Framley Parsonage, by Anthony Trollope

Chapter XI

Griselda Grantly

It was nearly a month after this that Lucy was first introduced to Lord Lufton, and then it was brought about only by accident. During that time Lady Lufton had been often at the parsonage, and had in a certain degree learned to know Lucy; but the stranger in the parish had never yet plucked up courage to accept one of the numerous invitations that had reached her. Mr Robarts and his wife had frequently been at Framley Court, but the dreaded day of Lucy’s initiation had not yet arrived. She had seen Lord Lufton in church, but hardly as to know him, and beyond that she had not seem him at all. One day, however — or rather, one evening, for it was already dusk — he overtook her and Mrs Robarts on the road walking towards the vicarage. He had his gun on his shoulder, three pointers were at his heels, and a game-keeper followed a little in the rear.

‘How are you Mrs Robarts?’ he said, almost before he had overtaken them. ‘I have been chasing you along the road for the last half-mile. I never knew ladies walk so fast.’

‘We should be frozen if we were to dawdle about as you gentlemen do,’ and then she stopped and shook hands with him. She forgot at the moment that Lucy and he had not met, and therefore she did not introduce them.

‘Won’t you make me known to your sister-inlaw!’ said he taking off his hat, and bowing to Lucy. ‘I have never yet had the pleasure of meeting her, though we have been neighbours for a month or more.’ Fanny made her excuses and introduced them, and then they went on till they came to Framley Gate, Lord Lufton talking to them both, and Fanny answering for the two, and there they stopped for a moment.

‘I am surprised to see you alone,’ Mrs Robarts had just said; ‘I thought that Captain Culpepper was with you.’

‘The captain has left me for this one day. If you’ll whisper, I’ll tell you where he has gone. I dare not speak it out loud, even to the woods.’

‘To what terrible place can he have taken himself? I’ll have no whispering about such horrors.’

‘He has gone to — to — but you’ll promise not to tell my mother?’

‘Do you promise then?’

‘Oh, yes! I will promise, because I am sure Lady Lufton won’t ask me as to Captain Culpepper’s whereabouts. We won’t tell; will we Lucy?’

‘He has gone to Gatherum Castle for a day’s pheasant-shooting. Now, mind you must not betray us. Her ladyship supposes that he is shut up in his room with a toothache. We did not dare to mention the name to her.’ and then it appeared that Mrs Robarts had some engagement which made it necessary that she should go up and see Lady Lufton, whereas Lucy was intending to walk on to the parsonage alone.

‘And I have promised to go to your husband,’ said Lord Lufton; ‘or rather to your husband’s dog, Ponto. And I will do two other good things — I will carry a brace of pheasants with me, and protect Miss Robarts from the evil spirits of the Framley roads.’ And so Mrs Robarts turned at the gate, and Lucy and his lordship walked off together. Lord Lufton, though he had never before spoken to Miss Robarts, had already found out that she was by no means plain. Though he had hardly seen her except at church, he had already made himself certain that the owner of that face must be worth knowing, and was not sorry to have the present opportunity of speaking to her. ‘So you have an unknown damsel shut up in your castle,’ he had once said to Mrs Robarts. ‘If she be kept a prisoner much longer, I shall find it my duty to come and release her by force of arms.’ He had been there twice with the object of seeing her, but on both occasions Lucy had managed to escape. Now we may say she was fairly caught, and Lord Lufton, taking a pair of pheasants from the gamekeeper, and swinging them over his shoulder, walked off with his prey. ‘You have been here a long time,’ he said, ‘without our having had the pleasure of seeing you.’

‘Yes, my lord,’ said Lucy. Lords had not been frequent among her acquaintance hereto.

‘I will tell Mrs Robarts that she has been confining you illegally, and that we shall release you by force or stratagem.’

‘I-I-I have had a great sorrow lately.’

‘Yes, Miss Robarts; I know you have; and I am only joking, you know. But I do hope that now you will be able to come among us. My mother is so anxious that you should do so.’

‘I am sure she is very kind, and you also — my lord.’

‘I never knew my own father,’ said Lord Lufton, speaking gravely. ‘But I can well understands what a loss you have had.’ And then, after pausing a moment, he continued, ‘I remember Dr Robarts well.’

‘Do you, indeed?’ said Lucy, turning sharply towards him, and speaking now with some animation in her voice. Nobody had yet spoken to her about her father since she had been at Framley. It had been as though the subject was a forbidden one. And how frequently is this the case? When those we love are dead, our friends dread to mention them, though to us who are bereaved no subject would be so pleasant as their names. But we rarely understand how to treat our own sorrow or those of others.

There was once a people in some land — and they may be still there for what I know — who thought it sacrilegious to stay the course of a raging fire. If a house were being burned, burn it must, even though there were facilities for saving it. For who would dare to interfere with the course of the god? Our idea of sorrow is much the same. We think it wicked, or at any rate heartless, to put it out. If a man’s wife be dead, he should go about lugubrious with long face, for at least two years, or perhaps with full length for eighteen months, decreasing gradually during the other six. If he be a man who can quench his sorrow — put out his fire as it were — in less time than that, let him at any rate not show his power!

‘Yes, I remember him,’ continued Lord Lufton. ‘He came twice to Framley, while I was still a boy, consulting with my mother about Mark and myself — whether the Eton floggings were not more efficacious than those of Harrow. He was very kind to me, foreboding all manner of good things on my behalf.’

‘He was very kind to every one,’ said Lucy.

‘I should think he would have been — a kind, good, genial man — just the man to be adored by his own family.’

‘Exactly; and so he was. I do not remember that I ever heard an unkind word from him. There was not a hard tone in his voice. And he was generous as the day.’ Lucy, we have said, was not generally demonstrative, but now, on this subject, and with this absolute stranger, she became almost eloquent.

‘I do not wonder that you should feel his loss, Miss Robarts.’

‘Oh, I do feel it. Mark is the best of brothers, and, as for Fanny, she is too kind and too good to me. But I had always been specially my father’s friend. For the last year or two we had lived so much together!’

‘He was an old man when he died, was he not?’

‘Just seventy, my lord.’

‘Ah, then he was old. My mother is only fifty, and we sometimes call her an old woman. Do you think she looks older than that? We all say that she makes herself out to be so much more ancient than she need do.’

‘Lady Lufton does not dress young.’

‘That is it. She never has, in my memory. She always used to wear black when I first recollect her. She has given that up now; but she is still very sombre; is she not?’

‘I do not like ladies to dress very young, that is, ladies of — of —’

‘Ladies of fifty, shall we say?’

‘Very well; ladies of fifty, if you like it.’

‘Then I am sure you will like my mother.’

They had now turned up through the parsonage wicket, a little gate that opened into the garden at a point on the road nearer than the chief entrance. ‘I suppose I shall find Mark up at the house?’ said he.

‘I dare say you will, my lord.’

‘Well, I’ll go round this way, for my business is partly in the stable. You see I am quite at home here, though you never have seen me before. But Miss Robarts, now that the ice is broken, I hope that we may be friends.’ He then put out his hand, and when she gave him hers he pressed it almost as an old friend might have done. And, indeed, Lucy had talked to him almost as though he were an old friend. For a minute or two she had forgotten that he was a lord and a stranger — had forgotten also to be still and guarded as was her wont. Lord Lufton had spoken to her as though he had really cared to know her; and she, unconsciously, had been taken by the compliment. Lord Lufton, indeed, had not thought much about it — excepting as thus, that he liked the glance of a pair of bright eyes, as most other men do like it. But, on this occasion, the evening had been so dark, that he had hardly seen Lucy’s eyes at all.

‘Well, Lucy, I hope you liked your companion,’ Mrs Robarts said, as the three of them clustered round the drawing-room fire before dinner.

‘Oh yes; pretty well,’ said Lucy.

‘That is not at all complimentary to his lordship.’

‘I did not mean to be complimentary, Fanny.’

‘Lucy is a great deal too matter-of-fact for compliments,’ said Mark.

‘What I meant was, that I had no great opportunity for judging, seeing that I was only with Lord Lufton for about ten minutes.’

‘Ah! but there are girls here who would give their eyes for ten minutes of Lord Lufton to themselves. You do not know how he’s valued. He has the character of being always able to make himself agreeable to ladies at half a minute’s warning.’

‘Perhaps he had not the half-minute’s warning in this case,’ said Lucy — hypocrite that she was.

‘Poor Lucy,’ said her brother; ‘he was coming up to see Ponto’s shoulder, and I am afraid he was thinking more about the dog than you.’

‘Very likely,’ said Lucy; and then they went in to dinner. Lucy had been a hypocrite, for she had confessed to herself, while dressing, that Lord Lufton had been very pleasant; but then it is allowed to young ladies to be hypocrites when the subject under discussion is the character of a young gentleman.

Soon after that Lucy did dine at Framley Court. Captain Culpepper, in spite of his enormity with reference to Gatherum Castle, was still staying there, as was also a clergyman from the neighbourhood of Barchester with his wife and daughter. This was Archdeacon Grantly, a gentleman whom we have mentioned before, and who was as well known in the diocese as the bishop himself, and more thought of by many clergymen than even that illustrious prelate. Miss Grantly was a young lady not much older than Lucy Robarts, and she also was quiet, and not given to much talking in open company. She was decidedly a beauty; but somewhat statuesque in her loveliness. Her forehead was high and white, but perhaps too like marble to gratify the taste of those who are fond of flesh and blood. Her eyes were large and exquisitely formed, but they seldom showed much emotion. She, indeed, was impassible herself, and betrayed but little of her feelings. Her nose was nearly Grecian, not coming absolutely in a straight line from her forehead, but doing so nearly enough to entitle it to be considered as classical. Her mouth, too, was very fine — artists, at least, said so, and connoisseurs in beauty; but to me she always seemed as though she wanted fulness of lip. But the exquisite symmetry of her cheek and chin and lower face no man could deny. Her hair was light, and being always dressed with considerable care, did not detract from her appearance; but it lacked that richness which gives such luxuriance to feminine loveliness. She was tall and slight, and very graceful in her movements; but there were those who thought that she wanted the ease and abandon of youth. They said that she was too composed and stiff for her age, and that she gave but little to society beyond the beauty of her form and face. There can be no doubt, however, that she was considered by most men and women to be the beauty of Barsetshire, and that gentlemen from neighbouring counties would come many miles through dirty roads on the mere hope of being able to dance with her. Whatever attractions she may have lacked, she had at any rate created for herself a great reputation. She had spent two months of the last spring in London, and even there she had made a sensation; and people had said that Lord Dumbello, Lady Hartletop’s eldest son, had been peculiarly struck with her.

It may be imagined that the archdeacon was proud of her, and so, indeed, was Mrs Grantly — more proud, perhaps, of her daughter’s beauty, than so excellent a woman should have allowed herself to be of such an attribute. Griselda — that was her name — was now an only daughter. One sister she had had, but that sister had died. There were two brothers also left, one in the Church, and the other in the Army. That was the extent of the archdeacon’s family, and as the archdeacon was a very rich man — he was the only child of his father, who had been Bishop of Barchester for a great many years; and in those years it had been worth a man’s while to be Bishop of Barchester — it was supposed that Miss Grantly would have a large fortune. Mrs Grantly, however, had been heard to say, that she was in no hurry to see her daughter established in the world; — ordinary young ladies are merely married, but those of real importance are established; — and this, if anything, added to the value of the prize. Mothers sometimes depreciate their wares by an undue solicitude to dispose of them. But to tell the truth openly and at once — a virtue for which a novelist does not receive very much commendation — Griselda Grantly was, to a certain extent, already given away. Not that she, Griselda, knew anything about it, or that the thrice happy gentleman had been made aware of his good fortune; nor even had the archdeacon been told. But Mrs Grantly and Lady Lufton had been closeted together more than once, and terms had been signed and sealed between them. Not signed on parchment, and sealed with wax, as is the case with treaties made by kings and diplomats — to be broken by the same; but signed with little words, and sealed with certain pressings of the hand — a treaty which between two such contracting parties would be binding enough. And by the terms of this treaty Griselda Grantly was to become Lady Lufton. Lady Lufton had hitherto been fortuned in her matrimonial speculations. She had selected Sir George for her daughter, and Sir George, with the utmost good nature, had fallen in with her views. She had selected Fanny Monsell for Mr Robarts, and Fanny Monsell had not rebelled against her for a moment. There was a prestige of success about her doings, and she felt almost confident that her dear son Ludovic must fall in love with Griselda. As to the lady herself, nothing, Lady Lufton thought, could be much better than such a match for her son. Lady Lufton, I have said, was a good Churchwoman, and the archdeacon was the very type of that branch of the Church which she venerated. The Grantlys, too, were of a good family — not noble, indeed; but in such matters Lady Lufton did not want everything. She was one of those persons who, in placing their hopes at a moderate pitch, may fairly trust to see them realized. She would fain that her son’s wife should be handsome; this she wished for his sake, that he might be proud of his wife, and because men love to look on beauty. But she was afraid of vivacious beauty, of those soft, sparkling feminine charms which spread out as lures for all the world, soft dimples, laughing eyes, luscious lips, conscious smiles, and easy whispers. What if her son should bring her home a rattling, rapid-spoken, painted piece of Eve’s flesh such as this? Would not the glory and joy of her life be over, even though such child of their first mother should have come forth to the present day ennobled by the blood of two dozen successive British peers?

And then, too, Griselda’s money would not be useless. Lady Lufton, with all her high flown ideas, was not an imprudent woman. She knew that her son had been extravagant, though she did not believe that he had been reckless; and she was well content to think that some balsam from the old bishop’s coffers should be made to cure the slight wounds which his early imprudence might have inflicted on the carcass of the family property. And thus, in this way, and for these reasons, Griselda Grantly had been chosen out from all the world to be the future Lady Lufton. Lord Lufton had met Griselda more than once already; had met her before these high contracting parties had come to any terms whatsoever, and had evidently admired her. Lord Dumbello had remained silent one whole evening in London with effable disgust, because Lord Lufton had been rather particular in his attentions; but then Lord Dumbello’s muteness was his most eloquent mode of expression. Both Lady Hartletop and Mrs Grantly, when they saw him, knew very well what he meant. But that match would not exactly have suited Mrs Grantly’s views. The Hartletop people were not in her line. They belonged altogether to another set, being connected, as we have heard before, with the Omnium interest —‘those horrid Gatherum people’, as Lady Lufton would say to her, raising her hands and eyebrows, and shaking her head. Lady Lufton probably thought that they ate babies in pies during their midnight orgies at Gatherum Castle; and that widows were kept in cells, and occasionally put on racks for the amusement of the duke’s guests.

When the Robarts’s party entered the drawing-room the Grantlys were already there, and the archdeacon’s voice sounded loud and imposing in Lucy’s ears, as she heard him speaking while she was yet on the threshold of the door. ‘My dear Lady Lufton, I would believe anything on earth about her — anything. There is nothing too outrageous for her. Had she insisted on going there with the bishop’s apron on, I should not have been surprised.’ And then they all knew that the archdeacon was talking about Mrs Proudie, for Mrs Proudie was his bugbear.

Lady Lufton after receiving her guests introduced Lucy to Griselda Grantly. Miss Grantly smiled graciously, bowed slightly, and then remarked in the lowest voice possible that it was exceedingly cold. A low voice, we know, is an excellent thing in a woman. Lucy, who thought that she was bound to speak, said that it was cold, but that she did not mind it when she was walking. And then Griselda smiled again, somewhat less graciously than before, and so the conversation ended. Miss Grantly was the elder of the two, and having seen most of the world, should have been the best able to talk, but perhaps she was not very anxious for a conversation with Miss Robarts.

‘So, Robarts, I hear that you have been preaching at Chaldicotes,’ said the archdeacon, still rather loudly. ‘I saw Sowerby the other day, and he told me that you gave them the fag end of Mrs Proudie’s lecture.’

‘It was ill-natured of Sowerby to say the fag end,’ said Robarts. ‘We divided the matter into thirds. Harold Smith took the first part, I the last —’

‘And the lady the intervening portion. You have electrified the county between you; but I am told that she had the best of it.’

‘I was so sorry that Mr Robarts went there,’ said Lady Lufton, as she walked into the dining-room leaning on the archdeacon’s arm.

‘I am inclined to think he could not very well have helped himself,’ said the archdeacon, who was never willing to lean heavily on a brother parson, unless on one who had utterly and irrevocably gone away from his side of the Church.

‘Do you think not, archdeacon?’

‘Why, no; Sowerby is a friend of Lufton’s —’

‘Not particularly,’ said poor Lady Lufton, in a deprecating tone.

‘Well, they have been intimate;’ and Robarts, when he was asked to preach at Chaldicotes, could not well refuse.’

‘But then he went afterwards to Gatherum Castle. Not that I am vexed with him at all now, you understand. But it is auch a dangerous house, you know.’

‘So it is. — But the very fact of the duke’s wishing to have a clergyman there, should always be taken as a sign of grace, Lady Lufton. The air was impure, no doubt; but it was less impure with Robarts there than it would have been without him. But, gracious heavens! what blasphemy have I been saying about impure air? Why, the bishop was there!’

‘Yes, the bishop was there,’ said Lady Lufton, and they both understood each other thoroughly.

Lord Lufton took out Mrs Grantly to dinner, and matters were so arranged that Miss Grantly sat on is other side. There was no management apparent in this to anybody; but there she was, while Lucy was placed between her brother and Captain Culpepper. Captain Culpepper was a man with an enormous moustache, and a great aptitude for slaughtering game; but as he had no other strong characteristics it was not probable that he would make himself very agreeable to poor Lucy. She had seen Lord Lufton once, for two minutes, since the day of that walk, and then he had addressed her quite like an old friend. It had been in the parsonage drawing-room, and Fanny had been there. Fanny was now so well accustomed to his lordship, that she thought but little of this, but to Lucy it had been very pleasant. He was not forward or familiar, but kind and gentle, and pleasant; and Lucy did feel that she liked him. Now, on this evening, he had hitherto hardly spoken to her; but then she knew that there were other people in the company to whom he was bound to speak. She was not exactly humble-minded in the usual sense of the word; but she did recognise the fact that her position was less important than that of other people there, and that therefore it was probable that to a certain extent she would be overlooked. But not the less would she have liked to occupy the seat to which Miss Grantly had found her way. She did not want to flirt with Lord Lufton; she was not such a fool as that; but she would have liked to have heard the sound of his voice close to her ear, instead of that of Captain Culpepper’s knife and fork. This was the first occasion on which she had endeavoured to dress herself with care since her father had died; and now, sombre though she was in her deep mourning, she did look very well.

‘There is an expression about her forehead that is full of poetry,’ said Fanny to her husband.

‘Don’t you turn her head, Fanny, and make her believe that she is a beauty,’ Mark had answered.

‘I doubt it is not so easy to turn her head, Mark. There is more in Lucy than you imagine, and so you will find out before long.’ So it was thus that Mrs Robarts prophesied about her sister-inlaw. Had she been asked she might perhaps have said that Lucy’s presence would be dangerous to the Grantly interest at Framley Court.

Lord Lufton’s voice was audible enough as he went on talking to Miss Grantly — his voice, but not his words. He talked in such a way that there was no appearance of whispering, and yet the person to whom he spoke, and she only, could hear what he said. Mrs Grantly the while conversed constantly with Lucy’s brother, who sat at Lucy’s left hand. She never lacked for subjects on which to speak to a country clergyman of the right sort, and thus Griselda was left quite uninterrupted. But Lucy could not but observe that Griselda herself seemed to have very little to say — or at any rate to say very little. Every now and then she did open her mouth, and some word or brace of words would fall from it. But for the most part she seemed to be content in the fact that Lord Lufton was paying her attention. She showed no animation, but sat there still and graceful, composed and classical, as she always was. Lucy, who could not keep her ears from listening or her eyes from looking, thought that had she been there she would have endeavoured to take a more prominent part in the conversation. But then Griselda Grantly probably know much better than Lucy did how to comport herself in such a situation. Perhaps it might be that young men such as Lord Lufton, liked to hear the sound of their own voices.

‘Immense deal of game about here,’ Captain Culpepper said to her towards the end of dinner. It was the second attempt he had made; on the former he had asked her whether she knew any fellows of the 9th.

‘Is there?’ said Lucy. ‘Oh! I saw Lord Lufton the other day with a great armful of pheasants.’

‘An armful! Why we had seven cartloads the other day at Gatherum.’

‘Seven cartloads of pheasants!’ said Lucy, amazed.

‘That’s not so much. We had eight guns, you know. Eight guns will do a deal of work when the game has been well got together. They manage all that capitally at Gatherum. Been at the duke’s, eh?’ Lucy had heard the Framley report as to Gatherum Castle, and said with a sort of shudder that she had never been at that place. After this, Captain Culpepper troubled her no further.

When the ladies had taken themselves to the drawing-room Lucy found herself hardly better off than she had been at the dinner-table. Lady Lufton and Mrs Grantly got themselves on to a sofa together, and there chatted confidently into each other’s ears. Her ladyship had introduced Lucy to Miss Grantly, and then she naturally thought that the young people might do very well together. Mrs Robarts did attempt to bring about a joint conversation, which should include the three, and for ten minutes or so she worked hard at it. But it did not thrive. Miss Grantly was monosyllabic, smiling, however, at every monosyllable; and Lucy found that nothing would occur to her at that moment worthy of being spoken. There she sat, still and motionless, afraid to take up a book, and thinking in her heart how much happier she would have been at home at the parsonage. She was not made for society; she felt sure of that; and another time she would let Mark and Fanny come to Framley Court by themselves. And then the gentlemen came in, and there was another stir in the room. Lady Lufton got up and bustled about; she poked the fire and shifted the candles, spoke a few words to Dr Grantly, whispered something to her son, patted Lucy on the cheek, told Fanny, who was a musician, that they would have a little music, and ended by putting her two hands on Griselda’s shoulders and telling her that the fit of her frock was perfect. For Lady Lufton, though she did dress old herself, as Lucy had said, delighted to see those around her neat and pretty, jaunty and graceful. ‘Dear Lady Lufton!’ said Griselda, putting up her hand so as to press the end of her ladyship’s fingers. It was the first piece of animation she had shown, and Lucy Robarts watched it all. And then there was music, Lucy neither played nor sang; Fanny did both, and for an amateur she did both well. Griselda did not sing, but she played; and did so in a manner that showed that neither her own labour nor her father’s money had been spared in her instruction. Lord Lufton sang also, a little, and Captain Culpepper a very little; so that they got up a concert among them. In the meantime the doctor and Mark stood talking together on the rug before the fire; the two mothers sat contented, watching the billings and the cooings of their offspring — and Lucy sat alone, turning over the leaves of a book of pictures. She made up her mind fully, then and there, that she was quite unfitted by disposition for such work as this. She cared for no one, and no one cared for her. Well, she must go through with it now; but another time she would know better. With her own book and a fireside she never felt herself to be miserable as she was now. She had turned her back to the music for she was sick of seeing Lord Lufton watch the artistic motion of Miss Grantly’s fingers, and was sitting at a small table as far away from the piano as a long room would permit, when she was suddenly roused from her reverie of self-reproach by a voice close behind her: ‘Miss Robarts,’ said the voice, ‘why have you cut us all?’ And Lucy felt that, though she heard the voice plainly, nobody else did. Lord Lufton was now speaking to her as he had before spoken to Miss Grantly.

‘I don’t play, my lord,’ said Lucy, ‘nor yet sing.’

‘That would have made your company so much more valuable to us, for we are terribly badly off for listeners. Perhaps you don’t like the music?’

‘I do like it — sometimes very much.’

‘And when are the sometimes? But we shall find it all out in time. We shall have unravelled all you mysteries, and read all your riddles by — when shall I say? —-by the end of winter.’

‘I do not know that I have got any mysteries.’

‘Oh, but you have! It is very mysterious in you to come and sit here — with you back to us all —’

‘Oh, Lord Lufton; if I have done wrong —!’ and poor Lucy almost started from her chair, and a deep flush came across her dark neck.

‘No — no; you have done no wrong. I was only joking. It is we who have done you wrong in leaving you to yourself — you who are the greatest stranger among us.’

‘I have been very well, thank you. I don’t care about being left alone. I have always been used to it.’

‘Ah! but we must break you of the habit. We won’t allow you to make a hermit of yourself. But the truth is, Miss Robarts, you don’t know us yet, and therefore you are not quite happy among us.’

‘Oh! Yes I am; you are all very good to me.’

‘You must let us be good to you. At any rate, you must let me do so. You know, don’t you, that Mark and I have been dear friends since we were seven years old. His wife has been my sister’s dearest friend almost as long; and now that you are with them, you must be a dear friend too. You won’t refuse the offer, will you?’

‘Oh, no’ she said quite in a whisper; and, indeed, she could hardly raise her voice above a whisper, fearing that tears would fall from her tell-tale eyes.

‘Dr and Mrs Grantly will have gone in a couple of days, and then we must get you down here. Miss Grantly is to remain for Christmas, and you two must become bosom friends.’ Lucy smiled, and tried to look pleased, but she felt that she and Griselda Grantly could never be bosom friends — could never have anything in common between them. She felt sure that Griselda despised her, little, brown, plain, and unimportant as she was. She herself could not despise Griselda in turn; indeed she could not but admire Miss Grantly’s great beauty and dignity of demeanour; but she knew that she could never love her. It is hardly possible that the proud-hearted should love those who despise them; and Lucy Robarts was very proud-hearted.

‘Don’t you think she is very handsome?’ said Lord Lufton.

‘Oh, very,’ said Lucy. ‘Nobody can doubt that.’

‘Ludovic,’ said Lady Lufton — not quite approving of her son’s remaining so long at the back of Lucy’s chair —‘won’t you give us another song? Mrs Robarts and Miss Grantly are still at the piano.’

‘I have sung away all that I know, mother. There’s Culpepper has not had a chance yet. He has got to give us his dreams — how he “dreamt that he dwelt in marble halls”!’

‘I sung that an hour ago,’ said the captain, not over-pleased.

‘But you certainly have not told us how “your little lovers came”!’ The captain, however, would not sing any more. And then the party was broken up, and the Robartses went home to their parsonage.

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Last updated Tuesday, March 4, 2014 at 18:43