‘But you see I expect to be left with mine,’ said Lily. After that she turned as much away from Mr Fowler Pratt as she could, having taken an aversion to him. What business had he to talk to her about being taken away from uncles and aunts? She had seen him with Mr Crosbie, and it might be possible that they were intimate friends. It might be that Mr Pratt was asking questions in Mr Crosbie’s interests. Let that be as it might, she would answer no more questions from him further than ordinary good breeding should require of her.
‘She is a nice girl, certainly,’ said Fowler Pratt to himself, as he walked home, ’and I have no doubt would make a good, ordinary, everyday wife. But she is not such a paragon that a man should condescend to grovel in the dirt for her.’
That night Lily told Emily Dunstable the whole of Mr Crosbie’s history as far as she knew it, and also explained her new aversion to Mr Fowler Pratt. ‘They are very great friends,’ said Emily. ’Bernard has told me so; and you may be sure that Mr Pratt knew the whole history before he came here. I am so sorry that my aunt asked him.’
‘It does not signify in the least,’ said Lily. ’Even if I were to meet Mr Crosbie I don’t think I should make such a fool of myself again. As it is, I can only hope that he did not see it.’
‘I am sure he did not.’
Then there was a pause, during which Lily sat with her face resting on both her hands. ‘It is wonderful how much he has altered,’ she said at last.
‘Think how much he has suffered.’
‘I suppose I am altered as much, only I do not see it myself.’
’I don’t know what you were, but I don’t think you can have changed much. You no doubt have suffered too, but not as he has done.’
’Oh, as for that, I have done very well. I think I’ll go to bed now. The riding makes me so sleepy.’
THE CLERICAL COMMISSION
It was at last arranged that the five clergymen selected should meet at Dr Tempest’s house at Silverbridge to make inquiry and report to the bishop whether the circumstances connected with the cheque for twenty pounds were of such a nature as to make it incumbent on him to institute proceedings against Mr Crawley in the Court of Arches. Dr Tempest had acted upon the letter which he had received from the bishop, exactly as though there had been no meeting at the palace, no quarrel to the death between him and Mrs Proudie. He was a prudent man, gifted with the great power of holding his tongue, and had not spoken a word, even to his wife, of what had occurred. After such a victory our old friend the archdeacon would have blown his own trumpet loudly among his friends. Plumstead would have heard of it instantly, and the paean would have been sung out in the neighbouring parishes of Eiderdown, Stogpingum, and St Ewolds. The High Street of Barchester would have known of it,