Gryll Grange, by Thomas Love Peacock

Chapter 33

The Conquest of Thebes

(Greek passage)

ÆSCHYLUS: Prometheus.

Oh! wise was he, the first who taught

This lesson of observant thought,

That equal fates alone may dress

The bowers of nuptial happiness;

That never, where ancestral pride

Inflames, or affluence rolls its tide,

Should love’s ill-omened bonds entwine

The offspring of an humbler line.

Mr. Falconer, the next morning, after the doctor had set out on his return walk, departed from his usual practice of not seeing one of the sisters alone, and requested that Dorothy would come to him in the drawing-room. She appeared before him, blushing and trembling.

‘Sit down,’ he said, ‘dear Dorothy; I have something to say to you and your sisters; but I have reasons for saying it first to you. It is probable, at any rate possible, that I shall very soon marry, and perhaps, in that case, you may be disposed to do the same. And I am told, that one of the best young men I have ever known is dying for love of you.’

‘He is a good young man, that is certain,’ said Dorothy; then becoming suddenly conscious of how much she had undesignedly admitted, she blushed deeper than before. And by way of mending the matter, she said, ‘But I am not dying for love of him.’

‘I daresay you are not,’ said Mr. Falconer; ‘you have no cause to be so, as you are sure of him, and only your consent is wanting.’

‘And yours,’ said Dorothy, ‘and that of my sisters; especially my elder sisters; indeed, they ought to set the example.’

‘I am sure of that,’ said Mr. Falconer. ‘So far, if I understand rightly, they have followed yours. It was your lover’s indefatigable devotion that brought together suitors to them all. As to my consent, that you shall certainly have. So the next time you see Master Harry, send him to me.’

‘He is here now,’ said Dorothy.

‘Then ask him to come in,’ said Mr. Falconer.

And Dorothy retired in some confusion. But her lips could not contradict her heart. Harry appeared.

Mr. Falconer. So, Harry, you have been making love in my house, without asking my leave.

Harry Hedgerow. I couldn’t help making love, sir; and I didn’t ask your leave, because I thought I shouldn’t get it.

Mr. Falconer. Candid, as usual, Harry. But do you think Dorothy would make a good farmer’s wife?

Harry Hedgerow. I think, sir, she is so good, and so clever, and so ready and willing to turn her hand to anything, that she would be a fit wife for anybody, from a lord downwards. But it may be most for her own happiness to keep in the class in which she was born.

Mr. Falconer. She is not very pretty, you know.

Harry Hedgerow. Not pretty, sir! If she isn’t a beauty, I don’t know who is.

Mr. Falconer. Well, no doubt, she is a handsome girl.

Harry Hedgerow. Handsome is not the thing, sir. She’s beautiful.

Mr. Falconer. Well, Harry, she is beautiful, if that will please you.

Harry Hedgerow. It does please me, sir. I ought to have known you were joking when you said she was not pretty.

Mr. Falconer. But, you know, she has no fortune.

Harry Hedgerow. I don’t want fortune. I want her, and nothing else, and nobody else.

Mr. Falconer. But I cannot consent to her marrying without a fortune of her own.

Harry Hedgerow. Why then, I’ll give her one beforehand. Father has saved some money, and she shall have that. We’ll settle it on her, as the lawyers say.

Mr. Falconer. You are a thoroughly good fellow, Harry, and I really wish Dorothy joy of her choice; but that is not what I meant. She must bring you a fortune, not take one from you; and you must not refuse it.

Harry repeated that he did not want fortune; and Mr. Falconer repeated that, so far as depended on him, he should not have Dorothy without one. It was not an arduous matter to bring to an amicable settlement.

The affair of Harry and Dorothy being thus satisfactorily arranged, the other six were adjusted with little difficulty; and Mr. Falconer returned with a light heart to the Grange, where he presented himself at dinner on the twenty-seventh day of his probation.

He found much the same party as before; for though some of them absented themselves for a while, they could not resist Mr. Gryll’s earnest entreaties to return. He was cordially welcomed by all, and with a gracious smile from Morgana.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:59