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Title: Barchester Towers
Author: Trollope, Anthony, 1815-1882
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Barchester Towers" ***

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BARCHESTER TOWERS

by

ANTHONY TROLLOPE

First published in 1857



CONTENTS

Chapter

      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 in 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 Cleverly 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 Fête Champêtre
  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. Mr. 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 Beelzebub Colt
      L. The Archdeacon Is Satisfied with the State of Affairs
     LI. Mr. Slope Bids 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 that
chair with meek authority, took place exactly as the ministry of
Lord ---- was going to give place to that of 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.

It was pretty well understood that the outgoing premier had made his
selection and that if the question rested with him, the mitre would
descend on the head of Archdeacon Grantly, the old bishop's son. The
archdeacon had long managed the affairs of the diocese, and for some
months previous to the demise of his father rumour had confidently
assigned to him the reversion of his father's honours.

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 were
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 by, 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 thing was settled.

At this time the bishop was quite on his last legs; but the ministry
also were 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 outgoing men during this 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 on 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 old 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 bedroom
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 also have
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
low with solemn face; "his lordship's gone more like a sleeping babby
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 as 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
consoling 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, minutes were too precious to be lost. It was now
useless 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 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 women." 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 consequence of delay. Will you do it?'

"I! Oh, yes; certainly. I'll do anything, 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 in 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 the 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
his anxiety and 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 someone,
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 it off again on its journey.

Thus terminated our unfortunate friend's chances 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 awhile 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
moments 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 wishes, that it cannot be thought
to express the true 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 Fitzjeames, 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
for no 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
bishop. But he certainly did desire to play first fiddle; he did
desire to sit in full lawn sleeves among the peers of the realm; and
he did desire, if the truth must out, to be called "My lord" by his
reverend brethren.

His hopes, however, were they innocent or sinful, were not fated to
be realized, 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 on 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 yet be forgotten that a lawsuit 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 pressure of these attacks, Mr. Harding had resigned his
wardenship, though strongly recommended to abstain from doing so
both by his friends and by 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
emolument 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; 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 the 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 undying 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 remnant 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, no new occupants of the
charity had been nominated, 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 buildings, 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 John Hiram's heirs?"
intending to give an infallible rule for the governance of all 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 re-read, 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 his 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 to be located in a
house to be built, each with 1s. 2d. a day; that there should be a
matron, with a house and £70 a year; a steward with £150 a year; and
latterly, a warden with £450 a year, who should have the spiritual
guidance of both establishments, and the temporal 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
awhile 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 the change.

Poor Eleanor Bold! How well does that widow's cap become her, and
the solemn gravity with which she devotes herself 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 acquaintance, 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 but 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 a 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 up into his face from her knees, her 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 thus 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 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 daily 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
little heart would first love her and her only; whose infant tongue
would make its 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; 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 home of his own, and so remained
in the lodgings he had first selected over a chemist's shop in the
High Street of 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 like a justice of 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 everything
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 observance 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 an Irish baron by his mother's
side, and his wife was the niece of a Scotch 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 preacher to the royal beefeaters, curator of
theological manuscripts in the Ecclesiastical Courts, chaplain to the
Queen's yeomanry guard, and almoner to his Royal Highness the Prince
of Rappe-Blankenberg.

His residence in the metropolis, rendered necessary by duties thus
entrusted to him, his high connexions, 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
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 anathematize
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 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; he had had something to do with both the _regium
donum_ and the Maynooth grant.

It must not 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. He 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 archiepiscopal
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
to 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 people of Barchester. Dr. Grantly had always lived there--in
truth, it was hard for a bishop to be popular after Dr. Grantly. His
income had averaged £9,000 a year; his successor was to be rigidly
limited to £5,000. 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 carriage as became a bishop, but
his carriage, horses, and coachman, 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; 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
hen-pecked.

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 a
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 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 has 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 connexion 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 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 the 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 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 his lordship.

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 presume 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
M.A., 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
no 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 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, as had all
the servants, as 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 reflexion 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 his wife, inspire courage into the unhappy man,
lay an axe to the root 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 all his power over the female heart.
To him the revelation of God appears only 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 which fell from divine
lips on the mountain--"Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit
the earth"--"Blessed are the merciful, for 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 did it 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 these 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 so 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 in 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
quite a 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
as 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 be 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 premised 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 exacts an
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 that 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 the
priestly charmer too 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; 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 that 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 the conversation in such an
interview. In the affair of the consecration 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, a 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 way. 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 hearth-rug, 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 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 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 his 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 duty 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 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 her
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
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 his 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?" asked Mr. Slope.

"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 for 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 was no
Sunday-school in his parish.

Mr. Slope merely opened his wide 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 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, the 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, brakesmen,
and 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 but
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 that 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 there 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
so 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 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 bedrooms 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 outhouses
were very imperfect: he might specify the coal-cellar and the
woodhouse.

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 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-examinations as to 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, if they differed, in silence. But Mrs. Proudie
interrogated him and then lectured. "Neither thou, nor thy son,
nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant," 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 many 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 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 that
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 mighty 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 into 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 both 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 forth 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 probable 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 hereupon forgot himself. I will not follow his
example, nor shock my readers by transcribing the term in which he
expressed his feeling 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 correspondent 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 realize
the fact that the wife of a 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 to be 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 such 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 the 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?" asked the other innocently.

"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?" asked Dr.
Grantly.

"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'll 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 continued after a while. "To dare to
cross-examine me about the 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 was 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 a 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 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 no 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 to
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 all its ancient privileges.

It was true that he could not himself intone the service, but he
could procure 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 in 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 a 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 out 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 reflexion 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 du 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 methods 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 Hon. and Rev. Dr. Vesey Stanhope, who
at this time was very busy on the shores of the Lake of 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 work 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 alloted 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 roof 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 in 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 very 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
in 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 precepts 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 his 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 either for a fool
or a coward.

It would not be becoming were I to travesty a sermon, or even to
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 all 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 mouth-piece of the illustrious divine who sat opposite
to him; and having premised 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 upon were exactly
those which were most distasteful to the clergy of the diocese,
and most averse to their practice 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 anathematized.
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 his 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 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 all but unknown in the diocese;
and from thence he came round to the undue preponderance which, he
asserted, music had 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 civilized and free countries than the necessity of
listening to sermons. No one but a preaching clergyman has, in these
realms, the power of compelling an audience to sit silent and be
tormented. No one but a preaching clergyman can revel in platitudes,
truisms, and untruisms, 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 physics 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 perforce by none but the jury, prisoner, and
gaoler. 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 and denouncings, 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," said a young friend to me
the other day, with hand languidly raised to his brow, the picture of
an overburdened martyr. "Nine this week, seven last week, four the
week before. I have preached twenty-three sermons this month. It is
really too much."

"Too much, indeed," said I, shuddering; "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
round from one enraged parson to another, with wide-spread nostrils
from which already burst forth fumes of indignation, and with
many shufflings 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
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 his 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 chaplains, 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 many 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 had certainly not 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! Really more ought
to have been done as to 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 as hard work to the
young mind as bookkeeping is to the elderly, and that quite as little
feeling of worship enters into the 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; 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 these 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 £400
a year should look after the loaves and fishes, even when they are
under the thumb of a 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 be 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: a 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 this 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 of 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 most to 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--at once to defy us here in the
quiet of our own religious duties--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 the 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 solely 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 invariably
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 his 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 defend 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 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 application 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 few clergy who
would receive him, visiting the houses of the poor, inquiring into
all people, prying into everything, and searching with his minutest
eye into all palatial dilapidations. 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 these 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 no 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 become 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 over-come the enmity with which these 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 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,
eulogizing 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 his 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 anyone. 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 home and his twelve bedesmen.

"But," said he, 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 the 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 out 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 these 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, an 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
stepmother."

"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 anyone else, even
if they had the will to do so, and sufficient impudence to carry out
such a will. The archdeacon was of 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
reappointment, 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 yet 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 shabby, 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 were 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 its 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 £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 home 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 reappointment 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
reappointment 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, the 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 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 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 so much
approve?"

"It can hardly be the duty of a young man rudely to assail the
religious convictions of his elders in 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 his 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
of urbane and courteous conduct among men than any other study which
men may 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 courtyard 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 walls.



CHAPTER IX

The Stanhope Family


It is now three months since Dr. Proudie began his reign, and changes
have already been effected 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 this want of feeling was, in most of
them, accompanied by so great an amount of good nature as to make
itself but little noticeable to the world. They were so prone to
oblige their neighbours 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 very 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 even 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 descended 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 elder 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 care 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 graces 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
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 free-thinker, 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 source?

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 about seventeen years of age, and had been
allowed to make the most of her surpassing beauty in the salons 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 had 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 else 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 trousseau. 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 forever, 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 readmitting 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 conformable 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 of 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 and teeth and chin
and neck and bust were perfect, much 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 salons 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 awhile.

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. Paulo Neroni had 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
would 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 anyone 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 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 he
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 returned 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 Sidonia, 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 heaps of gold as large as lions, so
that the Judaized 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 had 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 such 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 a 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 carried 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 you would
forget. His light hair was very long and silky, coming down over his
coat. His beard had been prepared in 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
peculiar sweetness.

In 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 any scruples 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 an 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
declarations 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
no 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 the 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 her 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 outmanoeuvre 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 newcomer 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 spent only 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 hierarchal
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 to 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. "And 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.

The bishop knew more about cathedrals and deans and precentors and
church services than his wife did, and also more of a 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 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 essay 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 two "Bishop's Barchester Sabbath-day schools," gave
notice of a proposed "Bishop's 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 Grantlyites
whether or no they would attend the episcopal 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. They would show that they were willing to respect the office,
much as they might dislike the man. They 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 all take their wives. Mr. Harding was especially bidden to
do so, resolving in his heart to keep himself far 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. 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 _élite_ 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 had said to her sister who had gently
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 at all 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 for 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 reflexions
in such language, but such was the gist of his thought. 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 from him 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 so 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 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 at 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 bedroom, 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 into 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 till
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 downstairs 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 sure I shouldn't like it. Am I right behind, Mamma? 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's 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 rearranged the bows on their bosoms, and Mr. Slope rushed
upstairs 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 anyone 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 incumbrance. 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
tooth-drawer, 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 rooms became full, and knots were formed, and every
newcomer 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 into the furthest corner, where he might not
see her entrance. Mrs. Proudie perked 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 into the hall to give his assistance.

He was, however, nearly knocked down and trampled on by the cortège
that he encountered on the hall steps. He got himself picked up, as
well as he could, and followed the cortège upstairs. The signora was
carried head foremost, her head being the care of her brother and an
Italian manservant 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, fat, well-pleased, clean face on which no atom of
beard appeared, and he wore round his neck a loose, black silk
neck-handkerchief. The bishop essayed 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 neck-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, made his 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 La 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 attempted 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 at 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 had thoughts of being a
bishop, myself."

"Had thoughts 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 over so often. By the
by, 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, immovable
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 by, 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 to 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
lace train.

"Oh, you idiot, Bertie!" said the signora, seeing what had been done
and what were to be 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 _débris_
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 up 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 which flashed from her eyes.

The signora stared her full in the face for a moment, and then
turning to her brother said playfully, "Bertie, you idiot, get up."

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 and 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 his 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 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 that 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 Vicinironi's 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
catechism.

"No," said the signora, "I would not allow her to learn lessons
such as those in a land ridden over 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'll 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 the
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 Doctor 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 arm chair 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 such 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 that abominable young
Stanhope had pursued him. The dean stared at him as though he were
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
could 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 Dr. Grantly.

"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," began 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 he
tried to argue himself back to an easy mind, but in vain.

Mr. Slope in the meantime 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 not 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 downstairs
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 also
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 by the guilty pair. The signora was sitting very comfortably
up to 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 had 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 downstairs.
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 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.

"Mr. Slope," said Mrs. Proudie, catching the delinquent at the door,
"I am surprised you should leave my company to attend on such a
painted Jezebel as that."

"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 no 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 as 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 thus 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 on
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 9:30 A.M. 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 let me have 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, however, as follows:


   DEAR SIR,

   I will call at the palace to-morrow at 9:30 A.M. as you
   desire.

   Truly yours,

   S. HARDING

   High Street, Barchester, Monday


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 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 each eye 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. That chanting of his! Perhaps, in truth,
the time for it was 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 those hopes which he had preached 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 an 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 air of superiority which this man assumed did go against the
grain with 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 a college at Cambridge might speak of some sizarship
which had to be disposed of.

Mr. Harding crossed one leg over another, 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 will be 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 £450.
I think on the whole the bishop was right, for though the services
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 as
comfortable as 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 the 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
home; 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 these 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; so it was understood by Mr. Harding. The
colour rose to his cheeks, and he began to feel very angry.

"You must 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 to superintend the doing of work,
and the paying of 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.

"Perhaps," said he, "the bishop will prefer a new man at the
hospital?"

"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 that 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 a part of the hospital, the bishop is desirous that you shall
have morning and evening service on the premises every Sabbath, and
one weekday 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; 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 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 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 to 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 these 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 conditions.

"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 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 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 injustice of their own
sufferings, and which is generally proportioned in its 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 exaltation, at least with satisfaction, had that been all.
But the venom of the chaplain's harangue had worked into his blood,
and sapped the life of his sweet contentment.

"New men are carrying out new measures and are carting 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
era 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 everything 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 new
measures, long credit and few scruples, great success or wonderful
ruin, such are now the tastes of Englishmen who know how to live.
Alas, alas! Under such 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 resource 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 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 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 could 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, to-night: 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 I have
done wrong."

"Nothing wrong at all, my dear," said he gently, very gently
rejecting his daughter's caress. "There can be nothing wrong in your
wishing to make yourself useful; indeed, you ought to do so by all
means. Everyone 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 never have 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 gentlemanlike 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 bad teaching an old dog 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 sympathize 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 fraternize 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 dinnertime, 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 combating the Proudie faction, of
supporting the old church interest of the close, of keeping in her
own set such 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 everyone 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 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 learned that her sister Eleanor had promised to
assist Mr. Slope in the affairs of the hospital school, and it was on
this point that her attention first 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 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 also 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 so widely open to everything around him
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 amended his error, but it was not till after the
interview between him and Mr. Harding.



CHAPTER XIV

The New Champion


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 he 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 humour."

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

"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 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
to 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 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 be 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 Bishop Proudie
would be forced to institute into a living immediately under his own
nose the enemy of his favourite chaplain.

All through 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 Mr. 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 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 it is your duty to do. You know 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 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 wicked 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 the 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 discussions on
the future wars of Arabin and Slope. The frogs and 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 at 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
goodwill of the bishop in his favour, and during the discussion on
the matter it was not 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 his 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 the daughter if he
did all in his power to forward the 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 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 the 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 Italianized charmer had been
thoroughly successful in imposing upon his thoughts. We will not
talk about 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 his abandoning all further special friendship 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 a 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. But 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 heart-felt
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 notables, then yawning, then turning over a book or two,
and evidently at a loss how to kill his 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 one
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 his sister.

"_Cela dépend_," 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 mean 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 all ready 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 maidservant 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 all 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 do 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 her 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 this Mrs. Bold.
She's a widow with lots of tin, a fine baby, a beautiful complexion,
and the George and Dragon hotel up in the High Street. By Jove,
Lotte, if I marry her, I'll keep the public-house myself--it's just
the life to suit 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 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 been 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's 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!" exclaimed her sister.

"And oh, Charlotte!" said the other.

"You don't mean to say that no man can love a woman unless he be 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 to be realized? Are not promises all but made of delightful
horrors, in lieu of which the writer produces nothing but most
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 that picture before which was hung Mrs.
Ratcliffe'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, an 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 third volume if you please--learn from the last 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 complete 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 this 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, 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, 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 eye 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 but 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 recognized her 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 readjust her cap, muttering some unnecessary apology about
her baby. And while she is 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 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 an 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 the 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
ruse 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 reassume 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 that 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 my lord'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'm sure of that, Mr. Slope; I am quite sure of that;" said the
bishop, mollified: "and you really think that Mr. Harding should have
the hospital?"

"Upon my word, I'm 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 the 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 step 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 apologize 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
apologized 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 big naughty boy," said she to the child, "and we must
send 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 this
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 go
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 that 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 that
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 long 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 hear 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 that 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 the 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 no choice but to look for someone
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 which 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 these
things now. One thing is clear: we must do what we can to annul
this rash offer the bishop has 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 she 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 in 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 that 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;
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 so charitable to all men, who seldom spoke ill of anyone,
had warned her 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, 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 to 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 sympathize 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 to think 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. May 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 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 ever 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 allies, 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.
Assisted by Mr. Slope what might he not do? He walked up and down his
little study, almost thinking that the time might 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 revolved 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 an hour? Dr. Grantly's proposed visit
would have reference to the reappointment of Mr. Harding to the
wardenship of Barchester Hospital. The bishop having read his 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 however 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 saving that
he would see him, and naming an hour for doing so. Having watched
from his study-window that the messenger got safely off from the
premises with this dispatch, 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 the Quiverfuls
without informing Mrs. Proudie, and he resolved at last to brave the
lioness in her 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 to have 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 immersed 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 the victory his own forever.
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 forever 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 totted 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 first smell of gunpowder expect faith in any ally? Thou
thyself hast sought the battle-field: 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
too as thou well knowest: a battle of words with 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 his 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
that 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 wouldest 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 still
sat with her fixed pencil, and the figures of her sum still enduring
on the tablets of her memory. "£4 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 else as good to the
Quiverfuls--"

"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 downstairs, 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've 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 all the
currant 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 judgement 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. Anyone 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
to 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 of your conduct."

Mr. Slope opened wide his huge protruding eyes and stared out of them
with a look of well-feigned surprise. "Why, Mrs. Proudie," said he,
"I did but fetch her something to eat when she said 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, Mr. 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 on 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 on 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 touching 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 were to 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 gentlest 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 last 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 a calumny on Mrs. Proudie to suggest that she was sitting
in her bedroom 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 keyhole, or to
listen at a chink, was a trick for a housemaid. Mrs. Proudie knew
this, and therefore 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 drunk of it, to sweep 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 to 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 anyone 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
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 to be
called on to lower myself in the world's esteem and 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 well knew 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 his doing so.

"I was talking for a full hour yesterday to Mr. Slope," said she with
some little assumption of dignity, "and I did not find myself 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 that 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 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 wishes 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;" so saying, she walked slowly 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 urge 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 the
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 that 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. In 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 make 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 its
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 _tartuffe_! 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 upon 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 he made no mention whatsoever.
It was then settled that Mr. Harding should go out 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 heard that Mary had left me for a few weeks, and
she had learnt from someone 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 either side for them to look at; 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 £3,000 a year, and yet
they had among them no other provision than their mother's fortune
of £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 the 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 to-morrow'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 his 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 downstairs 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 armchair. 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 postmark. 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 else 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 £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 of the custom of his youth. But his daughter,
though she had 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 extremest 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."

"Has he any plan for following up his profession?"

"Oh, he'll do that too; but that must follow. He's thinking of
getting married."

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 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 he 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 £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 £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 £150."

"And what became of the £550?"

"Why, sir, the commission was £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 have the paving-stones?" said Bertie to
his sister.

"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, 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 £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 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 not
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 criticisms on him
in this respect, and felt no annoyance of any kind, when she found
herself seated between Bertie and Charlotte Stanhope. She had no
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 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 all 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 armchair, 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 rule 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 women 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 a 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 to be 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 _tête-à-tête_ 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
of course was 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 here 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 almost immediately, is he not?" asked
Bertie.

Eleanor made no immediate reply. Many such a question passes
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 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 upon 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," she said, "is hardly inclined to trust him; they all say he
is so arrogant to the old clergymen 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 to the top of the hill and then returned through the
fields by a foot-path 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 again 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 did
not come in and see her. Come, Bertie, take Mrs. Bold's bonnet from
her."

They went upstairs 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 inarticulated 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 scurried about the room hither and thither,
doing, or pretending to do many things; then, saying something about
seeing her mother, ran upstairs. Eleanor was thus left alone with
Bertie, and she hardly felt an 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 by with the assistance
of the now jealous Slope, she thought that 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 Rev. 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. He
is worthy of a new volume, and as he will fill a conspicuous place
in it, 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 valuable 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 divine. Let biographers, novelists, and the rest of us
groan 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 been already 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 the 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 auditors 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 in 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 in supporters who
would otherwise have been inattentive to the matter, and teaches
men to think upon religion. How great an amount of good of this
description has followed that movement in 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 éclat. 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 firsts 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 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 awhile that
he might meditate in complete peace on the step which appeared to 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. Everything 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; he could easily have thrown away
all his livelihood; but it cost him much to get over the idea that by
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 eagerly 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 of the spot which he had selected. But Providence was
good to him; there, in that all but desolate place, on the storm-beat
shore of that distant sea, he met one who gradually calmed 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 their 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 the 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 very young men, he 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 anyone who looked on the two things
as incompatible. When he found that Mr. Arabin was a half Roman, he
began to regret all he had 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 that 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 anticipated by the
Church and of the sacrilege daily 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 pleasant to look upon. The
cheek-bones were rather too high for beauty, and the formation of the
forehead too massive and heavy: but the 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 them 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 anyone 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 _façon 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 brazen-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 infrequently 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 in 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 is 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, these
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 it all.

It will be said that no time can have been so fitted for such desires
on his part as this, when he had just possessed himself of a country
parish, 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 themselves to secure to 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 have searched.

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 to be persuaded to
accept a living which would give him an income of some £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 his 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. Alas, 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, just when such a conviction was
too late to be of service to him. He discovered, when such 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 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 in 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 thoughts 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 his 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 bedroom, he
sat there sad, at his open window, repining within himself that he
also had no wife, no bairns, no soft sward of lawn duly mown for him
to lie 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; 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; 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 this 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 made 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 in 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 no guests at the Stanhopes,
and he did not hesitate to accuse her of deceit. Moreover, the fact,
or rather 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 personages of the parish,
joined in. Eleanor also knew them, but she said 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 pleasanter 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 ground of the parish church. Mr. Arabin declared
that he should look on such tenets on the part of his 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 state
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 olden 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 auditors. 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 an
investigation; 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 had not herself 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 upstairs, 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 Mohammedan
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 Mohammedan 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--by 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 of 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 awhile, 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 than men,
demands of us that we should do our work with godlike perfection.
There is nothing god-like about us: we differ from each other with
the acerbity common to man; we triumph over each other with human
frailty; 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 come 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
heavier 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 of power in the strains 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 anti-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; to show up the worst
side of everything 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 begin 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 it 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 apologize for presuming to criticize
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 goodwill 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 has 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 downstairs 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 these 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 vinted, 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 home to the scene
of her 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 will 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 any
man ever hear of a dining-room of such proportions!" 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 the 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 newfangled
method of leaving a 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 protégé 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, and 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 room in 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 having
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 commissioners
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 effectually 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 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 most 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
Geoffrey 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 on 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 neutralize 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 the present century, a brilliant race such as
there are few in England, Mr. Thorne had 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 veins were not 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 now 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 tells 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 forever 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, and 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 depositaries 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 services 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 hear 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 £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
county, 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 a
county hunt! But when the great ruin came; when the noble master of
the Barsetshire 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 occasion of every meet at
Ullathorne, left the covers to their fate, and could not be persuaded
to take his pink coat out of his 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 an 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 Defoe 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 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 ears 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 Norman, 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 a 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 heart 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 her dainty white lace 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
skirts 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, men 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 on the other two sides by a wall about twenty feet
high. This wall 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 adepts in 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.

Both 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
_tête-à-tête_. 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 these, 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 or description of
window is capable of imparting half so much happiness to mankind as
that which had 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 hundredweight of coal,
had been stuck on to the hearth by Mr. Thorne's father. This hearth
had of course been intended for the consumption of wood faggots, 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 glad 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 downstairs 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 regions.

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 sward 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 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 story 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 the 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 either to 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 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 congregation
of St. Mary's at Oxford, and he laughed accordingly at the idea of Mr.
Arabin's modesty.

Thereupon Mr. Arabin commenced to subtilize. 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
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 to be unfair; a comparison might be very
just in its proportions which did not at all assimilate the things
compared. But Mr. Arabin went on subtilizing, 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 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 anew.

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 would 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 of
the parish 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 forth 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 very 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 Clodheve looked to the younguns,
and perhaps sometimes there may be 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 affliction 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 but 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 ten thoughtful days since the power of thought first came
to me, how am I to instruct these greybeards 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 privilege 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
congregations would be too anxious to prevent their young clergymen
from advancing themselves in 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 transgresseth, 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 the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring
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 his 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 well adapted for articulation, and Mr. Arabin having replied
that he had no doubt he should 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 not mind
anybody.

"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
the 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 among 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 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's about; take care he doesn't destroy
your little boy. But"--and she 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 Doctor 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 old 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 that 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 the walk."

"I am under an obligation to them for staying away to-day, 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 hundredweight of guano in it."

"That Bradley never has anything good," said Miss Thorne, 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
her 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 midday August sun too great to deter them.
The archdeacon took his text from the epistle to 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 that 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 goodwill 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 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 Mr. Grantly seemed to
have forgotten her iniquity 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, mothlike, 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 affliction 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 license 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 is unpleasant
to her. Eleanor had no such self-knowledge. She thought in her own
heart that 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 anyone blame my heroine for this? Let him or her rather thank
God for all His goodness--for His mercy endureth forever.

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 Hindu 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 are 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 had
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 his 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 his 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 realized 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 connexion 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 he 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 should be.

The bishop had declared that Mr. Quiverful should be the new warden.
As Mr. Slope went downstairs, 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
necessaries 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, painstaking, 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 to 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 were 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 his 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 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 could 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 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 frowns
of 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 a 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 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 £450 a year out of fine feeling? And
what signifies it whom 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."

Thus, while the outer world was accusing Mr. Quiverful of rapacity
for promotion and of disregard to his honour, the inner world of his
own household was falling foul of him, with equal vehemence, for
his willingness to sacrifice their interests 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 were 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 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 reflexion 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 further, Mr.
Quiverful."

Mr. Quiverful said that of course 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 on 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 in 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 the 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 own 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 right 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 anyone whom he has once
marked with approval. If you would allow me to advise you as a
friend--"

"Indeed, I shall be most 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 the bishop that you decline
to stand in Mr. Harding's way, I think I may promise you--though, by
the by, 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 armchair, 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 fit, 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 again 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 the lioness, the rapacity of the hound, the fury of the tragic
queen, and the deep despair of the 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 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. A low voice "is an excellent thing in
woman."

Such may be laid down as a very 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.

"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 all 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 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 from 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 conduct 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 ominously 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 him 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 else 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 snug rector, really in want of
nothing, but still looking for better preferment, should carry on 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 should 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 has 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 with 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 palatial
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 with which nature
had endowed her. Of this also Mrs. Quiverful was aware. She must
make it known that 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 half a 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
indispensable 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 bedroom; thought it most probable she was subject
to one of these or to some other cause that would make her invisible;
but Mrs. Quiverful could sit down in the waiting-room while inquiry
was being made of Mrs. Proudie's maid.

"Look here, my 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 of his being a married man; if he went at all, he must go
alone. This necessity would have presented no insurmountable bar to
the visit, or have militated much against the pleasure, had he been
able to go without any 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 into 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 that 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 case. 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 so 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 preferment 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 Wrestles and Gets 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 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 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
understand, 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
permanent 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 in 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, now 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 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 d---- you know than the d---- you don't know," is an old
saying, and perhaps a true one; but the bishop had not yet realized
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--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, but sedition had been overtly taught
and preached. The bishop had not yet been twelve months in his 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 re-petticoated, his thraldom
would be complete and forever. 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 hope 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 a
husband and wife when the wife expressed a wish for a _tête-à-tête_
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 that trust
was so woefully ill-placed. "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, as 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
battlefield, 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, have 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 that 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, in 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 were suffering; that he would surely get himself in
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 not stout 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 also 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 so long been 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 temporally 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 a promise of a letter on the next day or the day
after. Thus resolving, she betook herself to her bedroom, but here
she again changed her mind. The air of that sacred enclosure somewhat
restored her courage and gave her more 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 eye 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 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 rules 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 at 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 must 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 now say. Knowing
the extent of your family--"

"Fourteen children, Mrs. Proudie, fourteen of them! And barely
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 streaming 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
an 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 a female angel and a male and a 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 their 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 back to 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 were forthcoming.
Instead of this, 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 did not always
speak of him to her children quite so respectfully as she might have
done. But she did not at all 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 from 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 on. As
she repeated the 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
all 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, 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, so 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 been 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 now 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 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 you 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.

Having finished 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 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 worser. 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 £1000 a year and a beautiful
wife would not at all have hurt the voice of the pulpit charmer, 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 there 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, exaggerated tidings, of the sighs which he poured into
the lady's ears. He knew that he was acting against the recognized
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
mothers' 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 had ever had, in her
early years, at an age when Mr. Slope was thinking of the 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
necktie, clean handkerchief, new gloves, and a _soupçon_ of not
unnecessary scent--called about three o'clock at the doctor's door.
At about this hour the signora was almost always alone 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 anyone 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
her 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; everything
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
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 back 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 beneficent 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 him full in the face, not angrily, nor yet with a smile,
but with an intense and overpowering gaze; 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 be 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 was fooled," said the more manly chaplain. "A man
may love and yet not be a Troilus. All women are not Cressidas."

"No, all women are not Cressidas. The falsehood is not always on the
woman's side. Imogen was true, but how 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 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 that
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 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 palpitation or
appearance of surprise. "And now answer me another question," said
she. "When are you to be married to my dear friend 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?" said he.

"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 eye 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 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 realized the conditions 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 sympathize 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 it 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 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 no 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. But he
could not do it. He could not be again heart free. 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 fruit 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
she jeered at him, ridiculed his love, and insulted the 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
his 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 chance 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
of the board. It was Philidor pitted against a schoolboy.

And so she continued to insult him, and he continued to bear it.

"Sacrifice the world for love!" she said in answer to some renewed
vapid 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 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 première 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 out her hand to him.

He sat himself down in the chair beside her, 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 my mother's step. Our _tête-à-tête_ 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_
at the house of 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 packed, gave in at the carriage window Mr. Slope's epistle.
The archdeacon, who was sitting next to the window, took it and
immediately recognized 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 awhile, "that this should go on
under my roof."

Now here the archdeacon was certainly most unreasonable. Having
invited his sister-in-law to his house, it was a natural consequence
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 asking 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 half the journey
home, and then Dr. Grantly said, "Perhaps Susan had better give it to
her. She can explain to her sister better than either 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 Mr. Slope."

"I suppose," said Dr. Grantly, "you don't wish her to marry the man.
I suppose you'll admit that she would disgrace herself if she did do
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 chooses to do so, I shall certainly not think that she
disgraces 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; 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 hostile 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 his life, and caused him to be tolerant
of a man whose arrogance and vulgarity would, 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 couldn't thou not have asked herself? Was she not the
daughter of thy loins, the child of thy heart, the best beloved
to thee of all humanity? Had she not proved to thee, by years of
closest affection, her truth and goodness and filial obedience? And
yet, knowing and feeling all this, thou couldst endure to go groping
in darkness, hearing her named 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 so to do; 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 should 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
presented 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 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 and 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
recognize 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 his 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 realize the fact that such a
communication 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 up 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, had her dress fastened, and 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
also be 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 any 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 note 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 signally
she 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 should 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 his 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 to 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 anyone."

"Well, dear," said the other, "I cannot but tell you that I do not
think 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
one-sided in 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 as 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 his 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 bedroom. 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 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 his 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 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 of 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 woe-begone 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 the 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 were 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 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
owed it 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 Eleanor should have received such a letter, and have
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 the close of 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 on her 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 this 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 apologize 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 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 her to point it out, painful for 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.

And he, foolish, weak, loving man, would not say one word, though
one word would have cleared up everything. There would have been
a deluge of tears, and in ten minutes everyone in the house would
have understood how matters really were. The father would have been
delighted. The sister would have kissed her sister and begged a
thousand pardons. The archdeacon would have apologized and wondered,
and raised his eyebrows, and gone to bed a happy man. And Mr.
Arabin--Mr. Arabin would have dreamt of Eleanor, have awoke in the
morning with ideas of love, and retired to rest the next evening with
schemes of marriage. But, alas, all this was not to be.

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 appertains 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 such 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 his room, he
almost wished that he had taken his wife's advice.

He began by apologizing for the trouble he was giving her. She begged
him not to mention it, assured him that walking downstairs 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 anyone 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 me back, if you please, Dr. Grantly."

He took it in 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 Eleanor undoubtedly 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 he 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 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. Nothing that you can say can prevent
my being so. 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 to 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. But, Eleanor, I
may at any rate ask you this. Is it worth your 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're
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 have you spoken to Mr. Arabin about me and Mr. Slope?"

"Certainly I have, and he quite agrees with me."

"Agrees 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; indeed, at this conjuncture,
words did not come to her very freely.

"How dare you be so impertinent?" at last she said, and then she
hurried out of the room without giving the archdeacon the opportunity
of uttering another word. It was with difficulty 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 her sister had for days past conceived in sober
earnest the idea that she was going to marry this 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 that 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 reflexion that Mr. Arabin should have in any way mentioned
her name in connexion 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 to breakfast
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 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 by 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 such 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 connexion 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. Susan, I think you had
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. Everyone 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 roused 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 post-chaise, 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 anyone. 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
someone 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 now think of her, in connexion with
himself; but he experienced an inward, indefinable feeling of deep
regret, a gnawing sorrow, an 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 this 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 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 possibly 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 Mr. Slope 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 anyone but him--he had not put
himself forward as a suitor--but that she should marry Mr. Slope; and
so he repeated 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
his 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 everybody 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
everyone, 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, yet unable to
discontinue it.

The greater part of the morning she had spent alone, but after awhile
her father joined her. He had fully made up his mind that, come what
come might, nothing should separate him from his younger 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 every now and then some little soft words of affection
and working hard with his imaginary fiddle-bow, when Mr. Arabin
entered the room. He immediately got up, and the two made some trite
remarks to each other, neither thinking of what he was saying, while
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 to 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 to leave us 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 most 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 out of 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 here," 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," said she,
"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 to 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, 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 awhile 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 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 me as 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 aloud, 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 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 my
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 race-course 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 half 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 the 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 commonplace 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 declaration 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 anyone. 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, and 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 yet he could not lower himself by asking her pardon.
He had done her no wrong. He had not calumniated her, not injured
her, as she had accused him of doing. He could not confess sins of
which he 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 true friendship between us, after what has just passed.
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 well of you 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 yet 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 how
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. Oh, Father of heaven,
how good for us would it be if thou couldest vouchsafe to us a
certain rule."

"And have we not 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 by 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 a sort of joy in knowing it; 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 one
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 rekindled
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 at 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
house. 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, 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 anything 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 meantime 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 in the services of our cathedral.
I suppose the government will appoint, Mr. Archdeacon. I trust 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
exceedingly 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 at
the deanery," said the little prebendary, chuckling inwardly at the
evident consternation which his surmise had created.

"About as pleasant and as probable 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 £1,200," 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 do you say, 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 his 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 not dead?"
"No worse news, Doctor, I trust?" "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 9.15 P.M.
train. If any man can do anything, Sir Omicron Pie 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 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 9.15 P.M. 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 then 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 the prestige
of continual victory should have been torn 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 tantalize 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 he flattered himself that the worst
was over. "_Ce n'est que le premier pas qui coûte_," he reflected, and
now that the 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; 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 locks 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 bedroom, 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 archiepiscopal 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 chaplains
arm, himself called at the deanery door. Mrs. Proudie sent to Miss
Trefoil all manner of offers of assistance. The Misses Proudie 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 down by the 9.15 P.M.
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, or 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 again 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 bigwigs, and with him Mr. Slope had
contrived to establish a sort of epistolary intimacy. He thought
that he might safely apply to Sir Nicholas Fitzwhiggin, 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.

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 that paper who, if not the editor, was as good as the
editor; and he had long been in the habit of writing telling letters
on all manner of ecclesiastical abuses, which he signed 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 worse 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 become vacant.
More than one piece 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 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 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 his 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 sign 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 9.15 P.M. 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 intellects 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 the present rather abashed. He
hardly knew how to frame his little request in language sufficiently
modest. He had recognized 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 anyone 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 I shall succeed. You
see I shall be the first to move, which is a great matter. Then I
can 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 nevertheless it is to you, my lord,
that I look for assistance. 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 awhile dumbfounded. 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. That 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 bedroom instead of his wife's, there might have been
something in it. But--. And thus as Mr. Slope was speaking, the
bishop began to recognize 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 cogitations.

"I need not say," continued Mr. Slope, "that it would be my chief
desire to act in all matters connected with the 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 most desirable that there should
be but one opinion among the dignitaries of 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 could tell his
grace that you consider such an appointment very desirable, that you
have it much at heart with a view to putting an end to 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 that 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 in the bishop promising to do as he was bid. 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
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 he 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," said the bishop, "I can hold out no 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 on his hands. 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 Stanhopes', 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 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 any 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
that 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 else 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 was 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 an
adept at letter writing, they shall be given in full.


   (Private)              Palace, Barchester, Sept. 185--

   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
   old Dr. Trefoil has been seized with apoplexy. It is a
   subject of profound grief to everyone in Barchester, for
   he has always been an excellent man--excellent as a 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 forever be at rest and forever 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 ---- to-morrow 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
   its certainty of falling (for poor dear Dr. Trefoil is
   past hope). Should Lord ---- first hear it from you, that
   might probably be 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. Therefore the epistle to
Mr. Towers was studied, and re-copied, 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:--


   (Private.)           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.)


   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 9 A.M. 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 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 someone 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 here 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 the
   diocese I have exerted myself here 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 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 was intended, 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
   most effective member of the government. But I confess
   that 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.,
   ---- Court,
   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 ---- 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 Pie had prophesied that he
would do, much to the 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 especial 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 a 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 anyone 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 Stanhopes 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 then 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 bite her
lip and stamp her foot as she thought of what he had said and done.
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 a 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 forerunners to admit of
such a pastime. Mr. Thorne did not seem to participate much 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 to its present dimensions. All the Plumstead party
had of course been asked, and 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 apologized, almost with
tears, so dire an enmity was presumed to rage between the two
gentlemen. But Mr. Arabin comforted her 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 servant 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
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 Stanhopes', but as a rule, Mr. Slope's
visits there were 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 by 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, my dear," said she, "but we could not
manage 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 forever, 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'll not
go at all."

"Not go at all!--what nonsense!--indeed you shall." It had been
absolutely determined in family counsel that Bertie should propose on
that very occasion.

"Or I can take a fly," said Eleanor. "You know 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 could 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
out 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 and 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 do 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 by Mr. Arabin
getting out of 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 alloted time by three days,
and was not without much 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, "albeit, unused to the melting mood,"
squeezed him in her 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 so 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 armchair 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. Yes, he said, he had enjoyed himself very
much. 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 is 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 of 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 a
preposterous attempt as this? Mr. Slope Dean of Barchester, indeed!"
And she tossed her head and put her arms akimbo 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
anything so ridiculous? What was it you did say to the archbishop?"

"Why, I just did 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 wise to renew it."

"Renew it! I am very sorry you ever mentioned it. What will the
archbishop think of you?"

"You may be sure, my dear, 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 a bishopric some of these days--a man
that hardly knows who his own 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 so 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 much
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 out. 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 terrific 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 were 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 seemed, as far as their judgement 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 sent himself down for an ass. He had determined
that he was much too old and much too rusty to commence the manoeuvres
of love-making; 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 certainly not 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 she did 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 ran 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 this afternoon among the poor at
St. Ewold's, instead of wandering about at 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 that 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 sad surmises; but the idea
that his enemy might possibly become Dean of Barchester made him very
gloomy. Should such an event 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 then
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 last remained firm in his own conviction
that he was destined, _malgré 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 to observe how these men talked of Mr. Harding as though
he were a puppet, and planned their intrigues and small ecclesiastical
manoeuvres in reference to Mr. Harding's future position 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 to the
feelings of the archdeacon. That which of all things he most dreaded
was that he should be outgeneralled 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
conqueror in the final conflict.

Dr. Gwynne 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 _dénouements_ 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
lie 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 on 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 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 so 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 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 it as a
freshman. There was also, perhaps, a little redolence of port wine, as
it were the slightest possible twang, in Mr. Staple's voice.

In these latter days Tom Staple was not a 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,
commonplace opposition. To him it was life and death. The _status
quo_ of the university was his only idea of life, and any reformation
was as bad to him as 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 £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, 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 on their alma
mater, they come through scatheless. What merit will there be to a
young man to get through safely, if he be guarded and protected and
restrained like a schoolboy? 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 our share and
never shall, I suppose, but we must at least have one out of three."

"Those sort of rules are all gone 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 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 Tom
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 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 does 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 Fête Champêtre


The day of the Ullathorne party arrived, and all the world were
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 carriage full of
apprehension and presentiment of further misfortune, whereas Mr.
Slope entered the vehicle elate with triumph.

He had received that morning a very civil note from Sir Nicholas
Fitzwhiggin, 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 triumphs,
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 the gala 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. Plomacy 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,
he always took the management into his own hands and reigned supreme
over master and mistress.

To give Mr. Plomacy 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 was, one may say, on an egregious scale--but Mr. Plomacy
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, riveted with the best Yorkshire steel, she must have sunk
under them. Had not Mr. Plomacy 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 canvas.

In the first place there was a dreadful line to be drawn. Who were
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-like 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. Greenacre. And yet Mrs. Lookaloft
is no 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 her guests between the marquee and the
parlour? She had a countess coming, an Honourable John and an
Honourable George, and a whole bevy of Ladies Amelia, Rosina,
Margaretta, &c; she had a leash of baronets with their baronettes;
and, as we all know, she had 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. Plomacy 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. Clantantram."

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. Clantantram. 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 neck-handkerchiefs, 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 fond 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. Plomacy. "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. Plomacy. 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
all the ancient honours of Ullathorne house; it was very doubtful
whether even he would consent to "go at the quintain," as Mr. Plomacy
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 _déshabilles_. 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 get
on a side-saddle and have a tilt at it herself. What must a young man
be, thought she, who could prefer maundering among laurel 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 to 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 also
were missing, for every egg in the parish had been whipped into
custards, baked into pies, or boiled into lobster salad. The allowance
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 eyes; 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 Normans,
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 an Earl De Courcy, should
ride at a quintain in company with Saxon yeomen? 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 recognized 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 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 at 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 be 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 sample 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 aloof, but the rest of the youth
of Ullathorne would be 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 as 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 unauthorised
claimant for a place, of whom it was impossible to get quit without
more commotion than the place and food were worth.



CHAPTER XXXVI

Ullathorne Sports--Act I


The trouble in civilized 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 could be understood. A
sense of justice would induce men and women to undergo, in behalf of
others, those miseries which others had undergone in 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 neighbour, "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 _déjeuner_ at twelve 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 specially 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 was 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 courtyard 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 roque-laure. It's clean spoilt,
and forever. I wouldn't but wear it because I knew 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 roque-laure 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 county grandees, while Mrs.
Greenacre 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 as 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
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 hisself."

"Dear me," said Miss Thorne. "If he is so ill, I'm 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. 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
he 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 women
are entitled to make in their passage through the world, the Proudies
drove up. It was soon apparent that no everyday 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 cortège 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.
Brown, 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 you know 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 or fête champêtre,
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
induce her more fashionable guests to mix with them in their manly
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 Harry, 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 thither from
the farmyard.

"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 his 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 rider and steed and staff.
Young Greenacre was thrown some six feet over the horse's head, and
poor Miss Thorne almost fell off 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 anyone to ride at a 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 a Mr. Slope. He had been about to give his sanction
to the marriage, so certified had he been of the fact, and now he
learnt that this imputed lover of Eleanor's was at any rate 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 do 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 a somewhat less cordial welcome than that conceded by his sister.
Mr. Thorne had heard perhaps more of the antecedents of his guest
than his sister had done, and had not as yet undergone the power of
the signora's charms.

But while the mother of the last of the Neros was thus in her full
splendour, with crowds of people gazing at her and the élite 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 grandees, and with
them, alas, went many of the signora's admirers.

"Oh, Mr. Thorne," said the countess, while in the act of being
disrobed of her fur cloaks and rerobed in her gauze shawls, "what
dreadful roads you have; perfectly frightful."

It happened that Mr. Thorne was waywarden 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, my dear
Miss Thorne, we left Courcy Castle just at eleven; it was only just
past eleven, was it not, George? And--"

"Just past one I think you mean," said the Honourable George, 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 George. "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 George 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.

"George may say what he likes," continued the countess, urging her
excuses to 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 some time 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 countercharge 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. A man in the wrong knows
that he must look to his weapons; 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 a 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 Courcy's were hereditarily shortsighted, 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 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. "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 Thornes 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 Eskimos 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 by 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.

"Oh-h-h-h!" exclaimed 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 Lady De Courcy.

"She has only one leg," replied Mrs. Proudie.

"Only one leg!" said 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 some what
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 now knew how to behave herself. But she does not.
She is the most insolent creature I ever put my eyes on."

"Indeed she is," said Lady De Courcy.

"And her conduct with men is so 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
require 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 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 she 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 get 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 the 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 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 sympathize with her? Mr. Thorne did promise to sympathize;
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 reputations 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 judgement; 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 the best age is from forty-five to seventy; up to that, men
are generally given to mere flirting.

At the present moment Mr. Thorne, _ætat_. 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; 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 recultivate his friendship with Eleanor, and in his
present frame of mind any such recultivation 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 tea-pot, 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, lovable, 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
armchair, 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 her
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 anyone else to
whom they might both be mutually obliged without any concert between
themselves. This sight in his present state of mind was quite enough
to upset him and his resolves. It was clear as noon-day. 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 came 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 here 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 her to anyone else, nor was he well-pleased to hear anyone 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.

He had not been there long when the signora was brought in. For some
time he kept himself out of temptation, and merely hovered round her
at a distance; but as soon as Mr. Thorne had left her, he yielded
himself up to the basilisk and allowed himself to be made prey of.

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 women
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; 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
a 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 reflexions 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 Eastern idler
swallows his dose of opium, as the London reprobate swallows his
dose of gin, so with similar desires and for similar reasons did Mr.
Arabin prepare to swallow the charms of the Signora Neroni.

"Why an't you shooting with bows and arrows, Mr. Arabin?" said she,
when they were nearly alone together in the drawing-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 was 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 at 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 looked 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, perhaps 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 wrapt as you now are, cutting imaginary silken
cords with their fine edges, while those not so highly tempered sever
the everyday 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 outdistance you?" said she.
"Is 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, 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 another 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 someone,
and what is good for a layman surely cannot 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, 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 were 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 gratified 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, 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 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 of St. Ewold's."

"One that would well 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 could 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 necessary that Mr. Arabin
should 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 worlds 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 that 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
whom 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 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, having bowed to Mr. Slope, began eating his food without
saying a word further. He was full of thought, 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.

Madeline 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 so done.
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 eye 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 _malgré lui_, even when
truth must have been so 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 for it,
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 Thornes. She felt that she never could 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 his 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 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 twirled 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 its vicinity.

Of course it was reported all through 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 anathematized 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. Greenacre, whom
this information, joined to the recent peril undergone by her son,
almost overpowered. Mr. Greenacre 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 no
taste herself for the sort of finery which had 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 homestead 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 times." 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 recognized 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 recognized. 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 those 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 entertainment which they received from the bishop's
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 there 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. Guffern. "I didn't zet 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 none 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 'em 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 goodman, 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;'" and Mrs.
Guffern laughed loudly as she thought of Mrs. Lookaloft'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
as to say, 'and who dare say no to us?' and Gregory was thinking of
telling of 'em 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 at 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 to 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 this place better, 'cause I be more at
home-like, and don't have to pay for them fine clothes for the missus.
Everyone 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 with 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. Hollo 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?"

"Plasterer, please your worship."

"I'll plaster you, and Barrell too; you'll just walk out of this 'ere
field as quick as you walked in. We don't want no plasterers; when we
do, we'll send for 'em. Come my buck, walk."

Stubbs the plasterer was much downcast at this dreadful edict. He
was a sprightly fellow, and had contrived since his ingress 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 his 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 armchair 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 that he was respected and yet at his ease;
'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 did 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. Plasterer! I'll plaster 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
on 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 of 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 Madame Thorne in her great
liberality had set before them!

All this time the quality in the tent on the lawn were getting on
swimmingly--that is, if champagne without restriction can enable
quality folk 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 then 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--that was, to express a wish--an opinion, he
meant to say--And so Mr. Thorne became somewhat gravelled, as country
gentlemen 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 on his legs, but much greater difficulty was
soon experienced 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 banquets passed off at the various tables with great éclat
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 knew how to use. "I have come out to look
for a friend. I must beg of you, Mr. Slope, to go back."

But Mr. Slope would not be thus entreated. He had observed all day
that Mrs. Bold was not cordial to him, and this had to a certain
extent oppressed him. But he did not deduce from this any assurance
that his aspirations were in vain. He saw that she was angry with
him. Might she not be so because he had so long tampered with her
feelings--might it not arise from his having, as he knew was the
case, caused her name to be bruited about in conjunction with his own
without having given her the opportunity of confessing to the world
that henceforth their names were to be one and the same? Poor lady.
He had within him a certain Christian conscience-stricken feeling
of remorse on this head. It might be that he had wronged her by his
tardiness. He had, however, at the present moment imbibed too much
of Mr. Thorne's champagne to have any inward misgivings. He was right
in repeating the boast of Lady Macbeth: he was not drunk, but he was
bold enough for anything. It was a pity that in such a state he could
not have encountered Mrs. Proudie.

"You must permit me to attend you," said he; "I could not think of
allowing you to go alone."

"Indeed you must, Mr. Slope," said Eleanor still very stiffly, "for
it is my special wish to be alone."

The time for letting the great secret escape him had already come.
Mr. Slope saw that it must be now or never, and he was determined
that it should be now. This was not his first attempt at winning a
fair lady. He had been on his knees, looked unutterable things with
his eyes, and whispered honeyed words before this. Indeed, he was
somewhat an adept at these things, and had only to adapt to the
perhaps different taste of Mrs. Bold the well-remembered rhapsodies
which had once so much gratified Olivia Proudie.

"Do not ask me to leave you, Mrs. Bold," said he with an impassioned
look, impassioned and sanctified as well, with that sort of look
which is not uncommon with gentlemen of Mr. Slope's school and which
may perhaps be called the tender-pious. "Do not ask me to leave you
till I have spoken a few words with which my heart is full--which I
have come hither purposely to say."

Eleanor saw how it was now. She knew directly what it was she was
about to go through, and very miserable the knowledge made her. Of
course she could refuse Mr. Slope, and there would be an end of
that, one might say. But there would not be an end of it, as far as
Eleanor was concerned. The very fact of Mr. Slope's making an offer
to her would be a triumph to the archdeacon and, in a great measure,
a vindication of Mr. Arabin's conduct. The widow could not bring
herself to endure with patience the idea that she had been in the
wrong. She had defended Mr. Slope, she had declared herself quite
justified in admitting him among her acquaintance, had ridiculed the
idea of his considering himself as more than an acquaintance, and had
resented the archdeacon's caution in her behalf: now it was about
to be proved to her in a manner sufficiently disagreeable that the
archdeacon had been right, and she herself had been entirely wrong.

"I don't know what you can have to say to me, Mr. Slope, that you
could not have said when we were sitting at table just now;" and she
closed her lips, and steadied her eyeballs, and looked at him in a
manner that ought to have frozen him.

But gentlemen are not easily frozen when they are full of champagne,
and it would not at any time have been easy to freeze Mr. Slope.

"There are things, Mrs. Bold, which a man cannot well say before a
crowd; which perhaps he cannot well say at any time; which indeed he
may most fervently desire to get spoken, and which he may yet find
it almost impossible to utter. It is such things as these that I now
wish to say to you;" and then the tender-pious look was repeated,
with a little more emphasis even than before.

Eleanor had not found it practicable to stand stock still before the
dining-room window, there receive his offer in full view of Miss
Thorne's guests. She had therefore in self-defence walked on, and
thus Mr. Slope had gained his object of walking with her. He now
offered her his arm.

"Thank you, Mr. Slope, I am much obliged to you; but for the very
short time that I shall remain with you I shall prefer walking
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 rate no necessity for us to quarrel."

Mrs. Bold was certainly treating Mr. Slope rather cavalierly, and he
felt it so. She was rejecting him before he had offered himself, and
informing him at the same time that he was taking a great deal too
much on himself to be so familiar. She did not even make an attempt


   From such a sharp and waspish word as "no"
   To pluck the sting.


He was still determined to be very tender and very pious, seeing that,
in spite of all Mrs. Bold had said to him, he had not yet abandoned
hope; but he was inclined also to be somewhat angry. The widow was
bearing herself, as he thought, with too high a hand, was speaking of
herself in much too imperious a tone. She had clearly no idea that an
honour was being conferred on her. Mr. Slope would be tender as long
as he could, but he began to think if that failed it would not be
amiss if he also mounted himself for awhile on his high horse. Mr.
Slope could undoubtedly be very tender, but he could be very savage
also, and he knew his own abilities.

"That is cruel," said he, "and unchristian, too. The worst of us are
still bidden to hope. What have I done that you should pass on me so
severe a sentence?" And then he paused a moment, during which the
widow walked steadily on with measured steps, saying nothing further.

"Beautiful woman," at last he burst forth, "beautiful woman, you
cannot pretend to be ignorant that I adore you. Yes, Eleanor, yes, I
love you. I love you with the truest affection which man can bear to
woman. Next to my hopes of heaven are my hopes of possessing you."
(Mr. Slope's memory here played him false, or he would not have
omitted the deanery.) "How sweet to walk to heaven with you by my
side, with you for my guide, mutual guides. Say, Eleanor, dearest
Eleanor, shall we walk that sweet path together?"

Eleanor had no intention of ever walking together with Mr. Slope on
any other path than that special one of Miss Thorne's which they now
occupied, but as she had been unable to prevent the expression of Mr.
Slope's wishes and aspirations, she resolved to hear him out to the
end before she answered him.

"Ah, Eleanor," he continued, and it seemed to be his idea that as he
had once found courage to pronounce her Christian name, he could not
utter it often enough. "Ah, Eleanor, will it not be sweet, with the
Lord's assistance, to travel hand in hand through this mortal valley
which His mercies will make pleasant to us, till hereafter we shall
dwell together at the foot of His throne?" And then a more tenderly
pious glance than ever beamed from the lover's eyes. "Ah, Eleanor--"

"My name, Mr. Slope, is Mrs. Bold," said Eleanor, who, though
determined to hear out the tale of his love, was too much disgusted
by his blasphemy to be able to bear much more of it.

"Sweetest angel, be not so cold," said he, and as he said it the
champagne broke forth, and he contrived to pass his arm round her
waist. He did this with considerable cleverness, for up to this point
Eleanor had contrived with tolerable success to keep her distance from
him. They had got into a walk nearly enveloped by shrubs, and Mr.
Slope therefore no doubt considered that as they were now alone it was
fitting that he should give her some outward demonstration of that
affection of which he talked so much. It may perhaps be presumed that
the same stamp of measures had been found to succeed with Olivia
Proudie. Be this as it may, it was not successful with Eleanor Bold.

She sprang from him as she would have jumped from an adder, but she
did not spring far--not, indeed, beyond arm's length--and then, quick
as thought, she raised her little hand and dealt him a box on the
ear with such right goodwill that it sounded among the trees like a
miniature thunderclap.

And now it is to be feared that every well-bred reader of these pages
will lay down the book with disgust, feeling that, after all, the
heroine is unworthy of sympathy. She is a hoyden, one will say. At any
rate she is not a lady, another will exclaim. I have suspected her all
through, a third will declare; she has no idea of the dignity of a
matron, or of the peculiar propriety which her position demands. At
one moment she is romping with young Stanhope; then she is making eyes
at Mr. Arabin; anon she comes to fisticuffs with a third lover--and
all before she is yet a widow of two years' standing.

She cannot altogether be defended, and yet it may be averred that she
is not a hoyden, not given to romping nor prone to boxing. It were to
be wished devoutly that she had not struck Mr. Slope in the face. In
doing so she derogated from her dignity and committed herself. Had she
been educated in Belgravia, had she been brought up by any sterner
mentor than that fond father, had she lived longer under the rule of a
husband, she might, perhaps, have saved herself from this great fault.
As it was, the provocation was too much for her, the temptation to
instant resentment of the insult too strong. She was too keen in the
feeling of independence, a feeling dangerous for a young woman, but
one in which her position peculiarly tempted her to indulge. And then
Mr. Slope's face, tinted with a deeper dye than usual by the wine he
had drunk, simpering and puckering itself with pseudo-pity and tender
grimaces, seemed specially to call for such punishment. She had, too,
a true instinct as to the man; he was capable of rebuke in this way
and in no other. To him the blow from her little hand was as much
an insult as a blow from a man would have been to another. It went
directly to his pride. He conceived himself lowered in his dignity and
personally outraged. He could almost have struck at her again in his
rage. Even the pain was a great annoyance to him, and the feeling that
his clerical character had been wholly disregarded sorely vexed him.

There are such men: men who can endure no taint on their personal
self-respect, even from a woman; men whose bodies are to themselves
such sacred temples that a joke against them is desecration, and
a rough touch downright sacrilege. Mr. Slope was such a man, and
therefore the slap on the face that he got from Eleanor was, as
far as he was concerned, the fittest rebuke which could have been
administered to him.

But nevertheless, she should not have raised her hand against the
man. Ladies' hands, so soft, so sweet, so delicious to the touch, so
graceful to the eye, so gracious in their gentle doings, were not made
to belabour men's faces. The moment the deed was done Eleanor felt
that she had sinned against all propriety, and would have given little
worlds to recall the blow. In her first agony of sorrow she all but
begged the man's pardon. Her next impulse, however, and the one which
she obeyed, was to run away.

"I never, never will speak another word to you," she said, gasping
with emotion and the loss of breath which her exertion and violent
feelings occasioned her, and so saying she put foot to the ground and
ran quickly back along the path to the house.

But how shall I sing the divine wrath of Mr. Slope, or how invoke the
tragic muse to describe the rage which swelled the celestial bosom
of the bishop's chaplain? Such an undertaking by no means befits the
low-heeled buskin of modern fiction. The painter put a veil over
Agamemnon's face when called on to depict the father's grief at the
early doom of his devoted daughter. The god, when he resolved to
punish the rebellious winds, abstained from mouthing empty threats.
We will not attempt to tell with what mighty surgings of the inner
heart Mr. Slope swore to revenge himself on the woman who had
disgraced him, nor will we vainly strive to depict his deep agony of
soul.

There he is, however, alone in the garden walk, and we must contrive
to bring him out of it. He was not willing to come forth quite at
once. His cheek was stinging with the weight of Eleanor's fingers,
and he fancied that everyone who looked at him would be able to
see on his face the traces of what he had endured. He stood awhile,
becoming redder and redder with rage. He stood motionless, undecided,
glaring with his eyes, thinking of the pains and penalties of Hades,
and meditating how he might best devote his enemy to the infernal
gods with all the passion of his accustomed eloquence. He longed in
his heart to be preaching at her. 'Twas thus that he was ordinarily
avenged of sinning mortal men and women. Could he at once have
ascended his Sunday rostrum and fulminated at her such denunciations
as his spirit delighted in, his bosom would have been 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 shake it off, to
rise up in his stirrup, to mount to high places and great power, that
he might get up into a mighty pulpit and preach to the world a loud
sermon against Mrs. Bold.

There he stood fixed to the gravel for about ten minutes. Fortune
favoured him so far that no prying eyes came to look upon him in his
misery. Then a shudder passed over his whole frame; he collected
himself and slowly wound his way round to the lawn, advancing along
the path and not returning in the direction which Eleanor had taken.
When he reached the tent, he found the bishop standing there in
conversation with the Master of Lazarus. His lordship had come out
to air himself after the exertion of his speech.

"This is very pleasant--very pleasant, my lord, is it not?" said
Mr. Slope with his most gracious smile, pointing to the tent; "very
pleasant. It is delightful to see so many persons enjoying themselves
so thoroughly."

Mr. Slope thought he might force the bishop to introduce him to Dr.
Gwynne. A very great example had declared and practised the wisdom of
being everything to everybody, and Mr. Slope was desirous of following
it. His maxim was never to lose a chance. The bishop, however, at the
present moment was not very anxious to increase Mr. Slope's circle
of acquaintance among his clerical brethren. He had his own reasons
for dropping any marked allusion to his domestic chaplain, and he
therefore made his shoulder rather cold for the 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 all-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 an interruption came, not altogether unwelcome to Mr.
Slope. One of the bishop's servants came up to his master's shoulder
with a long, grave face and whispered into the bishop's ear.

"What is it, John?" said the bishop.

"The dean, my lord; he is dead."

Mr. Slope had no further desire to converse with the Master of
Lazarus, and was very soon on his road back to Barchester.

Eleanor, as we have said, having declared her intention of never
holding further communication with Mr. Slope, ran hurriedly back
towards the house. The thought, however, of what she had done grieved
her greatly, and she could not abstain from bursting into tears.
'Twas thus she played the second act in that day's melodrama.



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
anyone told her a week ago that he would have put his arm round her
waist at this party of Miss Thorne's, she would have been utterly
incredulous. Had she been informed that he would be seen on the
following Sunday walking down the High Street in a scarlet coat
and top boots, she would not have thought such a phenomenon more
improbable.

But this improbable iniquity he had committed, and now there was
nothing she could not believe of him. In the first place it was quite
manifest that he was tipsy; in the next place it was to be taken as
proved that all his religion was sheer hypocrisy; and finally the man
was utterly shameless. She therefore stood watching for the sound of
his footfall, not without some fear that he might creep out at her
suddenly from among the bushes.

As she thus stood she saw Charlotte Stanhope at a little distance
from her, walking quickly across the grass. Eleanor's handkerchief
was in her hand, and putting it to her face so as to conceal her
tears, she ran across the lawn and joined her friend.

"Oh, Charlotte," she said, almost too much out of breath to speak
very plainly; "I am so glad I have found you."

"Glad you have found me!" said Charlotte, laughing; "that's a good
joke. Why Bertie and I have been looking for you everywhere. He swears
that you have gone off with Mr. Slope, and is now on the point of
hanging himself."

"Oh, Charlotte, don't," said Mrs. Bold.

"Why, my child, what on earth is the matter with you?" said Miss
Stanhope, perceiving that Eleanor's hand trembled on her own arm,
and finding also that her companion was still half-choked by tears.
"Goodness heaven! Something has distressed you. What is it? What
can I do for you?"

Eleanor answered her only by a sort of spasmodic gurgle in her throat.
She was a good deal upset, as people say, and could not at the moment
collect herself.

"Come here, this way, Mrs. Bold; come this way, and we shall not be
seen. What has happened to vex you so? What can I do for you? Can
Bertie do anything?"

"Oh, no, no, no, no," said Eleanor. "There is nothing to be done. Only
that horrid man--"

"What horrid man?" asked Charlotte.

There are some moments in life in which both men and women feel
themselves imperatively called on to make a confidence, in which not
to do so requires a disagreeable resolution and also a disagreeable
suspicion. There are people of both sexes who never make confidences,
who are never tempted by momentary circumstances to disclose their
secrets, but such are generally dull, close, unimpassioned spirits,
"gloomy gnomes, who live in cold dark mines." There was nothing of
the gnome about Eleanor, and she therefore resolved to tell Charlotte
Stanhope the whole story about Mr. Slope.

"That horrid man; that Mr. Slope," said she. "Did you not see that he
followed me out of the dining-room?"

"Of course I did, and was sorry enough, but I could not help it.
I knew you would be annoyed. But you and Bertie managed it badly
between you."

"It was not his fault nor mine either. You know how I disliked the
idea of coming in the carriage with that man."

"I am sure I am very sorry if that has led to it."

"I don't know what has led to it," said Eleanor, almost crying again.
"But it has not been my fault."

"But what has he done, my dear?"

"He's an abominable, horrid, hypocritical man, and it would serve him
right to tell the bishop all about it."

"Believe me, if you want to do him an injury, you had far better tell
Mrs. Proudie. But what did he do, Mrs. Bold?"

"Ugh!" exclaimed Eleanor.

"Well, I must confess he's not very nice," said Charlotte Stanhope.

"Nice!" said Eleanor. "He is the most fulsome, fawning, abominable
man I ever saw. What business had he to come to me?--I that never
gave him the slightest tittle of encouragement--I that always hated
him, though I did take his part when others ran him down."

"That's just where it is, my dear. He has heard that and therefore
fancied that of course you were in love with him."

This was wormwood to Eleanor. It was in fact the very thing which
all her friends had been saying for the last month past--and which
experience now proved to be true. Eleanor resolved within herself
that she would never again take any man's part. The world, with all
its villainy and all its ill-nature, might wag as it liked: she would
not again attempt to set crooked things straight.

"But what did he do, my dear?" said Charlotte, who was really rather
interested in the subject.

"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 easily 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 to
the tragedy. It was delightful to her to think that Mr. Slope had
had his ears boxed. She did not quite appreciate the feeling which
made her friend so unhappy at the result of the interview. To her
thinking the matter had ended happily enough as regarded the widow,
who indeed was entitled to some sort of triumph among her friends.
Whereas to Mr. Slope would be due all those gibes and jeers which
would naturally follow such an affair. His friends would ask him
whether his ears tingled whenever he saw a widow, and he would be
cautioned that beautiful things were made to be looked at and not to
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 anyone else when he heard to what insult Mrs. Bold
had been subjected.

"But you won't tell him?" said Mrs. Bold with a look of horror.

"Not if you don't like it," said Charlotte; "but considering
everything, I would strongly advise it. If, you had a brother, you
know, it would be unnecessary. But it is very right that Mr. Slope
should know that you have somebody by you that will and can protect
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 connexion--into such close connexion that they
could not fail to throw themselves into each other's arms? Such was
the game which Miss Stanhope now at a moment's notice resolved to
play.

And very well she played it. In the first place it was arranged that
Mr. Slope should not return in the Stanhopes' carriage to Barchester.
It so happened that Mr. Slope was already gone, but of that of course
they knew nothing. The signora should be induced to go first, with
only the servants and her sister, and Bertie should take Mr. Slope's
place in the second journey. Bertie was to be told in confidence of
the whole affair, and when the carriage was gone off with its first
load, Eleanor was to be left under Bertie's special protection, so as
to insure her from any further aggression from Mr. Slope. While the
carriage was getting ready, Bertie was to seek out that gentleman
and make him understand that he must provide himself with another
conveyance back to Barchester. Their immediate object should be to
walk about together in search of Bertie. Bertie in short was to be
the Pegasus on whose wings they were to ride out of their present
dilemma.

There was a warmth of friendship and cordial kindliness in all this
that was very soothing to the widow; but yet, though she gave way
to it, she was hardly reconciled to doing so. It never occurred to
her that, now that she had killed one dragon, another was about to
spring up in her path; she had no remote idea that she would have to
encounter another suitor in her proposed protector, but she hardly
liked the thought of putting herself so much into the hands of young
Stanhope. She felt that if she wanted protection, she should go to
her father. She felt that she should ask him to provide a carriage
for her back to Barchester. Mrs. Clantantram she knew would give her
a seat. She knew that she should not throw herself entirely upon
friends whose friendship dated, as it were, but from yesterday. But
yet she could not say no to one who was so sisterly in her kindness,
so eager in her good nature, so comfortably sympathetic as Charlotte
Stanhope. And thus she gave way to all the propositions made to her.

They first went into the dining-room, looking for their champion, and
from thence to the drawing-room. Here they found Mr. Arabin, still
hanging over the signora's sofa; or rather they found him sitting near
her head, as a physician might have sat had the lady been his patient.
There was no other person in the room. The guests were some in the
tent, some few still in the dining room, some at the bows and arrows,
but most of them walking with Miss Thorne through the park and looking
at the games that were going on.

All that had passed, and was passing between Mr. Arabin and the lady,
it is unnecessary to give in detail. She was doing with him as she
did with all others. It was her mission to make fools of men, and she
was pursuing her mission with Mr. Arabin. She had almost got him to
own his love for Mrs. Bold and had subsequently almost induced him to
acknowledge a passion for herself. He, poor man, was hardly aware what
he was doing or saying, hardly conscious whether was in heaven or in
hell. So little had he known of female attractions of that peculiar
class which the signora owned, that he became affected with a kind
of temporary delirium when first subjected to its power. He lost his
head rather than this heart, and toppled about mentally, reeling in
his ideas as a drunken man does on his legs. She had whispered to him
words that really meant nothing but which, coming from such beautiful
lips and accompanied by such lustrous glances, seemed to have a
mysterious significance, which he felt though he could not understand.

In being thus besirened, Mr. Arabin behaved himself very differently
from Mr. Slope. The signora had said truly that the two men were the
contrasts of each other--that the one was all for action, the other
all for thought. Mr. Slope, when this lady laid upon his senses the
overpowering breath of her charms, immediately attempted to obtain
some fruition, to achieve some mighty triumph. He began by catching
at her hand and progressed by kissing it. He made vows of love and
asked for vows in return. He promised everlasting devotion, knelt
before her, and swore that had she been on Mount Ida, Juno would have
had no cause to hate the offspring of Venus. But Mr. Arabin uttered
no oaths, kept his hand mostly in his trousers pocket, and had no
more thought of kissing Madame Neroni than of kissing the Countess De
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 carriage arrangement intelligible, he had nothing
to do but to talk to Mrs. Bold.

"We have had a very pleasant party," said he, using the tone he would
have used had he declared that the sun was shining very brightly, or
the rain falling very fast.

"Very," said Eleanor, who never in her life had passed a more
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 candlelight, they ought to readjust themselves.
Some young gentlemen had been heard to talk so loud that prudent
mammas determined to retire judiciously, and the more discreet of the
male sex, whose libations had been moderate, felt that there was not
much more left for them to do.

Morning parties, as a rule, are failures. People never know how to
get away from them gracefully. A picnic on an island or a mountain
or in a wood may perhaps be permitted. There is no master of the
mountain bound by courtesy to bid you stay while in his heart he is
longing for your departure. But in a private house or in private
grounds a morning party is a bore. One is called on to eat and drink
at unnatural hours. One is obliged to give up the day, which is
useful, and is then left without resource for the evening, which is
useless. One gets home fagged and _désoeuvré_, and yet at an hour too
early for bed. There is no comfortable resource left. Cards in these
genteel days are among the things tabooed, and a rubber of whist is
impracticable.

All this began now to be felt. Some young people had come with some
amount of hope that they might get up a dance in the evening, and
were unwilling to leave till all such hope was at an end. Others,
fearful of staying longer than was expected, had ordered their
carriages early, and were doing their best to go, solicitous for
their servants and horses. The countess and her noble brood were
among the first to leave, and as regarded the Hon. George, it was
certainly time that he did so. Her ladyship was in a great fret and
fume. Those horrid roads would, she was sure, be the death of her if
unhappily she were caught in them by the dark night. The lamps she
was assured were good, but no lamp could withstand the jolting of the
roads of East Barsetshire. The De Courcy property lay in the western
division of the county.

Mrs. Proudie could not stay when the countess was gone. So the bishop
was searched for by the Revs. Messrs. Grey and Green and found in one
corner of the tent enjoying himself thoroughly in a disquisition on
the hebdomadal board. He obeyed, however, the behests of his lady
without finishing the sentence in which he was promising to Dr.
Gwynne that his authority at Oxford should remain unimpaired, and the
episcopal horses turned their noses towards the palatial stables. Then
the Grantlys went. Before they did so, Mr. Harding managed to whisper
a word into his daughter's ear. Of course, he said, he would undeceive
the Grantlys as to that foolish rumour about Mr. Slope.

"No, no, no," said Eleanor; "pray do not--pray wait till I see you.
You will be home in a day or two, and then I will I explain to you
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 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 him 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 an arm," said Charlotte, "while I set you on
a piece of duty which, as a _preux chevalier_, you must immediately
perform. Your personal danger will, I fear, be insignificant, as your
antagonist is a clergyman."

Bertie immediately gave his arm to Eleanor, walking between her and
his sister. He had lived too long abroad to fall into the Englishman's
habit of offering each an arm to two ladies at the same time--a habit,
by the by, which foreigners regard as an approach to bigamy, or a sort
of incipient Mormonism.

The little history of Mr. Slope's misconduct was then told to Bertie
by his sister, Eleanor's ears tingling the while. And well they might
tingle. If it were necessary to speak of the outrage at all, why
should it be spoken of to such a person as Mr. Stanhope, and why
in her own hearing? She knew she was wrong, and was unhappy and
dispirited, yet she could think of no way to extricate herself, no way
to set herself right. Charlotte spared her as much as she possibly
could, spoke of the whole thing as though Mr. Slope had taken a glass
of wine too much, said that of course there would be nothing more
about it, but that steps must be taken to exclude Mr. Slope from the
carriage.

"Mrs. Bold need be under no alarm about that," said Bertie, "for
Mr. Slope has gone this hour past. He told me that business made it
necessary that he should start at once for Barchester."

"He is not so tipsy, at any rate, but what he knows his fault," said
Charlotte. "Well, my dear, that is one difficulty over. Now I'll
leave you with your true knight and get Madeline off as quickly as I
can. The carriage is here, I suppose, Bertie?"

"It has been here for the last hour."

"That's well. Good-bye, my dear. Of course you'll come in to tea. I
shall trust to you to bring her, Bertie, even by force if necessary."
And so saying, Charlotte ran off across the lawn, leaving her brother
alone with the widow.

As Miss Stanhope went off, Eleanor bethought herself that, as Mr.
Slope had taken his departure, there no longer existed any necessity
for separating Mr. Stanhope from his sister Madeline, who so much
needed his aid. It had been arranged that he should remain so as to
preoccupy Mr. Slope's place in the carriage, and act as a social
policeman to effect the exclusion of that disagreeable gentleman. But
Mr. Slope had effected his own exclusion, and there was no possible
reason now why Bertie should not go with his sister--at least Eleanor
saw none, and she said as much.

"Oh, let Charlotte have her own way," said he. "She has arranged it,
and there will be no end of confusion if we make another change.
Charlotte always arranges everything in our house and rules us like a
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 these feelings which actuate men to
do good. But he was perhaps equally void of those which actuate men to
do evil. He got into debt with utter recklessness, thinking nothing
as to whether the tradesmen would ever be paid or not. But he did not
invent active schemes of deceit for the sake of extracting the goods
of others. If a man gave him credit, that was the man's look-out;
Bertie Stanhope troubled himself nothing further. In borrowing money
he did the same; he gave people references to "his governor;" told
them that the "old chap" had a good income; and agreed to pay sixty
per cent for the accommodation. All this he did without a scruple of
conscience; but then he never contrived active 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 this woman, as a cat sits to catch a mouse.
He was to catch her, and swallow her up, her and her child, and her
houses and land, in order that he might live on her instead of on
his father. There was a cold, calculating, cautious cunning about
this quite at variance with Bertie's character. The prudence of the
measure was quite as antagonistic to his feelings as the iniquity.

And then, should he be successful, what would be the reward? Having
satisfied his creditors with half of the widow's fortune, he would be
allowed to sit down quietly at Barchester, keeping economical house
with the remainder. His duty would be to rock the cradle of the
late Mr. Bold's child, and his highest excitement a demure party at
Plumstead Rectory, should it ultimately turn out that the archdeacon
would be sufficiently reconciled to receive him.

There was very little in the programme to allure such a man as Bertie
Stanhope. Would not the Carrara workshop, or whatever worldly career
fortune might have in store for him, would not almost anything be
better than this? The lady herself was undoubtedly all that was
desirable, but the most desirable lady becomes nauseous when she has
to be taken as a pill. He was pledged to his sister, however, and let
him quarrel with whom he would, it behoved him not to quarrel with
her. If she were lost to him, all would be lost that he could ever
hope to derive henceforward from the paternal roof-tree. His mother
was apparently indifferent to his weal or woe, to his wants or his
warfare. His father's brow got blacker and blacker from day to day,
as the old man looked at his hopeless son. And as for Madeline--poor
Madeline, whom of all of them he liked the best--she had enough to do
to shift for herself. No; come what might, he must cling to his sister
and obey her behests, let them be ever so stern--or at the very least
seem to obey them. Could not some happy deceit bring him through in
this matter, so that he might save appearances with his sister and
yet not betray the widow to her ruin? What if he made a confederate
of Eleanor? 'Twas in this spirit that Bertie Stanhope set about his
wooing.

"But you are not going to leave Barchester?" asked Eleanor.

"I do not know," he replied; "I hardly know yet what I am going to
do. But it is at any rate certain that I must do something."

"You mean about your profession?" said she.

"Yes, about my profession, if you can call it one."

"And is it not one?" said Eleanor. "Were I a man, I know none I should
prefer to it, except painting. And I believe the one is as much in
your power as the other."

"Yes, just about equally so," said Bertie with a little touch of
inward satire directed at himself. He knew in his heart that he would
never make a penny by either.

"I have often wondered, Mr. Stanhope, why you do not exert yourself
more," said Eleanor, who felt a friendly fondness for the man with
whom she was walking. "But I know it is very impertinent in me to say
so."

"Impertinent!" said he. "Not so, but much too kind. It is much too
kind in you to take any interest in so idle a scamp."

"But you are not a scamp, though you are perhaps idle. And I do take
an interest in you, a very great interest," she added in a voice
which almost made him resolve to change his mind. "And when I call
you idle, I know you are only so for the present moment. Why can't
you settle steadily to work here in Barchester?"

"And make busts of the bishop, dean, and chapter? Or perhaps, if I
achieve a great success, obtain a commission to put up an elaborate
tombstone over a prebendary's widow, a dead lady with a Grecian nose,
a bandeau, and an intricate lace veil; lying of course on a marble
sofa from among the legs of which death will be creeping out and
poking at his victim with a small toasting-fork."

Eleanor laughed, but yet she thought that if the surviving prebendary
paid the bill, the object of the artist as a professional man would
in a great measure be obtained.

"I don't know about the dean and chapter and the prebendary's widow,"
said Eleanor. "Of course you must take them as they come. But the fact
of your having a great cathedral in which such ornaments are required
could not but be in your favour."

"No real artist could descend to the ornamentation of a cathedral,"
said Bertie, who had his ideas of the high ecstatic ambition of art,
as indeed all artists have who are not in receipt of a good income.
"Buildings should be fitted to grace the sculpture, not the sculpture
to grace the building."

"Yes, when the work of art is good enough to merit it. Do you, Mr.
Stanhope, do something sufficiently excellent and we ladies of
Barchester will erect for it a fitting receptacle. Come, what shall
the subject be?"

"I'll put you in your pony chair, Mrs. Bold, as Dannecker put Ariadne
on her lion. Only you must promise to sit for me."

"My ponies are too tame, I fear, and my broad-brimmed straw hat will
not look so well in marble as the lace veil of the prebendary's 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 in which Eleanor had been provoked into slapping Mr.
Slope's face. Could it be possible that this place was peculiarly
unpropitious to her comfort? Could it be possible that she should
here have to encounter yet another amorous swain?

"If you will be guided by me, Mr. Stanhope, you will set yourself
down to steady and persevering work, and you will be ruled by your
father as to the place in which it will be most advisable for you to
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 had intended to marry her without
loving her, or else that he loved her without intending to marry her;
and he had also to bespeak from her not only his own pardon, but also
that of his sister, and induce Mrs. Bold to protest in her future
communion with Charlotte that an offer had been duly made to her and
duly rejected.

Bertie Stanhope was not prone to be very diffident of his own
conversational powers, but it did seem to him that he was about to
tax them almost too far. He hardly knew where to begin, and he hardly
knew where he should end.

By this time Eleanor was again walking on slowly by his side, not
taking his arm as she had heretofore done but listening very intently
for whatever Bertie might have to say to her.

"I wish to be guided by you," said he; "indeed, in this matter there
is no one else who can set me right."

"Oh, that must be nonsense," said she.

"Well, listen to me now, Mrs. Bold, and if you can help it, pray don't
be angry with me."

"Angry!" said she.

"Oh, indeed you will have cause to be so. You know how very much
attached to you my sister Charlotte is."

Eleanor acknowledged that she did.

"Indeed she is; I never knew her to love anyone so warmly on so short
an acquaintance. You know also how well she loves me?"

Eleanor now made no answer, but she felt the blood tingle in her
cheek as she gathered from what he said the probable result of this
double-barrelled love on the part of Miss Stanhope.

"I am her only brother, Mrs. Bold, and it is not to be wondered at
that she should love me. But you do not yet know Charlotte--you do
not know how entirely the well-being of our family hangs on her.
Without her to manage for us, I do not know how we should get on from
day to day. You cannot yet have observed all this."

Eleanor had indeed observed a good deal of this; she did not, however,
now say so, but allowed him to proceed with his story.

"You cannot therefore be surprised that Charlotte should be most
anxious to do the best for us all."

Eleanor said that she was not at all surprised.

"And she has had a very difficult game to play, Mrs. Bold--a very
difficult game. Poor Madeline's unfortunate marriage and terrible
accident, my mother's ill-health, my father's absence from England,
and last, and worse perhaps, my own roving, idle spirit have almost
been too much for her. You cannot wonder if among all her cares one
of the foremost is to see me settled in the world."

Eleanor on this occasion expressed no acquiescence. She certainly
supposed that a formal offer was to be made and could not but think
that so singular an exordium was never before made by a gentleman in
a similar position. Mr. Slope had annoyed her by the excess of his
ardour. It was quite clear that no such danger was to be feared from
Mr. Stanhope. Prudential motives alone actuated him. Not only was
he about to make love because his sister told him, but he also took
the precaution of explaining all this before he began. 'Twas thus,
we may presume, that the matter presented itself to Mrs. Bold.

When he had got so far, Bertie began poking the gravel with a little
cane which he carried. He still kept moving on, but very slowly, and
his companion moved slowly by his side, not inclined to assist him in
the task the performance of which appeared to be difficult to him.

"Knowing how fond she is of yourself, Mrs. Bold, cannot you imagine
what scheme should have occurred to her?"

"I can imagine no better scheme, Mr. Stanhope, than the one I
proposed to you just now."

"No," said he somewhat lackadaisically; "I suppose that would be the
best, but Charlotte thinks another plan might be joined with it. She
wants me to marry you."

A thousand remembrances flashed across Eleanor's mind all in a
moment--how Charlotte had talked about and praised her brother, how
she had continually contrived to throw the two of them together,
how she had encouraged all manner of little intimacies, how she had
with singular cordiality persisted in treating Eleanor as one of the
family. All this had been done to secure her comfortable income for
the benefit of one of the family!

Such a feeling as this is very bitter when it first impresses itself
on a young mind. To the old, such plots and plans, such matured
schemes for obtaining the goods of this world without the trouble of
earning them, such long-headed attempts to convert "tuum" into "meum"
are the ways of life to which they are accustomed. 'Tis thus that
many live, and it therefore behoves all those who are well-to-do in
the world to be on their guard against those who are not. With them
it is the success that disgusts, not the attempt. But Eleanor had
not yet learnt to look on her money as a source of danger; she had
not begun to regard herself as fair game to be hunted down by hungry
gentlemen. She had enjoyed the society of the Stanhopes, she had
greatly liked the cordiality of Charlotte, and had been happy in her
new friends. Now she saw the cause of all this kindness, and her
mind was opened to a new phase of human life.

"Miss Stanhope," said she haughtily, "has been contriving for me a
great deal of honour, but she might have saved herself the trouble.
I am not sufficiently ambitious."

"Pray don't be angry with her, Mrs. Bold," said he, "or with me
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 the wish she could restrain herself no longer
and burst out into a flood of tears.

Poor Bertie was greatly moved. "You shall have the carriage to
yourself going home," said he; "at least you and my father. As for
me, I can walk, or for the matter of that it does not much signify
what I do." He perfectly understood that part of Eleanor's grief
arose from the apparent necessity of her going back to Barchester
in the carriage with her second suitor.

This somewhat mollified her. "Oh, Mr. Stanhope," said she, "why
should you have made me so miserable? What will you have gained by
telling me all this?"

He had not even yet explained to her the most difficult part of his
proposition; he had not told her that she was to be a party to the
little deception which he intended to play off upon his sister. This
suggestion had still to be made, and as it was absolutely necessary,
he proceeded to make it.

We need not follow him through the whole of his statement. At last,
and not without considerable difficulty, he made Eleanor understand
why he had let her into his confidence, seeing that he no longer
intended her the honour of a formal offer. At last he made her
comprehend the part which she was destined to play in this little
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 be bandied about between them in different senses, and
each sense false. She was to be played off by the sister against the
father, and then by the brother against the sister. Her dear friend
Charlotte, with all her agreeable sympathy and affection, was striving
to sacrifice her for the Stanhope family welfare; and Bertie, who, as
he now proclaimed himself, was over head and ears in debt, completed
the compliment of owning that he did not care to have his debts paid
at so great a sacrifice of himself. Then she was asked to conspire
together with this unwilling suitor for the sake of making the family
believe that he had in obedience to their commands done his best to
throw himself thus away!

She lifted up her face when he had finished, and looking at him with
much dignity, even through her tears, she said:

"I regret to say it, Mr. Stanhope, but after what has passed I believe
that all intercourse between your family and myself had better cease."

"Well, perhaps it had," said Bertie naïvely; "perhaps that will be
better at any rate for a time; and then Charlotte will think you are
offended at what I have done."

"And now I will go back to the house, if you please," said Eleanor.
"I can find my way by myself, Mr. Stanhope: after what has passed,"
she added, "I would rather go alone."

"But I must find the carriage for you, Mrs. Bold; and I must tell
my father that you will return with him alone; and I must make some
excuse to him for not going with you; and I must bid the servant put
you down at your own house, for I suppose you will not now choose to
see them again in the close."

There was a truth about this, and a perspicuity in making arrangements
for lessening her immediate embarrassment, which had some effect in
softening Eleanor's anger. So she suffered herself to walk by his side
over the now deserted lawn, till they came to the drawing-room window.
There was something about Bertie Stanhope which gave him, in the
estimation of everyone, a different standing from that which any other
man would occupy under similar circumstances. Angry as Eleanor was,
and great as was her cause for anger, she was not half as angry with
him as she would have been with anyone else. He was apparently so
simple, so good-natured, so unaffected and easy to talk to, that
she had already half-forgiven him before he was at the drawing-room
window.

When they arrived there, Dr. Stanhope was sitting nearly alone with
Mr. and Miss Thorne; one or two other unfortunates were there, who
from one cause or another were still delayed in getting away, but
they were every moment getting fewer in number.

As soon as he had handed Eleanor over to his father, Bertie started
off to the front gate in search of the carriage, and there he waited
leaning patiently against the front wall, comfortably smoking a
cigar, till it came up. When he returned to the room, Dr. Stanhope
and Eleanor were alone with their hosts.

"At last, Miss Thorne," said he cheerily, "I have come to relieve
you. Mrs. Bold and my father are the last roses of the very delightful
summer you have given us, and desirable as Mrs. Bold's society always
is, now at least you must be glad to see the last flowers plucked from
the tree."

Miss Thorne declared that she was delighted to have Mrs. Bold and Dr.
Stanhope still with her, and Mr. Thorne would have said the same, had
he not been checked by a yawn, which he could not suppress.

"Father, will you give your arm to Mrs. Bold?" said Bertie: and so
the last adieux were made, and the prebendary led out Mrs. Bold,
followed by his son.

"I shall be home soon after you," said he as the two got into the
carriage.

"Are you not coming in the carriage?" said the father.

"No, no; I have someone to see on the road, and shall walk. John,
mind you drive to Mrs. Bold's house first."

Eleanor, looking out of the window, saw him with his hat in his hand,
bowing to her with his usual gay smile, as though nothing had happened
to mar the tranquillity of the day. It was many a long year before
she saw him again. Dr. Stanhope hardly spoke to her on her way home,
and she was safely deposited by John at her own hall-door before the
carriage drove into the close.

And thus our heroine played the last act of that day's melodrama.



CHAPTER XLIII

Mr. and Mrs. Quiverful Are Made Happy.
Mr. Slope is Encouraged by the Press


Before she started for Ullathorne, Mrs. Proudie, careful soul, caused
two letters to be written, one by herself and one by her lord, to the
inhabitants of Puddingdale vicarage, which made happy the hearth of
those within it.

As soon as the departure of the horses left the bishop's stable-groom
free for other services, that humble denizen of the diocese started
on the bishop's own pony with the two dispatches. We have had so
many letters lately that we will spare ourselves these. That from
the bishop was simply a request that Mr. Quiverful would wait upon
his lordship the next morning at 11 A.M.; that from the lady was as
simply a request that Mrs. Quiverful would do the same by her, though
it was couched in somewhat longer and more grandiloquent phraseology.

It had become a point of conscience with Mrs. Proudie to urge the
settlement of this great hospital question. She was resolved that
Mr. Quiverful should have it. She was resolved that there should be
no more doubt or delay, no more refusals and resignations, no more
secret negotiations carried on by Mr. Slope on his own account in
opposition to her behests.

"Bishop," she said immediately after breakfast on the morning of that
eventful day, "have you signed the appointment yet?"

"No, my dear, not yet; it is not exactly signed as yet."

"Then do it," said the lady.

The bishop did it, and a very pleasant day indeed he spent at
Ullathorne. And when he got home, he had a glass of hot negus in his
wife's sitting-room, and read the last number of the Little Dorrit of
the day with great inward satisfaction. Oh, husbands, oh, my marital
friends, what great comfort is there to be derived from a wife well
obeyed!

Much perturbation and flutter, high expectation and renewed hopes,
were occasioned at Puddingdale, by the receipt of these episcopal
dispatches. Mrs. Quiverful, whose careful ear caught the sound of
the pony's feet as he trotted up to the vicarage kitchen door,
brought them in hurriedly to her husband. She was at the moment
concocting the Irish stew destined to satisfy the noonday wants of
fourteen young birds, let alone the parent couple. She had taken the
letters from the man's hands between the folds of her capacious apron
so as to save them from the contamination of the stew, and in this
guise she brought them to her husband's desk.

They at once divided the spoil, each taking that addressed to the
other. "Quiverful," said she with impressive voice, "you are to be
at the palace at eleven to-morrow."

"And so are you, my dear," said he, almost gasping with the
importance of the tidings--and then they exchanged letters.

"She'd never have sent for me again," said the lady, "if it wasn't
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 piecrust, but I
think she's right at bottom." Such was Mrs. Quiverful's verdict about
Mrs. Proudie, to which in after times she always adhered. People
when they get their income doubled usually think that those through
whose instrumentality this little ceremony is performed are right at
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 anyone cajole you out of it again,"
said the wife.

"Let me alone for that," said the husband with a look of almost
fierce determination, pressing his fist as he spoke rigidly on his
desk, as though he had Mr. Slope's head below his knuckles and meant
to keep it there.

"I wonder how soon it will be?" said she.

"I wonder whether it will be at all?" said he, still doubtful.

"Well, I won't say too much," said the lady. "The cup has slipped
twice before, and it may fall altogether this time, but I'll not
believe it. He'll give you the appointment to-morrow. You'll find
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 a change we sink to something lower.

And then the pair, sitting down lovingly together, talked over all
their difficulties, as they so often did, and all their hopes, as they
so seldom were enabled to do.

"You had better call on that man, Q., as you come away from the
palace," said Mrs. Quiverful, pointing to an angry call for money
from the Barchester draper, which the postman had left at the
vicarage that morning. Cormorant that he was, unjust, hungry
cormorant! When rumour first got abroad that the Quiverfuls were to
go to the hospital, this fellow with fawning eagerness had pressed
his goods upon the wants of the poor clergyman. He had done so,
feeling that he should be paid from the hospital funds, and
flattering himself that a man with fourteen children, and money
wherewithal to clothe them, could not but be an excellent customer.
As soon as the second rumour reached him, he applied for his money
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 dress, of a possible piano--the one they had
in the vicarage was so weather-beaten with the storms of years and
children as to be no longer worthy of the name--of the pretty garden,
and the pretty house. 'Twas of such things it most behoved them to
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 the news and came in to
congratulate them. 'Twas Mrs. Quiverful herself who had kindled the
fire, and in the first outbreak of her renewed expectations she did
it so thoroughly that it was quite past her power to put it out
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 that husband of thine, that
Q. of thy bosom, shall reign supreme for years to come over the
bedesmen of Hiram's Hospital.

And the last in all Barchester to mar their hopes, had he heard and
seen all that passed at Puddingdale that day, would have been Mr.
Harding. What wants had he to set in opposition to those of such a
regiment of young ravens? There are fourteen of them living! With
him, at any rate, let us say that that argument would have been
sufficient for the appointment of Mr. Quiverful.

In the morning Q. and his wife kept their appointments with that
punctuality which bespeaks an expectant mind. The friendly farmer's
gig was borrowed, and in that they went, discussing many things by
the way. They had instructed the household to expect them back by
one, and injunctions were given to the eldest pledge to have ready
by that accustomed hour the remainder of the huge stew which the
provident mother had prepared on the previous day. The hands of the
kitchen clock came round to two, three, four, before the farmer's gig
wheels were again heard at the vicarage gate. With what palpitating
hearts were the returning wanderers greeted!

"I suppose, children, you all thought we were never coming back any
more?" said the mother as she slowly let down her solid foot till it
rested on the step of the gig. "Well, such a day as we've had!" and
then leaning heavily on a big boy's shoulder, she stepped once more
on terra firma.

There was no need for more than the tone of her voice to tell them
that all was right. The Irish stew might burn itself to cinders now.

Then there was such kissing and hugging, such crying and laughing.
Mr. Quiverful could not sit still at all, but kept walking from room
to room, then out into the garden, then down the avenue into the
road, and then back again to his wife. She, however, lost no time so
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, it's the way of the world, my dear. They all do just the same.
You might just as well be angry with the turkey cock for gobbling at
you. It's the bird's nature." And as she enunciated to her bairns
the upshot of her practical experience, she pulled from her pocket
the portions of tape which showed the length and breadth of the
various rooms at the hospital house.

And so we will leave her happy in her toils.

The Quiverfuls had hardly left the palace, and Mrs. Proudie was still
holding forth on the matter to her husband, when another visitor was
announced in the person of Dr. Gwynne. The Master of Lazarus had
asked for the bishop and not for Mrs. Proudie, and therefore when he
was shown into the study, he was surprised rather than rejoiced to
find the lady there.

But we must go back a little, and it shall be but a little, for
a difficulty begins to make itself manifest in the necessity of
disposing of all our friends in the small remainder of this one
volume. Oh, that Mr. Longman would allow me a fourth! It should
transcend the other three as the seventh heaven transcends all the
lower stages of celestial bliss.

Going home in the carriage that evening from Ullathorne, Dr. Gwynne
had not without difficulty brought round his friend the archdeacon to
a line of tactics much less bellicose than that which his own taste
would have preferred. "It will be unseemly in us to show ourselves
in a bad humour; moreover, we have no power in this matter, and it
will therefore be bad policy to act as though we had." 'Twas thus
the Master of Lazarus argued. "If," he continued, "the bishop be
determined to appoint another to the hospital, threats will not
prevent him, and threats should not be lightly used by an archdeacon
to his bishop. If he will place a stranger in the hospital, we can
only leave him to the indignation of others. It is probable that
such a step may not eventually injure your father-in-law. I will see
the bishop, if you will allow me--alone." At this the archdeacon
winced visibly. "Yes, alone; for so I shall be calmer; and then I
shall at any rate learn what he does mean to do in the matter."

The archdeacon puffed and blew, put up the carriage window and then
put it down again, argued the matter up to his own gate, and at last
gave way. Everybody was against him, his own wife, Mr. Harding, and
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 him closeted
with his wife; or that if he did so, the wife would remain longer
than necessary to make her curtsey. It appeared, however, as though
in the present case Mrs. Proudie had no idea of retreating.

The bishop had been very much pleased with Dr. Gwynne on the
preceding day, and of course thought that Dr. Gwynne had been as much
pleased with him. He attributed the visit solely to compliment, and
thought it an extremely gracious and proper thing for the Master of
Lazarus to drive over from Plumstead specially to call at the palace
so soon after his arrival in the country. The fact that they were
not on the same side either in politics or doctrines made the
compliment the greater. The bishop, therefore, was all smiles. And
Mrs. Proudie, who liked people with good handles to their names, was
also very well disposed to welcome the Master of Lazarus.

"We had a charming party at Ullathorne, Master, had we not?" said
she. "I hope Mrs. Grantly got home without fatigue."

Dr. Gwynne said that they had all been a little tired, but were none
the worse this morning.

"An excellent person, Miss Thorne," suggested the bishop.

"And an exemplary Christian, I am told," said Mrs. Proudie.

Dr. Gwynne declared that he was very glad to hear it.

"I have not seen her Sabbath-day schools yet," continued the lady,
"but I shall make a point of doing so before long."

Dr. Gwynne merely bowed at this intimation. He had heard something
of Mrs. Proudie and her Sunday-schools, both from Dr. Grantly and
Mr. Harding.

"By the by, Master," continued the lady, "I wonder whether Mrs.
Grantly would like me to drive over and inspect her Sabbath-day
school. I hear that it is most excellently kept."

Dr. Gwynne really could not say. He had no doubt Mrs. Grantly would
be most happy to see Mrs. Proudie any day Mrs. Proudie would do her
the honour of calling: that was, of course, if Mrs. Grantly should
happen to be at home.

A slight cloud darkened the lady's brow. She saw that her offer was
not taken in good part. This generation of unregenerated vipers
was still perverse, stiff-necked, and hardened in their iniquity.
"The archdeacon, I know," said she, "sets his face against these
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,'" she said. "Are we not to remember that, Dr. Gwynne?
'Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones.' Are we not
to remember that, Dr. Gwynne?" And at each of these questions she
raised at him her menacing forefinger.

"Certainly, madam, certainly," said the master, "and so does the
archdeacon, I am sure, on weekdays as well as on Sundays."

"On weekdays you can't take heed not to despise them," said Mrs.
Proudie, "because then they are out in the fields. On weekdays they
belong to their parents, but on Sundays they ought to belong to the
clergyman." And the finger was again raised.

The master began to understand and to share the intense disgust
which the archdeacon always expressed when Mrs. Proudie's name was
mentioned. What was he to do with such a woman as this? To take his
hat and go would have been his natural resource, but then he did not
wish to be foiled in his object.

"My lord," said he, "I wanted to ask you a question on business, if
you could spare me one moment's leisure. I know I must apologize for
so disturbing you, but in truth I will not detain you five minutes."

"Certainly, Master, certainly," said the bishop; "my time is quite
yours--pray make no apology, pray make no apology."

"You have a great deal to do just at the present moment, Bishop. Do
not forget how extremely busy you are at present," said Mrs. Proudie,
whose spirit was now up, for she was angry with her visitor.

"I will not delay his lordship much above a minute," said the Master
of Lazarus, rising from his chair and expecting that Mrs. Proudie
would now go, or else that the bishop would lead the way into another
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 dispatch from his friend Mr. Towers, which had the effect
of putting him in that high good humour which subsequent events
somewhat untowardly damped. It ran as follows. Its shortness will
be its sufficient apology.


   MY DEAR SIR,

   I wish you every success. I don't know that I can help you,
   but if I can, I will.

   Yours ever,
   T. T.

   30/9/185--


There was more in this than in all Sir Nicholas Fitzwhiggin's
flummery; more than in all the bishop's promises, even had they been
ever so sincere; more than in any archbishop's good word, even had
it been possible to obtain it. Tom Towers would do for him what he
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 he regarded it as the great arranger and distributor
of all future British terrestrial affairs whatever. He had not yet
arrived at the age, an age which sooner or later comes to most of
us, which dissipates the golden dreams of youth. He delighted in the
idea of wresting power from the hands of his country's magnates and
placing it in a custody which was at any rate nearer to his own
reach. Sixty thousand broadsheets dispersing themselves daily among
his reading fellow citizens formed in his eyes a better depot for
supremacy than a throne at Windsor, a cabinet in Downing Street, or
even an assembly at Westminster. And on this subject we must not
quarrel with Mr. Slope, for the feeling is too general to be met with
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 fitting man for the vacant post. It was pleasant for
Mr. Slope to read the following lines in the Barchester news-room,
which he did within thirty minutes after the morning train from
London had reached the city.


   It is just now five years since we called the attention
   of our readers to the quiet city of Barchester. From that
   day to this, we have in no way meddled with the affairs
   of that happy ecclesiastical community. Since then, an
   old bishop has died there, and a young bishop has been
   installed; but we believe we did not do more than give
   some customary record of the interesting event. Nor are
   we now about to meddle very deeply in the affairs of the
   diocese. If any of the chapter feel a qualm of conscience
   on reading thus far, let it be quieted. Above all, let the
   mind of the new bishop be at rest. We are now not armed
   for war, but approach the reverend towers of the old
   cathedral with an olive branch in our hands.

   It will be remembered that at the time alluded to, now
   five years past, we had occasion to remark on the state
   of a charity in Barchester called Hiram's Hospital. We
   thought that it was maladministered, and that the very
   estimable and reverend gentleman who held the office of
   warden was somewhat too highly paid for duties which were
   somewhat too easily performed. This gentleman--and we say
   it in all sincerity and with no touch of sarcasm--had
   never looked on the matter in this light before. We do not
   wish to take praise to ourselves whether praise be due to
   us or not. But the consequence of our remark was that the
   warden did look into the matter, and finding on so doing
   that he himself could come to no other opinion than
   that expressed by us, he very creditably threw up the
   appointment. The then bishop as creditably declined to
   fill the vacancy till the affair was put on a better
   footing. Parliament then took it up, and we have now
   the satisfaction of informing our readers that Hiram's
   Hospital will be immediately reopened under new auspices.
   Heretofore, provision was made for the maintenance of
   twelve old men. This will now be extended to the fair sex,
   and twelve elderly women, if any such can be found in
   Barchester, will be added to the establishment. There will
   be a matron; there will, it is hoped, be schools attached
   for the poorest of the children of the poor, and there
   will be a steward. The warden, for there will still be a
   warden, will receive an income more in keeping with the
   extent of the charity than that heretofore paid. The
   stipend we believe will be £450. We may add that the
   excellent house which the former warden inhabited will
   still be attached to the situation.

   Barchester Hospital cannot perhaps boast a world-wide
   reputation, but as we adverted to its state of decadence,
   we think it right also to advert to its renaissance. May
   it go on and prosper. Whether the salutary reform which
   has been introduced within its walls has been carried
   as far as could have been desired may be doubtful. The
   important question of the school appears to be somewhat
   left to the discretion of the new warden. This might have
   been made the most important part of the establishment,
   and the new warden, whom we trust we shall not offend by
   the freedom of our remarks, might have been selected with
   some view to his fitness as schoolmaster. But we will not
   now look a gift-horse in the mouth. May the hospital go on
   and prosper! The situation of warden has of course been
   offered to the gentleman who so honourably vacated it five
   years since, but we are given to understand that he has
   declined it. Whether the ladies who have been introduced
   be in his estimation too much for his powers of control,
   whether it be that the diminished income does not offer to
   him sufficient temptation to resume his old place, or that
   he has in the meantime assumed other clerical duties, we
   do not know. We are, however, informed that he has refused
   the offer and that the situation has been accepted by Mr.
   Quiverful, the vicar of 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 of this paper. The only
   fault we knew in him was his age, and as that is a crime
   of which we all hope to be guilty, we will not bear
   heavily on it. May he rest in peace! But though the great
   age of an expiring dean cannot be made matter of reproach,
   we are not inclined to look on such a fault as at all
   pardonable in a dean just brought to the birth. We do hope
   that the days of sexagenarian appointments are past. If
   we want deans, we must want them for some purpose. That
   purpose will necessarily be better fulfilled by a man of
   forty than by a man of sixty. If we are to pay deans at
   all, we are to pay them for some sort of work. That work,
   be it what it may, will be best performed by a workman in
   the prime of life. Dr. Trefoil, we see, was eighty when he
   died. As we have as yet completed no plan for pensioning
   superannuated clergymen, we do not wish to get rid of any
   existing deans of that age. But we prefer having as few
   such as possible. If a man of seventy be now appointed, we
   beg to point out to Lord ---- that he will be past all use
   in a year or two, if indeed he be not so at the present
   moment. His lordship will allow us to remind him that all
   men are not evergreens like himself.

   We hear that Mr. Slope's name has been mentioned for
   this preferment. Mr. Slope is at present chaplain to the
   bishop. A better man could hardly be selected. He is a man
   of talent, young, active, and conversant with the affairs
   of the cathedral; he is moreover, we conscientiously
   believe, a truly pious clergyman. We know that his
   services in the city of Barchester have been highly
   appreciated. He is an eloquent preacher and a ripe
   scholar. Such a selection as this would go far to raise
   the confidence of the public in the present administration
   of church patronage and would teach men to believe that
   from henceforth the establishment of our church will not
   afford easy couches to worn-out clerical voluptuaries.


Standing at a reading-desk in the Barchester news-room, Mr. Slope
digested this article with considerable satisfaction. What was
therein said as to the hospital was now comparatively a matter of
indifference to him. He was certainly glad that he had not succeeded
in restoring to the place the father of that virago who had so
audaciously outraged all decency in his person, and was so far
satisfied. But Mrs. Proudie's nominee was appointed, and he was so
far dissatisfied. His mind, however, was now soaring above Mrs. Bold
or Mrs. Proudie. He was sufficiently conversant with the tactics
of "The Jupiter" to know that the pith of the article would lie in
the last paragraph. The place of honour was given to him, and it
was indeed as honourable as even he could have wished. He was very
grateful to his friend Mr. Towers, and with full heart looked forward
to the day when he might entertain him in princely style at his own
full-spread board in the deanery dining-room.

It had been well for Mr. Slope that Dr. Trefoil had died in the
autumn. Those caterers for our morning repast, the staff of "The
Jupiter," had been sorely put to it for the last month to find a
sufficiency of proper pabulum. Just then there was no talk of a new
American president. No wonderful tragedies had occurred on railway
trains in Georgia, or elsewhere. There was a dearth of broken banks,
and a dead dean with the necessity for a live one was a godsend. Had
Dr. Trefoil died in June, Mr. Towers would probably not have known so
much about the piety of Mr. Slope.

And here we will leave Mr. Slope for awhile in his triumph,
explaining, however, that his feelings were not altogether of
a triumphant nature. His rejection by the widow, or rather the
method of his rejection, galled him terribly. For days to come he
positively felt the sting upon his cheek whenever he thought of what
had been done to him. He could not refrain from calling her by harsh
names, speaking to himself as he walked through the streets of
Barchester. When he said his prayers, he could not bring himself to
forgive her. When he strove to do so, his mind recoiled from the
attempt, and in lieu of forgiving ran off in a double spirit of
vindictiveness, dwelling on the extent of the injury he had received.
And so his prayers dropped senseless from his lips.

And then the signora--what would he not have given to be able to hate
her also? As it was, he worshipped the very sofa on which she was
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 well aware also, when he perceived that
Bertie declined accompanying them home in the carriage, that the
affair had gone off.

Eleanor was very much afraid that Charlotte would have darted out
upon her, as the prebendary got out at his own door, but Bertie had
thoughtfully saved her from this by causing the carriage to go round
by her own house. This also Dr. Stanhope understood and allowed to
pass by without remark.

When she got home, she found Mary Bold in the drawing-room with the
child in her lap. She rushed forward and, throwing herself on her
knees, kissed the little fellow till she almost frightened him.

"Oh, Mary, I am so glad you did not go. It was an odious party."

Now the question of Mary's going had been one greatly mooted between
them. Mrs. Bold, when invited, had been the guest of the Grantlys,
and Miss Thorne, who had chiefly known Eleanor at the hospital
or at Plumstead Rectory, had forgotten all about Mary Bold. Her
sister-in-law had implored her to go under her wing and had offered to
write to Miss Thorne, or to call on her. But Miss Bold had declined.
In fact, Mr. Bold had not been very popular with such people as the
Thornes, and his sister would not go among them unless she were
specially asked to do so.

"Well, then," said Mary cheerfully, "I have the less to regret."

"You have nothing to regret; but oh! Mary, I have--so much--so much;"
and then she began kissing her boy, whom her caresses had roused from
his slumbers. When she raised her head, Mary saw that the tears were
running down her cheeks.

"Good heavens, Eleanor, what is the matter? What has happened to
you--Eleanor--dearest Eleanor--what is the matter?" and Mary got up
with the boy still in her arms.

"Give him to me--give him to me," said the young mother. "Give him
to me, Mary," and she almost tore the child out of her sister's arms.
The poor little fellow murmured somewhat at the disturbance but
nevertheless nestled himself close into his mother's bosom.

"Here, Mary, take the cloak from me. My own own darling, darling,
darling jewel. You are not false to me. Everybody else is false;
everybody else is cruel. Mamma will care for nobody, nobody, nobody,
but her own, own, own little man;" and she again kissed and pressed
the baby and cried till the tears ran down over the child's face.

"Who has been cruel to you, Eleanor?" said Mary. "I hope I have
not."

Now in this matter Eleanor had great cause for mental uneasiness.
She could not certainly accuse her loving sister-in-law of cruelty;
but she had to do that which was more galling: she had to accuse
herself of imprudence against which her sister-in-law had warned
her. Miss Bold had never encouraged Eleanor's acquaintance with Mr.
Slope, and she had positively discouraged the friendship of the
Stanhopes, as far as her usual gentle mode of speaking had permitted.
Eleanor had only laughed at her, however, when she said that she
disapproved of married women who lived apart from their husbands
and suggested that Charlotte Stanhope never went to church. Now,
however, Eleanor must either hold her tongue, which was quite
impossible, or confess herself to have been utterly wrong, which
was nearly equally so. So she staved off the evil day by more tears,
and consoled herself by inducing little Johnny to rouse himself
sufficiently to return her caresses.

"He is a darling--as true as gold. What would mamma do without him?
Mamma would lie down and die if she had not her own Johnny Bold to
give her comfort." This and much more she said of the same kind, and
for a time made no other answer to Mary's inquiries.

This kind of consolation from the world's deceit is very common.
Mothers obtain it from their children, and men from their dogs. Some
men even do so from their walking-sticks, which is just as rational.
How is it that we can take joy to ourselves in that we are not
deceived by those who have not attained the art to deceive us? In a
true man, if such can be found, or a true woman, much consolation may
indeed be taken.

In the caresses of her child, however, Eleanor did receive
consolation, and may ill befall the man who would begrudge it to
her. The evil day, however, was only postponed. She had to tell her
disagreeable tale to Mary, and she had also to tell it to her father.
Must it not, indeed, be told to the whole circle of her acquaintance
before she could be made to stand all right with them? At the
present moment there was no one to whom she could turn for comfort.
She hated Mr. Slope; that was a matter of course; in that feeling she
revelled. She hated and despised the Stanhopes; but that feeling
distressed her greatly. She had, as it were, separated herself from
her old friends to throw herself into the arms of this family; and
then how had they intended to use her? She could hardly reconcile
herself to her own father, who had believed ill of her. Mary Bold
had turned Mentor. That she could have forgiven had the Mentor
turned out to be in the wrong, but Mentors in the right are not to
be pardoned. She could not but hate the archdeacon, and now she
hated him worse than ever, for she must in some sort humble herself
before him. She hated her sister, for she was part and parcel of the
archdeacon. And she would have hated Mr. Arabin if she could. He
had pretended to regard her, and yet before her face he had hung over
that Italian woman as though there had been no beauty in the world
but hers--no other woman worth a moment's attention. And Mr. Arabin
would have to learn all this about Mr. Slope! She told herself that
she hated him, and she knew that she was lying to herself as she did
so. She had no consolation but her baby, and of that she made the
most. Mary, though she could not surmise what it was that had so
violently affected her sister-in-law, saw at once that her grief was
too great to be kept under control and waited patiently till the
child should be in his cradle.

"You'll have some tea, Eleanor," she said.

"Oh, I don't care," said she, though in fact she must have been very
hungry, for she had eaten nothing at Ullathorne.

Mary quietly made the tea, and buttered the bread, laid aside the
cloak, and made things look comfortable.

"He's fast asleep," said she; "you're very tired; let me take him up
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
tranquilised.

On the next day she did not go out of the house. Barchester she
thought would be crowded with Stanhopes and Slopes; perhaps also
with Arabins and Grantlys. Indeed, there was hardly anyone among her
friends whom she could have met without some cause of uneasiness.

In the course of the afternoon she heard that the dean was dead, and
she also heard that Mr. Quiverful had been finally appointed to the
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 in the common course of
things that Mr. Slope should have treated me in this way." She had
said nothing to him about the embrace, nor yet of the way in which it
had been met.

"I do not think it at all strange," said he, "that anyone should
admire my Eleanor."

"It is strange to me," said she, "that any man should have so much
audacity, without ever having received the slightest encouragement."

To this Mr. Harding answered nothing. With the archdeacon it would
have been the text for a rejoinder which would not have disgraced
Bildad the Shuhite.

"But you'll tell the archdeacon?" asked Mr. Harding.

"Tell him what?" said she sharply.

"Or Susan?" continued Mr. Harding. "You'll tell Susan; you'll
let them know that they wronged you in supposing that this man's
addresses would be agreeable to you."

"They may find that out their own way," said she; "I shall not ever
willingly mention Mr. Slope's name to either of them."

"But I may."

"I have no right to hinder you from doing anything that may be
necessary to your own comfort, but pray do not do it for my sake.
Dr. Grantly never thought well of me, and never will. I don't know
now that I am even anxious that he should do so."

And then they went to the affair of the hospital. "But is it true,
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 to your old house, to see it given away in
this way to a perfect stranger!"

"My dear, the bishop had a right to give it to whom he pleased."

"I deny that, Papa. He had no such right. It is not as though you
were a candidate for a new piece of preferment. If the bishop has a
grain of justice--"

"The bishop offered it to me on his terms, and as I did not like the
terms, I refused it. After that, I cannot complain."

"Terms! He had no right to make terms."

"I don't know about that; but it seems he had the power. But to tell
you the truth, Nelly, I am as well satisfied as it is. When the
affair became the subject of angry discussion, I thoroughly wished to
be rid of it altogether."

"But you did want to go back to the old house, Papa. You told me so
yourself."

"Yes, my dear, I did. For a short time I did wish it. And I was
foolish in doing so. I am getting old now, and my chief worldly wish
is for peace and rest. Had I gone back to the hospital, I should
have had endless contentions with the bishop, contentions with
his chaplain, and contentions with the archdeacon. I am not up to
this now; I am not able to meet such troubles; and therefore I am
not ill-pleased to find myself left to the little church of St.
Cuthbert's. I shall never starve," added he, laughing, "as long as
you are here."

"But will you come and live with me, Papa?" she said earnestly,
taking him by both his hands. "If you will do that, if you will
promise that, I will own that you are right."

"I will dine with you to-day at any rate."

"No, but live here altogether. Give up that close, odious little
room in High Street."

"My dear, it's a very nice little room, and you are really quite
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 not I, my dear?"

"No, Papa, not old--not to say old. But you are quite old enough
to feel the want of a decent room to sit in. You know how lonely
Mary and I are here. You know nobody ever sleeps in the big front
bedroom. It is really unkind of you to remain up there alone, when
you are so much wanted here."

"Thank you, Nelly--thank you. But, my dear--"

"If you had been living here, Papa, with us, as I really think you
ought to have done, considering how lonely we are, there would have
been none of all this dreadful affair about Mr. Slope."

Mr. Harding, however, did not allow himself to be talked over into
giving up his own and only little _pied à terre_ in the High Street.
He promised to come and dine with his daughter, and stay with her,
and visit her, and do everything but absolutely live with her. It
did not suit the peculiar feelings of the man to tell his daughter
that though she had rejected Mr. Slope, and been ready to reject Mr.
Stanhope, some other more favoured suitor would probably soon appear,
and that on the appearance of such a suitor the big front bedroom
might perhaps be more frequently in requisition than at present. But
doubtless such an idea crossed his mind, and added its weight to
the other reasons which made him decide on still keeping the close,
odious little room in High Street.

The evening passed over quietly and in comfort. Eleanor was always
happier with her father than with anyone else. He had not, perhaps,
any natural taste for baby-worship, but he was always ready to
sacrifice himself, and therefore made an excellent third in a trio
with his daughter and Mary Bold in singing the praises of the
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 elegancy
of the epistle was visible to them all.

"Please ma'am, Dr. Stanhope's coachman says he is to wait for an
answer," said the servant.

Eleanor got very red in the face as she took the note in her hand.
She had never seen the writing before. Charlotte's epistles, to
which she was well accustomed, were of a very different style and
kind. She generally wrote on large note-paper; she twisted up her
letters into the shape and sometimes into the size of cocked hats;
she addressed them in a sprawling, manly hand, and not unusually added
a blot or a smudge, as though such were her own peculiar sign-manual.
The address of this note was written in a beautiful female hand, and
the gummed wafer bore on it an impress of a gilt coronet. Though
Eleanor had never seen such a one before, she guessed that it came
from the signora. Such epistles were very numerously sent out from
any house in which the signora might happen to be dwelling, but they
were rarely addressed to ladies. When the coachman was told by the
lady's maid to take the letter to Mrs. Bold, he openly expressed his
opinion that there was some mistake about it. Whereupon the lady's
maid boxed the coachman's ears. Had Mr. Slope seen in how meek a
spirit the coachman took the rebuke, he might have learnt a useful
lesson, both in philosophy and religion.

The note was as follows. It may be taken as a faithful promise that
no further letter whatever shall be transcribed at length in these
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

   Thursday Evening


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 has gone astray," said Madeline. "I knew it would."

"It has been his own fault then. She was ready enough, I am quite
sure," said Charlotte with that sort of ill-nature which is not
uncommon when one woman speaks of another.

"What will you say to him now?" By "him," the signora meant their
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 chance."

"Where is he now?"

"Heaven knows! Smoking in the bottom of Mr. Thorne's ha-ha, or
philandering with some of those Miss Chadwicks. Nothing will ever
make an impression on him. But he'll be furious if I don't go down."

"No, nothing ever will. But don't be long, Charlotte, for I want my
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 yet
remember to have seen there. He was sitting in his own armchair, not
comfortably over the fire, but in the middle of the room, waiting
till she should come and listen to him.

"What has become of your brother?" he said as soon as the door was
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 house?"

"I wish she would know how to behave herself."

"Why, what on earth has she done now? Poor Madeline! To-day is only
the second time she has gone out since we came to this vile town."

He then sat silent for a time, thinking in what shape he would
declare his resolve. "Well, Papa," said Charlotte, "shall I stay
here, or may I go upstairs and give Mamma her tea?"

"You are in your brother's confidence. Tell me what he is going to
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--"

"It means this?" said the doctor, speaking more loudly than was his
wont and with wrath flashing from his eyes; "that as sure as God
rules in heaven I will not maintain him any longer in idleness."

"Oh, ruling in heaven!" said Charlotte. "It is no use talking about
that. You must rule him here on earth; and the question is, how can
you do it. You can't turn him out of the house penniless, to beg
about the street."

"He may beg where he likes."

"He must go back to Carrara. That is the cheapest place he can live
at, and nobody there will give him credit for above two or three
hundred pauls. But you must let him have the means of going."

"As sure as--"

"Oh, Papa, don't swear. You know you must do it. You were ready to
pay two hundred pounds for him if this marriage came off. Half that
will start him to Carrara."

"What? Give him a hundred pounds?"

"You know we are all in the dark, Papa," said she, thinking it
expedient to change the conversation. "For anything we know he may
be at this moment engaged to Mrs. Bold."

"Fiddlestick," said the father, who had seen the way in which Mrs.
Bold had got into the carriage while his son stood apart without even
offering her his hand.

"Well, then, he must go to Carrara," said Charlotte.

Just at this moment the lock of the front door was heard, and
Charlotte's quick ears detected her brother's catlike step in the
hall. She said nothing, feeling that for the present Bertie had
better keep out of her father's way. But Dr. Stanhope also heard the
sound of the lock.

"Who's that?" he demanded. Charlotte made no reply, and he asked
again, "Who is that that has just come in? Open the door. Who is
it?"

"I suppose it is Bertie."

"Bid him come here," said the father. But Bertie, who was close to
the door and heard the call, required no further bidding, but walked
in with a perfectly unconcerned and cheerful air. It was this
peculiar _insouciance_ which angered Dr. Stanhope, even more than his
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 upstairs, Charlotte?"

"Bertie," said Charlotte, "Papa is in no humour for joking. He is
very angry with you."

"Angry!" said Bertie, raising his eyebrows as though he had never yet
given his parent cause for a single moment's uneasiness.

"Sit down, if you please, sir," said Dr. Stanhope very sternly
but not now very loudly. "And I'll trouble you to sit down, too,
Charlotte. Your mother can wait for her tea a few minutes."

Charlotte sat down on the chair nearest to the door in somewhat of a
perverse sort of manner, as much as though she would say--"Well, here
I am; you shan't say I don't do what I am bid; but I'll be whipped if
I give way to you." And she was determined not to give way. She too
was angry with Bertie, but she was not the less ready on that account
to defend him from his father. Bertie also sat down. He drew his
chair close to the library-table, upon which he put his elbow, and
then resting his face comfortably on one hand, he began drawing
little pictures on a sheet of paper with the other. Before the scene
was over he had completed admirable figures of Miss Thorne, Mrs.
Proudie, and Lady De Courcy, and begun a family piece to comprise the
whole set of the Lookalofts.

"Would it suit you, sir," said the father, "to give me some idea as
to what your present intentions are? What way of living you propose
to yourself?"

"I'll do anything you can suggest, sir," replied Bertie.

"No, I shall suggest nothing further. My time for suggesting has
gone by. I have only one order to give, and that is that you leave
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?" and
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'oeuvre_
in the delineation of Mrs. Proudie's nose and mouth.

"You are a heartless reprobate, sir; a heartless, thankless,
good-for-nothing reprobate. I have done with you. You are my son--that
I cannot help--but you shall have no more part or parcel in me as my
child, nor I in you as your father."

"Oh, Papa, Papa! You must not, shall not say so," said Charlotte.

"I will say so, and do say so," said the father, rising from his
chair. "And now leave the room, sir."

"Stop, stop," said Charlotte. "Why don't you speak, Bertie? Why
don't you look up and speak? It is your manner that makes Papa so
angry."

"He is perfectly indifferent to all decency, to all propriety," said
the doctor; then he shouted out, "Leave the room, sir! Do you hear
what I say?"

"Papa, Papa, I will not let you part so. I know you will be sorry
for it." And then she added, getting up and whispering into his ear,
"Is he only to blame? Think of that. We have made our own bed, and,
such as it is, we must lie on it. It is no use for us to quarrel
among ourselves," and as she finished her whisper, Bertie finished
off the countess's bustle, which was so well done that it absolutely
seemed to be swaying to and fro on the paper with its usual lateral
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 caricatures, however, she preserved
and showed them afterwards to the friends of the Thornes, the
Proudies, and De Courcys. Bertie, deprived of his occupation, threw
himself back in his chair and waited further orders.

"I think it will certainly be for the best that Bertie should leave
this at once; perhaps to-morrow," said Charlotte; "but pray, Papa,
let us arrange some scheme together."

"If he will leave this to-morrow, I will give him £10, and he shall
be paid £5 a month by the banker at Carrara as long as he stays
permanently in that place."

"Well, sir, it won't be long," said Bertie, "for I shall be starved
to death in about three months."

"He must have marble to work with," said Charlotte.

"I have plenty there in the studio to last me three months," said
Bertie. "It will be no use attempting anything large in so limited a
time--unless I do my own tombstone."

Terms, however, were ultimately come to somewhat more liberal than
those proposed, and the doctor was induced to shake hands with his
son and bid him good night. Dr. Stanhope would not go up to tea, but
had it brought to him in his study by his daughter.

But Bertie went upstairs and spent a pleasant evening. He finished
the Lookalofts, greatly to the delight of his sisters, though the
manner of portraying their _décolleté_ dresses was not the most
refined. Finding how matters were going, he by degrees allowed it to
escape from him that he had not pressed his suit upon the widow in a
very urgent way.

"I suppose, in point of fact, you never proposed at all?" said
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 at Como soon."

"I am sure I hope so," said the signora. "I'm sick of the sight of
black coats. If that Mr. Slope comes here any more, he'll be the
death of me."

"You've been the ruin of him, I think," said Charlotte.

"And as for a second black-coated lover of mine, I am going to make a
present of him to another lady with most singular disinterestedness."

The next day, true to his promise, Bertie packed up and went off by
the 4.30 P.M. train, with £20 in his pocket, bound for the marble
quarries of Carrara. And so he disappears from our scene.

At twelve o'clock on the day following that on which Bertie went,
Mrs. Bold, true also to her word, knocked at Dr. Stanhope's door with
a timid hand and palpitating heart. She was at once shown up to the
back drawing-room, the folding doors of which were closed, so that
in visiting the signora Eleanor was not necessarily thrown into any
communion with those in the front room. As she went up the stairs,
she saw none of the family and was so far saved much of the annoyance
which she had dreaded.

"This is very kind of you, Mrs. Bold; very kind, after what has
happened," said the lady on the sofa with her sweetest smile.

"You wrote in such a strain that I could not but come to you."

"I did, I did; I wanted to force you to see me."

"Well, signora, I am here."

"How cold you are to me. But I suppose I must put up with that.
I know you think you have reason to be displeased with us all.
Poor Bertie; if you knew all, you would not be angry with him."

"I am not angry with your brother--not in the least. But I hope you
did not send for me here to talk about him."

"If you are angry with Charlotte, that is worse, for you have no
warmer friend in all Barchester. But I did not send for you to talk
about this--pray bring your chair nearer, Mrs. Bold, so that I may
look at you. It is so unnatural to see you keeping so far off from
me."

Eleanor did as she was bid and brought her chair close to the sofa.

"And now, Mrs. Bold, I am going to tell you something which you may
perhaps think indelicate, but yet I know that I am right in doing
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 too precious to be lost. She despised
the signora, but might she not stoop to conquer? It should be but
the smallest fraction of a stoop!

"I don't want to be stiff," she said, "but your questions are so very
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, adores you, worships you, thinks of you and
nothing else, is now thinking of you as he attempts to write his
sermon for next Sunday's preaching. What would I not give to be
loved in such a way by such a man, that is, if I were an object fit
for any man to love!"

Mrs. Bold got up from her seat and stood speechless before the woman
who was now addressing her in this impassioned way. When the signora
thus alluded to herself, the widow's heart was softened, and she
put her own hand, as though caressingly, on that of her companion,
which was resting on the table. The signora grasped it and went on
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 he 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 _soupçon_ of a squeeze.

"And remember," continued the signora, "he is not like other men.
You must not expect him to come to you with vows and oaths and pretty
presents, to kneel at your feet, and kiss your shoe-strings. If you
want that, there are plenty to do it, but he won't be one of them."
Eleanor's bosom nearly burst with a sigh, but Madeline, not heeding
her, went on. "With him, yea will stand for yea, and nay for nay.
Though his heart should break for it, the woman who shall reject him
once will have rejected him once and for all. Remember that. And
now, Mrs. Bold, I will not keep you, for you are fluttered. I partly
guess what use you will make of what I have said to you. If ever you
are a happy wife in that man's house, we shall be far away, but I
shall expect you to write me one line to say that you have forgiven
the sins of the family."

Eleanor half-whispered that she would, and then, without uttering
another word, crept out of the room and down the stairs, opened the
front door for herself without hearing or seeing anyone, and found
herself in the close.

It would be difficult to analyse Eleanor's feelings as she walked
home. She was nearly stupefied by the things that had been said to
her. She felt sore that her heart should have been so searched and
riddled by a comparative stranger, by a woman whom she had never
liked and never could like. She was mortified that the man whom she
owned to herself that she loved should have concealed his love from
her and shown it to another. There was much to vex her proud spirit.
But there was, nevertheless, an under stratum of joy in all this
which buoyed her up wondrously. She tried if she could disbelieve
what Madame Neroni had said to her, but she found that she could
not. It was true; it must be true. She could not, would not, did not
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 that suggested, her "yea" should be "yea." Would not all her
miseries be at an end if she could talk of them to him openly, with
her head resting on his shoulder?



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 levée round
her couch. It was a beautifully bright October afternoon; all the
gentlemen of the neighbourhood were in Barchester, and those who
had the entry of Dr. Stanhope's house were in the signora's back
drawing-room. Charlotte and Mrs. Stanhope were in the front room, and
such of the lady's squires as could not for the moment get near the
centre of attraction had to waste their fragrance on the mother and
sister.

The first who came and the last to leave was Mr. Arabin. This was the
second visit he had paid to Madame Neroni since he had met her at
Ullathorne. He came, he knew not why, to talk about, he knew not what.
But, in truth, the feelings which now troubled him were new to him,
and he could not analyse them. It may seem strange that he should
thus come dangling about Madame Neroni because he was in love with
Mrs. Bold; but it was nevertheless the fact; and though he could not
understand why he did so, Madame Neroni understood it well 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; she made him remain near her and whispered to him little
nothings. And then her eye, brilliant and bright, now mirthful,
now melancholy, and invincible in either way! What man with warm
feelings, blood unchilled, and a heart not guarded by a triple steel
of experience could have withstood those eyes! The lady, it is true,
intended to do him no mortal injury; she merely chose to inhale a
slight breath of incense before she handed the casket over to another.
Whether Mrs. Bold would willingly have spared even so much is another
question.

And then came Mr. Slope. All the world now knew that Mr. Slope was a
candidate for the deanery and that he was generally considered to be
the favourite. Mr. Slope, therefore, walked rather largely upon the
earth. He gave to himself a portly air, such as might become a dean,
spoke but little to other clergymen, and shunned the bishop as much as
possible. How the meagre little prebendary, and the burly chancellor,
and all the minor canons and vicars choral, ay, and all the
choristers, too, cowered and shook and walked about with long faces
when they read or heard of that article in "The Jupiter." Now were
coming the days when nothing would avail to keep the impure spirit
from the cathedral pulpit. That pulpit would indeed be his own.
Precentors, vicars, and choristers might hang up their harps on the
willows. Ichabod! Ichabod! The glory of their house was departing from
them.

Mr. Slope, great as he was with embryo grandeur, still came to see
the signora. Indeed, he could not keep himself away. He dreamed of
that soft hand which he had kissed so often, and of that imperial brow
which his lips had once pressed; and he then dreamed also of further
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, yes, sometimes," said Mr. Thorne, looking rather sheepish and
making his 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 very
deanish sort of smirk on his face. "Country gentlemen do deceive one
another sometimes, don't they, Mr. Thorne?"

Mr. Thorne gave him a look which undeaned him completely for the
moment, but he soon remembered his high hopes and, recovering himself
quickly, sustained his probable coming dignity by a laugh at Mr.
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 that family. "Julia, my love, come here. I was
telling you about the beautiful party poor Mamma went to. This is Mr.
Thorne; will you give him a kiss, dearest?"

Julia put up her face to be kissed, as she did to all her mother's
visitors, and then Mr. Thorne found that he had got her and, what was
much more terrific to him, all her finery, into his arms. The lace
and starch crumpled against his waistcoat and trousers, the greasy
black curls hung upon his cheek, and one of the bracelet clasps
scratched his ear. He did not at all know how to hold so magnificent
a lady, nor holding her what to do with her. However, he had on other
occasions been compelled to fondle little nieces and nephews, and now
set about the task in the mode he always had used.

"Diddle, diddle, diddle, diddle," said he, putting the child on
one knee and working away with it as though he were turning a
knife-grinder's wheel with his foot.

"Mamma, Mamma," said Julia crossly, "I don't want to be diddle
diddled. Let me go, you naughty old man, you."

Poor Mr. Thorne put the child down quietly on the ground and drew
back his chair; Mr. Slope, who had returned to the pole star that
attracted him, laughed aloud; Mr. Arabin winced and shut his eyes;
and the signora pretended not to hear her daughter.

"Go to Aunt Charlotte, lovey," said the mamma, "and ask her if it is
not time for you to go out."

But little Miss Julia, though she had not exactly liked the nature of
Mr. Thorne's attention, was accustomed to be played with by gentlemen,
and did not relish the idea of being sent so soon to her 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 so than he deserves, I am sure," said Mr. Arabin.

"Only think, Mr. Thorne, he is to be our new dean; of course we all
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 been already 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 by, Mr. Arabin, I beg to tell you I like much the best. He who
runs can read that Mr. Slope is a favoured lover. Come, Mr. Slope,
when is the widow to be made Mrs. Dean?"

To Mr. Arabin this badinage was peculiarly painful, and yet he could
not tear himself away and leave it. He believed, still believed with
that sort of belief which the fear of a thing engenders, that Mrs.
Bold would probably become the wife of Mr. Slope. Of Mr. Slope's
little adventure in the garden he knew nothing. For aught he knew,
Mr. Slope might have had an adventure of quite a different character.
He might have thrown himself at the widow's feet, been accepted, and
then returned to town a jolly, thriving wooer. The signora's jokes
were bitter enough to Mr. Slope, but they were quite as bitter to Mr.
Arabin. He still stood leaning against the fire-place, fumbling with
his hands in his trousers pockets.

"Come, come, Mr. Slope, don't be so bashful," continued the signora.
"We all know that you proposed to the lady the other day at
Ullathorne. Tell us with what words she accepted you. Was it with a
simple 'yes,' or with the two 'no no's' which make an affirmative?
Or did silence give consent? Or did she speak out with that spirit
which so well becomes a widow and say openly, 'By my troth, sir, you
shall make me Mrs. Slope as soon as it is your pleasure to do so.'"

Mr. Slope had seldom in his life felt himself less at his ease.
There sat Mr. Thorne, laughing silently. There stood his old
antagonist, Mr. Arabin, gazing at him with all his eyes. There round
the door between the two rooms were clustered a little group of
people, including Miss Stanhope and the Revs. Messrs. Grey and Green,
all listening to his discomfiture. He knew that it depended solely
on his own wit whether or no he could throw the joke back upon the
lady. He knew that it stood him to do so if he possibly could, but
he had not a word. "'Tis conscience that makes cowards of us all."
He felt on his cheek the sharp points of Eleanor's fingers, and
did not know who might have seen the blow, who might have told the
tale to this pestilent woman who took such delight in jeering him.
He stood there, therefore, red as a carbuncle and mute as a fish;
grinning sufficiently to show his teeth; an object of pity.

But the signora had no pity; she knew nothing of mercy. Her present
object was to put Mr. Slope down, and she was determined to do it
thoroughly, now that she had him in her power.

"What, Mr. Slope, no answer? Why it can't possibly be that the woman
has been fool enough to refuse you? She can't surely be looking
out after a bishop. But I see how it is, Mr. Slope. Widows are
proverbially cautious. You should have let her alone till the new hat
was on your head, till you could show her the key of the deanery."

"Signora," said he at last, trying to speak in a tone of dignified
reproach, "you really permit yourself to talk on solemn subjects in a
very improper way."

"Solemn subjects--what solemn subject? Surely a dean's hat is not such
a solemn subject."

"I have no aspirations such as those you impute to me. Perhaps you
will drop the subject."

"Oh, certainly, Mr. Slope; but one word first. Go to her again with
the prime minister's letter in your pocket. I'll wager my shawl to
your shovel she does not refuse you then."

"I must say, signora, that I think you are speaking of the lady in a
very unjustifiable manner."

"And one other piece of advice, Mr. Slope; I'll only offer you one
other;" and then she commenced singing--


   "It's gude to be merry and wise, Mr. Slope;
      It's gude to be honest and true;
    It's gude to be off with the old love--Mr. Slope,
      Before you are on with the new.


"Ha, ha, ha!"

And the signora, throwing herself back on her sofa, laughed merrily.
She little recked how those who heard her would, in their own
imaginations, fill up the little history of Mr. Slope's first love.
She little cared that some among them might attribute to her the
honour of his earlier admiration. She was tired of Mr. Slope and
wanted to get rid of him; she had ground for anger with him, and she
chose to be revenged.

How Mr. Slope got out of that room he never himself knew. He did
succeed ultimately, and probably with some assistance, in getting his
hat and escaping into the air. At last his love for the signora was
cured. Whenever he again thought of her in his dreams, it was not as
of an angel with azure wings. He connected her rather with fire and
brimstone, and though he could still believe her to be a spirit, he
banished her entirely out of heaven and found a place for her among
the infernal gods. When he weighed in the balance, as he not seldom
did, the two women to whom he had attached himself in Barchester, the
pre-eminent place in his soul's hatred was usually allotted to the
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 Dean of Barchester and
marry his wife's sister! He talked of it and talked of it till he was
nearly ill. Mrs. Grantly almost wished that the marriage were done and
over, so that she might hear no more about it.

And there was yet another ground of misery which cut him to the quick
nearly as closely as either of the others. That paragon of a clergyman
whom he had bestowed upon St. Ewold's, that college friend of whom he
had boasted so loudly, that ecclesiastical knight before whose lance
Mr. Slope was to fall and bite the dust, that worthy bulwark of the
church as it should be, that honoured representative of Oxford's
best spirit, was--so at least his wife had told him half a dozen
times--misconducting himself!

Nothing had been seen of Mr. Arabin at Plumstead for the last week,
but a good deal had, unfortunately, been heard of him. As soon as Mrs.
Grantly had found herself alone with the archdeacon, on the evening of
the Ullathorne party, she had expressed herself very forcibly as to
Mr. Arabin's conduct on that occasion. He had, she declared, looked
and acted and talked very unlike a decent parish clergyman. At first
the archdeacon had laughed at this, and assured her that she need not
trouble herself--that Mr. Arabin would be found to be quite safe. But
by degrees he began to find that his wife's eyes had been sharper than
his own. Other people coupled the signora's name with that of Mr.
Arabin. The meagre little prebendary who lived in the close told him
to a nicety how often Mr. Arabin had visited at Dr. Stanhope's, and
how long he had remained on the occasion of each visit. He had asked
after Mr. Arabin at the cathedral library, and an officious little
vicar choral had offered to go and see whether he could be found at
Dr. Stanhope's. Rumour, when she has contrived to sound the first
note on her trumpet, soon makes a loud peal audible enough. It was
too clear that Mr. Arabin had succumbed to the Italian woman, and
that the archdeacon's credit would suffer fearfully if something were
not done to rescue the brand from the burning. Besides, to give the
archdeacon his due, he was really attached to Mr. Arabin, and grieved
greatly at his backsliding.

They were sitting, talking over their sorrows, in the drawing-room
before dinner on the day after Mr. Slope's departure for London, and
on this occasion Mrs. Grantly spoke out her mind freely. She had
opinions of her own about parish clergymen, and now thought it right
to give vent to them.

"If you would have been led by me, Archdeacon, you would never have
put a bachelor into St. Ewold's."

"But my dear, you don't meant to say that all bachelor clergymen
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 someone who could."

"But, my dear, are fellows never to get livings?"

"Yes, to be sure they are, when they get engaged. I never would put
a young man into a living unless he were married, or engaged to be
married. Now, here is Mr. Arabin. The whole responsibility lies upon
you."

"There is not at this moment a clergymen in all Oxford more respected
for morals and conduct than Arabin."

"Oh, Oxford!" said the lady, with a sneer. "What men choose to do at
Oxford nobody ever hears of. A man may do very well at Oxford who
would bring disgrace on a parish; and to tell you the truth, it seems
to me that Mr. Arabin is just such a man."

The archdeacon groaned deeply, but he had no further answer to make.

"You really must speak to him, Archdeacon. Only think what the Thornes
will say if they hear that their parish clergyman spends his whole
time philandering with this woman."

The archdeacon groaned again. He was a courageous man, and knew well
enough how to rebuke the younger clergymen of the diocese, when
necessary. But there was that about Mr. Arabin which made the doctor
feel that it would be very difficult to rebuke him with good effect.

"You can advise him to find a wife for himself, and he will understand
well enough what that means," said Mrs. Grantly.

The archdeacon had nothing for it but groaning. There was Mr. Slope:
he was going to be made dean; he was going to take a wife; he was
about to achieve respectability and wealth, an excellent family
mansion, and a family carriage; he would soon be among the comfortable
_élite_ of the ecclesiastical world of Barchester; whereas his own
_protégé_, the true scion of the true church, by whom he had sworn,
would be still but a poor vicar, and that with a very indifferent
character for moral conduct! It might be all very well recommending
Mr. Arabin to marry, but how would Mr. Arabin, when married, support
a wife?

Things were ordering themselves thus in Plumstead drawing-room when
Dr. and Mrs. Grantly were disturbed in their sweet discourse by the
quick rattle of a carriage and pair of horses on the gravel sweep.
The sound was not that of visitors, whose private carriages are
generally brought up to country-house doors with demure propriety,
but betokened rather the advent of some person or persons who were
in a hurry to reach the house, and had no intention of immediately
leaving it. Guests invited to stay a week, and who were conscious of
arriving after the first dinner-bell, would probably approach in such
a manner. So might arrive an attorney with the news of a granduncle's
death, or a son from college with all the fresh honours of a double
first. No one would have had himself driven up to the door of a
country-house in such a manner who had the slightest doubt of his own
right to force an entry.

"Who is it?" said Mrs. Grantly, looking at her husband.

"Who on earth can it be?" said the archdeacon to his wife. He then
quietly got up and stood with the drawing-room door open in his hand.
"Why, it's your father!"

It was indeed Mr. Harding, and Mr. Harding alone. He had come by
himself in a post-chaise with a couple of horses from Barchester,
arriving almost after dark, and evidently full of news. His visits
had usually been made in the quietest manner; he had rarely presumed
to come without notice, and had always been driven up in a modest
old green fly, with one horse, that hardly made itself heard as it
crawled up to the hall-door.

"Good gracious, Warden, is it you?" said the archdeacon, forgetting in
his surprise the events of the last few years. "But come in; nothing
the matter, I hope."

"We are very glad you are come, Papa," said his daughter. "I'll go
and get your room ready at once."

"I an't warden, Archdeacon," said Mr. Harding; "Mr. Quiverful is
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 this moment, Susan," said Mr. Harding. "I have something to
tell you."

"The dinner-bell will ring in five minutes," said she.

"Will it?" said Mr. Harding. "Then perhaps I had better wait." He was
big with news which he had come to tell, but which he knew could not
be told without much discussion. He had hurried away to Plumstead as
fast as two horses could bring him, and now, finding himself there, he
was willing to accept the reprieve which dinner would give him.

"If you have anything of moment to tell us," said the archdeacon,
"pray let us hear it at once. Has Eleanor gone off?"

"No, she has not," said Mr. Harding with a look of great displeasure.

"Has Slope been made dean?"

"No, he has not, but--"

"But what?" said the archdeacon, who was becoming very impatient.

"They have--"

"They have what?" said the archdeacon.

"They have offered it to me," said Mr. Harding, with a modesty which
almost prevented his speaking.

"Good heavens!" said the archdeacon, and sunk back exhausted in an
easy chair.

"My dear, dear father," said Mrs. Grantly, and threw her arms round
her father's neck.

"So I thought I had better come out and consult with you at once,"
said Mr. Harding.

"Consult!" shouted the archdeacon. "But, my dear Harding, I
congratulate you with my whole heart--with my whole heart; I do
indeed. I never heard anything in my life that gave me so much
pleasure;" and he got hold of both his father-in-law's hands, and
shook them as though he were going to shake them off, and walked
round and round the room, twirling a copy of "The Jupiter" over his
head to show his extreme exultation.

"But--" began Mr. Harding.

"But me no buts," said the archdeacon. "I never was so happy in my
life. It was just the proper thing to do. Upon my honour I'll never
say another word against Lord ---- the longest day I have to live."

"That's Dr. Gwynne's doing, you may be sure," said Mrs. Grantly, who
greatly liked the Master of Lazarus, he being an orderly married man
with a large family.

"I suppose it is," said the archdeacon.

"Oh, Papa, I am so truly delighted!" said Mrs. Grantly, getting up
and kissing her father.

"But, my dear," said Mr. Harding. It was all in vain that he strove to
speak; nobody would listen to him.

"Well, Mr. Dean," said the archdeacon, triumphing, "the deanery
gardens will be some consolation for the hospital elms. Well, poor
Quiverful! I won't begrudge him his good fortune any longer."

"No, indeed," said Mrs. Grantly. "Poor woman, she has fourteen
children. I am sure I am very glad they have got it."

"So am I," said Mr. Harding.

"I would give twenty pounds," said the archdeacon, "to see how
Mr. Slope will look when he hears it." The idea of Mr. Slope's
discomfiture formed no small part of the archdeacon's pleasure.

At last Mr. Harding was allowed to go upstairs and wash his hands,
having, in fact, said very little of all that he had come out to
Plumstead on purpose to say. Nor could anything more be said till
the servants were gone after dinner. The joy of Dr. Grantly was
so uncontrollable that he could not refrain from calling his
father-in-law Mr. Dean before the men, and therefore it was soon
matter of discussion in the lower regions how Mr. Harding, instead of
his daughter's future husband, was to be the new dean, and various
were the opinions on the matter. The cook and butler, who were
advanced in years, thought that it was just as it should be; but the
footman and lady's maid, who were younger, thought it was a great
shame that Mr. Slope should lose his chance.

"He's a mean chap all the same," said the footman, "and it an't along
of him that I says so. But I always did admire the missus's sister;
and she'd well become the situation."

While these were the ideas downstairs, a very great difference of
opinion existed above. As soon as the cloth was drawn and the wine on
the table, Mr. Harding made for himself an opportunity of speaking.
It was, however, with much inward troubling that he said:

"It's very kind of Lord ----, very kind, and I feel it deeply, most
deeply. I am, I must confess, gratified by the offer--"

"I should think so," said the archdeacon.

"But all the same I am afraid that I can't accept it."

The decanter almost fell from the archdeacon's hand upon the table,
and the start he made was so great as to make his wife jump up from
her chair. Not accept the deanship! If it really ended in this, there
would be no longer any doubt that his father-in-law was demented. The
question now was whether a clergyman with low rank and preferment
amounting to less than £200 a year should accept high rank, £1,200 a
year, and one of the most desirable positions which his profession had
to afford!

"What!" said the archdeacon, gasping for breath and staring at his
guest as though the violence of his emotion had almost thrown him
into a fit. "What!"

"I do not find myself fit for new duties," urged Mr. Harding.

"New duties! What duties?" said the archdeacon with unintended
sarcasm.

"Oh, Papa," said Mrs. Grantly, "nothing can be easier than what a
dean has to do. Surely you are more active than Dr. Trefoil."

"He won't have half as much to do as he has at present," said Dr.
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 that I am too old for it."

"Good heavens! People! 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 are
appointed to new situations day after day."

"My dear," said he, "it is impossible that I should make you
understand my feelings, nor do I pretend to any great virtue in the
matter. The truth is, I want the force of character which might
enable me to stand against the spirit of the times. The call on all
sides now is for young men, and I have not the nerve to put myself
in opposition to the demand. Were 'The Jupiter,' when it hears
of my appointment, to write article after article setting forth my
incompetency, I am sure it would cost me my reason. I ought to be
able to bear with such things, you will say. Well, my dear, I own
that I ought. But I feel my weakness, and I know that I can't. And
to tell you the truth, I know no more than a child what the dean has
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 recent poverty,
he did fully recognize the satisfaction of having those belonging to
him in comfortable positions. It would be much more suitable that Mr.
Harding should be Dean of Barchester than vicar of St. Cuthbert's and
precentor to boot. And then the great discomfiture of that arch-enemy
of all that was respectable in Barchester, of that new Low Church
clerical parvenu that had fallen amongst them, that alone would be
worth more, almost, than the situation itself. It was frightful to
think that such unhoped-for good fortune should be marred by the
absurd crotchets and unwholesome hallucinations by which Mr. Harding
allowed himself to be led astray. To have the cup so near his lips
and then to lose the drinking of it was more than Dr. Grantly could
endure.

And yet it appeared as though he would have to endure it. In vain he
threatened and in vain he coaxed. Mr. Harding did not indeed speak
with perfect decision of refusing the proffered glory, but he would
not speak with anything like decision of accepting it. When pressed
again and again, he would again and again allege that he was wholly
unfitted to new duties. It was in vain that the archdeacon tried to
insinuate, though he could not plainly declare, that there were no
new duties to perform. It was in vain he hinted that in all cases
of difficulty he, he the archdeacon, was willing and able to guide
a weak-minded dean. Mr. Harding seemed to have a foolish idea, not
only that there were new duties to do, but that no one should accept
the place who was not himself prepared to do them.

The conference ended in an understanding that Mr. Harding should
at once acknowledge the letter he had received from the minister's
private secretary, and should beg that he might be allowed two days to
make up his mind; and that during those two days the matter should be
considered.

On the following morning the archdeacon was to drive Mr. Harding back
to Barchester.



CHAPTER XLVIII

Miss Thorne Shows Her Talent at Match-Making


On Mr. Harding's return to Barchester from Plumstead, which was
effected by him in due course in company with the archdeacon, more
tidings of a surprising nature met him. He was, during the journey,
subjected to such a weight of unanswerable argument, all of which
went to prove that it was his bounden duty not to interfere with the
paternal Government that was so anxious to make him a dean, that when
he arrived at the chemist's door in High Street, he hardly knew which
way to turn himself in the matter. But, perplexed as he was, he was
doomed to further perplexity. He found a note there from his daughter
begging him most urgently to come to her immediately. But we must
again go back a little in our story.

Miss Thorne had not been slow to hear the rumours respecting Mr.
Arabin which had so much disturbed the happiness of Mrs. Grantly.
And she, also, was unhappy to think that her parish clergyman should
be accused of worshipping a strange goddess. She, also, was of
opinion that rectors and vicars should all be married, and with that
good-natured energy which was characteristic of her, she put her wits
to work to find a fitting match for Mr. Arabin. Mrs. Grantly, in this
difficulty, could think of no better remedy than a lecture from the
archdeacon. Miss Thorne thought that a young lady, marriageable and
with a dowry, might be of more efficacy. In looking through the
catalogue of her unmarried friends who might possibly be in want of
a husband, and might also be fit for such promotion as a country
parsonage affords, she could think of no one more eligible than Mrs.
Bold; consequently, losing no time, she went into Barchester on the
day of Mr. Slope's discomfiture, the same day that her brother had
had his interesting interview with the last of the Neros, and invited
Mrs. Bold to bring her nurse and baby to Ullathorne and make them a
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 match-making genius.

Eleanor was taken a little by surprise, but the matter ended in her
promising to go to Ullathorne for at any rate a week or two; on the
day previous to that on which her father drove out to Plumstead, she
had had herself driven out to Ullathorne.

Miss Thorne would not perplex her with her embryo lord on that same
evening, thinking that she would allow her a few hours to make herself
at home; but on the following morning Mr. Arabin arrived. "And now,"
said Miss Thorne to herself, "I must contrive to throw them in each
other's way." That same day, after dinner, Eleanor, with an assumed
air of dignity which she could not maintain, with tears which she
could not suppress, with a flutter which she could not conquer, and a
joy which she could not hide, told Miss Thorne that she was engaged
to marry Mr. Arabin and that it behoved her to get back home to
Barchester as quick as she could.

To say simply that Miss Thorne was rejoiced at the success of the
scheme would give a very faint idea of her feelings on the occasion.
My readers may probably have dreamt before now that they have had
before them some terribly long walk to accomplish, some journey of
twenty or thirty miles, an amount of labour frightful to anticipate,
and that immediately on starting they have ingeniously found some
accommodating short cut which has brought them without fatigue to
their work's end in five minutes. Miss Thorne's waking feelings were
somewhat of the same nature. My readers may perhaps have had to do
with children, and may on some occasion have promised to their young
charges some great gratification intended to come off, perhaps at
the end of the winter, or at the beginning of summer. The impatient
juveniles, however, will not wait, and clamorously demand their treat
before they go to bed. Miss Thorne had a sort of feeling that her
children were equally unreasonable. She was like an inexperienced
gunner, who has ill-calculated the length of the train that he has
laid. The gun-powder exploded much too soon, and poor Miss Thorne
felt that she was blown up by the strength of her own petard.

Miss Thorne had had lovers of her own, but they had been gentlemen
of old-fashioned and deliberate habits. Miss Thorne's heart also had
not always been hard, though she was still a virgin spinster; but it
had never yielded in this way at the first assault. She had intended
to bring together a middle-aged, studious clergyman and a discreet
matron who might possibly be induced to marry again, and in doing so
she had thrown fire among tinder. Well, it was all as it should be,
but she did feel perhaps a little put out by the precipitancy of her
own success, and perhaps a little vexed at the readiness of Mrs. Bold
to be wooed.

She said, however, nothing about it to anyone, and ascribed it all to
the altered manners of the new age. Their mothers and grandmothers
were perhaps a little more deliberate, but it was admitted on all
sides that things were conducted very differently now than in former
times. For aught Miss Thorne knew of the matter, a couple of hours
might be quite sufficient under the new régime to complete that for
which she in her ignorance had allotted twelve months.

But we must not pass over the wooing so cavalierly. It has been
told, with perhaps tedious accuracy, how Eleanor disposed of two
of her lovers at Ullathorne; and it must also be told with equal
accuracy, and if possible with less tedium, how she encountered Mr.
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 could she look for friendship so properly
as to Miss Thorne? This invitation was like an ordained step towards
the fulfilment of her destiny, and when she also heard that Mr. Arabin
was expected to be at Ullathorne on the following day, it seemed as
though all the world were conspiring in her favour. Well, did she
not deserve it? In that affair of Mr. Slope had not all the world
conspired against her?

She could not, however, make herself easy and at home. When, in the
evening after dinner, Miss Thorne expatiated on the excellence of Mr.
Arabin's qualities, and hinted that any little rumour which might be
ill-naturedly spread abroad concerning him really meant nothing, Mrs.
Bold found herself unable to answer. When Miss Thorne went a little
further and declared that she did not know a prettier vicarage-house
in the county than St. Ewold's, Mrs. Bold, remembering the projected
bow-window and the projected priestess, still held her tongue, though
her ears tingled with the conviction that all the world knew that she
was in love with Mr. Arabin. Well, what would that matter if they
could only meet and tell each other what each now longed to tell?

And they did meet. Mr. Arabin came early in the day and found the two
ladies together at work in the drawing-room. Miss Thorne, who, had
she known all the truth, would have vanished into air at once, had
no conception that her immediate absence would be a blessing, and
remained chatting with them till luncheon-time. Mr. Arabin could talk
about nothing but the Signora Neroni's beauty, would discuss no people
but the Stanhopes. This was very distressing to Eleanor and not very
satisfactory to Miss Thorne. But yet there was evidence of innocence
in his open avowal of admiration.

And then they had lunch, and then Mr. Arabin went out on parish duty,
and Eleanor and Miss Thorne were left to take a walk together.

"Do you think the Signora Neroni is so lovely as people say?" Eleanor
asked as they were coming home.

"She is very beautiful, certainly, very beautiful," Miss Thorne
answered; "but I do not know that anyone considers her lovely. She
is a woman all men would like to look at, but few, I imagine, would
be glad to take her to their hearths, even were she unmarried and not
afflicted as she is."

There was some little comfort in this. Eleanor made the most of
it till she got back to the house. She was then left alone in the
drawing-room, and just as it was getting dark Mr. Arabin came in.

It was a beautiful afternoon in the beginning of October, and Eleanor
was sitting in the window to get the advantage of the last daylight
for her novel. There was a fire in the comfortable room, but the
weather was not cold enough to make it attractive; and as she could
see the sun set from where she sat, she was not very attentive to her
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
more interesting converse. It cannot probably be said that he
had resolved then and there to make an offer to Eleanor. Men, we
believe, seldom make such resolves. Mr. Slope and Mr. Stanhope had
done so, it is true, but gentlemen generally propose without any
absolutely defined determination as to their doing so. Such was now
the case with Mr. Arabin.

"It is a lovely sunset," said Eleanor, answering him on the dreadfully
trite subject which he had chosen.

Mr. Arabin could not see the sunset from the hearth-rug, so he had to
go close to her.

"Very lovely," said he, standing modestly so far away from her as to
avoid touching the flounces of her dress. Then it appeared that he
had nothing further to say; so, after gazing for a moment in silence
at the brightness of the setting sun, he returned to the fire.

Eleanor found that it was quite impossible for herself to commence a
conversation. In the first place she could find nothing to say; words,
which were generally plenty enough with her, would not come to her
relief. And moreover, do what she would, she could hardly prevent
herself from crying.

"Do you like Ullathorne?" said Mr. Arabin, speaking from the safely
distant position which he had assumed on the hearth-rug.

"Yes, indeed, very much!"

"I don't mean Mr. and Miss Thorne--I know you like them--but the style
of the house. There is something about old-fashioned mansions, built
as this is, and old-fashioned gardens, that to me is especially
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 his conversation was taking, and
yet she was relieved at his saying something which enabled herself to
speak without showing her own emotion.

"What do I think, Mrs. Bold?" and then he rumbled his money with his
hands in his trousers pockets, and looked and spoke very little like a
thriving lover. "It is the bane of my life that on important subjects
I acquire no fixed opinion. I think, and think, and go on thinking,
and yet my thoughts are running ever in different directions. I hardly
know whether or no we do lean more confidently than our fathers did on
those high hopes to which we profess to 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 awhile, during which Mr. Arabin continued
to turn over his shillings and half-crowns. "If we believe in
Scripture, we can hardly think that mankind in general will now be
allowed to retrograde."

Eleanor, whose mind was certainly engaged otherwise than on the
general state of mankind, made no answer to this. She felt thoroughly
dissatisfied with herself. She could not force her thoughts away from
the topic on which the signora had spoken to her in so strange a way,
and yet she knew that she could not converse with Mr. Arabin in an
unrestrained, natural tone till she did so. She was most anxious not
to show to him any special emotion, and yet she felt that if he looked
at her, he would at once see that she was not at ease.

But he did not look at her. Instead of doing so, he left the
fire-place and began walking up and down the room. Eleanor took up her
book resolutely, but she could not read, for there was a tear in her
eye, and do what she would, it fell on her cheek. When Mr. Arabin's
back was turned to her, she wiped it away; but another was soon
coursing down her face in its place. They would come--not a deluge
of tears that would have betrayed her at once, but one by one, single
monitors. Mr. Arabin did not observe her closely, and they passed
unseen.

Mr. Arabin, thus pacing up and down the room, took four or five turns
before he spoke another word, and Eleanor sat equally silent with her
face bent over her book. She was afraid that her tears would get the
better of her, and was preparing for an escape from the room, when
Mr. Arabin in his walk stood opposite to her. He did not come close
up but stood exactly on the spot to which his course brought him, and
then, with his hands under his coat-tails, thus made his confession.

"Mrs. Bold," said he, "I owe you retribution for a great offence of
which I have been guilty towards you." Eleanor's heart beat so that
she could not trust herself to say that he had never been guilty of
any offence. So Mr. Arabin thus went on.

"I have thought much of it since, and I am now aware that I was wholly
unwarranted in putting to you a question which I once asked you. It
was indelicate on my part, and perhaps unmanly. No intimacy which may
exist between myself and your connexion, Dr. Grantly, could justify
it. Nor could the acquaintance which existed between ourselves." This
word acquaintance struck cold on Eleanor's heart. Was this to be her
doom after all? "I therefore think it right to beg your pardon in a
humble spirit, and I now do so."

What was Eleanor to say to him? She could not say much because she
was crying, and yet she must say something. She was most anxious to
say that something graciously, kindly, and yet not in such a manner
as to betray herself. She had never felt herself so much at a loss
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 so to
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; as he did so, there was
a sober, sad seriousness in his own countenance which Eleanor found
herself unable to sustain. She could only look down upon the carpet,
let her tears trickle as they would, and leave her hand within his.

It was but for a minute that they stood so, but the duration of that
minute was sufficient to make it ever memorable to them both. Eleanor
was sure now that she was loved. No words, be their eloquence what it
might, could be more impressive than that eager, melancholy gaze.

Why did he look so into her eyes? Why did he not spea