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Framley Parsonage Summary

(Masterpieces of British Fiction)

Mark Robarts was the vicar of Framley, an appointment secured through Lady Lufton of Framley, who was very fond of him. He was ambitious, however, and he went to a house party at Chaldicotes, the estate of Mr. Sowerby, of whom Lady Lufton disapproved. Sowerby was notorious for living on other people’s money, for he had long since run through his own fortune. While Mark was visiting him, Sowerby played on the vicar’s sympathy to such an extent that Mark signed his name to a note for four hundred pounds. From Chaldicotes, Mark went to another house party at Gatherum Castle, home of the Duke of Omnium. The Duke of Omnium was also an enemy of Lady Lufton. Mark felt the contacts he would make at these parties would help him in climbing higher in his career.

When Mark returned home, he told Lord Lufton that he had signed a note for Sowerby. Young Lufton could hardly believe a man of Mark’s position would do such a thing, for Mark could not afford to pay the note and certainly he would never recover the money from Sowerby. Before Mark told his wife, Fanny, about the debt he had incurred, his father died and his sister Lucy came to live at Framley parsonage. During the next three months, Lucy and Lord Lufton became very friendly. Lucy was a small girl without striking beauty; although inclined to be quiet, she found herself able to talk with great ease to Lord Lufton.

When Sowerby’s note came due, he asked Mark to sign another note for five hundred pounds, a sum that would cover the first note and allow an additional hundred pounds for extras. Mark saw the treachery of Sowerby’s scheme, but, unable to pay the note due, he was forced to sign.

Lady Lufton hinted to Fanny that she hoped to find a better match than Lucy for her son, but by this time, the two young people had fallen in love with each other. Also disturbed by Mark’s attentions to the Chaldicotes set, Lady Lufton sent Mr. Crawley, a straitlaced clergyman from the nearby austere parish of Hogglestock, to remonstrate with Mark. After his visit, Mark resolved to act more in accordance with Lady Lufton’s wishes.

One day, Lord Lufton declared his love for Lucy and asked her to marry him. Lucy, mindful of Lady Lufton’s feelings, said she could not love him. Lufton was full of disappointment and grief.

Sowerby informed Mark that the new prime minister had it in his power to appoint the new precentor at Barchester Cathedral. Through Sowerby’s influence, Mark received the appointment. He bought a racehorse from Sowerby to show his gratitude.

Sowerby, greatly in debt to the Duke of Omnium, was about to lose his estate. Sowerby’s sister, Mrs. Harold Smith, was a close friend of Miss Dunstable, a middle-aged spinster whose father had left her a fortune made in patent medicine. Mrs. Smith suggested that Sowerby ask Miss Dunstable to marry him and to say frankly that he wanted her chiefly for her money, since Miss Dunstable herself was a forthright, outspoken woman. Sowerby sent his sister to propose for him. Although Miss Dunstable refused his proposal, she agreed to buy Chaldicotes and let Sowerby live in the house for the remainder of his life. She said she would marry only a man who was not interested in her money.

That man, she thought, was Dr. Thorne, a bachelor physician from Barsetshire. She had informed Dr. Thorne’s niece of her admiration for him, and the niece had tried to show her uncle how wonderful life would be with Miss Dunstable. He was shocked at the idea of proposing. Although Miss Dunstable talked to him alone at a party she gave in London, Dr. Thorne said nothing...

(The entire section is 974 words.)