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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Vicar Of Bullhampton - Chapter 19. Sam Brattle Returns Home
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The Vicar Of Bullhampton - Chapter 19. Sam Brattle Returns Home Post by :ddoublej Category :Long Stories Author :Anthony Trollope Date :May 2012 Read :3256

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The Vicar Of Bullhampton - Chapter 19. Sam Brattle Returns Home

CHAPTER XIX. SAM BRATTLE RETURNS HOME

The Tuesday's magistrates' meeting had come off at Heytesbury, and Sam Brattle had been discharged. Mr. Jones had on this occasion indignantly demanded that his client should be set free without bail; but to this the magistrates would not assent. The attorney attempted to demonstrate to them that they could not require bail for the reappearance of an accused person, when that accused person was discharged simply because there was no evidence against him. But to this exposition of the law Sir Thomas and his brother magistrates would not listen. "If the other persons should at last be taken, and Brattle should not then be forthcoming, justice would suffer," said Sir Thomas. County magistrates, as a rule, are more conspicuous for common sense and good instincts than for sound law; and Mr. Jones may, perhaps, have been right in his view of the case. Nevertheless bail was demanded, and was not forthcoming without considerable trouble. Mr. Jay, the ironmonger at Warminster, declined. When spoken to on the subject by Mr. Fenwick, he declared that the feeling among the gentry was so strong against his brother-in-law, that he could not bring himself to put himself forward. He couldn't do it for the sake of his family. When Fenwick promised to make good the money risk, Jay declared that the difficulty did not lie there. "There's the Marquis, and Sir Thomas, and Squire Greenthorne, and our parson, all say, sir, as how he shouldn't be bailed at all. And then, sir, if one has a misfortune belonging to one, one doesn't want to flaunt it in everybody's face, sir." And there was trouble, too, with George Brattle from Fordingbridge. George Brattle was a prudent, hard-headed, hard-working man, not troubled with much sentiment, and caring very little what any one could say of him as long as his rent was paid; but he had taken it into his head that Sam was guilty, that he was at any rate a thoroughly bad fellow who should be turned out of the Brattle nest, and that no kindness was due to him. With the farmer, however, Mr. Fenwick did prevail, and then the parson became the other bondsman himself. He had been strongly advised,--by Gilmore, by Gilmore's uncle, the prebendary at Salisbury, and by others,--not to put himself forward in this position. The favour which he had shown to the young man had not borne good results either for the young man or for himself; and it would be unwise,--so said his friends,--to subject his own name to more remark than was necessary. He had so far assented as to promise not to come forward himself, if other bailsmen could be procured. But, when the difficulty came, he offered himself, and was, of necessity, accepted.

When Sam was released, he was like a caged animal who, when liberty is first offered to him, does not know how to use it. He looked about him in the hall of the Court House, and did not at first seem disposed to leave it. The constable had asked him whether he had means of getting home, to which he replied, that "it wasn't no more than a walk." Dinner was offered to him by the constable, but this he refused, and then he stood glaring about him. After a while Gilmore and Fenwick came up to him, and the Squire was the first to speak. "Brattle," he said, "I hope you will now go home, and remain there working with your father for the present."

"I don't know nothing about that," said the lad, not deigning to look at the Squire.

"Sam, pray go home at once," said the parson. "We have done what we could for you, and you should not oppose us."

"Mr. Fenwick, if you tells me to go to--to--to,"--he was going to mention some very bad place, but was restrained by the parson's presence,--"if you tells me to go anywheres, I'll go."

"That's right. Then I tell you to go to the mill."

"I don't know as father'll let me in," said he, almost breaking into sobs as he spoke.

"That he will, heartily. Do you tell him that you had a word or two with me here, and that I'll come up and call on him to-morrow." Then he put his hand into his pocket, and whispering something, offered the lad money. But Sam turned away, and shook his head, and walked off. "I don't believe that that fellow had any more to do with it than you or I," said Fenwick.

"I don't know what to believe," said Gilmore. "Have you heard that the Marquis is in the town? Greenthorne just told me so."

"Then I had better get out of it, for Heytesbury isn't big enough for the two of us. Come, you've done here, and we might as well jog home."

Gilmore dined at the Vicarage that evening, and of course the day's work was discussed. The quarrel, too, which had taken place at the farmhouse had only yet been in part described to Mrs. Fenwick. "Do you know I feel half triumphant and half frightened," Mrs. Fenwick said to the Squire. "I know that the Marquis is an old fool, imperious, conceited, and altogether unendurable when he attempts to interfere. And yet I have a kind of feeling that because he is a Marquis, and because he owns two thousand and so many acres in the parish, and because he lives at Turnover Park, one ought to hold him in awe."

"Frank didn't hold him in awe yesterday," said the Squire.

"He holds nothing in awe," said the wife.

"You wrong me there, Janet. I hold you in great awe, and every lady in Wiltshire more or less;--and I think I may say every woman. And I would hold him in a sort of awe, too, if he didn't drive me beyond myself by his mixture of folly and pride."

"He can do us a great deal of mischief, you know," said Mrs. Fenwick.

"What he can do, he will do," said the parson. "He even gave me a bad name, no doubt; but I fancy he was generous enough to me in that way before yesterday. He will now declare that I am the Evil One himself, and people won't believe that. A continued persistent enmity, always at work, but kept within moderate bounds, is more dangerous now-a-days, than a hot fever of revengeful wrath. The Marquis can't send out his men-at-arms and have me knocked on the head, or cast into a dungeon. He can only throw mud at me, and the more he throws at once, the less will reach me."

As to Sam, they were agreed that, whether he were innocent or guilty, the old miller should be induced to regard him as innocent, as far as their joint exertion in that direction might avail.

"He is innocent before the law till he has been proved to be guilty," said the Squire.

"Then of course there can be nothing wrong in telling his father that he is innocent," said the lady.

The Squire did not quite admit this, and the parson smiled as he heard the argument; but they both acknowledged that it would be right to let it be considered throughout the parish that Sam was to be regarded as blameless for that night's transaction. Nevertheless, Mr. Gilmore's mind on the subject was not changed.

"Have you heard from Loring?" the Squire asked Mrs. Fenwick as he got up to leave the Vicarage.

"Oh, yes,--constantly. She is quite well, Mr. Gilmore."

"I sometimes think that I'll go off and have a look at her."

"I'm sure both she and her aunt would be glad to see you."

"But would it be wise?"

"If you ask me, I am bound to say that I think it would not be wise. If I were you, I would leave her for awhile. Mary is as good as gold, but she is a woman; and, like other women, the more she is sought, the more difficult she will be."

"It always seems to me," said Mr. Gilmore, "that to be successful in love, a man should not be in love at all; or, at any rate, he should hide it." Then he went off home alone, feeling on his heart that pernicious load of a burden which comes from the unrestrained longing for some good thing which cannot be attained. It seemed to him now that nothing in life would be worth a thought if Mary Lowther should continue to say him nay; and it seemed to him, too, that unless the yea were said very quickly, all his aptitudes for enjoyment would be worn out of him.

On the next morning, immediately after breakfast, Mr. and Mrs. Fenwick walked down to the mill together. They went through the village, and thence by a pathway down to a little foot-bridge, and so along the river side. It was a beautiful October morning, the 7th of October, and Fenwick talked of the pheasants. Gilmore, though he was a sportsman, and shot rabbits and partridges about his own property, and went occasionally to shooting-parties at a distance, preserved no game. There had been some old unpleasantness about the Marquis's pheasants, and he had given it up. There could be no doubt that his property in the parish being chiefly low lying lands and water meads unfit for coverts, was not well disposed for preserving pheasants, and that in shooting he would more likely shoot Lord Trowbridge's birds than his own. But it was equally certain that Lord Trowbridge's pheasants made no scruple of feeding on his land. Nevertheless, he had thought it right to give up all idea of keeping up a head of game for his own use in Bullhampton.

"Upon my word, if I were you, Gilmore," said the parson, as a bird rose from the ground close at their feet, "I should cease to be nice about the shooting after what happened yesterday."

"You don't mean that you would retaliate, Frank?"

"I think I should."

"Is that good parson's law?"

"It's very good squire's law. And as for that doctrine of non-retaliation, a man should be very sure of his own motives before he submits to it. If a man be quite certain that he is really actuated by a Christian's desire to forgive, it may be all very well; but if there be any admixture of base alloy in his gold, if he allows himself to think that he may avoid the evils of pugnacity, and have things go smooth for him here, and become a good Christian by the same process, why then I think he is likely to fall to the ground between two stools." Had Lord Trowbridge heard him, his lordship would now have been quite sure that Mr. Fenwick was an infidel.

They had both doubted whether Sam would be found at the mill; but there he was, hard at work among the skeleton timbers, when his friends reached the place.

"I am glad to see you at home again, Sam," said Mrs. Fenwick, with something, however, of an inner feeling that perhaps she might be saluting a murderer.

Sam touched his cap, but did not utter a word, or look away from his work. They passed on amidst the heaps in front of the mill, and came to the porch before the cottage. Here, as had been his wont in all these idle days, the miller was sitting with a pipe in his mouth. When he saw the lady he got up and ducked his head, and then sat down again. "If your wife is here, I'll just step in, Mr. Brattle," said Mrs. Fenwick.

"She be there, ma'am," said the miller, pointing towards the kitchen window with his head. So Mrs. Fenwick lifted the latch and entered. The parson sat himself down by the miller's side.

"I am heartily glad, Mr. Brattle, that Sam is back with you here once again."

"He be there, at work among the rest o' 'em," said the miller.

"I saw him as I came along. I hope he will remain here now."

"I can't say, Muster Fenwick."

"But he intends to do so?"

"I can't say, Muster Fenwick."

"Would it not be well that you should ask him?"

"Not as I knows on, Muster Fenwick."

It was manifest enough that the old man had not spoken to his son on the subject of the murder, and that there was no confidence,--at least, no confidence that had been expressed,--between the father and the son. No one had as yet heard the miller utter any opinion as to Sam's innocence or his guilt. This of itself seemed to the clergyman to be a very terrible condition for two persons who were so closely united, and who were to live together, work together, eat together, and have mutual interests.

"I hope, Mr. Brattle," he said, "that you give Sam the full benefit of his discharge."

"He'll get his vittles and his bed, and a trifle of wages if he works for 'em."

"I didn't mean that. I'm quite sure you wouldn't see him want a comfortable home, as long as you have one to give him."

"There ain't much comfort about it now."

"I was speaking of your own opinion of the deed that was done. My own opinion is that Sam had nothing to do with it."

"I'm sure I can't say, Muster Fenwick."

"But it would be a comfort to you to think that he is innocent."

"I ain't no comfort in talking about it,--not at all,--and I'd rayther not, if it's all one to you, Muster Fenwick."

"I will not ask another question, but I'll repeat my own opinion, Mr. Brattle. I don't believe that he had anything more to do with the robbery or the murder, than I had."

"I hope not, Muster Fenwick. Murder is a terrible crime. And now, if you'll tell me how much it was you paid the lawyer at Heytesbury--"

"I cannot say as yet. It will be some trifle. You need not trouble yourself about that."

"But I mean to pay 'un, Muster Fenwick. I can pay my way as yet, though it's hard enough at times." The parson was obliged to promise that Mr. Jones's bill of charges should be sent to him, and then he called his wife, and they left the mill. Sam was still up among the timbers, and had not once come down while the visitors were in the cottage. Mrs. Fenwick had been more successful with the women than the parson had been with the father. She had taken upon herself to say that she thoroughly believed Sam to be innocent, and they had thanked her with many protestations of gratitude.

They did not go back by the way they had come, but went up to the road, which they crossed, and thence to some outlying cottages which were not very far from Hampton Privets House. From these cottages there was a path across the fields back to Bullhampton, which led by the side of a small wood belonging to the Marquis. There was a good deal of woodland just here, and this special copse, called Hampton bushes, was known to be one of the best pheasant coverts in that part of the country. Whom should they meet, standing on the path, armed with his gun, and with his keeper behind him armed with another, than the Marquis of Trowbridge himself. They had heard a shot or two, but they had thought nothing of it, or they would have gone back to the road. "Don't speak," said the parson, as he walked on quickly with his wife on his arm. The Marquis stood and scowled; but he had the breeding of a gentleman, and when Mrs. Fenwick was close to him, he raised his hat. The parson also raised his, the lady bowed, and then they passed on without a word. "I had no excuse for doing so, or I would certainly have told him that Sam Brattle was comfortably at home with his father," said the parson.

"How you do like a fight, Frank!"

"If it's stand up, and all fair, I don't dislike it."

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