The letter to Mr Walker was conclusive as to the dean’s money. Mr Crawley had not received Lord Lufton’s cheque from the dean. Then whence had he received it? The poor wife was left by the lawyer to obtain further information from her husband. Ah, who can tell how terrible were the scenes between that poor pair of wretches, as the wife endeavoured to learn the truth from her miserable, half-maddened husband! That her husband had been honest throughout, she had not any shadow of doubt. She did not doubt that to her at least he endeavoured to tell the truth, as far as his poor racked imperfect memory would allow him to remember what was true and what was not true. The upshot of it all was that the husband declared that he still believed that the money had come to him from the dean. He had kept it by him, not wishing to use it if he could help it. He had forgotten it—so he said at times—having understood from Arabin that he was to have fifty pounds, and having received more. If it had not come to him from the dean, then it had been sent to him by the Prince of Evil for his utter undoing; and there were times in which he seemed to think that such had been the manner in which the fatal cheque had reached him. In all that he said he was terribly confused, contradictory, unintelligible—speaking almost as a madman might speak—ending always in declaring that the cruelty of the world had been too much for him, that the waters were meeting over his head, and praying to God’s mercy to remove him from this world. It need hardly be said that his poor wife in these days had a burden on her shoulders that was more than enough to crush any woman.
She at last acknowledged to Mr Walker that she could not account for the twenty pounds. She herself would write again to the dean about it, but she hardly hoped for any further assistance there. ’The dean’s answer was plain,’ said Mr Walker. ’He says that he gave Mr Crawley five ten-pound notes, and those five notes we have traced to Mr Crawley’s hands.’ Then Mrs Crawley could say nothing further beyond making protestations of her husband’s innocence.
By heavens, he had better not!
I must ask the reader to make acquaintance with Major Grantly of Cosby Lodge, before he is introduced to the family of Mr Crawley, at their parsonage at Hogglestock. It has been said that Major Grantly had thrown a favourable eye on Grace Crawley—by which report occasion was given to all men and women in those parts to hint that the Crawleys, with all their piety and humility, were very cunning, and that one of the Grantlys was—to say the least of it—very soft, admitted as it was throughout the county of Barsetshire, that there was no family therein more widely awake to the affairs generally of this world and the next combined, than the family of which Archdeacon Grantly was the