’I hope you found her quite well. I had barely time to speak to her myself.’
‘Yes, she was very well. This is a sad thing about her father.’
‘Very sad,’ said Johnny. Perhaps the major had heard about the accusation for the first time today, and was going to find an escape on that plea. If such was the case, it would not be so well to be particularly civil.
‘I believe Mr Crawley is a cousin of yours?’ said the major.
‘His wife is my mother’s first-cousin. Their mothers were sisters.’
‘She is an excellent woman.’
’I believe so. I don’t know much about them myself—that is, personally. Of course I have heard of this charge that has been made against him. It seems to me to be a great shame.’
’Well, I can’t exactly say that it is a shame. I do not know that there has been anything done with a feeling of persecution or of cruelty. It is a great mystery, and we must have it cleared up if we can.’
‘I don’t suppose he can have been guilty,’ said John.
’Certainly not in the ordinary sense of the word. I heard all the evidence against him.’
‘Oh, you did?’
‘Yes,’ said the major. ’I live near them in Barsetshire, and I am one of his bailsmen.’
‘Then you are an old friend, I suppose?’
’Not exactly that; but circumstances made me very much interested about them. I fancy that the cheque was left in his house by accident, and that it got into his hands he didn’t know how, and that when he used it he thought it was his.’
‘That’s queer,’ said Johnny.
‘He is very odd, you know.’
‘But it’s a kind of oddity that they don’t like at assizes.’
‘The great cruelty is,’ said the major, ’that whatever may be the result, the punishment will fall so heavily upon his wife and daughters. I think the whole county ought to come forward and take them by the hand. Well, good-bye. I’ll drive on, as I’m a little in a hurry.’
‘Good-bye,’ said Johnny. ’I’m very glad to have had the pleasure of meeting you.’ ‘He’s a good sort of fellow after all,’ he said to himself when the gig had passed on. ’He wouldn’t have talked in that way if he meant to hang back.’
Mr Crawley had declared to Mr Robarts, that he would summon no legal aid to his assistance at the coming trial. The reader may, perhaps, remember the impetuosity with which he rejected the advice on this subject which was conveyed to him by Mr Robarts with all the authority of Archdeacon Grantly’s name. ‘Tell the archdeacon,’ he had said, ’that I will have none of his advice.’ And then Mr Robarts had left him, fully convinced that any further interference on his part could be of no avail. Nevertheless, the words which had then been spoken were not without effect. This coming trial was