The Last Chronicle of Barset, by Anthony Trollope

Chapter XXXII

Mr Toogood

Mr Crawley had declared to Mr Robarts, that he would summon no legal aid to his assistance at the coming trial. The reader may, perhaps, remember the impetuosity with which he rejected the advice on this subject which was conveyed to him by Mr Robarts with all the authority of Archdeacon Grantly’s name. ‘Tell the archdeacon,’ he had said, ‘that I will have none of his advice.’ And then Mr Robarts had left him, fully convinced that any further interference on his part could be of no avail. Nevertheless, the words which had then been spoken were not without effect. This coming trial was ever present to Mr Crawley’s mind, and though, when driven to discuss the subject, he would speak of it with high spirit, as he had done both to the bishop and to Mr Robarts, yet in his long hours of privacy, or when alone with his wife, his spirit was anything but high. ‘It will kill me,’ he would say to her. ‘I shall get salvation thus. Death will relieve me, and I shall never be called upon to stand before those cruel eager eyes.’ Then she would try to say words of comfort, sometimes soothing him, as though he were a child, and at others bidding him to be a man, and remember that as a man he should have sufficient endurance to bear the eyes of any crowd that might be there to look at him.

‘I think I will go up to London,’ he said to her one evening, very soon after the day of Mr Robarts’s visit.

‘Go up to London, Josiah!’ Mr Crawley had not been up to London once since they had been settled at Hogglestock, and this sudden resolution on his part frightened his wife. ‘Go up to London, dearest! And why?’

‘I will tell you why. They all say that I should speak to some man of the law whom I may trust about this coming trial. I trust no one in these parts. Not, mark you, that I say that they are untrustworthy. God forbid that I should so speak or even so think of men whom I know not. But the matter has become common in men’s mouths at Barchester and at Silverbridge, that I cannot endure to go among them and to talk of it. I will go up to London, and I will see your cousin, Mr John Toogood, of Gray’s Inn.’ Now in this scheme there was an amount of everyday prudence which startled Mrs Crawley almost as much as did the prospect of the difficulties to be overcome if the journey were to be made. Her husband in the first place, had never once seen Mr John Toogood; and in days very long back, when he and she were making their first gallant struggle — for in those days it had been gallant — down in their Cornish curacy, he had reprobated certain Toogood civilities — professional civilities — which had been proffered, perhaps, with too plain an intimation that on the score of relationship the professional work should be done without payment. The Mr Toogood of those days, who had been Mrs Crawley’s uncle, and the father of Mrs Eames and grandfather or our friend Johnny Eames, had been much angered by some correspondence which had grown up between him and Mr Crawley, and from that day there had been a cessation of all intercourse between the families. Since those days that Toogood had been gathered to the ancient Toogoods of old, and the son reigned on the family throne in Raymond Buildings. The present Toogood was therefore first cousin to Mrs Crawley. But there had been no intimacy between them. Mrs Crawley had not seen her cousin since her marriage — as indeed she had seen none of her relations, having been estranged from them by the singular bearing of her husband. She knew that her cousin stood high in his profession, the firm of Toogood and Crump — Crump and Toogood it should have been properly called in these days — having always held its head up high above all dirty work; and she felt that her husband could look for advice from no better source. But how would such a one as he manage to tell his story to a stranger? Nay, how would he find his way alone into the lawyer’s room, to tell his story at all — so strange was he to the world? And then the expense! ‘If you do not wish me to apply to your cousin, say so, and there shall be an end of it,’ said Mr Crawley in an angry tone.

‘Of course I would wish it. I believe him to be an excellent man, and a good lawyer.’

‘Then why should I not go to his chambers? In forma pauperis I must go to him, and must tell him so. I cannot pay him for the labour of his counsel, nor for such minutes of his time as I shall use.’

‘Oh, Josiah, you need not speak of that.’

‘But I must speak of it. Can I go to a professional man; who keeps as it were his shop open for those who may think fit to come, and purchase of him, and take of his goods, and afterwards, when the goods have been used, tell him that I have not the price in my hand? I will not do that, Mary. You think that I am mad, that I know not what I do. Yes — I see it in your eyes; and you are sometimes partly right. But I am not so mad but that I know what is honest. I will tell your cousin that I am sore straitened, and brought down into the very dust by misfortune. And I will beseech him, for what of ancient feeling of family he may bear to you, to listen to me for a while. And I will be very short, and, if need be, will bide his time patiently, and perhaps he may say a word to me that may be of use.’

There was certainly very much in this to provoke Mrs Crawley. It was not only that she knew well that her cousin would give ample and immediate attention, and lend himself thoroughly to the matter without any idea of payment — but that she could not quite believe that her husband’s humility was true humility. She strove to believe it, but she knew that she failed. After all it was only a feeling on her part. There was no argument within herself about it. An unpleasant taste came across the palate of her mind, as such a savour will sometimes, from some unexpected source, come across the palate of the mouth. Well; she could only gulp at it, and swallow it and excuse it. Among the salad that comes from your garden a bitter leaf will now and then make its way into your salad-bowl. Alas, there were so many bitter leaves ever making their way into her bowl! ‘What I mean is, Josiah, that no long explanation will be needed. I think from what I remember of him, that he would do for us anything that he could do.’

‘Then I will go to the man, and will humble myself before him. Even that, hard as it is to me, may be a duty that I owe.’ Mr Crawley as he said this was remembering the fact that he was a clergyman of the Church of England, and that he had a rank of his own in the country, which, did he ever do such a thing as go out for dinner in company, would establish for him a certain right of precedence; whereas this attorney, of whom he was speaking, was, so to say, nobody in the eyes of the world.

‘There need be no humbling, Josiah, other than that which is due from a man to man in all circumstances. But never mind; we will not talk about that. If it seems good to you, go to Mr Toogood. I think that it is good. May I write to him and say that you will go?’

‘I will write to him myself.’

Then the wife paused before she asked the next question — paused for some minute or two, and than asked it with anxious doubt —‘And may I go with you, Josiah?’

‘Why should two go when one can do the work?’ he answered sharply. ‘Have we money so much to command?’

‘Indeed, no.’

‘You should go and do it all, for you are wiser in these things than I am, were it not that I may not dare to show — that I submit myself to my wife.’

‘Nay, my dear!’

‘But it is ay, my dear. It is so. This is a thing such as men do; not such as women do, unless they be forlorn and unaided of men. I know that I am weak where you are strong; that I am crazed where you are clear-witted.’

‘I meant not that, Josiah. It was of your health that I thought.’

‘Nevertheless it is as I say; but, for all that, it may not be that you should do my work. There are those watching me who would say, “Lo! He confesses himself incapable.” And then someone would whisper something of a madhouse. Mary, I fear that worse than a prison.’

‘May God in His mercy forbid such cruelty!’

‘But I must look to it, my dear. Do you think that that woman, who sits at Barchester in high places, disgracing herself and that puny ecclesiastical lord who is her husband — do you think that she would not immure me if she could? She is a she-wolf — only less reasonable than the dumb brute as she sharpens her teeth in malice coming from anger, and not in malice coming from hunger as do the outer wolves of the forest. I tell you, Mary, that if she had a colourable ground for her action, she would swear tomorrow that I am mad.’

‘You shall go alone to London.’

‘Yes, I will go alone. They shall not say that I cannot yet do my own work as a man should do. I stood up before him, the puny man who is called a bishop, and before her who makes herself great by his littleness, and I scorned them both to their faces. Though the shoes which I had on were broken, as I myself could not but see when I stood, yet I was greater than they were with all their purple and fine linen.’

‘But, Josiah, my cousin will not be harsh to you.’

‘Well — and if he be not?’

‘Ill-usage you can bear; and violent ill-usage, such as that which Mrs Proudie allowed herself to exhibit, you can repay with interest; but kindness seems to be too heavy a burden for you.’

‘I will struggle. I will endeavour. I will speak but little, and, if possible, I will listen much. Now, my dear, I will write to this man, and you shall give me the address that is proper for him.’ Then he wrote the letter, not accepting a word in the way of dictation from his wife, but ‘craving great kindness of a short interview, for which he ventured to become a solicitor, urged thereto by his wife’s assurance that one with whom he was connected by family ties would do as much as this for the possible preservation of the honour of the family.’ In answer to this Mr Toogood wrote back as follows:—‘Dear Mr Crawley, I will be at my office all Thursday morning next from ten to two, and will take care that you shan’t be kept waiting for me above ten minutes. You parsons never like waiting. But hadn’t you better come and breakfast with me and Maria at nine? Then we’d have a talk as we walked to the office. Yours always, THOMAS TOOGOOD.’ And the letter was dated from the attorney’s private house in Tavistock Square.

‘I am sure he means to be kind,’ said Mrs Crawley.

‘Doubtless he means to be kind. But kindness is rough; — I will not say unmannerly, as the word would be harsh. I have never even seen the lady whom he calls Maria.’

‘She is his wife!’

‘So I would venture to suppose; but she is unknown to me. I will write again, and thank him, and say that I will be with him at ten to the moment.’

There were still many things to be settled before the journey could be made. Mr Crawley, in his first plan, proposed that he should go up by night mail train, travelling in the third class, having walked over to Silverbridge to meet it; that he should then walk about London from 5am to 10am, and afterwards come down by an afternoon train to which a third class was also attached. But at last his wife persuaded him that such a task as that, performed in the middle of winter, would be enough to kill any man, and that, if attempted, it would certainly kill him; and he consented at last to sleep the night in town — being specially moved thereto by discovering that he could, in conformity with this scheme, get in and out of the train at a station considerably nearer to him than Silverbridge, and that he could get a return-ticket at a third-class fare. The whole journey, he found, could be done for a pound, allowing him seven shillings for his night’s expenses in London; and out of the resources of the family there were produced two sovereigns, so that in the event of accident he would not utterly be a castaway from want of funds.

So he started on his journey after an early dinner, almost hopeful through the new excitement of a journey to London, and his wife walked with him nearly as far as the station. ‘Do not reject my cousin’s kindness,’ were the last words she spoke.

‘For his professional kindness, if he will extend it to me, I will be most thankful,’ he replied. She did not dare to say more; nor had she dared to write privately to her cousin, asking for any special help, lest by doing so she should seem to impugn the sufficiency and stability of her husband’s judgment. He got up to town late at night, and having made inquiry of one of the porters, he hired a bed for himself in the neighbourhood of the railway station. Here he had a cup of tea and a morsel of bread-and-butter, and in the morning he breakfasted again on the same fare. ‘No I have no luggage,’ he had said to the girl at the public-house, who had asked him as to his travelling gear. ‘If luggage be needed as a certificate of respectability, I will pass on elsewhere,’ said he. The girl stared, and assured him that she did not doubt his respectability. ‘I am a clergyman of the Church of England,’ he had said, ‘but my circumstances prevent me from seeking a more expensive lodging.’ They did their best to make him comfortable, and, I think, almost disappointed him in not heaping further misfortunes on his head.

He was in Raymond’s Buildings at half-past nine, and for half an hour walked up and down the umbrageous pavement — it used to be umbrageous, but perhaps the trees have gone now — before the doors of the various chambers. He could hear the clock strike from Gray’s Inn; and the moment that it had struck he was turning in, but was encountered in the passage by Mr Toogood, who was equally punctual with himself. Strange stories about Mr Crawley had reached Mr Toogood’s household, and that Maria, the mention of whose Christian name had been so offensive to the clergyman, had begged her husband not to be a moment late. Poor Mr Toogood, who on ordinary days did perhaps take a few minutes’ grace, was thus hurried away almost with his breakfast in his throat, and, as we have seen, just saved himself. ‘Perhaps, sir, you are Mr Crawley?’ he said, in a good-humoured, cheery voice. He was a good-humoured, cheery-looking man, about fifty years of age, with grizzled hair and sunburnt face, and large whiskers. Nobody would have taken him to be a partner in any of those great houses of which we have read in history — the Quirk, Gammon and Snaps of the profession, or the Dodson and Foggs, who are immortal.

‘That is my name, sir,’ said Mr Crawley, taking off his hat and bowing low, ‘and I am here by appointment to meet Mr Toogood, the solicitor, whose name I see affixed upon the door-post.’

‘I am Mr Toogood, the solicitor, and I hope to see you quite well, Mr Crawley.’ Then the attorney shook hands with the clergyman and preceded him upstairs to the front room on the first floor. ‘Here we are, Mr Crawley, and pray take a chair. I wish you could have made it convenient to come and see us at home. We are rather long, as my wife says — long in family, she means, and therefore are not very well off for spare beds —’

‘Oh, sir.’

‘I’ve twelve of ’em living, Mr Crawley — from eighteen years, the eldest — a girl, down to eighteen months the youngest — a boy, and they go in and out, boy and girl, boy and girl, like the cogs of a wheel. They ain’t such far away distant cousins from your own young ones — only first, once, as we call it.’

‘I am aware that there is a family tie, or I should not have ventured to trouble you.’

‘Blood is thicker than water, isn’t it? I often say that. I heard of one of your girls only yesterday. She is staying somewhere down in the country, not far from where my sister lives — Mrs Eames, the widow of poor John Eames, who never did any good in this world. I daresay you’ve heard of her?’

‘The name is familiar to me, Mr Toogood.’

‘Of course it is. I’ve a nephew down there just now, and he saw your girl the other day; — very highly spoke of her too. Let me see; — how many do you have?’

‘Three living, Mr Toogood.’

‘I’ve just four times three; — that’s the difference. But I comfort myself with the text about the quiver you know; and I tell them that when they’ve eat up all the butter, they’ll have to take their bread dry.’

‘I trust the young people take your teaching in the proper spirit.’

‘I don’t know much about spirit. There’s spirit enough. My second girl, Lucy, told me that if I came here today without tickets for the pantomime I shouldn’t have any dinner allowed me. That’s the way they treat me. But we understand each other at home. We’re all pretty good friends there, thank God. And there isn’t a sick chick among the boiling.’

‘You have many mercies for which you should indeed be thankful,’ said Mr Crawley, gravely.

‘Yes, yes, yes; that’s true. I think of that sometimes, though perhaps not so much as I ought to do. But the best way to be thankful is to use the goods the gods provide you. “The lovely Thais sits beside you. Take the goods the gods provide you.” I often say that to my wife, till the children have got calling her Thais. The children have it pretty much their own way with us, Mr Crawley.’

By this time Mr Crawley was almost beside himself, and was altogether at a loss how to bring in the matter on which he wished to speak. He had expected to find a man who in the hurry of London business might perhaps just manage to spare him five minutes — who would grapple instantly with the subject that was to be discussed between them, would speak to him half-a-dozen hard words of wisdom, and would then dismiss him and turn on the instant to other matters of important business; — but here was an easy familiar fellow, who seemed to have nothing on earth to do, and who at this first meeting had taken advantage of a distant family connexion to tell him everything about the affairs of his own household. And then how peculiar were the domestic affairs which he told! What was Mr Crawley to say to a man who had taught his own children to call their mother Thais? Of Thais Mr Crawley did know something, and he forgot to remember that perhaps Mr Toogood knew less. He felt it, however, to be very difficult to submit the details of his case to a gentleman who talked in such a strain about his own wife and children.

But something must be done. Mr Crawley, in his present frame of mind, could not sit and talk about Thais all day. ‘Sir,’ he said, ‘the picture of your home is very pleasant, and I presume that plenty abounds there.’

‘Well, you know, pretty toll-loll for that. With twelve of ’em, Mr Crawley, I needn’t tell you they are not all going to have castles and parks of their own, unless they can get ’em off their own bats. But I pay upwards of a hundred a year each for my eldest three boys’ schooling, and I’ve been paying eighty for the girls. Put that together and see what it comes to. Educate, educate, educate; that’s my word.’

‘No better word can be spoken, sir.’

‘I don’t think there’s a girl in Tavistock Square that can beat Polly — she’s the eldest, called after her mother, you know — that can beat her at the piano. And Lucy has read Lord Byron and Tom Moore all through, every word of ’em. By Jove, I believe she knows most of Tom Moore by heart. And the young uns a coming on just as well.’

‘Perhaps, sir, as your time is, no doubt, precious —’

‘We’ll tackle to? Very well; so be it. Now, Mr Crawley, let me hear what it is I can do for you.’ Of a sudden, as Mr Toogood spoke these last words, the whole tone of his voice seemed to change, and even the position of his body became so much altered as to indicate a different kind of man. ‘You just tell your story in your own way, and I won’t interrupt you till you’ve done. That’s always the best.’

‘I must first crave your attention to an unfortunate preliminary,’ said Mr Crawley.

‘And what is that?’

‘I come before you in forma pauperis.’ Here Mr Crawley paused and stood up before the attorney with his hands crossed one upon the other, bending low, as though calling attention to the poorness of his raiment. ‘I know that I have no justification for my conduct. I have nothing of reason to offer why I should trespass upon your time. I am a poor man, and cannot pay you for your services.’

‘Oh, bother!’ said Mr Toogood, jumping from his chair.

‘I do not know whether your charity will grant me that which I ask —’

‘Don’t let us have any more of this,’ said the attorney. ‘We none of us like that kind of thing at all. If I can be of any service to you, you’re as welcome as flowers in May; and as for billing my first-cousin, which your wife is, I should as soon think of sending an account to my own.’

‘But, Mr Toogood —’

‘Do you go on now with your story; I’ll put the rest all right.’

‘I was bound to be explicit, Mr Toogood.’

‘Very well; now you have been explicit with a vengeance, and you may heave ahead. Let’s hear the story, and if I can help you I will. When I’ve said that, you may be sure I mean it. I’ve heard something of it before; but let me hear it all from you.’

Then Mr Crawley began and told his story. Mr Toogood was actually true to his promise and let the narrator go on with his narrative without interruption. When Mr Crawley came to his own statement that the cheque had been paid to him by Mr Soames, and went on to say that that statement had been false —‘I told him that, but I told him so wrongly,’ and then paused, thinking that the lawyer would ask some question, Mr Toogood simply said, ‘Go on; go on. I’ll come back to all that when you’ve done.’ And he merely nodded his head when Mr Crawley spoke of his second statement, that the money had come from the dean. ‘We had been bound together by close ties of early familiarity,’ said Mr Crawley, ‘and in former years our estates in life were the same. But he has prospered and I have failed. And when creditors were importunate, I consented to accept relief in money which had previously been often offered. And I must acknowledge, Mr Toogood, while saying this, that I have known — have known with heartfelt agony — that at former times my wife has taken that from my friend Mr Arabin, with hand half-hidden from me, which I have refused. Whether it be better to eat — the bread of charity — or not to eat bread at all, I, for myself, have no doubt,’ he said; ‘but when the want strikes one’s wife and children, and the charity strikes only oneself, then there is a doubt.’ When he spoke thus, Mr Toogood got up, and thrusting his hands in his waistcoat pockets walked about the room, exclaiming, ‘By George, by George, by George!’ But he still let the man go on with his story, and heard him out at last to the end.

‘And they committed you for trial at the next Barchester assizes?’ said the lawyer.

‘They did.’

‘And you employed no lawyer before the magistrates?’

‘None; — I refused to employ anyone.’

‘You were wrong there, Mr Crawley. I must be allowed to say that you were wrong there.’

‘I may possibly have been so from your point of view, Mr Toogood; but permit me to explain. I—’

‘It’s no good explaining now. Of course you must employ a lawyer for your defence — an attorney who will put the case into the hands of counsel.’

‘But that I cannot do, Mr Toogood.’

‘You must do it. If you don’t do it, your friends should do it for you. If you don’t do it, everybody will say you’re mad. There isn’t a single solicitor you could find within a half a mile of you at this moment who wouldn’t give you the same advice — not a single man, either, who had got a head on his shoulders worth a trump.’

When Mr Crawley was told that madness would be laid at his charge if he did not do as he was bid, his face became very black, and assumed something of that look of determined obstinacy which it had worn when he was standing in the presence of the bishop and Mrs Proudie. ‘It may be so,’ he said. ‘It may be as you say, Mr Toogood. But these neighbours of yours, as to whose collected wisdom you speak with so much certainty, would hardly recommend me to indulge in a luxury for which I have no means of paying.’

‘Who thinks about paying under such circumstances as these?’

‘I do, Mr Toogood.’

‘The wretched costermonger that comes to grief has a barrister in a wig and gown to give him his chance of escape.’

‘But I am not a costermonger, Mr Toogood — though more wretched perhaps than any costermonger now in existence. It is my lot to have to endure the sufferings of poverty, and at the same time not be exempt from those feelings of honour to which poverty is seldom subject. I cannot afford to call in legal assistance for which I cannot pay — and I will not do it.’

‘I’ll carry the case through for you. It certainly is not just my line of business — but I’ll see it carried through for you.’

‘Out of your own pocket?’

‘Never mind; when I say I’ll do a thing, I’ll do it.’

‘No, Mr Toogood; this thing you can not do. But do not suppose I am the less grateful.’

‘What is it that I can do then? Why do you come to me if you won’t take my advice?’

After this the conversation went on for a considerable time without touching on any point which need be brought palpably before the reader’s eye. The attorney continued to beg the clergyman to have his case managed in the usual way, and went so far as to tell him that he would be ill-treating his wife and family if he continued to be obstinate. But the clergyman was not shaken from his resolve, and was at last able to ask Mr Toogood what he had better do — how he had better attempt to defend himself — on the understanding that no legal aid was to be employed. When this question was at last asked in such a way as to demand an answer, Mr Toogood sat for a moment or two in silence. He felt that an answer was not only demanded, but almost enforced; and yet there might be much difficulty in giving it.

‘Mr Toogood,’ said Mr Crawley, seeing the attorney’s hesitation, ‘I declare to you before God, that my only object will be to enable the jury to know about this sad matter all that I know myself. If I could open my breast to them I should be satisfied. But then a prisoner can say nothing; and what he does so is ever accounted false.’

‘That is why you should have legal assistance.’

‘We had already come to a conclusion on that matter, as I thought,’ said Mr Crawley.

Mr Toogood paused for a another moment or two, and then dashed at his answer; or rather, dashed at a counter question. ‘Mr Crawley, where did you get the cheque? You must pardon me, you know; or, if you wish it, I will not press the question. But so much hangs on that, you know.’

‘Everything would hang on it — if I only knew.’

‘You mean that you forget?’

‘Absolutely; totally. I wish, Mr Toogood, I could explain to you the toilsome perseverance with which I have cudgelled my poor brains, endeavouring to extract from them some scintilla of memory that would aid me.’

‘Could you have picked it up at the house?’

‘No; — no; that I did not do. Dull as I am, I know so much. It was mine of right, from whatever source it came to me. I know myself as no one else can know me, in spite of the wise man’s motto. Had I picked up a cheque in my house, or on the road, I should not have slept till I had taken steps to restore it to the seeming owner. So much I can say. But, otherwise, I am in such matter so shandy-pated, that I can trust myself to be sure of nothing. I thought; — I certainly thought —’

‘You thought what?’

‘I thought that it had been given to me by my friend the dean. I remember well that I was in his library at Barchester, and I was somewhat provoked in spirit. There were lying on the floor hundreds of volumes, all glittering with gold, and reeking with new leather from binders. He asked me to look at his toys. Why should I look at them? There was a time, but the other day it seemed, when he had been glad to borrow from me such treasures as I had. And it seemed to me that he was heartless in showing me these things. Well; I need not trouble you with all that.’

‘Go on; — go on. Let me hear it all, and I shall learn something.’

‘I know now how vain, how vile I was. I always know afterwards how low the spirit has grovelled. I had gone to him then because I had resolved to humble myself, and, for my wife’s sake, to ask my friend — for money. With words which were very awkward — which no doubt were ungracious — I had asked him, and he had bid me follow him from his hall into his library. There he left me awhile, and on returning told me with a smile that he had sent for money — and, if I can remember, the sum he named was fifty pounds.’

‘But it has turned out, as you say, that you have paid fifty pounds with his money — besides the cheque.’

‘That is true; — that is quite true. There is no doubt of that. But as I was saying — then he fell to talking about the books, and I was angered. I was very sore in my heart. From the moment in which the words of beggary had passed from my lips, I had repented. And he had laughed and had taken it gaily. I turned upon him and told him that I had changed my mind. I was grateful, but I would not have his money. And so I prepared to go. But he argued with me, and would not let me go — telling me of my wife and of my children, and while he argued there came a knock on the door, and something was handed in, and I knew that it was the hand of his wife.’

‘It was the money, I suppose?’

‘Yes, Mr Toogood; it was the money. And I became the more uneasy, because she herself is rich. I liked it the less because it seemed to come from her hand. But I took it. What could I do when he reminded me that I could not keep my parish unless certain sums were paid? He gave me a little parcel in a cover, and I took it — and left him sorrowing. I had never before come quite to that; — though, indeed, it had in fact been often so before. What was the difference whether the alms were given into my hands or into my wife’s?’

‘You are too touchy about it all, Mr Crawley.’

‘Of course I am. Do you try it, and see whether you will be touchy. You have worked hard at your profession, I daresay.’

‘Well, yes; pretty well. To tell the truth, I have worked hard. By George, yes! It’s not so bad now as it used to be.’

‘But you have always earned your bread; bread for yourself, and bread for your wife and little ones. You can buy tickets for the play.’

‘I couldn’t always buy tickets, mind you.’

‘I have worked as hard, and yet I cannot get bread. I am older than you, and I cannot earn my bare bread. Look at my clothes. If you had to go and beg from Mr Crump, would you not be touchy?’

‘As it happens, Crump isn’t so well off as I am.’

‘Never mind. But I took it, and went home, and for two days I did not look at it. And then there came an illness upon me, and I know not what passed. But two men who had been hard on me came to the house when I was out, and my wife was in a terrible state; and I gave her the money, and she went into Silverbridge and paid them.’

‘And this cheque was with what you gave her?’

‘No; I gave her money in notes — just fifty pounds. When I gave it her, I thought I gave it all; and yet afterwards I thought I remembered that in my illness I had found the cheque with the dean’s money. But it was not so.’

‘You are sure of that?’

‘He has said that he put fives notes of ten pounds each into the cover, and such notes I certainly gave to my wife.’

‘Where then did you get the cheque?’ Mr Crawley again paused before he answered. ‘Surely, if you will exert your mind, you will remember,’ said the lawyer. ‘Where did you get the cheque?’

‘I do not know.’

Mr Toogood threw himself back in his chair, took his knee up into his lap to nurse it, and began to think of it. He sat thinking of it for some minutes without a word — perhaps for five minutes, though the time seemed to be much longer to Mr Crawley, who was, however, determined that he would not interrupt him. And Mr Toogood’s thoughts were at variance with Mr Toogood’s former words. Perhaps, after all, this scheme of Mr Crawley’s — or rather the mode of defence on which he had resolved without any scheme — might be the best of which the case admitted. It might be well that he should go into court without a lawyer. ‘He has convinced me of his innocence,’ Mr Toogood said to himself, ‘and why should he not convince a jury? He has convinced me, not because I am specially soft, or because I love the man — for as to that I dislike him rather than otherwise; — but because there is either real truth in his words, or else so well-feigned a show a truth that no jury can tell the difference. I think it is true. By George, I think he did get the twenty pounds honestly, and that he does not this moment know where he got it. He may have put his finger into my eye; but, if so, why not also into the eyes of a jury?’ Then he released his leg, and spoke something of his thoughts aloud. ‘It’s a sad story,’ he said; ‘a very sad story.’

‘Well, yes, it’s sad enough. If you could see my house, you’d say so.’

‘I haven’t a doubt but what you’re as innocent as I am.’ Mr Toogood, as he said this, felt a little tinge of conscience. He did believe Mr Crawley to be innocent, but he was not so sure of it as his words would seem to imply. Nevertheless he repeated the words again —‘as innocent as I am.’

‘I don’t know,’ said Mr Crawley. ‘I don’t know. I think I am; but I don’t know.’

‘I believe you are. But you see the case is a very distressing one. A jury has a right to say that the man in possession of a cheque for twenty pounds should account for his possession of it. If I understand the story aright, Mr Soames will be able to prove that he brought the cheque into your house, and, as far as he knows, never took it out again.’

‘I suppose so; all the same, if he brought it in, then did he take it out again.’

‘I am saying what he will prove — or, in other words, what he will state upon oath. You can’t contradict him. You can’t get into the box to do it — even if that would be of any avail; and I am glad that you cannot, as it would be of no avail. And you can put no one else into the box who can do so.’

‘No; no.’

‘That is to say, we think you cannot do so. People can do so many things that they don’t think they can do; and can’t do so many things that they think that they can do! When will the dean be home?’

‘I don’t know.’

‘Before the trial?’

‘I don’t know. I have no idea.’

‘It’s almost a toss-up whether he’d do more harm or good if he were there.’

‘I wish he might be there if he has anything to say, whether it might be for harm or good.’

‘And Mrs Arabin; — she is with him?’

‘They tell me she is not. She is in Europe. He is in Palestine.’

‘In Palestine, is he?’

‘So they tell me. A dean can go where he likes. He has no cure of souls to stand in the way of his pleasures.’

‘He hasn’t — hasn’t he? I wish I were a dean; that is, if I were not a lawyer. Might I write a line to the dean — and to Mrs Dean if it seemed fit? You wouldn’t mind that? As you have come to see your cousin at last — and very glad I am that you have — you must leave him a little discretion. I won’t say anything I oughtn’t to say.’ Mr Crawley opposed this scheme for some time, but at last consented to the proposition. ‘And I’ll tell you what, Mr Crawley; I am very fond of cathedrals, I am indeed; and I have long wanted to see Barchester. There’s a very fine what-you-may-call-em; isn’t there? Well; I’ll just run down at the assizes. We have nothing to do in London when the judges are in the country — of course.’ Mr Toogood looked into Mr Crawley’s eyes as he said this, to see if his iniquity were detected, but the perpetual curate was altogether innocent in these matters. ‘Yes; I’ll just run down for a mouthful of fresh air. Of course I shan’t open my mouth in court. But I might say one word to the dean, if he’s there; — and one word to Mr Soames. Who is conducting the prosecution?’ Mr Crawley said that Mr Walker was doing so. ‘Walker, Walker, Walker? oh — yes; Walker and Winthrop, isn’t it? A decent sort of man, I suppose?’

‘I have heard nothing to his discredit, Mr Toogood.’

‘And that’s saying a great deal for a lawyer. Well, Mr Crawley, if nothing else comes out between this and that — nothing, that is, that shall clear your memory about that unfortunate bit of paper, you must simply tell your story to the jury as you’ve told it to me. I don’t think any twelve men in England would convict you; — I don’t indeed.’

‘You think they would not?’

‘Of course I’ve only heard one side, Mr Crawley.’

‘No — no — no, that is true.’

‘But judging as well as I can judge from one side, I don’t think a jury can convict you. At any rate, I’ll see you at Barchester, and I’ll write a line or two before the trial just to find out anything that can be found out. And you’re sure you won’t come and take a bit of mutton with us in the Square? The girls would be delighted to see you, and so would Maria.’ Mr Crawley said that he was quite sure he could not do that, and then having tendered reiterated thanks to his new friend in words which were touching in spite of their old-fashioned gravity, he took his leave, and walked back again to the public-house at Paddington.

He returned home to Hogglestock on the same afternoon, reaching that place at nine in the evening. During the whole of the day after leaving Raymond’s Buildings he was thinking of the lawyer, and of the words which the lawyer had spoken. Although he had been disposed to quarrel with Mr Toogood on many points, although he had been more than once disgusted by the attorney’s bad taste, shocked by his low morality, and almost insulted by his easy familiarity, still, when the interview was over, he liked the attorney. When first Mr Toogood had begun to talk, he regretted very much that he had subjected himself to the necessity of discussing his private affairs with such a windbag of a man; but when he left the chamber he trusted Mr Toogood altogether, and was very glad that he had sought his aid. He was tired and exhausted when he reached home, as he had eaten nothing but a biscuit or two since his breakfast; but his wife got him food and tea, and then asked him as to his success. ‘Was my cousin kind to you?’

‘Very kind — more than kind — perhaps somewhat too pressing in his kindness. But I find no fault. God forbid that I should. He is, I think, a good man, and certainly has been good to me.’

‘And what is to be done?’

‘He will write to the dean.’

‘I am glad of that.’

‘And he will be at Barchester.’

‘Thank God for that.’

‘But not as my lawyer.’

‘Nevertheless, I thank God that someone will be there who will know how to give you assistance and advice.’

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/t/trollope/anthony/last/chapter32.html

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