all the de Courcys that were there.
There was the earl, looking very gracious, and talking to the
squire about the county. And there was Lord Porlock, looking very
ungracious, and not talking to anybody about anything. And there was
the countess, who for the last week past had done nothing but pat
Frank on the back whenever she could catch him. And there were the
Ladies Alexandrina, Margaretta, and Selina, smiling at everybody.
And the Honourable George, talking in whispers to Frank about his
widow - "Not such a catch as yours, you know; but something extremely
snug; - and have it all my own way, too, old fellow, or I shan't come
to the scratch." And the Honourable John prepared to toady Frank
about his string of hunters; and the Lady Amelia, by herself, not
quite contented with these democratic nuptials - "After all, she is so
absolutely nobody; absolutely, absolutely," she said confidentially
to Augusta, shaking her head. But before Lady Amelia had left
Greshamsbury, Augusta was quite at a loss to understand how there
could be need for so much conversation between her cousin and Mr
Mortimer Gazebee.

And there were many more de Courcys, whom to enumerate would be much
too long.

And the bishop of the diocese, and Mrs Proudie were there. A hint
had even been given, that his lordship would himself condescend to
perform the ceremony, if this should be wished; but that work had
already been anticipated by a very old friend of the Greshams.
Archdeacon Grantly, the rector of Plumstead Episcopi, had long since
undertaken this part of the business; and the knot was eventually
tied by the joint efforts of himself and Mr Oriel. Mrs Grantly came
with him, and so did Mrs Grantly's sister, the new dean's wife. The
dean himself was at the time unfortunately absent at Oxford.

And all the Bakers and the Jacksons were there. The last time they
had all met together under the squire's roof, was on the occasion of
Frank's coming of age. The present gala doings were carried on a very
different spirit. That had been a very poor affair, but this was
worthy of the best days of Greshamsbury.

Occasion also had been taken of this happy moment to make up, or
rather to get rid of the last shreds of the last feud that had so
long separated Dr Thorne from his own relatives. The Thornes of
Ullathorne had made many overtures in a covert way. But our doctor
had contrived to reject them. "They would not receive Mary as their
cousin," said he, "and I will go nowhere that she cannot go." But now
all this was altered. Mrs Gresham would certainly be received in any
house in the county. And thus, Mr Thorne of Ullathorne, an amiable,
popular old bachelor, came to the wedding; and so did his maiden
sister, Miss Monica Thorne, than whose no kinder heart glowed through
all Barsetshire.

"My dear," said she to Mary, kissing her, and offering her some
little tribute, "I am very glad to make your acquaintance; very. It



Online LibraryAnthony TrollopeDoctor Thorne → online text (page 48 of 49)