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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Vicar Of Bullhampton - Chapter 71. The End Of Mary Lowther's Story
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The Vicar Of Bullhampton - Chapter 71. The End Of Mary Lowther's Story Post by :Ahmad Category :Long Stories Author :Anthony Trollope Date :May 2012 Read :3380

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The Vicar Of Bullhampton - Chapter 71. The End Of Mary Lowther's Story

CHAPTER LXXI. THE END OF MARY LOWTHER'S STORY

Sir Gregory Marrable's headache was not of long duration. Allusion is here made to that especial headache under the acute effects of which he had taken so very unpromising a farewell of his nephew and heir. It lasted, however, for two or three days, during which he had frequent consultations with Mrs. Brownlow, and had one conversation with Edith. He was disappointed, sorry, and sore at heart because the desire on which he had set his mind could not be fulfilled; but he was too weak to cling either to his hope or to his anger. His own son had gone from him, and this young man must be his heir and the owner of Dunripple. No doubt he might punish the young man by excluding him from any share of ownership for the present; but there would be neither comfort nor advantage in that. It is true that he might save any money that Walter would cost him, and give it to Edith,--but such a scheme of saving for such a purpose was contrary to the old man's nature. He wanted to have his heir near him at Dunripple. He hated the feeling of desolation which was presented to him by the idea of Dunripple without some young male Marrable at hand to help him. He desired, unconsciously, to fill up the void made by the death of his son with as little trouble as might be. And therefore he consulted Mrs. Brownlow.

Mrs. Brownlow was clearly of opinion that he had better take his nephew, with the encumbrance of Mary Lowther, and make them both welcome to the house. "We have all heard so much good of Miss Lowther, you know," said Mrs. Brownlow, "and she is not at all the same as a stranger."

"That is true," said Sir Gregory, willing to be talked over.

"And then, you know, who can say whether Edith would ever have liked him or not. You never can tell what way a young woman's feelings will go."

On hearing this Sir Gregory uttered some sound intended to express mildly a divergence of opinion. He did not doubt but what Edith would have been quite willing to fall in love with Walter, had all things been conformable to her doing so. Mrs. Brownlow did not notice this as she continued,--"At any rate the poor girl would suffer dreadfully now if she were allowed to think that you should be divided from your nephew by your regard for her. Indeed, she could hardly stay at Dunripple if that were so."

Mrs. Brownlow in a mild way suggested that nothing should be said to Edith, and Sir Gregory gave half a promise that he would be silent. But it was against his nature not to speak. When the moment came the temptation to say something that could be easily said, and which would produce some mild excitement, was always too strong for him. "My dear," he said, one evening, when Edith was hovering round his chair, "you remember what I once said to you about your cousin Walter?"

"About Captain Marrable, uncle?"

"Well,--he is just the same as a cousin;--it turns out that he is engaged to marry another cousin,--Mary Lowther."

"She is his real cousin, Uncle Gregory."

"I never saw the young lady,--that I know of."

"Nor have I,--but I've heard so much about her! And everybody says she is nice. I hope they'll come and live here."

"I don't know yet, my dear."

"He told me all about it when he was here."

"Told you he was going to be married?"

"No, uncle, he did not tell me that exactly;--but he said that--that--. He told me how much he loved Mary Lowther, and a great deal about her, and I felt sure it would come so."

"Then you are aware that what I had hinted about you and Walter--"

"Don't talk about that, Uncle Gregory. I knew that it was ever so unlikely, and I didn't think about it. You are so good to me that of course I couldn't say anything. But you may be sure he is ever so much in love with Miss Lowther; and I do hope we shall be so fond of her!"

Sir Gregory was pacified and his headache for the time was cured. He had had his little scheme, and it had failed. Edith was very good, and she should still be his pet and his favourite,--but Walter Marrable should be told that he might marry and bring his bride to Dunripple, and that if he would sell out of his regiment, the family lawyer should be instructed to make such arrangements for him as would have been made had he actually been a son. There would be some little difficulty about the colonel's rights; but the colonel had already seized upon so much that it could not but be easy to deal with him. On the next morning the letter was written to Walter by Mrs. Brownlow herself.

About a week after this Mary Lowther, who was waiting at Loring with an outward show of patience, but with much inward anxiety for further tidings from her lover, received two letters, one from Walter, and the other from her friend, Janet Fenwick. The reader shall see those, and the replies which Mary made to them, and then our whole story will have been told as far as the loves, and hopes, and cares, and troubles of Mary Lowther are concerned.


Bullhampton, 1st September.

DEAREST MARY,

I write a line just because I said I would. Frank went
up to London last week and was away one Sunday. He found
his poor friend in town and was with him for two or three
days. He has made up his mind to let the Privets, and go
abroad, and nothing that Frank could say would move him.
I do not know whether it may not be for the best. We shall
lose such a neighbour as we never shall have again. He
was the same as a brother to both of us; and I can only
say, that loving him like a brother, I endeavoured to
do the best for him that I could. This I do know;--that
nothing on earth shall ever tempt me to set my hand at
match-making again. But it was alluring,--the idea of
bringing my two dearest friends near me together.

If you have anything to tell me of your happiness, I shall
be delighted to hear it; I will not set my heart against
this other man;--but you can hardly expect me to say that
he will be as much to me as might have been that other.
God bless you,

Your most affectionate friend,

JANET FENWICK.

I must tell you the fate of the chapel. They are already
pulling it down, and carting away the things to the other
place. They are doing it so quick, that it will all be
gone before we know where we are. I own I am glad. As
for Frank, I really believe he'd rather let it remain.
But this is not all. The Marquis has promised that we
shall hear from him "in a spirit of kindness." I wonder
what this will come to? It certainly was not a spirit of
kindness that made him write to the bishop and call Frank
an infidel.

And this was the other letter.


Barracks, 1st September, 186--.

DEAREST LOVE,

I hope this will be one of the last letters I shall write
from this abominable place, for I am going to sell out at
once. It is all settled, and I'm to be a sort of deputy
Squire at Dunripple, under my uncle. As that is to be my
fate in life, I may as well begin it at once. But that's
not the whole of my fate, nor the best of it. You are to
be admitted as deputy Squiress,--or rather as Squiress
in chief, seeing that you will be mistress of the house.
Dearest Mary, may I hope that you won't object to the
promotion?

I have had a long letter from Mrs. Brownlow; and I ran
over yesterday and saw my uncle. I was so hurried that
I could not write from Dunripple. I would send you Mrs.
Brownlow's letter, only perhaps it would not be quite
fair. I dare say you will see it some day. She says ever
so much about you, and as complimentary as possible.
And then she declares her purpose to resign all rights,
honours, pains, privileges, and duties of mistress
of Dunripple into your hands as soon as you are Mrs.
Marrable. And this she repeated yesterday with some
stateliness, and a great deal of high-minded resignation.
But I don't mean to laugh at her, because I know she means
to do what is right.

My own, own, Mary, write me a line instantly to say that
it is right,--and to say also that you agree with me that
as it is to be done, 'twere well it were done quickly.

Yours always, with all my heart,

W. M.

It was of course necessary that Mary should consult with her aunt before she answered the second letter. Of that which she received from Mrs. Fenwick she determined to say nothing. Why should she ever mention to her aunt again a name so painful to her as that of Mr. Gilmore? The thinking of him could not be avoided. In this, the great struggle of her life, she had endeavoured to do right, and yet she could not acquit herself of evil. But the pain, though it existed, might at least be kept out of sight.

"And so you are to go and live at Dunripple at once," said Miss Marrable.

"I suppose we shall.

"Ah, well! It's all right, I'm sure. Of course there is not a word to be said against it. I hope Sir Gregory won't die before the Colonel. That's all."

"The Colonel is his father, you know."

"I hope there may not come to be trouble about it, that's all. I shall be very lonely, but of course I had to expect that."

"You'll come to us, Aunt Sarah? You'll be as much there as here."

"Thank you, dear. I don't quite know about that. Sir Gregory is all very well; but one does like one's own house."

From all which Mary understood that her dear aunt still wished that she might have had her own way in disposing of her niece's hand,--as her dear friends at Bullhampton had wished to have theirs.

The following were the answers from Mary to the two letters given above;--


Loring, 3rd September, 186--.

DEAR JANET,

I am very, very, very sorry. I do not know what more I can
say. I meant to do well all through. When I first told Mr.
Gilmore that it could not be as he wished it, I was right.
When I made up my mind that it must be so at last, I was
right also. I fear I cannot say so much of myself as to
that middle step which I took, thinking it was best to do
as I was bidden. I meant to be right, but of course I was
wrong, and I am very, very sorry. Nevertheless, I am much
obliged to you for writing to me. Of course I cannot but
desire to know what he does. If he writes and seems to be
happy on his travels, pray tell me.

I have much to tell you of my own happiness,--though, in
truth, I feel a remorse at being happy when I have caused
so much unhappiness. Walter is to sell out and to live
at Dunripple, and I also am to live there when we are
married. I suppose it will not be long now. I am writing
to him to-day, though I do not yet know what I shall say
to him. Sir Gregory has assented, and arrangements are to
be made, and lawyers are to be consulted, and we are to be
what Walter calls deputy Squire and Squiress at Dunripple.
Mrs. Brownlow and Edith Brownlow are still to live there,
but I am to have the honour of ordering the dinner, and
looking wise at the housekeeper. Of course I shall feel
very strange at going into such a house. To you I may
say how much nicer it would be to go to some place that
Walter and I could have to ourselves,--as you did when you
married. But I am not such a simpleton as to repine at
that. So much has gone as I would have it that I only feel
myself to be happier than I deserve. What I shall chiefly
look forward to will be your first visit to Dunripple.

Your most affectionate friend,

MARY LOWTHER.

The other letter, as to which Mary had declared that she had not as yet made up her own mind when she wrote to Mrs. Fenwick, was more difficult in composition.


Loring, 2nd September, 186--.

DEAREST WALTER,

So it is all settled, and I am to be a deputy Squiress! I
have no objection to urge. As long as you are the deputy
Squire, I will be the deputy Squiress. For your sake,
my dearest, I do most heartily rejoice that the affair
is settled. I think you will be happier as a county
gentleman than you would have been in the army; and as
Dunripple must ultimately be your home,--I will say our
home,--perhaps it is as well that you, and I also, should
know it as soon as possible. Of course I am very nervous
about Mrs. Brownlow and her daughter; but though nervous I
am not fearful; and I shall prepare myself to like them.

As to that other matter, I hardly know what answer to make
on so very quick a questioning. It was only the other
day that it was decided that it was to be;--and there
ought to be breathing time before one also decides when.
But, dear Walter, I will do nothing to interfere with
your prospects. Let me know what you think yourself; but
remember, in thinking, that a little interval for purposes
of sentiment and of stitching is always desired by the
weaker vessel on such an occasion.

God bless you, my own one,

Yours always and always, M. L.

In real truth, I will do whatever you bid me.

Of course, after that, the marriage was not very long postponed. Walter Marrable allowed that some grace should be given for sentiment, and some also for stitching, but as to neither did he feel that any long delay was needed. A week for sentiment, and two more for the preparation of bridal adornments, he thought would be sufficient. There was a compromise at last, as is usual in such cases, and the marriage took place about the middle of October. No doubt, at that time of year they went to Italy,--but of that the present narrator is not able to speak with any certainty. This, however, is certain,--that if they did travel abroad, Mary Marrable travelled in daily fear lest her unlucky fate should bring her face to face with Mr. Gilmore. Wherever they went, their tour, in accordance with a contract made by the baronet, was terminated within two months. For on Christmas Day Mrs. Walter Marrable was to take her place as mistress of the house at the dinner table.

The reader may, perhaps, desire to know whether things were made altogether smooth with the Colonel. On this matter Messrs. Block and Curling, the family lawyers, encountered very much trouble indeed. The Colonel, when application was made to him, was as sweet as honey. He would do anything for the interests of his dearest son. There did not breathe a father on earth who cared less for himself or his own position. But still he must live. He submitted to Messrs. Block and Curling whether it was not necessary that he should live. Messrs. Block and Curling explained to him very clearly that his brother, the baronet, had nothing to do with his living or dying,--and that towards his living he had already robbed his son of a large property. At last, however, he would not make over his life interest in the property, as it would come to him in the event of his brother dying before him, except on payment of an annuity on and from that date of L200 a year. He began by asking L500, and was then told that the Captain would run the chance and would sue his father for the L20,000 in the event of Sir Gregory dying before the Colonel.

Now the narrator will bid adieu to Mary Lowther, to Loring, and to Dunripple. The conduct of his heroine, as depicted in these pages, will, he fears, meet with the disapprobation of many close and good judges of female character. He has endeavoured to describe a young woman, prompted in all her doings by a conscience wide awake, guided by principle, willing, if need be, to sacrifice herself, struggling always to keep herself from doing wrong, but yet causing infinite grief to others, and nearly bringing herself to utter shipwreck, because, for a while, she allowed herself to believe that it would be right for her to marry a man whom she did not love.

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