The Last Chronicle of Barset eBook

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The news made its way even to Hogglestock on the same day.  Mrs Crawley, when she heard it, went out after her husband, who was in the school.  ‘Dead!’ he said in answer to her whisper.  ’Do you tell me that the woman is dead?’ Then Mrs Crawley explained that the tidings were credible.  ‘May God forgive her all her sins,’ said Mrs Crawley.  ’She was a violent woman, certainly, and I think that she misunderstood her duties; but I do not say that she was a bad woman.  I am inclined to think that she was earnest in her endeavours to do good.’  It never occurred to Mr Crawley that he and his affair, had, in truth, been the cause of her death.

It was thus that she was spoken of for a few days; and the men and women ceased to speak much of her, and began to talk of the bishop instead.  A month had not passed before it was surmised that a man so long accustomed to the comforts of married life would marry again; and even then one lady connected with low-church clergymen in and around the city was named as a probable successor to the great lady who was gone.  For myself I am inclined to think that the bishop will for the future be content to lean upon his chaplain.

The monument that was put up to our friend’s memory in one of the aisles of the choir of the cathedral was supposed to be designed and executed in good taste.  There was a broken column, and on the column simply the words ‘My beloved wife!’ Then there was a slab by the column, bearing Mrs Proudie’s name, with the date of her life and death.  Beneath this was the common inscription:-

‘Requiescat in pace.’

CHAPTER LXVIII

THE OBSTINACY OF MR CRAWLEY

Dr Tempest, when he heard the news, sent immediately to Mr Robarts, begging him to come over to Silverbridge.  But this message was not occasioned solely by the death of Mrs Proudie.  Dr Tempest had also heard that Mr Crawley had submitted himself to the bishop, that instant advantage—­and, as Dr Tempest thought,—­unfair advantage—­had been taken of Mr Crawley’s submission, and that the pernicious Mr Thumble had been at once sent over to Hogglestock.  Had these palace doings with reference to Mr Crawley been unaccompanied by the catastrophe which had happened, the doctor, much as he might have regretted them, would probably have felt that there was nothing to be done.  He could not in such case have prevented Mr Thumble’s journey to Hogglestock on the next Sunday, and certainly he could not have softened the heart of the presiding genius at the palace.  But things were very different now.  The presiding genius was gone.  Everybody at the palace would be for a while weak and vacillating.  Thumble would be then thoroughly cowed; and it might at any rate be possible to make some movement in Mr Crawley’s favour.  Dr Tempest, therefore, sent for Mr Robarts.

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