The Warden's Decision

The meeting between Eleanor and her father was not so stormy as that described in the last chapter, but it was hardly more successful. On her return from Bold’s house, she found her father in a strange state. He was not sorrowful and silent as he had been on that memorable day when his son-in-law lectured him as to all that he owed to his order; nor was he in his usual quiet mood. When Eleanor reached the hospital, he was walking quickly to and fro upon the lawn, and she soon saw that he was much excited.

“I am going to London, my dear,” he said as soon as he saw her.

“London, papa!”

“Yes, my dear, to London; I will have this matter settled some way: there are some things, Eleanor, which I cannot bear.”

“Oh, papa, what is it?” said she, leading him by the arm into the house—“I had such good news for you, and now you make me fear I am too late;” and then, before he could let her know what had caused this sudden resolve, or could point to the fatal paper which lay on the table, she told him that the lawsuit was over, that Bold had commissioned her to assure her father in his name that it would be abandoned, that there was no further cause for misery, that the whole matter might be looked on as though it had never been discussed. She did not tell him with what determined vehemence she had obtained this concession in his favour, nor did she mention the price she was to pay for it.

The warden did not express himself peculiarly gratified at this intelligence, and Eleanor, though she had not worked for thanks, and was by no means disposed to magnify her own good offices, felt hurt at the manner in which her news was received.

“Mr. Bold can act as he thinks proper, my love,” said he; “if Mr. Bold thinks that he has been wrong, of course he will discontinue what he is doing; but that cannot change my purpose.”

“Oh, papa!” she exclaimed, all but crying with vexation—“I thought you would have been so happy—I thought all would have been right now.”

“Mr. Bold,” continued he, “has set great people to work, so great that I doubt they are now beyond his control. Read that, my dear:” and the warden, doubling up a number of the Jupiter, pointed to the peculiar article which she was to read. It was to the last of the three leaders, which are generally furnished daily for the support of the nation, that Mr. Harding directed her attention. It dealt some heavy blows on various clerical delinquents; on families who had received their tens of thousands yearly for doing nothing; on men who, as the article stated, rolled in wealth which they had neither earned nor inherited, and which was in fact stolen from the poorer clergy. It named some sons of bishops, and grandsons of archbishops; men great in their way, who had redeemed their disgrace in the eyes of many by the enormity of their plunder; and then, having disposed of these leviathans, it descended to Mr. Harding.

“We alluded some few weeks since to an instance of similar injustice, though in a more humble scale, in which the warden of an almshouse at Barchester has become possessed of the income of the greater part of the whole institution. Why an almshouse should have a warden we cannot pretend to explain, nor can we say what special need twelve old men can have for the services of a separate clergyman, seeing that they have twelve reserved seats for themselves in Barchester Cathedral. But be this as it may, let the gentleman call himself warden or precentor, or what he will, let him be never so scrupulous in exacting religious duties from his twelve dependants, or never so negligent as regards the services of the cathedral, it appears palpably clear that he can be entitled to no portion of the revenue of the hospital, excepting that which the founder set apart for him; and it is equally clear that the founder did not intend that three-fifths of his charity should be so consumed.

“The case is certainly a paltry one after the tens of thousands with which we have been dealing, for the warden’s income is after all but a poor eight hundred a year: eight hundred a year is not magnificent

  By PanEris using Melati.

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