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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Vicar Of Bullhampton - Chapter 65. Mary Lowther Leaves Bullhampton
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The Vicar Of Bullhampton - Chapter 65. Mary Lowther Leaves Bullhampton Post by :Ahmad Category :Long Stories Author :Anthony Trollope Date :May 2012 Read :2230

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The Vicar Of Bullhampton - Chapter 65. Mary Lowther Leaves Bullhampton

CHAPTER LXV. MARY LOWTHER LEAVES BULLHAMPTON

It was considerably past one o'clock, and the children's dinner was upon the table in the dining parlour before anyone in the vicarage had seen Mary Lowther since the departure of the Squire. When she left Mr. Gilmore, she had gone to her own room, and no one had disturbed her. As the children were being seated, Fenwick returned, and his wife put into his hand the note which Gilmore had left for her.

"What passed between them?" he asked in a whisper.

His wife shook her head. "I have not seen her," she said, "but he talks of speaking plainly, and I suppose it was bitter enough."

"He can be very bitter if he's driven hard," said the Vicar; "and he has been driven very hard," he added, after a while.

As soon as the children had eaten their dinner, Mrs. Fenwick went up to Mary's room with the Squire's note in her hand. She knocked, and was at once admitted, and she found Mary sitting at her writing-desk.

"Will you not come to lunch, Mary?"

"Yes,--if I ought. I suppose I might not have a cup of tea brought up here?"

"You shall have whatever you like,--here or anywhere else, as far as the vicarage goes. What did he say to you this morning?"

"It is of no use that I should tell you, Janet."

"You did not yield to him, then?"

"Certainly, I did not. Certainly I never shall yield to him. Dear Janet, pray take that as a certainty. Let me make you sure at any rate of that. He must be sure of it himself."

"Here is his note to me, written, I suppose, after you left him." Mary took the scrap of paper from her hand and read it. "He is not sure, you see," continued Mrs. Fenwick. "He has written to me, and I suppose that I must answer him."

"He shall certainly never have to blush for me as his wife," said Mary. But she would not tell her friend of the hard words that had been said to her. She understood well the allusion in Mr. Gilmore's note, but she would not explain it. She had determined, as she thought about it in her solitude, that it would be better that she should never repeat to anyone the cruel words which her lover had spoken to her. Doubtless he had received provocation. All his anger, as well as all his suffering, had come from a constancy in his love for her, which was unsurpassed, if not unequalled, in all that she had read of among men. He had been willing to accept her on conditions most humiliating to himself; and had then been told, that, even with those conditions, he was not to have her. She was bound to forgive him almost any offence that he could bestow upon her. He had spoken to her in his wrath words which she thought to be not only cruel but unmanly. She had told him that she would never speak willingly to him again; and she would keep her word. But she would forgive him. She was bound to forgive him any injury, let it be what it might. She would forgive him;--and as a sign to herself of her pardon she would say no word of his offence to her friends, the Fenwicks. "He shall certainly never have to blush for me as his wife," she said, as she returned the note to Mrs. Fenwick.

"You mean, that you never will be his wife?"

"Certainly I mean that."

"Have you quarrelled with him, Mary?"

"Quarrelled? How am I to answer that? It will be better that we should not meet again. Of course, our interview could not be pleasant for either of us. I do not wish him to think that there has been a quarrel."

"No man ever did a woman more honour than he has done to you."

"Dearest Janet, let it be dropped;--pray let it be dropped. I am sure you believe me now when I say that it can do no good. I am writing to my aunt this moment to tell her that I will return. What day shall I name?"

"Have you written to your cousin?"

"No I have not written to my cousin. I have not been able to get through it all, Janet, quite so easily as that."

"I suppose you had better go now."

"Yes;--I must go now. I should be a thorn in his side if I were to remain here."

"He will not remain, Mary."

"He shall have the choice as far as I am concerned. You must let him know at once that I am going. I think I will say Saturday,--the day after to-morrow. I could hardly get away to-morrow."

"Certainly not. Why should you?"

"Yet I am bound to hurry myself,--to release him. And, Janet, will you give him these? They are all here,--the rubies and all. Ah, me! he touched me that day."

"How like a gentleman he has behaved always."

"It was not that I cared for the stupid stones. You know that I care nothing for anything of the kind. But there was a sort of trust in it,--a desire to show me that everything should be mine,--which would have made me love him,--if it had been possible."

"I would give one hand that you had never seen your cousin."

"And I will give one hand because I have," said Mary, stretching out her right arm. "Nay, I will give both; I will give all, because, having seen him, he is what he is to me. But, Janet, when you return to him these things say a gentle word from me. I have cost him money, I fear."

"He will think but little of that. He would have given you willingly the last acre of his land, had you wanted it."

"But I did not want it. That was the thing. And all these have been altered, as they would not have been altered, but for me. I do repent that I have brought all this trouble upon him. I cannot do more now than ask you to say so when you restore to him his property."

"He will probably pitch them into the cart-ruts. Indeed, I will not give them to him. I will simply tell him that they are in my hands, and Frank shall have them locked up at the banker's. Well;--I suppose I had better go down and write him a line."

"And I will name Saturday to my aunt," said Mary.

Mrs. Fenwick immediately went to her desk, and wrote to her friend.


DEAR HARRY,

I am sure it is of no use. Knowing how persistent is your
constancy, I would not say so were I not quite, quite
certain. She goes to Loring on Saturday. Will it not be
better that you should come to us for awhile after she has
left us. You will be less desolate with Frank than you
would be alone.

Ever yours,

JANET FENWICK.

She has left your jewels with me. I merely tell you this
for your information;--not to trouble you with the things
now.


And then she added a second postscript.

She regrets deeply what you have suffered on her account,
and bids me beg you to forgive her.

Thus it was settled that Mary Lowther should leave Bullhampton, again returning to Loring, as she had done before, in order that she might escape from her suitor. In writing to her aunt she had thought it best to say nothing of Walter Marrable. She had not as yet written to her cousin, postponing that work for the following day. She would have postponed it longer had it been possible; but she felt herself to be bound to let him have her reply before he left Dunripple. She would have much preferred to return to Loring, to have put miles between herself and Bullhampton, before she wrote a letter which must contain words of happy joy. It would have gratified her to have postponed for awhile all her future happiness, knowing that it was there before her, and that it would come to her at last. But it could not be postponed. Her cousin's letter was burning her pocket. She already felt that she was treating him badly in keeping it by her without sending him the reply that would make him happy. She could not bring herself to write the letter till the other matter was absolutely settled; and yet, all delay was treachery to him; for,--as she repeated to herself again and again,--there could be no answer but one. She had, however, settled it all now. On the Saturday morning she would start for Loring, and she would write her letter on the Friday in time for that day's post. Walter would still be at Dunripple on the Sunday, and on the Sunday morning her letter would reach him. She had studied the course of post between Bullhampton and her lover's future residence, and knew to an hour when her letter would be in his hands.

On that afternoon she could hardly maintain the tranquillity of her usual demeanour when she met the Vicar before dinner. Not a word, however, was said about Gilmore. Fenwick partly understood that he and his wife were in some degree responsible for the shipwreck that had come, and had determined that Mary was to be forgiven,--at any rate by him. He and his wife had taken counsel together, and had resolved that, unless circumstances should demand it, they would never again mention the Squire's name in Mary Lowther's hearing. The attempt had been made and had utterly failed, and now there must be an end of it. On the next morning he heard that Gilmore had gone up to London, and he went up to the Privets to learn what he could from the servants there. No one knew more than that the Squire's letters were to be directed to him at his Club. The men were still at work about the place; but Ambrose told him that they were all at sea as to what they should do, and appealed to him for orders. "If we shut off on Saturday, sir, the whole place'll be a muck of mud and nothin' else all winter," said the gardener. The Vicar suggested that after all a muck of mud outside the house wouldn't do much harm. "But master ain't the man to put up with that all'ays, and it'll cost twice as much to have 'em about the place again arter a bit." This, however, was the least trouble. If Ambrose was disconsolate out of doors, the man who was looking after the work indoors was twice more so. "If we be to work on up to Saturday night," he said, "and then do never a stroke more, we be a doing nothing but mischief. Better leave it at once nor that, sir." Then Fenwick was obliged to take upon himself to give certain orders. The papering of the rooms should be finished where the walls had been already disturbed, and the cornices completed, and the wood-work painted. But as for the furniture, hangings, and such like, they should be left till further orders should be received from the owner. As for the mud and muck in the garden, his only care was that the place should not be so left as to justify the neighbours in saying that Mr. Gilmore was demented. But he would be able to get instructions from his friend, or perhaps to see him, in time to save danger in that respect.

In the meantime Mary Lowther had gone up to her room, and seated herself with her blotting-book and pens and ink. She had now before her the pleasure,--or was it a task?--of answering her cousin's letter. She had that letter in her hand, and had already read it twice this morning. She had thought that she would so well know how to answer it; but, now that the pen was in her hand, she found that the thing to be done was not so easy. How much must she tell him, and how should she tell it? It was not that there was anything which she desired to keep back from him. She was willing,--nay, desirous,--that he should know all that she had said, and done, and thought; but it would have been a blessing if all could have been told to him by other agency than her own. He would not condemn her. Nor, as she thought of her own conduct back from one scene to another, did she condemn herself. Yet there was that of which she could not write without a feeling of shame. And then, how could she be happy, when she had caused so much misery? And how could she write her letter without expressing her happiness? She wished that her own identity might be divided, so that she might rejoice over Walter's love with the one moiety, and grieve with the other at all the trouble she had brought upon the man whose love to her had been so constant. She sat with the open letter in her hand, thinking over all this, till she told herself at last that no further thinking could avail her. She must bend herself over the table, and take the pen in her hand, and write the words, let them come as they would.

Her letter, she thought, must be longer than his. He had a knack of writing short letters; and then there had been so little for him to say. He had merely a single question to ask; and, although he had asked it more than once,--as is the manner of people in asking such questions,--still, a sheet of note-paper loosely filled had sufficed. Then she read it again. "If you bid me, I will be with you early next week." What if she told him nothing, but only bade him come to her? After all, would it not be best to write no more than that? Then she took her pen, and in three minutes her letter was completed.


The Vicarage, Friday.

DEAREST, DEAREST WALTER,

Do come to me,--as soon as you can, and I will never send
you away again. I go to Loring to-morrow, and, of course,
you must come there. I cannot write it all; but I will
tell you everything when we meet. I am very sorry for your
cousin Gregory, because he was so good.

Always your own,

MARY.

But do not think that I want to hurry you. I have said
come at once; but I do not mean that so as to interfere
with you. You must have so many things to do; and if I get
one line from you to say that you will come, I can be ever
so patient. I have not been happy once since we parted.
It is easy for people to say that they will conquer their
feelings, but it has seemed to me to be quite impossible
to do it. I shall never try again.


As soon as the body of her letter was written, she could have continued her postscript for ever. It seemed to her then as though nothing would be more delightful than to let the words flow on with full expressions of all her love and happiness. To write to him was pleasant enough, as long as there came on her no need to mention Mr. Gilmore's name.

That was to be her last evening at Bullhampton; and though no allusion was made to the subject, they were all thinking that she could never return to Bullhampton again. She had been almost as much at home with them as with her aunt at Loring; and now she must leave the place for ever. But they said not a word; and the evening passed by almost as had passed all other evenings. The remembrance of what had taken place since she had been at Bullhampton made it almost impossible to speak of her departure.

In the morning she was to be again driven to the railway-station at Westbury. Mr. Fenwick had work in his parish which would keep him at home, and she was to be trusted to the driving of the groom. "If I were to be away to-morrow," he said, as he parted from her that evening, "the churchwardens would have me up to the archdeacon, and the archdeacon might tell the Marquis, and where should I be then?" Of course she begged him not to give it a second thought. "Dear Mary," he said, "I should of all things have liked to have seen the last of you,--that you might know that I love you as well as ever." Then she burst into tears, and kissed him, and told him that she would always look to him as to a brother.

She called Mrs. Fenwick into her own room before she undressed. "Janet," she said, "dearest Janet, we are not to part for ever?"

"For ever! No, certainly. Why for ever?"

"I shall never see you, unless you will come to me. Promise me that if ever I have a house you will come to me."

"Of course you will have a house, Mary."

"And you will come and see me,--will you not? Promise that you will come to me. I can never come back to dear, dear Bullhampton."

"No doubt we shall meet, Mary."

"And you must bring the children--my darling Flos! How else ever shall I see her? And you must write to me, Janet."

"I will write,--as often as you do, I don't doubt."

"You must tell me how he is, Janet. You must not suppose that I do not care for his welfare because I have not loved him. I know that my coming here has been a curse to him. But I could not help it. Could I have helped it, Janet?"

"Poor fellow! I wish it had not been so."

"But you do not blame me;--not much? Oh, Janet, say that you do not condemn me."

"I can say that with most perfect truth. I do not blame you. It has been most unfortunate; but I do not blame you. I am sure that you have struggled to do the best that you could."

"God bless you, my dearest, dearest friend! If you could only know how anxious I have been not to be wrong. But things have been wrong, and I could not put them right."

On the next morning they packed her into the little four-wheeled phaeton, and so she left Bullhampton. "I believe her to be as good a girl as ever lived," said the Vicar; "but all the same, I wish with all my heart that she had never come to Bullhampton."

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