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at the mahogany."

"Oh, you know I shan't say anything witty; I'll be quite the other
way."

"But there's no reason you shouldn't learn the manner. That's the way
I succeeded. Fix your eye on one of the bottles; put your thumbs in
your waist-coat pockets; stick out your elbows, bend your knees a
little, and then go ahead."

"Oh, ah! go ahead; that's all very well; but you can't go ahead if
you haven't got any steam."

"A very little does it. There can be nothing so easy as your speech.
When one has to say something new every year about the farmers'
daughters, why one has to use one's brains a bit. Let's see: how will
you begin? Of course, you'll say that you are not accustomed to this
sort of thing; that the honour conferred upon you is too much for
your feelings; that the bright array of beauty and talent around
you quite overpowers your tongue, and all that sort of thing. Then
declare you're a Gresham to the backbone."

"Oh, they know that."

"Well, tell them again. Then of course you must say something about
us; or you'll have the countess as black as old Nick."

"Abut my aunt, George? What on earth can I say about her when she's
there herself before me?"

"Before you! of course; that's just the reason. Oh, say any lie you
can think of; you must say something about us. You know we've come
down from London on purpose."

Frank, in spite of the benefit he was receiving from his cousin's
erudition, could not help wishing in his heart that they had all
remained in London; but this he kept to himself. He thanked his
cousin for his hints, and though he did not feel that the trouble
of his mind was completely cured, he began to hope that he might go
through the ordeal without disgracing himself.

Nevertheless, he felt rather sick at heart when Mr Baker got up to
propose the toast as soon as the servants were gone. The servants,
that is, were gone officially; but they were there in a body, men
and women, nurses, cooks, and ladies' maids, coachmen, grooms, and
footmen, standing in two doorways to hear what Master Frank would
say. The old housekeeper headed the maids at one door, standing
boldly inside the room; and the butler controlled the men at the
other, marshalling them back with a drawn corkscrew.

Mr Baker did not say much; but what he did say, he said well. They
had all seen Frank Gresham grow up from a child; and were now
required to welcome as a man amongst them one who was well qualified
to carry on the honour of that loved and respected family. His
young friend, Frank, was every inch a Gresham. Mr Baker omitted to
make mention of the infusion of de Courcy blood, and the countess,
therefore, drew herself up on her chair and looked as though she were
extremely bored. He then alluded tenderly to his own long friendship
with the present squire, Francis Newbold Gresham the elder; and sat
down, begging them to drink health, prosperity, long life, and an
excellent wife to their dear young friend, Francis Newbold Gresham
the younger.

There was a great jingling of glasses, of course; made the merrier
and the louder by the fact that the ladies were still there as
well as the gentlemen. Ladies don't drink toasts frequently; and,
therefore, the occasion coming rarely was the more enjoyed. "God
bless you, Frank!" "Your good health, Frank!" "And especially a
good wife, Frank!" "Two or three of them, Frank!" "Good health and
prosperity to you, Mr Gresham!" "More power to you, Frank, my boy!"
"May God bless you and preserve you, my dear boy!" and then a merry,
sweet, eager voice from the far end of the table, "Frank! Frank! Do
look at me, pray do Frank; I am drinking your health in real wine;
ain't I, papa?" Such were the addresses which greeted Mr Francis
Newbold Gresham the younger as he essayed to rise up on his feet for
the first time since he had come to man's estate.

When the clatter was at an end, and he was fairly on his legs, he
cast a glance before him on the table, to look for a decanter. He
had not much liked his cousin's theory of sticking to the bottle;
nevertheless, in the difficulty of the moment, it was well to have
any system to go by. But, as misfortune would have it, though the
table was covered with bottles, his eye could not catch one. Indeed,
his eye first could catch nothing, for the things swam before him,
and the guests all seemed to dance in their chairs.

Up he got, however, and commenced his speech. As he could not follow
his preceptor's advice as touching the bottle, he adopted his own
crude plan of "making a mark on some old covey's head," and therefore
looked dead at the doctor.

"Upon my word, I am very much obliged to you, gentlemen and ladies,
ladies and gentlemen, I should say, for drinking my health, and
doing me so much honour, and all that sort of thing. Upon my word I
am. Especially to Mr Baker. I don't mean you, Harry, you're not Mr
Baker."

"As much as you're Mr Gresham, Master Frank."

"But I am not Mr Gresham; and I don't mean to be for many a long year
if I can help it; not at any rate till we have had another coming of
age here."

"Bravo, Frank; and whose will that be?"

"That will be my son, and a very fine lad he will be; and I hope
he'll make a better speech than his father. Mr Baker said I was every
inch a Gresham. Well, I hope I am." Here the countess began to look
cold and angry. "I hope the day will never come when my father won't
own me for one."

"There's no fear, no fear," said the doctor, who was almost put out
of countenance by the orator's intense gaze. The countess looked
colder and more angry, and muttered something to herself about a
bear-garden.

"Gardez Gresham; eh? Harry! mind that when you're sticking in a gap
and I'm coming after you. Well, I am sure I am very obliged to you
for the honour you have all done me, especially the ladies, who don't
do this sort of thing on ordinary occasions. I wish they did; don't
you, doctor? And talking of the ladies, my aunt and cousins have come
all the way from London to hear me make this speech, which certainly
is not worth the trouble; but, all the same I am very much obliged
to them." And he looked round and made a little bow at the countess.
"And so I am to Mr and Mrs Jackson, and Mr and Mrs and Miss Bateson,
and Mr Baker - I'm not at all obliged to you, Harry - and to Mr Oriel
and Miss Oriel, and to Mr Umbleby, and to Dr Thorne, and to Mary - I
beg her pardon, I mean Miss Thorne." And then he sat down, amid the
loud plaudits of the company, and a string of blessings which came
from the servants behind him.

After this the ladies rose and departed. As she went, Lady Arabella,
kissed her son's forehead, and then his sisters kissed him, and one
or two of his lady-cousins; and then Miss Bateson shook him by the
hand. "Oh, Miss Bateson," said he, "I thought the kissing was to go
all round." So Miss Bateson laughed and went her way; and Patience
Oriel nodded at him, but Mary Thorne, as she quietly left the room,
almost hidden among the extensive draperies of the grander ladies,
hardly allowed her eyes to meet his.

He got up to hold the door for them as they passed; and as they went,
he managed to take Patience by the hand; he took her hand and pressed
it for a moment, but dropped it quickly, in order that he might go
through the same ceremony with Mary, but Mary was too quick for him.

"Frank," said Mr Gresham, as soon as the door was closed, "bring
your glass here, my boy;" and the father made room for his son close
beside himself. "The ceremony is now over, so you may have your place
of dignity." Frank sat himself down where he was told, and Mr Gresham
put his hand on his son's shoulder and half caressed him, while the
tears stood in his eyes. "I think the doctor is right, Baker, I think
he'll never make us ashamed of him."

"I am sure he never will," said Mr Baker.

"I don't think he ever will," said Dr Thorne.

The tones of the men's voices were very different. Mr Baker did not
care a straw about it; why should he? He had an heir of his own as
well as the squire; one also who was the apple of _his_ eye. But the
doctor, - he did care; he had a niece, to be sure, whom he loved,
perhaps as well as these men loved their sons; but there was room in
his heart also for young Frank Gresham.

After this small exposé of feeling they sat silent for a moment or
two. But silence was not dear to the heart of the Honourable John,
and so he took up the running.

"That's a niceish nag you gave Frank this morning," he said to his
uncle. "I was looking at him before dinner. He is a Monsoon, isn't
he?"

"Well I can't say I know how he was bred," said the squire. "He shows
a good deal of breeding."

"He's a Monsoon, I'm sure," said the Honourable John. "They've all
those ears, and that peculiar dip in the back. I suppose you gave a
goodish figure for him?"

"Not so very much," said the squire.

"He's a trained hunter, I suppose?"

"If not, he soon will be," said the squire.

"Let Frank alone for that," said Harry Baker.

"He jumps beautifully, sir," said Frank. "I haven't tried him myself,
but Peter made him go over the bar two or three times this morning."

The Honourable John was determined to give his cousin a helping hand,
as he considered it. He thought that Frank was very ill-used in being
put off with so incomplete a stud, and thinking also that the son had
not spirit enough to attack his father himself on the subject, the
Honourable John determined to do it for him.

"He's the making of a very nice horse, I don't doubt. I wish you had
a string like him, Frank."

Frank felt the blood rush to his face. He would not for worlds have
his father think that he was discontented, or otherwise than pleased
with the present he had received that morning. He was heartily
ashamed of himself in that he had listened with a certain degree of
complacency to his cousin's tempting; but he had no idea that the
subject would be repeated - and then repeated, too, before his father,
in a manner to vex him on such a day as this, before such people as
were assembled there. He was very angry with his cousin, and for a
moment forgot all his hereditary respect for a de Courcy.

"I tell you what, John," said he, "do you choose your day, some day
early in the season, and come out on the best thing you have, and
I'll bring, not the black horse, but my old mare; and then do you try
and keep near me. If I don't leave you at the back of Godspeed before
long, I'll give you the mare and the horse too."

The Honourable John was not known in Barsetshire as one of the most
forward of its riders. He was a man much addicted to hunting, as far
as the get-up of the thing was concerned; he was great in boots and
breeches; wondrously conversant with bits and bridles; he had quite
a collection of saddles; and patronised every newest invention for
carrying spare shoes, sandwiches, and flasks of sherry. He was
prominent at the cover side; - some people, including the master
of hounds, thought him perhaps a little too loudly prominent;
he affected a familiarity with the dogs, and was on speaking
acquaintance with every man's horse. But when the work was cut out,
when the pace began to be sharp, when it behoved a man either to ride
or visibly to decline to ride, then - so at least said they who had
not the de Courcy interest quite closely at heart - then, in those
heart-stirring moments, the Honourable John was too often found
deficient.

There was, therefore, a considerable laugh at his expense when Frank,
instigated to his innocent boast by a desire to save his father,
challenged his cousin to a trial of prowess. The Honourable John
was not, perhaps, as much accustomed to the ready use of his tongue
as was his honourable brother, seeing that it was not his annual
business to depict the glories of the farmers' daughters; at any
rate, on this occasion he seemed to be at some loss for words; he
shut up, as the slang phrase goes, and made no further allusion to
the necessity of supplying young Gresham with a proper string of
hunters.

But the old squire had understood it all; had understood the meaning
of his nephew's attack; had thoroughly understood also the meaning of
his son's defence, and the feeling which actuated it. He also had
thought of the stableful of horses which had belonged to himself when
he came of age; and of the much more humble position which his son
would have to fill than that which _his_ father had prepared for him.
He thought of this, and was sad enough, though he had sufficient
spirit to hide from his friends around him the fact, that the
Honourable John's arrow had not been discharged in vain.

"He shall have Champion," said the father to himself. "It is time for
me to give it up."

Now Champion was one of the two fine old hunters which the squire
kept for his own use. And it might have been said of him now, at the
period of which we are speaking, that the only really happy moments
of his life were those which he spent in the field. So much as to its
being time for him to give up.




CHAPTER VI

Frank Gresham's Early Loves


It was, we have said, the first of July, and such being the time of
the year, the ladies, after sitting in the drawing-room for half an
hour or so, began to think that they might as well go through the
drawing-room windows on to the lawn. First one slipped out a little
way, and then another; and then they got on to the lawn; and then
they talked of their hats; till, by degrees, the younger ones of the
party, and at last of the elder also, found themselves dressed for
walking.

The windows, both of the drawing-room and the dining-room, looked out
on to the lawn; and it was only natural that the girls should walk
from the former to the latter. It was only natural that they, being
there, should tempt their swains to come to them by the sight of
their broad-brimmed hats and evening dresses; and natural, also, that
the temptation should not be resisted. The squire, therefore, and the
elder male guests soon found themselves alone round their wine.

"Upon my word, we were enchanted by your eloquence, Mr Gresham, were
we not?" said Miss Oriel, turning to one of the de Courcy girls who
was with her.

Miss Oriel was a very pretty girl; a little older than Frank
Gresham, - perhaps a year or so. She had dark hair, large round dark
eyes, a nose a little too broad, a pretty mouth, a beautiful chin,
and, as we have said before, a large fortune; - that is, moderately
large - let us say twenty thousand pounds, there or thereabouts.
She and her brother had been living at Greshamsbury for the last
two years, the living having been purchased for him - such were
Mr Gresham's necessities - during the lifetime of the last old
incumbent. Miss Oriel was in every respect a nice neighbour; she was
good-humoured, lady-like, lively, neither too clever nor too stupid,
belonging to a good family, sufficiently fond of this world's good
things, as became a pretty young lady so endowed, and sufficiently
fond, also, of the other world's good things, as became the mistress
of a clergyman's house.

"Indeed, yes," said the Lady Margaretta. "Frank is very eloquent.
When he described our rapid journey from London, he nearly moved me
to tears. But well as he talks, I think he carves better."

"I wish you'd had to do it, Margaretta; both the carving and
talking."

"Thank you, Frank; you're very civil."

"But there's one comfort, Miss Oriel; it's over now, and done. A
fellow can't be made to come of age twice."

"But you'll take your degree, Mr Gresham; and then, of course,
there'll be another speech; and then you'll get married, and there
will be two or three more."

"I'll speak at your wedding, Miss Oriel, long before I do at my own."

"I shall not have the slightest objection. It will be so kind of you
to patronise my husband."

"But, by Jove, will he patronise me? I know you'll marry some awful
bigwig, or some terribly clever fellow; won't she, Margaretta?"

"Miss Oriel was saying so much in praise of you before you came out,"
said Margaretta, "that I began to think that her mind was intent on
remaining at Greshamsbury all her life."

Frank blushed, and Patience laughed. There was but a year's
difference in their age; Frank, however, was still a boy, though
Patience was fully a woman.

"I am ambitious, Lady Margaretta," said she. "I own it; but I am
moderate in my ambition. I do love Greshamsbury, and if Mr Gresham
had a younger brother, perhaps, you know - "

"Another just like myself, I suppose," said Frank.

"Oh, yes. I could not possibly wish for any change."

"Just as eloquent as you are, Frank," said the Lady Margaretta.

"And as good a carver," said Patience.

"Miss Bateson has lost her heart to him for ever, because of his
carving," said the Lady Margaretta.

"But perfection never repeats itself," said Patience.

"Well, you see, I have not got any brothers," said Frank; "so all I
can do is to sacrifice myself."

"Upon my word, Mr Gresham, I am under more than ordinary obligations
to you; I am indeed," and Miss Oriel stood still in the path, and
made a very graceful curtsy. "Dear me! only think, Lady Margaretta,
that I should be honoured with an offer from the heir the very moment
he is legally entitled to make one."

"And done with so much true gallantry, too," said the other;
"expressing himself quite willing to postpone any views of his own or
your advantage."

"Yes," said Patience; "that's what I value so much: had he loved me
now, there would have been no merit on his part; but a sacrifice, you
know - "

"Yes, ladies are so fond of such sacrifices, Frank, upon my word, I
had no idea you were so very excellent at making speeches."

"Well," said Frank, "I shouldn't have said sacrifice, that was a
slip; what I meant was - "

"Oh, dear me," said Patience, "wait a minute; now we are going
to have a regular declaration. Lady Margaretta, you haven't got
a scent-bottle, have you? And if I should faint, where's the
garden-chair?"

"Oh, but I'm not going to make a declaration at all," said Frank.

"Are you not? Oh! Now, Lady Margaretta, I appeal to you; did you not
understand him to say something very particular?"

"Certainly, I thought nothing could be plainer," said the Lady
Margaretta.

"And so, Mr Gresham, I am to be told, that after all it means
nothing," said Patience, putting her handkerchief up to her eyes.

"It means that you are an excellent hand at quizzing a fellow like
me."

"Quizzing! No; but you are an excellent hand at deceiving a poor
girl like me. Well, remember I have got a witness; here is Lady
Margaretta, who heard it all. What a pity it is that my brother is
a clergyman. You calculated on that, I know; or you would never had
served me so."

She said so just as her brother joined them, or rather just as he
had joined Lady Margaretta de Courcy; for her ladyship and Mr Oriel
walked on in advance by themselves. Lady Margaretta had found it
rather dull work, making a third in Miss Oriel's flirtation with her
cousin; the more so as she was quite accustomed to take a principal
part herself in all such transactions. She therefore not unwillingly
walked on with Mr Oriel. Mr Oriel, it must be conceived, was not a
common, everyday parson, but had points about him which made him
quite fit to associate with an earl's daughter. And as it was known
that he was not a marrying man, having very exalted ideas on that
point connected with his profession, the Lady Margaretta, of course,
had the less objection to trust herself alone with him.

But directly she was gone, Miss Oriel's tone of banter ceased. It was
very well making a fool of a lad of twenty-one when others were by;
but there might be danger in it when they were alone together.

"I don't know any position on earth more enviable than yours, Mr
Gresham," said she, quite soberly and earnestly; "how happy you ought
to be."

"What, in being laughed at by you, Miss Oriel, for pretending to be
a man, when you choose to make out that I am only a boy? I can bear
to be laughed at pretty well generally, but I can't say that your
laughing at me makes me feel so happy as you say I ought to be."

Frank was evidently of an opinion totally different from that of Miss
Oriel. Miss Oriel, when she found herself _tête-à-tête_ with him,
thought it was time to give over flirting; Frank, however, imagined
that it was just the moment for him to begin. So he spoke and looked
very languishing, and put on him quite the airs of an Orlando.

"Oh, Mr Gresham, such good friends as you and I may laugh at each
other, may we not?"

"You may do what you like, Miss Oriel: beautiful women I believe
always may; but you remember what the spider said to the fly, 'That
which is sport to you, may be death to me.'" Anyone looking at
Frank's face as he said this, might well have imagined that he was
breaking his very heart for love of Miss Oriel. Oh, Master Frank!
Master Frank! if you act thus in the green leaf, what will you do in
the dry?

While Frank Gresham was thus misbehaving himself, and going on as
though to him belonged the privilege of falling in love with pretty
faces, as it does to ploughboys and other ordinary people, his great
interests were not forgotten by those guardian saints who were so
anxious to shower down on his head all manner of temporal blessings.

Another conversation had taken place in the Greshamsbury gardens,
in which nothing light had been allowed to present itself; nothing
frivolous had been spoken. The countess, the Lady Arabella, and Miss
Gresham had been talking over Greshamsbury affairs, and they had
latterly been assisted by the Lady Amelia, than whom no de Courcy
ever born was more wise, more solemn, more prudent, or more proud.
The ponderosity of her qualifications for nobility was sometimes too
much even for her mother, and her devotion to the peerage was such,
that she would certainly have declined a seat in heaven if offered to
her without the promise that it should be in the upper house.

The subject first discussed had been Augusta's prospects. Mr Moffat
had been invited to Courcy Castle, and Augusta had been taken thither
to meet him, with the express intention on the part of the countess,
that they should be man and wife. The countess had been careful to
make it intelligible to her sister-in-law and niece, that though Mr
Moffat would do excellently well for a daughter of Greshamsbury, he
could not be allowed to raise his eyes to a female scion of Courcy
Castle.

"Not that we personally dislike him," said the Lady Amelia; "but rank
has its drawbacks, Augusta." As the Lady Amelia was now somewhat
nearer forty than thirty, and was still allowed to walk,


"In maiden meditation, fancy free,"


it may be presumed that in her case rank had been found to have
serious drawbacks.

To this Augusta said nothing in objection. Whether desirable by a
de Courcy or not, the match was to be hers, and there was no doubt
whatever as to the wealth of the man whose name she was to take; the
offer had been made, not to her, but to her aunt; the acceptance
had been expressed, not by her, but by her aunt. Had she thought of
recapitulating in her memory all that had ever passed between Mr
Moffat and herself, she would have found that it did not amount to
more than the most ordinary conversation between chance partners
in a ball-room. Nevertheless, she was to be Mrs Moffat. All that Mr
Gresham knew of him was, that when he met the young man for the first
and only time in his life, he found him extremely hard to deal with
in the matter of money. He had insisted on having ten thousand pounds
with his wife, and at last refused to go on with the match unless
he got six thousand pounds. This latter sum the poor squire had
undertaken to pay him.

Mr Moffat had been for a year or two M.P. for Barchester; having
been assisted in his views on that ancient city by all the de
Courcy interest. He was a Whig, of course. Not only had Barchester,
departing from the light of other days, returned a Whig member of
Parliament, but it was declared, that at the next election, now near
at hand, a Radical would be sent up, a man pledged to the ballot, to
economies of all sorts, one who would carry out Barchester politics
in all their abrupt, obnoxious, pestilent virulence. This was one
Scatcherd, a great railway contractor, a man who was a native of
Barchester, who had bought property in the neighbourhood, and who had
achieved a sort of popularity there and elsewhere by the violence of
his democratic opposition to the aristocracy. According to this man's
political tenets, the Conservatives should be laughed at as fools,



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