As Bold walked silently over the lawn Mr. Harding did not at first perceive him, and continued to draw his bow slowly across the plaintive wires; but he soon found from his audience that some stranger was there, and looking up, began to welcome his young friend with frank hospitality.
Pray, Mr. Harding; pray dont let me disturb you, said Bold; you know how fond I am of sacred music.
Oh! its nothing, said the precentor, shutting up the book and then opening it again as he saw the delightfully imploring look of his old friend Bunce. Oh, Bunce, Bunce, Bunce, I fear that after all thou art but a flatterer. Well, Ill just finish it then; its a favourite little bit of Bishops; and then, Mr. Bold, well have a stroll and a chat till Eleanor comes in and gives us tea. And so Bold sat down on the soft turf to listen, or rather to think how, after such sweet harmony, he might best introduce a theme of so much discord, to disturb the peace of him who was so ready to welcome him kindly.
Bold thought that the performance was soon over, for he felt that he had a somewhat difficult task, and he almost regretted the final leave-taking of the last of the old men, slow as they were in going through their adieus.
Bolds heart was in his mouth, as the precentor made some ordinary but kind remark as to the friendliness of the visit.
One evening call, said he, is worth ten in the morning. Its all formality in the morning; real social talk never begins till after dinner. Thats why I dine early, so as to get as much as I can of it.
Quite true, Mr. Harding, said the other; but I fear Ive reversed the order of things, and I owe you much apology for troubling you on business at such an hour; but it is on business that I have called just now.
Mr. Harding looked blank and annoyed; there was something in the tone of the young mans voice, which told him that the interview was intended to be disagreeable, and he shrank back at finding his kindly greeting so repulsed.
I wish to speak to you about the hospital, continued Bold.
Well, well, anything I can tell you I shall be most happy
Its about the accounts.
Then, my dear fellow, I can tell you nothing, for Im as ignorant as a child. All I know is, that they pay me 800l. a year. Go to Chadwick, he knows all about the accounts; and now tell me, will poor Mary Jones ever get the use of her limb again?
Well, I think she will, if shes careful; but, Mr. Harding, I hope you wont object to discuss with me what I have to say about the hospital.
Mr. Harding gave a deep, long-drawn sigh. He did object, very strongly object, to discuss any such subject with John Bold; but he had not the business tact of Mr. Chadwick, and did not know how to relieve himself from the coming evil; he sighed sadly, but made no answer.
I have the greatest regard for you, Mr. Harding, continued Bold; the truest respect, the most sincere
Thank ye, thank ye, Mr. Bold, inter-jaculated the precentor somewhat impatiently; Im much obliged, but never mind that; Im as likely to be in the wrong as another manquite as likely.
But, Mr. Harding, I must express what I feel, lest you should think there is personal enmity in what Im going to do.
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