When these great efforts were being made by Arabella Trefoil at Mistletoe, John Morton was vacillating in an unhappy mood between London and Bragton. It may be remembered that an offer was made to him as to the purchase of Chowton Farm. At that time the Mistletoe party was broken up, and Miss Trefoil was staying with her mother at the Connop Greens. By the morning post on the next day he received a note from the Senator in which Mr. Gotobed stated that business required his presence at Dillsborough and suggested that he should again become a guest at Bragton for a few days. Morton was so sick of his own company and so tired of thinking of his own affairs that he was almost glad to welcome the Senator. At any rate he had no means of escaping, and the Senator came. The two men were alone at the house and the Senator was full of his own wrongs as well as those of Englishmen in general. Mr. Bearside had written to him very cautiously, but pressing for an immediate remittance of 25 pounds, and explaining that the great case could not be carried on without that sum of money. This might have been very well as being open to the idea that the Senator had the option of either paying the money or of allowing the great case to be abandoned, but that the attorney in the last paragraph of his letter intimated that the Senator would be of course aware that he was liable for the whole cost of the action be it what it might. He had asked a legal friend in London his opinion, and the legal friend had seemed to think that perhaps he was liable. What orders he had given to Bearside he had given without any witness, and at any rate had already paid a certain sum. The legal friend, when he heard all that Mr. Gotobed was able to tell him about Goarly, had advised the Senator to settle with Bearside, taking a due receipt and having some person with him when he did so. The legal friend had thought that a small sum of money would suffice. “He went so far as to suggest,” said the Senator with indignant energy, “that if I contested my liability to the man’s charges, the matter would go against me because I had interfered in such a case on the unpopular side. I should think that in this great country I should find justice administered on other terms than that.” Morton attempted to explain to him that his legal friend had not been administering justice but only giving advice. He had, so Morton told him, undoubtedly taken up the case of one blackguard, and in urging it had paid his money to another. He had done so as a foreigner — loudly proclaiming as his reason for such action that the man he supported would be unfairly treated unless he gave his assistance. Of course he could not expect sympathy. “I want no sympathy,” said the Senator; —“I only want justice.” Then the two gentlemen had become a little angry with each other. Morton was the last man in the world to have been aggressive on such a matter; but with the Senator it was necessary either to be prostrate or to fight.
But with Mr. Gotobed such fighting never produced ill blood. It was the condition of his life, and it must be supposed that he liked it. On the next morning he did not scruple to ask his host’s advice as to what he had better do, and they agreed to walk across to Goarly’s house and to ascertain from the man himself what he thought or might have to say about his own case. On their way they passed up the road leading to Chowton Farm, and at the gate leading into the garden they found Larry Twentyman standing. Morton shook hands with the young farmer and introduced the Senator. Larry was still woe-begone though he endeavoured to shake off his sorrows and to appear to be gay. “I never see much of the man,” he said when they told him that they were going across to call upon his neighbour, “and I don’t know that I want to.”
“He doesn’t seem to have much friendship among you all,” said the Senator.
“Quite as much as he deserves, Mr. Gotobed,” replied Larry. The Senator’s name had lately become familiar as a household word in Dillsborough, and was, to tell the truth, odious to such men as Larry Twentyman. “He’s a thundering rascal, and the only place fit for him in the county is Rufford gaol. He’s like to be there soon, I think.”
“That’s what provokes me,” said the Senator. “You think he’s a rascal, Mister.”
“And because you take upon yourself to think so you’d send him to Rufford gaol! There was one gentleman somewhere about here told me he ought to be hung, and because I would not agree with him he got up and walked away from me at table, carrying his provisions with him. Another man in the next field to this insulted me because I said I was going to see Goarly. The clergyman in Dillsborough and the hotelkeepers were just as hard upon me. But you see, Mister, that what we want to find out is whether Goarly or the Lord has the right of it in this particular case.”
“I know which has the right without any more finding out,” said Larry. “The shortest way to his house is by the ride through the wood, Mr. Morton. It takes you out on his land on the other side. But I don’t think you’ll find him there. One of my men told me that he had made himself scarce.” Then he added as the two were going on, “I should like to have just a word with you, Mr. Morton. I’ve been thinking of what you said, and I know it was kind. I’ll take a month over it. I won’t talk of selling Chowton till the end of February; — but if I feel about it then as I do now I can’t stay.”
“That’s right, Mr. Twentyman; — and work hard, like a man, through the month. Go out hunting, and don’t allow yourself a moment for moping.”
“I will,” said Larry, as he retreated to the house, and then he gave directions that his horse might be ready for the morrow.
They went in through the wood, and the Senator pointed out the spot at which Bean the gamekeeper had been so insolent to him. He could not understand, he said, why he should be treated so roughly, as these men must be aware that he had nothing to gain himself. “If I were to go into Mickewa,” said Morton, “and interfere there with the peculiarities of the people as you have done here, it’s my belief that they’d have had the eyes out of my head long before this.”
“That only shows that you don’t know Mickewa,” said the Senator. “Its people are the most law-abiding population on the face of the earth.”
They passed through the wood, and a couple of fields brought them to Goarly’s house. As they approached it by the back the only live thing they saw was the old goose which had been so cruelly deprived of her companions and progeny. The goose was waddling round the dirty pool, and there were to be seen sundry ugly signs of a poor man’s habitation, but it was not till they had knocked at the window as well as the door that Mrs. Goarly showed herself. She remembered the Senator at once and curtseyed to him; and when Morton introduced himself she curtseyed again to the Squire of Bragton. When Goarly was asked for she shook her head and declared that she knew nothing about him. He had been gone, she said, for the last week, and had left no word as to whither he was going; — nor had he told her why. “Has he given up his action against Lord Rufford?” asked the Senator.
“Indeed then, sir, I can’t tell you a word about it.”
“I’ve been told that he has taken Lord Rufford’s money.”
“He ain’t ‘a taken no money as I’ve seed, sir. I wish he had, for money’s sore wanted here, and if the gen’leman has a mind to be kind-hearted —” Then she intimated her own readiness to take any contribution to the good cause which the Senator might be willing to make at that moment. But the Senator buttoned up his breeches pockets with stern resolution. Though he still believed Lord Rufford to be altogether wrong, he was beginning to think that the Goarlys were not worthy his benevolence. As she came to the door with them and accompanied them a few yards across the field she again told the tragic tale of her goose; — but the Senator had not another word to say to her.
On that same day Morton drove Mr. Gotobed into Dillsborough and consented to go with him to Mr. Bearside’s office. They found the attorney at home, and before anything was said as to payment they heard his account of the action. If Goarly had consented to take any money from Lord Rufford he knew nothing about it. As far as he was aware the action was going on. Ever so many witnesses must be brought from a distance who had seen the crop standing and who would have no bias against the owner — as would be the case with neighbours, such as Lawrence Twentyman. Of course it was not easy to oppose such a man as Lord Rufford and a little money must be spent. Indeed such, he said, was his interest in the case that he had already gone further than he ought to have done out of his own pocket. Of course they would be successful — that is if the matter were carried on with spirit, and then the money would all come back again. But just at present a little money must be spent. “I don’t mean to spend it,” said the Senator.
“I hope you won’t stick to that, Mr. Gotobed.”
“But I shall, sir. I understand from your letter that you look to me for funds.”
“Certainly I do, Mr. Gotobed; because you told me to do so.”
“I told you nothing of the kind, Mr. Bearside.”
“You paid me 15 pounds on account, Mr. Gotobed.”
“I paid you 15 pounds certainly.”
“And told me that more should be coming as it was wanted. Do you think I should have gone on for such a man as Goarly — a fellow without a shilling — unless he had some one like you to back him? It isn’t likely. Now, Mr. Morton, I appeal to you.”
“I don’t suppose that my friend has made himself liable for your bill because he paid you 15 pounds with the view of assisting Goarly,” said Morton.
“But he said that he meant to go on, Mr. Morton, He said that plain, and I can swear it. Now, Mr, Gotobed, you just say out like an honest man whether you didn’t give me to understand that you meant to go on.”
“I never employed you or made myself responsible for your bill.”
“You authorized me, distinctly — most distinctly, and I shall stick to it. When a gentleman comes to a lawyer’s office and pays his money and tells that lawyer as how he means to see the case out — explaining his reasons as you did when you said all that against the landlords and squires and nobility of this here country — why then that lawyer has a right to think that that gentleman is his mark.”
“I thought you were employed by Mr. Scrobby,” said Morton, who had heard much of the story by this time.
“Then, Mr. Morton, I must make bold to say that you have heard wrong. I know nothing of Mr. Scrobby and don’t want. There ain’t nothing about the poisoning of that fox in this case of ours. Scrobby and Goarly may have done that, or Scrobby and Goarly may be as innocent as two babes unborn for aught I know or care. Excuse me, Mr. Morton, but I have to be on my p’s and q’s I see. This is a case for trespass and damage against Lord Rufford in which we ask for 40s. an acre. Of course there is expenses. There’s my own time. I ain’t to be kept here talking to you two gentlemen for nothing, I suppose. Well; this gentleman comes to me and pays me 15 pounds to go on. I couldn’t have gone on without something. The gentleman saw that plain enough. And he told me he’d see me through the rest of it”
“I said nothing of the kind, sir.”
“Very well. Then we must put it to a jury. May I make bold to ask whether you are going out of the country all at once?”
“I shall be here for the next two months, at least”
“Happy to hear it, Sir, and have no doubt it will all be settled before that time — amiable or otherwise. But as I am money out of pocket I did hope you would have paid me something on account to-day.”
Then Mr. Gotobed made his offer, informing Mr. Bearside that he had brought his friend, Mr. Morton, with him in order that there might be a witness. “I could see that, sir, with half an eye,” said the attorney unabashed. He was willing to pay Mr. Bearside a further sum of ten pounds immediately to be quit of the affair, not because he thought that any such sum was due, but because he wished to free himself from further trouble in the matter. Mr. Bearside hinted in a very cavalier way that 20 pounds might be thought of. A further payment of 20 pounds would cover the money he was out of pocket. But this proposition Mr. Gotobed indignantly refused, and then left the office with his friend. “Wherever there are lawyers there will be rogues,” said the Senator, as soon as he found himself in the street. “It is a noble profession, that of the law; the finest perhaps that the work of the world affords; but it gives scope and temptation for roguery. I do not think, however, that you would find anything in America so bad as that”
“Why did you go to him without asking any questions?”
“Of whom was I to ask questions? When I took up Goarly’s case he had already put it into this man’s hands.”
“I am sorry you should be troubled, Mr. Gotobed; but, upon my word, I cannot say but what it serves you right.”
“That is because you are offended with me. I endeavoured to protect a poor man against a rich man, and that in this country is cause of offence.”
After leaving the attorney’s office they called on Mr. Mainwaring the rector, and found that he knew, or professed to know, a great deal more about Goarly, than they had learned from Bearside. According to his story Nickem, who was clerk to Mr. Masters, had Goarly in safe keeping somewhere. The rector indeed was acquainted with all the details. Scrobby had purchased the red herrings and strychnine, and had employed Goarly to walk over by night to Rufford and fetch them. The poison at that time had been duly packed in the herrings. Goarly had done this and had, at Scrobby’s instigation, laid the bait down in Dillsborough Wood. Nickem was now at work trying to learn where Scrobby had purchased the poison, as it was feared that Goarly’s evidence alone would not suffice to convict the man. But if the strychnine could be traced and the herrings, then there would be almost a certainty of punishing Scrobby.
“And what about Goarly?” asked the Senator.
“He would escape of course,” said the rector. “He would get a little money and after such an experience would probably become a good friend to fox-hunting.”
“And quite a respectable man!” The rector did not guarantee this but seemed to think that there would at any rate be promise of improved conduct. “The place ought to be too hot to hold him!” exclaimed the Senator indignantly. The rector seemed to think it possible that he might find it uncomfortable at first, in which case he would sell the land at a good price to Lord Rufford and every one concerned would have been benefited by the transaction — except Scrobby for whom no one would feel any pity.
The two gentlemen then promised to come and dine with the rector on the following day. He feared he said that he could not make up a party as there was, he declared — nobody in Dillsborough. “I never knew such a place,” said the rector. “Except old Nupper, who is there? Masters is a very decent fellow himself, but he has got out of that kind of thing; — and you can’t ask a man without asking his wife. As for clergymen, I’m sick of dining with my own cloth and discussing the troubles of sermons. There never was such a place as Dillsborough.” Then he whispered a word to the Squire. Was the Squire unwilling to meet his cousin Reginald Morton? Things were said and people never knew what was true and what was false. Then John Morton declared that he would be very happy to meet his cousin.
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:01