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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,014 pages of information about The Last Chronicle of Barset.

‘Oh, mamma, here is papa!’

‘But where is the cart?  I did not hear the wheels,’ said Mrs Crawley.

‘Oh, mamma, I think papa is ill.’  Then the wife took her drooping husband by both arms and strove to look him in the face.  ’He has walked all the way, and he is ill,’ said Jane.

’No, my dear, I am very tired, but not ill.  Let me sit down, and give me some bread and tea, and I shall recover myself.’  Then Mrs Crawley, from some secret hoard, got him a small modicum of spirits, and gave him meat and tea, and he was docile; and, obeying her behests, allowed himself to be taken to his bed.

‘I do not think the bishop will send for me again,’ he said, as she tucked the clothes around him.

CHAPTER XIX

Where did it come from?

When Christmas morning came no emissary from the bishop appeared at Hogglestock to interfere with the ordinary performance of the day’s services.  ‘I think we need fear no further disturbance,’ Mr Crawley said to his wife—­and there was no further disturbance.

On the day after his walk from Framley to Barchester, and from Barchester back to Hogglestock, Mr Crawley had risen not much the worse for his labour, and had gradually given to his wife a full account of what had taken place.  ‘A poor weak man,’ he said, speaking of the bishop.  ‘A poor weak creature, and much to be pitied.’

‘I have always heard that she is a violent woman.’

‘Very violent, and very ignorant; and most intrusive withal.’

‘And you did not answer her a word?’

’At last my forbearance with her broke down, and I bade her mind her distaff.’

‘What;—­really?  Did you say those words to her?’

’Nay; as for the exact words I cannot remember them.  I was thinking more of the word which it might be fitting that I should answer the bishop.  But I certainly told her that she had better mind her distaff.’

‘And how did she behave then?’

’I did not wait to see.  The bishop had spoken, and I had replied; and why should I tarry to behold the woman’s violence?  I had told him that he was wrong in law, and that I at least would not submit to usurped authority.  There was nothing to keep me longer, and so I went without much ceremony of leave-taking.  There had been little ceremony of greeting on their part, and there was less in the making of adieux on mine.  They had told me that I was a thief—­’

‘No, Josiah—­surely not so?  They did not use that very word?’

’I say they did;—­they did use that very word.  But stop.  I am wrong.  I wrong his lordship, and I crave pardon for having done so.  If my memory serve me, no expression so harsh escaped from the bishop’s mouth.  He gave me, indeed, to understand more than once that the action taken by the magistrates was tantamount to a conviction, and that I must be guilty because

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