Schulers Books Online
books - games - software - wallpaper - everything
- Doctor Thorne - 10/119 -
constrained to sit silent before she could recover herself.
'One thing at any rate is certain, Arabella,' said the countess, as soon as she found herself again sufficiently composed to offer counsel in a properly dictatorial manner. 'One thing at any rate is certain; if Mr Gresham be involved so deeply as you say, Frank has but only one duty before him. He must marry money. The heir of fourteen thousand a year may indulge himself in looking for blood, as Mr Gresham did, my dear'--it must be understood that there was very little compliment in this, as the Lady Arabella had always conceived herself to be a beauty--'or for beauty, as some men do,' continued the countess, thinking of the choice that the present Earl de Courcy had made; 'but Frank must marry money. I hope he will understand this early; do make him understand this before he makes a fool of himself: when a man thoroughly understands this, when he knows what his circumstances require, why, the matter becomes easy to him. I hope that Frank understands that he has no alternative. In his position he must marry money.'
But, alas! alas! Frank Gresham had already made a fool of himself.
'Well, my boy, I wish you joy with all my heart,' said the Honourable John, slapping his cousin on the back, as he walked round to the stable-yard with him before dinner, to inspect a setter puppy of peculiarly fine breed which had been sent to Frank as a birthday present. 'I wish I were an elder son; but we can't all have that luck.'
'Who wouldn't sooner be the younger son of an earl than the eldest son of a plain squire?' said Frank, wishing to say something civil in return for his cousin's civility.
'I wouldn't for one,' said the Honourable John. 'What chance have I? There's Porlock as strong as a horse; and then George comes next. And the governor's good for these twenty years.' And the young man sighed as he reflected what small hope there was that all those who were nearest and dearest to him should die out of his way, and leave him to the sweet enjoyment of an earl's coronet and fortune. 'Now, you're sure of your game some day; and as you've no brothers, I suppose the squire'll let you do pretty well what you like. Besides, he's not so strong as my governor, though he's younger.'
Frank had never looked at his fortune in this light before, and was so slow and green that he was not much delighted at the prospect now that it was offered to him. He had always, however, been taught to look to his cousins, the De Courcys, as men with whom it would be very expedient that he should be intimate; he therefore showed no offence, but changed the conversation.
'Shall you hunt with the Barsetshire this season, John? I hope you will; I shall.'
'Well, I don't know. It's very slow. It's all tillage here, or else woodland. I rather fancy I shall go to Leicestershire when the partridge-shooting is over. What sort of a lot do you mean to come out with, Frank?'
Frank became a little red as he answered, 'Oh, I shall have two,' he said; 'that is, the mare I have had these two years, and the horse my father gave me this morning.'
'What! only those two? and the mare is nothing more than a pony.'
'She is fifteen hands,' said Frank, offended.
'Well, Frank, I certainly would not stand that,' said the Honourable John. 'What, go out before the county with one untrained horse and a pony; and you the heir to Greshamsbury!'
'I'll have him trained before November,' said Frank, 'that nothing in Barsetshire will stop him. Peter says'--Peter was the Greshamsbury stud-groom--'that he tucks up his legs beautifully.'
'But who the deuce would think of going to work with one horse; or two either, if you insist on calling the old pony a huntress? I'll put you up to a trick, my lad: if you stand that you'll stand anything; and if you don't mean to go in leading-strings all your life, now is the time to show it. There's young Baker--Harry Baker, you know--he came of age last year, and he has as pretty a string of nags as any one would wish to set eyes on; four hunters and a hack. Now, if old Baker has four thousand a year it's every shilling he has got.'
This was true, and Frank Gresham, who in the morning had been made so happy by his father's present of a horse, began to feel that hardly enough had been done for him. It was true that Mr Baker had only four thousand a year; but it was also true that he had no other child than Harry Baker; that he had no great establishment to keep up; that he owed a shilling to no one; and, also, that he was a great fool in encouraging a mere boy to ape all the caprices of a man of wealth. Nevertheless, for a moment, Frank Gresham did feel that, considering his position, he was being treated rather unworthily.
'Take the matter in your own hands, Frank,' said the Honourable John, seeing the impression that he had made. 'Of course the governor knows very well that you won't put up with such a stable as that. Lord bless you! I have heard that when he married my aunt, and that was when he was about your age, he had the best stud in the whole county; and then he was in Parliament before he was three-and-twenty.'
'His father, you know, died when he was very young,' said Frank.
'Yes; I know he had a stroke of luck that doesn't fall to everyone; but--'
Young Frank's face grew dark now instead of red. When his cousin submitted to him the necessity of having more than two horses for his own use he could listen to him; but when the same monitor talked of the chance of a father's death as a stroke of luck, Frank was too much disgusted to be able pass it over with indifference. What! was he thus to think of his father, whose face was always lighted up with pleasure when his boy came near to him, and so rarely bright at any other time? Frank had watched his father closely enough to be aware of this; he knew how his father delighted in him; he had had cause to guess that his father had many troubles, and that he strove hard to banish the memory of them when his son was with him. He loved his father truly, purely, and thoroughly, liked to be with him, and would be proud to be his confidant. Could he listen quietly while his cousin spoke of the chance of his father's death as a stroke of luck?
'I shouldn't think it a stroke of luck, John. I should think it the greatest misfortune in the world.'
It is so difficult for a young man to enumerate sententiously a principle of morality, or even an expression of ordinary good feeling, without giving himself something of a ridiculous air, without assuming something of a mock grandeur!
'Oh, of course, my dear fellow,' said the Honourable John, laughing; 'that's a matter of course. We all understand that without saying it. Porlock, of course, would feel exactly the same about the governor; but if the governor were to walk, I think Porlock would console himself with the thirty thousand a year.'
'I don't know what Porlock would do; he's always quarrelling with my uncle, I know. I only spoke of myself; I never quarrelled with my father, and I hope I never shall.'
'All right, my lad of wax, all right. I dare say you won't be tried; but it you are, you'll find before six months are over, that it's a very nice thing to master of Greshamsbury.'
'I'm sure I shouldn't find anything of the kind.'
'Very well, so be it. You wouldn't do as young Hatherly did, at Hatherly Court, in Gloucestershire, when his father kicked the bucket. You know Hatherly, don't you?'
'No; I never saw him.'
'He's Sir Frederick now, and has, or had, one of the finest fortunes in England, for a commoner; the most of it is gone now. Well, when he heard of his governor's death, he was in Paris, but he went off to Hatherly as fast as special train and post-horses would carry him, and got there just in time for the funeral. As he came back to Hatherly Court from the church, they were putting up the hatchment over the door, and Master Fred saw that the undertakers had put at the bottom "Resurgam". You know what that means?'
'Oh, yes,' said Frank.
'"I'll come back again."' said the Honourable John, construing the Latin for the benefit of his cousin. '"NO," said Fred Hatherly, looking up at the hatchment; "I'm blessed if you do, old gentleman. That would be too much of a joke; I'll take care of that." So he got up at night, and he got some fellows with him, and they climbed up and painted out "Resurgam", and they painted into its place, "Requiescat in pace"; which means, you know, "you'd a great deal better stay where you are". Now I call that good. Fred Hatherly did that as sure as--as sure as--as sure as anything.'
Frank could not help laughing at the story, especially at his cousin's mode of translating the undertaker's mottoes; and then they sauntered back from the stables into the house to dress for dinner.
Dr Thorne had come to the house somewhat before dinner-time, at Mr Gresham's request, and was now sitting with the squire in his own book-room--so called--while Mary was talking to some of the girls upstairs.
'I must have ten or twelve thousand pounds; ten at the very least,' said the squire, who was sitting in his usual arm-chair, close to his littered table, with his head supported on his hand, looking very unlike the father of an heir of a noble property, who had that day come of age.
It was the first of July, and of course there was no fire in the grate; but, nevertheless, the doctor was standing with his back to the fireplace, with his coat-tails over his arms, as though he were engaged, now in summer as he so often was in winter, in talking, and roasting his hinder person at the same time.
'Twelve thousand pounds! It's a very large sum of money.'
'I said ten,' said the squire.
'Ten thousand pounds is a very large sum of money. There is no doubt he'll let you have it. Scatcherd will let you have it; but I know he'll expect to have the title deeds.'
'What! for ten thousand pounds?' said the squire. 'There is not a
Previous Page Next Page
1 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 110 119
Schulers Books Online
books - games - software - wallpaper - everything