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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Vicar Of Bullhampton - Chapter 59. News From Dunripple
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The Vicar Of Bullhampton - Chapter 59. News From Dunripple Post by :Ahmad Category :Long Stories Author :Anthony Trollope Date :May 2012 Read :3167

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The Vicar Of Bullhampton - Chapter 59. News From Dunripple

CHAPTER LIX. NEWS FROM DUNRIPPLE

At the end of the first week in August news reached the vicarage at Bullhampton that was not indeed very important to the family of Mr. Fenwick, but which still seemed to have an immediate effect on their lives and comfort. The Vicar for some days past had been, as regarded himself, in a high good humour, in consequence of a communication which he had received from Lord St. George. Further mention of this communication must be made, but it may be deferred to the next chapter, as other matters, more momentous, require our immediate attention. Mr. Gilmore had pleaded very hard that a day might be fixed, and had almost succeeded. Mary Lowther, driven into a corner, had been able to give no reason why she should not fix a day, other than this,--that Mr. Gilmore had promised her that she should not be hurried. "What do you mean?" Mrs. Fenwick had said, angrily. "You speak of the man who is to be your husband as though your greatest happiness in life were to keep away from him." Mary Lowther had not dared to answer that such would be her greatest happiness. Then news had reached the vicarage of the illness of Gregory Marrable, and of Walter Marrable's presence at Dunripple. This had come of course from Aunt Sarah, at Loring; but it had come in such a manner as to seem to justify, for a time, Mary's silence in reference to that question of naming the day. The Marrables of Dunripple were not nearly related to her. She had no personal remembrance of either Sir Gregory or his son. But there was an importance attached to the tidings, which, if analysed, would have been found to attach itself to Captain Marrable, rather than to the two men who were ill; and this was tacitly allowed to have an influence. Aunt Sarah had expressed her belief that Gregory Marrable was dying; and had gone on to say,--trusting to the known fact that Mary had engaged herself to Mr. Gilmore, and to the fact, as believed to be a fact, that Walter was engaged to Edith Brownlow,--had gone on to say that Captain Marrable would probably remain at Dunripple, and would take immediate charge of the estate. "I think there is no doubt," said Aunt Sarah, "that Captain Marrable and Edith Brownlow will be married." Mary was engaged to Mr. Gilmore, and why should not Aunt Sarah tell her news?

The Squire, who had become elated and happy at the period of the rubies, had, in three days, again fallen away into a state of angry gloom, rather than of melancholy. He said very little just now either to Fenwick or to Mrs. Fenwick about his marriage; and, indeed, he did not say very much to Mary herself. Men were already at work about the gardens at the Privets, and he would report to her what was done, and would tell her that the masons and painters would begin in a few days. Now and again he would ask for her company up to the place; and she had been there twice at his instance since the day on which she had gone after him of her own accord, and had fetched him down to look at the jewels. But there was little or no sympathy between them. Mary could not bring herself to care about the house or the gardens, though she told herself again and again that there was she to live for the remainder of her life.

Two letters she received from her aunt at Loring within an interval of three days, and these letters were both filled with details as to the illness of Sir Gregory and his son, at Dunripple. Walter Marrable sent accounts to his uncle, the parson, and Mrs. Brownlow sent accounts to Miss Marrable herself. And then, on the day following the receipt of the last of these two letters, there came one from Walter Marrable himself, addressed to Mary Lowther. Gregory Marrable was dead, and the letter announcing the death of the baronet's only son was as follows:--


Dunripple, August 12, 1868.

MY DEAR MARY,

I hardly know whether you will have expected that the news
which I have to tell you should reach you direct from me;
but I think, upon the whole, that it is better that I
should write. My cousin, Gregory Marrable, Sir Gregory's
only son, died this morning. I do not doubt but that you
know that he has been long ill. He has come to the end of
all his troubles, and the old baronet is now childless. He
also has been, and is still, unwell, though I do not know
that he is much worse than usual. He has been an invalid
for years and years. Of course he feels his son's death
acutely; for he is a father who has ever been good to his
son. But it always seems to me that old people become so
used to death, that they do not think of it as do we who
are younger. I have seen him twice to-day since the news
was told to him, and though he spoke of his son with
infinite sorrow, he was able to talk of other things.

I write to you myself, especially, instead of getting one
of the ladies here to do so, because I think it proper
to tell you how things stand with myself. Everything is
changed with me since you and I parted because it was
necessary that I should seek my fortune in India. You
already know that I have abandoned that idea; and I now
find that I shall leave the army altogether. My uncle has
wished it since I first came here, and he now proposes
that I shall live here permanently. Of course the meaning
is that I should assume the position of his heir. My
father, with whom I personally will have no dealing in
the matter, stands between us. But I do suppose that the
family affairs will be so arranged that I may feel secure
that I shall not be turned altogether adrift upon the
world.

Dear Mary,--I do not know how to tell you, that as regards
my future everything now depends on you. They have told me
that you have accepted an offer from Mr. Gilmore. I know
no more than this,--that they have told me so. If you will
tell me also that you mean to be his wife, I will say no
more. But until you tell me so, I will not believe it. I
do not think that you can ever love him as you certainly
once loved me;--and when I think of it, how short a time
ago that was! I know that I have no right to complain.
Our separation was my doing as much as yours. But I will
settle nothing as to my future life till I hear from
yourself whether or no you will come back to me.

I shall remain here till after the funeral, which will
take place on Friday. On Monday I shall go back to
Birmingham. This is Sunday, and I shall expect to hear
from you before the week is over. If you bid me, I will be
with you early next week. If you tell me that my coming
will be useless,--why, then, I shall care very little what
happens.

Yours, with all the love of my heart,

WALTER MARRABLE.


Luckily for Mary she was alone when she read the letter. Her first idea on reading it was to think of the words which she had used when she had most ungraciously consented to become the wife of Harry Gilmore. "Were he so placed that he could afford to marry a poor wife, I should leave you and go to him." She remembered them accurately. She had made up her mind at the time that she would say them, thinking that thus he would be driven from her, and that she would be at rest from his solicitation, from those of her friends, and from the qualms of her own conscience. He had chosen to claim her in spite of those words,--and now the thing had happened to the possibility of which she had referred. Poor as she was, Walter Marrable was able to make her his wife. She held in her hand his letter telling her that it was so. All her heart was his,--as much now as it had ever been; and it was impossible that she should not go to him. She had told Mr. Gilmore herself that she could never love again as she loved Walter Marrable. She had been driven to believe that she could never be his wife, and she had separated herself from him. She had separated herself from him, and persuaded herself that it would be expedient for her to become the wife of this other man. But up to this very moment she had never been able to overcome her horror at the prospect. From day to day she had thought that she must give it up, even when they were dinning into her ears the tidings that Walter Marrable was to marry that girl at Dunripple. But that had been a falsehood,--an absolute falsehood. There had been no such thought in his bosom. He had never been untrue to her. Ah! how much the nobler of the two had he been!

And yet she had struggled hard to do right,--to think of others more than of herself;--so to dispose of herself that she might be of some use in the world. And it had come to this! It was quite impossible now that she should marry Harry Gilmore. There had hitherto been at any rate an attempt on her part to reconcile herself to that marriage; but now the attempt was impossible. What right could she have to refuse the man she loved when he told her that all his happiness depended on her love! She could see it now. With all her desire to do right, she had done foul wrong in accepting Mr. Gilmore. She had done foul wrong, though she had complied with the advice of all her friends. It could not but have been wrong, as it had brought her to this,--her and him. But for the future, she might yet be right,--if she only knew how. That it would be wrong to marry Harry Gilmore,--to think of marrying him when her heart was so stirred by the letter which she held in her hand,--of that she was quite sure. She had done the man an injury for which she could never atone. Of that she was well aware. But the injury was done and could not now be undone. And had she not told him when he came to her, that she would even yet return to Walter Marrable if Walter Marrable were able to take her?

She went down stairs, slowly, just before the hour for the children's dinner, and found her friend, with one or two of the bairns, in the garden. "Janet," she said, "I have had a letter from Dunripple."

Mrs. Fenwick looked into her face, and saw that it was sad and sorrowful. "What news, Mary?"

"My cousin, Gregory Marrable, is--no more; he died on Sunday morning." This was on the Tuesday.

"You expected it, I suppose, from your aunt's letter?"

"Oh, yes;--it has been sudden at last, it seems."

"And Sir Gregory?"

"He is pretty well. He is getting better."

"I pity him the loss of his son;--poor old man!" Mrs. Fenwick was far too clever not to see that the serious, solemn aspect of Mary's face was not due altogether to the death of a distant cousin, whom she herself did not even remember;--but she was too wise, also, to refer to what she presumed to be Mary's special grief at the moment. Mary was doubtless thinking of the altered circumstances of her cousin Walter; but it was as well now that she should speak as little as possible about that cousin. Mrs. Fenwick could not turn altogether to another subject, but she would, if possible, divert her friend from her present thoughts. "Shall you go into mourning?" she asked; "he was only your second cousin; but people have ideas so different about those things."

"I do not know," said Mary, listlessly.

"If I were you, I would consult Mr. Gilmore. He has a right to be consulted. If you do, it should be very slight."

"I shall go into mourning," said Mary, suddenly,--remembering at the moment what was Walter's position in the household at Dunripple. Then the tears came up into her eyes, she knew not why; and she walked off by herself amidst the garden shrubs. Mrs. Fenwick watched her as she went, but could not quite understand it. Those tears had not been for a second cousin who had never been known. And then, during the last few weeks, Mary, in regard to herself, had been prone to do anything that Mr. Gilmore would advise, as though she could make up by obedience for the want of that affection which she owed to him. Now, when she was told that she ought to consult Mr. Gilmore, she flatly refused to do so.

Mary came up the garden a few minutes afterwards, and as she passed towards the house, she begged to be excused from going into lunch that day. Lord St. George was coming up to lunch at the vicarage, as will be explained in the next chapter.

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