The Last Chronicle of Barset, by Anthony Trollope

Chapter XLII

Mr Toogood Travels Professionally

Mr Toogood paid another visit to Barsetshire, in order that he might get a little further information which he thought would be necessary before despatching his nephew upon the traces of Dean Arabin and his wife. He went down to Barchester after his work was over by an evening train, and put himself up at ‘The Dragon of Wantly’, intending to have the whole of the next day for his work. Mr Walker had asked him to come and take a return potluck dinner with Mrs Walker at Silverbridge; and this he had said that he would do. After having ‘rummaged about for tidings’ in Barchester, as he called it, he would take the train for Silverbridge, and would get back to town in time for business on the third day. ‘One day won’t be much, you know,’ he said to his partner, as he made half an apology for absenting himself on business which was not to be in any degree remunerative. ‘That sort of thing is very well when one does it without any expense’ said Crump. ‘So it is,’ said Toogood; ‘and the expense won’t make it any worse.’ He had made up his mind, and it was not probable that anything Mr Crump might say would deter him.

He saw John Eames before he started. ‘You’ll be ready this day week, will you?’ John Eames promised that he would. ‘It will cost you some forty pounds, I should say. By George — if you have to go on to Jerusalem, it will cost you more.’ In answer to this, Johnny pleaded that it would be as good as any other tour to him. He would see the world. ‘I’ll tell you what,’ said Toogood; ‘I’ll pay half. Only you mustn’t tell Crump. And it will be quite as well not to tell Maria.’ But Johnny would hear nothing of this scheme. He would pay the entire cost of his own journey. He had lots of money, he said, and would like nothing better. ‘Then I’ll run down,’ said Toogood, ‘and rummage up what tidings I can. As for writing to the dean, what’s the good of writing to a man when you don’t know where he is? Business letters always lie at hotels for two months, and then come back with double postage. From all I can hear, you’ll stumble on her before you find him. If we do nothing else but bring him back, it will be a great thing to have the support of such a friend in the court. A Barchester jury won’t like to find a man guilty who is hand-and-glove with the dean.’

Mr Toogood reached the ‘Dragon’ about eleven o’clock, and allowed the boots to give him a pair of slippers and a candlestick. But he would not go to bed just at that moment. He would go into the coffee-room first, and have a glass of hot brandy-and-water. So the hot brandy-and-water was brought to him, and a cigar, and as he smoked and drank he conversed with the waiter. The man was a waiter of the ancient class, a grey-haired waiter, with seedy clothes, and a dirty towel under his arm; not a dapper waiter, with black shiny hair, and dressed like a guest for a dinner-party. There are two distinct classes of waiters, and as far as I have been able to perceive, the special status of the waiter in question cannot be decided by observation of the class of waiter to which he belongs. In such a town as Barchester you may find the old waiter with the dirty towel in the head inn, or in the second-class inn, and so you may the dapper waiter. Or you may find both in each and not know which is senior waiter and which junior waiter. But for service I always prefer the old waiter with the dirty towel, and I find it more easy to satisfy him in the matter of sixpence when my relations with the inn come to an end.

‘Have you been here long, John,’ said Mr Toogood.

‘A goodish many years, sir.’

‘So I thought, by the look of you. One can see that you belong in a way to the place. You do a good deal of business here, I suppose, at this time of the year?’

‘Well, sir, pretty fair. The house ain’t what it used to be sir.’

‘Times are bad at Barchester — are they?’

‘I don’t know much about the times. It’s the people is worse than the times, I think. They used to like to have a little bit of dinner now and again at a hotel; — and a drop of something to drink after it.’

‘And don’t they like it now?’

‘I think they like it well enough, but they don’t do it. I suppose it’s their wives as don’t let ’em come out and enjoy themselves. There used to be the Goose and Glee club; — that was once a month. They’ve gone and clean done away with themselves — that club has. There’s old Bumpter in the High Street — he’s the last of the old Geese. They died off, you see, and when Mr Biddle died they wouldn’t choose another president. A club for having dinner, sir, ain’t nothing without a president.’

‘I suppose not.’

‘And there’s the Freemasons. They must meet, you know, sir, in course, because of the dooties. But if you’ll believe me, sir, they don’t so much as wet their whistles. They don’t indeed. It always used to be a supper, and that was once a month. Now they pays a rent for the use of the room! Who is to get a living out of that, sir? — not in the way of a waiter, that is.’

‘If that’s the way things are going on I suppose the servants leave their places pretty often?’

‘I don’t know about that, sir. A man may do a deal worse than “The Dragon of Wantly”. Them as goes away to better themselves, often worses themselves, as I call it. I’ve seen a good deal of that.’

‘And you stick to the old shop?’

‘Yes, sir; I’ve been here fifteen years, I think it is. There’s a many goes away, as doesn’t go out of their heads, you know, sir.’

‘They get the sack, you mean?’

‘There’s words between them and master — or more likely, missus. That’s where it is. Servants is so foolish. I often tell ’em how wrong folks are to say that soft words butter no parsnips, and hard words break no bones.’

‘I think you’ve lost some of the old hands here since this time last year, John?’

‘You knows the house then, sir?’

‘Well; — I’ve been here before.’

‘There was four of them sent, I think, it’s just about twelve months back, sir.’

‘There was a man in the yard I used to know, and last time I was down here, I found that he was gone.’

‘There was one of ’em out of the yard, and two out of the house. Master and them had got to very high words. There was poor Scuttle, who had been post-boy at “The Compass” before he came here.’

‘He went away to New Zealand, didn’t he?’

‘B’leve he did, sir; or to some foreign parts. And Anne, as was under-chambermaid here; she went with him, fool as she was. They got themselves married and went off, and he was well nigh as old as me. But seems he’d saved a little money, and that goes a long way with any girl.’

‘Was he the man who drove Mr Soames that day the cheque was lost?’ Mr Toogood asked this question perhaps a little too abruptly. At any rate he obtained no answer to it. The waiter said he knew nothing about Mr Soames, or the cheque, and the lawyer, suspecting that the waiter was suspecting him, finished his brandy-and-water and went to bed.

Early on the following morning he observed that he was specially regarded by a shabby-looking man, dressed in black, but in a black suit that was very old, with a red nose, whom he had seen in the hotel on the preceding day; and he learned that this man was a cousin of the landlord — one Dan Stringer — who acted as a clerk in the hotel bar. He took an opportunity also of saying a word to Mr Stringer the landlord — whom he found to be a somewhat forlorn and gouty individual, seated on cushions in a little parlour behind the door. After breakfast he went out, and having twice walked round the Cathedral close and inspected the front of the palace and looked up at the windows of the prebendaries’ houses, he knocked at the door of the deanery. The dean and Mrs Arabin were on the Continent he was told. Then he asked for Mr Harding, having learned that Mr Harding was Mrs Arabin’s father, and that he lived at the deanery. Mr Harding was at home, but was not very well, the servant said. Mr Toogood, however, persevered, sending up his card, and saying that he wished to have a few minutes’ conversation with Mr Harding on very particular business. He wrote a word upon his card before giving it to the servant —‘about Mr Crawley’. In a few minutes he was shown into the library, and had hardly time, while looking at the shelves, to remember what Mr Crawley had said of his anger at the beautiful buildings, before an old man, very thin and very pale, shuffled into the room. He stooped a good deal, and his black clothes were very loose about his shrunken limbs. He was not decrepit, nor did he seem to be one who had advanced to extreme old age; but yet he shuffled rather than walked, hardly raising his feet from the ground. Mr Toogood, as he came forward to meet him, thought that he had never seen a sweeter face. There was very much of melancholy in it, of that soft sadness of age which seems to acknowledge, and in some sort to regret, the waning oil of life; but the regret to be read in such faces has in it nothing of the bitterness of grief; there is no repining that the end has come, but simply a touch of sorrow that so much that is dear must be left behind. Mr Harding shook hands with his visitor, and invited him to sit down, and then seated himself, folding his hands together over his knees, and he said a few words in a very low voice as to the absence of his daughter and the dean.

‘I hope you will excuse my troubling you,’ said Mr Toogood.

‘It is no trouble at all — if I could be of any use. I don’t know whether it is proper, but may I ask whether you call as — as — as a friend of Mr Crawley’s?’

‘Altogether as a friend, Mr Harding.’

‘I’m glad of that; though of course I am well aware that the gentlemen engaged on the prosecution must do their duty. Still — I don’t know — somehow I would rather not hear of them speak of this poor gentleman before the trial.’

‘You know Mr Crawley then?’

‘Very slightly — very slightly indeed. He is a gentleman not much given to social habits, and has been but seldom here. But he is an old friend whom my son-in-law loves dearly.’

‘I’m glad to hear you say that, Mr Harding. Perhaps before I go any further, I ought to tell you that Mrs Crawley and I are first-cousins.’

‘Oh, indeed. Then you are a friend.’

‘I never saw him in my life till a few days ago. He is very queer, you know — very queer indeed. I’m a lawyer, Mr Harding, practising in London; — an attorney, that is. At each separate announcement Mr Harding bowed, and when Toogood named his special branch of his profession Mr Harding bowed lower than before, as though desirous of showing that he had great respect for attorneys. ‘And of course I’m anxious if only out of respect for the family, that my wife’s cousin should pull through this little difficulty, if possible.’

‘And for the sake of the poor man himself too, and for his wife and children; — and for the sake of the cloth.’

‘Exactly; taking it all together it’s such a pity, you know. I think, Mr Harding, he can hardly have intended to steal the money.’

‘I’m sure he did not.’

‘It’s very hard to be sure of anybody, Mr Harding — very hard.’

‘I feel quite sure he did not. He has been a most pious, hardworking clergyman. I cannot bring myself to think that he is guilty. What does the Latin proverb say? “No one of a sudden becomes most base”.’

‘But the temptation, Mr Harding, was very strong. He was awfully badgered about his debts. That butcher at Silverbridge was playing the mischief with him.’

‘All the butchers in Barsetshire could not make an honest man steal money, and I think that Mr Crawley is an honest man. You’ll excuse me for being a little hot about one of my own order.’

‘Why, he’s my cousin — or rather, my wife’s. But the fact is, Mr Harding, we must get hold of the dean as soon as possible; and I’m going to send an gentleman after him.’

‘To send a gentleman after him?’ said Mr Harding, almost in dismay.

‘Yes, I think that will be best.’

‘I’m afraid he’ll have to go a long way, Mr Toogood.’

‘The dean, I’m told, is in Jerusalem.’

‘I’m afraid he is — or on his journey there. He’s to be there for the Easter week, and Sunday week will be Easter Sunday. But why should the gentleman want to go to Jerusalem after the dean?’

Then Mr Toogood explained as well as he was able that the dean might have something to say on the subject which would serve Mr Crawley’s defence. ‘We shouldn’t leave any stone unturned,’ said Mr Toogood. ‘As far as I can judge, Crawley still thinks — or half thinks — that he got the cheque from your son-in-law.’ Mr Harding shook his head sorrowfully. ‘I’m not saying he did, you know,’ continued Mr Toogood. ‘I can’t see myself how it is possible; — but still, we ought not to leave any stone unturned. And Mrs Arabin — can you tell me at all where we shall find her?’

‘Has she anything to do with it, Mr Toogood?’

‘I can’t quite say that she has, but it’s just possible. As I said before, Mr Harding, we mustn’t leave a stone unturned. They’re not expected here till the end of April?’

‘About the twenty-fifth or twenty-sixth, I think.’

‘And the assizes are the twenty-eighth. The judges come into the city on that day. It will be too late too wait till then. We must have our defence ready, you know. Can you say where my friend will find Mrs Arabin?’

Mr Harding began nursing his knee, patting and being very tender to it, as he sat mediating with his head on one side — meditating not so much as to the nature of his answer as to that of the question. Could it be necessary that any emissary from a lawyer’s office should be sent after his daughter? He did not like the idea of his Eleanor being disturbed by questions as to a theft. Though she had been twice married and had a son who was now nearly a man, still she was his Eleanor. But if it was necessary on Mr Crawley’s behalf, of course it must be done. ‘Her last address was at Paris, sir; but I think she gone on to Florence. She has friends there, and she purposes to meet the dean at Venice on his return.’ Then Mr Harding turned to the table and wrote on a card his daughter’s address.

‘I suppose Mrs Arabin must have heard of this affair?’ Said Mr Toogood.

‘She had not done so when she last wrote. I mentioned it to her the other day, before I knew that she had left Paris. If my letters and her sister’s letters have been sent on to her, she must know by now.’

Then Mr Toogood got up to take his leave. ‘You will excuse me for troubling you, I hope, Mr Harding.’

‘Oh, sir, pray do not mention that. It is no trouble, if one could be of any service.’

‘One can always try to be of service. In these affairs so much is to be done by rummaging about, as I always call it. There have been many theatrical managers, you know, Mr Harding, who have usually made up the pieces according to the dresses they have happened to have in their wardrobes.’

‘Have there, indeed, now? I never should have thought of that.’

‘And we lawyers have to do the same thing.’

‘Not with your clothes, Mr Toogood?’

‘Not exactly with our clothes; — but with our information.’

‘I do not quite understand you, Mr Toogood.’

‘In preparing a defence we have to rummage about and get up what we can. If we can’t find anything that suits us exactly, we are obliged to use what we do find as well as we can. I remember, when I was a young man, an ostler was to be tried for stealing some oats in the Borough; and he did steal them too, and sold them at a rag-shop regularly. The evidence against was as plain as a pikestaff. All I could find out was that on a certain day a horse had trod on a fellow’s foot. So we put it to the jury whether the man could walk as far as the rag-shop with a bag of oats when he was dead lame; — and we got him off.’

‘Did you, though,’ said Mr Harding.

‘Yes, we did.’

‘And he was guilty?’

‘He had been regularly at it for months.’

‘Dear, dear, dear! Wouldn’t it have been better to have had him punished for the fault — gently; so as to warn him of the consequences of such doings?’

‘Our business was to get him off — and we got him off. It’s my business to get my cousin’s husband off, if I can, and we must do it by hook or by crook. It’s a very difficult piece of work, because he won’t let us employ a barrister. However, I shall have one in the court and say nothing to him about it at all. Good-bye, Mr Harding. As you say, it would be thousand pities that a clergyman should be convicted of a theft; — and one so well connected too.’

Mr Harding, when he was left alone, began to turn the matter over in his mind and to reflect whether the thousand pities of which Mr Toogood had spoken appertained to the conviction of the criminal, or the doing of the crime. ‘If he did steal the money I suppose he ought to be punished, let him be ever so much a clergyman,’ said Mr Harding to himself. But yet — how terrible it would be! Of clergymen convicted of fraud in London he had often heard; but nothing of the kind had ever disgraced the diocese to which he belonged since he had known it. He could not teach himself to hope that Mr Crawley should be acquitted if Mr Crawley were guilty; — but he could teach himself to believe that Mr Crawley was innocent. Something of a doubt had crept across his mind as he talked to the lawyer. Mr Toogood, though Mrs Crawley was his cousin, seemed to believe that the money had been stolen; and Mr Toogood as a lawyer ought to understand such matters better than an old secluded clergyman in Barchester. But, nevertheless, Mr Toogood might be wrong; and Mr Harding succeeded in satisfying himself at last that he could not be doing harm in thinking Mr Toogood was wrong. When he had made up his mind on this matter he sat down and wrote the following letter, which he addressed to his daughter at the post-office in Florence:-

‘DEANERY — March, 186- ‘DEAREST NELLY, ‘When I wrote on Tuesday I told you about poor Mr Crawley, that he was a clergyman in Barsetshire of whose misfortune you read an account in Galignani’s Messenger — and I think Susan must have written about it also, because everybody here is talking of nothing else, and because, of course, we know how strong a regard the dean has for Mr Crawley. But since that something has occurred which makes me write to you again — at once. A gentleman has just been here, and has indeed only this moment left me, who tells me that he is an attorney in London, and that he is nearly related to Mrs Crawley. He seems to be a very good-natured man, and I daresay he understands his business as a lawyer. His name is Toogood, and he has come down as he says to get evidence to help the poor gentleman on his trial. I cannot understand how this should be necessary, because it seems to me that the evidence should all be wanted on the other side. I cannot for a moment suppose that a clergyman and a gentleman such as Mr Crawley should have stolen money, and if he is innocent I cannot understand why all this trouble should be necessary to prevent a jury from finding him guilty.

‘Mr Toogood came here because he wanted to see the dean — and you also. He did not explain, as far as I can remember, why he wanted to see you; but he said it would be necessary, and that he was going to send off a messenger to find you first, and the dean afterwards. It has something to do with the money which was given to Mr Crawley last year, and which, if I remember right, was your present. But of course Mr Toogood could not have known anything about that. However, I gave him the address — poste restante, Florence — and I daresay that somebody will make you out before long, if you are still stopping in Florence. I did not like letting him go without telling you about it, as I thought that a lawyer’s coming to you would startle you.

‘The bairns are quite well, as I told you in my other letter, and Miss Jones says that little Elly is as good as gold. They are with me every morning and evening, and behave little darling angels, as they are. Posy is my own little jewel always. You may be quite sure I do nothing to spoil them. — God bless you, dearest Nelly, Your most affectionate father, ‘SEPTIMUS HARDING’

After this he wrote another letter to his other daughter, Mrs Grantly, telling her also of Mr Toogood’s visit; and then he spent the remainder of the day thinking over the gravity of the occurrence. How terrible it would be if a beneficed clergyman in the diocese should really be found guilty of theft by a jury from the city! And then he had always heard so high a character of this man from his son-in-law. No — it was impossible to believe that Mr Crawley had in truth stolen a cheque for twenty pounds!

Mr Toogood could get no further information in Barchester, and went on to Silverbridge early in the afternoon. He was half disposed to go by Hogglestock and look up his cousin, whom he had never seen, and his cousin’s husband, upon whose business he was now intent; but on reflection he feared that he might do more harm than good. He had quite appreciated the fact that Mr Crawley was not like other men. ‘The man’s not above half-saved,’ he had said to his wife — meaning thereby to insinuate that the poor clergyman was not in full possession of his wits. And, to tell the truth of Mr Toogood, he was a little afraid of his relative. There was something in Mr Crawley’s manner, in spite of his declared poverty, and in spite also of his extreme humility, which seemed to announce that he expected to be obeyed when he spoke on any point with authority. Mr Toogood had not forgotten the tone in which Mr Crawley had said to him, ‘Sir, this is a thing you cannot do.’ And he thought that, upon the whole, he had better not go to Hogglestock on this occasion.

When at Silverbridge, he began at once to ‘rummage about’. His chief rummaging was to be done at Mr Walker’s table; but before dinner he had time to call upon the magistrate’s clerk, and ask a few questions as to the proceedings at the sitting from which Mr Crawley was committed. He found a very taciturn old man, who was nearly as difficult to deal with in any rummaging process as a porcupine. But, nevertheless, at last he reached a state of conversation which was not absolutely hostile. Mr Toogood pleaded that he was the poor man’s cousin — pleaded that, as the family lawyer, he was naturally the poor man’s protector at such a time as the present — pleaded also that as the poor man was so very poor, no one else could come forward on his behalf — and in this way somewhat softened the hard sharpness of the old porcupine’s quills. But after all this, there was very little to be learned from the old porcupine. ‘There was not a magistrate on the bench,’ he said, ‘who had any doubt that the evidence was sufficient to justify them in sending the case to the assizes. They had all regretted,’— and the porcupine said in his softest moment —‘that the gentleman had come there without a legal adviser.’ ‘Ah, that’s been the mischief of it all!’ said Mr Toogood, dashing his hand against the porcupine’s mahogany table. ‘But the facts are so strong, Mr Toogood!’ ‘Nobody there to soften ’em down, you know,’ said Mr Toogood, shaking his head. Very little more than this was learned from the porcupine; and then Mr Toogood went away, and prepared for Mr Walker’s dinner.

Mr Walker had invited Dr Tempest and Miss Anne Prettyman and Major Grantly to meet Mr Toogood, and had explained, in a manner intended to be half earnest and half jocose, that though Mr Toogood was an attorney, like himself, and was at this moment engaged in a noble way on behalf of his cousin’s husband, without any idea of receiving back even the money which he would be out of pocket, still he wasn’t quite — not quite, you know —‘not quite so much of a gentleman as I am’— Mr Walker would have said, had he spoken out freely that which he insinuated. But he contented himself with the emphasis he put upon the ‘not quite’, which expressed his meaning fully. And Mr Walker was correct in his opinion of Mr Toogood. As regards the two attorneys I will not venture to say that either of them was not a ‘perfect gentleman’. A perfect gentleman is a thing which I cannot define. But undoubtedly Mr Walker was a bigger man in his way than was Mr Toogood in his, and did habitually consort in the county of Barsetshire with men of higher standing than those with whom Mr Toogood associated in London.

It seemed to be understood that Mr Crawley was to be the general subject of conversation, and no one attempted to talk about anything else. Indeed, at this time, very little else was talked about in that part of the county; — not only because of the interest naturally attaching to the question of the suspected guilt of a parish clergyman, but because much had become lately known of Mr Crawley’s character, and because it was known also that an internecine feud had arisen between him and the bishop. It had undoubtedly become the general opinion that Mr Crawley had picked up and had used a cheque which was not his own; — that he had, in fact, stolen it; but there was, in spite of that belief, a general wish that he might be acquitted and left in his living. And when the tidings of Mr Crawley’s victory over the bishop at the palace had become bruited about, popular sympathy went with the victor. The theft was, as it were, condoned, and people made excuses which were not always rational, but which were founded on the instincts of true humanity. And now the tidings of another stage in the battle, as fought against Mr Crawley by the bishop, had gone forth through the county, and men had heard that the rural dean was to be instructed to make inquiries which should be preliminary to proceedings against Mr Crawley in an ecclesiastical court. Dr Tempest, who was now about to meet Mr Toogood at Mr Walker’s, was the rural dean to whom Mr Crawley would have to submit himself in any such inquiry; but Dr Tempest had not as yet received from the bishop any official order on the subject.

‘We are so delighted to think that you have taken up your cousin’s case,’ said Mrs Walker to Mr Toogood in almost a whisper.

‘He is not just my cousin, himself,’ said Mr Toogood, ‘but of course it’s all the same thing. And as to taking up his case, you see, my dear madam, he won’t let me take it up.’

‘I thought you had. I thought you were down here about it.’

‘Only on the sly, Mrs Walker. He has such queer ideas that he will not allow a lawyer to be properly employed; and you can’t conceive how hard that makes it. Do you know him, Mrs Walker?’

‘We know his daughter Grace.’ And then Mrs Walker whispered something further, which we may presume to have been in intimation that the gentleman opposite — Major Grantly — was supposed by some people to be very fond of Miss Grace Crawley.

‘Quite a child, isn’t she?’ said Toogood, whose own daughter, now about to be married, was three or four years older than Grace.

‘She’s beyond being a child, I think. Of course she is young.’

‘But I suppose this affair will knock all that on the head,’ said the lawyer.

‘I do not know how that may be; but they do say he is very much attached to her. The major is a man of family, and of course it would be very disagreeable if Mr Crawley were found guilty.’

‘Very disagreeable indeed; but, upon my word, Mrs Walker, I don’t know what to say about it.’

‘You think it will go against him, Mr Toogood?’ Mr Toogood shook his head, and seeing this, Mrs Walker sighed deeply.

‘I can only say that I have nothing from the bishop as yet,’ said Dr Tempest, after the ladies had left the room. ‘Of course, if he thinks well to order it, the inquiry will be made.’

‘But how long would it take?’ asked Mr Walker.

‘Three months, I should think — or perhaps more. Of course Crawley would do all that he could to delay us, and I am not at all sure that we should be in any great hurry ourselves.’

‘Who are “we”, doctor?’ said Mr Walker.

‘I cannot make such an inquiry by myself, you know. I suppose the bishop would ask me to select two or three other clergymen to act with me. That’s the usual way of doing it. But you may be quite sure of this, Walker; the assizes will be over, and the jury have found their verdict long before we have settled our preliminaries.’

‘And what will the be the good of your going on after that?’

‘Only this good:— if the unfortunate man be convicted —’

‘Which he won’t’ said Toogood, who thought it expedient to put on a bolder front in talking of the matter to the rural dean, than he had assumed in his whispered conversation with Mrs Walker.

‘I hope not, with all my heart,’ said the doctor. ‘But, perhaps, for the sake of the argument, the supposition may be allowed to pass.’

‘Certainly, sir,’ said Mr Toogood. ‘For the sake of the argument, it may pass.’

‘If he be convicted, then, I suppose, there will be an end of the question. He would be sentenced for not less, I should say, than twelve months; and after that —’

‘And would be as good a parson of Hogglestock when he came out of prison as when he went in,’ said Mr Walker. ‘The conviction and judgment in a civil court would not touch his temporality.’

‘Certainly not,’ said Mr Toogood.

‘Of course not,’ said the doctor. ‘We all know that; and in the event of Mr Crawley coming back to his parish it would be open to the bishop to raise the question as to his fitness for the duties.’

‘Why shouldn’t he be as fit as anyone else?’ said Mr Toogood.

‘Simply because he would have been found guilty to be a thief,’ said the doctor. ‘You must excuse me, Mr Toogood, but it’s only for the sake of the argument.’

‘I don’t see what that has to do with it,’ said Mr Toogood. ‘He would have undergone his penalty.’

‘It is preferable that a man who preaches from a pulpit should not have undergone such a penalty,’ said the doctor. ‘But, in practice, under such circumstances — which we none of us anticipate, Mr Toogood — the living should no doubt be vacated. Mr Crawley would probably hardly wish to come back. The jury will do their work before we can do ours — will do it on much better base than any we can have; and, when they have done it, the thing ought to be finished. If the jury acquit him, the bishop cannot proceed any further. If he be found guilty, I think that the resignation of the living must follow.’

‘It is all spite, then, on the bishop’s part?’ said the major.

‘Not at all,’ said the doctor. ‘The poor man is weak; that is all. He is driven to persecute because he cannot escape persecution himself. But it may really be a question whether his present proceeding is not right. If I were a bishop I should wait till the trial was over; that is all.’

From this and from much more that was said during the evening on the same subject, Mr Toogood gradually learned the position which Mr Crawley and the question of Mr Crawley’s guilt really held in the county, and he returned to town resolved to go on with the case.

‘I’ll have a barrister down express, and I’ll defend him in his own teeth,’ he said to his wife. ‘There’ll be a scene in court, I daresay, and the man will call upon his own counsel to hold his tongue and shut up his brief; and, as far as I can see, counsel in such a case would have no alternative. But there would come an explanation — how Crawley was too honourable to employ a man whom he could not pay, and there would be a romance, and it would all go down with the jury. One wants sympathy in such a case as that — not evidence.’

‘And how much will it cost, Tom?’ said Maria, dolefully.

‘Only a trifle. We won’t think of that yet. There’s John Eames is going all the way to Jerusalem, out of his pocket.’

‘But Johnny hasn’t got twelve children, Tom.’

‘One doesn’t have a cousin in trouble every day,’ said Toogood. ‘And then you see there’s something very pretty in this case. It’s quite a pleasure getting it up.’

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