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- Framley Parsonage - 110/111 -

which he has done it,' said Mrs Proudie; 'but whether he has consulted the child's best interests in forcing her into a marriage with an unwilling husband, I for one must take leave to doubt. But then, unfortunately, we all know how completely the archdeacon is devoted to worldly matters.'

In this instance the archdeacon's devotion to worldly matters was rewarded by that success which he no doubt desired. He did go up to London, and did see one or two of Lord Dumbello's friends. This he did, not obtrusively, as though in fear of any falsehood or vacillation on the part of the viscount, but with that discretion and tact for which he has been so long noted. Mrs Proudie declares that during the few days of his absence from Barsetshire he himself crossed to France and hunted down Lord Dumbello at Paris. As to this I am not prepared to say anything; but I am quite sure, as will be all those who knew the archdeacon, that he was not a man to see his daughter wronged as long as any measure remained by which such wrong might be avoided. But, be that as it may--that mooted question as to the archdeacon's journey to Paris--Lord Dumbello was forthcoming at Plumstead on the 5th August, and went through his work like a man. The Hartletop family, when the alliance was found to be inevitable, endeavoured to arrange that the wedding should be held at Hartletop Priory, in order that the clerical dust and dinginess of Barchester Close might not soil the splendour of the marriage gala doings; for, to tell the truth, the Hartletopians, as a rule, were not proud of their new clerical connexions. But on this subject Mrs Grantly was very properly inexorable; nor when an attempt was made on the bride to induce her to throw over her mamma at the last moment and pronounce for herself that she would be married at the priory, was it attended with any success. The Hartletops knew nothing of the Grantly fibre and calibre, or they would have made no such attempt. The marriage took place at Plumstead, and on the morning of the day Lord Dumbello posted over from Barchester to the rectory. The ceremony was performed by the archdeacon, without assistance, although the dean, and the precentor, and two other clergymen, were at the ceremony. Griselda's propriety of conduct was quite equal to that of Olivia Proudie; indeed, nothing could exceed the statuesque grace and fine aristocratic bearing with which she carried herself on the occasion. The three or four words which the service required of her she said with ease and dignity; there was neither sobbing nor crying to disturb the work or embarrass her friends, and she signed her name in the church books as "Griselda Grantly" without a tremor--and without a regret.

Mrs Grantly kissed her and blessed her in the halls as she was about to step forward to her travelling carriage leaning on her father's arm, and the child put up her face to her mother for a last whisper. 'Mamma,' she said, 'I suppose Jane can put out her hand at once on the moire antique when we reach Dover?' Mrs Grantly smiled and nodded, and again blessed the child. There was not a tear shed--at least, not then--nor a sign of sorrow to cloud for a moment the gay splendour of the day. But the mother did bethink herself, in the solitude of her own room, of those last words, and did acknowledge a lack of something for which her heart had sighed. She had boasted to her sister that she had nothing to regret as to her daughter's education; but now, when she was alone after her success, did she feel that she could still support herself with that boast? For, be it known, Mrs Grantly had a heart within her bosom and a faith within her heart. The world, it is true, had pressed upon her sorely with all its weight of accumulated clerical wealth, but it had not utterly crushed her--not her, but only her child. For the sins of the father, are they not visited on the third and fourth generation? But if any such feeling of remorse did for awhile mar the fullness of Mrs Grantly's joy, it was soon dispelled by the perfect success of her daughter's married life. At the end of the autumn the bride and bridegroom returned from their tour, and it was evident to all the circle at Hartletop Priory that Lord Dumbello was by no means dissatisfied with his bargain. His wife had been admired everywhere to the top of his bent. All the world at Ems, and Baden, and at Nice, had been stricken by the stately beauty of the young countess. And then, too, her manner, style, and high dignity of demeanour altogether supported the reverential feeling which her grace and form first inspired. She never derogated from her husband's honour by the fictitious liveliness of gossip, or allowed any one to forget the peeress in the woman. Lord Dumbello soon found that his reputation for discretion was quite safe in her hands, and that there were no lessons as to conduct in which it was necessary that he should give instruction. Before the winter was over she had equally won the hearts of all the circle at Hartletop Priory. The duke was there and declared to the marchioness that Dumbello could not possibly have done better. 'Indeed, I do think he could,' said the happy mother. 'She sees all that she ought to see, and nothing that she ought not.'

And then, in London, when the season came, all men sang all manner of praises in her favour and Lord Dumbello was made aware that he was reckoned among the wisest of his age. He was married a wife who managed everything for him, who never troubled him, whom no woman disliked, and whom every man admired. As for feast of reason and for flow of soul, is not a question whether any such flows and feasts are necessary between a man and his wife? How many men can truly assert that they ever enjoy connubial flows of soul, or that connubial feasts of reason are in their nature enjoyable? But a handsome woman at the head of your table, who knows how to dress, and how to sit, and how to get in and out of her carriage--who will not disgrace her lord by her ignorance, or fret him by her coquetry, or disparage him by her talent--how beautiful a thing it is! For my own part I think that Griselda Grantly was born to be the wife of a great English peer.

'After all, then,' said Miss Dunstable, speaking of Lady Dumbello--she was Mrs Thorne at this time--' after all, there is some truth in what our quaint latter-day philosophers tell us--"Great are thy powers, O Silence!"' The marriage of our friends, Dr Thorne and Miss Dunstable, was the third on the list, but that did not take place till the end of September. The lawyers on such an occasion had no inconsiderable work to accomplish, and though the lady was not coy, nor the gentleman slow, it was not found practicable to arrange an earlier wedding. The ceremony was performed at St George's, Hanover Square, and was not brilliant in any special degree. London at the time was empty, and the few persons whose presence was actually necessary were imported from the country for the occasion. The bride was given away by Dr Easyman, and the two bridesmaids were ladies who had lived with Miss Dunstable as companions. Young Mr Gresham and his wife were there, as was also Mrs Harold Smith, who was not at all prepared to drop her own friend in her new sphere of life. 'We shall call her Mrs Thorne instead of Miss Dunstable, and I really think that will be all the difference,' said Mrs Harold Smith. To Mrs Harold Smith that probably was all the difference, but it was not so to the persons most concerned.

According to the plan of life arranged between the doctor and his wife she was still to keep up her house in London, remaining there during such period of the season as she might choose, and receiving him when it might appear good to him to visit her; but he was to be the master in the country. A mansion at the Chace was to be built, and till such time as that was completed, they would keep the old house at Greshambury. Into this, small as it was, Mrs Thorne,--in spite of her great wealth,--did not disdain to enter. But subsequent circumstances changed their plans. It was found that Mr Sowerby could not or would not live at Chaldicotes; and, therefore, in the second year of their marriage, that place was prepared for them. They are now well known to the whole county as Dr and Mrs Thorne of Chaldicotes,--of Chaldicotes, in distinction to the well-known Thornes of Ullathorne in the eastern division. Here they live respected by their neighbours, and on terms of alliance both with the Duke of Omnium and with Lady Lufton. 'Of course those dear old avenues will be very sad to me,' said Mrs Harold Smith, when at the end of a London season she was invited down to Chaldicotes; and as she spoke she put her handkerchief up to her eyes.

'Well, dear, what can I do?' said Mrs Thorne. 'I can't cut them down; the doctor would not let me.'

'Oh, no,' said Mrs Harold Smith, sighing; and in spite of her feeling she did visit Chaldicotes.

But it was October before Lord Lufton was made a happy man;--that is, if the fruition of his happiness was a greater joy than the anticipation of it. I will not say that the happiness of marriage is like the Dead Sea fruit--an apple which, when eaten, turns to bitter ashes in the mouth. Such pretended sarcasm would be very false. Nevertheless, is it not a fact that the sweetest morsel of love's feast has been eaten, that the freshest, fairest blush of the flower has been snatched and has passed away, when the ceremony at the altar has been performed, and legal possession has been given? There is an aroma of love, an undefinable delicacy of flavour, which escapes and is gone before the church portal is left, vanishing with the maiden name, and incompatible with the solid comfort appertaining to the rank of wife. To love one's own spouse, and to be loved by her, is the ordinary lot of man, and is a duty exacted under penalties. But to be allowed to love youth and beauty that is not one's own--to know that one is loved by a soft being who still hangs cowering from the eye of the world as though her love were all but illicit--can it be that a man is made happy when a state of anticipation such as this is brought to a close? No; when the husband walks back from the altar, he has already swallowed the choicest dainties of his banquet. The beef and pudding of married life are then in store for him;--or perhaps only the bread of cheese. Let him take care lest hardly a crust remain--or perhaps not a crust. But before we finish, let us go back for one moment to the dainties--to the time before the beef and pudding were served--while Lucy was still at the parsonage, and Lord Lufton still staying at Framley Court. He had come up one morning, as was now frequently his wont, and, after a few minutes' conversation, Mrs Robarts had left the room--as not unfrequently on such occasions was her wont. Lucy was working and continued her work, and Lord Lufton for a moment or two sat looking at her; then he got up abruptly, and, standing before her, thus questioned her:-

'Lucy,' said he.

'Well, what of Lucy now? Any particular fault this morning?'

'Yes, a most particular fault. When I asked you, here, in this room, on this very spot, whether it was possible that you should love me--why did you say that it was impossible?'

Lucy, instead of answering at the moment, looked down upon the carpet, to see if his memory was as good as hers. Yes; he was standing on the exact spot where he had stood before. No spot in all the world was more frequently clear before her eyes.

'Do you remember that day, Lucy?' he said again.

'Yes, I remember it,' she said.

Framley Parsonage - 110/111

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