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Tantissimi classici della letteratura e della cultura politica, economica e scientifica in lingua inglese con audio di ReadSpeaker e traduttore automatico interattivo FGA Translate

  1. Abbe Prevost - MANON LESCAUT
  2. Alcott, Louisa M. - AN OLDFASHIONED GIRL
  3. Alcott, Louisa M. - LITTLE MEN
  4. Alcott, Louisa M. - LITTLE WOMEN
  5. Alcott, Louisa May - JACK AND JILL
  6. Alcott, Louisa May - LIFE LETTERS AND JOURNALS
  7. Andersen, Hans Christian - FAIRY TALES
  8. Anonimo - BEOWULF
  9. Ariosto, Ludovico - ORLANDO ENRAGED
  10. Aurelius, Marcus - MEDITATIONS
  11. Austen, Jane - EMMA
  12. Austen, Jane - MANSFIELD PARK
  13. Austen, Jane - NORTHANGER ABBEY
  14. Austen, Jane - PERSUASION
  15. Austen, Jane - PRIDE AND PREJUDICE
  16. Austen, Jane - SENSE AND SENSIBILITY
  17. Authors, Various - LETTERS OF ABELARD AND HELOISE
  18. Authors, Various - SELECTED ENGLISH LETTERS
  19. Autori Vari - THE WORLD ENGLISH BIBLE
  20. Bacon, Francis - THE ADVANCEMENT OF LEARNING
  21. Balzac, Honore de - EUGENIE GRANDET
  22. Balzac, Honore de - FATHER GORIOT
  23. Baroness Orczy - THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL
  24. Barrie, J. M. - PETER AND WENDY
  25. Barrie, James M. - PETER PAN
  26. Bierce, Ambrose - THE DEVIL'S DICTIONARY
  27. Blake, William - SONGS OF INNOCENCE AND EXPERIENCE
  28. Boccaccio, Giovanni - DECAMERONE
  29. Brent, Linda - INCIDENTS IN THE LIFE OF A SLAVE GIRL
  30. Bronte, Charlotte - JANE EYRE
  31. Bronte, Charlotte - VILLETTE
  32. Buchan, John - GREENMANTLE
  33. Buchan, John - MR STANDFAST
  34. Buchan, John - THE 39 STEPS
  35. Bunyan, John - THE PILGRIM'S PROGRESS
  36. Burckhardt, Jacob - THE CIVILIZATION OF THE RENAISSANCE IN ITALY
  37. Burnett, Frances H. - A LITTLE PRINCESS
  38. Burnett, Frances H. - LITTLE LORD FAUNTLEROY
  39. Burnett, Frances H. - THE SECRET GARDEN
  40. Butler, Samuel - EREWHON
  41. Carlyle, Thomas - PAST AND PRESENT
  42. Carlyle, Thomas - THE FRENCH REVOLUTION
  43. Cellini, Benvenuto - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
  44. Cervantes - DON QUIXOTE
  45. Chaucer, Geoffrey - THE CANTERBURY TALES
  46. Chesterton, G. K. - A SHORT HISTORY OF ENGLAND
  47. Chesterton, G. K. - THE BALLAD OF THE WHITE HORSE
  48. Chesterton, G. K. - THE INNOCENCE OF FATHER BROWN
  49. Chesterton, G. K. - THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH
  50. Chesterton, G. K. - THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
  51. Chesterton, G. K. - THE WISDOM OF FATHER BROWN
  52. Chesterton, G. K. - TWELVE TYPES
  53. Chesterton, G. K. - WHAT I SAW IN AMERICA
  54. Chesterton, Gilbert K. - HERETICS
  55. Chopin, Kate - AT FAULT
  56. Chopin, Kate - BAYOU FOLK
  57. Chopin, Kate - THE AWAKENING AND SELECTED SHORT STORIES
  58. Clark Hall, John R. - A CONCISE ANGLOSAXON DICTIONARY
  59. Clarkson, Thomas - AN ESSAY ON THE SLAVERY AND COMMERCE OF THE HUMAN SPECIES
  60. Clausewitz, Carl von - ON WAR
  61. Coleridge, Herbert - A DICTIONARY OF THE FIRST OR OLDEST WORDS IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE
  62. Coleridge, S. T. - COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS
  63. Coleridge, S. T. - HINTS TOWARDS THE FORMATION OF A MORE COMPREHENSIVE THEORY OF LIFE
  64. Coleridge, S. T. - THE RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER
  65. Collins, Wilkie - THE MOONSTONE
  66. Collodi - PINOCCHIO
  67. Conan Doyle, Arthur - A STUDY IN SCARLET
  68. Conan Doyle, Arthur - MEMOIRS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
  69. Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES
  70. Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE RETURN OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
  71. Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE SIGN OF THE FOUR
  72. Conrad, Joseph - HEART OF DARKNESS
  73. Conrad, Joseph - LORD JIM
  74. Conrad, Joseph - NOSTROMO
  75. Conrad, Joseph - THE NIGGER OF THE NARCISSUS
  76. Conrad, Joseph - TYPHOON
  77. Crane, Stephen - LAST WORDS
  78. Crane, Stephen - MAGGIE
  79. Crane, Stephen - THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE
  80. Crane, Stephen - WOUNDS IN THE RAIN
  81. Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: HELL
  82. Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: PARADISE
  83. Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: PURGATORY
  84. Darwin, Charles - THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF CHARLES DARWIN
  85. Darwin, Charles - THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES
  86. Defoe, Daniel - A GENERAL HISTORY OF THE PYRATES
  87. Defoe, Daniel - A JOURNAL OF THE PLAGUE YEAR
  88. Defoe, Daniel - CAPTAIN SINGLETON
  89. Defoe, Daniel - MOLL FLANDERS
  90. Defoe, Daniel - ROBINSON CRUSOE
  91. Defoe, Daniel - THE COMPLETE ENGLISH TRADESMAN
  92. Defoe, Daniel - THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF ROBINSON CRUSOE
  93. Deledda, Grazia - AFTER THE DIVORCE
  94. Dickens, Charles - A CHRISTMAS CAROL
  95. Dickens, Charles - A TALE OF TWO CITIES
  96. Dickens, Charles - BLEAK HOUSE
  97. Dickens, Charles - DAVID COPPERFIELD
  98. Dickens, Charles - DONBEY AND SON
  99. Dickens, Charles - GREAT EXPECTATIONS
  100. Dickens, Charles - HARD TIMES
  101. Dickens, Charles - LETTERS VOLUME 1
  102. Dickens, Charles - LITTLE DORRIT
  103. Dickens, Charles - MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT
  104. Dickens, Charles - NICHOLAS NICKLEBY
  105. Dickens, Charles - OLIVER TWIST
  106. Dickens, Charles - OUR MUTUAL FRIEND
  107. Dickens, Charles - PICTURES FROM ITALY
  108. Dickens, Charles - THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD
  109. Dickens, Charles - THE OLD CURIOSITY SHOP
  110. Dickens, Charles - THE PICKWICK PAPERS
  111. Dickinson, Emily - POEMS
  112. Dostoevsky, Fyodor - CRIME AND PUNISHMENT
  113. Dostoyevsky, Fyodor - THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV
  114. Du Maurier, George - TRILBY
  115. Dumas, Alexandre - THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO
  116. Dumas, Alexandre - THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK
  117. Dumas, Alexandre - THE THREE MUSKETEERS
  118. Eliot, George - DANIEL DERONDA
  119. Eliot, George - MIDDLEMARCH
  120. Eliot, George - SILAS MARNER
  121. Eliot, George - THE MILL ON THE FLOSS
  122. Engels, Frederick - THE CONDITION OF THE WORKING-CLASS IN ENGLAND IN 1844
  123. Equiano - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
  124. Esopo - FABLES
  125. Fenimore Cooper, James - THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS
  126. Fielding, Henry - TOM JONES
  127. France, Anatole - THAIS
  128. France, Anatole - THE GODS ARE ATHIRST
  129. France, Anatole - THE LIFE OF JOAN OF ARC
  130. France, Anatole - THE SEVEN WIVES OF BLUEBEARD
  131. Frank Baum, L. - THE PATCHWORK GIRL OF OZ
  132. Frank Baum, L. - THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ
  133. Franklin, Benjamin - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
  134. Frazer, James George - THE GOLDEN BOUGH
  135. Freud, Sigmund - DREAM PSYCHOLOGY
  136. Galsworthy, John - COMPLETE PLAYS
  137. Galsworthy, John - STRIFE
  138. Galsworthy, John - STUDIES AND ESSAYS
  139. Galsworthy, John - THE FIRST AND THE LAST
  140. Galsworthy, John - THE FORSYTE SAGA
  141. Galsworthy, John - THE LITTLE MAN
  142. Galsworthy, John - THE SILVER BOX
  143. Galsworthy, John - THE SKIN GAME
  144. Gaskell, Elizabeth - CRANFORD
  145. Gaskell, Elizabeth - MARY BARTON
  146. Gaskell, Elizabeth - NORTH AND SOUTH
  147. Gaskell, Elizabeth - THE LIFE OF CHARLOTTE BRONTE
  148. Gay, John - THE BEGGAR'S OPERA
  149. Gentile, Maria - THE ITALIAN COOK BOOK
  150. Gilbert and Sullivan - PLAYS
  151. Goethe - FAUST
  152. Gogol - DEAD SOULS
  153. Goldsmith, Oliver - SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER
  154. Goldsmith, Oliver - THE VICAR OF WAKEFIELD
  155. Grahame, Kenneth - THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS
  156. Grimm, Brothers - FAIRY TALES
  157. Harding, A. R. - GINSENG AND OTHER MEDICINAL PLANTS
  158. Hardy, Thomas - A CHANGED MAN AND OTHER TALES
  159. Hardy, Thomas - FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD
  160. Hardy, Thomas - JUDE THE OBSCURE
  161. Hardy, Thomas - TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES
  162. Hardy, Thomas - THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE
  163. Hartley, Cecil B. - THE GENTLEMEN'S BOOK OF ETIQUETTE
  164. Hawthorne, Nathaniel - LITTLE MASTERPIECES
  165. Hawthorne, Nathaniel - THE SCARLET LETTER
  166. Henry VIII - LOVE LETTERS TO ANNE BOLEYN
  167. Henry, O. - CABBAGES AND KINGS
  168. Henry, O. - SIXES AND SEVENS
  169. Henry, O. - THE FOUR MILLION
  170. Henry, O. - THE TRIMMED LAMP
  171. Henry, O. - WHIRLIGIGS
  172. Hindman Miller, Gustavus - TEN THOUSAND DREAMS INTERPRETED
  173. Hobbes, Thomas - LEVIATHAN
  174. Homer - THE ILIAD
  175. Homer - THE ODYSSEY
  176. Hornaday, William T. - THE EXTERMINATION OF THE AMERICAN BISON
  177. Hume, David - A TREATISE OF HUMAN NATURE
  178. Hume, David - AN ENQUIRY CONCERNING HUMAN UNDERSTANDING
  179. Hume, David - DIALOGUES CONCERNING NATURAL RELIGION
  180. Ibsen, Henrik - A DOLL'S HOUSE
  181. Ibsen, Henrik - AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE
  182. Ibsen, Henrik - GHOSTS
  183. Ibsen, Henrik - HEDDA GABLER
  184. Ibsen, Henrik - JOHN GABRIEL BORKMAN
  185. Ibsen, Henrik - ROSMERHOLM
  186. Ibsen, Henrik - THE LADY FROM THE SEA
  187. Ibsen, Henrik - THE MASTER BUILDER
  188. Ibsen, Henrik - WHEN WE DEAD AWAKEN
  189. Irving, Washington - THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW
  190. James, Henry - ITALIAN HOURS
  191. James, Henry - THE ASPERN PAPERS
  192. James, Henry - THE BOSTONIANS
  193. James, Henry - THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY
  194. James, Henry - THE TURN OF THE SCREW
  195. James, Henry - WASHINGTON SQUARE
  196. Jerome, Jerome K. - THREE MEN IN A BOAT
  197. Jerome, Jerome K. - THREE MEN ON THE BUMMEL
  198. Jevons, Stanley - POLITICAL ECONOMY
  199. Johnson, Samuel - A GRAMMAR OF THE ENGLISH TONGUE
  200. Jonson, Ben - THE ALCHEMIST
  201. Jonson, Ben - VOLPONE
  202. Joyce, James - A PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG MAN
  203. Joyce, James - CHAMBER MUSIC
  204. Joyce, James - DUBLINERS
  205. Joyce, James - ULYSSES
  206. Keats, John - ENDYMION
  207. Keats, John - POEMS PUBLISHED IN 1817
  208. Keats, John - POEMS PUBLISHED IN 1820
  209. King James - THE BIBLE
  210. Kipling, Rudyard - CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS
  211. Kipling, Rudyard - INDIAN TALES
  212. Kipling, Rudyard - JUST SO STORIES
  213. Kipling, Rudyard - KIM
  214. Kipling, Rudyard - THE JUNGLE BOOK
  215. Kipling, Rudyard - THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING
  216. Kipling, Rudyard - THE SECOND JUNGLE BOOK
  217. Lawrence, D. H - THE RAINBOW
  218. Lawrence, D. H - THE WHITE PEACOCK
  219. Lawrence, D. H - TWILIGHT IN ITALY
  220. Lawrence, D. H. - AARON'S ROD
  221. Lawrence, D. H. - SONS AND LOVERS
  222. Lawrence, D. H. - THE LOST GIRL
  223. Lawrence, D. H. - WOMEN IN LOVE
  224. Lear, Edward - BOOK OF NONSENSE
  225. Lear, Edward - LAUGHABLE LYRICS
  226. Lear, Edward - MORE NONSENSE
  227. Lear, Edward - NONSENSE SONG
  228. Leblanc, Maurice - ARSENE LUPIN VS SHERLOCK HOLMES
  229. Leblanc, Maurice - THE ADVENTURES OF ARSENE LUPIN
  230. Leblanc, Maurice - THE CONFESSIONS OF ARSENE LUPIN
  231. Leblanc, Maurice - THE HOLLOW NEEDLE
  232. Leblanc, Maurice - THE RETURN OF ARSENE LUPIN
  233. Lehmann, Lilli - HOW TO SING
  234. Leroux, Gaston - THE MAN WITH THE BLACK FEATHER
  235. Leroux, Gaston - THE MYSTERY OF THE YELLOW ROOM
  236. Leroux, Gaston - THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
  237. London, Jack - MARTIN EDEN
  238. London, Jack - THE CALL OF THE WILD
  239. London, Jack - WHITE FANG
  240. Machiavelli, Nicolo' - THE PRINCE
  241. Malthus, Thomas - PRINCIPLE OF POPULATION
  242. Mansfield, Katherine - THE GARDEN PARTY AND OTHER STORIES
  243. Marlowe, Christopher - THE JEW OF MALTA
  244. Marryat, Captain - THE CHILDREN OF THE NEW FOREST
  245. Maupassant, Guy De - BEL AMI
  246. Melville, Hermann - MOBY DICK
  247. Melville, Hermann - TYPEE
  248. Mill, John Stuart - PRINCIPLES OF POLITICAL ECONOMY
  249. Milton, John - PARADISE LOST
  250. Mitra, S. M. - HINDU TALES FROM THE SANSKRIT
  251. Montaigne, Michel de - ESSAYS
  252. Montgomery, Lucy Maud - ANNE OF GREEN GABLES
  253. More, Thomas - UTOPIA
  254. Nesbit, E. - FIVE CHILDREN AND IT
  255. Nesbit, E. - THE PHOENIX AND THE CARPET
  256. Nesbit, E. - THE RAILWAY CHILDREN
  257. Nesbit, E. - THE STORY OF THE AMULET
  258. Newton, Isaac - OPTICKS
  259. Nietsche, Friedrich - BEYOND GOOD AND EVIL
  260. Nietsche, Friedrich - THUS SPAKE ZARATHUSTRA
  261. Nightingale, Florence - NOTES ON NURSING
  262. Owen, Wilfred - POEMS
  263. Ozaki, Yei Theodora - JAPANESE FAIRY TALES
  264. Pascal, Blaise - PENSEES
  265. Pellico, Silvio - MY TEN YEARS IMPRISONMENT
  266. Perrault, Charles - FAIRY TALES
  267. Pirandello, Luigi - THREE PLAYS
  268. Plato - THE REPUBLIC
  269. Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 1
  270. Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 2
  271. Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 3
  272. Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 4
  273. Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 5
  274. Poe, Edgar Allan - THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER
  275. Potter, Beatrix - THE TALE OF PETER RABBIT
  276. Proust, Marcel - SWANN'S WAY
  277. Radcliffe, Ann - A SICILIAN ROMANCE
  278. Ricardo, David - ON THE PRINCIPLES OF POLITICAL ECONOMY AND TAXATION
  279. Richardson, Samuel - PAMELA
  280. Rider Haggard, H. - ALLAN QUATERMAIN
  281. Rider Haggard, H. - KING SOLOMON'S MINES
  282. Rousseau, J. J. - THE ORIGIN AND FOUNDATION OF INEQUALITY AMONG MANKIND
  283. Ruskin, John - THE SEVEN LAMPS OF ARCHITECTURE
  284. Schiller, Friedrich - THE DEATH OF WALLENSTEIN
  285. Schiller, Friedrich - THE PICCOLOMINI
  286. Schopenhauer, Arthur - THE ART OF CONTROVERSY
  287. Schopenhauer, Arthur - THE WISDOM OF LIFE
  288. Scott Fitzgerald, F. - FLAPPERS AND PHILOSOPHERS
  289. Scott Fitzgerald, F. - TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE
  290. Scott Fitzgerald, F. - THE BEAUTIFUL AND DAMNED
  291. Scott Fitzgerald, F. - THIS SIDE OF PARADISE
  292. Scott, Walter - IVANHOE
  293. Scott, Walter - QUENTIN DURWARD
  294. Scott, Walter - ROB ROY
  295. Scott, Walter - THE BRIDE OF LAMMERMOOR
  296. Scott, Walter - WAVERLEY
  297. Sedgwick, Anne Douglas - THE THIRD WINDOW
  298. Sewell, Anna - BLACK BEAUTY
  299. Shakespeare, William - COMPLETE WORKS
  300. Shakespeare, William - HAMLET
  301. Shakespeare, William - OTHELLO
  302. Shakespeare, William - ROMEO AND JULIET
  303. Shelley, Mary - FRANKENSTEIN
  304. Shelley, Percy Bysshe - A DEFENCE OF POETRY AND OTHER ESSAYS
  305. Shelley, Percy Bysshe - COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS
  306. Sheridan, Richard B. - THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL
  307. Sienkiewicz, Henryk - QUO VADIS
  308. Smith, Adam - THE WEALTH OF NATIONS
  309. Smollett, Tobias - TRAVELS THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY
  310. Spencer, Herbert - ESSAYS ON EDUCATION AND KINDRED SUBJECTS
  311. Spyri, Johanna - HEIDI
  312. Sterne, Laurence - A SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY
  313. Sterne, Laurence - TRISTRAM SHANDY
  314. Stevenson, Robert Louis - A CHILD'S GARDEN OF VERSES
  315. Stevenson, Robert Louis - ESSAYS IN THE ART OF WRITING
  316. Stevenson, Robert Louis - KIDNAPPED
  317. Stevenson, Robert Louis - NEW ARABIAN NIGHTS
  318. Stevenson, Robert Louis - THE BLACK ARROW
  319. Stevenson, Robert Louis - THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE
  320. Stevenson, Robert Louis - TREASURE ISLAND
  321. Stoker, Bram - DRACULA
  322. Strindberg, August - LUCKY PEHR
  323. Strindberg, August - MASTER OLOF
  324. Strindberg, August - THE RED ROOM
  325. Strindberg, August - THE ROAD TO DAMASCUS
  326. Strindberg, August - THERE ARE CRIMES AND CRIMES
  327. Swift, Jonathan - A MODEST PROPOSAL
  328. Swift, Jonathan - A TALE OF A TUB
  329. Swift, Jonathan - GULLIVER'S TRAVELS
  330. Swift, Jonathan - THE BATTLE OF THE BOOKS AND OTHER SHORT PIECES
  331. Tagore, Rabindranath - FRUIT GATHERING
  332. Tagore, Rabindranath - THE GARDENER
  333. Tagore, Rabindranath - THE HUNGRY STONES AND OTHER STORIES
  334. Thackeray, William - BARRY LYNDON
  335. Thackeray, William - VANITY FAIR
  336. Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE BOOK OF SNOBS
  337. Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE ROSE AND THE RING
  338. Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE VIRGINIANS
  339. Thoreau, Henry David - WALDEN
  340. Tolstoi, Leo - A LETTER TO A HINDU
  341. Tolstoy, Lev - ANNA KARENINA
  342. Tolstoy, Lev - WAR AND PEACE
  343. Trollope, Anthony - AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY
  344. Trollope, Anthony - BARCHESTER TOWERS
  345. Trollope, Anthony - FRAMLEY PARSONAGE
  346. Trollope, Anthony - THE EUSTACE DIAMONDS
  347. Trollope, Anthony - THE MAN WHO KEPT HIS MONEY IN A BOX
  348. Trollope, Anthony - THE WARDEN
  349. Trollope, Anthony - THE WAY WE LIVE NOW
  350. Twain, Mark - LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI
  351. Twain, Mark - SPEECHES
  352. Twain, Mark - THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN
  353. Twain, Mark - THE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER
  354. Twain, Mark - THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER
  355. Vari, Autori - THE MAGNA CARTA
  356. Verga, Giovanni - SICILIAN STORIES
  357. Verne, Jules - 20000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS
  358. Verne, Jules - A JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH
  359. Verne, Jules - ALL AROUND THE MOON
  360. Verne, Jules - AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS
  361. Verne, Jules - FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON
  362. Verne, Jules - FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON
  363. Verne, Jules - MICHAEL STROGOFF
  364. Verne, Jules - THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
  365. Voltaire - PHILOSOPHICAL DICTIONARY
  366. Vyasa - MAHABHARATA
  367. Wallace, Edgar - SANDERS OF THE RIVER
  368. Wallace, Edgar - THE DAFFODIL MYSTERY
  369. Wallace, Lew - BEN HUR
  370. Webster, Jean - DADDY LONG LEGS
  371. Wedekind, Franz - THE AWAKENING OF SPRING
  372. Wells, H. G. - KIPPS
  373. Wells, H. G. - THE INVISIBLE MAN
  374. Wells, H. G. - THE ISLAND OF DOCTOR MOREAU
  375. Wells, H. G. - THE STOLEN BACILLUS AND OTHER INCIDENTS
  376. Wells, H. G. - THE TIME MACHINE
  377. Wells, H. G. - THE WAR OF THE WORLDS
  378. Wells, H. G. - WHAT IS COMING
  379. Wharton, Edith - THE AGE OF INNOCENCE
  380. White, Andrew Dickson - FIAT MONEY INFLATION IN FRANCE
  381. Wilde, Oscar - A WOMAN OF NO IMPORTANCE
  382. Wilde, Oscar - AN IDEAL HUSBAND
  383. Wilde, Oscar - DE PROFUNDIS
  384. Wilde, Oscar - LADY WINDERMERE'S FAN
  385. Wilde, Oscar - SALOME
  386. Wilde, Oscar - SELECTED POEMS
  387. Wilde, Oscar - THE BALLAD OF READING GAOL
  388. Wilde, Oscar - THE CANTERVILLE GHOST
  389. Wilde, Oscar - THE HAPPY PRINCE AND OTHER TALES
  390. Wilde, Oscar - THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST
  391. Wilde, Oscar - THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GREY
  392. Wilde, Oscar - THE SOUL OF MAN
  393. Wilson, Epiphanius - SACRED BOOKS OF THE EAST
  394. Wollstonecraft, Mary - A VINDICATION OF THE RIGHTS OF WOMAN
  395. Woolf, Virgina - NIGHT AND DAY
  396. Woolf, Virgina - THE VOYAGE OUT
  397. Woolf, Virginia - JACOB'S ROOM
  398. Woolf, Virginia - MONDAY OR TUESDAY
  399. Wordsworth, William - POEMS
  400. Wordsworth, William - PROSE WORKS
  401. Zola, Emile - THERESE RAQUIN

 




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Anthony Trollope
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FRAMLEY PARSONAGE

by ANTHONY TROLLOPE

CONTENTS

I. "OMNES OMNIA BONA DICERE." II. THE FRAMLEY SET, AND THE CHALDICOTES SET. III. CHALDICOTES. IV. A MATTER OF CONSCIENCE. V. AMANTIUM IRÆ AMORIS INTEGRATIO. VI. MR. HAROLD SMITH'S LECTURE. VII. SUNDAY MORNING. VIII. GATHERUM CASTLE. IX. THE VICAR'S RETURN. X. LUCY ROBARTS. XI. GRISELDA GRANTLY. XII. THE LITTLE BILL. XIII. DELICATE HINTS. XIV. MR. CRAWLEY OF HOGGLESTOCK. XV. LADY LUFTON'S AMBASSADOR. XVI. MRS. PODGENS' BABY. XVII. MRS. PROUDIE'S CONVERSAZIONE. XVIII. THE NEW MINISTER'S PATRONAGE. XIX. MONEY DEALINGS. XX. HAROLD SMITH IN THE CABINET. XXI. WHY PUCK, THE PONY, WAS BEATEN. XXII. HOGGLESTOCK PARSONAGE. XXIII. THE TRIUMPH OF THE GIANTS. XXIV. MAGNA EST VERITAS. XXV. NON-IMPULSIVE. XXVI. IMPULSIVE. XXVII. SOUTH AUDLEY STREET. XXVIII. DR. THORNE. XXIX. MISS DUNSTABLE AT HOME. XXX. THE GRANTLY TRIUMPH. XXXI. SALMON FISHING IN NORWAY. XXXII. THE GOAT AND COMPASSES. XXXIII. CONSOLATION. XXXIV. LADY LUFTON IS TAKEN BY SURPRISE. XXXV. THE STORY OF KING COPHETUA. XXXVI. KIDNAPPING AT HOGGLESTOCK. XXXVII. MR. SOWERBY WITHOUT COMPANY. XXXVIII. IS THERE CAUSE OR JUST IMPEDIMENT? XXXIX. HOW TO WRITE A LOVE LETTER. LX. INTERNECINE. LXI. DON QUIXOTE. LXII. TOUCHING PITCH. LXIII. IS SHE NOT INSIGNIFICANT? LXIV. THE PHILISTINES AT THE PARSONAGE. LXV. PALACE BLESSINGS. LXVI. LADY LUFTON'S REQUEST. LXVII. NEMESIS. LXVIII. HOW THEY WERE ALL MARRIED, HAD TWO CHILDREN, AND LIVED HAPPY EVER AFTER.

ILLUSTRATIONS

LORD LUFTON AND LUCY ROBARTS. CHAPTER XI. "WAS IT NOT A LIE?" CHAPTER XVI. THE CRAWLEY FAMILY. CHAPTER XXII. LADY LUFTON AND THE DUKE OF OMNIUM. CHAPTER XXIX. MRS. GRESHAM AND MISS DUNSTABLE. CHAPTER XXXVIII. "MARK," SHE SAID, "THE MEN ARE HERE." CHAPTER XLIV.

CHAPTER I.

"OMNES OMNIA BONA DICERE."

When young Mark Robarts was leaving college, his father might well declare that all men began to say all good things to him, and to extol his fortune in that he had a son blessed with so excellent a disposition.

This father was a physician living at Exeter. He was a gentleman possessed of no private means, but enjoying a lucrative practice, which had enabled him to maintain and educate a family with all the advantages which money can give in this country. Mark was his eldest son and second child; and the first page or two of this narrative must be consumed in giving a catalogue of the good things which chance and conduct together had heaped upon this young man's head.

His first step forward in life had arisen from his having been sent, while still very young, as a private pupil to the house of a clergyman, who was an old friend and intimate friend of his father's. This clergyman had one other, and only one other, pupil--the young Lord Lufton; and between the two boys, there had sprung up a close alliance.

While they were both so placed, Lady Lufton had visited her son, and then invited young Robarts to pass his next holidays at Framley Court. This visit was made; and it ended in Mark going back to Exeter with a letter full of praise from the widowed peeress. She had been delighted, she said, in having such a companion for her son, and expressed a hope that the boys might remain together during the course of their education. Dr. Robarts was a man who thought much of the breath of peers and peeresses, and was by no means inclined to throw away any advantage which might arise to his child from such a friendship. When, therefore, the young lord was sent to Harrow, Mark Robarts went there also.

That the lord and his friend often quarrelled, and occasionally fought,--the fact even that for one period of three months they never spoke to each other--by no means interfered with the doctor's hopes. Mark again and again stayed a fortnight at Framley Court, and Lady Lufton always wrote about him in the highest terms.

And then the lads went together to Oxford, and here Mark's good fortune followed him, consisting rather in the highly respectable manner in which he lived, than in any wonderful career of collegiate success. His family was proud of him, and the doctor was always ready to talk of him to his patients; not because he was a prizeman, and had gotten medals and scholarships, but on account of the excellence of his general conduct. He lived with the best set--he incurred no debts--he was fond of society, but able to avoid low society--liked his glass of wine, but was never known to be drunk; and, above all things, was one of the most popular men in the university.

Then came the question of a profession for this young Hyperion, and on this subject, Dr. Robarts was invited himself to go over to Framley Court to discuss the matter with Lady Lufton. Dr. Robarts returned with a very strong conception that the Church was the profession best suited to his son.

Lady Lufton had not sent for Dr. Robarts all the way from Exeter for nothing. The living of Framley was in the gift of the Lufton family, and the next presentation would be in Lady Lufton's hands, if it should fall vacant before the young lord was twenty-five years of age, and in the young lord's hands if it should fall afterwards. But the mother and the heir consented to give a joint promise to Dr. Robarts. Now, as the present incumbent was over seventy, and as the living was worth £900 a year, there could be no doubt as to the eligibility of the clerical profession.

And I must further say, that the dowager and the doctor were justified in their choice by the life and principles of the young man--as far as any father can be justified in choosing such a profession for his son, and as far as any lay impropriator can be justified in making such a promise. Had Lady Lufton had a second son, that second son would probably have had the living, and no one would have thought it wrong;--certainly not if that second son had been such a one as Mark Robarts.

Lady Lufton herself was a woman who thought much on religious matters, and would by no means have been disposed to place any one in a living, merely because such a one had been her son's friend. Her tendencies were High Church, and she was enabled to perceive that those of young Mark Robarts ran in the same direction. She was very desirous that her son should make an associate of his clergyman, and by this step she would insure, at any rate, that. She was anxious that the parish vicar should be one with whom she could herself fully co-operate, and was perhaps unconsciously wishful that he might in some measure be subject to her influence. Should she appoint an elder man, this might probably not be the case to the same extent; and should her son have the gift, it might probably not be the case at all. And therefore it was resolved that the living should be given to young Robarts.

He took his degree--not with any brilliancy, but quite in the manner that his father desired; he then travelled for eight or ten months with Lord Lufton and a college don, and almost immediately after his return home was ordained.

The living of Framley is in the diocese of Barchester; and, seeing what were Mark's hopes with reference to that diocese, it was by no means difficult to get him a curacy within it. But this curacy he was not allowed long to fill. He had not been in it above a twelvemonth, when poor old Dr. Stopford, the then vicar of Framley, was gathered to his fathers, and the full fruition of his rich hopes fell upon his shoulders.

But even yet more must be told of his good fortune before we can come to the actual incidents of our story. Lady Lufton, who, as I have said, thought much of clerical matters, did not carry her High Church principles so far as to advocate celibacy for the clergy. On the contrary, she had an idea that a man could not be a good parish parson without a wife. So, having given to her favourite a position in the world, and an income sufficient for a gentleman's wants, she set herself to work to find him a partner in those blessings.

And here also, as in other matters, he fell in with the views of his patroness--not, however, that they were declared to him in that marked manner in which the affair of the living had been broached. Lady Lufton was much too highly gifted with woman's craft for that. She never told the young vicar that Miss Monsell accompanied her ladyship's married daughter to Framley Court expressly that he, Mark, might fall in love with her; but such was in truth the case.

Lady Lufton had but two children. The eldest, a daughter, had been married some four or five years to Sir George Meredith, and this Miss Monsell was a dear friend of hers. And now looms before me the novelist's great difficulty. Miss Monsell,--or, rather, Mrs. Mark Robarts,--must be described. As Miss Monsell, our tale will have to take no prolonged note of her. And yet we will call her Fanny Monsell, when we declare that she was one of the pleasantest companions that could be brought near to a man, as the future partner of his home, and owner of his heart. And if high principles without asperity, female gentleness without weakness, a love of laughter without malice, and a true loving heart, can qualify a woman to be a parson's wife, then was Fanny Monsell qualified to fill that station.

In person she was somewhat larger than common. Her face would have been beautiful but that her mouth was large. Her hair, which was copious, was of a bright brown; her eyes also were brown, and, being so, were the distinctive feature of her face, for brown eyes are not common. They were liquid, large, and full either of tenderness or of mirth. Mark Robarts still had his accustomed luck, when such a girl as this was brought to Framley for his wooing.

And he did woo her--and won her. For Mark himself was a handsome fellow. At this time the vicar was about twenty-five years of age, and the future Mrs. Robarts was two or three years younger. Nor did she come quite empty-handed to the vicarage. It cannot be said that Fanny Monsell was an heiress, but she had been left with a provision of some few thousand pounds. This was so settled, that the interest of his wife's money paid the heavy insurance on his life which young Robarts effected, and there was left to him, over and above, sufficient to furnish his parsonage in the very best style of clerical comfort,--and to start him on the road of life rejoicing.

So much did Lady Lufton do for her "protégé", and it may well be imagined that the Devonshire physician, sitting meditative over his parlour fire, looking back, as men will look back on the upshot of their life, was well contented with that upshot, as regarded his eldest offshoot, the Rev. Mark Robarts, the vicar of Framley.

But little has as yet been said, personally, as to our hero himself, and perhaps it may not be necessary to say much. Let us hope that by degrees he may come forth upon the canvas, showing to the beholder the nature of the man inwardly and outwardly. Here it may suffice to say that he was no born heaven's cherub, neither was he a born fallen devil's spirit. Such as his training made him, such he was. He had large capabilities for good--and aptitudes also for evil, quite enough: quite enough to make it needful that he should repel temptation as temptation only can be repelled. Much had been done to spoil him, but in the ordinary acceptation of the word he was not spoiled. He had too much tact, too much common sense, to believe himself to be the paragon which his mother thought him. Self-conceit was not, perhaps, his greatest danger. Had he possessed more of it, he might have been a less agreeable man, but his course before him might on that account have been the safer.

In person he was manly, tall, and fair-haired, with a square forehead, denoting intelligence rather than thought, with clear white hands, filbert nails, and a power of dressing himself in such a manner that no one should ever observe of him that his clothes were either good or bad, shabby or smart.

Such was Mark Robarts when at the age of twenty-five, or a little more, he married Fanny Monsell. The marriage was celebrated in his own church, for Miss Monsell had no home of her own, and had been staying for the last three months at Framley Court. She was given away by Sir George Meredith, and Lady Lufton herself saw that the wedding was what it should be, with almost as much care as she had bestowed on that of her own daughter. The deed of marrying, the absolute tying of the knot, was performed by the Very Reverend the Dean of Barchester, an esteemed friend of Lady Lufton's. And Mrs. Arabin, the dean's wife, was of the party, though the distance from Barchester to Framley is long, and the roads deep, and no railway lends its assistance. And Lord Lufton was there of course; and people protested that he would surely fall in love with one of the four beautiful bridesmaids, of whom Blanche Robarts, the vicar's second sister, was by common acknowledgment by far the most beautiful.

And there was there another and a younger sister of Mark's--who did not officiate at the ceremony, though she was present--and of whom no prediction was made, seeing that she was then only sixteen, but of whom mention is made here, as it will come to pass that my readers will know her hereafter. Her name was Lucy Robarts.

And then the vicar and his wife went off on their wedding tour, the old curate taking care of the Framley souls the while.

And in due time they returned; and after a further interval, in due course, a child was born to them; and then another; and after that came the period at which we will begin our story. But before doing so, may I not assert that all men were right in saying all manner of good things to the Devonshire physician, and in praising his luck in having such a son?

"You were up at the house to-day, I suppose?" said Mark to his wife, as he sat stretching himself in an easy chair in the drawing-room, before the fire, previously to his dressing for dinner. It was a November evening, and he had been out all day, and on such occasions the aptitude for delay in dressing is very powerful. A strong-minded man goes direct from the hall-door to his chamber without encountering the temptation of the drawing-room fire.

"No; but Lady Lufton was down here."

"Full of arguments in favour of Sarah Thompson?"

"Exactly so, Mark."

"And what did you say about Sarah Thompson?"

"Very little as coming from myself; but I did hint that you thought, or that I thought that you thought, that one of the regular trained schoolmistresses would be better."

"But her ladyship did not agree?"

"Well, I won't exactly say that;--though I think that perhaps she did not."

"I am sure she did not. When she has a point to carry, she is very fond of carrying it."

"But then, Mark, her points are generally so good."

"But, you see, in this affair of the school she is thinking more of her "protégée" than she does of the children."

"Tell her that, and I am sure she will give way."

And then again they were both silent. And the vicar having thoroughly warmed himself, as far as this might be done by facing the fire, turned round and began the operation "à tergo".

"Come, Mark, it is twenty minutes past six. Will you go and dress?"

"I'll tell you what, Fanny: she must have her way about Sarah Thompson. You can see her to-morrow and tell her so."

"I am sure, Mark, I would not give way, if I thought it wrong. Nor would she expect it."

"If I persist this time, I shall certainly have to yield the next; and then the next may probably be more important."

"But if it's wrong, Mark?"

"I didn't say it was wrong. Besides, if it is wrong, wrong in some infinitesimal degree, one must put up with it. Sarah Thompson is very respectable; the only question is whether she can teach."

The young wife, though she did not say so, had some idea that her husband was in error. It is true that one must put up with wrong, with a great deal of wrong. But no one need put up with wrong that he can remedy. Why should he, the vicar, consent to receive an incompetent teacher for the parish children, when he was able to procure one that was competent? In such a case,--so thought Mrs. Robarts to herself,--she would have fought the matter out with Lady Lufton.

On the next morning, however, she did as she was bid, and signified to the dowager that all objection to Sarah Thompson would be withdrawn.

"Ah! I was sure he would agree with me," said her ladyship, "when he learned what sort of person she is. I know I had only to explain;"--and then she plumed her feathers, and was very gracious; for, to tell the truth, Lady Lufton did not like to be opposed in things which concerned the parish nearly.

"And, Fanny," said Lady Lufton, in her kindest manner, "you are not going anywhere on Saturday, are you?"

"No, I think not."

"Then you must come to us. Justinia is to be here, you know"--Lady Meredith was named Justinia--"and you and Mr. Robarts had better stay with us till Monday. He can have the little book-room all to himself on Sunday. The Merediths go on Monday; and Justinia won't be happy if you are not with her."

It would be unjust to say that Lady Lufton had determined not to invite the Robartses if she were not allowed to have her own way about Sarah Thompson. But such would have been the result. As it was, however, she was all kindness; and when Mrs. Robarts made some little excuse, saying that she was afraid she must return home in the evening, because of the children, Lady Lufton declared that there was room enough at Framley Court for baby and nurse, and so settled the matter in her own way, with a couple of nods and three taps of her umbrella.

This was on a Tuesday morning, and on the same evening, before dinner, the vicar again seated himself in the same chair before the drawing-room fire, as soon as he had seen his horse led into the stable.

"Mark," said his wife, "the Merediths are to be at Framley on Saturday and Sunday; and I have promised that we will go up and stay over till Monday."

"You don't mean it! Goodness gracious, how provoking!"

"Why? I thought you wouldn't mind it. And Justinia would think it unkind if I were not there."

"You can go, my dear, and of course will go. But as for me, it is impossible."

"But why, love?"

"Why? Just now, at the school-house, I answered a letter that was brought to me from Chaldicotes. Sowerby insists on my going over there for a week or so; and I have said that I would."

"Go to Chaldicotes for a week, Mark?"

"I believe I have even consented to ten days."

"And be away two Sundays?"

"No, Fanny, only one. Don't be so censorious."

"Don't call me censorious, Mark; you know I am not so. But I am so sorry. It is just what Lady Lufton won't like. Besides, you were away in Scotland two Sundays last month."

"In September, Fanny. And that is being censorious."

"Oh, but, Mark, dear Mark; don't say so. You know I don't mean it. But Lady Lufton does not like those Chaldicotes people. You know Lord Lufton was with you the last time you were there; and how annoyed she was!"

"Lord Lufton won't be with me now, for he is still in Scotland. And the reason why I am going is this: Harold Smith and his wife will be there, and I am very anxious to know more of them. I have no doubt that Harold Smith will be in the government some day, and I cannot afford to neglect such a man's acquaintance."

"But, Mark, what do you want of any government?"

"Well, Fanny, of course I am bound to say that I want nothing; neither in one sense do I; but nevertheless, I shall go and meet the Harold Smiths."

"Could you not be back before Sunday?"

"I have promised to preach at Chaldicotes. Harold Smith is going to lecture at Barchester, about the Australasian archipelago, and I am to preach a charity sermon on the same subject. They want to send out more missionaries."

"A charity sermon at Chaldicotes!"

"And why not? The house will be quite full, you know; and I dare say the Arabins will be there."

"I think not; Mrs. Arabin may get on with Mrs. Harold Smith, though I doubt that; but I'm sure she's not fond of Mrs. Smith's brother. I don't think she would stay at Chaldicotes."

"And the bishop will probably be there for a day or two."

"That is much more likely, Mark. If the pleasure of meeting Mrs. Proudie is taking you to Chaldicotes, I have not a word more to say."

"I am not a bit more fond of Mrs. Proudie than you are, Fanny," said the vicar, with something like vexation in the tone of his voice, for he thought that his wife was hard upon him. "But it is generally thought that a parish clergyman does well to meet his bishop now and then. And as I was invited there, especially to preach while all these people are staying at the place, I could not well refuse." And then he got up, and taking his candlestick, escaped to his dressing-room.

"But what am I to say to Lady Lufton?" his wife said to him, in the course of the evening.

"Just write her a note, and tell her that you find I had promised to preach at Chaldicotes next Sunday. You'll go, of course?"

"Yes: but I know she'll be annoyed. You were away the last time she had people there."

"It can't be helped. She must put it down against Sarah Thompson. She ought not to expect to win always."

"I should not have minded it, if she had lost, as you call it, about Sarah Thompson. That was a case in which you ought to have had your own way."

"And this other is a case in which I shall have it. It's a pity that there should be such a difference; isn't it?"

Then the wife perceived that, vexed as she was, it would be better that she should say nothing further; and before she went to bed, she wrote the note to Lady Lufton, as her husband recommended.

CHAPTER II.

THE FRAMLEY SET, AND THE CHALDICOTES SET.

It will be necessary that I should say a word or two of some of the people named in the few preceding pages, and also of the localities in which they lived.

Of Lady Lufton herself enough, perhaps, has been written to introduce her to my readers. The Framley property belonged to her son; but as Lufton Park--an ancient ramshackle place in another county--had heretofore been the family residence of the Lufton family, Framley Court had been apportioned to her for her residence for life. Lord Lufton himself was still unmarried; and as he had no establishment at Lufton Park--which indeed had not been inhabited since his grandfather died--he lived with his mother when it suited him to live anywhere in that neighbourhood. The widow would fain have seen more of him than he allowed her to do. He had a shooting-lodge in Scotland, and apartments in London, and a string of horses in Leicestershire--much to the disgust of the county gentry around him, who held that their own hunting was as good as any that England could afford. His lordship, however, paid his subscription to the East Barsetshire pack, and then thought himself at liberty to follow his own pleasure as to his own amusement.

Framley itself was a pleasant country place, having about it nothing of seignorial dignity or grandeur, but possessing everything necessary for the comfort of country life. The house was a low building of two stories, built at different periods, and devoid of all pretensions to any style of architecture; but the rooms, though not lofty, were warm and comfortable, and the gardens were trim and neat beyond all others in the county. Indeed, it was for its gardens only that Framley Court was celebrated.

Village there was none, properly speaking. The high road went winding about through the Framley paddocks, shrubberies, and wood-skirted home fields, for a mile and a half, not two hundred yards of which ran in a straight line; and there was a cross-road which passed down through the domain, whereby there came to be a locality called Framley Cross. Here stood the "Lufton Arms," and here, at Framley Cross, the hounds occasionally would meet; for the Framley woods were drawn in spite of the young lord's truant disposition; and then, at the Cross also, lived the shoemaker, who kept the post-office.

Framley church was distant from this just a quarter of a mile, and stood immediately opposite to the chief entrance to Framley Court. It was but a mean, ugly building, having been erected about a hundred years since, when all churches then built were made to be mean and ugly; nor was it large enough for the congregation, some of whom were thus driven to the dissenting chapels, the Sions and Ebenezers, which had got themselves established on each side of the parish, in putting down which Lady Lufton thought that her pet parson was hardly as energetic as he might be. It was, therefore, a matter near to Lady Lufton's heart to see a new church built, and she was urgent in her eloquence, both with her son and with the vicar, to have this good work commenced.

Beyond the church, but close to it, were the boys' school and girls' school, two distinct buildings, which owed their erection to Lady Lufton's energy; then came a neat little grocer's shop, the neat grocer being the clerk and sexton, and the neat grocer's wife, the pew-opener in the church. Podgens was their name, and they were great favourites with her ladyship, both having been servants up at the house.

And here the road took a sudden turn to the left, turning, as it were, away from Framley Court; and just beyond the turn was the vicarage, so that there was a little garden path running from the back of the vicarage grounds into the churchyard, cutting the Podgenses off into an isolated corner of their own;--from whence, to tell the truth, the vicar would have been glad to banish them and their cabbages, could he have had the power to do so. For has not the small vineyard of Naboth been always an eyesore to neighbouring potentates?

The potentate in this case had as little excuse as Ahab, for nothing in the parsonage way could be more perfect than his parsonage. It had all the details requisite for the house of a moderate gentleman with moderate means, and none of those expensive superfluities which immoderate gentlemen demand, or which themselves demand--immoderate means. And then the gardens and paddocks were exactly suited to it; and everything was in good order;--not exactly new, so as to be raw and uncovered, and redolent of workmen; but just at that era of their existence in which newness gives way to comfortable homeliness.

Other village at Framley there was none. At the back of the Court, up one of those cross-roads, there was another small shop or two, and there was a very neat cottage residence, in which lived the widow of a former curate, another "protégé" of Lady Lufton's; and there was a big, staring brick house, in which the present curate lived; but this was a full mile distant from the church, and farther from Framley Court, standing on that cross-road which runs from Framley Cross in a direction away from the mansion. This gentleman, the Rev. Evan Jones, might, from his age, have been the vicar's father; but he had been for many years curate of Framley; and though he was personally disliked by Lady Lufton, as being Low Church in his principles, and unsightly in his appearance, nevertheless, she would not urge his removal. He had two or three pupils in that large brick house, and if turned out from these and from his curacy, might find it difficult to establish himself elsewhere. On this account mercy was extended to the Rev. E. Jones, and, in spite of his red face and awkward big feet, he was invited to dine at Framley Court, with his plain daughter, once in every three months.

Over and above these, there was hardly a house in the parish of Framley, outside the bounds of Framley Court, except those of farmers and farm labourers; and yet the parish was of large extent.

Framley is in the eastern division of the county of Barsetshire, which, as all the world knows, is, politically speaking, as true blue a county as any in England. There have been backslidings even here, it is true; but then, in what county have there not been such backslidings? Where, in these pinchbeck days, can we hope to find the old agricultural virtue in all its purity? But, among those backsliders, I regret to say, that men now reckon Lord Lufton. Not that he is a violent Whig, or perhaps that he is a Whig at all. But he jeers and sneers at the old county doings; declares, when solicited on the subject, that, as far as he is concerned, Mr. Bright may sit for the county, if he pleases; and alleges, that being unfortunately a peer, he has no right even to interest himself in the question. All this is deeply regretted, for, in the old days, there was no portion of the county more decidedly true blue than that Framley district; and, indeed, up to the present day, the dowager is able to give an occasional helping hand.

Chaldicotes is the seat of Nathaniel Sowerby, Esq., who, at the moment supposed to be now present, is one of the members for the Western Division of Barsetshire. But this Western Division can boast none of the fine political attributes which grace its twin brother. It is decidedly Whig, and is almost governed in its politics by one or two great Whig families.

It has been said that Mark Robarts was about to pay a visit to Chaldicotes, and it has been hinted that his wife would have been as well pleased had this not been the case. Such was certainly the fact; for she, dear, prudent, excellent wife as she was, knew that Mr. Sowerby was not the most eligible friend in the world for a young clergyman, and knew, also, that there was but one other house in the whole county the name of which was so distasteful to Lady Lufton. The reasons for this were, I may say, manifold. In the first place, Mr. Sowerby was a Whig, and was seated in Parliament mainly by the interest of that great Whig autocrat the Duke of Omnium, whose residence was more dangerous even than that of Mr. Sowerby, and whom Lady Lufton regarded as an impersonation of Lucifer upon earth. Mr. Sowerby, too, was unmarried--as indeed, also, was Lord Lufton, much to his mother's grief. Mr. Sowerby, it is true, was fifty, whereas the young lord was as yet only twenty-six, but, nevertheless, her ladyship was becoming anxious on the subject. In her mind, every man was bound to marry as soon as he could maintain a wife; and she held an idea--a quite private tenet, of which she was herself but imperfectly conscious--that men in general were inclined to neglect this duty for their own selfish gratifications, that the wicked ones encouraged the more innocent in this neglect, and that many would not marry at all, were not an unseen coercion exercised against them by the other sex. The Duke of Omnium was the very head of all such sinners, and Lady Lufton greatly feared that her son might be made subject to the baneful Omnium influence, by means of Mr. Sowerby and Chaldicotes.

And then Mr. Sowerby was known to be a very poor man, with a very large estate. He had wasted, men said, much on electioneering, and more in gambling. A considerable portion of his property had already gone into the hands of the duke, who, as a rule, bought up everything around him that was to be purchased. Indeed it was said of him by his enemies, that so covetous was he of Barsetshire property, that he would lead a young neighbour on to his ruin, in order that he might get his land. What--oh! what if he should come to be possessed in this way of any of the fair acres of Framley Court? What if he should become possessed of them all? It can hardly be wondered at that Lady Lufton should not like Chaldicotes.

The Chaldicotes set, as Lady Lufton called them, were in every way opposed to what a set should be according to her ideas. She liked cheerful, quiet, well-to-do people, who loved their Church, their country, and their Queen, and who were not too anxious to make a noise in the world. She desired that all the farmers round her should be able to pay their rents without trouble, that all the old women should have warm flannel petticoats, that the working men should be saved from rheumatism by healthy food and dry houses, that they should all be obedient to their pastors and masters--temporal as well as spiritual. That was her idea of loving her country. She desired also that the copses should be full of pheasants, the stubble-field of partridges, and the gorse covers of foxes;--in that way, also, she loved her country. She had ardently longed, during that Crimean war, that the Russians might be beaten--but not by the French, to the exclusion of the English, as had seemed to her to be too much the case; and hardly by the English under the dictatorship of Lord Palmerston. Indeed, she had had but little faith in that war after Lord Aberdeen had been expelled. If, indeed, Lord Derby could have come in!

But now as to this Chaldicotes set. After all, there was nothing so very dangerous about them; for it was in London, not in the country, that Mr. Sowerby indulged, if he did indulge, his bachelor mal-practices. Speaking of them as a set, the chief offender was Mr. Harold Smith, or perhaps his wife. He also was a member of Parliament, and, as many thought, a rising man. His father had been for many years a debater in the House, and had held high office. Harold, in early life, had intended himself for the cabinet; and if working hard at his trade could ensure success, he ought to obtain it sooner or later. He had already filled more than one subordinate station, had been at the Treasury, and for a month or two at the Admiralty, astonishing official mankind by his diligence. Those last-named few months had been under Lord Aberdeen, with whom he had been forced to retire. He was a younger son, and not possessed of any large fortune. Politics as a profession was therefore of importance to him. He had in early life married a sister of Mr. Sowerby; and as the lady was some six or seven years older than himself, and had brought with her but a scanty dowry, people thought that in this matter Mr. Harold Smith had not been perspicacious. Mr. Harold Smith was not personally a popular man with any party, though some judged him to be eminently useful. He was laborious, well-informed, and, on the whole, honest; but he was conceited, long-winded, and pompous.

Mrs. Harold Smith was the very opposite of her lord. She was a clever, bright woman, good-looking for her time of life--and she was now over forty--with a keen sense of the value of all worldly things, and a keen relish for all the world's pleasures. She was neither laborious, nor well-informed, nor perhaps altogether honest--what woman ever understood the necessity or recognized the advantage of political honesty?--but then she was neither dull nor pompous, and if she was conceited, she did not show it. She was a disappointed woman, as regards her husband; seeing that she had married him on the speculation that he would at once become politically important; and as yet Mr. Smith had not quite fulfilled the prophecies of his early life.

And Lady Lufton, when she spoke of the Chaldicotes set, distinctly included, in her own mind, the Bishop of Barchester, and his wife and daughter. Seeing that Bishop Proudie was, of course, a man much addicted to religion and to religious thinking, and that Mr. Sowerby himself had no peculiar religious sentiments whatever, there would not at first sight appear to be ground for much intercourse, and perhaps there was not much of such intercourse; but Mrs. Proudie and Mrs. Harold Smith were firm friends of four or five years' standing--ever since the Proudies came into the diocese; and therefore the bishop was usually taken to Chaldicotes whenever Mrs. Smith paid her brother a visit. Now Bishop Proudie was by no means a High Church dignitary, and Lady Lufton had never forgiven him for coming into that diocese. She had, instinctively, a high respect for the episcopal office; but of Bishop Proudie himself she hardly thought better than she did of Mr. Sowerby, or of that fabricator of evil, the Duke of Omnium. Whenever Mr. Robarts would plead that in going anywhere he would have the benefit of meeting the bishop, Lady Lufton would slightly curl her upper lip. She could not say in words, that Bishop Proudie--bishop as he certainly must be called--was no better than he ought to be; but by that curl of her lip she did explain to those who knew her that such was the inner feeling of her heart.

And then it was understood--Mark Robarts, at least, had so heard, and the information soon reached Framley Court--that Mr. Supplehouse was to make one of the Chaldicotes party. Now Mr. Supplehouse was a worse companion for a gentlemanlike, young, High Church, conservative county parson than even Harold Smith. He also was in Parliament, and had been extolled during the early days of that Russian war by some portion of the metropolitan daily press, as the only man who could save the country. Let him be in the ministry, the "Jupiter" had said, and there would be some hope of reform, some chance that England's ancient glory would not be allowed in these perilous times to go headlong to oblivion. And upon this the ministry, not anticipating much salvation from Mr. Supplehouse, but willing, as they usually are, to have the "Jupiter" at their back, did send for that gentleman, and gave him some footing among them. But how can a man born to save a nation, and to lead a people, be content to fill the chair of an under-secretary? Supplehouse was not content, and soon gave it to be understood that his place was much higher than any yet tendered to him. The seals of high office, or war to the knife, was the alternative which he offered to a much-belaboured Head of Affairs--nothing doubting that the Head of Affairs would recognize the claimant's value, and would have before his eyes a wholesome fear of the "Jupiter". But the Head of Affairs, much belaboured as he was, knew that he might pay too high even for Mr. Supplehouse and the "Jupiter"; and the saviour of the nation was told that he might swing his tomahawk. Since that time he had been swinging his tomahawk, but not with so much effect as had been anticipated. He also was very intimate with Mr. Sowerby, and was decidedly one of the Chaldicotes set.

And there were many others included in the stigma whose sins were political or religious rather than moral. But they were gall and wormwood to Lady Lufton, who regarded them as children of the Lost One, and who grieved with a mother's grief when she knew that her son was among them, and felt all a patron's anger when she heard that her clerical "protégé" was about to seek such society. Mrs. Robarts might well say that Lady Lufton would be annoyed.

"You won't call at the house before you go, will you?" the wife asked on the following morning. He was to start after lunch on that day, driving himself in his own gig, so as to reach Chaldicotes, some twenty-four miles distant, before dinner.

"No, I think not. What good should I do?"

"Well, I can't explain; but I think I should call: partly, perhaps, to show her that as I had determined to go, I was not afraid of telling her so."

"Afraid! That's nonsense, Fanny. I'm not afraid of her. But I don't see why I should bring down upon myself the disagreeable things she will say. Besides, I have not time. I must walk up and see Jones about the duties; and then, what with getting ready, I shall have enough to do to get off in time."

He paid his visit to Mr. Jones, the curate, feeling no qualms of conscience there, as he rather boasted of all the members of Parliament he was going to meet, and of the bishop who would be with them. Mr. Evan Jones was only his curate, and in speaking to him on the matter he could talk as though it were quite the proper thing for a vicar to meet his bishop at the house of a county member. And one would be inclined to say that it was proper: only why could he not talk of it in the same tone to Lady Lufton? And then, having kissed his wife and children, he drove off, well pleased with his prospect for the coming ten days, but already anticipating some discomfort on his return.

On the three following days, Mrs. Robarts did not meet her ladyship. She did not exactly take any steps to avoid such a meeting, but she did not purposely go up to the big house. She went to her school as usual, and made one or two calls among the farmers' wives, but put no foot within the Framley Court grounds. She was braver than her husband, but even she did not wish to anticipate the evil day.

On the Saturday, just before it began to get dusk, when she was thinking of preparing for the fatal plunge, her friend, Lady Meredith, came to her.

"So, Fanny, we shall again be so unfortunate as to miss Mr. Robarts," said her ladyship.

"Yes. Did you ever know anything so unlucky? But he had promised Mr. Sowerby before he heard that you were coming. Pray do not think that he would have gone away had he known it."

"We should have been sorry to keep him from so much more amusing a party."

"Now, Justinia, you are unfair. You intend to imply that he has gone to Chaldicotes, because he likes it better than Framley Court; but that is not the case. I hope Lady Lufton does not think that it is."

Lady Meredith laughed as she put her arm round her friend's waist. "Don't lose your eloquence in defending him to me," she said. "You'll want all that for my mother."

"But is your mother angry?" asked Mrs. Robarts, showing by her countenance, how eager she was for true tidings on the subject.

"Well, Fanny, you know her ladyship as well as I do. She thinks so very highly of the vicar of Framley, that she does begrudge him to those politicians at Chaldicotes."

"But, Justinia, the bishop is to be there, you know."

"I don't think that that consideration will at all reconcile my mother to the gentleman's absence. He ought to be very proud, I know, to find that he is so much thought of. But come, Fanny, I want you to walk back with me, and you can dress at the house. And now we'll go and look at the children."

After that, as they walked together to Framley Court, Mrs. Robarts made her friend promise that she would stand by her if any serious attack were made on the absent clergyman.

"Are you going up to your room at once?" said the vicar's wife, as soon as they were inside the porch leading into the hall. Lady Meredith immediately knew what her friend meant, and decided that the evil day should not be postponed. "We had better go in and have it over," she said, "and then we shall be comfortable for the evening." So the drawing-room door was opened, and there was Lady Lufton alone upon the sofa.

"Now, mamma," said the daughter, "you mustn't scold Fanny much about Mr. Robarts. He has gone to preach a charity sermon before the bishop, and under those circumstances, perhaps, he could not refuse." This was a stretch on the part of Lady Meredith--put in with much good nature, no doubt; but still a stretch; for no one had supposed that the bishop would remain at Chaldicotes for the Sunday.

"How do you do, Fanny?" said Lady Lufton, getting up. "I am not going to scold her; and I don't know how you can talk such nonsense, Justinia. Of course, we are very sorry not to have Mr. Robarts; more especially as he was not here the last Sunday that Sir George was with us. I do like to see Mr. Robarts in his own church, certainly; and I don't like any other clergyman there as well. If Fanny takes that for scolding, why--"

"Oh! no, Lady Lufton; and it's so kind of you to say so. But Mr. Robarts was so sorry that he had accepted this invitation to Chaldicotes, before he heard that Sir George was coming, and--"

"Oh, I know that Chaldicotes has great attractions which we cannot offer," said Lady Lufton.

"Indeed, it was not that. But he was asked to preach, you know; and Mr. Harold Smith--" Poor Fanny was only making it worse. Had she been worldly wise, she would have accepted the little compliment implied in Lady Lufton's first rebuke, and then have held her peace.

"Oh, yes; the Harold Smiths! They are irresistible, I know. How could any man refuse to join a party, graced both by Mrs. Harold Smith and Mrs. Proudie--even though his duty should require him to stay away?"

"Now, mamma--" said Justinia.

"Well, my dear, what am I to say? You would not wish me to tell a fib. I don't like Mrs. Harold Smith--at least, what I hear of her; for it has not been my fortune to meet her since her marriage. It may be conceited; but to own the truth, I think that Mr. Robarts would be better off with us at Framley than with the Harold Smiths at Chaldicotes,--even though Mrs. Proudie be thrown into the bargain."

It was nearly dark, and therefore the rising colour in the face of Mrs. Robarts could not be seen. She, however, was too good a wife to hear these things said without some anger within her bosom. She could blame her husband in her own mind; but it was intolerable to her that others should blame him in her hearing.

"He would undoubtedly be better off," she said; "but then, Lady Lufton, people can't always go exactly where they will be best off. Gentlemen sometimes must--"

"Well--well, my dear, that will do. He has not taken you, at any rate; and so we will forgive him." And Lady Lufton kissed her. "As it is,"--and she affected a low whisper between the two young wives--"as it is, we must e'en put up with poor old Evan Jones. He is to be here to-night, and we must go and dress to receive him."

And so they went off. Lady Lufton was quite good enough at heart to like Mrs. Robarts all the better for standing up for her absent lord.

CHAPTER III.

CHALDICOTES.

Chaldicotes is a house of much more pretension than Framley Court. Indeed, if one looks at the ancient marks about it, rather than at those of the present day, it is a place of very considerable pretension. There is an old forest, not altogether belonging to the property, but attached to it, called the Chace of Chaldicotes. A portion of this forest comes up close behind the mansion, and of itself gives a character and celebrity to the place. The Chace of Chaldicotes--the greater part of it, at least--is, as all the world knows, Crown property, and now, in these utilitarian days, is to be disforested. In former times it was a great forest, stretching half across the country, almost as far as Silverbridge; and there are bits of it, here and there, still to be seen at intervals throughout the whole distance; but the larger remaining portion, consisting of aged hollow oaks, centuries old, and wide-spreading withered beeches, stands in the two parishes of Chaldicotes and Uffley. People still come from afar to see the oaks of Chaldicotes, and to hear their feet rustle among the thick autumn leaves. But they will soon come no longer. The giants of past ages are to give way to wheat and turnips; a ruthless Chancellor of the Exchequer, disregarding old associations and rural beauty, requires money returns from the lands; and the Chace of Chaldicotes is to vanish from the earth's surface.

Some part of it, however, is the private property of Mr. Sowerby, who hitherto, through all his pecuniary distresses, has managed to save from the axe and the auction-mart that portion of his paternal heritage. The house of Chaldicotes is a large stone building, probably of the time of Charles the Second. It is approached on both fronts by a heavy double flight of stone steps. In the front of the house a long, solemn, straight avenue through a double row of lime-trees, leads away to lodge-gates, which stand in the centre of the village of Chaldicotes; but to the rear the windows open upon four different vistas, which run down through the forest: four open green rides, which all converge together at a large iron gateway, the barrier which divides the private grounds from the Chace. The Sowerbys, for many generations, have been rangers of the Chace of Chaldicotes, thus having almost as wide an authority over the Crown forest as over their own. But now all this is to cease, for the forest will be disforested.

It was nearly dark as Mark Robarts drove up through the avenue of lime-trees to the hall-door; but it was easy to see that the house, which was dead and silent as the grave through nine months of the year, was now alive in all its parts. There were lights in many of the windows, and a noise of voices came from the stables, and servants were moving about, and dogs barked, and the dark gravel before the front steps was cut up with many a coach-wheel.

"Oh, be that you, sir, Mr. Robarts?" said a groom, taking the parson's horse by the head, and touching his own hat. "I hope I see your reverence well?"

"Quite well, Bob, thank you. All well at Chaldicotes?"

"Pretty bobbish, Mr. Robarts. Deal of life going on here now, sir. The bishop and his lady came this morning."

"Oh--ah--yes! I understood they were to be here. Any of the young ladies?"

"One young lady. Miss Olivia, I think they call her, your reverence."

"And how's Mr. Sowerby?"

"Very well, your reverence. He, and Mr. Harold Smith, and Mr. Fothergill--that's the duke's man of business, you know--is getting off their horses now in the stable-yard there."

"Home from hunting--eh, Bob?"

"Yes, sir, just home, this minute." And then Mr. Robarts walked into the house, his portmanteau following on a footboy's shoulder.

It will be seen that our young vicar was very intimate at Chaldicotes; so much so that the groom knew him, and talked to him about the people in the house. Yes; he was intimate there: much more than he had given the Framley people to understand. Not that he had wilfully and overtly deceived any one; not that he had ever spoken a false word about Chaldicotes. But he had never boasted at home that he and Sowerby were near allies. Neither had he told them there how often Mr. Sowerby and Lord Lufton were together in London. Why trouble women with such matters? Why annoy so excellent a woman as Lady Lufton?

And then Mr. Sowerby was one whose intimacy few young men would wish to reject. He was fifty, and had lived, perhaps, not the most salutary life; but he dressed young, and usually looked well. He was bald, with a good forehead, and sparkling moist eyes. He was a clever man, and a pleasant companion, and always good-humoured when it so suited him. He was a gentleman, too, of high breeding and good birth, whose ancestors had been known in that county--longer, the farmers around would boast, than those of any other landowner in it, unless it be the Thornes of Ullathorne, or perhaps the Greshams of Greshamsbury--much longer than the De Courcys at Courcy Castle. As for the Duke of Omnium, he, comparatively speaking, was a new man.

And then he was a member of Parliament, a friend of some men in power, and of others who might be there; a man who could talk about the world as one knowing the matter of which he talked. And moreover, whatever might be his ways of life at other times, when in the presence of a clergyman he rarely made himself offensive to clerical tastes. He neither swore, nor brought his vices on the carpet, nor sneered at the faith of the Church. If he was no churchman himself, he at least knew how to live with those who were.

How was it possible that such a one as our vicar should not relish the intimacy of Mr. Sowerby? It might be very well, he would say to himself, for a woman like Lady Lufton to turn up her nose at him--for Lady Lufton, who spent ten months of the year at Framley Court, and who during those ten months, and for the matter of that, during the two months also which she spent in London, saw no one out of her own set. Women did not understand such things, the vicar said to himself; even his own wife--good, and nice, and sensible, and intelligent as she was--even she did not understand that a man in the world must meet all sorts of men; and that in these days it did not do for a clergyman to be a hermit.

'Twas thus that Mark Robarts argued when he found himself called upon to defend himself before the bar of his own conscience for going to Chaldicotes and increasing his intimacy with Mr. Sowerby. He did know that Mr. Sowerby was a dangerous man; he was aware that he was over head and ears in debt, and that he had already entangled young Lord Lufton in some pecuniary embarrassment; his conscience did tell him that it would be well for him, as one of Christ's soldiers, to look out for companions of a different stamp. But nevertheless he went to Chaldicotes, not satisfied with himself indeed, but repeating to himself a great many arguments why he should be so satisfied.

He was shown into the drawing-room at once, and there he found Mrs. Harold Smith, with Mrs. and Miss Proudie, and a lady whom he had never before seen, and whose name he did not at first hear mentioned.

"Is that Mr. Robarts?" said Mrs. Harold Smith, getting up to greet him, and screening her pretended ignorance under the veil of the darkness. "And have you really driven over four-and-twenty miles of Barsetshire roads on such a day as this to assist us in our little difficulties? Well, we can promise you gratitude at any rate."

And then the vicar shook hands with Mrs. Proudie, in that deferential manner which is due from a vicar to his bishop's wife; and Mrs. Proudie returned the greeting with all that smiling condescension which a bishop's wife should show to a vicar. Miss Proudie was not quite so civil. Had Mr. Robarts been still unmarried, she also could have smiled sweetly; but she had been exercising smiles on clergymen too long to waste them now on a married parish parson.

"And what are the difficulties, Mrs. Smith, in which I am to assist you?"

"We have six or seven gentlemen here, Mr. Robarts, and they always go out hunting before breakfast, and they never come back--I was going to say--till after dinner. I wish it were so, for then we should not have to wait for them."

"Excepting Mr. Supplehouse, you know," said the unknown lady, in a loud voice.

"And he is generally shut up in the library, writing articles."

"He'd be better employed if he were trying to break his neck like the others," said the unknown lady.

"Only he would never succeed," said Mrs. Harold Smith. "But perhaps, Mr. Robarts, you are as bad as the rest; perhaps you, too, will be hunting to-morrow."

"My dear Mrs. Smith!" said Mrs. Proudie, in a tone denoting slight reproach, and modified horror.

"Oh! I forgot. No, of course, you won't be hunting, Mr. Robarts; you'll only be wishing that you could."

"Why can't he?" said the lady with the loud voice.

"My dear Miss Dunstable! a clergyman hunt, while he is staying in the same house with the bishop? Think of the proprieties!"

"Oh--ah! The bishop wouldn't like it--wouldn't he? Now, do tell me, sir, what would the bishop do to you if you did hunt?"

"It would depend upon his mood at the time, madam," said Mr. Robarts. "If that were very stern, he might perhaps have me beheaded before the palace gates."

Mrs. Proudie drew herself up in her chair, showing that she did not like the tone of the conversation; and Miss Proudie fixed her eyes vehemently on her book, showing that Miss Dunstable and her conversation were both beneath her notice.

"If these gentlemen do not mean to break their necks to-night," said Mrs. Harold Smith, "I wish they'd let us know it. It's half-past six already."

And then Mr. Robarts gave them to understand that no such catastrophe could be looked for that day, as Mr. Sowerby and the other sportsmen were within the stable-yard when he entered the door.

"Then, ladies, we may as well dress," said Mrs. Harold Smith. But as she moved towards the door, it opened, and a short gentleman, with a slow, quiet step, entered the room; but was not yet to be distinguished through the dusk by the eyes of Mr. Robarts. "Oh! bishop, is that you?" said Mrs. Smith. "Here is one of the luminaries of your diocese." And then the bishop, feeling through the dark, made his way up to the vicar and shook him cordially by the hand. "He was delighted to meet Mr. Robarts at Chaldicotes," he said--"quite delighted. Was he not going to preach on behalf of the Papuan Mission next Sunday? Ah! so he, the bishop, had heard. It was a good work, an excellent work." And then Dr. Proudie expressed himself as much grieved that he could not remain at Chaldicotes, and hear the sermon. It was plain that his bishop thought no ill of him on account of his intimacy with Mr. Sowerby. But then he felt in his own heart that he did not much regard his bishop's opinion.

"Ah, Robarts, I'm delighted to see you," said Mr. Sowerby, when they met on the drawing-room rug before dinner. "You know Harold Smith? Yes, of course you do. Well, who else is there? Oh! Supplehouse. Mr. Supplehouse, allow me to introduce to you my friend Mr. Robarts. It is he who will extract the five-pound note out of your pocket next Sunday for these poor Papuans whom we are going to Christianize. That is, if Harold Smith does not finish the work out of hand at his Saturday lecture. And, Robarts, you have seen the bishop, of course:" this he said in a whisper. "A fine thing to be a bishop, isn't it? I wish I had half your chance. But, my dear fellow, I've made such a mistake; I haven't got a bachelor parson for Miss Proudie. You must help me out, and take her in to dinner." And then the great gong sounded, and off they went in pairs.

At dinner Mark found himself seated between Miss Proudie and the lady whom he had heard named as Miss Dunstable. Of the former he was not very fond, and, in spite of his host's petition, was not inclined to play bachelor parson for her benefit. With the other lady he would willingly have chatted during the dinner, only that everybody else at table seemed to be intent on doing the same thing. She was neither young, nor beautiful, nor peculiarly ladylike; yet she seemed to enjoy a popularity which must have excited the envy of Mr. Supplehouse, and which certainly was not altogether to the taste of Mrs. Proudie--who, however, fêted her as much as did the others. So that our clergyman found himself unable to obtain more than an inconsiderable share of the lady's attention.

"Bishop," said she, speaking across the table, "we have missed you so all day! we have had no one on earth to say a word to us."

"My dear Miss Dunstable, had I known that-- But I really was engaged on business of some importance."

"I don't believe in business of importance; do you, Mrs. Smith?"

"Do I not?" said Mrs. Smith. "If you were married to Mr. Harold Smith for one week, you'd believe in it."

"Should I, now? What a pity that I can't have that chance of improving my faith! But you are a man of business, also, Mr. Supplehouse; so they tell me." And she turned to her neighbour on her right hand.

"I cannot compare myself to Harold Smith," said he. "But perhaps I may equal the bishop."

"What does a man do, now, when he sits himself down to business? How does he set about it? What are his tools? A quire of blotting paper, I suppose, to begin with?"

"That depends, I should say, on his trade. A shoemaker begins by waxing his thread."

"And Mr. Harold Smith--?"

"By counting up his yesterday's figures, generally, I should say; or else by unrolling a ball of red tape. Well-docketed papers and statistical facts are his forte."

"And what does a bishop do? Can you tell me that?"

"He sends forth to his clergy either blessings or blowings-up, according to the state of his digestive organs. But Mrs. Proudie can explain all that to you with the greatest accuracy."

"Can she, now? I understand what you mean, but I don't believe a word of it. The bishop manages his own affairs himself, quite as much as you do, or Mr. Harold Smith."

"I, Miss Dunstable?"

"Yes, you."

"But I, unluckily, have not a wife to manage them for me."

"Then you should not laugh at those who have, for you don't know what you may come to yourself, when you're married."

Mr. Supplehouse began to make a pretty speech, saying that he would be delighted to incur any danger in that respect to which he might be subjected by the companionship of Miss Dunstable. But before he was half through it, she had turned her back upon him, and begun a conversation with Mark Robarts.

"Have you much work in your parish, Mr. Robarts?" she asked. Now, Mark was not aware that she knew his name, or the fact of his having a parish, and was rather surprised by the question. And he had not quite liked the tone in which she had seemed to speak of the bishop and his work. His desire for her further acquaintance was therefore somewhat moderated, and he was not prepared to answer her question with much zeal.

"All parish clergymen have plenty of work, if they choose to do it."

"Ah, that is it; is it not, Mr. Robarts? If they choose to do it? A great many do--many that I know, do; and see what a result they have. But many neglect it--and see what a result "they" have. I think it ought to be the happiest life that a man can lead, that of a parish clergyman, with a wife and family, and a sufficient income."

"I think it is," said Mark Robarts, asking himself whether the contentment accruing to him from such blessings had made him satisfied at all points. He had all these things of which Miss Dunstable spoke, and yet he had told his wife, the other day, that he could not afford to neglect the acquaintance of a rising politician like Harold Smith.

"What I find fault with is this," continued Miss Dunstable, "that we expect clergymen to do their duty, and don't give them a sufficient income--give them hardly any income at all. Is it not a scandal, that an educated gentleman with a family should be made to work half his life, and perhaps the whole, for a pittance of seventy pounds a year?"

Mark said that it was a scandal, and thought of Mr. Evan Jones and his daughter;--and thought also of his own worth, and his own house, and his own nine hundred a year.

"And yet you clergymen are so proud--aristocratic would be the genteel word, I know--that you won't take the money of common, ordinary poor people. You must be paid from land and endowments, from tithe and church property. You can't bring yourself to work for what you earn, as lawyers and doctors do. It is better that curates should starve than undergo such ignominy as that."

"It is a long subject, Miss Dunstable."

"A very long one; and that means that I am not to say any more about it."

"I did not mean that exactly."

"Oh! but you did though, Mr. Robarts. And I can take a hint of that kind when I get it. You clergymen like to keep those long subjects for your sermons, when no one can answer you. Now if I have a longing heart's desire for anything at all in this world, it is to be able to get up into a pulpit, and preach a sermon."

"You can't conceive how soon that appetite would pall upon you, after its first indulgence."

"That would depend upon whether I could get people to listen to me. It does not pall upon Mr. Spurgeon, I suppose." Then her attention was called away by some question from Mr. Sowerby, and Mark Robarts found himself bound to address his conversation to Miss Proudie. Miss Proudie, however, was not thankful, and gave him little but monosyllables for his pains.

"Of course you know Harold Smith is going to give us a lecture about these islanders," Mr. Sowerby said to him, as they sat round the fire over their wine after dinner. Mark said that he had been so informed, and should be delighted to be one of the listeners.

"You are bound to do that, as he is going to listen to you the day afterwards--or, at any rate, to pretend to do so, which is as much as you will do for him. It'll be a terrible bore--the lecture, I mean, not the sermon." And he spoke very low into his friend's ear. "Fancy having to drive ten miles after dusk, and ten miles back, to hear Harold Smith talk for two hours about Borneo! One must do it, you know."

"I daresay it will be very interesting."

"My dear fellow, you haven't undergone so many of these things as I have. But he's right to do it. It's his line of life; and when a man begins a thing he ought to go on with it. Where's Lufton all this time?"

"In Scotland, when I last heard from him; but he's probably at Melton now."

"It's deuced shabby of him, not hunting here in his own county. He escapes all the bore of going to lectures, and giving feeds to the neighbours; that's why he treats us so. He has no idea of his duty, has he?"

"Lady Lufton does all that, you know."

"I wish I'd a Mrs. Sowerby "mère" to do it for me. But then Lufton has no constituents to look after--lucky dog! By-the-by, has he spoken to you about selling that outlying bit of land of his in Oxfordshire? It belongs to the Lufton property, and yet it doesn't. In my mind it gives more trouble than it's worth."

Lord Lufton had spoken to Mark about this sale, and had explained to him that such a sacrifice was absolutely necessary, in consequence of certain pecuniary transactions between him, Lord Lufton, and Mr. Sowerby. But it was found impracticable to complete the business without Lady Lufton's knowledge, and her son had commissioned Mr. Robarts not only to inform her ladyship, but to talk her over, and to appease her wrath. This commission he had not yet attempted to execute, and it was probable that this visit to Chaldicotes would not do much to facilitate the business.

"They are the most magnificent islands under the sun," said Harold Smith to the bishop.

"Are they, indeed!" said the bishop, opening his eyes wide, and assuming a look of intense interest.

"And the most intelligent people."

"Dear me!" said the bishop.

"All they want is guidance, encouragement, instruction--"

"And Christianity," suggested the bishop.

"And Christianity, of course," said Mr. Smith, remembering that he was speaking to a dignitary of the Church. It was well to humour such people, Mr. Smith thought. But the Christianity was to be done in the Sunday sermon, and was not part of his work.

"And how do you intend to begin with them?" asked Mr. Supplehouse, the business of whose life it had been to suggest difficulties.

"Begin with them--oh--why--it's very easy to begin with them. The difficulty is to go on with them, after the money is all spent. We'll begin by explaining to them the benefits of civilization."

"Capital plan!" said Mr. Supplehouse. "But how do you set about it, Smith?"

"How do we set about it? How did we set about it with Australia and America? It is very easy to criticize; but in such matters the great thing is to put one's shoulder to the wheel."

"We sent our felons to Australia," said Supplehouse, "and they began the work for us. And as to America, we exterminated the people instead of civilizing them."

"We did not exterminate the inhabitants of India," said Harold Smith, angrily.

"Nor have we attempted to Christianize them, as the bishop so properly wishes to do with your islanders."

"Supplehouse, you are not fair," said Mr. Sowerby, "neither to Harold Smith nor to us;--you are making him rehearse his lecture, which is bad for him; and making us hear the rehearsal, which is bad for us."

"Supplehouse belongs to a clique which monopolizes the wisdom of England," said Harold Smith; "or, at any rate, thinks that it does. But the worst of them is that they are given to talk leading articles."

"Better that, than talk articles which are not leading," said Mr. Supplehouse. "Some first-class official men do that."

"Shall I meet you at the duke's next week, Mr. Robarts?" said the bishop to him, soon after they had gone into the drawing-room.

Meet him at the duke's!--the established enemy of Barsetshire mankind, as Lady Lufton regarded his grace! No idea of going to the duke's had ever entered our hero's mind; nor had he been aware that the duke was about to entertain any one.

"No, my lord; I think not. Indeed, I have no acquaintance with his grace."

"Oh--ah! I did not know. Because Mr. Sowerby is going; and so are the Harold Smiths, and, I think, Mr. Supplehouse. An excellent man is the duke;--that is, as regards all the county interests," added the bishop, remembering that the moral character of his bachelor grace was not the very best in the world.

And then his lordship began to ask some questions about the church affairs of Framley, in which a little interest as to Framley Court was also mixed up, when he was interrupted by a rather sharp voice, to which he instantly attended.

"Bishop," said the rather sharp voice; and the bishop trotted across the room to the back of the sofa, on which his wife was sitting. "Miss Dunstable thinks that she will be able to come to us for a couple of days, after we leave the duke's."

"I shall be delighted above all things," said the bishop, bowing low to the dominant lady of the day. For be it known to all men, that Miss Dunstable was the great heiress of that name.

"Mrs. Proudie is so very kind as to say that she will take me in, with my poodle, parrot, and pet old woman."

"I tell Miss Dunstable that we shall have quite room for any of her suite," said Mrs. Proudie. "And that it will give us no trouble."

"'The labour we delight in physics pain,'" said the gallant bishop, bowing low, and putting his hand upon his heart.

In the meantime, Mr. Fothergill had got hold of Mark Robarts. Mr. Fothergill was a gentleman, and a magistrate of the county, but he occupied the position of managing man on the Duke of Omnium's estates. He was not exactly his agent; that is to say, he did not receive his rents; but he "managed" for him, saw people, went about the county, wrote letters, supported the electioneering interest, did popularity when it was too much trouble for the duke to do it himself, and was, in fact, invaluable. People in West Barsetshire would often say that they did not know what "on earth" the duke would do, if it were not for Mr. Fothergill. Indeed, Mr. Fothergill was useful to the duke.

"Mr. Robarts," he said, "I am very happy to have the pleasure of meeting you--very happy, indeed. I have often heard of you from our friend Sowerby."

Mark bowed, and said that he was delighted to have the honour of making Mr. Fothergill's acquaintance.

"I am commissioned by the Duke of Omnium," continued Mr. Fothergill, "to say how glad he will be if you will join his grace's party at Gatherum Castle, next week. The bishop will be there, and indeed nearly the whole set who are here now. The duke would have written when he heard that you were to be at Chaldicotes; but things were hardly quite arranged then, so his grace has left it for me to tell you how happy he will be to make your acquaintance in his own house. I have spoken to Sowerby," continued Mr. Fothergill, "and he very much hopes that you will be able to join us."

Mark felt that his face became red when this proposition was made to him. The party in the county to which he properly belonged--he and his wife, and all that made him happy and respectable--looked upon the Duke of Omnium with horror and amazement; and now he had absolutely received an invitation to the duke's house! A proposition was made to him that he should be numbered among the duke's friends!

And though in one sense he was sorry that the proposition was made to him, yet in another he was proud of it. It is not every young man, let his profession be what it may, who can receive overtures of friendship from dukes without some elation. Mark, too, had risen in the world, as far as he had yet risen, by knowing great people; and he certainly had an ambition to rise higher. I will not degrade him by calling him a tuft-hunter; but he undoubtedly had a feeling that the paths most pleasant for a clergyman's feet were those which were trodden by the great ones of the earth.

Nevertheless, at the moment he declined the duke's invitation. He was very much flattered, he said, but the duties of his parish would require him to return direct from Chaldicotes to Framley.

"You need not give me an answer to-night, you know," said Mr. Fothergill. "Before the week is past, we will talk it over with Sowerby and the bishop. It will be a thousand pities, Mr. Robarts, if you will allow me to say so, that you should neglect such an opportunity of knowing his grace."

When Mark went to bed, his mind was still set against going to the duke's; but, nevertheless, he did feel that it was a pity that he should not do so. After all, was it necessary that he should obey Lady Lufton in all things?

CHAPTER IV.

A MATTER OF CONSCIENCE.

It is no doubt very wrong to long after a naughty thing. But nevertheless we all do so. One may say that hankering after naughty things is the very essence of the evil into which we have been precipitated by Adam's fall. When we confess that we are all sinners, we confess that we all long after naughty things.

And ambition is a great vice--as Mark Antony told us a long time ago--a great vice, no doubt, if the ambition of the man be with reference to his own advancement, and not to the advancement of others. But then, how many of us are there who are not ambitious in this vicious manner?

And there is nothing viler than the desire to know great people--people of great rank, I should say; nothing worse than the hunting of titles and worshipping of wealth. We all know this, and say it every day of our lives. But presuming that a way into the society of Park Lane was open to us, and a way also into that of Bedford Row, how many of us are there who would prefer Bedford Row because it is so vile to worship wealth and title?

I am led into these rather trite remarks by the necessity of putting forward some sort of excuse for that frame of mind in which the Rev. Mark Robarts awoke on the morning after his arrival at Chaldicotes. And I trust that the fact of his being a clergyman will not be allowed to press against him unfairly. Clergymen are subject to the same passions as other men; and, as far as I can see, give way to them, in one line or in another, almost as frequently. Every clergyman should, by canonical rule, feel a personal disinclination to a bishopric; but yet we do not believe that such personal disinclination is generally very strong.

Mark's first thoughts when he woke on that morning flew back to Mr. Fothergill's invitation. The duke had sent a special message to say how peculiarly glad he, the duke, would be to make acquaintance with him, the parson! How much of this message had been of Mr. Fothergill's own manufacture, that Mark Robarts did not consider.

He had obtained a living at an age when other young clergymen are beginning to think of a curacy, and he had obtained such a living as middle-aged parsons in their dreams regard as a possible Paradise for their old years. Of course he thought that all these good things had been the results of his own peculiar merits. Of course he felt that he was different from other parsons,--more fitted by nature for intimacy with great persons, more urbane, more polished, and more richly endowed with modern clerical well-to-do aptitudes. He was grateful to Lady Lufton for what she had done for him; but perhaps not so grateful as he should have been.

At any rate he was not Lady Lufton's servant, nor even her dependant. So much he had repeated to himself on many occasions, and had gone so far as to hint the same idea to his wife. In his career as parish priest he must in most things be the judge of his own actions--and in many also it was his duty to be the judge of those of his patroness. The fact of Lady Lufton having placed him in the living, could by no means make her the proper judge of his actions. This he often said to himself; and he said as often that Lady Lufton certainly had a hankering after such a judgment-seat.

Of whom generally did prime ministers and official bigwigs think it expedient to make bishops and deans? Was it not, as a rule, of those clergymen who had shown themselves able to perform their clerical duties efficiently, and able also to take their place with ease in high society? He was very well off certainly at Framley; but he could never hope for anything beyond Framley, if he allowed himself to regard Lady Lufton as a bugbear. Putting Lady Lufton and her prejudices out of the question, was there any reason why he ought not to accept the duke's invitation? He could not see that there was any such reason. If any one could be a better judge on such a subject than himself, it must be his bishop. And it was clear that the bishop wished him to go to Gatherum Castle.

The matter was still left open to him. Mr. Fothergill had especially explained that; and therefore his ultimate decision was as yet within his own power. Such a visit would cost him some money, for he knew that a man does not stay at great houses without expense; and then, in spite of his good income, he was not very flush of money. He had been down this year with Lord Lufton in Scotland. Perhaps it might be more prudent for him to return home.

But then an idea came to him that it behoved him as a man and a priest to break through that Framley thraldom under which he felt that he did to a certain extent exist. Was it not the fact that he was about to decline this invitation from fear of Lady Lufton? and if so, was that a motive by which he ought to be actuated? It was incumbent on him to rid himself of that feeling. And in this spirit he got up and dressed.

There was hunting again on that day; and as the hounds were to meet near Chaldicotes, and to draw some coverts lying on the verge of the Chace, the ladies were to go in carriages through the drives of the forest, and Mr. Robarts was to escort them on horseback. Indeed it was one of those hunting-days got up rather for the ladies than for the sport. Great nuisances they are to steady, middle-aged hunting men; but the young fellows like them because they have thereby an opportunity of showing off their sporting finery, and of doing a little flirtation on horseback. The bishop, also, had been minded to be of the party; so, at least, he had said on the previous evening; and a place in one of the carriages had been set apart for him: but since that, he and Mrs. Proudie had discussed the matter in private, and at breakfast his lordship declared that he had changed his mind.

Mr. Sowerby was one of those men who are known to be very poor--as poor as debt can make a man--but who, nevertheless, enjoy all the luxuries which money can give. It was believed that he could not live in England out of jail but for his protection as a member of Parliament; and yet it seemed that there was no end to his horses and carriages, his servants and retinue. He had been at this work for a great many years, and practice, they say, makes perfect. Such companions are very dangerous. There is no cholera, no yellow-fever, no small-pox more contagious than debt. If one lives habitually among embarrassed men, one catches it to a certainty. No one had injured the community in this way more fatally than Mr. Sowerby. But still he carried on the game himself; and now on this morning carriages and horses thronged at his gate, as though he were as substantially rich as his friend the Duke of Omnium.

"Robarts, my dear fellow," said Mr. Sowerby, when they were well under way down one of the glades of the forest,--for the place where the hounds met was some four or five miles from the house of Chaldicotes,--"ride on with me a moment. I want to speak to you; and if I stay behind we shall never get to the hounds." So Mark, who had come expressly to escort the ladies, rode on alongside of Mr. Sowerby in his pink coat.

"My dear fellow, Fothergill tells me that you have some hesitation about going to Gatherum Castle."

"Well, I did decline, certainly. You know I am not a man of pleasure, as you are. I have some duties to attend to."

"Gammon!" said Mr. Sowerby; and as he said it he looked with a kind of derisive smile into the clergyman's face.

"It is easy enough to say that, Sowerby; and perhaps I have no right to expect that you should understand me."

"Ah, but I do understand you; and I say it is gammon. I would be the last man in the world to ridicule your scruples about duty, if this hesitation on your part arose from any such scruple. But answer me honestly, do you not know that such is not the case?"

"I know nothing of the kind."

"Ah, but I think you do. If you persist in refusing this invitation will it not be because you are afraid of making Lady Lufton angry? I do not know what there can be in that woman that she is able to hold both you and Lufton in leading-strings."

Robarts, of course, denied the charge and protested that he was not to be taken back to his own parsonage by any fear of Lady Lufton. But though he made such protest with warmth, he knew that he did so ineffectually. Sowerby only smiled and said that the proof of the pudding was in the eating.

"What is the good of a man keeping a curate if it be not to save him from that sort of drudgery?" he asked.

"Drudgery! If I were a drudge how could I be here to-day?"

"Well, Robarts, look here. I am speaking now, perhaps, with more of the energy of an old friend than circumstances fully warrant; but I am an older man than you, and as I have a regard for you I do not like to see you throw up a good game when it is in your hands."

"Oh, as far as that goes, Sowerby, I need hardly tell you that I appreciate your kindness."

"If you are content," continued the man of the world, "to live at Framley all your life, and to warm yourself in the sunshine of the dowager there, why, in such case, it may perhaps be useless for you to extend the circle of your friends; but if you have higher ideas than these, I think you will be very wrong to omit the present opportunity of going to the duke's. I never knew the duke go so much out of his way to be civil to a clergyman as he has done in this instance."

"I am sure I am very much obliged to him."

"The fact is, that you may, if you please, make yourself popular in the county; but you cannot do it by obeying all Lady Lufton's behests. She is a dear old woman, I am sure."

"She is, Sowerby; and you would say so, if you knew her."

"I don't doubt it; but it would not do for you or me to live exactly according to her ideas. Now, here, in this case, the bishop of the diocese is to be one of the party, and he has, I believe, already expressed a wish that you should be another."

"He asked me if I were going."

"Exactly; and Archdeacon Grantly will be there."

"Will he?" asked Mark. Now, that would be a great point gained, for Archdeacon Grantly was a close friend of Lady Lufton.

"So I understand from Fothergill. Indeed, it will be very wrong of you not to go, and I tell you so plainly; and what is more, when you talk about your duty--you having a curate as you have--why, it is gammon." These last words he spoke looking back over his shoulder as he stood up in his stirrups, for he had caught the eye of the huntsman, who was surrounded by his hounds, and was now trotting on to join him.

During a great portion of the day, Mark found himself riding by the side of Mrs. Proudie, as that lady leaned back in her carriage. And Mrs. Proudie smiled on him graciously, though her daughter would not do so. Mrs. Proudie was fond of having an attendant clergyman; and as it was evident that Mr. Robarts lived among nice people--titled dowagers, members of Parliament, and people of that sort--she was quite willing to instal him as a sort of honorary chaplain "pro tem".

"I'll tell you what we have settled, Mrs. Harold Smith and I," said Mrs. Proudie to him. "This lecture at Barchester will be so late on Saturday evening, that you had all better come and dine with us."

Mark bowed and thanked her, and declared that he should be very happy to make one of such a party. Even Lady Lufton could not object to this, although she was not especially fond of Mrs. Proudie.

"And then they are to sleep at the hotel. It will really be too late for ladies to think of going back so far at this time of the year. I told Mrs. Harold Smith, and Miss Dunstable, too, that we could manage to make room at any rate for them. But they will not leave the other ladies; so they go to the hotel for that night. But, Mr. Robarts, the bishop will never allow you to stay at the inn, so of course you will take a bed at the palace."

It immediately occurred to Mark that as the lecture was to be given on Saturday evening, the next morning would be Sunday; and, on that Sunday, he would have to preach at Chaldicotes. "I thought they were all going to return the same night," said he.

"Well, they did intend it; but you see Mrs. Smith is afraid."

"I should have to get back here on the Sunday morning, Mrs. Proudie."

"Ah, yes, that is bad--very bad, indeed. No one dislikes any interference with the Sabbath more than I do. Indeed, if I am particular about anything it is about that. But some works are works of necessity, Mr. Robarts; are they not? Now you must necessarily be back at Chaldicotes on Sunday morning!" And so the matter was settled. Mrs. Proudie was very firm in general in the matter of Sabbath-day observances; but when she had to deal with such persons as Mrs. Harold Smith, it was expedient that she should give way a little. "You can start as soon as it's daylight, you know, if you like it, Mr. Robarts," said Mrs. Proudie.

There was not much to boast of as to the hunting, but it was a very pleasant day for the ladies. The men rode up and down the grass roads through the Chace, sometimes in the greatest possible hurry as though they never could go quick enough; and then the coachmen would drive very fast also, though they did not know why, for a fast pace of movement is another of those contagious diseases. And then again the sportsmen would move at an undertaker's pace, when the fox had traversed and the hounds would be at a loss to know which was the hunt and which was the heel; and then the carriage also would go slowly, and the ladies would stand up and talk. And then the time for lunch came; and altogether the day went by pleasantly enough.

"And so that's hunting, is it?" said Miss Dunstable.

"Yes, that's hunting," said Mr. Sowerby.

"I did not see any gentleman do anything that I could not do myself, except there was one young man slipped off into the mud; and I shouldn't like that."

"But there was no breaking of bones, was there, my dear?" said Mrs. Harold Smith.

"And nobody caught any foxes," said Miss Dunstable. "The fact is, Mrs. Smith, that I don't think much more of their sport than I do of their business. I shall take to hunting a pack of hounds myself after this."

"Do, my dear, and I'll be your whipper-in. I wonder whether Mrs. Proudie would join us."

"I shall be writing to the duke to-night," said Mr. Fothergill to Mark, as they were all riding up to the stable-yard together. "You will let me tell his grace that you will accept his invitation--will you not?"

"Upon my word, the duke is very kind," said Mark.

"He is very anxious to know you, I can assure you," said Fothergill.

What could a young flattered fool of a parson do, but say that he would go? Mark did say that he would go; and in the course of the evening his friend Mr. Sowerby congratulated him, and the bishop joked with him and said that he knew that he would not give up good company so soon; and Miss Dunstable said she would make him her chaplain as soon as Parliament would allow quack doctors to have such articles--an allusion which Mark did not understand, till he learned that Miss Dunstable was herself the proprietress of the celebrated Oil of Lebanon, invented by her late respected father, and patented by him with such wonderful results in the way of accumulated fortune; and Mrs. Proudie made him quite one of their party, talking to him about all manner of church subjects; and then at last, even Miss Proudie smiled on him, when she learned that he had been thought worthy of a bed at a duke's castle. And all the world seemed to be open to him.

But he could not make himself happy that evening. On the next morning he must write to his wife; and he could already see the look of painful sorrow which would fall upon his Fanny's brow when she learned that her husband was going to be a guest at the Duke of Omnium's. And he must tell her to send him money, and money was scarce. And then, as to Lady Lufton, should he send her some message, or should he not? In either case he must declare war against her. And then did he not owe everything to Lady Lufton? And thus in spite of all his triumphs he could not get himself to bed in a happy frame of mind.

On the next day, which was Friday, he postponed the disagreeable task of writing. Saturday would do as well; and on Saturday morning, before they all started for Barchester, he did write. And his letter ran as follows:--

Chaldicotes, -- November, 185--.

DEAREST LOVE,--You will be astonished when I tell you how gay we all are here, and what further dissipations are in store for us. The Arabins, as you supposed, are not of our party; but the Proudies are,--as you supposed also. Your suppositions are always right. And what will you think when I tell you that I am to sleep at the palace on Saturday? You know that there is to be a lecture in Barchester on that day. Well; we must all go, of course, as Harold Smith, one of our set here, is to give it. And now it turns out that we cannot get back the same night because there is no moon; and Mrs. Bishop would not allow that my cloth should be contaminated by an hotel;--very kind and considerate, is it not?

But I have a more astounding piece of news for you than this. There is to be a great party at Gatherum Castle next week, and they have talked me over into accepting an invitation which the duke sent expressly to me. I refused at first; but everybody here said that my doing so would be so strange; and then they all wanted to know my reason. When I came to render it, I did not know what reason I had to give. The bishop is going, and he thought it very odd that I should not go also, seeing that I was asked.

I know what my own darling will think, and I know that she will not be pleased, and I must put off my defence till I return to her from this ogre-land,--if ever I do get back alive. But joking apart, Fanny, I think that I should have been wrong to stand out, when so much was said about it. I should have been seeming to take upon myself to sit in judgment upon the duke. I doubt if there be a single clergyman in the diocese, under fifty years of age, who would have refused the invitation under such circumstances,--unless it be Crawley, who is so mad on the subject that he thinks it almost wrong to take a walk out of his own parish.

I must stay at Gatherum Castle over Sunday week--indeed, we only go there on Friday. I have written to Jones about the duties. I can make it up to him, as I know he wishes to go into Wales at Christmas. My wanderings will all be over then, and he may go for a couple of months if he pleases. I suppose you will take my classes in the school on Sunday, as well as your own; but pray make them have a good fire. If this is too much for you, make Mrs. Podgens take the boys. Indeed I think that will be better.

Of course you will tell her ladyship of my whereabouts. Tell her from me, that as regards the bishop, as well as regarding another great personage, the colour has been laid on perhaps a little too thickly. Not that Lady Lufton would ever like him. Make her understand that my going to the duke's has almost become a matter of conscience with me. I have not known how to make it appear that it would be right for me to refuse, without absolutely making a party matter of it. I saw that it would be said, that I, coming from Lady Lufton's parish, could not go to the Duke of Omnium's. This I did not choose.

I find that I shall want a little more money before I leave here, five or ten pounds--say ten pounds. If you cannot spare it, get it from Davis. He owes me more than that, a good deal.

And now, God bless and preserve you, my own love. Kiss my darling bairns for papa, and give them my blessing.

Always and ever your own,

M. R.

And then there was written, on an outside scrap which was folded round the full-written sheet of paper, "Make it as smooth at Framley Court as possible."

However strong, and reasonable, and unanswerable the body of Mark's letter may have been, all his hesitation, weakness, doubt, and fear, were expressed in this short postscript.

CHAPTER V.

AMANTIUM IRÆ AMORIS INTEGRATIO.

And now, with my reader's consent, I will follow the postman with that letter to Framley; not by its own circuitous route indeed, or by the same mode of conveyance; for that letter went into Barchester by the Courcy night mail-cart, which, on its road, passes through the villages of Uffley and Chaldicotes, reaching Barchester in time for the up mail-train to London. By that train, the letter was sent towards the metropolis as far as the junction of the Barset branch line, but there it was turned in its course, and came down again by the main line as far as Silverbridge; at which place, between six and seven in the morning, it was shouldered by the Framley footpost messenger, and in due course delivered at the Framley Parsonage exactly as Mrs. Robarts had finished reading prayers to the four servants. Or, I should say rather, that such would in its usual course have been that letter's destiny. As it was, however, it reached Silverbridge on Sunday, and lay there till the Monday, as the Framley people have declined their Sunday post. And then again, when the letter was delivered at the parsonage, on that wet Monday morning, Mrs. Robarts was not at home. As we are all aware, she was staying with her ladyship at Framley Court.

"Oh, but it's mortial wet," said the shivering postman as he handed in that and the vicar's newspaper. The vicar was a man of the world, and took the "Jupiter".

"Come in, Robin postman, and warm theeself awhile," said Jemima the cook, pushing a stool a little to one side, but still well in front of the big kitchen fire.

"Well, I dudna jist know how it'll be. The wery 'edges 'as eyes and tells on me in Silverbridge, if I so much as stops to pick a blackberry."

"There bain't no hedges here, mon, nor yet no blackberries; so sit thee down and warm theeself. That's better nor blackberries I'm thinking," and she handed him a bowl of tea with a slice of buttered toast.

Robin postman took the proffered tea, put his dripping hat on the ground, and thanked Jemima cook. "But I dudna jist know how it'll be," said he; "only it do pour so tarnation heavy." Which among us, O my readers, could have withstood that temptation?

Such was the circuitous course of Mark's letter; but as it left Chaldicotes on Saturday evening, and reached Mrs. Robarts on the following morning, or would have done, but for that intervening Sunday, doing all its peregrinations during the night, it may be held that its course of transport was not inconveniently arranged. We, however, will travel by a much shorter route.

Robin, in the course of his daily travels, passed, first the post-office at Framley, then the Framley Court back entrance, and then the vicar's house, so that on this wet morning Jemima cook was not able to make use of his services in transporting this letter back to her mistress; for Robin had got another village before him, expectant of its letters.

"Why didn't thee leave it, mon, with Mr. Applejohn at the Court?" Mr. Applejohn was the butler who took the letter-bag. "Thee know'st as how missus was there."

And then Robin, mindful of the tea and toast, explained to her courteously how the law made it imperative on him to bring the letter to the very house that was indicated, let the owner of the letter be where she might; and he laid down the law very satisfactorily with sundry long-worded quotations. Not to much effect, however, for the housemaid called him an oaf; and Robin would decidedly have had the worst of it had not the gardener come in and taken his part. "They women knows nothin', and understands nothin'," said the gardener. "Give us hold of the letter. I'll take it up to the house. It's the master's fist." And then Robin postman went on one way, and the gardener, he went the other. The gardener never disliked an excuse for going up to the Court gardens, even on so wet a day as this.

Mrs. Robarts was sitting over the drawing-room fire with Lady Meredith, when her husband's letter was brought to her. The Framley Court letter-bag had been discussed at breakfast; but that was now nearly an hour since, and Lady Lufton, as was her wont, was away in her own room writing her own letters, and looking after her own matters: for Lady Lufton was a person who dealt in figures herself, and understood business almost as well as Harold Smith. And on that morning she also had received a letter which had displeased her not a little. Whence arose this displeasure neither Mrs. Robarts nor Lady Meredith knew; but her ladyship's brow had grown black at breakfast time; she had bundled up an ominous-looking epistle into her bag without speaking of it, and had left the room immediately that breakfast was over.

"There's something wrong," said Sir George.

"Mamma does fret herself so much about Ludovic's money matters," said Lady Meredith. Ludovic was Lord Lufton,--Ludovic Lufton, Baron Lufton of Lufton, in the county of Oxfordshire.

"And yet I don't think Lufton gets much astray," said Sir George, as he sauntered out of the room. "Well, Justy; we'll put off going then till to-morrow; but remember, it must be the first train." Lady Meredith said she would remember, and then they went into the drawing-room, and there Mrs. Robarts received her letter.

Fanny, when she read it, hardly at first realized to herself the idea that her husband, the clergyman of Framley, the family clerical friend of Lady Lufton's establishment, was going to stay with the Duke of Omnium. It was so thoroughly understood at Framley Court that the duke and all belonging to him was noxious and damnable. He was a Whig, he was a bachelor, he was a gambler, he was immoral in every way, he was a man of no church principle, a corrupter of youth, a sworn foe of young wives, a swallower up of small men's patrimonies; a man whom mothers feared for their sons, and sisters for their brothers; and worse again, whom fathers had cause to fear for their daughters, and brothers for their sisters;--a man who, with his belongings, dwelt, and must dwell, poles asunder from Lady Lufton and her belongings!

And it must be remembered that all these evil things were fully believed by Mrs. Robarts. Could it really be that her husband was going to dwell in the halls of Apollyon, to shelter himself beneath the wings of this very Lucifer? A cloud of sorrow settled upon her face, and then she read the letter again very slowly, not omitting the tell-tale postscript.

"Oh, Justinia!" at last she said.

"What, have you got bad news, too?"

"I hardly know how to tell you what has occurred. There; I suppose you had better read it;" and she handed her husband's epistle to Lady Meredith,--keeping back, however, the postscript.

"What on earth will her ladyship say now?" said Lady Meredith, as she folded the paper, and replaced it in the envelope.

"What had I better do, Justinia? how had I better tell her?" And then the two ladies put their heads together, bethinking themselves how they might best deprecate the wrath of Lady Lufton. It had been arranged that Mrs. Robarts should go back to the parsonage after lunch, and she had persisted in her intention after it had been settled that the Merediths were to stay over that evening. Lady Meredith now advised her friend to carry out this determination without saying anything about her husband's terrible iniquities, and then to send the letter up to Lady Lufton as soon as she reached the parsonage. "Mamma will never know that you received it here," said Lady Meredith.

But Mrs. Robarts would not consent to this. Such a course seemed to her to be cowardly. She knew that her husband was doing wrong; she felt that he knew it himself; but still it was necessary that she should defend him. However terrible might be the storm, it must break upon her own head. So she at once went up and tapped at Lady Lufton's private door; and as she did so Lady Meredith followed her.

"Come in," said Lady Lufton, and the voice did not sound soft and pleasant. When they entered, they found her sitting at her little writing table, with her head resting on her arm, and that letter which she had received that morning was lying open on the table before her. Indeed there were two letters now there, one from a London lawyer to herself, and the other from her son to that London lawyer. It needs only be explained that the subject of those letters was the immediate sale of that outlying portion of the Lufton property in Oxfordshire, as to which Mr. Sowerby once spoke. Lord Lufton had told the lawyer that the thing must be done at once, adding that his friend Robarts would have explained the whole affair to his mother. And then the lawyer had written to Lady Lufton, as indeed was necessary; but unfortunately Lady Lufton had not hitherto heard a word of the matter.

In her eyes the sale of family property was horrible; the fact that a young man with some fifteen or twenty thousand a year should require subsidiary money was horrible; that her own son should have not written to her himself was horrible; and it was also horrible that her own pet, the clergyman whom she had brought there to be her son's friend, should be mixed up in the matter,--should be cognizant of it while she was not cognizant,--should be employed in it as a go-between and agent in her son's bad courses. It was all horrible, and Lady Lufton was sitting there with a black brow and an uneasy heart. As regarded our poor parson, we may say that in this matter he was blameless, except that he had hitherto lacked the courage to execute his friend's commission.

"What is it, Fanny?" said Lady Lufton as soon as the door was opened; "I should have been down in half-an-hour, if you wanted me, Justinia."

"Fanny has received a letter which makes her wish to speak to you at once," said Lady Meredith. "What letter, Fanny?"

Poor Fanny's heart was in her mouth; she held it in her hand, but had not yet quite made up her mind whether she would show it bodily to Lady Lufton.

"From Mr. Robarts," she said.

"Well; I suppose he is going to stay another week at Chaldicotes. For my part I should be as well pleased;" and Lady Lufton's voice was not friendly, for she was thinking of that farm in Oxfordshire. The imprudence of the young is very sore to the prudence of their elders. No woman could be less covetous, less grasping than Lady Lufton; but the sale of a portion of the old family property was to her as the loss of her own heart's blood.

"Here is the letter, Lady Lufton; perhaps you had better read it;" and Fanny handed it to her, again keeping back the postscript. She had read and re-read the letter downstairs, but could not make out whether her husband had intended her to show it. From the line of the argument she thought that he must have done so. At any rate he said for himself more than she could say for him, and so, probably, it was best that her ladyship should see it.

Lady Lufton took it, and read it, and her face grew blacker and blacker. Her mind was set against the writer before she began it, and every word in it tended to make her feel more estranged from him. "Oh, he is going to the palace, is he?--well; he must choose his own friends. Harold Smith one of his party! It's a pity, my dear, he did not see Miss Proudie before he met you, he might have lived to be the bishop's chaplain. Gatherum Castle! You don't mean to tell me that he is going there? Then I tell you fairly, Fanny, that I have done with him."

"Oh, Lady Lufton, don't say that," said Mrs. Robarts, with tears in her eyes.

"Mamma, mamma, don't speak in that way," said Lady Meredith.

"But my dear, what am I to say? I must speak in that way. You would not wish me to speak falsehoods, would you? A man must choose for himself, but he can't live with two different sets of people; at least, not if I belong to one and the Duke of Omnium to the other. The bishop going indeed! If there be anything that I hate it is hypocrisy."

"There is no hypocrisy in that, Lady Lufton."

"But I say there is, Fanny. Very strange, indeed! 'Put off his defence!' Why should a man need any defence to his wife if he acts in a straightforward way? His own language condemns him: 'Wrong to stand out!' Now, will either of you tell me that Mr. Robarts would really have thought it wrong to refuse that invitation? I say that that is hypocrisy. There is no other word for it."

By this time the poor wife, who had been in tears, was wiping them away and preparing for action. Lady Lufton's extreme severity gave her courage. She knew that it behoved her to fight for her husband when he was thus attacked. Had Lady Lufton been moderate in her remarks Mrs. Robarts would not have had a word to say.

"My husband may have been ill-judged," she said, "but he is no hypocrite."

"Very well, my dear, I dare say you know better than I; but to me it looks extremely like hypocrisy: eh, Justinia?"

"Oh, mamma, do be moderate."

"Moderate! That's all very well. How is one to moderate one's feelings when one has been betrayed?"

"You do not mean that Mr. Robarts has betrayed you?" said the wife.

"Oh, no; of course not." And then she went on reading the letter: "'Seem to have been standing in judgment upon the duke.' Might he not use the same argument as to going into any house in the kingdom, however infamous? We must all stand in judgment one upon another in that sense. 'Crawley!' Yes; if he were a little more like Mr. Crawley it would be a good thing for me, and for the parish, and for you too, my dear. God forgive me for bringing him here; that's all."

"Lady Lufton, I must say that you are very hard upon him--very hard. I did not expect it from such a friend."

"My dear, you ought to know me well enough to be sure that I shall speak my mind. 'Written to Jones'--yes; it is easy enough to write to poor Jones. He had better write to Jones, and bid him do the whole duty. Then he can go and be the duke's domestic chaplain."

"I believe my husband does as much of his own duty as any clergyman in the whole diocese," said Mrs. Robarts, now again in tears.

"And you are to take his work in the school; you and Mrs. Podgens. What with his curate and his wife and Mrs. Podgens, I don't see why he should come back at all."

"Oh, mamma," said Justinia, "pray, pray don't be so harsh to her."

"Let me finish it, my dear;--oh, here I come. 'Tell her ladyship my whereabouts.' He little thought you'd show me this letter."

"Didn't he?" said Mrs. Robarts, putting out her hand to get it back, but in vain. "I thought it was for the best; I did indeed."

"I had better finish it now, if you please. What is this? How does he dare send his ribald jokes to me in such a matter? No, I do not suppose I ever shall like Dr. Proudie; I have never expected it. A matter of conscience with him! Well--well, well. Had I not read it myself, I could not have believed it of him. I would not positively have believed it. 'Coming from my parish he could not go to the Duke of Omnium!' And it is what I would wish to have said. People fit for this parish should not be fit for the Duke of Omnium's house. And I had trusted that he would have this feeling more strongly than any one else in it. I have been deceived--that's all."

"He has done nothing to deceive you, Lady Lufton."

"I hope he will not have deceived you, my dear. 'More money;' yes, it is probable that he will want more money. There is your letter, Fanny. I am very sorry for it. I can say nothing more." And she folded up the letter and gave it back to Mrs. Robarts.

"I thought it right to show it you," said Mrs. Robarts.

"It did not much matter whether you did or no; of course I must have been told."

"He especially begs me to tell you."

"Why, yes; he could not very well have kept me in the dark in such a matter. He could not neglect his own work, and go and live with gamblers and adulterers at the Duke of Omnium's without my knowing it."

And now Fanny Robarts's cup was full, full to the overflowing. When she heard these words she forgot all about Lady Lufton, all about Lady Meredith, and remembered only her husband,--that he was her husband, and, in spite of his faults, a good and loving husband;--and that other fact also she remembered, that she was his wife.

"Lady Lufton," she said, "you forget yourself in speaking in that way of my husband."

"What!" said her ladyship; "you are to show me such a letter as that, and I am not to tell you what I think?"

"Not if you think such hard things as that. Even you are not justified in speaking to me in that way, and I will not hear it."

"Heighty-tighty!" said her ladyship.

"Whether or no he is right in going to the Duke of Omnium's, I will not pretend to judge. He is the judge of his own actions, and neither you nor I."

"And when he leaves you with the butcher's bill unpaid and no money to buy shoes for the children, who will be the judge then?"

"Not you, Lady Lufton. If such bad days should ever come--and neither you nor I have a right to expect them--I will not come to you in my troubles; not after this."

"Very well, my dear. You may go to the Duke of Omnium if that suits you better."

"Fanny, come away," said Lady Meredith. "Why should you try to anger my mother?"

"I don't want to anger her; but I won't hear him abused in that way without speaking up for him. If I don't defend him, who will? Lady Lufton has said terrible things about him; and they are not true."

"Oh, Fanny!" said Justinia.

"Very well, very well!" said Lady Lufton. "This is the sort of return that one gets."

"I don't know what you mean by return, Lady Lufton: but would you wish me to stand by quietly and hear such things said of my husband? He does not live with such people as you have named. He does not neglect his duties. If every clergyman were as much in his parish, it would be well for some of them. And in going to such a house as the Duke of Omnium's it does make a difference that he goes there in company with the bishop. I can't explain why, but I know that it does."

"Especially when the bishop is coupled up with the devil, as Mr. Robarts has done," said Lady Lufton; "he can join the duke with them and then they'll stand for the three Graces, won't they, Justinia?" And Lady Lufton laughed a bitter little laugh at her own wit.

"I suppose I may go now, Lady Lufton."

"Oh, yes, certainly, my dear."

"I am sorry if I have made you angry with me; but I will not allow any one to speak against Mr. Robarts without answering them. You have been very unjust to him; and even though I do anger you, I must say so."

"Come, Fanny; this is too bad," said Lady Lufton. "You have been scolding me for the last half-hour because I would not congratulate you on this new friend that your husband has made, and now you are going to begin it all over again. That is more than I can stand. If you have nothing else particular to say, you might as well leave me." And Lady Lufton's face as she spoke was unbending, severe, and harsh.

Mrs. Robarts had never before been so spoken to by her old friend; indeed she had never been so spoken to by any one, and she hardly knew how to bear herself.

"Very well, Lady Lufton," she said; "then I will go. Good-bye."

"Good-bye," said Lady Lufton, and turning herself to her table she began to arrange her papers. Fanny had never before left Framley Court to go back to her own parsonage without a warm embrace. Now she was to do so without even having her hand taken. Had it come to this, that there was absolutely to be a quarrel between them,--a quarrel for ever?

"Fanny is going, you know, mamma," said Lady Meredith. "She will be home before you are down again."

"I cannot help it, my dear. Fanny must do as she pleases. I am not to be the judge of her actions. She has just told me so."

Mrs. Robarts had said nothing of the kind, but she was far too proud to point this out. So with a gentle step she retreated through the door, and then Lady Meredith, having tried what a conciliatory whisper with her mother would do, followed her. Alas, the conciliatory whisper was altogether ineffectual!

The two ladies said nothing as they descended the stairs, but when they had regained the drawing-room they looked with blank horror into each other's faces. What were they to do now? Of such a tragedy as this they had had no remotest preconception. Was it absolutely the case that Fanny Robarts was to walk out of Lady Lufton's house as a declared enemy,--she who, before her marriage as well as since, had been almost treated as an adopted daughter of the family?

"Oh, Fanny, why did you answer my mother in that way?" said Lady Meredith. "You saw that she was vexed. She had other things to vex her besides this about Mr. Robarts."

"And would not you answer any one who attacked Sir George?"

"No, not my own mother. I would let her say what she pleased, and leave Sir George to fight his own battles."

"Ah, but it is different with you. You are her daughter, and Sir George--she would not dare to speak in that way as to Sir George's doings."

"Indeed she would, if it pleased her. I am sorry I let you go up to her."

"It is as well that it should be over, Justinia. As those are her thoughts about Mr. Robarts, it is quite as well that we should know them. Even for all that I owe to her, and all the love I bear to you, I will not come to this house if I am to hear my husband abused;--not into any house."

"My dearest Fanny, we all know what happens when two angry people get together."

"I was not angry when I went up to her; not in the least."

"It is no good looking back. What are we to do now, Fanny?"

"I suppose I had better go home," said Mrs. Robarts. "I will go and put my things up, and then I will send James for them."

"Wait till after lunch, and then you will be able to kiss my mother before you leave us."

"No, Justinia; I cannot wait. I must answer Mr. Robarts by this post, and I must think what I have to say to him. I could not write that letter here, and the post goes at four." And Mrs. Robarts got up from her chair, preparatory to her final departure.

"I shall come to you before dinner," said Lady Meredith; "and if I can bring you good tidings, I shall expect you to come back here with me. It is out of the question that I should go away from Framley leaving you and my mother at enmity with each other."

To this Mrs. Robarts made no answer; and in a very few minutes afterwards she was in her own nursery, kissing her children, and teaching the elder one to say something about papa. But, even as she taught him, the tears stood in her eyes, and the little fellow knew that everything was not right.

And there she sat till about two, doing little odds and ends of things for the children, and allowing that occupation to stand as an excuse to her for not commencing her letter. But then there remained only two hours to her, and it might be that the letter would be difficult in the writing--would require thought and changes, and must needs be copied, perhaps more than once. As to the money, that she had in the house--as much, at least, as Mark now wanted, though the sending of it would leave her nearly penniless. She could, however, in case of personal need, resort to Davis as desired by him.

So she got out her desk in the drawing-room and sat down and wrote her letter. It was difficult, though she found that it hardly took so long as she expected. It was difficult, for she felt bound to tell him the truth; and yet she was anxious not to spoil all his pleasure among his friends. She told him, however, that Lady Lufton was very angry, "unreasonably angry, I must say," she put in, in order to show that she had not sided against him. "And indeed we have quite quarrelled, and this has made me unhappy, as it will you, dearest; I know that. But we both know how good she is at heart, and Justinia thinks that she had other things to trouble her; and I hope it will all be made up before you come home; only, dearest Mark, pray do not be longer than you said in your last letter." And then there were three or four paragraphs about the babies and two about the schools, which I may as well omit.

She had just finished her letter, and was carefully folding it for its envelope, with the two whole five-pound notes imprudently placed within it, when she heard a footstep on the gravel path which led up from a small wicket to the front-door. The path ran near the drawing-room window, and she was just in time to catch a glimpse of the last fold of a passing cloak. "It is Justinia," she said to herself; and her heart became disturbed at the idea of again discussing the morning's adventure. "What am I to do," she had said to herself before, "if she wants me to beg her pardon? I will not own before her that he is in the wrong."

And then the door opened--for the visitor made her entrance without the aid of any servant--and Lady Lufton herself stood before her. "Fanny," she said at once, "I have come to beg your pardon."

"Oh, Lady Lufton!"

"I was very much harassed when you came to me just now;--by more things than one, my dear. But, nevertheless, I should not have spoken to you of your husband as I did, and so I have come to beg your pardon."

Mrs. Robarts was past answering by the time that this was said,--past answering at least in words; so she jumped up and, with her eyes full of tears, threw herself into her old friend's arms. "Oh, Lady Lufton!" she sobbed forth again.

"You will forgive me, won't you?" said her ladyship, as she returned her young friend's caress. "Well, that's right. I have not been at all happy since you left my den this morning, and I don't suppose you have. But, Fanny, dearest, we love each other too well and know each other too thoroughly, to have a long quarrel, don't we?"

"Oh, yes, Lady Lufton."

"Of course we do. Friends are not to be picked up on the road-side every day; nor are they to be thrown away lightly. And now sit down, my love, and let us have a little talk. There, I must take my bonnet off. You have pulled the strings so that you have almost choked me." And Lady Lufton deposited her bonnet on the table and seated herself comfortably in the corner of the sofa.

"My dear," she said, "there is no duty which any woman owes to any other human being at all equal to that which she owes to her husband, and, therefore, you were quite right to stand up for Mr. Robarts this morning."

Upon this Mrs. Robarts said nothing, but she got her hand within that of her ladyship and gave it a slight squeeze.

"And I loved you for what you were doing all the time. I did, my dear; though you were a little fierce, you know. Even Justinia admits that, and she has been at me ever since you went away. And indeed, I did not know that it was in you to look in that way out of those pretty eyes of yours."

"Oh, Lady Lufton!"

"But I looked fierce enough too myself, I dare say; so we'll say nothing more about that; will we? But now, about this good man of yours?"

"Dear Lady Lufton, you must forgive him."

"Well: as you ask me, I will. We'll have nothing more said about the duke, either now or when he comes back; not a word. Let me see--he's to be back;--when is it?"

"Wednesday week, I think."

"Ah, Wednesday. Well, tell him to come and dine up at the house on Wednesday. He'll be in time, I suppose, and there shan't be a word said about this horrid duke."

"I am so much obliged to you, Lady Lufton."

"But look here, my dear; believe me, he's better off without such friends."

"Oh, I know he is; much better off."

"Well, I'm glad you admit that, for I thought you seemed to be in favour of the duke."

"Oh, no, Lady Lufton."

"That's right, then. And now, if you'll take my advice, you'll use your influence, as a good, dear sweet wife as you are, to prevent his going there any more. I'm an old woman and he is a young man, and it's very natural that he should think me behind the times. I'm not angry at that. But he'll find that it's better for him, better for him in every way, to stick to his old friends. It will be better for his peace of mind, better for his character as a clergyman, better for his pocket, better for his children and for you,--and better for his eternal welfare. The duke is not such a companion as he should seek;--nor if he is sought, should he allow himself to be led away."

And then Lady Lufton ceased, and Fanny Robarts kneeling at her feet sobbed, with her face hidden on her friend's knees. She had not a word now to say as to her husband's capability of judging for himself.

"And now I must be going again; but Justinia has made me promise,--promise, mind you, most solemnly, that I would have you back to dinner to-night,--by force if necessary. It was the only way I could make my peace with her; so you must not leave me in the lurch." Of course, Fanny said that she would go and dine at Framley Court.

"And you must not send that letter, by any means," said her ladyship as she was leaving the room, poking with her umbrella at the epistle, which lay directed on Mrs. Robarts's desk. "I can understand very well what it contains. You must alter it altogether, my dear." And then Lady Lufton went.

Mrs. Robarts instantly rushed to her desk and tore open her letter. She looked at her watch and it was past four. She had hardly begun another when the postman came. "Oh, Mary," she said, "do make him wait. If he'll wait a quarter of an hour I'll give him a shilling."

"There's no need of that, ma'am. Let him have a glass of beer."

"Very well, Mary; but don't give him too much, for fear he should drop the letters about. I'll be ready in ten minutes."

And in five minutes she had scrawled a very different sort of a letter. But he might want the money immediately, so she would not delay it for a day.

CHAPTER VI.

MR. HAROLD SMITH'S LECTURE.

On the whole the party at Chaldicotes was very pleasant, and the time passed away quickly enough. Mr. Robarts's chief friend there, independently of Mr. Sowerby, was Miss Dunstable, who seemed to take a great fancy to him, whereas she was not very accessible to the blandishments of Mr. Supplehouse, nor more specially courteous even to her host than good manners required of her. But then Mr. Supplehouse and Mr. Sowerby were both bachelors, while Mark Robarts was a married man.

With Mr. Sowerby Robarts had more than one communication respecting Lord Lufton and his affairs, which he would willingly have avoided had it been possible. Sowerby was one of those men who are always mixing up business with pleasure, and who have usually some scheme in their mind which requires forwarding. Men of this class have, as a rule, no daily work, no regular routine of labour; but it may be doubted whether they do not toil much more incessantly than those who have.

"Lufton is so dilatory," Mr. Sowerby said. "Why did he not arrange this at once, when he promised it? And then he is so afraid of that old woman at Framley Court. Well, my dear fellow, say what you will; she is an old woman and she'll never be younger. But do write to Lufton and tell him that this delay is inconvenient to me; he'll do anything for you, I know."

Mark said that he would write, and, indeed, did do so; but he did not at first like the tone of the conversation into which he was dragged. It was very painful to him to hear Lady Lufton called an old woman, and hardly less so to discuss the propriety of Lord Lufton's parting with his property. This was irksome to him, till habit made it easy. But by degrees his feelings became less acute, and he accustomed himself to his friend Sowerby's mode of talking.

And then on the Saturday afternoon they all went over to Barchester. Harold Smith during the last forty-eight hours had become crammed to overflowing with Sarawak, Labuan, New Guinea, and the Salomon Islands. As is the case with all men labouring under temporary specialities, he for the time had faith in nothing else, and was not content that any one near him should have any other faith. They called him Viscount Papua and Baron Borneo; and his wife, who headed the joke against him, insisted on having her title. Miss Dunstable swore that she would wed none but a South Sea islander; and to Mark was offered the income and duties of Bishop of Spices. Nor did the Proudie family set themselves against these little sarcastic quips with any overwhelming severity. It is sweet to unbend oneself at the proper opportunity, and this was the proper opportunity for Mrs. Proudie's unbending. No mortal can be seriously wise at all hours; and in these happy hours did that usually wise mortal, the bishop, lay aside for awhile his serious wisdom.

"We think of dining at five to-morrow, my Lady Papua," said the facetious bishop; "will that suit his lordship and the affairs of State? he! he! he!" And the good prelate laughed at the fun.

How pleasantly young men and women of fifty or thereabouts can joke and flirt and poke their fun about, laughing and holding their sides, dealing in little innuendoes and rejoicing in nicknames when they have no Mentors of twenty-five or thirty near them to keep them in order. The vicar of Framley might perhaps have been regarded as such a Mentor, were it not for that capability of adapting himself to the company immediately around him on which he so much piqued himself. He therefore also talked to my Lady Papua, and was jocose about the Baron,--not altogether to the satisfaction of Mr. Harold Smith himself.

For Mr. Harold Smith was in earnest and did not quite relish these jocundities. He had an idea that he could in about three months talk the British world into civilizing New Guinea, and that the world of Barsetshire would be made to go with him by one night's efforts. He did not understand why others should be less serious, and was inclined to resent somewhat stiffly the amenities of our friend Mark.

"We must not keep the Baron waiting," said Mark, as they were preparing to start for Barchester.

"I don't know what you mean by the Baron, sir," said Harold Smith. "But perhaps the joke will be against you, when you are getting up into your pulpit to-morrow and sending the hat round among the clodhoppers of Chaldicotes."

"Those who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones; eh, Baron?" said Miss Dunstable. "Mr. Robarts's sermon will be too near akin to your lecture to allow of his laughing."

"If we can do nothing towards instructing the outer world till it's done by the parsons," said Harold Smith, "the outer world will have to wait a long time, I fear."

"Nobody can do anything of that kind short of a member of Parliament and a would-be minister," whispered Mrs. Harold.

And so they were all very pleasant together, in spite of a little fencing with edge-tools; and at three o'clock the "cortége" of carriages started for Barchester, that of the bishop, of course, leading the way. His lordship, however, was not in it.

"Mrs. Proudie, I'm sure you'll let me go with you," said Miss Dunstable, at the last moment, as she came down the big stone steps. "I want to hear the rest of that story about Mr. Slope."

Now this upset everything. The bishop was to have gone with his wife, Mrs. Smith, and Mark Robarts; and Mr. Sowerby had so arranged matters that he could have accompanied Miss Dunstable in his phaeton. But no one ever dreamed of denying Miss Dunstable anything. Of course Mark gave way; but it ended in the bishop declaring that he had no special predilection for his own carriage, which he did in compliance with a glance from his wife's eye. Then other changes of course followed, and, at last, Mr. Sowerby and Harold Smith were the joint occupants of the phaeton.

The poor lecturer, as he seated himself, made some remark such as those he had been making for the last two days--for out of a full heart the mouth speaketh. But he spoke to an impatient listener. "D---- the South Sea islanders," said Mr. Sowerby. "You'll have it all your own way in a few minutes, like a bull in a china-shop; but for Heaven's sake let us have a little peace till that time comes." It appeared that Mr. Sowerby's little plan of having Miss Dunstable for his companion was not quite insignificant; and, indeed, it may be said that but few of his little plans were so. At the present moment he flung himself back in the carriage and prepared for sleep. He could further no plan of his by a "tête-à-tête" conversation with his brother-in-law.

And then Mrs. Proudie began her story about Mr. Slope, or rather recommenced it. She was very fond of talking about this gentleman, who had once been her pet chaplain but was now her bitterest foe; and in telling the story, she had sometimes to whisper to Miss Dunstable, for there were one or two fie-fie little anecdotes about a married lady, not altogether fit for young Mr. Robarts's ears. But Mrs. Harold Smith insisted on having them out loud, and Miss Dunstable would gratify that lady in spite of Mrs. Proudie's winks.

"What, kissing her hand, and he a clergyman!" said Miss Dunstable. "I did not think they ever did such things, Mr. Robarts."

"Still waters run deepest," said Mrs. Harold Smith.

"Hush-h-h," looked, rather than spoke, Mrs. Proudie. "The grief of spirit which that bad man caused me nearly broke my heart, and all the while, you know, he was courting--" and then Mrs. Proudie whispered a name.

"What, the dean's wife!" shouted Miss Dunstable, in a voice which made the coachman of the next carriage give a chuck to his horses as he overheard her.

"The archdeacon's sister-in-law!" screamed Mrs. Harold Smith.

"What might he not have attempted next?" said Miss Dunstable.

"She wasn't the dean's wife then, you know," said Mrs. Proudie, explaining.

"Well, you've a gay set in the chapter, I must say," said Miss Dunstable. "You ought to make one of them in Barchester, Mr. Robarts."

"Only perhaps Mrs. Robarts might not like it," said Mrs. Harold Smith.

"And then the schemes which he tried on with the bishop!" said Mrs. Proudie.

"It's all fair in love and war, you know," said Miss Dunstable.

"But he little knew whom he had to deal with when he began that," said Mrs. Proudie.

"The bishop was too many for him," suggested Mrs. Harold Smith, very maliciously.

"If the bishop was not, somebody else was; and he was obliged to leave Barchester in utter disgrace. He has since married the wife of some tallow-chandler."

"The wife!" said Miss Dunstable. "What a man!"

"Widow, I mean; but it's all one to him."

"The gentleman was clearly born when Venus was in the ascendant," said Mrs. Smith. "You clergymen usually are, I believe, Mr. Robarts." So that Mrs. Proudie's carriage was by no means the dullest as they drove into Barchester that day; and by degrees our friend Mark became accustomed to his companions, and before they reached the palace he acknowledged to himself that Miss Dunstable was very good fun.

We cannot linger over the bishop's dinner, though it was very good of its kind; and as Mr. Sowerby contrived to sit next to Miss Dunstable, thereby overturning a little scheme made by Mr. Supplehouse, he again shone forth in unclouded good humour. But Mr. Harold Smith became impatient immediately on the withdrawal of the cloth. The lecture was to begin at seven, and according to his watch that hour had already come. He declared that Sowerby and Supplehouse were endeavouring to delay matters in order that the Barchesterians might become vexed and impatient; and so the bishop was not allowed to exercise his hospitality in true episcopal fashion.

"You forget, Sowerby," said Supplehouse, "that the world here for the last fortnight has been looking forward to nothing else."

"The world shall be gratified at once," said Mrs. Harold, obeying a little nod from Mrs. Proudie. "Come, my dear," and she took hold of Miss Dunstable's arm, "don't let us keep Barchester waiting. We shall be ready in a quarter-of-an-hour, shall we not, Mrs. Proudie?" and so they sailed off.

"And we shall have time for one glass of claret," said the bishop.

"There; that's seven by the cathedral," said Harold Smith, jumping up from his chair as he heard the clock. "If the people have come it would not be right in me to keep them waiting, and I shall go."

"Just one glass of claret, Mr. Smith, and we'll be off," said the bishop.

"Those women will keep me an hour," said Harold, filling his glass, and drinking it standing. "They do it on purpose." He was thinking of his wife, but it seemed to the bishop as though his guest were actually speaking of Mrs. Proudie.

It was rather late when they all found themselves in the big room of the Mechanics' Institute; but I do not know whether this on the whole did them any harm. Most of Mr. Smith's hearers, excepting the party from the palace, were Barchester tradesmen with their wives and families; and they waited, not impatiently, for the big people. And then the lecture was gratis, a fact which is always borne in mind by an Englishman when he comes to reckon up and calculate the way in which he is treated. When he pays his money, then he takes his choice; he may be impatient or not as he likes. His sense of justice teaches him so much, and in accordance with that sense he usually acts.

So the people on the benches rose graciously when the palace party entered the room. Seats for them had been kept in the front. There were three arm-chairs, which were filled, after some little hesitation, by the bishop, Mrs. Proudie, and Miss Dunstable--Mrs. Smith positively declining to take one of them; though, as she admitted, her rank as Lady Papua of the islands did give her some claim. And this remark, as it was made quite out loud, reached Mr. Smith's ears as he stood behind a little table on a small raised dais, holding his white kid gloves; and it annoyed him and rather put him out. He did not like that joke about Lady Papua.

And then the others of the party sat upon a front bench covered with red cloth. "We shall find this very hard and very narrow about the second hour," said Mr. Sowerby, and Mr. Smith on his dais again overheard the words, and dashed his gloves down to the table. He felt that all the room would hear it.

And there were one or two gentlemen on the second seat who shook hands with some of our party. There was Mr. Thorne of Ullathorne, a good-natured old bachelor, whose residence was near enough to Barchester to allow of his coming in without much personal inconvenience; and next to him was Mr. Harding, an old clergyman of the chapter, with whom Mrs. Proudie shook hands very graciously, making way for him to seat himself close behind her if he would so please. But Mr. Harding did not so please. Having paid his respects to the bishop he returned quietly to the side of his old friend Mr. Thorne, thereby angering Mrs. Proudie, as might easily be seen by her face. And Mr. Chadwick also was there, the episcopal man of business for the diocese; but he also adhered to the two gentlemen above named.

And now that the bishop and the ladies had taken their places, Mr. Harold Smith relifted his gloves and again laid them down, hummed three times distinctly, and then began.

"It was," he said, "the most peculiar characteristic of the present era in the British islands that those who were high placed before the world in rank, wealth, and education were willing to come forward and give their time and knowledge without fee or reward, for the advantage and amelioration of those who did not stand so high in the social scale." And then he paused for a moment, during which Mrs. Smith remarked to Miss Dunstable that that was pretty well for a beginning; and Miss Dunstable replied, "that as for herself she felt very grateful to rank, wealth, and education." Mr. Sowerby winked to Mr. Supplehouse, who opened his eyes very wide and shrugged his shoulders. But the Barchesterians took it all in good part and gave the lecturer the applause of their hands and feet.

And then, well pleased, he recommenced--"I do not make these remarks with reference to myself--"

"I hope he's not going to be modest," said Miss Dunstable.

"It will be quite new if he is," replied Mrs. Smith.

"--so much as to many noble and talented lords and members of the Lower House who have lately from time to time devoted themselves to this good work." And then he went through a long list of peers and members of Parliament, beginning, of course, with Lord Boanerges, and ending with Mr. Green Walker, a young gentleman who had lately been returned by his uncle's interest for the borough of Crewe Junction, and had immediately made his entrance into public life by giving a lecture on the grammarians of the Latin language as exemplified at Eton school.

"On the present occasion," Mr. Smith continued, "our object is to learn something as to those grand and magnificent islands which lie far away, beyond the Indies, in the Southern Ocean; the lands of which produce rich spices and glorious fruits, and whose seas are imbedded with pearls and corals,--Papua and the Philippines, Borneo and the Moluccas. My friends, you are familiar with your maps, and you know the track which the equator makes for itself through those distant oceans." And then many heads were turned down, and there was a rustle of leaves; for not a few of those "who stood not so high in the social scale" had brought their maps with them, and refreshed their memories as to the whereabouts of these wondrous islands.

And then Mr. Smith also, with a map in his hand, and pointing occasionally to another large map which hung against the wall, went into the geography of the matter. "We might have found that out from our atlases, I think, without coming all the way to Barchester," said that unsympathizing helpmate, Mrs. Harold, very cruelly--most illogically too, for there be so many things which we could find out ourselves by search, but which we never do find out unless they be specially told us; and why should not the latitude and longitude of Labuan be one--or rather two of these things?

And then, when he had duly marked the path of the line through Borneo, Celebes, and Gilolo, through the Macassar strait and the Molucca passage, Mr. Harold Smith rose to a higher flight. "But what," said he, "avails all that God can give to man, unless man will open his hand to receive the gift? And what is this opening of the hand but the process of civilization--yes, my friends, the process of civilization? These South Sea islanders have all that a kind Providence can bestow on them; but that all is as nothing without education. That education and that civilization it is for you to bestow upon them--yes, my friends, for you; for you, citizens of Barchester as you are." And then he paused again, in order that the feet and hands might go to work. The feet and hands did go to work, during which Mr. Smith took a slight drink of water.

He was now quite in his element and had got into the proper way of punching the table with his fists. A few words dropping from Mr. Sowerby did now and again find their way to his ears, but the sound of his own voice had brought with it the accustomed charm, and he ran on from platitude to truism, and from truism back to platitude, with an eloquence that was charming to himself.

"Civilization," he exclaimed, lifting up his eyes and hands to the ceiling. "Oh, civilization--"

"There will not be a chance for us now for the next hour and a half," said Mr. Supplehouse, groaning.

Harold Smith cast one eye down at him, but it immediately flew back to the ceiling.

"Oh, civilization! thou that ennoblest mankind and makest him equal to the gods, what is like unto thee?" Here Mrs. Proudie showed evident signs of disapprobation, which no doubt would have been shared by the bishop, had not that worthy prelate been asleep. But Mr. Smith continued unobservant; or, at any rate, regardless.

"What is like unto thee? Thou art the irrigating stream which makest fertile the barren plain. Till thou comest all is dark and dreary; but at thy advent the noontide sun shines out, the earth gives forth her increase; the deep bowels of the rocks render up their tribute. Forms which were dull and hideous become endowed with grace and beauty, and vegetable existence rises to the scale of celestial life. Then, too, Genius appears clad in a panoply of translucent armour, grasping in his hand the whole terrestrial surface, and making every rood of earth subservient to his purposes;--Genius, the child of civilization, the mother of the Arts!"

The last little bit, taken from the Pedigree of Progress, had a great success, and all Barchester went to work with its hands and feet;--all Barchester, except that ill-natured aristocratic front-row together with the three arm-chairs at the corner of it. The aristocratic front-row felt itself to be too intimate with civilization to care much about it; and the three arm-chairs, or rather that special one which contained Mrs. Proudie, considered that there was a certain heathenness, a pagan sentimentality almost amounting to infidelity, contained in the lecturer's remarks, with which she, a pillar of the Church, could not put up, seated as she was now in public conclave.

"It is to civilization that we must look," continued Mr. Harold Smith, descending from poetry to prose as a lecturer well knows how, and thereby showing the value of both--"for any material progress in these islands; and--"

"And to Christianity," shouted Mrs. Proudie, to the great amazement of the assembled people and to the thorough wakening of the bishop, who, jumping up in his chair at the sound of the well-known voice, exclaimed, "Certainly, certainly."

"Hear, hear, hear," said those on the benches who particularly belonged to Mrs. Proudie's school of divinity in the city, and among the voices was distinctly heard that of a new verger in whose behalf she had greatly interested herself.

"Oh, yes, Christianity of course," said Harold Smith, upon whom the interruption did not seem to operate favourably.

"Christianity and Sabbath-day observance," exclaimed Mrs. Proudie, who, now that she had obtained the ear of the public, seemed well inclined to keep it. "Let us never forget that these islanders can never prosper unless they keep the Sabbath holy."

Poor Mr. Smith, having been so rudely dragged from his high horse, was never able to mount it again, and completed the lecture in a manner not at all comfortable to himself. He had there, on the table before him, a huge bundle of statistics with which he had meant to convince the reason of his hearers after he had taken full possession of their feelings. But they fell very dull and flat. And at the moment when he was interrupted he was about to explain that that material progress to which he had alluded could not be attained without money; and that it behoved them, the people of Barchester before him, to come forward with their purses like men and brothers. He did also attempt this; but from the moment of that fatal onslaught from the arm-chair, it was clear to him and to every one else, that Mrs. Proudie was now the hero of the hour. His time had gone by, and the people of Barchester did not care a straw for his appeal.

From these causes the lecture was over full twenty minutes earlier than any one had expected, to the great delight of Messrs. Sowerby and Supplehouse, who, on that evening, moved and carried a vote of thanks to Mrs. Proudie. For they had gay doings yet before they went to their beds.

"Robarts, here one moment," Mr. Sowerby said, as they were standing at the door of the Mechanics' Institute. "Don't you go off with Mr. and Mrs. Bishop. We are going to have a little supper at the Dragon of Wantly, and after what we have gone through upon my word we want it. You can tell one of the palace servants to let you in."

Mark considered the proposal wistfully. He would fain have joined the supper-party had he dared; but he, like many others of his cloth, had the fear of Mrs. Proudie before his eyes.

And a very merry supper they had; but poor Mr. Harold Smith was not the merriest of the party.

CHAPTER VII.

SUNDAY MORNING.

It was, perhaps, quite as well on the whole for Mark Robarts, that he did not go to that supper party. It was eleven o'clock before they sat down, and nearly two before the gentlemen were in bed. It must be remembered that he had to preach, on the coming Sunday morning, a charity sermon on behalf of a mission to Mr. Harold Smith's islanders; and, to tell the truth, it was a task for which he had now very little inclination.

When first invited to do this, he had regarded the task seriously enough, as he always did regard such work, and he completed his sermon for the occasion before he left Framley; but, since that, an air of ridicule had been thrown over the whole affair, in which he had joined without much thinking of his own sermon, and this made him now heartily wish that he could choose a discourse upon any other subject.

He knew well that the very points on which he had most insisted, were those which had drawn most mirth from Miss Dunstable and Mrs. Smith, and had oftenest provoked his own laughter; and how was he now to preach on those matters in a fitting mood, knowing, as he would know, that those two ladies would be looking at him, would endeavour to catch his eye, and would turn him into ridicule as they had already turned the lecturer?

In this he did injustice to one of the ladies, unconsciously. Miss Dunstable, with all her aptitude for mirth, and we may almost fairly say for frolic, was in no way inclined to ridicule religion or anything which she thought to appertain to it. It may be presumed that among such things she did not include Mrs. Proudie, as she was willing enough to laugh at that lady; but Mark, had he known her better, might have been sure that she would have sat out his sermon with perfect propriety.

As it was, however, he did feel considerable uneasiness; and in the morning he got up early with the view of seeing what might be done in the way of emendation. He cut out those parts which referred most specially to the islands,--he rejected altogether those names over which they had all laughed together so heartily,--and he inserted a string of general remarks, very useful, no doubt, which he flattered himself would rob his sermon of all similarity to Harold Smith's lecture. He had, perhaps, hoped, when writing it, to create some little sensation; but now he would be quite satisfied if it passed without remark.

But his troubles for that Sunday were destined to be many. It had been arranged that the party at the hotel should breakfast at eight, and start at half-past eight punctually, so as to enable them to reach Chaldicotes in ample time to arrange their dresses before they went to church. The church stood in the grounds, close to that long formal avenue of lime-trees, but within the front gates. Their walk, therefore, after reaching Mr. Sowerby's house, would not be long.

Mrs. Proudie, who was herself an early body, would not hear of her guest--and he a clergyman--going out to the inn for his breakfast on a Sunday morning. As regarded that Sabbath-day journey to Chaldicotes, to that she had given her assent, no doubt with much uneasiness of mind; but let them have as little desecration as possible. It was, therefore, an understood thing that he was to return with his friends; but he should not go without the advantage of family prayers and family breakfast. And so Mrs. Proudie on retiring to rest gave the necessary orders, to the great annoyance of her household.

To the great annoyance, at least, of her servants! The bishop himself did not make his appearance till a much later hour. He in all things now supported his wife's rule; in all things, now, I say; for there had been a moment, when in the first flush and pride of his episcopacy other ideas had filled his mind. Now, however, he gave no opposition to that good woman with whom Providence had blessed him; and in return for such conduct that good woman administered in all things to his little personal comforts. With what surprise did the bishop now look back upon that unholy war which he had once been tempted to wage against the wife of his bosom?

Nor did any of the Miss Proudies show themselves at that early hour. They, perhaps, were absent on a different ground. With them Mrs. Proudie had not been so successful as with the bishop. They had wills of their own which became stronger and stronger every day. Of the three with whom Mrs. Proudie was blessed one was already in a position to exercise that will in a legitimate way over a very excellent young clergyman in the diocese, the Rev. Optimus Grey; but the other two, having as yet no such opening for their powers of command, were perhaps a little too much inclined to keep themselves in practice at home.

But at half-past seven punctually Mrs. Proudie was there, and so was the domestic chaplain; so was Mr. Robarts, and so were the household servants,--all excepting one lazy recreant. "Where is Thomas?" said she of the Argus eyes, standing up with her book of family prayers in her hand. "So please you, ma'am, Tummas be bad with the tooth-ache." "Tooth-ache!" exclaimed Mrs. Proudie; but her eyes said more terrible things than that. "Let Thomas come to me before church." And then they proceeded to prayers. These were read by the chaplain, as it was proper and decent that they should be; but I cannot but think that Mrs. Proudie a little exceeded her office in taking upon herself to pronounce the blessing when the prayers were over. She did it, however, in a clear, sonorous voice, and perhaps with more personal dignity than was within the chaplain's compass.

Mrs. Proudie was rather stern at breakfast, and the vicar of Framley felt an unaccountable desire to get out of the house. In the first place she was not dressed with her usual punctilious attention to the proprieties of her high situation. It was evident that there was to be a further toilet before she sailed up the middle of the cathedral choir. She had on a large loose cap with no other strings than those which were wanted for tying it beneath her chin, a cap with which the household and the chaplain were well acquainted, but which seemed ungracious in the eyes of Mr. Robarts after all the well-dressed holiday doings of the last week. She wore also a large, loose, dark-coloured wrapper, which came well up round her neck, and which was not buoyed out, as were her dresses in general, with an under mechanism of petticoats. It clung to her closely, and added to the inflexibility of her general appearance. And then she had encased her feet in large carpet slippers, which no doubt were comfortable, but which struck her visitor as being strange and unsightly.

"Do you find a difficulty in getting your people together for early morning prayers?" she said, as she commenced her operations with the teapot.

"I can't say that I do," said Mark. "But then we are seldom so early as this."

"Parish clergymen should be early, I think," said she. "It sets a good example in the village."

"I am thinking of having morning prayers in the church," said Mr. Robarts.

"That's nonsense," said Mrs. Proudie, "and usually means worse than nonsense. I know what that comes to. If you have three services on Sunday and domestic prayers at home, you do very well." And so saying she handed him his cup.

"But I have not three services on Sunday, Mrs. Proudie."

"Then I think you should have. Where can the poor people be so well off on Sundays as in church? The bishop intends to express a very strong opinion on this subject in his next charge; and then I am sure you will attend to his wishes."

To this Mark made no answer, but devoted himself to his egg.

"I suppose you have not a very large establishment at Framley?" asked Mrs. Proudie.

"What, at the parsonage?"

"Yes; you live at the parsonage, don't you?"

"Certainly--well; not very large, Mrs. Proudie; just enough to do the work, make things comfortable, and look after the children."

"It is a very fine living," said she; "very fine. I don't remember that we have anything so good ourselves,--except it is Plumstead, the archdeacon's place. He has managed to butter his bread pretty well."

"His father was Bishop of Barchester."

"Oh, yes, I know all about him. Only for that he would barely have risen to be an archdeacon, I suspect. Let me see; yours is £800, is it not, Mr. Robarts? And you such a young man! I suppose you have insured your life highly."

"Pretty well, Mrs. Proudie."

"And then, too, your wife had some little fortune, had she not? We cannot all fall on our feet like that; can we, Mr. White?" and Mrs. Proudie in her playful way appealed to the chaplain.

Mrs. Proudie was an imperious woman; but then so also was Lady Lufton; and it may therefore be said that Mr. Robarts ought to have been accustomed to feminine domination; but as he sat there munching his toast he could not but make a comparison between the two. Lady Lufton in her little attempts sometimes angered him; but he certainly thought, comparing the lay lady and the clerical together, that the rule of the former was the lighter and the pleasanter. But then Lady Lufton had given him a living and a wife, and Mrs. Proudie had given him nothing.

Immediately after breakfast Mr. Robarts escaped to the Dragon of Wantly, partly because he had had enough of the matutinal Mrs. Proudie, and partly also in order tha

 

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  • Coloro che si iscrivono alla nostra newsletter (iscrizione caratterizzata da procedura double opt-in) accettano di ricevere saltuariamente delle comunicazioni di carattere informativo sulle novità del sito e, occasionalmente, delle offerte speciali relative a prodotti linguistici a pagamento sia nostri che di altre aziende. In ogni caso chiunque può disiscriversi semplicemente cliccando sulla scritta Cancella l'iscrizione che si trova in fondo alla newsletter, non è quindi necessario scriverci per chiedere esplicitamente la cancellazione dell'iscrizione.
  • L'utente, inoltre, accetta di tenere Casiraghi Jones Publishing SRL indenne da qualsiasi tipo di responsabilità per l'uso - ed eventuali conseguenze di esso - degli esercizi e delle informazioni linguistiche e grammaticali contenute sul siti. Le risposte grammaticali sono infatti improntate ad un criterio di praticità e pragmaticità più che ad una completezza ed esaustività che finirebbe per frastornare, per l'eccesso di informazione fornita, il nostro utente. La segnalazione di eventuali errori è gradita e darà luogo ad una immediata rettifica.

     

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    Roberto Casiraghi           
    INFORMATIVA SULLA PRIVACY              Crystal Jones


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