Plumstead Episcopi

The reader must now be requested to visit the rectory of Plumstead Episcopi; and as it is as yet still early morning, to ascend again with us into the bed-room of the archdeacon. The mistress of the mansion was at her toilet; on which we will not dwell with profane eyes, but proceed into a small inner room, where the doctor dressed and kept his boots and sermons; and here we will take our stand, premising that the door of the room was so open as to admit of a conversation between our reverend Adam and his valued Eve.

“It’s all your own fault, archdeacon,” said the latter; “I told you from the beginning how it would end, and papa has no one to thank but you.”

“Good gracious, my dear,” said the doctor, appearing at the door of his dressing-room, with his face and head enveloped in the rough towel which he was violently using; “how can you say so? I am doing my very best.”

“I wish you had never done so much,” said the lady, interrupting him; “if you’d just have let John Bold come and go there, as he and papa liked, he and Eleanor would have been married by this time, and we should not have heard one word about all this affair.”

“But, my dear——”

“Oh, it’s all very well, archdeacon, and of course you’re right; I don’t for a moment think you’ll ever admit that you could be wrong; but the fact is, you’ve brought this young man down upon papa by huffing him as you have done.”

“But, my love——”

“And all because you didn’t like John Bold for a brother-in-law. How is she ever to do better? papa hasn’t got a shilling; and though Eleanor is well enough, she has not at all a taking style of beauty. I’m sure I don’t know how she’s to do better than marry John Bold, or as well indeed,” added the anxious sister, giving the last twist to her last shoe-string.

Dr. Grantly felt keenly the injustice of this attack; but what could he say? He certainly had huffed John Bold; he certainly had objected to him as a brother-in-law, and a very few months ago the very idea had excited his wrath: but now matters were changed; John Bold had shown his power, and, though he was as odious as ever to the archdeacon, power is always respected, and the reverend dignitary began to think that such an alliance might not have been imprudent. Nevertheless, his motto was still “no surrender;” he would still fight it out; he still believed confidently in Oxford, in the bench of bishops, in Sir Abraham Haphazard, and in himself; and it was only when alone with his wife that doubts of defeat ever beset him. He once more tried to communicate this confidence to Mrs. Grantly, and for the twentieth time began to tell her of Sir Abraham.

“Oh, Sir Abraham!” said she, collecting all her house keys into her basket before she descended; “Sir Abraham won’t get Eleanor a husband; Sir Abraham won’t get papa another income when he has been worrited out of the hospital. Mark what I tell you, archdeacon: while you and Sir Abraham are fighting, papa will lose his preferment; and what will you do then with him and Eleanor on your hands? besides, who’s to pay Sir Abraham? I suppose he won’t take the case up for nothing?” And so the lady descended to family worship among her children and servants, the pattern of a good and prudent wife.

Dr. Grantly was blessed with a happy, thriving family. There were, first, three boys, now at home from school for the holidays. They were called, respectively, Charles James, Henry, and Samuel. The two younger (there were five in all) were girls; the elder, Florinda, bore the name of the Archbishop of York’s wife, whose godchild she was: and the younger had been christened Grizzel, after a sister of the Archbishop of Canterbury. The boys were all clever, and gave good promise of being well able to meet the cares and trials of the world; and yet they were not alike in their dispositions, and each had his individual character, and each his separate admirers among the doctor’s friends.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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