The Last Chronicle of Barset eBook

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

After that, after those church services were over, he sank again and never roused himself till the dreaded day had come.

CHAPTER V

WHAT THE WORLD THOUGHT OF IT

Opinion at Silverbridge, at Barchester, and throughout the county, was very much divided as to the guilt or innocence of Mr Crawley.  Up to the time of Mrs Crawley’s visit to Silverbridge, the affair had not been much discussed.  To give Mr Soames his due he had be no means been anxious to press the matter against the clergyman; but he had been forced to go on with it.  While the first cheque was missing, Lord Lufton had sent him a second cheque for the money, and the loss had thus fallen upon his lordship.  The cheque had of course been traced, and inquiry had of course been made as to Mr Crawley’s possession of it.  When that gentleman declared that he had received it from Mr Soames, Mr Soames had been forced to contradict and to resent such assertion.  When Mr Crawley had afterwards said that the money had come to him from the dean, and when the dean had shown that this was also untrue, Mr Soames, confident as he was that he had dropped the pocket-book at Mr Crawley’s house, could not but continue the investigation.  He had done so with as much silence as the nature of the work admitted.  But by the day of the magistrate’s meeting at Silverbridge, the subject had become common through the county, and men’s minds were much divided.

All Hogglestock believed their parson to be innocent; but then all Hogglestock believed him to be mad.  At Silverbridge the tradesmen with whom he had dealt, and to whom he had owed, and still owed, money, all declared him to be innocent.  They knew something of the man personally, and could not believe him to be a thief.  All the ladies at Silverbridge, too, were sure of his innocence.  It was to them impossible that such a man should have stolen twenty pounds.  ‘My dear,’ said the eldest Miss Prettyman to poor Grace Crawley, ’in England, where the laws are good, no gentleman is ever made out to be guilty when he is innocent; and your papa, of course, is innocent.  Therefore you should not trouble yourself.’  ‘It will break papa’s heart,’ Grace had said, and she did trouble herself.  But the gentlemen in Silverbridge were made of sterner stuff, and believed the man to be guilty, clergyman and gentleman though he was.  Mr Walker, who among the lights in Silverbridge was the leading light, would not speak a word upon the subject to anybody; and then everybody, who was anybody, knew that Mr Walker was convinced of the man’s guilt.  Had Mr Walker believed him to be innocent, his tongue would have been ready enough.  John Walker, who was in the habit of laughing at his father’s good nature, had no doubt upon the subject.  Mr Winthrop, Mr Walker’s partner, shook his head.  People did not think much of Mr Winthrop, excepting certain unmarried ladies; for Mr Winthrop was a bachelor,

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The Last Chronicle of Barset from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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