Gaskell Blog © Katherine C.
Edward finishes school and decides he doesn’t want to be a curate. The work is slow and time-consuming while an attorney –he could make hundreds or thousands for ‘very little trouble’. Mrs. Browne is sorry that he won’t be following in his father’s footsteps and tries to convert him. A clergyman is invited everywhere, while an attorney even if he has a higher income is not. And he would stand a good chance of receiving the curacy of Combehurst!
She did not consider whether his character was fitted for so sacred an office; she rather thought that the profession itself, when once assumed, would purify the character; but, in fact, his fitness or unfitness for holy orders entered little into her mind.
But no, Edward is firmly set against it, especially because he doesn’t want to bury himself at Moorland Cottage and Combehurst, respectable and dull, suited to his mother and Maggie, perhaps, but not him. Maggie understands that he would never be a true minister of Christ so her sorrow is mixed with gladness and thanks.
…But a deep sorrow is coming. Mrs. Buxton is dies. Over the years the bond between her and Maggie has strengthened and it’s very hard on her and the Buxton’s. Frank can’t speak to his father who,
Was as one distracted. He could not speak of the lost angel without sudden bursts of tears, and oftentimes of self-upbraiding, which disturbed the calm, still, holy ideas, which Frank liked to associate with her. He ceased speaking to him, therefore, about their mutual loss; and it was a certain kind of relief to both when he did so; but he longed for some one to whom he might talk of his mother, with the quiet reverence of intense and trustful affection.
He remembers how often his mother’s thoughts turned to Maggie. It’d been a long while since he’d seen her. When he came for a visit, Maggie stayed at Moorland Cottage, not wanting to intrude, but she was with his mother often and clearly fond of her; she could tell him of what he missed without the bitter, passionate sorrow Mr. Buxton spoke with. When he see’s her is struck by her resemblance to a painting and the image of her stays with him. Her just and true appreciation of his mother is a balm to his sore heart.
Erminia has been studying somewhere in France becoming daintier and more elegant. The steady care her Aunt took during her youth was showing in her young adulthood; her nature was less volatile. After her Aunt’s death she comes home to stay. Mr. Buxton asks Frank what he thinks of her,
“She is a dazzling little creature. Her complexion looks as if it were made of cherries and milk; and, it must be owned, the little lady has studied the art of dress to some purpose in Paris.”
He is delighted at his son’s answer; he’s long wished that the two would form an attachment, but why is Frank so determined not to speak about Maggie or the Browne’s? When Erminia remarks her surprise at how pretty she’s become Frank answers with lazy indifference and quickly changes the subject with his father asks if he’d mind the Browne’s coming for Christmas,
“None at all, sir,” answered he. “I intend to go up to town soon after Christmas, for a week or ten days, on my way to Cambridge. Can I do anything for you?”
The astute Mrs. Buxton sensed they might form an attachment
She, far-looking, as one who was near death, foresaw that, probably, if Maggie and her son met often in her sick-room, feelings might arise which would militate against her husband’s hopes and plans, and which, therefore, she ought not to allow to spring up.