It had become necessary on the Monday morning that Mrs Crawley should obtain from her husband an undertaking that he should present himself before the magistrates at Silverbridge on the Thursday. She had been made to understand that the magistrates were sinning against the strict rule of law in not issuing a warrant at once for Mr Crawley’s apprehension; and they were so sinning at the instance of Mr Walker — at whose instance they would have committed almost any sin practicable by a board of English magistrates, so great was their faith in him; and she knew that she was bound to answer her engagement. She had also another task to perform — that, namely, of persuading him to employ an attorney for his defence; and she was prepared with the name of an attorney, one Mr Mason, also of Silverbridge, who had been recommended to her by Mr Walker. But when she came to the performance of these two tasks on the Monday morning, she found that she was unable to accomplish either of them. Mr Crawley first declared that he would have nothing to do with any attorney. As to that he seemed to have made up his mind beforehand, and she saw at once that she had no hope of shaking him. But when she found that he was equally obstinate in the other matter, and that he declared that he would not go before the magistrates unless he were made to do so — unless the policeman came and fetched him, then she almost sank beneath the burden of her troubles, and for a while was disposed to let things go as they would. How could she strive to bear a load that was so manifestly too heavy for her shoulders?
On the Sunday the poor man had exerted himself to get through his Sunday duties, and he had succeeded. He had succeeded so well that his wife had thought that things might yet come right with him, that he would remember, before it was too late, the true history of that unhappy piece of paper, and that he was rising above that half madness which for months past had afflicted him.
On the Sunday evening, when he was tired with his work, she thought it best to say nothing to him about the magistrates and the business of Thursday. But on Monday morning she commenced her task, feeling that she owed it to Mr Walker to lose no more time. He was very decided in his manners and made her to understand that he would employ no lawyer on his own behalf. ‘Why should I want a lawyer? I have done nothing wrong,’ he said. Then she tried to make him understand that many who may have done nothing wrong require a lawyer’s aid. ‘And who is to pay him?’ he asked. To this she replied, unfortunately, that there would be no need of thinking of that at once. ‘And I am to get further into debt!’ he said. ‘I am to put myself right before the world by incurring debts which I know I can never pay? When it has been a question of food for the children I have been weak, but I will not be weak in such a matter as this. I will have no lawyer.’ She did not regard this denial on his part as very material, though she would fain have followed Mr Walker’s advice had she been able; but when, later in the day, he declared that the police should fetch him, then her spirits gave way. Early in the morning he had seemed to assent to the expedient of going into Silverbridge on the Thursday, and it was not till after he had worked himself into a rage about the proposed attorney, that he utterly refused to make the journey. During the whole day, however, his state was such as almost to break his wife’ heart. He would do nothing. He would not go to the school, nor even stir beyond the house-door. He would not open a book. He would not eat, nor would he even sit at table or say the accustomed grace when the scanty midday meal was placed upon the table. ‘Nothing is blessed to me,’ he said, when his wife pressed him to say the word for their child’s sake. ‘Shall I say that I thank God when my heart is thankless? Shall I serve my child by a lie?’ Then for hours he sat in the same position, in the old arm-chair, hanging over the fire speechless, sleepless, thinking ever, as she well knew, of the injustice of the world. She hardly dared to speak to him, so great was the bitterness of his words when she was goaded to reply. At last, late in the evening, feeling that it would be her duty to send to Mr Walker early on the following morning, she laid her hand gently on his shoulder and asked him for his promise. ‘I may tell Mr Walker that you will be there on Thursday?’
‘No,’ he said, shouting at her. ‘No. I will have no such message sent.’ She started back, trembling. Not that she was accustomed to tremble at his ways, or to show that she feared him in his paroxysms, but that his voice had been louder than she had before known it. ‘I will hold no intercourse with them at Silverbridge in this matter. Do you hear me, Mary?’
‘I hear you, Josiah; but I must keep my word to Mr Walker. I promised that I would send to him.’
‘Tell him, then, that I will not stir a foot out of this house on Thursday of my own accord. On Thursday I shall be here; and here I will remain all day — unless they take me by force.’
‘But Josiah —’
‘Will you obey me, or shall I walk into Silverbridge myself and tell the man that I will not come to him.’ Then he arose from his chair and stretched forth his hand to his hat as though he were going forth immediately, on his way to Silverbridge. The night was now pitch dark, and the rain was falling, and abroad he would encounter all the severity of the pitiless winter. Still it might have been better that he should have gone. The exercise and the fresh air, even the wet and the mud, would have served to bring back his mind to reason. But his wife thought of the misery of the journey, of his scanty clothing, of his worn boots, of the need there was to preserve the raiment which he wore; and she remembered that he was fasting — that he had eaten nothing since the morning, and that he was not fit to be alone. She stopped him, therefore, before he could reach the door.
‘Your bidding shall be done,’ she said —‘of course.’
‘Tell them, then, that they must seek me if they want me.’
‘But, Josiah, think of the parish — of the people who respect you — for their sakes let it not be said that you were taken away by policemen.’
‘Was St Paul not bound in prison? Did he think of what the people might see?’
‘If it were necessary, I would encourage you to bear it without a murmur.’
‘It is necessary, whether you murmur, or do not murmur. Murmur indeed! Why does not your voice ascend to heaven with one loud wail against the cruelty of man?’ Then he went forth from the room into an empty chamber on the other side of the passage; and his wife, when she followed him there after a few minutes, found him on his knees, with his forehead against the floor, and with his hands clutching at the scanty hairs of his head. Often before had she seen him so, on the same spot, half grovelling, half prostrate in prayer, reviling in his agony all things around him — nay, nearly all things above him — and yet striving to reconcile himself to his Creator by the humiliation of his confession.
It might be better for him now, if only he could bring himself to some softness of heart. Softly she closed the door, and placing the candle on the mantle-shelf, softly she knelt beside him, and softly touched his hand with hers. He did not stir nor utter a single word, but seemed to clutch at his thin locks more violently than before. Then she kneeling there, aloud, but with a low voice, with her thin hands clasped, uttered a prayer in which she asked her God to remove from her husband the bitterness of that hour. He listened till she had finished, and then rose slowly to his feet. ‘It is in vain,’ said he, ‘it is all in vain. It is all in vain.’ Then he returned back to the parlour, and seating himself again in the arm-chair, remained there without speaking till past midnight. At last, when she told him that she herself was very cold, and reminded him that for the last hour there had been no fire, still speechless, he went up with her to their bed.
Early on the following morning she contrived to let him know that she was about to send a neighbour’s son over with a note to Mr Walker, fearing to urge him further to change his mind; but hoping that he might express his purpose of doing so when he heard that the letter was to be sent; but he took no notice whatever of her words. At this moment he was reading Greek with his daughter, or rather rebuking her because she could not be induced to read her Greek.
‘Oh, papa,’ the poor girl said, ‘don’t scold me now. I am so unhappy because of all of this.’
‘And am I not unhappy?’ he said, as he closed the book. ‘My God, what have I done against thee, that my lines should be cast in such terrible places?’
The letter was sent to Mr Walker. ‘He knows himself to be innocent,’ said the poor wife, writing what best excuse she how to make, ‘and thinks that he should take no step himself in such a matter. He will not employ a lawyer, and he says that he should prefer that he be sent for, if the law requires his presence at Silverbridge on Thursday.’ All this she wrote, as though she felt that she ought to employ a high tone in defending her husband’s purpose; but she broke down altogether in a few words of the postscript. ‘Indeed, indeed I have done what I could!’ Mr Walker understood it all, both the high tone and the subsequent fall.
On the Thursday morning, at about ten o’clock, a fly stopped at the gate at Hogglestock Parsonage, and out of it came two men. One was dressed in ordinary black clothes, and seemed from his bearing to be a respectable man of the middle class of life. He was, however, the superintendent of police for the Silverbridge district. The other man was a policeman, pure and simple, with the helmet-looking hat which has lately become common, and all the ordinary half-military and wholly disagreeable outward adjuncts of the profession. ‘Wilkins,’ said the superintendent, ‘likely enough I shall want you, for they tell me the gent is uncommon strange. But if I don’t call you when I come out, just open the door like a servant and mount up on the box when we’re in. And don’t speak nor say nothing.’ then the senior policeman entered the house.
He found Mrs Crawley sitting in the parlour with her bonnet and shawl on, and Mr Crawley in the arm-chair, leaning over the fire. ‘I suppose we had better go with you,’ said Mrs Crawley directly the door was opened; for of course she had seen the arrival of the fly from the window.
‘The gentleman had better come with us if he’ll be so kind,’ said Thompson. ‘I’ve brought a carriage for him.’
‘But I may go with him?’ said the wife, with frightened voice. ‘I may accompany my husband. He is not well, sir, and wants assistance.’
Thompson thought about it for a moment before he spoke. There was room in the fly for only two, or if for three, still he knew his place better than to thrust himself inside together with his prisoner and his prisoner’s wife. He had been specially asked by Mr Walker to be very civil. Only one could sit on the box with the driver, and if the request was conceded the poor policeman must walk back. The walk, however would not kill the policeman. ‘All right, ma’am,’ said Thompson; —‘that is, if the gentleman will just pass his word not to get out till I ask him.’
‘He will not! He will not!’ said Mrs Crawley.
‘I will pass my word for nothing,’ said Mr Crawley.
Upon hearing this, Thompson assumed a very long face, and shook his head as he turned his eyes first towards the husband and then towards the wife, and shrugged his shoulders, and compressing his lips, blew out his breath, as though in this way he might blow off some of the mingled sorrow and indignation with which the gentleman’s words afflicted him.
Mrs Crawley rose and came close to him. ‘You may take my word for it he will not stir. You may indeed. He thinks it incumbent on him not to give any undertaking himself, because he feels himself so harshly used.’
‘I don’t know about harshness,’ said Thompson, brindling up. ‘A close carriage brought and —’
‘I will walk. If I am to go, I will walk,’ shouted Mr Crawley.
‘I did not allude to you — or to Mr Walker,’ said the poor wife. ‘I know you have been most kind. I meant the harshness of the circumstances. Of course he is innocent, and you must feel for him.’
‘Yes, I feel for him, and for you too, ma’am.’
‘That is all I meant. He knows his own innocence, and therefore he is unwilling to give way in anything.’
‘Of course he knows hisself, that’s certain. But he’d better come in the carriage, if only because of the dirt and slush.’
‘He will go in the carriage; and I will go with him. There will be room for you there, sir.’
Thompson looked up at the rain, and told himself that it was very cold. Then he remembered Mr Walker’s injunction, and bethought himself that Mrs Crawley, in spite of her poverty, was a lady. He conceived even unconsciously the idea that something was due to her because of her poverty. ‘I’ll go with the driver,’ said he, ‘but he’ll only give hisself a deal of trouble if he tries to get out.’
‘He won’t; he won’t,’ said Mrs Crawley. ‘And I thank you with all my heart.’
‘Come along, then,’ said Thompson.
She went up to her husband, hat in hand, and looking round to see that she was not watched put the hat on his head, and then lifted him as it were from the chair. He did not refuse to be led, and allowed her to throw round his shoulders the old cloak which was hanging in the passage, and then he passed out, and was the first to seat himself in the Silverbridge fly. His wife followed him, and did not hear the blandishments with which Thompson instructed his myrmidon to follow through the mud on foot. Slowly they made their way through the lanes, and it was nearly twelve when the fly was driven through the yard of the “George and Vulture” at Silverbridge.
Silverbridge, though it was blessed with a mayor and corporation, and was blessed also with a Member of Parliament all to itself, was not blessed with a courthouse. The magistrates were therefore compelled to sit in the big room at the “George and Vulture” in which the county balls were celebrated, and the meeting of the West Barsetshire freemasons was held. That part of the country was, no doubt, very much ashamed of its backwardness in this respect, but as yet nothing had been done to remedy the evil. Thompson and his fly were therefore driven into the yard of the inn, and Mr and Mrs Crawley were ushered by him up into a little bed-chamber close adjoining to the big room in which the magistrates were already assembled. ‘There’s a bit of a fire here,’ said Thompson, ‘and you can make yourselves a little warm.’ He himself was shivering with the cold. ‘When the gents is ready in there, I’ll just come and fetch you.’
‘I may go in with him?’ said Mrs Crawley.
‘I’ll have a chair for you at the end of the table, just nigh to him,’ said Thompson. ‘You can slip into it and say nothing to nobody.’ Then he left them and went away to the magistrates.
Mr Crawley had not spoken a word since he had entered the vehicle. Nor had she said much to him, but had sat with him holding his hand in hers. Now he spoke to her —‘Where is it that we are?’ he asked.
‘At Silverbridge, dearest.’
‘But what is this chamber? And why are we here?’
‘We are to wait here till the magistrates are ready. They are in the next room.’
‘But this is the Inn?’
‘Yes dear, it is the Inn.’
‘And I see crowds of people about.’ There were crowds of people about. There had been men in the yard, and others standing about on the stairs, and the public room was full of men who were curious to see the clergyman who had stolen twenty pounds, and to hear what would be the result of the case before the magistrates. He must be committed; so, at least said everybody; but then there would be the question of bail. Would the magistrates let him out on bail, and who would be the bailsmen? ‘Why are the people here?’ said Mr Crawley.
‘I suppose it is a custom when the magistrates are sitting,’ said his wife.
‘They have come to see the degradation of a clergyman,’ said he; —‘and they will not be disappointed.’
‘Nothing can degrade but guilt,’ said his wife.
‘Yes — misfortune can degrade, and poverty. A man is degraded when the cares of the world press so heavily upon him that he cannot rouse himself. They have come to look at me as though I were a hunted beast.’
‘It is but their custom always on such days.’
‘They have not always had a clergyman before them as a criminal.’ Then he was silent for a while, while she was chafing his cold hands. ‘Would that I were dead, before they brought me to this! Would that I were dead!’
‘Is it not right, dear, that we should bear all that He sends us?’
‘Would that I were dead!’ he repeated. ‘The load is too heavy for me to bear, and I would that I were dead.’
The time seemed very long before Thompson returned and asked them to accompany him into the big room. When he did so, Mr Crawley grasped hold of the chair as though he had resolved that he would not go.
But his wife whispered a word to him, and he obeyed her. ‘He will follow me,’ she said to the policeman. And in that way they went from the smaller room into the large one. Thompson went first; Mrs Crawley with her veil down came next; and the wretched man followed his wife, with his eyes fixed upon the ground and his hands clasped together upon his breast. He could at first have seen nothing, and could hardly have known where he was when they placed him in a chair. She, with better courage, contrived to look round through her veil, and saw that there was a long board or table covered with green cloth, and that six or seven gentlemen were sitting at one end of it, while there seemed to be a crowd standing along the sides and about the room. Her husband was seated at the other end of the table, near the corner, and round the corner — so that she might be close to him — her chair had been placed. On the other side of him there was another chair, now empty, intended for any professional gentleman whom he might choose to employ.
There were five magistrates sitting there. Lord Lufton, from Framley, was in the chair; — a handsome man, still young, who was very popular in the county. The cheque which had been cashed had borne his signature, and he had consequently expressed his intention of not sitting on the board; but Mr Walker, desirous of having him there, had overruled him, showing that the loss was not his loss. The cheque, if stolen, had not been stolen from him. He was not the prosecutor. ‘No, by Jove,’ said Lord Lufton, ‘if I could quash the whole thing, I would do so at once!’
‘You can’t do that, my lord, but you may help us at the board,’ said Mr Walker.
Then there was the Hon George De Courcy, Lord De Courcy’s brother, from Castle Courcy. Lord De Courcy did not live in the county, but his brother did so, and endeavoured to maintain the glory of the family by the discretion of his conduct. He was not, perhaps, among the wisest of men, but he did very well as a county magistrate, holding his tongue, keeping his eyes open, and, on such occasions as this, obeying Mr Walker in all things. Dr Tempest was also there, the rector of the parish, he being both magistrate and clergyman. There were many in Silverbridge who declared that Dr Tempest would have done far better to stay away when a brother clergyman was thus to be brought before the bench; but it had been long since Dr Tempest had cared what was said about him in Silverbridge. He had become accustomed to the life he led as to like to be disliked, and to be enamoured of unpopularity. So when Mr Walker had ventured to suggest to him that, perhaps, he might not choose to be there, he had laughed Mr Walker to scorn. ‘Of course I shall be there,’ he said. ‘I am interested in the case — very much interested. Of course I shall be there.’ And had not Lord Lufton been present he would have made himself more conspicuous by taking the chair. Mr Fothergill was the fourth. Mr Fothergill was man of business to the Duke of Omnium, who was the great owner of property in and around Silverbridge, and he was the most active magistrate in that part of the county. He was a sharp man, and not at all likely to have any predisposition in favour of a clergyman. The fifth was Dr Thorne of Chaldicotes, a gentleman whose name has been already mentioned in these pages. He had been for many years a medical man practising in a little village in the further end of the county; but it had come to be his fate, late in life, to marry a great heiress, with whose money the ancient house and domain of Chaldicotes had been purchased from the Sowerbys. Since then Dr Thorne had done his duty well as a country gentleman — not, however, without some little want of smoothness between him and the duke’s people.
Chaldicotes lay next to the duke’s territory, and the duke had wished to buy Chaldicotes. When Chaldicotes slipped through the duke’s fingers and went into the hands of Dr Thorne — or of Dr Thorne’s wife — the duke had been very angry with Mr Fothergill. Hence it had come to pass that there had not always been smoothness between the duke’s people and the Chaldicotes people. It was now rumoured that Dr Thorne intended to stand for the county on the next vacancy, and that did not tend to make things smoother. On the right hand of Lord Lufton sat Lord George and Mr Fothergill, and beyond Mr Fothergill sat Mr Walker, and beyond Mr Walker sat Mr Walker’s clerk. On the left hand of the chairman were Dr Tempest and Dr Thorne, and a little lower down was Mr Zachary Winthrop, who held the situation of clerk to the magistrates. Many people in Silverbridge said that this was all wrong, as Mr Winthrop was partner with Mr Walker, who was always employed before the magistrates if there was any employment going for an attorney. For this, however, Mr Walker cared very little. He had so much of his own way in Silverbridge, that he was supposed to care nothing for anybody.
There were many other gentlemen in the room, and some who knew Mr Crawley with more or less intimacy. He, however, took notice of no one, and when one friend, who had really known him well, came up behind and spoke to him gently leaning over his chair the poor man barely recognised his friend.
‘I’m sure your husband won’t forget me,’ said Mr Robarts, the clergyman at Framley, as he gave his hand to that lady across the back of Mr Crawley’s chair.
‘No, Mr Robarts, he does not forget you. But you must excuse him if at this moment he is not quite himself. It is a trying situation for a clergyman.’
‘I can understand all that; but I’ll tell you why I have come. I suppose this inquiry will finish the whole affair, and clear up whatever may be the difficulty. But should it not be so, it may be just possible, Mrs Crawley, that something may be said about bail. I don’t understand much about it, and I daresay you do not either; but if there should be anything of that sort, let Mr Crawley name me. A brother clergyman will be best, and I’ll have some other gentleman with me.’ Then he left without waiting for an answer.
At the same time there was a conversation going on between Mr Walker and another attorney standing behind him, Mr Mason. ‘I’ll go to him,’ said Walker, ‘and try to arrange it.’ So Mr Walker seated himself in the empty chair beside Mr Crawley, and endeavoured to explain to the wretched man, that he would do well to allow Mr Mason to assist him. Mr Crawley seemed to listen to all that was said, and then turned to the speaker sharply: ‘I will have no one to assist me,’ he said so loudly that everyone in the room heard the words. ‘I am innocent. Why should I want assistance? Nor have I the money to pay for it.’ Mr Mason made a quick movement forward, intending to explain that that consideration need offer no impediment, but was stopped by further speech by Mr Crawley. ‘I will have no one to help me,’ said he, standing upright, and for the first time removing his hat from his head. ‘Go on, and do what it is you have to do.’ After than he did not sit down till the proceedings were nearly over, though he was invited more than once by Lord Lufton to do so.
We need not go through all the evidence that was brought to bear upon the question. It was proved that money for the cheque was paid to Mr Crawley’s messenger, and that this money was given to Mr Crawley. When there occurred some little delay in the chain of evidence necessary to show that Mr Crawley had signed and sent the cheque and got the money, he became impatient. ‘Why do you trouble the man?’ he said. ‘I had the cheque, and I sent him; I got the money. Has anyone denied it, that you would strive to drive a poor man like that beyond his wits?’ Then Mr Soames and the manager of the bank showed what inquiry had been made as soon as the cheque came back from the London bank; how at first they had both thought that Mr Crawley could of course explain the matter and how he explained it by a statement which was manifestly untrue. Then there was evidence to prove that the cheque could not have been paid to him by Mr Soames, and as this was given, Mr Crawley shook his head and again became impatient. ‘I erred in that,’ he exclaimed. ‘Of course I erred. In my haste I thought it was so, and in my haste I said so. I am not good at reckoning money and remembering sums; but I say that I had been wrong when my error was shown to me, and I acknowledged at once that I had been wrong.’
Up to this point he had behaved not only with so much spirit, but with so much reason, that his wife began to hope that the importance of the occasion had brought back the clearness of his mind, and that he would, even now, be able to place himself right as the inquiry went on. Then it was explained that Mr Crawley had stated that the cheque had been given to him by Dean Arabin, as soon as it was shown that it could not have been given to him by Mr Soames. In reference to this, Mr Walker was obliged to explain that application had been made to the dean, who was abroad, and that the dean had stated that he had given fifty pounds to his friend. Mr Walker explained also that the very notes of which this fifty pounds had consisted had been traced back to Mr Crawley, and that they had no connexion with the cheque or with the money which had been given for the cheque at the bank.
Mr Soames stated that he had lost the cheque with a pocket-book; that he had certainly lost it on the day on which he had called on Mr Crawley at Hogglestock; and that he missed his pocket-book on his journey back from Hogglestock to Barchester. At the moment of missing it he remembered that he had taken the book out from his pocket in Mr Crawley’s room, and, at that moment, he had not doubted that he had left it in Mr Crawley’s house. He had written and sent to Mr Crawley to inquire, but had been assured that nothing had been found. There had been no other property of value in the pocket-book — nothing but a few visiting-cards and a memorandum, and he had therefore stopped the cheque at the London bank, and thought no more about it.
Mr Crawley was then asked to explain in what way he came possessed of the cheque. The question was first put by Lord Lufton; but it soon fell into Mr Walker’s hands, who certainly asked it with all the kindness with which such an inquiry could be made. Could Mr Crawley at all remember by what means that bit of paper had come into his possession, or how long he had had it? He answered the last question first. ‘It had been with me for months.’ And why had he kept it. He looked round the room sternly, almost savagely, he answered, fixing his eyes for a moment upon almost every face around him as he did so. Then he spoke. ‘I was driven by shame to keep it — and then by shame to use it.’ That his statement was true, no one in the room doubted it.
And then the other question was pressed upon him; and he lifted up his hands, and raised his voice, and swore by the Saviour in whom he trusted, and he knew not from whence the money had come to him. Why then had he said that it had come from the dean? He had thought so. The dean had given him money, covered up, in an enclosure, ‘so that the touch of the coin might not add to my disgrace in taking alms,’ said the wretched man, thus speaking openly and freely in his agony of the shame which he had striven so persistently to hide. He had not seen the dean’s monies as they had been given, and he had thought that the cheque had been with them. Beyond that he could tell them nothing.
Then there was a conference between the magistrates and Mr Walker, in which Mr Walker submitted that the magistrates had no alternative but to commit the gentleman. To this Lord Lufton demurred, and with him Dr Thorne.
‘I believe, as I am sitting here,’ said Lord Lufton, ‘that he has told the truth, and that he does not know any more than I do from whence the cheque came.’
‘I am quite sure he does not,’ said Dr Thorne.
Lord George remarked that it was the ‘queerest thing he had ever come across.’ Dr Tempest merely shook his head. Mr Fothergill pointed out that even supposing the gentleman’s statement to be true, it by no means went towards establishing the gentleman’s innocence. The cheque had been traced to the gentleman’s hands, and the gentleman was bound to show how it had come into his possession. Even supposing that the gentleman had found the cheque in his house, which was likely enough, he was not thereby justified in changing it; and applying the proceeds to his own purposes. Mr Walker told them that Mr Fothergill was right, and that the only excuse to be made for Mr Crawley was that he was out of his senses.
‘I don’t see it,’ said Lord Lufton. ‘I might have a lot of paper money on me, and not know from Adam where I got it.’
‘But you would have to show where you got it, my lord, when inquiry was made,’ said Mr Fothergill.
Lord Lufton, who was not particularly fond of Mr Fothergill, and was very unwilling to be instructed by him in any of the duties of a magistrate, turned his back at once upon the duke’s agent; but within three minutes afterwards he had submitted to the same instructions from Mr Walker.
Mr Crawley had again seated himself, and during this period of the affair was leaning over the table with his face buried on his arms. Mrs Crawley sat by his side, utterly impotent as to any assistance, just touching him with her hand, and waiting behind her veil till she should be made to understand what was the decision of the magistrates. This was at last communicated to her — and to him — in a whisper by Mr Walker. Mr Crawley must understand that he was committed to take his trial at Barchester, at the next assizes, which would be held in April, but that bail would be taken; — in his own bail in five hundred pounds, and that of two others in two hundred and fifty pounds each. And Mr Walker explained further that he and the bailsmen were ready, and that the bail-bond was prepared. The bailsmen were to be the Rev Mr Robarts and Major Grantly. In five minutes the bond was signed and Mr Crawley was at liberty to go away a free man — till the Barchester Assizes should come around in April.
Of all that was going on at this time Mr Crawley knew little or nothing, and Mrs Crawley did not know much. She did say a word of thanks to Mr Robarts, and begged that the same might be said to — the other gentleman. If she had heard the Major’s name she did not remember it. Then they were led out back into the bedroom, where Mrs Walker was found, anxious to do something, if she only knew what, to comfort the wretched husband and the wretched wife. But what comfort or consolation could there be within their reach? There was tea made for them, and sandwiches cut from the Inn larder. And there was sherry in the Inn decanter. But no such comfort as that was possible for either of them.
They were taken home again in the fly, returning without the escort of Mr Thompson, and as they went home some few words were spoken by Mrs Crawley. ‘Josiah,’ she said, ‘there will be a way out of this, even yet, if you will only hold up your head and trust.’
‘There is a way out of it,’ he said. ‘There is a way. There is but one way.’ When he had spoken she said no more, but resolved that her eye should never be off him, no — not for a moment. Then, when she had gotten him once more into that front parlour, she threw her arms around him and kissed him.
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:01