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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Vicar Of Bullhampton - Chapter 20. I Have A Jupiter Of My Own Now
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The Vicar Of Bullhampton - Chapter 20. I Have A Jupiter Of My Own Now Post by :ddoublej Category :Long Stories Author :Anthony Trollope Date :May 2012 Read :3420

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The Vicar Of Bullhampton - Chapter 20. I Have A Jupiter Of My Own Now


When Mary Lowther returned home from the last walk with her cousin that has been mentioned, she was quite determined that she would not disturb her happiness on that night by the task of telling her engagement to her aunt. It must, of course, be told, and that at once; and it must be told also to Parson John; and a letter must be written to Janet; and another, which would be very difficult in the writing, to Mr. Gilmore; and she must be prepared to bear a certain amount of opposition from all her friends; but for the present moment, she would free herself from these troubles. To-morrow, after breakfast, she would tell her aunt. To-morrow, at lunch-time, Walter would come up to the lane as her accepted lover. And then, after lunch, after due consultation with him and with Aunt Sarah, the letter should be written.

She had solved, at any rate, one doubt, and had investigated one mystery. While conscious of her own coldness towards Mr. Gilmore, she had doubted whether she was capable of loving a man, of loving him as Janet Fenwick loved her husband. Now she would not admit to herself that any woman that ever lived adored a man more thoroughly than she adored Walter Marrable. It was sweet to her to see and to remember the motions of his body. When walking by his side she could hardly forbear to touch him with her shoulder. When parting from him it was a regret to her to take her hand from his. And she told herself that all this had come to her in the course of one morning's walk, and wondered at it,--that her heart should be a thing capable of being given away so quickly. It had, in truth, been given away quickly enough, though the work had not been done in that one morning's walk. She had been truly honest, to herself and to others, when she said that her cousin Walter was and should be a brother to her; but had her new brother, in his brotherly confidence, told her that his heart was devoted to some other woman, she would have suffered a blow, though she would never have confessed even to herself that she suffered. On that evening, when she reached home, she said very little.

She was so tired. Might she go to bed? "What, at nine o'clock?" asked Aunt Sarah.

"I'll stay up, if you wish it," said Mary.

But before ten she was alone in her own chamber, sitting in her own chair, with her arms folded, feeling, rather than thinking, how divine a thing it was to be in love. What could she not do for him? What would she not endure to have the privilege of living with him? What other good fortune in life could be equal to this good fortune? Then she thought of her relations with Mr. Gilmore, and shuddered as she remembered how near she had been to accepting him. "It would have been so wrong. And yet I did not see it! With him I am sure that it is right, for I feel that in going to him I can be every bit his own."

So she thought, and so she dreamed; and then the morning came, and she had to go down to her aunt. She ate her breakfast almost in silence, having resolved that she would tell her story the moment breakfast was over. She had, over night, and while she was in bed, studiously endeavoured not to con any mode of telling it. Up to the moment at which she rose her happiness was, if possible, to be untroubled. But while she dressed herself, she endeavoured to arrange her plans. She at last came to the conclusion that she could do it best without any plan.

As soon as Aunt Sarah had finished her breakfast, and just as she was about to proceed, according to her morning custom, down-stairs to the kitchen, Mary spoke. "Aunt Sarah, I have something to tell you. I may as well bring it out at once. I am engaged to marry Walter Marrable." Aunt Sarah immediately let fall the sugar-tongs, and stood speechless. "Dear aunt, do not look as if you were displeased. Say a kind word to me. I am sure you do not think that I have intended to deceive you."

"No; I do not think that," said Aunt Sarah.

"And is that all?"

"I am very much surprised. It was yesterday that you told me, when I hinted at this, that he was no more to you than a cousin,--or a brother."

"And so I thought; indeed I did. But when he told me how it was with him, I knew at once that I had only one answer to give. No other answer was possible. I love him better than anyone else in all the world. I feel that I can promise to be his wife without the least reserve or fear. I don't know why it should be so; but it is. I know I am right in this." Aunt Sarah still stood silent, meditating. "Don't you think I was right, feeling as I do, to tell him so? I had before become certain, quite, quite certain that it was impossible to give any other answer but one to Mr. Gilmore. Dearest aunt, do speak to me."

"I do not know what you will have to live upon."

"It is settled, you know, that he will save four or five thousand pounds out of his money, and I have got twelve hundred. It is not much, but it will be just something. Of course he will remain in the army, and I shall be a soldier's wife. I shall think nothing of going out to India, if he wishes it; but I don't think he means that. Dear Aunt Sarah, do say one word of congratulation."

Aunt Sarah did not know how to congratulate her niece. It seemed to her that any congratulation must be false and hypocritical. To her thinking, it would be a most unfitting match. It seemed to her that such an engagement had been most foolish. She was astonished at Mary's weakness, and was indignant with Walter Marrable. As regarded Mary, though she had twice uttered a word or two, intended as a caution, yet she had never thought it possible that a girl so steady in her ordinary demeanour, so utterly averse to all flirtation, so little given to the weakness of feminine susceptibility, would fall at once into such a quagmire of indiscreet love-troubles. The caution had been intended, rather in regard to outward appearances, and perhaps with the view of preventing the possibility of some slight heart-scratches, than with the idea that danger of this nature was to be dreaded. As Mr. Gilmore was there as an acknowledged suitor,--a suitor, as to whose ultimate success Aunt Sarah had her strong opinions,--it would be well those cousinly-brotherly associations and confidences should not become so close as to create possible embarrassment. Such had been the nature of Aunt Sarah's caution; and now,--in the course of a week or two,--when the young people were in truth still strangers to each other,--when Mr. Gilmore was still waiting for his answer,--Mary came to her, and told her that the engagement was a thing completed! How could she utter a word of congratulation?

"You mean, then, to say that you disapprove of it?" said Mary, almost sternly.

"I cannot say that I think it wise."

"I am not speaking of wisdom. Of course, Mr. Gilmore is very much richer, and all that."

"You know, Mary, that I would not counsel you to marry a man because he was rich."

"That is what you mean when you tell me I am not wise. I tried it,--with all the power of thought and calculation that I could give to it, and I found that I could not marry Mr. Gilmore."

"I am not speaking about that now."

"You mean that Walter is so poor, that he never should be allowed to marry."

"I don't care twopence about Walter."

"But I do, Aunt Sarah. I care more about him than all the world beside. I had to think for him."

"You did not take much time to think."

"Hardly a minute--and yet it was sufficient." Then she paused, waiting for her aunt; but it seemed that her aunt had nothing further to say. "Well," continued Mary, "if it must be so, it must. If you cannot wish me joy--"

"Dearest, you know well enough that I wish you all happiness."

"This is my happiness." It seemed to the bewildered old lady that the whole nature of the girl was altered. Mary was speaking now as might have spoken some enthusiastic young female who had at last succeeded in obtaining for herself the possession,--more or less permanent,--of a young man, after having fed her imagination on novels for the last five years; whereas Mary Lowther had hitherto, in all moods of her life, been completely opposite to such feminine ways and doings. "Very well," continued Mary; "we will say nothing more about it at present. I am greatly grieved that I have incurred your displeasure; but I cannot wish it otherwise."

"I have said nothing of displeasure."

"Walter is to be up after lunch, and I will only ask that he may not be received with black looks. If it must be visited as a sin, let it be visited on me."

"Mary, that is unkind and ungenerous."

"If you knew, Aunt Sarah, how I have longed during the night for your kind voice,--for your sympathy and approval!"

Aunt Sarah paused again for a moment, and then went down to her domestic duties without another word.

In the afternoon Walter came, but Aunt Sarah did not see him. When Mary went to her the old lady declared that, for the present, it would be better so. "I do not know what to say to him at present. I must think of it, and speak to his uncle, and try to find out what had best be done."

She was sitting as she said this up in her own room, without even a book in her hand; in very truth, passing an hour in an endeavour to decide what, in the present emergency, she ought to say or do. Mary stooped over her and kissed her, and the aunt returned her niece's caresses.

"Do not let you and me quarrel, at any rate," said Miss Marrable. "Who else is there that I care for? Whose happiness is anything to me except yours?"

"Then come to him, and tell him that he also shall be dear to you."

"No; at any rate, not now. Of course you can marry, Mary, without any sanction from me. I do not pretend that you owe to me that obedience which would be due to a mother. But I cannot say,--at least, not yet,--that such sanction as I have to give can be given to this engagement. I have a dread that it will come to no good. It grieves me. I do not forbid you to receive him; but for the present it would be better that I should not see him."

"What is her objection?" demanded Walter, with grave indignation.

"She thinks we shall be poor."

"Shall we ask her for anything? Of course we shall be poor. For the present there will be but L300 a year, or thereabouts, beyond my professional income. A few years back, if so much had been secured, friends would have thought that everything necessary had been done. If you are afraid, Mary--"

"You know I am not afraid."

"What is it to her, then? Of course we shall be poor,--very poor. But we can live."

There did come upon Mary Lowther a feeling that Walter spoke of the necessity of a comfortable income in a manner very different from that in which he had of late been discussing the same subject ever since she had known him. He had declared that it was impossible that he should exist in England as a bachelor on his professional income, and yet surely he would be poorer as a married man with that L300 a year added to it, than he would have been without it, and also without a wife. But what girl that loves a man can be angry with him for such imprudence and such inconsistency? She had already told him that she would be ready, if it were necessary, to go with him to India. She had said so before she went up to her aunt's room. He had replied that he hoped no such sacrifice would be demanded from her. "There can be no sacrifice on my part," she had replied, "unless I am required to give up you." Of course he had taken her in his arms and kissed her. There are moments in one's life in which not to be imprudent, not to be utterly, childishly forgetful of all worldly wisdom, would be to be brutal, inhuman, and devilish. "Had he told Parson John?" she asked.

"Oh, yes!"

"And what does he say?"

"Just nothing. He raised his eyebrows, and suggested 'that I had changed my ideas of life.' 'So I have,' I said. 'All right!' he replied. 'I hope that Block and Curling won't have made any mistake about the L5000.' That was all he said. No doubt he thinks we're two fools; but then one's folly won't embarrass him."

"Nor will it embarrass Aunt Sarah," said Mary.

"But there is this difference. If we come to grief, Parson John will eat his dinner without the slightest interference with his appetite from our misfortunes; but Aunt Sarah would suffer on your account."

"She would, certainly," said Mary.

"But we will not come to grief. At any rate, darling, we cannot consent to be made wise by the prospect of her possible sorrows on our behalf."

It was agreed that on that afternoon Mary should write both to Mr. Gilmore and to Janet Fenwick. She offered to keep her letters, and show them, when written, to her lover; but he declared that he would prefer not to see them. "It is enough for me that I triumph," he said, as he left her. When he had gone, she at once told her aunt that she would write the letters, and bring that to Mr. Gilmore to be read by her when they were finished.

"I would postpone it for awhile, if I were you," said Aunt Sarah.

But Mary declared that any such delay would be unfair to Mr. Gilmore. She did write the letters before dinner, and they were as follows:--


When last you came down to the Vicarage to see me I
promised you, as you may perhaps remember, that if it
should come to pass that I should engage myself to any
other man, I would at once let you know that it was so. I
little thought then that I should so soon be called upon
to keep my promise. I will not pretend that the writing of
this letter is not very painful to me; but I know that it
is my duty to write it, and to put an end to a suspense
which you have been good enough to feel on my account. You
have, I think, heard the name of my cousin, Captain Walter
Marrable, who returned from India two or three months ago.
I found him staying here with his uncle, the clergyman,
and now I am engaged to be his wife.

Perhaps it would be better that I should say nothing more
than this, and that I should leave myself and my character
and name to your future kindness,--or unkindness,--without
any attempt to win the former or to decry the latter; but
you have been to me ever so good and noble that I cannot
bring myself to be so cold and short. I have always felt
that your preference for me has been a great honour to
me. I have appreciated your esteem most highly, and have
valued your approbation more than I have been able to say.
If it could be possible that I should in future have your
friendship, I should value it more than that of any other
person. God bless you, Mr. Gilmore. I shall always hope
that you may be happy, and I shall hear with delight any
tidings which may seem to show that you are so.

Pray believe that I am
Your most sincere friend,


I have thought it best to tell Janet Fenwick what I have

Loring, Thursday.


I wonder what you will say to my news? But you must not
scold me. Pray do not scold me. It could never, never have
been as you wanted. I have engaged myself to marry my
cousin, Captain Walter Marrable, who is a nephew of Sir
Gregory Marrable, and a son of Colonel Marrable. We shall
be very poor, having not more than L300 a-year above his
pay as a captain; but if he had nothing, I think I should
do the same. Do you remember how I used to doubt whether I
should ever have that sort of love for a man for which I
used to envy you? I don't envy you any longer, and I don't
regard Mr. Fenwick as being nearly so divine as I used to
do. I have a Jupiter of my own now, and need envy no woman
the reality of her love.

I have written to Mr. Gilmore by the same post as will
take this, and have just told him the bare truth. What
else could I tell him? I have said something horribly
stilted about esteem and friendship, which I would have
left out, only that my letter seemed to be heartless
without it. He has been to me as good as a man could be;
but was it my fault that I could not love him? If you knew
how I tried,--how I tried to make believe to myself that I
loved him; how I tried to teach myself that that sort of
very chill approbation was the nearest approach to love
that I could ever reach; and how I did this because you
bade me;--if you could understand all this, then you would
not scold me. And I did almost believe that it was so. But
now--! Oh, dear! how would it have been if I had engaged
myself to Mr. Gilmore, and that then Walter Marrable had
come to me! I get sick when I think how near I was to
saying that I would love a man whom I never could have

Of course I used to ask myself what I should do with
myself. I suppose every woman living has to ask and to
answer that question. I used to try to think that it would
be well not to think of the outer crust of myself. What
did it matter whether things were soft to me or not?
I could do my duty. And as this man was good, and a
gentleman, and endowed with high qualities and appropriate
tastes, why should he not have the wife he wanted? I
thought that I could pretend to love him, till, after some
fashion, I should love him; but as I think of it now, all
this seems to be so horrid! I know now what to do with
myself. To be his from head to foot! To feel that nothing
done for him would be mean or distasteful! To stand at
a washtub and wash his clothes, if it were wanted. Oh,
Janet, I used to dread the time in which he would have to
put his arm round me and kiss me! I cannot tell you what I
feel now about that other he.

I know well how provoked you will be,--and it will all
come of love for me; but you cannot but own that I am
right. If you have any justice in you, write to me and
tell me that I am right.

Only that Mr. Gilmore is your great friend, and that,
therefore, just at first, Walter will not be your friend,
I would tell you more about him,--how handsome he is, how
manly, and how clever. And then his voice is like the
music of the spheres. You won't feel like being his friend
at first, but you must look forward to his being your
friend; you must love him--as I do Mr. Fenwick; and you
must tell Mr. Fenwick that he must open his heart for the
man who is to be my husband. Alas, alas! I fear it will be
long before I can go to Bullhampton. How I do wish that he
would find some nice wife to suit him!

Good bye, dearest Janet. If you are really good, you will
write me a sweet, kind, loving letter, wishing me joy.
You must know all. Aunt Sarah has refused to congratulate
me, because the income is so small. Nevertheless, we have
not quarrelled. But the income will be nothing to you,
and I do look forward to a kind word. When everything is
settled, of course I will tell you.

Your most affectionate friend,


The former letter of the two was shown to Miss Marrable. That lady was of opinion that it should not be sent; but would not say that, if to be sent, it could be altered for the better.

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