‘Footed it every inch of the way, blowed if he didn’t,’ the ostler was saying to a gentleman’s groom, whom Mr Robarts recognised to be the servant of his friend Major Grantly; and Mr Robarts knew that they also were talking about Mr Crawley. Everybody in the county was talking about Mr Crawley. At home, at Framley, there was no other subject of discourse. Lady Lufton, the dowager, was full of it, being firmly convinced that Mr Crawley was innocent, because the bishop was supposed to regard him as guilty. There had been a family conclave held at Framley Court over that basket of provisions which had been sent for the Christmas cheer of the Hogglestock parsonage, each of the three ladies, the two Lady Luftons and Mrs Robarts, having special views of their own. How the pork had been substituted for the beef by old Lady Lufton, young Lady Lufton thinking that after all the beef might be dangerous, and how a small turkey had been rashly suggested by Mrs Robarts, and how certain small articles had been inserted in the bottom of the basket which Mrs Crawley had never shown to her husband, need not here be told at length. But Mr Robarts, as he heard the two grooms talking about Mr Crawley, began to feel that Mr Crawley had achieved at least celebrity.
The groom touched his hat as Mr Robarts walked up. ’Has the major returned home yet?’ Mr Robarts asked. The groom said that his master was still at Plumstead, and that he was to go over to fetch the major and Miss Edith in a day or two. Then Mr Robarts got into his gig, and as he drove out of the yard he heard the words of the men as they returned to the same subject. ‘Footed it all the way,’ said one. ’And yet he’s a gen’leman, too,’ said the other. Mr Robarts thought of this as he drove on, intending to call at Hogglestock on that very day on his way home. It was undoubtedly the fact that Mr Crawley was recognised to be a gentleman by all who knew him, high or low, rich or poor, by those who thought well of him and by those who thought ill. These grooms, who had been telling each other that this parson, who was to be tried as a thief, had been constrained to walk from Hogglestock to Barchester and back, because he could not afford to travel any other way, and that his boots were cracked and his clothes ragged, had still known him to be a gentleman! Nobody doubted it; not even they who thought he had stolen the money. Mr Robarts himself was certain of it, and told himself that he knew it by the evidences which his own education made clear to him. But how was it that the grooms knew it? For my part I think that there are no better judges of the article than the grooms.
Thinking of all which he had heard, Mr Robarts found himself at Mr Crawley’s gate at Hogglestock.
MR ROBARTS ON HIS EMBASSY