Framley Parsonage, by Anthony Trollope

Chapter V

Amantium Irae Amoris Intergratio

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, passed through the villages of Uffey and Chaldicotes, reaching Barchester in time for the up-mail from 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 steps to pick up a blackberry.’

‘There hain’t no hedges her, 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 tarmation 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 the intervening Sunday, doing all 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 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 the letter back to her mistress; for Robin had got another village before him, expectant of his 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 woman 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 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 the 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 in 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 tomorrow; 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 realised 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 do 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 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 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 to 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 was indeed 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 boldly 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 the 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;’ 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 the 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 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 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 judgement 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 judgement 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 on 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 to 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.” 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 to you,’ said Mrs Robarts.

‘It did not much matter whether you did or not; 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 on 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 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 one gets.’

‘I don’t know what you mean by return, Lady Lufton; but would you wish me to stand quietly by 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 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 very 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 shaken. 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 black 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 there.’

‘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?’

‘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 in 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 thoughts 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 declared 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, ‘I have come to beg your pardon.’

‘Oh, Lady Lufton!’

‘I was very much distressed 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, 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’s, 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 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 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 about 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 in 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 well what it contains. You must alter it altogether, my dear.’ And then Lady Lufton left.

Mrs Robarts instantly rushed to her desk and tore open the letter. She looked at her watch and it was past four. She had hardly begun 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 letter. But he might want the money immediately, so she would not delay it a day.

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