Infomotions, Inc.Barchester Towers / Trollope, Anthony, 1815-1882



Author: Trollope, Anthony, 1815-1882
Title: Barchester Towers
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): arabin; proudie; barchester; eleanor; archdeacon; slope; bishop; thorne; miss thorne
Contributor(s): Sutro, Alfred, 1863-1933 [Translator]
Versions: original; local mirror; HTML (this file); printable
Services: find in a library; evaluate using concordance
Rights: GNU General Public License
Size: 195,576 words (longer than most) Grade range: 9-12 (high school) Readability score: 64 (easy)
Identifier: etext2432
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Barchester Towers

by Anthony Trollope

December, 2000  [Etext #2432]


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BARCHESTER TOWERS

TABLE OF CONTENTS

I       Who will be the new Bishop?
II      Hiram's Hospital, according to Act of Parliament
III     Dr and Mrs Proudie
IV      The Bishop's Chaplain
V       A Morning Visit
VI      War
VII     The Dean and Chapter take Counsel
VIII    The Ex-Warden rejoices at his probable Return to the Hospital
IX      The Stanhope Family
X       Mrs Proudie's Reception--Commenced
XI      Mrs Proudie's Reception--Concluded
XII     Slope versus Harding
XIII    The Rubbish Cart
XIV     The New Champion
XV      The Widow's Suitors
XVI     Baby Worship
XVII    Who shall be Cock of the Walk?
XVIII   The Widow's Persecution
XIX     Barchester by Moonlight
XX      Mr Arabin
XXI     St Ewold's Parsonage
XXII    The Thornes of Ullathorne
XXIII   Mr Arabin reads himself in at St Ewold's
XXIV    Mr Slope manages matters very well at Puddingdale
XXV     Fourteen Arguments in favour of Mr Quiverful's Claims
XXVI    Mrs Proudie wrestles and gets a Fall
XXVII   A Love Scene
XXVIII  Mrs Bold is entertained by Dr and Mrs Grantly at Plumstead
XXIX    A serious Interview
XXX     Another Love Scene
XXXI    The Bishop's Library
XXXII   A New Candidate for Ecclesiastical Honours
XXXIII  Mrs Proudie Victrix
XXXIV   Oxford--The Master and Tutor of Lazarus
XXXV    Miss Thorne's Fete Champetre
XXXVI   Ullathorne Sports--Act I
XXXVII  The Signora Neroni, the Countess De Courcy, and
        Mrs Proudie meet each other at Ullathorne
XXXVIII The Bishop sits down to Breakfast and the Dean dies
XXXIX   The Lookalofts and the Greenacres
XL      Ullathorne Sports--Act II
XLI     Mrs Bold confides her Sorrow to her Friend Miss Stanhope
XLII    Ullathorne Sports--Act III
XLIII   Mrs and Mrs Quiverful are made happy.
        Mr Slope is encouraged by the Press
XLIV    Mrs Bold at Home
XLV     The Stanhopes at Home
XLVI    Mr Slope's parting Interview with the Signora

XLVII   The Dean Elect
XLVIII  Miss Thorne shows her Talent at Match-making
XLIX    The Belzebub Colt
L       The Archdeacon is satisfied with the State of Affairs
LI      Mr Slope's Farewell to the Palace and its Inhabitants
LII     The new Dean takes Possession of the Deanery,
        and the New Warden of the Hospital
LIII    Conclusion




CHAPTER I

WHO WILL BE THE NEW BISHOP?

In the latter days of July in the year 185-, a most important
question was for ten days hourly asked in the cathedral city of
Barchester, and answered every hour in various ways--Who was to be
the new Bishop?

The death of old Dr Grantly, who had for many years filled the
chair with meek authority, took place exactly as the ministry of
Lord - was going to give place to that Lord -. The illness of the
good old man was long and lingering, and it became at last a matter
of intense interest to those concerned whether the new appointment
should be made by a conservative or liberal government.

Bishop Grantly died as he had lived, peaceably, slowly, without
pain and without excitement. The breath ebbed from him almost
imperceptibly, and for a month before his death, it was a question
whether he was alive or dead.

A trying time was this for the archdeacon, for whom was designed
the reversion of his father's see by those who then had the giving
away of episcopal thrones. I would not be understood to say that
the prime minister had in so many words promised the bishopric to
Dr Grantly. He was too discreet a man for that. There is a proverb
with reference to the killing of cats, and those who know anything
either of high or low government places, will be well aware that a
promise may be made without positive words, and that an expectant
may be put into the highest state of encouragement, though the
great man on whose breath he hangs may have done no more than
whisper that 'Mr So-and-so is certainly a rising man.'

Such a whisper had been made, and was known by those who heard it
to signify that the cures of the diocese of Barchester should not
be taken out of the hands of the archdeacon. The then prime
minister was all in all at Oxford, and had lately passed a night at
the house of the master of Lazarus. Now the master of
Lazarus--which is, by the bye, in many respects the most
comfortable, as well as the richest college at Oxford,--was the
archdeacon's most intimate friend and most trusted counsellor. On
the occasion of the prime minister's visit, Dr Grantly was of
course present, and the meeting was very gracious. On the following
morning Dr Gwynne, the master, told the archdeacon that in his
opinion the matter was settled.

At this time the bishop was quite on his last legs; but the
ministry was also tottering. Dr Grantly returned from Oxford happy
and elated, to resume his place in the palace, and to continue to
perform for the father the last duties of a son; which, to give him
his due, he performed with more tender care than was to be expected
from his usual somewhat worldly manners.

A month since the physicians had named four weeks as the outside
period during which breath could be supported within the body of
the dying man. At the end of the month the physicians wondered, and
named another fortnight. The old man lived on wine alone, but at
the end of the fortnight he still lived; and the tidings of the
fall of the ministry became more frequent. Sir Lamda Mewnew and Sir
Omicron Pie, the two great London doctors, now came down for the
fifth time, and declared, shaking their learned heads, that another
week of life was impossible; and as they sat down to lunch in the
episcopal dining-room, whispered to the archdeacon their own
private knowledge that the ministry must fall within five days. The
son returned to his father's room, and after administering with his
own hands the sustaining modicum of madeira, sat down by the
bedside to calculate his chances.

The ministry were to be out within five days: his father was to be
dead within--No, he rejected that view of the subject. The ministry
were to be out, and the diocese might probably be vacant at the
same period. There was much doubt as to the names of the men who
were to succeed to power, and a week must elapse before a Cabinet
was formed. Would not vacancies be filled by the out-going men
during that week? Dr Grantly had a kind of idea that such would be
the case, but did not know; and then he wondered at his own
ignorance of such a question.

He tried to keep his mind away from the subject, but he could not.
The race was so very close, and the stakes were so very high. He
then looked at the dying man's impassive, placid face. There was no
sign there of death or disease; it was something thinner than of
yore, somewhat grayer, and the deep lines of age more marked; but,
as far as he could judge, life might yet hang there for weeks to
come. Sir Lamda Mewnew and Sir Omicron Pie had thrice been wrong,
and might yet be wrong thrice again. The old bishop slept during
twenty of the twenty-four hours, but during the short periods of
his waking moments, he knew both his son and his dear friend Mr
Harding, the archdeacon's father-in-law, and would thank them
tenderly for their care and love. Now he lay sleeping like a baby,
resting easily on his back, his mouth just open, and his few gray
hairs straggling from beneath his cap; his breath was perfectly
noiseless, and his thin, wan hand, which lay above the coverlid,
never moved. Nothing could be easier than the old man's passage
from this world to the next.

But by no means easy were the emotions of him who sat there
watching. He knew it must be now or never. He was already over
fifty, and there was little chance that his friends who were now
leaving office would soon return to it. No probable British prime
minister but he who was now in, he who was so soon to be out, would
think of making a bishop of Dr Grantly. Thus he thought long and
sadly, in deep silence, and then gazed at that still living face,
and then at last dared to ask himself whether he really longed for
his father's death.

The effort was a salutary one, and the question was answered in a
moment. The proud, wishful, worldly man, sank on his knees by the
bedside, and taking the bishop's hand within his own, prayed
eagerly that his sins might be forgiven him.

His face was still buried in the clothes when the door of the
bed-room opened noiselessly, and Mr Harding entered with a velvet
step. Mr Harding's attendance at that bedside had been nearly as
constant as that of the archdeacon, and his ingress and egress was
as much a matter of course as that of his son-in-law. He was
standing close beside the archdeacon before he was perceived, and
would have also knelt in prayer had he not feared that his doing so
might have caused some sudden start, and have disturbed the dying
man. Dr Grantly, however, instantly perceived him, and rose from
his knees. As he did so Mr Harding took both his hands, and pressed
them warmly. There was more fellowship between them at that moment
than there had ever been before, and it so happened that after
circumstances greatly preserved the feeling. As they stood there
pressing each other's hands, the tears rolled freely down their
cheeks.

'God bless you, my dears,'--said the bishop with feeble voice as he
woke--'God bless you--may God bless you both, my dear children:'
and so he died.

There was no loud rattle in the throat, no dreadful struggle, no
palpable sign of death; but the lower jaw fell a little from its
place, and the eyes, which had been so constantly closed in sleep,
now remained fixed and open. Neither Mr Harding nor Dr Grantly knew
that life was gone, though both suspected it.

'I believe it's all over,' said Mr Harding, still pressing the
other's hands. 'I think--nay, I hope it is.'

'I will ring the bell,' said the other, speaking all but in a
whisper. 'Mrs Phillips should be here.'

Mrs Phillips, the nurse, was soon in the room, and immediately,
with practised hand, closed those staring eyes.

'It's all over, Mrs Phillips?' asked Mr Harding.

'My lord's no more,' said Mrs Phillips, turning round and
curtseying with a solemn face; 'His lordship's gone more like a
sleeping baby than any that I ever saw.'

'It's a great relief, archdeacon,' said Mr Harding, 'A great
relief--dear good, excellent old man. Oh that our last moments may
be as innocent and peaceful as his!'

'Surely,' said Mrs Phillips. 'The Lord be praised for all his
mercies; but, for a meek, mild, gentle-spoken Christian, his
lordship was--' and Mrs Phillips, with unaffected but easy grief,
put up her white apron to her flowing eyes.

'You cannot but rejoice that it is over,' said Mr Harding, still
counselling his friend. The archdeacon's mind, however, had already
travelled from the death chamber to the closet of the prime
minister. He had brought himself to pray for his father's life, but
now that that life was done, to dally with the fact of the bishop's
death--useless to lose perhaps everything for the pretence of a
foolish sentiment.

But how was he to act while his father-in-law stood there holding
his hand? How, without appearing unfeeling, was he to forget his
father in the bishop--to overlook what he had lost, and think only
of what he might possibly gain?

'No; I suppose not,' said he, at last, in answer to Mr Harding. 'We
have all expected it for so long.'

Mr Harding took him by the arm and led him from the room. 'We will
see him again to-morrow morning,' said he; 'We had better leave the
room now to the woman.' And so they went downstairs.

It was already evening and nearly dark. It was most important that
the prime minister should know that night that the diocese was
vacant. Everything might depend on it; and so, in answer to Mr
Harding's further consolation, the archdeacon suggested that a
telegraph message should be immediately sent off to London. Mr
Harding who had really been somewhat surprised to find Dr Grantly,
as he thought, so much affected, was rather taken aback; but he
made no objection. He knew that the archdeacon had some hope of
succeeding to his father's place, though he by no means knew how
highly raised that hope had been.

'Yes,' said Dr Grantly, collecting himself and shaking off his
weakness, 'We must send a message at once; we don't know what might
be the consequences of delay. Will you do it?'

'I! Oh yes; certainly: I'll do it, only I don't know exactly what
it is you want.'

Dr Grantly sat down before a writing table, and taking pen and ink,
wrote on a slip of paper as follows:-

                  By Electric Telegraph,
     For the Earl of -, Downing Street, or elsewhere.
            'The Bishop of Barchester is dead.'
        Message sent by the Rev. Septimus Harding.

'There,' said he. 'Just take that to the telegraph office at the
railway station, and give it as it is; they'll probably make you
copy it on to one of their own slips; that's all you'll have to do:
then you'll have to pay them half-a-crown.' And the archdeacon put
his hand in his pocket and pulled out the necessary sum.

Mr Harding felt very much like an errand-boy, and also felt that he
was called on to perform his duties as such at rather an unseemly
time; but he said nothing, and took the slip of paper and the
proffered coin.

'But you've put my name into it, archdeacon.'

'Yes,' said the other, 'There should be the name of some clergyman,
you know, and what name so proper as that of so old a friend as
yourself? The Earl won't look at the name you may be sure of that;
but my dear Mr Harding, pray don't lose any time.'

Mr Harding got as far as the library door on his way to the
station, when he suddenly remembered the news with which he was
fraught when he entered to poor bishop's bedroom. He had found the
moment so inopportune for any mundane tidings, that he had
repressed the words which were on his tongue, and immediately
afterwards all recollection of the circumstance was for the time
banished by the scene which had occurred.

'But, archdeacon,' said, he turning back, 'I forgot to tell
you--the ministry are out.'

'Out!' ejaculated the archdeacon, in a tone which too plainly
showed the anxiety of his dismay, although under the circumstances
of the moment he endeavoured to control himself: 'Out! Who told you
so?'

Mr Harding explained that news to this effect had come down by
electric telegraph, and that the tidings had been left at the
palace door by Mr Chadwick.

The archdeacon sat silent for awhile, meditating, and Mr Harding
stood looking at him. 'Never mind,' said the archdeacon at last;
'Send the message all the same. The news must be sent to some one,
and there is at present no one else in a position to receive it. Do
it at once, my dear friend; you know I would not trouble you, were
I in a state to do it myself. A few minutes' time is of the
greatest importance.'

Mr Harding went out and sent the message, and it may be as well
that we should follow it to its destination. Within thirty minutes
of its leaving Barchester it reached the Earl of - in his inner
library. What elaborate letters, what eloquent appeals, what
indignant remonstrances, he might there have to frame, at such a
moment, may be conceived, but not described! How he was preparing
his thunder for successful rivals, standing like a British peer
with his back to the sea-coal fire, and his hands in his breeches
pockets,--how his fine eye was lit up with anger, and his forehead
gleamed with patriotism,--how he stamped his foot as he thought of
his heavy associates,--how he all but swore as he remembered how
much too clever one of them had been,--my creative readers may
imagine. But was he so engaged? No; history and truth compel me to
deny it. He was sitting easily in a lounging chair, conning over a
Newmarket list, and by his elbow on the table was lying open an
uncut French novel on which he was engaged.

He opened the cover in which the message was enclosed, and having
read it, he took his pen and wrote on the back of it--

      'For the Earl of -,
       With the Earl of -'s compliments,'

and sent off again on its journey.

Thus terminated our unfortunate friend's chance of possessing the
glories of a bishopric.

The names of many divines were given in the papers as that of the
bishop elect. The British Grandmother declared that Dr Gwynne was
to be the man, in compliment to the late ministry.

This was a heavy blow to Dr Grantly, but he was not doomed to see
himself superseded by his friend. The Anglican Devotee put forward
confidently the claims of a great London preacher of austere
doctrines; and The Eastern Hemisphere, an evening paper supposed to
possess much official knowledge, declared in favour of an eminent
naturalist, a gentleman most completely versed in the knowledge of
rocks and minerals, but supposed by many to hold on religious
subjects no special doctrines whatever. The Jupiter, that daily
paper which, as we all know, is the only true source of infallibly
correct information on all subjects, for a while was silent, but at
last spoke out. The merits of all these candidates were discussed
and somewhat irreverently disposed of, and then The Jupiter
declared that Dr Proudie was to be the man.

Dr Proudie was the man. Just a month after the demise of the late
bishop, Dr Proudie kissed the Queen's hand as his successor elect.

We must beg to be allowed to draw a curtain over the sorrows of the
archdeacon as he sat, sombre and sad at heart, in the study of his
parsonage at Plumstead Episcopi. On the day subsequent to the
dispatch of the message he heard that the Earl of - had consented to
undertake the formation of a ministry, and from that moment he knew
that his chance was over. Many will think that he was wicked to
grieve for the loss of episcopal power, wicked to have coveted it,
nay, wicked even to have thought about it, in the way and at the
moment he had done so.

With such censures, I cannot profess that I completely agree. The
nolo episcopari, though still in use, is so directly at variance
with the tendency of all human aspirations of rising priests in the
Church of England. A lawyer does not sin in seeking to be a judge,
or in compassing his wishes by all honest means. A young diplomat
entertains a fair ambition when he looks forward to be the lord of
a first-rate embassy; and a poor novelist when he attempts to rival
Dickens or rise above Fitzjames, commits no fault, though he may be
foolish.

Sydney Smith truly said that in these recreant days we cannot
expect to find the majesty of St. Paul beneath the cassock of a
curate. If we look to our clergymen to be more than men, we shall
probably teach ourselves to think that they are less, and can
hardly hope to raise the character of the pastor by denying to him
the right to entertain the aspirations of a man.

Our archdeacon was worldly--who among us is not so? He was
ambitious--who among us is ashamed to own that 'last infirmity of
noble minds!' He was avaricious, my readers will say. No--it was
not for love of lucre that he wished to be bishop of Barchester. He
was his father's only child, and his father had left him great
wealth. His preferment brought him in nearly three thousand a year.
The bishopric, as cut down by the Ecclesiastical Commission, was
only five. He would be a richer man as archdeacon, than he could be
as a bishop. But he certainly did desire to play first fiddle; he
did desire to sit in full lawn sleeves amongst the peers of the
realm; and he did desire, if the truth must be out, to be called
'My Lord' by the reverend brethren.

His hopes, however, were they innocent or sinful, were not fated to
be realised; and Dr Proudie was consecrated Bishop of Barchester.



CHAPTER II

HIRAM'S HOSPITAL ACCORDING TO ACT OF PARLIAMENT

It is hardly necessary that I should here give to the public any
lengthened biography of Mr Harding, up to the period of the
commencement of this tale. The public cannot have forgotten how ill
that sensitive gentleman bore the attack that was made upon him in
the columns of the Jupiter, with reference to the income which he
received as warden of Hiram's Hospital, in the city of Barchester.
Nor can it be forgotten that a law-suit was instituted against him
on the matter of that charity by Mr John Bold, who afterwards
married his, Mr Harding's, younger and then only unmarried
daughter. Under the pressure of these attacks, Mr Harding had
resigned his wardenship, though strongly recommended to abstain
from doing so, both by his friends and his lawyers. He did,
however, resign it, and betook himself manfully to the duties of
the small parish of St. Cuthbert's, in the city, of which he was
vicar, continuing also to perform those of precentor of the
cathedral, a situation of small emoluments which had hitherto been
supposed to be joined, as a matter of course, to the wardenship of
the hospital above spoken of.

When he left the hospital from which he had been so ruthlessly
driven, and settled himself down in his own modest manner in the
High Street of Barchester, he had not expected that others would
make more fuss about it than he was inclined to do himself; and the
extent of his hope was, that the movement might have been made in
time to prevent any further paragraphs in the Jupiter. His affairs,
however, were not allowed to subside thus quietly, and people were
quite as much inclined to talk about the disinterested sacrifice he
had made, as they had before been to upbraid him for his cupidity.

The most remarkable thing that occurred, was the receipt of an
autographed letter from the Archbishop of Canterbury, in which the
primate very warmly praised his conduct, and begged to know what
his intentions were for the future. Mr Harding replied that he
intended to be rector of St. Cuthbert's in Barchester; and so that
matter dropped. Then the newspapers took up his case, the Jupiter
among the rest, and wafted his name in eulogistic strains through
every reading-room in the nation. It was discovered also, that he
was the author of that great musical work, Harding's Church
Music,--and a new edition was spoken of, though, I believe, never
printed. It is, however, certain that the work was introduced into
the Royal Chapel at St James's, and that a long criticism appeared
in the Musical Scrutator, declaring that in no previous work of its
kind had so much research been joined with such exalted musical
ability, and asserting that the name of Harding would henceforward
be known wherever the Arts were cultivated, or Religion valued.

This was high praise, and I will not deny that Mr Harding was
gratified by such flattery; for if Mr Harding was vain on any
subject, it was on that of music. But here the matter rested. The
second edition, if printed, was never purchased; the copies which
had been introduced into the Royal Chapel disappeared again, and
were laid by in peace, with a load of similar literature. Mr
Towers, of the Jupiter, and his brethren occupied themselves with
other names, and the underlying fame promised to our friend was
clearly intended to be posthumous.

Mr Harding had spent much of his time with his friend the bishop,
much with his daughter Mrs Bold, now, alas, a widow; and had almost
daily visited the wretched remnants of his former subjects, the few
surviving bedesmen now left at Hiram's Hospital. Six of them were
still living. The number, according to old Hiram's will, should
always have been twelve. But after the abdication of their warden,
the bishop had appointed no successor to him, and it appeared as
though the hospital at Barchester would fall into abeyance, unless
the powers that be should take some steps towards putting it once
more into working order.

During the past five years the powers that be had not overlooked
Barchester Hospital, and sundry political doctors had taken the
matter in hand. Shortly after Mr Harding's resignation, the Jupiter
had very clearly shown what ought to be done. In about half a
column it had distributed the income, rebuilt the building, put an
end to all bickerings, regenerated kindly feeling, provided for Mr
Harding, and placed the whole thing on a footing which could not
but be satisfactory to the city and Bishop of Barchester, and to
the nation at large. The wisdom of this scheme was testified by the
number of letters which "Common Sense", "Veritas", and "One that
loves fair play," sent to the Jupiter, all expressing admiration
and amplifying on the details given. It is singular enough that no
adverse letter appeared at all, and, therefore, none of course was
written.

But Cassandra was not believed, and even the wisdom of the Jupiter
sometimes falls on deaf ears. Though other plans did not put
themselves forward in the columns of the Jupiter, reformers of
church charities were not slack to make known in various places
their different nostrums for setting Hiram's Hospital on its feet
again. A learned bishop took occasion, in the Upper House, to
allude to the matter, intimating that he had communicated on the
subject with his right reverend brother of Barchester. The radical
member for Staleybridge had suggested that the funds should be
alienated for the education of the agricultural poor of the
country, and he amused the House by some anecdotes touching the
superstition and habits of the agriculturists in question. A
political pamphleteer had produced a few dozen pages, which he
called 'Who are Hiram's heirs?' intending to give an infallible
rule for the governance of such establishments; and, at last, a
member of the government promised that in the next session a short
bill should be introduced for regulating the affairs of Barchester,
and other kindred concerns.

The next session came, and, contrary to custom, the bill came also.
Men's minds were then intent on other things. The first
threatenings of a huge war hung heavily over the nation, and the
question as to Hiram's heirs did not appear to interest very many
people either in or out of the House. The bill, however, was read
and reread, and in some undistinguished manner passed through its
eleven stages without appeal or dissent. What would John Hiram have
said in the matter, could he have predicted that some forty-five
gentlemen would take on themselves to make a law altering the whole
purport of the will, without in the least knowing at the moment of
their making it, what it was that they were doing? It is however to
be hoped that the under secretary for the Home Office knew, for to
him had the matter been confided.

The bill, however, did pass, and at the time at which this history
is supposed to commence, it had been ordained that there should be,
as heretofore, twelve old men in Barchester Hospital, each with
1s 4d a day; that there should also be twelve old women, each with
1s 2d a day; that there should be a matron with a house and L 70 a
year; a steward with L 150 a year, who should have the spiritual
guidance of that appertaining to the male sex. The bishop, dean,
and warden, were, as formerly, to appoint in turn the recipients of
the charity, and the bishop was to appoint the officers. There was
nothing said as to the wardenship being held by the precentor of
the cathedral, nor a word as to Mr Harding's right to the
situation.

It was not, however, till some months after the death of the old
bishop, and almost immediately consequent on the installation of
his successor, that notice was given that the reform was about to
be carried out. The new law and the new bishop were among the
earliest works of a new ministry, or rather of a ministry who,
having for a while given place to their opponents, had then
returned to power; and the death of Dr Grantly occurred, as we
have seen, exactly at the period of change.

Poor Eleanor Bold! How well does that widow's cap become her, and
the solemn gravity with which she devotes to her new duties. Poor
Eleanor!

Poor Eleanor! I cannot say that with me John Bold was ever a
favourite. I never thought him worthy of the wife he had won. But
in her estimation he was most worthy. Hers was one of those
feminine hearts which cling to a husband, not with idolatry, for
worship can admit of no defect in its idol, but with the perfect
tenacity of ivy. As the parasite plant will follow even the defects
of the trunk which it embraces, so did Eleanor cling to and love
the very faults of her husband.

She had once declared that whatever her father did should in her
eyes be right. She then transferred her allegiance, and became ever
ready to defend the worst failings of her lord and master.

And John Bold was a man to be loved by a woman; he was himself
affectionate, he was confiding and manly; and that arrogance of
thought, unsustained by first-rate abilities, that attempt at being
better than his neighbours which jarred so painfully on the
feelings of his acquaintances, did not injure him in the estimation
of his wife.

Could she even have admitted that he had a fault, his early death
would have blotted out the memory of it. She wept as for the loss
of the most perfect treasure with which mortal woman had ever been
endowed; for weeks after he was gone the idea of future happiness
in this world was hateful to her; consolation, as it is called, was
insupportable, and tears and sleep were her only relief.

But God tempers the wind to the shorn lamb. She knew that she had
within her the living source of other cares. She knew that there
was to be created for her another subject of weal or woe, of
unutterable joy or despairing sorrow, as God in his mercy might
vouchsafe to her. At first this did not augment her grief! To be
the mother of a poor infant, orphaned before it was born, brought
forth to the sorrows of an ever desolate hearth, nurtured amidst
tears and wailing, and then turned adrift into the world without
the aid of a father's care! There was at first no joy in this.

By degrees, however, her heart became anxious for another object,
and, before its birth, the stranger was expected with all the
eagerness of a longing mother. Just eight months after the father's
death a second John Bold was born, and if the worship of one
creature can be innocent in another, let us hope that the adoration
offered over the cradle of the fatherless infant may not be imputed
as sin.

It will not be worth our while to define the character of the
child, or to point out in how far the faults of the father were
redeemed within that little breast by the virtues of the mother.
The baby, as a baby, was all that was delightful, and I cannot
foresee that it will be necessary for us to inquire into the facts
of his after life. Our present business at Barchester will not
occupy us above a year or two at the furthest, and I will leave it
to some other pen to produce, if necessary, the biography of John
Bold the Younger.

But, as a baby, this baby was all that could be desired. This fact
no one attempted to deny. 'Is he not delightful?' she would say to
her father, looking into his face from her knees, he lustrous eyes
overflowing with soft tears, her young face encircled by her close
widow's cap and her hands on each side of the cradle in which her
treasure was sleeping. The grandfather would gladly admit that the
treasure was delightful, and the uncle archdeacon himself would
agree, and Mrs Grantly, Eleanor's sister, would re-echo the word
with true sisterly energy; and Mary Bold--but Mary Bold was a
second worshipper at the same shrine.

The baby was really delightful; he took his food with a will,
struck out his toes merrily whenever his legs were uncovered, and
did not have fits. These are supposed to be the strongest points of
baby perfection, and in all these our baby excelled.

And in this the widow's deep grief was softened, and a sweet balm
was poured into the wound which she had thought nothing but death
could heal. How much kinder is God to us than we are willing to be
to ourselves! At the loss of every dear face, at the last going of
every well beloved one, we all doom ourselves to an eternity of
sorrow, and look to waste ourselves away in an ever-running
fountain of tears. How seldom does such grief endure! How blessed
is the goodness which forbids it to do so! 'Let me ever remember my
living friends, but forget them as soon as they are dead,' was the
prayer of a wise man who understood the mercy of God. Few perhaps
would have the courage to express such a wish, and yet to do so
would only be to ask for that release from sorrow, which a kind
Creator almost always extends to us.

I would not, however, have it imagined that Mrs Bold forgot her
husband. She really thought of him with all conjugal love, and
enshrined his memory in the innermost centre of her heart. But yet
she was happy in her baby. It was so sweet to press the living toy
to her breast, and feel that a human being existed who did owe, and
was to owe everything to her; whose daily food was drawn from
herself; whose little wants could all be satisfied by her; whose
infant tongue would make his first effort in calling her by the
sweetest name a woman can hear. And so Eleanor's bosom became
tranquil, and she set about her new duties eagerly and gratefully.

As regards the concerns of the world, John Bold had left his widow
in prosperous circumstances. He had bequeathed to her all that he
possessed, and that comprised an income much exceeding what she or
her friends thought necessary for her. It amounted to nearly a
thousand a year; and when she reflected on its extent, her dearest
hope was to hand it over, not only unimpaired, but increased, to
her husband's son, to her own darling, to the little man who now
lay sleeping on her knee, happily ignorant of the cares which were
to be accumulated in his behalf.

When John Bold died, she earnestly implored her father to come and
live with her, but this Mr Harding declined, though for some weeks
he remained with her as a visitor. He could not be prevailed upon
to forego the possession of some small house of his own, and so
remained in the lodgings he had first selected over a chemist's
shop in the High Street at Barchester.



CHAPTER III

DR AND MRS PROUDIE

This narrative is supposed to commence immediately after the
installation of Dr Proudie. I will not describe the ceremony, as I
do not precisely understand its nature. I am ignorant whether a
bishop be chaired like a member of parliament, or carried in a gilt
coach like a lord mayor, or sworn in like a justice of the peace,
or introduced like a peer to the upper house, or led between two
brethren like a knight of the garter; but I do know that every
thing was properly done, and that nothing fit or becoming to a
young bishop was omitted on the occasion.

Dr Proudie was not the man to allow anything to be omitted that
might be becoming to his new dignity. He understood well the value
of forms, and knew that the due observations of rank could not be
maintained unless the exterior trappings belonging to it were held
in proper esteem. He was a man born to move in high circles; at
least so he thought himself and circumstances had certainly
sustained him in this view. He was the nephew of a Irish baron by
his mother's side, and his wife was the niece of a Scottish earl.
He had for years held some clerical office appertaining to courtly
matters, which had enabled him to live in London, and to entrust
his parish to his curate. He had been a preacher to the royal
beefeaters, curator of theological manuscripts in the
Ecclesiastical Courts, chaplain of the Queen's Yeomanry Guard, and
almoner to his Royal Highness the Prince of Rappe-Blankenburg.

His residence in the metropolis, rendered necessary by the duties
entrusted to him, his high connections, and the peculiar talents
and nature of the man, recommended him to persons in power; and Dr
Proudie became known as a useful and rising clergyman.

Some few years since, even within the memory of many who are not
yet willing to call themselves old, a liberal clergyman was a
person not frequently to be met. Sydney Smith was such, and was
looked on as a little better than an infidel; a few others also
might be named, but they were 'rarae aves', and were regarded with
doubt and distrust by their brethren. No man was so surely a tory
as a country rector--nowhere were the powers that be so cherished
as at Oxford.

When, however, Dr Whately was made an archbishop, and Dr Hampden
some years afterwards regius professor, many wise divines saw that
a change was taking place in men's minds, and that more liberal
ideas would henceforward be suitable to the priests as well as to
the laity. Clergymen began to be heard of who had ceased to
anathematise papists on the one hand, or vilify dissenters on the
other. It appeared clear that high church principles, as they are
called, were no longer to be the surest claims to promotion with at
any rate one section of statesmen, and Dr Proudie was one among
those who early in life adapted himself to the views held by the
whigs on most theological and religious subjects. He bore with the
idolatry of Rome, tolerated even the infidelity of Socinianism, and
was hand and glove with the Presbyterian Synods of Scotland and
Ulster.

Such a man at such a time was found to be useful, and Dr Proudie's
name began to appear in the newspapers. He was made one of a
commission who went over to Ireland to arrange matters preparative
to the working of the national board; he became honorary secretary
to another commission nominated to inquire into the revenues of
cathedral chapters; and had had something to do with both the
regium donum and the Maynooth Grant.

It must not be on this account be taken as proved that Dr Proudie
was a man of great mental powers, or even of much capacity for
business, for such qualities had not been required in him. In the
arrangement of those church reforms with which he was connected,
the ideas and original conception of the work to be done were
generally furnished by the liberal statesmen of the day, and the
labour of the details was borne by officials of a lower rank. It
was, however, thought expedient that the name of some clergyman
should appear in such matters, and as Dr Proudie had become known
as a tolerating divine, great use of this sort was made of his
name. If he did not do much active good, he never did any harm; he
was amenable to those who were really in authority, and at the
sittings of the various boards to which he belonged maintained a
kind of dignity which had its value.

He was certainly possessed of sufficient tact to answer the purpose
for which he was required without making himself troublesome; but
it must not therefore be surmised that he doubted his own power, or
failed to believe that he could himself take a high part in high
affairs when his own turn came. His was biding his time, and
patiently looking forward to the days when he himself would sit
authoritative at some board, and talk and direct, and rule the
roost, while lesser stars sat round and obeyed, as he had so well
accustomed himself to do.

His reward and his time had now come. He was selected for the
vacant bishopric, and on the next vacancy which might occur in any
diocese would take his place in the House of Lords, prepared to
give not a silent vote in all matters concerning the weal of the
church establishment. Toleration was to be the basis on which he
was to fight his battles, and in the honest courage of his heart he
thought no evil would come to him in encountering even such foes as
his brethren of Exeter and Oxford.

Dr Proudie was an ambitious man, and before he was well consecrated
Bishop of Barchester, he had begun to look up to archepiscopal
splendour, and the glories of Lambeth, or at any rate of
Bishopsthorpe. He was comparatively young, and had, as he fondly
flattered himself, been selected as possessing such gifts, natural
and acquired, as must be sure to recommend him to a yet higher
notice, now that a higher sphere was opened to him. Dr Proudie was,
therefore, quite prepared to take a conspicuous part in all
theological affairs appertaining to these realms; and having such
views, by no means intended to bury himself at Barchester as his
predecessor had done. No: London should still be his ground: a
comfortable mansion in a provincial city might be well enough for
the dead months of the year. Indeed Dr Proudie had always felt it
necessary to his position to retire from London when other great
and fashionable people did so; but London should still be his fixed
residence, and it was in London that he resolved to exercise that
hospitality so peculiarly recommended to all bishops by St Paul.
How otherwise could he keep himself before the world? How else give
the government, in matters theological, the full benefit of his
weight and talents?

This resolution was no doubt a salutary one as regarded the world
at large, but was not likely to make him popular either with the
clergy or the people of Barchester. Dr Grantly had always lived
there; and in truth it was hard for a bishop to be popular after Dr
Grantly. His income had averaged L 9000 a year; his successor was
to be rigidly limited to L 5000. He had but one child on whom to
spend his money; Dr Proudie had seven or eight. He had been a man
of few personal expenses, and they had been confined to the tastes
of a moderate gentleman; but Dr Proudie had to maintain a position
in fashionable society, and had that to do with comparatively small
means. Dr Grantly had certainly kept his carriages, as became a
bishop; but his carriage, horses, and coachmen, though they did
very well for Barchester, would have been almost ridiculous at
Westminster. Mrs Proudie determined that her husband's equipage
should not shame her, and things on which Mrs Proudie resolved,
were generally accomplished.

From all this it was likely to result that Dr Proudie would not
spend much money at Barchester; whereas his predecessor had dealt
with the tradesmen of the city in a manner very much to their
satisfaction. The Grantlys, father and son, had spent their money
like gentlemen; but it soon became whispered in Barchester that Dr
Proudie was not unacquainted with those prudent devices by which
the utmost show of wealth is produced from limited means.

In person Dr Proudie is a good-looking man; spruce and dapper, and
very tidy. He is somewhat below middle height, being about five
feet four; but he makes up for the inches which he wants by the
dignity with which he carries those which he has. It is no fault
of his own if he has not a commanding eye, for he studies hard to
assume it. His features are well formed, though perhaps the
sharpness of his nose may give to his face in the eyes of some
people an air of insignificance. If so, it is greatly redeemed by
his mouth and chin, of which he is justly proud.

Dr Proudie may well be said to have been a fortunate man, for he
was not born to wealth, and he is now bishop of Barchester; but
nevertheless he has his cares. He has a large family, of whom the
three eldest are daughters, now all grown up and fit for
fashionable life; and he has a wife. It is not my intention to
breathe a word against the character of Mrs Proudie, but still I
cannot think that with all her virtues she adds much to her
husband's happiness. The truth is that in matters domestic she
rules supreme over her titular lord, and rules with a rod of iron.
Nor is this all. Things domestic Dr Proudie might have abandoned to
her, if not voluntarily, yet willingly. But Mrs Proudie is not
satisfied with such home dominion, and stretches her power over all
his movements, and will not even abstain from things spiritual. In
fact, the bishop is henpecked.

The archdeacon's wife, in her happy home at Plumstead, knows how to
assume the full privileges of her rank, and express her own mind in
becoming tone and place. But Mrs Grantly's sway, if sway she has,
is easy and beneficent. She never shames her husband; before the
world she is a pattern of obedience; her voice is never loud, nor
her looks sharp: doubtless she values power, and has not
unsuccessfully striven to acquire it; but she knows what should be
the limits of woman's rule.

Not so Mrs Proudie. This lady is habitually authoritative to all,
but to her poor husband she is despotic. Successful as has been his
career in the eyes of the world, it would seem that in the eyes of
his wife he is never right. All hope of defending himself has long
passed from him; indeed he rarely even attempts self-justification;
and is aware that submission produces the nearest approach to peace
which his own house can ever attain.

Mrs Proudie has not been able to sit at the boards and committees
to which her husband has been called by the state; nor, as he often
reflects, can she make her voice heard in the House of Lords. It
may be that she will refuse to him permission to attend to this
branch of a bishop's duties; it may be that she will insist on his
close attendance to his own closet. He has never whispered a word
on the subject to living ears, but he has already made his fixed
resolve. Should such an attempt be made he will rebel. Dogs have
turned against their masters, and even Neapolitans against their
rulers, when oppression has been too severe. And Dr Proudie feels
within himself that if the cord be drawn too tight, he also can
muster courage and resist.

The state of vassalage in which our bishop had been kept by his
wife has not tended to exalt his character in the eyes of his
daughters, who assume in addressing their father too much of that
authority which is not properly belonging, at any rate, to them.
They are, on the whole, fine engaging young ladies. They are tall
and robust like their mother, whose high cheek bones, and--we may
say auburn hair, they all inherit. They think somewhat too much of
their grand uncles, who have not hitherto returned the compliment
by thinking much of them. But now that their father is a bishop, it
is probable that family ties will be drawn closer. Considering
their connection with the church, they entertain but few prejudices
against the pleasures of the world; and have certainly not
distressed their parents, as too many English girls have lately
done, by any enthusiastic wish to devote themselves to the
seclusion of a protestant nunnery. Dr Proudie's sons are still at
school.

One other marked peculiarity in the character of the bishop's wife
must be mentioned. Though not averse to the society and manners of
the world, she is in her own way a religious woman; and the form in
which this tendency shows itself in her is by a strict observance
of the Sabbatarian rule. Dissipation and low dresses during the
week are, under her control, atoned for by three services, an
evening sermon read by herself, and a perfect abstinence from any
cheering employment on Sunday. Unfortunately for those under her
roof to whom the dissipation and low dresses are not extended, her
servants namely and her husband, the compensating strictness of the
Sabbath includes all. Woe betide the recreant housemaid who is
found to have been listening to the honey of a sweetheart in the
Regent's Park, instead of the soul-stirring evening discourse of Mr
Slope. Not only is she sent adrift, but she is so sent with a
character which leaves her little hope of a decent place. Woe
betide the six-foot hero who escorts Mrs Proudie to her pew in red
plush breeches, if he slips away to the neighbouring beer-shop,
instead of falling into the back seat appropriated to his use. Mrs
Proudie has the eyes of Argus for such offenders. Occasional
drunkenness in the week may be overlooked, for six feet on low
wages are hardly to be procured if the morals are always kept at a
high pitch; but not even for the grandeur or economy will Mrs
Proudie forgive a desecration of the Sabbath.

In such matters, Mrs Proudie allows herself to be often guided by
that eloquent preacher, the Rev. Mr Slope, and as Dr Proudie is
guided by his wife, it necessarily follows that the eminent man we
have named has obtained a good deal of control over Dr Proudie in
matters concerning religion. Mr Slope's only preferment has
hitherto been that of reader and preacher in a London district
church; and on the consecration of his friend the new bishop, he
readily gave this up to undertake the onerous but congenial duties
of domestic chaplain to the bishop.

Mr Slope, however, on his first introduction must not be brought
before the public at the tail of a chapter.



CHAPTER IV

THE BISHOP'S CHAPLAIN

Of the Rev. Mr Slope's parentage I am not able to say much. I have
heard it asserted that he is lineally descended from that eminent
physician who assisted at the birth of Mr T. Shandy, and that in
early years he added an 'e' to his name, for the sake of euphony,
as other great men have done before him. If this be so, I presumed
he was christened Obadiah, for that is his name, in commemoration
of the conflict in which his ancestor so distinguished himself. All
my researches on the subject have, however, failed in enabling me
to fix the date on which the family changed its religion.

He had been a sizar at Cambridge, and had there conducted himself
at any rate successfully, for in due process of time he was an MA,
having university pupils under his care. From thence he was
transferred to London, and became preacher at a new district church
built on the confines of Baker Street. He was in this position when
congenial ideas on religious subjects recommended him to Mrs
Proudie, and the intercourse had become close and confidential.

Having been thus familiarly thrown among the Misses Proudie, it was
more than natural that some softer feeling than friendship should
be engendered. There have been some passages of love between him
and the eldest hope, Olivia; but they have hitherto resulted in no
favourable arrangement. In truth, Mr Slope, having made a
declaration of affection, afterwards withdrew it on finding that
the doctor had no immediate worldly funds with which to endow his
child; and it may easily be conceived that Miss Proudie, after such
an announcement on his part, was not readily disposed to receive
any further show of affection. On the appointment of Dr Proudie to
the bishopric of Barchester, Mr Slope's views were, in truth,
somewhat altered. Bishops, even though they be poor, can provide
for clerical children, and Mr Slope began to regret that he had not
been more disinterested. He no sooner heard the tidings of the
doctor's elevation, than he recommenced his siege, not violently,
indeed, but respectfully, and at a distance. Olivia Proudie,
however, was a girl of spirit: she had the blood of two peers in
her veins, and, better still, she had another lover on her books;
so Mr Slope sighed in vain; and the pair soon found it convenient
to establish a mutual bond of inveterate hatred.

It may be thought singular that Mrs Proudie's friendship for the
young clergyman should remain firm after such an affair; but, to
tell the truth, she had known nothing of it. Though very fond of Mr
Slope herself, she had never conceived the idea that either of her
daughters would become so, and remembering that their high birth
and social advantages, expected for them matches of a different
sort. Neither the gentleman nor the lady found it necessary to
enlighten her. Olivia's two sisters had each known of the affair,
so had all the servants, so had all the people living in the
adjoining houses on either side; but Mrs Proudie had been kept in
the dark.

Mr Slope soon comforted himself with the reflection that, as he had
been selected as chaplain to the bishop, it would probably be in
his power to get the good things in the bishop's gift, without
troubling himself with the bishop's daughter; and he found himself
able to endure the pangs of rejected love. As he sat himself down
in the railway carriage, confronting the bishop and Mrs Proudie, as
they started on their first journey to Barchester, he began to form
in his own mind a plan of his future life. He knew well his
patron's strong points, but he knew the weak ones as well. He
understood correctly enough to what attempts the new bishop's high
spirit would soar, and he rightly guessed that public life would
better suit the great man's taste, than the small details of
diocesan duty.

He, therefore, he, Mr Slope, would in effect be bishop of
Barchester. Such was his resolve; and to give Mr Slope his due, he
had both courage and spirit to bear him out in his resolution. He
knew that he should have a hard battle to fight, for the power and
patronage of the see would be equally coveted by another great
mind--Mrs Proudie would also choose to be bishop of Barchester. Mr
Slope, however, flattered himself that he could outmanoeuvre the
lady. She must live much in London, while he would always be on the
spot. She would necessarily remain ignorant of much while he would
know everything belonging to the diocese. At first, doubtless, he
must flatter and cajole, perhaps yield in some things; but he did
not doubt of ultimate triumph. If all other means failed, he could
join the bishop against the wife, inspire courage into the unhappy
man, lay an axe to the rock of the woman's power, and emancipate
the husband.

Such were his thoughts as he sat looking at the sleeping pair in
the railway carriage, and Mr Slope is not the man to trouble
himself with such thoughts for nothing. He is possessed of more
than average abilities, and is of good courage. Though he can stoop
to fawn, and stoop low indeed, if need be, he has still within him
the power to assume the tyrant; and with the power he has certainly
the wish. His acquirements are not of the highest order, but such
as they are they are completely under control, and he knows the use
of them. He is gifted with a certain kind of pulpit eloquence, not
likely, indeed, to be persuasive with men, but powerful with the
softer sex. In his sermons he deals greatly in denunciations,
excites the minds of his weaker hearers with a not unpleasant
terror, and leaves an impression on their minds that all mankind
are in a perilous state, and all womankind too, except those who
attend regularly to the evening lectures in Baker Street. His looks
and tones are extremely severe, so much so that one cannot but
fancy that he regards the greater part of the world as being
infinitely too bad for his care. As he walks through the streets,
his very face denotes his horror of the world's wickedness; and
there is always an anathema lurking in the corner of his eye.

In doctrine, he, like his patron, is tolerant of dissent, if so
strict a mind can be called tolerant of anything. With
Wesleyan-Methodists he has something in common, but his soul
trembles in agony at the iniquities of the Puseyites. His aversion
is carried to things outward as well as inward. His gall rises at a
new church with a high pitched roof; a full-breasted black silk
waistcoat is with him a symbol of Satan; and a profane jest-book
would not, in his view, more foully desecrate the church seat of a
Christian, than a book of prayer printed with red letters, and
ornamented with a cross on the back. Most active clergymen have
their hobby, and Sunday observances are his. Sunday, however, is a
word which never pollutes his mouth--it is always 'the Sabbath'.
The 'desecration of the Sabbath' as he delights to call it, is to
him meat and drink:--he thrives upon that as policemen do on the
general evil habits of the community. It is the loved subject of
all his evening discourses, the source of all his eloquence, the
secret of his power over the female heart. To him, the revelation
of God appears in that one law given for Jewish observance. To him
the mercies of our Saviour speak in vain, to him in vain has been
preached that sermon that fell from the divine lips on the
mountain--'Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the
earth'--'Blessed are the merciful, for the they shall obtain
mercy'. To him the New Testament is comparatively of little moment,
for from it can he draw no fresh authority for that dominion which
he loves to exercise over at least a seventh part of man's allotted
time here below.

Mr Slope is tall, and not ill made. His feet and hands are large,
as has ever been the case, with all his family, but he has a broad
chest and wide shoulders to carry off these excrescences, and on
the whole his figure is good. His countenance, however, is not
specially prepossessing. His hair is lank, and of a dull pale
reddish hue. It is always formed into three straight lumpy masses,
each brushed with admirable precision, and cemented with much
grease; two of them adhere closely to the sides of his face, and
the other lies at right angles above them. He wears no whiskers,
and is always punctiliously shaven. His face is nearly of the same
colour as his hair, though perhaps a little redder: it is not
unlike beef,--beef, however, one would say, of a bad quality. His
forehead is capacious and high, but square and heavy, and
unpleasantly shining. His mouth is large, though his lips are thin
and bloodless; and his big, prominent, pale brown eyes inspire
anything but confidence. His nose, however, is his redeeming
feature: it is pronounced straight and well-formed; though I myself
should have liked it better if it did not possess a somewhat
spongy, porous appearance, as though it had been cleverly formed
out of a red coloured cork.

I never could endure to shake hands with Mr Slope. A cold, clammy
perspiration always exudes from him, the small drops are ever to be
seen standing on his brow, and his friendly grasp is unpleasant.

Such is Mr Slope--such is the man who has suddenly fallen into the
midst of Barchester Close, and is destined there to assume the
station which has heretofore been filled by the son of the late
bishop. Think, oh, my meditative reader, what an associate we have
here for those comfortable prebendaries, those gentlemanlike
clerical doctors, those happy well-used, well-fed minor canons, who
have grown into existence at Barchester under the kindly wings of
Bishop Grantly!

But not as a mere associate for those does Mr Slope travel down to
Barchester with the bishop and his wife. He intends to be, if not
their master, at least the chief among them. He intends to lead,
and to have followers; he intends to hold the purse strings of the
diocese, and draw round him an obedient herd of his poor and hungry
brethren.

And here we can hardly fail to draw a comparison between the
archdeacon and our new private chaplain; and despite the manifold
faults of the former, one can hardly fail to make it much to his
advantage.

Both men are eager, much too eager, to support and increase the
power of their order. Both are anxious that the world should be
priest-governed, though they have probably never confessed as much,
even to themselves. Both begrudge any other kind of dominion held
by man over man. Dr Grantly, if he admits the Queen's supremacy in
things spiritual, only admits it as being due to the quasi
priesthood conveyed on the consecrating qualities of her
coronation; and he regards things temporal as being by their nature
subject to those which are spiritual. Mr Slope's ideas of
sacerdotal rule are of a quite different class. He cares nothing,
one way or the other, for the Queen's supremacy; these to his ears
are empty words, meaning nothing. Forms he regards but little, and
such titular expressions of supremacy, consecration, ordination,
and the like, convey of themselves no significance to him. Let him
be supreme who can. The temporal king, judge, or gaoler, can work
but on the body. The spiritual master, if he have the necessary
gifts, and can duly use them, has a wider field of empire. He works
upon the soul. If he can make himself be believed, he can be all
powerful over those who listen. If he is careful to meddle with
none who are too strong in intellect, or too weak in flesh, he may
indeed be supreme. And such was the ambition of Mr Slope.

Dr Grantly interfered very little with the worldly doings of those
who were in any way subject to him. I do not mean to say that he
omitted to notice misconduct among his clergy, immorality in his
parish, or omissions in his family; but he was not anxious to do so
where the necessity could be avoided. He was not troubled with a
propensity to be curious, and as long as those around him were
tainted with no heretical leaning towards dissent, as long as they
fully and freely admitted the efficacy of Mother Church, he was
willing that that mother should be merciful and affectionate, prone
to indulgence, and unwilling to chastise. He himself enjoyed the
good things of this world, and liked to let it be known that he did
so. He cordially despised any brother rector who thought harm of
dinner-parties, or dreaded the dangers of a moderate claret-jug;
consequently dinner-parties and claret-jugs were common in the
diocese. He liked to give laws and to be obeyed in them implicitly,
but he endeavoured that his ordinances should be within the compass
of the man, and not unpalatable to the gentleman. He had ruled
among his clerical neighbours now for sundry years, and as he had
maintained his power without becoming unpopular, it may be presumed
that he had exercised some wisdom.

Of Mr Slope's conduct much cannot be said, as his grand career is
yet to commence; but it may be presumed that his tastes will be
very different from those of the archdeacon. He conceives it to be
his duty to know all the private doings and desires of the flock
entrusted to his care. From the poorer classes he exacted and
unconditional obedience to set rules of conduct, and if disobeyed
he has recourse, like his great ancestor, to the fulminations of an
Ernulfus: 'Thou shalt be damned in thy going in and in thy coming
out--in thy eating and thy drinking,' &c &c &c. With the rich,
experience has already taught him a different line of action is
necessary. Men in the upper walks of life do not mind being cursed,
and the women, presuming that it be done in delicate phrase, rather
like it. But he has not, therefore, given up so important a portion
of believing Christians. With the men, indeed, he is generally at
variance; they are hardened sinners, on whom the voice of priestly
charmer often falls in vain; but with the ladies, old and young,
firm and frail, devout and dissipated, he is, as he conceives, all
powerful. He can reprove faults with so much flattery, and utter
censure in so caressing a manner, that the female heart, if it glow
with a spark of low church susceptibility, cannot withstand him. In
many houses he is thus an admired guest: the husbands, for their
wives' sake, are fain to admit him; and when once admitted it is
not easy to shake him off. He has, however, a pawing, greasy way
with him, which does not endear him to those who do not value him
for their souls' sake, and he is not a man to make himself at once
popular in a large circle such as is now likely to surround him at
Barchester.




CHAPTER V

A MORNING VISIT

It was known that Dr Proudie would immediately have to reappoint to
the wardenship of the hospital under the act of Parliament to which
allusion has been made; but no one imagined that any choice was
left to him--no one for a moment thought that he could appoint any
other than Mr Harding. Mr Harding himself, when he heard how the
matter had been settled, without troubling himself much on the
subject, considered it as certain that he would go back to his
pleasant house and garden. And though there would be much that was
melancholy, nay, almost heartrending, in such a return, he still
was glad that it was to be so. His daughter might probably be
persuaded to return there with him. She had, indeed, all but
promised to do so, though she still entertained an idea that the
greatest of mortals, that important atom of humanity, that little
god upon earth, Johnny Bold her baby, ought to have a house of his
own over his head.

Such being the state of Mr Harding's mind in the matter, he did not
feel any peculiar personal interest in the appointment of Dr
Proudie to the bishopric. He, as well as others at Barchester,
regretted that a man should be sent among them who, they were
aware, was not of their way of thinking; but Mr Harding himself was
not a bigoted man on points of church doctrine, and he was quite
prepared to welcome Dr Proudie to Barchester in a graceful and
becoming manner. He had nothing to seek and nothing to fear; he
felt that it behoved him to be on good terms with his bishop, and
he did not anticipate any obstacle that would prevent it.

In such a frame of mind he proceeded to pay his respects at the
palace the second day after the arrival of the bishop and his
chaplain. But he did not go alone. Dr Grantly proposed to accompany
him, and Mr Harding was not sorry to have a companion, who would
remove from his shoulders the burden of conversation in such an
interview. In the affair of the consecration of Dr Grantly had been
introduced to the bishop, and Mr Harding had also been there. He
had, however, kept himself in the background, and he was now to be
presented to the great man for the first time.		

The archdeacon's feelings were of a much stronger nature. He was
not exactly the man to overlook his own slighted claims, or to
forgive the preference shown to another. Dr Proudie was playing
Venus to his Juno, and he was prepared to wage an internecine war
against the owner of the wished for apple, and all his satellites
private chaplains, and others.

Nevertheless, it behoved him also to conduct himself towards the
intruder as an old archdeacon should conduct himself to an incoming
bishop; and though he was well aware of all Dr Proudie's abominable
opinions as regarded dissenters, church reform, the hebdomadal
council, and such like; though he disliked the man, and hated the
doctrines, still he was prepared to show respect to the station of
the bishop. So he and Mr Harding called together at the palace.

His lordship was at home, and the two visitors were shown through
the accustomed hall into the well-known room, where the good old
bishop used to sit. The furniture had been bought at a valuation,
and every chair and table, every bookshelf against the wall, and
every square in the carpet, was as well known to each of them as
their own bedrooms. Nevertheless they at once felt that they were
strangers there. The furniture was for the most part the same, yet
the place had been metamorphosed. A new sofa had been introduced,
and horrid chintz affair, most unprelatical and almost irreligious;
such a sofa as never yet stood in the study of any decent high
church clergyman of the Church of England. The old curtains had
also given away. They had, to be sure, become dingy, and that which
had been originally a rich and goodly ruby had degenerated into a
reddish brown. Mr Harding, however, thought the old reddish brown
much preferable to the gaudy buff-coloured trumpery moreen which
Mrs Proudie had deemed good enough for her husband's own room in
the provincial city of Barchester.

Our friends found Dr Proudie sitting on the old bishop's chair,
looking very nice in his new apron; they found, too, Mr Slope
standing on the hearthrug, persuasive and eager, just as the
archdeacon used to stand; but on the sofa they also found Mrs
Proudie, an innovation for which a precedent might be in vain be
sought in all the annals of the Barchester bishopric!

There she was, however, and they could only make the best of her.
The introductions were gone through in much form. The archdeacon
shook hands with the bishop and named Mr Harding, who received such
an amount of greeting as was due from a bishop to a precentor. His
lordship then presented them to his lady wife; the archdeacon
first, with archidiaconal honours, and then the precentor with
diminished parade. After this Mr Slope presented himself. The
bishop, it is true, did mention his name, and so did Mrs Proudie
too, in a louder tone; but Mr Slope took it upon himself the chief
burden of his own introduction. He had great pleasure in making
himself acquainted with Dr Grantly; he had heard much of the
archdeacon's good works in that part of the diocese in which his
duties as archdeacon had been exercised (thus purposely ignoring
the archdeacon's hitherto unlimited dominion over the diocese at
large). He was aware that his lordship depended greatly on the
assistance which Dr Grantly would be able to give him in that
portion of the diocese. He then thrust out his hand, and grasping
that of his new foe, bedewed it unmercifully. Dr Grantly in return
bowed, looked stiff, contracted his eyebrows, and wiped his hand
with his pocket-handkerchief. Nothing abashed, Mr Slope then
noticed the precentor, and descended to the grade of the lower
clergy. He gave him a squeeze of the hand, damp indeed, but
affectionate, and was very glad to make the acquaintance of Mr -;
oh, yes, Mr Harding; he had not exactly caught the name--
'Precentor in the cathedral' surmised Mr Slope. Mr Harding
confessed that such was the humble sphere of his work. 'Some parish
duties as well,' suggested Mr Slope. Mr Harding acknowledged the
diminutive incumbency of St Cuthbert's. Mr Slope then left him
alone, having condescended sufficiently, and joined the
conversation among the higher powers.

There were four persons there, each of whom considered himself the
most important personage in the diocese; himself indeed, or
herself, as Mrs Proudie was one of them; and with such a difference
of opinion it was not probable that they would get on pleasantly
together. The bishop himself actually wore the visible apron, and
trusted mainly to that--to that and to his title, both being facts
which could not be overlooked. The archdeacon knew his subject, and
really understood the business of bishoping, which the others did
not; and this was his strong ground. Mrs Proudie had her sex to
back her, and her habit of command, and was nothing daunted by the
high tone of Dr Grantly's face and figure. Mr Slope had only
himself and his own courage and tact to depend on, but he
nevertheless was perfectly self-assured, and did not doubt but that
he should soon get the better of weak men who trusted so much to
externals, as both bishop and archdeacon appeared to do.

'Do you reside in Barchester, Dr Grantly?' asked the lady with the
sweetest smile.

Dr Grantly explained that he lived in his own parish of Plumstead
Episcopi, a few miles out of the city. Whereupon the lady hoped
that the distance was not too great for country visiting, as she
would be so glad to make the acquaintance of Mrs Grantly. She would
take the earliest opportunity, after the arrival of her horses at
Barchester; their horses were at present in London; their horses
were not immediately coming down, as the bishop would be obliged in
a few days, to return to town. Dr Grantly was no doubt aware that
the bishop was at present much called upon by the 'University
Improvement Committee': indeed, the Committee could not well
proceed without him, as their final report had now to be drawn up.
The bishop had also to prepare a scheme for the 'Manufacturing
Towns Morning and Evening Sunday School Society', of which he was a
patron, or president, or director, and therefore the horses would
not come down to Barchester at present; but whenever the horses did
come down, she would take the earliest opportunity of calling at
Plumstead Episcopi, providing the distance was not too great for
country visiting.

The archdeacon made his fifth bow: he had made one at each mention
of the horses; and promised that Mrs Grantly would do herself the
honour of calling at the palace on an early day. Mrs Proudie
declared that she would be delighted: she hadn't liked to ask, not
being quite sure whether Mrs Grantly had horses; besides, the
distance might have been &c, &c.

Dr Grantly again bowed, but said nothing. He could have bought
every single individual possession of the whole family of the
Proudies, and have restored them as a gift, without much feeling
the loss; and had kept a separate pair of horses for the exclusive
use of his wife since the day of their marriage; whereas Mrs
Proudie had been hitherto jobbed about the streets of London at so
much a month during the season; and at other times had managed to
walk, or hire a smart fly from the livery stables.

'Are the arrangements with reference to the Sabbath-day schools
generally pretty good in your archdeaconry?'

'Sabbath-day schools!' repeated the archdeacon with an affectation
of surprise. 'Upon my word, I can't tell; it depends mainly on the
parson's wife and daughters. There is none at Plumstead.'

This was almost a fib on the part of the Archdeacon, for Mrs
Grantly has a very nice school. To be sure it is not a Sunday
School exclusively, and is not so designated; but that exemplary
lady always attends there an hour before church, and hears the
children say their catechism, and sees that they are clean and tidy
for church, with their hands washed, and their shoes tied; and
Grisel and Florinda, her daughters, carry thither a basket of large
buns, baked on the Saturday afternoon, and distribute them to all
the children not especially under disgrace, which buns are carried
home after church with considerable content, and eaten hot at tea,
being then split and toasted. The children of Plumstead would
indeed open their eyes if they heard their venerated pastor declare
that there were no Sunday schools in the parish.

Mr Slope merely opened his eyes wider, and slightly shrugged his
shoulders. He was not, however, prepared to give up his darling
project.

'I fear there is a great deal of Sabbath travelling here,' said he,
'on looking at the 'Bradshaw', I see that there are three trains in
and three trains out every Sabbath. Could nothing be done to induce
the company to withdraw them? Don't you think, Dr Grantly, that a
little energy might diminish the evil?'

'Not being a director, I really can't say. But if you can withdraw
the passengers, their company, I dare say, will withdraw the
trains,' said the doctor. 'It's merely a question of dividends.'

'But surely, Dr Grantly,' said the lady, 'surely we should look at
it differently. You and I, for instance, in our position: surely we
should do all that we can to control so grievous a sin. Don't you
think so, Mr Harding?' and she turned to the precentor, who was
sitting mute and unhappy.

Mr Harding thought that all porters and stokers, guards, breaksmen,
pointsmen ought to have an opportunity of going to church, and he
hoped that they all had.

'But surely, surely,' continued Mrs Proudie, 'surely that is not
enough. Surely that will not secure such an observance of the
Sabbath as we are taught to conceive is not only expedient by
indispensable; surely--'

Come what come might, Dr Grantly was not to be forced into a
dissertation on a point of doctrine with Mrs Proudie, nor yet with
Mr Slope; so without much ceremony he turned his back upon the
sofa, and began to hope that Dr Proudie had found the palace
repairs had been such as to meet his wishes.

'Yes, yes,' said his lordship; upon the whole he thought so--upon
the whole, he didn't know that there was much ground for complaint;
the architect, perhaps, might have--but his double, Mr Slope, who
had sidled over to the bishop's chair, would not allow his lordship
to finish his ambiguous speech.

'There is one point I would like to mention, Mr Archdeacon. His
lordship asked me to step through the premises, and I see that the
stalls in the second stable are not perfect.'

'Why--there's standing for a dozen horses,'said the archdeacon.

'Perhaps so,' said the other; 'indeed, I've no doubt of it; but
visitors, you know, often require so much accommodation. There are
many of the bishop's relatives who always bring their own horses.'

Dr Grantly promised that due provision for the relatives' horses
should be made, as far at least as the extent of the original
stable building would allow. He would himself communicate with the
architect.

'And the coach-house, Dr Grantly,' continued Mr Slope; 'there is
really hardly any room for a second carriage in the large
coach-house, and the smaller one, of course, holds only one.'

'And the gas,' chimed in the lady; 'there is no gas through the
house, none whatever, but in the kitchen and passages. Surely the
palace should have been fitted through with pipes for gas, and hot
water too. There is no hot water laid on anywhere above the ground
floor. Surely there should be the means of getting hot water in the
bed-rooms without having it brought in jugs from the kitchen.'

The bishop had a decided opinion that there should be pipes for hot
water. Hot water was very essential for the comfort of the palace.
It was, indeed, a requisite in any decent gentleman's house.

Mr Slope had remarked that the coping on the garden wall was in
many places imperfect.

Mrs Proudie had discovered a large hole, evidently the work of
rats, in the servants' hall.

The bishop expressed an utter detestation of rats. There was
nothing, he believed, in this world, that he so much hated as a
rat.

Mr Slope had, moreover, observed that the locks of the out-houses
were very imperfect: he might specify the coal-cellar, and the
wood-house.

Mrs Proudie had also seen that those on the doors of the servants'
bedrooms were in an equally bad condition; indeed the locks all
through the house were old-fashioned and unserviceable.

The bishop thought that a great deal depended on a good lock, and
quite as much on the key. He had observed that the fault very often
lay with the key, especially if the wards were in any way twisted.

Mr Slope was going on with his catalogue of grievances, when he was
somewhat loudly interrupted by the archdeacon who succeeded in
explaining that the diocesan architect, or rather his foreman, was
the person to be addressed on such subjects; and that he, Dr
Grantly, had inquired as to the comfort of the palace, merely as a
point of compliment. He was very sorry, however, that so many
things had been found amiss: and then he rose from his chair to
escape.

Mrs Proudie, though she had contrived to lend her assistance in
recapitulating the palatial dilapidations, had not on that account
given up her hold of Mr Harding, nor ceased from her
cross-examination as the iniquity of Sabbatical amusements. Over
and over again had she thrown out her 'surely, surely,' at Mr
Harding's devoted head, and ill had that gentleman been able to
parry the attack.

He had never before found himself subjected to such a nuisance.
Ladies hitherto, when they had consulted him on religious subjects,
had listened to what he might choose to say with some deference,
and had differed, it they differed, in silence. But Mrs Proudie
interrogated him, and then lectured. 'Neither thou, nor thy son,
nor thy daughter, nor thy man servant, nor thy maid servant,' said
she, impressively, and more than once, as though Mr Harding had
forgotten the words. She shook her finger at him as she quoted the
favourite law, as though menacing him with punishment; and then
called upon him categorically to state whether he did not think
that travelling on the Sabbath was an abomination and a
desecration.

Mr Harding had never been so hard pressed in his life. He felt that
he ought to rebuke the lady for presuming so to talk to a gentleman
and a clergyman so may years her senior; but he recoiled from the
idea of scolding the bishop's wife, in the bishop's presence, on
his first visit to the palace; moreover, to tell the truth, he was
somewhat afraid of her. She, seeing him sit silent and absorbed, by
no means refrained from the attack.

'I hope, Mr Harding,' said she, shaking her head slowly and
solemnly, 'I hope you will not leave me to think that you approve
of Sabbath travelling,' and she looked a look of unutterable
meaning into his eyes.

There was no standing for this, for Mr Slope was now looking at
him, and so was the bishop, and so was the archdeacon, who had
completed his adieux on that side of the room. Mr Harding therefore
got up also, and putting out his hand to Mrs Proudie, said: 'If you
will come to St Cuthbert's some Sunday, I will preach you a sermon
on the subject.'

And so the archdeacon and the precentor took their departure,
bowing low to the lady, shaking hands with the lord, and escaping
from Mr Slope in the best manner each could. Mr Harding was again
maltreated; but Dr Grantly swore deeply in the bottom of his heart,
that no earthly consideration should ever again induce him to touch
the paw of that impure and filthy animal.

And now, had I the pen of a might poet, would I sing in epic verse
the noble wrath of the archdeacon. The palace steps descend to a
broad gravel sweep, from whence a small gate opens out into the
street, very near the covered gateway leading to the close. The
road from the palace door turns to the left, through the spacious
gardens, and terminates on the London-road, half a mile from the
cathedral.

Till they had passed this small gate and entered the close, neither
of them spoke a word; but the precentor clearly saw from his
companion's face that a tornado was to be expected, nor was he
himself inclined to stop it. Though, by nature far less irritable
than the archdeacon, even he was angry: he even--that mild and
courteous man--was inclined to express himself in anything but
courteous terms.



CHAPTER VI

WAR

'Good heavens!' exclaimed the archdeacon, as he placed his foot on
the gravel walk of the close, and raising his hat with one hand,
passed the other somewhat violently over his now grizzled locks;
smoke issued from the uplifted beaver as it were a cloud of wrath,
and the safety-valve of his anger opened, and emitted a visible
steam, preventing positive explosion and probably apoplexy. 'Good
heavens!'--and the archdeacon looked up to the gray pinnacles of
the cathedral tower, making a mute appeal to that still living
witness which had looked down on the doings of so many bishops of
Barchester.

'I don't think I shall ever like that Mr Slope,' said Mr Harding.

'Like him!' roared the archdeacon, standing still for a moment to
give more force to his voice; 'like him!' All the ravens of the
close cawed their assent. The old bells of the tower, in chiming
the hour, echoed the words; and the swallows flying out from their
nests mutely expressed a similar opinion. Like Mr Slope! Why no, it
was not very probable that any Barchester-bred living thing should
like Mr Slope!

'Nor Mrs Proudie either,' said Mr Harding.

The archdeacon thereupon forgot himself. I will not follow his
example, nor shock my readers by transcribing the term in which he
expressed his feelings as to the lady who had been named. The
ravens and the last lingering notes of the clock bells were less
scrupulous, and repeated in corresponding echoes the very improper
exclamation. The archdeacon again raised his hat; and another
salutary escape of steam was effected.

There was a pause, during which the precentor tried to realise the
fact that the wife of the bishop of Barchester had been thus
designated, in the close of the cathedral, by the lips of its own
archdeacon: but he could not do it.

'The bishop seems a quiet man enough,' suggested Mr Harding, having
acknowledged to himself his own failure.

'Idiot!' exclaimed the doctor, who for the nonce was not capable of
more than spasmodic attempts at utterance.

'Well, he did not seem very bright,' said Mr Harding, 'and yet he
has always had the reputation of a clever man. I suppose he's
cautious and not inclined to express himself very freely.'

The new bishop of Barchester was already so contemptible a creature
in Dr Grantly's eyes, that he could not condescend to discuss his
character. He was a puppet to be played by others; a mere wax doll,
done up in an apron and a shovel hat, to be stuck on a throne or
elsewhere and pulled about by wires as others chose. Dr Grantly did
not choose to let himself down low enough to talk about Dr Proudie;
but he saw that he would have to talk about the other members of
his household, the coadjutor bishops, who had brought his lordship
down, as it were, in a box, and were about to handle the wires as
they willed. This in itself was a terrible vexation to the
archdeacon. Could he have ignored the chaplain, and have fought the
bishop, there would have been, at any rate, nothing degrading in
such a contest. Let the Queen make whom she would bishop of
Barchester; a man, or even an ape, when once a bishop, would be a
respectable adversary, if he would but fight, himself. But what was
such a person as Dr Grantly to do, when such another person as Mr
Slope was put forward as his antagonist?

If he, our archdeacon, refused to combat, Mr Slope would walk
triumphant over the field, and have the diocese of Barchester under
his heel.

If, on the other hand, the archdeacon accepted as his enemy the man
whom the new puppet bishop put before him as such, he would have to
talk about Mr Slope, and write about Mr Slope, and in all matters
treat with Mr Slope, as a being standing, in some degree, on ground
similar to his own. He would have to meet Mr Slope; to--Bah! The
idea was sickening. He could not bring himself to have to do with
Mr Slope.

'He is the most thoroughly bestial creature that ever I set my eyes
upon,' said the archdeacon.

'Who--the bishop?'

'Bishop! No--I'm not talking about the bishop. How on earth such a
creature got ordained!--they'll ordain anybody now, I know; but
he's been in the church these ten years; and they used to be a
little careful ten years ago.'

'Oh! You mean Mr Slope.'

'Did you ever see any animal less like a gentleman?'

'I can't say I felt myself much disposed to like him.'

'Like him!' again shouted the doctor, and the assenting ravens
again cawed an echo; 'of course you don't like him; it's not a
question of liking. But what are we to do with him?'

'Do with him?' asked Mr Harding.

'Yes--what are we to do with him? How are we to treat him? There he
is, and there he'll stay. He has put his foot in that palace, and
he will never take it out again till he's driven. How are we to get
rid of him?'

'I don't suppose he can do us much harm.'

'Not do harm!--Well I think you'll find yourself of a different
opinion before a month is gone. What would you say now, if he got
himself put into the hospital? Would that be harm?'

Mr Harding mused awhile, and then said he didn't think the new
bishop would put Mr Slope into the hospital.

'If he doesn't put him there, he'll put him somewhere else where
he'll be as bad. I tell you that that man, to all intents and
purposes, will be Bishop of Barchester;' and again, Dr Grantly
raised his hat, and rubbed his hand thoughtfully and sadly over his
head.

'Impudent scoundrel!' he exclaimed after a while. 'To dare to
cross-examine me about Sunday schools in the diocese, and Sunday
travelling too: I never in my life met his equal for sheer
impudence. Why, he must have thought we were two candidates for
ordination.'

'I declare I thought Mrs Proudie the worst of the two,' said Mr
Harding.

'When a woman is impertinent one must only put up with it, and keep
out of her way in future; but I am not inclined to put up with Mr
Slope. "Sabbath travelling!"' and the doctor attempted to imitate
the peculiar drawl of the man he so much disliked: '"Sabbath
travelling!" Those are the sort of men who will ruin the Church of
England, and make the profession of clergyman disreputable. It is
not the dissenters or the papists that we should fear, but the set
of canting, low-bred hypocrites who are wriggling their way in
among us; men who have no fixed principle, no standard ideas of
religion or doctrine, but who take up some popular cry, as this
fellow has done about "Sabbath travelling."'

Dr Grantly did not again repeat the question aloud, but he did so
constantly to himself, 'What were they to do with Mr Slope?' How
was he openly, before the world, to show that he utterly
disapproved of and abhorred such a man?

Hitherto Barchester had escaped the taint of any extreme rigour of
church doctrine. The clergymen of the city and the neighbourhood,
though very well inclined to promote high-church principles,
privileges, and prerogatives, had never committed themselves to
tendencies, which are somewhat too loosely called Puseyite
practices. They all preached in their black gowns, as their fathers
had done before them; they wore ordinary black cloth waistcoats;
they had not candles on their altars, either lighted or unlighted;
they made no private genuflexions, and were contented to confine
themselves to such ceremonial observances as had been in vogue for
the last hundred years. The services were decently and demurely
read in their parish churches, chanting was confined to the
cathedral, and the science of intoning was unknown. One young man
who had come direct from Oxford as a curate at Plumstead had, after
the lapse of two or three Sundays, made a faint attempt, much to
the bewilderment of the poorer part of the congregation. Dr Grantly
had not been present on the occasion; but Mrs Grantly, who had her
own opinion on the subject, immediately after the service expressed
a hope that the young gentleman had not been taken ill, and offered
to send him all kinds of condiments supposed to be good for a sore
throat. After that there had been no more intoning at Plumstead
Episcopi.

But now the archdeacon began to meditate on some strong measures of
absolute opposition. Dr Proudie and his crew were of the lowest
possible order of Church of England clergymen, and therefore it
behoved him, Dr Grantly, to be of the very highest. Dr Proudie
would abolish all forms and ceremonies, and therefore Dr Grantly
felt the sudden necessity of multiplying them. Dr Proudie would
consent to deprive the church of all collective authority and rule,
and therefore Dr Grantly would stand up for the full power of
convocation, and the renewal of its ancient privileges.

It was true that he could not himself intone the service, but he
could pressure the co-operation of any number of gentlemanlike
curates well trained in the mystery of doing so. He would not
willingly alter his own fashion of dress, but he could people
Barchester with young clergymen dressed in the longest frocks, and
the highest breasted silk waistcoats. He certainly was not prepared
to cross himself, or to advocate the real presence; but, without
going this length, there were various observances, by adopting
which he could plainly show his antipathy to such men as Dr Proudie
and Mr Slope.

All these things passed through his mind as he paced up and down
the close with Mr Harding. War, war, internecine war was in his
heart. He felt that as regarded himself and Mr Slope, one of the
two must be annihilated as far as the city of Barchester was
concerned; and he did not intend to give way until there was not
left to him an inch of ground on which he could stand. He still
flattered himself that he could make Barchester too hot to hold Mr
Slope, and he had no weakness of spirit to prevent his bringing
about such consummation if it were in his power.

'I suppose Susan must call at the palace,' said Mr Harding.

'Yes, she shall call there; but it shall be once and once only. I
dare say "the horses" won't find it convenient to come to Plumstead
very soon, and when that once is done the matter may drop.'

'I don't suppose Eleanor need call. I don't think Eleanor would get
on at all well with Mrs Proudie.'

'Not the least necessity in life,' replied the archdeacon, not
without the reflection that a ceremony which was necessary for his
wife, might not be at all binding on the widow of John Bold. 'Not
the slightest reason on earth why she should do so, if she doesn't
like it. For myself, I don't think that any decent young woman
should be subjected to the nuisance of being in the same room with
that man.'

And so the two clergymen parted. Mr Harding going to his daughter's
house, and the archdeacon seeking the seclusion of his brougham.

The new inhabitants of the palace did not express any higher
opinion of their visitors than their visitors had expressed of
them. Though they did not use quite such strong language as Dr
Grantly had done, they felt as much personal aversion, and were
quite as well aware as he was that there would be a battle to be
fought, and that there was hardly room for Proudieism in Barchester
as long as Grantlyism was predominant.

Indeed, it may be doubted whether Mr Slope had not already within
his breast a better prepared system of strategy, a more
accurately-defined line of hostile conduct than the archdeacon. Dr
Grantly was going to fight because he found that he hated the man.
Mr Slope had predetermined to hate the man because he foresaw the
necessity of fighting him. When he had first reviewed the carte de
pays, previous to his entry into Barchester, the idea had occurred
to him of conciliating the archdeacon, of cajoling and flattering
him into submission, and of obtaining the upper hand by cunning
instead of courage. A little inquiry, however, sufficed to convince
him that all his cunning would fail to win over such a man as Dr
Grantly to such a mode of action as that to be adopted by Mr Slope;
and then he determined to fall back upon his courage. He at once
saw that open battle against Dr Grantly and all Dr Grantly's
adherents was a necessity of his position, and he deliberately
planned the most expedient method of giving offence.

Soon after his arrival the bishop had intimated to the dean that,
with the permission of the canon then in residence, his chaplain
would preach in the cathedral on the next Sunday. The canon in
residence happened to be the Honourable and Reverend Dr Vesey
Stanhope, who at this time was very busy on the shores of Lake
Como, adding to that unique collection of butterflies for which he
is so famous. Or, rather, he would have been in residence but for
the butterflies and other such summer-day considerations; and the
vicar-choral, who was to take his place in the pulpit, by no means
objected to having his word done for him by Mr Slope.

Mr Slope accordingly preached, and if a preacher can have
satisfaction in being listened to, Mr Slope ought to have been
gratified. I have reason to think that he was gratified, and that
he left the pulpit with the conviction that he had done what he
intended to do when he entered it.

On this occasion the new bishop took his seat for the first time in
the throne allotted to him. New scarlet cushions and drapery had
been prepared, with new gilt binding and new fringe. The old carved
oak-wood of the throne, ascending with its numerous grotesque
pinnacles, half-way up to the rood of the choir, had been washed,
and dusted, and rubbed, and it all looked very smart. Ah! How often
sitting there, in happy early days, on those lowly benches in front
of the altar, have I whiled away the tedium of a sermon considering
how best I might thread my way up amidst those wooden towers, and
climb safely to the topmost pinnacle!

All Barchester went to hear Mr Slope; either for that or to gaze at
the new bishop. All the best bonnets of the city were there, and
moreover all the best glossy clerical hats. Not a stall but had its
fitting occupant; for though some of the prebendaries might be away
in Italy or elsewhere, their places were filled by brethren, who
flocked into Barchester on the occasion. The dean was there, a
heavy old man, now too old, indeed, to attend frequently in his
place; and so was the archdeacon. So also were the chancellor, the
treasurer, the precentor, sundry canons and minor canons, and every
lay member of the choir, prepared to sing the new bishop in with
due melody and harmonious expression of sacred welcome.

The service was certainly well performed. Such was always the case
at Barchester, as the musical education of the choir had been good,
and the voices had been carefully selected. The psalms were
beautifully chanted; the Te Deum was magnificently sung; and the
litany was given in a manner, which is still to be found at
Barchester, but, if my taste be correct, is to be found nowhere
else. The litany of Barchester cathedral has long been the special
task to which Mr Harding's skill and voice have been devoted.
Crowded audiences generally make good performers, and though Mr
Harding was not aware of any extraordinary exertion on his part,
yet probably he rather exceeded his usual mark. Others were doing
their best, and it was natural that he should emulate his brethren.
So the service went on, and at last Mr Slope got into the pulpit.

He chose for his text a verse from the precept addressed by St Paul
to Timothy, as to the conduct necessary in a spiritual pastor and
guide, and it was immediately evident that the good clergy of
Barchester were to have a lesson.

'Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth
not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.' These were
the words of the text, and with such a subject in such a place, it
may be supposed that such a preacher would be listened to by such
an audience. He was listened to with breathless attention, and not
without considerable surprise. Whatever opinion of Mr Slope might
have been held in Barchester before he commenced, his discourse,
none of his hearers, when it was over, could mistake him for either
a fool or a coward.

It would not be becoming were I to travesty a sermon, or even
repeat the language of it in the pages of a novel. In endeavouring
to depict the characters of the persons of whom I write, I am to a
certain extent forced to speak of sacred things. I trust, however,
that I shall not be thought to scoff at the pulpit, though some may
imagine that I do not feel the reverence that is due to the cloth.
I may question the infallibility of the teachers, but I hope that I
shall not therefore be accused of doubt as to the thing to be
taught.

Mr Slope, in commencing his sermon, showed no slight tact in his
ambiguous manner of hinting that, humble as he was himself, he
stood there as the mouthpiece of the illustrious divine who sat
opposite to him; and having presumed so much, he gave forth a very
accurate definition of the conduct which that prelate would rejoice
to see in the clergymen now brought under his jurisdiction. It is
only necessary to say, that the peculiar points insisted on were
exactly those which were most distasteful to the clergy of the
diocese, and most averse to their practices and opinions; and that
all those peculiar habits and privileges which have always been
dear to high-church priests, to that party which is now
scandalously called the high-and-dry church, were ridiculed,
abused, and anathematised. Now, the clergymen of the diocese of
Barchester are all of the high-and-dry church.

Having thus, according to his own opinion, explained how a
clergyman should show himself approved unto God, as a workman that
needeth not to be ashamed, he went on to explain how the word of
truth should be divided; and here he took a rather narrow view of
the question; and fetched arguments from afar. His object was to
express his abomination of all ceremonious modes of utterance, to
cry down any religious feeling which might be excited, not by the
sense, but by the sound of words, and in fact to insult the
cathedral practices. Had St Paul spoken of rightly pronouncing
instead of rightly dividing the word of truth, this part of his
sermon would have been more to the purpose; but the preacher's
immediate object was to preach Mr Slope's doctrine, and not St
Paul's, and he contrived to give the necessary twist to the text
with some skill.

He could not exactly say, preaching from a cathedral pulpit, that
chanting should be abandoned in cathedral services. By such an
assertion, he would have overshot his mark and rendered himself
absurd, to the delight of his hearers. He could, however, and did,
allude with heavy denunciations to the practice of intoning in
parish churches, although the practice was not but unknown in the
diocese; and from thence he came round to the undue preponderance,
which he asserted, music over meaning in the beautiful service
which they had just heard. He was aware, he said, that the
practices of our ancestors could not be abandoned at a moment's
notice; the feelings of the aged would be outraged, and the minds
of respectable men would be shocked. There were many, he was aware,
of not sufficient calibre of thought to perceive, of not sufficient
education to know, that a mode of service, which was effective when
outward ceremonies were of more moment than inward feelings, had
become all but barbarous at a time when inward conviction was
everything, when each word of the minister's lips should fall
intelligibly into the listener's heart. Formerly the religion of
the multitude had been an affair of the imagination: now, in these
latter days, it had become necessary that a Christian should have a
reason for his faith--should not only believe, but digest--not only
hear, but understand. The words of our morning service, how
beautiful, how apposite, how intelligible they were, when read with
simple and distinct decorum! But how much of the meaning of the
words was lost when they were produced with all the meretricious
charms of melody! &c &c.

Here was a sermon to be preached before Mr Archdeacon Grantly, Mr
Precentor Harding, and the rest of them! Before a whole dean and
chapter assembled in their own cathedral! Before men who had grown
old in the exercise of their peculiar services, with a full
conviction of their excellence for all intended purposes! This too
from such a man, a clerical parvenu, a man without a cure, a mere
chaplain, an intruder among them; a fellow raked up, so said Dr
Grantly, from the gutters of Marylebone! They had to sit through
it! None of them, not even Dr Grantly, could close his ears, nor
leave the house of God during the hours of service. They were under
an obligation of listening, and that too, without any immediate
power of reply.

There is, perhaps, no greater hardship at present inflicted on
mankind in civilised and free countries than the necessity of
listening to sermons. No one but a preaching clergyman has, in
these realms, the power of compelling audiences to sit silent, and
be tormented. No one but a preaching clergyman can revel in
platitudes, truisms, and untruisms, (sic) and yet receive, as his
undisputed privilege, the same respectful demeanour as though words
of impassioned eloquence, or persuasive logic, fell from his lips.
Let a professor of law or physic find his place in a lecture-room,
and there pour forth jejune words and useless empty phrases, and he
will pour them forth to empty benches. Let a barrister attempt to
talk without talking well, and he will talk but seldom. A judge's
charge need be listened to per force by none but the jury,
prisoner, and gaoler (sic). A member of parliament can be coughed
down or counted out. Town-councillors can be tabooed. But no one
can rid himself of the preaching clergyman. He is the bore of the
age, the old man whom we Sindbads cannot shake off, the nightmare
that disturbs our Sunday's rest, the incubus that overloads our
religion and makes God's service distasteful. We are not forced
into church! No: but we desire more than that. We desire not to be
forced to stay away. We desire, nay, we are resolute, to enjoy the
comfort of public worship; but we desire also that we may do so
without an amount of tedium which ordinary human nature cannot
endure with patience; that we may be able to leave the house of God
without that anxious longing for escape, which is the common
consequence of common sermons.

With what complacency will a young parson deduce false conclusions
from misunderstood texts, and then threaten us with all the
penalties of Hades if we neglect to comply with the injunctions he
has given us! Yes, my too self-confident juvenile friend, I do
believe in those mysteries, which are so common in your mouth; I do
believe in the unadulterated word which you hold there in your
hand; but you must pardon me if, in some things, I doubt your
interpretation. The bible is good, the prayer-book is good, nay,
you yourself would be acceptable, if you would read to me some
portion of those time-honoured discourses which our great divines
have elaborated in the full maturity of their powers. But you must
excuse me, my insufficient young lecturer, if I yawn over your
imperfect sentences, your repeated phrases, your false pathos, your
drawlings (sic) and denouncings (sic), your humming and hawing,
your oh-ing and ah-ing, your black gloves and your white
handkerchief. To me, it all means nothing; and hours are too
precious to be so wasted--if one could only avoid it.

And here I must make a protest against the pretence, so often put
forward by the working clergy, that they are overburdened by the
multitude of sermons to be preached. We are all too fond of our own
voices, and a preacher is encouraged in the vanity of making his
heard by the privilege of a compelled audience. His sermon is the
pleasant morsel of his life, his delicious moment of
self-exaltation. 'I have preached nine sermons this week, four the
week before. I have preached twenty-three sermons this month. It is
really too much.' 'Too much for the strength of any one.' 'Yes,' he
answered meekly, 'indeed it is; I am beginning to feel it
painfully.' 'Would,' said I, 'you could feel it--would that you
could be made to feel it.' But he never guessed that my heart was
wrung for the poor listeners.

There was, at any rate, no tedium felt in listening to Mr Slope on
the occasion in question. His subject came too home to his audience
to be dull; and, to tell the truth, Mr Slope had the gift of using
words forcibly. He was heard through his thirty minutes of
eloquence with mute attention and open ears; but with angry eyes,
which glared found form one enraged parson to another, with
wide-spread nostrils from which already burst forth fumes of
indignation, and with many shufflings (sic) of the feet and uneasy
motions of the body, which betokened minds disturbed, and hearts
not at peace with all the world.

At last the bishop, who, of all the congregation, had been most
surprised, and whose hair almost stood on end with terror, gave the
blessing in a manner not at all equal to that in which he had long
been practising it in his own study, and the congregation was free
to go their way.



CHAPTER VII

THE DEAN AND CHAPTER TAKE COUNSEL

All Barchester was in a tumult. Dr Grantly could hardly get himself
out of the cathedral porch before he exploded in his wrath. The old
dean betook himself silently to his deanery, afraid to speak; and
there sat, half stupefied, pondering many things in vain. Mr
Harding crept forth solitary and unhappy; and, slowly passing
beneath the elms of the close, could scarcely bring himself to
believe that the words which he had heard had proceeded from the
pulpit of the Barchester Cathedral. Was he again to be disturbed?
Was his whole life to be shown up as a useless sham a second time?
would he have to abdicate his precentorship, as he had his
wardenship, and to give up chanting, as he had given up his twelve
old bedesmen? And what if he did! Some other Jupiter, some other Mr
Slope, would come and turn him out of St Cuthbert's. Surely he
could not have been wrong all his life in chanting the litany as he
had done! He began, however, to have doubts. Doubting himself was
Mr Harding's weakness. It is not, however, the usual fault of his
order.

Yes! All Barchester was in a tumult. It was not only the clergy who
were affected. The laity also had listened to Mr Slope's new
doctrine, all with surprise, some with indignation, and some with a
mixed feeling, in which dislike of the preacher was not so strongly
blended. The old bishop and his chaplain, the dean and his canons
and minor canons, the old choir, and especially Mr Harding who was
at the head of it, had all been popular in Barchester. They had
spent their money and done good; the poor had not been ground down;
the clergy in society had neither been overbearing nor austere; and
the whole repute of the city was due to its ecclesiastical
importance. Yet there were those who had heard Mr Slope with
satisfaction.

It is so pleasant to receive a fillip of excitement when suffering
from the dull routine of everyday life! The anthems and Te Deums
were in themselves delightful, but they had been heard so often! Mr
Slope was certainly not delightful, but he was new, and, moreover,
clever. They had long thought it slow, so said now may of the
Barchesterians, to go on as they had done in their old humdrum way,
giving ear to none of the religious changes which were moving the
world without. People in advance of the age now had new ideas, and
it was quite time that Barchester should go in advance. Mr Slope
might be right. Sunday certainly had to been strictly kept in
Barchester, except as regarded the cathedral services. Indeed the
two hours between services had long been appropriated to morning
calls and hot luncheons. Then Sunday schools; Sabbath-day schools
Mr Slope had called them. The late bishop had really not thought of
Sunday schools as he should have done. (These people probably did
not reflect that catechisms and collects are quite hard work to the
young mind as book-keeping is to the elderly; and that quite as
little feeling of worship enters into one task as the other.) And
then, as regarded that great question of musical services, there
might be much to be said on Mr Slope's side of the question. It
certainly was the fact, that people went to the cathedral to hear
the music &c &c.

And so a party absolutely formed itself in Barchester on Mr Slope's
side of the question! This consisted, among the upper classes,
chiefly of ladies. No man--that is, no gentleman--could possibly be
attracted by Mr Slope, or consent to sit at the feet of so
abhorrent a Gamaliel. Ladies are sometimes less nice in their
appreciation of physical disqualification; and, provided that a man
speak to them well, they will listen, though he speak from a mouth
never so deformed and hideous. Wilkes was most fortunate as a
lover; and the damp, sandy-haired, saucer-eyed, red-fisted Mr Slope
was powerful only over the female breast.

There were, however, one or two of the neighbouring clergy who
thought it not quite safe to neglect the baskets in which for the
nonce were stored the loaves and fishes of the diocese of
Barchester. They, and they only, came to call on Mr Slope after his
performance in the cathedral pulpit. Among them Mr Quiverful, the
rector of Puddingdale, whose wife still continued to present him
from year to year with fresh pledges of her love, and so to
increase his cares and, it is to be hoped, his happiness equally.
Who can wonder that a gentleman, with fourteen living children and
a bare income of L 400 a year, should look after the loaves and
fishes, ever when they are under the thumb of Mr Slope?

Very soon after the Sunday on which the sermon was preached, the
leading clergy of the neighbourhood held high debate together as to
how Mr Slope should be put down. In the first place he should never
again preach from the pulpit of Barchester cathedral. This was Dr
Grantly's earliest dictum; and they all agreed, providing only that
they had the power to exclude him. Dr Grantly declared that the
power rested with the dean and chapter, observing that no clergyman
out of the chapter had a claim to preach there, saving only the
bishop himself. To this the dean assented, but alleged that
contests on such a subject would be unseemly; to which rejoined a
meagre little doctor, one of the cathedral prebendaries, that the
contest must be all on the side of Mr Slope if every prebendary
were always there ready to take his own place in the pulpit.
Cunning little meagre doctor, whom it suits well to live in his own
cosy house within Barchester close, and who is well content to have
his little fling at Dr Vesey Stanhope and other absentees, whose
Italian villas, or enticing London homes, are more tempting than
cathedral stalls and residences!

To this answered the burly chancellor, a man rather silent indeed,
but very sensible, that absent prebendaries had their vicars, and
that in such case the vicar's right to the pulpit was the same as
that of the higher order. To which the dean assented, groaning
deeply at these truths. Thereupon, however, the meagre doctor
remarked that they would be in the hands of their minor canons, one
of whom might at any hour betray his trust. Whereon was heard from
the burly chancellor an ejaculation sounding somewhat like 'Pooh,
pooh, pooh!' but it might have been that the worthy man was but
blowing out the heavy breath from his windpipe. Why silence him at
all, suggested Mr Harding. Let them not be ashamed to hear what any
man might have to preach to them, unless he preached false
doctrine; in which case, let the bishop silence him. So spoke our
friend; vainly; for human ends must be attained by human means. But
the dean saw a ray of hope out of those purblind old eyes of his.
Yes, let them tell the bishop how distasteful to them was this Mr
Slope: new bishop just come to his seat could not wish to insult
his clergy while the gloss was yet fresh on his first apron.

Then up rose Dr Grantly; and, having thus collected the scattered
wisdom of his associates, spoke forth with words of deep authority.
When I say up rose the archdeacon, I speak of the inner man, which
then sprang up to more immediate action, for the doctor had,
bodily, been standing all along with his back to the dean's empty
fire-grate, and the tails of his frock coat supported over his two
arms. His hands were in his breeches pockets.

'It is quite clear that this man must not be allowed to preach
again in the cathedral. We all see that, except our dear friend
here, the milk of whose nature runs so softly, that he would not
have the heart to refuse the Pope, the loan of his pulpit, if the
Pope would come and ask it. We must not, however, allow the man to
preach again here. It is not because his opinion on church matters
may be different from ours--with that one would not quarrel. It is
because he has purposely insulted us. When he went up into that
pulpit last Sunday, his studied object was to give offence to men
who had grown old in reverence to those things of which he dared to
speak so slightingly. What! To come here a stranger, a young,
unknown, and unfriended stranger, and tell us, in the name of the
bishop, his master, that we are ignorant of our duties,
old-fashioned, and useless! I don't know whether to most admire his
courage or his impudence! And one thing I will tell you: that
sermon originated solely with the man himself. The bishop was no
more a party to it than was the dean here. You all know how grieved
I am to see a bishop in this diocese holding the latitudinarian
ideas by which Dr Proudie has made himself conspicuous. You all
know how greatly I should distrust the opinion of such a man. But
in this matter I hold him to be blameless. I believe Dr Proudie has
lived too long among gentlemen to be guilty, or to instigate
another to be guilty, of so gross an outrage. No! That man uttered
what was untrue when he hinted that he was speaking as the
mouthpiece of the bishop. It suited his ambitious views at once to
throw down the gauntlet to us--here within the walls of our own
loved cathedral--here where we have for so many years exercised our
ministry, without schism and with good repute. Such an attack upon
us, coming from such a quarter, is abominable.'

'Abominable,' groaned the dean. 'Abominable,' muttered the meagre
doctor. 'Abominable,' re-echoed the chancellor, uttering a sound
from the bottom of his deep chest. 'I really think it was,' said Mr
Harding.

'Most abominable, and most unjustifiable,' continued the
archdeacon. 'But, Mr Dean, thank God, that pulpit is still our own:
your own, I should say. That pulpit belongs to the dean and chapter
of Barchester Cathedral, and, as yet, Mr Slope is no part of that
chapter. You, Mr Dean, have suggested that we should appeal to the
bishop to abstain from forcing this man on us; but what if the
bishop allow himself to be ruled by his chaplain? In my opinion,
the matter is in our own hands. Mr Slope cannot preach there
without permission asked and obtained, and let that permission be
invariable refused. Let all participation in the ministry of the
cathedral service be refused to him. Then, if the bishop choose to
interfere, we shall know what answer to make to the bishop. My
friend here has suggested that this man may again find his way into
the pulpit by undertaking the duty of some of your minor canons;
but I am sure that we may fully trust to these gentlemen to support
us, when it is known that the dean objects to any such transfer.'

'Of course you may,' said the chancellor.

There was much more discussion among the learned conclave, all of
which, of course, ended in obedience to the archdeacon's commands.
They had too long been accustomed to his rule to shake it off so
soon; and in this particular case they had none of them a wish to
abet the man whom he was so anxious to put down.

Such a meeting as that we have just recorded is not held in such a
city as Barchester unknown and untold of. Not only was the fact of
the meeting talked of in every respectable house, including the
palace, but the very speeches of the dean, the archdeacon, and
chancellor were repeated; not without many additions and imaginary
circumstances, according to the tastes and opinions of the
relaters.

All, however, agreed in saying that Mr Slope was to be debarred
from opening his mouth in the cathedral of Barchester; many
believed that the vergers were to be ordered to refuse him even the
accommodation of a seat; and some of the most far-going advocates
for strong measures, declared that this sermon was looked upon as
an indictable offence, and that proceedings were to be taken
against him for brawling.

The party who were inclined to him--the enthusiastically religious
young ladies, and the middle-aged spinsters desirous of a move--of
course took up his defence the more warmly on account of this
attack. If they could not hear Mr Slope in the cathedral, they
would hear him elsewhere; they would leave the dull dean, the dull
old prebendaries, and the scarcely less dull young minor canons, to
preach to each other; they would work slippers and cushions, and
hem bands for Mr Slope, make him a happy martyr, and stick him up
in some new Sion (sic) or Bethesda, and put the cathedral quite out
of fashion.

Dr and Mrs Proudie at once returned to London. They thought it
expedient not to have to encounter any personal applications from
the dean and chapter respecting the sermon till the violence of the
storm had expended itself; but they left Mr Slope behind them
nothing daunted, and he went about his work zealously, flattering
such as would listen to his flattery, whispering religious twaddle
into the ears of foolish women, ingratiating himself with the very
few clergy who would receive him, visiting the houses of the poor,
inquiring into all people, prying into everything, and searching
with the minutest eye into all palatial dilapidation. He did not,
however, make any immediate attempt to preach again in the
cathedral.

And so all Barchester was by the ears.



CHAPTER VIII

THE EX-WARDEN REJOICES IN HIS PROBABLE RETURN TO THE HOSPITAL

Among the ladies in Barchester who have hitherto acknowledged Mr
Slope as their spiritual director, must not be reckoned either the
widow Bold, or her sister-in-law. On the first outbreak of the
wrath of the denizens of the close, none had been more animated
against the intruder than those two ladies. And this was natural.
Who could be so proud of the musical distinction of their own
cathedral as the favourite daughter of the precentor? Who would be
so likely to resent an insult offered to the old choir? And in such
matters Miss Bold and her sister-in-law had but one opinion.

This wrath, however, has in some degree been mitigated, and I
regret to say that these ladies allowed Mr Slope to be his own
apologist. About a fortnight after the sermon had been preached,
they were both of them not a little surprised by hearing Mr Slope
announced, as the page in buttons opened Mrs Bold's drawing-room
door. Indeed, what living man could, by a mere morning visit, have
surprised them more? Here was the great enemy of all that was good
in Barchester coming into their own drawing-room, and they had not
strong arm, no ready tongue near at hand for their protection. The
widow snatched her baby out of its cradle into her lap, and Mary
Bold stood up ready to die manfully in that baby's behalf, should,
under any circumstances, such a sacrifice be necessary.

In this manner was Mr Slope received. But when he left, he was
allowed by each lady to take her hand, and to make his adieux as
gentlemen do who have been graciously entertained! Yes; he shook
hands with them, and was curtseyed out courteously, the buttoned
page opening the door, as he would have done for the best canon of
them all. He had touched the baby's little hand and blessed him
with a fervid blessing; he had spoken to the widow of her early
sorrows, and Eleanor's silent tears had not rebuked him; he had
told Mary Bold that her devotion would be rewarded, and Mary Bold
had heard the praise without disgust. And how had he done all this?
How had he so quickly turned aversion into, at any rate,
acquaintance? How had he overcome the enmity with which those
ladies had been ready to receive him, and made his peace with them
so easily?

My readers will guess from what I have written that I myself do not
like Mr Slope; but I am constrained to admit that he is a man of
parts. He knows how to say a soft word in the proper place; he
knows how to adapt his flattery to the ears of his hearers; he
knows the wiles of the serpent and he uses them. Could Mr Slope
have adapted his manners to men as well as to women, could he ever
have learnt the ways of a gentleman, he might have risen to great
things.

He commenced his acquaintance with Eleanor by praising her father.
He had, he said, become aware that he had unfortunately offended
the feelings of a man of whom he could not speak too highly; he
would not now allude to a subject which was probably too serious
for drawing-room conversation, but he would say, that it had been
very far from him to utter a word in disparagement of a man, of
whom all the world, at least the clerical world, spoke of so highly
as it did of Mr Harding. And so he went on, unsaying a great deal
of his sermon, expressing his highest admiration for the
precentor's musical talents, eulogising the father and the daughter
and the sister-in-law, speaking in that low silky whisper which he
always had specially prepared for feminine ears, and, ultimately,
gaining his object. When he left, he expressed a hope that he might
again be allowed to call; and though Eleanor gave no verbal assent
to this, she did not express dissent; and so Mr Slope's right to
visit at the widow's house was established.

The day after this visit Eleanor told her father of it, and
expressed an opinion that Mr Slope was not quite so black as he had
been painted. Mr Harding opened he eyes rather wider than usual
when he heard what had occurred, but he said little; he could not
agree in any praise of Mr Slope, and it was not his practice to say
much evil of any one. He did not, however, like the visit, and
simple-minded as he was, he felt sure that Mr Slope had some deeper
motive than the mere pleasure of making soft speeches to two
ladies.

Mr Harding, however, had come to see his daughter with other
purpose than that of speaking either good or evil of Mr Slope. He
had come to tell her that the place of warden in Hiram's hospital
was again to be filled up, and that in all probability he would
once more return to his old house and his twelve bedesmen.

'But,' he said, laughing, 'I shall be greatly shorn of my ancient
glory.'

'Why so, papa?'

'This new act of parliament, that is to put us all on our feet
again,' continued he, 'settles my income at four hundred and fifty
pounds per annum.'

'Four hundred and fifty,' said she, 'instead of eight hundred!
Well; that is rather shabby. But still, papa, you'll have the dear
old house and garden?'

'My dear,' said he, 'it's worth twice the money;' and as he spoke
he showed a jaunty kind of satisfaction in his tone and manner, and
in the quick, pleasant way in which he paced Eleanor's
drawing-room. 'It's worth twice the money. I shall have the house
and the garden, and a larger income than I can possibly want.'

'At any rate, you'll have no extravagant daughter to provide for;'
and as she spoke, the young widow put her arm within his, and made
him sit on the sofa beside her; 'at any rate you'll not have that
expense.'

'No, my dear; and I shall be rather lonely without her; but we
won't think of that now. As regards income I shall have plenty for
all I want. I shall have my old house; and I don't mind owning now
that I have felt sometimes the inconvenience of living in a
lodging. Lodgings are very nice for young men, but at my time of
life there is a want of--I hardly know what to call it, perhaps not
respectability--'

'Oh, papa! I'm sure there's been nothing like that. Nobody has
thought it; nobody in all Barchester has been more respected than
you have been since you took those rooms in High Street. Nobody!
Not the dean in his deanery, or the archdeacon at Plumstead.'

'The archdeacon would not be much obliged to you if he heard you,'
said he, smiling somewhat at the exclusive manner in which his
daughter confined her illustration to the church dignitaries of the
chapter of Barchester; 'but at any rate, I shall be glad to get
back to the old house. Since I heard that it was all settled, I
have begun to fancy that I can't be comfortable without my two
sitting-rooms.'

'Come and stay with me, papa, till it is settled--there's a dear
papa.'

'Thank ye, Nelly. But no; I won't do that. It would make two
movings. I shall be very glad to get back to my old men again.
Alas! Alas! There have six of them gone in the few last years. Six
out of twelve! And the others I fear have had but a sorry life of
it there. Poor Bunce, poor old Bunce!'

Bunce was one of the surviving recipients of Hiram's charity; and
old man, now over ninety, who had long been a favourite of Mr
Harding's.

'How happy old Bunce will be,' said Mrs Bold, clapping her soft
hands softly. 'How happy they all will be to have you back again.'
You may be sure there will soon be friendship among them again when
you are there.'

'But,' said he, half laughing, 'I am to have new troubles, which
will be terrible to me. There are to be twelve old women, and a
matron. How shall I manage twelve women and a matron!'

'The matron will manage the women of course.'

'And who'll manage the matron?' said he.

'She won't want to be managed. She'll be a great lady herself, I
suppose. But, papa, where will the matron live? She is not to live
in the warden's house with you, is she?'

'Well, I hope not, my dear.'

'Oh, papa, I tell you fairly. I won't have a matron for a new
step-mother.'

'You shan't, my dear; that is if I can help it. But they are going
to build another house for the matron and the women; and I believe
they haven't even fixed yet on the site of the building.'

'And have they appointed the matron?' said Eleanor.

'They haven't appointed the warden yet,' replied he.

'But there's no doubt about that, I suppose,' said his daughter.

Mr Harding explained that he thought there was no doubt; that the
archdeacon had declared as much, saying that the bishop and his
chaplain between them had not the power to appoint any once else,
even if they had the will to do so, and sufficient impudence to
carry out such a will. The archdeacon was of the opinion, that
though Mr Harding had resigned his wardenship, and had done so
unconditionally, he had done so under circumstances which left the
bishop no choice as to his re-appointment, now that the affair of
the hospital had been settled on a new basis by act of parliament.
Such was the archdeacon's opinion, and his father-in-law received
it without a shadow of doubt.

Dr Grantly had always been strongly opposed to Mr Harding's
resignation of the place. He had done all in his power to dissuade
him from it. He had considered that Mr Harding was bound to
withstand the popular clamour with which he was attacked for
receiving so large an income as eight hundred a year from such a
charity, and was not even satisfied that his father-in-law's
conduct had not been pusillanimous and undignified. He looked also
on this reduction of the warden's income as a paltry scheme on the
part of government for escaping from a difficulty into which it had
been brought by the public press. Dr Grantly observed that the
government had no more right to dispose of a sum of four hundred
and fifty pounds a year out of the income of Hiram's legacy, than
of nine hundred; whereas, as he said, the bishop, dean and chapter
clearly had a right to settle what sum should be paid. He also
declared that the government had no more right to saddle the
charity with twelve old women than with twelve hundred; and he was,
therefore, very indignant on the matter. He probably forgot when so
talking that government had done nothing of the kind, and had never
assumed any such might or any such right. He made the common
mistake of attributing to the government, which in such matters is
powerless, the doings of parliament, which in such matters is
omnipotent.

But though he felt that the glory and honour of the situation of
warden of Barchester hospital was indeed curtailed by the new
arrangement; that the whole establishment had to a certain degree
been made vile by the touch of Whig commissioners; that the place
with the lessened income, its old women, and other innovations, was
very different from the hospital of former days; still the
archdeacon was too practical a man of the world to wish that his
father-in-law, who had at present little more than L 200 per annum
for all his wants, should refuse the situation, defiled,
undignified, and commission-ridden as it was.

Mr Harding had, accordingly, made up his mind that he would return
to his old house at the hospital, and to tell the truth, had
experienced almost a childish pleasure in the idea of doing so. The
diminished income was to him not even the source of momentary
regret. The matron and the old women did rather go against the
grain; but he was able to console himself with the reflection,
that, after all, such an arrangement might be of real service to
the poor of the city. The thought that he must receive his
re-appointment as the gift of the new bishop, and probably through
the hands of Mr Slope, annoyed him a little; but his mind was set
at rest by the assurance of the archdeacon that there would be no
favour in such a presentation. The re-appointment of the old warden
would be regarded by all the world as a matter of course. Mr
Harding, therefore, felt no hesitation in telling his daughter that
they might look upon his return to his old quarters as a settled
matter.

'And you won't have to ask for it, papa.'

'Certainly not, my dear. There is no ground on which I could ask
for any favour from the bishop, whom, indeed, I hardly know. Nor
would I ask a favour, that granting of which might possibly be made
a question to be settled by Mr Slope. No,' said he, moved for a
moment by a spirit very unlike his own, 'I certainly shall be very
glad to go back to the hospital; but I should never go there, if it
were necessary that my doing so should be the subject of a request
to Mr Slope.'

This little outbreak of her father's anger jarred on the present
tone of Eleanor's mind. She had not learnt to like Mr Slope, but
she had learnt to think that he had much respect for her father;
and she would, therefore, willingly use her efforts to induce
something like good feeling between them.

'Papa,' said she, 'I think you somewhat mistake Mr Slope's
character.'

'Do I?' said he, placidly.

'I think you do, papa. I think he intended no personal disrespect
to you when he preached the sermon which made the archdeacon and
the dean so angry.!'

'I never supposed that he did, my dear. I hope I never inquired
within myself whether he did or no. Such a matter would be unworthy
of any inquiry, and very unworthy of the consideration of the
chapter. But I fear he intended disrespect to the ministration's of
God's services, as conducted in conformity with the rules of the
Church of England.'

'But might it not be that he thought it his duty to express his
dissent from that which you, and the dean, and all of us here
approve?'

'It can hardly be the duty of any young man rudely to assail the
religious convictions of his elders of the church. Courtesy should
have kept him silent, even if neither charity nor modesty could do
so.'

'But Mr Slope would say that on such a subject the commands of his
heavenly Master do not admit of his being silent.'

'Nor of being courteous, Eleanor?'

'He did not say that, papa.'

'Believe me, my child, that Christian ministers are never called on
by God's word to insult the convictions, or even the prejudices, of
their brethren; and that religion is at any rate not less
susceptible to urbane and courteous conduct among men, than any
other study which men take up. I am sorry to say that I cannot
defend Mr Slope's sermon in the cathedral. But come, my dear, put
on your bonnet, and let us walk round the dear old gardens at the
hospital. I have never yet had the heart to go beyond the
court-yard since we left the place. Now I think I can venture to
enter.'

Eleanor rang the bell, and gave a variety of imperative charges as
to the welfare of the precious baby, whom, all but unwillingly, she
was about to leave for an hour or so, and then sauntered forth with
her father to revisit the old hospital. It had been forbidden ground
to her as well as to him since the day on which they had walked
forth together from its walk.



CHAPTER IX

THE STANHOPE FAMILY

It is now three months since Dr Proudie began his reign, and
changes had already been affected in the diocese which show at
least the energy of an active mind. Among other things, absentee
clergymen have been favoured with hints much too strong to be
overlooked. Poor dear old Bishop Grantly had on this matter been
too lenient, and the archdeacon had never been inclined to be
severe with those who were absent on reputable pretences, and who
provided for their duties in a liberal way.

Among the greatest of the diocesan sinners in this respect was Dr
Vesey Stanhope. Years had now passed since he had done a day's
duty; and yet there was no reason against his doing duty except a
want of inclination on his own part. He held a prebendal stall in
the diocese; one of the best residences in the close; and the two
large rectories of Crabtree Canonicorum, and Stogpingum. Indeed, he
had the cure of three parishes, for that of Eiderdown was joined to
Stogpingum. He had resided in Italy for twelve years. His first
going there had been attributed to a sore throat; and that sore
throat, though never repeated in any violent manner had stood him
in such stead, that it had enabled him to live in easy idleness
ever since.

He had now been summoned home,--not indeed, with rough violence, or
by any peremptory command, but by a mandate which he found himself
unable to disregard. Mr Slope had written to him by the bishop's
desire. In the first place, the bishop much wanted the valuable
co-operation of Dr Vesey Stanhope in the diocese; in the next, the
bishop thought it his imperative duty to become personally
acquainted with the most conspicuous of his diocesan clergy; then
the bishop thought it essentially necessary for Dr Stanhope's own
interests, that Dr Stanhope should, at any rate for a time, return
to Barchester; and lastly, it was said that so strong a feeling was
at the present moment evinced by the hierarchs of the church with
reference to the absence of its clerical members, that it behoved
Dr Vesey Stanhope not to allow his name to stand among those which
would probably in a few months be submitted to the councils of the
nation.

There was something so ambiguously frightful in this last threat
that Dr Stanhope determined to spend two or three summer months at
his residence in Barchester. His rectories were inhabited by his
curates, and he felt himself from disuse to be unfit for parochial
duty; but his prebendal home was kept empty for him, and he thought
it probable that he might be able now and again to preach a
prebendal sermon. He arrived, therefore, with all his family at
Barchester, and he and they must be introduced to my readers.

The great family characteristic of the Stanhopes might probably be
said to be heartlessness; but the want of feeling was, in most of
them, accompanied by so great an amount of good nature that their
neighbours failed to perceive how indifferent to them was the
happiness and well-being of those around them. The Stanhopes would
visit you in your sickness (provided it were not contagious), would
bring you oranges, French novels, and the last new bit of scandal,
and then hear of your death or your recovery with an equally
indifferent composure. Their conduct to each other was the same as
to the world; they bore and forbore: and there was sometimes, as
will be seen, much necessity for forbearing: but their love among
themselves rarely reached above this. It is astonishing how much
each of the family was able to do, and how much each did, to
prevent the well-being of the other four.

For there were five in all; the doctor, namely, and Mrs Stanhope,
two daughters, and one son. The doctor, perhaps, was the least
singular and most estimable of them all, and yet such good
qualities as he possessed were all negative. He was a good looking
rather plethoric gentleman of about sixty years of age. His hair
was snow white, very plentiful, and somewhat like wool of the
finest description. His whiskers were large and very white, and
gave to his face the appearance of a benevolent sleepy old lion.
His dress was always unexceptionable. Although he had lived so many
years in Italy it was invariably of a decent clerical hue, but it
never was hyperclerical. He was a man not given to much talking,
but what little he did say was generally well said. His reading
seldom went beyond romances and poetry of the lightest and not
always most moral description. He was thoroughly a bon vivant; an
accomplished judge of wine, though he never drank to excess; and a
most inexorable critic in all affairs touching the kitchen. He had
had much to forgive in his own family, since a family had grown up
around him, and had forgiven everything--except inattention to his
dinner. His weakness in that respect was now fully understood, and
his temper but seldom tried. As Dr Stanhope was a clergyman, it may
be supposed that his religious convictions made up a considerable
part of his character; but this was not so. That he had religious
convictions must be believed; but he rarely obtruded them, even on
his children. This abstinence on his part was not systematic, but
very characteristic of the man. It was not that he had
predetermined never to influence their thoughts; but he was so
habitually idle that his time for doing so had never come till the
opportunity for doing so was gone forever. Whatever conviction the
father may have had, the children were at any rate but indifferent
members of the church from which he drew his income.

Such was Dr Stanhope. The features of Mrs Stanhope's character were
even less plainly marked than those of her lord. The far niente of
her Italian life had entered into her very soul, and brought her to
regard a state of inactivity as the only earthly good. In manner
and appearance she was exceedingly prepossessing. She had been a
beauty, and even now, at fifty-five, she was a handsome woman. Her
dress was always perfect: she never dressed but once in the day,
and never appeared till between three and four; but when she did
appear, she appeared at her best. Whether the toil rested partly
with her, or wholly with her handmaid, it is not for such a one as
the author to imagine. The structure of her attire was always
elaborate, and yet never over laboured. She was rich in apparel,
but not bedizened with finery; her ornaments were costly, rare, and
such as could not fail to attract notice, but they did not look as
though worn with that purpose. She well knew the great
architectural secret of decorating her constructions, and never
condescended to construct a decoration. But when we have said that
Mrs Stanhope knew how to dress, and used her knowledge daily, we
have said all. Other purpose in life she had none. It was
something, indeed, that she did not interfere with the purposes of
others. In early life she had undergone great trials with reference
to the doctor's dinners; but for the last ten or twelve years her
eldest daughter Charlotte had taken that labour off her hands, and
she had had little to trouble her;--little, that is, till the edict
for this terrible English journey had gone forth; since, then,
indeed, her life had been laborious enough. For such a one, the
toil of being carried from the shores of Como to the city of
Barchester is more than labour enough, let the cares of the
carriers be ever so vigilant. Mrs Stanhope had been obliged to have
every one of her dresses taken in from the effects of the journey.

Charlotte Stanhope was at this time about thirty-five years old;
and, whatever may have been her faults, she had none of those which
belong particularly to old young ladies. She neither dressed young,
nor talked young, nor indeed looked young. She appeared to be
perfectly content with her time of life, and in no way affected the
grace of youth. She was a fine young woman; and had she been a man,
would have been a very fine young man. All that was done in the
house, and that was not done by servants, was done by her. She gave
the orders, paid the bills, hired and dismissed the domestics, made
the tea, carved the meat, and managed everything in the Stanhope
household. She, and she alone, could ever induce her father to look
into the state of his worldly concerns. She, and she alone, could
in any degree control the absurdities of her sister. She, and she
alone, prevented the whole family from falling into utter disrepute
and beggary. It was by her advice that they now found themselves
very unpleasantly situated in Barchester.

So far, the character of Charlotte Stanhope is not unprepossessing.
But it remains to be said, that the influence which she had in her
family, though it had been used to a certain extent for their
worldly well-being, had not been used to their real benefit, as it
might have been. She had aided her father in his indifference to
his professional duties, counselling him that his livings were as
much as his individual property as the estates of his elder brother
were the property of that worthy peer. She had for years past
stifled every little rising wish for a return to England which the
doctor had from time to time expressed. She had encouraged her
mother in her idleness in order that she herself might be mistress
and manager of the Stanhope household. She had encouraged and
fostered the follies of her sister, though she was always willing,
and often able, to protect her from their probable result. She had
done her best, and had thoroughly succeeded in spoiling her
brother, and turning him loose upon the world an idle man without a
profession, and without a shilling that he could call his own.

Miss Stanhope was a clever woman, able to talk on most subjects,
and quite indifferent as to what the subject was. She prided
herself on her freedom from English prejudice, and she might have
added, from feminine delicacy. On religion she was a pure
freethinker, and with much want of true affection, delighted to
throw out her own views before the troubled mind of her father. To
have shaken what remained of his Church of England faith would have
gratified her much; but the idea of his abandoning his preferment
in the church had never once presented itself to her mind. How
could he indeed, when he had no income from any other sources?

But the two most prominent members of the family still remain to be
described. The second child had been christened Madeline, and had
been a great beauty. We need not say had been, for she was never
more beautiful than at the time of which we write, though her
person for many years had been disfigured by an accident. It is
unnecessary that we should give in detail the early history of
Madeline Stanhope. She had gone to Italy when seventeen years of
age, and had been allowed to make the most of her surpassing beauty
in the saloons of Milan, and among the crowded villas along the
shores of the Lake of Como. She had become famous for adventures in
which her character was just not lost, and had destroyed the hearts
of a dozen cavaliers without once being touched in her own. Blood
had flowed in quarrels about her charms, and she heard of these
encounters with pleasurable excitement. It had been told of her
that on one occasion she had stood by in the disguise of a page,
and had seen her lover fall.

As is so often the case, she had married the very worst of those
who sought her hand. Why she had chosen Paulo Neroni, a man of no
birth and no property, a mere captain in the pope's guard, one who
had come up to Milan either simply as an adventurer or as a spy, a
man of harsh temper and oily manners, mean in figure, swarthy in
face, and so false in words as to be hourly detected, need not now
be told. When the moment for doing so came, she had probably no
alternative. He, at any rate, had become her husband; and after a
prolonged honeymoon among the lakes, they had gone together to
Rome, the papal captain having vainly endeavoured to induce his
wife to remain behind him.

Six months afterwards she arrived at her father's house a cripple
and a mother. She had arrived without even notice, with hardly
clothes to cover her, and without one of those many ornaments which
had graced her bridal trousseaux. Her baby was in the arms of a
poor girl from Milan, whom she had taken in exchange for the Roman
maid who had accompanied her thus far, and who had then, as her
mistress said, become homesick and had returned. It was clear that
the lady had determined that there should be no witness to tell
stories of her life in Rome.

She had fallen, she said, in ascending a ruin and had fatally
injured the sinews of her knee; so fatally, that when she stood she
lost eight inches of her accustomed height; so fatally, that when
she essayed to move, she could only drag herself painfully along,
with protruded hip and extended foot in a manner less graceful than
that of a hunchback. She had consequently made up her mind, once
and for ever, that she would never stand, and never attempt to move
herself.

Stories were not slow to follow her, averring that she had been
cruelly ill-used by Neroni, and that to his violence had she owed
her accident. Be that as it may, little had been said about her
husband, but that little had made it clearly intelligible to the
family that Signor Neroni was to be seen and heard of no more.
There was no question as to re-admitting the poor ill-used beauty
to her old family rights, no question as to adopting her infant
daughter, beneath the Stanhope roof tree. Though heartless, the
Stanhopes were not selfish. The two were taken in, petted, made
much of, for a time all but adored, and then felt by the two
parents to be great nuisances in the house. But in the house the
lady was, and there she remained, having her own way, though that
way was not very comfortable with the customary usages of an
English clergyman.

Madame Neroni, though forced to give up all motion in the world,
had no intention whatever of giving up the world itself. The beauty
of her face was uninjured, and that beauty was of a peculiar kind.
Her copious rich brown hair was worn in Grecian bandeaux round her
head, displaying as much as possible of her forehead and cheeks.
Her forehead, though rather low, was very beautiful from its
perfect contour and pearly whiteness. Her eyes were long and large,
and marvellously bright; might I venture to say, bright as
Lucifer's, I should perhaps best express the depth of their
brilliancy. They were dreadful eyes to look at, such as would
absolutely deter any man of quiet mind and easy spirit from
attempting a passage of arms with such foes. There was talent in
them, and the fire of passion and the play of wit, but there was no
love. Cruelty was there instead, and courage, a desire for
masterhood, cunning, and a wish for mischief. And yet, as eyes,
they were very beautiful. The eyelashes were long and perfect, and
the long steady unabashed gaze, with which she would look into the
face of her admirer, fascinated while it frightened him. She was a
basilisk from whom an ardent lover of beauty could make no escape.
Her nose and mouth more so at twenty-eight than they had been at
eighteen. What wonder that with such charms still glowing in her
face, and with such deformity destroying her figure, she should
resolve to be seen, but only to be seen reclining on a sofa.

Her resolve had not been carried out without difficulty. She had
still frequented the opera at Milan; she had still been seen
occasionally in the saloons of the noblesse; she had caused herself
to be carried in and out from her carriage, and that in such a
manner as in no wise to disturb her charms, disarrange her dress,
or expose her deformities. Her sister always accompanied her and a
maid, a manservant also, and on state occasions, two. It was
impossible that her purpose could have been achieved with less: and
yet, poor as she was, she had achieved her purpose. And then again
the more dissolute Italian youths of Milan frequented the Stanhope
villa and surrounded her couch, not greatly to her father's
satisfaction. Sometimes his spirit would rise, a dark spot would
show itself on his cheek, and he would rebel; but Charlotte would
assuage him with some peculiar triumph of her culinary art, and all
again would be smooth for a while.

Madeline affected all manner of rich and quaint devices in the
garniture of her room, her person, and her feminine belongings. In
nothing was this more apparent than in the visiting card which she
had prepared for her use. For such an article one would say that
she, in her present state, could have but small need, seeing how
improbable it was that she should make a morning call; but not such
was her own opinion. Her card was surrounded by a deep border of
gilding; on this she had imprinted, in three lines:-

          La Signora Madeline
                          Vesey Neroni.
          - Nata Stanhope.

And over the name she had a bright gilt coronet, which certainly
looked very magnificent. How she had come to concoct such a name
for herself it would be difficult to explain. Her father had been
christened Vesey, as another man is christened Thomas; and she had
no more right to assume it than would have the daughter of a Mr
Josiah Jones to call herself Mrs Josiah Smith, on marrying a man of
the latter name. The gold coronet was equally out of place, and
perhaps inserted with even less excuse. Paul Neroni had not the
faintest title to call himself a scion of even Italian nobility.
Had the pair met in England Neroni would probably have been a
count; but they had met in Italy, and any such pretence on his part
would have been simply ridiculous. A coronet, however, was a pretty
ornament, and if it could solace a poor cripple to have such on her
card, who could begrudge it to her?

Of her husband, or of his individual family, she never spoke; but
with her admirers she would often allude in a mysterious way to her
married life and isolated state, and, pointing to her daughter,
would call her the last of the blood of the emperors, thus
referring Neroni's extraction to the old Roman family from which
the worst of the Caesars sprang.

The 'Signora' was not without talent, and not without a certain
sort of industry; she was an indomitable letter writer, and her
letters were worth the postage: they were full of wit, mischief,
satire, love, latitudinarian philosophy, free religion, and,
sometimes, alas! loose ribaldry. The subject, however, depended
entirely on the recipient, and she was prepared to correspond with
any one, but moral young ladies or stiff old women. She wrote also
a kind of poetry, generally in Italian, and short romances,
generally in French. She read much of a desultory sort of
literature, and as a modern linguist had really made great
proficiency. Such was the lady who had now come to wound the hearts
of the men of Barchester.

Ethelbert Stanhope was in some respects like his younger sister,
but he was less inestimable as a man than she was as a woman. His
great fault was an entire absence of that principle which should
have induced him, as the son of a man without fortune, to earn his
own bread. Many attempts had been made to get him to do so, but
these had all been frustrated, not so much by idleness on his part,
as by a disinclination to exert himself in any way not to his
taste. He had been educated at Eton, and had been intended for the
Church, but had left Cambridge in disgust after a single term, and
notified to his father his intention to study for the bar.
Preparatory to that, he thought it well that he should attend a
German university, and consequently went to Leipzig. There he
remained two years, and brought away a knowledge of German and a
taste for the fine arts. He still, however, intended himself for
the bar, took chambers, engaged himself to sit at the feet of a
learned pundit, and spent a season in London. He there found that
all his aptitudes inclined him to the life of an artist, and he
determined to live by painting. With this object he retired to
Milan, and had himself rigged out for Rome. As a painter he might
have earned his bread, for he wanted only diligence to excel; but
when at Rome his mind was carried away by other things: he soon
wrote home for money, saying that he had been converted to the
Mother Church, that he was already an acolyte of the Jesuits, and
that he was about to start with others to Palestine on a mission
for converting Jews. He did go to Judea, but being unable to
convert the Jews, was converted by them. He again wrote home, to
say that Moses was the only giver of perfect laws to the world,
that the coming of the true Messiah was at hand, that great things
were doing in Palestine, and that he had met one of the family of
Sidonis, a most remarkable man, who was now on his way to Western
Europe, and whom he had induced to deviate from his route with the
object of calling at the Stanhope villa. Ethelbert then expressed
his hope that his mother and sisters would listen to this wonderful
prophet. His father he knew could not do so from pecuniary
considerations. This Sidonia, however, did not take so strong a
fancy to him as another of that family once did to a young English
nobleman. At least he provided him with no hope of gold as large as
lions; so that the Judaised Ethelbert was again obliged to draw on
the revenues of the Christian Church.

It is needless to tell how the father swore that he would send no
more money and receive no Jew; nor how Charlotte declared that
Ethelbert could not be left penniless in Jerusalem; and how 'La
Signora Neroni' resolved to have Sidonia at her feet. The money was
sent, and the Jew did come. The Jew did come, but he was not at all
to the taste of 'la Signora'. He was a dirty little old man, and
though he had provided no golden lions, he had, it seems, relieved
young Stanhope's necessities. He positively refused to leave the
villa till he got a bill from the doctor on his London bankers.

Ethelbert did not long remain a Jew. He soon reappeared at the
villa without prejudices on the subject of his religion, and with a
firm resolve to achieve fame and fortune as a sculptor. He brought
with him some models which he had originated at Rome, and which
really gave much fair promise that his father was induced to go to
further expense in furthering these views. Ethelbert opened an
establishment, or rather took lodgings and workshop, at Carrara,
and there spoilt much marble, and made some few pretty images.
Since that period, now four years ago, he had alternated between
Carrara and the villa, but his sojourns at the workshop became
shorter and shorter, and those at the villa longer and longer.
'Twas no wonder; for Carrara is not a spot in which an Englishman
would like to dwell.

When the family started for England he had resolved not to be left
behind, and with the assistance of his elder sister had earned his
point against his father's wishes. It was necessary, he said, that
he should come to England for orders. How otherwise was he to bring
his profession to account?

In personal appearance Ethelbert Stanhope was the most singular of
beings. He was certainly very handsome. He had his sister
Madeline's eyes without their stare, and without their hard cunning
cruel firmness. They were also very much lighter, and of so light
and clear a blue as to make his face remarkable, if nothing else
did so. On entering a room with him, Ethelbert's blue eyes would be
the first thing you would see, and on leaving it almost the last
thing you would forget. His light hair was very long and silky,
coming down over his coat. His beard had been prepared in the holy
land, and was patriarchal. He never shaved, and rarely trimmed it.
It was glossy, soft, clean, and altogether not unprepossessing. It
was such that ladies might desire to reel it off and work it into
their patterns in lieu of floss silk. His complexion was fair and
almost pink, he was small in height, and slender in limb, but
well-made, and his voice was of particular sweetness.manner and
dress he was equally remarkable. He had none of the mauvaise honte
of an Englishman. He required no introduction to make himself
agreeable to any person. He habitually addressed strangers, ladies
as well as men, without any such formality, and in doing so never
seemed to meet with rebuke. His costume cannot be described,
because it was so various; but it was always totally opposed in
every principle of colour and construction to the dress of those
with whom he for the time consorted.

He was habitually addicted to making love to ladies, and did so
without scruple of conscience, or any idea that such a practice was
amiss. He had no heart to touch himself, and was literally unaware
that humanity was subject to such infliction. He had not thought
much about it; but, had he been asked, would have said, that
ill-treating a lady's heart meant injuring her promotion in the
world. His principles therefore forbade him to pay attention to a
girl, if he thought any man was present whom it might suit her to
marry. In this manner, his good nature frequently interfered with
his amusement; but he had no other motive in abstaining from the
fullest declaration of love to every girl that pleased his eye.

Bertie Stanhope, as he was generally called, was, however, popular
with both sexes; and with Italians as well as English. His circle
of acquaintance was very large, and embraced people of all sorts.
He had not respect for rank, and no aversion to those below him. He
had lived on familiar terms with English peers, German shopkeepers,
and Roman priests. All people were nearly alike to him. He was
above, or rather below, all prejudices. No virtue could charm him,
no vice shock him. He had about him a natural good manner, which
seemed to qualify him for the highest circles, and yet he was never
out of place in the lowest. He had no principle, no regard for
others, no self-respect, no desire to be other than a drone in a
hive, if only he could, as a drone, get what honey was sufficient
for him. Of honey, in his latter days, it may probably be presaged,
that he will have but short allowance.

Such was the family of the Stanhopes, who, at this period, suddenly
joined themselves to the ecclesiastical circle of Barchester close.
Any stranger union, it would be impossible perhaps to conceive. And
it was not as though they all fell down into the cathedral
precincts hitherto unknown and untalked of. In such case no
amalgamation would have been at all probable between the new comers
and either the Proudie set or the Grantly set. But such was far
from being the case. The Stanhopes were all known by name in
Barchester, and Barchester was prepared to receive them with open
arms. The doctor was one of the prebendaries, one of her rectors,
one of her pillars of strength; and was, moreover, counted on, as a
sure ally, both by Proudies and Grantlys.

He himself was the brother of one peer, and his wife was the sister
of another--and both these peers were lords of whiggish tendency,
with whom the new bishop had some sort of alliance. This was
sufficient to give to Mr Slope high hope that he might enlist Dr
Stanhope on his side, before his enemies could out-manoeuvre him.
On the other hand, the old dean had many many years ago, in the
days of the doctor's clerical energies, been instrumental in
assisting him in his views as to preferment; and many many years
ago also, the two doctors, Stanhope and Grantly, had, as young
parsons, been joyous together in the common rooms of Oxford. Dr
Grantly, consequently, did not doubt but that the new comer would
range himself under his banners.

Little did any of them dream of what ingredients the Stanhope
family was now composed.



CHAPTER X

MRS PROUDIE'S RECEPTION--COMMENCED

The bishop and his wife had only spent three or four days in
Barchester on the occasion of their first visit. His lordship had,
as we have seen, taken his seat on his throne; but his demeanour
there, into which it had been his intention to infuse much
hierarchical dignity, had been a good deal disarranged by the
audacity of his chaplain's sermon. He had hardly dared to look his
clergy in the face, and to declare by the severity of his
countenance that in truth he meant all that his factotum was saying
on his behalf; nor yet did he dare throw Mr Slope over, and show to
those around him that he was no party to the sermon, and would
resent it.

He had accordingly blessed his people in a shambling manner, not at
all to his own satisfaction, and had walked back to his palace with
his mind very doubtful as to what he would say to his chaplain on
the subject. He did not remain long in doubt. He had hardly doffed
his lawn when the partner of all his toils entered his study, and
exclaimed even before she had seated herself--

'Bishop, did you ever hear a more sublime, more spirit-moving, more
appropriate discourse than that?'

'Well, my love; ha-hum-he!' The bishop did not know what to say.

'I hope, my lord, you don't mean to say you disapprove?'

There was a look about the lady's eye which did not admit of my
lord's disapproving at that moment. He felt that if he intended to
disapprove, it must be now or never; but he also felt that it could
not be now. It was not in him to say to the wife of his bosom that
Mr Slope's sermon was ill-timed, impertinent and vexatious.

'No, no,' replied the bishop. 'No, I can't say I disapprove--a very
clever sermon and very well intended, and I dare say will do a
great deal of good.' This last praise was added, seeing that what
he had already said by no means satisfied Mrs Proudie.

'I hope it will,' said she. 'I am sure it was well deserved. Did
you ever in your life, bishop, hear anything so like play-acting as
the way in which Mr Harding sings the litany? I shall beg Mr Slope
to continue a course of sermons on the subject till all that is
altered. We will have at any rate, in our cathedral, a decent,
godly, modest morning service. There must be no more play-acting
here now;' and so the lady rang for lunch.

This bishop knew more about cathedrals and deans, and precentors
and church services than his wife did, and also more of the
bishop's powers. But he thought it better at present to let the
subject drop.

'My dear,' said he, 'I think we must go back to London on Tuesday.
I find that my staying here will be very inconvenient to the
Government.'

The bishop knew that to this proposal his wife would not object;
and he also felt that by thus retreating from the ground of battle,
the heat of the fight might be got over in his absence.

'Mr Slope will remain here, of course,' said the lady.

'Oh, of course,' said the bishop.

Thus, after less than a week's sojourn in his palace, did the
bishop fly from Barchester; nor did he return to it for two months,
the London season being then over. During that time Mr Slope was
not idle, but he did not again assay to preach in the cathedral. In
answer to Mrs Proudie's letters, advising a course of sermons, he
had pleaded that he would at any rate wish to put off such an
undertaking till she was there to hear them.

He had employed his time in consolidating a Proudie and Slope
party--or rather a Slope and Proudie party, and he had not employed
his time in vain. He did not meddle with the dean and chapter,
except by giving them little teasing intimations of the bishop's
wishes about this and the bishop's feelings about that, in a manner
which was to them sufficiently annoying, but which they could not
resent. He preached once or twice in a distant church in the
suburbs of the city, but made no allusion to the cathedral service.
He commenced the establishment of the 'Bishop of Barchester's
Sabbath-day Schools,' gave notice of a proposed 'Bishop of
Barchester Young Men's Sabbath Evening Lecture Room,'--and wrote
three or four letters to the manager of the Barchester branch
railway, informing him how anxious the bishop was that the Sunday
trains should be discontinued.

At the end of two months, however, the bishop and the lady
reappeared; and as a happy harbinger of their return, heralded
their advent by the promise of an evening party on the largest
scale. The tickets of invitation were sent out from London--they
were dated from Bruton Street, and were dispatched by the odious
Sabbath-breaking railway, in a huge brown paper parcel to Mr Slope.
Everybody calling himself a gentleman, or herself a lady, within
the city of Barchester, and a circle of two miles round it, was
included. Tickets were sent to all the diocesan clergy, and also to
many other persons of priestly note, of whose absence the bishop,
or at least the bishop's wife, felt tolerably confident. It was
intended, however, to be a thronged and noticeable affair, and
preparations were made for receiving some hundreds.

And now there arose considerable agitation among the Grantleyites
whether or not they would attend the bidding. The first feeling
with them all was to send the briefest excuses both for themselves
and their wives and daughters. But by degrees policy prevailed over
passion. The archdeacon perceived that he would be making a false
step if he allowed the cathedral clergy to give the bishop just
ground of umbrage. They all met in conclave and agreed to go. The
old dean would crawl in, if it were but for half an hour. The
chancellor, treasurer, archdeacon, prebendaries, and minor canons
would all go, and would take their wives. Mr Harding was especially
bidden to go, resolving in his heart to keep himself removed from
Mrs Proudie. And Mrs Bold was determined to go, though assured by
her father that there was no necessity for such a sacrifice on her
part. When all Barchester was to be there, neither Eleanor nor Mary
Bold understood why they should stay away. Had they not been
invited separately? And had not a separate little note from the
chaplain couched in the most respectful language, been enclosed
with the huge episcopal card?

And the Stanhopes would be there, one and all. Even the lethargic
mother would so far bestir herself on such an occasion. They had
only just arrived. The card was at the residence waiting for them.
No one in Barchester had seen them; and what better opportunity
could they have of showing themselves to the Barchester world? Some
few old friends, such as the archdeacon and his wife, had called,
and had found the doctor and his eldest daughter; but the elite of
the family were not yet known.

The doctor indeed wished in his heart to prevent the signora from
accepting the bishop's invitation; but she herself had fully
determined that she would accept it. If her father was ashamed of
having his daughter carried into a bishop's palace, she had no such
feeling.

'Indeed, I shall,' she said to her sister who had greatly
endeavoured to dissuade her, by saying that the company would
consist wholly of parsons and parsons' wives. 'Parsons, I suppose,
are much the same as other men, if you strip them of their black
coats; and as to their wives, I dare say they won't trouble me. You
may tell papa I don't mean to be left at home.'

Papa was told, and felt that he could do nothing but yield. He also
felt that it was useless of him now to be ashamed of his children.
Such as they were, they had become such under his auspices; as he
had made his bed, so he must lie upon it; as he had sown his seed,
so must he reap his corn. He did not indeed utter such reflections
in such language, but such was the gist of his thoughts. It was not
because Madeline was a cripple that he shrank from seeing her made
one of the bishop's guests; but because he knew that she would
practise her accustomed lures, and behave herself in a way that
could not fail of being distasteful to the propriety of
Englishwomen. These things had annoyed but not shocked him in
Italy. There they had shocked no one; but here in Barchester, here
among his fellow parsons, he was ashamed that they should be seen.
Such had been his feelings, but he repressed them. What if his
brother clergymen were shocked! They could not take it from his
preferment because the manners of his married daughter were too
free.

La Signora Neroni had, at any rate, no fear that she would shock
anybody. Her ambition was to create a sensation, to have parsons at
her feet, seeing that the manhood of Barchester consisted mainly of
parsons, and to send, if possible, every parson's wife home with a
green fit of jealousy. None could be too old for her, and hardly
any too young. None too sanctified, and none too worldly. She was
quite prepared to entrap the bishop himself, and then to turn up
her nose at the bishop's wife. She did not doubt of success, for
she had always succeeded; but one thing was absolutely necessary,
she must secure the entire use of a sofa.

The card sent to Dr and Mrs Stanhope and family, had been sent in
an envelope, having on the cover Mr Slope's name. The signora soon
learnt that Mrs Proudie was not yet at the palace, and that the
chaplain was managing everything. It was much more in her line to
apply to him than to the lady, and she accordingly wrote to him the
prettiest little billet in the world. In five lines she explained
everything, declared how impossible it was for her not to be
desirous to make the acquaintance of such persons as the bishop of
Barchester and his wife, and she might add also of Mr Slope,
depicted her own grievous state, and concluded by being assured
that Mrs Proudie would forgive her extreme hardihood in petitioning
to be allowed to be carried to a sofa. She then enclosed one of her
beautiful cards. In return she received as polite an answer from Mr
Slope--a sofa should be kept in the large drawing-room, immediately
at the top of the grand stairs, especially for her use.

And now the day of the party had arrived. The bishop and his wife
came down from town, only on the morning of the eventful day, as
behoved such great people to do; but Mr Slope had toiled day and
night to see that everything should be in right order. There had
been much to do. No company had been seen in the palace since
heaven knows when. New furniture had been required, new pots and
pans, new cups and saucers, new dishes and plates. Mrs Proudie had
first declared that she would condescend to nothing so vulgar as
eating and drinking; but Mr Slope had talked, or rather written her
out of economy!--bishops should be given to hospitality, and
hospitality meant eating and drinking. So the supper was conceded;
the guests, however, were to stand as they consumed it.

There were four rooms opening into each other on the first floor of
the house, which were denominated the drawing-rooms, the
reception-room, and Mrs Proudie's boudoir. In olden days one of
these had been Bishop Grantly's bed-room, and another his common,
sitting-room and study. The present bishop, however, had been moved
down into a back parlour, and had been given to understand that he
could very well receive his clergy in the dining-room, should they
arrive in too large a flock to be admitted to his small sanctum. He
had been unwilling to yield, but after a short debate had yielded.

Mrs Proudie's heart beat high as she inspected her suite of rooms.
They were really very magnificent, or at least would be so by
candlelight; and they had nevertheless been got up with commendable
economy. Large rooms when full of people, and full of light look
well, because they are large, and are full, and are light. Small
rooms are those which require costly fittings and rich furniture.
Mrs Proudie knew this, and made the most of it; she had therefore a
huge gas lamp with a dozen burners hanging from each of the
ceilings.

People were to arrive at ten, supper was to last from twelve to
one, and at half-past one everybody was to be gone. Carriages were
to come in at the gate in the town and depart at the gate outside.
They were desired to take up at a quarter before one. It was
managed excellently, and Mr Slope was invaluable.

At half-past nine the bishop and his wife and their three daughters
entered the great reception-room, and very grand and very solemn
they were. Mr Slope was down-stairs giving the last orders about
the wine. He well understood that curates and country vicars with
their belongings did not require so generous an article as the
dignitaries of the close. There is a useful gradation in such
things, and Marsala at 20s a dozen did very well for the exterior
supplementary tables in the corner.

'Bishop,' said the lady, as his lordship sat himself down, 'don't
sit on that sofa, if you please; it is to be kept separate for a
lady.'

The bishop jumped up and seated himself on a cane-bottomed chair.
'A lady?' he inquired meekly; 'do you mean one particular lady, my
dear?'

'Yes, bishop, one particular lady,' said his wife, disdaining to
explain.

'She has got no legs, papa,' said the youngest daughter, tittering.

'No legs!' said the bishop, opening his eyes.

'Nonsense, Netta, what stuff you talk,' said Olivia. 'She has got
legs, but she can't use them. She has always to be kept lying down,
and three or four men carry her about everywhere.'

'Laws, how odd!' said Augusta. 'Always carried about by four men!
I'm quite sure I wouldn't like it. Am I right behind, mama? I feel
as if I was open;' and she turned her back to her anxious parent.

'Open! To be sure you are,' said she, 'and a yard of petticoat
strings hanging out. I don't know why I pay such high wages to Mrs
Richards, if she can't take the trouble to see whether or no you
are fit to be looked at,' and Mrs Proudie poked the strings here,
and twitched the dress there, and gave her daughter a shove and a
shake, and then pronounced it all right.

'But,' rejoined the bishop, who was dying with curiosity about the
mysterious lady and her legs, 'who is it that is to have the sofa?
What is her name, Netta?'

A thundering rap at the front door interrupted the conversation.
Mrs Proudie stood up and shook herself gently, and touched her cap
on each side as she looked in the mirror. Each of the girls stood
on tiptoe, and re-arranged the bows on their bosoms; and Mr Slope
rushed up stairs three steps at a time.

'But who is it, Netta?' whispered the bishop to his youngest
daughter.

'La Signora Madeline Vesey Neroni,' whispered back the daughter;
'and mind you don't let any one sit upon the sofa.'

'La Signora Madeline Vicinironi!' muttered, to himself, the
bewildered prelate. Had he been told that the Begum of Oude was to
be there, or Queen Pomara of the Western Isles, he could not have
been more astonished. La Signora Madeline Vicinironi, who, having
no legs to stand on, had bespoken a sofa in his drawing-room!--who
could she be? He however could now make no further inquiry, as Dr
and Mrs Stanhope were announced. They had been sent on out of the
way a little before the time, in order that the signora might have
plenty of time to get herself conveniently packed into the
carriage.

The bishop was all smiles for the prebendary's wife, and the
bishop's wife was all smiles for the prebendary. Mr Slope was
presented, and was delighted to make the acquaintance of one of
whom he had heard so much. The doctor bowed very low, and then
looked as though he could not return the compliment as regarded Mr
Slope, of whom, indeed, he had heard nothing. The doctor, in spite
of his long absence, knew an English gentleman when he saw him.

And then the guests came in shoals; Mr and Mrs Quiverful and their
three grown daughters. Mr and Mrs Chadwick and their three
daughters. The burly chancellor and his wife and clerical son from
Oxford. The meagre little doctor without encumbrance. Mr Harding
with Eleanor and Miss Bold. The dean leaning on a gaunt spinster,
his only child now living with him, a lady very learned in stones,
ferns, plants, and vermin, and who had written a book about petals.
A wonderful woman in her way was Miss Trefoil. Mr Finnie, the
attorney, with his wife, was to be seen, much to the dismay of many
who had never met him in a drawing-room before. The five Barchester
doctors were all there, and old Scalpen, the retired apothecary and
toothdrawer, who was first taught to consider himself as belonging
to the higher orders by the receipt of the bishop's card. Then came
the archdeacon and his wife, with their elder daughter Griselda, a
slim pale retiring girl of seventeen, who kept close to her mother,
and looked out on the world with quiet watchful eyes, one who gave
promise of much beauty when time should have ripened it.

And so the room became full, and knots were formed, and every new
comer paid his respects to my lord and passed on, not presuming to
occupy too much of the great man's attention. The archdeacon shook
hands very heartily with Dr Stanhope, and Mrs Grantly seated
herself by the doctor's wife. And Mrs Proudie moved about with well
regulated grace, measuring out the quantity of her favours to the
quality of her guests, just as Mr Slope had been doing with the
wine. But the sofa was still empty, and five-and-twenty ladies and
five gentlemen had been courteously warned off it by the mindful
chaplain.

'Why doesn't she come?' said the bishop to himself. His mind was so
preoccupied with the signora, that he hardly remembered how to
behave himself en bishop.

At last a carriage dashed up to the hall steps with a very
different manner of approach from that of any other vehicle that
had been there that evening. A perfect commotion took place. The
doctor, who heard it as he was standing in the drawing-room, knew
that his daughter was coming, and retired to the furthest corner,
where he might not see her entrance. Mrs Proudie parked herself up,
feeling that some important piece of business was in hand. The
bishop was instinctively aware, that La Signora Vicinironi was come
at last, and Mr Slope hurried to the hall to give his assistance.

He was, however, nearly knocked down and trampled on by the cortege
that he encountered on the hall steps. He got himself picked up as
well as he could, and followed the cortege up stairs. The signora
was carried head foremost, her head being the care of her brother
and an Italian man-servant who was accustomed to the work; her feet
were in the care of the lady's maid and the lady's Italian page;
and Charlotte Stanhope followed to see that all was done with due
grace and decorum. In this manner they climbed easily into the
drawing-room, and a broad way through the crowd having been opened,
the signora rested safely on her couch. She had sent a servant
beforehand to learn whether it was a right or a left hand sofa, for
it required that she should dress accordingly, particularly as
regarded her bracelets.

And very becoming her dress was. It was white velvet, without any
other garniture than rich white lace worked with pearls across her
bosom, and the same round the armlets of her dress. Across her brow
she wore a band of red velvet, on the centre of which shone a
magnificent Cupid in mosaic, the tints of whose wings were of the
most lovely azure, and the colour of his chubby cheeks the clearest
pink. On the one arm which her position required her to expose she
wore three magnificent bracelets, each of different stones. Beneath
her on the sofa, and over the cushion and head of it, was spread a
crimson silk mantle or shawl, which went under her whole body and
concealed her feet. Dressed as she was and looking as she did, so
beautiful and yet so motionless, with the pure brilliancy of her
white dress brought out and strengthened by the colour beneath it,
with that lovely head, and those large bold bright staring eyes, it
was impossible that either man or woman should do other than look
at her.

Neither man nor woman for some minutes did do other.

Her bearers too were worthy of note. The three servants were
Italian, and though perhaps not peculiar in their own country, were
very much so in the palace at Barchester. The man, especially
attracted notice, and created a doubt in the mind of some whether
he were a friend or a domestic. The same doubt was felt as to
Ethelbert. The man was attired in a loose-fitting common black
cloth morning coat. He had a jaunty well-pleased clean face, on
which no atom of beard appeared, and he wore round his neck a loose
black silk neckhandkerchief. The bishop assayed to make him a bow,
but the man, who was well-trained, took no notice of him, and
walked out of the room, quite at his ease, followed by the woman
and the boy.

Ethelbert Stanhope was dressed in light blue from head to foot. He
had on the loosest possible blue coat, cut square like a shooting
coat, and very short. It was lined with silk of azure blue. He had
on a blue satin waistcoat, a blue handkerchief which was fastened
beneath his throat with a coral ring, and very loose blue trousers
which almost concealed his feet. His soft glossy beard was softer
and more glossy than ever.

The bishop, who had made one mistake, thought that he also was a
servant, and therefore tried to make way for him to pass. But
Ethelbert soon corrected the error.



CHAPTER XI

MRS PROUDIE'S RECEPTION--CONCLUDED

'Bishop of Barchester, I presume?' said Bertie Stanhope, putting
out his hand, frankly; 'I am delighted to make your acquaintance.
We are in rather close quarters here, a'nt we?'

In truth they were. They had been crowded up behind the head of the
sofa: the bishop in waiting to receive his guest, and the other in
carrying her; and they now had hardly room to move themselves.

The bishop gave his hand quickly, and made a little studied bow,
and was delighted to make--. He couldn't go on, for he did not know
whether his friend was a signor, or a count, or a prince.

'My sister really puts you all to great trouble,' said Bertie.

'Not at all!' the bishop was delighted to have the opportunity of
welcoming the Signora Vicinironi--so at least he said--and
attempted to force his way round to the front of the sofa. He had,
at any rate, learnt that his strange guests were brother and
sister. The man, he presumed, must be Signor Vicinironi--or count,
or prince, as it might be. It was wonderful what good English he
spoke. There was just a twang of foreign accent, and no more.

'Do you like Barchester on the whole?' asked Bertie.

The bishop, looking dignified, said that he did like Barchester.

'You've not been here very long, I believe,' said Bertie.

'No--not long,' said the bishop, and tried again to make his way
between the back of the sofa and a heavy rector, who was staring
over it at the grimaces of the signora.

'You weren't a bishop before, were you?'

Dr Proudie explained that this was the first diocese he had held.

'Ah--I thought so,' said Bertie; 'but you are changed about
sometimes, a'nt you?'

'Translations are occasionally made,' said Dr Proudie; 'but not so
frequently as in former days.

'They've cut them all down to pretty nearly the same figure,
haven't they?' said Bertie.

To this the bishop could not bring himself to make any answer, but
again tried to move the rector.

'But the work, I suppose, is different?' continued Bertie. 'Is
there much to do here at Barchester?' This was said exactly in the
tone that a young Admiralty clerk might use in asking the same
question of a brother acolyte in the Treasury.

'The work of a bishop of the Church of England,' said Dr Proudie,
with considerable dignity, 'is not easy. The responsibility which
he has to bear is very great indeed.'

'Is it?' said Bertie, opening wide his wonderful blue eyes. 'Well;
I never was afraid of responsibility. I once thought of being a
bishop myself.'

'Had thought of being a bishop?' said Dr Proudie, much amazed.

'That is, a parson--a parson first, you know, and a bishop
afterwards. If I had once begun, I'd have stuck to it. But, on the
whole, I like the Church of Rome the best.'

The bishop could not discuss the point, so he remained silent.

'Now, there's my father,' continued Bertie; 'he hasn't stuck to it.
I fancy he didn't like saying the same thing so often. By the bye,
bishop, have you seen my father?'

The bishop was more amazed than ever. Had he seen his father? 'No,'
he replied; he had not yet had the pleasure; he hoped he might;
and, as he said so, he resolved to bear heavy on that fat,
immoveable rector, if ever he had the power of doing so.

'He's in the room somewhere,' said Bertie, 'and he'll turn up soon.
By the bye, do you know much about the Jews?'

At last the bishop saw a way out. 'I beg your pardon,' said he;
'but I'm forced to go round the room.'

'Well--I believe I'll follow in your wake,' said Bertie. 'Terribly
hot, isn't it?' This he addressed to the fat rector with whom he
had brought himself into the closest contact. 'They've got this
sofa into the worst possible part of the room; suppose we move it.
Take care, Madeline.'

The sofa had certainly been so placed that those who were behind it
found great difficulty in getting out;--there was but a narrow
gangway, which one person could stop. This was a bad arrangement,
and one which Bertie thought it might be well to improve.

'Take care, Madeline,' said he; and turning to the fat rector,
added, 'Just help me with a slight push.'

The rector's weight was resting on the sofa, and unwittingly lent
all its impetus to accelerate and increase the motion which Bertie
intentionally originated. The sofa rushed from its moorings, and
ran half-way into the middle of the room. Mrs Proudie was standing
with Mr Slope in front of the signora, and had been trying to be
condescending and sociable; but she was not in the very best of
tempers; for she found that whenever she spoke to the lady, the
lady replied by speaking to Mr Slope. Mr Slope was a favourite, no
doubt; but Mrs Proudie had no idea of being less thought of than
the chaplain. She was beginning to be stately, stiff, and offended,
when unfortunately the castor of the sofa caught itself in her lace
train, and carried away there is no saying how much of her
garniture. Gathers were heard to go, stitches to crack, plaits to
fly open, flounces were seen to fall, and breadths to expose
themselves;--a long ruin of rent lace disfigured the carpet, and
still clung to the vile wheel on which the sofa moved.

So, when a granite battery is raised, excellent to the eyes of
warfaring men, is its strength and symmetry admired. It is the work
of years. Its neat embrasures, its finished parapets, its casemated
stories, show all the skill of modern science. But, anon, a small
spark is applied to the treacherous fusee--a cloud of dust arises
to the heavens--and then nothing is to be seen but dirt and dust
and ugly fragments.

We know what was the wrath of Juno when her beauty was despised. We
know too what storms of passion even celestial minds can yield. As
Juno may have looked at Paris on Mount Ida, so did Mrs Proudie look
on Ethelbert Stanhope when he pushed the leg of the sofa into her
train.

'Oh, you idiot, Bertie!' said the signora, seeing what had been
done, and what were the consequences.

'Idiot,' re-echoed Mrs Proudie, as though the word were not half
strong enough to express the required meaning; 'I'll let him know
-;' and then looking round to learn, at a glance, the worst, she
saw that at present it behoved her to collect the scattered debris
of her dress.

Bertie, when he saw what he had done, rushed over the sofa, and
threw himself on one knee before the offended lady. His object,
doubtless, was to liberate the torn lace from the castor; but he
looked as though he were imploring pardon from a goddess.

'Unhand it, sir!' said Mrs Proudie. From what scrap of dramatic
poetry she had extracted the word cannot be said; but it must have
rested on her memory, and now seemed opportunely dignified for the
occasion.

'I'll fly to the looms of the fairies to repair the damage, if
you'll only forgive me,' said Ethelbert, still on his knees.

'Unhand it, sir!' said Mrs Proudie, with redoubled emphasis, and
all but furious wrath. This allusion to the fairies was a direct
mockery, and intended to turn her into ridicule. So at least it
seemed to her. 'Unhand it, sir!' she almost screamed.

'It's not me; it's the cursed sofa,' said Bertie, looking
imploringly in her face, and holding both his hands to show that he
was not touching her belongings, but still remaining on his knees.

Hereupon the signora laughed; not loud, indeed, but yet audibly.
And as the tigress bereft of her young will turn with equal anger
on any within reach, so did Mrs Proudie turn upon her female guest.

'Madam,' she said--and it is beyond the power of prose to tell of
the fire that flashed from her eyes.

By this time the bishop, and Mr Slope, and her three daughters were
around her, and had collected together the wide ruins of her
magnificence. The girls fell into circular rank behind their
mother, and thus following her and carrying out the fragments, they
left the reception-rooms in a manner not altogether devoid of
dignity. Mrs Proudie had to retire to re-array herself.

As soon as the constellation had swept by, Ethelbert rose from his
knees, and turning with mock anger to the fat rector, said: 'After
all it was your doing, sir--not mine. But perhaps you are waiting
for preferment, and so I bore it.'

Whereupon there was a laugh against the fat rector, in which both
the bishop and the chaplain joined; and thus things got themselves
again into order.

'Oh, my lord, I am so sorry for this accident,' said the signora,
putting out her hand so as to force the bishop to take it. 'My
brother is so thoughtless. Pray sit down, and let me have the
pleasure of making your acquaintance. Though I am so poor a
creature as to want a sofa, I am not so selfish as to require it
all.' Madeline could always dispose herself so as to make room for
a gentleman, though, as she declared, the crinoline of her lady
friends was much too bulky to be so accommodated.

'It was solely for the pleasure of meeting you that I have had
myself dragged here,' she continued. 'Of course, with your
occupation, one cannot even hope that you should have time to come
to us, that is, in the way of calling. And at your English
dinner-parties all is so dull and so stately. Do you know, my lord,
that in coming to England my only consolation has been the thought
that I should know you;' and she looked at him with the look of a
she-devil.

The bishop, however, thought that she looked very like an angel,
and accepting the proffered seat, sat down beside her. He uttered
some platitude as to this deep obligation for the trouble she had
taken, and wondered more and more who she was.

'Of course you know my sad story?' she continued.

The bishop didn't know a word of it. He knew, however, or thought
he knew, that she couldn't walk into a room like other people, and
so made the most of that. He put on a look of ineffable distress,
and said that he was aware how God had afflicted her.

The signora just touched the corner of her eyes with the most
lovely of pocket-handkerchiefs. Yes, she said--she had been very
sorely tried--tried, she thought, beyond the common endurance of
humanity; but while her child was left to her, everything was left.
'Oh! My lord,' she exclaimed, 'you must see the infant--the last
bud of a wondrous tree: you must let a mother hope that you will
lay your holy hands on her innocent head, and consecrate her for
female virtues. May I hope it?' said she, looking into the bishop's
eye, and touching the bishop's arm with her hand.

The bishop was but a man, and said she might. After all, what was
it but a request that he would confirm her daughter?--a request,
indeed, very unnecessary to make, as he should do so as a matter of
course, if the young lady came forward in the usual way.

'The blood of Tiberius,' said the signora, in all but a whisper;
'the blood of Tiberius flows in her veins. She is the last of the
Neros!'

The bishop had heard of the last of the Visigoths, and had floating
in his brain some indistinct idea of the last of the Mohicans, but
to have the last of the Neros thus brought before him for a
blessing was very staggering. Still he liked the lady: she had a
proper way of thinking, and talked with more propriety than her
brother. But who were they? It was now quite clear that that blue
madman with the silky beard was not a Prince Vicinironi. The lady
was married, and was of course one of the Vicinironis by right of
the husband. So the bishop went on learning.

'When will you see her?' said the signora with a start.

'See whom?' said the bishop.

'My child,' said the mother.

'What is the young lady's age?' asked the bishop.

'She is just seven,' said the signora.

'Oh,' said the bishop, shaking his head; 'she is much too
young--very much too young.'

'But in sunny Italy you know, we do not count by years,' and the
signora gave the bishop one of her very sweetest smiles.

'But indeed, she is a great deal too young,' persisted the bishop;
'we never confirm before--'

'But you might speak to her; you might let her hear from your
consecrated lips, that she is not a castaway because she is a
Roman; that she may be a Nero and yet a Christian; that she may owe
her black locks and dark cheeks to the blood of the pagan Caesars,
and yet herself be a child of grace; you will tell her this, won't
you, my friend?'

The friend said he would, and asked if the child could say her
catechisms.

'No,' said the signora, 'I would not allow her to learn lessons
such as those in a land ridden by priests, and polluted by the
idolatry of Rome. It is here, here in Barchester, that she must
first be taught to lisp those holy words. Oh, that you could be her
instructor!'

Now, Dr Proudie certainly liked the lady, but, seeing that he was a
bishop, it was not probable that he was going to instruct a little
girl in the first rudiments of her catechism; so he said he'd send
a teacher.

'But you will see her yourself, my lord?'

The bishop said he would, but where should he call.

'At papa's house,' said the signora, with an air of some little
surprise at the question.

The bishop actually wanted the courage to ask her who was her papa;
so he was forced at last to leave her without fathoming her
mystery. Mrs Proudie, in her second best, had now returned to the
rooms, and her husband thought it as well that he should not remain
in too close conversation with the lady whom his wife appeared to
hold in such slight esteem. Presently he came across his youngest
daughter.

'Netta,' said he, 'do you know who is the father of that Signora
Vicinironi?'

'It isn't Vicinironi, papa,' said Netta; 'but Vesey Neroni, and
she's Dr Stanhope's daughter. But I must go and do the civil to
Griselda Grantly; I declare nobody has spoken a word to the poor
girl this evening.

Dr Stanhope! Dr Vesey Stanhope! Dr Vesey Stanhope's daughter, of
whose marriage with a dissolute Italian scamp he now remembered to
have heard something! And that impertinent blue cub who had
examined him as to his episcopal bearings was old Stanhope's son,
and the lady who had entreated him to come and teach her child the
catechism was old Stanhope's daughter! The daughter of one of his
own prebendaries! As these things flashed across his mind, he was
nearly as angry as his wife had been. Nevertheless he could not but
own that the mother of the last of the Neros was an agreeable
woman.

Dr Proudie tripped out into the adjoining room, in which were
congregated a crowd of Grantlyite clergymen, among whom the
archdeacon was standing pre-eminent, while the old dean was sitting
nearly buried in a huge armchair by the fire-place. The bishop was
very anxious to be gracious, and, if possible, to diminish the
bitterness which his chaplain had occasioned. Let Mr Slope do the
fortiter in re, he himself would pour in the suaviter in modo.

'Pray don't stir, Mr Dean, pray don't stir,' he said, as the old
man essayed to get up; 'I take it as a great kindness, your coming
to such an omnium gatherum as this. But we have hardly got settled
yet, and Mrs Proudie has not been able to see her friends as she
would wish to do. Well, Mr Archdeacon, after all, we have not been
so hard upon you at Oxford.'

'No,' said the archdeacon; 'you've only drawn our teeth and cut out
our tongues; you've allowed us still to breathe and swallow.'

'Ha, ha, ha!' laughed the bishop; 'it's not quite so easy to cut
out the tongue of an Oxford magnate,--and as for teeth,--ha, ha,
ha! Why, in the way we've left the matter, it's very odd if the
heads of colleges don't have their own way quite as fully as when
the hebdomadal board was in all its glory; what do you say, Mr
Dean?'

'An old man, my lord, never likes changes,' said the dean.

'You must have been sad bunglers if it is so,' said the archdeacon;
'and indeed, to tell the truth, I think you have bungled it. At any
rate, you must own this; you have not done the half what you
boasted you would do.'

'Now, as regards your system of professors--' began the chancellor
slowly. He was never destined to get beyond the beginning.

'Talking of professors,' said a soft clear voice close behind the
chancellor's elbow; 'how much you Englishmen might learn from
Germany; only you are all too proud.'

The bishop looking round, perceived that abominable young Stanhope
had pursued him. The dean stared at him, as though he was some
unearthly apparition; so also did two or three prebendaries and
minor canons. The archdeacon laughed.

'The German professors are men of learning,' said Mr Harding,
'but--'

'German professors!' groaned out the chancellor, as though his
nervous system had received a shock which nothing but a week of
Oxford air would cure.

'Yes,' continued Ethelbert; not at all understanding why a German
professor should be contemptible in the eyes of an Oxford don. 'Not
but what the name is best earned at Oxford. In Germany the
professors do teach; at Oxford, I believe they only profess to do
so, and sometimes not even that. You'll have those universities of
yours about your ears soon, if you don't consent to take a lesson
from Germany.'

There was no answering this. Dignified clergymen of sixty years of
age could not condescend to discuss such a matter with a young man
with such clothes and such a beard.

'Have you got good water out at Plumstead, Mr Archdeacon?' said the
bishop by way of changing the conversation.

'Pretty good,' said the archdeacon.

'But by no means so good as his wine, my lord,' said a witty minor
canon.

'Nor so generally used,' said another; 'that is for inward
application.'

'Ha, ha, ha!' laughed the bishop, 'a good cellar of wine is a very
comfortable thing in a house.'

'Your German professors, sir, prefer beer, I believe,' said the
sarcastic little meagre prebendary.

'They don't think much of either,' said Ethelbert; 'and that
perhaps accounts for their superiority. Now the Jewish professor -'

The insult was becoming too deep for the spirit of Oxford to
endure, so the archdeacon walked off one way and the chancellor
another, followed by their disciples, and the bishop and the young
reformer were left together on the hearth-rug.

'I was a Jew once myself,' said Bertie.

The bishop was determined not to stand another examination, or be
led on any terms into Palestine; so he again remembered that he had
to do something very particular, and left young Stanhope with the
dean. The dean did not get the worst of it, for Ethelbert gave him
a true account of his remarkable doings in the Holy Land.

'Oh, Mr Harding,' said the bishop, overtaking the ci-devant warden;
'I wanted to say one word about the hospital. You know, of course,
that it is to be filled up.'

Mr Harding's heart beat a little, and he said that he had heard so.

'Of course,' continued the bishop; 'there can be only one man whom
I could wish to see in that situation. I don't know what your own
views may be, Mr Harding--'

'They are very simply told, my lord,' said the other; 'to take the
place if it be offered me, and to put up with the want of it should
another man get it.'

The bishop professed himself delighted to hear it; Mr Harding might
be quite sure that no other man would get it. There were some few
circumstances which would in a slight degree change the nature of
the duties. Mr Harding was probably aware of this, and would,
perhaps, not object to discuss the matter with Mr Slope. It was a
subject to which Mr Slope had given a good deal of attention.

Mr Harding felt, he knew not why, oppressed and annoyed. What could
Mr Slope do to him? He knew that there were to be changes. The
nature of them must be communicated to the warden through somebody,
and through whom so naturally as the bishop's chaplain. 'Twas thus
that he tried to argue himself back to an easy mind, but in vain.

Mr Slope in the mean time had taken the seat which the bishop had
vacated on the signora's sofa, and remained with that lady till it
was time to marshal the folk to supper. Not with contented eyes had
Mrs Proudie seen this. Had not this woman laughed at her distress,
and had not Mr Slope heard it? Was she not an intriguing Italian
woman, half wife and half not, full of affectation, airs, and
impudence? Was she not horribly bedizened with velvet and pearls,
with velvet and pearls, too, which had been torn off her back?
Above all, did she not pretend to be more beautiful than her
neighbours? To say that Mrs Proudie was jealous would give a wrong
idea of her feelings. She had not the slightest desire that Mr
Slope should be in love with herself. But she desired the incense
of Mr Slope's spiritual and temporal services, and did not choose
that they should be turned out of their course to such an object as
Signora Neroni. She considered also that Mr Slope ought in duty to
hate the signora; and it appeared from his manner that he was very
far from hating her.

'Come, Mr Slope,' she said, sweeping by, and looking all that she
felt; 'can't you make yourself useful? Do pray take Mrs Grantly
down to supper.'

Mrs Grantly heard and escaped. The words were hardly out of Mrs
Proudie's mouth, before the intended victim had stuck her hand
through the arm of one of her husband's curates, and saved herself.
What would the archdeacon have said had he seen her walking down
stairs with Mr Slope?

Mr Slope heard also, but was by no means so obedient as was
expected. Indeed, the period of Mr Slope's obedience to Mrs Proudie
was drawing to a close. He did not wish yet to break with her, nor
to break with her at all, if it could be avoided. But he intended
to be master in that palace, and as she had made the same
resolution, it was not improbable that they might come to blows.

Before leaving the signora he arranged a little table before her,
and begged to know what he should bring her. She was quite
indifferent, she said--nothing--anything. It was now she felt the
misery of her position, now that she must be left alone. Well, a
little chicken, some ham, and a glass of champagne.

Mr Slope had to explain, not without blushing for his patron, that
there was no champagne.

Sherry would do just as well. And then Mr Slope descended with the
learned Miss Trefoil on his arm. Could she tell him, he asked,
whether the ferns of Barsetshire were equal to those of Cumberland?
His strongest worldly passion was for ferns--and before she could
answer him he left her wedged between the door and the sideboard.
It was fifty minutes before she escaped, and even then unfed.

'You are not leaving us, Mr Slope,' said the watchful lady of the
house, seeing her slave escaping towards the door, with stores of
provisions held high above the heads of the guests.

Mr Slope explained that the Signora Neroni was in want of her
supper.

'Pray, Mr Slope, let her brother take it to her,' said Mrs Proudie,
quite out loud. 'It is out of the question that you should be so
employed. Pray, Mr Slope, oblige me; I am sure Mr Stanhope will
wait upon his sister.'

Ethelbert was most agreeably occupied in the furthest corner of the
room, making himself both useful and agreeable to Mrs Proudie's
youngest daughter.

'I couldn't get out, madam, if Madeline were starving for her
supper,' said he; 'I'm physically fixed, unless I could fly.'

The lady's anger was increased by seeing that her daughter had gone
over to the enemy; and when she saw, that in spite of her
remonstrances, in the teeth of her positive orders, Mr Slope went
off to the drawing-room, the cup of her indignation ran over, and
she could not restrain herself. 'Such manners I never saw,' she
said, muttering. 'I cannot, and will not permit it;' and then,
after fussing and fuming for a few minutes, she pushed her way
through the crowd, and followed Mr Slope.

When she reached the room above, she found it absolutely deserted,
except for the guilty pair. The signora was sitting very
comfortably up for her supper, and Mr Slope was leaning over her
and administering to her wants. They had been discussing the merits
of Sabbath-day schools, and the lady suggested that as she could
not possibly go to the children, she might be indulged in the wish
of her heart by having the children brought to her.

'And when shall it be, Mr Slope?' said she.

Mr Slope was saved the necessity of committing himself to a promise
by the entry of Mrs Proudie. She swept close up to the sofa so as
to confront the guilty pair, stared full at them for a moment, and
then said as she passed on to the next room, 'Mr Slope, his
lordship is especially desirous of your attendance below; you will
greatly oblige me if you will join him.' And so she stalked on.

Mr Slope muttered something in reply, and prepared to go down
stairs. As for the bishop's wanting him, he knew his lady patroness
well enough to take that assertion at what it was worth; but he did
not wish to make himself the hero of a scene, or to become
conspicuous for more gallantry than the occasion required.

'Is she always like this?' said the signora.

'Yes--always--madam,' said Mrs Proudie, returning; 'always the
same--always equally adverse to the impropriety of conduct of every
description;' and she stalked back through the room again,
following Mr Slope out of the door.

The signora couldn't follow her, or she certainly would have done
so. But she laughed loud, and sent the sound of it ringing through
the lobby and down the stairs after Mrs Proudie's feet. Had she
been as active as Grimaldi, she could probably have taken no better
revenge.

'But she's lame, Mrs Proudie, and cannot move. Somebody must have
waited upon her.'

'Lame,' said Mrs Proudie; 'I'd lame her if she belonged to me. What
business had she here at all?--such impertinence--such
affectation.'

In the hall and adjacent rooms all manner of cloaking and shawling
was going on, and the Barchester folk were getting themselves gone.
Mrs Proudie did her best to smirk at each and every one, as they
made their adieux, but she was hardly successful. Her temper had
been tried fearfully. By slow degrees, the guests went.

'Send back the carriage quick,' said Ethelbert, as Dr and Mrs
Stanhope took their departure.

The younger Stanhopes were left to the very last, and an
uncomfortable party they made with the bishop's family. They all
went into the dining-room, and then the bishop observing that the
'lady' was alone in the drawing-room, they followed him up. Mrs
Proudie kept Mr Slope and her daughters in close conversation,
resolving that he should not be indulged, nor they polluted. The
bishop, in mortal dread of Bertie and the Jews, tried to converse
with Charlotte Stanhope about the climate of Italy. Bertie and the
signora had not resource but in each other.

'Did you get your supper at last, Madeline?' said the impudent or
else mischievous young man.

'Oh, yes,' said Madeline; 'Mr Slope was so very kind to bring it
me. I fear, however, he put himself to more inconvenience than I
wished.'

Mrs Proudie looked at her, but said nothing. The meaning of her
look might have been translated: 'If ever you find yourself within
these walls again, I'll give you leave to be as impudent and
affected, and as mischievous as you please.'

At last the carriage returned with the three Italian servants, and
la Signora Madeline Vesey Neroni was carried out, as she had been
carried in.

The lady of the palace retired to her chamber by no means contented
with the result of her first grand party at Barchester.



CHAPTER XII

SLOPE VERSUS HARDING

Two or three days after the party, Mr Harding received a note,
begging him to call on Mr Slope, at the palace, at an early hour
the following morning. There was nothing uncivil in the
communication, and yet the tone of it was thoroughly displeasing.
It was as follows:

"My dear Mr Harding, Will you favour me by calling on me at the
palace to-morrow morning at 9.30am. The bishop wishes me to speak
to you touching the hospital. I hope you will excuse my naming so
early an hour. I do so as my time is greatly occupied. If, however,
it is positively inconvenient to you, I will change it to 10. You
will, perhaps, be kind enough to give me a note in reply.

"Believe me to be, My dear Mr Harding,
Your assured friend, OBH. SLOPE

"The Palace, Monday morning, "20th August, 185-"

Mr Harding neither could nor would believe anything of the sort;
and he thought, moreover, that Mr Slope was rather impertinent to
call himself by such a name. His assured friend, indeed! How many
assured friends generally fall to the lot of a man in this world?
And by what process are they made? And how much of such process had
taken place as yet between Mr Harding and Mr Slope? Mr Harding
could not help asking himself these questions as he read and
re-read the note before him. He answered it, as follows:

"Dear Sir,--I will call at the palace to-morrow at 9.30 AM as you
desire.

"Truly yours, S. HARDING"

And on the following morning, punctually at half-past nine, he
knocked at the palace door, and asked for Mr Slope.

The bishop had one small room allotted to him on the ground-floor,
and Mr Slope had another. Into this latter Mr Harding was shown,
and asked to sit down. Mr Slope was not yet there. The ex-warden
stood up at the window looking into the garden, and could not help
thinking how very short a time had passed since the whole of that
house had been open to him, as though he had been a child of the
family, born and bred in it. He remembered how the old servants
used to smile as they opened the door to him; how the familiar
butler would say, when he had been absent for a few hours longer
than usual: 'A sight of you, Mr Harding, is good for sore eyes;'
how the fussy housekeeper would swear that he couldn't have dined,
or couldn't have breakfasted, or couldn't have lunched. And then,
above all, he remembered the pleasant gleam of inward satisfaction
which always spread itself over the old bishop's face, whenever his
friend entered his room.

A tear came into his eyes as he reflected that all this was gone.
What use would the hospital be to him now? He was alone in the
world, and getting old; he would soon, very soon, have to go, and
leave it all, as his dear old friend had gone;--go, and leave the
hospital, and his accustomed place in the cathedral, and his haunts
and pleasures, to younger and perhaps wiser men, in truth, the time for it
had gone by. He felt as though the world were sinking from his
feet; as though this, this was the time for him to turn with
confidence to others. 'What,' said he to himself, 'can a man's
religion be worth, if it does not support him against the natural
melancholy of declining years?' and, as he looked out through his
dimmed eyes into the bright parterres of the bishop's garden, he
felt that he had the support which he wanted.

Nevertheless, he did not like to be thus kept waiting. If Mr Slope
did not really wish to see him at half-past nine o'clock, why force
him to come away from his lodgings with his breakfast in his
throat? To tell the truth, it was policy on the part of Mr Slope.
Mr Slope had made up his mind that Mr Harding should either accept
the hospital with abject submission, or else refuse it altogether;
and had calculated that he would probably be more quick to do the
latter, if he could be got to enter upon the subject in all
ill-humour. Perhaps Mr Slope was not altogether wrong in his
calculation.

It was nearly ten when Mr Slope hurried into the room, and,
muttering something about the bishop and diocesan duties, shook Mr
Harding's hand ruthlessly, and begged him to be seated.

Now the airy superiority which this man assumed, did go against the
grain of Mr Harding; and yet he did not know how to resent it. The
whole tendency of his mind and disposition was opposed to any
contra-assumption of grandeur on his own part, and he hadn't the
worldly spirit or quickness necessary to put down insolent
pretensions by downright and open rebuke, as the archdeacon would
have done. There was nothing for Mr Harding but to submit and he
accordingly did so.

'About the hospital, Mr Harding,' began Mr Slope, speaking of it as
the head of college at Cambridge might speak of some sizarship
which had to be disposed of.

Mr Harding crossed one leg over the other, and then one hand over
the other on the top of them, and looked Mr Slope in the face; but
he said nothing.

'It's to be filled up again,' said Mr Slope. Mr Harding said that
he had understood so.

'Of course, you know, the income is very much reduced,' continued
Mr Slope. 'The bishop wished to be liberal, and he therefore told
the government that he thought it ought to be put at not less than
L 450. I think on the whole the bishop was right; for though the
service required will not be of a very onerous nature, they will be
more so than they were before. And it is, perhaps, well that the
clergy immediately attached to the cathedral town should be made
comfortable to the extent of the ecclesiastical means at our
disposal will allow. Those are the bishop's ideas, and I must say
mine also.'

Mr Harding sat rubbing one hand on the other, but said not a word.

'So much for the income, Mr Harding. The house will, of course,
remain to the warden as before. It should, however, I think be
stipulated that he should paint inside every seven years, and
outside every three years, and be subject to dilapidations, in the
event of vacating either by death or otherwise. But this is a
matter on which the bishop must yet be consulted.'

Mr Harding still rubbed his hands, and still sat silent, gazing up
into Mr Slope's unprepossessing face.

'Then, as to duties,' continued he, 'I believe, if I am rightly
informed, there can hardly be said to have been any duties
hitherto,' and he gave a sort of half laugh, as though to pass off
the accusation in the guise of a pleasantry.

Mr Harding thought of the happy, easy years he had passed in his
old house; of the worn-out, aged men whom he had succoured; of his
good intentions; and of his work, which had certainly been of the
lightest. He thought of those things, doubting for a moment whether
he did or did not deserve the sarcasm. He gave his enemy the
benefit of the doubt, and did not rebuke him. He merely observed,
very tranquilly, and perhaps with too much humility, that the
duties of the situation, such as they were, had, he believed, been
done to the satisfaction of the late bishop.

Mr Slope again smiled, and this time the smile was intended to
operate against the memory of the late bishop, rather than against
the energy of the ex-warden; and so it was understood by Mr
Harding. The colour rose in his cheeks, and he began to feel very
angry.

'You should be aware, Mr Harding, that things are a good deal
changed in Barchester,' said Mr Slope.

Mr Harding said that he was aware of it. 'And not only in
Barchester, Mr Harding, but in the world at large. It is not only
in Barchester that a new man is carrying out new measures and
casting away the useless rubbish of past centuries. The same thing
is going on throughout the country. Work is now required from every
man who receives wages; and they who have superintended the doing
of the work, and the paying of the wages, are bound to see that
this rule is carried out. New men, Mr Harding, are now needed, and
are now forthcoming in the church, as well as in other
professions.'

All this was wormwood to our old friend. He had never rated very
high his own abilities or activity; but all the feelings of his
heart were with the old clergy, and any antipathies of which his
heart was susceptible, were directed against those new, busy
uncharitable, self-lauding men, of whom Mr Slope was so good an
example.

'By no means,' said Mr Slope. 'The bishop is very anxious that you
should accept the appointment; but he wishes you should understand
beforehand what will be the required duties. In the first place, a
Sabbath-day school will be attached to the hospital.'

'What! For the old men?' asked Mr Harding.

'No, Mr Harding, not for the old men, but for the benefit of the
children of such of the poor of Barchester as it may suit. The
bishop will expect that you shall attend this school, and the
teachers shall be under your inspection and care.'

Mr Harding slipped his topmost hand off the other, and began to rub
the calf of the leg which was supported.

'As to the old men,' continued Mr Slope, 'and the old women who are
to form part of the hospital, the bishop is desirous that you shall
have morning and evening service on the premises every Sabbath, and
one week-day service; that you shall preach to them once at least
on Sundays; and that the whole hospital be always collected for
morning and evening prayer. The bishop thinks that this will render
it unnecessary that any separate seats in the cathedral should be
reserved for the hospital inmates.'

Mr Slope paused, but Mr Harding still said nothing.

'Indeed, it would be difficult to find seats for the women; and, on
the whole, Mr Harding, I may as well say at once, that for people
of that class the cathedral service does not appear to me to be the
most useful,--even if it be so for any class of people.'

'We will not discuss that, if you please,' said Mr Harding.

'I am not desirous of doing so; at least, not at the present
moment. I hope, however, you fully understand the bishop's wishes
about the new establishment of the hospital; and if, as I do not
doubt, I shall receive from you an assurance that you will accord
with his lordship's views, it will give me very great pleasure to
be the bearer from his lordship to you of the presentation of the
appointment.'

'But if I disagree with his lordship's views?' asked Mr Harding.

'But I hope you do not,' said Mr Slope.

'But if I do?' again asked the other.

'If such unfortunately should be the case, which I can hardly
conceive, I presume your own feelings will dictate to you the
propriety of declining the appointment.'

'But if I accept the appointment, and yet disagree with the bishop,
what then?'

This question rather bothered Mr Slope. It was true that he had
talked the matter over with the bishop, and had received a sort of
authority for suggesting to Mr Harding the propriety of a Sunday
school, and certain hospital services; but he had no authority for
saying that those propositions were to be made peremptory
conditions attached to the appointment. The bishop's idea had been
that Mr Harding would of course consent, and that the school would
become, like the rest of those new establishments in the city,
under the control of his wife and his chaplain. Mr Slope's idea had
been more correct. He intended that Mr Harding should refuse the
situation, and that an ally of his own should get it; but he had
not conceived the possibility of Mr Harding openly accepting the
appointment, and as openly rejecting the condition.

'It is not, I presume, probable,' said he, 'that you will accept
from the hands of the bishop a piece of preferment, with a fixed
predetermination to disacknowledge the duties attached to it.'

'If I become warden,' said Mr Harding, 'and neglect my duty, the
bishop has means by which he can remedy the grievance.'

'I hardly expected such an argument from you, or I may say the
suggestion of such a line of conduct,' said Mr Slope, with a great
look of injured virtue.

'Nor did I expect such a proposition.'

'I shall be glad at any rate to know what answer I am to make to
his lordship,' said Mr Slope.

'I will take an early opportunity of seeing his lordship myself,'
said Mr Harding.

'Such an arrangement,' said Mr Slope, 'will hardly give his
lordship satisfaction. Indeed, it is impossible that the bishop
should himself see every clergyman in the diocese on every subject
of patronage that may arise. The bishop, I believe, did see you on
the matter, and I really cannot see why he should be troubled to do
so again.'

'Do you know, Mr Slope, how long I have been officiating as a
clergyman in this city?' Mr Slope's wish was now nearly fulfilled.
Mr Harding had become very angry, and it was probable that he might
commit himself.

'I really do not see what that has to do with the question. You
cannot think that the bishop would be justified in allowing you to
regard as a sinecure a situation that requires an active man,
merely because you have been employed for many years in the
cathedral.'

'But it might induce the bishop to see me, if I asked him to do so.
I shall consult my friends in this matter, Mr Slope; but I mean to
be guilty of no subterfuge,--you may tell the bishop that as I
altogether disagree with his views about the hospital, I shall
decline the situation if I find that any such conditions are
attached to it as those you have suggested;' and so saying, Mr
Harding took his hat and went his way.

Mr Slope was contented. He considered himself at liberty to accept
Mr Harding's last speech as an absolute refusal of the appointment.
At least, he so represented it to the bishop and to Mrs Proudie.

'That is very surprising,' said the bishop.

'Not at all,' said Mrs Proudie; 'you little know how determined the
whole set of them are to withstand your authority.'

'But Mr Harding was so anxious for it,' said the bishop.

'Yes,' said Mr Slope, 'if he can hold it without the slightest
acknowledgement of your lordship's jurisdiction.'

'That is out of the question,' said the bishop.

'I should imagine it to be quite so,'said the chaplain.

'Indeed, I should think so,' said the lady.

'I really am sorry for it,' said the bishop.

'I don't know that there is much cause for sorrow,' said the lady.
'Mr Quiverful is a much more deserving man, more in need of it, and
one who will make himself much more useful in the close
neighbourhood of the palace.'

'I suppose I had better see Quiverful?' said the chaplain.

'I suppose you had,' said the bishop.



CHAPTER XIII

THE RUBBISH CART

Mr Harding was not a happy man as he walked down the palace
pathway, and stepped out into the close. His preferment and
pleasant house were a second time gone from him; but that he could
endure. He had been schooled and insulted by a man young enough to
be his son; but that he could put up with. He could even draw from
the very injuries, which had been inflicted on him, some of that
consolation, which we may believe martyrs always receive from the
injuries of their own sufferings, and which is generally
proportioned in it strength to the extent of cruelty with which
martyrs are treated. He had admitted to his daughter that he wanted
the comfort of his old home, and yet he could have returned to his
lodgings in the High Street, if not with exultation, at least with
satisfaction, had that been all. But the venom of the chaplain's
harangue had worked into his blood, and had sapped the life of his
sweet contentment.

'New men are carrying out new measures, and are eating away the
useless rubbish of past centuries.' What cruel words these had
been; and how often are they now used with all the heartless
cruelty of a Slope! A man is sufficiently condemned if it can only
be shown that either in politics or religion he does not belong to
some new school established within the last score of years. He may
then regard himself as rubbish and expect to be carted away. A man
is nothing now unless he has within him a full appreciation of the
new era; an ear in which it would seem that neither honesty nor
truth is very desirable, but in which success is the only
touchstone of merit. We must laugh at every thing that is
established. Let the joke be ever so bad, ever so untrue to the
real principles of joking; nevertheless we must laugh--or else
beware the cart. We must talk, think, and live up to the spirit of
the times, and write up to it too, if that cacoethes be upon us, or
else we are nought. New men and now measures, long credit and few
scruples, great success and wonderful ruin, such are now the tastes
of Englishmen who know how to live. Alas, alas! under the
circumstances Mr Harding could not but feel that he was an
Englishman who did not know how to live. This new doctrine of Mr
Slope and the rubbish cart, new at least at Barchester, sadly
disturbed his equanimity.

'The same thing is going on throughout the whole country!' 'Work is
now required from every man who receives wages!' and had he been
living all his life receiving wages and doing no work? Had he in
truth so lived as to be now in his old age justly reckoned as
rubbish fit only to be hidden away in some huge dust hole? The
school of men to whom he professes to belong, the Grantlys, the
Gwynnes, and the old high set of Oxford divines, are afflicted with
no such self-accusations as these which troubled Mr Harding. They,
as a rule, are as satisfied with the wisdom and propriety of their
own conduct as can be any Mr Slope, or any Dr Proudie, with his
own. But unfortunately for himself, Mr Harding had little of this
self-reliance. When he heard himself designated as rubbish by the
Slopes of the world, he had no other recourse than to make inquiry
within his own bosom as to the truth of the designation. Alas,
alas! the evidence seemed generally to go against him.

He had professed to himself in the bishop's parlour that in these
coming sources of the sorrow of the age, in these fits of sad
regret from which the latter years of few reflecting men can be
free, religion would suffice to comfort him. Yes, religion could
console him for the loss of any worldly good; but was his religion
of that active sort which would enable him so to repent of misspent
years as to pass those that were left to him in a spirit of hope
for the future? And such repentance itself, is it not a work of
agony and of tears? It is very easy to talk of repentance; but a
man has to walk over hot ploughshares before he can complete it; to
be skinned alive as was St Bartholomew; to be stuck full of arrows
as was St Sebastian; to lie broiling on a gridiron like St Lorenzo!
How if his past life required such repentance as this? had he the
energy to go through with it?

Mr Harding after leaving the palace, walked slowly for an hour or
so beneath the shady elms of the close, and then betook himself to
his daughter's house. He had at any rate made up his mind that he
would go out to Plumstead to consult Dr Grantly, and that he would
in the first instance tell Eleanor what had occurred.

And now he was doomed to undergo another misery. Mr Slope had
forestalled him at the widow's house. He had called there on the
preceding afternoon. He could not, he had said, deny himself the
pleasure of telling Mrs Bold that her father was about to return to
the pretty house at Hiram's hospital. He had been instructed by the
bishop to inform Mr Harding that the appointment would now be made
at once. The bishop was of course only too happy to be able to be
the means of restoring to Mr Harding the preferment which he had so
long adorned. And then by degrees Mr Slope had introduced the
subject of the pretty school which he had hoped before long to see
attached to the hospital. He had quite fascinated Mrs Bold by his
description of this picturesque, useful, and charitable appendage,
and she had gone so far as to say that she had no doubt her father
would approve, and that she herself would gladly undertake a class.

Anyone who had heard the entirely different tone, and seen the
entirely different manner in which Mr Slope had spoken of this
projected institution to the daughter and to the father, would not
have failed to own that Mr Slope was a man of genius. He said
nothing to Mrs Bold about the hospital sermons and services,
nothing about the exclusion of the old men from the cathedral,
nothing about dilapidation and painting, nothing about carting away
the rubbish. Eleanor had said to herself that certainly she did not
like Mr Slope personally, but that he was a very active, zealous,
clergyman, and would no doubt be useful in Barchester. All this
paved the way for much additional misery to Mr Harding.

Eleanor put on her happiest face as she heard her father on the
stairs, for she thought she had only to congratulate him; but
directly she saw his face, she knew that there was but little
matter for congratulation. She had seen him with the same weary
look of sorrow on one or two occasions before, and remembered it
well. She had seen him when he first read that attack upon himself
in the Jupiter, which had ultimately caused him to resign the
hospital; and she had seen him also when the archdeacon had
persuaded him to remain there against his own sense of propriety
and honour. She knew at a glance that his spirit was in deep
trouble.

'Oh, papa, what is it?' said she, putting down her boy to crawl
upon the floor.

'I came to tell you, my dear,' said he, 'that I am going out to
Plumstead: you won't come with me, I suppose?'

'To Plumstead, papa? Shall you stay there?'

'I suppose I shall tonight: I must consult the archdeacon about
this weary hospital. Ah me! I wish I had never thought of it
again.'

'Why, papa, what is the matter?'

'I've been with Mr Slope, my dear; and he isn't the pleasantest
companion in the world, at least not to me.' Eleanor gave a sort of
half blush; but she was wrong if she imagined that her father in
any way alluded to her acquaintance with Mr Slope.

'Well, papa.'

'He wants to turn the hospital into a Sunday school and a preaching
house; and I suppose he will have his way. I do not feel myself
adapted for such an establishment, and therefore, I suppose, I must
refuse the appointment.'

'What would be the harm of the school, papa?'

'The want of a proper schoolmaster, my dear.'

'But that would of course be supplied.'

'Mr Slope wishes to supply it by making me his schoolmaster. But as
I am hardly fit for such work, I intend to decline.'

'Oh, papa! Mr Slope doesn't intend that. He was here yesterday, and
what he intends--'

'He was here yesterday, was he?' asked Mr Harding.

'Yes, papa.'

'And talking about the hospital?'

'He was saying how glad he would be, and the bishop too, to see you
back there again. And then he spoke about the Sunday school; and to
tell the truth I agreed with him; and I thought you would have done
so too. Mr Slope spoke of a school, not inside the hospital, but
just connected with it, of which you would be the patron and
visitor; and I thought you would have liked such a school as that;
and I promised to look after it and to take a class--and it all
seemed so very--. But, oh, papa! I shall be so miserable if I find
that I have done wrong.'

'Nothing wrong at all, my dear,' said he, gently, very gently
rejecting his daughter's caresses. 'There can be nothing wrong in
your wishing to make yourself useful; indeed, you ought to do so by
all means. Every one must now exert himself who would not choose to
go to the wall.' Poor Mr Harding thus attempted in his misery to
preach the new doctrine to his child. 'Himself or herself, it's all
the same,' he continued, 'you will be quite right, my dear, to do
something of this sort; but--'

'Well, papa.'

'I am not quite sure that if I were you I would select Mr Slope for
my guide.'

'But I have never done so, and never shall.'

'It would be very wicked of me to speak evil of him, for to tell
the truth I know no evil of him; but I am not quite sure that he is
honest. That he is not gentleman-like in his manners, of that I am
quite sure.'

'I never thought of taking him for my guide, papa.'

'As for myself, my dear,' continued he, 'we know the old
proverb--"It's a bad thing teaching an old dog new tricks." I must
decline the Sunday school, and shall therefore probably decline the
hospital also. But I will first see your brother-in-law.' So he
took up his hat, kissed the baby, and withdrew, leaving Eleanor in
as low spirits as himself.

All this was a great aggravation to his misery. He had so few with
whom to sympathise, that he could not afford to be cut off from the
one whose sympathy was of the most value to him. And yet it seemed
probable that this would be the case. He did not own to himself
that he wished his daughter to hate Mr Slope; yet had she expressed
such a feeling there would have been very little bitterness in the
rebuke he would have given her for so uncharitable a state of mind.
The fact, however, was that she was on friendly terms with Mr
Slope, that she coincided with his views, adhered at once to his
plans, and listened with delight to his teaching. Mr Harding hardly
wished his daughter to hate the man, but he would have preferred
that to her loving him.

He walked away to the inn to order a fly, went home to put up his
carpet bag, and then started for Plumstead. There was, at any rate,
no danger that the archdeacon would fraternise with Mr Slope; but
then he would recommend internecine war, public appeals, loud
reproaches, and all the paraphernalia of open battle. Now that
alternative was hardly more to Mr Harding's taste than the other.

When Mr Harding reached the parsonage he found that the archdeacon
was out, and would not be home till dinner-time, so he began his
complaint to his elder daughter. Mrs Grantly entertained quite as
strong an antagonism to Mr Slope as did her husband; she was also
quite as alive to the necessity of combatting the Proudie faction,
of supporting the old church interest of the close, of keeping in
her own set much of the loaves and fishes as duly belonged to it;
and was quite as well prepared as her lord to carry on the battle
without giving or taking quarter. Not that she was a woman prone to
quarrelling, or ill inclined to live at peace with her clerical
neighbours; but she felt, as did the archdeacon, that the presence
of Mr Slope in Barchester was an insult to every one connected with
the late bishop, and that his assumed dominion in the diocese was a
spiritual injury to her husband. Hitherto people had little guessed
how bitter Mrs Grantly could be. She lived on the best of terms
with all the rectors' wives around her. She had been popular with
all the ladies connected with the close. Though much the wealthiest
of the ecclesiastical matrons of the county, she had so managed her
affairs that her carriage and horses had given umbrage to none. She
had never thrown herself among the county grandees so as to excite
the envy of other clergymen's wives. She had never talked too
loudly of earls and countesses, or boasted that she gave her
governess sixty pounds a year, or her cook seventy. Mrs Grantly had
lived the life of a wise, discreet, peace-making woman; and the
people of Barchester were surprised at the amount of military
vigour she displayed as general of the feminine Grantlyite forces.

Mrs Grantly soon learnt that her sister Eleanor had promised to
assist Mr Slope in the affairs of the hospital; and it was on this
point that her attention soon fixed itself.

'How can Eleanor endure him?' said she.

'He is a very crafty man,' said her father, 'and his craft has been
successful in making Eleanor think that he is a meek, charitable,
good clergyman. God forgive me, if I wrong him, but such is not his
true character in my opinion.'

'His true character, indeed!' said she, with something approaching
scorn for her father's moderation. 'I only hope he won't have craft
enough to make Eleanor forget herself and her position.'

'Do you mean marry him?' said he, startled out of his usual
demeanour by the abruptness and horror of so dreadful a
proposition.

'What is there so improbable in it? Of course that would be his own
object if he thought he had any chance of success. Eleanor has a
thousand a year entirely at her own disposal, and what better
fortune could fall to Mr Slope's lot than the transferring of the
disposal of such a fortune to himself?'

'But you can't think she likes him, Susan?'

'Why not?' said Susan. 'Why shouldn't she like him? He's just the
sort of man to get on with a woman left as she is, with no one to
look after her.'

'Look after her!' said the unhappy father; 'don't we look after
her?'

'Ah, papa, how innocent you are! Of course it was to be expected
that Eleanor should marry again. I should be the last to advise her
against it, if she would only wait the proper time, and then marry
at least a gentleman.'

'But you don't really mean to say that you suppose Eleanor has ever
thought of marrying Mr Slope? Why, Mr Bold has only been dead a
year.'

'Eighteen months,' said his daughter. 'But I don't suppose Eleanor
has ever thought about it. It is very probable, though, that he
has, and that he will try and make her do so; and that he will
succeed too, if we don't take care what we are about.'

This was quite a new phase of the affair to poor Mr Harding. To
have thrust upon him as his son-in-law, as the husband of his
favourite child, the only man in the world whom he really
positively disliked, would be a misfortune which he felt he would
not know how to endure patiently. But then, could there be any
ground for so dreadful a surmise? In all worldly matters he was apt
to look upon the opinion of his eldest daughter, as one generally
sound and trustworthy. In her appreciation of character, of
motives, and the probable conduct both of men and women, she was
usually not far wrong. She had early foreseen the marriage of
Eleanor and John Bold; she had at a glance deciphered the character
of the new bishop and his chaplain; could it possibly be that her
present surmise should ever come forth as true?'

'But you don't think that she likes him,' said Mr Harding again.

'Well, papa, I can't say that I think she dislikes him as she ought
to do. Why is he visiting there as a confidential friend, when he
never ought to have been admitted inside the house? Why is it that
she speaks to him of about your welfare and your position, as she
clearly has done? At the bishop's party the other night, I saw her
talking to him for half an hour at the stretch.'

'I thought Mr Slope seemed to talk to nobody there but that
daughter of Stanhope's,' said Mr Harding, wishing to defend his
child.

'Oh, Mr Slope is a cleverer man than you think of, papa, and keeps
more than one iron in the fire.'

To give Eleanor her due, any suspicion as to the slightest
inclination on her part towards Mr Slope was a wrong to her. She
had no more idea of marrying Mr Slope than she had of marrying the
bishop; and the idea that Mr Slope would present himself as a
suitor had never occurred to her. Indeed, to give her her due
again, she had never thought about suitors since her husband's
death. But nevertheless it was true that she had overcome all that
repugnance to the man which was so strongly felt for him by the
rest of the Grantly faction. She had forgiven him his sermon. She
had forgiven him his low church tendencies, his Sabbath schools,
and puritanical observances. She had forgiven his pharisaical
arrogance, and even his greasy face and oily vulgar manners. Having
agreed to overlook such offences as these, why should she not in
time be taught to regard Mr Slope as a suitor?

And as to him, it must be affirmed that he was hitherto equally
innocent of the crime imputed to him. How it had come to pass that
a man whose eyes were generally widely open to everything had not
perceived that this young widow was rich as well as beautiful,
cannot probably now be explained. But such was the fact. Mr Slope
had ingratiated himself with Mrs Bold, merely as he had done with
other ladies, in order to strengthen his party in the city. He
subsequently attended his error; but it was not till after the
interview with him and Mr Harding.



CHAPTER XIV

THE NEW CAMPAIGN

The archdeacon did not return to the parsonage till close upon the
hour of dinner, and there was therefore no time to discuss matters
before that important ceremony. He seemed to be in an especial good
humour, and welcomed his father-in-law with a sort of jovial
earnestness that was usual with him when things on which was intent
were going on as he would have them.

'It's all settled, my dear,' said he to his wife as he washed his
hands in his dressing-room, while she, according to her wont, sat
listening in the bedroom; 'Arabin has agreed to accept the living.
He'll be here next week.' And the archdeacon scrubbed his hands and
rubbed his face with a violent alacrity, which showed that Arabin's
coming was a great point gained.

'Will he come here to Plumstead?' said the wife.

'He has promised to stay a month with us,' said the archdeacon, 'so
that he may see what his parish is like. You'll like Arabin very
much. He's a gentleman in every respect, and full of good humour.'

'He's very queer, isn't he?' asked the wife.

'Well--he is a little odd in some of his fancies; but there's
nothing about him you won't like. He is as staunch a churchman as
there is at Oxford. I really don't know what we should do without
Arabin. It's a great thing for me to have him so near me; and if
anything can put Slope down, Arabin will do it.'

The Reverend Francis Arabin was a fellow of Lazarus, the favoured
disciple of the great Dr Gwynne, a high churchman at all points; so
high, indeed, that at one period of his career he had all but
toppled over into the cesspool of Rome; a poet and also a polemical
writer, a great pet in the common rooms at Oxford, an eloquent
clergyman, a droll, odd, humorous, energetic, conscientious man,
and, as the archdeacon had boasted of him, a thorough gentleman. As
he will hereafter be brought more closely to our notice, it is now
only necessary to add, that he had just been presented to the
vicarage of St Ewold by Dr Grantly, in whose gift as archdeacon the
living lay. St Ewold's is a parish lying just without the city of
Barchester. The suburbs of the new town, indeed, are partly within
its precincts, and the pretty church and parsonage are not much
above a mile distant from the city gate.

St Ewold is not a rich piece of preferment--it is worth some three
or four hundred a year, at most, and has generally been held by a
clergyman attached to the cathedral choir. The archdeacon, however,
felt, when the living on this occasion became vacant, that it
imperatively behoved him to aid the force of his party with some
tower of strength, if any such tower could be got to occupy St
Ewold's. He had discussed the matter with his brethren in
Barchester; not in any weak spirit as the holder of patronage to be
used for his own or his family's benefit, but as one to whom was
committed a trust, on the due administration of which much of the
church's welfare might depend. He had submitted to them the name of
Mr Arabin, as though the choice had rested with them all in
conclave, and they had unanimously admitted that, if Mr Arabin
would accept St Ewold's no better choice could possibly be made.

If Mr Arabin would accept St Ewold's! There lay the difficulty. Mr
Arabin was a man standing somewhat prominently before the world,
that is, before the Church of England world. He was not a rich man,
it is true, for he held no preferment but his fellowship; but he
was a man not over anxious for riches, not married of course, and
one whose time was greatly taken up in discussing, both in print
and on platforms, the privileges and practices of the church to
which he belonged. As the archdeacon had done battle for its
temporalities, so did Mr Arabin do battle for its spiritualities;
and both had done so conscientiously; that is, not so much each for
his own benefit as for that of others.

Holding such a position as Mr Arabin did, there was much reason to
doubt whether he would consent to become the parson of St Ewold's,
and Dr Grantly had taken the trouble to go himself to Oxford on the
matter. Dr Gwynne and Dr Grantly together had succeeded in
persuading this eminent divine that duty required him to go
Barchester. There were wheels within wheels in this affair. For
some time past Mr Arabin had been engaged in a tremendous
controversy with no less a person than Mr Slope, respecting the
apostolic succession. These two gentlemen had never seen each
other, but they had been extremely bitter in print. Mr Slope had
endeavoured to strengthen his cause by calling Mr Arabin an owl,
and Mr Arabin had retaliated by hinting that Mr Slope was an
infidel. This battle had been commenced in the columns of the daily
Jupiter, a powerful newspaper, the manager of which was very
friendly to Mr Slope's view of the case. The matter, however, had
become too tedious for the readers of the Jupiter, and a little
note had therefore been appended to one of Mr Slope's most telling
rejoinders, in which it had been stated that no further letters
from the reverend gentlemen could be inserted except as
advertisements.

Other methods of publication were, however, found less expensive
than advertisements in the Jupiter; and the war went on merrily. Mr
Slope declared that the main part of the consecration of a
clergyman was the self-devotion of the inner man to the duties of
the ministry. Mr Arabin contended that a man was not consecrated at
all, had, indeed, no single attribute of a clergyman, unless he
became so through the imposition of some bishop's hands, who had
become a bishop through the imposition of other hands, and so on in
a direct line to one of the apostles. Each had repeatedly hung the
other on the horns of a dilemma; but neither seemed to a whit the
worse for the hanging; and so the war went on merrily.

Whether or no the near neighbourhood of the foe may have acted in
any way as an inducement to Mr Arabin to accept the living of St
Ewold, we will not pretend to say; but it had at any rate been
settled in Dr Gwynne's library, at Lazarus, that he would accept
it, and that he would lend his assistance towards driving the enemy
out of Barchester, or, at any rate, silencing him while he remained
there. Mr Arabin intended to keep his rooms at Oxford, and to have
the assistance of a curate at St Ewold; but he promised to give as
much time as possible to the neighbourhood of Barchester, and from
so great a man Dr Grantly was quite satisfied with such a promise.
It was no small part of the satisfaction derivable from such an
arrangement that Dr Proudie would be forced to institute into a
living, immediately under his own nose, the enemy of his favourite
chaplain.

All through the dinner the archdeacon's good humour shone brightly
in his face. He ate of the good things heartily, he drank wine with
his wife and daughter, he talked pleasantly of his doings at
Oxford, told his father-in-law that he ought to visit Dr Gwynne at
Lazarus, and launched out again in praise of Dr Arabin.

'Is Mr Arabin married, papa?' asked Griselda.

'No, my dear; the fellow of a college is never married.'

'Is he a young man, papa?'

'About forty, I believe,' said the archdeacon.

'Oh!' said Griselda. Had her father said eighty, Mr Arabin would
not have appeared to her to be very much older.

When the two gentlemen were left alone over their wine, Mr Harding
told his tale of woe. But even this, sad as it was, did not much
diminish the archdeacon's good humour, though it greatly added to
his pugnacity.

'He can't do it,' said Dr Grantly over and over again, as his
father-in-law explained to him the terms on which the new warden of
the hospital was to be appointed; 'he can't do it. What he says is
not worth the trouble of listening to. He can't alter the duties of
the place.'

'Who can't?' asked the ex-warden.

'Neither can the bishop nor the chaplain, nor yet the bishop's
wife, who, I take it, has really more to say to such matters than
either of the other two. The whole body corporate of the palace
together have no power to turn the warden of the hospital into a
Sunday schoolmaster.'

'But the bishop has the power to appoint whom he pleases, and--'

'I don't know that; I rather think he'll find he has no such power.
Let him try it, and see what the press will say. For once we shall
have the popular cry on our side. But Proudie, ass as he is, knows
the world too well to get such a hornet's nest about his ears.'

Mr Harding winced at the idea of the press. He had had enough of
that sort of publicity, and was unwilling to be shown up a second
time either as a monster or as a martyr. He gently remarked that he
hoped the newspapers would not get hold of his name again, and then
suggested that perhaps it would be better that he should abandon
his object. 'I am getting old,' said he; 'and after all I doubt
whether I am fit to undertake new duties.'

'New duties!' said the archdeacon: 'don't I tell you there shall be
no new duties?'

'Or, perhaps, old duties either,' said Mr Harding; 'I think I will
remain content as I am.' The picture of Mr Slope carting away the
rubbish was still present to his mind.

The archdeacon drank off his glass of claret, and prepared himself
to be energetic. 'I do hope,' said he, 'that you are not going to
be so weak as to allow such a man as Mr Slope to deter you from
doing what you know is your duty to do. You know that it is your
duty to resume your place at the hospital now that parliament has
so settled the stipend as to remove those difficulties which
induced you to resign it. You cannot deny this; and should your
timidity now prevent you from doing so, your conscience will
hereafter never forgive you;' and as he finished this clause of his
speech, he pushed over the bottle to his companion.

'Your conscience will never forgive you,' he continued. 'You
resigned the place from conscientious scruples, scruples which I
greatly respected, though I did not share them. All your friends
respected them, and you left your old house as rich in reputation
as you were ruined in fortune. It is now expected that you will
return. Dr Gwynne was saying only the other day--'

'Dr Gwynne does not reflect how much older a man I am now than when
he last saw me.'

'Old--nonsense!' said the archdeacon; 'you never thought yourself
old till you listened to the impudent trash of that coxcomb at the
palace.'

'I shall be sixty-five if I live till November,' said Mr Harding.

'And seventy-five if you live till November ten years,' said the
archdeacon. 'And you bid fair to be as efficient then as you were
ten years ago. But for heaven's sake let us have no pretence in
this matter. Your plea of old age is only a pretence. But you're
not drinking your wine. It is only a pretence. The fact is, you are
half afraid of this Slope, and would rather subject yourself to
comparative poverty and discomfort, than come to blows with a man
who will trample on you, if you let him.'

'I certainly don't like coming to blows, if I can help it.'

'Nor I neither--but sometimes we can't help it. This man's object
is to induce you to refuse the hospital, that he may put some
creature of his own into it; that he may show his power, and insult
us all by insulting you, whose cause and character are so
intimately bound up with that of the chapter. You owe it to us all
to resist him in this, even if you have no solicitude for yourself.
But surely, for your own sake, you will not be so lily-livered as
to fall into this trap which he has baited for you, and let him
take the very bread out of your mouth without a struggle.'

Mr Harding did not like being called lily-livered, and was rather
inclined to resent it. 'I doubt there is any true courage,' said
he, 'in squabbling for money.'

'If honest men did not squabble for money, in this world of ours,
the dishonest men would get it all; and I do not see that the cause
of virtue would be much improved. No,--we must use the means which
we have. If we were to carry your argument home, we might give away
every shilling of revenue which the church has; and I presume you
are not prepared to say that the church would be strengthened by
such a sacrifice.' The archdeacon filled his glass and then emptied
it, drinking with much reverence a silent toast to the well-being
and permanent security of those temporalities which were so dear to
his soul.

'I think all quarrels between a clergyman and his bishop should be
avoided,' said Mr Harding.

'I think so too; but it is quite as much the duty of the bishop to
look to that as of his inferior. I tell you what, my friend; I'll
see the bishop in this matter, that is, if you will allow me; and
you may be sure I will not compromise you. My opinion is, that all
this trash about Sunday-schools and the sermons has originated
wholly with Slope and Mrs Proudie, and that the bishop knows
nothing about it. The bishop can't very well refuse to see me, and
I'll come upon him when he has neither his wife nor his chaplain by
him. I think you'll find that it will end in his sending you the
appointment without any condition whatever. And as to the seats in
the cathedral, we may safely leave that to Mr Dean. I believe the
fool positively thinks that the bishop could walk away with the
cathedral, if he pleased.'

And so the matter was arranged between them. Mr Harding had come
expressly for advice, and therefore felt himself bound to take the
advice given him. He had known, moreover, beforehand, that the
archdeacon would not hear of his giving the matter up, and
accordingly though he had in perfect good faith put forward his own
views, he was prepared to yield.

They therefore went into the drawing-room in good humour with each
other, and the evening passed pleasantly in prophetic discussion on
the future wars of Arabin and Slope. The frogs had the mice would
be nothing to them, nor the angers of Agamemnon and Achilles. How
the archdeacon rubbed his hands, and plumed himself on the success
of his last move. He could not himself descend into the arena with
Slope, but Arabin would have no such scruples. Arabin was exactly
the man for such work, and the only man whom he knew that was fit
for it.

The archdeacon's good humour and high buoyancy continued till, when
reclining on his pillow, Mrs Grantly commenced to give him her view
of the state of affairs in Barchester. And then certainly he was
startled. The last words he said that night were as follows:--

'If she does, by heaven, I'll never speak to her again. She dragged
me into the mire once, but I'll not pollute myself with such filth
as that--' And the archdeacon gave a shudder which shook the whole
room, so violently was he convulsed with the thought which then
agitated his mind.

Now in this matter, the widow Bold was scandalously ill-treated by
her relatives. She had spoken to the man three or four times, and
had expressed her willingness to teach in a Sunday-school. Such was
the full extent of her sins in the matter of Mr Slope. Poor
Eleanor! But time will show.

The next morning Mr Harding returned to Barchester, no further word
having been spoken in his hearing respecting Mr Slope's
acquaintance with his younger daughter. But he observed that the
archdeacon at breakfast was less cordial than he had been on the
preceding evening.



CHAPTER XV

THE WIDOW'S SUITORS

Mr Slope lost no time in availing himself of the bishop's
permission to see Mr Quiverful, and it was in his interview with
this worthy pastor that he first learned that Mrs Bold was worth
the wooing. He rode out to Puddingdale to communicate to the embryo
warden the good will of the bishop in his favour, and during the
discussion on the matter, it was unnatural that the pecuniary
resources of Mr Harding and his family should become the subject of
remark.

Mr Quiverful, with his fourteen children and his four hundred a
year, was a very poor man, and the prospect of this new preferment,
which was to be held together with his living, was very grateful to
him. To what clergyman so circumstanced would not such a prospect
be very grateful? But Mr Quiverful had long been acquainted with Mr
Harding, and had received kindness at his hands, so that his heart
misgave him as he thought of supplanting a friend at the hospital.
Nevertheless, he was extremely civil, cringingly civil, to Mr
Slope; treated him quite as the great man; entreated this great man
to do him the honour to drink a glass of sherry, at which, as it
was very poor Marsala, the now pampered Slope turned up his nose;
and ended by declaring his extreme obligation to the bishop and Mr
Slope, and his great desire to accept the hospital, if--if it were
certainly the case that Mr Harding had refused it.

What man, as needy as Mr Quiverful, would have been more
disinterested?

'Mr Harding did positively refuse it,' said Mr Slope, with a
certain air of offended dignity, 'when he heard of the conditions
to which the appointment is now subjected. Of course, you
understand, Mr Quiverful, that the same conditions will be imposed
on yourself.'

Mr Quiverful cared nothing for the conditions. He would have
undertaken to preach any number of sermons Mr Slope might have
chosen to dictate, and to pass every remaining hour of his Sundays
within the walls of a Sunday school. What sacrifices, or, at any
rate, what promises, would have been too much to make for such an
addition to his income, and for such a house! But his mind still
recurred to Mr Harding.

'To be sure,' said he; 'Mr Harding's daughter is very rich, and why
should he trouble himself with the hospital?'

'You mean Mrs Grantly,' said Slope.

'I meant the widowed daughter,' said the other. 'Mrs Bold has
twelve hundred a year of her own, and I suppose Mr Harding means to
live with her.'

'Twelve hundred a year of her own!' said Slope, and very shortly
afterwards took his leave, avoiding, as far as it was possible for
him to do, any further allusion to the hospital. Twelve hundred a
year, said he to himself, as he rode slowly home. If it were the
fact that Mrs Bold had twelve hundred a year of her own, what a
fool would he be to oppose her father's return to his old place.
The train of Mr Slope's ideas will probably be plain to all my
readers. Why should he not make the twelve hundred a year his own?
And if he did so, would it not be well for him to have a
father-in-law comfortably provided with the good things of this
world? Would it not, moreover, be much more easy for him to gain
his daughter, if he did all in his power to forward his father's
views?

These questions presented themselves to him in a very forcible way,
and yet there were many points of doubt. If he resolved to restore
to Mr Harding his former place, he must take the necessary steps
for doing so at once; he must immediately talk over the bishop,
quarrel on the matter with Mrs Proudie whom he knew he could not
talk over, and let Mr Quiverful know that he had been a little too
precipitate as to Mr Harding's positive refusal. That he could
effect all this, he did not doubt; but he did not wish to effect it
for nothing. He did not wish to give way to Mr Harding, and then be
rejected by the daughter. He did not wish to lose one influential
friend before he had gained another.

And thus he rode home, meditating the many things in his mind. It
occurred to him that Mrs Bold was sister-in-law to the archdeacon;
and that not even for twelve hundred a year would he submit to that
imperious man. A rich wife was a great desideratum to him, but
success in his profession was still greater; there were, moreover,
other rich women who might be willing to become wives; and after
all, this twelve hundred a year might, when inquired into, melt
away into some small sum utterly beneath his notice. Then also he
remembered that Mrs Bold had a son.

Another circumstance also much influenced him, though it was one
which may almost be said to have influenced him against his will.
The vision of Signora Neroni was perpetually before his eyes. It
would be too much to say that Mr Slope was lost in love, but yet he
thought, and kept continually thinking, that he had never seen so
beautiful a woman. He was a man whose nature was open to such
impulses, and the wiles of the Italianised charmer had been
thoroughly successful in imposing upon his thoughts. We will not
talk of his heart: not that he had no heart, but because his heart
had little to do with his present feelings. His taste had been
pleased, his eyes charmed, and his vanity gratified. He had been
dazzled by a sort of loveliness which he had never before seen, and
had been caught by an easy, free, voluptuous manner which was
perfectly new to him. He had never been so tempted before, and the
temptation was now irresistible. He had not owned to himself that
he cared for this woman more than for others around him; but yet he
thought often of the time when he might see her next, and made,
almost unconsciously, little cunning plans for seeing her
frequently.

He had called at Dr Stanhope's house the day after the bishop's
party, and then the warmth of his admiration had been fed with
fresh fuel. If the signora had been kind in her manner, and
flattering in her speech when lying upon the bishop's sofa, with
the eyes of so many on her, she had been much more so in her
mother's drawing-room, with no one present but her sister to
repress either her nature or her art. Mr Slope had thus left her
quite bewildered, and could not willingly admit into his brain any
scheme, a part of which would be the necessity of abandoning all
further special relationship with this lady.

And so he slowly rode along very meditative.

And here the author must beg it to be remembered that Mr Slope was
not in all things a bad man. His motives, like those of most men,
were mixed; and though his conduct was generally very different
from that which we would wish to praise, it was actuated perhaps as
often as that of the majority of the world by a desire to do his
duty. He believed in the religion which he taught, harsh,
unpalatable, uncharitable as that religion was. He believed those
whom he wished to get under his hoof, the Grantlys and Gwynnes of
the church, to be the enemies of that religion. He believed himself
to be the pillar of strength, destined to do great things; and with
that subtle, selfish, ambiguous sophistry to which the minds of all
men are so subject, he had taught himself to think that in doing
much for the promotion of his own interests he was doing much also
for the promotion of religion. Mr Slope had never been an immoral
man. Indeed, he had resisted temptations to immorality with a
strength of purpose that was creditable to him. He had early in
life devoted himself to works which were not compatible with the
ordinary pleasures of youth, and he had abandoned such pleasures
not without a struggle. It must therefore be conceived that he did
not admit to himself that he warmly admired the beauty of a married
woman without heartfelt stings of conscience; and to pacify that
conscience, he had to teach himself that the nature of his
admiration was innocent.

And thus he rode along meditative and ill at ease. His conscience
had not a word to say against his choosing the widow and her
fortune. That he looked upon as a godly work rather than otherwise;
as a deed which, if carried through, would redound to his credit as
a Christian. On that side lay no future remorse, no conduct which
he might probably have to forget, no inward stings. If it should
turn out to be really the fact that Mrs Bold had twelve hundred a
year at her own disposal, Mr Slope would rather look upon it as a
duty which he owed his religion to make himself the master of the
wife and the money; as a duty, too, in which some amount of
self-sacrifice would be necessary. He would have to give up his
friendship with the signora, his resistance to Mr Harding, his
antipathy--no, he found on mature self-examination, that he could
not bring himself to give up his antipathy to Dr Grantly. He would
marry the lady as the enemy of her brother-in-law, if such an
arrangement suited her; if not, she must look elsewhere for a
husband.

It was with such resolve as this that he reached Barchester. He
would at once ascertain what the truth might be as to the lady's
wealth, and having done this, he would be ruled by circumstances in
his conduct respecting the hospital. If he found that he could turn
round and secure the place for Mr Harding without much
self-sacrifice, he would do so; but if not, he would woo the
daughter in opposition to the father. But in no case would he
succumb to the archdeacon.

He saw his horse taken round to the stable, and immediately went
forth to commence his inquiries. To give Mr Slope his due, he was
not a man who ever let much grass grow under his feet.

Poor Eleanor! She was doomed to be the intended victim of more
schemes than one.

About the time that Mr Slope was visiting the vicar of Puddingdale,
a discussion took place respecting her charms and wealth at Dr
Stanhope's house in the close. There had been morning callers
there, and people had told some truth and also some falsehood
respecting the property which John Bold had left behind him. By
degrees the visitors went, and as the doctor went with them, and as
the doctor's wife had not made her appearance, Charlotte Stanhope
and her brother were left together. He was sitting idly at the
table, scrawling caricatures of Barchester notable, then yawning,
then turning over a book or two, and evidently at a loss how kill
some time without much labour.

'You haven't done much, Bertie, about getting any orders,' said his
sister.

'Orders!' said he; 'who on earth is there at Barchester to give
some orders? Who among the people here could possibly think it
worth his while to have his head done into marble?'

'Then you mean to give up your profession,' said she.

'No, I don't,' said he, going on with some absurd portrait of the
bishop. 'Look at that, Lotte; isn't it the little man all over,
apron and all? I'd go on with my profession at once, as you call
it, if the governor would set me up with a studio in London; but as
to sculpture at Barchester--I suppose half the people here don't
know what a torso means.'

'The governor will not give you a shilling to start you in London,'
said Lotte. 'Indeed, he can't give you what would be sufficient,
for he has not got it. But you might start yourself very well, if
you pleased.'

'How the deuce am I to do it?' said he.

'To tell you the truth, Bertie, you'll never make a penny by any
profession.'

'That's what I often think myself,' said he, not in the least
offended. 'Some men have a great gift of making money, but they
can't spend it. Others can't put two shillings together, but they
have a great talent for all sorts of outlay. I begin to think that
my genius is wholly in the latter line.'

'How do you mean to live then?' asked the sister.

'I suppose I must regard myself as a young raven, and look for
heavenly manna; besides, we have all got something when the
governor goes.'

'Yes--you'll have enough to supply yourself with gloves and boots;
that is, if the Jews have not got the possession of it all. I
believe they have the most of it already. I wonder, Bertie, at your
indifference; that you, with your talents and personal advantages,
should never try to settle yourself in life. I look forward with
dread to the time when the governor must go. Mother, and Madeline,
and I,--we shall be poor enough, but you will have absolutely
nothing.'

'Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof,' said Bertie.

'Will you take my advice?' said the sister.

'Cela depend,' said the brother.

'Will you marry a wife with money?'

'At any rate,' said he, 'I won't marry one without; wives with
money a'nt so easy to get now-a-days; the parsons pick them all
up.'

'And a parson will pick up the wife I meant for you, if you do not
look quickly about it; the wife I mean is Mrs Bold.'

'Whew-w-w-w!' whistled Bertie, 'a widow!'

'She is very beautiful,' said Charlotte.

'With a son and heir already to my hand,' said Bertie.

'A baby that will very likely die,' said Charlotte.

'I don't see that,' said Bertie. 'But however, he may live for
me--I don't wish to kill him; only, it must be owned that a
ready-made family is a drawback.'

'There is only one after all,' pleaded Charlotte.

'And that a very little one, as the maid-servant said,' rejoined
Bertie.

'Beggars mustn't be choosers, Bertie; you can't have everything.'

'God knows I am not unreasonable,' said he, 'nor yet opinionated;
and if you'll arrange it for me, Lotte, I'll marry the lady. Only
mark this: the money must be sure, and the income at my own
disposal, at any rate for the lady's life.'

Charlotte was explaining to her brother that he must make love for
himself if he meant to carry on the matter, and was encouraging him
to so, by warm eulogiums on Eleanor's beauty, when the signora was
brought into the drawing-room. When at home, and subject to the
gaze of none but her own family, she allowed herself to be dragged
about by two persons, and her two bearers now deposited her on the
sofa. She was not quite so grand in her apparel as she had been at
the bishop's party, but yet she was dressed with much care, and
though there was a look of care and pain about her eyes, she, was,
even by daylight, extremely beautiful.

'Well, Madeline; so I'm going to be married,' Bertie began, as soon
as the servants had withdrawn.

'There's no other foolish thing left, that you haven't done,' said
Madeline, 'and therefore you are quite right to try that.'

'Oh, you think it's a foolish thing, do you?' said he. 'There's
Lotte advising me to marry by all means. But on such a subject your
opinion ought to be the best; you have experience to guide you.'

'Yes, I have,' said Madeline, with a sort of harsh sadness in her
tone, which seemed to say--What is it to you if I am sad? I have
never asked your sympathy.

Bertie was sorry when he saw that she was hurt by what he said, and
he came and squatted on the floor close before her face to make his
peace with her.

'Come, Mad, I was only joking; you know that. But in sober earnest,
Lotte is advising me to marry. She wants me to marry Mrs Bold.
She's a widow with lots of tin, a fine baby, a beautiful
complexion, and the George and Dragon hotel up in High Street. By
Jove, Lotte, if I marry her, I'll keep the public house
myself--it's just the life that suits me.'

'What?' said Madeline, 'that vapid swarthy creature in the widow's
cap, who looked as though her clothes had been stuck on her back
with a pitchfork!' The signora never allowed any woman to be
beautiful.

'Instead of being vapid,' said Lotte, 'I call her a very lovely
woman. She was by far the loveliest woman in the rooms the other
night; that is, excepting you, Madeline.'

Even the compliment did not soften the asperity of the maimed
beauty. 'Every woman is charming according to Lotte,' she said; 'I
never knew an eye with so little true appreciation. In the first
place, what woman on earth could look well in such a thing as that
she had on her head?'

'Of course she wears a widow's cap; but she'll put that off when
Bertie marries her.'

'I don't see any "of course" in it,' said Madeline. 'The death of
twenty husbands should not make me undergo such a penance. It is as
much a relic of paganism as the sacrifice of a Hindu woman at the
burning of her husband's body. If not so bloody, it is quite as
barbarous, and quite as useless.'

'But you don't blame her for that,' said Bertie. 'She does it
because it's the custom of the country. People would think ill of
her if she didn't do it.'

'Exactly,' said Madeline. 'She is just one of those English
nonentities who would tie her head up in a bag for three months
every summer, if her mother and her grandmother had tied up their
heads before her. It would never occur to her, to think whether
there was any use in submitting to such a nuisance.'

'It's very hard, in a country like England, for a young woman to
set herself in opposition to the prejudices of that sort,' said the
prudent Charlotte.

'What you mean is, that it's very hard for a fool not to be a
fool,' said Madeline.

Bertie Stanhope had so much knocked about the world from his
earliest years, that he had not retained much respect for the
gravity of English customs; but even to his mind an idea presented
itself, that, perhaps in a wife, true British prejudice would not
in the long run be less agreeable than Anglo-Italian freedom from
restraint. He did not exactly say so, but he expressed the idea in
another way.

'I fancy,' said he, 'that if I were to die, and then walk, I should
think that my widow looked better in one of those caps than any
other kind of head-dress.'

'Yes--and you'd fancy also that she could do nothing better than
shut herself up and cry for you, or else burn herself. But she
would think differently. She'd probably wear one of those horrid
she-helmets, because she'd want the courage not to do so; but she'd
wear it with a heart longing for the time when she might be allowed
to throw it off. I hate such shallow false pretences. For my part,
I would let the world say what it pleased, and show no grief if I
felt none;--and perhaps not, if I did.'

'But wearing a widow's cap won't lessen her fortune,' said
Charlotte.

'Or increase it,' said Madeline. 'Then why on earth does she do
it?'

'But Lotte's object is to make her put it off,' said Bertie.

'If it be true that she has got twelve hundred a year quite at her
own disposal, and she be not utterly vulgar in her manners, I would
advise you to marry her. I dare say she is to be had for the
asking; and as you are not going to marry her for love, it doesn't
much matter whether she is good-looking or not. As to your really
marrying a woman for love, I don't believe you are fool enough for
that.'

'Oh, Madeline!' cried her sister.

'And oh, Charlotte!' said the other.

'You don't mean to say that no man can love a woman unless he is a
fool?'

'I mean very much the same thing,--that any man who is willing to
sacrifice his interest to get possession of a pretty face is a
fool. Pretty faces are to be had cheaper than that. I hate your
mawkish sentimentality, Lotte. You know as well as I do in what way
husbands and wives generally live together; you know how far the
warmth of conjugal affection can withstand the trial of a bad
dinner, of a rainy day, or of the least privation which poverty
brings with it; you know what freedom a man claims for himself,
what slavery he would exact from his wife if he could! And you know
also how wives generally obey. Marriage means tyranny on one side
and deceit on the other. I say that a man is a fool to sacrifice
his interests for such a bargain. A woman, too generally, has no
other way of living.'

'But Bertie has no other way of living,' said Charlotte.

'Then, in God's name, let him marry Mrs Bold,' said Madeline. And
so it was settled between them.

But let the gentle-hearted reader be under no apprehension
whatsoever. It is not destined that Eleanor shall marry Mr Slope or
Bertie Stanhope. And here, perhaps, it may be allowed to the
novelist to explain his views on a very important point in the art
of telling tales. He ventures to reprobate that system which goes
so far to violate all proper confidence between the author and his
readers, by maintaining nearly to the end of the third volume a
mystery as to the fate of their favourite personage. Nay, more, and
worse than this, is too frequently done. Have not often the
profoundest efforts of genius been used to baffle the aspirations
of the reader, to raise false hopes and false fears, and to give
rise to expectations which are never realised? Are not promises all
but made of delightful horrors, in lieu of which the writer
produces nothing but commonplace realities in his final chapter?
And is there not a species of deceit in this to which the honesty
of the present age should lend no countenance?

And what can be the worth of that solicitude which a peep into the
third volume can utterly dissipate? What the value of those
literary charms which are absolutely destroyed by their enjoyment?
When we have once learnt what was the picture before which was hung
Mrs Radcliffe's solemn curtain, we feel no further interest about
either the frame or the veil. They are to us, merely a receptacle
for old bones, and inappropriate coffin, which we would wish to
have decently buried out of our sight.

And then, how grievous a thing it is to have the pleasure of your
novel destroyed by the ill-considered triumph of a previous reader.
'Oh, you needn't be alarmed, for Augusta, of course, she accepts
Gustavus in the end.' 'How very ill-natured you are, Susan,' says
Kitty, with tears in her eyes; 'I don't care a bit about it now.'
Dear Kitty, if you will read my book, you may defy the ill-nature
of your sister. There shall be no secret that she can tell you.
Nay, take the last chapter, if you please--learn from its pages all
the results of our troubled story, and the story shall have lost
none of its interest, if indeed, there be any interest in it to
lose.

Our doctrine is, that the author and the reader should move along
together in full confidence with each other. Let the personages of
the drama undergo ever so completely a comedy of errors among
themselves, but let the spectator never mistake the Syracusan for
the Ephesian; otherwise he is one of the dupes, and the part of a
dupe is never dignified.

I would not for the value of this chapter have it believed by a
single reader that my Eleanor could bring herself to marry Mr
Slope, or that she should be sacrificed to a Bertie Stanhope. But
among the good folk of Barchester many believed both the one and
the other.



CHAPTER XVI

BABY WORSHIP

'Diddle, diddle, diddle, diddle, dum, dum, dum,' said, or sung
Eleanor Bold.

'Diddle, diddle, diddle, diddle, dum, dum, dum,' continued Mary
Bold, taking up the second part in the concerted piece.

The only audience at the concert was the baby, who however gave
such vociferous applause, that the performers presuming it to
amount to an encore, commenced again.

'Diddle, diddle, diddle, diddle, dum, dum, dum: hasn't he got
lovely legs?' said the rapturous mother.

'H'm, 'm, 'm, 'm, 'm,' simmered Mary, burying her lips in the
little fellow's fat neck, by way of kissing him.

'H'm, 'm, 'm, 'm, 'm,' simmered the mamma, burying her lips also in
his fat round short legs. 'He's a dawty little bold darling, so he
is; and he has the nicest little pink legs in all the world, so he
has;' and the simmering and the kissing went on over again, and as
though the ladies were very hungry, and determined to eat him.

'Well, then, he's his own mother's own darling: well, he shall--oh,
oh,--Mary, Mary--did you ever see? What am I to do? My naughty,
naughty, naughty little Johnny.' All these energetic exclamations
were elicited by the delight of the mother in finding that her son
was strong enough and mischievous enough, to pull all her hair out
from under her cap. 'He's been and pulled down all mamma's hair,
and he's the naughtiest, naughtiest, naughtiest little man that
ever, ever, ever, ever, ever--'

A regular service of baby worship was going on. Mary Bold was
sitting on a low easy chair, with the boy in her lap, and Eleanor
was kneeling before the object of her idolatry. As she tried to
cover up the little fellow's face with her long, glossy, dark brown
locks, and permitted him to pull them hither and thither, as he
would, she looked very beautiful in spite of the widow's cap which
she still wore. There was a quiet, enduring, grateful sweetness
about her face, which grew so strongly upon those who knew her, as
to make the great praise of her beauty which came from her old
friends, appear marvellously exaggerated to those who were only
slightly acquainted with her. Her loveliness was like that of many
landscapes, which require to be often seen to be fully enjoyed.
There was a depth of dark clear brightness in her eyes which was
lost upon a quick observer, a character about her mouth which only
showed itself to those with whom she familiarly conversed, a
glorious form of head the perfect symmetry of which required the
eyes of an artist for its appreciation. She had none of that
dazzling brilliancy, of that voluptuous Rubens beauty, of that
pearly whiteness, and those vermilion tints, which immediately
entranced with the power of a basilisk men who came within reach of
Madeline Neroni. It was all be impossible to resist the signora,
but no one was called upon for any resistance towards Eleanor. You
might begin to talk to her as though she were your sister, and it
would not be till your head was on your pillow, that the truth and
intensity of her beauty would flash upon you; that the sweetness of
her voice would come upon your ear. A sudden half-hour with the
Neroni, was like falling into a pit; an evening spent with Eleanor
like an unexpected ramble in some quiet fields of asphodel.

'We'll cover him up till there shan't be a morsel of his little
'ittle, 'ittle, 'ittle nose to be seen,' said the mother,
stretching her streaming locks over the infant's face. The child
screamed with delight, and kicked till Mary Bold was hardly able to
hold him.

At this moment the door opened, and Mr Slope was announced. Up
jumped Eleanor, and with a sudden quick motion of her hands pushed
back her hair over her shoulders. It would have been perhaps better
for her that she had not, for she thus showed more of her confusion
than she would have done had she remained as she was. Mr Slope,
however, immediately recognised the loveliness, and thought to
himself, that irrespective of her fortune, she would be an inmate
that a man might well desire for his house, a partner for his
bosom's care very well qualified to make care lie easy. Eleanor
hurried out of the room to re-adjust her cap, muttering some
unnecessary apology about her baby. And while she was gone, we will
briefly go back and state what had been hitherto the results of Mr
Slope's meditations on his scheme of matrimony.

His inquiries as to the widow's income had at any rate been so far
successful as to induce him to determine to go on with the
speculation. As regarded Mr Harding, he had also resolved to do
what he could without injury to himself. To Mrs Proudie he
determined not to speak on the matter, at least not at present. His
object was to instigate a little rebellion on the part of the
bishop. He thought that such a state of things would be advisable,
not only in respect to Messrs Harding and Quiverful, but also in
the affairs of the diocese generally. Mr Slope was by no means of
the opinion that Dr Proudie was fit to rule, but he conscientiously
thought it wrong that his brother clergy should be subjected to
petticoat government. He therefore made up his mind to infuse a
little of his spirit into the bishop, sufficient to induce him to
oppose his wife, though not enough to make him altogether
insubordinate.

He had therefore taken the opportunity of again speaking to his
lordship about the hospital, and had endeavoured to make it appear
that after all it would be unwise to exclude Mr Harding from the
appointment. Mr Slope, however, had a harder task than he had
imagined. Mrs Proudie, anxious to assume to herself as much as
possible of the merit of patronage, had written to Mrs Quiverful,
requesting her to call at the palace; and had then explained to
that matron, with much mystery, condescension, and dignity, the
good that was in store for her and her progeny. Indeed Mrs Proudie
had been so engaged at the very time that Mr Slope had been doing
the same with her husband at Puddingdale Vicarage, and had thus in
a measure committed herself. The thanks, the humility, the
gratitude, the surprise of Mrs Quiverful had been very
overpowering; she had all but embraced the knees of her patroness;
and had promised that the prayers of fourteen unprovided babes (so
Mrs Quiverful had described her own family, the eldest of which was
a stout young woman of three-and-twenty) should be put up to heaven
morning and evening for the munificent friend whom God had sent to
them. Such incense as this was not unpleasing to Mrs Proudie, and
she made the most of it. She offered her general assistance to the
fourteen unprovided babes, if, as she had no doubt, she should find
them worthy; expressed a hope that the eldest of them would be fit
to undertake tuition in her Sabbath schools, and altogether made
herself a very great lady in the estimation of Mrs Quiverful.

Having done this, she thought it prudent to drop a few words before
the bishop, letting him know that she had acquainted the
Puddingdale family with their good fortune; so that he might
perceive that he stood committed to the appointment. The husband
well understood the rule of his wife, but he did not resent it. He
knew that she was taking the patronage out of his hands; he was
resolved to put an end to her interference, and re-assume his
powers. But then he thought this was not the best time to do it. He
put off the evil hour, as many a man in similar circumstances has
done before him.

Such having been the case, Mr Slope, naturally encountered a
difficulty in talking over the bishop, a difficulty indeed which he
found could not be overcome except at the cost of a general
outbreak at the palace. A general outbreak at the present moment
might be good policy, but it also might not. It was at any rate not
a step to be lightly taken. He began by whispering to the bishop
that he feared the public opinion would be against him if Mr
Harding did not reappear at the hospital. The bishop answered with
some warmth that Mr Quiverful had been promised the appointment on
Mr Slope's advice. 'Not promised!' said Mr Slope. 'Yes, promised,'
replied the bishop, 'and Mrs Proudie has seen Mrs Quiverful on the
subject.' This was quite unexpected on the part of Mr Slope, but
his presence of mind did not fail him, and he turned the statement
to his own account.

'Ah, my lord,' said he, 'we shall all be in scrapes if the ladies
interfere.'

This was too much in unison with his lordship's feelings to be
altogether unpalatable, and yet such an allusion to interference
demanded a rebuke. My lord was somewhat astounded also, though not
altogether made miserable, by finding that there was a point of
difference between his wife and his chaplain.

'I don't know what you mean by interference,' said the bishop
mildly. 'When Mrs Proudie heard that Mr Quiverful was to be
appointed, it was not unnatural that she should wish to see Mrs
Quiverful about the schools. I really cannot say that I see any
interference.'

'I only speak, my lord, for your own comfort,' said Slope; 'for
your own comfort and dignity in the diocese. I can have no other
motive. As far as personal feelings go, Mrs Proudie is the best
friend I have. I must always remember that. But still, in my
present position, my first duty is to your lordship.'

'I am sure of that, Mr Slope, I am quite sure of that;' said the
bishop mollified: 'and I really think that Mr Harding should have
the hospital.'

'Upon my word, I am inclined to think so. I am quite prepared to
take upon myself the blame of first suggesting Mr Quiverful's name.
But since doing so, I have found that there is so strong a feeling
in the diocese in favour of Mr Harding, that I think your lordship
should give way. I hear also that Mr Harding has modified his
objections he first felt to your lordship's propositions. And as to
what has passed between Mrs Proudie and Mrs Quiverful, the
circumstance may be a little inconvenient, but I really do not
think that that should weigh in a matter of so much moment.'

And thus the poor bishop was left in a dreadfully undecided state
as to what he should do. His mind, however, slightly inclined
itself to the appointment of Mr Harding, seeing that by such a
step, he should have the assistance of Mr Slope in opposing Mrs
Proudie.

Such was the state of affairs at the palace, when Mr Slope called
at Mrs Bold's house, and found her playing with her baby. When she
ran out of the room, Mr Slope began praising the weather to Mary
Bold, then he praised the baby and kissed him, and then he praised
the mother, and then he praised Miss Bold herself. Mrs Bold,
however, was not long before she came back.

'I have to apologise for calling at so very early an hour,' began
Mr Slope, 'but I was really so anxious to speak to you that I hope
you and Miss Bold will excuse me.'

Eleanor muttered something in which the words 'certainly', and 'of
course', and 'not early at all', were just audible, and then
apologised for her own appearance, declaring with a smile, that her
baby was becoming such a big boy that he was quite unmanageable.

'He's a great bit naughty boy,' said she to the child; 'and we must
sent him away to a great big rough romping school, where they have
great big rods, and do terrible things to naughty boys who don't do
what their own mammas tell them;' and she then commenced another
course of kissing, being actuated thereto by the terrible idea of
sending her child away which her own imagination had depicted.

'And where the masters don't have such beautiful long hair to be
dishevelled,' said Mr Slope, taking up the joke and paying a
compliment at the same time.

Eleanor thought he might as well have left the compliment alone;
but she said nothing and looked nothing, being occupied as she was
with the baby.

'Let me take him,' said Mary. 'His clothes are nearly off his back
with his romping,' and so saying she left the room with the child.
Miss Bold had heard Mr Slope say he had something pressing to say
to Eleanor, and thinking that she might be de trop, took the
opportunity of getting herself out of the room.

'Don't be long, Mary,' said Eleanor, as Miss Bold shut the door.

'I am glad, Mrs Bold, to have the opportunity of having ten
minutes' conversation with you alone,' began Mr Slope. 'Will you
let me openly ask you a plain question?'

'Certainly,' said she.

'And I am sure you will give me a plain and open answer.'

'Either that or none at all,' said she, laughing.

'My question is this, Mrs Bold; is your father really anxious to
get back to the hospital?'

'Why do you ask me?' said she. 'Why don't you ask himself?'

'My dear Mrs Bold, I'll tell you why. There are wheels within
wheels, all of which I would explain to you, only I fear there is
not time. It is essentially necessary that I should have an answer
to this question, otherwise I cannot know how to advance your
father's wishes; and it is quite impossible that I should ask
himself. No one can esteem your father more than I do, but I doubt
if this feeling is reciprocal.' It certainly was not. 'I must be
candid with you as the only means of avoiding ultimate
consequences, which may be most injurious to Mr Harding. I fear
there is a feeling, I will not even call it a prejudice, with
regard to myself in Barchester, which is not in my favour. You
remember the sermon--'

'Oh! Mr Slope, we need not go back to that,' said Eleanor.

'For one moment, Mrs Bold. It is not that I may talk of myself, but
because it is so essential that you should understand how matters
stand. That sermon may have been ill-judged,--it was certainly
misunderstood; but I will say nothing about that now; only this,
that it did give rise to a feeling against myself which your father
shares with others. It may be that he has proper cause, but the
result is that he is not inclined to meet me on friendly terms. I
put it to yourself whether you do not know this to be the case.'

Eleanor made no answer, and Mr Slope, in the eagerness of his
address, edged his chair a little nearer to the widow's seat,
unperceived by her.

'Such being so,' continued Mr Slope, 'I cannot ask him this
question as I can ask it of you. In spite of my delinquencies since
I came to Barchester you have allowed me to regard you as a
friend.' Eleanor made a little motion with her head which was
hardly confirmatory, but Mr Slope if he noticed it, did not appear
to do so. 'To you I can speak openly, and explain the feelings of
my heart. This your father would not allow. Unfortunately the
bishop has thought it right that this matter of the hospital should
pass through my hands. There have been some details to get up with
which he would not trouble himself, and thus it has come to pass
that I was forced to have an interview with your father on the
matter.'

'I am aware of that,' said Eleanor.

'Of course,' said he. 'In that interview Mr Harding left the
impression on my mind that he did not wish to return to the
hospital.'

'How could that be?' said Eleanor, at last stirred up to forget the
cold propriety of demeanour which she had determined to maintain.

'My dear Mrs Bold, I give you my word that such was the case,' said
he, again getting a little nearer to her. 'And what is more than
that, before my interview with Mr Harding, certain persons at the
palace, I do not mean the bishop, had told me that such was the
fact. I own, I hardly believed it; I own, I thought that your
father would wish on every account, for conscience' sake, for the
sake of those old men, for old association, and the memory of dear
days gone by, on every account I thought that he would wish to
resume his duties. But I was told that such was not his wish; and
he certainly left me with the impression that I had been told the
truth.'

'Well!' said Eleanor, now sufficiently roused on the matter.

'I fear Miss Bold's step,' said Mr Slope, 'would it be asking too
great a favour to beg you to--I know you can manage anything with
Miss Bold.'

Eleanor did not like the word manage, but still she went out, and
asked Mary to leave them alone for another quarter of an hour.

'Thank you, Mrs Bold,--I am so very grateful for this confidence.
Well, I left your father with this impression. Indeed, I may say
that he made me understand that he declined the appointment.'

'Not the appointment,' said Eleanor. 'I am sure he did not decline
the appointment. But he said that he would not agree,--that is,
that he did not like the scheme about the schools, and the
services, and all that. I am quite sure he never said he wished to
refuse the place.'

'Oh, Mrs Bold!' said Mr Slope, in a manner almost impassioned. 'I
would not, for the world, say to so good a daughter a word against
so good a father. But you must, for his sake, let me show you
exactly how the matter stands at present. Mr Harding was a little
flurried when I told him of the bishop's wishes about the school. I
did so, perhaps, with less caution because you yourself had so
perfectly agreed with me on the same subject. He was a little put
out and spoke warmly. "Tell the bishop," said he, "that I quite
disagree with him,--and shall not return to the hospital as such
conditions are attached to it." What he said was to that effect;
indeed, his words were, if anything, stronger than those. I had no
alternative but to repeat them to his lordship, who said that he
could look on them in no other light than a refusal. He also had
heard the report that your father did not wish for the appointment,
and putting all these things together, he thought he had not choice
but to look for some one else. He has consequently offered the
place to Mr Quiverful.'

'Offered the place to Mr Quiverful!' repeated Eleanor, her eyes
suffused with tears. 'Then, Mr Slope, there is an end of it.'

'No, my friend--not so,' said he. 'It is to prevent such being the
end of it that I am now here. I may at any rate presume that I have
got an answer to my question, and that Mr Harding is desirous of
returning.'

'Desirous of returning--of course he is,' said Eleanor; 'of course
he wishes to have back his house and his income, and his place in
the world; to have back what he gave up with such self-denying
honesty, if he can have them without restraints on his conduct to
what at his age it would be impossible that he should submit. How
can the bishop ask a man of his age to turn schoolmaster to a pack
of children?'

'Out of the question,' said Mr Slope, laughing slightly; 'of course
no such demand shall be made on your father. I can at any rate
promise you that I will not be the medium of any so absurd a
requisition. We wished your father to preach in the hospital, as
the inmates may naturally be too old to leave it; but even that
shall not be insisted on. We wished also to attach a Sabbath-day
school to the hospital, thinking that such an establishment could
not but be useful under the surveillance of so good a clergyman as
Mr Harding, and also under your own. But, dear Mrs Bold; we won't
talk of those things now. One thing is clear; we mustdo what we can
to annul this rash offer the bishop made to Mr Quiverful. Your
father wouldn't see Quiverful, would he? Quiverful is an honourable
man, and would not, for a moment, stand in your father's way.'

'What?' said Eleanor; 'ask a man with fourteen children to give up
his preferment! I am quite sure he will do no such thing.'

'I suppose not,' said Slope; and he again drew near to Mrs Bold, so
that now they were very close to each other. Eleanor did not think
much about it, but instinctively moved away a little. How greatly
would she have increased the distance could he have guessed what
had been said about her at Plumstead! 'I suppose not. But it is out
of the question that Quiverful should supersede your father--quite
out of the question. The bishop has been too rash. An idea occurs
to me, which may, perhaps, with God's blessing, put us right. My
dear Mrs Bold, would you object to seeing the bishop yourself?'

'Why should not my father see him?' said Eleanor. She had once
before in her life interfered with her father's affairs, and then
not to much advantage. She was older now, and felt that she should
take no step in a matter so vital to him without his consent.

'Why, to tell the truth,' said Mr Slope, with a look of sorrow, as
though he greatly bewailed the want of charity in his patron, 'the
bishop fancies he has cause of anger against your father. I fear an
interview would lead to further ill will.'

'Why,' said Eleanor, 'my father is the mildest, the gentlest man
living.'

'I only know,' said Slope, 'that he has the best of daughters. So
you would not see the bishop? As to getting an interview, I could
manage that for you without the slightest annoyance to yourself.'

'I could do nothing, Mr Slope, without consulting my father.'

'Ah!' said he, 'that would be useless; you would then only be your
father's messenger. Does anything occur to yourself? Something must
be done. Your father shall not be ruined by so ridiculous a
misunderstanding.'

Eleanor said that nothing occurred to her, but that it was very
hard; and the tears came to her eyes and rolled down her cheeks. Mr
Slope would have given much to have had the privilege of drying
them; but he had tact enough to know that he had still a great deal
to do before he could even hope for any privilege with Mrs Bold.

'It cuts me to the heart to see you so grieved,' said he. 'But pray
let me assure you that your father's interests shall not be
sacrificed if it be possible for me to protect them. I will tell
the bishop openly what are the facts. I will explain to him that he
has hardly the right to appoint any other than your father, and
will show him that if he does so he will be guilty of great
injustice--and you, Mrs Bold, you will have the charity at any rate
to believe this of me, that I am truly anxious for your father's
welfare,--for his and for your own.'

The widow hardly knew what answer to make. She was quite aware that
her father would not be at all thankful to Mr Slope; she had a
strong wish to share her father's feelings; and yet she could not
but acknowledge that Mr Slope was very kind. Her father, who was
generally charitable to all men, who seldom spoke ill of any one,
had warned against Mr Slope, and yet she did not know how to
abstain from thanking him. What interest could he have in the
matter but that which he professed? Nevertheless there was that in
his manner which even she distrusted. She felt, and she did not
know why, that there was something about him which ought to put her
on her guard.

Mr Slope read all this in her hesitating manner just as plainly as
though she had opened her heart to him. It was the talent of the
man that he could so read the inward feelings of women with whom he
conversed. He knew that Eleanor was doubting him, and that if she
thanked him she would only do so because she could not help it; but
yet this did not make him angry or even annoy him. Rome was not
built in a day.

'I did not come for thanks,' continued he, seeing her hesitation;
'and do not want them--at any rate before they are merited. But
this I do want, Mrs Bold, that I may make myself friends in this
fold to which it has pleased God to call me as one of the humblest
of his shepherds. If I cannot do so, my task here must indeed be a
sad one. I will at any rate endeavour to deserve them.'

'I'm sure,' said she, 'you will soon make plenty of friends.'
 She felt herself obliged to say something.

'That will be nothing unless they are such as will sympathise with
my feelings; unless they are such as I can reverence and
admire--and love. If the best and purest turn away from me, I
cannot bring myself to be satisfied with the friendship of the less
estimable. In such case I must live alone.'

'Oh! I'm sure you will not do that, Mr Slope.' Eleanor meant
nothing, but it suited him to appear that some special allusion had
been intended.

'Indeed, Mrs Bold, I shall live alone, quite alone as far as the
heart is concerned, if those with whom I yearn to ally myself turn
away from me. But enough of this; I have called you my friend, and
I hope you will not contradict me. I trust the time may come when I
may also call your father so. My God bless you, Mrs Bold, you and
your darling boy. And tell your father from me that what can be
done for his interest shall be done.'

And so he took his leave, pressing the widow's hand rather more
closely than usual. Circumstances, however, seemed just then to
make this intelligible, and the lady did not feel called on to
resent it.

'I cannot understand him,' said Eleanor to Mary Bold, a few minutes
afterwards. 'I do not know whether he is a good man or a bad
man--whether he is true or false.'

'Then give him the benefit of the doubt,' said Mary, 'and believe
the best.'

'On the whole I think I do,' said Eleanor. 'I think I do believe
that he means well--and if so, it is a shame that we should revile
him, and make him miserable while he is among us. But, oh Mary, I
fear papa will be disappointed in the hospital.'



CHAPTER XVII

WHO SHALL BE COCK OF THE WALK?

All this time things were going on somewhat uneasily at the palace.
The hint or two which Mr Slope had given was by no means thrown
away upon the bishop. He had a feeling that if he ever meant to
oppose the now almost unendurable despotism of his wife, he must
lose no further time in doing so; that if he even meant to be
himself master in his own diocese, let alone his own house, he
should begin at once. It would have been easier to have done so
from the day of his consecration than now, but easier now than when
Mrs Proudie should have succeeded in thoroughly mastering the
diocesan details. Then the proffered assistance of Mr Slope was a
great thing for him, a most unexpected and invaluable aid. Hitherto
he had looked on the two as allied forces; and had considered that
as allied they were impregnable. He had begun to believe that his
only chance of escape would be by the advancement of Mr Slope to
some distant and rich preferment. But now it seemed that one of his
enemies, certainly the least potent of them, but nevertheless one
very important, was willing to desert his own camp. He walked up
and down his little study, almost thinking that the time had come
when he would be able to appropriate to his own use the big room
upstairs, in which his predecessor had always sat.

As he resolved these things in his mind a note was brought to him
from Archdeacon Grantly, in which that divine begged his lordship
to do him the honour of seeing him on the morrow--would his
lordship have the kindness to name the hour? Dr Grantly's proposed
visit would have reference to the re-appointment of Mr Harding to
the wardenship of Hiram's hospital. The bishop having read this
note was informed that the archdeacon's servant was waiting for an
answer.

Here at once a great opportunity offered itself to the bishop of
acting on his own responsibility. He bethought himself of his new
ally, and rang the bell for Mr Slope. It turned out that Mr Slope
was not in the house; and then, greatly daring, the bishop with his
own unassisted spirit wrote a note to the archdeacon saying that he
would see him, and naming the hour for doing so. Having watched
from his study-window that the messenger got safely off the
premises with this despatch, he began to turn over in his mind what
step he should next take.

To-morrow he would have to declare to the archdeacon either that Mr
Harding should have the appointment, or that he should not have it.
The bishop felt that he could not honestly throw over Mr Quiverful
without informing Mrs Proudie, and he resolved at last to brave the
lioness in her own den and tell her that circumstances were such
that it behoved him to reappoint Mr Harding. He did not feel that
he should at all derogate from his new courage by promising Mrs
Proudie that the very first piece of available preferment at his
disposal should be given to Quiverful to atone for the injury done
to him. If he could mollify the lioness with such a sop, how happy
would he think his first efforts had been?

Not without many misgivings did he find himself in Mrs Proudie's
boudoir. He had at first thought of sending for her. But it was not
at all impossible that she might choose to take such a message
amiss, and then also it might be some protection to him to have his
daughters present at the interview. He found her sitting with her
account books before her nibbling the end of her pencil evidently
mersed in pecuniary difficulties, and harassed in mind by the
multiplicity of palatial expenses, and the heavy cost of episcopal
grandeur. Her daughters were around her. Olivia was reading a
novel, Augusta was crossing a note to her bosom friend in Baker
Street, and Netta was working diminutive coach wheels for the
bottom of a petticoat. If the bishop could get the better of his
wife in her present mood, he would be a man indeed. He might then
consider victory his own for ever. After all, in such cases the
matter between husband and wife stands much the same as it does
between two boys at the same school, two cocks in the same yard, or
two armies on the same continent. The conqueror once is generally
the conqueror for ever after. The prestige of victory is
everything.

'Ahem--my dear,' began the bishop, 'if you are disengaged, I wished
to speak to you.' Mrs Proudie put her pencil down carefully at the
point to which she had dotted her figures, marked down in her
memory the sum she had arrived at, and then looked up, sourly
enough, into her helpmate's face. 'If you are busy, another time
will do as well,' continued the bishop, whose courage like Bob
Acres' had oozed out, now that he found himself on the ground of
battle.

'What is it about, bishop?' asked the lady.

'Well--it was about those Quiverfuls--but I see you are engaged.
Another time will do just as well for me.'

'What about the Quiverfuls? It is quite understood I believe, that
they are to come to the hospital. There is to be no doubt about
that, is there?' And as she spoke she kept her pencil sternly and
vigorously fixed on the column of figures before her.

'Why, my dear, there is a difficulty,' said the bishop.

'A difficulty!' said Mrs Proudie, 'What difficulty? The place
has been promised to Mr Quiverful, and of course he must have it.
He has made all his arrangements. He has written for a curate for
Puddingdale, he has spoken to the auctioneer about selling his
farm, horses, and cows, and in all respects considers the place as
his own. Of course he must have it.'

Now, bishop, look well to thyself, and call up all the manhood that
is in thee. Think how much is at stake. If now thou art not true to
thy guns, no Slope can hereafter aid thee. How can he who deserts
his own colours at the final smell of gunpowder expect faith in any
ally. Thou thyself hast sought the battlefield; fight out the
battle manfully now thou art there. Courage, bishop, courage!
Frowns cannot kill, nor can sharp words break any bones. After all
the apron is thine own. She can appoint no wardens, give away no
benefices, nominate no chaplains, an' thou art but true to thyself.
Up, man, and at her with a constant heart.

Some little monitor within the bishop's breast so addressed him.
But then there was another monitor there which advised him
differently, and as follows. Remember, bishop, she is a woman, and
such a woman is the very mischief. Were it not better for thee to
carry on this war, if it must be waged, from behind thine own table
in thine own study? Does not every cock fight best on is own
dunghill? Thy daughters also are here, the pledges of thy love, the
fruits of thy loins; is it well that they should see thee in the
hour of thy victory over their mother? Nay, is it well that they
should see thee in the possible hour of thy defeat? Besides, hast
thou not chosen thy opportunity with wonderful little skill, indeed
with no touch of sagacity for which thou art famous? Will it not
turn out that thou art wrong in this matter, and thine enemy right;
that thou hast actually pledged thyself in this matter of the
hospital, and that now thou wouldst turn upon thy wife because she
requires from thee but the fulfilment of thy promise? Art thou not
a Christian bishop, and is not thy word to be held sacred whatever
be the result? Return, bishop, to thy sanctum on the lower floor,
and postpone thy combative propensities for some occasion in which
at least thou mayest fight the battle against odds less
tremendously against thee.

All this passed within the bishop's bosom while Mrs Proudie stall
sat with her fixed pencil, and the figures of her sum still
enduring on the tablets of her memory. 'L4 17s 7d,' she said to
herself. 'Of course Mr Quiverful must have the hospital,' she said
out loud to her lord.

'Well, my dear, I merely wanted to suggest to you that Mr Slope
seems to think that if Mr Harding be not appointed, public feeling
in the matter would be against us and that the press might perhaps
take it up.'

'Mr Slope seems to think!' said Mrs Proudie, in a tone of voice
which plainly showed the bishop that he was right in looking for a
breach in that quarter. 'And what has Mr Slope to do with it? I
hope, my lord, you are not going to allow yourself to be governed
by a chaplain.' and now in her eagerness the lady lost her place in
her account.

'Certainly not, my dear. Nothing I can assure you is less probable.
But still Mr Slope may be useful in finding how the wind blows, and
I really thought that if we could give something good to Mr
Quiverful--'

'Nonsense,' said Mrs Proudie; 'it would be years before you could
give them anything else that could suit them half as well, and as
for the press and the public, and all that, remember there are two
ways of telling a story. If Mr Harding is fool enough to tell his
tale, we can also tell ours. The place was offered to him, and he
refused it. It has now been given to someone else, and there's an
end of it. At least, I should think so.'

'Well, my dear, I rather believe you are right;' said the bishop,
and sneaking out of the room, he went down stairs, troubled in his
mind as to how he should receive the archdeacon on the morrow. He
felt himself not very well just at present; and began to consider
that he might, not improbably, be detained in his room the next
morning by an attack of bile. He was, unfortunately, very subject
to bilious annoyances.

'Mr Slope, indeed! I'll Slope him,' said the indignant matron to
her listening progeny. 'I don't know what has come to Mr Slope. I
believe he thinks he is to be Bishop of Barchester himself, because
I have taken him by the hand, and got your father to make him his
domestic chaplain.'

'He was always full of impudence,' said Olivia; 'I told you so once
before, mamma.' Olivia, however, had not thought him too impudent
when once before he had proposed to make her Mrs Slope.

'Well, Olivia, I always thought you liked him,' said Augusta, who
at that moment had some grudge against her sister. 'I always
disliked the man because I think him thoroughly vulgar.'

'There you're wrong,' said Mrs Proudie; 'he's not vulgar at all;
and what is more, he is a soul-stirring, eloquent preacher; but he
must be taught to know his place if he is to remain in this house.'

'He has the horridest eyes I ever saw in a man's head,' said Netta;
'and I tell you what, he's terribly greedy; did you see the current
pie he ate yesterday?'

When Mr Slope got home he soon learnt from the bishop, as much from
his manner as his words, that Mrs Proudie's behests in the matter
of the hospital were to be obeyed. Dr Proudie let fall something as
to 'this occasion only,' and 'keeping all affairs about patronage
exclusively in his own hands.' But he was quite decided about Mr
Harding; and as Mr Slope did not wish to have both the prelate and
the prelatess against him, he did not at present see that he could
do anything but yield.

He merely remarked that he would of course carry out the bishop's
views, and that he was quite sure that if the bishop trusted to his
own judgment things in the diocese would certainly be well ordered.
Mr Slope knew that if you hit a nail on the head often enough, it
will penetrate at last.

He was sitting alone in his room on the same evening when a light
knock was made on his door, and before he could answer it the door
was opened, and his patroness appeared. He was all smiles in a
moment, but so was not she also. She took, however, the chair that
was offered to her, and thus began her expostulation :-

'Mr Slope, I did not at all approve your conduct the other night
with that Italian woman. Any one would have thought that you were
her lover.'

'Good gracious, my dear madam,' said Mr Slope, with a look of
horror. 'Why, she is a married woman.'

'That's more than I know,' said Mrs Proudie; 'however she chooses
to pass for such. But married or not married, such attention as you
paid her was improper. I cannot believe that you would wish to give
offence in my drawing-room, Mr Slope; but I owe it to myself and my
daughters to tell you that I disapprove your conduct.'

Mr Slope opened wide his huge protruding eyes, and stared out of
them with a look of well-dignified surprise. 'Why, Mrs Proudie,'
said he, 'I did but fetch her something to eat when she was
hungry.'

'And you have called on her since,' continued she, looking at the
culprit with the stern look of a detective policeman in the act of
declaring himself.

Mr Slope turned over in his mind whether it would be well for him
to tell this termagant at once that he should call on whom he
liked, and do what he liked; but he remembered that his footing in
Barchester was not yet sufficiently firm, and that it would be
better for him to pacify her.

'I certainly called since at Dr Stanhope's house, and certainly saw
Madame Neroni.'

'Yes, and you saw her alone,' said the episcopal Argus.

'Undoubtedly I did,' said Mr Slope, 'but that was because nobody
else happened to be in the room. Surely it was no fault of mine if
the rest of the family were out.'

'Perhaps not; but I assure you, Mr Slope, you will fall greatly in
my estimation if I find that you allow yourself to be caught by the
lures of that woman. I know women better than you do, Slope, and
you may believe me that that signora, as she calls herself, is not
a fitting companion for a strict evangelical, unmarried young
clergyman.'

How Mr Slope would have liked to laugh at her, had he dared! But he
did not dare. So he merely said, 'I can assure you, Mrs Proudie,
the lady in question is nothing to me.'

'Well, I hope not, Mr Slope. But I have considered it my duty to
give you this caution; and now there is another thing I feel myself
called upon to speak about; it is your conduct to the bishop, Mr
Slope.'

'My conduct to the bishop,' said he, now truly surprised and
ignorant what the lady alluded to.

'Yes, Mr Slope; your conduct to the bishop. It is by no means what
I would wish to see it.'

'Has the bishop said anything, Mrs Proudie?'

'No, the bishop has said nothing. He probably thinks that any
remarks on the matter will come better from me, who first
introduced you to his lordship's notice. The fact is, Mr Slope, you
are a little inclined to take too much upon yourself.'

An angry spot showed itself upon Mr Slope's cheeks, and it was with
difficulty that he controlled himself. But he did do so, and sat
quite silent while the lady went on.

'It is the fault of many young men in your position, and therefore
the bishop is not inclined at present to resent it. You will, no
doubt, soon learn what is required from you, and what is not. If
you will take my advice, however, you will be careful not to
obtrude advice upon the bishop in any matter concerning patronage.
If his lordship wants advice, he knows where to look for it.' And
then having added to her counsel a string of platitudes as to what
was desirable and what not desirable in the conduct of a strictly
evangelical, unmarried young clergyman, Mrs Proudie retreated,
leaving the chaplain to his thoughts.

The upshot of his thoughts was this, that there certainly was not
room in the diocese for the energies of both himself and Mrs
Proudie, and that it behoved him quickly to ascertain whether his
energies or hers would prevail.



CHAPTER XVIII

THE WIDOW'S PERSECUTION

Early on the following morning, Mr Slope was summoned to the
bishop's dressing-room, and went there fully expecting that he
should find his lordship very indignant, and spirited up by his
wife to repeat the rebuke which she had administered on the
previous day. Mr Slope had resolved that at any rate from him he
would not stand it, and entered the dressing-room in rather a
combative disposition; but he found the bishop in the most placid
and gentle of humours. His lordship complained of being rather
unwell, had a slight headache, and was not quite the thing in his
stomach; but there was nothing the matter with his temper.

'Oh, Slope,' said he, taking the chaplain's proffered hand.
'Archdeacon Grantly is to call on me this morning, and I really am
not fit to see him. I fear I must trouble you to see him for me;'
and then Dr Proudie proceeded to explain what it was that must be
said to Dr Grantly. He was to be told in fact in the civilest words
in which the tidings could be conveyed, that Mr Harding having
refused the wardenship, the appointment had been offered to Mr
Quiverful and accepted by him.

Mr Slope again pointed out to his patron that he thought he was
perhaps not quite wise in his decision, and this he did sotto voce.
But even with this precaution it was not safe to say much, and
during the little that he did say, the bishop made a very slight,
but still a very ominous gesture with his thumb towards the door
which opened from his dressing-room to some inner sanctuary. Mr
Slope at once took the hint and said no more; but he perceived that
there was to be confidence between him and his patron, that the
league desired by him was to be made, and that this appointment of
Mr Quiverful was to be the sacrifice offered on the altar of
conjugal obedience. All this Mr Slope read in the slight motion of
the bishop's thumb, and he read it correctly. There was no need of
parchments and seals, of attestations, explanations, and
professions. The bargain was understood between them, and Mr Slope
gave the bishop his hand upon it. The bishop understood the little
extra squeeze, and an intelligible gleam of assent twinkled in his
eye.

'Pray be civil to the archdeacon, Mr Slope,' said he out loud; 'but
make him quite understand that in this matter Mr Harding has put it
out of my power to oblige him.'

It would be calumny on Mrs Proudie to suggest that she was sitting
in her bed-room with her ear at the keyhole during this interview.
She had within her a spirit of decorum which prevented her from
descending to such baseness. To put her ear to a key-hole or to
listen at a chink, was a trick for a housemaid.

Mrs Proudie knew this, and therefore she did not do it; but she
stationed herself as near to the door as she well could, that she
might, if possible, get the advantage which the housemaid would
have had, without descending to the housemaid's artifice.

It was little, however, that she heard, and that little was only
sufficient to deceive her. She saw nothing of that friendly
pressure, perceived nothing of that concluded bargain; she did not
even dream of the treacherous resolves which those two false men
had made together to upset her in the pride of her station, to dash
the cup from her lip before she had drank of it, to seep away all
her power before she had tasted its sweets! Traitors that they
were; the husband of her bosom, and the outcast whom she had
fostered and brought into the warmth of the world's brightest
fireside! But neither of them had the magnanimity of this woman.
Though two men have thus leagued themselves together against her,
even yet the battle is not lost.

Mr Slope felt pretty sure that Dr Grantly would decline the honour
of seeing him, and such turned out to be the case. The archdeacon,
when the palace door was opened to him, was greeted by a note. Mr
Slope presented his compliments &c, &c. The bishop was ill in his
room, and very greatly regretted, &c &c. Mr Slope had been charged
with the bishop's views, and if agreeable to the archdeacon, would
do himself the honour &c, &c. The archdeacon, however, was not
agreeable, and having read his note in the hall, crumpled it up in
his hand, and muttering something about sorrow for his lordship's
illness, took his leave, without sending as much as a verbal
message in answer to Mr Slope's note.

'Ill!' said the archdeacon to himself as he flung himself into his
brougham. 'The man is absolutely a coward. He is afraid to see me.
Ill, indeed!' The archdeacon was never ill himself, and did not
therefore understand that any one else could in truth be prevented
by illness from keeping an appointment. He regarded all such
excuses as subterfuges, and in the present instance he was not far
wrong.

Dr Grantly desired to be driven to his father-in-law's lodgings in
the High Street, and hearing from the servant that Mr Harding was
at his daughter's, followed him to Mrs Bold's house, and there he
found him. The archdeacon was fuming with rage when he got into the
drawing-room, and had by this time nearly forgotten the
pusillanimity of the bishop in the villainy of the chaplain.

'Look at that,' said he, throwing Mr Slope's crumpled note to Mr
Harding. 'I am to be told that if I choose I may have the honour of
seeing Mr Slope, and that too, after a positive engagement with the
bishop.'

'But he says the bishop is ill,' said Mr Harding.

'Pshaw! You don't mean to say that you are deceived by such an
excuse as that. He was well enough yesterday. Now I tell you what,
I will see the bishop; and I will tell him also very plainly what I
think of his conduct. I will see him, or else Barchester will soon
be too hot to hold him.'

Eleanor was sitting in the room, but Dr Grantly had hardly noticed
her in his anger. Eleanor now said to him, with the greatest
innocence, 'I wish you had seen Mr Slope, Dr Grantly, because I
think perhaps it might have done good.'

The archdeacon turned on her with almost brutal wrath. Had she at
once owned that she had accepted Mr Slope for her second husband,
he could hardly have felt more convinced of her belonging body and
soul to the Slope and Proudie party than he now did on hearing her
express such a wish as this. Poor Eleanor!

'See him,' said the archdeacon, glaring at her; 'and why am I be
called on to lower myself in the world's esteem an my own by coming
in contact with such a man as that? I have hitherto lived among
gentlemen, and do not mean to be dragged into other company by
anybody.'

Poor Mr Harding knew well what the archdeacon meant, but Eleanor
was as innocent as her own baby. She could not understand how the
archdeacon could consider himself to be dragged into bad company by
condescending to speak to Mr Slope for a few minutes when the
interests of her father might be served by doing so.

'I was talking for a full hour yesterday with Mr Slope,' said she,
with some little assumption of dignity, 'and I did not find myself
to be lowered by it.'

'Perhaps not,' said he. 'But if you'll be good enough to allow me,
I shall judge for myself in such matters. And I tell you what,
Eleanor; it will be much better for you if you will allow yourself
to be guided also by the advice of those who are your friends. If
you do not you will be apt to find you have no friends left who can
advise you.'

Eleanor blushed up to the roots of her hair. But even now she had
not the slightest idea of what was passing in the archdeacon's
mind. No thought of love-making or love-receiving had yet found its
way to her heart since the death of poor John Bold; and if it were
possible that such a thought should spring there, the man must be
far different from Mr Slope that could give it birth.

Nevertheless Eleanor blushed deeply, for she felt she was charged
with improper conduct, and she did so with the more inward pain
because her father did not instantly rally to her side; that father
for whose sake and love she had submitted to be the receptacle of
Mr Slope's confidence. She had given a detailed account of all that
had passed to her father; and though he had not absolutely agreed
with her about Mr Slope's views touching the hospital, yet he had
said nothing to make her think that she had been wrong in talking
to him.

She was far too angry to humble herself before her brother- in-law.
Indeed, she had never accustomed herself to be very abject before
him, and they had never been confidential allies. 'I do not in the
least understand what you mean, Dr Grantly,' said she. 'I do not
know that I can accuse myself of doing anything that my friends
should disapprove. Mr Slope called here expressly to ask what
papa's views were about the hospital; and as I believe he called
with friendly intentions I told him.'

'Friendly intentions!' sneered the archdeacon.

'I believe you greatly wrong Mr Slope,' continued Eleanor; 'but I
have explained this to papa already; and as you do not seem to
approve of what I say, Dr Grantly, I will with your permission
leave you and papa together,' and so saying she walked out of the
room.

All this made Mr Harding very unhappy. It was quite clear that the
archdeacon and his wife had made up their minds that Eleanor was
going to marry Mr Slope. Mr Harding could not really bring himself
to think that she would do so, but yet he could not deny that
circumstances made it appear that the man's company was not
disagreeable to her. She was now constantly seeing him, and yet she
received visits from no other unmarried gentleman. She always took
his part when his conduct was canvassed, although she was aware how
personally objectionable he was to her friends. Then, again, Mr
Harding felt that if she should choose to become Mrs Slope, he had
nothing that he could justly against her doing so. She had full
right to please herself, and he, as a father could not say that she
would disgrace herself by marrying a clergyman who stood so well
before the world as Mr Slope did. As for quarrelling with his
daughter on account of such a marriage, and separating himself from
her as the archdeacon had threatened to do, that, with Mr Harding,
would be out of the question. If she should determine to marry this
man, he must get over his aversion as best he could. His Eleanor,
his own old companion in their old happy home, must still be friend
of his bosom, the child of his heart. Let who would cast her off,
he would not. If it were fated, that he should have to sit in his
old age at the same table with a man whom of all men he disliked
the most, he would meet his fate as best he might. Anything to him
would be preferable to the loss of his daughter.

Such being his feelings, he hardly knew how to take part with
Eleanor against the archdeacon, or with the archdeacon against
Eleanor. It will be said that he should never have suspected her.
Alas! he never should have done so. But Mr Harding was by no means
a perfect character. His indecision, his weakness, his proneness to
be led by others, his want of self-confidence, he was very far from
being perfect. And then it must be remembered that such a marriage
as that which the archdeacon contemplated with disgust, which we
who know Mr Slope so well would regard with equal disgust, did not
appear so monstrous to Mr Harding, because in his charity he did
not hate the chaplain as the archdeacon did, and as we do.

He was, however, very unhappy when his daughter left the room, and
he had recourse to an old trick of his that was customary to him in
his times of sadness. He began playing some slow tune upon an
imaginary violoncello, drawing one hand slowly backwards and
forwards as though he held a bow in it, and modulating the unreal
chords with the other.

'She'll marry that man as sure as two and two makes four,' said the
practical archdeacon.

'I hope not, I hope not,' said the father. 'But if she does, what
can I say to her? I have no right to object to him.'

'No right!' exclaimed Dr Grantly.

'No right as her father. He is in my own profession, and for aught
we know a good man.'

To this the archdeacon would by no means assent. It was not well,
however, to argue the case against Eleanor in her own drawing-room,
and so they both walked forth and discussed the matter in all the
bearings under the elm trees of the close. Mr Harding also
explained to his son-in-law what had been the purport, at any rate
the alleged purport, of Mr Slope's last visit to the widow. He,
however, stated that he could not bring himself to believe that Mr
Slope had any real anxiety such as that he had pretended. 'I cannot
forget his demeanour to myself,' said Mr Harding, 'and it is not
possible that his ideas should have changed so soon.'

'I see it all,' said the archdeacon. 'The sly tartufe! He thinks to
buy the daughter by providing for the father. He means to show how
powerful he is, how good he is, and how much he is willing to do
for her beaux yeux; yes, I see it all now. But we'll be too many
for him yet, Mr Harding;' he said, turning to his companion with
some gravity, and pressing his hand on the other's arm. 'It would,
perhaps, be better for you to lose the hospital than get it on such
terms.'

'Lose it!' said Mr Harding; 'why I've lost it already. I don't want
it. I've made up my mind to do without it. I'll withdraw
altogether. I'll just go and write a line to the bishop and tell
him that I withdraw my claim altogether.'

Nothing would have pleased him better than to be allowed to escape
from the trouble and difficulty in such a manner. But he was now
going too fast for the archdeacon.

'No--no--no! We'll do no such thing,' said Dr Grantly; 'we'll still
have the hospital. I hardly doubt but that we'll have it. But not
by Mr Slope's assistance. If that be necessary, we'll lose it; but
we'll have it, spite of his teeth, if we can. Arabin will be at
Plumstead to-morrow; you must come over and talk to him.'

The two now turned into the cathedral library, which was used by
the clergymen of the close as a sort of ecclesiastical club-room,
for writing sermons and sometimes letters; also for reading
theological works, and sometimes magazines and newspapers. The
theological works were not disturbed, perhaps, quite as often as
from the appearance of the building the outside public might have
been led to expect. Here the two allies settled on their course of
action. The archdeacon wrote a letter to the bishop, strongly
worded, but still respectful, in which he put forward his
father-in-law's claim to the appointment, and expressed his own
regret that he had not been able to see his lordship when he
called. Of Mr Slope me made no mention whatsoever. It was then
settled that Mr Harding should go to Plumstead on the following
day; and after considerable discussion on the matter, the
archdeacon proposed to ask Eleanor there also, so as to withdraw
her, if possible, from Mr Slope's attentions. 'A week or two,' said
he, 'may teach her what he is, and while she is there she will be
out of harm's way. Mr Slope won't come there after her.'

Eleanor was not a little surprised when her brother-in-law came
back and very civilly pressed her to go out to Plumstead with her
father. She instantly perceived that her father had been fighting
her battles for her behind her back. She felt thankful to him, and
for his sake she would not show her resentment to the archdeacon by
refusing his invitation. But she could not, she said, go on the
morrow; she had an invitation to drink tea at the Stanhopes which
she had promised to accept. She would, she added, go with her
father on the next day, if he would wait; or she would follow him.

'The Stanhopes!' said Dr Grantly; 'I did not know you were so
intimate with them.'

'I did not know it myself,' said she, 'till Miss Stanhope called
yesterday. However, I like her very much, and I have promised to go
and play chess with some of them.'

'Have they a party there?' said the archdeacon, still fearful of Mr
Slope.

'Oh, no,' said Eleanor; 'Miss Stanhope said there was to be nobody
at all. But she had learnt that Mary had left me for a few weeks,
and she had learnt from some one that I play chess, and so she came
over on purpose to ask me to go in.'

'Well, that's very friendly,' said the ex-warden. 'They certainly
do look more like foreigners than English people, but I dare say
they are none the worse for that.'

The archdeacon was inclined to look upon the Stanhopes with
favourable eyes, and had nothing to object on the matter. It was
therefore arranged that Mr Harding should postpone his visit to
Plumstead for one day, and then take with him Eleanor, the baby,
and the nurse.

Mr Slope is certainly becoming of some importance in Barchester.



CHAPTER XIX

BARCHESTER BY MOONLIGHT

There was much cause for grief and occasional perturbation of
spirits in the Stanhope family, but yet they rarely seemed to be
grieved or to be disturbed. It was the peculiar gift of each of
them that each was able to bear his or her own burden without
complaint, and perhaps without sympathy. They habitually looked on
the sunny side of the wall, if there was a gleam on the either side
for them to look at; and, if there was none, they endured the shade
with an indifference which, if not stoical, answered the end at
which the Stoics aimed. Old Stanhope could not but feel that he had
ill-performed his duties as a father and a clergyman; and could
hardly look forward to his own death without grief at the position
in which he would leave his family. His income for many years had
been as high as L 3000 a year, and yet they had among them no other
provision than their mother's fortune of L 10,000. He had not only
spent his income, but was in debt. Yet, with all this, he seldom
showed much outward sign of trouble.

It was the same with the mother. If she added little to the
pleasures of her children she detracted still less: she neither
grumbled at her lot, nor spoke much of her past or future
sufferings; as long as she had a maid to adjust her dress, and had
those dresses well made, nature with her was satisfied. It was the
same with her children. Charlotte never rebuked her father with the
prospect of their future poverty, nor did it seem to grieve her
that she was becoming an old maid so quickly; her temper was rarely
ruffled, and, if we might judge by her appearance, she was always
happy. The signora was not so sweet-tempered, but she possessed
much enduring courage; she seldom complained--never, indeed, to her
family. Though she had a cause for affliction which would have
utterly broken down the heart of most women as beautiful as she and
as devoid of all religious support, yet, she bore her suffering in
silence, or alluded to it only to elicit the sympathy and stimulate
the admiration of the men with whom she flirted. As to Bertie, one
would have imagined from the sound of his voice and the gleam of
his eye that he had not a sorrow nor a care in the world. Nor had
he. He was incapable of anticipating tomorrow's griefs. The
prospect of future want no more disturbed his appetite than does
that of the butcher's knife disturb the appetite of the sheep.

Such was the usual tenor of their way; but there were rare
exceptions. Occasionally the father would allow an angry glance to
fall from his eye, and the lion would send forth a low dangerous
roar as though he meditated some deed of blood. Occasionally also
Madame Neroni would become bitter against mankind, more than
usually antagonistic to the world's decencies, and would seem as
though she was about to break from her moorings and allow herself
to be carried forth by the tide of her feelings to utter ruin and
shipwreck. She, however, like the rest of them, had no real
feelings, could feel no true passion. In that was her security.
Before she resolved on any contemplated escapade she would make a
small calculation, and generally summed up that the Stanhope villa
or even Barchester close was better than the world at large.

They were most irregular in their hours. The father was generally
the earliest in the breakfast-parlour, and Charlotte would soon
follow and give him coffee; but the others breakfasted anywhere
anyhow, and at any time. On the morning after the archdeacon's
futile visit to the palace, Dr Stanhope came down stairs with an
ominously dark look about his eyebrows; his white locks were
rougher than usual, and he breathed thickly and loudly as he took
his seat in his arm-chair. He had open letters in his hand, and
when Charlotte came into the room he was still reading them. She
went up and kissed him as was her wont, but he hardly noticed her
as she did so, and she knew at once that something was the matter.

'What's the meaning of that?' said he, throwing over the table a
letter with a Milan post-mark. Charlotte was a little frightened as
she took it up, but her mind was relieved when she saw that it was
merely the bill of their Italian milliner. The sum total was
certainly large, but not so large as to create an important row.

'It's for our clothes, papa, for six months before we came here.
The three of us can't dress for nothing you know.'

'Nothing, indeed!' said he, looking at the figures, which in
Milanese denominations were certainly monstrous.

'The man should have sent it to me,' said Charlotte.

'I wish he had with all my heart--if you would have paid it. I see
enough in it, to know that three quarters of it are for Madeline.'

'She has little else to amuse her, sir,' said Charlotte with true
good nature.

'And I suppose he has nothing to amuse him,' said the doctor,
throwing over another letter to his daughter. It was from some
member of the family of Sidonia, and politely requested the father
to pay a small trifle of L 700, being the amount of a bill
discounted in favour of Mr Ethelbert Stanhope, and now overdue for
a period of nine months.

Charlotte read the letter, slowly folded it up, and put it under
the edge of the tea-tray.

'I suppose he has nothing to amuse him but discounting bills with
Jews. Does he think I'll pay that?'

'I am sure he thinks no such thing,' said she.

'And who does he think will pay it?'

'As far as honesty goes, I suppose it won't much matter if it is
never paid,' said she. 'I dare say he got very little of it.'

'I suppose it won't much matter either,' said the father, 'if he
goes to prison and rots there. It seems to me that that's the other
alternative.'

Dr Stanhope spoke the custom of his youth. But his daughter, though
she lived so long abroad, was much more completely versed in the
ways of the English world. 'If the man arrests him,' said she, 'he
must go through the court.'

It is thus, thou great family of Sidonia--it is thus that we
Gentiles treat thee, when, in our most extreme need, thou and thine
have aided us with mountains of gold as big as lions--and
occasionally with wine-warrants and orders for dozens of
dressing-cases.

'What, and become an insolvent?' said the doctor.

'He's that already,' said Charlotte, wishing always to get over a
difficulty.

'What a condition,' said the doctor, 'for the son of a clergyman of
the Church of England.'

'I don't see why clergymen's sons should pay their debts more than
other young men,' said Charlotte.

'He's had as much from me since he left school as is held
sufficient for the eldest son of many a nobleman,' said the angry
father.

'Well, sir,' said Charlotte, 'give him another chance.'

'What!' said the doctor, 'do you mean that I am to pay that Jew?'

'Oh, no! I wouldn't pay him, he must take his chance; and if the
worst comes to the worst, Bertie must go abroad. But I want you to
be civil to Bertie, and let him remain here as long as we stop. He
has a plan in his head, that may put him on his feet after all.'

Just at that moment the door opened, and Bertie came in whistling.
The doctor immediately devoted himself to his egg, and allowed
Bertie to whistle himself round to his sister's side without
noticing him.

Charlotte gave a little sign to him with her eye, first glancing at
her father, and then at the letter, the corner of which peeped out
from under the tea-tray. Bertie saw and understood, and with the
quiet motion of a cat abstracted the letter, and made himself
acquainted with its contents. The doctor, however, had seen him,
deep as he appeared to be mersed in his egg-shell, and said in his
harshest voice, 'Well, sir, do you know that gentleman?'

'Yes, sir,' said Bertie. 'I have a sort of acquaintance with him,
but none that can justify him in troubling you. If you will allow
me, sir, I will answer this.'

'At any rate I shan't,' said the father, and then he added, after a
pause, 'Is it true, sir, that you owe the man L 700?'

'Well,' said Bertie, 'I think I should be inclined to dispute the
amount, if I were in a condition to pay him such of it as I really
do owe him.'

'Has he your bill for L 700?' said the father, speaking very loudly
and very angrily.

'Well, I believe he has,' said Bertie; 'but all the money I ever
got from him was L 150.'

'And what became of the L 550?'

'Why, sir; the commission was L 100, or so, and I took the remainder
in paving-stones and rocking-horses.'

'Paving-stones and rocking-horses!' said the doctor, 'where are
they?'

'Oh, sir, I suppose they are in London somewhere--but I'll inquire
if you wish for them.'

'He's an idiot,' said the doctor, 'and it's sheer folly to waste
more money on him. Nothing can save him from ruin,' and so saying,
the unhappy father walked out of the room.

'Would the governor like to see the paving-stones?'

'I'll tell you what,' said she. 'If you don't take care, you will
find yourself loose upon the world without even a house over your
head: you don't know him as well as I do. He's very angry.'

Bertie stroked his big beard, sipped his tea, chatted over his
misfortunes in a half comic, half serious tone, and ended by
promising his sister that he would do his very best to make himself
agreeable to the widow Bold. Then Charlotte followed her father to
his own room and softened down his wrath, and persuaded him to say
nothing more about the Jew bill discounter, at any rate for a few
weeks. He even went so far as to say he would pay the L 700, or at
any rate settle the bill, if he saw a certainty of his son's
securing for himself anything like a decent provision in life.
Nothing was said openly between them about poor Eleanor: but the
father and the daughter understood each other.

They all met together in the drawing-room at nine o'clock, in
perfect good humour with each other; and about that hour Mrs Bold
was announced. She had never been in the house before, though she
had of course called: and now she felt it strange to find herself
there in her usual evening dress, entering the drawing-room of
these strangers in this friendly unceremonious way, as though she
had known them all her life. But in three minutes they made her at
home. Charlotte tripped downstairs and took her bonnet from her,
and Bertie came to relieve her from her shawl, and the signora
smiled on her as she could smile when she chose to be gracious, and
the old doctor shook hands with her in a kind and benedictory
manner that went to her heart at once, and made her feel that he
must be a good man.

She had not been seated for above five minutes when the door again
opened, and Mr Slope was announced. She felt rather surprised,
because she was told that nobody was to be there, and it was very
evident from the manner of some of them that Mr Slope was
unexpected. But still there was not much in it. In such invitations
a bachelor or two more or less are always spoken of as nobodies,
and there was no reason why Mr Slope should not drink tea at Dr
Stanhope's as well as Eleanor herself. He, however, was very much
surprised and not very much gratified at finding that his own
embryo spouse made one of the party. He had come there to gratify
himself by gazing on Madame Neroni's beauty, and listening to and
returning her flattery: and though he had not owned as much to
himself, he still felt that if he spent the evening as he had
intended to do, he might probably not thereby advance his suit with
Mrs Bold.

The signora, who had no idea of a rival, received Mr Slope with her
usual marks of distinction. As he took her hand, she made some
confidential communication to him in a low voice, declaring that
she had a plan to communicate to him after tea, and was evidently
prepared to go on with her work of reducing the chaplain to a state
of captivity. Poor Mr Slope was rather beside himself. He thought
that Eleanor could not but have learnt from his demeanour that he
was an admirer of her own, and he had also flattered himself that
the idea was not unacceptable to her. What would she think of him
if he now devoted himself to a married woman?

But Eleanor was not inclined to be severe in her criticism on him
in that respect, and felt no annoyance of any kind, when she found
herself seated between Bertie and Charlotte Stanhope. She had not
suspicion of Mr Slope's intentions; she had no suspicion even of
the suspicion of other people; but still she felt well pleased not
to have Mr Slope too near to her.

And she was not ill-pleased to have Bertie Stanhope near her. It
was rarely indeed that he failed to make an agreeable impression on
strangers. With a bishop indeed who thought much of his own dignity
it was possible that he might fail, but hardly with a young lady
and pretty woman. He possessed the tact of becoming instantly
intimate with women without giving rise to any fear of
impertinence. He had about him somewhat of the propensities of a
tame cat. It seemed quite natural that he should be petted,
caressed, and treated with familiar good nature, and that in return
he should purr, and be sleek and graceful, and above all never show
his claws. Like other tame cats, however, he had his claws, and
sometimes, made them dangerous.

When tea was over Charlotte went to the open window and declared
loudly that the full harvest moon was much too beautiful to be
disregarded, and called them to look at it. To tell the truth,
there was but one there who cared much about the moon's beauty, and
that one was not Charlotte; but she knew how valuable an aid to her
purpose the chaste goddess might become, and could easily create a
little enthusiasm for the purpose of the moment. Eleanor and Bertie
were soon with her. The doctor was now quiet in his arm- chair, and
Mrs Stanhope in hers, both prepared for slumber.

'Are you a Whewellite or a Brewsterite, or a t'othermanite, Mrs
Bold?' said Charlotte, who knew a little about everything, and had
read about a third of each of the books to which she alluded.

'Oh!' said Eleanor; 'I have not read any of the books, but I feel
sure that there is one man in the moon at least, if not more.'

'You don't believe in the pulpy gelatinous matter?' said Bertie.

'I heard about that,' said Eleanor; 'and I really think it's almost
wicked to talk in such a manner. How can we argue about God's power
in the other stars from the laws which he has given for our role in
this one?'

'How indeed!' said Bertie. 'Why shouldn't there be a race of
salamanders in Venus? And even if there be nothing but fish in
Jupiter, why shouldn't the fish there be as wide awake as the men
and women here?'

'That would be saying very little for them,' said Charlotte. 'I am
for Dr Whewell myself; for I do not think that men and woman are
worth being repeated in such countless worlds. There may be souls
in other stars, but I doubt their having any bodies attached to
them. But come, Mrs Bold, let us put our bonnets on and walk round
the close. If we are to discuss sidereal questions, we shall do so
much better under the towers of the cathedral, than stuck in this
narrow window.

Mrs Bold made no objection, and a party was made to walk out.
Charlotte Stanhope well knew the rule as to three being no company,
and she had therefore to induce her sister to allow Mr Slope to
accompany them.

'Come, Mr Slope,' she said; 'I'm sure you'll join us. We shall be
in again in quarter of an hour, Madeline.'

Madeline read in her eye all that she had to say, knew her object,
and as she had to depend on her sister for so many of her
amusements, she felt that she must yield. It was hard to be left
alone while others of her own age walked out to feel the soft
influence of the bright night, but it would be harder still without
the sort of sanction which Charlotte gave to all her flirtations
and intrigues. Charlotte's eye told her that she must give up just
at present for the good of the family, and so Madeline obeyed.

But Charlotte's eyes said nothing of the sort to Mr Slope. He had
no objection at all to the tete-a-tete with the signora, which the
departure of the other three would allow him, and gently whispered
to her, 'I shall not leave you alone.'

'Oh, yes,' said she; 'go--pray go, pray go, for my sake. Do not
think that I am so selfish. It is understood that nobody is kept
within for me. You will understand this too when you know me
better. Pray join them, Mr Slope, but when you come in speak to me
for five minutes before you leave us.'

Mr Slope understood that he was to go, and he therefore joined the
party in the hall. He would have had no objection at all to this
arrangement, if he could have secured Mrs Bold's arm; but this was
of course out of the question. Indeed, his fate was very soon
settled, for no sooner had he reached the hall-door, than Miss
Stanhope put her hand within his arm, and Bertie walked off with
Eleanor just as naturally as though she were already his own
property.

And so they sauntered forth: first they walked round the close,
according to their avowed intent; then they went under the old
arched gateway below St Cuthbert's little church, and then they
turned behind the grounds of the bishop's palace, and so on till
they came to the bridge just at the edge of the town, from which
passers-by can look down into the gardens of Hiram's hospital; and
her Charlotte and Mr Slope, who were in advance, stopped till the
other two came up to them. Mr Slope knew that the gable-ends and
old brick chimneys which stood up so prettily in the moonlight,
were those of Mr Harding's late abode, and would not have stopped
on such a spot, in such company, if he could have avoided it; but
Miss Stanhope would not take the hint which he tried to give.

'This is a very pretty place, Mrs Bold,' said Charlotte; 'by far
the prettiest place near Barchester. I wonder your father gave it
up.'

It was a very pretty place, and now by the deceitful light of the
moon looked twice larger, twice prettier, twice more antiquely
picturesque than it would have done in truth-telling daylight. Who
does not know the air of complex multiplicity and the mysterious
interesting grace which the moon always lends to old gabled
buildings half surrounded, as was the hospital, by fine trees! As
seen from the bridge on the night of which we are speaking, Mr
Harding's late abode did look very lovely; and though Eleanor did
not grieve at her father's having left it, she felt at the moment
an intense wish that he might be allowed to return.

'He is going to return to it immediately, is he not?' asked Bertie.

Eleanor made no immediate reply. Much such a question passed
unanswered, without the notice of the questioner; but such was not
now the case. They all remained silent as though expecting her to
reply, and after a moment or two, Charlotte said, 'I believe it is
settled that Mr Harding returns to the hospital, is it not?'

'I don't think anything about it is settled yet,' said Eleanor.

'But it must be a matter of course,' said Bertie; 'that is, if your
father wishes it; who else on earth could hold it after what has
occurred?'

Eleanor quietly made her companion to understand that the matter
was one which she could not discuss in the present company; and
then they passed on; Charlotte said she would go a short way up the
hill out of the town so as to look back on the towers of the
cathedral, and as Eleanor leant upon Bertie's arm for assistance in
the walk, she told him how the matter stood between her father and
the bishop.

'And, he,' said Bertie, pointing on to Mr Slope, 'what part does he
take in it?'

Eleanor explained how Mr Slope had at first endeavoured to
tyrannize over her father, but how he had latterly come round, and
done all he could to talk the bishop over in Mr Harding's favour.
'But my father,' said she, 'is hardly inclined to trust him; they
all say he is so arrogant to the old clergyman of the city.'

'Take my word for it,' said Bertie, 'your father is right. If I am
not very much mistaken, that man is both arrogant and false.'

They strolled up the top of the hill, and then returned through the
fields by a footpath which leads by a small wooden bridge, or
rather a plank with a rustic rail to it, over the river to the
other side of the cathedral from that at which they had started.
They had thus walked round the bishop's grounds, through which the
river runs, and round the cathedral and adjacent fields, and it was
past eleven before they reached the doctor's door.

'It is very late,' said Eleanor, 'it will be a shame to disturb
your mother at such an hour.'

'Oh,' said Charlotte, laughing, 'you won't disturb mamma; I dare
say she is in bed by this time, and Madeline would be furious if
you do not come in and see her. Come, Bertie, take Mrs Bold's
bonnet from her.'

They went up stairs, and found the signora alone, reading. She
looked somewhat sad and melancholy, but not more so perhaps than
was sufficient to excite additional interest in the bosom of Mr
Slope; and she was soon deep in whispered intercourse with that
happy gentleman, who was allowed to find a resting-place on her
sofa. The signora had a way of whispering that was peculiarly her
own, and was exactly the reverse of that which prevails among great
tragedians. The great tragedian hisses out a positive whisper, made
with bated breath, and produced by inarticulate tongue-formed
sounds, but yet he is audible through the whole house. The signora
however used no hisses, and produced all her words in a clear
silver tone, but they could only be heard by the ear into which
they were poured.

Charlotte hurried and skurried about the room hither and thither,
doing, or pretending to do many things; and then saying something
about seeing her mother, ran up stairs. Eleanor was then left alone
with Bertie, and she hardly felt and hour fly by her. To give
Bertie his due credit, he could not have played his cards better.
He did not make love to her, nor sigh, nor look languishing; but he
was amusing and familiar, yet respectful; and when he left Eleanor
at her own door at one o'clock, which he did by the bye with the
assistance of the now jealous Slope, she thought he was one of the
most agreeable men, and the Stanhopes decidedly the most agreeable
family, that she had ever met.



CHAPTER XX

MR ARABIN

The Reverend Francis Arabin, fellow of Lazarus, late professor of
poetry at Oxford, and present vicar of St Ewold, in the diocese of
Barchester, must now be introduced personally to the reader. And as
he will fill a conspicuous place in this volume, it is desirable
that he should be made to stand before the reader's eye by the aid
of such portraiture as the author is able to produce.

It is to be regretted that no mental method of daguerreotype or
photography has yet been discovered, by which the characters of men
can be reduced to writing and put into grammatical language with an
unerring precision of truthful description. How often does the
novelist feel, ay, and the historian also and the biographer, that
he has conceived within his mind and accurately depicted on the
tablet of his brain the full character and personage of a man, and
that nevertheless, when he flies to pen and ink to perpetuate the
portrait, his words forsake, elude, disappoint, and play the deuce
with him, till at the end of a dozen pages the man described has no
more resemblance to the man conceived than the sign board at the
corner of the street has to the Duke of Cambridge?

And yet such mechanical descriptive skill would hardly give more
satisfaction to the reader than the skill of the photographer does
to the anxious mother desirous to possess an absolute duplicate of
her beloved child. The likeness is indeed true; but it is a dull,
dead, unfeeling, inauspicious likeness. The face is indeed there,
and those looking at it will know at once whose image it is; but
the owner of the face will not be proud of the resemblance.

There is no royal road to learning; no short cut to the acquirement
of any art. Let photographers and daguerreotypers do what they
will, and improve as they may with further skill on that which
skill has already done, they will never achieve a portrait of the
human face as we may under the burdens which we so often feel too
heavy for our shoulders; we must either bear them up like men, or
own ourselves too weak for the work we have undertaken. There is no
way of writing well and also of writing easily.

Labor omnia vincit improbus. Such should be the chosen motto of
every labourer, and it may be that labour, if adequately enduring,
may suffice at last to produce even some not untrue resemblance of
the Rev. Francis Arabin.

Of his doings in the world, and of the sort of fame which he has
achieved, enough has already been said. It has also been said that
he is forty years of age, and still unmarried. He was the younger
son of a country gentleman of small fortune in the north of
England. At an early age he went to Winchester, and was intended by
his father for New College; but though studious as a boy, he was
not studious within the prescribed limits; and at the age of
eighteen he left school with a character for talent, but without a
scholarship. All that he had obtained, over and above the advantage
of his character, was a gold medal for English verse, and hence was
derived a strong presumption on the part of his friends that he was
destined to add another name to the imperishable list of English
poets.

From Winchester he went to Oxford, and was entered as a commoner at
Balliol. Here his special career very soon commenced. He utterly
eschewed the society of fast men, gave no wine parties, kept no
horses, rowed no boats, joined no rows, and was the pride of his
college tutor. Such at least was his career till he had taken his
little go; and then he commenced a course of action which, though
not less creditable to himself as a man, was hardly so much to the
taste of his tutor. He became a member of a vigorous debating
society, and rendered himself remarkable there for humorous energy.
Though always in earnest, yet his earnestness was always droll. To
be true in his ideas, unanswerable in his syllogisms, and just in
his aspirations was not enough for him. He had failed, failed in
his own opinion as well as that of others when others came to know
him, if he could not reduce the arguments of his opponents to an
absurdity, and conquer both by wit and reason. To say that his
object was ever to raise a laugh, would be most untrue. He hated
such common and unnecessary evidence of satisfaction on the part of
his hearers. A joke that required to be laughed at was, with him,
not worth uttering. He could appreciate by a keener sense than that
of his ears the success of his wit, and would see in the eyes of
his auditory whether or no he was understood and appreciated.

He had been a religious lad before he left school. That is, he had
addicted himself to a party of religion, and having done so had
received that benefit which most men do who become partisans in
such a cause. We are much too apt to look at schism in our church
as an unmitigated evil. Moderate schism, if there may be such a
thing, at any rate calls attention to the subject, draws its
supporters who would otherwise have been inattentive to the matter,
and teaches men to think about religion. How great an amount of
good of this description has followed that movement of the Church
of England which commenced with the publication of Froude's
Remains!

As a boy young Arabin took up the cudgels on the side of the
Tractarians, and at Oxford he sat for a while at the feet of the
great Newman. To this cause he lent all his faculties. For it he
concocted verses, for it he made speeches, for it he scintillated
the brightest sparks of his quiet wit. For it he ate and drank and
dressed, and had his being. In due process of time he took his
degree, and wrote himself B.A., but he did not do so with any
remarkable amount of academical eclat. He had occupied himself too
much with high church matters, and the polemics, politics, and
outward demonstrations usually concurrent with high churchmanship,
to devote himself with sufficient vigour to the acquisition of a
double first. He was not a double first, nor even a first class
man; but he revenged himself on the university by putting first and
double firsts out of fashion for the year, and laughing down a
species of pedantry which at the age of twenty-three leaves no room
in a man's mind for graver subjects than conic sections or Greek
accents.

Greek accents, however, and conic sections were esteemed
necessaries at Balliol, and there was no admittance there for Mr
Arabin within the list of its fellows. Lazarus, however, the
richest and the most comfortable abode of Oxford dons, opened its
bosom to the young champion of a church militant. Mr Arabin was
ordained, and became a fellow soon after taking his degree, and
shortly after that was chosen professor of poetry.

And now came the moment of his great danger. After many mental
struggles, and an agony of doubt which may be well surmised, the
great prophet of the Tractarians confessed himself a Roman
Catholic. Mr Newman left the Church of England, and with him
carried many a waverer. He did not carry off Mr Arabin, but the
escape which that gentleman had was a very narrow one. He left
Oxford for a while that he might meditate in complete peace on the
step which appeared for him to be all but unavoidable, and shut
himself up in a little village on the sea-shore of one of our
remotest counties, that he might learn by communing with his own
soul whether or no he could with a safe conscience remain within
the pale of his mother church.

Things would have gone badly with him there had he been left
entirely to himself. Every thing was against him: all his worldly
interests required him to remain a Protestant; and he looked on his
worldly interests as a legion of foes, to get the better of whom
was a point of extremest honour. In his then state of ecstatic
agony such a conquest would have cost him little; but it cost him
much to get over the idea of choosing the Church of England he
should be open in his own mind to the charge that he had been led
to such a choice by unworthy motives. Then his heart was against
him: he loved with a strong and eager love the man who had hitherto
been his guide, and yearned to follow his footsteps. His tastes
were against him: the ceremonies and pomps of the Church of Rome,
their august feasts and solemn fasts, invited his imagination and
pleased his eye. His flesh was against him: how great an aid would
it be to a poor, weak, wavering man to be constrained to high moral
duties, self-denial, obedience, and chastity by laws which were
certain in their enactments, and not to be broken without loud,
palpable, unmistakable sin! Then his faith was against him: he
required to believe so much; panted so early to give signs of his
belief; deemed it so insufficient to wash himself simply in the
waters of Jordan; that some great deed, such as that of forsaking
everything for a true church, had for him allurements almost past
withstanding.

Mr Arabin was at this time a very young man, and when he left
Oxford for his far retreat was much too confident in his powers of
fence, and too apt to look down on the ordinary sense of ordinary
people, to expect aid in the battle that he had to fight from any
chance inhabitants on the spot which he had selected. But
Providence was good to him; and there, in that all but desolate
place, on the storm-beat shore of that distant sea, he met one who
gradually changed his mind, quieted his imagination, and taught him
something of a Christian's duty. When Mr Arabin left Oxford, he was
inclined to look upon the rural clergymen of most English parishes
almost with contempt. It was his ambition, should he remain within
the fold of the church, to do somewhat towards redeeming and
rectifying their inferiority, and to assist in infusing energy and
faith into the hearts of Christian ministers, who were, as he
thought, too often satisfied to go through life without much show
of either.

And yet it was from such a one that Mr Arabin in his extremest need
received that aid which he so much required. It was from a poor
curate of a small Cornish parish that he first learnt to know that
the highest laws for the governance of a Christian's duty must act
from within and not from without; that no man can become a
serviceable servant solely by obedience to written edicts; and that
the safety which he was about to seek within the gates of Rome was
no other than the selfish freedom from personal danger which the
bad soldier attempts to gain who counterfeits illness on the eve of
battle.

Mr Arabin returned to Oxford a humbler but a better and a happier
man; and from that time forth he put his shoulder to the wheel as a
clergyman of the Church for which he had been educated. The
intercourse of those among whom he familiarly lived kept him
staunch to the principles of that system of the Church to which he
had always belonged. Since his severance from Mr Newman, no one had
had so strong an influence over him as the head of his college.
During the time of his expected apostasy, Dr Gwynne had not felt
much predisposition in favour of the young fellow. Though a High
Churchman himself within moderate limits, Dr Gwynne felt no
sympathy with men who could not satisfy their faiths with the
Thirty-nine Articles. He regarded the enthusiasm of such as Newman
as a state of mind more nearly allied to madness than to religion;
and when he saw it evinced by a very young men, was inclined to
attribute a good deal of it to vanity. Dr Gwynne himself, though a
religious man, was also a thoroughly practical man of the world,
and he regarded with no favourable eye the tenets of any one who
looked on the two things as incompatible. When he found Mr Arabin
was a half Roman, he began to regret all that he done towards
bestowing a fellowship on so unworthy a recipient; and when again
he learnt that Mr Arabin would probably complete his journey to
Rome, he regarded with some satisfaction the fact that in such case
the fellowship would be again vacant.

When, however, Mr Arabin returned and professed himself a confirmed
Protestant, the master of Lazarus again opened his arms to him, and
gradually he became the pet of the college. For some little time he
was saturnine, silent, and unwilling to take any prominent part in
university broils; but gradually his mind recovered, or rather made
its tone, and he became known as a man always ready at a moment's
notice to take up the cudgels in opposition to anything which
savoured of an evangelical bearing. He was great in sermons, great
on platforms, great at after dinner conversations, and always
pleasant as well as great. He took delight in elections, served on
committees, opposed tooth and nail all projects of university
reform, and talked jovially over his glass of port of the ruin to
be committed by the Whigs. The ordeal through which he had gone, in
resisting the blandishments of the lady of Rome, had certainly done
much towards the strengthening of his character. Although in small
and outward matters he was self-confident enough, nevertheless in
things affecting the inner man he aimed at a humility of spirit
which would never have been attractive to him but for that visit to
the coast of Cornwall. This visit he now repeated every year.

Such is an interior view of Mr Arabin at the time when he accepted
the living of St Ewold. Exteriorly, he was not a remarkable person.
He was above the middle height, well made, and very active. His
hair which had been jet black, was now tinged with gray, but his
face bore no sign of years. It would perhaps be wrong to say that
he was handsome, but his face was, nevertheless, high for beauty,
and the formation of the forehead too massive and heavy: but his
eyes, nose and mouth were perfect. There was a continual play of
lambent fire about his eyes, which gave promise of either pathos or
humour whenever he essayed to speak, and that promise was rarely
broken. There was a gentle play about his mouth which declared that
his wit never descended to sarcasm, and that there was no
ill-nature in his repartee.

Mr Arabin was a popular man among women, but more so as a general
than a special favourite. Living as a fellow at Oxford, marriage
with him had been out of the question, and it may be doubted
whether he had ever allowed his heart to be touched. Though
belonging to a Church in which celibacy is not the required lot of
its ministers, he had come to regard himself as one of those
clergymen to whom to be a bachelor is almost a necessity. He had
never looked for parochial duty, and his career at Oxford was
utterly incompatible with such domestic joys as a wife and nursery.
He looked on women, therefore, in the same light that one sees then
regarded by many Romish priests. He liked to have near him that
which was pretty and amusing, but women generally were little more
to him than children. He talked to them without putting out all his
powers, and listened to them without any idea that what he should
hear from them could either actuate his conduct or influence his
opinion.

Such was Mr Arabin, the new vicar of St Ewold, who is going to stay
with the Grantlys, at Plumstead Episcopi.

Mr Arabin reached Plumstead the day before Mr Harding and Eleanor,
and the Grantly family were thus enabled to make his acquaintance
and discuss his qualifications before the arrival of the other
guests. Griselda was surprised to find that he looked so young; but
she told Florinda her younger sister, when they had retired for the
night, that he did not talk at all like a young man: and she
decided with the authority that seventeen has over sixteen, that he
was not at all nice, although his eyes were lovely. As usual,
sixteen implicitly acceded to the dictum of seventeen in such a
matter, and said that he certainly was not nice. They then branched
off on the relative merits of other clerical bachelors in the
vicinity, and both determined without any feeling of jealousy
between them that a certain Rev. Augustus Green was by many degrees
the most estimable of the lot. The gentleman in question had
certainly much in his favour, as, having a comfortable allowance
from his father, he could devote the whole proceeds of his curacy
to violet gloves and unexceptionable neck ties. Having thus fixedly
resolved that the new comer had nothing about him to shake the
pre-eminence of the exalted Green, the two girls went to sleep in
each other's arms, contented with themselves and the world.

Mrs Grantly at first sight came to much the same conclusion about
her husband's favourite as her daughters had done, though, in
seeking to measure his relative value, she did not compare him to
Mr Green; indeed, she made no comparison by name between him and
any one else; but she remarked to her husband that one person's
swans were very often another person's geese, thereby clearly
showing that Mr Arabin had not yet proved his qualifications in
swanhood to her satisfaction.

'Well, Susan,' said he, rather offended at hearing his friend
spoken of so disrespectfully, 'if you take Mr Arabin for a goose, I
cannot say that I think very highly of your discrimination.'

'A goose! No of course, he's not a goose. I've no doubt he's a very
clever man. But you're so matter-of-fact, archdeacon, when it suits
your purpose, that one can't trust oneself to any facon de parler.
I've no doubt Mr Arabin is a very valuable man--at Oxford, and that
he'll be a good vicar at St Ewold. All I mean is, that having
passed one evening with him, I don't find him to be absolutely a
paragon. In the first place, if I am not mistaken, he is a little
inclined to be conceited.'

'Of all the men that I know intimately,' said the archdeacon,
'Arabin is, in my opinion, the most free from any taint of
self-conceit. His fault is that he's too diffident.'

'Perhaps so,' said the lady; 'only I must own I did not find it out
this evening.'

Nothing further was said about him. Dr Grantly thought that his
wife was abusing Mr Arabin merely because he had praised him; and
Mrs Grantly knew that it was useless arguing for or against any
person in favour of, or in opposition to whom the archdeacon had
already pronounced a strong opinion.

In truth they were both right. Mr Arabin was a diffident man in
social intercourse with those whom he did not intimately know; when
placed in situations which it was his business to fill, and
discussing matters with which it was his duty to be conversant, Mr
Arabin was from habit brazed-faced enough. When standing on a
platform in Exeter Hall, no man would be less mazed than he by the
eyes of the crowd before him; for such was the work which his
profession had called on him to perform; but he shrank from a
strong expression of opinion in general society, and his doing so
not uncommonly made it appear that he considered the company not
worth the trouble of his energy. He was averse to dictate when the
place did not seem to him to justify dictation; and as those
subjects on which people wished to hear him speak were such as he
was accustomed to treat with decision, he generally shunned the
traps there were laid to allure him into discussion, and, by doing
so, not unfrequently subjected himself to such charges as those
brought against him by Mrs Grantly.

Mr Arabin, as he sat at his open window, enjoying the delicious
moonlight and gazing at the gray towers of the church, which stood
almost within the rectory grounds, little dreamed that he was the
subject of so many friendly or unfriendly criticisms. Considering
how much we are all given to discuss the characters of others, and
discuss them often not in the strictest spirit of charity, it is
singular how little we are inclined to think that others can speak
ill-naturedly of us, and how angry and hurt we are when proof
reaches us that they have done so. It is hardly too much to say
that we all of us occasionally speak of our dearest friends in a
manner which those dearest friends would very little like to hear
themselves mentioned; and that we nevertheless expect that our
dearest friends shall invariably speak of us as though they were
blind to all our faults, but keenly alive to every shade of our
virtues.

It did not occur to Mr Arabin that he was spoken of at all. It
seemed to him, when he compared himself with his host, that he was
a person of so little consequence to any, that he was worth no
one's words or thoughts. He was utterly alone in the world as
regarded domestic ties and those inner familiar relations which are
hardly possible between others than husbands and wives, parents and
children, or brothers and sisters. He had often discussed with
himself the necessity of such bonds for a man's happiness in this
world, and had generally satisfied himself with the answer that
happiness in this world was not a necessity. Herein he deceived
himself, or rather tried to do so. He, like others, yearned for the
enjoyment of whatever he saw enjoyable; and though he attempted,
with the modern stoicism of so many Christians, to make himself
believe that joy and sorrow were matters which here should be held
as perfectly indifferent, those things were not indifferent to him.
He was tired of his Oxford rooms and his college life. He regarded
the wife and children of his friend with something like envy; he
all but coveted the pleasant drawing-room, with its pretty windows
opening on to lawns and flower-beds, the apparel of the comfortable
house, and--above all--the air of home which encompassed all.

It will be said that no time can have been fitted for such desires
on his part as this, of a living among fields and gardens, of a
house which a wife would grace. It is true there was a difference
between the opulence of Plumstead and the modest economy of St
Ewold; but surely Mr Arabin was not a man to sigh after wealth! Of
all men, his friends would have unanimously declared he was the
last to do so. But how little our friends know us! In his period of
stoical rejection of this world's happiness, he had cast from him
as utter dross all anxiety as to fortune. He had, as it were,
proclaimed himself to be indifferent to promotion, and those who
chiefly admired his talents, and would mainly have exerted to
secure them their deserved reward, had taken him at his word. And
now, if the truth must out, he felt himself
disappointed--disappointed not by them but by himself. The daydream
of his youth was over, and at the age of forty he felt that he was
not fit to work in the spirit of an apostle. He had mistaken
himself, and learned his mistake when it was past remedy. He had
professed himself indifferent to mitres and diaconal residences, to
rich livings and pleasant glebes, and now he had to own to himself
that he was sighing for the good things of other men, on whom in
his pride he had ventured to look down.

Not for wealth, in its vulgar sense, had he ever sighed; not for
the enjoyment of rich things had he ever longed; but for the
allotted share of worldly bliss, which a wife, and children, and
happy home could give him, for that usual amount of comfort which
he had ventured to reject as unnecessary for him, he did now feel
that he would have been wiser to search.

He knew that his talents, his position, and his friends would have
won for him promotion, had he put himself in the way of winning it.
Instead of doing so, he had allowed himself an income of some L 300
a year, should he, by marrying, throw up his fellowship. Such, at
the age of forty, was the worldly result of labour, which the world
had chosen to regard as successful. The world also thought that Mr
Arabin was, in his own estimation, sufficiently paid. Alas! alas!
the world was mistaken; and Mr Arabin was beginning to ascertain
that such was the case.

And here, may I beg the reader not to be hard in the judgement upon
this man. Is not the state at which he has arrived, the natural
result of efforts to reach that which is not the condition of
humanity? Is not modern stoicism, built though it be on
Christianity, as great an outrage on human nature as was the
stoicism of the ancients? The philosophy of Zeno was built on true
laws, but on true laws misunderstood, and therefore misapplied. It
is the same with our Stoics here, who would teach us that wealth
and worldly comfort and happiness on earth are not worth the
search. Also, for a doctrine which can find no believing pupils and
no true teachers!

The case of Mr Arabin was the more singular, as he belonged to a
branch of the Church of England well inclined to regard its
temporalities with avowed favour, and had habitually lived with men
who were accustomed to much worldly comfort. But such was his
idiosyncrasy, that these very facts had produced within him, in
early life, a state of mind that was not natural to him. He was
content to be a High Churchman, if he could be so on principles of
his own, and could strike out a course showing a marked difference
from those with whom he consorted. He was ready to be a partisan as
long as he was allowed to have a course of action and of thought
unlike that of his party. His party had indulged him, and he began
to feel that his party was right and himself wrong, but when such a
conviction was too late to be of service to him. He discovered,
when much was discovery was no longer serviceable, that it would
have been worth his while to have worked for the usual pay assigned
to work in this world, and have earned a wife and children, with a
carriage for them to sit in; to have earned a pleasant dining-room,
in which his friends could drink his wine, and the power of walking
up in the high street of his country town, with the knowledge that
all its tradesmen would have gladly welcomed him within their
doors. Other men arrived at those convictions in their start of
life, and so worked up to them. To him they had come when they were
too late to be of use.

It has been said that Mr Arabin was a man of pleasantry and it may
be thought that such a state of mind as that described, would be
antagonistic to humour. But surely such is not the case. Wit is the
outward mental casing of the man, and has no more to do with the
inner mind of thought and feelings than have the rich brocaded
garments of the priest at the altar with the asceticism of the
anchorite below them, whose skin is tormented with sackcloth, and
whose body is half flayed with rods. Nay, will not such a one often
rejoice more than any other in the rich show of outer apparel? Will
it not be food for his pride to feel that he groans inwardly, while
he shines outwardly? So it is with the mental efforts which men
make. Those which they show forth daily to the world are often the
opposites of the inner workings of the spirit.

In the archdeacon's drawing-room, Mr Arabin had sparkled with his
usual unaffected brilliancy, but when he retired to his bed-room,
he sat there sad, at his open window, repining within himself that
he also had no wife, no bairns, no soft award of lawn duly mown for
him to be on, no herd of attendant curates, no bowings from the
banker's clerks, no rich rectory. That apostleship that he had
thought of had evaded his grasp, and he was now only vicar of St
Ewold's, with a taste for a mitre. Truly he had fallen between two
stools.



CHAPTER XXI

ST EWOLD'S PARSONAGE

When Mr Harding and Mrs Bold reached the rectory on the following
morning, the archdeacon and his friend were at St Ewold's. They had
gone over that the new vicar might inspect his church, and be
introduced to the squire, and were not expected back before dinner.
Mr Harding rambled out by himself, and strolled, as was his wont at
Plumstead, about the lawn and round the church; and as he did so,
the two sisters naturally fell into conversation about Barchester.

There was not much sisterly confidence between them. Mrs Grantly
was ten years older than Eleanor, and had been married while
Eleanor was yet a child. They had never, therefore, poured into
each other's ears their hopes and loves; and now that one was a
wife and the other a widow, it was not probable that they would
begin to do so. They lived too much asunder to be able to fall into
that kind of intercourse which makes confidence between sisters
almost a necessity; and, moreover, that which is so easy at
eighteen is often very difficult at twenty-eight. Mrs Grantly knew
this, and did not, therefore, expect confidence from her sister;
and yet she longed to ask her whether in real truth Mr Slope was
agreeable to her.

It was by no means difficult to turn the conversation to Mr Slope.
That gentleman had become so famous at Barchester, had so much to
do with all clergymen connected with the city, and was so specially
concerned in the affairs of Mr Harding, that it would have been odd
if Mr Harding's daughters had not talked about him. Mrs Grantly was
soon abusing him, which she did with her whole heart; and Mrs Bold
was nearly as eager to defend him. She positively disliked the man,
would have been delighted to learn that he had taken himself off so
that she should never see him again, had indeed almost a fear of
him, and yet she constantly found herself taking his part. The
abuse of other people, and abuse of a nature that she felt to be
unjust, imposed that necessity on her, and at last made Mr Slope's
defence an habitual course of argument with her.

From Mr Slope the conversation turned to the Stanhopes, and Mrs
Grantly was listening with some interest to Eleanor's account of
the family, when it dropped out that Mr Slope was one of the party.

'What!' said the lady of the rectory, 'was Mr Slope there too?'

Eleanor merely replied that such had been the case.

'Why, Eleanor, he must be very fond of you, I think; he seems to
follow you everywhere.'

Even this did not open Eleanor's eyes. She merely laughed, and said
that she imagined Mr Slope found other attraction at Dr Stanhope's.
And so they parted. Mrs Grantly felt quite convinced that the
odious match would take place; and Mrs Bold as convinced that that
unfortunate chaplain, disagreeable as he must be allowed to be, was
more sinned against than sinning.

The archdeacon of course heard before dinner that Eleanor had
remained the day before at Barchester with the view of meeting Mr
Slope, and that she had so met him. He remembered how she had
positively stated that there were to be guests at the Stanhopes,
and he did not hesitate to accuse her of deceit. Moreover, the
fact, or rather the presumed fact, of her being deceitful on such a
matter, spoke but too plainly in evidence against her as to her
imputed crime of receiving Mr Slope as a lover.

'I am afraid that anything we can do will be too late,' said the
archdeacon. 'I own I am fairly surprised. I never liked your
sister's taste with regard to men; but still I did not give her
credit for--ugh!'

'And so soon, too,' said Mrs Grantly, who thought more, perhaps, of
her sister's indecorum in having a lover before she had put off her
weeds, than her bad taste in having such a lover as Mr Slope.

'Well, my dear, I shall be sorry to be harsh, or to do anything
that can hurt your father; but, positively, neither that man nor
his wife shall come within my doors.'

Mrs Grantly sighed, and then attempted to console herself and her
lord by remarking that, after all, the thing was not accomplished
yet. Now that Eleanor was at Plumstead, much might be done to wean
her from her fatal passion. Poor Eleanor!

The evening passed off without anything to make it remarkable. Mr
Arabin discussed the parish of St Ewold with the archdeacon, and
Mrs Grantly and Mr Harding, who knew the parsonages of the parish,
joined in. Eleanor also knew them, but spoke little. Mr Arabin did
not apparently take much notice of her, and she was not in a humour
to receive at that time with any special grace any special
favourite of her brother-in-law. Her first idea on reaching her
bedroom was that a much more pleasant family party might be met at
Dr Stanhope's than at the rectory. She began to think that she was
getting tired of clergymen and their respectable humdrum wearisome
mode of living, and that after all, people in the outer world, who
had lived in Italy, London, or elsewhere, need not necessarily be
regarded as atrocious and abominable. The Stanhopes, she had
thought, were a giddy, thoughtless, extravagant set of people; but
she had seen nothing wrong about them, and had, on the other hand,
found that they thoroughly knew how to make their house agreeable.
It was a thousand pities, she thought, that the archdeacon should
not have a little of the same savoir vivre. Mr Arabin, as we have
said, did not apparently take much notice of her; but yet he did
not go to bed without feeling that he had been in company with a
very pretty woman; and as is the case with most bachelors, and some
married men, regarded the prospect of his month's visit at
Plumstead in a pleasanter light, when he learnt that a very pretty
woman was to share it with him.

Before they all retired it was settled that the whole party should
drive over on the following day to inspect the parsonage at St
Ewold. The three clergymen were to discuss dilapidations, and the
two ladies were to lend their assistance in suggesting such changes
as might be necessary for a bachelor's abode. Accordingly, soon
after breakfast, the carriage was at the door. There was only room
for four inside, and the archdeacon got upon the box. Eleanor found
herself opposite to Mr Arabin, and was, therefore, in a manner
forced into conversation with him. They were soon on comfortable
terms together; and had she thought about it, she would have
thought that, in spite of his black cloth, Mr Arabin would not have
been a bad addition to the Stanhope family party.

Now that the archdeacon was away, they could all trifle. Mr Harding
began by telling them in the most innocent manner imaginable an old
legend about Mr Arabin's new parish. There was, he said, in days of
yore, an illustrious priestess of St Ewold, famed through the whole
country for curing all manner of diseases. She had a well, as all
priestesses have ever had, which well was extant to this day, and
shared in the minds of many of the people the sanctity which
belonged to the consecrated grounds of the parish church. Mr Arabin
declared that he should look on such tenets on the part of the
parishioners as anything but orthodox. And Mrs Grantly replied
that she so entirely disagreed with him as to think that no parish
was in a proper estate that had not its priestess as well as its
priest. 'The duties are never well done,' said she, 'unless they
are so divided.'

'I suppose, papa,' said Eleanor, 'that in the oldest times the
priestess bore all the sway herself. Mr Arabin, perhaps, thinks
that such might be too much the case now if a sacred lady were
admitted within the parish.'

'I think, at any rate,' said he, 'that it is safer to run no such
risk. No priestly pride has ever exceeded that of sacerdotal
females. A very lowly curate, I might, perhaps, essay to rule; but
a curatess would be sure to get the better of me.'

'There are certainly examples of such accidents happening,' said
Mrs Grantly. 'They do say that there is a priestess at Barchester
who is very imperious in all things touching the altar. Perhaps the
fear of such a fate as that is before your eyes.'

When they were joined by the archdeacon on the gravel before the
vicarage, they descended again to grave dullness. Not that
Archdeacon Grantly was a dull man; but his frolic humours were of a
cumbrous kind; and his wit, when he was witty, did not generally
extend itself to his auditory. On the present occasion, he was soon
making speeches about wounded roofs and walls, which he declared to
be in want of some surgeon's art. There was not a partition that he
did not tap, nor a block of chimneys that he did not narrowly
examine; all water-pipes, flues, cisterns, and sewers underwent his
examination; and he even descended, in the care of his friend, so
far as to bore sundry boards in the floors with a bradawl.

Mr Arabin accompanied him through the rooms, trying to look wise in
such domestic matters, and the other three also followed. Mrs
Grantly showed that she herself had not been priestess of a parish
twenty years for nothing, and examined the bells and window panes
in a very knowing way.

'You will, at any rate, have a beautiful prospect out of your own
window, if this is to be your private sanctum,' said Eleanor. She
was standing at the lattice of a little room up stairs, from which
the view certainly was very lovely. It was from the back of the
vicarage, and there was nothing to interrupt the eye between the
house and the glorious gray pile of the cathedral. The intermediate
ground, however, was beautifully studded with timber. In the
immediate foreground ran the little river which afterwards skirted
the city; and, just to the right of the cathedral the pointed
gables and chimneys of Hiram's Hospital peeped out of the elms
which encompass it.

'Yes,' said he, joining her. 'I shall have a beautifully complete
view of my adversaries. I shall sit down before the hostile town,
and fire away at them at a very pleasant distance. I shall just be
able to lodge a shot in the hospital, should the enemy ever get
possession of it; and as for the palace, I have it within full
range.'

'I never saw anything like you clergymen,' said Eleanor; 'you are
always thinking of fighting each other.'

'Either that,' said he, 'or else supporting each other. The pity is
that we cannot do the one without the other. But are we not here to
fight? Is not ours a church militant? What is all our work but
fighting, and hard fighting, if it be well done?'

'But not with each other.'

'That's as it may be. The same complaint which you make of me for
battling with another clergyman of our own church, the Mahometan
would make against me for battling with the error of a priest of
Rome. Yet, surely, you would not be inclined to say that I should
be wrong to do battle with such as him. A pagan, too, with his
multiplicity of gods, would think it equally odd that the Christian
and the Mahometan should disagree.'

'Ah! But you wage your wars about trifles so bitterly.'

'Wars about trifles,' said he, 'are always bitter, especially among
neighbours. When the differences are great, and the parties
comparative strangers, men quarrel with courtesy. What combatants
are ever so eager as two brothers?'

'But do not such contentions bring scandal on the church?'

'More scandal would fall on the church if there were no such
contentions. We have but one way to avoid them--that of
acknowledging a common head of our church, whose word on all points
of doctrine shall be authoritative. Such a termination of our
difficulties is alluring enough. It has charms which are
irresistible to many, and all but irresistible, I own, to me.'

'You speak now of the Church of Rome?' said Eleanor.

'No,' said he, 'not necessarily the Church of Rome; but of a church
with a head. Had it pleased God to vouchsafe to us such a church
our path would have been easy. But easy paths have not been thought
good for us.' He paused and stood silent for a while, thinking of
the time when he had so nearly sacrificed all he had, his powers of
mind, his free agency, the fresh running waters of his mind's
fountain, his very inner self, for an easy path in which no
fighting would be needed; and then he continued: 'What you say is
partly true; our contentions do bring on us some scandal. The outer
world, though it constantly reviles us for our human infirmities,
and throws in our teeth the fact that being clergymen we are still
no more then men, demands of us that we should do our work with
godlike perfection. There is nothing godlike about us: we differ
from each other with the acerbity common to man--we allow
differences on subjects of divine origin to produce among us
antipathies and enmities which are anything but divine. This is all
true. But what would you have in place of it? There is no
infallible head for a church on earth. This dream of believing man
has been tried, and we see in Italy and in Spain what has become of
it. Grant that there are and have been no bickerings within the
pale of the Pope's Church. Such an assumption would be utterly
untrue; but let us grant it, and then let us say which church has
incurred the heaviest scandals.'

There was a quiet earnestness about Mr Arabin, as he half
acknowledged and half defended himself from the charge brought
against him, which surprised Eleanor. She had been used all her
life to listen to clerical discussion; but the points at issue
between the disputants had so seldom been of more than temporal
significance as to have left on her mind no feeling of reverence
for such subjects. There had always been a hard worldly leaven of
the love either of income or power in the strains that she had
heard; there had been no panting for the truth; no aspirations
after religious purity. It had always been taken for granted by
those around her that they were indubitably right, that there was
no ground for doubt, that the hard uphill work of ascertaining what
the duty of a clergyman should be had been already accomplished in
full; and that what remained for an active militant parson to do,
was to hold his own against all comers. Her father, it is true, was
an exception to this; but then he was so essentially non-militant
in all things, that she classed him in her own mind apart from all
others. She had never argued the matter within herself, or
considered whether this common tone was or was not faulty; but she
was sick of it without knowing that she was so. And now she found
to her surprise and not without a certain pleasurable excitement,
that this new comer among them spoke in a manner very different
from that to which she was accustomed.

'It is so easy to condemn,' said he, continuing the thread of his
thoughts. 'I know no life that must be so delicious as that of a
writer for newspapers, or a leading member of the opposition--to
thunder forth accusations against men in power; show up the worst
side of every thing that is produced; to pick holes in every coat;
to be indignant, sarcastic, jocose, moral, or supercilious; to damn
with faint praise, or crush with open calumny! What can be so easy
as this when the critic has to be responsible for nothing? You
condemn what I do; but put yourself in my position and do the
reverse, and then see if I cannot condemn you.'

'Oh! Mr Arabin, I do not condemn you.'

'Pardon me, you do, Mrs Bold--you as one of the world; you are now
the opposition member; you are now composing your leading article,
and well and bitterly you do it. "Let dogs delight to bark and
bite;" you fitly began with an elegant quotation; "but if we are to
have a church at all, in heaven's name let the pastors who preside
over it keep their hands from each other's throats. Lawyers can
live without befouling each other's names; doctors do not fight
duels. Why is that clergymen alone should indulge themselves in
such unrestrained liberty of abuse against each other?" and so you
go on reviling us for our ungodly quarrels, our sectarian
propensities, and scandalous differences. It will, however, give
you no trouble to write another article next week in which we, or
some of us, shall be twitted with an unseemly apathy in matters of
our vocation. It will not fall on you to reconcile the discrepancy;
your readers will never ask you how the poor parson is to be urgent
in season and out of season, and yet never come in contact with men
who think widely differently from him. You, when you condemn this
foreign treaty, or that official arrangement, will have to incur no
blame for the graver faults of any different measure. It is so easy
to condemn; and so pleasant too; for eulogy charms no listeners as
detraction does.'

Eleanor only half followed him in his raillery; but she caught his
meaning. 'I know I ought to apologise for presuming to criticise
you,' she said; 'but I was thinking with sorrow of the ill-will
that has lately come among us at Barchester, and I spoke more
freely than I should have done.'

'Peace on earth and good-will among men, are, like heaven, promises
for the future;' said he, following rather his own thoughts than
hers. 'When that prophecy is accomplished, there will no longer be
any need for clergymen.'

Here they were interrupted by the archdeacon, whose voice was heard
from the cellar shouting to the vicar.

'Arabin, Arabin,'--and then turning to his wife, who was apparently
at his elbow--'where is he gone to? This cellar is perfectly
abominable. It would be murder to put a bottle of wine into it till
it has been roofed, walled, and floored. How on earth old
Goodenough ever got on with it, I cannot guess. But then Goodenough
never had a glass of wine that any man could drink.'

'What is it, archdeacon?' said the vicar, running down stairs, and
leaving Eleanor above to her meditations.

'This cellar must be roofed, walled, and floored,' repeated the
archdeacon. 'Now mind what I say, and don't let the architect
persuade you that it will do; half of those fellows know nothing
about wine. This place as it is now would be damp and cold in
winter, and hot and muggy in summer. I wouldn't give a straw for
the best wine that ever was minted, after it had lain here a couple
of years.'

Mr Arabin assented, and promised that the cellar should be
reconstructed according to the archdeacon's receipt.

'And, Arabin, look here; was such an attempt at a kitchen grate
ever seen?'

'The grate is really very bad,' said Mrs Grantly; 'I am sure the
priestess won't approve of it, when she is brought here to the
scene of future duties. Really, Mr Arabin, no priestess accustomed
to such an excellent well as that above could put up with such a
grate as this.'

'If there must be a priestess at St Ewold's at all, Mrs Grantly, I
think we shall leave her to her well, and not call down her divine
wrath on any of the imperfections rising from our human poverty.
However, I own I am amenable to the attractions of a well-cooked
dinner, and the grate shall certainly be changed.'

By this time the archdeacon had again ascended, and was now in the
dining-room. 'Arabin,' said he, speaking in his usual loud clear
voice, and with that tone of dictation which was so common to him;
'you must positively alter this dining-room, that is, remodel it
altogether; look here, it is just sixteen feet by fifteen; did
anybody ever hear of a dining-room of such proportions?' and the
archdeacon stepped the room long-ways and cross-ways with ponderous
steps, as though a certain amount of ecclesiastical dignity could
be imparted even to such an occupation as that by the manner of
doing it. 'Barely sixteen; you may call it a square.'

'It would do very well for a round table,' suggested the ex-warden.

Now there was something peculiarly unorthodox in the archdeacon's
estimation in the idea of a round table. He had always been
accustomed to a goodly board of decent length, comfortably
elongating itself according to the number of guests, nearly black
with perpetual rubbing, and as bright as a mirror. Now round dinner
tables are generally of oak, or else of such new construction as
not to have acquired the peculiar hue which was so pleasing to him.
He connected them with what he called the nasty new fangled method
of leaving cloth on the table, as though to warn people that they
were not to sit long. In his eyes there was something democratic
and parvenu in a round table. He imagined that dissenters and
calico-printers chiefly used them, and perhaps a few literary lions
more conspicuous for their wit than their gentility. He was a
little flurried at the idea of such an article, being introduced
into the diocese by a protege of his own, and at the instigation of
his father-in-law.

'A round dinner-table,' said he, with some heat, 'is the most
abominable article of furniture that ever was invented. I hope that
Arabin has more taste than to allow such a thing in his house.'

Poor Mr Harding felt himself completely snubbed, and of course said
nothing further; but Mr Arabin, who had yielded submissively in the
small matters of the cellar and kitchen grate, found himself
obliged to oppose reforms which might be of a nature too expensive
for his pocket.

'But it seems to me, archdeacon, that I can't very well lengthen
the room without pulling down the wall, and if I pull down the
wall, I must build it up again; then if I throw out a bow on this
side, I must do the same on the other, then if I do it for the
ground floor, I must carry it up to the floor above. That will be
putting a new front to the house, and will cost, I suppose, a
couple of hundred pounds. The ecclesiastical commissioners will
hardly assist me when they hear that my grievance consists in
having a dining-room only sixteen feet long.'

The archdeacon proceeded to explain that nothing would be easier
than adding six feet to the front of the dining-room, without
touching any other of the house. Such irregularities of
construction in small country houses were, he said, rather graceful
than otherwise, and he offered to pay for the whole thing out of
his own pocket if it cost more than forty pounds. Mr Arabin,
however, was firm, and, although the archdeacon fussed and fumed
about it, would not give way.

Forty pounds, he said, was a matter of serious moment to him, and
his friends, if under such circumstances they would be good-natured
enough to come to him at all, must put up with the misery of a
square room. He was willing to compromise matters by disclaiming
any intention of having a round table.

'But,' said Mrs Grantly, 'what if the priestess insists on have
both the rooms enlarged?'

'The priestess in that case must do it for herself, Mrs Grantly.'

'I have no doubt she will be well able to do so,' replied the lady;
'to do that and many more wonderful things. I am quite sure that
the priestess of St Ewold, when she does come, won't come
empty-handed.'

Mr Arabin, however, did not appear well inclined to enter into
speculative expenses on such a chance as this, and therefore, any
material alterations in the house, the cost of which could not
fairly be made to lie at the door either of the ecclesiastical
commission or of the estate of the late incumbent, were tabooed.
With this essential exception, the archdeacon ordered, suggested,
and carried all points before him in a manner very much to his own
satisfaction. A close observer, had there been one there, might
have seen that his wife had been quite as useful in the matter as
himself. No one knew better than Mrs Grantly the appurtenances
necessary to a comfortable house. She did not, however, think it
necessary to lay claim to any of the glory which her lord and
master was so ready to appropriate as his own.

Having gone through their work effectively, and systematically, the
party returned to Plumstead well satisfied with their expedition.



CHAPTER XXII

THE THORNES OF ULLATHORNE

On the following Sunday Mr Arabin was to read himself in at his new
church. It was agreed at the rectory that the archdeacon should go
over with him and assist at the reading-desk, and that Mr Harding
should take the archdeacon's duty at Plumstead Church. Mrs Grantly
had her school and her buns to attend to, and professed that she
could not be spared; but Mrs Bold was to accompany them. It was
further agreed also, that they would lunch at the squire's house,
and return home after the afternoon service.

Wilfred Thorne, Esq., of Ullathorne, was the squire of St Ewold's;
or rather the squire of Ullathorne; for the domain of the modern
landlord was of wider notoriety than the fame of the ancient saint.
He was a fair specimen of what that race has come to in our days,
which a century ago was, as we are told, fairly represented by
Squire Western. If that representation be a true one, few classes
of men can have made faster strides in improvement. Mr Thorne,
however, was a man possessed of quite a sufficient number of
foibles to lay him open to much ridicule. He was still a bachelor,
being about fifty, and was not a little proud of his person. When
living at home at Ullathorne there was not much room for such
pride, and there therefore he always looked like a gentleman, and
like that which he certainly was, the first man in his parish. But
during the month or six weeks which he annually spent in London, he
tried so hard to look like a great man there also, which he
certainly was not, that he was put down as a fool by many at his
club. He was a man of considerable literary attainment in a certain
way and on certain subjects. His favourite authors were Montaigne
and Burton, and he knew more perhaps than any other man in his own
county, and the next to it, of the English essayists of the two
last centuries. He possessed complete sets of the 'Idler', the
'Spectator,' the 'Tatler,' the 'Guardian,' and the 'Rambler;' and
would discourse by hours together on the superiority of such
publications to anything which has since been produced in our
Edinburghs and Quarterlies. He was a great proficient in all
questions of genealogy, and knew enough of almost every gentleman's
family in England to say of what blood and lineage were descended
all those who had any claim to be considered as possessors of any
such luxuries. For blood and lineage he himself had a must profound
respect. He counted back his own ancestors to some period long
antecedent to the Conquest; and could tell you, if you would listen
to him, how it had come to pass that they, like Cedric the Saxon,
had been permitted to hold their own among the Norman barons. It
was not, according to his showing, on account of any weak
complaisance on the part of his family towards their Norman
neighbours. Some Ealfried of Ullathorne once fortified his own
castle, and held out, not only that, but the then existing
cathedral of Barchester also, against one Godfrey de Burgh, in the
time of King John; and Mr Thorne possessed the whole history of the
siege written on vellum, and illuminated in a most costly manner.
It little signified that no one could read the writing, as, had
that been possible, no one could have understood the language. Mr
Thorne could, however, give you all the particulars in good
English, and had no objection to do so.

It would be unjust to say that he looked down in men whose families
were of recent date. He did not do so. He frequently consorted with
such, and had chosen many of his friends from among them. But he
looked on them as great millionaires are apt to look on those who
have small incomes; as men who have Sophocles at their fingers'
ends regard those who know nothing of Greek. They might doubtless
be good sort of people, entitled to much praise for virtue, very
admirable for talent, highly respectable in every way; but they
were without the one great good gift. Such was Mr Thorne's way of
thinking on this matter; nothing could atone for the loss of good
blood; nothing could neutralise its good effects. Few indeed were
now possessed of it, but the possession was on that account the
more precious. It was very pleasant to hear Mr Thorne descant on
this matter. Were you in your ignorance to surmise that such a one
was of a good family because the head of his family was a baronet
of an old date, he would open his eyes with a delightful look of
affected surprise, and modestly remind you that baronetcies only
dated from James I. He would gently sigh if you spoke of the blood
of the Fitzgeralds and De Burghs; would hardly allow the claims of
the Howards and Lowthers; and has before now alluded to the Talbots
as a family who had hardly yet achieved the full honours of a
pedigree.

In speaking once of a wide spread race whose name had received the
honours of three coronets, scions from which sat for various
constituencies, some one of whose members had been in almost every
cabinet formed during this present century, a brilliant race such
as there are few in England, Mr Thorne called them all 'dirt'. He
had not intended any disrespect to these men. He admired them in
many senses, and allowed them their privileges without envy. He had
merely meant to express his feeling that the streams which ran
through their not veins were yet purified by time to that
perfection, had not become so genuine an ichor, as to be worthy of
being called blood in the genealogical sense.

When Mr Arabin was first introduced to him, Mr Thorne had
immediately suggested that he was one of the Arabins of Uphill
Stanton. Mr Arabin replied that he was a very distant relative of
the family alluded to. To this Mr Thorne surmised that the
relationship could not be very distant. Mr Arabin assured him that
it was so distant that the families knew nothing of each other. Mr
Thorne laughed his gentle laugh at this, and told Mr Arabin that
there was not existing no branch of his family separated from the
parent stock at an earlier date than the reign of Elizabeth; and
that therefore Mr Arabin could not call himself distant. Mr Arabin
himself was quite clearly an Arabin of Uphill Stanton.

'But,' said the vicar, 'Uphill Stanton has been sold to the De
Greys, and has been in their hands for the last fifty years.'

'And when it has been there one hundred and fifty, if it unluckily
remain there so long,' said Mr Thorne, 'your descendants will not
be a whit the less entitled to describe themselves as being of the
family of Uphill Stanton. Thank God, no De Grey can buy that--and,
thank God--no Arabin, and no Thorne, can sell it.'

In politics, Mr Thorne was an unflinching conservative. He looked
on those fifty-three Trojans, who, as Mr Dod tell us, censured free
trade in November 1852, as the only patriots left among the public
men of England. When that terrible crisis of free trade had
arrived, when the repeal of the corn laws was carried by those very
men whom Mr Thorne had hitherto regarded as the only possible
saviours of his country, he was for a time paralysed. His country
was lost; but that was comparatively a small thing. Other countries
had flourished and fallen, and the human race still went on
improving under God's providence. But now all trust in human faith
must for ever be at an end. Not only must ruin come, but it must
come through the apostasy of those who had been regarded as the
truest of true believers. Politics in England, as a pursuit for
gentlemen, must be at an end. Had Mr Thorne been trodden under foot
by a Whig, he could have borne it as a Tory and a martyr; but to be
so utterly thrown over and deceived by those he had so earnestly
supported, so thoroughly trusted, was more than he could endure and
live. He therefore ceased to live as a politician, and refused to
hold any converse with the world at large on the state of the
country.

Such were Mr Thorne's impressions for the first two or three years
after Sir Robert Peel's apostasy; but by degrees his temper, as did
that of others, cooled down. He began once more to move about, to
frequent the bench and the market, and to be seen at dinners,
shoulder to shoulder with some of those who had so cruelly betrayed
him. It was a necessity for him to live, and that plan of his for
avoiding the world did not answer. He, however, had others around
him, who still maintained the same staunch principles of
protection--men like himself, who were too true to flinch at the
cry of a mob--had their own way of consoling themselves. They were,
and felt themselves to be, the only true depositories left of
certain Eleusinian mysteries, of certain deep and wondrous services
of worship by which alone the gods could be rightly approached. To
them and them only was it now given to know these things, and to
perpetuate them, if that might still be done, by the careful and
secret education of their children.

We have read how private and peculiar forms of worship have been
carried on from age to age in families, which to the outer world
have apparently adhered to the service of some ordinary church. And
so by degrees it was with Mr Thorne. He learnt at length to listen
calmly while protection was talked of as a thing dead, although he
knew within himself that it was still quick with a mystic life. Nor
was he without a certain pleasure that such knowledge though given
to him should be debarred from the multitude. He became accustomed
to hear, even among country gentlemen, that free trade was after
all not so bad, and to bear this without dispute, although
conscious within himself that everything good in England had gone
with his old palladium. He had within him something of the feeling
of Cato, who gloried that he could kill himself because Romans were
no longer worthy of their name. Mr Thorne had no thought of killing
himself, being a Christian, and still possessing his L 4000 a year;
but the feeling was not on that account the less comfortable.

Mr Thorne was a sportsman, and had been active though not
outrageous in his sports. Previous to the great downfall of
politics in his country, he had supported the hunt by every means
in his power. He had preserved game till no goose or turkey could
show a tail in the parish of St Ewold's. He had planted gorse
covers with more care than oaks and larches. He had been more
anxious for the comfort of his foxes than of his ewes and lambs. No
meet had been more popular than Ullathorne; no man's stables had
been more liberally open to the horses of distant men than Mr
Thorne's; no man had said more, written more, or done more to keep
the club up. The theory of protection could expand itself so
thoroughly in the practices of the country hunt! But the great ruin
came; when the noble master of the Barchester hounds supported the
recreant minister in the House of Lords, and basely surrendered his
truth, his manhood, his friends, and his honour for the hope of a
garter, then Mr Thorne gave up the hunt. He did not cut his
covers, for that would not have been the act of a gentleman. He did
not kill his foxes, for that according to his light would have been
murder. He did not say that his covers should not be drawn, or his
earths stopped, for that would have been illegal according to the
by-laws prevailing among country gentlemen. But he absented himself
from home on the occasions of every meet at Ullathorne, left the
covers to their fate, and could not be persuaded to take his pink
coat out of the press, or his hunters out of his stable. This
lasted for two years, and then by degrees he came round. He first
appeared at a neighbouring meet on a pony, dressed in his shooting
coat, as though he had trotted in by accident; then he walked up
one morning on foot to see his favourite gorse drawn, and when his
groom brought his mare out by chance, he did not refuse to mount
her. He was next persuaded, by one of the immortal fifty-three, to
bring his hunting materials over to the other side of the county,
and take a fortnight with the hounds there; and so gradually he
returned to his old life. But in hunting as in other things he was
only supported by the inward feeling of mystic superiority to those
with whom he shared the common breath of outer life.

Mr Thorne did not live in solitude at Ullathorne. He had a sister,
who was ten years older than himself, and who participated in his
prejudices and feelings so strongly, that she was a living
caricature of all his foibles. She would not open a modern
quarterly, did not choose to see a magazine in her drawing-room,
and would not have polluted her fingers with a shred of "The Times"
for any consideration. She spoke of Addison, Swift, and Steele, as
though they were still living, regarded De Foe as the best known
novelist of his country, and thought of Fielding as a young but
meritorious novice in the fields of romance. In poetry, she was
familiar with then names as late as Dryden, and had once been
seduced into reading the "Rape of the Lock"; but she regarded
Spenser as the purest type of her country's literature in this
line. Genealogy was her favourite insanity. Those things which are
the pride of most genealogists were to her contemptible. Arms and
mottoes set her beside herself. Ealfried of Ullathorne had wanted
no motto to assist him in cleaving to the brisket Geoffrey De
Burgh; and Ealfried's great grandfather, the gigantic Ullafrid, had
required no other arms than those which nature gave him to hurl
from the top of his own castle a cousin of the base invading
Norman. To her all modern English names were equally insignificant.
Hengist, Horsa, and such like, had for her the only true savour of
nobility. She was not contented unless she could go beyond the
Saxons; and would certainly have christened her children, had she
had children, by the names of the ancient Britons. In some respects
she was not unlike Scott's Ulrica, and had she been given to
cursing, she would certainly have done so in the names of Mista,
Skogula, and Zernebock. Not having submitted to the embraces of any
polluting Normans, as poor Ulrica had done, and having assisted no
parricide, the milk of human kindness was not curdled in her bosom.
She never cursed, therefore, but blessed rather. This, however, she
did in a strange uncouth Saxon manner, that would have been
unintelligible to any peasants but her own.

As a politician, Miss Thorne had been so thoroughly disgusted with
public life by base deeds long antecedent to the Corn Law question,
that that had but little moved her. In her estimation her brother
had been a fast young man, hurried away by a too ardent temperament
into democratic tendencies. Now happily he was brought to sounder
views by seeing the iniquity of the world. She had not yet
reconciled herself to the Reform Bill, and still groaned in spirit
over the defalcations of the Duke as touching the Catholic
Emancipation. If asked whom she thought the Queen should take as
her counsellor, she would probably have named Lord Eldon; and when
reminded that that venerable man was no longer present in the flesh
to assist us, she would probably have answered with a sigh that
none now could help us but the dead.

In religion, Miss Thorne was a pure Druidess. We would not have it
understood by that, that she did actually in these latter days
assist at any human sacrifices, or that she was in fact hostile to
the Church of Christ. She had adopted the Christian religion as a
milder form of the worship of her ancestors, and always appealed to
her doing so as evidence that she had no prejudices against reform,
when it could be shown that reform was salutary. This reform was
the most modern of any to which she had as yet acceded, it being
presumed that British ladies had given up their paint and taken to
some sort of petticoats before the days of St Augustine. That
further feminine step in advance which combines paint and
petticoats together, had not found votary in Miss Thorne.

But she was a Druidess in this, that she regretted she knew not
what in the usages and practices of her Church. She sometimes
talked and constantly thought of good things gone by, though she
had but the faintest idea of what those good things had been. She
imagined that a purity had existed which was now gone; that a piety
had adorned our pastors and a simple docility our people, for which
it may be feared history gave her but little true warrant. She was
accustomed to speak of Cranmer as though he had been the firmest
and most simple-minded of martyrs, and of Elizabeth as though the
pure Protestant faith of her people had been the one anxiety of her
life. It would have been cruel to undeceive her, had it been
possible; but it would have been impossible to make her believe
that the one was a time-serving priest, willing to go any length to
keep his place, and that the other was in heart a papist, with this
sole proviso, that she should be her own pope.

And so Miss Thorne went on sighing and regretting, looking back to
the divine right of kings as the ruling axiom of a golden age, and
cherishing, low down in the bottom of her hearts of hearts, a dear
unmentioned wish for the restoration of some exiled Stuart. Who
would deny her the luxury of her sighs, or the sweetness of her
soft regrets!

In her person and her dress she was perfect, and well she knew her
own perfection. She was a small elegantly made old woman, with a
face from which the glow of her youth had not departed without
leaving some streaks of a roseate hue. She was proud of her colour,
proud of her grey hair which she wore in short crisp curls peering
out all around her face from the dainty white cap. To think of all
the money that she spent in lace used to break the heart of poor
Mrs Quiverful with her seven daughters. She was proud of her teeth,
which were still white and numerous, proud of her bright cheery
eye, proud of her short jaunty step, and very proud of the neat,
precise, small feet with which those steps were taken. She was
proud also, ay, very proud, of the rich brocaded silk in which it
was her custom to ruffle through her drawing-room.

We know what was the custom of the lady of Branksome--
      "Nine and twenty knights of fame
       Hung their shields in Branksome Hall."

The lady of Ullathorne was not so martial in her habits, but hardly
less costly. She might have boasted that nine-and-twenty silken
shirts might have been produced in her chamber, each fit to stand
alone. The nine-and-twenty shields of the Scottish heroes were less
independent, and hardly more potent to withstand any attack that
might be made on them. Miss Thorne when fully dressed might be said
to have been armed cap-a-pie, and she was always fully dressed, as
far as was ever known to mortal man.

For all this rich attire Miss Thorne was not indebted to the
generosity of her brother. She had a very comfortable independence
of her own, which she divided among juvenile relatives, the
milliners, and the poor, giving much the largest share to the
latter. It may be imagined, therefore, that with all her little
follies she was not unpopular. All her follies have, we believe,
been told. Her virtues were too numerous to describe, and not
sufficiently interesting to deserve description.

While we are on the subject of the Thornes, one word must be said
of the house they lived in. It was not a large house, nor a fine
house, nor perhaps to modern ideas a very commodious house; but by
those who love the peculiar colour and peculiar ornaments of
genuine Tudor architecture it was considered a perfect gem. We beg
to own ourselves among the number, and therefore take this
opportunity to express our surprise that so little is known by
English men and women of the beauties of English architecture. The
ruins of the Colosseum, the Campanile at Florence, St Mark's,
Cologne, the Bourse and Notre Dame, are with our tourists as
familiar as household words; but they know nothing of the glories
of Wiltshire, Dorsetshire, and Somersetshire. Nay, we much question
whether many noted travellers, many who have pitched their tents
perhaps under Mount Sinai, are not still ignorant that there are
glories in Wiltshire, Dorsetshire and Somersetshire. We beg that
they will go and see.

Mr Thorne's house was called Ullathorne Court, and was properly so
called; for the house itself formed two sides of a quadrangle,
which was completed in the other two sides by a wall about twenty
feet high. This was built of cut stone, rudely cut indeed, and now
much worn, but of a beautiful rich tawny yellow colour, the effect
of that stonecrop of minute growth, which it had taken three
centuries to produce. The top of this wall was ornamented by huge
round stone balls of the same colour as the wall itself. Entrance
into the court was had through a pair of iron gates, so massive
that no one could comfortably open or close them, consequently they
were rarely disturbed. From the gateway two paths led obliquely
across the court; that to the left reaching the hall-door, which
was in the corner made by the angle of the house, and that to the
right leading to the back entrance, which was at the further end of
the longer portion of the building.

With those who are now adept at contriving house accommodation, it
will militate much against Ullathorne Court, that no carriage could
be brought to the hall-door. If you enter Ullathorne at all, you
must do so, fair reader, on foot, or at least in a bath-chair. No
vehicle drawn by horses ever comes within that iron gate. But this
is nothing to the next horror that will encounter you. On entering
the front door, which you do by no very grand portal, you find
yourself immediately in the dining-room. What--no hall? exclaims my
luxurious friend, accustomed to all the comfortable appurtenances
of modern life. Yes, kind sir; a noble hall, if you will but
observe it; a true old English hall of excellent dimensions for a
country gentleman's family; but, if you please, no dining-parlour.

But Mr and Miss Thorne were proud of this peculiarity of their
dwelling, though the brother was once all but tempted by his
friends to alter it. They delighted in the knowledge that they,
like Cedric, positively dined in their true hall, even though they
so dined tete-a-tete. But though they had never owned, they had
felt and endeavoured to remedy the discomfort of such an
arrangement. A huge screen partitioned off the front door and a
portion of the hall, and from the angle so screened off a second
door led into a passage, which ran along the larger side of the
house next to the courtyard. Either my reader or I must be a bad
hand at topography, if it be not clear that the great hall forms
the ground-floor of the smaller portion of the mansion, that which
was to your left as you entered the iron gate, and that it occupies
the whole of this wing of the building. It must be equally clear
that it looks out on a trim mown lawn, through three quadrangular
windows with stone mullions, each window divided into a larger
portion at the bottom, and a smaller portion at the top, and each
portion again divided into five by perpendicular stone supporters.
There may be windows which give a better light than such as those,
and it may be, as my utilitarian friend observes, that the giving
of light is the desired object of a window. I will not argue the
point with him. Indeed I cannot. But I shall not the less die in
the assured conviction that no sort of description of window is
capable of imparting half as much happiness to mankind as that
which has been adopted at Ullathorne Court. What--not an oriel?
says Miss Diana de Midellage. No, Miss Diana; not even an oriel,
beautiful as is an oriel window. It has not about it so perfect a
feeling of quiet English homely comfort. Let oriel windows grace a
college, or the half public mansion of a potent peer; but for the
sitting room of quiet country ladies, of ordinary homely folk,
nothing can equal the square mullioned windows of the Tudor
architects.

The hall was hung round with family female insipidities by Lely,
and unprepossessing male Thornes in red coats by Kneller; each
Thorne having been let into a panel in the wainscoting in the
proper manner. At the further end of the room was a huge
fire-place, which afforded much ground of difference between the
brother and sister. An antiquated grate that would hold about a
hundred weight of coal, had been stuck on the hearth, by Mr
Thorne's father. This hearth had of course been intended for the
consumption of wood fagots, and the iron dogs for the purpose were
still standing, though half buried in the masonry of the grate.
Miss Thorne was very anxious to revert to the dogs. The dear good
old creature was always to revert to anything, and had she been
systematically indulged, would doubtless in time have reflected
that fingers were made before forks, and have reverted accordingly.
But in the affairs of the fire-place, Mr Thorne would not revert.
Country gentlemen around him, all had comfortable grates in their
dining-rooms. He was not exactly the man to have suggested a modern
usage; but he was not so far prejudiced as to banish those which
his father had prepared for his use. Mr Thorne had, indeed, once
suggested that with very little contrivance the front door might
have been so altered, as to open at least into the passage; but on
hearing this, his sister Monica, such was Miss Thorne's name, had
been taken ill, and had remained so for a week. Before she came
down stairs she received a pledge from her brother that the
entrance should never be changed in her lifetime.

At the end of the hall opposite to the fire-place a door led into
the drawing-room, which was of equal size, and lighted with
precisely similar windows. But yet the aspect of the room was very
different. It was papered, and the ceiling, which in the hall
showed the old rafters, was whitened and finished with a modern
cornice. Miss Thorne's drawing-room, or, as she always called it,
withdrawing-room, was a beautiful apartment. The windows opened on
to the full extent of the lovely trim garden; immediately before
the windows were plots of flowers in stiff, stately, stubborn
little beds, each bed surrounded by a stone coping of its own;
beyond, there was a low parapet wall, on which stood urns and
images, fawns, nymphs, satyrs, and a whole tribe of Pan's
followers; and then again, beyond that, a beautiful lawn sloped
away to a sunk fence, which divided the garden from the park. Mr
Thorne's study was at the end of the drawing-room, and beyond that
were the kitchen and the offices. Doors opened into both Miss
Thorne's withdrawing-room and Mr Thorne's sanctum from the passage
above alluded to; which, as it came to the latter room, widened
itself so as to make space for the huge black oak stairs, which led
to the upper region.

Such was the interior of Ullathorne Court. But having thus
described it, perhaps somewhat too tediously, we beg to say that it
is not the interior to which we wish to call the English tourist's
attention, though we advise him to lose no legitimate opportunity
of becoming acquainted with it in a friendly manner. It is the
outside of Ullathorne that is so lovely. Let the tourist get
admission at least into the garden, and fling himself on that soft
award just opposite to the exterior angle of the house. He will
there get the double frontage, and enjoy that which is so
lovely--the expanse of architectural beauty without the formal
dullness of one long line.

It is the colour of Ullathorne that is so remarkable. It is all of
that delicious tawny hue which no stone can give, unless it has on
it the vegetable richness of centuries. Strike the wall with your
hand, and you will think that the stone has on it no covering, but
rub it carefully, and you will find that the colour comes off upon
your finger. No colourist that ever yet worked from a palette has
been able to come up to this rich colouring of years crowding
themselves on years.

Ullathorne is a high building for a country house, for it possesses
three stories; and in each storey, the windows are of the same sort
as that described, though varying in size, and varying also in
their lines athwart the house. Those of the ground floor are all
uniform in size and position. But those above are irregular both in
size and place, and this irregularity gives a bizarre and not
unpicturesque appearance to the building. Along the top, on every
side, runs a low parapet, which nearly hides the roof, and at the
corners are more figures of fawns and satyrs.

Such is Ullathorne House. But we must say one word of the approach
to it, which shall include all the description which we mean to
give of the church also. The picturesque old church of St Ewold's
stands immediately opposite to the iron gates which open into the
court, and is all but surrounded by the branches of lime trees,
which form the avenue leading up to the house from both sides.
This avenue is magnificent, but it would lose much of its value in
the eyes of many proprietors, by the fact that the road through it
is not private property. It is a public lane between hedgerows,
with a broad grass margin on each side of the road, from which the
lime trees spring. Ullathorne Court, therefore, does not stand
absolutely surrounded by its own grounds, though Mr Thorne is owner
of all the adjacent land. This, however, is the source of very
little annoyance to him. Men, when they are acquiring property,
think much of such things, but they who live where their ancestors
have lived for years, do not feel the misfortune. It never occurred
to either Mr or Miss Thorne that they were not sufficiently
private, because the world at large might, if it so wished, walk or
drive by their iron gates. That part of the world which availed
itself of the privilege was however very small.

Such a year or two since were the Thornes of Ullathorne. Such, we
believe, are the inhabitants of many an English country home. May
it be long before their number diminishes.



CHAPTER XXIII

MR ARABIN READS HIMSELF IN AT ST EWOLD'S

On the Sunday morning the archdeacon with his sister-in-law and Mr
Arabin drove over to Ullathorne, as had been arranged. On their way
thither the new vicar declared himself to be considerably disturbed
in his mind at the idea of thus facing his parishioners for the
first time. He had, he said, been always subject to mauvaise honte
and an annoying degree of bashfulness, which often unfitted him for
any work of a novel description; and now he felt this so strongly
that he feared he should acquit himself badly in St Ewold's
reading-desk. He knew, he said, that those sharp little eyes of
Miss Thorne would be on to him, and that they would not approve.
All this the archdeacon greatly ridiculed. He himself knew not, and
had never known, what it was to be shy. He could not conceive that
Miss Thorne, surrounded as she would be by the peasants of
Ullathorne, and a few of the poorer inhabitants of the suburbs of
Barchester, could in any way affect the composure of a man well
accustomed to address the learned congregations of St Mary's at
Oxford, and he laughed accordingly at the idea of Mr Arabin's
modesty.

Thereupon Mr Arabin commenced to subtilise. The change, he said,
from St Mary's to St Ewold's was quite as powerful on the spirits
as would be that from St Ewold's to St Mary's. Would not a peer
who, by chance of fortune, might suddenly be driven to herd among
the navvies be as afraid of the jeers of his companions, as would
any navvy suddenly exalted to a seat among the peers? Whereupon the
archdeacon declared with a loud laugh that he would tell Miss
Thorne that her new minister had likened her to a navvy. Eleanor,
however, pronounced such a conclusion unfair; a comparison might be
very just in its proportions which did not at all assimilate the
things compared. But Mr Arabin went in subtilising, regarding
neither the archdeacon's raillery nor Eleanor's defence. A young
lady, he said, would execute with most perfect self-possession a
difficult piece of music in a room crowded with strangers, who
would not be able to express herself in any intelligible language,
even on any ordinary subject and among her most intimate friends,
if she were required to do so standing on a box somewhat elevated
among them. It was all an affair of education, and he at forty
found it difficult to educate himself now.

Eleanor dissented on the matter of the box; and averred she could
speak very well about dresses, or babies, or legs of mutton from
any box, provided it were big enough for her to stand upon without
fear, even though all her friends were listening to her. The
archdeacon was sure she would not be able to say a word; but this
proved nothing in favour of Mr Arabin. Mr Arabin said that he would
try the question out with Mrs Bold, and get her on a box some day
when the rectory might be full of visitors. To this Eleanor
assented, making condition that the visitors should be of their own
set, and the archdeacon cogitated in his mind, whether by such a
condition it was intended that Mr Slope should be included,
resolving also that, if so, the trial should certainly never take
place in the rectory drawing-room at Plumstead.

And so arguing, they drove up to the iron gates of Ullathorne
Court.

Mr and Miss Thorne were standing ready dressed for church in the
hall, and greeted their clerical visitors with cordiality. The
archdeacon was an old favourite. He was a clergyman of the old
school, and this recommended him to the lady. He had always been an
opponent of free trade as long as free trade was an open question;
and now that it was no longer so, he, being a clergyman, had not
been obliged, like most of his lay Tory companions, to read his
recantation. He could therefore be regarded as a supporter of the
immaculate fifty-three, and was on this account a favourite with Mr
Thorne. The little bell was tinkling, and the rural population were
standing about the lane, leaning on the church stile, and against
the walls of the old court, anxious to get a look at their new
minister as he passed from the house to the rectory. The
archdeacon's servant had already preceded them thither with the
vestments.

They all went together; and when the ladies passed into the church
the three gentlemen tarried a moment in the lane, that Mr Thorne
might name to the vicar with some kind of one-sided introduction,
the most leading among his parishioners.

'Here are our churchwardens, Mr Arabin; Farmer Greenacre and Mr
Stiles. Mr Stiles has the mill as you go into Barchester; and very
good churchwardens they are.'

'Not very severe, I hope,' said Mr Arabin: the two ecclesiastical
officers touched their hats, and each made a leg in the approved
rural fashion, assuring the vicar that they were glad to have the
honour of seeing him, and adding that the weather was very good for
the harvest. Mr Stiles being a man somewhat versed in town life,
had an impression of his own dignity, and did not quite like leaving
his pastor under the erroneous idea that he being a churchwarden
kept the children in order during church time. 'Twas thus he
understood Mr Arabin's allusion to his severity, and hastened to
put matters right by observing that 'Sexton Clodheave looked to the
younguns, and perhaps sometimes there maybe a thought too much
stick going on during sermon.' Mr Arabin's bright eye twinkled as
he caught that of the archdeacon; and he smiled to himself as he
observed how ignorant his officers were of the nature of their
authority, and of the surveillance which it was their duty to keep
even over himself.

Mr Arabin read the lessons and preached. It was enough to put a man
a little out, let him have been ever so used to pulpit reading, to
see the knowing way in which the farmers cocked their ears, and set
about a mental criticism as to whether their new minister did or
did not fall short of the excellence of him who had lately departed
from them. A mental and silent criticism it was for the existing
moment, but soon to be made public among the elders of St Ewold's
over the green graves of their children and forefathers. The
excellence, however, of poor old Mr Goodenough had not been
wonderful, and there were few there who did not deem that Mr Arabin
did his work sufficiently well, in spite of the slightly nervous
affection which at first impeded him, and which nearly drove the
archdeacon beside himself.

But the sermon was the thing to try the man. It often surprises us
that very young men can muster courage to preach for the first time
to a strange congregation. Men who are as yet little more than
boys, who have but just left, what indeed we may not call a school,
but a seminary intended for their tuition as scholars, whose
thoughts have been mostly of boating, cricketing, and wine parties,
ascend a rostrum high above the heads of the submissive crowd, not
that they may read God's word to those below, but that they may
preach their own word for the edification of their hearers. It
seems strange to us that they are not stricken dumb by the new and
awful solemnity of their position. How am I, just turned
twenty-three, who have never yet passed then thoughtful days since
the power of thought first came to me, how am I to instruct these
grey beards, who with the weary thinking of so many years have
approached so near the grave? Can I teach them their duty? Can I
explain to them that which I so imperfectly understand, that which
years of study may have made so plain to them? Has my newly acquired
privileges, as one of God's ministers, imparted to me as yet any
fitness for the wonderful work of a preacher?

It must be supposed that such ideas do occur to young clergymen,
and yet they overcome, apparently with ease, this difficulty which
to us appears to be all but insurmountable. We have never been
subjected in the way of ordination to the power of a bishop's
hands. It may be that there is in them something that sustains the
spirit and banishes the natural modesty of youth. But for ourselves
we must own that the deep affection which Dominie Sampson felt for
his young pupils has not more endeared him to us than the bashful
spirit which sent him mute and inglorious from the pulpit when he
rose there with the futile attempt to preach God's gospel.

There is a rule in our church which forbids the younger order of
our clergymen to perform a certain portion of the service. The
absolution must be read by a minister in priest's orders. If there
be no such minister present, the congregation can have the benefit
of no absolution but that which each may succeed in administering
to himself. The rule may be a good one, though the necessity for it
hardly comes home to the general understanding. But this
forbearance on the part of youth would be much more appreciated if
it were extended likewise to sermons. The only danger would be that
the congregation would be too anxious to prevent their young
clergymen from advancing themselves to the ranks of the ministry.
Clergymen who could not preach would be such blessings that they
would be bribed to adhere to their incompetence.

Mr Arabin, however, had not the modesty of youth to impede him, and
he succeeded with his sermon even better than with the lessons. He
took for his text two verses out of the second epistle of St John:
'Whosoever trangresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ,
hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ he hath
both the Father and Son. If there come any unto you and bring you
not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him
God speed.' He told them that the house of theirs to which he
alluded was this their church in which he now addressed them for
the first time; that their most welcome and proper manner of
bidding him God speed would be their patient obedience to this
teaching of the gospel; but that he could put forward no claim to
such conduct on their part unless he taught them the great
Christian doctrine of works and faith combined. On this he
enlarged, but not very amply, and after twenty minutes succeeded in
sending his new friends home to their baked mutton and pudding well
pleased with their new minister.

Then came the lunch at Ullathorne. As soon as they were in the hall
Miss Thorne took Mr Arabin's hand, and assured him that she
received him into her house, into the temple, she said, in which
she worshipped, and bade him God speed with all her heart. Mr
Arabin was touched, and squeezed the spinster's hand without
uttering a word in reply. Then Mr Thorne expressed a hope that Mr
Arabin found the church easy to fill, and Mr Arabin having replied
that he had no doubt he should do so as soon as he had learnt to
pitch his voice to the building, they all sat down to the good
things before them.

Miss Thorne took special care of Mrs Bold. Eleanor still wore her
widow's weeds, and therefore had about her that air of grave and
sad maternity which is the lot of recent widows. This opened the
soft heart of Miss Thorne, and made her look on her young guest as
though too much could not be done for her. She heaped chicken and
ham upon her plate, and poured out for her a full bumper of port
wine. When Eleanor, who was not sorry to get it, had drunk a little
of it, Miss Thorne at once essayed to fill it again. To this
Eleanor objected, but in vain. Miss Thorne winked and nodded and
whispered, saying that it was the proper thing and must be done,
and that she knew all about it; and so she desired Mrs Bold to
drink it up, and mind any body.

'It is your duty, you know, to support yourself,' she said into the
ear of the young mother; 'there's more than yourself depending on
it;' and thus she coshered up Eleanor with cold fowl and port wine.
How it is that poor men's wives, who have no cold fowl and port
wine on which to be coshered up, nurse their children without
difficulty, whereas the wives of rich men, who eat and drink
everything that is good, cannot do so, we will for the present
leave to the doctors and mothers to settle between them.

And then Miss Thorne was great about teeth. Little Johnny Bold had
been troubled for the last few days with his first incipient
masticator, and with that freemasonry which exists between ladies,
Miss Thorne became aware of the fact before Eleanor had half
finished her wing. The old lady prescribed at once a receipt which
had been much in vogue in the young days of her grandmother, and
warned Eleanor with solemn voice against the fallacies of modern
medicine.

'Take his coral, my dear,' said she, 'and rub it well with
carrot-juice; rub it till the juice dries on it, and then give it
to him to play with--'

'But he hasn't got a coral,' said Eleanor.

'Not got a coral!' said Miss Thorne, with almost angry vehemence.
'Not got a coral!--How can you expect that he should cut his teeth?
Have you got Daffy's Elixir?'

Eleanor explained that she had not. It had not been ordered by Mr
Rerechild, the Barchester doctor whom she employed; and then the
young mother mentioned some shockingly modern succedaneum, which Mr
Rerechild's new lights had taught him to recommend.

Miss Thorne looked awfully severe. 'Take care, my dear,' said she,
'that the man knows what he is about; take care he doesn't destroy
your little boy. 'But'--and her voice softened into sorrow as she
said it, and spoke more in pity than in anger--'but I don't know
who there is in Barchester now that you can trust. Poor dear old Dr
Bumpwell, indeed--'

'Why, Miss Thorne, he died when I was a little girl.'

'Yes, my dear, he did, and an unfortunate day it was for
Barchester. As to those young men that have come up since' (Mr
Rerechild, by the by, was quite as old as Miss Thorne herself),
'one doesn't know where they came from or who they are, or whether
they know anything about their business or not.'

'I think there are very clever men in Barchester,' said Eleanor.

'Perhaps there may be; only I don't know them; and it's admitted on
all sides that medical men aren't now what they used to be. They
used to be talented, observing, educated men. But now any
whipper-snapper out of an apothecary's shop can call himself a
doctor. I believe no kind of education is now thought necessary.'

Eleanor was herself the widow of a medical man, and felt a little
inclined to resent all these hard sayings. But Miss Thorne was so
essentially good-natured that it was impossible to resent anything
she said. She therefore sipped her wine and finished her chicken.

'At any rate, my dear, don't forget the carrot-juice, and by all
means get him a coral at once. My grandmother Thorne had the best
teeth in the county, and carried them to the grave with her at
eighty. I have heard her say it was all the carrot-juice. She
couldn't bear the Barchester doctors. Even poor Dr Bumpwell didn't
please her.' It clearly never occurred to Miss Thorne that some
fifty years ago Dr Bumpwell was only a rising man, and therefore as
much in need of character in the eyes of the then ladies of
Ullathorne, as the present doctors were in her own.

The archdeacon made a very good lunch, and talked to his host about
turnip-drillers and new machines for reaping; while the host,
thinking it only polite to attend to a stranger, and fearing that
perhaps he might not care about turnip crops on a Sunday, mooted
all manner of ecclesiastical subjects.

'I never saw a heavier lot of wheat, Thorne, than you've got there
in the field beyond the copse. I suppose that's guano,' said the
archdeacon.

'Yes, guano. I get it from Bristol myself. You'll find you often
have a tolerable congregation of Barchester people out here, Mr
Arabin. They are very fond of St Ewold's, particularly of an
afternoon, when the weather is not too hot for a walk.'

'I am under an obligation to them for staying away today, at any
rate,' said the vicar. 'The congregation can never be too small for
a maiden sermon.'

'I got a ton and a half at Bradley's in High Street,' said the
archdeacon, 'and it was a complete take in. I don't believe there
was five hundred-weight of guano in it.'

'That Bradley never has anything good,' said Miss Tborne, who had
just caught the name during her whisperings with Eleanor. 'And such
a nice shop as there used to be in that very house before he came.
Wilfred, don't you remember what good things old Ambleoff used to
have?'

'There have been three men since Ambleoff's time,' said the
archdeacon, 'and each as bad as the other. But who gets it for you
at Bristol, Thorne?'

'I ran up myself this year and bought it out of the ship. I am
afraid as the evenings get shorter, Mr Arabin, you'll find the
reading desk too dark. I must send a fellow with an axe and make
him lop off some of those branches.'

Mr Arabin declared that the morning light at any rate was perfect,
and deprecated any interference with the lime trees. And then they
took a stroll out among the trim parterres, and Mr Arabin explained
to Mrs Bold the difference between a naiad and a dryad, and dilated
on vases and the shapes of urns. Miss Thorne busied herself among
the pansies; and her brother, finding it quite impracticable to
give anything of a peculiarly Sunday tone to the conversation,
abandoned the attempt, and had it out with the archdeacon about the
Bristol guano.

At three o'clock they again went into church; and now Mr Arabin
read the service and the archdeacon preached. Nearly the same
congregation was present, with some adventurous pedestrians from
the city, who had not thought the heat of the mid-day August sun
too great to deter them. The archdeacon took his text from the
Epistle of Philemon. 'I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I
have begotten in my bonds.' From such a text it may be imagined the
kind of sermon which Dr Grantly preached, and on the whole it was
neither dull, nor bad, nor out of place.

He told them it had become his duty to look about for a pastor for
them; to supply the place of one who had been long among them; and
that in this manner he regarded as a son him whom he had selected,
as St Paul had regarded the young disciple whom he sent forth. Then
he took a little merit to himself for having studiously provided
the best man he could without reference to patronage or favour; but
he did not say that the best man according to his views was he who
was best able to subdue Mr Slope, and make that gentleman's
situation in Barchester too hot to be comfortable. As to the bonds,
they had consisted in the exceeding struggle which he had made to
get a good clergyman for them. He deprecated any comparison between
himself and St Paul, but said that he was entitled to beseech them
for their good will towards Mr Arabin, in the same manner that the
apostle had besought Philemon and his household with regard to
Onesimus.

The archdeacon's sermon, text, blessing and all, was concluded
within the half hour. Then they shook hands with their Ullathorne
friends, and returned to Plumstead. 'Twas thus that Mr Arabin read
himself in at St Ewold's.



 CHAPTER XXIV

MR SLOPE'S MANAGES MATTERS VERY CLEVERLY AT PUDDINGDALE

The next two weeks passed pleasantly enough at Plumstead. The whole
party there assembled seemed to get on well together. Eleanor made
the house agreeable, and the archdeacon and Mrs Grantly seemed to
have forgotten her injury as regarded Mr Slope. Mr Harding had his
violoncello, and played to them while his daughters accompanied
him. Johnny Bold, by the help either of Mr Rerechild or else by
that of his coral and carrot-juice, got through his teething
troubles. There had been gaieties too of all sorts. They had dined
at Ullathorne, and the Thornes had dined at the rectory. Eleanor
had been duly put to stand on her box, and in that position had
found herself quite unable to express her opinion on the merits of
flounces, such having been the subject given to try her elocution.
Mr Arabin had of course been much in his own parish, looking to the
doings at his vicarage, calling on his parishioners, and taking on
himself the duties of his new calling. But still he had been every
evening at Plumstead, and Mrs Grantly was partly willing to agree
with her husband that he was a pleasant inmate in a house.

They had also been at a dinner party at Dr Stanhope's, of which Mr
Arabin had made one. He also, moth-like, burnt his wings in the
flames of the signora's candle. Mrs Bold, too, had been there, and
had felt somewhat displeased with the taste, want of taste she
called it, shown by Mr Arabin in paying so much attention to Madame
Neroni. It was as infallible that Madeline should displease and
irritate the women, as that she should charm and captivate the men.
The one result followed naturally on the other. It was quite true
that Mr Arabin had been charmed. He thought her a very clever and a
very handsome woman; he thought also that her peculiar afflictions
entitled her to the sympathy of all. He had never, he said, met so
much suffering joined to such perfect beauty and so clear a mind.
'Twas thus he spoke of the signora coming home in the archdeacon's
carriage; and Eleanor by no means liked to hear the praise. It was,
however, exceedingly unjust of her to be angry with Mr Arabin, as
she had herself spent a very pleasant evening with Bertie Stanhope,
who had taken her down to dinner, and had not left her side for one
moment after the gentlemen came out of the dining-room. It was
unfair that she should amuse herself with Bertie and yet begrudge
her new friend his licence of amusing himself with Bertie's sister.
And yet she did so. She was half angry with him in the carriage,
and said something about meretricious manners. Mr Arabin did not
understand the ways of women very well, or else he might have
flattered himself that Eleanor was in love with him.

But Eleanor was not in love with him. How many shades there are
between love and indifference, and how little the graduated scale
is understood! She had now been nearly three weeks in the same
house with Mr Arabin, and had received much of his attention, and
listened daily to his conversation. He had usually devoted at least
some portion of his evening to her exclusively. At Dr Stanhope's he
had devoted himself exclusively to another. It does not require
that a woman should be in love to be irritated at this; it does not
require that she should even acknowledge to herself that it was
unpleasant to her. Eleanor had no such self-knowledge. She thought
in her own heart it was only on Mr Arabin's account that she
regretted that he could condescend to be amused by the signora. 'I
thought he had more mind,' she said to herself, as she sat watching
her baby's cradle on her return from the party. 'After all, I
believe Mr Stanhope is the pleasanter man of the two.' Alas for the
memory of poor John Bold! Eleanor was not in love with Bertie
Stanhope, nor was she in love with Mr Arabin. But her devotion to
her late husband was fast fading, when she could revolve in her
mind, over the cradle of his infant, the faults and failings of
other aspirants to her favour.

Will any one blame my heroine for this? Let him or her rather thank
God for all His goodness,--for His mercy endureth for ever.

Eleanor, in truth, was not in love; neither was Mr Arabin. Neither
indeed was Bertie Stanhope, though he had already found occasion to
say nearly as much as that he was. The widow's cap had prevented
him from making a positive declaration, when otherwise he would
have considered himself entitled to do so on a third or fourth
interview. It was, after all, but a small cap now, and had but
little of the weeping-willow left in its construction. It is
singular how these emblems of grief fade away by unseen gradations.
Each pretends to be the counterpart of the forerunner, and yet the
last little bit of crimped white crape that sits so jauntily on the
back of the head, is as dissimilar to the first huge mountain of
woe which disfigured the face of the weeper, as the state of the
Hindoo is to the jointure of the English dowager.

But let it be clearly understood that Eleanor was in love with no
one, and that no one was in love with Eleanor. Under these
circumstances her anger against Mr Arabin did not last long, and
before two days were over they were both as good friends as ever.
She could not but like him, for every hour spent in his company was
spent pleasantly. And yet she could not quite like him, for there
was always apparent in his conversation a certain feeling on his
part that he hardly thought it worth his while to be in earnest. It
was almost as though he were playing with a child. She knew well
enough that he was in truth a sober thoughtful man, who in some
matters and on some occasions could endure an agony of earnestness.
And yet to her he was always gently playful. Could she have seen
his brow once clouded she might have learnt to love him.

So things went on at Plumstead, and on the whole not unpleasantly,
till a huge storm darkened the horizon, and came down upon the
inhabitants of the rectory with all the fury of a water-spout. It
was astonishing how in a few minutes the whole face of the heavens
was changed. The party broke up from breakfast in perfect harmony;
but fierce passions had arisen before the evening, which did not
admit of their sitting at the same board for dinner. To explain
this, it will be necessary to go back a little.

It will be remembered that the bishop expressed to Mr Slope in his
dressing-room, his determination that Mr Quiverful should be
confirmed in his appointment to the hospital, and that his lordship
requested Mr Slope to communicate this decision to the archdeacon.
It will also be remembered that the archdeacon had indignantly
declined seeing Mr Slope, and had, instead, written a strong letter
to the bishop, in which he all but demanded the situation of warden
for Mr Harding. To this letter the archdeacon received an immediate
formal reply from Mr Slope, in which it was stated, that the bishop
had received and would give his best consideration to the
archdeacon's letter.

The archdeacon felt himself somewhat checkmated by this reply. What
could he do with a man who would neither see him, nor argue with
him by letter, and who had undoubtedly the power of appointing any
clergyman he pleased? He had consulted with Mr Arabin, who had
suggested the propriety of calling in the aid of the master of
Lazarus. 'If,' said he, 'you and Dr Gwynne formally declare your
intention of waiting upon the bishop, the bishop will not dare to
refuse to see you; and if two such men as you see him together, you
will probably not leave him without carrying your point.'

The archdeacon did not quite like admitting the necessity of his
being backed by the master of Lazarus before he could obtain
admission into the episcopal palace of Barchester; but still he
felt that the advice was good, and he resolved to take it. He wrote
again to the bishop, expressing a hope that nothing further would
be done in the matter of the hospital, till the consideration
promised by his lordship had been given, and then sent off a warm
appeal to his friend the master, imploring him to come to Plumstead
and assist in driving the bishop into compliance. The master had
rejoined, raising some difficulty, but not declining; and the
archdeacon again pressed his point, insisting on the necessity for
immediate action. Dr Gwynne unfortunately had the gout, and could
therefore name no immediate day, but still agreed to come, if it
should be finally found necessary. So the matter stood, as regarded
the party at Plumstead.

But Mr Harding had another friend fighting the battle for him,
quite as powerful as the master of Lazarus, and this was Mr Slope.
Though the bishop had so pertinaciously insisted on giving way to
his wife in the matter of the hospital, Mr Slope did not think it
necessary to abandon the object. He had, he thought, daily more and
more reason to imagine that the widow would receive his overtures
favourably, and he could not but feel that Mr Harding at the
hospital, and placed there by his means would be more likely to
receive him as a son-in-law, than Mr Harding growling in opposition
and disappointment under the archdeacon's wing at Plumstead.
Moreover, to give Mr Slope due credit, he was actuated by greater
motives even than these. He wanted a wife, and he wanted money, but
he wanted power more than either. He had fully realised the fact
that he must come to blows with Mrs Proudie. He had no desire to
remain in Barchester as her chaplain. Sooner than do so, he would
risk the loss of his whole connection with the diocese. What! Was
he to feel within him the possession of no ordinary talents; was he
to know himself to be courageous, firm, and, in matters where his
conscience did not interfere, unscrupulous; and yet be contented to
be the working factotum of a woman-prelate? Mr Slope had higher
ideas of his own destiny. Either he or Mrs Proudie must go to the
wall; and now had come the time when he would try which it would
be.

The bishop had declared that Mr Quiverful should be the new warden.
As Mr Slope went down stairs prepared to see the archdeacon if
necessary, but fully satisfied that no such necessity would arise,
he declared to himself that Mr Harding should be warden. With the
object of carrying this point he rode over to Puddingdale, and had
a further interview with the worthy expectant of clerical good
things. Mr Quiverful was on the whole a worthy man. The impossible
task of bringing up as ladies and gentlemen fourteen children on an
income which was insufficient to give them with decency the common
necessities of life, had had an effect upon him not beneficial
either to his spirit, or his keen sense of honour. Who can boast
that he would have supported such a burden with a different result?
Mr Quiverful was an honest, pain- staking, drudging man; anxious,
indeed, for bread and meat, anxious for means to quiet his butcher
and cover with returning smiles the now sour countenance of the
baker's wife, but anxious also to be right with his own conscience.
He was not careful, as another might be who sat on an easier
worldly seat, to stand well with those around him, to shun a breath
which might sully his name, or a rumour which might affect his
honour. He could not afford such niceties of conduct, such moral
luxuries. It must suffice for him to be ordinarily honest according
the ordinary honesty of the world's ways, and to let men's tongues
wag as they would.

He had felt that his brother clergymen, men whom he had known for
the last twenty years, looked coldly on him from the first moment
that he had shown himself willing to sit at the feet of Mr Slope;
he had seen that their looks grew colder still, when it became
bruited about that he was to be the bishop's new warden at Hiram's
hospital. This was painful enough; but it was the cross which he
was doomed to bear. He thought of his wife, whose last new silk
dress was six years in wear. He thought of all his young flock,
whom he could hardly take to church with him on Sundays, for there
was not decent shoes and stockings for them all to wear. He thought
of the well-worn sleeves of his own black coat, and of the stern
face of the draper from whom he would fain ask for cloth to make
another, did he not know that the credit would be refused him. Then
he thought of the comfortable house in Barchester, of the
comfortable income, of his boys sent to school, of the girls with
books in their hands instead of darning needles, of his wife's face
again covered with smiles, and of his daily board again covered
with plenty. He thought of all these things; and do thou also,
reader, think of them, and then wonder, if thou canst, that Mr
Slope had appeared to him to possess all those good gifts which
would grace a bishop's chaplain. 'How beautiful upon the mountains
are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings.'

Why, moreover, should the Barchester clergy have looked so coldly
on Mr Quiverful? Had they not all shown that they regarded with
complacency the loaves and fishes of their mother church? Had they
not all, by some hook or crook, done better for themselves than he
had done? They were not burdened as he was burdened. Dr Grantly had
five children, and nearly as many thousands a year on which to feed
them. It was very well for him to turn up his nose at a new bishop
who could do nothing for him, and a chaplain who was beneath his
notice; but it was cruel in a man so circumstanced to set the world
against the father of fourteen children because he was anxious to
obtain for them an honourable support! He, Mr Quiverful, had not
asked for the wardenship; he had not even accepted it till he had
been assured that Mr Harding had refused it. How hard then that he
should be blamed for doing that which not to have done would have
argued a most insane imprudence!

Thus in this matter of the hospital poor Mr Quiverful had his
trials; and he had also his consolations. On the whole the
consolations were the more vivid of the two. The stern draper heard
of the coming promotion, and the wealth of his warehouse was at Mr
Quiverful's disposal. Coming events cast their shadows before, and
the coming event of Mr Quiverful's transference to Barchester
produced a delicious shadow in the shape of a new outfit for Mrs
Quiverful and her three elder daughters. Such consolations come
home to the heart of a man, and quite home to the heart of a woman.
Whatever the husband might feel, the wife cared nothing for the
frowns of the dean, archdeacon, or prebendary. To her the outsides
and insides of her husband and fourteen children were everything.
In her bosom every other ambition had been swallowed up in that
maternal ambition of seeing them and him and herself duly clad and
properly fed. It had come to that with her that life had now no
other purpose. She recked nothing of the imaginary rights of
others. She had no patience with her husband when he declared to
her that he could not accept the hospital unless he knew that Mr
Harding had refused it. Her husband had no right to be Quixotic at
the expense of fourteen children. The narrow escape of throwing
away his good fortune which her lord had had, almost paralysed her.
Now, indeed, they had received the full promise not only from Mr
Slope, but also from Mrs Proudie. Now, indeed, they might reckon
with safety on their good fortune. But what if it all had been
lost? What if her fourteen bairns had been resteeped to the hips in
poverty by the morbid sentimentality of their father? Mrs Quiverful
was just at present a happy woman, but yet it nearly took her
breath away when she thought of the risk they had run.

'I don't know what your father means when he talks so much of what
is due to Mr Harding,' she said to her eldest daughter. 'Does he
think that Mr Harding would give him L 450 out of fine feeling? And
what signifies it when he offends, as long as he gets the place? He
does not expect anything better. It passes me to think how your
father can be so soft, while everybody around him is so griping.'

This, while the rest of the world was accusing Mr Quiverful of
rapacity for promotion and disregard for his honour, the inner
world of his own household was falling foul of him, with equal
vehemence, for his willingness to sacrifice their interest to a
false feeling of sentimental pride. It is astonishing how much
difference the point of view makes in the aspect of all that we
look at!

Such was the feelings of the different members of the family at
Puddingdale on the occasion of Mr Slope's second visit. Mrs
Quiverful, as soon as she saw his horse coming up the avenue from
the vicarage gate, hastily packed up her huge basket of needlework,
and hurried herself and her daughter out of the room in which she
was sitting with her husband. 'It's Mr Slope,' she said. 'He's come
to settle with you about the hospital. I do hope we shall now be
able to move at once.' And she hastened to bid the maid of all work
to go to the door, so that the welcome great man might not be kept
waiting.

Mr Slope thus found Mr Quiverful alone. Mrs Quiverful went off to
her kitchen and back settlements with anxious beating heart, almost
dreading that there might be some slip between the cup of her
happiness and the lip of her fruition, but yet comforting herself
with the reflection that after what had taken place, any such slip
could hardly be possible.

Mr Slope was all smiles as he shook his brother clergyman's hand,
and said that he had ridden over because he thought it right at
once to put Mr Quiverful in possession of the facts of the matter
regarding the wardenship of the hospital. As he spoke, the poor
expectant husband and father saw at a glance that his brilliant
hopes were to be dashed to the ground, and that his visitor was now
there for the purpose of unsaying what on his former visit he had
said. There was something in the tone of the voice, something in
the glance of the eye, which told the tale. Mr Quiverful knew it
all at once. He maintained his self-possession, however, smiled
with a slight unmeaning smile, and merely said that he was obliged
to Mr Slope for the trouble he was taking.

'It has been a troublesome matter from first to last,' said Mr
Slope; 'and the bishop has hardly known how to act. Between
ourselves--but mind this of course must go no farther, Mr
Quiverful.'

Mr Quiverful said of course that it should not. 'The truth is, that
poor Mr Harding has hardly known his own mind. You remember our
last conversation, no doubt.'

Mr Quiverful assured him that he remembered it very well indeed.

'You will remember that I told you that Mr Harding had refused to
return to the hospital.'

Mr Quiverful declared that nothing could be more distinct in his
memory.

'And acting on this refusal I suggested that you should take the
hospital,' continued Mr Slope.

'I understood you to say that the bishop had authorised you to
offer it to me.'

'Did I? Did I go so far as that? Well, perhaps it may be, that in
my anxiety on your behalf I did commit myself further than I should
have done. So far as my own memory serves me, I don't think I did
go quite so far as that. But I own I was very anxious that you
should get it; and I may have said more than was quite prudent.'

'But,' said Mr Quiverful, in his deep anxiety to prove his case,
'my wife received as distinct a promise from Mrs Proudie as one
human being could give to another.'

Mr Slope smiled, and gently shook his head. He meant that smile for
a pleasant smile, but it was diabolical in the eyes of the man he
was speaking to. 'Mrs Proudie!' he said. 'If we are to go to what
passes between the ladies in these matters, we shall really be in a
nest of troubles from which we shall never extricate ourselves. Mrs
Proudie is a most excellent lady, kind-hearted, charitable, pious,
and in every way estimable. But, my dear Mr Quiverful, the
patronage of the diocese is not in her hands.'

Mr Quiverful for a moment sat panic-stricken and silent. 'Am I to
understand, then, that I have received no promise?' he said, as
soon as he had sufficiently collected his thoughts.

'If you will allow me, I will tell you exactly how the matter
rests. You certainly did receive a promise conditional on Mr
Harding's refusal. I am sure you will do me the justice to remember
that you yourself declared that you could accept the appointment on
no other condition than the knowledge that Mr Harding had declined
it.'

'Yes,' said Mr Quiverful; 'I did say that, certainly.'

'Well; it now appears that he did not refuse it.'

'But surely you told me, and repeated it more than once, that he
had done so in your hearing.'

'So I understood him. But it seems I was in error. But don't for a
moment, Mr Quiverful, suppose that I mean to throw you over. No.
Having held out my hand to a man in your position, with your large
family and pressing claims, I am not now going to draw it back
again. I only want you to act with me fairly and honestly.'

'Whatever I do, I shall endeavour at any rate to act fairly,' said
the poor man, feeling that he had to fall back for support on the
spirit of martyrdom within him.

'I am sure you will,' said the other. 'I am sure you have no wish
to obtain possession of an income which belongs by all rights to
another. No man knows better than you do Mr Harding's history, or
can better appreciate his character. Mr Harding is very desirous of
returning to his old position, and the bishop feels that he is at
the present moment somewhat hampered, though of course he is not
bound, by the conversation which took place on the matter between
you and me.'

'Well,' said Mr Quiverful, dreadfully doubtful as to what his
conduct under such circumstances should be, and fruitlessly
striving to harden his nerves with some of that instinct of
self-preservation which made his wife so bold.

'The wardenship of this little hospital is not the only thing in
the bishop's gift, Mr Quiverful, nor is it by many degrees the
best. And his lordship is not the man to forget any one whom he has
once marked with approval. If you would allow me to advise you as a
friend--'

'Indeed I shall be grateful to you,' said the poor vicar of
Puddingdale--

'I should advise you to withdraw from any opposition to Mr
Harding's claims. If you persist in your demand, I do not think you
will ultimately succeed. Mr Harding has all but a positive right to
the place. But if you will allow me to inform his lordship that you
decline to stand in Mr Harding's way, I think I may promise
you--though, by the bye, it must not be taken as a formal
promise--that the bishop will not allow you to be a poorer man than
you would have been had you become warden.'

Mr Quiverful sat in his arm chair silent, gazing at vacancy. What
was he to say? All this that came from Mr Slope was so true. Mr
Harding had a right to the hospital. The bishop had a great many
good things to give away. Both the bishop and Mr Slope would be
excellent friends and terrible enemies to a man in his position.
And then he had no proof of any promise; he could not force the
bishop to appoint him.

'Well, Mr Quiverful, what do you say about it?'

'Oh, of course, whatever you think, Mr Slope. It's a great
disappointment, a very great disappointment. I won't deny that I am
a very poor man, Mr Slope.'

'In the end, Mr Quiverful, you will find that it will have been
better for you.'

The interview ended in Mr Slope receiving a full renunciation from
Mr Quiverful of any claim he might have to the appointment in
question. It was only given verbally and without witnesses; but
then the original promise was made in the same way.

Mr Slope assured him that he should not be forgotten, and then rode
back to Barchester, satisfied that he would now be able to mould
the bishop to his wishes.



CHAPTER XXV

FOURTEEN ARGUMENTS IN FAVOUR OF MR QUIVERFUL'S CLAIMS

We have most of us heard of the terrible anger of a lioness when,
surrounded by her cubs, she guards her prey. Few of us wish to
disturb the mother of a litter of puppies when mouthing a bone in
the midst of her young family. Medea and her children are familiar
to us, and so is the grief of Constance. Mrs Quiverful, when she
first heard from her husband the news which he had to impart, felt
within her bosom all the rage of a lioness, the rapacity of the
hound, the fury of the tragic queen, and the deep despair of a
bereaved mother.

Doubting, but yet hardly fearing, what might have been the tenor of
Mr Slope's discourse, she rushed back to her husband as soon as the
front door was closed behind the visitor. It was well for Mr Slope
that he had so escaped,--the anger of such a woman, at such a
moment, would have cowed even him. As a general rule, it is highly
desirable that ladies should keep their temper; a woman when she
storms always makes herself ugly, and usually ridiculous also.
There is nothing so odious to man as a virago. Though Theseus loved
an Amazon, he showed his love but roughly; and from the time of
Theseus downward, no man ever wished to have his wife remarkable
rather for forward prowess than retiring gentleness.

Such may be laid down as a general rule; and few women should allow
themselves to deviate from it, and then only on rare occasions. But
if there be a time when a woman may let her hair to the winds, when
she may loose her arms, and scream out trumpet-tongued to the ears
of men, it is when nature calls out within her not for her own
wants, but for the wants of those whom her womb has borne, whom her
breasts have suckled, for those who look to her for their daily
bread as naturally as man looks to his Creator.

There was nothing poetic in the nature of Mrs Quiverful. She was
neither a Medea nor a Constance. When angry, she spoke out her
anger in plain words, and in a tone which might have been modulated
with advantage; but she did so, at any rate, without affectation.
Now, without knowing it, she rose to a tragic vein.

'Well, my dear; we are not to have it.' Such were the words with
which her ears were greeted when she entered the parlour, still hot
from the kitchen fire. And the face of her husband spoke even more
plainly than his words:--"E'en such a man, so faint, so spiritless,
So dull, so dead in look, so woe-begone, Drew Priam's curtain in
the dead of night."

'What!' said she,--and Mrs Siddons could not have put more passion
into a single syllable,--'What! Not have it? Who says so?' And she
sat opposite to her husband, with her elbows on the table, her
hands clasped together, and her coarse, solid, but once handsome
face stretched over it towards him.

She sat as silent as death while he told his story, and very
dreadful to him her silence was. He told it very lamely and badly,
but still in such a manner that she soon understood the whole of
it.

'And so you have resigned it?' said she.

'I have had no opportunity of accepting it,' he replied. 'I had no
witnesses to Mr Slope's offer, even if that offer would bind the
bishop. It was better for me, on the whole, to keep on good terms
with such men than to fight for what I should never get!'

'Witnesses!' she screamed, rising quickly to her feet, and walking
up and down the room. 'Do clergymen require witnesses to their
words? He made the promise in the bishop's name, and if it is to be
broken I'll know the reason why. Did he not positively say that the
bishop had sent him to offer you the place?'

'He did, my dear. But that is now nothing to the purpose.'

'It is everything to the purpose, Mr Quiverful. Witnesses indeed!
And then to talk of your honour being questioned because you wish
to provide for fourteen children. It is everything to the purpose;
and so they shall know, if I scream it into their ears from the
town cross of Barchester.'

'You forget, Letitia, that the bishop has so many things in his
gift. We must wait a little longer. That is all.'

'Wait! Shall we feed the children by waiting? Will waiting put
George and Tom, and Sam, out into the world? Will it enable my poor
girls to give up some of their drudgery? Will waiting make Bessy
and Jane fit even to be governesses? Will waiting pay for the
things we got in Barchester last week?'

'It is all we can do, my dear. The disappointment is as much to me
as to you; and yet, God knows, I feel it more for your sake than my
own.'

Mrs Quiverful was looking full into her husband's face, and saw a
small hot tear appear on each of those furrowed cheeks. This was
too much for her woman's heart. He also had risen, and was standing
with his back to the empty grate. She rushed towards him, and
seizing him in her arms, sobbed aloud upon his bosom.

'Yes, you are too good, too soft, too yielding,' she said at last.
'These men, when they want you, they use you like a cat's-paw; and
when they want you no longer, they throw you aside like an old
shoe. This is twice they have treated you so.'

'In one way this will be for the better,' argued he. 'It will make
the bishop feel that he is bound to do something for me.'

'At any rate, he shall hear of it,' said the lady, again reverting
to her more angry mood. 'At any rate he shall hear of it, and that
loudly; and so shall she. She little knows Letitia Quiverful, if
she thinks I will sit down quietly with the loss after all that
passed between us at the palace. If there's any feeling within her,
I'll make her ashamed of herself,'--and she paced the room again,
stamping the floor as she went with her fat heavy foot.

'Good heavens! What a heart she must have within her to treat in
such a way as this the father of fourteen unprovided children!'

Mr Quiverful proceeded to explain that he didn't think that Mrs
Proudie had anything to do with it.

'Don't tell me,' said Mrs Quiverful; 'I know more about it than
that. Doesn't all the world know that Mrs Proudie is bishop of
Barchester, and that Mr Slope is merely her creature? Wasn't it she
that made me the promise just as though the thing was in her own
particular gift? I tell you, it was that woman who sent him over
here to-day because, for some reason of her own, she wants to go
back on her word.'

'My dear, you're wrong--'

'Now, Q, don't be so soft,' she continued. 'Take my word for it,
the bishop knows no more about it than Jemima does.' Jemima was the
two-year old. 'And if you'll take my advice, you'll lose no time in
going over and seeing him yourself.'

Soft, however, as Mr Quiverful might be, he would not allow himself
to be talked out of his opinion on this occasion; and proceeded
with much minuteness to explain to his wife the tone in which Mr
Slope had spoken of Mrs Proudie's interference in diocesan matters.
As he did so, a new idea gradually instilled itself into the
matron's head, and a new course of action presented itself to her
judgement. What if, after all, Mrs Proudie knew nothing of this
visit of Mr Slope's? In that case, might it not be possible that
that lady would still be staunch to her in this matter, still stand
her friend, and, perhaps, possibly carry her through in opposition
to Mr Slope? Mrs Quiverful said nothing as this vague hope occurred
to her, but listened with more than ordinary patience to what her
husband had to say. While he was still explaining that in all
probability the world was wrong in its estimation of Mrs Proudie's
power and authority, she had fully made up her mind as to her
course of action. She did not, however, proclaim her intention. She
shook her head continuously, as he continued his narration; and
when he had completed she rose to go, merely observing that it was
cruel, cruel treatment. She then asked if he would mind waiting for
a late dinner instead of dining at their usual hour of three, and,
having received from him a concession on this point, she proceeded
to carry her purpose into execution.

She determined that she would at once go to the palace; that she
would do so, if possible, before Mrs Proudie could have had an
interview with Mr Slope; and that she would be either submissive,
piteous and pathetic, or indignant violent and exacting, according
to the manner in which she was received.

She was quite confident in her own power. Strengthened as she was
by the pressing wants of fourteen children, she felt that she could
make her way through legions of episcopal servants, and force
herself, if need be, into the presence of the lady who had so
wronged her. She had no shame about it, no mauvaise honte, no dread
of archdeacons. She would, as she declared to her husband, make her
wail heard in the market-place if she did not get redress and
justice. It might be very well for an unmarried young curate to be
shamefaced in such matters; it might be all right that a smug
rector, really in want of nothing, but still looking for better
preferment, should carry out his affairs decently under the rose.
But Mrs Quiverful, with fourteen children, had given over being
shamefaced, and, in some things, had given over being decent. If it
were intended that she should be ill used in the manner proposed by
Mr Slope, it should not be done under the rose. All the world would
know of it.

In her present mood, Mrs Quiverful was not over careful about her
attire. She tied her bonnet under her chin, threw her shawl over
her shoulders, armed herself with the old family cotton umbrella,
and started for Barchester. A journey to the palace was not quite
so easy a thing for Mrs Quiverful as for our friend at Plumstead.
Plumstead is nine miles from Barchester, and Puddingdale is but
four. But the archdeacon could order round his brougham, and his
high-trotting fast bay gelding would take him into the city within
the hour. There was no brougham in the coach-house of Puddingdale
Vicarage, no bay horse in the stables. There was no method of
locomotion for its inhabitants but that which nature had assigned
to man.

Mrs Quiverful was a broad heavy woman, not young, nor given to
walking. In her kitchen, and in the family dormitories, she was
active enough; but her pace and gait were not adapted for the road.
A walk into Barchester and back in the middle of an August day
would be to her a terrible task, if not altogether impracticable.
There was living in the parish about half a mile from the vicarage
on the road to the city, a decent, kindly farmer, well to do as
regards this world, and so far mindful of the next that he attended
his parish church with decent regularity. To him Mrs Quiverful had
before now appealed in some of her more pressing family troubles,
and had not appealed in vain. At his door she now presented
herself, and, having explained to his wife that most urgent
business required her to go at once to Barchester, begged that
Farmer Subsoil would take her thither in his tax-cart. The farmer
did not reject her plan; and, as soon as Prince could be got into
his collar, they started on their journey.

Mrs Quiverful did not mention the purpose of her business, nor did
the farmer alloy his kindness by any unseemly questions. She merely
begged to be put down at the bridge going into the city, and to be
taken up again at the same place in the course of two hours. The
farmer promised to be punctual to his appointment, and the lady,
supported by her umbrella, took the short cut to the close, and in
a few minutes was at the bishop's door.

Hitherto she had felt no dread with regard to the coming interview.
She had felt nothing but an indignant longing to pour forth her
claims, and declare her wrongs, if those claims were not fully
admitted. But now the difficulty of her situation touched her a
little. She had been at the palace once before, but then she went
to give grateful thanks. Those who have thanks to return for
favours received find easy admittance to the halls of the great.
Such is not always the case with men, or even women, who have
favours to beg. Still less easy is access for those who demand the
fulfilment of promises already made.

Mrs Quiverful had not been slow to learn the ways of the world. She
knew all this, and she knew also that her cotton umbrella and all
but ragged shawl would not command respect in the eyes of the
palace servants. If she were too humble, she knew well that she
would never succeed. To overcome by imperious overbearing with such
a shawl as hers upon her shoulders, and such a bonnet on her head,
would have required a personal bearing very superior to that which
nature had endowed her. Of this also Mrs Quiverful was aware. She
must make it known she was the wife of a gentleman and a clergyman,
and must yet condescend to conciliate.

The poor lady knew but one way to overcome these difficulties at
the very threshold of her enterprise, and to this she resorted. Low
as were the domestic funds at Puddingdale, she still retained
possession of a half-crown, and this she sacrificed to the avarice
of Mrs Proudie's metropolitan sesquipedalian serving-man. She was,
she said, Mrs Quiverful of Puddingdale, the wife of the Rev. Mr
Quiverful. She wished to see Mrs Proudie. It was indeed quite
indispensible that she should see Mrs Proudie. James Fitzplush
looked worse than dubious, did not know whether his lady were out,
or engaged, or in her bed-room; thought it most probable that she
was subject to one of these or to some cause that would make her
invisible; but Mrs Quiverful could sit down in the waiting-room,
while inquiry was being made of Mrs Proudie.

'Look here, man,' said Mrs Quiverful; 'I must see her;' and she put
her card and half-crown--think of it, my reader, think of it; her
last half-crown--into the man's hand, and sat herself down on a
chair in the waiting-room.

Whether the bribe carried the day, or whether the bishop's wife
really chose to see the vicar's wife, it boots not now to inquire.
The man returned, and begging Mrs Quiverful to follow him, ushered
her into the presence of the mistress of the diocese.

Mrs Quiverful at once saw that her patroness was in a smiling
humour. Triumph sat throned upon her brow, and all the joys of
dominion hovered about her curls. Her lord had that morning
contested with her a great point. He had received an invitation to
spend a couple of days with the archbishop. His soul longed for the
gratification. Not a word, however, in his grace's note alluded to
the fact that he was a married man; and, if he went at all, he must
go alone. This necessity would have presented an insurmountable bar
to the visit, or have militated against the pleasure, had he been
able to go without reference to Mrs Proudie. But this he could not
do. He could not order his portmanteau to be packed, and start with
his own man, merely telling the lady of his heart that he would
probably be back on Saturday. There are men--may we not rather say
monsters?--who do such things; and there are wives--may we not
rather say slaves?--who put up with such usage. But Dr and Mrs
Proudie were not among the number.

The bishop with some beating about the bush, made the lady
understand that he very much wished to go. The lady, without any
beating about the bush, made the bishop understand that she
wouldn't hear of it. It would be useless here to repeat the
arguments that were used on each side, and needless to record the
result. Those who are married will understand very well how the
battle was lost and won; and those who are single will never
understand it till they learn the lesson which experience alone can
give. When Mrs Quiverful was shown into Mrs Proudie's room, that
lady had only returned a few minutes from her lord. But before she
left him she had seen the answer to the archbishop's note written
and sealed. No wonder that her face was wreathed with smiles as she
received Mrs Quiverful.

She instantly spoke of the subject which was so near the heart of
her visitor. 'Well, Mrs Quiverful,' said she, 'is it decided yet
when you are to move to Barchester?'

'That woman', as she had an hour or two since been called, became
instantly re-endowed with all the graces that can adorn a bishop's
wife. Mrs Quiverful immediately saw that her business was to be
piteous, and that nothing was to be gained by indignation; nothing,
indeed, unless she could be indignant in company with her
patroness.

'Oh, Mrs Proudie,' she began, 'I fear we are not to move to
Barchester at all.'

'Why not?' said the lady sharply, dropping at a moment's notice her
smiles and condescension, and turning with her sharp quick way to
business which she saw at a glance was important.

And then Mrs Quiverful told her tale. As she progressed in the
history of her wrongs she perceived that the heavier she leant upon
Mr Slope the blacker became Mrs Proudie's brow, but that such
blackness was not injurious to her own cause. When Mr Slope was at
Puddingdale vicarage that morning she had regarded him as the
creature of the lady-bishop; now she perceived that they were
enemies. She admitted her mistake to herself without any pain or
humiliation. She had but one feeling, and that was confined to her
family. She cared little how she twisted and turned among these
new-comers at the bishop's palace as long as she could twist her
husband into the warden's house. She cared not which was her friend
or which was her enemy, if only she could get this preference which
she so sorely wanted.

She told her tale, and Mrs Proudie listened to it almost in
silence. She told how Mr Slope had cozened her husband into
resigning his claim, and had declared that it was the bishop's will
that none but Mr Harding should be warden. Mrs Proudie's brow
became blacker and blacker. At last she started from her chair, and
begging Mrs Quiverful to sit and wait for her return, marched out
of the room.

'Oh, Mrs Proudie, it's for fourteen children--for fourteen
children.' Such was the burden that fell on her ear as she closed
the door behind her.



CHAPTER XXVI

MRS PROUDIE TAKES A FALL

It was hardly an hour since Mrs Proudie had left her husband's
apartment victorious, and yet so indomitable was her courage that
she now returned thither panting for another combat. She was
greatly angry with what she thought was his duplicity. He had so
clearly given her a promise on this matter of the hospital. He had
been already so absolutely vanquished on that point. Mrs Proudie
began to feel that if every affair was to be thus discussed and
battled about twice and even thrice, the work of the diocese would
be too much even for her.

Without knocking at the door she walked quickly into her husband's
room and found him seated at his office table, with Mr Slope
opposite to him. Between his fingers was the very note which he had
written to the archbishop in her presence--and it was open! Yes, he
had absolutely violated the seal which had been made sacred by her
approval. They were sitting in deep conclave, and it was too clear
that the purport of the archbishop's invitation had been absolutely
canvassed again, after it had been already debated and decided on
in obedience to her behests! Mr Slope rose from his chair, and
bowed slightly. The two opposing spirits looked each other fully in
the face, and they knew that they were looking each at an enemy.

'What is this, bishop, about Mr Quiverful?' said she, coming to the
end of the table and standing there.

Mr Slope did not allow the bishop to answer, but replied himself.
'I have been out to Puddingdale this morning, ma'am, and have seen
Mr Quiverful. Mr Quiverful has abandoned his claim to the hospital,
because he is now aware that Mr Harding is desirous to fill his old
place. Under these circumstances I have strongly advised his
lordship to nominate Mr Harding.'

'Mr Quiverful has not abandoned anything,' said the lady, with a
very imperious voice. 'His lordship's word has been pledged to him,
and it must be respected.'

The bishop still remained silent. He was anxiously desirous of
making his old enemy bite the dust beneath his feet. His new ally
had told him that nothing was more easy for him than to do so. The
ally was there now at his elbow to help him, and yet his courage
failed him. It is so hard to conquer when the prestige of the
former victories is all against one. It is so hard for the cock who
has once been beaten out of his yard to resume his courage and
again take a proud place upon a dunghill.

'Perhaps I ought not to interfere,' said Mr Slope, 'but yet--'

'Certainly you ought not,' said the infuriated dame.

'But yet,' continued Mr Slope, not regarding the interruption, 'I
have thought it my imperative duty to recommend to the bishop not
to slight Mr Harding's claims.'

'Mr Harding should have known his own mind,' said the lady.

'If Mr Harding be not replaced at the hospital, his lordship will
have to encounter much ill will, not only in the diocese, but in
the world at large. Besides, taking a higher ground, his lordship,
as I understood, feels it to be his duty to gratify, in this
matter, so very worthy a man and so good a clergyman as Mr
Harding.'

'And what is to become of the Sabbath-day school, and of the Sunday
services in the hospital?' said Mrs Proudie, with something very
nearly approaching to a sneer on her face.

'I understand that Mr Harding makes no objection to the Sabbath-day
school,' said Mr Slope. 'And as to the hospital services, that
matter will be best discussed after his appointment. If he has any
personal objection, then, I fear, the matter must rest.'

'You have a very easy conscience in such matters, Mr Slope,' said
she.

'I should not have an easy conscience,' he rejoined, 'but a
conscience very far from being easy, if anything said or done by me
should lead the bishop to act unadvisedly on this matter. It is
clear that in the interview I had with Mr Harding, I misunderstood
him--'

'And it is equally clear that you have misunderstood Mr Quiverful,'
said she, not at the top of her wrath. 'What business have you at
all with these interviews? Who desired you to go to Mr Quiverful
this morning? Who commissioned you to manage this affair? Will you
answer me, sir?--who sent you to Mr Quiverful this morning?'

There was a dead pause in the room. Mr Slope had risen from his
chair, and was standing with his hand on the back of it, looking at
first very solemn and now very black. Mrs Proudie was standing as
she had at first placed herself, at the end of the table, and as
she interrogated her foe she struck her hand upon it with almost
more than feminine vigour. The bishop was sitting in his easy chair
twiddling his thumbs, turning his eyes now to his wife, and now to
his chaplain, as each took up the cudgels. How comfortable it would
be if they could fight it out between them without the necessity of
any interference on his part; fight it out so that one should kill
the other utterly, as far as the diocesan life was concerned, so
that he, the bishop, might know clearly by whom it behoved him to
be led. There would be the comfort of quiet in either case; but if
the bishop had a wish as to which might prove the victor, that wish
was certainly not antagonistic to Mr Slope.

'Better the devil you know than the devil you don't know', is an
old saying, and perhaps a true one; but the bishop had not yet
realised the truth of it.

'Will you answer me, sir?' she repeated. 'Who instructed you to
call on Mr Quiverful this morning?' There was another pause. 'Do
you intend to answer me, sir?'

'I think, Mrs Proudie, that under all the circumstances it will be
better for me not to answer such a question,' said Mr Slope. Mr
Slope had many tones in his voice, all duly under his command;
among them was a sanctified low tone, and a sanctified loud tone;
and he now used the former.

'Did anyone send you, sir?'

'Mrs Proudie,' said Mr Slope, 'I am quite aware how much I owe to
your kindness. I am aware also what is due by courtesy from a
gentleman to a lady. But there are higher considerations than
either of those, and I hope I shall be forgiven if I now allow
myself to be actuated solely by them. My duty in this matter is to
his lordship, and I can admit of no questioning but from him. He
has approved of what I have done, and you must excuse me if I say,
that having that approval and my own, I want none other.'

What horrid words were these which greeted the ear of Mrs Proudie?
The matter was indeed too clear. There was premeditated mutiny in
the camp. Not only had ill-conditioned minds become insubordinate
by the fruition of a little power. The bishop had not yet been
twelve months in this chair, and rebellion had already reared her
hideous head within the palace. Anarchy and misrule would quickly
follow, unless she took immediate and strong measures to put down
the conspiracy which she had detected.

'Mr Slope,' she said, with slow and dignified voice, differing much
from that which she had hitherto used, 'Mr Slope, I will trouble
you, if you please, to leave the apartment. I wish to speak to my
lord alone.'

Mr Slope also felt that everything depended on the present
interview. Should the bishop now be repetticoated, his thraldom
would be complete and for ever. The present moment was peculiarly
propitious for rebellion. The bishop had clearly committed himself
by breaking the seal of the answer to the archbishop; he had
therefore fear to influence him. Mr Slope had told him that no
consideration ought to induce him to refuse the archbishop's
invitation; he had therefore hoped to influence him. He had
accepted Mr Quiverful's resignation, and therefore dreaded having
to renew that matter with his wife. He had been screwed up to the
pitch of asserting a will of his own, and might possibly be carried
on till by an absolute success he should have been taught how
possible it was to succeed. Now was the moment for victory or rout.
It was now that Mr Slope must make himself master of the diocese,
or else resign his place and begin his search for fortune again. He
saw all this plainly. After what had taken place any compromise
between him and the lady was impossible. Let him once leave the
room at her bidding, and leave the bishop in her hands, and he
might at once pack up his portmanteau and bid adieu to episcopal
honours, Mrs Bold, and the Signora Neroni.

And yet it was not so easy to keep his ground when he was bidden by
a lady to go; or to continue to make a third in a party between
husband and wife when the wife expressed a wish for a tete-a-tete
with her husband.

'Mr Slope,' she repeated, 'I wish to be alone with my lord.'

'His lordship has summoned me on most important diocesan business,'
said Mr Slope, glancing with uneasy eye at Dr Proudie. He felt that
he must trust something to the bishop, and yet that trust was so
woefully misplaced. 'My leaving him at the present moment is, I
fear, impossible.'

'Do you bandy words with me, you ungrateful man?' said she. 'My
lord, will you do me the favour to beg Mr Slope to leave the room?'

My lord scratched his head, but for the moment said nothing. This
was as much as Mr Slope expected from him, and was on the whole,
for him, an active exercise of marital rights.

'My lord,' said the lady, 'is Mr Slope to leave this room, or am
I?'

Here Mrs Proudie made a false step. She should not have alluded to
the possibility of retreat on her part. She should not have
expressed the idea that her order for Mr Slope's expulsion could be
treated otherwise than by immediate obedience. In answer to such a
question the bishop naturally said in his own mind, that it was
necessary that one should leave the room, perhaps it might be as
well that Mrs Proudie did so. He did say so in his own mind, but
externally he again scratched his head and again twiddled his
thumbs.

Mrs Proudie was boiling over with wrath. Alas, alas! could she but
have kept her temper as her enemy did, she would have conquered as
she had ever conquered. But divine anger got the better of her, as
it has done of other heroines, and she fell.

'My lord,' said she, 'am I to be vouchsafed an answer or am I not?'

At last he broke his deep silence and proclaimed himself a
Slopeite. 'Why, my dear,' said he, 'Mr Slope and I are very busy.'

That was all. There was nothing more necessary. He had gone to the
battle-field, stood the dust and heat of the day, encountered the
fury of the foe, and won the victory. How easy is success to those
who will only be true to themselves!

Mr Slope saw at once the full amount of his gain, and turned on the
vanquished lady a look of triumph which she never forgot and never
forgave. Here he was wrong. He should have looked humbly at her,
and with meek entreating eye had deprecated her anger. He should
have said by his glance that he asked pardon for his success, and
that he hoped forgiveness for the stand which he had been forced to
make in the cause of duty. So might he perchance have somewhat
mollified that imperious bosom, and prepared the way for future
terms. But Mr Slope meant to rule without terms. Ah, forgetful,
inexperienced man! Can you cause that little trembling victim to be
divorced from the woman who possesses him? Can you provide that
they shall be separated at bed and board? Is he not flesh of her
flesh and bone of her bone, and must he not so continue? It is very
well now for you to stand your ground, and triumph as she is driven
ignominiously from the room; but can you be present when those
curtains are drawn, when that awful helmet of proof has been tied
beneath the chin, when the small remnants of the bishop's prowess
shall be cowed by the tassel above his head? Can you then intrude
yourself when the wife wishes 'to speak to my lord alone?'

But for the moment Mr Slope's triumph was complete; for Mrs Proudie
without further parley left the room, and did not forget to shut
the door after her. Then followed a close conference between the
new allies, to which was said much which it astonished Mr Slope to
say and the bishop to hear. And yet the one said it and the other
heard it without ill will. There was no mincing of matters now. The
chaplain plainly told the bishop that the world gave him credit for
being under the governance of his wife; that his credit and
character in the diocese was suffering; that he would surely get
himself into hot water if he allowed Mrs Proudie to interfere in
matters which were not suitable for a woman's powers; and in fact
that he would become contemptible if he did not throw off the yoke
under which he groaned. The bishop at first hummed and hawed, and
affected to deny the truth of what was said. But his denial was by
silence and quickly broke down. He soon admitted by silence his
state of vassalage, and pledged himself with Mr Slope's assistance,
to change his courses. Mr Slope did not make out a bad case for
himself. He explained how it grieved him to run counter to a lady
who had always been his patroness, who had befriended him in so
many ways, who had, in fact, recommended him to the bishop's
notice; but, as he stated, his duty was now imperative; he held a
situation of peculiar confidence, and was immediately and
especially attached to the bishop's person. In such a situation his
conscience required that he should regard solely the bishop's
interests, and therefore he had ventured to speak out.

The bishop took this for what it was worth, and Mr Slope only
intended that he should do so. It gilded the pill which Mr Slope
had to administer, and which the bishop thought would be less
bitter than that other pill which he had been so long taking.

'My lord,' had his immediate reward, like a good child. He was
instructed to write and at once did write another note to the
archbishop accepting his grace's invitation. This note Mr Slope,
more prudent than the lady, himself took away and posted with his
own hands. Thus he made sure that this act of self-jurisdiction
should be as nearly as possible a fait accompli. He begged, and
coaxed, and threatened the bishop with a view of making him also
write at once to Mr Harding; but the bishop, though temporarily
emancipated from his wife, was not yet enthralled to Mr Slope. He
said, and probably said truly, that such an offer must be made in
some official form; that he was not yet prepared to sign the form;
and that he should prefer seeing Mr Harding before he did so. Mr
Slope, might, however, beg Mr Harding to call upon him. Not
disappointed with his achievement Mr Slope went his way. He first
posted the precious note which he had in his pocket, and then
pursued other enterprises in which we must follow him in other
chapters.

Mrs Proudie, having received such satisfaction as was to be derived
from slamming her husband's door, did not at once betake herself to
Mrs Quiverful. Indeed for the first few moments after her repulse
she felt that she could not again see that lady. She would have to
own that she had been beaten, to confess that the diadem had passed
from her brow, and the sceptre from her hand! No, she would send a
message to her with the promise of a letter on the next day or the
day after. Thus resolving, she betook herself to her bed-room; but
here she again changed her mind. The air of that sacred enclosure
restored her courage, and gave her some heart. As Achilles warmed
at the sight of his armour, as Don Quixote's heart grew strong when
he grasped his lance, so did Mrs Proudie look forward to fresh
laurels, as her hey fell on her husband's pillow. She would not
despair. Having so resolved, she descended with dignified mien and
refreshed countenance to Mrs Quiverful.

This scene in the bishop's study took longer in the acting than in
the telling. We have not, perhaps, had the whole of the
conversation. At any rate Mrs Quiverful was beginning to be very
impatient, and was thinking that farmer Subsoil would be tired of
waiting for her, when Mrs Proudie returned. Oh! Who can tell the
palpitations of that maternal heart, as the suppliant looked into
the face of the great lady to see written there either a promise of
a house, income, comfort, and future competence, or else the doom
of continued and ever increasing poverty. Poor mother! Poor wife!
There was little there to comfort you!

'Mrs Quiverful,' thus spoke the lady with considerable austerity,
and without sitting down herself. 'I find that your husband has
behaved in this matter in a very weak and foolish manner.'

Mrs Quiverful immediately rose upon her feet, thinking it
disrespectful to remain sitting while the wife of the bishop stood.
But she was desired to sit down again, and made to do so, so that
Mrs Proudie might stand and preach over her. It is generally
considered an offensive thing for a gentleman to keep his seat
while another is kept standing before him, and we presume the same
law holds with regard to ladies. It often is so felt; but we are
inclined to say that it never produces half the discomfort or half
the feeling of implied inferiority that is shown by a great man who
desires his visitor to be seated while he himself speaks from his
legs. Such a solecism in good breeding, when construed into English
means this: "The accepted rule of courtesy in the world require
that I should offer you a seat; if I did not do so, you would bring
a charge against me in the world of being arrogant and
ill-mannered; I will obey the world; but, nevertheless, I will not
put myself on an equality with you. You may sit down, but I won't
sit with you. Sit, therefore, at my bidding, and I'll stand and
talk to you."

This was just what Mrs Proudie meant to say; and Mrs Quiverful,
though she was too anxious and too flurried thus to translate the
full meaning of the manoeuvre, did not fail to feel its effect. She
was cowed and uncomfortable, and a second time essayed to rise from
her chair.

'Pray be seated, Mrs Quiverful, pray keep your seat. Your husband,
I say, has been most weak and most foolish. It is impossible, Mrs
Quiverful, to help people who will not help themselves. I much fear
that I can now do nothing for you in this matter.'

'Oh! Mrs Proudie--don't say so,' said the poor woman, again jumping
up.

'Pray be seated, Mrs Quiverful. I much fear that I can do nothing
further for you in this matter. Your husband has, in a most
unaccountable manner, taken upon himself to resign that which I was
empowered to offer him. As a matter of course, the bishop expects
that his clergy shall know their own minds. What he may ultimately
do--what we may finally decide on doing--I cannot say. Knowing the
extent of your family--'

'Fourteen children, Mrs Proudie, fourteen of them! and hardly
bread--barely bread! It's hard for the children of a clergyman,
it's hard for one who has always done his duty respectably!' Not a
word fell from her about herself; but the tears came running down
her big coarse cheeks, on which the dust of the August road had
left its traces.

Mrs Proudie has not been portrayed in these pages as an agreeable
or amiable lady. There has been no intention to impress the reader
much in her favour. It is ordained that all novels should have a
male and female angel, and a male and female devil. If it be
considered that this rule is obeyed in these pages, the latter
character must be supposed to have fallen to the lot of Mrs
Proudie. But she was not all devil. There was a heart inside that
stiff-ribbed bodice, though not, perhaps, of large dimensions, and
certainly not easily accessible. Mrs Quiverful, however, did gain
access, and Mrs Proudie proved herself a woman. Whether it was the
fourteen children with their probable bare bread and the possible
bare backs, or the respectability of the father's work, or the
mingled dust and tears on the mother's face, we will not pretend to
say. But Mrs Proudie was touched.

She did not show it as other women might have done. She did not
give Mrs Quiverful eau-de-Cologne, or order her a glass of wine.
She did not take her to her toilet table, and offer her the use of
brushes and combs, towels and water. She did not say soft little
speeches and coax her kindly with equanimity. Mrs Quiverful,
despite her rough appearance, would have been as amenable to such
little tender cares as any lady in the land. But none such was
forthcoming. Instead of that, Mrs Proudie slapped one hand upon the
other, and declared--not with an oath; for as a lady and a
Sabbatarian and a she-bishop, she could not swear,--but with an
adjuration, that 'she wouldn't have it done.'

The meaning of this was that she wouldn't have Mr Quiverful's
promised appointment cozened away by the treachery of Mr Slope and
the weakness of her husband. This meaning she very soon explained
to Mrs Quiverful.

'Why was your husband such a fool,' said she, now dismounted from
her high horse and sitting confidentially down close to her
visitor, 'as to take the bait which that man threw to him? If he
had not been so utterly foolish, nothing could have prevented your
going to the hospital.'

Poor Mrs Quiverful was ready enough with her own tongue in accusing
her husband to his face of being soft, and perhaps she did not
always speak of him to her children quite so respectfully as she
might have done. But she did not like to hear him abused by others,
and began to vindicate him, and to explain that of course he had
taken Mr Slope to be an emissary of Mrs Proudie herself; that Mr
Slope was thought to be peculiarly her friend; and that, therefore,
Mr Quiverful would have been failing in respect to her had he
assumed to doubt what Mr Slope had said.

Thus mollified Mrs Proudie again declared that she 'would not have
it done,' and at last sent Mrs Quiverful home with an assurance
that, to the furthest stretch of her power and influence in the
palace, the appointment of Mr Quiverful should be insisted upon. As
she repeated that word 'insisted', she thought of the bishop in his
night-cap, and with compressed lips slightly shook her head. Oh! my
aspiring pastors, divines to whose ears nolo episcopari are the
sweetest of words, which of you would be a bishop on such terms as
these?

Mrs Quiverful got home in the farmer's cart, not indeed with a
light heart, but satisfied that she had done right in making her
visit.



CHAPTER XXVII

A LOVE SCENE

Mr Slope, as we have said, left the palace with a feeling of
considerable triumph. Not that he thought that his difficulties
were over; he did not so deceive himself; but he felt that he had
played his first move well, as well as the pieces on the board
would allow; and that he had nothing with which to reproach
himself. He first of all posted the letter to the archbishop, and
having made that sure he proceeded to push the advantage which he
had gained. Had Mrs Bold been at home, he would have called on her;
but he knew that she was at Plumstead, as he wrote the following
note. It was the beginning of what, he trusted, might be a long and
tender series of epistles.

'My dear Mrs Bold,--You will understand perfectly that I cannot at
present correspond with your father. I heartily wish that I could,
and hope the day may be not long distant, when mists shall have
cleared away, and we may know each other. But I cannot preclude
myself from the pleasure of sending you these few lines to say that
Mr Q. has to-day, in my presence, resigned any title that he ever
had to the wardenship of the hospital, and that the bishop has
assured me that it is his intention to offer it to your esteemed
father.

'Will you, with my respectful compliments, ask him, who I believe
is a fellow visitor with you, to call on the bishop either on
Wednesday or Thursday, between ten and one. This is by the bishop's
desire. If you will so far oblige me as to let me have a line
naming either day, and the hour which will suit Mr Harding, I will
take care that the servants shall have orders to show him in
without delay. Perhaps I should say no more,--but still I wish you
could make your father understand that no subject will be mooted
between his lordship and him, which will refer at all to the method
in which he may choose to perform his duty. I for one, am persuaded
that no clergyman could perform it more satisfactorily than he did,
or than he will do again.

'On a former occasion I was indiscreet and much too impatient,
considering your father's age and my own. I hope he will not now
refuse my apology. I still hope also that with your aid and sweet
pious labours, we may live to attach such a Sabbath school to the
old endowment, as may, by God's grace and furtherance, be a
blessing to the poor of this city.

'You will see at once that this letter is confidential. The
subject, of course, makes it so. But, equally, of course, it is for
your parent's eye as well as for your own, should you think it
proper to show it to him.

'I hope my darling little friend Johnny is as strong as ever,--
dear little fellow. Does he still continue his rude assaults on
those beautiful long silken tresses?

'I can assure your friends miss you from Barchester sorely; but it
would be cruel to begrudge you your sojourn among flowers and
fields during this truly sultry weather.

'Pray believe me, my dear Mrs Bold Yours most sincerely, 'OBADIAH
SLOPE. 'Barchester, Friday.'

Now this letter, taken as a whole, and with the consideration that
Mr Slope wished to assume a great degree of intimacy with Eleanor,
would not have been bad, but for the allusion to the tresses.
Gentlemen do not write to ladies about their tresses, unless they
are on very intimate terms indeed. But Mr Slope could not be
expected to be aware of this. He longed to put a little affection
into his epistle, and yet he thought it injudicious, as the letter
would he knew be shown to Mr Harding. He would have insisted that
the letter should be strictly private and seen by no eyes but
Eleanor's own, had he not felt that such an injunction would have
been disobeyed. He therefore restrained his passion, did not sign
himself 'yours affectionately,' and contented himself instead with
the compliment to the tresses.

We will now follow his letter. He took it to Mrs Bold's house, and
learning there, from the servant, that things were to be sent out
to Plumstead that afternoon, left it, with many injunctions, in her
hands.

We will now follow Mr Slope so as to complete the day with him, and
then return to his letter and its momentous fate in the next
chapter.

There is an old song which gives us some very good advice about
courting:--

      "It's gude to be off with the auld luve
       Before ye be on wi' the new."

Of the wisdom of this maxim Mr Slope was ignorant, and accordingly,
having written his letter to Mrs Bold, he proceeded to call upon
the Signora Neroni. Indeed it was hard to say which was the old
love and which was the new, Mr Slope having been smitten with both
so nearly at the same time. Perhaps he thought it not amiss to have
two strings to his bow. But two strings to Cupid's bow are always
dangerous to him on whose behalf they are to be used. A man should
remember that between two stools he may fall to the ground.

But in sooth Mr Slope was pursuing Mrs Bold in obedience to his
better instincts, and the signora in obedience to his worse. Had he
won the widow and worn her, no one could have blamed him. You, O
reader, and I, and Eleanor's other friends would have received the
story of such a winning with much disgust and disappointment; but
we should have been angry with Eleanor, not with Mr Slope. Bishop,
male and female, dean and chapter and diocesan clergy in full
congress, could have found nothing to disapprove of in such an
alliance. Convocation itself, that mysterious and mighty synod,
could in no wise have fallen foul of it. The possession of L 1000 a
year and a beautiful wife would not al all have hurt the voice of
the pulpit character, or lessened the grace and piety of the
exemplary clergyman.

But not of such a nature were likely to be his dealings with the
Signora Neroni. In the first place he knew that her husband was
living, and therefore he could not woo her honestly. Then again she
had nothing to recommend her to his honest wooing had such been
possible. She was not only portionless, but also from misfortune
unfitted to be chosen as the wife of any man who wanted a useful
mate. Mr Slope was aware that she was a helpless hopeless cripple.

But Mr Slope could not help himself. He knew that he was wrong in
devoting his time to the back drawing-room in Dr Stanhope's house.
He knew that what took place would if divulged utterly ruin him
with Mrs Bold. He knew that scandal would soon come upon his heels
and spread abroad among the black coats of Barchester some tidings,
some exaggerated tidings, of the sighs which he poured into the
lady's ears. He knew that he was acting against the recognised
principles of his life, against those laws of conduct by which he
hoped to achieve much higher success. But as we have said, he could
not help himself. Passion, for the first time in his life, passion
was too strong for him.

As for the signora, no such plea can be put forward for her, for in
truth, she cared no more for Mr Slope than she did for twenty
others who had been at her feet before him. She willingly, nay
greedily, accepted his homage. He was the finest fly that
Barchester had hitherto afforded to her web; and the signora was a
powerful spider that made wondrous webs, and could in no way live
without catching flies. Her taste in this respect was abominable,
for she had no use for the victims when caught. She could not eat
them matrimonially as young lady-flies do whose webs are most
frequently of their mother's weaving. Nor could she devour them by
any escapade of a less legitimate description. Her unfortunate
affliction precluded her from all hope of levanting with a lover.
It would be impossible to run away with a lady who required three
servants to move her from a sofa.

The signora was subdued by no passion. Her time for love was gone.
She had lived out her heart, such heart as she ever had ever had,
in her early years, at an age when Mr Slope was thinking of his
second book of Euclid and his unpaid bill at the buttery hatch. In
age the lady was younger than the gentleman; but in feelings, in
knowledge of the affairs of love, in intrigue, he was immeasurably
her junior. It was necessary to her to have some man at her feet.
It was the one customary excitement of her life. She delighted in
the exercise of power which this gave her; it was now nearly the
only food for her ambition; she would boast to her sister that she
could make a fool of any man, and the sister, as little imbued with
feminine delicacy as herself, good naturedly thought it but fair
that such amusement should be afforded to a poor invalid who was
debarred from the ordinary pleasures of life.

Mr Slope was madly in love, but hardly knew it. The signora spitted
him, as a boy does a cockchafer on a cork, that she might enjoy the
energetic agony of his gyrations. And she knew very well what she
was doing.

Mr Slope having added to his person all such adornments as are
possible to a clergyman making a morning visit, such as a clean
neck tie, clean handkerchief, new gloves, and a soupcon of not
necessary scent, called about three o'clock at the doctor's house.
At about this hour the signora was almost always in the back
drawing-room. The mother had not come down. The doctor was out or
in his own room. Bertie was out, and Charlotte at any rate left the
room if any one called whose object was specially with her sister.
Such was her idea of being charitable and sisterly.

Mr Slope, as was his custom, asked for Mr Stanhope, and was told,
as was the servant's custom, that the signora was in the
drawing-room. Upstairs he accordingly went. He found her, as he
always did, lying on her sofa with a French volume before her, and
a beautiful little inlaid writing case open on her table. At the
moment of his entrance she was in the act of writing.

'Ah, my friend,' said she, putting out her left hand to him across
the desk, 'I did not expect you to-day and was this very instant
writing to you--'

Mr Slope, taking the soft fair delicate hand in his, and very soft
and fair and delicate it was, bowed over it his huge red head and
kissed it. It was a sight to see, a deed to record if the author
could fitly do it, a picture to put on canvas. Mr Slope was big,
awkward, cumbrous, and having his heart in his pursuit was ill at
ease. The lady was fair, as we have said, and delicate; every thing
about her was fine and refined; her hand in his looked like a rose
lying among carrots, and when he kissed it he looked as a cow might
do on finding such a flower among her food. She was graceful as a
couchant goddess, and, moreover, as self-possessed as Venus must
have been when courting Adonis.

Oh, that such grace and such beauty should have condescended to
waste itself on such a pursuit!

'I was in the act of writing to you,' said she, 'but now my scrawl
may go into the basket;' and she raised the sheet of gilded note
paper from off her desk as though to tear it.

'Indeed it shall not,' said he, laying the embargo of half a stone
weight of human flesh and blood upon the devoted paper. 'Nothing
that you write for my eyes, signora, shall be so desecrated,' and
he took up the letter, put that also among the carrots and fed on
it, and then proceeded to read it.

'Gracious me! Mr Slope,' said she. 'I hope you don't mean to say
that you keep all the trash I write to you. Half my time I don't
know what I write, and when I do, I know it is only fit for the
black of the fire. I hope you have not that ugly trick of keeping
letters.'

'At any rate I don't throw them into a waste-paper basket. If
destruction is their doomed lot, they perish worthily, and are
burnt on a pyre, as Dido was of old.'

'With a steel pen stuck through them, of course,' said she, 'to
make the simile more complete. Of all the ladies of my acquaintance
I think Lady Dido was the most absurd. Why did she not do as
Cleopatra did? Why did she not take out her ships and insist on
going with him? She could not bear to lose the land she had got by
a swindle; and then she could not bear the loss of her lover. So
she fell between two stools. Mr Slope, whatever you do, never
mingle love and business.'

Mr Slope blushed up to his eyes, and over his mottled forehead to
the very roots of his hair. He felt sure that the signora knew all
about his intentions with reference to Mrs Bold. His conscience
told him that he was detected. His doom was to be spoken; he was to
be punished for his duplicity, and rejected by the beautiful
creature before him. Poor man. He little dreamt that had all his
intentions with reference to Mrs Bold been known to the signora, it
would only have added zest to that lady's amusement. It was all
very well to have Mr Slope at her feet, to show her power by making
an utter fool of a clergyman, to gratify her own infidelity by thus
proving the little strength which religion had in controlling the
passions even of a religious man; but it would be an increased
gratification if she could be made to understand that she was at
the same time alluring her victim away from another, whose love if
secured would be in every way beneficial and salutary.

The signora had indeed discovered with the keen instinct of such a
woman, that Mr Slope was bent on matrimony with Mrs Bold, but in
alluding to Dido she had not thought of it. She instantly
perceived, however, from her lover's blushes, what was on his mind,
and was not slow in taking advantage of it.

She looked at him full in the face, not angrily, nor yet with a
smile, but with an intense and overpowering gaze; and then holding
up her forefinger, and slightly shaking her head she said:-
'Whatever you do, my friend, do not mingle love and business.
Either stick to your treasure and your city of wealth, or else
follow your love like a true man. But never attempt both. If you
do, you'll have to die with a broken heart as did poor Dido. Which
is it to be with you, Mr Slope, love or money?'

Mr Slope was not so ready with a pathetic answer as he usually was
with touching episodes in his extempore sermons. He felt that he
ought to say something pretty, something also that should remove
the impression on the mind of his lady love. But he was rather put
about how to do it.

'Love,' said he, 'true overpowering love, must be the strongest
passion a man can feel; it must control every other wish, and put
aside every other pursuit. But with me love will never act in that
way unless it is returned;' and he threw upon the signora a look of
tenderness which was intended to make up for all the deficiencies
of his speech.

'Take my advice,' said she. 'Never mind love. After all, what is
it? The dream of a few weeks. That is all its joy. The
disappointment of a life is its Nemesis. Who was ever successful in
true love? Success in love argues that the love is false. True love
is always despondent or tragical. Juliet loved. Haidee loved. Dido
loved, and what came of it? Troilus loved and ceased to be a man.'

'Troilus loved and he was fooled,' said the more manly chaplain. 'A
man may love and yet not be a Troilus. All women are not Cressids.'

'No; all women are not Cressids. The falsehood is not always on the
woman's side. Imogen was true, but now was she rewarded? Her lord
believed her to be the paramour of the first he who came near her
in his absence. Desdemona was true and was smothered. Ophelia was
true and went mad. There is no happiness in love, except at the end
of an English novel. But in wealth, money, houses, lands, goods and
chattels, in the good things of this world, yes, in them there is
something tangible, something that can be retained and enjoyed.'

'Oh, no,' said Mr Slope, feeling himself bound to enter some
protest against so very unorthodox a doctrine, 'this world's wealth
will make no one happy.'

'And what will make you happy--you--you?' said she, raising herself
up, and speaking to him with energy across the table. 'From what
source do you look for happiness? Do not say that you look for
none? I shall not believe you. It is a search in which every human
being spends an existence.'

'And the search is always in vain,' said Mr Slope. 'We look for
happiness on earth, while we ought to be content to hope for it in
heaven.'

'Pshaw! you preach a doctrine which you know you don't believe. It
is the way with you all. If you know that there is no earthly
happiness, why do you long to be a bishop or a dean? Why do you
want lands and income?'

'I have the natural ambition of a man,' said he.

'Of course you have, and the natural passions; and therefore I say
that you don't believe the doctrine you preach. St Paul was an
enthusiast. He believed so that his ambition and passions did not
war against his creed. So does the Eastern fanatic who passes half
his life erect upon a pillar. As for me, I will believe in no
belief that does not make itself manifest by outward signs. I will
think no preaching sincere that is not recommended by the practice
of the preacher.'

Mr Slope was startled and horrified, but he felt that he could not
answer. How could he stand up and preach the lessons of his Master,
being there as he was, on the devil's business? He was a true
believer, otherwise this would have been nothing to him. He had
audacity for most things, but he had not audacity to make a
plaything of the Lord's word. All this the signora understood, and
felt much interest as she saw her cockchafer whirl round upon her
pin.

'Your wit delights in such arguments,' said he, 'but your heart and
your reason do not quite go along with them.'

'My heart!' said she; 'you quite mistake the principles of my
composition if you imagine that there is such a thing about me.'
After all, there was very little that was false in anything the
signora said. If Mr Slope allowed himself to be deceived it was his
own fault. Nothing could have been more open than her declarations
about herself.

The little writing table with her desk was still standing before
her, a barrier, as it were, against the enemy. She was sitting as
nearly upright as she ever did, and he had brought a chair close to
the sofa, so that there was only the corner of the table between
him and her. It so happened that as she spoke her hand lay upon the
table, and as Mr Slope answered her he put his hand upon hers.

'No heart!' said he. 'That is a very heavy charge which you bring
against yourself, and one of which I cannot find you guilty--'

She withdrew her hand, not quickly and angrily, as though insulted
by his touch, but gently and slowly.

'You are in no condition to give a verdict on the matter,' said
she, 'as you have not tried me. No; don't say that you intend doing
so, for you know you have no intention of the kind; nor indeed have
I either. As for you, you will take your vows where they will
result in something more substantial than the pursuit of such a
ghostlike, ghastly love as mine--'

'Your love should be sufficient to satisfy the dream of a monarch,'
said Mr Slope, not quite clear as to the meaning of his words.

'Say an archbishop, Mr Slope,' said she. Poor fellow! She was very
cruel to him. He went round again upon his cork on this allusion to
his profession. He tried, however, to smile, and gently accused her
of joking on a matter, which was, he said, to him of such vital
moment.

'Why--what gulls do you men make of us,' she replied. 'How you fool
us to the top of our bent; and of all men you clergymen are the
most fluent of your honeyed caressing words. Now look me in the
face, Mr Slope, boldly and openly.'

Mr Slope did look at her with a languishing loving eye, and as he
did so, he again put forth his hand to get hold of hers.

'I told you to look at me boldly, Mr Slope; but confine your
boldness to your eyes.'

'Oh, Madeline,' he sighed.

'Well, my name is Madeline,' said she; 'but none except my own
family usually call me so. Now look me in the face, Mr Slope. Am I
to understand that you say you love me?'

Mr Slope never had said so. If he had come there with any formed
plan at all, his intention was to make love to the lady without
uttering any such declaration. It was, however, quite impossible
that he should now deny his love. He had, therefore, nothing for
it, but to go down on his knees distractedly against the sofa, and
swear that he did love her with a love passing the love of man.'

The signora received the assurance with very little palpitations or
appearance of surprise. 'And now answer me another question,' said
she; 'when are you to be married to Eleanor Bold?'

Poor Mr Slope went round and round in mortal agony. In such a
condition as his it was really very hard for him to know what
answer to give. And yet no answer would be his surest condemnation.
He might as well at once plead guilty to the charge brought against
him.

'And why do you accuse me of such dissimulation?'

'Dissimulation! I said nothing of dissimulation. I made no charge
against you, and make none. Pray don't defend yourself to me. You
swear that you are devoted to my beauty, and yet you are on the eve
of matrimony with another. I feel this to be rather a compliment.
It is to Mrs Bold that you must defend yourself. That you may find
difficult; unless, indeed, you can keep her in the dark. You
clergymen are cleverer than other men.'

'Signora, I have told you that I loved you, and now you rail at
me?'

'Rail at you. God bless the man; what would he have? Come, answer
me this at your leisure,--not without thinking now, but leisurely
and with consideration,--are you not going to be married to Mrs
Bold?'

'I am not,' said he. And as he said it, he almost hated, with an
exquisite hatred, the woman whom he could not help loving with an
exquisite love.

'But surely you are a worshipper of hers?'

'I am not,' said Mr Slope, to whom the word worshipper was
peculiarly distasteful. The signora had conceived that it would be
so.

'I wonder at that,' said she. 'Do you not admire her? To my eyes
she is the perfection of English beauty. And then she is rich too.
I should have thought she was just the person to attract you. Come,
Mr Slope, let me give you advice on this matter. Marry the charming
widow! She will be a good mother to your children and an excellent
mistress of a clergyman's household.'

'Oh, signora, how can you be so cruel?'

'Cruel,' said she, changing the voice of her banter which she had
been using for one which was expressively earnest in its tone; 'is
that cruelty?'

'How can I love another, while my heart is entirely your own?'

'If that were cruelty, Mr Slope, what might you say of me if I were
to declare that I returned your passion? What would you think if I
bound you even by a lover's oath to do daily penance at this couch
of mine? What can I give in return for a man's love? Ah, dear
friend, you have not realised the condition of my fate.'

Mr Slope was not on his knees all this time. After his declaration
of love he had risen from them as quickly as he thought consistent
with the new position which he now filled, and as he stood was
leaning on the back of his chair. This outburst of tenderness on
the Signora's part quite overcame him, and made him feel for the
moment that he could sacrifice everything to be assured of the love
of the beautiful creature before him, maimed, lame, and already
married as she was.

'And can I not sympathise with your lot?' said he, now seating
himself on her sofa, and pushing away the table with his foot.

'Sympathy is so near to pity!' said she. 'If you pity me, cripple
as I am, I shall spurn you from me.'

'Oh, Madeline, I will only love you,' and again he caught her hand
and devoured it with kisses. Now she did not draw from him, but sat
there as he kissed it, looking at him with her great eyes, just as
a great spider would look at a great fly that was quite securely
caught.

'Suppose Signor Neroni were to come to Barchester,' said she,
'would you make his acquaintance?'

'Signor Neroni!' said he.

'Would you introduce him to the bishop, and Mrs Proudie, and the
young ladies?' said she, again having recourse to that horrid
quizzing voice which Mr Slope so particularly hated.

'Why do you ask me such a question?' said he.

'Because it is necessary that you should know that there is a
Signor Neroni. I think you had forgotten it.'

'If I thought that you retained for that wretch one particle of the
love of which he was never worthy, I would die before I would
distract you by telling you what I feel. No! were your husband the
master of your heart, I might perhaps love you; but you should
never know it.'

'My heart again! How you talk. And you consider then, that if a
husband be not master of his wife's heart, he has not right to her
fealty; if a wife ceases to love, she may cease to be true. Is that
your doctrine on this matter, as a minister of the Church of
England?'

Mr Slope tried hard within himself to cast off the pollution with
which he felt that he was defiling his soul. He strove to tear
himself away from the noxious siren that had bewitched him. He had
looked for rapturous joy in loving this lovely creature, and he
already found that he met with little but disappointment and
self-rebuke. He had come across the fruits of the Dead Sea, so
sweet and delicious to the eye, so bitter and nauseous to the
taste. He had put the apple to his mouth, and it had turned to
ashes between his teeth. Yet he could not tear himself away. He
knew, he could not but know, that weakness of his religion. But she
half permitted his adoration, and that half permission added such
fuel to his fire that all the fountain of piety could not quench
it. He began to feel savage, irritated, and revengeful. He
meditated some severity of speech, some taunt that should cut her,
as her taunts cut him. He reflected as he stood there for a moment,
silent before her, that if he desired to quell her proud spirit, he
should do so by being prouder even than herself; that if he wished
to have her at his feet suppliant for his love it behoved him to
conquer her by indifference. All this passed through his mind. As
far as dead knowledge went, he knew, or thought he knew, how a
woman should be tamed. But when he essayed to bring his tactics to
bear, he failed like a child. What chance has dead knowledge with
experience in any of the transactions between man and man? What
possible between man and woman? Mr Slope loved furiously, insanely,
and truly; but he had never played the game of love. The signora
did not love at all, but she was up to every move on the board. It
was Philidor pitched against a school-boy.

And so she continued to insult him, and he continued to bear it.

'Sacrifice the world for love!' said she, in answer to some renewed
rapid declaration of his passion, 'how often has the same thing
been said, and how invariably with the same falsehood!'

'Falsehood,' said he. 'Do you say that I am false to you? Do you
say that my love is not real?'

'False? Of course it is false, false as the father of falsehood--if
indeed falsehoods need a sire and are not self-begotten since the
world began. You are ready to sacrifice the world for love? Come
let us see what you will sacrifice. I care nothing for nuptial
vows. The wretch, I think you were kind enough to call him so, whom
I swore to love and obey, is so base that he can only be thought of
with repulsive disgust. In the council chamber of my heart I have
divorced him. To me that is as good as though aged lords had
gloated for months over the details of his licentious life. I care
nothing for what the world can say. Will you be as frank? Will you
take me to your home as your wife? Will you call me Mrs Slope
before bishop, dean, and prebendaries?' The poor tortured wretch
stood silent, not knowing what to say. 'What! You won't do that.
Tell me then, what part of the world is it that you will sacrifice
for my charms?'

'Were you free to marry, I would take you to my house to-morrow and
wish no higher privilege.'

'I am free;' said she, almost starting up in her energy. For though
there was no truth in her pretended regard for her clerical
admirer, there was a mixture of real feeling in the scorn and
satire with which she spoke of love and marriage generally. 'I am
free; free as the winds. Come, will you take me as I am? Have your
wish; sacrifice the world, and prove yourself a true man.'

Mr Slope should have taken her at her word. She would have drawn
back, and he would have had the full advantage of the offer. But he
did not. Instead of doing so, he stood wrapt in astonishment,
passing his fingers through his lank red hair, and thinking as he
stared upon her animated countenance that her wondrous beauty grew
more and more wonderful as he gazed on it. 'Ha! Ha! Ha!,' she
laughed out loud. 'Come, Mr Slope, don't talk of sacrificing the
world again. People beyond one-and-twenty should never dream of
such a thing. You and I, if we have the dregs of any love left in
us, if we have the remnants of a passion remaining in our hearts,
should husband our resources better. We are not in our premiere
jeunesse. The world is a very nice place. Your world, at any rate,
is so. You have all manner of fat rectories to get, and possible
bishoprics to enjoy. Come, confess; on second thoughts you would
not sacrifice such things for the smiles of a lame lady?'

It was impossible for him to answer this. In order to be in any way
dignified, he felt that he must be silent.

'Come,' said she--'don't boody with me: don't be angry because I
speak out some home truths. Alas, the world, as I have found it,
has taught me bitter truths. Come, tell me that I am forgiven. Are
we not to be friends?' and she again put her hand to him.

He sat himself down on the chair beside her, and took her proffered
hand and leant over her.

'There,' said she, with her sweetest, softest smile--a smile to
withstand which a man should be cased in triple steel, 'there; seal
your forgiveness on it,' and she raised it towards his face. He
kissed it again and again, and stretched over her as though
desirous of extending the charity of his pardon beyond the hand
that was offered to him. She managed, however, to check his ardour.
For one so easily allured as this poor chaplain, her hand was
surely enough.

'Oh, Madeline!' said he, 'tell me that you love me--do you--do you
love me?'

'Hush,' said she. 'There is mother's step. Our tete-a-tete has been
of monstrous length. Now you had better go. But we shall see you
soon again, shall we not?'

Mr Slope promised that he would call again on the following day.

'And Mr Slope,' she continued, 'pray answer my note. You have it in
your hand, though, I declare during these two hours you have not
been gracious enough to read it. It is about the Sabbath school and
the children. You know how anxious I am to have them here. I have
been learning the catechism myself, on purpose. You must manage it
for me next week. I will teach them, at any rate, to submit
themselves to their spiritual pastors and masters.'

Mr Slope said but little on the subject of Sabbath schools, but he
made his adieu, and betook himself home with a sad heart, troubled
mind, and uneasy conscience.



CHAPTER XXVIII

MRS BOLD IS ENTERTAINED BY DR AND MRS GRANTLY AT PLUMSTEAD

It will be remembered that Mr Slope, when leaving his billet doux
with Mrs Bold, had been informed that it would be sent out to her
at Plumstead that afternoon. The archdeacon and Mr Harding had in
fact come into town together in the brougham, and it had been
arranged that they should call for Eleanor's parcels as they left
on their way home. Accordingly they did so call, and the maid, as
she handed to the coachman a small basket and large bundle
carefully and neatly packec, gave in at the carriage window Mr
Slope's epistle. The archdeacon, who was sitting next to the
window, took it, and immediately recognised the hand-writing of his
enemy.

'Who left this?' said he.

'Mr Slope called with it himself, your reverence,' said the girl; '
and was very anxious that missus should have it to-day.'

So the brougham drove off, and the letter was left in the
archdeacon's hand. He looked at it as though he held a basket of
adders. He could not have thought worse of the document had he read
it and discovered it to be licentious and atheistical. He did,
moreover, what so many wise people are accustomed to do in similar
circumstances; he immediately condemned the person to whom the
letter was written, as though she were necessarily a particeps
criminis.

Poor Mr Harding, though by no means inclined to forward Mr Slope's
intimacy with his daughter, would have given anything to have kept
the letter from his son-in-law. But that was now impossible. There
it was in his hand; and he looked as thoroughly disgusted as though
he were quite sure that it contained all the rhapsodies of a
favoured lover.

'It's very hard on me,' said he, after a while, 'that this should
go on under my roof.'

Now here the archdeacon was certainly the most unreasonable. Having
invited his sister-in-law to his house, it was a natural
consequence of that she should receive her letters there. And if Mr
Slope chose to write to her, his letter would, as a matter of
course, be sent after her. Moreover, the very fact of an invitation
to one's house implies confidence on the part of the inviter. He
had shown that he thought Mrs Bold to be a fit person to stay with
him by his making her to do so, and it was most cruel to her that
he should complain of her violating the sanctity of his roof-tree,
when the laches committed were none of her committing.

Mr Harding felt this; and felt also that when the archdeacon talked
thus about his roof, what he said was most offensive to himself as
Eleanor's father. If Eleanor did receive a letter from Mr Slope,
what was there in that to pollute the purity of Dr Grantly's
household. He was indignant that his daughter should be so judged
and so spoken of; and, he made up his mind that even as Mrs Slope
she must be dearer to him than any other creature on God's earth.
He almost broke out, and said as much; but for the moment he
restrained himself.

'Here,' said the archdeacon, handing the offensive missile to his
father-in-law; 'I am not going to be the bearer of his love
letters. You are her father, and may do as you think fit with it.'

By doing as he thought fit with it, the archdeacon certainly meant
that Mr Harding would be justified in opening and reading the
letter, and taking any steps which might in consequence be
necessary. To tell the truth, Dr Grantly did feel rather a stronger
curiosity than was justified by his outraged virtue, to see the
contents of the letter. Of course he could not open it himself, but
he wished to make Mr Harding understand that he, as Eleanor's
father, would be fully justified in doing so. The idea of such a
proceeding never occurred to Mr Harding. His authority over Eleanor
ceased when she became the wife of John Bold. He had not the
slightest wish to pry into her correspondence. He consequently put
the letter into his pocket, and only wished that he had been able
to do so without the archdeacon's knowledge. They both sat silent
during the journey home, and then Dr Grantly said, 'Perhaps Susan
had better give it to her. She can explain to her sister, better
than you or I can do, how deep is the disgrace of such an
acquaintance.'

'I think you are very hard upon Eleanor,' replied Mr Harding. 'I
will not allow that she has disgraced herself, nor do I think it
likely that she will do so. She has a right to correspond with whom
she pleases, and I shall not take upon myself to blame her because
she gets a letter from Slope.'

'I suppose,' said Dr Grantly, 'you don't wish her to marry this
man. I suppose you'll admit that she would disgrace herself if she
did so.'

'I do not wish her to marry him,' said the perplexed father; 'I do
not like him, and do not think he would make a good husband. But if
Eleanor decides to do so, I shall certainly not think that she has
disgraced herself.'

'Good heavens!' exclaimed Dr Grantly, and threw himself back into
the corner of his brougham. Mr Harding said nothing more, but
commenced playing a dirge, with an imaginary fiddle bow upon an
imaginary violoncello, for which there did not appear to be quite
room enough in the carriage; and he continued the tune, with sundry
variations, till he arrived at the rectory door.

The archdeacon had been meditating sad things in his mind. Hitherto
he had always looked on his father-in-law as a true partisan,
though he knew him to be a man devoid of all the combative
qualifications for that character. He had felt no fear that Mr
Harding would go over to the enemy, though he had never counted
much on the ex-warden's prowess in breaking the battle ranks. Now,
however, it seemed that Eleanor, with her wiles, had completely
trepanned and bewildered her father, cheated him out of his
judgement, robbed him of the predilections and tastes of life, and
caused him to be tolerant of a man whose arrogance and vulgarity
would, in a few years since, have been unendurable to him. That the
whole thing was as good as arranged between Eleanor and Mr Slope
there was no longer any room to doubt. That Mr Harding knew that
such was the case, even this could hardly be doubted. It was too
manifest that he at any rate suspected it, and was prepared to
sanction it.

And to tell the truth, such was the case. Mr Harding disliked Mr
Slope as much as it was in his nature to dislike any man. Had his
daughter wished to do her worst to displease him by a second
marriage, she could hardly have succeeded better than by marrying
Mr Slope. But, as he said to himself now very often, what right had
he to condemn her if she did nothing that was really wrong? If she
liked Mr Slope it was her affair. It was indeed miraculous to him,
that a woman with such a mind, so educated, so refined, so nice in
her tastes, should like such a man. Then he asked himself whether
it was possible that she did so.

Ah, thou weak man; most charitable, most Christian, but weakest of
men! Why couldst thou not have asked herself? Was she not the
daughter of thy loins, the child of thy heart, the most beloved of
thee of all humanity? Had she not proved to thee, by years of
closest affection, her truth and goodness and filial obedience? And
yet, groping in darkness, hearing her name in strains which wounded
thy loving heart, and being unable to defend her as thou shouldst
have done!

Mr Harding had not believed, did not believe, that his daughter
meant to marry this man; but he feared to commit himself to such an
opinion. If she did do it there would be then no means of retreat.
The wishes of his heart were--First, that there should be no truth
in the archdeacon's surmises; and in this wish he would have fain
trusted entirely, had he dared to do so; Secondly, that the match
might be prevented, if unfortunately, it had been contemplated by
Eleanor; Thirdly, that should she be so infatuated as to marry this
man, he might justify his conduct, and declare that no cause
existed for his separating himself from her.

He wanted to believe her incapable of such a marriage; he wanted to
show that he so believed of her; but he wanted also to be able to
say hereafter, that she had done nothing amiss, if she could
unfortunately prove herself to be different from what he thought
her to be.

Nothing but affection could justify such fickleness; but affection
did justify it. There was but little of the Roman about Mr Harding.
He could not sacrifice his Lucretia even though she should be
polluted by the accepted addresses of the clerical Tarquin at the
palace. If Tarquin could be prevented, well and good; but if not,
the father would still open his heart to his daughter, and accept
her as she present herself, Tarquin and all.

Dr Grantly's mind was of a stronger calibre, and he was by no means
deficient in heart. He loved with an honest genuine love his wife
and children and friends. He loved his father-in-law; and he was
quite prepared to love Eleanor too, if she would be one of his
party, if she would be on his side, if she would regard the Slopes
and the Proudies as the enemies of mankind, and acknowledge and
feel the comfortable merits of the Gwynnes and Arabins. He wished
to be what he called "safe" with all those whom he had admitted to
the penetralia of his house and heart. He could luxuriate in no
society that was deficient in a certain feeling of faithful staunch
high-churchism, which to him was tantamount to freemasonry. He was
not strict in his lines of definition. He endured without
impatience many different shades of Anglo-church conservatism; but
with the Slopes and Proudies he could not go on all fours.

He was wanting in, moreover, or perhaps it would be more correct to
say, he was not troubled by that womanly tenderness which was so
peculiar to Mr Harding. His feelings towards his friends were, that
while they stuck to him he would stick to them; that he would work
with them shoulder to shoulder; that he would be faithful to the
faithful. He knew nothing of that beautiful love which can be true
to a false friend.

And thus these two men, each miserable enough in his own way,
returned to Plumstead.

It was getting late when they arrived there, and the ladies had
already gone up to dress. Nothing more was said as the two parted
in the hall. As Mr Harding passed to his own room, he knocked at
Eleanor's door and handed in the letter. The archdeacon hurried to
his own territory, there to unburden his heart to his faithful
partner.

What colloquy took place between the marital chamber and the
adjoining dressing-room shall not be detailed. The reader, now
intimate with the persons concerned, can well imagine it. The whole
tenor of it also might be read in Mrs Grantly's brow as she came
down to dinner.

Eleanor, when she received the letter from her father's hand, had
no idea from whom it came. She had never seen Mr Slope's
handwriting, or if so, had forgotten it; and did not think of him
as she twisted the letter as people do twist letters when they do
not immediately recognise their correspondents either by the
writing or the seal. She was sitting at her glass brushing her
hair, and rising every other minute to play with her boy who was
sprawling on the bed, and who engaged pretty nearly the whole
attention of the maid as well as of the mother.

At last, sitting before her toilet table, she broke the seal, and
turning over the leaf saw Mr Slope's name. She first felt
surprised, and then annoyed, and then anxious. As she read it she
became interested. She was so delighted to find that all obstacles
to her father's return to the hospital were apparently removed that
she did not observe the fulsome language in which the tidings were
conveyed. She merely perceived that she was commissioned to tell
her father that such was the case, and she did not realise the fact
that such a commission should not have been made, in the first
instance, to her by an unmarried young clergyman. She felt, on the
whole, grateful to Mr Slope, and anxious to get on her dress that
she might run with the news to her father. Then she came to the
allusion to her own pious labours, and she said in her heart that
Mr Slope was an affected ass. Then she went on again and was
offended by her boy being called Mr Slope's darling--he was
nobody's darling but her own; or at any rate not the darling of a
disagreeable stranger like Mr Slope. Lastly she arrived at the
tresses and felt a qualm of disgust. She looked up in the glass,
and there they were before her, long and silken, certainly, and
very beautiful. I will not say but that she knew them to be so, but
she felt angry with them and brushed them roughly and carelessly.
She crumpled the letter with angry violence, and resolved, almost
without thinking of it, that she would not show it to her father.
She would merely tell him the contents of it. She then comforted
herself again with her boy, and her dress fastened, she went down
to dinner.

As she tripped down the stairs she began to ascertain that there
was some difficulty in her situation. She could not keep from her
father the news about the hospital, nor could she comfortably
confess the letter from Mr Slope before the Grantlys. Her father
had already gone down. She had heard his step upon the lobby. She
resolved therefore to take him aside, and tell him her little bit
of news. Poor girl! She had no idea how severely the unfortunate
letter had already been discussed.

When she entered the drawing-room the whole party were there,
including Mr Arabin, and the whole party looked glum and sour. The
two girls sat silent and apart as though they were aware that
something was wrong. Even Mr Arabin was solemn and silent. Eleanor
had not seen him since breakfast. He had been the whole day at St
Ewold's, and such having been the case it was natural that he
should tell how matters were going on there. He did nothing of the
kind, however, but remained solemn and silent. They were all solemn
and silent. Eleanor knew in her heart that they had been talking
about her, and her heart misgave her as she thought of Mr Slope and
his letter. At any rate she felt it to be quite impossible to speak
to her father alone while matters were in this state.

Dinner was soon announced, and Dr Grantly, as was his wont, gave
Eleanor his arm. But he did so as though the doing it were an
outrage on his feelings rendered necessary by sternest necessity.
With quick sympathy Eleanor felt this, and hardly put her fingers
on his coat sleeve. It may be guessed in what way the dinner-hour
was passed. Dr Grantly said a few words to Mr Arabin, Mr Arabin
said a few words to Mrs Grantly, she said a few words to her
father, and he tried to say a few words to Eleanor. She felt that
she had been tried and found guilty of something, though she knew
not what. She longed to say out to them all, 'Well, what is it that
I have done; out with it; and let me know my crime; for heaven's
sake let me hear the worst of it;' but she could not. She could say
nothing, but sat there silent, half feeling that she was guilty,
and trying in vain to pretend even to eat her dinner.

At last the cloth was drawn, and the ladies were not long following
it. When they were gone the gentlemen were somewhat more sociable
but not much so. They could not of course talk over Eleanor's sins.
The archdeacon had indeed so far betrayed his sister-in-law as to
whisper into Mr Arabin's ear in the study, as they met there before
dinner, a hint of what he feared. He did so with the gravest and
saddest of fears, and Mr Arabin became grave and apparently sad
enough as he heard it. He opened his eyes and his mouth and said in
a sort of whisper, 'Mr Slope!' in the same way as he might have
said, The Cholera!' had his friend told him that that horrid
disease was in his nursery. 'I fear so, I fear so,' said the
archdeacon, and then together they left the room.

We will not accurately analyse Mr Arabin's feelings on receipt of
such astounding tidings. It will suffice to say that he was
surprised, vexed, sorrowful, and ill at ease. He had not perhaps
thought very much about Eleanor, but he had appreciated her
influence, and had felt that close intimacy with her in a country
house was pleasant to him, and also beneficial. He had spoken
highly of her intelligence to the archdeacon, and had walked about
the shrubberies with her, carrying her boy on his back. When Mr
Arabin had called Johnny his darling, Eleanor was not angry.

Thus the three men sat over their wine, all thinking of the same
subject, but unable to speak of it to each other. So we will leave
them, and follow the ladies into the drawing-room.

Mrs Grantly had received a commission from her husband, and had
undertaken it with some unwillingness. He had desired her to speak
gravely to Eleanor, and to tell her that, if she persisted in her
adherence to Mr Slope, she could no longer look for the countenance
of her present friends. Mrs Grantly probably knew her sister better
than the doctor did, and assured him that it would be in vain to
talk to her. The only course likely to be of any service in her
opinion was to keep Eleanor away from Barchester. Perhaps she might
have added, for she had a very keen eye in such things, that there
might be some ground for hope in keeping Eleanor near Mr Arabin. Of
this, however, she said nothing. But the archdeacon would not be
talked over; he spoke much of his conscience, and declared that if
Mrs Grantly would not do it he would. So instigated, the lady
undertook the task, stating, however, her full conviction that her
interference would be worse than useless. And so it proved.

As soon as they were in the drawing-room Mrs Grantly found some
excuse for sending her girls away, and then began her task. She
knew well that she could exercise but very slight authority over
her sister. Their various modes of life, and the distance between
their residences, had prevented very close confidence. They had
hardly lived together since Eleanor was a child. Eleanor had
moreover, especially in latter years, resented in a quiet sort of
way, the dictatorial authority which the archdeacon seemed to
exercise over her father, and on this account had been unwilling to
allow the archdeacon's wife to exercise authority over herself.

'You got a letter just before dinner, I believe,' began the eldest
sister.

Eleanor acknowledged that she had done so, and felt that she turned
red as she acknowledged it. She would have given anything to have
kept her colour, but the more she tried to do so, the more she
signally failed.

'Was it not from Mr Slope?'

Eleanor said that the letter was from Mr Slope.

'Is he a regular correspondent of yours, Eleanor?'

'Not exactly,' said she, already beginning to feel angry at the
cross-examination. She determined, and why it would be difficult to
say, that nothing would induce her to tell her sister Susan what
was the subject of the letter. Mrs Grantly, she knew, was
instigated by the archdeacon, and she would not plead to any
arraignment made against her by him.

'But, Eleanor dear, why do you get letters from Mr Slope at all,
knowing, as you do, he is a person so distasteful to papa, and to
the archdeacon, and indeed to all your friends?'

'In the first place, Susan, I don't get letters from him; and in
the next place, as Mr Slope wrote the one letter which I have got,
and as I only received it, which I could not very well help doing,
as papa handed it to me, I think you had better ask Mr Slope
instead of me.'

'What was the letter about, Eleanor?'

'I cannot tell you,' said she, 'because it was confidential. It was
on business respecting a third person.'

'It was in no way personal to yourself, then?'

'I won't exactly say that, Susan,' said she, getting more and more
angry at her sister's questions.

'Well I must say it's rather singular,' said Mrs Grantly, affecting
to laugh, 'that a young lady in your position should receive a
letter from an unmarried gentleman of which she will not tell the
contents, and which she is ashamed to show her sister.'

'I am not ashamed,' said Eleanor, blazing up; 'I am not ashamed of
anything in the matter; only I do not choose to be cross-examined
as to my letters by any one.'

'Well, dear,' said the other, 'I cannot tell you that I do not
think that Mr Slope a proper correspondent for you.'

'If he be ever so improper, how can I help his having written to
me? But you are all prejudiced against him to such an extent, that
that which would be kind and generous in another man is odious and
impudent in him. I hate a religion that teaches one to be so
onesided to one's charity.'

'I am sorry, Eleanor, that you hate the religion you find here; but
surely you should remember that in such matters the archdeacon must
know more of the world than you do. I don't ask you to respect or
comply with me, although I am, unfortunately, so many years your
senior; but surely, in such a matter as this, you might consent to
be guided by the archdeacon. He is most anxious to be your friend
if you will let him.'

'In such a matter as what?' said Eleanor very testily. 'Upon my
word I don't know what this is all about.'

'We all want you to drop Mr Slope.'

'You all want me to be illiberal as yourselves. That I shall never
be. I see no harm in Mr Slope's acquaintance, and I shall not
insult the man by telling him that I do. He has thought it
necessary to write to me, and I do not want the archdeacon's advice
about the letter. If I did I would ask it.'

'Then, Eleanor, it is my duty to tell you,' and now she spoke with
a tremendous gravity, 'that the archdeacon thinks that such a
correspondence is disgraceful, and that he cannot allow it to go on
in this house.'

Eleanor's eyes flashed fire as she answered her sister, jumping up
from her seat as she did so. 'You may tell the archdeacon that
wherever I am I shall receive what letters I please and from whom I
please. And as for the word disgraceful, if Dr Grantly has used it
of me he has been unmanly and inhospitable,' and she walked off to
the door. 'When papa comes from the dining-room I will thank you to
ask him to step up to my bed-room. I will show him Mr Slope's
letter, but I will show it to no one else.' And so saying she
retreated to her baby.

She had no conception of the crime with which she was charged. The
idea that she could be thought by her friends to regard Mr Slope as
a lover, had never flashed upon her. She conceived that they were
all prejudiced and illiberal in their persecution of him, and
therefore she would not join in the persecution, even though she
greatly disliked the man.

Eleanor was very angry as she seated herself in a low chair by her
open window at the foot of her child's bed. 'To dare to say that I
have disgraced myself,' she repeated to herself more than once.
'How papa can put up with that man's arrogance! I will certainly
not sit down to dinner in this house again unless he begs my pardon
for that word.' And then a thought struck her that Mr Arabin might
perchance hear of her 'disgraceful' correspondence with Mr Slope,
and she turned crimson with pure vexation. Oh, if she had known the
truth! If she could have conceived that Mr Arabin had been informed
as a fact that she was going to marry Mr Slope!

She had not been long in her room before her father joined her. As
he left the drawing-room Mrs Grantly took her husband into the
recess of the window, and told him how signally she had failed.

'I will speak to her myself before I go to bed,' said the
archdeacon.

'Pray do no such thing,' said she; 'you can do no good and will
only make an unseemly quarrel in the house. You have no idea how
headstrong she can be.'

The archdeacon declared that as to that he was quite indifferent.
He knew his duty and he would do it. Mr Harding was weak in the
extreme in such matters. He would not have it hereafter on his
conscience that he had not done all that in him lay to prevent so
disgraceful an alliance. It was in vain that Mrs Grantly assured
him that speaking to Eleanor angrily would only hasten such a
crisis, and render it certain if at present there were any doubt.
He was angry, self-willed, and sore. The fact that a lady in his
household had received a letter from Mr Slope had wounded his pride
in the sorest place, and nothing could control him.

Mr Harding looked worn and woebegone as he entered his daughter's
room. These sorrows worried him sadly. He felt that if they were
continued he must go to the wall in a manner so kindly prophesied
to him by the chaplain. He knocked gently at his daughter's door,
waited till he was distinctly bade to enter, and then appeared as
though he and not she was the suspected criminal.

Eleanor's arm was soon within his, and she had soon kissed his
forehead and caressed him, not with joyous but with eager love.
'Oh, papa,' she said, 'I do so want to speak to you. They have been
talking about me downstairs to-night; don't you know they have,
papa?'

Mr Harding confessed with a sort of murmur that the archdeacon had
been speaking of her.

'I shall hate Dr Grantly soon--'

'Oh, my dear!'

'Well; I shall. I cannot help it. He is so uncharitable, so unkind,
so suspicious of everyone that does not worship himself: and then
he is so monstrously arrogant to other people who have a right to
their opinions as well as he has to his own.'

'He is an earnest, eager man, my dear: but he never means to be
unkind.'

'He is unkind, papa, most unkind. There, I got that letter from Mr
Slope before dinner. It was you yourself who gave it to me. There;
pray read it. It is all for you. It should have been addressed to
you. You know how they have been talking about it downstairs. You
know how they behaved to me at dinner. And since dinner Susan has
been preaching to me, till I could not remain in the room with her.
Read it, papa; and then say whether that is a letter that need make
Dr Grantly so outrageous.'

Mr Harding took his arm from his daughter's waist, and slowly read
the letter. She expected to see his countenance lit up with joy as
he learnt that his path back to the hospital was made so smooth;
but she was doomed to disappointment, as had once been the case
before on a somewhat similar occasion. His first feeling was one of
unmitigated disgust that Mr Slope should have chosen to interfere
in his behalf. He had been anxious to get back to the hospital, but
he would have infinitely sooner resigned all pretensions to the
place, than have owned in any manner to Mr Slope's influence in his
favour. Then he thoroughly disliked the tone of Mr Slope's letter;
it was unctuous, false, and unwholesome, like the man. He saw,
which Eleanor had failed to see, that much more had been intended
than was expressed. The appeal to Eleanor's pious labours as
separate from his own grated sadly against his feelings as a
father. And then, when he came to the 'darling boy,' and the
'silken tresses,' he slowly closed and folded the letter in
despair. It was impossible that Mr Slope should so write unless he
had been encouraged. It was impossible that Eleanor should have
received such a letter, and received it without annoyance, unless
she were willing to encourage him. So at least, Mr Harding argued
to himself.

How hard it is to judge accurately of the feelings of others. Mr
Harding, as he came to close the letter, in his heart condemned his
daughter for indelicacy, and it made him miserable to do so. She
was not responsible for what Mr Slope might write. True. But then
she expressed no disgust at it. She had rather expressed approval
of the letter as a whole. She had given it to him to read, as a
vindication for herself and also for him. The father's spirits sank
within him as he felt that he could not acquit her.

And yet it was the true feminine delicacy of Eleanor's mind which
brought her on this condemnation. Listen to me, ladies, and I
beseech you to acquit her. She thought of this man, this lover of
whom she was so unconscious, exactly as her father did, exactly as
the Grantlys did. At least she esteemed him personally as they did.
But she believed him to be in the main an honest man, and one truly
inclined to assist her father. She felt herself bound, after what
had passed, to show the letter to Mr Harding. She thought it
necessary that he should know what Mr Slope had to say. But she did
not think it necessary to apologise for, or condemn, or even allude
to the vulgarity of the man's tone, which arose, as does all
vulgarity, from ignorance. It was nauseous to her to have such a
man like Mr Slope commenting on her personal attractions; and she
did not think it necessary to dilate with her father upon what was
nauseous. She never supposed they could disagree on such a subject.
It would have been painful for to point it out, painful to her to
speak strongly against a man of whom, on the whole she was anxious
to think and speak well. In encountering such a man she had
encountered what was disagreeable, as she might do in walking the
streets. But in such encounters she never thought it necessary to
dwell on what disgusted her.

Mr Harding slowly folded the letter, handed it back to her, kissed
her forehead and bade God bless her. He then crept slowly away to
his own room.

As soon as he had left the passage another knock was given at
Eleanor's door, and Mrs Grantly's very demure own maid, entering on
tiptoe, wanted to know would Mrs Bold be so kind as to speak to the
archdeacon for two minutes in the archdeacon's study, if not
disagreeable. The archdeacon's compliments, and he wouldn't detain
her two minutes.

Eleanor thought it was very disagreeable; she was tired and fagged
and sick at heart; her present feelings towards Dr Grantly were
anything but those of affection. She was, however, no coward, and
therefore promised to be in the study in five minutes. So she
arranged her hair, tied on her cap, and went down with a
palpitating heart.



CHAPTER XXIX

A SERIOUS INTERVIEW

There are people who delight in serious interviews, especially when
to them appertain the part of offering advice or administering
rebuke, and perhaps the archdeacon was one of these. Yet on this
occasion he did not prepare himself for the coming conversation
with much anticipation of pleasure. Whatever might be his faults he
was not an inhospitable man, and he almost felt that he was sinning
against hospitality in upbraiding Eleanor in his own house. Then,
also he was not quite sure that he would get the best of it. His
wife had told him that he decidedly would not, and he usually gave
credit to what his wife said. He was, however, so convinced of what
he considered to be the impropriety of Eleanor's conduct, and so
assured also of his own duty in trying to check it, that his
conscience would not allow him to take his wife's advice and go to
bed quietly.

Eleanor's face as she entered the room was not much as to reassure
him. As a rule she was always mild in manner and gentle in conduct;
but there was that in her eye which made it not an easy task to
scold her. In truth she had been little used to scolding. No one
since her childhood had tried it but the archdeacon, and he had
generally failed when he did try it. He had never done so since her
marriage; and now, when he saw her quiet easy step, as she entered
the room, he almost wished he had taken his wife's advice.

He began by apologising for the trouble he was giving her. She
begged him not to mention it, assured him that walking down the
stairs was no trouble to her at all, and then took a seat and
waited patiently for him to begin his attack.

'My dear Eleanor,' he said, 'I hope you believe me when I assure
you that you have no sincerer friend than I am.' To this Eleanor
answered nothing, and therefore he proceeded. 'If you had a brother
of your own I should not probably trouble you with what I am going
to say. But as it is I cannot but think that it must be a comfort
to you to know that you have near you one who is as anxious for
your welfare as any brother of your own could be.'

'I never had a brother,' said she.

'I know you never had, and it is therefore that I speak to you.'

'I never had a brother,' she repeated; 'but I have hardly felt the
want. Papa has been to me both father and brother.'

'Your father is the fondest and most affectionate of men. But--'

'He is--the fondest and most affectionate of men, and the best of
counsellors. While he lives I can never want advice.'

This rather put the archdeacon out. He could not exactly contradict
what his sister-in-law said about her father; and yet he did not at
all agree with her. He wanted her to understand that he tendered
his assistance because her father was a soft good-natured
gentleman, not sufficiently knowing in the ways of the world; but
he could not say this to her. So he had to rush into the
subject-matter of his proffered counsel without any acknowledgement
on her part that she could need it, or would be grateful for it.

'Susan tells me that you received a letter this evening from Mr
Slope.'

'Yes; papa brought it in the brougham. Did he not tell you?'

'And Susan says that you objected to let her know what it was
about.'

'I don't think she asked me. But had she done so I should not have
told her. I don't think it nice to be asked about one's letters. If
one wishes to show them one does so without being asked.'

'True. Quite so. What you say is quite true. But is not the fact of
your receiving letters from Mr Slope, which you do not wish to show
to your friends, a circumstance which must excite some--some
surprise--some suspicion--'

'Suspicion!' said she, not speaking above her usual voice, speaking
still in a soft womanly tone, but yet with indignation; 'suspicion!
and who suspects me, and of what?'

And then there was a pause, for the archdeacon was not quite ready
to explain the ground of his suspicion. 'No, Dr Grantly, I did not
choose to show Mr Slope's letter to Susan. I could not show it to
any one till papa had seen it. If you have any wish to read it now,
you can do so,' and she handed the letter to him over the table.

This was an amount of compliance which he had not at all expected,
and which rather upset him in his tactics. However, he took the
letter, perused it carefully, and then refolding it, kept it on the
table under his hand. To him it appeared to be in almost every
respect the letter of a declared lover; it seemed to corroborate
his worst suspicions; and the fact of Eleanor's showing it to him
was all but tantamount to a declaration on her part, that it was
her pleasure to receive love-letters from Mr Slope. He almost
entirely overlooked the real subject-matter of the epistle; so
intent was he on the forthcoming courtship and marriage.

'I'll thank you to give it back, please, Dr Grantly.'

He took his hand and held it up, but made no immediate overture to
return it. 'And Mr Harding has seen this?' said he.

'Of course he has,' said she; 'it was written that he might see it.
It refers solely to his business--of course I showed it to him.'

'And Eleanor, do you think that that is a proper letter for
you--for a person in your condition--to receive from Mr Slope?'

'Quite a proper letter,' said she, speaking, perhaps, a little out
of obstinacy; probably forgetting at the moment the objectionable
mention of her silken curls.

'Then, Eleanor, it is my duty to tell you that I wholly differ from
you.'

'So I suppose,' said she, instigated now by sheer opposition and
determination not to succumb. 'You think Mr Slope is a messenger
direct from Satan. I think he is an industrious, well-meaning
clergyman. It's a pity that we differ as we do. But, as we do
differ, we had probably better not talk about it.'

Here undoubtedly Eleanor put herself in the wrong. She might
probably have refused to talk to Dr Grantly on the matter in
dispute without any impropriety; but having consented to listen to
him, she had no business to tell him that regarded Mr Slope as an
emissary from the evil one; nor was she justified in praising Mr
Slope, seeing that in her heart of hearts she did not think well of
him. She was, however, wounded in spirit, and very angry and
bitter. She had been subjected to contumely and cross-questioning
and ill-usage through the whole evening. No one, not even Mr
Arabin, not even her father, had been kind to her. All this she
attributed to the prejudice and conceit of the archdeacon, and
therefore she resolved to set no bounds to her antagonism to him.
She would neither give nor take quarter. He had greatly presumed in
daring to question her about her correspondence, and she was
determined to show that she thought so.

'Eleanor, you are forgetting yourself,' said he, looking very
sternly at her. 'Otherwise you would never tell me that I conceive
any man to be a messenger from Satan.'

'But you do,' said she. 'Nothing is too bad for him. Give me that
letter, if you please;' and she stretched out her hand and took it
from him. 'He has been doing his best to serve papa, doing more
than any of papa's friends could do; and yet, because he is the
chaplain of a bishop whom you don't like, you speak of him as
though he had no right to the usage of a gentleman.'

'He has done nothing for your father.'

'I believe that he has done a great deal; and, as far as I am
concerned, I am grateful to him. I judge people by their acts, and
his, as far as I can see them, are good.' She then paused for a
moment. 'If you have nothing further to say, I shall be obliged by
being permitted to say good night--I am very tired.'

Dr Grantly had, as he thought, done his best to be gracious to his
sister-in-law. He had endeavoured not to be harsh with her, and had
striven to pluck the sting from his rebuke. But he did not intend
that she should leave him without hearing him.

'I have something to say, Eleanor; and I fear I must trouble you to
hear it. You profess that it is quite proper that you should
receive from Mr Slope such letters as that you have in your hand.
Susan and I think very differently. You are, of course, your own
mistress, and much as we both must grieve should anything separate
you from us, we have no power to prevent you from taking steps
which may lead to such a separation. If you are so wilful as to
reject the counsel of your friends, you must be allowed to cater
for yourself. Is it worth you while to break away from all those
you have loved--from all who love you--for the sake of Mr Slope?'

'I don't know what you mean, Dr Grantly; I don't know what you are
talking about. I don't want to break away from anybody.'

'But you will do so if you connect yourself with Mr Slope. Eleanor,
I must speak out to you. You must choose between your sister and
myself and our friends, and Mr Slope and his friends. I say nothing
of your father, as you may probably understand his feelings better
than I do.'

'What do you mean, Dr Grantly? What am I to understand? I never
heard such wicked prejudice in my life.'

'It is no prejudice, Eleanor. I have known the world longer than
you have done. Mr Slope is altogether beneath you. You ought to
know and feel that he is so. Pray--pray think of this before it is
too late.'

'Too late!'

'Or if you will not believe me, ask Susan; you cannot think she is
prejudiced against you. Or even consult your father, he is not
prejudiced against you. Ask Mr Arabin--'

'You haven't spoken to Mr Arabin about this!' said she, jumping up
and standing before him.

'Eleanor, all the world in and about Barchester will be speaking of
it soon.'

'But you have spoken to Mr Arabin about me and Mr Slope?'

'Certainly I have, and he quite agrees with me.'

'Agree with what?' said she. 'I think you are trying to drive me
mad.'

'He agrees with me and Susan that it is quite impossible you should
be received at Plumstead as Mrs Slope.'

Not being favourites with the tragic muse we do not dare to attempt
any description of Eleanor's face when she first heard the name of
Mrs Slope pronounced as that which would or should or might at some
time appertain to herself. The look, such as it was, Dr Grantly did
not soon forget. For a moment or two she could find no words to
express her deep anger and deep disgust; and, indeed, at this
conjuncture, words did not come to her very freely.

'How dare you be so impertinent?' at last she said; and then
hurried out of the room, without giving the archdeacon the
opportunity of uttering another word. It was with difficulty that
she contained herself till she reached her own room; and then,
locking the door, she threw herself on her bed and sobbed as though
her heart would break.

But even yet she had no conception of the truth. She had no idea
that her father and sister had for days past conceived in sober
earnest the idea that she was going to marry the man. She did not
even then believe that the archdeacon thought that she would do so.
By some manoeuvre of her brain, she attributed the origin of the
accusation to Mr Arabin, and as she did so her anger against him
was excessive, and the vexation of her spirit almost unendurable.
She could not bring herself to think the charge was made seriously.
It appeared to her most probable that the archdeacon and Mr Arabin
had talked over her objectionable acquaintance with Mr Slope; that
Mr Arabin, in his jeering sarcastic way, had suggested the odious
match as being the severest way of treating with contumely her
acquaintance with his enemy; and that the archdeacon, taking the
idea from him, thought proper to punish her by the allusion. The
whole night she lay awake thinking of what had been said, and this
appeared to be the most probable solution.

But the reflection that Mr Arabin should have in any way mentioned
her name in connection with that of Mr Slope was overpowering; and
the spiteful ill-nature of the archdeacon, in repeating the charge
to her, made her wish to leave his house almost before the day had
broken. One thing was certain: nothing should make her stay there
beyond the following morning, and nothing should make her sit down
in company with Dr Grantly. When she thought of the man whose name
had been linked with her own, she cried from sheer disgust. It was
only because she would be thus disgusted, thus pained, and shocked
and cut to the quick, that the archdeacon had spoken the horrid
word. He wanted her to make her quarrel with Mr Slope, and
therefore he had outraged her by his abominable vulgarity. She
determined that at any rate he should know that she appreciated it.

Nor was the archdeacon a bit better satisfied with the result of
his serious interview than was Eleanor. He gathered from it, as
indeed he could hardly fail to do, that she was very angry with
him; but he thought that she was thus angry, not because she was
suspected of an intention to marry Mr Slope, but because such an
intention was imputed to her as a crime. Dr Grantly regarded this
supposed union with disgust; but it never occurred to him that
Eleanor was outraged, because she looked at it exactly in the same
light.

He returned to his wife vexed and somewhat disconsolate, but,
nevertheless, confirmed in his wrath against his sister-in-law.
'Her whole behaviour,' said he, 'has been most objectionable. She
handed me his love letter to read as though she were proud of it.
And she is proud of it. She is proud of having this slavering,
greedy man at her feet. She will throw herself and John Bold's
money into his lap; she will ruin her boy, disgrace her father and
you, and be a wretched miserable woman.'

His spouse who was sitting at her toilet table, continued her
avocations, making no answer to all this. She had known that the
archdeacon would gain nothing be interfering; but she was too
charitable to provoke him by saying so while he was in such deep
sorrow.

'This comes of a man making a will as that of Bold's' he continued.
'Eleanor is no more fitted to be trusted with such an amount of
money in her own hands than is a charity-school girl.' Still Mrs
Grantly made no reply. 'But I have done my duty; I can do nothing
further. I have told her plainly that she cannot be allowed to form
a link of connection between me and that man. From henceforward it
will not be in my power to make her welcome at Plumstead. I cannot
have Mr Slope's love letters coming here. I think you have better
let her understand that as her mind on this subject seems to be
irrevocably fixed, it will be better for all parties that she
should return to Barchester.

Now Mrs Grantly was angry with Eleanor, nearly as angry as her
husband; but she had no idea of turning her sister out of the
house. She, therefore, at length spoke out, and explained to the
archdeacon in her own mild seducing way, that he was fuming and
fussing and fretting himself very unnecessarily. She declared that
things, if left alone, would arrange themselves much better than he
could arrange them; and at last succeeded in inducing him to go to
bed in a somewhat less inhospitable state of mind.

On the following morning Eleanor's maid was commissioned to send
word into the dining-room that her mistress was not well enough to
attend prayers, and that she would breakfast in her own room. Here
she was visited by her father and declared to him her intention of
returning immediately to Barchester. He was hardly surprised by the
announcement. All the household seemed to be aware that something
had gone wrong. Every one walked about with subdued feet, and
people's shoes seemed to creak more than usual. There was a look of
conscious intelligence on the faces of the women; and the men
attempted, but in vain, to converse as though nothing were the
matter. All this had weighed heavily on the heart of Mr Harding;
and when Eleanor told him that her immediate return to Barchester
was a necessity, he merely sighed piteously, and said that he would
be ready to accompany her.

But here she objected strenuously. She had a great wish, she said,
to go alone; a great desire that it might be seen that her father
was not implicated in her quarrel with Dr Grantly. To this at last
he gave way; but not a word passed between them about Mr Slope--not
a word was said, not a question asked as to the serious interview
on the preceding evening. There was, indeed, very little confidence
between them, though neither of them knew why it should be so.
Eleanor once asked him whether he would not call upon the bishop;
but he answered rather tartly that he did not know--he did not
think he should, but he could not say just at present. And so they
parted. Each was miserably anxious for some show of affection, for
some return of confidence, for some sign of the feeling that
usually bound them together. But none was given. The father could
not bring himself to question his daughter about her supposed
lover; and the daughter would not sully her mouth by repeating the
odious word with which Dr Grantly had aroused her wrath. And so
they parted.

There was some trouble in arranging the method of Eleanor's return.
She begged her father to send for a postchaise; but when Mrs
Grantly heard of this, she objected strongly. If Eleanor would go
away in dudgeon with the archdeacon, why should she let all the
servants and all the neighbourhood know that she had done so? So at
last Eleanor consented to make use of the Plumstead carriage; and
as the archdeacon had gone out immediately after breakfast and was
not to return till dinner-time, she also consented to postpone her
journey till after lunch, and to join the family at that time. As
to the subject of the quarrel not a word was said by any one. The
affair of the carriage was arranged by Mr Harding, who acted as
Mercury between the two ladies; they, when they met, kissed each
other very lovingly, and then sat down each to her crochet work as
though nothing was amiss in all the world.



CHAPTER XXX

ANOTHER LOVE SCENE

But there was another visitor at the rectory whose feelings in this
unfortunate matter must be somewhat strictly analysed. Mr Arabin
had heard from his friend of the probability of Eleanor's marriage
with Mr Slope with amazement, but not with incredulity. It has been
said that he was not in love with Eleanor, and up to this period
this certainly had been true. But as soon as he heard that she
loved some one else, he began to be very fond of her himself. He
did not make up his mind that he wished to have her for his wife;
he had never thought of her, and did not know how to think of her,
in connection with himself; but he experienced an inward
indefinable feeling of deep regret, a gnawing sorrow, and
unconquerable depression of spirits, and also a species of
self-abasement that he--he Mr Arabin--had not done something to
prevent that other he, that vile he, whom he so thoroughly
despised, from carrying off his sweet prize.

Whatever man may have reached the age of forty unmarried without
knowing something of such feelings must have been very successful
or else very cold hearted.

Mr Arabin had never thought of trimming the sails of his bark so
that he might sail as convoy to this rich argosy. He had seen that
Mrs Bold was beautiful, but he had not dreamt of making her beauty
his own. He knew that Mrs Bold was rich, but he had no more idea of
appropriating her wealth than that of Dr Grantly. He had discovered
that Mrs Bold was intelligent, warm-hearted, agreeable, sensible,
all, in fact, that a man could wish his wife to be; but the higher
were her attractions, the greater her claims to consideration, the
less had he imagined that he might possible become the possessor of
them. Such had been his instinct rather than his thoughts, so
humble and so diffident. Now his diffidence was to be rewarded by
his seeing this woman, whose beauty was to his eyes perfect, whose
wealth was such as to have deterred him from thinking of her, whose
widowhood would have silenced him had he not been so deterred, by
his seeing her become the prey of--Obadiah Slope!

On the morning of Mrs Bold's departure he got on his horse to ride
over to St Ewold's. As he rode he kept muttering to himself a line
from Van Artevelde:-

How little flattering is woman's love.

And then he strove to recall his mind and to think of other
affairs, his parish, his college, his creed--but his thoughts would
revert to Mrs Bold and the Flemish chieftain:

      When we think upon it
      How little flattering is woman's love,
      Given commonly to whosoe'er is nearest
      And propped with most advantage.

It was not that Mrs Bold should marry any one but him; he had not
put himself forward as a suitor; but that she should marry Mr
Slope--and so he repeated over and over again:

Outward grace Nor inward light is needful--day by day Men wanting
both are mated with the best And loftiest of God's feminine
creation, Whose love takes no distinction but of gender And
ridicules the very name of choice.

And so he went on troubled much in his mind.

He had but an uneasy ride of it that morning, and little good did
he do at St Ewold's.

The necessary alterations in his house were being fast completed,
and he walked through the rooms, and went up and down the stairs
and rambled through the garden; but he could not wake himself to
much interest about them. He stood still at every window to look
out and think upon Mr Slope. At almost every window he had before
stood and chatted with Eleanor. She and Mrs Grantly had been there
continually, and while Mrs Grantly had been giving orders, and
seeing that orders had been complied with, he and Eleanor had
conversed on all things appertaining to a clergyman's profession.
He thought how often he had laid down the law to her, and how
sweetly she had borne with somewhat dictatorial decrees. He
remembered her listening intelligence, her gentle but quick
replies, her interest in all that concerned the church, in all that
concerned him; and then he struck his riding whip against the
window sill, and declared to himself that it was impossible that
Eleanor Bold should marry Mr Slope.

And yet he did not really believe, as he should have done, that it
was impossible. He should have known her well enough to feel that
it was truly impossible. He should have been aware that Eleanor had
that within her which would surely protect her from such
degradation. But he, like so many others, was deficient in
confidence in woman. He said to himself over and over again that it
was impossible that Eleanor Bold should become Mrs Slope, and yet
he believed that she would do so. And so he rambled about, and
could do and think of nothing. He was thoroughly uncomfortable,
thoroughly ill at ease, cross with himself and every body else, and
feeding in his heart on animosity towards Mr Slope. This was not as
it should be, as he knew and felt; but he could not help himself.
In truth Mr Arabin was now in love with Mrs Bold, though ignorant
of the fact himself. He was in love, and, though forty years old,
was in love without being aware of it. He fumed and fretted, and
did not know what was the matter, as a youth might do at
one-and-twenty. And so having done no good at St Ewold's, he rode
back much earlier than was usual with him, instigated, by some
inward unacknowledged hope that he might see Mrs Bold before she
left.

Eleanor had not passed a pleasant morning. She was irritated with
every one, and not least with herself. She felt that she had been
hardly used, but she felt also that she had not played her own
cards well. She should have held herself so far above suspicion as
to have received her sister's innuendoes and the archdeacon's
lecture with indifference. She had not done this, but had shown
herself angry and sore, and was now ashamed of her own petulance,
and yet unable to discontinue it.

The greater part of the morning she had spent alone; but after a
while her father joined her. He had fully made up his mind that,
come what might, nothing should separate him from his youngest
daughter. It was a hard task for him to reconcile himself to the
idea of seeing her at the head of Mr Slope's table; but he got
through it. Mr Slope, as he argued to himself, was a respectable
man and a clergyman; and he, as Eleanor's father, had no right even
to endeavour to prevent her from marrying such a one. He longed to
tell her how he had determined to prefer her to all the world, how
he was prepared to admit that she was not wrong, how thoroughly he
differed from Dr Grantly; but he could not bring himself to mention
Mr Slope's name. There was yet a chance that they were all wrong in
their surmise; and, being thus in doubt, he could not bring himself
to speak openly to her on the subject.

He was sitting with her in the drawing-room, with his arm round her
waist, saying now and then some little soft words of affection, and
working hard with his imaginary little fiddle-bow, when Mr Arabin
entered the room. He immediately got up, and the two made some
trifle remarks to each other, neither thinking of what he was
saying, and Eleanor kept her seat on the sofa mute and moody. Mr
Arabin was included in the list of those against whom her anger was
excited. He, too, had dared to talk about her acquaintance with Mr
Slope; he, too, had dared to blame her for not making an enemy of
his enemy. She had not intended to see him before her departure,
and was now but little inclined to be gracious.

There was a feeling through the whole house that something was
wrong. Mr Arabin, when he saw Eleanor, could not succeed in looking
or in speaking as though he knew nothing of all this. He could not
be cheerful and positive and contradictory with her, as was his
wont. He had not been two minutes in the room before he felt that
he had done wrong in return; and the moment he heard her voice, he
thoroughly wished himself back at St Ewold's. Why, indeed, should
he have wished to have aught further to say to the future wife of
Mr Slope?

'I am sorry to hear that you are too leave so soon,' said he,
striving in vain to use his ordinary voice. In answer to this she
muttered something about the necessity of her being in Barchester,
and betook herself industriously to her crochet work.

Then there was a little more trite conversation between Mr Arabin
and Mr Harding; trite, and hard, and vapid, and senseless. Neither
of them had anything to say to the other, and yet neither at such a
moment liked to remain silent. At last Mr Harding, taking advantage
of a pause, escaped from the room, and Eleanor and Mr Arabin were
left together.

'Your going will be a great break-up to our party,' said he.

She again muttered something which was all but inaudible; but kept
her eyes fixed upon her work.

'We have had a very pleasant month her,' said he; 'at least I have;
and I am sorry it should be so soon over.'

'I have already been from home longer than I intended,' she said;
'and it is time that I should return.'

'Well, pleasant hours and pleasant days must come to an end. It is
a pity that so few of them are pleasant; or perhaps rather--'

'It is a pity, certainly, that men and women do so much to destroy
the pleasantness of their days,' said she, interrupting him. 'It is
a pity that there should be so little charity abroad.'

'Charity should begin at home,' said he; and he was proceeding to
explain that he as a clergyman could not be what she would call
charitable at the expense of those principles which he considered
it his duty to teach, when he remembered that it would be worse
than vain to argue on such a matter with the future wife of Mr
Slope. 'But you are just leaving us,' he continued, 'and I will not
weary your last hour with another lecture. As it is, I fear I have
given you too many.'

'You should practise as well as preach, Mr Arabin?'

'Undoubtedly I should. So should we all. All of us who presume to
teach are bound to do our utmost towards fulfilling our own
lessons. I thoroughly allow my deficiency in doing so; but I do not
quite know now to what you allude. Have you any special reason for
telling me now that I should practise as well as preach?'

Eleanor made no answer. She longed to let him know the cause of her
anger, to upbraid him for speaking of her disrespectfully, and then
at last forgive him, and so part friends. She felt that she would
be unhappy to leave him in her present frame of mind; but yet she
could hardly bring herself to speak to him of Mr Slope. And how
could she allude to the innuendo thrown out by the archdeacon, and
thrown out, as she believed, at the instigation of Mr Arabin? She
wanted to make him know that he was wrong, to make him aware that
he had ill-treated her, in order that the sweetness of her
forgiveness might be enhanced. She felt that she liked him too well
to be contented to part with him in displeasure; and yet she could
not get over her deep displeasure without some explanation, some
acknowledgement, on his part, some assurance that he would never
again so sin against her.

'Why do you tell me that I should practise what I preach?'
continued he.

'All men should do so.'

'Certainly. That is as it were understood and acknowledged. But you
do not say so to all men, or to all clergymen. The advice, good as
it is, is not given except in allusion to some special deficiency.
If you will tell me my special deficiency, I will endeavour to
profit by the advice.'

She paused for a while, and then looking full in his face, she
said, 'You are not bold enough, Mr Arabin, to speak out to me
openly and plainly, and yet you expect me, a woman, to speak openly
to you. Why did you speak calumny of me to Dr Grantly behind my
back?'

'Calumny!' said he, and his whole face became suffused with blood;
'what calumny? If I have spoken calumny of you, I will beg your
pardon, and his to whom I spoke it, and God's pardon also. But what
calumny have I spoken of you to Dr Grantly?'

She also blushed deeply. She could not bring herself to ask him
whether he had not spoken of her as another man's wife. 'You know
that best yourself,' said she; 'but I ask you as a man of honour,
if you have not spoken of me as you would not have spoken of your
own sister; or rather I will not ask you,' she continued, finding
that he did not immediately answer her. 'I will not put you to the
necessity of answering such a question. Dr Grantly has told me what
you said.'

'Dr Grantly certainly asked me for my advice, and I gave it. He
asked me--'

'I know he did, Mr Arabin. He asked you whether he would be doing
right to receive me at Plumstead, if I continued my acquaintance
with a gentleman who happens to be personally disagreeable to
yourself and to him?'

'You are mistaken, Mrs Bold. I have no personal knowledge of Mr
Slope; I have never met him in my life.'

'You are not the less individually hostile to him. It is not for me
to question the propriety of your enmity; but I had a right to
expect that my name should not have been mixed up in your
hostilities. This has been done, and been done by you in a manner
the most injurious and the most distressing to a woman. I must
confess, Mr Arabin, that from you I expected a different sort of
usage.'

As she spoke she with difficulty restrained her tears; but she did
restrain them. Had she given way and sobbed about, as in such cases
a woman should do, he would have melted at once, implored her
pardon, perhaps knelt at her feet and declared his love. Everything
would have been explained, and Eleanor would have gone back to
Barchester with a contented mind. How easily would she have
forgiven and forgotten the archdeacon's suspicions had she but
heard the whole truth of it from Mr Arabin. But then where would
have been my novel? She did not cry, and Mr Arabin did not melt.

'You do me an injustice,' said he. 'My advice was asked by Dr
Grantly, and I was obliged to give it.'

'Dr Grantly has been most officious, most impertinent. I have as
complete a right to form my acquaintance as he has to form his.
What would you have said, had I consulted you as to the propriety
of banishing Dr Grantly from my house because he knows Lord
Tattenham Corner? I am sure Lord Tattenham is quite as
objectionable an acquaintance for a clergyman as Mr Slope is for a
clergyman's daughter.'

'I do not know Lord Tattenham Corner.'

'No; but Dr Grantly does. It is nothing to me if he knows all the
young lords on every racecourse in England. I shall not interfere
with him; nor shall he with me.'

'I am sorry to differ with you, Mrs Bold; but as you have spoken to
me on this matter, and especially as you blame me for what little I
said on the subject, I must tell you that I do differ from you. Dr
Grantly's position as a man in the world gives him a right to
choose his own acquaintances, subject to certain influences. If he
chooses them badly, those influences will be used. If he consorts
with persons unsuitable to him, his bishop will interfere. What the
bishop is to Dr Grantly, Dr Grantly is to you.'

'I deny it. I utterly deny it,' said Eleanor, jumping from her
seat, and literally flashing before Mr Arabin, as she stood on the
drawing-room floor. He had never seen her so excited, he had never
seen her look so beautiful.

'I utterly deny it,' said she. 'Dr Grantly has no sort of
jurisdiction over me whatsoever. Do you and he forget that I am not
altogether alone in this world? Do you forget that I have a father?
Dr Grantly, I believe, always has forgotten it.'

'From you, Mr Arabin,' she continued, 'I would have listened to
advice because I should have expected it to have been given as one
friend may advise another; not as a schoolmaster gives an order to
a pupil. I might have differed from you; on this matter I should
have done so; but had you spoken to me in your usual manner and
with your usual freedom I should not have been angry. But now--was
it manly of you, Mr Arabin, to speak of me in this way--, so
disrespectful--so--? I cannot bring myself to repeat what you said.
You must understand what I feel. Was it just of you to speak of me
in such a way, and to advise my sister's husband to turn me out of
my sister's house because I chose to know a man of whose doctrine
you disapprove?'

'I have no alternative left to me, Mrs Bold,' said he, standing
with his back to the fire-place, looking down intently at the
carpet pattern and speaking with a slow measured voice, 'but to
tell you plainly what did take place between me and Dr Grantly.'

'Well,' said she, finding that he paused for a moment.

'I am afraid that what I may say may pain you.'

'It cannot well do so more than what you have already done,' said
she.

'Dr Grantly asked me whether I thought it would be prudent for him
to receive you in his house as the wife of Mr Slope, and I told him
that I thought it would be imprudent. Believing it to be utterly
impossible that Mr Slope and--'

'Thank you, Mr Arabin, that is sufficient. I do not want to know
your reasons,' said she, speaking with a terribly calm voice. 'I
have shown to this gentleman the common-place civility of a
neighbour; and because I have done so, because I have not indulged
against him in all the rancour and hatred which you and Dr Grantly
consider due to all clergymen who do not agree with yourselves, you
conclude that I am to marry him;--or rather you do not conclude
so--no rational man could really come to such an outrageous
conclusion without better ground;--you have not thought so--but, as
I am in a position in which such an accusation must be peculiarly
painful, it is made in order that I may be terrified into hostility
against this enemy of yours.'

As she finished speaking, she walked to the drawing-room window,
and stepped out into the garden. Mr Arabin was left in the room,
still occupied in counting the pattern on the carpet. He had,
however, distinctly heard and accurately marked every word that she
had spoken. Was it not clear from what she had said, that the
archdeacon had been wrong in imputing to her any attachment to Mr
Slope? Was it not clear that Eleanor was still free to make another
choice? It may seem strange that he should for a moment have had a
doubt; and yet he did doubt. She had not absolutely denied the
charge; she had not expressly said that it was untrue. Mr Arabin
understood little of the nature of a woman's feelings, or he would
have known how improbable it was that she should make any clearer
declarations than she had done. Few men do understand the nature of
a woman's heart, till years have robbed such understanding of its
value. And it is well that it should be so, or men would triumph
too easily.

Mr Arabin stood counting the carpet, unhappy, wretchedly unhappy,
at the hard words that had been spoken to him; and yet happy,
exquisitely happy, as he thought that after all the woman whom he
so regarded was not to become the wife of the man whom he so much
disliked. As he stood there he began to be aware that he was
himself in love. Forty years had passed over his head, and as yet
woman's beauty had never given him an uneasy hour. His present hour
was very uneasy.

Not that he remained there for half or a quarter of that time. In
spite of what Eleanor had said, Mr Arabin was, in truth, a manly
man. Having ascertained that he loved this woman, and having now
reason to believe that she was free to receive his love, at least
if she pleased to do so, he followed her into the garden to make
such wooing as he could.

He was not long in finding her. She was walking to and fro beneath
the avenue of elms that stood in the archdeacon's grounds, skirting
the churchyard. What had passed between her and Mr Arabin, had not,
alas, tended to lessen the acerbity of her spirit. She was very
angry; more angry with him than with any one. How could he have so
misunderstood her? She had been so intimate with him, had allowed
him such latitude in what he had chosen to say to her, had complied
with his ideas, cherished his views, fostered his precepts, cared
for his comforts, made much of him in every way in which a pretty
woman can make much of an unmarried man without committing herself
or her feelings! She had been doing this, and while she had been
doing it he had regarded her as the affianced wife of another man.

As she passed along the avenue, every now and then an unbidden tear
would force itself on her cheek, and as she raised her hand to
brush it away, she stamped with her little foot upon the sward with
very spite to think that she had been so treated.

Mr Arabin was very near to her when she first saw him, that she
turned short round and retraced her steps down the avenue, trying
to rid her cheeks of all trace of the tell-tale tears. It was a
needless endeavour, for Mr Arabin was in a state of mind that
hardly allowed him to observe such trifles. He followed her down
the walk, and overtook her just as she reached the end of it.

He had not considered how he would address her; he had not thought
what he would say. He had only felt that it was wretchedness to him
to quarrel with her, and that it would be happiness to be allowed
to love her. And that he could not lower himself by asking for her
pardon. He had done no wrong. He had not calumniated her, not
injured her, as she had accused him of doing. He could not confess
sins of which had not been guilty. He could only let the past be
past, and ask her as to her and his hopes for the future.

'I hope we are not to part as enemies?' said he.

'There shall be no enmity on my part,' said Eleanor; 'I endeavour
to avoid all enmities. It would be a hollow pretence were I to say
that there can be a true friendship between us after what has just
past. People cannot make their friends of those whom they despise.'

'And am I despised?'

'I must have been so before you could have spoken of me as you did.
And I was deceived, cruelly deceived. I believed that you thought
well of me; I believed that you esteemed me.'

'Thought of you well and esteemed you!' said he. 'In justifying
myself before you, I must use stronger words than those.' He paused
for a moment, and Eleanor's heart beat with painful violence within
her bosom as she waited for him to go on. 'I have esteemed, do
esteem you, as I never esteemed any woman. Think well of you! I
never thought to think so well, so much of any human creature.
Speak calumny of you! Insult you! Wilfully injure you! I wish it
were my privilege to shield you from calumny, insult, and injury.
Calumny! Ah, me. 'Twere almost better that it were so. Better than
to worship with a sinful worship; sinful and vain also.' And then
he walked along beside her, with his hands clasped behind his back,
looking down on the grass beneath his feet, and utterly at a loss
to express his meaning. And Eleanor walked beside him determined at
least to give him no assistance.

'Ah, me!' he uttered at last, speaking rather to himself than to
her. 'Ah, me! These Plumstead walks were pleasant enough, if one
could have but heart's ease; but without that, the dull dead stones
of Oxford were far preferable; and St Ewold's too; Mrs Bold, I am
beginning to think that I mistook myself when I came hither. A
Romish priest now would have escaped all this. Of, Father of
heaven! How good for us would it be, if thou couldest vouchsafe to
us a certain rule.'

'And have we not got a certain rule, Mr Arabin?'

'Yes--yes, surely; "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us
from evil." But what is temptation? what is evil? Is this evil--is
this temptation?'

Poor Mr Arabin! It would not come out of him, that deep true love
of his. He could not bring himself to utter it in plain language
that would require and demand an answer. He knew not how to say to
the woman at his side, 'Since the fact is that you do not love that
other man, that you are not to be his wife, can you love me, will
you be my wife?' These were the words which were in his heart, but
with all his sighs he could not draw them to his lips. He would
have given anything, everything for power to ask this simple
question; but glib as was his tongue in pulpits and on platforms,
now he could not find a word wherewith to express the plain wish of
his heart.

And yet Eleanor understood him as thoroughly as though he had
declared his passion with all the elegant fluency of a practised
Lothario. With a woman's instinct she followed every bend of his
mind, as he spoke of the pleasantness of Plumstead and the stones
of Oxford, as he alluded to the safety of the Romish priest and the
hidden perils of temptation. She knew that it all meant love. She
knew that this man at her side, this accomplished scholar, this
practised orator, this great polemical combatant, was striving and
striving in vain to tell her that his heart was no longer his own.

She knew this, and felt the joy of knowing it; and yet she would
not come to his aid. He had offended her deeply, had treated her
unworthily, the more unworthily seeing that he had learnt to love
her, and Eleanor could not bring herself to abandon her revenge.
She did not ask herself whether or no she would ultimately accept
his love. She did not even acknowledge to herself that she now
perceived it with pleasure. At the present moment it did not touch
her heart; it merely appeased her pride and flattered her vanity.
Mr Arabin had dared to associate her name with that of Mr Slope,
and now her spirit was soothed by finding that he would fain
associate it with his own. And so she walked on beside him inhaling
incense, but giving out no sweetness in return.

'Answer me this,' said Mr Arabin, stopping suddenly in his walk,
and stepping forward so that he faced his companion. 'Answer me
this question. You do not love Mr Slope? You do not intend to be
his wife?'

Mr Arabin certainly did not go the right way to win such a woman as
Eleanor Bold. Just as her wrath was evaporating, as it was
disappearing before the true warmth of his untold love, he
re-kindled it by a most useless repetition of his original sin. Had
he known what he was about he should never have mentioned Mr
Slope's name before Eleanor Bold, till he had made her all his own.
Then, and not till then, he might have talked of Mr Slope with as
much triumph as he chose.

'I shall answer no such question,' said she; 'and what is more, I
must tell you that nothing can justify your asking it. Good
morning!'

And so saying she stepped proudly across the lawn, and passing
through the drawing-room window joined her father and sister at
lunch in the dining-room. Half an hour afterwards she was in the
carriage, and so she left Plumstead without again seeing Mr Arabin.

His walk was long and sad among the sombre trees that overshadowed
the churchyard. He left the archdeacon's grounds that he might
escape attention, and sauntered among the green hillocks under
which lay at rest so many of the once loving swains and forgotten
beauties of Plumstead. To his ears Eleanor's last words sounded
like a knell never to be reversed. He could not comprehend that she
might be angry with him, indignant with him, remorseless with him,
and yet love him. He could not make up his mind whether or no Mr
Slope was in truth a favoured rival. If not, why should she not
have answered his question?

Poor Mr Arabin--untaught, illiterate, boorish, ignorant man! That
at forty years of age you should know so little of the workings of
a woman's heart!



CHAPTER XXXI

THE BISHOP'S LIBRARY

And thus the pleasant party of Plumstead was broken up. It had been
a very pleasant party as long as they had all remained in good
humour with one another. Mrs Grantly had felt her house to be gayer
and brighter than it had been for many a long day, and the
archdeacon had been aware that the month had passed pleasantly
without attributing the pleasure to any other special merits than
those of his own hospitality. Within three or four days of
Eleanor's departure, Mr Harding had also returned, and Mr Arabin
had gone to Oxford to spend one week there previous to his settling
at the vicarage of St Ewold's. He had gone laden with many messages
to Dr Gwynne touching the iniquity of the doings in Barchester
palace, and the peril in which it was believed the hospital still
stood in spite of the assurances contained in Mr Slope's
inauspicious letter.

During Eleanor's drive into Barchester she had not much opportunity
of reflecting on Mr Arabin. She had been constrained to divert her
mind both from his sins and his love by the necessity of conversing
with her sister, and maintaining the appearance of parting with her
on good terms.

When the carriage reached her own door, and while she was in the
act of giving her last kiss to her sister and nieces, Mary Bold ran
out and exclaimed:

'Oh! Eleanor,--have you heard?--oh! Mrs Grantly, have you heard
what has happened? The poor dean!'

'Good heavens,' said Mrs Grantly; 'what--what has happened?'

'This morning at nine he had a fit of apoplexy, and he has not
spoken since. I very much fear that by this time he is no more.'

Mrs Grantly had been very intimate with the dean, and was therefore
much shocked. Eleanor had not known him so well; nevertheless she
was sufficiently acquainted with his person and manners to feel
startled and grieved also at the tidings she now received. 'I will
go at once to the deanery,' said Mrs Grantly, 'the archdeacon, I am
sure, will be there. If there is any news to send you I will let
Thomas call before he leaves town.' And so the carriage drove off,
leaving Eleanor and her baby with Mary Bold.

Mrs Grantly had been quite right. The archdeacon was at the
deanery. He had come into Barchester that morning by himself, not
caring to intrude himself upon Eleanor, and he also immediately on
his arrival had heard of the dean's fit. There was, as we have
before said, a library or reading room connecting the cathedral
with the dean's home. This was generally called the bishop's
library, because a certain bishop of Barchester was supposed to
have added it to the cathedral. It was built immediately over a
portion of the cloisters, and a flight of stairs descended from it
into the room in which the cathedral clergymen put their surplices
on and off. As it also opened directly into the dean's house, it
was the passage through which that dignitary usually went to his
public devotions. Who had or had not the right of entry into it,
might be difficult to say; but the people of Barchester believed
that it belonged to the dean, and the clergymen of Barchester
believed that it belonged to the chapter.

On the morning in question most of the resident clergymen who
constituted the chapter, and some few others, were here assembled,
and among them as usual the archdeacon towered with high authority.
He had heard of the dean's fit before he was over the bridge which
led into the town, and had at once come to the well known clerical
trysting place. He had been there by eleven o'clock, and had
remained ever since. From time to time the medical men who had been
called in came through from the deanery into the library, uttered
little bulletins, and then returned. There was it appears very
little hope of the old man's rallying, indeed no hope of any thing
like a final recovery. The only question was whether he must die at
once speechless, unconscious, stricken to death by his first heavy
fit; or whether by due aid of medical skill he might not be so far
brought back to this world as to become conscious of his state, and
enabled to address one prayer to his Maker before he was called to
meet Him face to face at the judgement seat.

Sir Omicron Pie had been sent for from London. That great man had
shown himself a wonderful adept at keeping life still moving within
an old man's heart in the case of good old Bishop Grantly, and it
might be reasonably expected that he would be equally successful
with a dean. In the mean time, Dr Fillgrave and Mr Rerechild were
doing their best; and poor Miss Trefoil sat at the head of her
father's bed, longing, as in such cases daughters do long, to be
allowed to do something to show her love; if it were only to chafe
his feet with her hands, or wait in menial offices on those
autocratic doctors; anything so that now in the time of need she
might be of use.

The archdeacon alone of the attendant clergy had been admitted for
a moment into the sick man's chamber. He had crept in with creaking
shoes, had said with smothered voice a word of consolation to the
sorrowing daughter, had looked on the distorted face of his old
friend with solemn but yet eager scrutinising eye, as though he
said in his heart, 'and so some day it will probably be with me;'
and then, having whispered an unmeaning word or two to the doctors,
had creaked his way back again into the library.

'He'll never speak again, I fear,' said the archdeacon as he
noiselessly closed the door, as though the unconscious dying man,
from whom all sense had fled, would have heard in his distant
chamber the spring of the lock which was now so carefully handled.

'Indeed! Indeed! Is he so bad?' said the meagre little prebendary,
turning over in his own mind all the probable candidates for the
deanery, and wondering whether the archdeacon would think it worth
his while to accept it. 'The fit must have been very violent.'

'When a man over seventy has a stroke of apoplexy, it seldom comes
very lightly,' said the burly chancellor.

'He was an excellent, sweet-tempered man,' said one of the vicars
choral. 'Heaven knows how we shall repair his loss.'

'He was indeed,' said a minor canon; 'and a great blessing to all
those privileged to take a share of the services of our cathedral.
I suppose the government will appoint, Mr Archdeacon. I trust that
we may have no stranger.'

'We will not talk about his successor,' said the archdeacon, 'while
there is yet hope.'

'Oh no, of course not,' said the minor canon. 'It would be
extraordinarily indecorous; but--'

'I know of no man,' said the meagre little prebendary, 'who has
better interest with the present government than Mr Slope.'

'Mr Slope!' said two or three at once almost sotto voce. 'Mr Slope
dean of Barchester!'

'Pooh!' exclaimed the burly chancellor.

'The bishop would do anything for him,' said the little prebendary.

'And so would Mrs Proudie,' said the vicar choral.

'Pooh!' said the chancellor.

The archdeacon had almost turned pale at the idea. What if Mr Slope
should become dean of Barchester? To be sure there was no adequate
ground, indeed no ground at all, for presuming that such a
desecration could even be contemplated. But nevertheless it was on
the cards. Dr Proudie had interest with the government, and the man
carried as it were Dr Proudie in his pocket. How should they all
conduct themselves if Mr Slope were to become dean of Barchester?
The bare idea for a moment struck even Dr Grantly dumb.

'It would certainly not be very pleasant for us to have Mr Slope in
the deanery,' said the little prebendary, chuckling inwardly at the
evident consternation which his surmise had created.

'About as pleasant and as probably as having you in the palace,'
said the chancellor.

'I should think such an appointment highly improbable,' said the
minor canon, 'and, moreover, extremely injudicious. Should not you,
Mr Archdeacon?'

'I should presume such a thing to be quite out of the question,'
said the archdeacon; 'but at the present moment I am thinking
rather of our poor friend who is lying so near us than of Mr
Slope.'

'Of course, of course,' said the vicar choral with a very solemn
air; 'of course you are. So are we all. Poor Dr Trefoil; the best
of men but--'

'It's the most comfortable dean's residence in England,' said a
second prebendary. 'Fifteen acres in the grounds. 'It is better
than many of the bishops' palaces.'

'And full two thousand a year,' said the meagre doctor.

'It is cut down to L 1200,' said the chancellor.

'No,' said the second prebendary. 'It is to be fifteen. A special
case was made.'

'No such thing,' said the chancellor.

'You'll find I'm right,' said the prebendary.

'I'm sure I read it in the report,' said the minor canon.

'Nonsense,' said the chancellor. 'They couldn't do it. There were
to be no exceptions but London and Durham.'

'And Canterbury and York,' said the vicar choral, modestly.

'What say you, Grantly?' said the meagre little doctor.

'Say about what?' said the archdeacon, who had been looking as
though he were thinking about his friend the dean, but who had in
reality been thinking about Mr Slope.

'What is the next dean to have, twelve or fifteen?'

'Twelve,' said the archdeacon authoritatively, thereby putting an
end at once to all doubt and dispute among the subordinates as far
as that subject was concerned.

'Well I certainly thought it was fifteen,' said the minor canon.

'Pooh!' said the burly chancellor. At this moment the door opened,
and in came Dr Fillgrave.

'How is he?' 'Is he conscious?' 'Can he speak?' 'I hope, I trust,
something better, doctor?' said half a dozen voices all at once,
each in a tone of extremest anxiety. It was pleasant to see how
popular the good old dean was among his clergy.

'No change, gentlemen; not the slightest change--but a telegraphic
message has arrived,--Sir Omicron Pie will be here by the 9.15pm
train. If any man can do anything Sir Omicron will do it. But all
that skill can do has been done.'

'We are sure of that, Dr Fillgrave,' said the archdeacon; 'we are
quite sure of that. But yet you know--'

'Oh, quite right,' said the doctor, 'quite right--I should have
done just the same--I advised it at once. I said to Rerechild at
once that with such a life and such a man, Sir Omicron should be
summoned--of course I knew that the expense was nothing--so
distinguished, you know, and so popular. Nevertheless, all that
human skill can do has been done.'

Just at this period Mrs Grantly's carriage drove into the close,
and the archdeacon went down to confirm the news which she had
heard before.

By the 9.15pm train Sir Omicron Pie did arrive. And in the course
of the night a sort of consciousness returned to the poor old dean.
Whether this was due to Sir Omicron Pie is a question on which it
may be well not to offer an opinion. Dr Fillgrave was very clear in
his own mind, but Sir Omicron himself is thought to have differed
from that learned doctor.

At any rate, Sir Omicron expressed an opinion that the dean had yet
some days to live.

For the eight or ten next days, accordingly, the poor dean remained
in the same state, half conscious and half comatose, and the
attendant clergy began to think that no new appointment would be
necessary for some few months to come.



CHAPTER XXXII

A NEW CANDIDATE FOR ECCLESIASTICAL HONOURS

The dean's illness occasioned much mental turmoil in other places
besides the deanery and adjoining library, and the idea which
occurred to the meagre little prebendary about Mr Slope did not
occur to him alone.

The bishop was sitting listlessly in his study when the news
reached him of the dean's illness. It was brought to him by Mr
Slope, who of course was not the last person in Barchester to hear
it. It was also not slow in finding its way to Mrs Proudie's ears.
It may be presumed that there was not just much friendly
intercourse between these two rival claimants for his lordship's
obedience. Indeed, though living in the same house, they had not
met since the stormy interview between them in the bishop's study
on the preceding day.

On that occasion, Mrs Proudie had been defeated. That from her
standards was a subject of great sorrow to that militant lady; but
though defeated, she was not overcome. She felt that she might yet
recover her lost ground, that she might yet hurl Mr Slope down to
the dust from which she had picked him, and force her sinning lord
to sue for pardon in sackcloth and ashes.

On that memorable day, memorable for his mutiny and rebellion
against her high behests, he had carried his way with a high hand,
and had really begun to think it possible that the days of his
slavery were counted. He had begun to hope that he was now about to
enter into a free land, a land delicious with milk which he himself
might quaff, and honey which would not tantalise him by being only
honey to the eye. When Mrs Proudie banged the door, as she left his
room, he felt himself every inch a bishop. To be sure his spirit
had been a little cowed by his chaplain's subsequent lecture; but
on the whole he was highly pleased with himself, and flattered
himself that the worst was over. 'Ce n'est que le premier pas qui
coute', he reflected; and now that his first step had been so
magnanimously taken, all the rest would follow easily.

He met his wife as a matter of course at dinner, where little or
nothing was said that could ruffle the bishop's happiness. His
daughters and the servants were present and protected him.

He made one or two trifling remarks on the subject of his projected
visit to the archbishop, in order to show to all concerned that he
intended to have his own way; and the very servants perceiving the
change transferred a little of their reverence from their mistress
to their master. All which the master perceived; and so also did
the mistress. But Mrs Proudie bided her time.

After dinner he returned to his study where Mr Slope soon found
him, and there they had tea together and planned many things. For
some few minutes the bishop was really happy; but as the clock on
the chimney piece warned him that the stilly hours of night were
drawing on, as he looked at his chamber candlestick and knew that
he must use it, his heart sank within him again. He was as a ghost,
all whose power of wandering free through these upper regions
ceases at cock-crow; or rather he was the opposite of the ghost,
for till cock-crow he must again be a serf. And would that be all?
Could he trust himself to come down to breakfast a free man in the
morning?

He was nearly an hour later than usual, when he betook himself to
his rest. Rest! What rest? However, he took a couple of glasses of
sherry, and mounted the stairs. Far be it from us to follow him
thither. There are some things which no novelist, no historian,
should attempt; some few scenes in life's drama which even no poet
should dare to paint. Let that which passed between Dr Proudie and
his wife on this night be understood to be among them.

He came down the following morning a sad and thoughtful man. He was
attenuated in appearance; one might almost say emaciated. I doubt
whether his now grizzled looks had not palpably become more grey
than on the preceding evening. At any rate he had aged materially.
Years do not make a man old gradually and at an even pace. Look
through the world and see if this is not so always, except in those
rare cases in which the human being lives and dies without joys and
without sorrows, like a vegetable. A man shall be possessed of
florid youthful blooming health till it matters not what age.
Thirty--forty--fifty, then comes some nipping frost, some period of
agony, that robs the fibres of the body of their succulence, and
the hale and hearty man is counted among the old.

He came down and breakfasted alone; Mrs Proudie being indisposed
took her coffee in her bed-room, and her daughters waited upon her
there. He ate his breakfast alone, and then, hardly knowing what he
did, he betook himself to his usual seat in his study. He tried to
solace himself with his coming visit to the archbishop. That effort
of his own free will at any rate remained to him as an enduring
triumph. But somehow, now that he had achieved it, he did not seem
to care so much about it. It was his ambition that had prompted him
to take his place at the arch-episcopal table, and his ambition was
now quite dead within him.

He was thus seated when Mr Slope made his appearance with
breathless impatience.

'My lord, the dean is dead.'

'Good heavens,' exclaimed the bishop, startled out of his apathy by
an announcement so sad and so sudden.

'He is either dead or now dying. He has had an apoplectic fit, and
I am told that there is not the slightest hope; indeed, I do not
doubt that by this time he is no more.'

Bells were rung, and servants were immediately sent to inquire. In
the course of the morning, the bishop, leaning on his chaplain's
arm, himself called at the deanery door. Mrs Proudie sent to Miss
Trefoil all manner of offers of assistance. The Miss Proudies sent
also, and there was immense sympathy between the palace and the
deanery. The answer to all inquiries was unvaried. The dean was
just the same; and Sir Omicron Pie was expected there by the 9.15pm
train.

And then Mr Slope began to meditate, as others also had done, as to
who might possibly be the new dean; and it occurred to him, as it
had also occurred to others, that it might be possible that he
should be the new dean himself. And then the question as to the
twelve hundred, or fifteen hundred, or two thousand, ran in his
mind, as it had run through those of the other clergymen in the
cathedral library.

Whether it might be two thousand, of fifteen, or twelve hundred, it
would in any case undoubtedly be a great thing for him, if he could
get it. The gratification to his ambition would be greater even
than that of his covetousness.

How glorious to out-top the archdeacon in his own cathedral city;
to sit above prebendaries and canons, and have the cathedral pulpit
and all the cathedral services altogether at his own disposal!

But it might be easier to wish for this than to obtain it. Mr
Slope, however, was not without some means of forwarding his views,
and he at any rate did not let the grass grow under his feet. In
the first place he thought--and not vainly--that he could count
upon what assistance the bishop could give him. He immediately
changed his views with regard to his patron; he made up his mind
that if he became dean, he would hand his lordship back to his
wife's vassalage; and he thought it possible that his lordship
might not be sorry to rid himself of one of his mentors. Mr Slope
had also taken some steps towards making his name known to other
men in power. There was a certain chief-commissioner of national
schools who at the present moment was presumed to stand especially
high in the good graces of the government big wigs, and with him Mr
Slope had contrived to establish a sort of epistolary intimacy. He
thought that he might safely apply to Sir Nicholas Fitzhiggin; and
he felt sure that if Sir Nicholas chose to exert himself, the
promise of such a piece of preferment would be had for the asking
for.

Then he also had the press at his bidding, or flattered himself
that he had so. The daily Jupiter had taken his part in a very
thorough manner in those polemical contests of his with Mr Arabin;
he had on more than one occasion absolutely had an interview with a
gentleman on the staff of the paper, who, if not the editor, was as
good as the editor; and had long been in the habit of writing
telling letters with his initials, and sent to his editorial friend
with private notes signed in his own name. Indeed, he and Mr
Towers--such was the name of the powerful gentleman of the press
with whom he was connected--were generally very amiable with each
other. Mr Slope's little productions were always printed and
occasionally commented upon; and thus, in a small sort of way, he
had become a literary celebrity. This public life had great charms
for him, though it certainly also had its drawbacks. On one
occasion, when speaking in the presence of reporters, he had failed
to uphold and praise and swear by that special line of conduct
which had been upheld and praised and sworn by in the Jupiter, and
then he had been much surprised and at the moment not a little
irritated to find himself lacerated most unmercifully by his old
ally. He was quizzed and bespattered and made a fool of, just as
though, or rather than if, he had been a constant enemy instead of
a constant friend. He had hitherto not learnt that a man who
aspires to be on the staff of the Jupiter must surrender all
individuality. But ultimately this little castigation had broken no
bones between him and his friend Mr Towers. Mr Slope was one of
those who understood the world too well to show himself angry with
such a potentate as the Jupiter. He had kissed the rod that
scourged him, and now thought that he might fairly look for his
reward. He determined that he would at once let Mr Towers know that
he was a candidate for the place which was about to be become
vacant. More than one place of preferment had lately been given
away much in accordance with advice tendered to the government in
the columns of the Jupiter.

But it was in incumbent on Mr Slope first to secure the bishop. He
specially felt that it behoved him to do this before the visit to
the archbishop was made. It was really quite providential that the
dean should have fallen ill just at the very nick of time. If Dr
Proudie could be instigated to take the matter up warmly, he might
manage a good deal while staying at the archbishop's palace.
Feeling this very strongly Mr Slope determined to sound the bishop
out that very afternoon. He was to start on the following morning
to London, and therefore not a moment could be lost with safety.

He went into the bishop's study about five o'clock, and found him
still sitting alone. It might have been supposed that he had hardly
moved since the little excitement occasioned by the walk to the
dean's door. He still wore on his face that dull dead look of half
unconscious suffering. He was doing nothing, reading nothing,
thinking of nothing, but simply gazing on vacancy when Mr Slope for
the second time that day entered his room.

'Well, Slope,' said he, somewhat impatiently; for, to tell the
truth, he was not anxious just at present to have much conversation
with Mr Slope.

'Your lordship will be sorry to hear that as yet the poor dean has
shown no signs of amendment.'

'Oh--ah--hasn't he? Poor man! I'm sure I'm very sorry. I suppose
Sir Omicron has not arrived yet?'

'No; not till the 9.15pm train.'

'I wonder they didn't have a special. They say Dr Trefoil is very
rich.'

'Very rich, I believe,' said Mr Slope. 'But the truth is, all the
doctors in London can do no good; no other good than to show that
every possible care has been taken. Poor Dr Trefoil is not long for
this world, my lord.'

'I suppose not--I suppose not.'

'Oh no; indeed, his best friends could not wish that he should
outlive such a shock, for his intellect cannot possibly survive
it.'

'Poor man, poor man!' said the bishop.

'It will naturally be a matter of much moment to your lordship who
is to succeed him,' said Mr Slope. 'It would be a great thing if
you could secure the appointment for some person of your own way of
thinking on important points. The party hostile to us are very
strong here in Barchester--much too strong.'

'Yes, yes. If poor Dr Trefoil is to go, it will be a great thing to
get a good man in his place.'

'It will be everything to your lordship to get a man on whose
co-operation you can reckon. Only think what trouble we might have
if Dr Grantly, or Dr Hyandry, or any of that way of thinking, were
to get it.'

'It is not very probable that Lord--will give it to any of that
school; why should he?'

'No. Not probable; certainly not; but it's possible. Great interest
will probably be made. If I might venture to advise your lordship,
I would suggest that you should discuss the matter with his grace
next week. I have no doubt that your wishes, if made known and
backed by his grace, would be paramount with Lord--'

'Well, I don't know that; Lord - has always been very kind to me,
very kind. But I am unwilling to interfere in such matters unless
asked. And indeed, if asked, I don't know whom, at this moment, I
should recommend.'

Mr Slope, even Mr Slope, felt at present rather abashed. He hardly
knew how to frame his little request in language sufficiently
modest. He had recognised and acknowledged, to himself the
necessity of shocking the bishop in the first instance by the
temerity of his application, and his difficulty was how best to
remedy that by his adroitness and eloquence. 'I doubted myself,'
said he, 'whether your lordship would have any one immediately in
your eye, and it is on this account that I venture to submit to you
an idea that I have been turning over in my own mind. If poor Dr
Trefoil must go, I really do not see why, with your lordship's
assistance, I should not hold the preferment myself.'

'You!' exclaimed the bishop, in a manner that Mr Slope could hardly
have considered complimentary.

The ice was now broken, and Mr Slope became fluent enough. 'I have
been thinking of looking for it. If your lordship will press the
matter on the archbishop, I do not doubt but that I shall succeed.
You see I shall count upon assistance from the public press; my
name is known, I may say, somewhat favourably known to that portion
of the press which is now most influential with the government, and
I have friends also in the government. But, it is from your hands
that I would most willingly receive the benefit. And, which should
ever be the chief consideration in such matters, you must know
better than any other person whatsoever what qualifications I
possess.'

The bishop sat for a while dumfounded. Mr Slope dean of Barchester!
The idea of such a transformation of character would never have
occurred to his own unaided intellect. At first he went on thinking
why, for what reasons, on what account, Mr Slope should be dean of
Barchester. But by degrees the direction of his thoughts changed,
and he began to think why, for what reasons, on what account, Mr
Slope should not be dean of Barchester. As far as he himself, the
bishop, was concerned, he could well spare the services of his
chaplain. The little idea of using Mr Slope as a counterpoise to
his wife had well nigh evaporated. He had all but acknowledged the
futility of the scheme. If indeed he could have slept in his
chaplain's bed-room instead of his wife's there might have been
something in it. But---. And thus as Mr Slope as speaking, the
bishop began to recognise the idea that that gentleman might become
dean of Barchester without impropriety; not moved, indeed, by Mr
Slope's eloquence, for he did not follow the tenor of his speech;
but led thereto by his own cogitation.

'I need not say,' continued Mr Slope, 'that it would be my chief
desire to act in all matters connected with cathedral as far as
possible in accordance with your views. I know your lordship so
well (and I hope you know me well enough to have the same
feelings), that I am satisfied that my being in that position would
add materially to your own comfort, and enable you to extend the
sphere of your useful influence. As I said before, it is not
desirable that there should be but one opinion among the
dignitaries in the same diocese. I doubt much whether I would
accept such an appointment in any diocese in which I should be
constrained to differ much from the bishop. In this case there
would be a delightful uniformity of opinion.'

Mr Slope perfectly well perceived that the bishop did not follow a
word that he said, but nevertheless he went on talking. He knew it
was necessary that Dr Proudie should recover from his surprise, and
he knew also that he must give him the opportunity of appearing to
have been persuaded by argument. So he went on, and produced a
multitude of fitting reasons all tending to show that no one on
earth could make so good a dean of Barchester as himself, that the
government and the public would assuredly coincide in desiring that
he, Mr Slope, should be dean of Barchester; but that for high
considerations of ecclesiastical polity, it would be especially
desirable that this piece of preferment should be so bestowed
through the instrumentality of the bishop of the diocese.

'But I really don't know what I could do in the matter,' said the
bishop.

'If you would mention it to the archbishop; if you would tell his
grace that you consider such an appointment very desirable, that
you have it much at heart with a view of putting an end to the
schism in the diocese; if you did this with your usual energy, you
would probably find no difficulty in inducing his grace to promise
that he would mention it to Lord -. Of course you would let the
archbishop know that I am not looking for the preferment solely
through his intervention; that you do not exactly require him to
ask it as a favour; that you expect I shall get it through other
sources, as is indeed the case; but that you are very anxious that
his grace should express his approval of such an arrangement to
Lord--'

It ended by the bishop promising to do as he was told. Not that he
so promised without a stipulation. 'About that hospital,' he said,
in the middle of the conference. 'I was never so troubled in my
life;' which was about the truth. 'You haven't spoken to Mr Harding
since I saw you?'

Mr Slope assured his patron that he had not.

'Ah well then--I think upon the whole it will be better to let Mr
Quiverful have it. It has been half promised to him, and he has a
large family and is very poor. I think on the whole it will be
better to make out the nomination for Mr Quiverful.'

'But, my lord,' said Mr Slope, still thinking that was bound to
make a fight for his own view on this matter, and remembering that
it still behoved him to maintain his lately acquired supremacy over
Mrs Proudie, lest he should fail in his views regarding the
deanery, 'but, my lord, I am really much afraid--'

'Remember, Mr Slope, 'I can hold out not sort of hope to you in
this matter of succeeding poor Dr Trefoil. I will certainly speak
to the archbishop, as you wish it, but I cannot think--'

'Well, my lord,' said Mr Slope, fully understanding the bishop, and
in his turn interrupting him, 'perhaps your lordship is right about
Mr Quiverful. I have no doubt I can easily arrange matters with Mr
Harding, and I will make out the nomination for your signature as
you direct.'

'Yes, Slope, I think that will be best; and you may be sure that
any little that I can do to forward your views shall be done.'

And so they parted.

Mr Slope had now much business to handle. He had to make his daily
visit to the signora. This common prudence should have now induced
him to omit, but he was infatuated; and could not bring himself to
be commonly prudent. He determined therefore that he would drink
tea at the Stanhope's; and he determined also, or thought that he
determined, that having done so he would go thither no more. He had
also to arrange his matters with Mrs Bold. He was of the opinion
that Eleanor would grace the deanery as perfectly as she would the
chaplain's cottage; and he thought, moreover, that Eleanor's
fortune would excellently repair and dilapidations and curtailments
in the dean's stipend which might have been made by that ruthless
ecclesiastical commission.

Touching Mrs Bold his hopes now soared high. Mr Slope was one of
the numerous multitude of swains who think that all is fair in
love, and he had accordingly not refrained from using the services
of Mrs Bold's own maid. From her he had learnt much of what had
taken place at Plumstead; not exactly with truth, for the 'own
maid' had not been able to divine the exact truth, but with some
sort of similitude to it. He had been told that the archdeacon and
Mrs Grantly and Mr Harding and Mr Arabin had all quarrelled with
'missus' for having received a letter from Mr Slope; that 'missus'
had positively refused to give the letter up; that she had received
from the archdeacon the option of giving up either Mr Slope and his
letter, or the society of Plumstead rectory; and that 'missus' had
declared with much indignation, that 'she didn't care a straw for
the society of Plumstead rectory,' and that she wouldn't give up Mr
Slope for any of them.

Considering the source from whence this came, it was not quite so
untrue as might have been expected. It showed pretty plainly what
had been the nature of the conversation in the servants' hall; and
coupled as it was with the certainty of Eleanor's sudden return, it
appeared to Mr Slope to be so far worthy of credit as to justify
him in thinking that the fair widow would in all human probability
accept his offer.

All this work had therefore to be done. It was desirable he thought
that he should make his offer before it was known that Mr Quiverful
was finally appointed to the hospital. In his letter to Eleanor he
had plainly declared that Mr Harding was to have the appointment.
It would be very difficult to explain this away; and were he to
write another letter to Eleanor, telling the truth and throwing the
blame on the bishop, it would naturally injure him in her
estimation. He determined therefore to let that matter disclose
itself as it would, and to lose no time in throwing himself at her
feet.

Then he had to solicit the assistance of Sir Nicholas Fitzwhiggin
and Mr Towers, and he went directly from the bishop's presence to
compose his letters to those gentlemen. As Mr Slope was esteemed as
an adept at letter writing, they shall be given in full.

'Palace, Barchester, Sept 185-, '(Private)

'My dear Sir Nicholas,--I hope that the intercourse which has been
between us will preclude you from regarding my present application
as an intrusion. You cannot I imagine have yet heard that poor dear
old Dr Trefoil has been seized with apoplexy. It is a subject of
profound grief to every one in Barchester, for he has always been
an excellent man--excellent as man and as a clergyman. He is,
however, full of years, and his life could not under any
circumstances have been much longer spared. You may probably have
known him.

'There is, it appears, no probable chance of his recovery. Sir
Omicron Pie is, I believe, at present with him. At any rate the
medical men here have declared that one or two days more must limit
the tether of his mortal coil. I sincerely trust that his soul may
wing its flight to that haven where it may for ever be at rest and
for ever be happy.

'The bishop has been speaking to me about the preferment, and he is
anxious that it should be conferred on me. I confess that I can
hardly venture, at my age, to look for such advancement; but I am
so far encouraged by his lordship, that I believe I shall be
induced to do so. His lordship goes to London tomorrow, and is
intent on mentioning the subject to the archbishop.

'I know well how deservedly great is your weight with the present
government. In any matter touching church preferment you would of
course be listened to. Now that the matter has been put into my
head, I am of course anxious to be successful. If you can assist me
by your good word, you will confer on me one additional favour.

'I had better add, that Lord - cannot as yet know of this piece of
preferment having fallen in, or rather of the certainty of falling
(for poor dear Dr Trefoil is past hope). Should Lord - first hear
it from you, that might probably bee thought to give you a fair
claim to express your opinion.

'Of course our grand object is, that we should all be of one
opinion in church matters. This is most desirable at Barchester; it
is this that makes our good bishop so anxious about it. You may
probably think it expedient to point this out to Lord - if it shall
be in your power to oblige me by mentioning the subject to his
lordship.

'Believe me, my dear Sir Nicholas, 'Your most faithful servant,
OBADIAH SLOPE.'

His letter to Mr Towers was written in quite a different strain. Mr
Slope conceived that he completely understood the difference in
character and position of the two men whom he addressed. He knew
that for such a man as Sir Nicholas Fitzwhiggin a little flummery
was necessary, and that it might be of the easy everyday
description. Accordingly, his letter to Sir Nicholas was written
currente calamo, with very little trouble. But to such a man as Mr
Towers it was not so easy to write a letter that should be
effective and yet not offensive, that should carry its point
without undue interference. It was not difficult to flatter Dr
Proudie, or Sir Nicholas Fitzwhiggin, but very difficult to flatter
Mr Towers without letting the flattery declare itself. This,
however, had to be done. Moreover, this letter must in appearance
at least, be written without effort, and be fluent, unconstrained,
and demonstrative of no doubt or fear on the part of the writer.
Therefor the epistle to Mr Towers was studied, and recopied, and
elaborated at the cost of so many minutes, that Mr Slope had hardly
time to dress himself and reach Dr Stanhope's that evening.

When dispatched it ran as follows:-

'Barchester, Sept 185- (He purposely omitted any allusion to the
'palace', thinking that Mr Towers might not like it. A great man,
he remembered, had been once much condemned for dating a letter
from Windsor Castle.)

'(Private)

'My dear Sir,--We were all a good deal shocked here this morning by
hearing that poor old Dean Trefoil had been stricken with apoplexy.
The fit took him about 9am. I am writing now to save the post, and
he is still alive, but past all hope, or possibility, I believe, of
living. Sir Omicron Pie is here, or will be very shortly; but all
that even Sir Omicron can do, is to ratify the sentence of his less
distinguished brethren that nothing can be done. Poor Dr Trefoil's
race on this side of the grave is run. I do not know whether you
knew him. He was a good, quiet, charitable man, of the old school
of course, as any clergyman over seventy years of age must
necessarily be.

'But I do not write merely with the object of sending you such news
as this: doubtless some one of your Mercuries will have seen and
heard and reported so much; I write, as you usually do yourself,
rather with a view to the future than to the past.

'Rumour is already rife her as to Dr Trefoil's successor, and among
those named as possible future deans your humble servant is, I
believe, not the least frequently spoken of; in short, I am looking
for the preferment. You may probably know that since Bishop Proudie
came to this diocese, I have exerted myself a good deal; and I may
certainly say not without some success. He and I are nearly always
of the same opinion on points of doctrine as well as church
discipline, and therefore I have had, as his confidential chaplain,
very much in my own hands; but I confess to you that I have a
higher ambition than to remain the chaplain of any bishop.

'There are no positions in which more energy is now needed than in
those of our deans. The whole of our enormous cathedral
establishments have been allowed to go to sleep,--nay, they are all
but dead and ready for the sepulchre! And yet of what prodigious
moment they might be made, if, as we intend, they were so managed
as to lead the way and show an example for all our parochial
clergy!

'The bishop here is most anxious for my success; indeed, he goes
to-morrow to press the matter on the archbishop. I believe also I
may count on the support of at least one of the most effective
member of the government. But I confess the support of the Jupiter,
if I be thought worthy of it, would be more gratifying to me than
any other; more gratifying if by it I should be successful; and
more gratifying also, if, although, so supported, I should be
unsuccessful.

'The time has, in fact, come in which no government can venture to
fill up the high places of the Church in defiance of the public
press. The age of honourable bishops and noble deans has gone by;
and any clergyman however humbly born can now hope for success, if
his industry, talent, and character, be sufficient to call forth
the manifest opinion of the public in his favour.

'At the present moment we all feel that any counsel given in such
matters by the Jupiter has the greatest weight,--is, indeed,
generally followed; and we feel also--I am speaking of clergymen of
my own age and standing--that it should be so. There can be no
patron less interested than the Jupiter, and none that more
thoroughly understands the wants of the people.

'I am sure you will not suspect me of asking from you any support
which the paper with which you are connected cannot conscientiously
give me. My object in writing is to let you know that I am a
candidate for the appointment. It is for you to judge whether or no
you can assist my views. I should not, of course, have written to
you on such a matter had I not believed (and I have had good reason
so to believe) that the Jupiter approves of my views on
ecclesiastical polity.

'The bishop expresses a fear that I may be considered too young for
such a station, my age being thirty-six. I cannot think that at the
present day any hesitation need be felt on such a point. The public
has lost its love for antiquated servants. If a man will ever be
fit to do good work he will be fit at thirty-six years of age.

'Believe me very faithfully yours, OBADIAH SLOPE

'T. TOWERS, Esq., 'Middle Temple.'

Having thus exerted himself, Mr Slope posted his letters, and
passed the remainder of the evening at the feet of his mistress.

Mr Slope will be accused of deceit in his mode of canvassing. It
will be said that he lied in the application he made to each of his
three patrons. I believe it must be owned that he did so. He could
not hesitate on account of his youth, and yet, be quite assured
that he was not too young. He could not count chiefly on the
bishop's support, and chiefly also on that of the newspaper. He did
not think that the bishop was going to press the matter on the
archbishop. It must be owned that in his canvassing Mr Slope was as
false as he well could be.

Let it, however, be asked of those who are conversant with such
matters, whether he was more false than men usually are on such
occasions. We English gentlemen hate the name of a lie; but how
often do we find public men who believe each other's words?



CHAPTER XXXIII

MRS PROUDIE VICTRIX

The next week passed over at Barchester with much apparent
tranquillity. The hearts, however, of some of the inhabitants were
not so tranquil as the streets of the city. The poor old dean still
continued to live, just as Sir Omicron had prophesied that he would
do, much to amazement, and some thought, disgust, of Dr Fillgrave.
The bishop still remained away. He had stayed a day or two in town,
and had also remained longer at the archbishop's than he had
intended. Mr Slope had as yet received no line in answer to either
of his letters; but he had learnt the cause of this. Sir Nicholas
was stalking a deer, or attending the Queen, in the Highlands; and
even the indefatigable Mr Towers had stolen an autumn holiday, and
had made one of the yearly tribe who now ascend Mont Blanc. Mr
Slope learnt that he was not expected back till the last day of
September.

Mrs Bold was thrown much with the Stanhopes, of whom she became
fonder and fonder. If asked, she would have said that Charlotte
Stanhope was her special friend, and so she would have thought.
But, to tell the truth, she liked Bertie nearly as well; she had no
more idea of regarding him as a lover than she would have had of
looking at a big tame dog in such a light. Bertie had become very
intimate with her, and made little speeches to her, and said little
things of sort very different from the speeches and sayings of
other men. But then this was almost always done before his sisters;
and he, with his long silken beard, his light blue eyes and strange
dress, was so unlike other men. She admitted him to a kind of
familiarity which she had never known with any one else, and of
which she by no means understood the danger. She blushed once at
finding that she had called him Bertie, and on the same day only
barely remembered her position in time to check herself from
playing upon him some personal practical joke to which she was
instigated by Charlotte.

In all this Eleanor was perfectly innocent, and Bertie Stanhope
could hardly be called guilty. But every familiarity into which
Eleanor was entrapped was deliberately planned by his sister. She
knew well how to play her game, and played it without mercy; she
knew, none so well, what was her brother's character, and she would
have handed over to him the young widow, and the young widow's
money, and the money of the widow's child, without remorse. With
her pretended friendship and warm cordiality, she strove to connect
Eleanor so closely with her brother as to make it impossible that
she should go back even if she wished it. But Charlotte Stanhope
knew really nothing of Eleanor's character; did not even understand
that there were such characters. She did not comprehend that a
young and pretty woman could be playful and familiar with a man
such as Bertie Stanhope, and yet have no idea in her head, no
feeling in her heart that she would have been ashamed to own to all
the world. Charlotte Stanhope did not in the least conceive that
her new friend was a woman whom nothing could entrap into an
inconsiderate marriage, whose mind would have revolted from the
slightest impropriety had she been aware that any impropriety
existed.

Miss Stanhope, however, had tact enough to make herself and her
father's house very agreeable to Mrs Bold. There was with them all
an absence of stiffness and formality which was peculiarly
agreeable to Eleanor after the great dose of clerical arrogance
which she had lately been constrained to take. She played chess
with them, walked with them, and drank tea with them; studied or
pretended to study astronomy; assisted them in writing stories in
rhyme, in turning prose tragedy into comic verse, or comic stories
into would-be tragic poetry. She had no idea before that she had
any such talents. She had not conceived the possibility of her
doing such things as she now did. She found with the Stanshopes new
amusements and employments, new pursuits, which in themselves could
not be wrong, and which were exceedingly alluring.

Is it not a pity that people who are bright and clever should so
often be exceedingly improper? And that those who are never
improper should so often be dull and heavy? Now Charlotte Stanhope
was always bright, and never heavy: but her propriety was doubtful.

But during all this time Eleanor by no means forgot Mr Arabin, nor
did she forget Mr Slope. She had parted from Mr Arabin in her
anger. She was still angry at what she regarded as his impertinent
interference; but nevertheless she looked forward to meeting him
again; and also looked forward to forgiving him. The words that Mr
Arabin had uttered still sounded in her ears. She knew that if not
intended for a declaration of love, they did signify that he loved
her; and she felt also that if he ever did make such a declaration,
it might be that she should not receive it unkindly. She was still
angry with him, very angry with him; so angry that she would bit
her lip and stamp her foot as she thought of what he had said and
done. But nevertheless she yearned to let him know that he was
forgiven; all that she required was that he should own that he had
sinned.

She was to meet him at Ullathorne on the last day of the present
month. Miss Thorne had invited all the country round to a breakfast
on the lawn. There were to be tents and archery, and dancing for
the ladies on the lawn, and for the swains and girls in the
paddock. There were to be fiddlers and fifers, races for the boys,
poles to be climbed, ditches full of water to be jumped over,
horse-collars to be grinned through (this latter amusement was an
addition of the stewards, and not arranged by Miss Thorne in the
original programme), and every game to be played which, in a long
course of reading, Miss Thorne could ascertain to have been played
in the good days of Queen Elizabeth. Everything of more modern
growth was to be tabooed, if possible. On one subject Miss Thorne
was very unhappy. She had been turning in her mind the matter of
the bull-ring, but could not succeed in making anything of it. She
would not for the world have done, or allowed to be done, anything
that was cruel; as to the promoting the torture of a bull for the
amusement of her young neighbours, it need hardly be said that Miss
Thorne would be the last to think of it. And yet, there was
something so charming in the name. A bull-ring, however, without a
bull would only be a memento of the decadence of the times, and she
felt herself constrained to abandon the idea. Quintains, however,
she was determined to have, and had poles and swivels and bags of
flour prepared accordingly. She would no doubt have been anxious
for something small in the way of a tournament; but, as she said to
her brother, that had been tried, and the age had proved itself too
decidedly inferior to its fore-runners to admit of such a pastime.
Mr Thorne did not seem to participate in her regret, feeling
perhaps that a full suit of chain-armour would have added but
little to his own personal comfort.

This party at Ullathorne had been planned in the first place as a
sort of welcoming to Mr Arabin on his entrance into St Ewold's
parsonage; an intended harvest-home gala for the labourers and
their wives and children had subsequently been amalgamated with it,
and thus it had grown into its present dimensions. All the
Plumstead party had of course been asked, at the time of the
invitation Eleanor had intended to have gone with her sister. Now
her plans were altered, and she was going with the Stanhopes. The
Proudies were also to be there; and as Mr Slope had not been
included in the invitation to the palace, the signora, whose
impudence never deserted her, asked permission of Miss Thorne to
bring him.

This permission Miss Thorne gave, having no other alternative; but
she did so with a trembling heart, fearing Mr Arabin would be
offended. Immediately on his return she apologised, almost with
tears, so dire an enmity was presumed to rage between the two
gentlemen. But Mr Arabin comforted by an assurance that he should
meet Mr Slope with the greatest pleasure imaginable, and made her
promise that she would introduce them to each other.

But this triumph of Mr Slope's was not so agreeable to Eleanor, who
since her return to Barchester had done her best to avoid him. She
would not give way to the Plumstead folk when they so ungenerously
accused her of being in love with this odious man; but,
nevertheless, knowing that she was so accused, she was fully alive
to the expediency of keeping out of his way and dropping him by
degrees. She had seen very little of him since her return. Her
servants had been instructed to say to all visitors that she was
out. She could not bring herself to specify Mr Slope particularly,
and in order to order to avoid him she had thus debarred herself
from all her friends. She had excepted Charlotte Stanhope, and, by
degrees, a few others also. Once she had met him at the Stanhope's;
but, as a rule, Mr Slope's visits there had been made in the
morning, and hers in the evening. On that one occasion Charlotte
had managed to preserve her from any annoyance. This was very
good-natured on the part of Charlotte, as Eleanor thought, and also
very sharp-witted, as Eleanor had told her friend nothing of her
reasons for wishing to avoid that gentleman. The fact, however,
was, that Charlotte had learnt from her sister that Mr Slope would
probably put himself forward as a suitor for the widow's hand, and
she was consequently sufficiently alive to the expediency of
guarding Bertie's future wife from any danger in that quarter.

Nevertheless the Stanhopes were pledged to take Mr Slope with them
to Ullathorne. An arrangement was therefore necessarily made, which
was very disagreeable to Eleanor. Dr Stanhope, with herself,
Charlotte, and Mr Slope, were to go together, and Bertie was to
follow with his sister Madeline. It was clearly visible to
Eleanor's face that this assortment was very disagreeable to her;
and Charlotte, who was much encouraged thereby in her own little
plan, made a thousand apologies.

'I see you don't like it, dear,' said she, 'but we could not manage
it otherwise. Bertie would give his eyes to go with you, but
Madeline cannot possibly go without him. Nor could we possibly put
Mr Slope and Madeline in the same carriage without anyone else.
They'd both be ruined for ever, you know, and not admitted inside
Ullathorne gates, I should imagine, after such an impropriety.'

'Of course that wouldn't do,' said Eleanor; 'but couldn't I go in
the carriage with the signora and your brother?'

'Impossible!' said Charlotte. 'When she is there, there is only
room for two.' The signora, in truth, did not care to do her
travelling in the presence of strangers.

'Well, then,' said Eleanor, 'you are all so kind, Charlotte, and so
good to me, that I am sure you won't be offended; but I think I
shall not go at all.'

'Not go at all!--what nonsense!--indeed you shall.' it had been
absolutely determined in family council that Bertie should propose
on that very occasion.

'Or I can take a fly,' said Eleanor. 'You know that I am not
embarrassed by so many difficulties as you young ladies. I can go
alone.'

'Nonsense, my dear. Don't think of such a thing; after all it is
only for an hour or so, and to tell the truth, I don't know what it is
you dislike so. I thought you and Mr Slope were great friends. What
is it you dislike?'

'Oh; nothing particular,' said Eleanor; 'only I thought it would be
a family party.'

'Of course it would be much nicer, much more snug, if Bertie would
go with us. It is he that is badly treated. I can assure you he is
much more afraid of Mr Slope than you are. But you see Madeline
cannot go without him,--and she, poor creature, goes out so seldom!
I am sure you don't begrudge her this, though her vagary does knock
about our own party a little.'

Of course Eleanor made a thousand protestations, a uttered a
thousand hopes that Madeline would enjoy herself. And of course she
had to give way, and undertake to go in the carriage with Mr Slope.
In fact, she was driven either to so this, or to explain why she
would not do so. Now she could not bring herself to explain to
Charlotte Stanhope all that had passed at Plumstead.

But it was to her a sore necessity. She thought of a thousand
little schemes for avoiding it; she would plead illness, and not go
at all; she would persuade Mary Bold to go although not asked, and
then make a necessity of having a carriage of her own to take her
sister-in-law; anything, in fact, she could do rather than be seen
in the same carriage with Mr Slope. However, when the momentous
morning came she had no scheme matured, and then Mr Slope handed
her into Dr Stanhope's carriage, and following her steps, sat
opposite to her.

The bishop returned on the eve of the Ullathorne party, and was
received at home with radiant smiles by the partner of all his
cares. On his arrival he crept up to his dressing-room with
somewhat of a palpitating heart; he had overstayed his allotted
time by three days, and was not without fear of penalties. Nothing,
however, could be more affectionately cordial than the greeting he
received; the girls came out and kissed him in a manner that was
quite soothing to his spirit; and Mrs Proudie, arms, and almost in
words called him her dear, darling, good, pet, little bishop. All
this was a very pleasant surprise.

Mrs Proudie had somewhat changed her tactics; not that she had seen
any cause to disapprove of her former line of conduct, but she had
now brought matters to such a point that she calculated that she
might safely do so. She had got the better of Mr Slope, and she now
thought well to show her husband that when allowed to get the
better of everybody, when obeyed by him and permitted to rule over
others, she would take care that he should have his reward. Mr
Slope had not a chance against her; not only could she stun the
poor bishop by her midnight anger, but she could assuage and soothe
him, if she so willed by daily indulgences. She could furnish his
room for him, turn him out as smart a bishop as any on the bench,
give him good dinners, warm fires, and an easy life; all this she
would do if he would but be quietly obedient. But if not--! To
speak sooth, however, his sufferings on that dreadful night had
been as poignant, as to leave him little spirit for further
rebellion.

As soon as he had dressed himself she returned to his room. 'I hope
you enjoyed yourself at--' said she, seating herself on one side of
the fire while he remained in his arm-chair on the other, stroking
the calves of his legs. It was the first time he had had a fire in
his room since the summer, and it pleased him; for the good bishop
loved to be warm and cosy. Nothing could be more polite than the
archbishop; and Mrs Archbishop had been equally charming.

Mrs Proudie was delighted to hear it; nothing, she declared,
pleased her so much as to think

      Her bairn respectit like the lave.

She did not put it precisely in these words, but what she said came
to the same thing; and then, having petted and fondled her little
man sufficiently, she proceeded to business.

'The poor dean is still alive,' said she.

'So I hear, so I hear,' said the bishop. 'I'll go to the deanery
directly after breakfast to-morrow.'

'We are going to this party at Ullathorne to-morrow morning, my
dear; we must be there early, you know,--by twelve o'clock I
suppose.'

'Oh,--ah!' said the bishop; 'then I'll certainly call the next day.

'Was much said about it at--?' asked Mrs Proudie.

'About what?' said the bishop.

'Filling up the dean's place,' said Mrs Proudie. As she spoke a
spark of the wonted fire returned to her eye, and the bishop felt
himself to be a little less comfortable than before.

'Filling up the dean's place; that is, if the dean dies?--very
little, my dear. It was mentioned, just mentioned.'

'And what did you say about it, bishop?'

'Why I said that I thought that if, that is, should--should the
dean die, that is, I said I thought--' As he went on stammering and
floundering, he saw that his wife's eye was fixed sternly on him.
Why should he encounter such evil for a man whom he loved so
slightly as Mr Slope? Why should he give up his enjoyments and his
ease, and such dignity as might be allowed to him, to fight a
losing battle for a chaplain? The chaplain after all, if
successful, would be as great a tyrant as his wife. Why fight at
all? Why contend? Why be uneasy? From that moment he determined to
fling Mr Slope to the winds, and take the goods the gods provided.

'I am told,' said Mrs Proudie, speaking very slowly, 'that Mr Slope
is looking to be the new dean.'

'Yes,--certainly, I believe he is,' said the bishop.

'And what does the archbishop say about that?' asked Mrs Proudie.

'Well, my dear, to tell the truth, I promised Mr Slope to speak to
the archbishop. Mr Slope spoke to me about it. It was very arrogant
of him, I must say,--but that is nothing to me.'

'Arrogant!' said Mrs Proudie; 'it is the most impudent piece of
pretension I ever heard in my life. Mr Slope dean of Barchester,
indeed! And what did you do in the matter, bishop?'

'Why, my dear, I did speak to the archbishop.'

'You don't mean to tell me,' said Mrs Proudie, 'that you are going
to make yourself ridiculous by lending your name to such
preposterous attempts as this? Mr Slope dean of Barchester indeed!'
And she tossed her head, and put her arms a-kimbo, with an air of
confident defiance that made her husband quite sure that Mr Slope
never would be Dean of Barchester. In truth, Mrs Proudie was all
but invincible; had she married Petruchio, it may be doubted
whether that arch wife-tamer would have been able to keep her legs
out of those garments which are presumed by men to be peculiarly
unfitted for feminine use.

'It is preposterous, my dear.'

'Then why have you endeavoured to assist him?'

'Why,--my dear, I haven't assisted him--much.'

'But why have you done it at all? Why have you mixed your name up
in any thing so ridiculous? What was it you did say to the
archbishop?'

'Why, I did just mention it; I just did say that--that in the event
of the poor dean's death, Mr Slope would--would--'

'Would what?'

'I forget how I put it,--would take it if he could get it;
something of that sort. I didn't say much more than that.'

'You shouldn't have said anything at all. And what did the
archbishop say?'

'He didn't say anything; he just bowed and rubbed his hands.
Somebody else came up at the moment, and as we were discussing the
new parochial universal school committee, the matter of the new
dean dropped; after that I didn't think it was wise to renew it.'

'Renew it! I am very sorry you ever mentioned it. What will the
archbishop think of that?'

'You may be sure, my dear, that the archbishop thought very little
about it.'

'But why did you think about it, bishop? How could you think of
making such a creature as that Dean of Barchester?--Dean of
Barchester! I suppose he'll be looking for bishoprics some of these
days--a man that hardly knows who his father was; a man that I
found without bread to his mouth, or a coat to his back. Dean of
Barchester indeed! I'll dean him.'

Mrs Proudie considered herself to be in politics a pure Whig; all
her family belonged to the Whig party. Now among all ranks of
Englishmen and Englishwomen (Mrs Proudie should, I think, be ranked
among the former, on the score of her great strength of mind), no
one is so hostile to lowly born pretenders to high station as the
pure Whig.

The bishop thought it necessary to exculpate himself. 'Why, my
dear,' said he, 'it appeared to me that you and Mr Slope did not
get on quite as well as you used to do.'

'Get on!' said Mrs Proudie, moving her foot uneasily on the
hearth-rug, and compressing her lips in a manner that betokened
such danger to the subject of their discourse.

'I began to find that he was objectionable to you,'--Mrs Proudie's
foot worked on the hearth-rug with great rapidity,--'and that you
would be more comfortable if he was out of the palace,' Mrs Proudie
smiled, as a hyena may probably smile before he begins his
laugh,--'and therefore I thought that if he got this place, and so
ceased to be my chaplain, you might be pleased at such an
arrangement.'

And then the hyena laughed loud. Pleased at such an arrangement!
pleased at having her enemy converted into a dean with twelve
hundred a year! Medea, when she describes the customs of her native
country (I am quoting from Robson's edition), assures her
astonished auditor that in her land captives, when taken, are
eaten. 'You pardon them!' says Medea. 'We do indeed,' says the mild
Grecian. 'We eat them!' says she of Colchis, with terrible energy.
Mrs Proudie was the Medea of Barchester; she had no idea of not
eating Mr Slope. Pardon him! merely get rid of him! make a dean of
him! It was not so they did with their captives in her country,
among people of her sort! Mr Slope had no such mercy to expect; she
would pick him to the very last bone.

'Oh, yes, my dear, of course he'll cease to be your chaplain,' said
she. 'After what has passed, that must be a matter of course. I
couldn't for a moment think of living in the same house with such a
man. Besides, he has shown himself quite unfit for such a
situation; making broils and quarrels among the clergy, getting
you, my dear, into scrapes, and taking upon himself as though he
was as good as bishop himself. Of course he'll go. But because he
leaves the palace, that is no reason why he should get into the
deanery.'

'Oh, of course not!' said the bishop; 'but to save appearances you
know, my dear--'

'I don't want to save appearances; I want Mr Slope to appear just
what he is--a false, designing, mean, intriguing man. I have my eye
on him; he little knows what I see. He is misconducting himself in
the most disgraceful way with that lame Italian woman. That family
is a disgrace to Barchester, and Mr Slope is a disgrace to
Barchester! If he doesn't look well to it, he'll have his gown
stripped off his back instead of having a dean's hat on his head.
Dean, indeed! The man has gone mad with arrogance.

The bishop said nothing further to excuse either himself or his
chaplain, and having shown himself passive and docile was again
taken into favour. They soon went to dinner, and he spent the
pleasantest evening he had had in his own house for a long time.
His daughter played and sang to him as he sipped his coffee and
read his newspaper, and Mrs Proudie asked good-natured little
questions about the archbishop; and then he went happily to bed,
and slept as quietly as though Mrs Proudie had been Griselda
herself. While shaving himself in the morning and preparing for the
festivities of Ullathorne, he fully resolved to run no more tilts
against a warrior so fully armed at all points as was Mrs Proudie.



CHAPTER XXXIV

OXFORD--THE MASTER AND TUTOR OF LAZARUS

Mr Arabin, as we have said, had but a sad walk of it under the
trees of Plumstead churchyard. He did not appear to any of the
family till dinner time, and then he assumed, as far as their
judgment went, to be quite himself. He had, as was his wont, asked
himself a great many questions, and given himself a great many
answers; and the upshot of this was that he had set himself down
for an ass. He had determined that he was much too old and much to
rusty to commence the manouvres of lovemaking; that he had let the
time slip through his hands which should have been used for such
purposes; and that now he must lie on his bed as he had made it.
Then he asked himself whether in truth he did love this woman; and
he answered himself, not without a long struggle, but at last
honestly, that he certainly did love her. He then asked himself
whether he did not also love her money; and he again answered
himself that he did so. But here he did not answer honestly. It was
and ever had been his weakness to look for impure motives for his
own conduct. No doubt, circumstanced as he was, with a small living
and a fellowship, accustomed as he had been to collegiate luxuries
and expensive comforts, he might have hesitated to marry a
penniless woman had he felt ever so strong a predilection for the
woman herself; no doubt Eleanor's fortune put all such difficulties
out of the question; but it was equally without doubt that his love
for her had crept upon him without the slightest idea on his part
that he could ever benefit his own condition by sharing her wealth.

When he had stood on the hearth-rug, counting the pattern, and
counting also the future chances of his own life, the remembrances
of Mrs Bold's comfortable income had not certainly damped his first
assured feeling of love for her. And why should it have done so?
Need it have done so with the purest of men? Be that as it may, Mr
Arabin decided against himself; he decided that it had done so in
his case, and that he was not the purest of men.

He also decided, which was more to his purpose, that Eleanor did
not care a straw for him, and that very probably did not care a
straw for his rival. Then he made up his mind not to think of her
any more, and went on thinking of her till he was almost in a state
to drown himself in the little brook which was at the bottom of the
archdeacon's grounds.

And ever and again his mind would revert to the Signora Neroni, and
he would make comparisons between her and Eleanor Bold, not always
in favour of the latter. The signora had listened to him, and
flattered him, and believed in him; at least she had told him so.
Mrs Bold had also listened to him, but had never flattered him; had
not always believed in him: and now had broken from him in violent
rage. The signora, too, was the more lovely woman of the two, and
had also the additional attraction of her affliction; for to him it
was an attraction.

But he never could have loved the Signora Neroni as he felt that he
now loved Eleanor! and so he flung stones into the brook, instead
of flinging in himself, and sat down on its margin as sad a
gentleman as you shall meet in a summer's day.

He heard the dinner-bell ring from the churchyard, and he knew that
it was time to recover his self possession. He felt that he was
disgracing himself in his own eyes, that he had been idling his
time and neglecting the high duties which he had taken upon himself
to perform. He should have spent the afternoon among the poor at St
Ewold's, instead of wandering about Plumstead, an ancient love-lorn
swain, dejected and sighing, full of imaginary sorrows and
Wertherian grief. He was thoroughly ashamed of himself, and
determined to lose no time in retrieving his character, so damaged
in his own eyes. Thus when he appeared at dinner he was as animated
as ever, and was the author of most of the conversation which
graced the archdeacon's board on that evening. Mr Harding was ill
at ease and sick at heart, and did not care to appear more
comfortable than he really was; what little he did say was said to
his daughter. He thought the archdeacon and Mr Arabin had leagued
together against Eleanor's comfort; and his wish now was to break
away from the pair, and undergo in his Barchester lodgings whatever
Fate had in store for him. He hated the name of the hospital; his
attempt to regain his lost inheritance there had brought upon him
so much suffering. As far as he was concerned, Mr Quiverful was now
welcome to the place.

And the archdeacon was not very lively. The poor dean's illness was
of course discussed in the first place. Dr Grantly did not mention
Mr Slope's name in connexion with the expected event of Dr
Trefoil's death; he did not wish to say anything about Mr Slope
just at present, nor did he wish to make known his own sad
surmises; but the idea that his enemy might possibly become Dean of
Barchester made him very gloomy. Should such an even take place,
such a dire catastrophe come about, there would be an end to his
life as far as his life was connected with the city of Barchester.
He must give up all his old haunts, all his old habits, and live
quietly as a retired rector at Plumstead. It had been a severe
trial for him to have Dr Proudie in the palace; but with Mr Slope
also in the deanery, he felt that he should be unable to draw his
breath in Barchester close.

Thus it came to pass that in spite of the sorrow at his heart, Mr
Arabin was apparently the gayest of the party. Both Mr Harding and
Mrs Grantly were in a slight degree angry with him on account of
his want of gloom. To the one it appeared as though he were
triumphing at Eleanor's banishment, and to the other that he was
not affected as he should have been by all the sad circumstances of
the day, Eleanor's obstinacy, Mr Slope's success, and the poor
dean's apoplexy. And so they were all at cross purposes.

Mr Harding left the room almost together with the ladies, and the
archdeacon opened his heart to Mr Arabin. He still harped upon the
hospital. 'What did that fellow mean,' said he, 'by saying in his
letter to Mrs Bold, that if Mr Harding would call on the bishop it
would be all right? Of course I would not be guided by anything he
might say; but still it may be well that Mr Harding should see the
bishop. It would be foolish to let the thing slip through our
fingers because Mrs Bold is determined to make a fool of herself.'

Mr Arabin hinted that he was not quite so sure that Mrs Bold would
make a fool of herself. He said that he was not convinced that she
did regard Mr Slope so warmly as she was supposed to do. The
archdeacon questioned and cross-questioned him about this, but
elicited nothing; and at least remained firm in his own conviction
that he was destined, malgre lui, to be the brother-in-law of Mr
Slope. Mr Arabin strongly advised that Mr Harding should take no
step regarding the hospital in connexion with, or in consequence
of, Mr Slope's letter. 'If the bishop really means to confer the
appointment on Mr Harding,' argued Mr Arabin, 'he will take care to
let him have some other intimation than a message conveyed through
a letter to a lady. Were Mr Harding to present himself at the
palace he might merely be playing Mr Slope's game;' and thus it was
settled that nothing should be done till the great Dr Gwynne's
arrival, or at any rate without that potentate's sanction.

It was droll how these men talked of Mr Harding as though he were a
puppet, and planned their intrigues and small ecclesiastical
manouvres without dreaming of taking him into their confidence.
There was a comfortable house and income in question, and it was
very desirable, and certainly very just, that Mr Harding should
have them; but that, at present, was not the main point; it was
expedient to beat the bishop, and if possible to smash Mr Slope. Mr
Slope had set up, or was supposed to have set up, a rival
candidate. Of all things the most desirable would have been to have
had Mr Quiverful's appointment published to the public, and then
annulled by the clamour of an indignant world, loud in the defence
of Mr Harding's rights. But of such an event the chance was small;
a slight fraction only of the world would be indignant, and that
fraction would be one not accustomed to loud speaking. And then the
preferment had in a sort of way been offered to Mr Harding, and had
in a sort of way been refused by him.

Mr Slope's wicked, cunning hand had been peculiarly conspicuous in
the way in which this had been brought to pass, and it was the
success of Mr Slope's cunning which was so painfully grating the
feelings of the archdeacon. That which of all things he most
dreaded was that he should be out-generalled by Mr Slope: and just
at present it appeared probable that Mr Slope would turn his flank,
steal a march on him, cut off his provisions, carry his strong town
by a coup de main, and at last beat him thoroughly in a regular
pitched battle. The archdeacon felt that his flank had been turned
when desired to wait on Mr Slope instead of the bishop, that a
march had been stolen when Mr Harding was induced to refuse the
bishop's offer, that his provisions would be cut off when Mr
Quiverful got the hospital, that Eleanor was the strong town doomed
to be taken, and that Mr Slope, as Dean of Barchester, would be
regarded by all the world as the conqueror in that final conflict.

Dr Gwyinne was the Deus ex machina who was to come down upon the
Barchester stage, and bring about deliverance from these terrible
evils. But how can melodramatic denouments be properly brought
about, how can vice and Mr Slope be punished, and virtue and the
archdeacon be rewarded, while the avenging god is laid up with the
gout? In the mean time evil may be triumphant, and poor innocence,
transfixed to the earth by an arrow from Dr Proudie's quiver, may
be dead upon the ground, not to be resuscitated even by Dr Gwynne.

Two or three days after Eleanor's departure, Mr Arabin went to
Oxford, and soon found himself closeted with the august head of his
college. It was quite clear that Dr Gwynne was not very sanguine as
to the effects of his journey to Barchester, and not over anxious
to interfere with the bishop. He had had the gout but was very
nearly convalescent, and Mr Arabin at once saw that had the mission
been one of which the master thoroughly approved, he would before
this have been at Plumstead.

As it was, Dr Gwynne was resolved to visiting his friend, and
willingly promised to return to Barchester with Mr Arabin. He could
not bring himself to believe that there was any probability that Mr
Slope would be made Dean of Barchester. Rumour, he said, had
reached even his ears not at all favourable to that gentleman's
character, and he expressed himself strongly of the opinion that
any such appointment was quite out of the question. At this stage
of the proceedings, the master's right-hand man, Tom Staple, was
called in to assist at the conference. Tom Staple was the Tutor of
Lazarus, and moreover a great man at Oxford. Though universally
known by a species of nomenclature as very undignified. Tom Staple
was one who maintained a high dignity in the University. He was, as
it were, the leader of the Oxford tutors, a body of men who
consider themselves collectively as being by very little, if at
all, second in importance to the heads themselves. It is not always
the case that the master, or warden, or provost, or principal can
hit it off exactly with his tutor. A tutor is by no means
indisposed to have a will of his own. But at Lazarus they were
great friends and firm allies at the time of which we are writing.

Tom Staple was a hale strong man of about forty-five; short in
stature, swarthy in face, with strong sturdy black hair, and crisp
black beard, of which very little was allowed to show itself in the
shape of whiskers. He always wore a white neckcloth, clean indeed,
but not tied with that scrupulous care which now distinguishes some
of our younger clergy. He was, of course, always clothed in a
seemly suit of solemn black. Mr Staple was a decent cleanly liver,
not over addicted to any sensuality; but nevertheless a somewhat
warmish hue was beginning to adorn his nose, the peculiar effect,
as his friends averred, of a certain pipe of port introduced into
the cellars of Lazarus the very same year in which the tutor
entered in as a freshman. There was also, perhaps with a little
redolence of port wine, as it were the slightest possible twang, in
Mr Staple's voice.

In these days Tom Staple was not a very happy man; University
reform had long been his bugbear, and now was his bane. It was not
with him as with most others, an affair of politics, respecting
which, when the need existed, he could, for parties' sake or on
behalf of principle, maintain a certain amount of necessary zeal;
it was not with him a subject for dilettante warfare, and courteous
common-place opposition. To him it was life and death. He would
willingly have been a martyr in the cause, had the cause admitted
of martyrdom.

At the present day, unfortunately, public affairs will allow of no
martyrs, and therefore it is that there is such a deficiency of
zeal. Could gentlemen of L 10,000 a year have died on their own
door-steps in defence of protection, no doubt some half-dozen
glorious old baronets would have so fallen, and the school of
protection would at this day have been crowded with scholars. Who
can fight strenuously in any combat in which there is no danger?
Tom Staple would have willingly been impaled before a Committee of
the House, could he by such self-sacrifice have infused his own
spirit into the component members of the hebdomadal board.

Tom Staple was one of those who in his heart approved of the credit
system which had of old been in vogue between the students and
tradesmen of the University. He knew and acknowledged to himself
that it was useless in these degenerate days publicly to contend
with the Jupiter on such a subject. The Jupiter had undertaken to
rule the University, and Tom Staple was well aware that the Jupiter
was too powerful for him. But in secret, and among his safe
companions, he would argue that the system of credit was an ordeal
good for young men to undergo.

The bad men, said he, and the weak and worthless, blunder into
danger and burn their feet; but the good men, they who have any
character, they who have that within them which can reflect credit
in their Alma Mater, they come through scatheless. What merit will
there be to a young man to get through safely, if he guarded and
protected and restrained like a school-boy? By so doing, the period
of the ordeal is only postponed, and the manhood of the man will be
deferred from the age of twenty to that of twenty-four. If you bind
him with leading-strings at college, he will break loose while
eating for the bar in London; bind him there, and he will break
loose afterwards, when he is a married man. The wild oats must be
sown somewhere. 'Twas thus that Tom Staple would argue of young
men; not, indeed, with much consistency, but still with some
practical knowledge of the subject gathered from long experience.

And now Tom Staple proffered such wisdom as he had for the
assistance of Dr Gwynne and Mr Arabin.

'Quite out of the question,' said he, arguing that Mr Slope could
not possibly be made the new Dean of Barchester.

'So I think,' said the master. 'He has no standing, and, if all I
hear be true, very little character.'

'As to character,' said Tom Staple, 'I don't think much of that.
They rather like loose parsons for deans; a little fast living, or
a dash of infidelity, is no bad recommendation to a cathedral
close. But they couldn't make Mr Slope; the last two deans have
been Cambridge men; you'll not show me an instance of their making
three men running from the same University. We don't get out share,
and never shall, I suppose; but we must at least have one out of
the three.'

'These sort of rules are all gone out by now,' said Mr Arabin.

'Everything has gone by, I believe,' said Tom Staple. 'The cigar
has been smoked out, and we are the ashes.'

'Speak for yourself, Staple,' said the master.

'I speak for all,' said the tutor stoutly. 'It is coming to that,
that there will be no life left anywhere in the country. No one is
any longer fit to rule himself, or those belonging to him. The
Government is to find us all in everything, and the press is to
find the Government. Nevertheless, Mr Slope won't be Dean of
Barchester.'

'And who will be the warden of the hospital?' said Mr Arabin.

'I hear that Mr Quiverful is already appointed,' said Tom Staple.

'I think not,' said the master. 'And I think, moreover, that Dr
Proudie will not be so short-sighted as to run against such a rock;
Mr Slope should himself have sense enough to prevent it.'

'But perhaps Mr Slope may have no objection to see his patron on a
rock,' said the suspicious tutor.

'What could he get by that?' asked Mr Arabin.

'It is impossible to see the doubles of such a man,' said Mr
Staple. 'It seems quite clear that Bishop Proudie is altogether in
his hands, and it is equally clear that he has been moving heaven
and earth to get this Mr Quiverful into the hospital, although he
must know that such an appointment would be most damaging to the
bishop. It is impossible to understand such a man, and dreadful to
think,' added Mr Staple, sighing deeply, 'that the welfare and
fortunes of good men may depend on his intrigues.'

Dr Gwynne or Mr Staple were not in the least aware, nor even was Mr
Arabin that this Mr Slope, of whom they were talking, had been
using his utmost efforts to put their own candidate into the
hospital; and that in lieu of being a permanent in the palace, his
own expulsion therefrom had been already decided on by the high
powers of the diocese.

'I'll tell you what,' said the tutor, 'if this Quiverful is thrust
into the hospital and Dr Trefoil must die, I should not wonder if
the Government were to make Mr Harding Dean of Barchester. They
would feel bound to do something for him after all that was said
when he resigned.'

Dr Gwynne at the moment made no reply to this suggestion; but it
did not the less impress itself on his mind. If Mr Harding could
not be warden of the hospital, why should he not be Dean of
Barchester?

And so the conference ended without any very fixed resolution, and
Dr Gwynne and Mr Arabin prepared for their journey to Plumstead on
the morrow.



CHAPTER XXXV

MISS THORNE'S FETE CHAMPETRE

The day of the Ullathorne party arrived, and all the world was
there; or at least so much of the world as had been included in
Miss Thorne's invitation. As we have said, the bishop returned home
on the previous evening, and on the same evening, and by the same
train, came Dr Gwynne and Mr Arabin from Oxford. The archdeacon
with his brougham was in waiting for the Master of Lazarus, so that
there was a goodly show of church dignitaries on the platform of
the railway.

The Stanhope party was finally arranged in the odious manner
already described, and Eleanor got into the doctor's waiting
carriage full of apprehension and presentiment of further
misfortunes, whereas Mr Slope entered the vehicle elate with
triumph.

He had received that morning a civil note from Sir Nicholas
Fitzwiggin; not promising much indeed; but then Mr Slope knew, or
fancied that he knew, that it was not etiquette for government
officers to make promises. Though Sir Nicholas promised nothing he
implied a good deal; declared his conviction that Mr Slope would
make an excellent dean, and wished him every kind of success. To be
sure he added that, not being in the cabinet, he was never
consulted on such matters, and that even if he spoke on the subject
his voice would go for nothing. But all this Mr Slope took for the
prudent reserve of official life. To complete his anticipated
triumph, another letter was brought to him just as he was about to
start to Ullathorne.

Mr Slope also enjoyed the idea of handing Mrs Bold out of Dr
Stanhope's carriage before the multitude at Ullathorne gate, as
much as Eleanor dreaded the same ceremony. He had fully made up his
mind to throw himself and his fortune at the widow's feet, and had
almost determined to select the present propitious morning for
doing so. The signora had of late been less than civil to him. She
had indeed admitted his visits, and listened, at any rate without
anger, to his love; but she had tortured him, and reviled him,
jeered at him and ridiculed him, while she allowed him to call her
the most beautiful of living women, to kiss her hand, and to
proclaim himself with reiterated oaths her adorer, her slave, and
worshipper.

Miss Thorne was in great perturbation, yet in great glory, on the
morning of this day. Mr Thorne also, though the party was none of
his giving, had much heavy work on his hands. But perhaps the most
overtasked, the most anxious and the most effective of all the
Ullathorne household was Mr Plomacy the steward. This last
personage had, in the time of Mr Thorne's father, when the
Directory held dominion in France, gone over to Paris with letters
in his boot heel for some of the royal party; and such had been his
good luck that he had returned safe. He had then been very young
and was now very old, but the exploit gave him a character for
political enterprise and secret discretion which still availed him
as thoroughly as it had done in its freshest gloss. Mr Plomacy had
been steward of Ullathorne for more than fifty years, and a very
easy life he had had of it. Who could require much absolute work
from a man who had carried safely at his heel that which if
discovered would have cost him his head? Consequently Mr Plomacy
had never worked hard, and of latter years had never worked at all.
He had a taste for timber, and therefore he marked the trees that
were to be cut down; he had a taste for gardening, and would
therefore allow no shrub to be planted or bed to be made without
his express sanction.

In these matters he was sometimes driven to run counter to his
mistress, but he rarely allowed his mistress to carry the point
against him.

But on occasions such as the present, Mr Pomney came out strong. He
had the honour of the family at heart; he thoroughly appreciated
the duties of hospitality; and therefore, when gala doings were
going on, always took the management into his own hands and reigned
supreme over master and mistress.

To give Mr Pomney his due, old as he was, he thoroughly understood
such work as he had in hand, and did it well.

The order of the day was to be as follows. The quality, as the
upper classes in rural districts are designated by the lower with
so much true discrimination, were to eat a breakfast, and the
non-quality were to eat a dinner. Two marquees had been erected for
these two banquets, that for the quality on the esoteric or garden
side of a certain deep ha-ha; and that for the non-quality on the
exoteric or paddock side of the same. Both were of huge dimensions;
that on the outer side, one may say, on an egregious scale; but Mr
Pomney declared that neither would be sufficient. To remedy this,
an auxiliary banquet was prepared in the dining-room, and a
subsidiary board was to be spread sub dio for the accommodation of
the lower class of yokels on the Ullathorne property.

No one who has not had a hand in the preparation of such an affair
can understand the manifold difficulties which Miss Thorne
encountered in her project. Had she not been made throughout of the
very finest whalebone, rivetted with the best Yorkshire steel, she
must have sunk under them. Had not Mr Pomney felt how much was
justly expected from a man who at one time carried the destinies of
Europe in his boot, he would have given way; and his mistress, so
deserted, must have perished among her poles and canvass.

In the first place there was a dreadful line to be drawn. Who was
to dispose themselves within the ha-ha, and who without? To this
the unthinking will give an off-hand answer, as they will to every
ponderous question. Oh, the bishop and such like within the ha-ha;
and Farmer Greenacre and such without. True, my unthinking friend;
but who shall define these such-likes? It is in such definitions
that the whole difficulty of society consists. To seat the bishop
on an arm chair on the lawn and place Farmer Greenacre at the end
of a long table in the paddock is easy enough; but where will you
put Mrs Lookaloft, whose husband, though a tenant on the estate,
hunts in a red coat, whose daughters go to a fashionable seminary
in Barchester, who calls her farm house Rosebank, and who has a
pianoforte in her drawing-room? The Misses Lookaloft, as they call
themselves, won't sit contented among the bumpkins. Mrs Lookaloft
won't squeeze her fine clothes on a bench and talk familiarly about
cream and ducklings to good Mrs Greenacres. And yet Mrs Lookaloft
is not fit companion and never has been the associate of the
Thornes and the Grantlys. And if Mrs Lookaloft be admitted within
the sanctum of fashionable life, if she be allowed with her three
daughters to leap the ha-ha, why not the wives and daughters of
other families also? Mrs Greenacre is at present well contented
with the paddock, but she might cease to be so if she saw Mrs
Lookaloft on the lawn. And thus poor Miss Thorne had a hard time of
it.

And how was she to divide the guests between the marquee and the
parlour? She had a countess coming, and Honourable John and an
Honourable George, and a whole bevy of Ladies Amelia, Rosina,
Margaretta &c; she had a leash of baronets with their baronesses;
and, as we all know, a bishop. If she put them on the lawn, no one
would go into the parlour; if she put them into the parlour, no one
would go into the tent. She thought of keeping the old people in
the house, and leaving the lawn to the lovers. She might as well
have seated herself at once in a hornet's nest. Mr Pomney knew
better than this. 'Bless your soul, Ma'am,' said he, 'there won't
be no old ladies; not one, barring yourself and old Mrs
Chantantrum.'

Personally Miss Thorne accepted this distinction in her favour as a
compliment to her good sense; but nevertheless she had no desire to
be closeted on the coming occasion with Mrs Chantantrum. She gave
up all idea of any arbitrary division of her guests, and determined
if possible to put the bishop on the lawn and the countess in the
house, to sprinkle the baronets, and thus divide the attractions.
What to do with the Lookalofts even Mr Plomacy could not decide.
They must take their chance. They had been specially told in the
invitation that all the tenants had been invited; and they might
probably have the good sense to stay away if they objected to mix
with the rest of the tenantry.

Then Mr Plomacy declared his apprehension that the Honourable Johns
and Honourable Georges would come in a sort of amphibious costume,
half morning half evening, satin neckhandkerchiefs, frock coats,
primrose gloves, and polished boots; and that being so dressed,
they would decline riding at the quintain, or taking part in any of
the athletic games which Miss Thorne had prepared with so much
care. If the Lord Johns and Lord Georges didn't ride at the
quintain, Miss Thorne might be sure that nobody else would.

'But,' said she in dolorous voice, all but overcome by her cares;
'it was specially signified that there were to be sports.'

'And so there will be, of course,' said Mr Pomney. 'They'll all be
sporting with the young ladies in the laurel walks. Them's the
sports they care most about now-a-days. If you gets the young men
at the quintain, you'll have all the young women in the pouts.'

'Can't they look on, as their great grandmothers did before them?'
said Miss Thorne.

'It seems to me that the ladies ain't contented with looking
now-a-days. Whatever the men do they'll do. If you'll have side
saddles on the nags, and let them go at the quintain too, it'll
answer capital, no doubt.'

Miss Thorne made no reply. She felt that she had no good ground on
which to defend her sex of the present generation, from the sarcasm
of Mr Pomney. She had once declared, in one of her warmer moments,
'that now-a-days the gentlemen were all women, and the ladies all
men.' She could not alter the debased character of the age. But
such being the case, why should she take on herself to cater for
the amusement of people of such degraded tastes? This question she
asked herself more than once, and she could only answer herself
with a sigh. There was her own brother Wilfred, on whose shoulders
rested the all the ancient honours of Ullathorne House; it was very
doubtful whether even he would consent to 'go at the quintain', as
Mr Pomney not injudiciously expressed it.

And now the morning arrived. The Ullathorne household was early on
the move. Cooks were cooking in the kitchen long before daylight,
and men were dragging out tables and hammering red baize on to
benches at the earliest dawn. With what dread eagerness did Miss
Thorne look out at the weather as soon as the parting veil of night
permitted her to look at all! In this respect at any rate there was
nothing to grieve her. The glass had been rising for the last three
days, and the morning broke with that dull chill steady grey haze
which in autumn generally presages a clear and dry day. By seven
she was dressed and down. Miss Thorne knew nothing of the modern
luxury of deshabilles. She would as soon have thought of appearing
before her brother without her stockings as without her stays; and
Miss Thorne's stays were no trifle.

And yet there was nothing for her to do when down. She fidgeted out
to the lawn, and then back into the kitchen. She put on her
high-heeled clogs, and fidgeted out into the paddock. Then she went
into the small home park where the quintain was erected. The pole
and cross-bar and the swivel, and the target and the bag of flour
were all complete. She got up on a carpenter's bench and touched
the target with her hand; it went round with beautiful ease; the
swivel had been oiled to perfection. She almost wished to take old
Plomacy at his word, to go on a side saddle, and have a tilt at it
herself.

What must a young man be, thought she, who could prefer maundering
among the trees with a wishy-washy school girl to such fun as this?
'Well,' said she aloud to herself, 'one man can take a horse to
water, but a thousand can't make him drink. There it is. If they
haven't the spirit to enjoy it, the fault shan't be mine;' and so
she returned the house.

At a little after eight her brother came down, and they had a sort
of scrap breakfast in his study. The tea was made without the
customary urn, and they dispensed with the usual rolls and toast.
Eggs were also missing, for every egg in the parish had been
whipped into custards, baked into pies, or boiled into lobster
salad. The allowances of fresh butter was short, and Mr Thorne was
obliged to eat the leg of a fowl without having it devilled in the
manner he loved.

'I have been looking at the quintain, Wilfred,' said she, 'and it
appears to be quite right.'

'Oh,--ah; yes;' said he. 'It seemed to be so yesterday when I saw
it.' Mr Thorne was beginning to be rather bored by his sister's
love of sports, and had especially no affection for this quintain
post.

'I wish you'd just try it after breakfast,' said she. 'You could
have the saddle put on Mark Antony, and the pole is there all
handy. You can take the flour bag off, you know, if you think Mark
Antony won't be quick enough,' added Miss Thorne, seeing that her
brother's countenance was not indicative of complete accordance
with her little proposition.

Now Mark Antony was a valuable old hunter, excellently suited to Mr
Thorne's usual requirements, steady indeed at his fences, but
extremely sure, very good in deep ground, and safe on the roads.
But he had never yet been ridden at a quintain, and Mr Thorne was
not inclined to put him to the trial, either with or without the
bag of flour. He hummed and hawed, and finally declared that he was
afraid Mark Antony would shy.

'Then try the cob,' said the indefatigable Miss Thorne.

'He's in physic,' said Wilfred.

'There's the Beelzebub colt,' said his sister; 'I know he's in the
stable, because I saw Peter exercising him just now.'

'My dear Monica, he's so wild that it's as much as I can do to
manage him at all. He'd destroy himself and me too, if I attempted
to ride him at such a rattletrap as that.'

A rattletrap! The quintain that she had put up with so much anxious
care; the game that she had prepared for the amusement of the
stalwart yeomen of the country; the sport that had been honoured by
the affection of so many of their ancestors! It cut her to the
heart to hear it so denominated by her own brother. There were but
the two of them left together in the world; and it had ever been
one of the rules by which Miss Thorne had regulated her conduct
through life, to say nothing that could provoke her brother. She
had often had to suffer from his indifference to time-honoured
British customs; but she had always suffered in silence. It was
part of her creed that the head of the family should never be
upbraided in his own house; and Miss Thorne had lived up to her
creed. Now, however, she was greatly tried. The colour mounted to
her ancient cheek, and the fire blazed in her still bright eye; but
yet she said nothing. She resolved that at any rate, to him nothing
more should be said about the quintain that day.

She sipped her tea in silent sorrow, and thought with painful
regret of the glorious days when her great ancestor Ealfried had
successfully held Ullathorne against a Norman invader. There was no
such spirit now left in her family except that small useless spark
which burnt in her own bosom. And she herself, was not she at this
moment intent on entertaining a descendant of those very Normand, a
vain proud countess with a frenchified name, who would only think
that she graced Ullathorne too highly by entering its portals? Was
it likely that an honourable John, the son of the Earl de Courcy,
should ride at a quintain in company with a Saxon yeoman? And why
should she expect her brother to do that which her brother's guests
would decline to do?

Some dim faint idea of the impracticability of her own views
flitted across her brain. Perhaps it was necessary that races
doomed to live on the same soil should give way to each other, and
adopt each other's pursuits. Perhaps it was impossible that after
more than five centuries of close intercourse, Normans should
remain Normans, and Saxons, Saxons. Perhaps after all her
neighbours were wiser than herself, such ideas did occasionally
present themselves to Miss Thorne's mind, and make her sad enough.
But it never occurred to her that her favourite quintain was but a
modern copy of a Norman knight's amusement, an adaptation of the
noble tourney to the tastes and habits of the Saxon yeomen. Of this
she was ignorant, and it would have been cruelty to instruct her.

When Mr Thorne saw the tear in her eye, he repented himself of his
contemptuous expression. By him also it was recognised as a binding
law that every whim of his sister was to be respected. He was not
perhaps so firm in his observances to her, as she was in hers to
him. But his intentions were equally good, and whenever he found
that he had forgotten them, it was a matter of grief to him.

'My dear Monica,' said he, 'I beg your pardon; I don't in the least
mean to speak ill of the game. When I called it a rattletrap, I
merely meant that it was so for a man of my age. You know you
always forget that I an't a young man.'

'I am quite sure you are not an old man, Wilfred,' said she,
accepting the apology in her heart, and smiling at him with the
tear still on her cheek.

'If I was five-and-twenty, or thirty,' continued he, 'I should like
nothing better than riding at the quintain all day.'

'But you are not too old to hunt or to shoot,' said she. 'If you
can jump over a ditch and hedge, I am sure you could turn the
quintain round.'

'But when I ride over the hedges, my dear--and it isn't very often
I do that--but when I do ride over the hedges there isn't any bag
of flour coming after me. Think how I'd look taking the countess
out to breakfast with the back of my head all covered with meal.'

Miss Thorne said nothing further. She didn't like the allusion to
the countess. She couldn't be satisfied with the reflection that
the sports of Ullathorne should be interfered with by the personal
attentions necessary for a Lady de Courcy. But she saw that it was
useless for her to push the matter further. It was conceded that Mr
Thorne was to spared the quintain; and Miss Thorne determined to
trust wholly to a youthful knight of hers, an immense favourite,
who, as she often declared, was a pattern to the young men of the
age, and an excellent example of an English yeoman.

This was Farmer Greenacre's eldest son; who, to tell the truth, had
from his earliest years taken the exact measure of Miss Thorne's
foot. In his boyhood he had never failed to obtain from her,
apples, pocket money, and forgiveness for his numerous trespasses;
and now in his early manhood he got privileges and immunities which
were equally valuable. He was allowed a day or two's shooting in
September; he schooled the squire's horses; got slips of trees out
of the orchard, and roots of flowers out of the garden; and had the
fishing of the little river altogether in his own hands. He had
undertaken to come mounted on a nag of his father's, and show the
way at the quintain post. Whatever young Greenacre did the others
would do after him. The juvenile Lookalofts might stand sure to
venture if Harry Greenacre showed the way. And so Miss Thorne made
up her mind to dispense with the noble Johns and Georges, and
trust, as her ancestors had done before her, to the thews and
sinews of native Ullathorne growth.

At about nine the lower orders began to congregate in the paddock
and park, under the surveillance of Mr Plomacy and the head
gardener and head groom, who were sworn in as his deputies, and
were to assist him in keeping the peace and promoting the sports.
Many of the younger inhabitants of the neighbourhood, thinking that
they could not have too much of a good thing, had come at a very
early hour, and the road between the house and the church had been
thronged for some time before the gates were thrown open.

And then another difficulty of huge dimensions arose, a difficulty
which Mr Plomacy had indeed foreseen, and for which he was in some
sort provided. Some of those who wished to share Miss Thorne's
hospitality were not so particular that they should have been as to
the preliminary ceremony of an invitation. They doubtless conceived
that they had been overlooked by accident; and instead of taking
this in dudgeon, as their betters would have done, they
good-naturedly put up with the slight, and showed that they did so
by presenting themselves at the gate in their Sunday best.

Mr Plomacy, however, well knew who were welcome and who were not.
To some, even though uninvited, he allowed ingress. 'Don't be too
particular, Plomacy,' his mistress had said; 'especially with the
children. If they live anywhere near, let them in.'

Acting on this hint, Mr Plomacy did let in many an eager urchin,
and a few tidily dressed girls with their swains, who in no way
belonged to the property. But to the denizens of the city he was
inexorable. Many a Barchester apprentice made his appearance there
that day, and urged with piteous supplication that he had been
working all the week in making saddles and boots for the use of
Ullathorne, in compounding doses for the horses, or cutting up
carcasses for the kitchen. No such claim was allowed. Mr Plomacy
knew nothing about the city apprentices; he was to admit the
tenants and labourers on the estate; Miss Thorne wasn't going to
take in the whole city of Barchester; and so on.

Nevertheless, before the day was half over, all this was found to
be useless. Almost anybody who chose to come made his way into the
park, and the care of the guardians was transferred to the tables
on which the banquet was spread. Even here there was many an
unauthorized claimant for a plate, of whom it was impossible to get
quit without some commotion than the place and food were worth.



CHAPTER XXXVI

ULLATHORNE SPORTS--ACT I

The trouble in civilised life of entertaining company, as it is
called too generally without much regard to strict veracity, is so
great that it cannot but be matter of wonder that people are so
fond of attempting it. It is difficult to ascertain what is the
quid pro quo. If they who give such laborious parties, and who
endure such toil and turmoil in the vain hope of giving them
successfully, really enjoyed the parties given by others, the
matter would be understood. A sense of justice would induce men and
women to undergo, in behalf of others, those miseries which others
had undergone on their behalf. But they all profess that going out
is as great a bore as receiving; and to look at them when they are
out, one cannot but believe them.

Entertain! Who shall have sufficient self-assurance, who shall feel
sufficient confidence in his own powers to dare to boast that he
can entertain his company? A clown can sometimes do so, and
sometimes a dancer in short petticoats and stuffed pink legs;
occasionally, perhaps, a singer. But beyond these, success in this
art of entertaining is not often achieved. Young men and girls
linking themselves kind with kind, pairing like birds in spring,
because nature wills it, they, after a simple fashion, do entertain
each other. Few others even try.

Ladies, when they open their houses, modestly confessing, it may be
presumed, their own incapacity, mainly trust to wax candles and
upholstery. Gentlemen seem to rely on their white waistcoats. To
these are added, for the delight of the more sensual, champagne and
such good things of the table as fashion allows to be still
considered as comestible. Even in this respect the world is
deteriorating. All the good soups are now tabooed; and at the
houses of one's accustomed friends, small barristers, doctors,
government clerks, and such like, (for we cannot all of us always
live as grandees, surrounded by an Elysium of livery servants), one
gets a cold potato handed to one as a sort of finale to one's slice
of mutton. Alas! for those happy days when one could say to one's
neighbourhood, 'Jones, shall I give you some mashed turnip--may I
trouble you for a little cabbage?' And then the pleasure of
drinking wine with Mrs Jones and Miss Smith; with all the Joneses
and all the Smiths! These latter-day habits are certainly more
economical.

Miss Thorne, however, boldly attempted to leave the modern beaten
track, and made a positive effort to entertain her guests. Alas!
she did so with but moderate success. They had all their own way of
going, and would not go her way. She piped to them, but they would
not dance. She offered to them good honest household cake, made of
currants and flour and eggs and sweetmeat; but they would feed
themselves on trashy wafers from the shop of the Barchester
pastry-cook, on chalk and gum and adulterated sugar. Poor Miss
Thorne! yours is not the first honest soul that has vainly striven
to recall the glories of happy days gone by! If fashion suggests to
a Lady De Courcy that when invited to a dejeuner at twelve o'clock
she ought to come at three, no eloquence of thine will teach her
the advantage of a nearer approach to punctuality.

She had fondly thought that when she called on her friends to come
at twelve, and especially begged them to believe that she meant it,
she would be able to see them comfortably seated in their tents at
two. Vain woman--or rather ignorant woman--ignorant of the advances
of that civilization which the world had witnessed while she was
growing old. At twelve she found herself alone, dressed in all the
glory of the newest of her many suits of raiment; with strong shoes
however, and a serviceable bonnet on her head, and a warm rich
shawl on her shoulders. Thus clad she peered out into the tent,
went to the ha-ha, and satisfied herself that at any rate the
youngsters were amusing themselves, spoke a word to Mrs Greenacre
over the ditch, and took one look at the quintain. Three or four
young farmers were turning the machine round and round, and poking
at the bag of flour in a manner not at all intended by the inventor
of the game; but no mounted sportsmen were there. Miss Thorne
looked at her watch. It was only fifteen minutes past twelve, and
it was understood that Harry Greenacre was not to begin till the
half hour.

Miss Thorne returned to her drawing-room rather quicker than her
wont, fearing that the countess might come and find none to welcome
her. She need not have hurried, for no one was there. At half-past
twelve she peeped into the kitchen; at a quarter to one she was
joined by her brother; and just then the first fashionable arrival
took place. Mrs Clantantram was announced.

No announcement was necessary, indeed; for the good lady's voice
was heard as she walked across the court-yard to the house scolding
the unfortunate postilion who had driven her from Barchester. At
the moment Miss Thorne could not but be thankful that the other
guests were more fashionable, and were thus spared the fury of Mrs
Clantantram's indignation.

'Oh, Miss Thorne, look here!' said she, as soon as she found
herself in the drawing-room; 'do look at my roquelaure! It's clean
spoilt, and for ever. I wouldn't but wear it because I know you
wished us all to be grand to-day; and yet I had my misgivings. Oh
dear, oh dear! It was five-and-twenty shillings a yard.'

The Barchester post horses had misbehaved in some unfortunate
manner just as Mrs Clantantram was getting out of the chaise and
had nearly thrown her under the wheel.

Mrs Clantantram belonged to other days, and therefore, though she
had but little else to recommend her, Miss Thorne was to a certain
extent fond of her. She sent the roquelaure away to be cleaned, and
lent her one of her best shawls out of her own wardrobe.

The next comer was Mr Arabin, who was immediately informed of Mrs
Clantantram's misfortune, and of her determination to pay neither
master nor post-boy; although, as she remarked, she intended to get
her lift home before she made known her mind upon that matter. Then
a good deal of rustling was heard in the sort of lobby that was
used for the ladies' outside cloaks; and the door having been
thrown wide open, the servant announced, not in the most confident
of voices, Mrs Lookaloft, and the Miss Lookalofts, and Mr Augustus
Lookaloft.

Poor man!--we mean the footman. He knew, none better, that Mrs
Lookaloft had no business there, that she was not wanted there, and
would not be welcome. But he had not the courage to tell a stout
lady with a low dress, short sleeves, and satin at eight shillings
a yard, that she had come to the wrong tent; he had not dared to
hint to young ladies with white dancing shoes and long gloves, that
there was a place ready for them in the paddock. And thus Mrs
Lookaloft carried her point, broke through the guards, and made her
way into the citadel. That she would have to pass an uncomfortable
time there, she had surmised before. But nothing now could rob her
of the power of boasting that she had consorted on the lawn with
the squire and Miss Thorne, with a countess, a bishop, and the
country grandees, while Mrs Greenacres and such like were walking
about with the ploughboys in the park. It was a great point gained
by Mrs Lookaloft, and it might be fairly expected that from this
time forward the tradesmen of Barchester would, with undoubting
pens, address her husband and T. Lookaloft, Esquire.

Mrs Lookaloft's pluck carried her through everything, and she
walked triumphant into the Ullathorne drawing-room; but her
children did feel a little abashed at the sort of reception they
met with. It was not in Miss Thorne's heart to insult her own
guests; but neither was it in her disposition to overlook such
effrontery.

'Oh, Mrs Lookaloft, is this you,' said she; 'and your daughters and
son? Well, we're very glad to see you; but I'm sorry you've come in
such low dresses, as we are all going out of doors. Could we lend
you anything?'

'Oh dear no! thank ye, Miss Thorne,' said the mother; 'the girls
and myself are quite used to low dresses, when we're out.'

'Are you, indeed?' said Miss Thorne shuddering; but the shudder was
not lost on Mrs Lookaloft.

'And where's Lookaloft,' said the master of the house, coming up to
welcome his tenant's wife. Let the faults of the family be what
they would, he could not but remember that their rent was well
paid; he was therefore not willing to give them a cold shoulder.

'Such a headache, Mr Thorne!' said Mrs Lookaloft. 'In fact he
couldn't stir, or you may be certain on such a day he would not
have absented himself.'

'Dear me,' said Miss Thorne. 'If he is so ill, I sure you'd wish to
be with him.'

'Not at all!' said Mrs Lookaloft. 'Not at all, Miss Thorne.
 It is only bilious you know, and when he's that way he can bear
nobody nigh him.'

The fact however was that Mr Lookaloft, having either more sense or
less courage than his wife, had not chosen to intrude on Miss
Thorne's drawing-room; and as he could not very well have gone
among the plebeians while his wife was with the patricians, he
thought it most expedient to remain at Rosebank.

Mrs Lookaloft soon found herself on a sofa, and the Miss Lookalofts
on two chairs, while Mr Augustus stood near the door; and here they
remained till in due time they were seated all four together at the
bottom of the dining-room table.

Then the Grantlys came; the archdeacon and Mrs Grantly and the two
girls, and Dr Gwynne and Mr Harding; and as ill luck would have it,
they were closely followed by Dr Stanhope's carriage. As Eleanor
looked out of the carriage window, she saw her brother-in-law
helping the ladies out, and threw herself back into her seat,
dreading to be discovered. She had had an odious journey. Mr
Slope's civility had been more than ordinarily greasy; and now,
though he had not in fact said anything which she could notice, she
had for the first time entertained a suspicion that he was
intending to make love to her. Was it after all true that she had
been conducting herself in a way that justified the world in
thinking that she liked the man? After all, could it be possible
that the archdeacon and Mr Arabin were right, and that she was
wrong? Charlotte Stanhope had also been watching Mr Slope, and had
come to the conclusion that it behoved her brother to lose no
further time, if he meant to gain the widow. She almost regretted
that it had not been contrived that Bertie should be at Ullathorne
before them.

Dr Grantly did not see his sister-in-law in company with Mr Slope,
but Mr Arabin did. Mr Arabin came out with Mr Thorne to the front
door to welcome Mrs Grantly, and he remained in the courtyard till
all their party had passed on. Eleanor hung back in the carriage as
long as she well could, but she was nearest to the door, and when
Mr Slope, having alighted, offered her his hand, she had no
alternative but to take it.

Mr Arabin standing at the open door, while Mrs Grantly was shaking
hands with someone within, saw a clergyman alight from the carriage
whom he at once knew to be Mr Slope, and then she saw this
clergyman hand out Mrs Bold. Having seen so much, Mr Arabin, rather
sick at heart, followed Mrs Grantly into the house.

Eleanor was, however, spared any further immediate degradation, for
Dr Stanhope gave her his arm across the courtyard, and Mr Slope was
fain to throw away his attention upon Charlotte.

They had hardly passed into the house, and from the house to the
lawn, when, with a loud rattle and such noise as great men and
great woman are entitled to make in their passage through the
world, the Proudies drove up. It was soon apparent that no every
day comer was at the door. One servant whispered to another that it
was the bishop, and the word soon ran through all the hangers-on
and strange grooms and coachmen about the place. There was quite a
little cortege to see the bishop and his 'lady' walk across the
courtyard, and the good man was pleased to see that the church was
held in such respect in the parish of St Ewold's.

And now the guests came fast and thick, and the lawn began to be
crowded, and the room to be full. Voices buzzed, silk rustled
against silk, and muslin crumpled against muslin. Miss Thorne
became more happy than she had been, and again bethought her of her
sports. There were targets and bows and arrows prepared at the
further end of the lawn. Here the gardens of the place encroached
with a somewhat wide sweep upon the paddock, and gave ample room
for the doings of the toxophilites. Miss Thorne got together such
daughters of Diana as could bend a bow, and marshalled them to the
targets. There were the Grantly girls and the Proudie girls and the
Chadwick girls, and the two daughters of the burly chancellor, and
Miss Knowle; and with them went Frederick and Augustus Chadwick,
and young Knowle of Knowle park, and Frank Foster of the Elms, and
Mr Vellem Deeds the dashing attorney of the High Street, and the
Rev Mr Green, and the Rev Mr Browne, and the Rev Mr White, all of
whom as in duty bound, attended the steps of the three Miss
Proudies.

'Did you ever ride at the quintain, Mr Foster?' said Miss Thorne,
as she walked with her party, across the lawn.

'The quintain?' said young Foster, who considered himself a dab at
horsemanship. 'Is it a sort of gate, Miss Thorne?'

Miss Thorne had to explain the noble game she spoke of, and Frank
Foster had to own that he never had ridden at the quintain.

'Would you like to come and see?' said Miss Thorne. 'There'll be
plenty here without you, if you like it.'

'Well, I don't mind,' said Frank; 'I suppose the ladies can come
too.'

'Oh, yes,' said Miss Thorne; 'those who like it; I have no doubt
they'll go to see your prowess, if you'll ride, Mr Foster.'

Mr Foster looked down at a most unexceptionable pair of pantaloons,
which had arrived from London only the day before. They were the
very things, at least he thought so, for a picnic of fete
champetre; but he was not prepared to ride in them. Nor was he more
encouraged than had been Mr Thorne, by the idea of being attacked
from behind by the bag of flour which Miss Thorne had graphically
described to him.

'Well, I don't know about riding, Miss Thorne,' said he; 'I fear
I'm not quite prepared.'

Miss Thorne sighed, but said nothing further. She left the
toxophilites to their bows and arrows, and returned towards the
house. But as she passed by the entrance to the small park, she
thought that she might at any rate encourage the yeomen by her
presence, as she could not induced her more fashionable guests to
mix with them in their many amusements.

Accordingly she once more betook herself to the quintain post.
Here to her great delight she found Harry Greenacre ready mounted,
with his pole in his hand, and a lot of comrades standing round
him, encouraging him to the assault. She stood at a little distance
and nodded to him in token of her good pleasure.

'Shall I begin, ma'am?' said Henry fingering his long staff in a
rather awkward way, while his horse moved uneasily beneath him, not
accustomed to a rider armed with such a weapon.

'Yes, yes,' said Miss Thorne, standing triumphant as the queen of
beauty, on an inverted tub which some chance had brought hither
from the farm-yard.

'Here goes then,' said Harry as he wheeled his horse round to get
the necessary momentum of a sharp gallop. The quintain post stood
right before him, and the square board at which he was to tilt was
fairly in the way. If he hit that duly in the middle, and
maintained his pace as he did so, it was calculated that he would
be carried out of reach of the flour bag, which, suspended at the
other end of the cross-bar on the post, would swing round when the
board was struck. It was also calculated that if the rider did not
maintain his pace, he would get a blow from the flour bag just at
the back of his head, and bear about him the signs of his
awkwardness to the great amusement of the lookers-on.

Harry Greenacre did not object to being powdered with flour in the
service of his mistress, and therefore gallantly touched his steed
with his spur, having laid his lance in rest to the best of his
ability. But his ability in this respect was not great, and his
appurtenances probably not very good; consequently, he struck his
horse with his pole unintentionally on the side of the head as he
started. The animal swerved and shied, and galloped off wide of the
quintain. Harry well accustomed to manage a horse, but not to do so
with a twelve-foot rod on his arm, lowered his right hand to the
bridle and thus the end of the lance came to the ground, and got
between the legs of the steed. Down came the rider and steed and
staff. Young Greenacre was thrown some six feet over the horse's
head, and poor Miss Thorne almost fell of her tub in a swoon.

'Oh gracious, he's killed,' shrieked a woman, who was near him when
he fell.

'The Lord be good to him! his poor mother, his poor mother!' said
another.

'Well, drat them dangerous plays all the world over,' said an old
crone.

'He has broke his neck sure enough, if ever man did,' said a
fourth.

Poor Miss Thorne. She heard all this and yet did not quite swoon.
She made her way through the crowd as best she could, sick herself
almost to death. Oh, his mother--his poor mother! how could she
ever forgive herself. The agony of that moment was terrific. She
could hardly get to the place where the poor lad was lying, as
three or four men in front were about the horse which had risen
with some difficulty; but at last she found herself close to the
young farmer.

'Has he marked himself? for heaven's sake tell me that; has he
marked his knees?' said Harry, slowly rising and rubbing his left
shoulder with his right hand, and thinking only of his horse's
legs. Miss Thorne soon found that he had not broken his neck, nor
any of his bones, nor been injured in any essential way. But from
that time forth she never instigated any one to ride at the
quintain.

Eleanor left Dr Stanhope as soon as she could do so civilly, and
went in quest of her father whom she found on the lawn in company
with Mr Arabin. She was not sorry to find them together. She was
anxious to disabuse at any rate her father's mind as to this report
which had got abroad respecting her, and would have been well
pleased to have been able to do the same with regard to Mr Arabin.
She put her own through her father's arm, coming up behind his
back, and then tendered her hand also to the vicar of St Ewold's.

'And how did you come?' said Mr Harding, when the first greeting
was over.

'The Stanhopes brought me,' said she; 'their carriage was obliged
to come twice, and has now gone back for the signora.' As she spoke
she caught Mr Arabin's eye, and saw that he was looking pointedly
at her with a severe expression. She understood at once the
accusation contained in his glance. It said as plainly as an eye
could speak, 'Yes, you came with the Stanhopes, but you did so in
order that you might be in company with Mr Slope.'

'Our party,' said she, still addressing her father, 'consisted of
the Doctor and Charlotte Stanhope, myself, and Mr Slope.' As she
mentioned the last name she felt her father's arm quiver slightly
beneath her touch. At the same moment Mr Arabin turned away from
them, and joining his hands behind his back strolled slowly away by
one of the paths.

'Papa,' said she, 'it was impossible to help coming in the same
carriage with Mr Slope; it was quite impossible. I had promised to
come with them before I dreamt of his coming, and afterwards I
could not get out of it without explaining and giving rise to talk.
You weren't at home, you know, I couldn't possibly help it.' She
said all this so quickly that by the time her apology was spoken
she was quite out of breath.

'I don't know why you should have wished to help it, my dear,' said
her father.

'Yes, papa, you do; you must know, you do know all the things they
said at Plumstead. I am sure you do. You know all the archdeacon
said. How unjust he was, and Mr Arabin too. He's a horrid man, a
horrid, odious man, but--'

'Who is an odious man, my dear? Mr Arabin?'

'No; but Mr Slope. You know I mean Mr Slope. He's the most odious
man I ever met in my life, and it was most unfortunate my having to
come here in the same carriage with him. But how could I help it?'

A great weight began to move itself off Mr Harding's mind. So,
after all, the archdeacon with all his wisdom, and Mrs Grantly with
all her tact, and Mr Arabin with all his talent were in the wrong.
His own child, his Eleanor, the daughter of whom he was so proud
was not to become the wife of Mr Slope. He had been about to give
his sanction to the marriage, so certified had he been of this
fact; and now he learnt that this imputed lover of Eleanor's was at
any rage as much disliked by her as by any one of the family. Mr
Harding, however, was by no means sufficiently a man of the world
to conceal the blunder he had made. He could not pretend that he
had entertained no suspicion; he could not make believe that he had
never joined the archdeacon in his surmises. He was greatly
surprised, and gratified beyond measure, and he could not help
showing that such was the case.

'My darling girl,' said he, 'I am so delighted, so overjoyed. My
own child; you have taken such a weight off my mind.'

'But surely, papa, you didn't think--'

'I didn't know what to think, my dear. The archdeacon told me that
-'

'The archdeacon!' said Eleanor, her face lighting up with passion.
'A man like the archdeacon might, one would think, be better
employed than in traducing his sister-in-law, and creating
bitterness between a father and his daughter.'

'He didn't mean to that, Eleanor.'

'What did he mean then? Why did he interfere with me, and fill your
mind with such falsehood?'

'Never mind it now, my child; never mind it now. We shall all know
you better now.'

'Oh, papa, that you should have thought it! that you should have
suspected me!'

'I don't know what you mean by suspicion, Eleanor. There would be
nothing disgraceful, you know; nothing wrong in such a marriage.
Nothing that could have justified my interfering as your father.'
And Mr Harding would have proceeded in his own defence to make out
that Mr Slope after all was a very good sort of man, and a very
fitting second husband for a young widow, had he not been
interrupted by Eleanor's greater energy.

'It would be disgraceful,' said she; 'it would be wrong; it would
be abominable. Could I do such a horrid thing, I should expect no
one to speak to me. Ugh--' and she shuddered as she thought of the
matrimonial torch which her friends had been so ready to light on
her behalf. I don't wonder at Dr Grantly; I don't wonder at Susan;
but, oh, papa, I do wonder at you. How could you, how could you
believe it?' Poor Eleanor, as she thought of her father's
defalcation, could resist her tears no longer, and was forced to
cover her face with her handkerchief.

The place was not very opportune for her grief. They were walking
through the shrubberies, and there were many people near them. Poor
Mr Harding stammered out his excuse as best he could, and Eleanor
with an effort controlled her tears, and returned her handkerchief
to her pocket. She did not find it difficult to forgive her father,
nor could she altogether refuse to join him in the returning gaiety
of spirit to which her present avowal gave rise. It was such a load
off his heart to think that he should not be called on to welcome
Mr Slope as his son-in-law; it was such a relief to him to find
that his daughter's feelings and his own were now, as they ever had
been, in unison. He had been so unhappy for the last six weeks
about this wretched Mr Slope!

He was so indifferent as to the loss of the hospital, so thankful
for the recovery of his daughter, that, strong as was the ground
for Eleanor's anger, she could not find it in her heart to be long
angry with him.

'Dear papa,' she said, hanging closely to his arm, 'never suspect
me again: promise me that you never will. Whatever I do, you may be
sure I shall tell you first; you may be sure I shall consult you.'

And Mr Harding did promise, and owned his sin, and promised again.
And so, while he promised amendment and she uttered forgiveness,
they returned together to the drawing-room windows.

And what had Eleanor meant when she declared that whatever she did,
she would tell her father first? What was she thinking of doing?

So ended the first act of the melodrama which Eleanor was called on
to perform this day at Ullathorne.



 CHAPTER XXXVII

THE SIGNORA NERONI, THE COUNTESS DE COURCY, AND MRS PROUDIE MEET
EACH OTHER AT ULLATHORNE

And now there were new arrivals. Just as Eleanor reached the
drawing-room the signora was being wheeled into it. She had been
brought out of the carriage into the dining-room and there placed
on a sofa, and was now in the act of entering the other room, by
the joint aid of her brother and sister, Mr Arabin, and two
servants in livery. She was all in her glory, and looked so
pathetically happy, so full of affliction and grace, was so
beautiful, so pitiable, and so charming, that it was almost
impossible not to be glad she was there.

Miss Thorne was unaffectedly glad to welcome her. In fact, the
signora was a sort of lion; and though there was no drop of the
Leohunter blood in Miss Thorne's veins, she nevertheless did like
to see attractive people at her house.

The signora was attractive, and on her first settlement in the
dining-room she had whispered two or three soft feminine words into
Miss Thorne's ear, which, at the moment, had quite touched that
lady's heart.

'Oh, Miss Thorne; where is Miss Thorne?' she said, as soon as her
attendants had placed her in her position just before one of the
windows, from whence she could see all that was going on upon the
lawn; 'How am I to thank you for permitting a creature like me to
be here? But if you knew the pleasure you give me, I am sure you
would excuse the trouble I bring with me.' And as she spoke she
squeezed the spinster's little hand between her own.

'We are delighted to see you here,' said Miss Thorne; 'you give us
no trouble at all, and we think it a great favour conferred by you
to come and see us; don't we, Wilfred?'

'A very great favour indeed,' said Mr Thorne, with a gallant bow,
but of somewhat less cordial welcome than that conceded by his
sister. Mr Thorne had learned perhaps more of the antecedents of
his guest than his sister had done, and not as yet undergone the
power of the signora's charms.

But while the mother of the last of the Neros was thus in he full
splendour, with crowds of people gazing at her and the elite of the
company standing round her couch, her glory was paled by the
arrival of the Countess De Courcy. Miss Thorne had now been waiting
three hours for the countess, and could not therefore but show very
evident gratification when the arrival at last took place. She and
her brother of course went off to welcome the titled grandee, and
with them, alas, went many of the signora's admirers.

'Oh, Mr Thorne,' said the countess, while the act of being disrobed
of her fur cloaks, and re-robed in her gauze shawls, 'what dreadful
roads you have; perfectly frightful.'

It happened that Mr Thorne was way-warden for the district, and not
liking the attack, began to excuse his roads.

'Oh yes, indeed they are,' said the countess, not minding him in
the least, 'perfectly dreadful; are they not, Margaretta? Why, dear
Miss Thorne, we left Courcy Castle just at eleven; it was only just
past eleven, was it not, John? and--'

'Just past one, I think you mean,' said the Honourable John,
turning from the group and eyeing the signora through his glass.
The signora gave him back his own, as the saying is, and more with
it; so that the young nobleman was forced to avert his glance, and
drop his glass.

'I say, Thorne,' whispered he, 'who the deuce is that on the sofa?'

'Dr Stanhope's daughter,' whispered back Mr Thorne. 'Signora Neroni
she calls herself.'

'Whew-ew-ew!' whistled the Honourable John. 'The devil she is! I
have heard no end of stories about that filly. You must positively
introduce me, Thorne; you positively must.'

Mr Thorne who was respectability itself, did not quite like having
a guest about whom the Honourable John De Courcy had heard no end
of stories; but he couldn't help himself. He merely resolved that
before he went to bed he would let his sister know somewhat of the
history of the lady she was so willing to welcome. The innocence of
Miss Thorne, at her time of life, was perfectly charming; but even
innocence may be dangerous.

'John may say what he likes,' continued the countess, urging her
excuses on Miss Thorne; 'I am sure we were past the castle gate
before twelve, weren't we, Margaretta?'

'Upon my word, I don't know,' said the Lady Margaretta, 'for I was
half asleep. But I do know that I was called sometime in the middle
of the night, and was dressing myself before daylight.'

Wise people, when they are in the wrong, always put themselves
right by finding fault with the people against whom they have
sinned. Lady De Courcy was a wise woman; and therefore, having
treated Miss Thorne very badly by staying away till three o'clock,
she assumed the offensive and attacked Mr Thorne's roads. Her
daughter, not less wise, attacked Miss Thorne's early hours. The
art of doing this is among the most precious of those usually
cultivated by persons who know how to live. There is no
withstanding it. Who can go systematically to work, and having done
battle with the primary accusation and settled that, then bring
forward a counter-charge and support that also? Life is not long
enough for such labours. A man in the right relies easily on his
rectitude, and therefore goes about unarmed. His very strength is
his weakness; his very weakness is his strength. The one is never
prepared for combat, the other is always ready. Therefore it is
that in this world the man that is in the wrong almost invariably
conquers the man that is in the right, and invariably despises him.

A man must be an idiot or else an angel, who, after the age of
forty shall attempt to be just to his neighbours. Many like the
Lady Margaretta have learnt their lesson at a much earlier age. But
this of course depends on the school in which they have been
taught.

Poor Miss Thorne was altogether overcome. She knew very well that
she had been ill-treated, and yet she found herself making
apologies to Lady De Courcy. To do her ladyship justice, she
received them very graciously, and allowed herself with her train
of daughters to be led towards the lawn.

There were two windows in the drawing-room wide open for the
countess to pass through; but she saw that there was a woman on the
sofa, at the third window, and that that woman had, as it were, a
following attached to her. Her ladyship therefore determined to
investigate the woman. The De Courcys were hereditarily short
sighted, and had been so for thirty centuries at least. So Lady De
Courcy, who, when she entered the family had adopted the family
habits, did as her son had done before her, and taking her glass to
investigate the Signora Neroni, pressed in among the gentlemen who
surrounded the couch, and bowed slightly to those whom she chose to
honour by her acquaintance.

In order to get to the window she had to pass close to the front of
the couch, and as she did so she stared hard at the occupant. The
occupant in return stared hard at the countess. The countess who
since her countess-ship commenced had been accustomed to see all
eyes, not royal, ducal, or marquesal, fall down before her own,
paused as she went on, raised her eyebrows, and stared even harder
than before. But she had now to do with one who cared little for
countesses. It was, one may say, impossible for mortal man or woman
to abash Madeline Neroni. She opened her large bright lustrous eyes
wider and wider, till she seemed to be all eyes.

She gazed up into the lady's face, not as though she did it with an
effort, but as if she delighted in doing it. She used no glass to
assist her effrontery, and needed none. The faintest possible smile
of derision played round her mouth, and her nostrils were slightly
dilated, as if in sure anticipation of her triumph. And it was
sure. The Countess De Courcy, in spite of her thirty centuries and
De Courcy castle, and the fact that Lord De Courcy was grand master
of the ponies to the Prince of Wales, had not a chance with her.

At first the little circlet of gold wavered in the countess's hand,
then the hand shook, then the circlet fell, the countess's head
tossed itself into the air, and the countess's feet shambled out to
the lawn. She did not however go so fast but what she heard the
signora's voice, asking--

'Who on earth is that woman, Mr Slope?'

'That is Lady De Courcy.'

'Oh, ah. I might have supposed so. Ha, ha, ha. Well, that's as good
as a play.'

It was as good as a play to any there who had eyes to observe it,
and wit to comment on what they observed.

But the Lady De Courcy soon found a congenial spirit on the lawn.
There she encountered Mrs Proudie, and as Mrs Proudie was not only
the wife of a bishop, but was also the cousin of an earl, Lady De
Courcy considered her to be the fittest companion she was likely to
meet in that assemblage. They were accordingly delighted to see
each other. Mrs Proudie by no means despised a countess, and as
this countess lived in the county and within a sort of extensive
visiting distance of Barchester, she was glad to have this
opportunity of ingratiating herself.

'My dear Lady De Courcy, I am so delighted,' said she, looking as
little grim as it was in her nature to do so. 'I hardly expected to
see you here. It is such a distance, and then you know, such a
crowd.'

'And such roads, Mrs Proudie! I really wonder how the people ever
get about. But I don't suppose they ever do.'

'Well, I really don't know; but I suppose not. The Thorne don't, I
know,' said Mrs Proudie. 'Very nice person, Miss Thorne, isn't
she?'

'Oh, delightful and so queer; I've known her these twenty years. A
great pet of mine is dear Miss Thorne. She is so very strange, you
know. She always makes me think of the Esquimaux and the Indians.
Isn't her dress quite delightful?'

'Delightful,' said Mrs Proudie; 'I wonder now whether she paints.
Did you ever see such colour?'

'Oh, of course,' said Lady De Courcy; 'that is, I have no doubt she
does. But, Mrs Proudie, who is that woman on the sofa by the
window? just step this way and you'll see her, there--' and the
countess led her to a spot where she could plainly see the
signora's well-remembered face and figure.

She did not however do so without being equally well seen by the
signora. 'Look, look,' said that lady to Mr Slope, who was still
standing near to her; 'see the high spiritualities and
temporalities of the land in league together, and all against poor
me. I'll wager my bracelet, Mr Slope against your next sermon, that
they've taken up their position there on purpose to pull me to
pieces. Well, I can't rush to the combat, but I know how to protect
myself if the enemy come near me.'

But the enemy knew better. They could gain nothing be contact with
the signora Neroni, and they could abuse her as they pleased at a
distance from her on the lawn.

'She's that horrid Italian woman, Lady De Courcy; you must have
heard of her.'

'What Italian woman?' said her ladyship, quite alive to the coming
story; 'I don't think I've heard of any Italian woman coming into
the country. She doesn't look Italian either.'

'Oh, you must have heard of her,' said Mrs Proudie. 'No, she's not
absolutely Italian. She is Dr Stanhope's daughter--Dr Stanhope the
prebendary; and she calls herself the Signora Neroni.'

'Oh--h--h--h!' exclaimed the countess.

'I was sure you had heard of her,' continued Mrs Proudie. 'I don't
know anything about her husband. They do say that some man named
Neroni is still alive. I believe she did marry such a man abroad,
but I do not at all know who or what he was.'

'Ah--h--h--h!' said the countess, shaking her head with much
intelligence, as every additional 'h' fell from her lips. 'I know
all about it now. I have heard George mention her. George knows all
about her. George heard about her in Rome.'

'She's an abominable woman at any rate,' said Mrs Proudie.

'Insufferable,' said the countess.

'She made her way into the palace once, before I knew anything
about her; and I cannot tell you how dreadfully indecent her
conduct was.'

'Was it?' said the delighted countess.

'Insufferable,' said the prelatess.

'But why does she lie on a sofa?' asked the Lady De Courcy.

'She has only one leg,' said Mrs Proudie.

'Only one leg!' said the Lady De Courcy, who felt to a certain
degree dissatisfied that the signora was thus incapacitated. 'Was
she born so?'

'Oh, no,' said Mrs Proudie,--and her ladyship felt somewhat
recomforted by the assurance,--'she had two. But that Signor Neroni
beat her, I believe, till she was obliged to have one amputated. At
any rate she entirely lost the use of it.'

'Unfortunate creature!' said the countess, who herself knew
something of matrimonial trials.

'Yes,' said Mrs Proudie; 'one would pity her, in spite of her past
bad conduct, if she knew how to behave herself. But she does not.
She is the most insolent creature I have ever put my eyes on.'

'Indeed she is,' said Lady De Courcy.

'And her conduct with men is abominable, that she is not fit to be
admitted into any lady's drawing-room.'

'Dear me!' said the countess, becoming again excited, happy, and
merciless.

'You saw that man standing near her,--the clergyman with the red
hair?'

'Yes, yes.'

'She has absolutely ruined that man. The bishop, or I should rather
take the blame on myself, for it was I,--I brought him down from
London to Barchester. He is a tolerable preacher, an active young
man, and I therefore introduced him to the bishop. That woman, Lady
De Courcy, has got hold of him, and has so disgraced him, that I am
forced to required that he shall leave the palace; and I doubt very
much whether he won't lose his gown.'

'Why what an idiot the man must be!' said the countess.

'You don't know the intriguing villainy of that woman,' said Mrs
Proudie, remembering her own torn flounces.

'But you say she has only got one leg!'

'She is as full of mischief as tho' she had ten. Look at her eyes,
Lady De Courcy. Did you ever see such eyes in a decent woman's
head?'

'Indeed I never did, Mrs Proudie.'

'And her effrontery, and her voice; I quite pity her poor father,
who is really a good sort of man.'

'Dr Stanhope, isn't he?'

'Yes, Dr Stanhope. He is one of our prebendaries,--a good quiet
sort of man himself. But I am surprised that he should let his
daughter conduct herself as he does.'

'I suppose he can't help it,' said the countess.

'But a clergyman, you know, Lady De Courcy! He should at any rate
prevent her from exhibiting in public, if he cannot induce her to
behave at home. But he is to be pitied. I believe he has a
desperate life of it with the lot of them. That apish-looking man
there, with the long beard and the loose trousers,--he is the
woman's brother. He is nearly as bad as she is. They are both of
them infidels.'

'Infidels!' said Lady De Courcy, 'and their father a prebendary!'

'Yes, and likely to be the new dean too,' said Mrs Proudie.

'Oh, yes, poor dear Dr Trefoil!' said the countess, who had once in
her life spoken to that gentleman; 'I was so distressed to hear it,
Mrs Proudie. And so Dr Stanhope is to be the new dean! He comes of
an excellent family, and I wish him success in spite of his
daughter. Perhaps, Mrs Proudie, when he is dean, they'll be better
able to see the error of their ways.'

To this Mrs Proudie said nothing. Her dislike of the Signora Neroni
was too deep to admit of her even hoping that that lady should see
the error of her ways. Mrs Proudie looked on the signora as one of
the lost,--one of those beyond the reach of Christian charity, and
was therefore able to enjoy the luxury of hating her, without the
drawback of wishing her eventually well out of her sins.

Any further conversation between these congenial souls was
prevented by the advent of Mr Thorne, who came to lead the countess
to the tent. Indeed, he had been desired to do so some ten minutes
since; but he had been delayed in the drawing-room by the signora.
She had contrived to detain him, to bet him near to her sofa, and
at last to make him seat himself on a chair close to her beautiful
arm. The fish took the bait, was hooked, and caught, and landed.
Within that ten minutes he had heard the whole of signora's history
in such strains as she chose to use in telling it. He learnt from
the lady's own lips the whole of that mysterious tale to which the
Honourable George had merely alluded. He discovered that the
beautiful creature lying before him had been more sinned against
than sinning. She had owned to him that she had been weak,
confiding and indifferent to the world's opinion, and that she had
therefore been ill-used, deceived and evil spoken of. She had
spoken to him of her mutilated limb, her youth destroyed in the
fullest bloom, her beauty robbed of its every charm, her life
blighted, her hopes withered; and as she did so, a tear dropped
from her eye to her cheek. She had told him of these things, and
asked for his sympathy.

What could a good-natured genial Anglo-Saxon Squire Thorne do but
promise to sympathise with her? Mr Thorne did promise to
sympathise; promised also to come and see the last of the Neros, to
hear more of those fearful Roman days, of those light and innocent
but dangerous hours which flitted by so fast on the shores of Como,
and to make himself the confidant of the signora's sorrows.

We need hardly say that he dropped all idea of warning his sister
against the dangerous lady. He had been mistaken; never so much
mistaken in his life. He had always regarded that Honourable George
as a coarse brutal-minded young man; now he was more convinced than
ever that he was so. It was by such men as the Honourable George
that the reputation of such women as Madeline Neroni were
imperilled and damaged. He would go and see the lady in her own
house; he was fully sure in his own mind of the soundness of his
own judgment; if he found her, as he believed he should do, an
injured well-disposed, warm-hearted woman, he would get his sister
Monica to invite her out to Ullathorne.

'No,' said she, as at her instance he got up to leave her, and
declared that he himself would attend upon her wants; 'no, no, my
friend; I positively put a veto upon your doing so. What, in your
own house, with an assemblage round you such as there is here! Do
you wish to make every woman hate me and every man stare at me? I
lay a positive order on you not to come near me again to-day. Come
and see me at home. It is only at home that I can talk; it is only
at home that I really can live and enjoy myself. My days of going
out, days such as these, are rare indeed. Come and see me at home,
Mr Thorne, and then I will not bid you to leave me.'

It is, we believe, common with young men of five and twenty to look
on their seniors--on men of, say, double their own age--as so many
stocks and stones--stocks and stones, that is, in regard to
feminine beauty. There never was a greater mistake. Women, indeed,
generally know better; but on this subject men of one age are
thoroughly ignorant of what is the very nature of mankind of other
ages. No experience of what goes on in the world, no reading of
history, no observation of life, has any effect in teaching the
truth. Men of fifty don't dance mazurkas, being generally too fat
and wheezy; nor do they sit for the hour together on river banks at
their mistresses' feet, being somewhat afraid of rheumatism. But
for real true love, love at first sight, love to devotion, love
that robs a man of his sleep, love that 'will gaze an eagle blind,'
love that 'will hear the lowest sound when the suspicious tread of
theft is stopped,' love that is 'like a Hercules still climbing
trees in the Hesperides,'--we believe this best age is from
forty-five to seventy; up to that, men are generally given to mere
flirting.

At the present moment Mr Thorne, aetat. fifty, was over head and
ears in love at first sight with the Signora Madeline Vesey Neroni,
nata Stanhope.

Nevertheless he was sufficiently master of himself to offer his arm
with all propriety to Lady De Courcy, and the countess graciously
permitted herself to be led to the tent.

Such had been Miss Thorne's orders, as she had succeeded in
inducing the bishop to lead old Lady Knowle to the top of the
dining-room. One of the baronets was sent off in quest of Mrs
Proudie, and found that lady on the lawn not in the best of
humours. Mr Thorne and the countess had left her too abruptly; she
had in vain looked about for an attendant chaplain, or even a stray
curate; they were all drawing long bows with the young ladies at
the bottom of the lawn, or finding places for their graceful
co-toxophilites in some snug corner of the tent. In such position
Mrs Proudie had been wont in earlier days to fall back upon Mr
Slope; but now she could never fall back upon him again. She gave
her head one shake as she thought of her lone position, and that
shake was as good as a week deducted from Mr Slope's longer sojourn
in Barchester. Sir Harkaway Gorse, however, relieved her present
misery, though his doing so by no means mitigated the sinning
chaplain's doom.

And now the eating and drinking began in earnest. Dr Grantly, to
his great horror, found himself leagued to Mrs Clantantram. Mrs
Clantantram had a great regard for the archdeacon, which was not
cordially returned; and when she, coming up to him, whispered in
his ear, 'Come, archdeacon, I'm sure you won't begrudge an old
friend the favour of your arm,' and then proceeded to tell him the
whole history of her roquelaure, he resolved that he would shake
her off before he was fifteen minutes older. But latterly the
archdeacon had not been successful in his resolutions; and on the
present occasion Mrs Clantantram stuck to him till the banquet was
over.

Dr Gwynne got a baronet's wife, and Mrs Grantly fell to the lot of
a baronet. Charlotte Stanhope attached herself to Mr Harding in
order to make room for Bertie, who succeeded in sitting down in the
dining-room next to Mrs Bold. To speak sooth, now that he had love
in earnest to make, his heart almost failed him.

Eleanor had been right glad to avail herself of his arm, seeing
that Mr Slope was hovering nigh her. In striving to avoid that
terrible Charybdis of a Slope she was in great danger of falling
into an unseen Scylla on the other hand, that Scylla being Bertie
Stanhope. Nothing could be more gracious than she was to Bertie.
She almost jumped at his proffered arm. Charlotte perceived this
from a distance, and triumphed in her heart; Bertie felt it, and
was encouraged; Mr Slope saw it, and glowered with jealousy.
Eleanor and Bertie sat down to table in the dining-room; and as she
took her seat at his right hand, she found that Mr Slope was
already in possession of the chair at her own.

As these things were going on in the dining-room, Mr Arabin was
hanging enraptured and alone over the signora's sofa; and Eleanor
from her seat could look through the open door and see that he was
doing so.



CHAPTER XXXVIII

THE BISHOP SITS DOWN TO BREAKFAST, AND THE DEAN DIES

The bishop of Barchester said grace over the well-spread board in
the Ullathorne dining-room; and while he did so the last breath was
flying from the dean of Barchester as he lay in his sick-room in
the deanery. When the bishop of Barchester raised his first glass
of champagne to his lips, the deanship of Barchester was a good
thing in the gift of the prime minister. Before the bishop of
Barchester had left the table, the minister of the day was made
aware of the fact at his country seat in Hampshire, and had already
turned over in his mind the names of five very respectable
aspirants for the preferment. It is at present only necessary to
say that Mr Slope's name was not among the five.

''Twas merry in the hall when the beards wagged all;' and the
clerical beards wagged merrily in the hall of Ullathorne that day.
It was not till after the last cork had been drawn, the last speech
made, the last nut cracked, that tidings reached and were whispered
about that the poor dean was no more. It was well for the happiness
of the clerical beards that this little delay took place, as
otherwise decency would have forbidden them to wag at all.

But there was one sad man among them that day. Mr Arabin's beard
did not wag as it should have done. He had come there hoping the
best, striving to think the best about Eleanor; turning over in his
mind all the words he remembered to have fallen from her about Mr
Slope, and trying to gather from them a conviction unfavourable to
his rival. He had not exactly resolved to come that day to some
decisive proof as to the widow's intention; but he had meant, if
possible, to re-cultivate his friendship with Eleanor; and in his
present frame of mind any such re-cultivation must have ended in a
declaration of love.

He had passed the previous night alone at his new parsonage, and it
was the first night that he had so passed. It had been dull and
sombre enough. Mrs Grantly had been right in saying that a
priestess would be wanting at St Ewold's. He had sat there alone
with his glass before him, and then with his teapot, thinking about
Eleanor Bold. As is usual in such meditations, he did little but
blame her; blame her for liking Mr Slope, and blame her for not
liking him; blame her for her cordiality to himself, and blame her
for her want of cordiality; blame her for being stubborn,
headstrong, and passionate; and yet the more he thought of her the
higher she rose in his affection. If only it should turn out, if
only it could be made to turn out, that she had defended Mr Slope,
not from love, but on principle, all would be right. Such principle
in itself would be admirable, loveable, womanly; he felt that he
could be pleased to allow Mr Slope just so much favour as that. But
if--And then Mr Arabin poked his fire most unnecessarily, spoke
crossly to his new parlour-maid who came in for the tea-things, and
threw himself back in his chair determined to go to sleep. Why had
she been so stiff-necked when asked a plain question? She could not
but have known in what light he regarded her. Why had she not
answered a plain question, and so put an end to his misery? Then,
instead of going to sleep in his arm-chair, Mr Arabin walked about
the room as though he had been possessed.

On the following morning, when he attended Miss Thorne's behests,
he was still in a somewhat confused state. His first duty had been
to converse with Mrs Clantantram, and that lady had found it
impossible to elicit the slightest sympathy from him on the subject
of hr roquelaure. Miss Thorne had asked him whether Mrs Bold was
coming with the Grantlys; and the two names of Bold and Grantly
together had nearly made him jump from his seat.

He was in this state of confused uncertainty, hope, and doubt, when
he saw Mr Slope, with his most polished smile, handing Eleanor out
of her carriage. He thought of nothing more. He never considered
whether the carriage belonged to her or to Mr Slope, or to any one
else to whom they might both be mutually obliged without any
concert between themselves. The sight in his present state of mind
was quite enough to upset him and his resolves. It was clear as
noonday. Had he seen her handed into a carriage by Mr Slope at a
church door with a white veil over her head, the truth could not be
more manifest. He went into the house, and, as we have seen, soon
found himself walking with Mr Harding. Shortly afterwards Eleanor
came up; and then he had to leave his companion, and either go
about alone or find another. While in this state he was encountered
by the archdeacon.

'I wonder,' said Dr Grantly, 'if it be true that Mr Slope and Mrs
Bold come here together. Susan says she is almost sure she saw
their faces in the same carriage as she got out of her own.'

Mr Arabin had nothing for it but to bear his testimony to the
correctness of Mrs Grantly's eyesight.

'It is perfectly shameful,' said the archdeacon; 'or I should
rather say, shameless. She was asked her as my guest; and if she be
determined to disgrace herself, she should have feeling enough not
to do so before my immediate friends. I wonder how that man got
himself invited. I wonder whether she had the face to bring him.'

To this Mr Arabin could answer nothing, nor did he wish to answer
anything. Though he abused Eleanor to himself, he did not choose to
abuse to any one else, nor was he well pleased to hear any one else
speak ill of her. Dr Grantly, however, was very angry, and did not
spare his sister-in-law. Mr Arabin therefore left him as soon as he
could, and wandered back into the house.

It is impossible to say how the knowledge had been acquired, but
the signora had a sort of instinctive knowledge that Mr Arabin was
an admirer of Mrs Bold. Men hunt foxes by the aid of dogs, and are
aware that they do so by the strong organ of smell with which the
dog is endowed. They do not, however, in the least comprehend how
such a sense can work with such acuteness. The organ by which woman
instinctively, as it were, know and feel how other women are
regarded by men, and how also men are regarded by other women, is
equally strong, and equally incomprehensible. A glance, a word, a
motion, suffices: by some such acute exercise of her feminine
senses the signora was aware that Mr Arabin loved Eleanor Bold; and
therefore, by a further exercise of her peculiar feminine
propensities, it was quite natural for her to entrap Mr Arabin into
her net.

The work was half done before she came to Ullathorne, and when
could she have a better opportunity of completing it? She had had
almost enough of Mr Slope, though she could not quite resist the
fun of driving a very sanctimonious clergyman to madness by a
desperate and ruinous passion. Mr Thorne had fallen too easily to
give much pleasure in the chase. His position as a man of wealth
might make his alliance of value, but as a lover he was very
second-rate. We may say that she regarded him somewhat as a
sportsman does a pheasant. The bird is so easily shot, that he
would not be worth the shooting were it not for the very
respectable appearance that he makes in a larder. The signora would
not waste much time in shooting Mr Thorne, but still he was worth
bagging for family uses.

But Mr Arabin was game of another sort. The signora was herself
possessed of quite sufficient intelligence to know that Mr Arabin
was a man more than usually intellectual. She knew also, that as a
clergyman he was of a much higher stamp than Mr Slope, and that as
gentleman he was better educated than Mr Thorne. She would never
have attempted to drive Mr Arabin into ridiculous misery as she did
Mr Slope, nor would she think it possible to dispose of him in ten
minutes as she had done with Mr Thorne.

Such were her reflections about Mr Arabin. As to Mr Arabin, it
cannot be said that he reflected at all about the signora.

He knew that she was beautiful, and he felt that she was able to
charm him. He required charming in his present misery, and
therefore he went and stood at the head of her couch. She knew all
about it. Such were her peculiar gifts.

It was her nature to see that he required charming, and it was her
province to charm him. As the Easter idler swallows his dose of
opium, as the London reprobate swallows his dose of gin, so with
similar desire and for similar reasons did Mr Arabin prepare to
swallow the charms of the Signora Neroni.

'Why aren't you shooting with bows and arrows, Mr Arabin?' said
she, when they were nearly alone together in the sitting-room; 'or
talking with young ladies in shady bowers, or turning your talents
to account in some way? What was a bachelor like you asked here
for? Don't you mean to earn your cold chicken and champagne? Were I
you, I should be ashamed to be so idle.'

Mr Arabin murmured some sort of answer. Though he wished to be
charmed, he as hardly yet in a mood to be playful in return.

'Why, what ails you, Mr Arabin?' said she, 'here you are in your
own parish; Miss Thorne tells me that her party is given expressly
in your honour; and yet you are the only dull man in it. Your
friend Mr Slope was with me a few minutes since, full of life and
spirits' why don't you rival him?'

It was not difficult for so acute an observer as Madeline Neroni to
see that she had hit the nail on the head and driven the bolt home.
Mr Arabin winced visibly before her attack, and she knew at once
that he was jealous of Mr Slope.

'But I look on you and Mr Slope as the very antipodes of men,' said
she. 'There is nothing in which you are not each the reverse of the
other, except in belonging to the same profession; and even in that
you are so unlike as perfectly to maintain the rule. He is
gregarious, you are given to solitude. He is active, you are
passive. He works, you think. He likes women, you despise them. He
is fond of position and power, and so are you, but for directly
different reasons. He loves to be praised, you very foolishly abhor
it. He will gain his rewards, which will be an insipid useful wife,
a comfortable income, and a reputation for sanctimony. You will
also gain yours.'

'Well, and what will they be?' said Mr Arabin, who knew that he was
being flattered, and yet suffered himself to put up with it. 'What
will be my rewards?'

'The heart of some woman whom you will be too austere to own that
you love, and the respect of some few friends which you will be too
proud to own that you value.'

'Rich rewards,' said he; 'but of little worth if they are to be so
treated.'

'Oh, you are not to look for such success as awaits Mr Slope. He is
born to be a successful man. He suggests to himself an object, and
then starts for it with eager intention. Nothing will deter him
from his pursuit. He will have no scruples, no fears, no
hesitation. His desire is to be a bishop with a rising family, the
wife will come first, and in due time the apron. You will see all
this, and then--'

'Well, and what then?'

'Then you will begin to wish that you had done the same.'

Mr Arabin look placidly out at the lawn, and resting his shoulder
on the head of the sofa, rubbed his chin with his hand. It was a
trick he had when he was thinking deeply; and what the signora said
made him think. Was it not all true? Would he not hereafter look
back, if not at Mr Slope, at some others, people not equally gifted
with himself, who had risen in the world while he had lagged
behind, and then wish that he had done the same?

'Is not such the doom of all speculative men of talent?' said she.
'Do they not all sit rapt as you now are, cutting imaginary silken
cords with their fine edges, while those not so highly tempered
sever the every-day Gordian knots of the world's struggle, and win
wealth and renown? Steel too highly polished, edges too sharp, do
not do for this world's work, Mr Arabin.'

Who was this woman that thus read the secrets of his heart, and
re-uttered to him the unwelcome bodings of his own soul? He looked
full into her face when she had done speaking, and said, 'Am I one
of those foolish blades, too sharp and too fine to do a useful
day's work?'

'Why do you let the Slopes of the world out-distance you?' said
she. 'It not the blood in your veins as warm as his? does not your
pulse beat as fast? Has not God made you a man, and intended you to
do a man's work here, ay, and to take a man's wages also?'

Mr Arabin sat ruminating and rubbing his face, and wondering why
these things were said to him; but he replied nothing. The signora
went on--

'The greatest mistake any man ever made is to suppose that the good
things of the world are not worth the winning. And it is a mistake
so opposed to the religion which you preach! Why does God permit
his bishops one after the other to have their five thousands and
ten thousands a year if such wealth be bad and not worth having?
Why are beautiful things given to us, and luxuries and pleasant
enjoyments, if they be not intended to be used? They must be meant
for some one, and what is good for a layman cannot surely be bad
for a clerk. You try to despise these good things, but you only
try; you don't succeed.'

'Don't I,' said Mr Arabin, still musing, and not knowing what he
said.

'I ask you the question: do you succeed?'

Mr Arabin looked at her piteously. It seemed to him as though he
were being interrogated by some inner spirit of his own, to whom he
could not refuse an answer, and to whom he did not dare to give a
false reply.

'Come, Mr Arabin, confess; do you succeed? Is money so
contemptible? Is worldly power so worthless? Is feminine beauty a
trifle to be so slightly regarded by a wise man?'

'Feminine beauty!' said he, gazing into her face, as though all the
feminine beauty in the world was concentrated there. 'Why do you
say I do not regard it?'

'If you look at me like that, Mr Arabin, I shall alter my
opinion--or should do so, were I not of course aware that I have no
beauty of my own worth regarding.'

The gentleman blushed crimson, but the lady did not blush at all. A
slightly increased colour animated her face, just so much so as to
give her an air of special interest. She expected a compliment from
her admirer, but she was rather grateful than otherwise by finding
that he did not pay it to her. Messrs Slope and Thorne, Messrs
Brown, Jones and Robinson, they all paid her compliments. She was
rather in hopes that she would ultimately succeed in inducing Mr
Arabin to abuse her.

'But your gaze,' said she, 'is one of wonder, and not of
admiration. You wonder at my audacity in asking you such questions
about yourself.'

'Well, I do rather,' said he.

'Nevertheless I expect an answer, Mr Arabin. Why were women made
beautiful if men are not to regard them?'

'But men do regard them,' he replied.

'And why not you?'

'You are begging the question, Madame Neroni.'

'I am sure that I shall beg nothing, Mr Arabin, which you will not
grant, and I do beg for an answer. Do you not as a rule think women
below your notice as companions? Let us see. There is the widow
Bold looking round at you from her chair this minute. What would
you say to her as a companion for life?'

Mr Arabin, rising from his position, leaned over the sofa and
looked through the drawing-room door to the place where Eleanor was
seated between Bertie Stanhope and Mr Slope. She at once caught his
glance, and averted her own. She was not pleasantly placed in her
present position. Mr Slope was doing his best to attract her
attention; and she was striving to prevent his doing so by talking
to Mr Stanhope, while her mind was intently fixed on Mr Arabin and
Madame Neroni. Bertie Stanhope endeavoured to take advantage of her
favours, but he was thinking more of the manner in which he would
by-and-by throw himself at her feet, than of amusing her at the
present moment.

'There,' said the signora. 'She was stretching her beautiful neck
to look at you, and now you have disturbed her. Well I declare, I
believe I am wrong about you; I believe that you do think Mrs Bold
a charming woman. Your looks seem to say so; and by her looks I
should say that she is jealous of me. Come, Mr Arabin, confide in
me, and if it is so, I'll do all in my power to make up the match.'

It is needless to say that the signora was not very sincere in her
offer. She was never sincere on such subjects. She never expected
others to be so, nor did she expect others to think her so. Such
matters were her playthings, her billiard table, her hounds and
hunters, her waltzes and polkas, her picnics and summer-day
excursions. She had little else to amuse her, and therefore played
at love-making in all its forms. She was now playing at it with Mr
Arabin, and did not at all expect the earnestness and truth of his
answer.

'All in your power would be nothing,' said he; 'for Mrs Bold is, I
imagine, already engaged to another.'

'Then you own the impeachment yourself.'

'You cross-question me rather unfairly,' he replied, 'and I do not
know why I answer you at all. Mrs Bold is a very beautiful woman,
and as intelligent as beautiful. It is impossible to know her
without admiring her.'

'So you think the widow a very beautiful woman?'

'Indeed I do.'

'And one that would grace the parsonage at St Ewold's.'

'One that would grace any man's house.'

'And you really have the effrontery to tell me this,' said she; 'to
tell me, who, as you very well know, set up to be a beauty myself,
and who am at this very moment taking such an interest in your
affairs, you really have the effrontery to tell me that Mrs Bold is
the most beautiful woman you know.'

'I did not say so,' said Mr Arabin; 'you are more beautiful--'

'Ah, come now, that is something like. I thought you would not be
so unfeeling.'

'You are more beautiful, perhaps more clever.'

'Thank you, thank you, Mr Arabin. I knew that you and I should be
friends.'

'But--'

'Not a word further. I will not hear a word further. If you talk
till midnight, you cannot improve what you have said.'

'But Madame Neroni, Mrs Bold--'

'I will not hear a word about Mrs Bold. Dread thoughts of
strychnine did pass across my brain, but she is welcome to the
second place.'

'Her place--'

'I won't hear anything about her or her place. I am satisfied and
that is enough. But, Mr Arabin, I am dying with hunger; beautiful
and clever as I am, you know I cannot go to my food, and yet you do
not bring it to me.'

This at any rate was so true as to make it unnecessary that Mr
Arabin should not act upon it, and he accordingly went into the
dining-room and supplied the signora's wants.

'And yourself,' said she.

'Oh,' said he, 'I am not hungry; I never eat at this hour.'

'Come, come, Mr Arabin, don't let love interfere with your
appetite. It never does with mine. Give me half a glass more
champagne, and then go to the table. Mrs Bold will do me an injury
if you stay talking to me any longer.'

Mr Arabin did as he was bid. He took her plate and glass from her,
and going into the dining-room, helped himself to a sandwich from
the crowded table and began munching it in a corner.

As he was doing so, Miss Thorne, who had hardly sat down for a
moment, came into the room, and seeing him standing, was greatly
distressed.

'Oh, my dear Mr Arabin,' said she, 'have you never sat down yet? I
am so distressed. You of all men too.'

Mr Arabin assured her that he had only just come into the room.

'That is the very reason why you should lose no more time. Come
I'll make room for you. Thank'ee my dear,' she said, seeing that
Mrs Bold was making an attempt to move from her chair, 'but I would
not for the world see you stir, for all the ladies would think it
necessary to follow. But, perhaps, if Mr Stanhope has done--just
for a minute, Mr Stanhope--till I can get another chair.'

And so Bertie had to rise to make way for his rival. This he did,
as he did everything, with an air of good-humoured pleasantry,
which made it impossible for Mr Arabin to refuse the proffered
seat.

'His bishopric let another take,' said Bertie; the quotation being
certainly not very appropriate, either for the occasion, or the
person spoken to. 'I have eaten and am satisfied; Mr Arabin, pray
take my chair. I wish for your sake, it really was a bishop's
seat.'

Mr Arabin did sit down, and as he did so, Mrs Bold got up as though
to follow her neighbour.

'Pray, pray don't move,' said Miss Thorne, almost forcing Eleanor
back into her chair. 'Mr Stanhope is not going to leave us. He will
stand behind you like a true knight as he is. And now I think of
it, Mr Arabin, let me introduce you to Mr Slope. Mr Slope, Mr
Arabin.' And the two gentlemen bowed stiffly to each other across
the lady they both intended to marry, while the other gentleman who
also intended to marry her stood behind, watching them.

The two had never met each other before, and the present was
certainly not a good opportunity for much cordial conversation,
even if cordial conversation between them had been possible. As it
was, the whole four who formed the party seemed as though their
tongues were tied. Mr Slope, who was wide awake to what he hoped
was his coming opportunity, was not much concerned in the interest
of the moment. His wish was to see Eleanor move, that he might
pursue her. Bertie was not exactly in the same frame of mind; the
evil of the day was near enough; there was no reason why he should
precipitate it. He had made up his mind to marry Eleanor Bold if he
could, and was resolved to-day to take the first preliminary step
towards doing so. But there was time enough before him. He was not
going to make an offer of marriage over the table-cloth. Having
thus good-naturedly made way for Mr Arabin, he was willing also to
let him talk to the future Mrs Stanhope as long as they remained in
their present position.

Mr Arabin bowed to Mr Slope, began eating his food, without saying
a word further. He was full of thoughts, and though he ate he did
so unconsciously.

But poor Eleanor was the most to be pitied. The only friend on whom
she thought she could rely, was Bertie Stanhope, and he, it seemed,
was determined to desert her. Mr Arabin did not attempt to address
her. She said a few words in reply to some remarks from Mr Slope,
and then feeling the situation too much for her, started from her
chair in spite of Miss Thorne, and hurried from the room. Mr Slope
followed her, and young Stanhope lost the occasion.

Madame Neroni, when she was left alone, could not help pondering
much on the singular interview she had had with this singular man.
Not a word that she had spoken to him had been intended by her to
be received as true, and yet he had answered her in the very spirit
of truth. He had done so, and she had been aware that he had done
so. She had wormed from him his secret; and he, debarred as it
would seem from man's usual privilege of lying, had innocently laid
bare his whole soul to her. He loved Eleanor Bold, but Eleanor was
not in his eyes so beautiful as herself. He would fain have Eleanor
for his wife, but yet he had acknowledged that she was the less
gifted of the two. The man had literally been unable to falsify his
thoughts when questioned, and had been compelled to be true malgre
lui, even when truth must have been disagreeable to him.

This teacher of men, this Oxford pundit, this double-distilled
quintessence of university perfection, this writer of religious
treatises, this speaker of ecclesiastical speeches, had been like a
little child in her hands; she had turned him inside out, and read
his very heart as she might have done that of a young girl. She
could not but despise him for his facile openness, and yet she
liked him too. It was a novelty to her, a new trait in a man's
character. She felt also that she could never so completely make a
fool of him as she did of the Slopes and the Thornes. She felt that
she could never induce Mr Arabin to make protestations to her that
were not true, or to listen to nonsense that was mere nonsense.

It was quite clear that Mr Arabin was heartily in love with Mrs
Bold, and the signora, with very unwonted good nature, began to
turn it over in her mind whether she could not do him a good turn.
Of course Bertie was to have the first chance. It was an understood
family arrangement that her brother was, if possible, to marry the
widow Bold. Madeline knew too well the necessities and what was due
to her sister to interfere with so excellent a plan, as long as it
might be feasible. But she had strong suspicion that it was not
feasible. She did not think it likely that Mrs Bold would accept a
man in her brother's position, and she had frequently said so to
Charlotte. She was inclined to believe that Mr Slope had more
chance of success; and with her it would be a labour of love to rob
Mr Slope of his wife.

And so the signora resolved, should Bertie fail, to do a
good-natured act for once in her life, and give up Mr Arabin to the
woman whom he loved.



CHAPTER XXXIX

THE LOOKALOFTS AND THE GREENACRES

On the whole, Miss Thorne's provision for the amusement and feeding
of the outer classes in the exoteric paddock was not unsuccessful.

Two little drawbacks to the general happiness did take place, but
they were of a temporary nature, and apparent rather than real. The
first was the downfall of young Harry Greenacre, and the other was
the uprise of Mrs Lookaloft and her family.

As to the quintain, it became more popular among the boys on foot,
than it would ever have been among the men on horseback, even had
young Greenacre been more successful. It was twirled round and
round till it was nearly twisted out of the ground; and the bag of
flour was used with great gusto in powdering the backs and heads of
all who could be coaxed within the vicinity.

Of course it was reported all throughout the assemblage that Harry
was dead, and there was a pathetic scene between him and his mother
when it was found that he had escaped scatheless from the fall. A
good deal of beer was drunk on the occasion, and the quintain was
'dratted' and 'bothered', and very generally anathematised by all
the mothers who had young sons likely to be placed in similar
jeopardy. But the affair of Mrs Lookaloft was of a more serious
nature.

'I do tell 'ee plainly,--face to face--she be there in madam's
drawing-room; herself and Gussy, and them two walloping gals,
dressed up to their very eyeses.' This was said by a very positive,
very indignant, and very fat farmer's wife, who was sitting on the
end of a bench leaning on the handle of a huge cotton umbrella.

'But you didn't zee her, Dame Guffern?' said Mrs Greenacres, whom
this information, joined to the recent peril undergone by her son,
almost overpowered. Mr Greenacres held just as much land as Mr
Lookaloft, paid his rent quite as punctually, and his opinion in
the vestry-room was reckoned to be every whit as good. Mrs
Lookaloft's rise in the world had been wormwood to Mrs Greenacre.
She had not taste herself for the sort of finery which converted
Barleystubb farm into Rosebank, and which had occasionally graced
Mr Lookaloft's letters with the dignity of esquirehood. She had no
wish to convert her own homeland into Violet Villa, or to see her
goodman go about with a new-fangled handle to his name. But it was
a mortal injury to her that Mrs Lookaloft should be successful in
her hunt after such honours. She had abused and ridiculed Mrs
Lookaloft to the extent of her little power. She had pushed against
her going out of church, and had excused herself with all the
easiness of equality. 'Ah, dame, I axes pardon; but you be grown so
mortal stout these time.' She had inquired with apparent cordiality
of Mr Lookaloft after 'the woman that owned him,' and had, as she
thought, been on the whole able to hold her own pretty well against
her aspiring neighbour. Now, however, she found herself distinctly
put into a separate and inferior class. Mrs Lookaloft was asked
into the Ullathorne drawing-room, merely because she called her
house Rosebank, and had talked over her husband into buying pianos
and silk dresses instead of putting his money by to stock farms for
his sons.

Mrs Greenacre, much as she reverenced Miss Thorne, and highly as
she respected her husband's landlord, could not but look on this as
an act of injustice done to her and hers. Hitherto the Lookalofts
had never been recognised as being of a different class from the
Greenacres. Their pretensions were all self-pretensions, their
finery was all paid for by themselves and not granted to them by
others. The local sovereigns of the vicinity, the district
fountains of honour, had hitherto conferred on them the stamp of no
rank. Hitherto their crinoline petticoats, late hours, and mincing
gait had been a fair subject of Mrs Greenacre's raillery, and this
raillery had been a safety valve for her envy. Now, however, and
from henceforward, the case would be very different. Now the
Lookalofts would boast that their aspirations had been sanctioned
by the gentry of the country; now they would declare with some show
of truth that their claims to peculiar consideration had been
recognised. They had sat as equal guests in the presence of bishops
and baronets; they had been curtseyed to by Miss Thorne on her own
drawing-room carpet; they were about to sit down to table in
company with a live countess! Bab Lookaloft, as she had always been
called by the young Greenacres in the days of their juvenile
equality, might possibly sit next to the Honourable George, and
that wretched Gussy might be permitted to hand a custard to the
Lady Margaretta De Courcy.

The fruition of these honours, or such of them as fell to the lot
of the envied family, was not such as should have caused much envy.
The attention paid to the Lookalofts by the De Courcys was very
limited, and the amount of society was hardly in itself a
recompense for the dull monotony of their day. But of what they
endured Mrs Greenacre took no account; she thought only of what she
considered they must enjoy, and of the dreadfully exalted tone of
living which would be manifested by the Rosebank family, as the
consequence of their present distinction.

'But did 'ee zee 'em there, dame, did 'ee zee 'em then with your
own eyes?' asked poor Mrs Greenacre, still hoping that there might
be some ground for doubt.

'And how could I do that, unless so be I was there myself?' asked
Mrs Guffen. 'I didn't set eyes on none of them this blessed
morning, but I zee'd them as did. You know our John; well, he will
be for keeping company with Betsey Rusk, madam's own maid, you
know. And Betsey isn't one of your common kitchen wenches. So
Betsey, she come out to our John, you know, and she's always vastly
polite to me, is Betsey Rusk, I must say. So before she took so
much as one turn with John, she told me every ha'porth that was
going on up in the house.'

'Did she now?' said Mrs Greenacre.

'Indeed she did,' said Mrs Guffern.

'And she told you them people was up there in the drawing-room?'

'She told me she zee'd them come in--that they was dressed finer by
half nor any of the family, with all their neckses and buzoms stark
naked as a born babby.'

'The minxes!' exclaimed Mrs Greenacre, who felt herself more put
about by this than any other mark of aristocratic distinction which
her enemies had assumed.

'Yes, indeed,' continued Mrs Guffern, 'as naked as you please,
while all the quality was dressed just as you and I be, Mrs
Greenacre.'

'Drat their impudence' said Mrs Greenacre, from whose well-covered
bosom all milk of human kindness was receding, as far as the family
of the Lookalofts were concerned.

'So says I,' said Mrs Guffern; 'and so says my good-man Thomas
Guffern, when he hear'd it. "Molly," says he to me, "if ever you
takes to going about o' mornings with yourself all naked in them
ways, I begs you won't come back no more to the old house." So says
I, "Thomas, no more I wull." "But," says he, "drat it, how the
deuce does she manage with her rheumatiz, and she not a rag on
her:"' said Mrs Giffern, laughed loudly as she though of Mrs
Lookalofts's probable sufferings from rheumatic attacks.

'But to liken herself that way to folk that ha' blood in their
veins,' said Mrs Greenacre.

'Well, but that warn't all neither that Betsey told. There they all
swelled into madam's drawing-room, like so many turkey cocks, as
much to say, "and who dare say no to us?" and Gregory was thinking
of telling them to come down here, only his heart failed him 'cause
of the grand way they was dressed. So in they went; but madam
looked at them as glum as death.'

'Well now,' said Mrs Greenacre, greatly relieved, 'so they wasn't
axed different from us all then?'

'Betsey says that Gregory says that madam wasn't a bit too well
pleased to see them where they was and that, to his believing, they
was expected to come here just like the rest of us.'

There was great consolation in this. Not that Mrs Greenacre was
altogether satisfied. She felt that justice to herself demanded
that Mrs Lookaloft should not only not be encouraged, but that she
should also be absolutely punished.

What had been done at that scriptural banquet, of which Mrs
Greenacre so often read the account to her family? Why had not Miss
Thorne boldly gone to the intruder and said: 'Friend, thou hast
come up hither to high places not fitted for thee. Go down lower,
and thou wilt find thy mates.' Let the Lookalofts be treated at the
present moment with ever so cold a shoulder, they would still be
enabled to boast hereafter of their position, their aspirations,
and their honour.

'Well, with all her grandeur, I do wonder that she be so mean,
continued Mrs Greenacre, unable to dismiss the subject.
 'Did you hear, goodman?' she went on, about to repeat the whole
story to her husband who then came up. 'There's dame Lookaloft and
Bab and Gussy and the lot of 'em all sitting as grand as fivepence
in madam's drawing-room, and they not axed no more nor you nor me.
Did you ever hear tell the like o' that?'

'Well, and what for shouldn't they?' said Farmer Greenacre.

'Likening theyselves to the quality, as though they was estated
folk, or the like o' that!' said Mrs Guffern.

'Well, if they likes it and madam likes it, they's welcome for me,'
said the farmer. 'Now I likes the place better, cause I be more at
home like, and don't have to pay for them fine clothes for the
missus. Every one to his taste, Mrs Guffern, and if neighbour
Lookaloft thinks that he has the best of it, he's welcome.'

Mrs Greenacre sat down by her husband's side to begin the heavy
work of the banquet, and she did so in some measure of restored
tranquillity, but nevertheless she shook her head at her gossip to
show that in this instance she did not quite approve of her
husband's doctrine.

'And I'll tell 'ee what, dames,' continued he; 'if so be that we
cannot enjoy the dinner that madam gives us because Mother
Lookaloft is sitting up there on a grand sofa, I think we ought all
to go home. If we greet at that, what'll we do when true sorrow
comes across us? How would you be now, dame, if the boy there had
broke his neck when he got the tumble?'

Mrs Greenacre was humbled, and said nothing further on the matter.
But let prudent men, such as Mr Greenacre, preach as they will, the
family of the Lookalofts certainly does occasion a good deal of
heart-burning in the world at large.

It was pleasant to see Mr Plomacy, as leaning on his stout stick he
went about among the rural guests, acting as a sort of head
constable as well as master of the revels. 'Now, young 'un, if you
can't manage to get along without that screeching, you'd better go
to the other side of the twelve-acre field, and take your dinner
with you. Come, girls, what do you stand there for, twirling of
your thumbs? come out, and let the lads see you; you've no need to
be so ashamed of your faces. Hello! there, who are you? how did you
make your way in here?'

This last disagreeable question was put to a young man of about
twenty-four, who did not, in Mr Plomacy's eye, bear sufficient
vestiges of a rural education and residence.

'If you please, your worship, Master Barrell the coachman let me in
at the church wicket, 'cause I do be working mostly al'ays for the
family.'

'Then Master Barrell the coachman may let you out again,' said Mr
Plomacy, not even conciliated by the magisterial dignity which had
been conceded to him. 'What's your name? And what trade are you,
and who do you work for?'

'I'm Stubbs, your worship, Bob Stubbs; and--and--and--'

'And what's your trade, Stubbs?'

'Plaisterer, please your worship.'

'I'll plaister you and Barrell too; you'll just walk out of this
'ere field as quick as you walked in. We don't want no plaisterers;
when we do, we'll send for 'em. Come, my buck, walk.'

Stubbs the plasterer was much downcast at the dreadful edict. He
was a sprightly fellow, and had contrived since his egress into the
Ullathorne elysium to attract to himself a forest nymph, to whom he
was whispering a plasterer's usual soft nothings, when he was
encountered by the great Mr Plomacy. It was dreadful to be thus
dissevered from the dryad, and sent howling back to a Barchester
pandemonium just as the nectar and ambrosia were about to descend
on the fields of asphodel. He began to try what prayers would do,
but city prayers were vain against the great rural potentate. Not
only did Mr Plomacy order his exit, but raising his stick to show
the way which led to the gate that had been left in the custody of
that false Cerberus Barrell, proceeded himself to see the edict of
banishment carried out.

The goddess Mercy, however, the sweetest goddess that ever sat upon
a cloud, and the dearest to poor frail erring man appeared on the
field in the person of Mr Greenacre. Never was interceding goddess
more welcome.

'Come, man,' said Mr Greenacre, 'never stick at trifles such a day
as this. I know the lad well. Let him bide at my axing. Madam won't
miss what he can eat and drink, I know.'

Now Mr Plomacy and Mr Greenacre were sworn friends. Mr Plomacy had
at his own disposal as comfortable a room as there was in
Ullathorne House; but he was a bachelor, and alone there; and,
moreover, smoking in the house was not allowed even to Mr Plomacy.
His moments of truest happiness were spent in a huge arm-chair in
the warmest corner of Mrs Greenacre's beautifully clean front
kitchen. 'Twas there that the inner man dissolved itself, and
poured itself out in streams of pleasant chat; 'twas there, and
perhaps there only, that he could unburden himself from the
ceremonies of life without offending the dignity of those above
him, or incurring the familiarity of those below. 'Twas there that
his long pipe was always to be found on the accustomed chimney
board, not only permitted but encouraged.

Such being the state of the case, it was not to be supposed that Mr
Plomacy could refuse such a favour to Mr Greenacre; but
nevertheless he not grant it without some further show of austere
authority.

'Eat and drink, Mr Greenacre! No. it's not what he eats and drinks;
but the example such a chap shows, coming in where he's not
invited--a chap of his age too. He too that never did a day's work
about Ullathorne since he was born. Plaisterer! I'll plaister him!'

'He worked long enough for me, then Mr Plomacy. And a good hand he
is at setting tiles as any in Barchester,' said the other, not
sticking quite to veracity, as indeed mercy never should. 'Come,
come, let him alone to-day, and quarrel with him to-morrow. You
wouldn't shame him before his lass there?'

'It goes against the grain with me, then,' said Mr Plomacy. 'And
take care, you Stubbs, and behave yourself. If I hear a row, I
shall know where it comes from. I'm up to you Barchester
journeymen; I know what stuff you're made of.'

And so Stubbs went off happy, pulling at the forelock of his shock
head of hair in honour of the steward's clemency, and giving
another double pull at it in honour of the farmer's kindness. And
as he went he swore within his grateful heart, that if ever Farmer
Greenacre wanted a day's work done for nothing, he was the lad to
do it for him. Which promise it was not probable that he would ever
be called upon to perform.

But Mr Plomacy was not quite happy in his mind for he thought of
the unjust steward, and began to reflect whether he had not made
for himself friends at the mammon of unrighteousness. This,
however, did not interfere with the manner in which he performed
his duties at the bottom of the long board; nor did Mr Greenacre
perform his the worse at the top on account of the good wishes of
Stubbs the plasterer. Moreover, the guests did not think it
anything amiss when Mr Plomacy, rising to say grace, prayed that
God would make them all truly thankful for the good things which
Madam Thorne in her great liberality had set out before them!

All this time the quality in the tent on the lawn were getting on
swimmingly; that is, champagne without restrictions can enable
quality fold to swim. Sir Harkaway Gorse proposed the health of
Miss Thorne, and likened her to a blood race-horse, always in
condition, and not to be tired down by any amount of work. Mr
Thorne returned thanks, saying he hoped his sister would always be
found able to run when called upon, and than gave the health and
prosperity of the De Courcy family. His sister was very much
honoured by seeing so many of them at her poor board. They were all
aware that important avocations made the absence of the earl
necessary. As his duty to his prince had called him from his family
hearth he, Mr Thorne, could not venture to regret that he did not
see him at Ullathorne; but nevertheless he would venture to
say--And so Mr Thorne became somewhat gravelled as a country
gentleman in similar circumstances usually do; but he ultimately
sat down, declaring that he had much satisfaction in drinking the
noble earl's health, together with that of the countess, and all
the family of De Courcy castle.

And then the Honourable George returned thanks. We will not follow
him through the different periods of his somewhat irregular
eloquence. Those immediately in his neighbourhood found it at first
rather difficult to get him to his legs, but much greater
difficulty was soon experience in inducing him to resume his seat.
One of two arrangements should certainly be made in these days:
either let all speech-making on festive occasions be utterly
tabooed and made as it were impossible; or else let those who are
to exercise the privilege be first subjected to a competing
examination before the civil service examining commissioners. As it
is now, the Honourable Georges do but little honour to our
exertions in favour of British education.

In the dining-room the bishop went through the honours of the day
with much more neatness and propriety. He also drank Miss Thorne's
health, and did it in a manner becoming the bench which he adorned.
The party there, was perhaps a little more dull, a shade less
lively than that in the tent.

But what was lost in mirth, was fully made up in decorum.

And so the banquet passed off at the various tables with great
eclat and universal delight.



CHAPTER XL

ULLATHORNE SPORTS--ACT II

'That which has made them drunk, has made me bold.' 'Twas thus that
Mr Slope encouraged himself, as he left the dining-room in pursuit
of Eleanor. He had not indeed seen in that room any person really
intoxicated; but there had been a good deal of wine drunk, and Mr
Slope had not hesitated to take his share, in order to screw
himself up to the undertaking which he had in hand. He is not the
first man who has thought it expedient to call in the assistance of
Bacchus on such an occasion.

Eleanor was out through the window, and on the grass before she
perceived that she was followed. Just at that moment the guests
were nearly all occupied at the tables. Here and there were to be
seen a constant couple or two, who preferred their own sweet
discourse to the jingle of glasses, or the charms of rhetoric which
fell from the mouths of the Honourable George and the bishop of
Barchester; but the grounds were as nearly vacant as Mr Slope could
wish them to be.

Eleanor saw that she was pursued, and as a deer, when escape is no
longer possible, will turn to bay and attack the hounds, so did she
turn upon Mr Slope.

'Pray don't let me take you from the room,' said she, speaking with
all the stiffness which she know 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 to be 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 the 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 was not 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 for 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, and there receive his offer in full view of
Miss Thorne's guests. She had therefore in self-defence walked on,
and 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
alone.'

'And must it be so short?' said he; 'must it be--'

'Yes,' said Eleanor, interrupting him; 'as short as possible, if
you please, sir.'

'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 rage 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 informed 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 string.

He was still determined to be very tender and very pious, seeing
that in spite of all Mrs Bold had said to him, he not yet abandoned
hope; but he was inclined 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 a while 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
all 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 step, 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 the 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 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 around 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 good will, that it sounded among the trees
like a miniature thunder-clap.

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; and 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
fisty-cuffs 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 piety 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 that 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
grateful 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 rebellions winds, abstained from mouthing
empty threats. The god when he resolved to punish the rebellious
winds, abstained from mouthing empty threats.

We will not attempt to tell with what mighty surging of the inner
heart Mr Slope swore to revenge himself on the woman who had
disgraced him, nor will we vainly strive to depict the deep agony
of his soul.

There he is, however, alone on 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 every one 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 greatly eased.

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 take 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 afer the exertion of his
speech.

'This is very pleasant--very pleasant, my lord, is it not?' said Mr
Slope with his most gracious smile, and 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
occasion.

'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
Gwynne--'

'Dr Gwynne,' said Mr Slope, raising his hat, and resolving not to
be outwitted by such an insignificant little goose as the bishop of
Barchester.

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 important note
from Tom Towers of the Jupiter? Had he not that note this moment in
his pocket?

So disregarding the bishop, he began to open out a conversation
with the master of Lazarus.

But suddenly and 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.



CHAPTER XLI

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 any one told her a week ago that he would have put his
arm around her waist at the 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 with
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?'

'On, 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 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
between you.'

'It was not his fault nor mine either. You know how I dislike 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 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 like; 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.

'He--he--he--'

'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
tipsy.'

'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 really imagine the sort of stuff he would talk. Well--and
then?'

'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.

'And then--'

'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 of
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 Mr Slope would be due all those jibes 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 be touched.

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 any one 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 you.'

'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 Slope.

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 connection; into such close connection
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 play.

And very well she played it. In the first place, it was arranged
that Mr Slope should not return in the Stanhope's 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 the 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 dilemma.

There was a warmth of friendship and cordial kindness 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 idea 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.

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 he was in heaven or hell. So little had he known of female
attractions of that peculiar class which the signora owned, that he
became affected with a temporary delirium, when first subjected to
its power. He lost his head rather than his 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 be-sirened, 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 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 Madam Neroni
than of kissing the Countess De Courcy.

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 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 was falling very fast.

'Very,' said Eleanor, who never in her life had passed a more
unpleasant day.

'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
gone away.'

'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
rings.

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.



CHAPTER XLII

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 candle-light 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 libation 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 home 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 resources for the evening which
is useless. One gets home fagged and desouvre, and yet at an hour
too early for bed. There is not 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 of 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 the 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 explain to you
everything.'

'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 the Eastern clime.

'Bertie, I am seeking you everywhere,' said Charlotte. 'Come up
here at once.'

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 obtain the means of living. Eleanor Bold
appeared before 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 your 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 an
Englishman's habit of offering each an arm to two ladies at the
same time; a habit, by the bye, 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, and 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 you to bring her, Bertie; even by force if necessary.'
And so saying, Charlotte was 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
as no possible reason now why Bertie should not go with his sister.
At least Eleanor saw none, and she said so 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 despot.'

'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 those 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 of 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 villainy.

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 a 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 be sufficiently reconciled to receive him.

There was 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 to 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 be seen 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 confidence 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
say so.'

'Impertinent!' said he. 'Not so, but much too kind. It is much too
kind in you to take an interest in so idle a scamp.'

'And make busts of the bishop, dean and chapter? Or perhaps, if I
achieve 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 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. 'Building 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 wife.'

'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 where Eleanor had been provoked into slapping
Mr Slope's face. Could it be possible that the place was peculiarly
unpropitious to her comfort? Could it be possible that she should
her have to encounter 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 do so.'

'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 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 communication 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.

'I wish to be guided by you,' said he; 'and, 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 do 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 any one 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 worst 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 quiet 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 poling in 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 lack-a-daisically; '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 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 that 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 an not sufficiently ambitious.'

'Pray don't be angry with her, Mrs Bold,' said he, 'or with me
either.'

'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 the subject.'

'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 this wish, she could restrain herself
no longer, but 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 going back to Barchester in
the carriage of her second suitor.

This somewhat mollified her. 'Oh, Mr Stanhope,' said she, 'why
should you have made me so miserable? What will 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
family comedy.

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 bandied about between them in different
senses, and each sense false. She was to 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 heels in debt, completed the compliment of owning that he
did not care to have his debts paid at so great a sacrifice to
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 she 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
better cease.'

'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 every one, 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 any one 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 waited
leaning patiently against the front wall, and 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 in 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
carriage.

'Are you not coming in the carriage?' said the father.

'No, no; I have some one 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.



CHAPTER XLIII

MR AND MRS QUIVERFUL ARE MADE HAPPY. MR SLOPE 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 despatches.
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.; and 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, nor 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 obeyed!

Much perturbation and flutter, high expectation and renewed hopes,
were occasioned at Puddingdale, by the receipt of those 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 want 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
others. '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
all right.'

'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 pie-crust, 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 bottom.

'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 any one 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
he will.'

'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 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 able 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
angrily.

'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 dresses, of a possible
piano--the one they had in the vicarage was so weather-beaten with
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 whisper.

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 this 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 again.

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 the husband of thine,
that Q of thy bosom, shall reign supreme for some 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 had 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 the 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 agin 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 idly.

'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
October.'

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, that'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; and 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 is 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 Dr Gwynne.

'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 himself
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 very
much pleased with him. He attributed the visit solely to
compliment, and thought it was 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.

'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 something of Mrs
Proudie and her Sunday schools, both from Dr Grantly and Mr
Harding.

'By the bye, 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, stiffnecked, and hardened in their antiquity. 'The
archdeacon, I know,' said she, 'sets his face against these
institutions.'

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,"' said she. '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 a menacing forefinger.

'Certainly, madam, certainly,' said the master, 'and so does the
archdeacon, I am sure, on week days as well as on Sundays.'

'On week days you can't take heed not to despise them,' said Mrs
Proudie, 'because they are out in the fields. On week days 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 subject.

'My lord,' said he, 'I wanted to ask you a question on business, if
you would spare me one moment's leisure. I know I must apologise
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 room.

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 Hiram's Hospital.

'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 despatch 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. 'Yours ever' T.T. '30/9/185-'

There was more in this than in all Sir Nicholas Fitzwiggin's
flummery; more than in all the bishop's promises, even had they
been ever so sincere; more than in any archbishop's good work, even
had it been possible to obtain it. Tom Towers would do for him what
he could.

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 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 broad sheets 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 disrespect.

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 fittest man for the vacant post. It was pleasant for
Mr Slope to read the following line 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 about to meddle very deeply in the affairs of the diocese.
If any of the chapter feel a qualm of conscience on reading this,
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 revered 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 at
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 is due or not.
But the consequence of our remark was, that the warden did look
into the matter, and finding on doing so that he himself could come
to no other opinion than that expressed by us, he very creditably
threw up the appointment. The then bishop then 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 re-opened 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 L 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 advertised to its state of decadence, we think it right
also to advert to its renaissance. May it go up 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 honourable 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 the 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 Puddingdale.

'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 in this paper. The only
fault we knew in him was his age, and as that is a crime of which
we may 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 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
positioning 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 is 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 the hospital was now comparatively 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 a while 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 ever lying. And thus it was not all rose colour with Mr Slope,
although his hopes ran high.



CHAPTER XLIV

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 thus 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
thoughtfully saved her from this, by causing the carriage to go
round by her 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
aroused 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
not.'

Now, in this matter, Eleanor had great cause for 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 an 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 even 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 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 most. Mary, though she could not
surmise what it was that had so violently affected her
sister-in-law, saw at once her grief was too great to be kept under
control, and waited patiently till the child should be in his
cradle.

'You'll have some tea, Eleanor,' she said.

'Oh, I don't care,' said she; though in fact she must have been
very hungry, for she had eaten nothing at Ullathorne.

Mary quietly made the tea, and buttered the bread, laid aside the
cloak, and made things look comfortable.

'He's fast asleep,' said she, 'you're very tired; let me take him
up to bed.'

But Eleanor would not let her sister touch him. She looked
wistfully at her baby's eyes, saw that they were lost in the
deepest slumber, and then made a sort of couch for him on the sofa.
She was determined that nothing should prevail upon her to let him
out of her sight that night.

'Come, Nelly,' said Mary, 'don't be cross with me. I at least have
done nothing to offend you.'

'I an't cross,' said Eleanor.

'Are you angry then? Surely you can't be angry with me.'

'No, I an't angry; at least not with you.'

'If you are not, drink the tea I have made for you. I am sure you
must want it.'

Eleanor did drink it, and allowed herself to be persuaded. She ate
and drank, and as the inner woman was recruited she felt a little
more charitable towards the world at large. At last she found words
to begin her story, and before she went to bed, she had made a
clean breast of it and told everything--everything, that is, as to
the lovers she had rejected: of Mr Arabin she said not a word.

'I know I was wrong,' said she, speaking of the blow she had given
to Mr Slope; 'but I didn't know what he might do, and I had to
protect myself.'

'He richly deserved it,' said Mary.

'Deserved it!' said Eleanor, whose mind as regarded Mr Slope was
almost bloodthirsty. 'Had I stabbed him with a dagger, he would
have deserved it. But what will they say about it at Plumstead?'

'I don't think I should tell them,' said Mary. Eleanor began to
think that she would not.

There could have been no kinder comforter than Mary Bold. There was
not the slightest dash of triumph about her when she heard of the
Stanhope scheme, nor did she allude to her former opinion when
Eleanor called her late friend Charlotte a base, designing woman.
She re-echoed all the abuse that was heaped on Mr Slope's head, and
never hinted that she had said as much before. 'I told you so! I
told you so!' is the croak of a true Job's comforter. But Mary,
when she found her friend lying in her sorrow and scraping herself
with potsherds, forbore to argue and to exult. Eleanor acknowledged
the merit of the forbearance, and at length allowed herself to be
tranquillised.

On the next day she did not go out of the house. Barchester she
thought would be crowded with Stanhopes and Slopes; perhaps also
with Arabins and Grantlys. Indeed there was hardly any one among
her friends whom she could have met, without some cause of
uneasiness.

In the course of the afternoon she heard that the dean was dead;
and she also heard that Mr Quiverful had been finally appointed to
the hospital.

In the evening her father came to her, and then the story, or as
much of it as she could bring herself to tell him, had to be
repeated. He was not in truth much surprised at Mr Slope's
effrontery; but he was obliged to act as though he had been, to
save his daughter's feelings. He was, however, anything but skilful
in his deceit, and she saw through it.

'I see,' said she, 'that you think it only the common course of
things that Mr Slope should have treated me in this way.'

She had said nothing to him about the embrace, nor yet of the way
in which it had been met.

'I do not think it at all strange,' said he, 'that any one should
admire my Eleanor.'

'It is strange to me,' said she, 'that any man should have so much
audacity, without ever having received the slightest
encouragement.'

To this Mr Harding answered nothing. With the archdeacon it would
have been the text for a rejoinder, which would not have disgraced
Bildad the Shuhite.

'But you'll tell the archdeacon,' asked Mr Harding.

'Tell him what?' said she sharply.

'Or Susan?' continued Mr Harding. 'You'll tell Susan; you'll let
them know that they wronged you in supposing that this man's
addresses would be agreeable to you.'

'They may find out their own way,' said she; 'I shall not ever
willingly mention Mr Slope's name to either of them.'

'But I may.'

'I have no right to hinder you from doing anything that may be
necessary to your own comfort, but pray do not do it for my sake.
Dr Grantly never thought well of me, and never will. I don't know
now that I an even anxious that he should do so.'

And then they went to the affair of the hospital. 'But is it true,
papa?'

'What, my dear,' said he. 'About the dean? Yes, I fear quite true.
Indeed, I know there is no doubt about it.'

'Poor Miss Trefoil. I am so sorry for her. But I did not mean
that,' said Eleanor. 'But about the hospital, papa?

'Yes, my dear. I believe it is true that Mr Quiverful is to have
it.'

'Oh, what a shame!'

'No, my dear, not at all, not at all a shame: I am sure I hope it
will suit him.'

'But, papa, you know it is a shame. After all your hopes, all your
expectations to get back your old house, to see it given away in
this way to a perfect stranger!'

'My dear, the bishop had a right to give it to whom he pleased.'

'I deny that, papa. He had no such right. It is not as though you
were a candidate for a new piece of preferment. If the bishop has a
grain of justice--'

'The bishop offered it to me on his terms, and as I did not like
the terms, I refused it. After that, I cannot complain.'

'Terms! He had not right to make terms.'

'I don't know about that; but it seems he had the power. But to
tell you the truth, Nelly, I am as well satisfied as it is. When
the affair became the subject of angry discussion, I thoroughly
wished to be rid of it altogether.'

'But you did want to go back to the old house, papa. You told me so
yourself.'

'Yes, my child, I did. For a short time I did wish it. And I was
foolish in doing so. I am getting old now; and my chief worldly
wish is for peace and rest. Had I gone back to the hospital, I
should have had the endless contentions with the bishop,
contentions with his chaplain, and contentions with the archdeacon.
I am not up to this now, I am not able to meet such troubles; and
therefore I am not ill-pleased to find myself left to the little
church of St Cuthbert's. I shall never starve,' added he, laughing
'as long as you are here.'

'But if you will come and live with me, papa?' she said earnestly,
taking him by both his hands. 'If you will do that, if you will
promise that, I will own that you are right.'

'I will dine with you to-day, at any rate.'

'No, but live here altogether. Give up that close, odious little
room in High Street.'

'My dear, it's a very nice little room; and you are really quite
uncivil.'

'Oh, papa, don't joke. It's not a nice place for you. You say you
are growing old, though I am sure you are not.'

'Am I not, my dear?'

'No, papa, not old--not to say old. But you are quite old enough to
feel the want of a decent room to sit in. You know how lonely Mary
and I are here. You know nobody ever sleeps in the big front
bed-room. It is really unkind of you to remain there alone, when
you are so much wanted here.'

'Thank you, Nelly--thank you. But, my dear--'

'If you had been living here, papa, with us, as I really think you
ought to have done, considering how lonely we are, there would have
been none of all this dreadful affair about Mr Slope.'

Mr Harding, however, did not allow himself to be talked over into
giving up his own and only little pied a terre in the High Street.
He promised to come and dine with his daughter, and stay with her,
and visit her, and do everything but absolutely live with her. It
did not suit the peculiar feelings of the man to tell his daughter
that though she had rejected Mr Slope, and been ready to reject Mr
Stanhope, some other more favoured suitor would probably soon
appear; and that on the appearance of such a suitor the big front
bed-room might perhaps be more frequently in requisition than at
present. But doubtless such an idea crossed his mind, and added its
weight to the other reasons which made him decide on still keeping
the close, odious little room in High Street.

The evening passed over quietly and in comfort. Eleanor was always
happier with her father than with any one else. He had not,
perhaps, any natural taste for baby-worship, but he was always
ready to sacrifice himself, and therefore made an excellent third
in a trio with his daughter and Mary Bold in singing the praises of
the wonderful child.

They were standing together over their music in the evening, the
baby having again been put to bed upon the sofa, when the servant
brought in a very small note in a beautiful pink envelope. It quite
filled the room with perfume as it lay upon the small salver. Mary
Bold and Mrs Bold were both at the piano, and Mr Harding was
sitting close to them, with the violoncello between his legs; so
that the elegance of the epistle was visible to them all.

'Please, ma'am, Dr Stanhope's coachman says he is to wait for an
answer,' said the servant.

Eleanor got very red in the face as she took the note in her hand.
She had never seen the writing before. Charlotte's epistles, to
which she was well accustomed, were of a very different style and
kind. She generally wrote on large note-paper; she twisted up her
letter into the shape and sometimes into the size of cocked hats;
she addressed them in a sprawling manly hand, and not unusually
added a blot or a smudge, as though such were her own peculiar
sign-manual. The address of this note was written in a beautiful
female hand, and the gummed wafer bore on it an impress of a gilt
coronet. Though Eleanor had never seen such a one before, she
guessed that it came from the signora. Such epistles were very
numerously sent out from any house in which the signora might
happen to be dwelling, but they were rarely addressed to ladies.
When the coachman was told by the lady's maid to take the letter to
Mrs Bold, he openly expressed his opinion that there was some
mistake about it. Whereupon the lady's maid boxed the coachman's
ears. Had Mr Slope seen in how meek a spirit the coachman took the
rebuke, he might have learnt a useful lesson, both in philosophy
and religion.

The note was as follows. It may be taken as a faithful promise that
no further letter whatever shall be transcribed at length in these
pages.

'My dear Mrs Bold--May I ask you, as a great favour, to call on me
to-morrow? You can say what hour will best suit you; but quite
early, if you can. I need hardly say that if I could call upon you
I should not take this liberty with you.

'I partly know what occurred the other day, and I promise you that
you shall meet with no annoyance if you will come to me. My brother
leaves us for London to-day; from thence he goes to Italy.

'It will probably occur to you that I should not thus intrude on
you, unless I had that to say to you which may be of considerable
moment. Pray therefore excuse me, even if you do not grant my
request, and believe me, 'Very sincerely yours, M.VESEY NERONI

The three of them sat in consultation on this epistle for some ten
or fifteen minutes, and then decided that Eleanor should write a
line saying that she would see the signora the next morning, at
twelve o'clock.



CHAPTER XLV

THE STANHOPES AT HOME

We must now return to the Stanhopes, and see how they behaved
themselves on their return from Ullathorne.

Charlotte, who came back in the first homeward journey with her
sister, waited in palpitating expectation till the carriage drove
up to the door a second time. She did not run down or stand at the
window, or show in any outward manner that she looked for anything
wonderful to occur; but, when she heard the carriage-wheels, she
stood up with erect ears, listening for Eleanor's footfall on the
pavement or the cheery sound of Bertie's voice welcoming her in.
Had she heard either, she would have felt that all was right; but
neither sound was there for her to hear. She heard only her
father's slow step, as he ponderously let himself down from the
carriage, and slowly walked along the hall, till he got into his
own private room on the ground floor. 'Send Miss Stanhope to me,'
he said to the servant.

'There's something wrong now,' said Madeline, who was lying on her
sofa in the back drawing-room.

'It's all up with Bertie,' replied Charlotte. 'I know, I know,' she
said to the servant, as he brought up the message. 'Tell my father
I will be with him immediately.'

'Bertie's wooing gone astray,' said Madeline. 'I knew it would.'

'It has been his own fault then. She was ready enough. I am quite
sure,' said Charlotte, with that sort of ill-nature which is not
uncommon when one woman speaks of another.

'What will you say to him now?' By 'him' the signora meant their
father.

'That will be as I find him. He was ready to pay two hundred pounds
for Bertie, to stave off the worst of his creditors, if this
marriage had gone on. Bertie must now have the money instead, and
go and take his chances.'

'Where is he now?'

'Heaven knows! Smoking at the bottom of Mr Thorne's ha-ha, or
philandering with some of those Miss Chadwicks. Nothing will ever
make an impression on him. But he'll be furious if I don't go
down.'

'No; nothing ever will. But don't be long, Charlotte, for I want my
tea.'

And so Charlotte went down to her father. There was a very black
cloud on the old man's brow; blacker than his daughter could ever
remember to have seen there. He was sitting in his own arm-chair,
not comfortably over the fire, but in the middle of the room,
waiting till she should come and listen to him.

'What has become of your brother?' he said, as soon as the door was
shut.

'I should rather ask you,' said Charlotte. 'I left you both at
Ullathorne, when I came away. What have you done with Mrs Bold?'

'Mrs Bold! nonsense. The woman has gone home as she ought to do.
And heartily glad I am that she should not be sacrificed to so
heartless a reprobate.'

'Oh, papa!'

'A heartless reprobate! Tell me now where he is, and what he is
going to do. I have allowed myself to be fooled between you.
Marriage indeed! Who on earth that has money, or credit, or respect
in the world to lose, would marry him?'

'It is no use your scolding me, papa. I have done the best I could
for him and you.'

'And Madeline is nearly as bad,' said the prebendary, who was in
truth, very, very angry.

'Oh, I suppose we are all bad,' replied Charlotte.

The old man emitted a huge leonine sigh. If they were all bad, who
had made them so? If they were unprincipled, selfish, and
disreputable, who was to be blamed for the education which had had
so injurious an effect.

'I know you'll ruin me among you,' said he.

'Why, papa, what nonsense that is. You are living within your
income this minute, and if there are any new debts, I don't know of
them. I am sure there ought to be none, for we are dull enough
here.'

'Are those bills of Madeline's paid?'

'No, they are not. Who was to pay them?'

'Her husband may pay them.'

'Her husband! Would you wish me to tell her you say so? Do you wish
to turn her out of your home?'

'I wish she would know how to behave herself.'

'Why, what on earth has she done now? Poor Madeline! To-day is only
the second time she has gone out since we came to this vile town.'

He then sat silent for a time, thinking in what shape he would
declare his resolve. 'Well, papa,' said Charlotte, 'shall I stay
here, or may I go up-stairs and give mamma her tea?'

'You are in your brother's confidence. Tell me what he is going to
do?'

'Nothing, that I am aware of.'

'Nothing--nothing! Nothing but eat and drink, and spend every
shilling of my money he can lay his hands upon. I have made up my
mind, Charlotte. He shall eat and drink no more in this house.'

'Very well. Then I suppose he must go back to Italy.'

'He may go where he pleases.'

'That's easily said, papa; but what does it mean? You can't let him
live--'

'It means this,' said the doctor, speaking more loudly than was his
wont, and with wrath flashing from his eyes; 'that as sure as God
rules in heaven, I will not maintain him any longer in idleness.'

'Oh, ruling in heaven!' said Charlotte. 'It is no use talking about
that. You must rule him here on earth; and the question is, how you
can do it. You can't turn him out of the house penniless, to beg
about the street.'

'He may beg where he likes.'

'He must go back to Carrara. That is the cheapest place he can live
at, and nobody there will give him credit for above two or three
hundred pauls. But you must let him have the means of going.'

'As sure as--'

'Oh papa, don't swear. You know you must do it. You were ready to
pay two hundred pounds for him if the marriage came off. Half that
will start him to Carrara.'

'What? Give him a hundred pounds!'

'You know we are all in the dark, papa,' said she, thinking it
expedient to change the conversation. 'For anything we know, he may
be at this moment engaged to Mrs Bold.'

'Fiddlestick,' said the father, who had seen the way in which Mrs
Bold had got into the carriage, while his son stood apart without
even offering her his hand.

'Well, then, he must go to Carrara.' said Charlotte.

Just at this moment the lock of the front door was heard, and
Charlotte's quick care detected her brother's cat-like step in the
hall. She said nothing, feeling that for the present Bertie had
better keep out of her father's way. But Dr Stanhope also heard the
sound of the lock.

'Who's that?' he demanded. Charlotte made no reply, and he asked
again. 'Who is that that has just come in? Open the door. Who is
it?'

'I suppose it is Bertie.'

'Bid him to come here,' said the father. But Bertie, who was close
to the door and heard the call, required no further bidding, but
walked in with a perfectly unconcerned and cheerful air. It was
this peculiar insouciance which angered Dr Stanhope, even more than
his son's extravagance.

'Well, sir,' said the doctor.

'And how did you get home, sir, with your fair companion?' said
Bertie. 'I suppose she is not up-stairs, Charlotte?'

'Bertie,' said Charlotte, 'papa is in no humour for joking. He is
very angry with you.'

'Angry!' said Bertie, raising his eyebrows, as though he had never
yet given his parent cause for a single moment's uneasiness.

'Sit down, if you please, sir,' said Dr Stanhope very sternly, but
not now very loudly. 'And I'll trouble you to sit down, too,
Charlotte. Your mother can wait for her tea a few minutes.'

Charlotte sat down on the chair nearest the door, in somewhat of a
perverse sort of manner; as much as though she would say--Well,
here I am; you shan't say I don't do as I am bid; but I'll be
whipped if I give way to you. And she was determined not to give
way. She too was angry with Bertie; but she was not the less ready
on that account to defend him from his father. Bertie also sat
down. He drew his chair close to the library table, upon which he
put his elbow, and then resting his face comfortably on one hand,
he began drawing little pictures on a sheet of paper with the
other. Before the scene was over had had completed admirable
figures of Miss Thorne, Mrs Proudie, and Lady De Courcy, and began
a family piece to comprise the whole set of Lookalofts.

'Would it suit you, sir,' said the father, 'to give me some idea as
to what your present intentions are?--what way of living you
propose to yourself?'

'I'll do anything you suggest, sir,' said Bertie.

'No, I shall suggest nothing further. My time for suggesting has
gone by. I have only one order to give, and that is, that you leave
my house.'

'To-night?' said Bertie; and the simple tone of the question left
the doctor without any adequately dignified method of reply.

'Papa does not quite mean to-night,' said Charlotte, 'at least I
suppose not.'

'To-morrow perhaps,' suggested Bertie.

'Yes sir, to-morrow,' said the doctor. 'You shall leave this to-morrow.'

'Very well, sir. Will the 4.30 P.M. train be soon enough?' said
Bertie, as he asked, put the finishing touch to Miss Thorne's
high-heeled boots.

'You may go how and when and where you please, so that you leave my
house to-morrow. You have disgraced me, sir; you have disgraced
yourself, and me, and your sisters.'

'I am glad at least sir, that I have not disgraced my mother,' said
Bertie.

Charlotte could hardly keep her countenance; but the doctor's brow
grew still blacker than ever. Bertie was executing his chef d'ouvre
in the delineation of Mrs Proudie's nose and mouth.

'You are a heartless reprobate, sir; a heartless, thankless,
good-for-nothing reprobate. I have done with you. You are my
son--that I cannot help; but you shall have no more part or parcel
in me as my child, nor I in you as your father.'

'Oh, papa, papa! You must not, shall not say so,' said Charlotte.

'I will say so, and do say so,' said the father, rising from his
chair. 'And now leave the room, sir.'

'Stop, stop,' said Charlotte; 'why don't you speak, Bertie? Why
don't you look up and speak? It is your manner that makes him so
angry.'

'He is perfectly indifferent to all decency, to all propriety,'
said the doctor; and then he shouted out, 'Leave the room, sir! Do
you hear what I say?'

'Papa, papa, I will not let you part so. I know you will be sorry
for it.' And then she added, getting up and whispering into his
ear. 'Is he only to blame? Think of that. We have made our own bed,
and, such as it is, we must lie on it. It is no use for us to
quarrel among ourselves,' and as she finished her whisper, Bertie
finished off the countess's bustle, which was so well done that it
absolutely seemed to be swaying to and fro on the paper with its
usual lateral motion.

'My father is angry at the present time,' said Bertie, looking up
for a moment from his sketches, 'because I am not going to marry
Mrs Bold. What can I say on the matter? It is true that I am not
going to marry her. In the first place--'

'That is not true, sir,' said Dr Stanhope; 'but I will not argue
with you.'

'You were angry just this moment because I would not speak,' said
Bertie, going on with a young Lookaloft.

'Give over drawing,' said Charlotte, going up to him and taking the
paper from under his hand. The caricature, however, she preserved,
and showed them afterwards to the friends of the Thornes, the
Proudies, and De Courcys. Bertie, deprived of his occupation, threw
himself back in his chair and waited further orders.

'I think it will certainly be for the best that Bertie should leave
this at once, perhaps to-morrow,' said Charlotte; 'but pray, papa,
let us arrange some scheme together.'

'If he will leave to-morrow, I will give him L 10, and he shall be
paid L 5 a month by the banker at Carrara as long as he stays
permanently in that place.'

'Well, sir! it won't be long,' said Bertie; 'for I shall be starved
to death in about three months.'

'He must have marble to work with,' said Charlotte.

'I have plenty there in the studio to last me three months,' said
Bertie. 'It will be no use attempting anything large in so limited
a time; unless I do my own tombstone.'

Terms, however, were ultimately come to, somewhat more liberal than
those proposed, and the doctor was induced to shake hands with his
son, and bid him good-night. Dr Stanhope would not go up to tea,
but had it brought to him in his study by his daughter.

But Bertie went up-stairs and spent a pleasant evening. He finished
the Lookalofts, greatly to the delight of his sisters, though the
manner of portraying their decollete dresses was not the most
refined. Finding how matters were going, he by degrees allowed it
to escape from him that he had not pressed his suit upon the widow
in a very urgent way.

'I suppose, in point of fact, you never proposed at all?' said
Charlotte.

'Oh, she understood that she might have me if she wished,' said he.

'And she didn't wish,' said the signora.

'You have thrown me over in the most shameful manner,' said
Charlotte. 'I suppose you told her all about my little plan?'

'Well, it came out somehow; at least the most of it.'

'There's an end of that alliance,' said Charlotte; 'but it doesn't
matter much. I suppose we shall all be back in Como soon.'

'I am sure I hope so,' said the signora; 'I'm sick of the sight of
black coats. If that Mr Slope comes here any more, he'll be the
death of me.'

'You've been the ruin of him, I think,' said Charlotte.

'And as for a second black-coated lover of mine, I am going to make
a present to him of another lady with most singular
disinterestedness.'

The next day, true to his promise, Bertie packed up and went of by
the 4.30 P.M. train, with L 20 in his pocket, bound for the marble
quarries of Carrara. And so he disappears from our scene.

At twelve o'clock on the day following that on which Bertie went,
Mrs Bold, true also to her word, knocked at Dr Stanhope's door with
a timid hand and palpitating heart. She was at once shown up to the
back drawing-room, the folding doors of which were closed, so that
in visiting the signora, Eleanor was not necessarily thrown into
any communication with those in the front room. As she went up the
stairs, she none of the family, and was so far saved much of the
annoyance which she had dreaded.

'This is very kind of you, Mrs Bold; very kind, after what has
happened,' said the lady on the sofa with her sweetest smile.

'You wrote in such a strain that I could not but come to you.'

'I did, I did; I wanted to force you to see me.'

'Well, signora; I am here.'

'How cold you are to me. But I suppose I must put up with that. I
know you think you have reason to be displeased with us all. Poor
Bertie! if you knew all, you would not be angry with him.'

'I am not angry with your brother--not in the least. But I hope you
did not send for me to talk about him.'

'If you are angry with Charlotte, that is worse; for you have no
warmer friend in all Barchester. But I did not send for you to talk
about this--pray bring your chair nearer, Mrs Bold, so that I may
look at you. It is so unnatural to see you keeping so far off from
me.'

Eleanor did as she was bid, and brought her chair closer to the
sofa.

'And now, Mrs Bold, I am going to tell you something which you may
think indelicate; but yet I know that I am right in doing so.'

Hereupon Mrs Bold said nothing, but felt inclined to shake in her
chair. The signora, she knew, was not very particular, and that
which to her appeared to be indelicate might to Mrs Bold appear to
be extremely indecent.

'I believe you know Mr Arabin?'

Mrs Bold would have given the world not to blush, but her blood was
not at her own command. She did blush up to her forehead, and the
signora, who had made her sit in a special light in order that she
might watch her, saw that she did so.

'Yes--I am acquainted with him. That is, slightly. He is an
intimate friend of Dr Grantly, and Dr Grantly is my
brother-in-law.'

'Well; if you know Mr Arabin, I am sure you must like him. I know
and like him much. Everybody that knows him must like him.'

Mrs Bold felt it quite impossible to say anything in reply to this.
Her blood was rushing about her body she knew not how or why. She
felt as though she were swinging in her chair; and she knew that
she was not only red in the face, but also almost suffocated with
heat. However, she sat still and said nothing.

'How stiff you are with me, Mrs Bold,' said the signora; 'and I the
while am doing for you all that one woman can do to serve another.'

A kind of thought came over the widow's mind that perhaps the
signora's friendship was real; and that at any rate it could not
hurt her; and another kind of thought, a glimmering of a thought,
came to her also,--that Mr Arabin was to precious to be lost. She
despised the signora; but might she not stoop to conquer? It should
be but the smallest fraction of a stoop!

'I don't want to be stiff,' she said, 'but your questions are so
very singular.'

'Well, then, I will ask you one more singular still,' said Madeline
Neroni, raising herself on her elbow and turning her own face full
upon her companion's. 'Do you love him, love him with all your
heart and soul, with all the love your bosom can feel? For I can
tell you that he loves you, worships you, thinks of you and nothing
else, is now thinking of you as he attempts to write his sermon for
next Sunday's preaching. What would I not give to be loved in such
a way by such a man, that is, if I were an object for any man to
love!'

Mrs Bold got up from her seat and stood speechless before the woman
who was now addressing her in this impassioned way. When the
signora thus alluded to herself, the widow's heart was softened,
and she put her own hand, as though caressingly, on that of her
companion which was resting on the table. The signora grasped it
and went on speaking.

'What I tell you is God's own truth; and it is for you to use it as
may be best for your own happiness. But you must not betray me. He
knows nothing of this. He knows nothing of my knowing his inmost
heart. He is simple as a child in these matters. He told me his
secret in a thousand ways because he could not dissemble; but he
does not dream that has told it. You know it now, and I advise you
to use it.'

Eleanor returned the pressure of the other's hand with an
infinitesimal soupcon of a squeeze.

'And remember,' said the signora, 'he is not like other men.
 You must not expect him to come to you with vows and oaths and
pretty presents, to kneel at your feet, and kiss your shoe-strings.
If you want that, there are plenty to do it; but he won't be one of
them.' Eleanor's bosom nearly burst with a sigh; but Madeline, not
heeding her, went on. 'With him, yea will stand for yea, and nay
for nay. Though his heart should break for it, the woman who shall
reject him once, will have rejected him once and for all. Remember
that. And now, Mrs Bold, I will not keep you, for you are
flattered. I partly guess what use you will make of what I have
said to you. If ever you are a happy wife in that man's house, we
shall be far away; but I shall expect you to write me one line to
say that you have forgiven the sins of the family.'

Eleanor half whispered that she would, and then without uttering
another word, crept out of the room, and down the stairs, opened
the front door for herself without hearing or seeing any one, and
found herself in the close.

It would be difficult to analyse Eleanor's feelings as she walked
home. She was nearly stupefied by the things that had been said to
her. She felt sore that her heart should have been so searched and
riddled by a comparative stranger, by a woman whom she had never
liked and never could like. She was mortified that the man whom she
owned to herself that she loved should have concealed his love from
her and shown it to another. There was much to vex her proud
spirit. But there was, nevertheless, an under-stratum of joy in all
this which buoyed her up wondrously. She tried if she could
disbelieve what Madame Neroni had said to her; but she found that
she could not. It was true; it must be true. She could not, would
not, did not doubt it.

On one point she fully resolved to follow the advice given her. If
it should ever please Mr Arabin to put such a question to her as
suggested, her 'yea' should be 'yea'. Would not all her miseries be
at an end, if she could talk of them to him openly, with her hand
resting on his shoulder?



CHAPTER XLVI

MR SLOPE'S PARTING INTERVIEW WITH THE SIGNORA

On the following day the signora was in her pride. She was dressed
in her brightest of morning dresses, and had quite a levee round
her couch. It was a beautifully bright October afternoon; all the
gentlemen of the neighbourhood were in Barchester, and those who
had the entry of Dr Stanhope's house were in the signora's back
drawing-room. Charlotte and Mrs Stanhope were in the front room,
and such of the lady's squires as could not for the moment get near
the centre of attraction had to waste their fragrance on the mother
and sister.

The first who came and the last to leave was Mr Arabin. This was
the second visit he had paid to Madame Neroni since he had met her
at Ullathorne. He came he knew not why, to talk about he knew not
what. But, in truth, the feelings which now troubled him were new
to him, and he could not analyse them. It may seem strange that he
should thus come dangling about Madame Neroni because he was in
love with Mrs Bold; but it was nevertheless the fact; and though he
could not understand why he did so, Madame Neroni understood it
well enough.

She had been gentle and kind to him, and had encouraged his
staying. Therefore he stayed on. She pressed his hand when he first
greeted her; and whispered to him little nothings. And then her
eye, brilliant and bright, now mirthful, now melancholy, and
invincible in either way! What man with warm feelings, blood
unchilled, and a heat not guarded by a triple steel of experience
could have withstood those eyes! The lady, it is true, intended to
do no mortal injury; she merely chose to inhale a slight breath of
incense before she handed the casket over to another. Whether Mrs
Bold would willingly have spared even so much is another question.

And then came Mr Slope. All the world now knew that Mr Slope was a
candidate for the deanery, and that he was generally considered to
be the favourite. Mr Slope, therefore, walked rather largely upon
the earth. He gave to himself a portly air, such as might become a
dean, spoke but little to other clergymen, and shunned the bishop
as much as possible. How the meagre little prebendary, and the
burly chancellor, and all the minor canons and vicars choral, ay,
and all the choristers too, cowered and shook and walked about with
long faces when they read or heard of that article of the Jupiter.
Now were coming the days when nothing would avail to keep the
impure spirit from the cathedral pulpit. That pulpit would indeed
be his own. Precentors, vicars, and choristers might hang up their
harps on the willows. Ichabod! Ichabod! The glory of their house
was departing from them.

Mr Slope, great as he was with embryo grandeur, still came to see
the signora. Indeed, he could not keep himself away. He dreamed of
that soft hand which had kissed so often, and of the imperial brow
which his lips had once pressed, and he then dreamed also of
further favours.

And Mr Thorne was there also. It was the first visit he had ever
paid to the signora, and he made it not without due preparation. Mr
Thorne was a gentleman usually precise in his dress, and prone to
make the most of himself in an unpretending way. The grey hairs in
his whiskers were eliminated perhaps once a month; those on his
head were softened by a mixture which we will not call a dye; it
was only a wash. His tailor lived in St James's Street, and his
bootmaker at the corner of that street and Piccadilly. He was
particular in the article of gloves, and the getting up of his
shirts was a matter not lightly thought of in the Ullathorne
laundry. On the occasion of the present visit he had rather
overdone his usual efforts, and caused some little uneasiness to
his sister, who had not hitherto received very cordially the
proposition for a lengthened visit from the signora at Ullathorne.

There were others also there--young men about the city who had not
much to do, and who were induced by the lady's charms to neglect
that little; but all gave way to Mr Thorne, who was somewhat of a
grand signor, as a country gentleman always is in a provincial
city.

'Oh, Mr Thorne, this is so kind of you!' said the signora. 'You
promised to come; but I really did not expect it. I thought you
country gentlemen never kept your pledges.'

'Oh, yea, sometimes,' said Mr Thorne, looking rather sheepish, and
making salutations a little too much in the style of the last
century.

'You deceive none but your consti-stit-stit; what do you call the
people that carry you about in chairs and pelt you with eggs and
apples when they make you a member of parliament?'

'One another also, sometimes, signora,' said Mr Slope, with a
deanish sort of smirk on his face. 'Country gentlemen do deceive
one another sometimes, don't they, Mr Thorne?'

Mr Thorne gave him a look which undressed him completely for the
moment; but he soon remembered his high hopes, and recovering
himself quickly, sustained his probable coming dignity by a laugh
at Mr Thorne's expense.

'I never deceive a lady, at any rate,' said Mr Thorne; 'especially
when the gratification of my own wishes is so strong an inducement
to keep me true, as it now is.'

Mr Thorne went on thus awhile, with antediluvian grimaces and
compliments which he had picked up from Sir Charles Grandison, and
the signora at every grimace and at every bow smiled a little smile
and bowed a little bow. Mr Thorne, however, was kept standing at
the foot of the couch, for the new dean sat in the seat of honour
near the table. Mr Arabin the while was standing with his back to
the fire, his coat tails under his arms, gazing at her with all his
eyes--not quite in vain, for every now and again a glance came up
at him, bright as a meteor out of heaven.

'Oh, Mr Thorne, you promised to let me introduce my little girl to
you. Can you spare a moment?--will you see her now?'

Mr Thorne assured her that he could, and would see the young lady
with the greatest pleasure in life. 'Mr Slope, might I trouble you
to ring the bell?' said she; and when Mr Slope got up she looked at
Mr Thorne and pointed to the chair. Mr Thorne, however, was much
too slow to understand her, and Mr Slope would have recovered his
seat had not the signora, who never chose to be unsuccessful,
somewhat summarily ordered him out of it.

'Oh, Mr Slope, I must ask you to let Mr Thorne sit here just for a
moment or two. I am sure you will pardon me. We can take a liberty
with you this week. Next week, you know, when you move into the
dean's house, we shall all be afraid of you.'

Mr Slope, with an air of much indifference, rose from his seat,
and, walking into the next room, became greatly interested in Mrs
Stanhope's worsted work.

And then the child was brought in. She was a little girl, about
eight years of age, like her mother, only that her enormous eyes
were black, and her hair quite jet. Her complexion too was very
dark, and bespoke her foreign blood. She was dressed in the most
outlandish and extravagant way in which clothes could be put on a
child's back. She had great bracelets on her naked little arms, a
crimson fillet braided with gold round her head, and scarlet shoes
with high heels. Her dress was all flounces, and stuck out from
her as though the object were to make it lie off horizontally from
her little hips. It did not nearly cover her knees; but this was
atoned for by a loose pair of drawers which seemed made throughout
of lace; then she had on pink silk stockings. It was thus that the
last of the Neros was habitually dressed at the hour when visitors
were wont to call.

'Julia, my love,' said the mother,--Julia was ever a favourite name
with the ladies of the family, 'Julia, my love, come here. I was
telling you about the beautiful party poor mamma went to. This is
Mr Thorne; will you give him a kiss, dearest?'

Julia put up her face to be kissed, as she did to all her mother's
visitors; and then Mr Thorne found that he had got her, and, which
was much more terrible to him, all her finery, into his arms. The
lace and starch crumpled against his waistcoat and trousers, the
greasy black curls hung upon his cheek, and one of the bracelet
clasps scratched his ear. He did not at all know how to hold her.
However, he had on other occasions been compelled to fondle little
nieces and nephews, and now set about the task in the mode he always
used.

'Diddle, diddle, diddle, diddle,' said he, putting the child on one
knee, and working away with it as though he were turning a
knife-grinder's wheel with his foot.

'Mamma, mamma,' said Julia, crossly. 'I don't want to be diddle
diddled. Let me go, you naughty old man, you.'

Poor Mr Thorne put the child down quietly on the ground, and drew
back his chair; Mr Slope, who had returned to the pole star that
attracted him, laughed aloud; Mr Arabin winced and shut his eyes;
and the signora pretended not to hear her daughter.

'Go to Aunt Charlotte, lovey,' said the mamma, 'and ask her it if
is not time for you to go out.'

But little Julia, though she had not exactly liked the nature of Mr
Thorne's attention, was accustomed to be played with by gentlemen,
and did not relish the idea of being sent so soon to her aunt.

'Julia, go when I tell you, my dear.' But Julia still went pouting
about the room. 'Charlotte, do come and take her,' said the
signora. 'She must go out; and the days get so short now.' And thus
ended the much-talked of interview between Mr Thorne and the last
of the Neros.

Mr Thorne recovered from the child's crossness sooner than from Mr
Slope's laughter. He could put up with being called an old man by
an infant, but he did not like to be laughed at by the bishop's
chaplain, even though that chaplain was about to become a dean. He
said nothing, but he showed plainly enough that he was angry.

The signora was ready enough to avenge him. 'Mr Slope,' said she,
'I hear that you are triumphing on all sides.'

'How so,' said he smiling. He did not dislike being talked to about
the deanery, though, of course, he strongly denied the imputation.

'You carry the day both in love and war.' Mr Slope hereupon did not
look quite so satisfied as he had done.

'Mr Arabin,' continued the signora, 'don't you think Mr Slope is a
very lucky man?'

'Not more than he deserves, I am sure,' said Mr Arabin.

'Only think, Mr Thorne, he is to be our new dean; of course we all
know that.'

'Indeed, signora,' said Mr Slope, 'we all know nothing about it. I
can assure you I myself--'

'He is to be the new dean--there is no manner of doubt of it, Mr
Thorne.'

'Hum,' said Mr Thorne.

'Passing over the heads of old men like my father and Archdeacon
Grantly--'

'Oh--oh!' said Mr Slope.

'The archdeacon would not accept it,' said Mr Arabin; whereupon Mr
Slope smiled abominably, and said, as plainly as a look could
speak, that the grapes were sour.

'Going over all our heads,' continued the signora; 'for, of course,
I consider myself one of the chapter.'

'If I am ever dean,' said Mr Slope--'that is, were I ever to become
so, I should glory in such a canoness.'

'Oh, Mr Slope, stop; I haven't half done. There is another canoness
for you to glory in. Mr Slope is not only to have the deanery, but
a wife to put in it.'

Mr Slope again looked disconcerted.

'A wife with a large fortune, too. It never rains but it pours,
does it Mr Thorne?'

'No, never,' said Mr Thorne, who did not quite relish talking about
Mr Slope and his affairs.

'When will it be, Mr Slope?'

'When will what be?' said he.

'Oh! we know when the affair of the dean will be: a week will
settle that. The new hat, I have no doubt, has already been
ordered. But when will the marriage come off?'

'Do you mean mine or Mr Arabin's,' said he, striving to be
facetious.

'Well, just then I meant yours, though perhaps, after all, Mr
Arabin's may be first. But we know nothing of him. He is too close
for any of us. Now all is open and above board with you; which, by
the bye, Mr Arabin, I beg to tell you I like much the best. He who
runs can read that Mr Slope is a favoured lover. Come, Mr Slope,
when is the widow to be made Mrs Dean?'

To Mr Arabin this badinage was peculiarly painful; and yet he could
not tear himself away and leave it. He believed, still believed
with that sort of belief which the fear of a thing engenders, that
Mrs Bold would probably become the wife of Mr Slope. Of Mr Slope's
little adventure in the garden he knew nothing. For aught he knew,
Mr Slope might have had an adventure of quite a different
character. He might have thrown himself at the widow's feet, been
accepted, and then returned to town a jolly, thriving wooer. The
signora's jokes were bitter enough to Mr Slope, but they were quite
as bitter to Mr Arabin. He still stood leaning against the
fire-place, fumbling with his hands in his trouser's pockets.

'Come, come, Mr Slope, don't be so bashful,' continued the signora.
'We all know that you proposed to the lady the other day at
Ullathorne. Tell us with what words she accepted you. Was it with a
simple "yes", or with two "no, no's", which makes an affirmative?
or did silence give consent: or did she speak out with that spirit
which so well becomes a widow, and say openly, "By my troth, sir,
you shall make me Mrs Slope as soon as it is your pleasure to do
so"?'

Mr Slope had seldom in his life felt himself less at his case.
There sat Mr Thorne, laughing silently. There stood his old
antagonist, Mr Arabin, gazing at him with all his eyes. There round
the door between the two rooms were clustered a little group of
people, including Miss Stanhope and the Rev. Messrs. Gray and
Green, all listening to his discomfiture. He knew that it depended
solely on his own wit whether or no he could throw the joke back
upon the lady. He knew that it stood him to do so if he possibly
could; but he said not a word. ''Tis conscience that makes cowards
of us all.' He felt on his cheek the sharp points of Eleanor's
fingers, and did not know who might have seen the blow, who might
have told the tale to this pestilent woman who took such delight in
jeering him. He stood there, therefore, red as a carbuncle and mute
as a fish; grinning just sufficiently to show his teeth; an object
of pity.

But the signora had no pity; she knew nothing of mercy. Her present
object was to put Mr Slope down, and she was determined to do it
thoroughly, now that she had him in her power.

'What, Mr Slope, no answer? Why it can't possibly be that this
woman has been fool enough to refuse you? She surely can't be
looking out after a bishop. But I see how it is, Mr Slope. Widows
are proverbially cautious. You should have let her alone till the
new hat was on your head; till you could show her the key of the
deanery.'

'Signora,' said he at last, trying to speak in a tone of dignified
reproach, 'you really permit yourself to talk on such solemn
subjects in a very improper way.'

'Solemn subjects--what solemn subjects? Surely a dean's hat is not
such a solemn subject.'

'I have no aspirations such as those you impute to me. Perhaps you
will drop the subject.'

'Oh, certainly, Mr Slope; but one word first. Go to her again with
the prime minister's letter in your pocket. I'll wager my shawl to
your shovel she does not refuse you then.'

'I must say, signora, that I think you are speaking of the lady in
a very unjustifiable manner.'

'And one other piece of advice, Mr Slope; I'll only offer you one
other;' and then she commenced singing--

'It's gude to be merry and wise, Mr Slope, It's gude to be honest
and true; It's gude to be off with the old love, Mr Slope, Before
you are on with the new--

'Ha, ha, ha!'

And the signora, throwing herself back on her sofa, laughed
merrily. She little recked how those who heard her would, in their
own imagination, fill up the little history of Mr Slope's first
love. She little cared that some among them might attribute to her
the honour of his earlier admiration. She was tired of Mr Slope and
wanted to get rid of him; she had ground for anger with him, and
she chose to be revenged.

How Mr Slope got out of that room he never himself knew. He did
succeed ultimately, and probably with some assistance, in getting
him his had and escaping into the air. At last his love for the
signora was cured. Whenever he again thought of her in his dreams,
it was not as of an angel with azure wings. He connected her rather
with fire and brimstone, and though he could still believe her to
be a spirit, he banished her entirely out of heaven, and found a
place for her among the infernal gods. When he weighed in the
balance, as he not seldom did, the two women to whom he had
attached himself in Barchester, the pre-eminent place in his soul's
hatred was usually allotted to the signora.



CHAPTER XLVII

THE DEAN ELECT

During the entire next week Barchester was ignorant who was to be
its new dean on Sunday morning. Mr Slope was decidedly the
favourite; but he did not show himself in the cathedral, and then
he sank a point or two in the betting. On Monday, he got a scolding
from the bishop in the hearing of the servants, and down he went
till nobody would have him at any price; but on Tuesday he received
a letter, in an official cover, marked private, by which he fully
recovered his place in the public favour. On Wednesday, he was said
to be ill, and that did not look well; but on Thursday morning he
went down to the railway station, with a very jaunty air; and when
it was ascertained that he had taken a first-class ticket for
London, there was no longer any room for doubt on the matter.

While matters were in this state of ferment at Barchester, there
was not much mental comfort at Plumstead. Our friend the archdeacon
had many grounds for inward grief. He was much displeased at the
result of Dr Gwynne's diplomatic mission to the palace, and did not
even scruple to say to his wife that had he gone himself he would
have managed the affair much better. His wife did not agree with
him, but that did not mend the matter.

Mr Quiverful's appointment to the hospital was, however, a fait
accompli, and Mr Harding's acquiescence in that appointment was not
less so. Nothing would induce Mr Harding to make a public appeal
against the bishop; and the Master of Lazarus quite approved of his
not doing so.

'I don't know what has come to the Master,' said the archdeacon
over and over again. 'He used to be ready enough to stand up for
his order.'

'My dear archdeacon,' Mrs Grantly would say in reply, 'what is the
use of always fighting? I really think the Master is right.' The
Master, however, had taken steps of his own, of which neither the
archdeacon nor his wife knew anything.

'Then Mr Slope's successes were henbane to Dr Grantly; and Mrs
Bold's improprieties were as bad. What would be all the world to
Archdeacon Grantly if Mr Slope should become the Dean of Barchester
and marry his wife's sister! He talked of it, and talked of it till
he was nearly ill. Mrs Grantly almost wished that the marriage was
done and over, so that she might hear no more about it.

And there was yet another ground of misery which cut him to the
quick, nearly as closely as either of the two others. That paragon
of a clergyman, whom he had bestowed upon St Ewold's, that college
friend of whom he had boasted so loudly, that ecclesiastical knight
before whose lance Mr Slope was to fall and bite the dust, that
worthy bulwark of the church as it should be, that honoured
representative of Oxford's best spirit, was--so at least his wife
had told him half a dozen times--misconducting himself!

Nothing had been seen of Mr Arabin at Plumstead for the last week,
but a good deal had, unfortunately, been heard of him.
 As soon as Mrs Grantly had found herself alone with the
archdeacon, on the evening of the Ullathorne party, she had
expressed herself very forcibly as to Mr Arabin's conduct on that
occasion. He had, she declared, looked and acted and talked very
unlike a decent parish clergyman. At first the archdeacon had
laughed at this, and assured her that she need not trouble herself;
that Mr Arabin would be found to be quite safe. But by degrees he
began to find out that his wife's eyes had been sharper than his
own. Other people coupled the signora's name with that of Mr
Arabin. The meagre little prebendary who lived in the close, told
him to a nicety how often Mr Arabin had visited at Dr Stanhope's,
and how long he had remained on the occasion of each visit. He had
asked after Mr Arabin at the cathedral library, and an officious
little vicar choral had offered to go and see whether he could be
found at Dr Stanhope's. Rumour, when she has contrived to sound the
first note on her trumpet, soon makes a loud peal audible enough.
It was too clear that Mr Arabin had succumbed to the Italian woman,
and that the archdeacon's credit would suffer fearfully if
something were not done to rescue the brand from the burning.
Besides, to give the archdeacon his due, he was really attached to
Mr Arabin, and grieved greatly at his backsliding.

They were sitting talking over their sorrows, in the drawing-room
before dinner on that day after Mr Slope's departure for London;
and on this occasion Mrs Grantly spoke her mind freely. She had
opinions of her own about parish clergymen, and now thought it
right to give vent to them.

'It you would have been led by me, archdeacon, you would never have
put a bachelor into St Ewold's.'

'But, my dear, you don't mean to say that all bachelor clergymen
misbehave themselves.'

'I don't know that clergymen are so much better than other men,'
said Mrs Grantly. 'It's all very well with a curate whom you have
under your own eye, and whom you can get rid of if he persists in
improprieties.'

'But Mr Arabin was a fellow, and couldn't have had a wife.'

'Then I would have found some one who could.'

'But, my dear, are fellows never to get livings?'

'Yes, to be sure they are, when they got engaged. I never would put
a young man into a living unless he were married, or engaged to be
married. Now here is Mr Arabin. The whole responsibility lies upon
you.'

'There is not at this moment a clergyman in all Oxford more
respected for morals and conduct than Arabin.'

'Oh, Oxford!' said the lady, with a sneer. 'What men choose to do
at Oxford, nobody ever hears of. A man may do very well at Oxford
who would bring disgrace on a parish; and, to tell you the truth,
it seems to me that Mr Arabin is just such a man.'

The archdeacon groaned deeply, but he had no further answer to
make.

'You really must speak to him, archdeacon. Only think what the
Thornes will say if they hear that their parish clergyman spends
his whole time philandering with this woman.'

The archdeacon groaned again. He was a courageous man, and knew
well enough how to rebuke the younger clergymen of the diocese when
necessary. But there was that about Mr Arabin which made the doctor
feel that it would be very difficult to rebuke him with good
effect.

'You can advise him to find a wife for himself, and he will
understand well enough what that means,' said Mrs Grantly.

The archdeacon had nothing for it but groaning. There was Mr Slope;
he was going to be made dean; he was going to take a wife; he was
bout to achieve respectability and wealth; and excellent family
mansion, and a family carriage; he would soon be among the
comfortable elite of the ecclesiastical world of Barchester;
whereas his own protege, the true scion of the true church, by whom
he had sworn, would still be a poor vicar, and that with a very
indifferent character for moral conduct! It might be all very well
recommending Mr Arabin to marry, but how would Mr Arabin when
married support a wife?

Things were ordering themselves thus at Plumstead drawing-room when
Dr and Mrs Grantly were disturbed in their sweet discourse by the
quick rattle of a carriage and a pair of horses on the gravel
sweep. The sound was not that of visitors, whose private carriages
are generally brought up to country-house doors with demure
propriety, but belonged rather to some person or persons who were
in a hurry to reach the house, and had not intention of immediately
leaving it. Guests invited to stay a week, and who were conscious
of arriving after the first dinner bell, would probably approach in
such a manner. So might arrive an attorney with the news of a
granduncle's death, or a son from college with all the fresh
honours of a double first. No one would have had himself driven to
the door of a country house in such a manner who had the slightest
doubt of his own right to force an entry.

'Who is it?' said Mrs Grantly, looking at her husband.

'Who on earth can it be?' said the archdeacon to his wife. He then
quietly got up and stood with the drawing-room door open in his
hand. 'Why, it is your father!'

It was indeed Mr Harding, and Mr Harding alone. He had come by
himself in a post-chaise with a couple of horses from Barchester,
arriving almost after dark, and evidently full of news. His visits
had usually been made in the quietest manner; he had rarely
presumed to come without notice, and had always been driven up in a
modest old green fly, with one horse, that hardly made itself heard
as it crawled up to the hall door.

'Good gracious, Warden, is it you?' said the archdeacon, forgetting
in his surprise the events of the last few years. 'But come in;
nothing is the matter, I hope?'

'We are very glad you are come, papa,' said his daughter. 'I'll go
and get your room ready at once.'

'I an't warden, archdeacon,' said Mr Harding. 'Mr Quiverful is
warden.'

Oh, I know, I know,' said the archdeacon, petulantly. 'I forgot all
about it at the moment. Is anything the matter?'

'Don't go at the moment, Susan,' said Mr Harding; 'I have something
to tell you.'

'The dinner bell will ring in five minutes,' said she.

'Will it?' said Mr Harding. 'Then, perhaps I had better wait.' he
was big with news which he had come to tell, but which he knew
could not be told without much discussion. He had hurried away to
Plumstead as fast as two horses could bring him, and now, finding
himself there, he was willing to accept the reprieve which dinner
would give him.

'If you have anything of moment to tell us, said the archdeacon,
'pray let us hear it at once. Has Eleanor gone off?'

'No, she has not,' said Mr Harding, with a look of great
disclosure.

'Has Slope been made dean?'

'No, he has not; but--'

'But what?' said the archdeacon, who was becoming very impatient.

'They have--'

'They have what?' said the archdeacon.

'They have offered it to me,' said Mr Harding, with a modesty which
almost prevented his speaking.

'Good heavens!' said the archdeacon, and sank back exhausted in an
easy-chair.

'My dear, dear, father,' said Mrs Grantly, and threw her arms
around his neck.

'So I thought I had better come out and consult with you at once,'
said Mr Harding.

'Consult!' shouted the archdeacon. 'But, my dear Harding, I
congratulate you with my whole heart--with my whole heart. I do
indeed. I never heard anything in my life that gave me so much
pleasure;' and he got hold of both his father-in-law's hands, and
shook them as though he were going to shake them off, and walked
round and round the room, twirling a copy of the Jupiter over his
head, to show his extreme exultation.

'But--' began Mr Harding.

'But me no buts,' said the archdeacon. 'I never was so happy in my
life. It was just the proper thing to do. Upon my honour, I'll
never say another word against Lord--the longest day I have to
live.'

'That's Dr Gwynne's doing, you may be sure,' said Mrs Grantly, who
greatly liked the master of Lazarus, he being an orderly married
man with a large family.

'I suppose it is,' said the archdeacon.

'Oh, papa, I am so truly delighted,' said Mrs Grantly, getting up
and kissing her father.

'But, my dear,' said Mr Harding. It was all in vain that he strove
to speak; nobody would listen to him.

'Well, Mr Dean,' said the archdeacon, triumphing; 'the deanery
gardens will be some consolation for the hospital elms. Well, poor
Quiverful! I won't begrudge him his good fortune any longer.'

No, indeed,' said Mrs Grantly. 'Poor woman, she has fourteen
children. I am sure I am very glad they have got it.'

'So am I,' said Mr Harding.

'I would give twenty pounds,' said the archdeacon, 'to see how Mr
Slope will look when he hears it.' The idea of Mr Slope's
discomfiture formed no small part of the archdeacon's pleasure.

At last Mr Harding was allowed to go up-stairs and wash his hands,
having, in fact, said very little of all that he had come out to
Plumstead on purpose to say. Nor could anything more be said till
the servants were gone after dinner. The joy of Dr Grantly was so
uncontrollable that he could not refrain from calling his
father-in-law Mr Dean before the men; and therefore, it was soon
matter for discussion in the lower regions how Mr Harding, instead
of his daughter's future husband, was to be the new dean, and
various were the opinions on the matter. The cook and butler, who
were advanced in years, thought that it was just as it should be;
but the footman and lady's maid, who were younger, thought it was a
great shame that Mr Slope should lose his chance.

'He's a mean chap all the same,' said the footman; 'and it an't
along of him that I says so. But I always did admire the missus's
sister; and she'd well become the situation.'

While these were the ideas down-stairs, a very great difference of
opinion existed above. As soon as the cloth was drawn and the wine
on the table, Mr Harding made for himself the opportunity of
speaking. It was, however, with much troubling that he said--

'It's very kind of Lord--very kind, and I feel it deeply, most
deeply. I am, I must confess, gratified by the offer--'

'I should think so,' said the archdeacon.

'But, all the same, I am afraid that I can't accept it.'

The decanter almost fell from the archdeacon's had upon the table;
and the start he made was so great as to make his wife jump from
her chair. Not accept the deanship! If it really ended in this,
there would be no longer any doubt that his father-in-law was
demented. The question now was whether a clergyman with low rank,
and preferment amounting to less than 200 pounds a year, should
accept high rank, 1200 pounds a year, and one of the most desirable
positions which his profession had to afford!

'What!' said the archdeacon, gasping for breath, and staring at his
guest as though the violence of his emotion had almost thrown him
into a fit.

'What!'

'I do not find myself fit for new duties,' urged Mr Harding.

'New duties! what duties?' said the archdeacon, with unintended
sarcasm.

'Oh, papa,' said Mrs Grantly, 'nothing can be easier that what a
dean has to do. Surely you are more active than Dr Trefoil.'

'He won't have half as much to do as at present,' said Dr Grantly.

'Did you see what the Jupiter said the other day about young men?'

'Yes; and I saw that the Jupiter said all that it could to induce
the appointment of Mr Slope. Perhaps you would wish to see Mr Slope
made dean.'

Mr Harding made no reply to this rebuke, though he felt it
strongly. He had not come over to Plumstead to have further
contention with his son-in-law about Mr Slope, so he allowed it to
pass by.

'I know I cannot make you understand my feeling,' he said, 'for we
have been cast in different moulds. I may wish that I had your
spirit and energy and power of combatting; but I have not. Every
day that is added to my life increases my wish for peace and rest.'

'And where on earth can a man have peace and rest if not in a
deanery?' said the archdeacon.

'People will say I am too old for it.'

'Good heavens! What people? What need you care for any people?'

'But I think myself I am too old for any new place.'

'Dear papa,' said Mrs Grantly, 'men ten years older than you have
been appointed to new situations day after day.'

'My dear,' said he, 'it is impossible that I should make you
understand my feelings, nor do I pretend to any great virtue in the
matter. The truth is, I want the force of character which might
enable me to stand against the spirit of the times. The call on all
sides now is for young men, and I have not the nerve to put myself
in opposition to the demand. Were the Jupiter, when it hears of my
appointment, to write article after article, setting forth my
incompetency, I am sure it would cost me my reason. I ought to be
able to bear with such things, you will say. Well, my dear, I own
that I ought. But I feel my weakness and I know that I can't. And,
to tell you the truth, I know no more than a child what the dean
has to do.'

'Pshaw!' exclaimed the archdeacon.

'Don't be angry with me, archdeacon; don't let us quarrel about it,
Susan. If you knew how keenly I feel the necessity of having to
disoblige you in this matter, you would not be angry with me.'

This was a dreadful blow to Dr Grantly. Nothing could possibly have
suited him better than having Mr Harding in the deanery. Though he
had never looked down on Mr Harding on account of his great
poverty, he did fully recognise the satisfaction of having those
belonging to him in comfortable positions. It would be much more
suitable that Mr Harding should be dean of Barchester than vicar of
St Cuthbert's and precentor to boot. And then the great
discomfiture of that arch enemy of all that was respectable in
Barchester, of that new low church clerical parvenu that had fallen
amongst them, that alone would be worth more, almost than the
situation itself. It was frightful to think that such unhoped for
good fortune should be marred by the absurd crotchets and
unwholesome hallucinations by which Mr Harding allowed himself to
be led astray. To have the cup so near his lips and then to lose
the drinking of it, was more than Dr Grantly could endure.

And yet it appears as though he would have to endure it. In vain he
threatened and in vain he coaxed. Mr Harding did not indeed speak
with perfect decision of refusing the proffered glory, but he would
not speak with anything like decision of accepting it. When pressed
again and again, he would again and again allege that he was wholly
unfitted to new duties. It was in vain that the archdeacon tried to
insinuate, though he could not plainly declare, that there were no
new duties to perform. It was in vain he hinted that in all cases
of difficulty he, the archdeacon, was willing and able to guide a
weak-minded dean. Mr Harding seemed to have a foolish idea, not
only that there were new duties to do, and that no one should
accept the place who was not himself prepared to do them.

The conference ended in an understanding that Mr Harding should at
once acknowledge the letter he had received from the minister's
private secretary, and should beg that he might be allowed two days
to make up his mind; and that during those two days the matter
should be considered.

On the following morning the archdeacon was to drive Mr Harding
back to Barchester.



CHAPTER XLVIII

MISS THORNE SHOWS HER TALENT FOR MATCH-MAKING

On Mr Harding's return to Barchester from Plumstead, which was
effected by him in due course in company with the archdeacon, some
tidings of a surprising nature met him. He was, during the journey,
subjected to such a weight of unanswerable argument, all of which
went to prove that it was his bounden duty not to interfere with
the paternal government that was so anxious to make him a dean,
that when he arrived at the chemist's door in High Street, he
barely knew which way to turn himself in the matter. But, perplexed
as he was, he was doomed to further perplexity. He found a note
there from his daughter, begging him to most urgently to come to
her immediately. But we must again go back a little in our story.

Miss Thorne had not been slow to hear the rumours respecting Mr
Arabin, which had so much disturbed the happiness of Mrs Grantly.
And she, also, was unhappy to think that her parish clergyman
should be accused of worshipping a strange goddess. She, also, was
of opinion, that rectors and vicars should all be married, and with
that good-natured energy which was characteristic of her, she put
her wits to work to find a fitting match for Mr Arabin. Mrs
Grantly, in this difficulty, could think of no better remedy than a
lecture from the archdeacon. Miss Thorne thought that a young lady,
marriageable, and with a dowry, might be of more efficacy. In
looking through the catalogue of her unmarried friends, who might
possibly be in want of a husband, and might also be fit for such a
promotion as a country parsonage affords, she could think of no one
more eligible than Mrs Bold; and, consequently, losing no time, she
went into Barchester on the day of Mr Slope's discomfiture, the
same day that her brother, had had his interesting interview with
the last of the Neros, and invited Mrs Bold to bring her nurse and
baby to Ullathorne and make a protracted visit.

Miss Thorne suggested a month or two, intending to use her
influence afterwards in prolonging it so as to last out the winter,
in order that Mr Arabin might have an opportunity of becoming
fairly intimate with his intended bride. 'We'll have Mr Arabin
too,' said Miss Thorne to herself; 'and before the spring they'll
know each other; and in twelve or eighteen months' time, if all
goes well, Mrs Bold will be domiciled at St Ewold's'; and then the
kind-hearted lady gave herself some not undeserved praise for her
matching genius.

Eleanor was taken a little by surprise, but the matter ended in her
promising to go to Ullathorne, for at any rate a week or two; and
on the day previous to that on which her father drove out to
Plumstead, she had had herself driven out to Ullathorne.

Miss Thorne would not perplex her with her embryo lord on that same
evening, thinking that she would allow her a few hours to make
herself at home; but on the following morning Mr Arabin arrived.
'And now,' said Miss Thorne to herself,' I must contrive to throw
them in each other's way.' That same day, after dinner, Eleanor,
with an assumed air of dignity which she could no maintain, with
tears that she could not suppress, with a flutter which she could
not conquer, and a joy which she could not hide, told Miss Thorne
that she was engaged to marry Mr Arabin, and that it behoved her to
get back home to Barchester as quick as she could.

To say simply that Miss Thorne was rejoiced at the success of the
schemed, would give a very faint idea of her feelings on the
occasion. My readers may probably have dreamt before now that they
have had before them some terrible long walk to accomplish, some
journey of twenty or thirty miles, an amount of labour frightful to
anticipate, and that immediately on starting they have ingeniously
found some accommodating short cut which have brought them without
fatigue to their work's end in five minutes. Miss Thorne's waking
feelings were somewhat of the same nature. My readers may perhaps
have had to do with children, and may on some occasion have
promised to their young charges some great gratification intended
to come off, perhaps at the end of the winter, or at the beginning
of summer. The impatient juveniles, however, will not wait, and
clamorously demand their treat before they go to bed. Miss Thorne
had a sort of feeling that an inexperienced gunner, who has ill
calculated the length of the train that he has laid. The gunpowder
exploded much too soon and poor Miss Thorne felt that she was blown
up by the strength of her own petard.

Miss Thorne had had lovers of her own, but they had been gentlemen
of old-fashioned and deliberate habits. Miss Thorne's heart also
had not always been hard, though she was still a virgin spinster;
but it had never yielded in this way at the first assault. She had
intended to bring together a middle-aged studious clergyman, and a
discreet matron who might possibly be induced to marry again; and
in doing she had thrown fire among tinder. Well, it was all as it
should be, but she did feel perhaps a little put out by the
precipitancy of her own success; and perhaps a little vexed at the
readiness of Mrs Bold to be wooed.

She said, however, nothing about it to any one, and ascribed it all
to the altered manners of the new age. Their mothers and
grandmothers were perhaps a little more deliberate; but, it was
admitted on all sides that things were conducted very differently
now that in former times. For aught Miss Thorne knew of the matter,
a couple of hours might be quite sufficient under the new regime to
complete that for which she in her ignorance had allotted twelve
months.

But we must not pass over the wooing so cavalierly. It has been
told, with perhaps tedious accuracy, how Eleanor disposed of two of
her lovers at Ullathorne; and it must also be told with equal
accuracy, and if possible with less tedium, how she encountered Mr
Arabin.

It cannot be denied that when Eleanor accepted Miss Thorne's
invitation, she remembered that Ullathorne was in the parish of St
Ewold's. Since her interview with the signora she had done little
else than think about Mr Arabin, and the appeal that had been made
to her. She could not bring herself to believe or try to bring
herself to believe, that what she had been told was untrue. Think
of it how she would, she could not but accept it as a fact that Mr
Arabin was fond of her; and then when she went further, and asked
herself the question, she could not but accept it as a fact also
that she was fond of him. If it were destined for her to be the
partner of his hopes and sorrows, to whom she could she look for
friendship so properly as to Miss Thorne? This invitation was like
an ordained step towards the fulfilment of her destiny, and when
she also heard that Mr Arabin was expected to be at Ullathorne on
the following day, it seemed as though all the world was conspiring
in her favour. Well, did she not deserve it? In that affair of Mr
Slope, had not all the world conspired against her?

She could not, however, make herself easy and at home. When in the
evening after dinner Miss Thorne expatiated on the excellence of Mr
Arabin's qualities, she hinted that any little rumour which might
be ill-naturedly spread abroad concerning him really meant nothing,
Mrs Bold found herself unable to answer. When Miss Thorne went a
little further and declared that she did not know a prettier
vicarage-house in the country than St Ewold's, Mrs Bold remembering
the projected bow-window and the projected priestess still held her
tongue; though her ears tingled with the conviction that all the
world would know that she was in love with Mr Arabin. Well; what
could that matter if they could only meet and tell each other what
each now longed to tell?

And they did meet. Mr Arabin came early in the day, and found the
two ladies together at work in the drawing-room. Miss Thorne, who
had she known all the truth would have vanished into air at once,
had no conception that her immediate absence would be a blessing,
and remained chatting with them till luncheon-time. Mr Arabin could
talk about nothing but the Signora Neroni's beauty, would discuss
no people but the Stanhopes. This was very distressing to Eleanor,
and not very satisfactory to Miss Thorne. But yet there was
evidence of innocence in his open avowal of admiration.

And then they had lunch, and then Mr Arabin went out on parish
duty; and Eleanor and Miss Thorne were left to take a walk
together.

'Do you think the Signora Neroni is so lovely as people say?'
Eleanor asked as they were coming home.

'She is very beautiful certainly, very beautiful,' Miss Thorne
answered; 'but I do not know that any one considers her lovely. She
is a woman all men would like to look at; but few I imagine would
be glad to take her to their hearths, even were she unmarried and
not afflicted as she is.'

There was some comfort in this. Eleanor made the most of it till
she got back to the house. She was then left alone in the
drawing-room, and just as it was getting dark Mr Arabin came in.

It was a beautiful afternoon in the beginning of October, and
Eleanor was sitting in the window to get the advantage of the last
daylight for her novel. There was a fire in the comfortable room,
but the weather was not cold enough to make it attractive; and as
she could see the sun set from where she sat, she was not very
attentive to her book.

Mr Arabin when he entered stood awhile with his back to the fire in
his usual way, merely uttering a few commonplace remarks about the
beauty of the weather, while he plucked up courage for the more
interesting converse. It cannot probably be said that he had
resolved then and there to make an offer to Eleanor. Men we believe
seldom make such resolve. Mr Slope and Mr Stanhope had done so, it
is true; but gentlemen generally propose without any absolutely
defined determination as to their doing so. Such was now the case
with Mr Arabin.

'It is a lovely sunset,' said Eleanor, answering him on the
dreadfully trite subject which he had chosen.

Mr Arabin could not see the sunset from the hearth-rug, as he had
to go close to her.

'Very lovely,' said he, standing modestly so far away from her s to
avoid touching the flounces of her dress. Then it appeared that he
had nothing further to say; so after gazing for a moment in silence
at the brightness of the setting sun, he returned to the fire.

Eleanor found that it was quite impossible for herself to commence
a conversation. In the first place she could find nothing to say;
words, which were generally plenty enough with her, would not come
to her relief. And, moreover, do what she could, she could hardly
prevent herself from crying.

'Do you like Ullathorne?' said Mr Arabin, speaking from the safely
distant position which he had assumed on the hearth-rug.

'Yes, indeed, very much!'

'I don't mean Mr and Miss Thorne. I know you like them; but the
style of the house. There is something about old-fashioned
mansions, built as this is, and old-fashioned gardens, that to me
is especially delightful.'

'I like everything old-fashioned,' said Eleanor; 'old-fashioned
things are so much the honestest.'

'I don't know about that,' said Mr Arabin, gently laughing. 'That
is an opinion on which very much may be said on either side. It is
strange how widely the world is divided on a subject which so
nearly concerns us all, and which is so close beneath our eyes.
Some think that we are quickly progressing towards perfection,
while others imagine that virtue is disappearing from the earth.'

'And you, Mr Arabin, what do you think?' said Eleanor. She felt
somewhat surprised at the tone which this conversation was taking,
and yet she was quite relieved at his saying something which
enabled herself to speak without showing any emotion.

'What do I think, Mrs Bold?' and then he rumbled his money with his
hand in his trousers pockets, and looked and spoke very little like
a thriving lover. 'It is the bane of my life that on important
subjects I acquire no fixed opinion. I think, and think, and go on
thinking; and yet my thoughts are running over in different
directions. I hardly know whether or no we do lead more confidently
than our fathers did on those high hopes to which we profess to
aspire.'

'I think the world grows more worldly every day,' said Eleanor.

'That is because you see more of it than when you were younger. But
we should hardly judge by what we see,--we see so very very
little.' There was then a pause for a while, during which Mr Arabin
continued to turn over his shillings and half-crowns. 'If we
believe in Scripture, we can hardly think that mankind in general
will now be allowed to retrograde.'

Eleanor, whose mind was certainly engaged otherwise than on the
general state of mankind, made no answer to this. She felt
thoroughly dissatisfied with herself. She could not force her
thoughts away from the topic on which the signora had spoken to her
in so strange a way, and yet she knew that she could not converse
with Mr Arabin in an unrestrained natural tone till she did so. She
was most anxious not to show to him any special emotion, and yet
she felt that if he looked at her he would at once see that she was
not at ease.

But he did not look at her. Instead of doing so, he left the
fire-place and began walking up and down the room. Eleanor took up
her book resolutely; but she could not read, for there was a tear
in her eye, and do what she would it fell on her cheek. When Mr
Arabin's back was turned to her she wiped it away; but another was
soon coming down her face in its place. They would come; not a
deluge of tears that would have betrayed her at once, but one by
one, single monitors. Mr Arabin did not observe her closely, and
they passed unseen.

Mr Arabin, thus passing up and down the room, took four of five
turns before he spoke another word, and Eleanor sat equally silent
with her face bent over her book. She was afraid that her tears
would get the better of her, and was preparing for an escape from
the room, when Mr Arabin in his walk stood opposite to her. He did
not come close up, but stood exactly on the spot to which his
course brought him, and then, with his hands under his coat tails,
thus made a confession.

'Mrs Bold,' said he, 'I owe you retribution for a great offence of
which I have been guilty towards you.' Eleanor's heart beat so that
she could not trust herself to say that he had never been guilty of
any offence. So Mr Arabin then went on.

'I have thought much of it since, and I am now aware that I was
wholly unwarranted in putting to you a question which I once asked
you. It was indelicate on my part, and perhaps unmanly. No intimacy
which may exist between myself and your connection, Dr Grantly,
could justify it. Nor could the acquaintance which existed between
ourselves.' The word acquaintance struck cold on Eleanor's heart.
Was this to her doom after all? 'I therefore think it right to beg
your pardon in a humble spirit, and I now do so.'

What was Eleanor to say to this? She could not say much, because
she was crying, and yet she must say something. She was most
anxious to say that something graciously, kindly, and yet not in
such a manner as to betray herself. She had never felt herself so
much at a loss for words.

'Indeed I took no offence, Mr Arabin.'

'Oh, but you did! And had you not done so, you would not have been
yourself. You were as right to be offended, as I was wrong to so
offend you. I have not forgiven myself, but I hope to hear that you
forgive me.'

She was now past speaking calmly, though she still continued to
hide her tears, and Mr Arabin, after pausing a moment in vain for
her reply, was walking off towards the door. She felt that she
could not allow him to go unanswered without grievously sinning
against all charity; so, rising from her seat, she gently touched
his arm and said: 'Oh, Mr Arabin, do not go till I speak to you! I
do forgive you. You know that I forgive you.'

He took the hand that had so gently touched his arm, and then gazed
into her face as if he would peruse there, as though written in a
book, the whole future destiny of his life; and as he did so, there
was a sober and seriousness in his own countenance, which Eleanor
found herself unable to sustain. She could only look down upon the
carpet, let her tears trickle as they would, and leave her hand
within his.

It was but for a minute that they stood so, but the duration of
that minute was sufficient to make it ever memorable to both.
Eleanor was sure now that she was loved. No words, be their
eloquence what it might, could be more impressive than that eager,
melancholy gaze.

Why did he look into her eyes? Why did he not speak to her?
 Could it be that he looked for her to make the first sign?

And he, though he knew little of women, even he knew that he was
loved. He had only to ask and it would be all his own, that
inexpressible loveliness, those ever speaking but yet now mute
eyes, that feminine brightness and eager loving spirit which had so
attracted him since first he had encountered it at St Ewold's. It
might, must all be his own now. On no other supposition was it
possible that she should allow her hand to remain thus clasped
within his own. He had only to ask. Ah! but that was the
difficulty. Did a minute suffice for all this? Nay, perhaps it
might be more than a minute.

'Mrs Bold--' at last he said, and then stopped himself.

If he could not speak, how was she to do so? He had called her by
her name, the same name that any merest stranger would have used!
She withdrew her hand from his, and moved as though to return to
her seat. 'Eleanor!' he then said, in his softest tone, as though
the courage were still afraid of giving offence, by the freedom
which he took. She looked slowly, gently, almost piteously up into
his face. There was at any rate no anger there to deter him.

'Eleanor!' he again exclaimed; and in a moment he had her clasped
to his bosom. How this was done, whether the doing was with him, or
her, whether she had flown thither conquered by the tenderness of
his voice, or he with a violence not likely to give offence had
drawn her to his breast, neither of them knew; nor can I declare.
There was now that sympathy between them which hardly admitted of
individual motion. They were one and the same,--one flesh,--one
spirit,--one life.

'Eleanor, my own Eleanor, my own, my wife!' She ventured to look at
him through her tears, and he, bowing his face down over hers,
pressed his lips upon her brow; his virgin lips, which since a
beard first grew upon his chin, had never yet tasted the luxury of
a woman's cheek.

She had been told that her yea must be yea, or her nay, nay; but
she was called on for neither the one nor the other. She told Miss
Thorne that she was engaged to Mr Arabin, but no such words had
passed between them, no promises had been asked or given.

'Oh, let me go,' said she; 'let me go now. I am too happy to
remain,--let me go, that I may be alone.' He did not try to hinder
her; he did not repeat his kiss; he did not press another on her
lips. He might have done so, had he been so minded. She was now all
his own. He took his arm from round her waist, his arm that was
trembling with a new delight, and let her go. She fled like a roe
to her own chamber, and then, having turned the bolt, she enjoyed
the full luxury of her love. She idolised, almost worshipped this
man who had so meekly begged her pardon. And he was now her own.
Oh, how she wept and cried and laughed, as the hopes and fears and
miseries of the last few weeks passed in remembrance through her
mind.

Mr Slope! That any one should have dared to think that she who had
been chosen by him could possibly have mated herself with Mr Slope!
That they should have dared to tell him, also, and subject her
bright happiness to such a needless risk! And then she smiled with
joy as she thought of all the comforts that she could give him; not
that he cared for comforts, but that it would be so delicious for
her to give.

She got up and rang for her maid that she might tell her little boy
of his new father; and in her own way she did tell him. She desired
her maid to leave her, in order that she might be alone with her
child; and there, while he lay sprawling on the bed, she poured
forth the praises, so unmeaning to him, of the man she had selected
to guard his infancy.

She could not be happy, however, till she had made Mr Arabin take
the child to himself, and thus, as it were, adopt him as his own.
The moment the idea struck her she took the baby in her arms, and,
opening her door, ran quickly down to the drawing-room. She at once
found, by the step still pacing on the floor, that he was there;
and a glance within the room told her that he was alone. She
hesitated a moment, and then hurried in with her precious charge.

Mr Arabin met her in the middle of the room. 'There,' said she,
breathless with her haste; 'there, take him--take him and love
him.'

Mr Arabin took the little fellow from her, and kissing him again
and again, prayed God to bless him. 'He shall be all as my own--
all as my own,' said he. Eleanor, as she stooped to take back her
child, kissed the hand that held him, and then rushed back with her
treasure to her chamber.

It was then that Mr Harding's younger daughter was won for the
second time. At dinner neither she nor Mr Arabin were very bright,
but their silence occasioned no remark. In the drawing-room, as we
have before said, she told Miss Thorne what had occurred. The next
morning she returned to Barchester, and Mr Arabin went over with
his budget of news to the archdeacon. As Dr Grantly was not there,
he could only satisfy himself by telling Mrs Grantly how that he
intended himself the honour of becoming her brother-in-law. In the
ecstasy of her joy at hearing such tidings, Mrs Grantly vouchsafed
him a warmer welcome than any he had yet received from Eleanor.

'Good heavens!' she exclaimed--it was the general exclamation of
the rectory. 'Poor Eleanor! Dear Eleanor. What monstrous injustice
has been done her!--Well, it shall all be made up now.' And then
she thought of the signora. 'What lies people tell,' she said to
herself.

But people in this matter had told no lies at all.



CHAPTER XLIX

THE BEELZEBUB COLT

When Miss Thorne left the dining-room, Eleanor had formed no
intention of revealing to her what had occurred; but when she was
seated beside her hostess on the sofa the secret dropped from her
almost unawares. Eleanor was but a bad hypocrite, and she found
herself quite unable to continue talking about Mr Arabin, as though
he was a stranger, while her heart was full of him. When Miss
Thorne, pursuing her own scheme with discreet zeal, asked the young
widow whether, in her opinion, it would not be a good thing for Mr
Arabin to get married, she had nothing for it but to confess the
truth. 'I suppose it would,' said Eleanor, rather sheepishly.
Whereupon Miss Thorne amplified on the idea. 'Oh, Miss Thorne,'
said Eleanor, 'he is going to be married. I am engaged to him.'

Now Miss Thorne knew very well that there had been no such
engagement when she had been walking with Mrs Bold in the morning.
She had also heard enough to be tolerably sure that there had been
no preliminaries to such an engagement. She was, therefore, as we
have before described, taken a little by surprise. But,
nevertheless, she embraced her guest, and cordially congratulated
her.

Eleanor had no opportunity of speaking another word to Mr Arabin
that evening, except such words as all the world might hear; and
these, as may be supposed, were few enough. Miss Thorne did her
best to leave them in privacy; but Mr Thorne, who knew nothing of
what had occurred, and another guest, a friend of his, entirely
interfered with her good intentions. So poor Eleanor had to go to
bed without one sign of affection. Her state, nevertheless, was
not to be pitied.

The next morning she was up early. It was probable, she thought,
that by going down a little before the usual hour of breakfast, she
might find Mr Arabin alone in the dining-room. Might it not be that
she would calculate that an interview would thus be possible? Thus
thinking, Eleanor was dressed a full hour before the time fixed at
the Ullathorne household for morning prayers. She did not at once
go down. She was afraid to seem to be too anxious to meet her
lover; though, heaven knows, her anxiety was intense enough. She
therefore sat herself down at her window, and repeatedly looking at
her watch, nursed her child till she thought she might venture
forth.

When she found herself at the dining-room door, she stood a moment,
hesitating to turn the handle; but when she heard Mr Thorne's voice
inside she hesitated no longer. Her object was defeated, and she
might now go in as soon as she liked without the slightest
imputation on her delicacy. Mr Thorne and Mr Arabin were standing
on the hearth-rug, discussing the merits of the Beelzebub colt; or
rather, Mr Thorne was discussing, and Mr Arabin was listening. That
interesting animal had rubbed the stump of his tail against the
wall of his stable, and occasioned much uneasiness to the
Ullathorne master of the horse. Had Eleanor but waited another
minute, Mr Thorne would have been in the stable.

Mr Thorne, when he saw his lady guest, repressed his anxiety. The
Beelzebub colt must do without him. And so the three stood, saying
little or nothing to each other, till at last the master of the
house, finding that he could no longer bear the present state of
suspense respecting his favourite young steed, made an elaborate
apology to Mrs Bold, and escaped. As he shut the door behind him,
Eleanor almost wished that he had remained. It was not that she was
afraid of Mr Arabin, but she hardly yet knew how to address him.

He, however, soon relieved her from her embarrassment. He came up
to her, and taking bother her hands in his, he said, 'So, Eleanor,
you and I are to be man and wife. Is it so?'

She looked up into his face, and her lips formed themselves into a
single syllable. She uttered no sound, but he could read the
affirmative plainly in her face.

'It is a great trust,' said he, 'a very great trust.'

'It is--it is,' said Eleanor, not exactly taking what he had said
in the sense that he had meant. 'It is a very great trust, and I
will do my utmost to deserve it.'

'And I also will do my utmost to deserve it,' said Mr Arabin very
solemnly. And then, winding his arm round her waist, he stood there
gazing at the fire, and she with her head leaning in his shoulder,
stood by him, well satisfied with her position. They neither of
them spoke, or found any want of speaking. All that was needful for
them to say had been said. The yea, yea, had been spoken by Eleanor
in her own way--and that way had been perfectly satisfactory to Mr
Arabin.

And now it remained to them each to enjoy the assurance of the
other's love. And how great that luxury is! How far it surpasses
any other pleasure which God has allowed to his creatures! And to a
woman's heart how doubly delightful!

When the ivy has found its tower, when the delicate creeper has
found its strong wall, we know how the parasite plants grow and
prosper. They were not created to stretch forth their branches
alone, and endure without protection the summer's sun and the
winter's storm. Alone they but spread themselves on the ground, and
cower unseen in the dingy shade. But when they have found their
firm supporters, how wonderful is their beauty; how all pervading
and victorious!

What is the turret without its ivy, or the high garden wall without
the jasmine which gives it its beauty and fragrance? The hedge
without the honeysuckle is but a hedge.

There is s feeling still half existing, but now half conquered by
the force of human nature, that a woman should be ashamed of her
love till the husband's right to her compels her to acknowledge it.
We would fain preach a different doctrine. A woman should glory in
her love; but on that account let her take the more care that it be
such as to justify her glory.

Eleanor did glory in hers, and she felt, and had cause to feel,
that it deserved to be held as glorious. She could have stood there
for hours with his arm around her, had fate and Mr Thorne permitted
it. Each moment she crept nearer to his bosom, and felt more and
more certain that there was her home. What now to her was the
archdeacon's arrogance, her sister's coldness, or her dear father's
weakness? What need she care for the duplicity of such friends as
Charlotte Stanhope? She had found the strong shield that should
guard her from all wrongs, the trusty pilot that should
henceforward guide her through the shoals and rocks. She would give
up the heavy burden of her independence, and once more assume the
position of a woman, and the duties of a trusting and loving wife.

And he, too, stood there fully satisfied with his place. They were
both looking intently on the fire, as though they could read there
their future fate, till at last Eleanor turned her face towards
his. 'How sad you are,' she said, smiling; and indeed his face was,
if not sad, at least serious. 'How sad you are, love!'

'Sad,' said he, looking down at her; 'no, certainly not sad.' Her
sweet loving eyes were turned towards him, and she smiled softly as
he answered her. The temptation was too strong even for the demure
propriety of Mr Arabin, and, bending over her, he pressed his lips
to hers.

Immediately after this, Mr Thorne appeared, and they were both
delighted to hear that the tail of the Beelzebub colt was not
materially injured.

It had been Mr Harding's intention to hurry over to Ullathorne as
soon as possible after his return to Barchester, in order to secure
the support of his daughter in his meditated revolt against the
archdeacon as touching the deanery; but he was spared the
additional journey by hearing that Mrs Bold had returned
unexpectedly home. As soon as he had read her note he started off,
and found her waiting for him in her own house.

How much each of them had to tell the other, and how certain each
was that the story which he or she had to tell would astonish the
other!

'My dear, I am so anxious to see you,' said Mr Harding, kissing his
daughter.

'Oh, papa, I have so much to tell you!' said the daughter,
returning his embrace.

'My dear, they have offered me the deanery!' said Mr Harding,
anticipating by the suddenness of the revelation the tidings which
Eleanor had to give him.

'Oh, papa,' said she, forgetting her own love and happiness in her
joy at the surprising news; 'oh, papa, can it be possible? Dear,
papa, how thoroughly, thoroughly happy that makes me!'

'But, my dear, I think it best to refuse it.'

'Oh, papa!'

'I am sure you will agree with me, Eleanor, when I explain it to
you. You know, my dear how old I am. If I live, I--'

'But, papa, I must tell you about myself.'

'Well, my dear.'

'I do wonder how you will take it.'

'Take what?'

'If you don't rejoice at it, if it doesn't make you happy, if you
don't encourage me, I shall break my heart.'

'If that be the case, Nelly, I certainly will encourage you.'

'But I fear you won't. I do so fear you won't. And yet you can't
but think I am the most fortunate woman living on God's earth.'

'Are you, dearest? Then I certainly will rejoice with you. Come,
Nelly, come to me, and tell me what it is.'

'I am going--'

He led her to the sofa, and seating himself beside her, with both
her hands in his. 'You are going to be married, Nelly.
 Is not that it?'

'Yes,' she said, faintly. 'That is if you will approve;' and then
she blushed as she remembered the promise which she had so lately
volunteered to him, and which she had so utterly forgotten in
making her engagement with Mr Arabin.

Mr Harding thought for a moment who the man could be whom he was to
be called upon to welcome as his son-in-law. A week since he would
have had no doubt whom to name. In that case he would have been
prepared to give his sanction, although he would have done so with
a heavy heart. Now he knew that at any rate it would not be Mr
Slope, though he was perfectly at a loss to guess who could
possibly have filled his place. For a moment he thought that the
man might be Bertie Stanhope, and his very soul sank within him.

'Well, Nelly?'

'Oh, papa, promise me that, for my sake, you will love him.'

'Come, Nelly, come; tell me who it is.'

'But you will love him, papa?'

'Dearest, I must love any one that you love.' Then she turned he
face to his, and whispered into his ear the name of Mr Arabin.

No man that she could have named could have more surprised or more
delighted him. Had he looked round the world for a son-in-law to
his taste, he could have selected no one whom he would have
preferred to Mr Arabin. He was a clergyman; he held a living in the
neighbourhood; he was of a set to which all Mr Harding's own
partialities most closely adhered; he was the great friend of Dr
Grantly; and he was, moreover, a man of whom Mr Harding knew
nothing but what he approved. Nevertheless his surprise was so
great as to prevent the immediate expression of his joy. He had
never thought of Mr Arabin in connection with his daughter; he had
never imagined that they had any feeling in common. He had feared
that his daughter had been made hostile to clergymen of Mr Arabin's
stamp by her intolerance of the archdeacon's pretensions. Had he
been put to wish, he might have wished for Mr Arabin for a
son-in-law; but had he been put to guess, the name would never have
occurred to him.

'Mr Arabin!' he exclaimed; 'impossible!'

'Oh, papa, for heaven's sake don't say anything against him!
 If you do love me, don't say anything against him. Oh, papa, it's
done, and mustn't be undone--oh, papa!'

Fickle Eleanor! Where was the promise that she would make no choice
for herself without her father's approval? She had chosen, and now
demanded his acquiescence. 'Oh, papa, isn't he good? isn't he
noble? isn't he religious, high-minded, everything that a good man
possibly can be?' and she clung to her father, beseeching him for
his consent.

'My Nelly, my child, my own daughter! He is; he is noble and good
and high-minded; he is all that a woman can love and admire. He
shall be my son, my own son. He shall be as close to my heart as
you are. My Nelly, my child, my happy, happy child!'

We need not pursue the interview any further. By degrees they
returned to the subject of the new promotion. Eleanor tried to
prove to him, as the Grantlys had done, that his age could be no
bar to his being a very excellent dean; but those arguments had now
even less weight than before. He said little or nothing, but sat
meditative. Every now and then he would kiss his daughter, and say,
'yes,' or 'no,' or 'very true,' or 'well, my dear, I can't quite
agree with you there,' but he could not be got to enter sharply
into the question of 'to be or not to be' dean of Barchester. Of
her and her happiness, of Mr Arabin and his virtues, he would talk
as much as Eleanor desired; and, to tell the truth, that was not a
little; but about the deanery he would now say nothing further. He
had got a new idea into his head--Why should not Mr Arabin be the
new dean?



CHAPTER L

THE ARCHDEACON IS SATISFIED WITH THE STATE OF AFFAIRS

The archdeacon, in his journey into Barchester, had been assured by
Mr Harding that all their prognostications about Mr Slope and
Eleanor were groundless. Mr Harding, however, had found it very
difficult to shake his son-in-law's faith in his own acuteness. The
matter had, to Dr Grantly, been so plainly corroborated by such
patent evidence, borne out by such endless circumstances, that he
at first refused to take as true the positive statement which Mr
Harding made to him of Eleanor's own disavowal of the impeachment.
But at last he yielded in a qualified way. He brought himself to
admit that he would at the present regard his past convictions as a
mistake; but in doing this he so guarded himself, that if, at any
future time, Eleanor should come forth to the world as Mrs Slope,
he might still be able to say: 'There, I told you so. Remember what
you said and what I said; and remember also for coming years, that
I was right in this matter--as in all others.'

He carried, however, his concession so far as to bring himself to
undertake to call at Eleanor's house, and he did call accordingly,
while the father and the daughter were yet in the middle of their
conference. Mr Harding had had so much to hear and to say that he
had forgotten to advertise Eleanor of the honour that awaited her,
and she heard her brother-in-law's voice in the hall, while she
quite unprepared to see him.

'There's the archdeacon,' she said, springing up.

'Yes, my dear. He told me to tell you that he would come to see
you; but, to tell the truth, I had forgotten all about it.'

Eleanor fled away, regardless of all her father's entreaties. She
could not now, in the first hours of her joy, bring herself to bear
all the archdeacon's retractions, apologies, and congratulations.
He would have so much to say, and would be so tedious in saying it;
consequently, the archdeacon, when he was shown into the
drawing-room, found on one there but Mr Harding.'

'You must excuse Eleanor,' said Mr Harding.

'Is anything the matter?' asked the doctor, who at once anticipated
that the whole truth about Mr Slope had at last come out.

'Well, something is the matter. I wonder whether you will be much
surprised?'

The archdeacon saw by his father-in-law's manner that after all he
had nothing to tell him about Mr Slope. 'No,' said he, 'certainly
not--nothing will