Part 9 out of 11
"Pray don't let me take you from the room," said she, speaking with
all the stiffness which she knew how to use. "I have come out to
look for a friend. I must beg of you, Mr. Slope, to go back."
But Mr. Slope would not be thus entreated. He had observed all day
that Mrs. Bold was not cordial to him, and this had to a certain
extent oppressed him. But he did not deduce from this any assurance
that his aspirations were in vain. He saw that she was angry with
him. Might she not be so because he had so long tampered with her
feelings--might it not arise from his having, as he knew was the
case, caused her name to be bruited about in conjunction with his own
without having given her the opportunity of confessing to the world
that henceforth their names were to be one and the same? Poor lady.
He had within him a certain Christian conscience-stricken feeling of
remorse on this head. It might be that he had wronged her by his
tardiness. He had, however, at the present moment imbibed too much
of Mr. Thorne's champagne to have any inward misgivings. He was
right in repeating the boast of Lady Macbeth: he was not drunk, but
he was bold enough for anything. It was a pity that in such a state
he could not have encountered Mrs. Proudie.
"You must permit me to attend you," said he; "I could not think of
allowing you to go alone."
"Indeed you must, Mr. Slope," said Eleanor still very stiffly, "for
it is my special wish to be alone."
The time for letting the great secret escape him had already come.
Mr. Slope saw that it must be now or never, and he was determined
that it should be now. This was not his first attempt at winning a
fair lady. He had been on his knees, looked unutterable things with
his eyes, and whispered honeyed words before this. Indeed, he was
somewhat an adept at these things, and had only to adapt to the
perhaps different taste of Mrs. Bold the well-remembered rhapsodies
which had once so much gratified Olivia Proudie.
"Do not ask me to leave you, Mrs. Bold," said he with an impassioned
look, impassioned and sanctified as well, with that sort of look
which is not uncommon with gentlemen of Mr. Slope's school and which
may perhaps be called the tender-pious. "Do not ask me to leave you
till I have spoken a few words with which my heart is full--which I
have come hither purposely to say."
Eleanor saw how it was now. She knew directly what it was she was
about to go through, and very miserable the knowledge made her. Of
course she could refuse Mr. Slope, and there would be an end of that,
one might say. But there would not be an end of it, as far as
Eleanor was concerned. The very fact of Mr. Slope's making an offer
to her would be a triumph to the archdeacon and, in a great measure,
a vindication of Mr. Arabin's conduct. The widow could not bring
herself to endure with patience the idea that she had been in the
wrong. She had defended Mr. Slope, she had declared herself quite
justified in admitting him among her acquaintance, had ridiculed the
idea of his considering himself as more than an acquaintance, and had
resented the archdeacon's caution in her behalf: now it was about to
be proved to her in a manner sufficiently disagreeable that the
archdeacon had been right and she herself had been entirely wrong.
"I don't know what you can have to say to me, Mr. Slope, that you
could not have said when we were sitting at table just now;" and she
closed her lips, and steadied her eyeballs, and looked at him in a
manner that ought to have frozen him.
But gentlemen are not easily frozen when they are full of champagne,
and it would not at any time have been easy to freeze Mr. Slope.
"There are things, Mrs. Bold, which a man cannot well say before a
crowd; which perhaps he cannot well say at any time; which indeed he
may most fervently desire to get spoken and which he may yet find it
almost impossible to utter. It is such things as these that I now
wish to say to you;" and then the tender-pious look was repeated,
with a little more emphasis even than before.
Eleanor had not found it practicable to stand stock still before the
dining-room window, there receive his offer in full view of Miss
Thorne's guests. She had therefore in self-defence walked on, and
thus Mr. Slope had gained his object of walking with her. He now
offered her his arm.
"Thank you, Mr. Slope, I am much obliged to you, but for the very
short time that I shall remain with you I shall prefer walking
"And must it be so short?" said he. "Must it be--"
"Yes," said Eleanor, interrupting him, "as short as possible, if you
"I had hoped, Mrs. Bold--I had hoped--"
"Pray hope nothing, Mr. Slope, as far as I am concerned; pray do not;
I do not know and need not know what hope you mean. Our acquaintance
is very slight, and will probably remain so. Pray, pray let that be
enough; there is at any rate no necessity for us to quarrel."
Mrs. Bold was certainly treating Mr. Slope rather cavalierly, and he
felt it so. She was rejecting him before he had offered himself, and
informing him at the same time that he was taking a great deal too
much on himself to be so familiar. She did not even make an attempt
From such a sharp and waspish word as "no"
To pluck the sting.
He was still determined to be very tender and very pious, seeing
that, in spite of all Mrs. Bold had said to him, he had not yet
abandoned hope; but he was inclined also to be somewhat angry. The
widow was bearing herself, as he thought, with too high a hand, was
speaking of herself in much too imperious a tone. She had clearly no
idea that an honour was being conferred on her. Mr. Slope would be
tender as long as he could, but he began to think if that failed it
would not be amiss if he also mounted himself for awhile on his high
horse. Mr. Slope could undoubtedly be very tender, but he could be
very savage also, and he knew his own abilities.
"That is cruel," said he, "and unchristian, too. The worst of us are
still bidden to hope. What have I done that you should pass on me so
severe a sentence?" And then he paused a moment, during which the
widow walked steadily on with measured steps, saying nothing further.
"Beautiful woman," at last he burst forth, "beautiful woman, you
cannot pretend to be ignorant that I adore you. Yes, Eleanor, yes, I
love you. I love you with the truest affection which man can bear to
woman. Next to my hopes of heaven are my hopes of possessing you."
(Mr. Slope's memory here played him false, or he would not have
omitted the deanery.) "How sweet to walk to heaven with you by my
side, with you for my guide, mutual guides. Say, Eleanor, dearest
Eleanor, shall we walk that sweet path together?"
Eleanor had no intention of ever walking together with Mr. Slope on
any other path than that special one of Miss Thorne's which they now
occupied, but as she had been unable to prevent the expression of Mr.
Slope's wishes and aspirations she resolved to hear him out to the
end before she answered him.
"Ah, Eleanor," he continued, and it seemed to be his idea that as he
had once found courage to pronounce her Christian name, he could not
utter it often enough. "Ah, Eleanor, will it not be sweet, with the
Lord's assistance, to travel hand in hand through this mortal valley
which His mercies will make pleasant to us, till hereafter we shall
dwell together at the foot of His throne?" And then a more tenderly
pious glance than ever beamed from the lover's eyes. "Ah, Eleanor--"
"My name, Mr. Slope, is Mrs. Bold," said Eleanor, who, though
determined to hear out the tale of his love, was too much disgusted
by his blasphemy to be able to bear much more of it.
"Sweetest angel, be not so cold," said he, and as he said it the
champagne broke forth, and he contrived to pass his arm round her
waist. He did this with considerable cleverness, for up to this
point Eleanor had contrived with tolerable success to keep her
distance from him. They had got into a walk nearly enveloped by
shrubs, and Mr. Slope therefore no doubt considered that as they were
now alone it was fitting that he should give her some outward
demonstration of that affection of which he talked so much. It may
perhaps be presumed that the same stamp of measures had been found to
succeed with Olivia Proudie. Be this as it may, it was not
successful with Eleanor Bold.
She sprang from him as she would have jumped from an adder, but she
did not spring far--not, indeed, beyond arm's length--and then, quick
as thought, she raised her little hand and dealt him a box on the ear
with such right goodwill that it sounded among the trees like a
And now it is to be feared that every well-bred reader of these pages
will lay down the book with disgust, feeling that, after all, the
heroine is unworthy of sympathy. She is a hoyden, one will say. At
any rate she is not a lady, another will exclaim. I have suspected
her all through, a third will declare; she has no idea of the dignity
of a matron, or of the peculiar propriety which her position demands.
At one moment she is romping with young Stanhope; then she is making
eyes at Mr. Arabin; anon she comes to fisticuffs with a third lover--
and all before she is yet a widow of two years' standing.
She cannot altogether be defended, and yet it may be averred that she
is not a hoyden, not given to romping nor prone to boxing. It were
to be wished devoutly that she had not struck Mr. Slope in the face.
In doing so she derogated from her dignity and committed herself.
Had she been educated in Belgravia, had she been brought up by any
sterner mentor than that fond father, had she lived longer under the
rule of a husband, she might, perhaps, have saved herself from this
great fault. As it was, the provocation was too much for her, the
temptation to instant resentment of the insult too strong. She was
too keen in the feeling of independence, a feeling dangerous for a
young woman, but one in which her position peculiarly tempted her to
indulge. And then Mr. Slope's face, tinted with a deeper dye than
usual by the wine he had drunk, simpering and puckering itself with
pseudo-pity and tender grimaces, seemed specially to call for such
punishment. She had, too, a true instinct as to the man; he was
capable of rebuke in this way and in no other. To him the blow from
her little hand was as much an insult as a blow from a man would have
been to another. It went directly to his pride. He conceived
himself lowered in his dignity and personally outraged. He could
almost have struck at her again in his rage. Even the pain was a
great annoyance to him, and the feeling that his clerical character
had been wholly disregarded sorely vexed him.
There are such men: men who can endure no taint on their personal
self-respect, even from a woman; men whose bodies are to themselves
such sacred temples that a joke against them is desecration, and a
rough touch downright sacrilege. Mr. Slope was such a man, and
therefore the slap on the face that he got from Eleanor was, as far
as he was concerned, the fittest rebuke which could have been
administered to him.
But nevertheless, she should not have raised her hand against the
man. Ladies' hands, so soft, so sweet, so delicious to the touch, so
graceful to the eye, so gracious in their gentle doings, were not
made to belabour men's faces. The moment the deed was done Eleanor
felt that she had sinned against all propriety, and would have given
little worlds to recall the blow. In her first agony of sorrow she
all but begged the man's pardon. Her next impulse, however, and the
one which she obeyed, was to run away.
"I never, never will speak another word to you," she said, gasping
with emotion and the loss of breath which her exertion and violent
feelings occasioned her, and so saying she put foot to the ground and
ran quickly back along the path to the house.
But how shall I sing the divine wrath of Mr. Slope, or how invoke the
tragic muse to describe the rage which swelled the celestial bosom of
the bishop's chaplain? Such an undertaking by no means befits the
low-heeled buskin of modern fiction. The painter put a veil over
Agamemnon's face when called on to depict the father's grief at the
early doom of his devoted daughter. The god, when he resolved to
punish the rebellious winds, abstained from mouthing empty threats.
We will not attempt to tell with what mighty surgings of the inner
heart Mr. Slope swore to revenge himself on the woman who had
disgraced him, nor will we vainly strive to depict his deep agony of
There he is, however, alone in the garden walk, and we must contrive
to bring him out of it. He was not willing to come forth quite at
once. His cheek was stinging with the weight of Eleanor's fingers,
and he fancied that everyone who looked at him would be able to see
on his face the traces of what he had endured. He stood awhile,
becoming redder and redder with rage. He stood motionless,
undecided, glaring with his eyes, thinking of the pains and penalties
of Hades, and meditating how he might best devote his enemy to the
infernal gods with all the passion of his accustomed eloquence. He
longed in his heart to be preaching at her. 'Twas thus that he was
ordinarily avenged of sinning mortal men and women. Could he at once
have ascended his Sunday rostrum and fulminated at her such
denunciations as his spirit delighted in, his bosom would have been
But how preach to Mr. Thorne's laurels, or how preach indeed at all
in such a vanity fair as this now going on at Ullathorne? And then
he began to feel a righteous disgust at the wickedness of the doings
around him. He had been justly chastised for lending, by his
presence, a sanction to such worldly lures. The gaiety of society,
the mirth of banquets, the laughter of the young, and the eating and
drinking of the elders were, for awhile, without excuse in his sight.
What had he now brought down upon himself by sojourning thus in the
tents of the heathen? He had consorted with idolaters round the
altars of Baal, and therefore a sore punishment had come upon him.
He then thought of the Signora Neroni, and his soul within him was
full of sorrow. He had an inkling--a true inkling--that he was a
wicked, sinful man, but it led him in no right direction; he could
admit no charity in his heart. He felt debasement coming on him, and
he longed to shake it off, to rise up in his stirrup, to mount to
high places and great power, that he might get up into a mighty
pulpit and preach to the world a loud sermon against Mrs. Bold.
There he stood fixed to the gravel for about ten minutes. Fortune
favoured him so far that no prying eyes came to look upon him in his
misery. Then a shudder passed over his whole frame; he collected
himself and slowly wound his way round to the lawn, advancing along
the path and not returning in the direction which Eleanor had taken.
When he reached the tent, he found the bishop standing there in
conversation with the Master of Lazarus. His lordship had come out
to air himself after the exertion of his speech.
"This is very pleasant--very pleasant, my lord, is it not?" said Mr.
Slope with his most gracious smile, pointing to the tent; "very
pleasant. It is delightful to see so many persons enjoying
themselves so thoroughly."
Mr. Slope thought he might force the bishop to introduce him to Dr.
Gwynne. A very great example had declared and practised the wisdom
of being everything to everybody, and Mr. Slope was desirous of
following it. His maxim was never to lose a chance. The bishop,
however, at the present moment was not very anxious to increase Mr.
Slope's circle of acquaintance among his clerical brethren. He had
his own reasons for dropping any marked allusion to his domestic
chaplain, and he therefore made his shoulder rather cold for the
"Very, very," said he without turning round, or even deigning to look
at Mr. Slope. "And therefore, Dr. Gwynne, I really think that you
will find that the hebdomadal board will exercise as wide and as
general an authority as at the present moment. I, for one, Dr.
"Dr. Gwynne," said Mr. Slope, raising his hat and resolving not to be
outwitted by such an insignificant little goose as the Bishop of
The Master of Lazarus also raised his hat and bowed very politely to
Mr. Slope. There is not a more courteous gentleman in the queen's
dominions than the Master of Lazarus.
"My lord," said Mr. Slope, "pray do me the honour of introducing me
to Dr. Gwynne. The opportunity is too much in my favour to be lost."
The bishop had no help for it. "My chaplain, Dr. Gwynne," said he,
"my present chaplain, Mr. Slope." He certainly made the introduction
as unsatisfactory to the chaplain as possible, and by the use of the
word present seemed to indicate that Mr. Slope might probably not
long enjoy the honour which he now held. But Mr. Slope cared nothing
for this. He understood the innuendo and disregarded it. It might
probably come to pass that he would be in a situation to resign his
chaplaincy before the bishop was in a situation to dismiss him from
it. What need the future Dean of Barchester care for the bishop, or
for the bishop's wife? Had not Mr. Slope, just as he was entering
Dr. Stanhope's carriage, received an all-important note from Tom
Towers of The Jupiter? Had he not that note this moment in his
So disregarding the bishop, he began to open out a conversation with
the Master of Lazarus.
But suddenly an interruption came, not altogether unwelcome to Mr.
Slope. One of the bishop's servants came up to his master's shoulder
with a long, grave face and whispered into the bishop's ear.
What is it, John?" said the bishop.
"The dean, my lord; he is dead."
Mr. Slope had no further desire to converse with the Master of
Lazarus, and was very soon on his road back to Barchester.
Eleanor, as we have said, having declared her intention of never
holding further communication with Mr. Slope, ran hurriedly back
towards the house. The thought, however, of what she had done
grieved her greatly, and she could not abstain from bursting into
tears. 'Twas thus she played the second act in that day's melodrama.
Mrs. Bold Confides Her Sorrow to Her Friend Miss Stanhope
When Mrs. Bold came to the end of the walk and faced the lawn, she
began to bethink herself what she should do. Was she to wait there
till Mr. Slope caught her, or was she to go in among the crowd with
tears in her eyes and passion in her face? She might in truth have
stood there long enough without any reasonable fear of further
immediate persecution from Mr. Slope, but we are all inclined to
magnify the bugbears which frighten us. In her present state of
dread she did not know of what atrocity he might venture to be
guilty. Had anyone told her a week ago that he would have put his
arm round her waist at this party of Miss Thorne's she would have
been utterly incredulous. Had she been informed that he would be
seen on the following Sunday walking down the High Street in a
scarlet coat and top boots, she would not have thought such a
phenomenon more improbable.
But this improbable iniquity he had committed, and now there was
nothing she could not believe of him. In the first place it was
quite manifest that he was tipsy; in the next place it was to be
taken as proved that all his religion was sheer hypocrisy; and
finally the man was utterly shameless. She therefore stood watching
for the sound of his footfall, not without some fear that he might
creep out at her suddenly from among the bushes.
As she thus stood she saw Charlotte Stanhope at a little distance
from her, walking quickly across the grass. Eleanor's handkerchief
was in her hand, and putting it to her face so as to conceal her
tears, she ran across the lawn and joined her friend.
"Oh, Charlotte," she said, almost too much out of breath to speak
very plainly; "I am so glad I have found you."
"Glad you have found me!" said Charlotte, laughing; "that's a good
joke. Why Bertie and I have been looking for you everywhere. He
swears that you have gone off with Mr. Slope and is now on the point
of hanging himself."
"Oh, Charlotte, don't," said Mrs. Bold.
"Why, my child, what on earth is the matter with you?" said Miss
Stanhope, perceiving that Eleanor's hand trembled on her own arm and
finding also that her companion was still half-choked by tears.
"Goodness heaven! Something has distressed you. What is it? What
can I do for you?"
Eleanor answered her only by a sort of spasmodic gurgle in her
throat. She was a good deal upset, as people say, and could not at
the moment collect herself.
"Come here, this way, Mrs. Bold; come this way, and we shall not be
seen. What has happened to vex you so? What can I do for you? Can
Bertie do anything?"
"Oh, no, no, no, no," said Eleanor. "There is nothing to be done.
Only that horrid man--"
"What horrid man?" asked Charlotte.
There are some moments in life in which both men and women feel
themselves imperatively called on to make a confidence, in which not
to do so requires a disagreeable resolution and also a disagreeable
suspicion. There are people of both sexes who never make
confidences, who are never tempted by momentary circumstances to
disclose their secrets, but such are generally dull, close,
unimpassioned spirits, "gloomy gnomes, who live in cold dark mines."
There was nothing of the gnome about Eleanor, and she therefore
resolved to tell Charlotte Stanhope the whole story about Mr. Slope.
"That horrid man; that Mr. Slope," said she. "Did you not see that
he followed me out of the dining-room?"
"Of course I did, and was sorry enough, but I could not help it.
I knew you would be annoyed. But you and Bertie managed it badly
"It was not his fault nor mine either. You know how I disliked the
idea of coming in the carriage with that man."
"I am sure I am very sorry if that has led to it."
"I don't know what has led to it," said Eleanor, almost crying again.
"But it has not been my fault."
"But what has he done, my dear?"
"He's an abominable, horrid, hypocritical man, and it would serve him
right to tell the bishop all about it."
"Believe me, if you want to do him an injury, you had far better tell
Mrs. Proudie. But what did he do, Mrs. Bold?"
"Ugh!" exclaimed Eleanor.
"Well, I must confess he's not very nice," said Charlotte Stanhope.
"Nice!" said Eleanor. "He is the most fulsome, fawning, abominable
man I ever saw. What business had he to come to me?--I that never
gave him the slightest tittle of encouragement--I that always hated
him, though I did take his part when others ran him down."
"That's just where it is, my dear. He has heard that and therefore
fancied that of course you were in love with him."
This was wormwood to Eleanor. It was in fact the very thing which
all her friends had been saying for the last month past--and which
experience now proved to be true. Eleanor resolved within herself
that she would never again take any man's part. The world, with all
its villainy and all its ill-nature, might wag as it liked: she would
not again attempt to set crooked things straight.
"But what did he do, my dear?" said Charlotte, who was really rather
interested in the subject.
"Well--come, it can't have been anything so very horrid, for the man
was not tipsy."
"Oh, I am sure he was" said Eleanor. "I am sure he must have been
"Well, I declare I didn't observe it. But what was it, my love?"
"Why, I believe I can hardly tell you. He talked such horrid stuff
that you never heard the like: about religion, and heaven, and love.
Oh, dear--he is such a nasty man."
"I can easily imagine the sort of stuff he would talk. Well--and
"And then--he took hold of me."
"Took hold of you?"
"Yes--he somehow got close to me and took hold of me--"
"By the waist?"
"Yes," said Eleanor shuddering.
"Then I jumped away from him, and gave him a slap on the face, and
ran away along the path till I saw you"
"Ha, ha, ha!" Charlotte Stanhope laughed heartily at the finale to
the tragedy. It was delightful to her to think that Mr. Slope had
had his ears boxed. She did not quite appreciate the feeling which
made her friend so unhappy at the result of the interview. To her
thinking the matter had ended happily enough as regarded the widow,
who indeed was entitled to some sort of triumph among her friends.
Whereas to Mr. Slope would be due all those gibes and jeers which
would naturally follow such an affair. His friends would ask him
whether his ears tingled whenever he saw a widow, and he would be
cautioned that beautiful things were made to be looked at and not to
Such were Charlotte Stanhope's views on such matters, but she did not
at the present moment clearly explain them to Mrs. Bold. Her object
was to endear herself to her friend, and therefore, having had her
laugh, she was ready enough to offer sympathy. Could Bertie do
anything? Should Bertie speak to the man and warn him that in future
he must behave with more decorum? Bertie indeed, she declared, would
be more angry than anyone else when he heard to what insult Mrs. Bold
had been subjected.
"But you won't tell him?" said Mrs. Bold with a look of horror.
"Not if you don't like it," said Charlotte; "but considering
everything, I would strongly advise it. If, you had a brother, you
know, it would be unnecessary. But it is very right that Mr. Slope
should know that you have somebody by you that will and can protect
"But my father is here."
"Yes, but it is so disagreeable for clergymen to have to quarrel with
each other; and circumstanced as your father is just at this moment,
it would be very inexpedient that there should be anything unpleasant
between him and Mr. Slope. Surely you and Bertie are intimate enough
for you to permit him to take your part."
Charlotte Stanhope was very anxious that her brother should at once
on that very day settle matters with his future wife. Things had now
come to that point between him and his father, and between him and
his creditors, that he must either do so, or leave Barchester; either
do that, or go back to his unwashed associates, dirty lodgings, and
poor living at Carrara. Unless he could provide himself with an
income, he must go to Carrara, or to ----. His father the prebendary
had not said this in so many words, but had he done so, he could not
have signified it more plainly.
Such being the state of the case it was very necessary that no more
time should be lost. Charlotte had seen her brother's apathy, when
he neglected to follow Mrs. Bold out of the room, with anger which
she could hardly suppress. It was grievous to think that Mr. Slope
should have so distanced him. Charlotte felt that she had played her
part with sufficient skill. She had brought them together and
induced such a degree of intimacy that her brother was really
relieved from all trouble and labour in the matter. And moreover it
was quite plain that Mrs. Bold was very fond of Bertie. And now it
was plain enough also that he had nothing to fear from his rival, Mr.
There was certainly an awkwardness in subjecting Mrs. Bold to a
second offer on the same day. It would have been well perhaps to
have put the matter off for a week, could a week have been spared.
But circumstances are frequently too peremptory to be arranged as we
would wish to arrange them, and such was the case now. This being
so, could not this affair of Mr. Slope's be turned to advantage?
Could it not be made the excuse for bringing Bertie and Mrs. Bold
into still closer connexion--into such close connexion that they
could not fail to throw themselves into each other's arms? Such was
the game which Miss Stanhope now at a moment's notice resolved to
And very well she played it. In the first place it was arranged that
Mr. Slope should not return in the Stanhopes' carriage to Barchester.
It so happened that Mr. Slope was already gone, but of that of course
they knew nothing. The signora should be induced to go first, with
only the servants and her sister, and Bertie should take Mr. Slope's
place in the second journey. Bertie was to be told in confidence of
the whole affair, and when the carriage was gone off with its first
load, Eleanor was to be left under Bertie's special protection, so as
to insure her from any further aggression from Mr. Slope. While the
carriage was getting ready, Bertie was to seek out that gentleman and
make him understand that he must provide himself with another
conveyance back to Barchester. Their immediate object should be to
walk about together in search of Bertie. Bertie in short was to be
the Pegasus on whose wings they were to ride out of their present
There was a warmth of friendship and cordial kindliness in all this
that was very soothing to the widow, but yet, though she gave way to
it, she was hardly reconciled to doing so. It never occurred to her
that, now that she had killed one dragon, another was about to spring
up in her path; she had no remote idea that she would have to
encounter another suitor in her proposed protector, but she hardly
liked the thought of putting herself so much into the hands of young
Stanhope. She felt that if she wanted protection, she should go to
her father. She felt that she should ask him to provide a carriage
for her back to Barchester. Mrs. Clantantram she knew would give her
a seat. She knew that she should not throw herself entirely upon
friends whose friendship dated, as it were, but from yesterday. But
yet she could not say no to one who was so sisterly in her kindness,
so eager in her good nature, so comfortably sympathetic as Charlotte
Stanhope. And thus she gave way to all the propositions made to her.
They first went into the dining-room, looking for their champion, and
from thence to the drawing-room. Here they found Mr. Arabin, still
hanging over the signora's sofa; or rather they found him sitting
near her head, as a physician might have sat had the lady been his
patient. There was no other person in the room. The guests were
some in the tent, some few still in the dining room, some at the bows
and arrows, but most of them walking with Miss Thorne through the
park and looking at the games that were going on.
All that had passed, and was passing between Mr. Arabin and the lady,
it is unnecessary to give in detail. She was doing with him as she
did with all others. It was her mission to make fools of men, and
she was pursuing her mission with Mr. Arabin. She had almost got him
to own his love for Mrs. Bold and had subsequently almost induced him
to acknowledge a passion for herself. He, poor man, was hardly aware
what he was doing or saying, hardly conscious whether was in heaven
or in hell. So little had he known of female attractions of that
peculiar class which the signora owned that he became affected with a
kind of temporary delirium when first subjected to its power. He
lost his head rather than this heart and toppled about mentally,
reeling in his ideas as a drunken man does on his legs. She had
whispered to him words that really meant nothing but which, coming
from such beautiful lips and accompanied by such lustrous glances,
seemed to have a mysterious significance, which he felt though he
could not understand.
In being thus besirened Mr. Arabin behaved himself very differently
from Mr. Slope. The signora had said truly that the two men were the
contrasts of each other--that the one was all for action, the other
all for thought. Mr. Slope, when this lady laid upon his senses the
overpowering breath of her charms, immediately attempted to obtain
some fruition, to achieve some mighty triumph. He began by catching
at her hand and progressed by kissing it. He made vows of love and
asked for vows in return. He promised everlasting devotion, knelt
before her, and swore that had she been on Mount Ida, Juno would have
had no cause to hate the offspring of Venus. But Mr. Arabin uttered
no oaths, kept his hand mostly in his trousers pocket, and had no
more thought of kissing Madame Neroni than of kissing the Countess De
As soon as Mr. Arabin saw Mrs. Bold enter the room he blushed and
rose from his chair; then he sat down again, and then again got up.
The signora saw the blush at once and smiled at the poor victim, but
Eleanor was too much confused to see anything.
"Oh, Madeline," said Charlotte, "I want to speak to you particularly;
we must arrange about the carriage, you know," and she stooped down
to whisper to her sister. Mr. Arabin immediately withdrew to a
little distance, and as Charlotte had in fact much to explain before
she could make the new carriage arrangement intelligible, he had
nothing to do but to talk to Mrs. Bold.
"We have had a very pleasant party," said he, using the tone he would
have used had he declared that the sun was shining very brightly, or
the rain falling very fast.
"Very," said Eleanor, who never in her life had passed a more
"I hope Mr. Harding has enjoyed himself."
"Oh, yes, very much," said Eleanor, who had not seen her father since
she parted from him soon after her arrival.
"He returns to Barchester to-night, I suppose."
"Yes, I believe so--that is, I think he is staying at Plumstead."
"Oh, staying at Plumstead," said Mr. Arabin.
"He came from there this morning. I believe he is going back, he
didn't exactly say, however."
"I hope Mrs. Grantly is quite well."
"She seemed to be quite well. She is here; that is, unless she has
"Oh, yes, to be sure. I was talking to her. Looking very well
indeed." Then there was a considerable pause; for Charlotte could
not at once make Madeline understand why she was to be sent home in a
hurry without her brother.
"Are you returning to Plumstead, Mrs. Bold?" Mr. Arabin merely asked
this by way of making conversation, but he immediately perceived that
he was approaching dangerous ground.
"No," said Mrs. Bold very quietly; "I am going home to Barchester."
"Oh, ah, yes. I had forgotten that you had returned." And then Mr.
Arabin, finding it impossible to say anything further, stood silent
till Charlotte had completed her plans, and Mrs. Bold stood equally
silent, intently occupied as it appeared in the arrangement of her
And yet these two people were thoroughly in love with each other, and
though one was a middle-aged clergyman, and the other a lady at any
rate past the wishy-washy bread-and-butter period of life, they were
as unable to tell their own minds to each other as any Damon and
Phillis, whose united ages would not make up that to which Mr. Arabin
had already attained.
Madeline Neroni consented to her sister's proposal, and then the two
ladies again went off in quest of Bertie Stanhope.
Ullathorne Sports--Act III
And now Miss Thorne's guests were beginning to take their departure,
and the amusement of those who remained was becoming slack. It was
getting dark, and ladies in morning costumes were thinking that, if
they were to appear by candlelight, they ought to readjust
themselves. Some young gentlemen had been heard to talk so loud that
prudent mammas determined to retire judiciously, and the more
discreet of the male sex, whose libations had been moderate, felt
that there was not much more left for them to do.
Morning parties, as a rule, are failures. People never know how to
get away from them gracefully. A picnic on an island or a mountain
or in a wood may perhaps be permitted. There is no master of the
mountain bound by courtesy to bid you stay while in his heart he is
longing for your departure. But in a private house or in private
grounds a morning party is a bore. One is called on to eat and drink
at unnatural hours. One is obliged to give up the day, which is
useful, and is then left without resource for the evening, which is
useless. One gets home fagged and désœuvré and yet at an hour too
early for bed. There is no comfortable resource left. Cards in
these genteel days are among the things tabooed, and a rubber of
whist is impracticable.
All this began now to be felt. Some young people had come with some
amount of hope that they might get up a dance in the evening, and
were unwilling to leave till all such hope was at an end. Others,
fearful of staying longer than was expected, had ordered their
carriages early, and were doing their best to go, solicitous for
their servants and horses. The countess and her noble brood were
among the first to leave, and as regarded the Hon. George, it was
certainly time that he did so. Her ladyship was in a great fret and
fume. Those horrid roads would, she was sure, be the death of her if
unhappily she were caught in them by the dark night. The lamps she
was assured were good, but no lamp could withstand the jolting of the
roads of East Barsetshire. The De Courcy property lay in the western
division of the county.
Mrs. Proudie could not stay when the countess was gone. So the
bishop was searched for by the Revs. Messrs. Grey and Green and found
in one corner of the tent enjoying himself thoroughly in a
disquisition on the hebdomadal board. He obeyed, however, the
behests of his lady without finishing the sentence in which he was
promising to Dr. Gwynne that his authority at Oxford should remain
unimpaired, and the episcopal horses turned their noses towards the
palatial stables. Then the Grantlys went. Before they did so Mr.
Harding managed to whisper a word into his daughter's ear. Of
course, he said, he would undeceive the Grantlys as to that foolish
rumour about Mr. Slope.
"No, no, no," said Eleanor; "pray do not--pray wait till I see you.
You will be home in a day or two, and then I will I explain to you
"I shall be home to-morrow," said he.
"I am so glad," said Eleanor. "You will come and dine with me, and
then we shall be so comfortable."
Mr. Harding promised. He did not exactly know what there was to be
explained, or why Dr. Grantly's mind should not be disabused of the
mistake into which he had fallen, but nevertheless he promised. He
owed some reparation to his daughter, and he thought that he might
best make it by obedience.
And thus the people were thinning off by degrees as Charlotte and
Eleanor walked about in quest of Bertie. Their search might have
been long had they not happened to hear his voice. He was
comfortably ensconced in the ha-ha, with his back to the sloping
side, smoking a cigar, and eagerly engaged in conversation with some
youngster from the further side of the county, whom he had never met
before, who was also smoking under Bertie's pupilage and listening
with open ears to an account given by his companion of some of the
pastimes of Eastern clime.
"Bertie, I am seeking you everywhere," said Charlotte. "Come up here
Bertie looked up out of the ha-ha and saw the two ladies before him.
As there was nothing for him but to obey, he got up and threw away
his cigar. From the first moment of his acquaintance with her he had
liked Eleanor Bold. Had he been left to his own devices, had she
been penniless, and had it then been quite out of the question that
he should marry her, he would most probably have fallen violently in
love with her. But now he could not help regarding her somewhat as
he did the marble workshops at Carrara, as he had done his easel and
palette, as he had done the lawyer's chambers in London--in fact, as
he had invariably regarded everything by which it had been proposed
to him to obtain the means of living. Eleanor Bold appeared before I
him, no longer as a beautiful woman, but as a new profession called
matrimony. It was a profession indeed requiring but little labour
and one in which an income was insured to him. But nevertheless he
had been as it were goaded on to it; his sister had talked to him of
Eleanor, just as she had talked of busts and portraits. Bertie did
not dislike money, but he hated the very thought of earning it. He
was now called away from his pleasant cigar to earn it, by offering
himself as a husband to Mrs. Bold. The work indeed was made easy
enough, for in lieu of his having to seek the widow, the widow had
apparently come to seek him.
He made some sudden absurd excuse to his auditor and then, throwing
away his cigar, climbed up the wall of the ha-ha and joined the
ladies on the lawn.
"Come and give Mrs. Bold an arm," said Charlotte, "while I set you on
a piece of duty which, as a preux chevalier, you must immediately
perform. Your personal danger will, I fear, be insignificant, as
your antagonist is a clergyman."
Bertie immediately gave his arm to Eleanor, walking between her and
his sister. He had lived too long abroad to fall into the
Englishman's habit of offering each an arm to two ladies at the same
time--a habit, by the by, which foreigners regard as an approach to
bigamy, or a sort of incipient Mormonism.
The little history of Mr. Slope's misconduct was then told to Bertie
by his sister, Eleanor's ears tingling the while. And well they
might tingle. If it were necessary to speak of the outrage at all,
why should it be spoken of to such a person as Mr. Stanhope, and why
in her own hearing? She knew she was wrong, and was unhappy and
dispirited, yet she could think of no way to extricate herself, no
way to set herself right. Charlotte spared her as much as she
possibly could, spoke of the whole thing as though Mr. Slope had
taken a glass of wine too much, said that of course there would be
nothing more about it but that steps must be taken to exclude Mr.
Slope from the carriage.
"Mrs. Bold need be under no alarm about that," said Bertie, "for Mr.
Slope has gone this hour past. He told me that business made it
necessary that he should start at once for Barchester."
"He is not so tipsy, at any rate, but what he knows his fault," said
Charlotte. "Well, my dear, that is one difficulty over. Now I'll
leave you with your true knight and get Madeline off as quickly as I
can. The carriage is here, I suppose, Bertie?"
"It has been here for the last hour."
"That's well. Good-bye, my dear. Of course you'll come in to tea.
I shall trust to you to bring her, Bertie, even by force if
necessary." And so saying, Charlotte ran off across the lawn,
leaving her brother alone with the widow.
As Miss Stanhope went off, Eleanor bethought herself that, as Mr.
Slope had taken his departure, there no longer existed any necessity
for separating Mr. Stanhope from his sister Madeline, who so much
needed his aid. It had been arranged that he should remain so as to
preoccupy Mr. Slope's place in the carriage and act as a social
policeman, to effect the exclusion of that disagreeable gentleman.
But Mr. Slope had effected his own exclusion, and there was no
possible reason now why Bertie should not go with his sister--at
least Eleanor saw none, and she said as much.
"Oh, let Charlotte have her own way," said he. "She has arranged it,
and there will be no end of confusion if we make another change.
Charlotte always arranges everything in our house and rules us like a
"But the signora?" said Eleanor.
"Oh, the signora can do very well without me. Indeed, she will have
to do without me," he added, thinking rather of his studies in
Carrara than of his Barchester hymeneals.
"Why, you are not going to leave us?" asked Eleanor.
It has been said that Bertie Stanhope was a man without principle.
He certainly was so. He had no power of using active mental exertion
to keep himself from doing evil. Evil had no ugliness in his eyes;
virtue no beauty. He was void of any of these feelings which actuate
men to do good. But he was perhaps equally void of those which
actuate men to do evil. He got into debt with utter recklessness,
thinking nothing as to whether the tradesmen would ever be paid or
not. But he did not invent active schemes of deceit for the sake of
extracting the goods of others. If a man gave him credit, that was
the man's look-out; Bertie Stanhope troubled himself nothing further.
In borrowing money he did the same; he gave people references to "his
governor;" told them that the "old chap" had a good income; and
agreed to pay sixty per cent for the accommodation. All this he did
without a scruple of conscience, but then he never contrived active
In this affair of his marriage it had been represented to him as a
matter of duty that he ought to put himself in possession of Mrs.
Bold's hand and fortune, and at first he had so regarded it. About
her he had thought but little. It was the customary thing for men
situated as he was to marry for money, and there was no reason why he
should not do what others around him did. And so he consented. But
now he began to see the matter in another light. He was setting
himself down to catch this woman, as a cat sits to catch a mouse. He
was to catch her, and swallow her up, her and her child, and her
houses and land, in order that he might live on her instead of on his
father. There was a cold, calculating, cautious cunning about this
quite at variance with Bertie's character. The prudence of the
measure was quite as antagonistic to his feelings as the iniquity.
And then, should he be successful, what would be the reward? Having
satisfied his creditors with half of the widow's fortune, he would be
allowed to sit down quietly at Barchester, keeping economical house
with the remainder. His duty would be to rock the cradle of the late
Mr. Bold's child, and his highest excitement a demure party at
Plumstead Rectory, should it ultimately turn out that the archdeacon
would be sufficiently reconciled to receive him.
There was very little in the programme to allure such a man as Bertie
Stanhope. Would not the Carrara workshop, or whatever worldly career
fortune might have in store for him, would not almost anything be
better than this? The lady herself was undoubtedly all that was
desirable, but the most desirable lady becomes nauseous when she has
to be taken as a pill. He was pledged to his sister, however, and
let him quarrel with whom he would, it behoved him not to quarrel
with her. If she were lost to him, all would be lost that he could
ever hope to derive henceforward from the paternal roof-tree. His
mother was apparently indifferent to his weal or woe, to his wants or
his warfare. His father's brow got blacker and blacker from day to
day, as the old man looked at his hopeless son. And as for
Madeline--poor Madeline, whom of all of them he liked the best--she
had enough to do to shift for herself. No; come what might, he must
cling to his sister and obey her behests, let them be ever so
stern--or at the very least seem to obey them. Could not some happy
deceit bring him through in this matter, so that he might save
appearances with his sister and yet not betray the widow to her ruin?
What if he made a confederate of Eleanor? 'Twas in this spirit that
Bertie Stanhope set about his wooing.
"But you are not going to leave Barchester?" asked Eleanor.
"I do not know," he replied; "I hardly know yet what I am going to
do. But it is at any rate certain that I must do something."
"You mean about your profession?" said she.
"Yes, about my profession, if you can call it one."
"And is it not one?" said Eleanor. "Were I a man, I know none I
should prefer to it, except painting. And I believe the one is as
much in your power as the other."
"Yes, just about equally so," said Bertie with a little touch of
inward satire directed at himself. He knew in his heart that he
would never make a penny by either.
"I have often wondered, Mr. Stanhope, why you do not exert yourself
more," said Eleanor, who felt a friendly fondness for the man with
whom she was walking. "But I know it is very impertinent in me to
"Impertinent!" said he. "Not so, but much too kind. It is much too
kind in you to take any interest in so idle a scamp."
"But you are not a scamp, though you are perhaps idle. And I do take
an interest in you, a very great interest," she added in a voice
which almost made him resolve to change his mind. "And when I call
you idle, I know you are only so for the present moment. Why can't
you settle steadily to work here in Barchester?"
"And make busts of the bishop, dean, and chapter? Or perhaps, if I
achieve a great success, obtain a commission to put up an elaborate
tombstone over a prebendary's widow, a dead lady with a Grecian nose,
a bandeau, and an intricate lace veil; lying of course on a marble
sofa from among the legs of which death will be creeping out and
poking at his victim with a small toasting-fork."
Eleanor laughed, but yet she thought that if the surviving prebendary
paid the bill, the object of the artist as a professional man would
in a great measure be obtained.
"I don't know about the dean and chapter and the prebendary's widow,"
said Eleanor. "Of course you must take them as they come. But the
fact of your having a great cathedral in which such ornaments are
required could not but be in your favour."
"No real artist could descend to the ornamentation of a cathedral,"
said Bertie, who had his ideas of the high ecstatic ambition of art,
as indeed all artists have who are not in receipt of a good income.
"Buildings should be fitted to grace the sculpture, not the sculpture
to grace the building."
"Yes, when the work of art is good enough to merit it. Do you, Mr.
Stanhope, do something sufficiently excellent and we ladies of
Barchester will erect for it a fitting receptacle. Come, what shall
the subject be?"
"I'll put you in your pony chair, Mrs. Bold, as Dannecker put Ariadne
on her lion. Only you must promise to sit for me."
"My ponies are too tame, I fear, and my broad-brimmed straw hat will
not look so well in marble as the lace veil of the prebendary's
'If you will not consent to that, Mrs. Bold, I will consent to try no
other subject in Barchester."
"You are determined then to push your fortune in other lands?"
"I am determined," said Bertie slowly and significantly, as he tried
to bring up his mind to a great resolve; "I am determined in this
matter to be guided wholly by you."
"Wholly by me?" said Eleanor, astonished at, and not quite liking,
his altered manner.
"Wholly by you," said Bertie, dropping his companion's arm and
standing before her on the path. In their walk they had come exactly
to the spot in which Eleanor had been provoked into slapping Mr.
Slope's face. Could it be possible that this place was peculiarly
unpropitious to her comfort? Could it be possible that she should
here have to encounter yet another amorous swain?
"If you will be guided by me, Mr. Stanhope, you will set yourself
down to steady and persevering work, and you will be ruled by your
father as to the place in which it will be most advisable for you to
"Nothing could be more prudent, if only it were practicable. But
now, if you will let me, I will tell you how it is that I will be
guided by you, and why. Will you let me tell you?"
"I really do not know what you can have to tell."
"No, you cannot know. It is impossible that you should. But we have
been very good friends, Mrs. Bold, have we not?"
"Yes, I think we have," said she, observing in his demeanour an
earnestness very unusual with him.
"You were kind enough to say just now that you took an interest in
me, and I was perhaps vain enough to believe you."
'There is no vanity in that; I do so as your sister's brother--and as
my own friend also."
"Well, I don't deserve that you should feel so kindly towards me,"
said Bertie, "but upon my word I am very grateful for it," and he
paused awhile, hardly knowing how to introduce the subject that he
had in hand.
And it was no wonder that he found it difficult. He had to make
known to his companion the scheme that had been prepared to rob her
of her wealth, he had to tell her that he had intended to marry her
without loving her, or else that he loved her without intending to
marry her; and he had also to bespeak from her not only his own
pardon, but also that of his sister, and induce Mrs. Bold to protest
in her future communion with Charlotte that an offer had been duly
made to her and duly rejected.
Bertie Stanhope was not prone to be very diffident of his own
conversational powers, but it did seem to him that he was about to
tax them almost too far. He hardly knew where to begin, and he
hardly knew where he should end.
By this time Eleanor was again walking on slowly by his side, not
taking his arm as she had heretofore done but listening very intently
for whatever Bertie might have to say to her.
"I wish to be guided by you," said he; "indeed, in this matter there
is no one else who can set me right."
"Oh, that must be nonsense," said she.
"Well, listen to me now, Mrs. Bold, and if you can help it, pray
don't be angry with me."
"Angry!" said she.
"Oh, indeed you will have cause to be so. You know how very much
attached to you my sister Charlotte is."
Eleanor acknowledged that she did.
"Indeed she is; I never knew her to love anyone so warmly on so short
an acquaintance. You know also how well she loves me?"
Eleanor now made no answer, but she felt the blood tingle in her
cheek as she gathered from what he said the probable result of this
double-barrelled love on the part of Miss Stanhope.
"I am her only brother, Mrs. Bold, and it is not to be wondered at
that she should love me. But you do not yet know Charlotte--you do
not know how entirely the well-being of our family hangs on her.
Without her to manage for us I do not know how we should get on from
day to day. You cannot yet have observed all this."
Eleanor had indeed observed a good deal of this; she did not,
however, now say so but allowed him to proceed with his story.
"You cannot therefore be surprised that Charlotte should be most
anxious to do the best for us all."
Eleanor said that she was not at all surprised.
"And she has had a very difficult game to play, Mrs. Bold--a very
difficult game. Poor Madeline's unfortunate marriage and terrible
accident, my mother's ill-health, my father's absence from England,
and last, and worse perhaps, my own roving, idle spirit have almost
been too much for her. You cannot wonder if among all her cares one
of the foremost is to see me settled in the world."
Eleanor on this occasion expressed no acquiescence. She certainly
supposed that a formal offer was to be made and could not but think
that so singular an exordium was never before made by a gentleman in
a similar position. Mr. Slope had annoyed her by the excess of his
ardour. It was quite clear that no such danger was to be feared from
Mr. Stanhope. Prudential motives alone actuated him. Not only was
he about to make love because his sister told him, but he also took
the precaution of explaining all this before he began. 'Twas thus,
we may presume, that the matter presented itself to Mrs. Bold.
When he had got so far, Bertie began poking the gravel with a little
cane which he carried. He still kept moving on, but very slowly, and
his companion moved slowly by his side, not inclined to assist him in
the task the performance of which appeared to be difficult to him.
"Knowing how fond she is of yourself, Mrs. Bold, cannot you imagine
what scheme should have occurred to her?"
"I can imagine no better scheme, Mr. Stanhope, than the one I
proposed to you just now."
"No," said he somewhat lackadaisically; "I suppose that would be the
best, but Charlotte thinks another plan might be joined with it. She
wants me to marry you."
A thousand remembrances flashed across Eleanor's mind all in a
moment--how Charlotte had talked about and praised her brother, how
she had continually contrived to throw the two of them together, how
she had encouraged all manner of little intimacies, how she had with
singular cordiality persisted in treating Eleanor as one of the
family. All this had been done to secure her comfortable income for
the benefit of one of the family!
Such a feeling as this is very bitter when it first impresses itself
on a young mind. To the old, such plots and plans, such matured
schemes for obtaining the goods of this world without the trouble of
earning them, such long-headed attempts to convert "tuum" into "meum"
are the ways of life to which they are accustomed. 'Tis thus that
many live, and it therefore behoves all those who are well-to-do in
the world to be on their guard against those who are not. With them
it is the success that disgusts, not the attempt. But Eleanor had
not yet learnt to look on her money as a source of danger; she had
not begun to regard herself as fair game to be hunted down by hungry
gentlemen. She had enjoyed the society of the Stanhopes, she had
greatly liked the cordiality of Charlotte, and had been happy in her
new friends. Now she saw the cause of all this kindness, and her
mind was opened to a new phase of human life.
"Miss Stanhope," said she haughtily, "has been contriving for me a
great deal of honour, but she might have saved herself the trouble.
I am not sufficiently ambitious."
"Pray don't be angry with her, Mrs. Bold," said he, "or with me
"Certainly not with you, Mr. Stanhope," said she with considerable
sarcasm in her tone. "Certainly not with you."
"No--nor with her," said he imploringly.
"And why, may I ask you, Mr. Stanhope, have you told me this singular
story? For I may presume I may judge by your manner of telling it
that--that--that you and your sister are not exactly of one mind on
"No, we are not."
"And if so," said Mrs. Bold, who was now really angry with the
unnecessary insult which she thought had been offered to her.
"And if so, why has it been worth your while to tell me all this?"
"I did once think, Mrs. Bold--that you--that you--"
The widow now again became entirely impassive, and would not lend the
slightest assistance to her companion.
"I did once think that you perhaps might--might have been taught to
regard me as more than a friend."
"Never!" said Mrs. Bold, "never. If I have ever allowed myself to do
anything to encourage such an idea, I have been very much to blame--
very much to blame indeed."
"You never have," said Bertie, who really had a good-natured anxiety
to make what he said as little unpleasant as possible. "You never
have, and I have seen for some time that I had no chance--but my
sister's hopes ran higher. I have not mistaken you, Mrs. Bold,
though perhaps she has."
"Then why have you said all this to me?"
"Because I must not anger her."
"And will not this anger her? Upon my word, Mr. Stanhope, I do not
understand the policy of your family. Oh, how I wish I was at home!"
And as she expressed the wish she could restrain herself no longer
and burst out into a flood of tears.
Poor Bertie was greatly moved. "You shall have the carriage to
yourself going home," said he; "at least you and my father. As for
me, I can walk, or for the matter of that it does not much signify
what I do." He perfectly understood that part of Eleanor's grief
arose from the apparent necessity of her going back to Barchester in
the carriage with her second suitor.
This somewhat mollified her. "Oh, Mr. Stanhope," said she, "why
should you have made me so miserable? What will you have gained by
telling me all this?"
He had not even yet explained to her the most difficult part of his
proposition; he had not told her that she was to be a party to the
little deception which he intended to play off upon his sister. This
suggestion had still to be made, and as it was absolutely necessary,
he proceeded to make it.
We need not follow him through the whole of his statement. At last,
and not without considerable difficulty, he made Eleanor understand
why he had let her into his confidence, seeing that he no longer
intended her the honour of a formal offer. At last he made her
comprehend the part which she was destined to play in this little
But when she did understand it, she was only more angry with him than
ever; more angry, not only with him, but with Charlotte also. Her
fair name was to be bandied about between them in different senses,
and each sense false. She was to be played off by the sister against
the father, and then by the brother against the sister. Her dear
friend Charlotte, with all her agreeable sympathy and affection, was
striving to sacrifice her for the Stanhope family welfare, and
Bertie, who, as he now proclaimed himself, was over head and ears in
debt, completed the compliment of owning that he did not care to have
his debts paid at so great a sacrifice of himself. Then she was
asked to conspire together with this unwilling suitor for the sake of
making the family believe that he had in obedience to their commands
done his best to throw himself thus away!
She lifted up her face when he had finished, and looking at him with
much dignity, even through her tears, she said:
"I regret to say it, Mr. Stanhope, but after what has passed I
believe that all intercourse between your family and myself had
"Well, perhaps it had," said Bertie naively; "perhaps that will be
better at any rate for a time; and then Charlotte will think you are
offended at what I have done."
"And now I will go back to the house, if you please," said Eleanor.
"I can find my way by myself, Mr. Stanhope: after what has passed,"
she added, "I would rather go alone."
"But I must find the carriage for you, Mrs. Bold; and I must tell my
father that you will return with him alone; and I must make some
excuse to him for not going with you; and I must bid the servant put
you down at your own house, for I suppose you will not now choose to
see them again in the close."
There was a truth about this, and a perspicuity in making
arrangements for lessening her immediate embarrassment, which had
some effect in softening Eleanor's anger. So she suffered herself to
walk by his side over the now deserted lawn, till they came to the
drawing-room window. There was something about Bertie Stanhope which
gave him, in the estimation of everyone, a different standing from
that which any other man would occupy under similar circumstances.
Angry as Eleanor was, and great as was her cause for anger, she was
not half as angry with him as she would have been with anyone else.
He was apparently so simple, so good-natured, so unaffected and easy
to talk to, that she had already half-forgiven him before he was at
the drawing-room window.
When they arrived there, Dr. Stanhope was sitting nearly alone with
Mr. and Miss Thorne; one or two other unfortunates were there, who
from one cause or another were still delayed in getting away, but
they were every moment getting fewer in number.
As soon as he had handed Eleanor over to his father, Bertie started
off to the front gate in search of the carriage, and there he waited
leaning patiently against the front wall, comfortably smoking a
cigar, till it came up. When he returned to the room, Dr. Stanhope
and Eleanor were alone with their hosts.
"At last, Miss Thorne," said he cheerily, "I have come to relieve
you. Mrs. Bold and my father are the last roses of the very
delightful summer you have given us, and desirable as Mrs. Bold's
society always is, now at least you must be glad to see the last
flowers plucked from the tree."
Miss Thorne declared that she was delighted to have Mrs. Bold and Dr.
Stanhope still with her, and Mr. Thorne would have said the same, had
he not been checked by a yawn, which he could not suppress.
"Father, will you give your arm to Mrs. Bold?" said Bertie: and so
the last adieux were made, and the prebendary led out Mrs. Bold,
followed by his son.
"I shall be home soon after you," said he as the two got into the
"Are you not coming in the carriage?" said the father.
"No, no; I have someone to see on the road, and shall walk. John,
mind you drive to Mrs. Bold's house first."
Eleanor, looking out of the window, saw him with his hat in his hand,
bowing to her with his usual gay smile, as though nothing had
happened to mar the tranquillity of the day. It was many a long year
before she saw him again. Dr. Stanhope hardly spoke to her on her
way home, and she was safely deposited by John at her own hall-door
before the carriage drove into the close.
And thus our heroine played the last act of that day's melodrama.
Mr. and Mrs. Quiverful Are Made Happy
Mr. Slope is Encouraged by the Press
Before she started for Ullathorne, Mrs. Proudie, careful soul, caused
two letters to be written, one by herself and one by her lord, to the
inhabitants of Puddingdale vicarage, which made happy the hearth of
those within it.
As soon as the departure of the horses left the bishop's stable-groom
free for other services, that humble denizen of the diocese started
on the bishop's own pony with the two dispatches. We have had so
many letters lately that we will spare ourselves these. That from
the bishop was simply a request that Mr. Quiverful would wait upon
his lordship the next morning at 11 A.M.; that from the lady was as
simply a request that Mrs. Quiverful would do the same by her, though
it was couched in somewhat longer and more grandiloquent phraseology.
It had become a point of conscience with Mrs. Proudie to urge the
settlement of this great hospital question. She was resolved that
Mr. Quiverful should have it. She was resolved that there should be
no more doubt or delay, no more refusals and resignations, no more
secret negotiations carried on by Mr. Slope on his own account in
opposition to her behests.
"Bishop," she said immediately after breakfast on the morning of that
eventful day, "have you signed the appointment yet?"
"No, my dear, not yet; it is not exactly signed as yet."
"Then do it," said the lady.
The bishop did it, and a very pleasant day indeed he spent at
Ullathorne. And when he got home, he had a glass of hot negus in his
wife's sitting-room and read the last number of the Little Dorrit of
the day with great inward satisfaction. Oh, husbands, oh, my marital
friends, what great comfort is there to be derived from a wife well
Much perturbation and flutter, high expectation and renewed hopes,
were occasioned at Puddingdale, by the receipt of these episcopal
dispatches. Mrs. Quiverful, whose careful ear caught the sound of
the pony's feet as he trotted up to the vicarage kitchen door,
brought them in hurriedly to her husband. She was at the moment
concocting the Irish stew destined to satisfy the noonday wants of
fourteen young birds, let alone the parent couple. She had taken the
letters from the man's hands between the folds of her capacious apron
so as to save them from the contamination of the stew, and in this
guise she brought them to her husband's desk.
They at once divided the spoil, each taking that addressed to the
other. "Quiverful," said she with impressive voice, "you are to be
at the palace at eleven to-morrow."
"And so are you, my dear," said he, almost gasping with the
importance of the tidings--and then they exchanged letters.
"She'd never have sent for me again," said the lady, "if it wasn't
"Oh, my dear, don't be too certain," said the gentleman, "Only think
if it should be wrong."
"She'd never have sent for me, Q., if it wasn't all right," again
argued the lady. "She's stiff and hard and proud as piecrust, but I
think she's right at bottom." Such was Mrs. Quiverful's verdict about
Mrs. Proudie, to which in after times she always adhered. People
when they get their income doubled usually think that those through
whose instrumentality this little ceremony is performed are right at
"Oh, Letty!" said Mr. Quiverful, rising from his well-worn seat.
"Oh, Q.!" said Mrs. Quiverful, and then the two, unmindful of the
kitchen apron, the greasy fingers, and the adherent Irish stew, threw
themselves warmly into each other's arms.
"For heaven's sake, don't let anyone cajole you out of it again,"
said the wife.
"Let me alone for that," said the husband with a look of almost
fierce determination, pressing his fist as he spoke rigidly on his
desk, as though he had Mr. Slope's head below his knuckles and meant
to keep it there.
"I wonder how soon it will be?" said she.
"I wonder whether it will be at all?" said he, still doubtful.
"Well, I won't say too much," said the lady. "The cup has slipped
twice before, and it may fall altogether this time, but I'll not
believe it. He'll give you the appointment to-morrow. You'll find
"Heaven send he may," said Mr. Quiverful solemnly. And who that
considers the weight of the burden on this man's back will say that
the prayer was an improper one? There were fourteen of them--
fourteen of them living--as Mrs. Quiverful had so powerfully urged in
the presence of the bishop's wife. As long as promotion cometh from
any human source, whether north or south, east or west, will not such
a claim as this hold good, in spite of all our examination tests,
detur digniori's, and optimist tendencies? It is fervently to be
hoped that it may. Till we can become divine, we must be content to
be human, lest in our hurry for a change we sink to something lower.
And then the pair, sitting down lovingly together, talked over all
their difficulties, as they so often did, and all their hopes as they
so seldom were enabled to do.
"You had better call on that man, Q., as you come away from the
palace," said Mrs. Quiverful, pointing to an angry call for money
from the Barchester draper, which the postman had left at the
vicarage that morning. Cormorant that he was, unjust, hungry
cormorant! When rumour first got abroad that the Quiverfuls were to
go to the hospital, this fellow with fawning eagerness had pressed
his goods upon the wants of the poor clergyman. He had done so,
feeling that he should be paid from the hospital funds, and
flattering himself that a man with fourteen children, and money
wherewithal to clothe them, could not but be an excellent customer.
As soon as the second rumour reached him, he applied for his money
And "the fourteen"--or such of them as were old enough to hope and
discuss their hopes--talked over their golden future. The tall grown
girls whispered to each other of possible Barchester parties, of
possible allowances for dress, of a possible piano--the one they had
in the vicarage was so weather-beaten with the storms of years and
children as to be no longer worthy of the name--of the pretty garden,
and the pretty house. 'Twas of such things it most behoved them to
And the younger fry, they did not content themselves with whispers,
but shouted to each other of their new playground beneath our dear
ex-warden's well-loved elms, of their future own gardens, of marbles
to be procured in the wished-for city, and of the rumour which had
reached them of a Barchester school.
'Twas in vain that their cautious mother tried to instil into their
breasts the very feeling she had striven to banish from that of their
father; 'twas in vain that she repeated to the girls that "there's
many a slip 'twixt the cup and the lip;" 'twas in vain she attempted
to make the children believe that they were to live at Puddingdale
all their lives. Hopes mounted high, and would not have themselves
quelled. The neighbouring farmers heard the news and came in to
congratulate them. 'Twas Mrs. Quiverful herself who had kindled the
fire, and in the first outbreak of her renewed expectations she did
it so thoroughly that it was quite past her power to put it out
Poor matron! Good, honest matron, doing thy duty in the state to
which thou hast been called, heartily if not contentedly; let the
fire burn on; on this occasion the flames will not scorch; they shall
warm thee and thine. 'Tis ordained that that husband of thine, that
Q. of thy bosom, shall reign supreme for years to come over the
bedesmen of Hiram's Hospital.
And the last in all Barchester to mar their hopes, had he heard and
seen all that passed at Puddingdale that day, would have been Mr.
Harding. What wants had he to set in opposition to those of such a
regiment of young ravens? There are fourteen of them living! With
him, at any rate, let us say that that argument would have been
sufficient for the appointment of Mr. Quiverful.
In the morning Q. and his wife kept their appointments with that
punctuality which bespeaks an expectant mind. The friendly farmer's
gig was borrowed, and in that they went, discussing many things by
the way. They had instructed the household to expect them back by
one, and injunctions were given to the eldest pledge to have ready by
that accustomed hour the remainder of the huge stew which the
provident mother had prepared on the previous day. The hands of the
kitchen clock came round to two, three, four, before the farmer's gig
wheels were again heard at the vicarage gate. With what palpitating
hearts were the returning wanderers greeted!
"I suppose, children, you all thought we were never coming back any
more?" said the mother as she slowly let down her solid foot till it
rested on the step of the gig. "Well, such a day as we've had!" and
then leaning heavily on a big boy's shoulder, she stepped once more
on terra firma.
There was no need for more than the tone of her voice to tell them
that all was right. The Irish stew might burn itself to cinders now.
Then there was such kissing and hugging, such crying and laughing.
Mr. Quiverful could not sit still at all but kept walking from room
to room, then out into the garden, then down the avenue into the
road, and then back again to his wife. She, however, lost no time so
"We must go to work at once, girls, and that in earnest. Mrs.
Proudie expects us to be in the hospital house on the 15th of
Had Mrs. Proudie expressed a wish that they should all be there on
the next morning, the girls would have had nothing to say against it.
"And when will the pay begin?" asked the eldest boy.
"To-day, my dear," said the gratified mother.
"Oh, that is jolly," said the boy.
"Mrs. Proudie insisted on our going down to the house," continued the
mother, "and when there, I thought I might save a journey by
measuring some of the rooms and windows; so I got a knot of tape from
Bobbins. Bobbins is as civil as you please, now."
"I wouldn't thank him," said Letty the younger.
"Oh, it's the way of the world, my dear. They all do just the same.
You might just as well be angry with the turkey cock for gobbling at
you. It's the bird's nature." And as she enunciated to her bairns
the upshot of her practical experience, she pulled from her pocket
the portions of tape which showed the length and breadth of the
various rooms at the hospital house.
And so we will leave her happy in her toils.
The Quiverfuls had hardly left the palace, and Mrs. Proudie was still
holding forth on the matter to her husband, when another visitor was
announced in the person of Dr. Gwynne. The Master of Lazarus had
asked for the bishop and not for Mrs. Proudie, and therefore when he
was shown into the study, he was surprised rather than rejoiced to
find the lady there.
But we must go back a little, and it shall be but a little, for a
difficulty begins to make itself manifest in the necessity of
disposing of all our friends in the small remainder of this one
volume. Oh, that Mr. Longman would allow me a fourth! It should
transcend the other three as the seventh heaven transcends all the
lower stages of celestial bliss.
Going home in the carriage that evening from Ullathorne, Dr. Gwynne
had not without difficulty brought round his friend the archdeacon to
a line of tactics much less bellicose than that which his own taste
would have preferred. "It will be unseemly in us to show ourselves
in a bad humour; moreover, we have no power in this matter, and it
will therefore be bad policy to act as though we had." 'Twas thus
the Master of Lazarus argued. "If," he continued, "the bishop be
determined to appoint another to the hospital, threats will not
prevent him, and threats should not be lightly used by an archdeacon
to his bishop. If he will place a stranger in the hospital, we can
only leave him to the indignation of others. It is probable that
such a step may not eventually injure your father-in-law. I will see
the bishop, if you will allow me--alone." At this the archdeacon
winced visibly. "Yes, alone; for so I shall be calmer; and then I
shall at any rate learn what he does mean to do in the matter."
The archdeacon puffed and blew, put up the carriage window and then
put it down again, argued the matter up to his own gate, and at last
gave way. Everybody was against him, his own wife, Mr. Harding, and
"Pray keep him out of hot water, Dr. Gwynne," Mrs. Grantly had said
to her guest.
"My dearest madam, I'll do my best," the courteous master had
replied. 'Twas thus he did it and earned for himself the gratitude
of Mrs. Grantly.
And now we may return to the bishop's study.
Dr. Gwynne had certainly not foreseen the difficulty which here
presented itself. He--together with all the clerical world of
England--had heard it rumoured about that Mrs. Proudie did not
confine herself to her wardrobes, still-rooms, and laundries, but yet
it had never occurred to him that if he called on a bishop at one
o'clock in the day, he could by any possibility find him closeted
with his wife; or that if he did so, the wife would remain longer
than necessary to make her curtsey. It appeared, however, as though
in the present case Mrs. Proudie had no idea of retreating.
The bishop had been very much pleased with Dr. Gwynne on the
preceding day, and of course thought that Dr. Gwynne had been as much
pleased with him. He attributed the visit solely to compliment and
thought it an extremely gracious and proper thing for the Master of
Lazarus to drive over from Plumstead specially to call at the palace
so soon after his arrival in the country. The fact that they were
not on the same side either in politics or doctrines made the
compliment the greater. The bishop, therefore, was all smiles. And
Mrs. Proudie, who liked people with good handles to their names, was
also very well disposed to welcome the Master of Lazarus.
"We had a charming party at Ullathorne, Master, had we not?" said
she. "I hope Mrs. Grantly got home without fatigue."
Dr. Gwynne said that they had all been a little tired, but were none
the worse this morning.
"An excellent person, Miss Thorne," suggested the bishop.
"And an exemplary Christian, I am told," said Mrs. Proudie.
Dr. Gwynne declared that he was very glad to hear it.
"I have not seen her Sabbath-day schools yet," continued the lady,
"but I shall make a point of doing so before long."
Dr. Gwynne merely bowed at this intimation. He had heard something
of Mrs. Proudie and her Sunday-schools, both from Dr. Grantly and
"By the by, Master," continued the lady, "I wonder whether Mrs.
Grantly would like me to drive over and inspect her Sabbath-day
school. I hear that it is most excellently kept."
Dr. Gwynne really could not say. He had no doubt Mrs. Grantly would
be most happy to see Mrs. Proudie any day Mrs. Proudie would do her
the honour of calling: that was, of course, if Mrs. Grantly should
happen to be at home.
A slight cloud darkened the lady's brow. She saw that her offer was
not taken in good part. This generation of unregenerated vipers was
still perverse, stiff-necked, and hardened in their iniquity. 'The
archdeacon, I know," said she, "sets his face against these
At this Dr. Gwynne laughed slightly. It was but a smile. Had he
given his cap for it he could not have helped it.
Mrs. Proudie frowned again. " 'Suffer little children, and forbid
them not,' " she said. "Are we not to remember that, Dr. Gwynne?
'Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones.' Are we not
to remember that, Dr. Gwynne?" And at each of these questions she
raised at him her menacing forefinger.
"Certainly, madam, certainly," said the master, "and so does the
archdeacon, I am sure, on weekdays as well as on Sundays."
"On weekdays you can't take heed not to despise them," said Mrs.
Proudie, "because then they are out in the fields. On weekdays they
belong to their parents, but on Sundays they ought to belong to the
clergyman." And the finger was again raised.
The master began to understand and to share the intense disgust which
the archdeacon always expressed when Mrs. Proudie's name was
mentioned. What was he to do with such a woman as this? To take his
hat and go would have been his natural resource, but then he did not
wish to be foiled in his object.
"My lord," said he, "I wanted to ask you a question on business, if
you could spare me one moment's leisure. I know I must apologize for
so disturbing you, but in truth I will not detain you five minutes."
"Certainly, Master, certainly," said the bishop; "my time is quite
yours--pray make no apology, pray make no apology."
"You have a great deal to do just at the present moment, Bishop. Do
not forget how extremely busy you are at present," said Mrs. Proudie,
whose spirit was now up, for she was angry with her visitor.
"I will not delay his lordship much above a minute," said the Master
of Lazarus, rising from his chair and expecting that Mrs. Proudie
would now go, or else that the bishop would lead the way into another
But neither event seemed likely to occur, and Dr. Gwynne stood for a
moment silent in the middle of the room.
"Perhaps it's about Hiram's Hospital?" suggested Mrs. Proudie.
Dr. Gwynne, lost in astonishment, and not knowing what else on earth
to do, confessed that his business with the bishop was connected with
"His lordship has finally conferred the appointment on Mr. Quiverful
this morning," said the lady.
Dr. Gwynne made a simple reference to the bishop, and finding that
the lady's statement was formally confirmed, he took his leave.
"That comes of the reform bill," he said to himself as he walked down
the bishop's avenue. "Well, at any rate the Greek play bishops were
not so bad as that."
It has been said that Mr. Slope, as he started for Ullathorne,
received a dispatch from his friend Mr. Towers, which had the effect
of putting him in that high good humour which subsequent events
somewhat untowardly damped. It ran as follows. Its shortness will
be its sufficient apology.
MY DEAR SIR,
I wish you every success. I don't know that I can help you, but if I
can, I will.
There was more in this than in all Sir Nicholas Fitzwhiggin's
flummery; more than in all the bishop's promises, even had they been
ever so sincere; more than in any archbishop's good word, even had it
been possible to obtain it. Tom Towers would do for him what he
Mr. Slope had from his youth upwards been a firm believer in the
public press. He had dabbled in it himself ever since he had taken
his degree, and he regarded it as the great arranger and distributor
of all future British terrestrial affairs whatever. He had not yet
arrived at the age, an age which sooner or later comes to most of us,
which dissipates the golden dreams of youth. He delighted in the
idea of wresting power from the hands of his country's magnates and
placing it in a custody which was at any rate nearer to his own
reach. Sixty thousand broadsheets dispersing themselves daily among
his reading fellow citizens formed in his eyes a better depot for
supremacy than a throne at Windsor, a cabinet in Downing Street, or
even an assembly at Westminster. And on this subject we must not
quarrel with Mr. Slope, for the feeling is too general to be met with
Tom Towers was as good, if not better, than his promise. On the
following morning The Jupiter, spouting forth public opinion with
sixty thousand loud clarions, did proclaim to the world that Mr.
Slope was the fitting man for the vacant post. It was pleasant for
Mr. Slope to read the following lines in the Barchester news-room,
which he did within thirty minutes after the morning train from
London had reached the city.
It is just now five years since we called the attention of our
readers to the quiet city of Barchester. From that day to this, we
have in no way meddled with the affairs of that happy ecclesiastical
community. Since then, an old bishop has died there and a young
bishop has been installed, but we believe we did not do more than
give some customary record of the interesting event. Nor are we now
about to meddle very deeply in the affairs of the diocese. If any of
the chapter feel a qualm of conscience on reading thus far, let it be
quieted. Above all, let the mind of the new bishop be at rest. We
are now not armed for war, but approach the reverend towers of the
old cathedral with an olive branch in our hands.
It will be remembered that at the time alluded to, now five years
past, we had occasion to remark on the state of a charity in
Barchester called Hiram's Hospital. We thought that it was
maladministered and that the very estimable and reverend gentleman
who held the office of warden was somewhat too highly paid for duties
which were somewhat too easily performed. This gentleman--and we say
it in all sincerity and with no touch of sarcasm--had never looked on
the matter in this light before. We do not wish to take praise to
ourselves whether praise be due to us or not. But the consequence of
our remark was that the warden did look into the matter, and finding
on so doing that he himself could come to no other opinion than that
expressed by us, he very creditably threw up the appointment. The
then bishop as creditably declined to fill the vacancy till the
affair was put on a better footing. Parliament then took it up, and
we have now the satisfaction of informing our readers that Hiram's
Hospital will be immediately reopened under new auspices.
Heretofore, provision was made for the maintenance of twelve old men.
This will now be extended to the fair sex, and twelve elderly women,
if any such can be found in Barchester, will be added to the
establishment. There will be a matron; there will, it is hoped, be
schools attached for the poorest of the children of the poor, and
there will be a steward. The warden, for there will still be a
warden, will receive an income more in keeping with the extent of the
charity than that heretofore paid. The stipend we believe will be
£450. We may add that the excellent house which the former warden
inhabited will still be attached to the situation.
Barchester Hospital cannot perhaps boast a world-wide reputation, but
as we adverted to its state of decadence, we think it right also to
advert to its renaissance. May it go on and prosper. Whether the
salutary reform which has been introduced within its walls has been
carried as far as could have been desired may be doubtful. The
important question of the school appears to be somewhat left to the
discretion of the new warden. This might have been made the most
important part of the establishment, and the new warden, whom we
trust we shall not offend by the freedom of our remarks, might have
been selected with some view to his fitness as schoolmaster. But we
will not now look a gift-horse in the mouth. May the hospital go on
and prosper! The situation of warden has of course been offered to
the gentleman who so honourably vacated it five years since, but we
are given to understand that he has declined it. Whether the ladies
who have been introduced be in his estimation too much for his powers
of control, whether it be that the diminished income does not offer
to him sufficient temptation to resume his old place, or that he has
in the meantime assumed other clerical duties, we do not know. We
are, however, informed that he has refused the offer and that the
situation has been accepted by Mr. Quiverful, the vicar of
So much we think is due to Hiram redivivus. But while we are on the
subject of Barchester, we will venture with all respectful humility
to express our opinion on another matter connected with the
ecclesiastical polity of that ancient city. Dr. Trefoil, the dean,
died yesterday. A short record of his death, giving his age and the
various pieces of preferment which he has at different times held,
will be found in another column of this paper. The only fault we
knew in him was his age, and as that is a crime of which we all hope
to be guilty, we will not bear heavily on it. May he rest in peace!
But though the great age of an expiring dean cannot be made matter of
reproach, we are not inclined to look on such a fault as at all
pardonable in a dean just brought to the birth. We do hope that the
days of sexagenarian appointments are past. If we want deans, we
must want them for some purpose. That purpose will necessarily be
better fulfilled by a man of forty than by a man of sixty. If we are
to pay deans at all, we are to pay them for some sort of work. That
work, be it what it may, will be best performed by a workman in the
prime of life. Dr. Trefoil, we see, was eighty when he died. As we
have as yet completed no plan for pensioning superannuated clergymen,
we do not wish to get rid of any existing deans of that age. But we
prefer having as few such as possible. If a man of seventy be now
appointed, we beg to point out to Lord ---- that he will be past all
use in a year or two, if indeed he be not so at the present moment.
His lordship will allow us to remind him that all men are not
evergreens like himself.
We hear that Mr. Slope's name has been mentioned for this preferment.
Mr. Slope is at present chaplain to the bishop. A better man could
hardly be selected. He is a man of talent, young, active, and
conversant with the affairs of the cathedral; he is moreover, we
conscientiously believe, a truly pious clergyman. We know that his
services in the city of Barchester have been highly appreciated. He
is an eloquent preacher and a ripe scholar. Such a selection as this
would go far to raise the confidence of the public in the present
administration of church patronage and would teach men to believe
that from henceforth the establishment of our church will not afford
easy couches to worn-out clerical voluptuaries.
Standing at a reading-desk in the Barchester news-room, Mr. Slope
digested this article with considerable satisfaction. What was
therein said as to the hospital was now comparatively a matter of
indifference to him. He was certainly glad that he had not succeeded
in restoring to the place the father of that virago who had so
audaciously outraged all decency in his person, and was so far
satisfied. But Mrs. Proudie's nominee was appointed, and he was so
far dissatisfied. His mind, however, was now soaring above Mrs. Bold
or Mrs. Proudie. He was sufficiently conversant with the tactics of
The Jupiter to know that the pith of the article would lie in the
last paragraph. The place of honour was given to him, and it was
indeed as honourable as even he could have wished. He was very
grateful to his friend Mr. Towers and with full heart looked forward
to the day when he might entertain him in princely style at his own
full-spread board in the deanery dining-room.
It had been well for Mr. Slope that Dr. Trefoil had died in the
autumn. Those caterers for our morning repast, the staff of The
Jupiter, had been sorely put to it for the last month to find a
sufficiency of proper pabulum. Just then there was no talk of a new
American president. No wonderful tragedies had occurred on railway
trains in Georgia, or elsewhere. There was a dearth of broken banks,
and a dead dean with the necessity for a live one was a godsend. Had
Dr. Trefoil died in June, Mr. Towers would probably not have known so
much about the piety of Mr. Slope.
And here we will leave Mr. Slope for awhile in his triumph,
explaining, however, that his feelings were not altogether of a
triumphant nature. His rejection by the widow, or rather the method
of his rejection, galled him terribly. For days to come he
positively felt the sting upon his cheek whenever he thought of what
had been done to him. He could not refrain from calling her by harsh
names, speaking to himself as he walked through the streets of
Barchester. When he said his prayers, he could not bring himself to
forgive her. When he strove to do so, his mind recoiled from the
attempt and in lieu of forgiving ran off in a double spirit of
vindictiveness, dwelling on the extent of the injury he had received.
And so his prayers dropped senseless from his lips.
And then the signora--what would he not have given to be able to hate
her also? As it was, he worshipped the very sofa on which she was
And thus it was not all rose colour with Mr. Slope, although his
hopes ran high.
Mrs. Bold at Home
Poor Mrs. Bold, when she got home from Ullathorne on the evening of
Miss Thorne's party, was very unhappy and, moreover, very tired.
Nothing fatigues the body so much as weariness of spirit, and
Eleanor's spirit was indeed weary.
Dr. Stanhope had civilly but not very cordially asked her in to tea,
and her manner of refusal convinced the worthy doctor that he need
not repeat the invitation. He had not exactly made himself a party
to the intrigue which was to convert the late Mr. Bold's patrimony
into an income for his hopeful son, but he had been well aware what
was going on. And he was well aware also, when he perceived that
Bertie declined accompanying them home in the carriage, that the
affair had gone off.
Eleanor was very much afraid that Charlotte would have darted out
upon her, as the prebendary got out at his own door, but Bertie had
thoughtfully saved her from this by causing the carriage to go round
by her own house. This also Dr. Stanhope understood and allowed to
pass by without remark.
When she got home, she found Mary Bold in the drawing-room with the
child in her lap. She rushed forward and, throwing herself on her
knees, kissed the little fellow till she almost frightened him.
"Oh, Mary, I am so glad you did not go. It was an odious party."
Now the question of Mary's going had been one greatly mooted between
them. Mrs. Bold, when invited, had been the guest of the Grantlys,
and Miss Thorne, who had chiefly known Eleanor at the hospital or at
Plumstead Rectory, had forgotten all about Mary Bold. Her sister-in-
law had implored her to go under her wing and had offered to write to
Miss Thorne, or to call on her. But Miss Bold had declined. In
fact, Mr. Bold had not been very popular with such people as the
Thornes, and his sister would not go among them unless she were
specially asked to do so.
"Well, then," said Mary cheerfully, "I have the less to regret."
"You have nothing to regret; but oh! Mary, I have--so much--so much;"
and then she began kissing her boy, whom her caresses had roused from
his slumbers. When she raised her head, Mary saw that the tears were
running down her cheeks.
"Good heavens, Eleanor, what is the matter? What has happened to
you--Eleanor--dearest Eleanor--what is the matter?" and Mary got up
with the boy still in her arms.
"Give him to me--give him to me," said the young mother. "Give him
to me, Mary," and she almost tore the child out of her sister's arms.
The poor little fellow murmured somewhat at the disturbance but
nevertheless nestled himself close into his mother's bosom.
"Here, Mary, take the cloak from me. My own own darling, darling,
darling jewel. You are not false to me. Everybody else is false;
everybody else is cruel. Mamma will care for nobody, nobody, nobody,
but her own, own, own little man;" and she again kissed and pressed
the baby and cried till the tears ran down over the child's face.
"Who has been cruel to you, Eleanor?" said Mary. "I hope I have
Now in this matter Eleanor had great cause for mental uneasiness.
She could not certainly accuse her loving sister-in-law of cruelty,
but she had to do that which was more galling: she had to accuse
herself of imprudence against, which her sister-in-law had warned
her. Miss Bold had never encouraged Eleanor's acquaintance with Mr.
Slope, and she had positively discouraged the friendship of the
Stanhopes, as far as her usual gentle mode of speaking had permitted.
Eleanor had only laughed at her, however, when she said that she
disapproved of married women who lived apart from their husbands and
suggested that Charlotte Stanhope never went to church. Now,
however, Eleanor must either hold her tongue, which was quite
impossible, or confess herself to have been utterly wrong, which was
nearly equally so. So she staved off the evil day by more tears and
consoled herself by inducing little Johnny to rouse himself
sufficiently to return her caresses.
"He is a darling--as true as gold. What would mamma do without him?
Mamma would lie down and die if she had not her own Johnny Bold to
give her comfort." This and much more she said of the same kind and
for a time made no other answer to Mary's inquiries.
This kind of consolation from the world's deceit is very common.
Mothers obtain it from their children, and men from their dogs. Some
men even do so from their walking-sticks, which is just as rational.
How is it that we can take joy to ourselves in that we are not
deceived by those who have not attained the art to deceive us? In a
true man, if such can be found, or a true woman, much consolation may
indeed be taken.
In the caresses of her child, however, Eleanor did receive
consolation, and may ill befall the man who would begrudge it to her.
The evil day, however, was only postponed. She had to tell her
disagreeable tale to Mary, and she had also to tell it to her father.
Must it not, indeed, be told to the whole circle of her acquaintance
before she could be made to stand all right with them? At the
present moment there was no one to whom she could turn for comfort.
She hated Mr. Slope; that was a matter of course; in that feeling she
revelled. She hated and despised the Stanhopes; but that feeling
distressed her greatly. She had, as it were, separated herself from
her old friends to throw herself into the arms of this family; and
then how had they intended to use her? She could hardly reconcile
herself to her own father, who had believed ill of her. Mary Bold
had turned Mentor. That she could have forgiven had the Mentor
turned out to be in the wrong, but Mentors in the right are not to be
pardoned. She could not but hate the archdeacon, and now she hated
him worse than ever, for she must in some sort humble herself before
him. She hated her sister, for she was part and parcel of the
archdeacon. And she would have hated Mr. Arabin if she could. He
had pretended to regard her, and yet before her face he had hung over
that Italian woman as though there had been no beauty in the world
but hers--no other woman worth a moment's attention. And Mr. Arabin
would have to learn all this about Mr. Slope! She told herself that
she hated him, and she knew that she was lying to herself as she did
so. She had no consolation but her baby, and of that she made the
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