Part 10 out of 11
most. Mary, though she could not surmise what it was that had so
violently affected her sister-in-law, saw at once that her grief was
too great to be kept under control and waited patiently till the
child should be in his cradle.
"You'll have some tea, Eleanor," she said.
"Oh, I don't care," said she, though in fact she must have been very
hungry, for she had eaten nothing at Ullathorne.
Mary quietly made the tea, and buttered the bread, laid aside the
cloak, and made things look comfortable.
"He's fast asleep," said she; "you're very tired; let me take him up
But Eleanor would not let her sister touch him. She looked wistfully
at her baby's eyes, saw that they were lost in the deepest slumber,
and then made a sort of couch for him on the sofa. She was
determined that nothing should prevail upon her to let him out of her
sight that night.
"Come, Nelly," said Mary, "don't be cross with me. I at least have
done nothing to offend you."
"I an't cross," said Eleanor.
"Are you angry then? Surely you can't be angry with me."
"No, I an't angry--at least not with you."
"If you are not, drink the tea I have made for you. I am sure you
must want it."
Eleanor did drink it, and allowed herself to be persuaded. She ate
and drank, and as the inner woman was recruited she felt a little
more charitable towards the world at large. At last she found words
to begin her story, and before she went to bed she had made a clean
breast of it and told everything--everything, that is, as to the
lovers she had rejected; of Mr. Arabin she said not a word.
"I know I was wrong," said she, speaking of the blow she had given to
Mr. Slope; "but I didn't know what he might do, and I had to protect
"He richly deserved it," said Mary.
"Deserved it!" said Eleanor, whose mind as regarded Mr. Slope was
almost bloodthirsty. "Had I stabbed him with a dagger, he would have
deserved it. But what will they say about it at Plumstead?"
"I don't think I should tell them," said Mary. Eleanor began to
think that she would not.
There could have been no kinder comforter than Mary Bold. There was
not the slightest dash of triumph about her when she heard of the
Stanhope scheme, nor did she allude to her former opinion when
Eleanor called her late friend Charlotte a base, designing woman.
She re-echoed all the abuse that was heaped on Mr. Slope's head and
never hinted that she had said as much before. "I told you so, I
told you so!" is the croak of a true Job's comforter. But Mary, when
she found her friend lying in her sorrow and scraping herself with
potsherds, forbore to argue and to exult. Eleanor acknowledged the
merit of the forbearance, and at length allowed herself to be
On the next day she did not go out of the house. Barchester she
thought would be crowded with Stanhopes and Slopes; perhaps also with
Arabins and Grantlys. Indeed, there was hardly anyone among her
friends whom she could have met without some cause of uneasiness.
In the course of the afternoon she heard that the dean was dead, and
she also heard that Mr. Quiverful had been finally appointed to the
In the evening her father came to her, and then the story, or as much
of it as she could bring herself to tell him, had to be repeated. He
was not in truth much surprised at Mr. Slope's effrontery, but he was
obliged to act as though he had been to save his daughter's feelings.
He was, however, anything but skilful in his deceit, and she saw
"I see," said she, "that you think it only in the common course of
things that Mr. Slope should have treated me in this way." She had
said nothing to him about the embrace, nor yet of the way in which it
had been met.
"I do not think it at all strange," said he, "that anyone should
admire my Eleanor."
"It is strange to me," said she, "that any man should have so much
audacity, without ever having received the slightest encouragement."
To this Mr. Harding answered nothing. With the archdeacon it would
have been the text for a rejoinder which would not have disgraced
Bildad the Shuhite.
"But you'll tell the archdeacon?' asked Mr. Harding.
"Tell him what?' said she sharply.
"Or Susan?" continued Mr. Harding. "You'll tell Susan; you'll let
them know that they wronged you in supposing that this man's
addresses would be agreeable to you."
"They may find that out their own way," said she; "I shall not ever
willingly mention Mr. Slope's name to either of them."
"But I may."
"I have no right to hinder you from doing anything that may be
necessary to your own comfort, but pray do not do it for my sake.
Dr. Grantly never thought well of me, and never will. I don't know
now that I am even anxious that he should do so."
And then they went to the affair of the hospital. "But is it true,
"What, my dear?" said he. "About the dean? Yes, I fear quite true.
Indeed I know there is no doubt about it."
"Poor Miss Trefoil, I am so sorry for her. But I did not mean that,"
said Eleanor. "But about the hospital, Papa?"
"Yes, my dear. I believe it is true that Mr. Quiverful is to have
"Oh, what a shame."
"No, my dear, not at all, not at all a shame: I am sure I hope it
will suit him."
"But, Papa, you know it is a shame. After all your hopes, all your
expectations to get back to your old house, to see it given away in
this way to a perfect stranger!"
"My dear, the bishop had a right to give it to whom he pleased."
"I deny that, Papa. He had no such right. It is not as though you
were a candidate for a new piece of preferment. If the bishop has a
grain of justice--"
"The bishop offered it to me on his terms, and as I did not like the
terms, I refused it. After that, I cannot complain."
"Terms! He had no right to make terms."
"I don't know about that; but it seems he had the power. But to tell
you the truth, Nelly, I am as well satisfied as it is. When the
affair became the subject of angry discussion, I thoroughly wished to
be rid of it altogether."
"But you did want to go back to the old house, Papa. You told me so
"Yes, my dear, I did. For a short time I did wish it. And I was
foolish in doing so. I am getting old now, and my chief worldly wish
is for peace and rest. Had I gone back to the hospital, I should
have had endless contentions with the bishop, contentions with his
chaplain, and contentions with the archdeacon. I am not up to this
now; I am not able to meet such troubles; and therefore I am not ill-
pleased to find myself left to the little church of St. Cuthbert's.
I shall never starve," added he, laughing, "as long as you are here."
"But will you come and live with me, Papa?" she said earnestly,
taking him by both his hands. "If you will do that, if you will
promise that, I will own that you are right."
"I will dine with you to-day at any rate."
"No, but live here altogether. Give up that close, odious little
room in High Street."
"My dear, it's a very nice little room, and you are really quite
"Oh, Papa, don't joke. It's not a nice place for you. You say you
are growing old, though I am sure you are not."
"Am not I, my dear?"
"No, Papa, not old--not to say old. But you are quite old enough to
feel the want of a decent room to sit in. You know how lonely Mary
and I are here. You know nobody ever sleeps in the big front
bedroom. It is really unkind of you to remain up there alone, when
you are so much wanted here."
"Thank you, Nelly--thank you. But, my dear--"
"If you had been living here, Papa, with us, as I really think you
ought to have done, considering how lonely we are, there would have
been none of all this dreadful affair about Mr. Slope."
Mr. Harding, however, did not allow himself to be talked over into
giving up his own and only little pied à terre in the High Street.
He promised to come and dine with his daughter, and stay with her,
and visit her, and do everything but absolutely live with her. It
did not suit the peculiar feelings of the man to tell his daughter
that though she had rejected Mr. Slope, and been ready to reject Mr.
Stanhope, some other more favoured suitor would probably soon appear,
and that on the appearance of such a suitor the big front bedroom
might perhaps be more frequently in requisition than at present. But
doubtless such an idea crossed his mind and added its weight to the
other reasons which made him decide on still keeping the close,
odious little room in High Street.
The evening passed over quietly and in comfort. Eleanor was always
happier with her father than with anyone else. He had not, perhaps,
any natural taste for baby-worship, but he was always ready to
sacrifice himself, and therefore made an excellent third in a trio
with his daughter and Mary Bold in singing the praises of the
They were standing together over their music in the evening, the baby
having again been put to bed upon the sofa, when the servant brought
in a very small note in a beautiful pink envelope. It quite filled
the room with perfume as it lay upon the small salver. Mary Bold and
Mrs. Bold were both at the piano, and Mr. Harding was sitting close
to them, with the violoncello between his legs, so that the elegancy
of the epistle was visible to them all.
"Please ma'am, Dr. Stanhope's coachman says he is to wait for an
answer," said the servant.
Eleanor got very red in the face as she took the note in her hand.
She had never seen the writing before. Charlotte's epistles, to
which she was well accustomed, were of a very different style and
kind. She generally wrote on large note-paper; she twisted up her
letters into the shape and sometimes into the size of cocked hats;
she addressed them in a sprawling, manly hand and not unusually added
a blot or a smudge, as though such were her own peculiar sign-manual.
The address of this note was written in a beautiful female hand, and
the gummed wafer bore on it an impress of a gilt coronet. Though
Eleanor had never seen such a one before, she guessed that it came
from the signora. Such epistles were very numerously sent out from
any house in which the signora might happen to be dwelling, but they
were rarely addressed to ladies. When the coachman was told by the
lady's maid to take the letter to Mrs. Bold, he openly expressed his
opinion that there was some mistake about it. Whereupon the lady's
maid boxed the coachman's ears. Had Mr. Slope seen in how meek a
spirit the coachman took the rebuke, he might have learnt a useful
lesson, both in philosophy and religion.
The note was as follows. It may be taken as a faithful promise that
no further letter whatever shall be transcribed at length in these
MY DEAR MRS. BOLD,
May I ask you, as a great favour, to call on me to-morrow. You can
say what hour will best suit you, but quite early, if you can. I
need hardly say that if I could call upon you, I should not take this
liberty with you.
I partly know what occurred the other day, and I promise you that you
shall meet with no annoyance if you will come to me. My brother
leaves us for London to-day, from thence he goes to Italy.
It will probably occur to you that I should not thus intrude on you,
unless I had that to say to you which may be of considerable moment.
Pray therefore excuse me, even if you do not grant my request.
And believe me,
Very sincerely yours,
M. VESEY NERONI
The three of them sat in consultation on this epistle for some ten or
fifteen minutes and then decided that Eleanor should write a line
saying that she would see the signora the next morning at twelve
The Stanhopes at Home
We must now return to the Stanhopes and see how they behaved
themselves on their return from Ullathorne.
Charlotte, who came back in the first homeward journey with her
sister, waited in palpitating expectation till the carriage drove up
to the door a second time. She did not run down, or stand at the
window, or show in any outward manner that she looked for anything
wonderful to occur, but when she heard the carriage wheels, she stood
up with erect ears, listening for Eleanor's footfall on the pavement,
or the cheery sound of Bertie's voice welcoming her in. Had she
heard either, she would have felt that all was right, but neither
sound was there for her to hear. She heard only her father's slow
step as he ponderously let himself down from the carriage and slowly
walked along the hall, till he got into his own private room on the
ground floor. "Send Miss Stanhope to me," he said to the servant.
"There's something wrong now," said Madeline, who was lying on her
sofa in the back drawing-room.
"It's all up with Bertie," replied Charlotte. "I know, I know," she
said to the servant as he brought up the message. "Tell my father I
will be with him immediately."
"Bertie's wooing has gone astray," said Madeline. "I knew it would."
"It has been his own fault then. She was ready enough, I am quite
sure," said Charlotte with that sort of ill-nature which is not
uncommon when one woman speaks of another.
"What will you say to him now?" By "him," the signora meant their
"That will be as I find him. He was ready to pay two hundred pounds
for Bertie to stave off the worst of his creditors, if this marriage
had gone on. Bertie must now have the money instead and go and take
"Where is he now?"
"Heaven knows! Smoking in the bottom of Mr. Thorne's ha-ha, or
philandering with some of those Miss Chadwicks. Nothing will ever
make an impression on him. But he'll be furious if I don't go down."
"No, nothing ever will. But don't be long, Charlotte, for I want my
And so Charlotte went down to her father. There was a very black
cloud on the old man's brow--blacker than his daughter could ever yet
remember to have seen there. He was sitting in his own armchair, not
comfortably over the fire, but in the middle of the room, waiting
till she should come and listen to him.
"What has become of your brother?" he said as soon as the door was
"I should rather ask you," said Charlotte. "I left you both at
Ullathorne when I came away. What have you done with Mrs. Bold?"
"Mrs. Bold! Nonsense. The woman has gone home as she ought to do.
And heartily glad I am that she should not be sacrificed to so
heartless a reprobate."
"A heartless reprobate! Tell me now where he is and what he is going
to do. I have allowed myself to be fooled between you. Marriage,
indeed! Who on earth that has money, or credit, or respect in the
world to lose would marry him?"
"It is no use your scolding me, Papa. I have done the best I could
for him and you."
"And Madeline is nearly as bad," said the prebendary, who was in
truth very, very angry.
"Oh, I suppose we are all bad," replied Charlotte.
The old man emitted a huge, leonine sigh. If they were all bad, who
had made them so? If they were unprincipled, selfish, and
disreputable, who was to be blamed for the education which had had so
injurious an effect?
"I know you'll ruin me among you," said he.
"Why, Papa, what nonsense that is. You are living within your income
this minute, and if there are any new debts, I don't know of them.
I am sure there ought to be none, for we are dull enough here."
"Are those bills of Madeline's paid?"
"No, they are not. Who was to pay them?"
"Her husband may pay them."
"Her husband! Would you wish me to tell her you say so? Do you wish
to turn her out of your house?"
"I wish she would know how to behave herself."
"Why, what on earth has she done now? Poor Madeline! To-day is only
the second time she has gone out since we came to this vile town."
He then sat silent for a time, thinking in what shape he would
declare his resolve. "Well, Papa," said Charlotte, "shall I stay
here, or may I go upstairs and give Mamma her tea?"
"You are in your brother's confidence. Tell me what he is going to
"Nothing, that I am aware of."
"Nothing--nothing! Nothing but eat and drink and spend every
shilling of my money he can lay his hands upon. I have made up my
mind, Charlotte. He shall eat and drink no more in this house."
"Very well. Then I suppose he must go back to Italy."
"He may go where he pleases."
"That's easily said, Papa, but what does it mean? You can't let
"It means this?" said the doctor, speaking more loudly than was his
wont and with wrath flashing from his eyes; "that as sure as God
rules in heaven I will not maintain him any longer in idleness."
"Oh, ruling in heaven!" said Charlotte. "It is no use talking about
that. You must rule him here on earth; and the question is, how can
you do it. You can't turn him out of the house penniless, to beg
about the street."
"He may beg where he likes."
"He must go back to Carrara. That is the cheapest place he can live
at, and nobody there will give him credit for above two or three
hundred pauls. But you must let him have the means of going."
"As sure as--"
"Oh, Papa, don't swear. You know you must do it. You were ready to
pay two hundred pounds for him if this marriage came off. Half that
will start him to Carrara."
"What? Give him a hundred pounds?"
"You know we are all in the dark, Papa," said she, thinking it
expedient to change the conversation. "For anything we know he may
be at this moment engaged to Mrs. Bold."
"Fiddlestick," said the father, who had seen the way in which Mrs.
Bold had got into the carriage while his son stood apart without even
offering her his hand.
"Well, then, he must go to Carrara," said Charlotte.
Just at this moment the lock of the front door was heard, and
Charlotte's quick ears detected her brother's catlike step in the
hall. She said nothing, feeling that for the present Bertie had
better keep out of her father's way. But Dr. Stanhope also heard the
sound of the lock.
"Who's that?" he demanded. Charlotte made no reply, and he asked
again, "Who is that that has just come in? Open the door. Who is
"I suppose it is Bertie."
"Bid him come here," said the father. But Bertie, who was close to
the door and heard the call, required no further bidding, but walked
in with a perfectly unconcerned and cheerful air. It was this
peculiar insouciance which angered Dr. Stanhope, even more than his
"Well, sir?" said the doctor.
"And how did you get home, sir, with your fair companion?" said
Bertie. "I suppose she is not upstairs, Charlotte?"
"Bertie," said Charlotte, "Papa is in no humour for joking. He is
very angry with you."
"Angry!" said Bertie, raising his eyebrows as though he had never yet
given his parent cause for a single moment's uneasiness.
"Sit down, if you please, sir," said Dr. Stanhope very sternly but
not now very loudly. "And I'll trouble you to sit down, too,
Charlotte. Your mother can wait for her tea a few minutes."
Charlotte sat down on the chair nearest to the door in somewhat of a
perverse sort of manner, as much as though she would say--Well, here
I am; you shan't say I don't do what I am bid; but I'll be whipped if
I give way to you. And she was determined not to give way. She too
was angry with Bertie, but she was not the less ready on that account
to defend him from his father. Bertie also sat down. He drew his
chair close to the library-table, upon which he put his elbow, and
then resting his face comfortably on one hand, he began drawing
little pictures on a sheet of paper with the other. Before the scene
was over he had completed admirable figures of Miss Thorne, Mrs.
Proudie, and Lady De Courcy, and begun a family piece to comprise the
whole set of the Lookalofts.
"Would it suit you, sir," said the father, "to give me some idea as
to what your present intentions are? What way of living you propose
"I'll do anything you can suggest, sir," replied Bertie.
"No, I shall suggest nothing further. My time for suggesting has
gone by. I have only one order to give, and that is that you leave
"To-night?" said Bertie, and the simple tone of the question left the
doctor without any adequately dignified method of reply.
"Papa does not quite mean to-night," said Charlotte; "at least I
"To-morrow, perhaps," suggested Bertie.
"Yes, sir, to-morrow," said the doctor. "You shall leave this
"Very well, sir. Will the 4.30 P.M. train be soon enough?" and
Bertie, as he asked, put the finishing touch to Miss Thorne's
"You may go how and when and where you please, so that you leave my
house to-morrow. You have disgraced me, sir; you have disgraced
yourself, and me, and your sisters."
"I am glad at least, sir, that I have not disgraced my mother," said
Charlotte could hardly keep her countenance, but the doctor's brow
grew still blacker than ever. Bertie was executing his chef d'oeuvre
in the delineation of Mrs. Proudie's nose and mouth.
"You are a heartless reprobate, sir; a heartless, thankless, good-
for-nothing reprobate. I have done with you. You are my son--that
I cannot help--but you shall have no more part or parcel in me as my
child, nor I in you as your father."
"Oh, Papa, Papa! You must not, shall not say so," said Charlotte.
"I will say so, and do say so," said the father, rising from his
chair. "And now leave the room, sir."
"Stop, stop," said Charlotte. "Why don't you speak, Bertie? Why
don't you look up and speak? It is your manner that makes Papa so
"He is perfectly indifferent to all decency, to all propriety," said
the doctor; then he shouted out, "Leave the room, sir! Do you hear
what I say?"
"Papa, Papa, I will not let you part so. I know you will be sorry
for it." And then she added, getting up and whispering into his ear,
"Is he only to blame? Think of that. We have made our own bed, and,
such as it is, we must lie on it. It is no use for us to quarrel
among ourselves," and as she finished her whisper, Bertie finished
off the countess's bustle, which was so well done that it absolutely
seemed to be swaying to and fro on the paper with its usual lateral
"My father is angry at the present time," said Bertie, looking up for
a moment from his sketches, "because I am not going to marry Mrs.
Bold. What can I say on the matter? It is true that I am not going
to marry her. In the first place--"
"That is not true, sir," said Dr. Stanhope, "but I will not argue
"You were angry just this moment because I would not speak," said
Bertie, going on with a young Lookaloft.
"Give over drawing," said Charlotte, going up to him and taking the
paper from under his hand. The caricatures, however, she preserved
and showed them afterwards to the friends of the Thornes, the
Proudies, and De Courcys. Bertie, deprived of his occupation, threw
himself back in his chair and waited further orders.
"I think it will certainly be for the best that Bertie should leave
this at once; perhaps to-morrow," said Charlotte; "but pray, Papa,
let us arrange some scheme together."
"If he will leave this to-morrow, I will give him £10, and he shall
be paid £5 a month by the banker at Carrara as long as he stays
permanently in that place."
"Well, sir, it won't be long," said Bertie, "for I shall be starved
to death in about three months."
"He must have marble to work with," said Charlotte.
"I have plenty there in the studio to last me three months," said
Bertie. "It will be no use attempting anything large in so limited a
time--unless I do my own tombstone."
Terms, however, were ultimately come to somewhat more liberal than
those proposed, and the doctor was induced to shake hands with his
son and bid him good night. Dr. Stanhope would not go up to tea, but
had it brought to him in his study by his daughter.
But Bertie went upstairs and spent a pleasant evening. He finished
the Lookalofts, greatly to the delight of his sisters, though the
manner of portraying their décolleté dresses was not the most
refined. Finding how matters were going, he by degrees allowed it to
escape from him that he had not pressed his suit upon the widow in a
very urgent way.
"I suppose, in point of fact, you never proposed at all?" said
"Oh, she understood that she might have me if she wished," said he.
"And she didn't wish," said the Signora.
"You have thrown me over in the most shameful manner," said
Charlotte. "I suppose you told her all about my little plan?"
"Well, it came out somehow--at least the most of it."
"There's an end of that alliance," said Charlotte, "but it doesn't
matter much. I suppose we shall all be back at Como soon."
"I am sure I hope so," said the signora. "I'm sick of the sight of
black coats. If that Mr. Slope comes here any more, he'll be the
death of me."
"You've been the ruin of him, I think," said Charlotte.
"And as for a second black-coated lover of mine, I am going to make a
present of him to another lady with most singular disinterestedness."
The next day, true to his promise, Bertie packed up and went off by
the 4.30 P.M. train, with £20 in his pocket, bound for the marble
quarries of Carrara. And so he disappears from our scene.
At twelve o'clock on the day following that on which Bertie went,
Mrs. Bold, true also to her word, knocked at Dr. Stanhope's door with
a timid hand and palpitating heart. She was at once shown up to the
back drawing-room, the folding doors of which were closed, so that in
visiting the signora Eleanor was not necessarily thrown into any
communion with those in the front room. As she went up the stairs,
she saw none of the family and was so far saved much of the annoyance
which she had dreaded.
"This is very kind of you, Mrs. Bold; very kind, after what has
happened," said the lady on the sofa with her sweetest smile.
"You wrote in such a strain that I could not but come to you."
"I did, I did; I wanted to force you to see me."
"Well, signora, I am here."
"How cold you are to me. But I suppose I must put up with that.
I know you think you have reason to be displeased with us all.
Poor Bertie; if you knew all, you would not be angry with him."
"I am not angry with your brother--not in the least. But I hope you
did not send for me here to talk about him."
"If you are angry with Charlotte, that is worse, for you have no
warmer friend in all Barchester. But I did not send for you to talk
about this--pray bring your chair nearer, Mrs. Bold, so that I may
look at you. It is so unnatural to see you keeping so far off from
Eleanor did as she was bid and brought her chair close to the sofa.
"And now, Mrs. Bold, I am going to tell you something which you may
perhaps think indelicate, but yet I know that I am right in doing
Hereupon Mrs. Bold said nothing but felt inclined to shake in her
chair. The signora, she knew, was not very particular, and that
which to her appeared to be indelicate might to Mrs. Bold appear to
be extremely indecent.
"I believe you know Mr. Arabin?"
Mrs. Bold would have given the world not to blush, but her blood was
not at her own command. She did blush up to her forehead, and the
signora, who had made her sit in a special light in order that she
might watch her, saw that she did so.
"Yes, I am acquainted with him. That is, slightly. He is an
intimate friend of Dr. Grantly, and Dr. Grantly is my
"Well, if you know Mr. Arabin, I am sure you must like him. I know
and like him much. Everybody that knows him must like him."
Mrs. Bold felt it quite impossible to say anything in reply to this.
Her blood was rushing about her body she knew not how or why. She
felt as though she were swinging in her chair, and she knew that she
was not only red in the face but also almost suffocated with heat.
However, she sat still and said nothing.
"How stiff you are with me, Mrs. Bold," said the signora; "and I the
while am doing for you all that one woman can do to serve another."
A kind of thought came over the widow's mind that perhaps the
signora's friendship was real and that at any rate it could not hurt
her; and another kind of thought, a glimmering of a thought, came to
her also--that Mr. Arabin was too precious to be lost. She despised
the signora, but might she not stoop to conquer? It should be but
the smallest fraction of a stoop!
"I don't want to be stiff," she said, "but your questions are so very
"Well, then, I will ask you one more singular still," said Madeline
Neroni, raising herself on her elbow and turning her own face full
upon her companion's. "Do you love him, love him with all your heart
and soul, with all the love your bosom can feel? For I can tell you
that he loves you, adores you, worships you, thinks of you and
nothing else, is now thinking of you as he attempts to write his
sermon for next Sunday's preaching. What would I not give to be
loved in such a way by such a man, that is, if I were an object fit
for any man to love!"
Mrs. Bold got up from her seat and stood speechless before the woman
who was now addressing her in this impassioned way. When the signora
thus alluded to herself, the widow's heart was softened, and she put
her own hand, as though caressingly, on that of her companion, which
was resting on the table. The signora grasped it and went on
"What I tell you is God's own truth; and it is for you to use it as
may be best for your own happiness. But you must not betray me. He
knows nothing of this. He knows nothing of my knowing his inmost
heart. He is simple as a child in these matters. He told me his
secret in a thousand ways because he could not dissemble, but he does
not dream that he has told it. You know it now, and I advise you to
Eleanor returned the pressure of the other's hand with an
infinitesimal soupçon of a squeeze.
"And remember," continued the signora, "he is not like other men.
You must not expect him to come to you with vows and oaths and pretty
presents, to kneel at your feet, and kiss your shoe-strings. If you
want that, there are plenty to do it, but he won't be one of them."
Eleanor's bosom nearly burst with a sigh, but Madeline, not heeding
her, went on. "With him, yea will stand for yea, and nay for nay.
Though his heart should break for it, the woman who shall reject him
once will have rejected him once and for all. Remember that. And
now, Mrs. Bold, I will not keep you, for you are fluttered. I partly
guess what use you will make of what I have said to you. If ever you
are a happy wife in that man's house, we shall be far away, but I
shall expect you to write me one line to say that you have forgiven
the sins of the family."
Eleanor half-whispered that she would, and then, without uttering
another word, crept out of the room and down the stairs, opened the
front door for herself without hearing or seeing anyone, and found
herself in the close.
It would be difficult to analyse Eleanor's feelings as she walked
home. She was nearly stupefied by the things that had been said to
her. She felt sore that her heart should have been so searched and
riddled by a comparative stranger, by a woman whom she had never
liked and never could like. She was mortified that the man whom she
owned to herself that she loved should have concealed his love from
her and shown it to another. There was much to vex her proud spirit.
But there was, nevertheless, an under stratum of joy in all this
which buoyed her up wondrously. She tried if she could disbelieve
what Madame Neroni had said to her, but she found that she could not.
It was true; it must be true. She could not, would not, did not
On one point she fully resolved to follow the advice given her. If
it should ever please Mr. Arabin to put such a question to her as
that suggested, her "yea" should be "yea." Would not all her
miseries be at an end if she could talk of them to him openly, with
her head resting on his shoulder?
Mr. Slope's Parting Interview with the Signora
On the following day the signora was in her pride. She was dressed
in her brightest of morning dresses, and had quite a levée round her
couch. It was a beautifully bright October afternoon; all the
gentlemen of the neighbourhood were in Barchester, and those who had
the entry of Dr. Stanhope's house were in the signora's back drawing-
room. Charlotte and Mrs. Stanhope were in the front room, and such
of the lady's squires as could not for the moment get near the centre
of attraction had to waste their fragrance on the mother and sister.
The first who came and the last to leave was Mr. Arabin. This was
the second visit he had paid to Madame Neroni since he had met her at
Ullathorne. He came, he knew not why, to talk about, he knew not
what. But, in truth, the feelings which now troubled him were new to
him, and he could not analyse them. It may seem strange that he
should thus come dangling about Madame Neroni because he was in love
with Mrs. Bold; but it was nevertheless the fact; and though he could
not understand why he did so, Madame Neroni understood it well
She had been gentle and kind to him and had encouraged his staying.
Therefore he stayed on. She pressed his hand when he first greeted
her; she made him remain near her and whispered to him little
nothings. And then her eye, brilliant and bright, now mirthful, now
melancholy, and invincible in either way! What man with warm
feelings, blood unchilled, and a heart not guarded by a triple steel
of experience could have withstood those eyes! The lady, it is true,
intended to do him no mortal injury; she merely chose to inhale a
slight breath of incense before she handed the casket over to
another. Whether Mrs. Bold would willingly have spared even so much
is another question.
And then came Mr. Slope. All the world now knew that Mr. Slope was a
candidate for the deanery and that he was generally considered to be
the favourite. Mr. Slope, therefore, walked rather largely upon the
earth. He gave to himself a portly air, such as might become a dean,
spoke but little to other clergymen, and shunned the bishop as much
as possible. How the meagre little prebendary, and the burly
chancellor, and all the minor canons and vicars choral, ay, and all
the choristers, too, cowered and shook and walked about with long
faces when they read or heard of that article in The Jupiter. Now
were coming the days when nothing would avail to keep the impure
spirit from the cathedral pulpit. That pulpit would indeed be his
own. Precentors, vicars, and choristers might hang up their harps on
the willows. Ichabod! Ichabod! The glory of their house was
departing from them.
Mr. Slope, great as he was with embryo grandeur, still came to see
the signora. Indeed, he could not keep himself away. He dreamed of
that soft hand which he had kissed so often and of that imperial brow
which his lips had once pressed, and he then dreamed also of further
And Mr. Thorne was there also. It was the first visit he had ever
paid to the signora, and he made it not without due preparation. Mr.
Thorne was a gentleman usually precise in his dress and prone to make
the most of himself in an unpretending way. The grey hairs in his
whiskers were eliminated perhaps once a month; those on his head were
softened by a mixture which we will not call a dye--it was only a
wash. His tailor lived in St. James's Street, and his bootmaker at
the corner of that street and Piccadilly. He was particular in the
article of gloves, and the getting up of his shirts was a matter not
lightly thought of in the Ullathorne laundry. On the occasion of the
present visit he had rather overdone his usual efforts and caused
some little uneasiness to his sister, who had not hitherto received
very cordially the proposition for a lengthened visit from the
signora at Ullathorne.
There were others also there--young men about the city who had not
much to do and who were induced by the lady's charms to neglect that
little--but all gave way to Mr. Thorne, who was somewhat of a grand
signor, as a country gentleman always is in a provincial city.
"Oh, Mr. Thorne, this is so kind of you!" said the signora. '"You
promised to come, but I really did not expect it. I thought you
country gentlemen never kept your pledges."
"Oh, yes, sometimes," said Mr. Thorne, looking rather sheepish and
making his salutations a little too much in the style of the last
"You deceive none but your consti--stit--stit--what do you call the
people that carry you about in chairs and pelt you with eggs and
apples when they make you a member of Parliament?"
"One another also, sometimes, signora," said Mr. Slope, with a very
deanish sort of smirk on his face. "Country gentlemen do deceive one
another sometimes, don't they, Mr. Thorne?"
Mr. Thorne gave him a look which undeaned him completely for the
moment, but he soon remembered his high hopes and, recovering himself
quickly, sustained his probable coming dignity by a laugh at Mr.
"I never deceive a lady, at any rate," said Mr. Thorne, "especially
when the gratification of my own wishes is so strong an inducement to
keep me true, as it now is."
Mr. Thorne went on thus awhile with antediluvian grimaces and
compliments which he had picked up from Sir Charles Grandison, and
the signora at every grimace and at every bow smiled a little smile
and bowed a little bow. Mr. Thorne, however, was kept standing at
the foot of the couch, for the new dean sat in the seat of honour
near the table. Mr. Arabin the while was standing with his back to
the fire, his coat-tails under his arms, gazing at her with all his
eyes--not quite in vain, for every now and again a glance came up at
him, bright as a meteor out of heaven.
"Oh, Mr. Thorne, you promised to let me introduce my little girl to
you. Can you spare a moment--will you see her now?"
Mr. Thorne assured her that he could and would see the young lady
with the greatest pleasure in life. "Mr. Slope, might I trouble you
to ring the bell?" said she, and when Mr. Slope got up, she looked at
Mr. Thorne and pointed to the chair. Mr. Thorne, however, was much
too slow to understand her, and Mr. Slope would have recovered his
seat had not the signora, who never chose to be unsuccessful,
somewhat summarily ordered him out of it.
"Oh, Mr. Slope, I must ask you to let Mr. Thorne sit here just for a
moment or two. I am sure you will pardon me. We can take a liberty
with you this week. Next week, you know, when you move into the
dean's house, we shall all be afraid of you."
Mr. Slope, with an air of much indifference, rose from his seat and,
walking into the next room, became greatly interested in Mrs.
Stanhope's worsted work.
And then the child was brought in. She was a little girl, about
eight years of age, like her mother, only that her enormous eyes were
black, and her hair quite jet. Her complexion, too, was very dark
and bespoke her foreign blood. She was dressed in the most
outlandish and extravagant way in which clothes could be put on a
child's back. She had great bracelets on her naked little arms, a
crimson fillet braided with gold round her head, and scarlet shoes
with high heels. Her dress was all flounces and stuck out from her
as though the object were to make it lie off horizontally from her
little hips. It did not nearly cover her knees, but this was atoned
for by a loose pair of drawers, which seemed made throughout of lace;
then she had on pink silk stockings. It was thus that the last of
the Neros was habitually dressed at the hour when visitors were wont
"Julia, my love," said the mother--Julia was ever a favourite name
with the ladies of that family. "Julia, my love, come here. I was
telling you about the beautiful party poor Mamma went to. This is
Mr. Thorne; will you give him a kiss, dearest?"
Julia put up her face to be kissed, as she did to all her mother's
visitors, and then Mr. Thorne found that he had got her and, what was
much more terrific to him, all her finery, into his arms. The lace
and starch crumpled against his waistcoat and trousers, the greasy
black curls hung upon his cheek, and one of the bracelet clasps
scratched his ear. He did not at all know how to hold so magnificent
a lady, nor holding her what to do with her. However, he had on
other occasions been compelled to fondle little nieces and nephews,
and now set about the task in the mode he always had used.
"Diddle, diddle, diddle, diddle," said he, putting the child on one
knee and working away with it as though he were turning a knife-
grinder's wheel with his foot.
"Mamma, Mamma," said Julia crossly, "I don't want to be diddle
diddled. Let me go, you naughty old man, you."
Poor Mr. Thorne put the child down quietly on the ground and drew
back his chair; Mr. Slope, who had returned to the pole star that
attracted him, laughed aloud; Mr. Arabin winced and shut his eyes;
and the signora pretended not to hear her daughter.
"Go to Aunt Charlotte, lovey," said the mamma, "and ask her if it is
not time for you to go out."
But little Miss Julia, though she had not exactly liked the nature of
Mr. Thorne's attention, was accustomed to be played with by
gentlemen, and did not relish the idea of being sent so soon to her
"Julia, go when I tell you, my dear." But Julia still went pouting
about the room. "Charlotte, do come and take her," said the signora.
"She must go out, and the days get so short now." And thus ended the
much-talked-of interview between Mr. Thorne and the last of the
Mr. Thorne recovered from the child's crossness sooner than from Mr.
Slope's laughter. He could put up with being called an old man by an
infant, but he did not like to be laughed at by the bishop's
chaplain, even though that chaplain was about to become a dean. He
said nothing, but he showed plainly enough that he was angry.
The signora was ready enough to avenge him. "Mr. Slope," said she,
"I hear that you are triumphing on all sides."
"How so?" said he, smiling. He did not dislike being talked to about
the deanery, though, of course, he strongly denied the imputation.
"You carry the day both in love and war." Mr. Slope hereupon did not
look quite so satisfied as he had done.
"Mr. Arabin," continued the signora, "don't you think Mr. Slope is a
very lucky man?"
"Not more so than he deserves, I am sure," said Mr. Arabin.
"Only think, Mr. Thorne, he is to be our new dean; of course we all
"Indeed, signora," said Mr. Slope, "we all know nothing about it.
I can assure you I myself--"
"He is to be the new dean--there is no manner of doubt of it, Mr.
"Hum!" said Mr. Thorne.
"Passing over the heads of old men like my father and Archdeacon
"Oh--oh!" said Mr. Slope.
"The archdeacon would not accept it," said Mr. Arabin, whereupon Mr.
Slope smiled abominably and said, as plainly as a look could speak,
that the grapes were sour.
"Going over all our heads," continued the signora, "for of course I
consider myself one of the chapter."
"If I am ever dean," said Mr. Slope, "that is, were I ever to become
so, I should glory in such a canoness."
"Oh, Mr. Slope, stop; I haven't half done. There is another canoness
for you to glory in. Mr. Slope is not only to have the deanery but a
wife to put in it."
Mr. Slope again looked disconcerted.
"A wife with a large fortune, too. It never rains but it pours, does
it, Mr. Thorne?"
"No, never," said Mr. Thorne, who did not quite relish talking about
Mr. Slope and his affairs.
"When will it be, Mr. Slope?"
"When will what be?" said he.
"Oh, we know when the affair of the dean will be: a week will settle
that. The new hat, I have no doubt, has been already ordered. But
when will the marriage come off?"
"Do you mean mine or Mr. Arabin's?" said he, striving to be
"Well, just then I meant yours, though, perhaps, after all, Mr.
Arabin's may be first. But we know nothing of him. He is too close
for any of us. Now all is open and above board with you--which, by
the by, Mr. Arabin, I beg to tell you I like much the best. He who
runs can read that Mr. Slope is a favoured lover. Come, Mr. Slope,
when is the widow to be made Mrs. Dean?"
To Mr. Arabin this badinage was peculiarly painful, and yet he could
not tear himself away and leave it. He believed, still believed with
that sort of belief which the fear of a thing engenders, that Mrs.
Bold would probably become the wife of Mr. Slope. Of Mr. Slope's
little adventure in the garden he knew nothing. For aught he knew,
Mr. Slope might have had an adventure of quite a different character.
He might have thrown himself at the widow's feet, been accepted, and
then returned to town a jolly, thriving wooer. The signora's jokes
were bitter enough to Mr. Slope, but they were quite as bitter to Mr.
Arabin. He still stood leaning against the fire-place, fumbling with
his hands in his trousers pockets.
"Come, come, Mr. Slope, don't be so bashful," continued the signora.
"We all know that you proposed to the lady the other day at
Ullathorne. Tell us with what words she accepted you. Was it with a
simple 'yes,' or with the two 'no no's' which make an affirmative?
Or did silence give consent? Or did she speak out with that spirit
which so well becomes a widow and say openly, 'By my troth, sir, you
shall make me Mrs. Slope as soon as it is your pleasure to do so.' "
Mr. Slope had seldom in his life felt himself less at his ease.
There sat Mr. Thorne, laughing silently. There stood his old
antagonist, Mr. Arabin, gazing at him with all his eyes. There round
the door between the two rooms were clustered a little group of
people, including Miss Stanhope and the Revs. Messrs. Grey and Green,
all listening to his discomfiture. He knew that it depended solely
on his own wit whether or no he could throw the joke back upon the
lady. He knew that it stood him to do so if he possibly could, but
he had not a word. " 'Tis conscience that makes cowards of us all."
He felt on his cheek the sharp points of Eleanor's fingers and did
not know who might have seen the blow, who might have told the tale
to this pestilent woman who took such delight in jeering him. He
stood there, therefore, red as a carbuncle and mute as a fish;
grinning sufficiently to show his teeth; an object of pity.
But the signora had no pity; she knew nothing of mercy. Her present
object was to put Mr. Slope down, and she was determined to do it
thoroughly, now that she had him in her power.
"What, Mr. Slope, no answer? Why it can't possibly be that the woman
has been fool enough to refuse you? She can't surely be looking out
after a bishop. But I see how it is, Mr. Slope. Widows are
proverbially cautious. You should have let her alone till the new
hat was on your head, till you could show her the key of the
"Signora," said he at last, trying to speak in a tone of dignified
reproach, "you really permit yourself to talk on solemn subjects in a
very improper way."
"Solemn subjects--what solemn subject? Surely a dean's hat is not
such a solemn subject."
"I have no aspirations such as those you impute to me. Perhaps you
will drop the subject."
"Oh, certainly, Mr. Slope; but one word first. Go to her again with
the prime minister's letter in your pocket. I'll wager my shawl to
your shovel she does not refuse you then."
"I must say, signora, that I think you are speaking of the lady in a
very unjustifiable manner."
"And one other piece of advice, Mr. Slope; I'll only offer you one
other;" and then she commenced singing
It's gude to be merry and wise, Mr. Slope;
It's gude to be honest and true;
It's gude to be off with the old love--Mr. Slope,
Before you are on with the new.
"Ha, ha, ha!" And the signora, throwing herself back on her sofa,
laughed merrily. She little recked how those who heard her would, in
their own imaginations, fill up the little history of Mr. Slope's
first love. She little cared that some among them might attribute to
her the honour of his earlier admiration. She was tired of Mr. Slope
and wanted to get rid of him; she had ground for anger with him, and
she chose to be revenged.
How Mr. Slope got out of that room he never himself knew. He did
succeed ultimately, and probably with some assistance, in getting his
hat and escaping into the air. At last his love for the signora was
cured. Whenever he again thought of her in his dreams, it was not as
of an angel with azure wings. He connected her rather with fire and
brimstone, and though he could still believe her to be a spirit, he
banished her entirely out of heaven and found a place for her among
the infernal gods. When he weighed in the balance, as he not seldom
did, the two women to whom he had attached himself in Barchester, the
pre-eminent place in his soul's hatred was usually allotted to the
The Dean Elect
During the entire next week Barchester was ignorant who was to be its
new dean. On Sunday morning Mr. Slope was decidedly the favourite,
but he did not show himself in the cathedral, and then he sank a
point or two in the betting. On Monday he got a scolding from the
bishop in the hearing of the servants, and down he went till nobody
would have him at any price; but on Tuesday he received a letter, in
an official cover, marked private, by which he fully recovered his
place in the public favour. On Wednesday he was said to be ill, and
that did not look well; but on Thursday morning he went down to the
railway station with a very jaunty air; and when it was ascertained
that he had taken a first-class ticket for London, there was no
longer any room for doubt on the matter.
While matters were in this state of ferment at Barchester, there was
not much mental comfort at Plumstead. Our friend the archdeacon had
many grounds for inward grief. He was much displeased at the result
of Dr. Gwynne's diplomatic mission to the palace, and did not even
scruple to say to his wife that had he gone himself, he would have
managed the affair much better. His wife did not agree with him, but
that did not mend the matter.
Mr. Quiverful's appointment to the hospital was, however, a fait
accompli, and Mr. Harding's acquiescence in that appointment was not
less so. Nothing would induce Mr. Harding to make a public appeal
against the bishop, and the Master of Lazarus quite approved of his
not doing so.
"I don't know what has come to the master," said the archdeacon over
and over again. "He used to be ready enough to stand up for his
"My dear Archdeacon," Mrs. Grantly would say in reply, "what is the
use of always fighting? I really think the master is right." The
master, however, had taken steps of his own of which neither the
archdeacon nor his wife knew anything.
Then Mr. Slope's successes were henbane to Dr. Grantly, and Mrs.
Bold's improprieties were as bad. What would be all the world to
Archdeacon Grantly if Mr. Slope should become Dean of Barchester and
marry his wife's sister! He talked of it and talked of it till he
was nearly ill. Mrs. Grantly almost wished that the marriage were
done and over, so that she might hear no more about it.
And there was yet another ground of misery which cut him to the quick
nearly as closely as either of the others. That paragon of a
clergyman whom he had bestowed upon St. Ewold's, that college friend
of whom he had boasted so loudly, that ecclesiastical knight before
whose lance Mr. Slope was to fall and bite the dust, that worthy
bulwark of the church as it should be, that honoured representative
of Oxford's best spirit, was--so at least his wife had told him half
a dozen times--misconducting himself!
Nothing had been seen of Mr. Arabin at Plumstead for the last week,
but a good deal had, unfortunately, been heard of him. As soon as
Mrs. Grantly had found herself alone with the archdeacon, on the
evening of the Ullathorne party, she had expressed herself very
forcibly as to Mr. Arabin's conduct on that occasion. He had, she
declared, looked and acted and talked very unlike a decent parish
clergyman. At first the archdeacon had laughed at this and assured
her that she need not trouble herself--that Mr. Arabin would be found
to be quite safe. But by degrees he began to find that his wife's
eyes had been sharper than his own. Other people coupled the
signora's name with that of Mr. Arabin. The meagre little prebendary
who lived in the close told him to a nicety how often Mr. Arabin had
visited at Dr. Stanhope's and how long he had remained on the
occasion of each visit. He had asked after Mr. Arabin at the
cathedral library, and an officious little vicar choral had offered
to go and see whether he could be found at Dr. Stanhope's. Rumour,
when she has contrived to sound the first note on her trumpet, soon
makes a loud peal audible enough. It was too clear that Mr. Arabin
had succumbed to the Italian woman and that the archdeacon's credit
would suffer fearfully if something were not done to rescue the brand
from the burning. Besides, to give the archdeacon his due, he was
really attached to Mr. Arabin and grieved greatly at his backsliding.
They were sitting, talking over their sorrows, in the drawing-room
before dinner on the day after Mr. Slope's departure for London, and
on this occasion Mrs. Grantly spoke out her mind freely. She had
opinions of her own about parish clergymen and now thought it right
to give vent to them.
"If you would have been led by me, Archdeacon, you would never have
put a bachelor into St. Ewold's."
"But my dear, you don't meant to say that all bachelor clergymen
"I don't know that clergymen are so much better than other men," said
Mrs. Grantly. "It's all very well with a curate, whom you have under
your own eye and whom you can get rid of if he persists in
"But Mr. Arabin was a fellow, and couldn't have had a wife."
"Then I would have found someone who could."
"But, my dear, are fellows never to get livings?"
"Yes, to be sure they are, when they get engaged. I never would put
a young man into a living unless he were married, or engaged to be
married. Now, here is Mr. Arabin. The whole responsibility lies
"There is not at this moment a clergymen in all Oxford more respected
for morals and conduct than Arabin."
"Oh, Oxford!" said the lady, with a sneer. "What men choose to do at
Oxford nobody ever hears of. A man may do very well at Oxford who
would bring disgrace on a parish; and to tell you the truth, it seems
to me that Mr. Arabin is just such a man."
The archdeacon groaned deeply, but he had no further answer to make.
"You really must speak to him, Archdeacon. Only think what the
Thornes will say if they hear that their parish clergyman spends his
whole time philandering with this woman."
The archdeacon groaned again. He was a courageous man and knew well
enough how to rebuke the younger clergymen of the diocese, when
necessary. But there was that about Mr. Arabin which made the doctor
feel that it would be very difficult to rebuke him with good effect.
"You can advise him to find a wife for himself, and he will
understand well enough what that means," said Mrs. Grantly.
The archdeacon had nothing for it but groaning. There was Mr. Slope:
he was going to be made dean; he was going to take a wife; he was
about to achieve respectability and wealth, an excellent family
mansion, and a family carriage; he would soon be among the
comfortable élite of the ecclesiastical world of Barchester; whereas
his own protégé, the true scion of the true church, by whom he had
sworn, would be still but a poor vicar, and that with a very
indifferent character for moral conduct! It might be all very well
recommending Mr. Arabin to marry, but how would Mr. Arabin, when
married, support a wife?
Things were ordering themselves thus in Plumstead drawing-room when
Dr. and Mrs. Grantly were disturbed in their sweet discourse by the
quick rattle of a carriage and pair of horses on the gravel sweep.
The sound was not that of visitors, whose private carriages are
generally brought up to country-house doors with demure propriety,
but betokened rather the advent of some person or persons who were in
a hurry to reach the house and had no intention of immediately
leaving it. Guests invited to stay a week, and who were conscious of
arriving after the first dinner-bell, would probably approach in such
a manner. So might arrive an attorney with the news of a
granduncle's death, or a son from college with all the fresh honours
of a double first. No one would have had himself driven up to the
door of a country-house in such a manner who had the slightest doubt
of his own right to force an entry.
"Who is it?" said Mrs. Grantly, looking at her husband.
"Who on earth can it be?" said the archdeacon to his wife. He then
quietly got up and stood with the drawing-room door open in his hand.
"Why, it's your father!"
It was indeed Mr. Harding, and Mr. Harding alone. He had come by
himself in a post-chaise with a couple of horses from Barchester,
arriving almost after dark, and evidently full of news. His visits
had usually been made in the quietest manner; he had rarely presumed
to come without notice and had always been driven up in a modest old
green fly, with one horse, that hardly made itself heard as it
crawled up to the hall-door.
"Good gracious, Warden, is it you?" said the archdeacon, forgetting
in his surprise the events of the last few years. "But come in;
nothing the matter, I hope."
"We are very glad you are come, Papa," said his daughter. "I'll go
and get your room ready at once."
"I an't warden, Archdeacon," said Mr. Harding; "Mr. Quiverful is
"Oh, I know, I know," said the archdeacon petulantly. "I forgot all
about it at the moment. Is anything the matter?"
"Don't go this moment, Susan," said Mr. Harding. "I have something
to tell you."
"The dinner-bell will ring in five minutes," said she.
"Will it?" said Mr. Harding. "Then perhaps I had better wait." He
was big with news which he had come to tell but which he knew could
not be told without much discussion. He had hurried away to
Plumstead as fast as two horses could bring him, and now, finding
himself there, he was willing to accept the reprieve which dinner
would give him.
"If you have anything of moment to tell us," said the archdeacon,
"pray let us hear it at once. Has Eleanor gone off?"
"No, she has not," said Mr. Harding with a look of great displeasure.
"Has Slope been made dean?"
"No, he has not, but--"
"But what?" said the archdeacon, who was becoming very impatient.
"They have what?" said the archdeacon.
"They have offered it to me," said Mr. Harding with a modesty which
almost prevented his speaking.
"Good heavens!" said the archdeacon and sunk back exhausted in an
"My dear, dear father," said Mrs. Grantly and threw her arms round
her father's neck.
"So I thought I had better come out and consult with you at once,"
said Mr. Harding.
"Consult!" shouted the archdeacon. "But, my dear Harding, I
congratulate you with my whole heart--with my whole heart; I do
indeed. I never heard anything in my life that gave me so much
pleasure;" and he got hold of both his father-in-law's hands, and
shook them as though he were going to shake them off, and walked
round and round the room, twirling a copy of The Jupiter over his
head to show his extreme exultation.
"But--" began Mr. Harding.
"But me no buts," said the archdeacon. "I never was so happy in my
life. It was just the proper thing to do. Upon my honour I'll never
say another word against Lord ---- the longest day I have to live."
"That's Dr. Gwynne's doing, you may be sure," said Mrs. Grantly, who
greatly liked the Master of Lazarus, he being an orderly married man
with a large family.
"I suppose it is," said the archdeacon.
"Oh, Papa, I am so truly delighted!" said Mrs. Grantly, getting up
and kissing her father.
"But, my dear," said Mr. Harding. It was all in vain that he strove
to speak; nobody would listen to him.
"Well, Mr. Dean," said the archdeacon, triumphing, "the deanery
gardens will be some consolation for the hospital elms. Well, poor
Quiverful! I won't begrudge him his good fortune any longer."
"No, indeed," said Mrs. Grantly. "Poor woman, she has fourteen
children. I am sure I am very glad they have got it."
"So am I," said Mr. Harding.
"I would give twenty pounds," said the archdeacon, "to see how
Mr. Slope will look when he hears it." The idea of Mr. Slope's
discomfiture formed no small part of the archdeacon's pleasure.
At last Mr. Harding was allowed to go upstairs and wash his hands,
having, in fact, said very little of all that he had come out to
Plumstead on purpose to say. Nor could anything more be said till
the servants were gone after dinner. The joy of Dr. Grantly was so
uncontrollable that he could not refrain from calling his father-in-
law Mr. Dean before the men, and therefore it was soon matter of
discussion in the lower regions how Mr. Harding, instead of his
daughter's future husband, was to be the new dean, and various were
the opinions on the matter. The cook and butler, who were advanced
in years, thought that it was just as it should be; but the footman
and lady's maid, who were younger, thought it was a great shame that
Mr. Slope should lose his chance.
"He's a mean chap all the same," said the footman, "and it an't along
of him that I says so. But I always did admire the missus's sister;
and she'd well become the situation."
While these were the ideas downstairs, a very great difference of
opinion existed above. As soon as the cloth was drawn and the wine
on the table, Mr. Harding made for himself an opportunity of
speaking. It was, however, with much inward troubling that he said:
"It's very kind of Lord ----, very kind, and I feel it deeply, most
deeply. I am, I must confess, gratified by the offer--"
"I should think so," said the archdeacon.
"But all the same I am afraid that I can't accept it."
The decanter almost fell from the archdeacon's hand upon the table,
and the start he made was so great as to make his wife jump up from
her chair. Not accept the deanship! If it really ended in this,
there would be no longer any doubt that his father-in-law was
demented. The question now was whether a clergyman with low rank and
preferment amounting to less than £200 a year should accept high
rank, £1,200 a year, and one of the most desirable positions which
his profession had to afford!
"What!" said the archdeacon, gasping for breath and staring at his
guest as though the violence of his emotion had almost thrown him
into a fit. "What!"
"I do not find myself fit for new duties," urged Mr. Harding.
"New duties! What duties?" said the archdeacon with unintended
"Oh, Papa," said Mrs. Grantly, "nothing can be easier than what a
dean has to do. Surely you are more active than Dr. Trefoil."
"He won't have half as much to do as he has at present," said Dr.
"Did you see what The Jupiter said the other day about young men?"
"Yes, and I saw that The Jupiter said all that it could to induce the
appointment of Mr. Slope. Perhaps you would wish to see Mr. Slope
Mr. Harding made no reply to this rebuke, though he felt it strongly.
He had not come over to Plumstead to have further contention with his
son-in-law about Mr. Slope, so he allowed it to pass by.
"I know I cannot make you understand my feeling," he said, "for we
have been cast in different moulds. I may wish that I had your
spirit and energy and power of combatting, but I have not. Every day
that is added to my life increases my wish for peace and rest."
"And where on earth can a man have peace and rest if not in a
deanery!" said the archdeacon.
"People will say that I am too old for it."
"Good heavens! People! What people? What need you care for any
"But I think myself I am too old for any new place."
"Dear Papa," said Mrs. Grantly, "men ten years older than you are
appointed to new situations day after day."
"My dear," said he, "it is impossible that I should make you
understand my feelings, nor do I pretend to any great virtue in the
matter. The truth is, I want the force of character which might
enable me to stand against the spirit of the times. The call on all
sides now is for young men, and I have not the nerve to put myself in
opposition to the demand. Were The Jupiter, when it hears of my
appointment, to write article after article setting forth my
incompetency, I am sure it would cost me my reason. I ought to be
able to bear with such things, you will say. Well, my dear, I own
that I ought. But I feel my weakness, and I know that I can't. And
to tell you the truth I know no more than a child what the dean has
"Pshaw!" exclaimed the archdeacon.
"Don't be angry with me, Archdeacon: don't let us quarrel about it,
Susan. If you knew how keenly I feel the necessity of having to
disoblige you in this matter, you would not be angry with me."
This was a dreadful blow to Dr. Grantly. Nothing could possibly have
suited him better than having Mr. Harding in the deanery. Though he
had never looked down on Mr. Harding on account of his recent
poverty, he did fully recognize the satisfaction of having those
belonging to him in comfortable positions. It would be much more
suitable that Mr. Harding should be Dean of Barchester than vicar of
St. Cuthbert's and precentor to boot. And then the great
discomfiture of that arch-enemy of all that was respectable in
Barchester, of that new Low Church clerical parvenu that had fallen
amongst them, that alone would be worth more, almost, than the
situation itself. It was frightful to think that such unhoped-for
good fortune should be marred by the absurd crotchets and unwholesome
hallucinations by which Mr. Harding allowed himself to be led astray.
To have the cup so near his lips and then to lose the drinking of it
was more than Dr. Grantly could endure.
And yet it appeared as though he would have to endure it. In vain he
threatened and in vain he coaxed. Mr. Harding did not indeed speak
with perfect decision of refusing the proffered glory, but he would
not speak with anything like decision of accepting it. When pressed
again and again, he would again and again allege that he was wholly
unfitted to new duties. It was in vain that the archdeacon tried to
insinuate, though he could not plainly declare, that there were no
new duties to perform. It was in vain he hinted that in all cases of
difficulty he, he the archdeacon, was willing and able to guide a
weak-minded dean. Mr. Harding seemed to have a foolish idea, not
only that there were new duties to do, but that no one should accept
the place who was not himself prepared to do them.
The conference ended in an understanding that Mr. Harding should at
once acknowledge the letter he had received from the minister's
private secretary and should beg that he might be allowed two days to
make up his mind; and that during those two days the matter should be
On the following morning the archdeacon was to drive Mr. Harding back
Miss Thorne Shows Her Talent at Match-Making
On Mr. Harding's return to Barchester from Plumstead, which was
effected by him in due course in company with the archdeacon, more
tidings of a surprising nature met him. He was, during the journey,
subjected to such a weight of unanswerable argument, all of which
went to prove that it was his bounden duty not to interfere with the
paternal Government that was so anxious to make him a dean, that when
he arrived at the chemist's door in High Street, he hardly knew which
way to turn himself in the matter. But, perplexed as he was, he was
doomed to further perplexity. He found a note there from his
daughter begging him most urgently to come to her immediately. But
we must again go back a little in our story.
Miss Thorne had not been slow to hear the rumours respecting Mr.
Arabin which had so much disturbed the happiness of Mrs. Grantly.
And she, also, was unhappy to think that her parish clergyman should
be accused of worshipping a strange goddess. She, also, was of
opinion that rectors and vicars should all be married, and with that
good-natured energy which was characteristic of her she put her wits
to work to find a fitting match for Mr. Arabin. Mrs. Grantly, in
this difficulty, could think of no better remedy than a lecture from
the archdeacon. Miss Thorne thought that a young lady, marriageable
and with a dowry, might be of more efficacy. In looking through the
catalogue of her unmarried friends who might possibly be in want of a
husband and might also be fit for such promotion as a country
parsonage affords, she could think of no one more eligible than Mrs.
Bold; consequently, losing no time, she went into Barchester on the
day of Mr. Slope's discomfiture, the same day that her brother had
had his interesting interview with the last of the Neros, and invited
Mrs. Bold to bring her nurse and baby to Ullathorne and make them a
Miss Thorne suggested a month or two, intending to use her influence
afterwards in prolonging it so as to last out the winter, in order
that Mr. Arabin might have an opportunity of becoming fairly intimate
with his intended bride. "We'll have Mr. Arabin, too," said Miss
Thorne to herself; "and before the spring they'll know each other;
and in twelve or eighteen months' time, if all goes well, Mrs. Bold
will be domiciled at St. Ewold's;" and then the kind-hearted lady
gave herself some not undeserved praise for her match-making genius.
Eleanor was taken a little by surprise, but the matter ended in her
promising to go to Ullathorne for at any rate a week or two; on the
day previous to that on which her father drove out to Plumstead, she
had had herself driven out to Ullathorne.
Miss Thorne would not perplex her with her embryo lord on that same
evening, thinking that she would allow her a few hours to make
herself at home, but on the following morning Mr. Arabin arrived.
"And now," said Miss Thorne to herself, "I must contrive to throw
them in each other's way." That same day, after dinner, Eleanor, with
an assumed air of dignity which she could not maintain, with tears
which she could not suppress, with a flutter which she could not
conquer, and a joy which she could not hide, told Miss Thorne that
she was engaged to marry Mr. Arabin and that it behoved her to get
back home to Barchester as quick as she could.
To say simply that Miss Thorne was rejoiced at the success of the
scheme would give a very faint idea of her feelings on the occasion.
My readers may probably have dreamt before now that they have had
before them some terribly long walk to accomplish, some journey of
twenty or thirty miles, an amount of labour frightful to anticipate,
and that immediately on starting they have ingeniously found some
accommodating short cut which has brought them without fatigue to
their work's end in five minutes. Miss Thorne's waking feelings were
somewhat of the same nature. My readers may perhaps have had to do
with children and may on some occasion have promised to their young
charges some great gratification intended to come off, perhaps at the
end of the winter, or at the beginning of summer. The impatient
juveniles, however, will not wait, and clamorously demand their treat
before they go to bed. Miss Thorne had a sort of feeling that her
children were equally unreasonable. She was like an inexperienced
gunner, who has ill-calculated the length of the train that he has
laid. The gun-powder exploded much too soon, and poor Miss Thorne
felt that she was blown up by the strength of her own petard.
Miss Thorne had had lovers of her own, but they had been gentlemen of
old-fashioned and deliberate habits. Miss Thorne's heart also had
not always been hard, though she was still a virgin spinster, but it
had never yielded in this way at the first assault. She had intended
to bring together a middle-aged, studious clergyman and a discreet
matron who might possibly be induced to marry again, and in doing so
she had thrown fire among tinder. Well, it was all as it should be,
but she did feel perhaps a little put out by the precipitancy of her
own success and perhaps a little vexed at the readiness of Mrs. Bold
to be wooed.
She said, however, nothing about it to anyone and ascribed it all to
the altered manners of the new age. Their mothers and grandmothers
were perhaps a little more deliberate, but it was admitted on all
sides that things were conducted very differently now than in former
times. For aught Miss Thorne knew of the matter, a couple of hours
might be quite sufficient under the new régime to complete that for
which she in her ignorance had allotted twelve months.
But we must not pass over the wooing so cavalierly. It has been
told, with perhaps tedious accuracy, how Eleanor disposed of two of
her lovers at Ullathorne, and it must also be told with equal
accuracy, and if possible with less tedium, how she encountered Mr.
It cannot be denied that when Eleanor accepted Miss Thorne's
invitation she remembered that Ullathorne was in the parish of St.
Ewold's. Since her interview with the signora she had done little
else than think about Mr. Arabin and the appeal that had been made to
her. She could not bring herself to believe, or try to bring herself
to believe, that what she had been told was untrue. Think of it how
she would, she could not but accept it as a fact that Mr. Arabin was
fond of her; and then when she went further and asked herself the
question, she could not but accept it as a fact also that she was
fond of him. If it were destined for her to be the partner of his
hopes and sorrows, to whom could she look for friendship so properly
as to Miss Thorne? This invitation was like an ordained step towards
the fulfilment of her destiny, and when she also heard that Mr.
Arabin was expected to be at Ullathorne on the following day, it
seemed as though all the world were conspiring in her favour. Well,
did she not deserve it? In that affair of Mr. Slope had not all the
world conspired against her?
She could not, however, make herself easy and at home. When, in the
evening after dinner, Miss Thorne expatiated on the excellence of Mr.
Arabin's qualities and hinted that any little rumour which might be
ill-naturedly spread abroad concerning him really meant nothing, Mrs.
Bold found herself unable to answer. When Miss Thorne went a little
further and declared that she did not know a prettier vicarage-house
in the county than St. Ewold's, Mrs. Bold, remembering the projected
bow-window and the projected priestess, still held her tongue, though
her ears tingled with the conviction that all the world knew that she
was in love with Mr. Arabin. Well, what would that matter if they
could only meet and tell each other what each now longed to tell?
And they did meet. Mr. Arabin came early in the day and found the
two ladies together at work in the drawing-room. Miss Thorne, who
had she known all the truth would have vanished into air at once, had
no conception that her immediate absence would be a blessing and
remained chatting with them till luncheon-time. Mr. Arabin could
talk about nothing but the Signora Neroni's beauty, would discuss no
people but the Stanhopes. This was very distressing to Eleanor and
not very satisfactory to Miss Thorne. But yet there was evidence of
innocence in his open avowal of admiration.
And then they had lunch, and then Mr. Arabin went out on parish duty,
and Eleanor and Miss Thorne were left to take a walk together.
"Do you think the Signora Neroni is so lovely as people say?" Eleanor
asked as they were coming home.
"She is very beautiful, certainly, very beautiful," Miss Thorne
answered; "but I do not know that anyone considers her lovely. She
is a woman all men would like to look at, but few, I imagine, would
be glad to take her to their hearths, even were she unmarried and not
afflicted as she is."
There was some little comfort in this. Eleanor made the most of it
till she got back to the house. She was then left alone in the
drawing-room, and just as it was getting dark Mr. Arabin came in.
It was a beautiful afternoon in the beginning of October, and Eleanor
was sitting in the window to get the advantage of the last daylight
for her novel. There was a fire in the comfortable room, but the
weather was not cold enough to make it attractive, and as she could
see the sun set from where she sat, she was not very attentive to her
Mr. Arabin, when he entered, stood awhile with his back to the fire
in his usual way, merely uttering a few commonplace remarks about the
beauty of the weather, while he plucked up courage for more
interesting converse. It cannot probably be said that he had
resolved then and there to make an offer to Eleanor. Men, we
believe, seldom make such resolves. Mr. Slope and Mr. Stanhope had
done so, it is true, but gentlemen generally propose without any
absolutely defined determination as to their doing so. Such was now
the case with Mr. Arabin.
"It is a lovely sunset," said Eleanor, answering him on the
dreadfully trite subject which he had chosen.
Mr. Arabin could not see the sunset from the hearth-rug, so he had to
go close to her.
"Very lovely," said he, standing modestly so far away from her as to
avoid touching the flounces of her dress. Then it appeared that he
had nothing further to say, so, after gazing for a moment in silence
at the brightness of the setting sun, he returned to the fire.
Eleanor found that it was quite impossible for herself to commence a
conversation. In the first place she could find nothing to say;
words, which were generally plenty enough with her, would not come to
her relief. And moreover, do what she would, she could hardly
prevent herself from crying.
"Do you like Ullathorne?" said Mr. Arabin, speaking from the safely
distant position which he had assumed on the hearth-rug.
"Yes, indeed, very much!"
"I don't mean Mr. and Miss Thorne--I know you like them--but the
style of the house. There is something about old-fashioned mansions,
built as this is, and old-fashioned gardens, that to me is especially
"I like everything old-fashioned," said Eleanor; "old-fashioned
things are so much the honestest."
"I don't know about that," said Mr. Arabin, gently laughing. "That
is an opinion on which very much may be said on either side. It is
strange how widely the world is divided on a subject which so nearly
concerns us all and which is so close beneath our eyes. Some think
that we are quickly progressing towards perfection, while others
imagine that virtue is disappearing from the earth."
"And you, Mr. Arabin, what do you think?" said Eleanor. She felt
somewhat surprised at the tone which his conversation was taking, and
yet she was relieved at his saying something which enabled herself to
speak without showing her own emotion.
"What do I think, Mrs. Bold?" and then he rumbled his money with his
hands in his trousers pockets and looked and spoke very little like a
thriving lover. "It is the bane of my life that on important
subjects I acquire no fixed opinion. I think, and think, and go on
thinking, and yet my thoughts are running ever in different
directions. I hardly know whether or no we do lean more confidently
than our fathers did on those high hopes to which we profess to
"I think the world grows more worldly every day," said Eleanor.
"That is because you see more of it than when you were younger. But
we should hardly judge by what we see--we see so very, very little."
There was then a pause for awhile, during which Mr. Arabin continued
to turn over his shillings and half-crowns. "If we believe in
Scripture, we can hardly think that mankind in general will now be
allowed to retrograde."
Eleanor, whose mind was certainly engaged otherwise than on the
general state of mankind, made no answer to this. She felt
thoroughly dissatisfied with herself. She could not force her
thoughts away from the topic on which the signora had spoken to her
in so strange a way, and yet she knew that she could not converse
with Mr. Arabin in an unrestrained, natural tone till she did so.
She was most anxious not to show to him any special emotion, and yet
she felt, that if he looked at her, he would at once see that she was
not at ease.
But he did not look at her. Instead of doing so, he left the fire-
place and began walking up and down the room. Eleanor took up her
book resolutely, but she could not read, for there was a tear in her
eye, and do what she would, it fell on her cheek. When Mr. Arabin's
back was turned to her, she wiped it away, but another was soon
coursing down her face in its place. They would come--not a deluge
of tears that would have betrayed her at once, but one by one, single
monitors. Mr. Arabin did not observe her closely, and they passed
Mr. Arabin, thus pacing up and down the room, took four or five turns
before he spoke another word, and Eleanor sat equally silent with her
face bent over her book. She was afraid that her tears would get the
better of her, and was preparing for an escape from the room, when
Mr. Arabin in his walk stood opposite to her. He did not come close
up but stood exactly on the spot to which his course brought him, and
then, with his hands under his coat-tails, thus made his confession.
"Mrs. Bold," said he, "I owe you retribution for a great offence of
which I have been guilty towards you." Eleanor's heart beat so that
she could not trust herself to say that he had never been guilty of
any offence. So Mr. Arabin thus went on.
"I have thought much of it since, and I am now aware that I was
wholly unwarranted in putting to you a question which I once asked
you. It was indelicate on my part, and perhaps unmanly. No intimacy
which may exist between myself and your connexion, Dr. Grantly, could
justify it. Nor could the acquaintance which existed between
ourselves." This word acquaintance struck cold on Eleanor's heart.
Was this to be her doom after all? "I therefore think it right to
beg your pardon in a humble spirit, and I now do so."
What was Eleanor to say to him? She could not say much because she
was crying, and yet she must say something. She was most anxious to
say that something graciously, kindly, and yet not in such a manner
as to betray herself. She had never felt herself so much at a loss
"Indeed, I took no offence, Mr. Arabin."
"Oh, but you did! And had you not done so, you would not have been
yourself. You were as right to be offended as I was wrong so to
offend you. I have not forgiven myself, but I hope to hear that you
She was now past speaking calmly, though she still continued to hide
her tears, and Mr. Arabin, after pausing a moment in vain for her
reply, was walking off towards the door. She felt that she could not
allow him to go unanswered without grievously sinning against all
charity; so, rising from her seat, she gently touched his arm and
said, "Oh, Mr. Arabin, do not go till I speak to you! I do forgive
you. You know that I forgive you."
He took the hand that had so gently touched his arm and then gazed
into her face as if he would peruse there, as though written in a
book, the whole future destiny of his life; as he did so, there was a
sober, sad seriousness in his own countenance which Eleanor found
herself unable to sustain. She could only look down upon the carpet,
let her tears trickle as they would, and leave her hand within his.
It was but for a minute that they stood so, but the duration of that
minute was sufficient to make it ever memorable to them both.
Eleanor was sure now that she was loved. No words, be their
eloquence what it might, could be more impressive than that eager,
Why did he look so into her eyes? Why did he not speak to her?
Could it be that he looked for her to make the first sign?
And he, though he knew but little of women, even he knew that he was
loved. He had only to ask, and it would be all his own, that
inexpressible loveliness, those ever-speaking but yet now mute eyes,
that feminine brightness and eager, loving spirit which had so
attracted him since first he had encountered it at St. Ewold's. It
might, must, all be his own now. On no other supposition was it
possible that she should allow her hand to remain thus clasped within
his own. He had only to ask. Ah, but that was the difficulty. Did
a minute suffice for all this? Nay, perhaps it might be more than a
"Mrs. Bold--" at last he said and then stopped himself.
If he could not speak, how was she to do so? He had called her by
her name, the same name that any merest stranger would have used!
She withdrew her hand from his and moved as though to return to her
seat. "Eleanor!" he then said in his softest tone, as though the
courage of a lover were as yet but half-assumed, as though he were
still afraid of giving offence by the freedom which he took. She
looked slowly, gently, almost piteously up into his face. There was
at any rate no anger there to deter him.
"Eleanor!" he again exclaimed, and in a moment he had her clasped to
his bosom. How this was done, whether the doing was with him or her,
whether she had flown thither conquered by the tenderness of his
voice, or he with a violence not likely to give offence had drawn her
to his breast, neither of them knew; nor can I declare. There was
now that sympathy between them which hardly admitted of individual
motion. They were one and the same--one flesh--one spirit--one life.
"Eleanor, my own Eleanor, my own, my wife!" She ventured to look up
at him through her tears, and he, bowing his face down over hers,
pressed his lips upon her brow--his virgin lips, which, since a beard
first grew upon his chin, had never yet tasted the luxury of a
She had been told that her yea must be yea, or her nay, nay, but she
was called on for neither the one nor the other. She told Miss
Thorne that she was engaged to Mr. Arabin, but no such words had
passed between them, no promises had been asked or given.
"Oh, let me go," said she, "let me go now. I am too happy to
remain--let me go, that I may be alone." He did not try to hinder
her; he did not repeat the kiss; he did not press another on her
lips. He might have done so, had he been so minded. She was now all
his own. He took his arm from round her waist, his arm that was
trembling with a new delight, and let her go. She fled like a roe to
her own chamber, and then, having turned the bolt, she enjoyed the
full luxury of her love. She idolised, almost worshipped this man
who had so meekly begged her pardon. And he was now her own. Oh,
how she wept and cried and laughed at the hopes and fears and
miseries of the last few weeks passed in remembrance through her
Mr. Slope! That anyone should have dared to think that she who had
been chosen by him could possibly have mated herself with Mr. Slope!
That they should have dared to tell him, also, and subject her bright
happiness to such needless risk! And then she smiled with joy as she
thought of all the comforts that she could give him--not that he
cared for comforts, but that it would be so delicious for her to
She got up and rang for her maid that she might tell her little boy
of his new father, and in her own way she did tell him. She desired
her maid to leave her, in order that she might be alone with her
child, and then, while he lay sprawling on the bed, she poured forth
the praises, all unmeaning to him, of the man she had selected to
guard his infancy.
She could not be happy, however, till she had made Mr. Arabin take
the child to himself and thus, as it were, adopt him as his own. The
moment the idea struck her she took the baby up in her arms and,
opening her door, ran quickly down to the drawing-room. She at once
found, by his step still pacing on the floor, that he was there, and
a glance within the room told her that he was alone. She hesitated a
moment and then hurried in with her precious charge.
Mr. Arabin met her in the middle of the room. "There," said she,
breathless with her haste; "there, take him--take him, and love him."
Mr. Arabin took the little fellow from her and, kissing him again and
again, prayed God to bless him. "He shall be all as my own--all as
my own," said he. Eleanor, as she stooped to take back her child,
kissed the hand that held him and then rushed back with her treasure
to her chamber.
It was thus that Mr. Harding's younger daughter was won for the
second time. At dinner neither she nor Mr. Arabin were very bright,
but their silence occasioned no remark. In the drawing-room, as we
have before said, she told Miss Thorne what had occurred. The next
morning she returned to Barchester, and Mr. Arabin went over with his
budget of news to the archdeacon. As Doctor Grantly was not there,
he could only satisfy himself by telling Mrs. Grantly how that he
intended himself the honour of becoming her brother-in- law. In the
ecstasy of her joy at hearing such tidings Mrs. Grantly vouchsafed
him a warmer welcome than any he had yet received from Eleanor.
"Good heavens!" she exclaimed--it was the general exclamation of the
rectory. "Poor Eleanor! Dear Eleanor! What a monstrous injustice
has been done her! Well, it shall all be made up now." And then she
thought of the signora. "What lies people tell," she said to
But people in this matter had told no lies at all.
The Beelzebub Colt
When Miss Thorne left the dining-room, Eleanor had formed no
intention of revealing to her what had occurred, but when she was
seated beside her hostess on the sofa, the secret dropped from her
almost unawares. Eleanor was but a bad hypocrite, and she found
herself quite unable to continue talking about Mr. Arabin as though
he were a stranger while her heart was full of him. When Miss
Thorne, pursuing her own scheme with discreet zeal, asked the young
widow whether, in her opinion, it would not be a good thing for Mr.
Arabin to get married, she had nothing for it but to confess the
truth. "I suppose it would," said Eleanor rather sheepishly.
Whereupon Miss Thorne amplified on the idea. "Oh, Miss Thorne," said
Eleanor, "he is going to be married: I am engaged to him."
Now Miss Thorne knew very well that there had been no such engagement
when she had been walking with Mrs. Bold in the morning. She had
also heard enough to be tolerably sure that there had been no
preliminaries to such an engagement. She was, therefore, as we have
before described, taken a little by surprise. But nevertheless, she
embraced her guest and cordially congratulated her.
Eleanor had no opportunity of speaking another word to Mr. Arabin
that evening, except such words as all the world might hear; and
these, as may be supposed, were few enough. Miss Thorne did her best
to leave them in privacy, but Mr. Thorne, who knew nothing of what
had occurred, and another guest, a friend of his, entirely interfered
with her good intentions. So poor Eleanor had to go to bed without
one sign of affection. Her state, nevertheless, was not to be
The next morning she was up early. It was probable, she thought,
that by going down a little before the usual hour of breakfast she
might find Mr. Arabin alone in the dining-room. Might it not be that
he also would calculate that an interview would thus be possible?
Thus thinking, Eleanor was dressed a full hour before the time fixed
in the Ullathorne household for morning prayers. She did not at once
go down. She was afraid to seem to be too anxious to meet her lover,
though heaven knows her anxiety was intense enough. She therefore
sat herself down at her window, and repeatedly looking at her watch,
nursed her child till she thought she might venture forth.
When she found herself at the dining-room door, she stood a moment,
hesitating to turn the handle; but when she heard Mr. Thorne's voice
inside she hesitated no longer. Her object was defeated, and she
might now go in as soon as she liked without the slightest imputation
on her delicacy. Mr. Thorne and Mr. Arabin were standing on the
hearth-rug, discussing the merits of the Beelzebub colt; or rather,
Mr. Thorne was discussing, and Mr. Arabin was listening. That
interesting animal had rubbed the stump of his tail against the wall
of his stable and occasioned much uneasiness to the Ullathorne master
of the horse. Had Eleanor but waited another minute, Mr. Thorne
would have been in the stables.
Mr. Thorne, when he saw his lady guest, repressed his anxiety. The
Beelzebub colt must do without him. And so the three stood, saying
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