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

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

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

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

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

Dr Grantly again bowed, but said nothing. He could have bought every single individual possession of the whole family of the Proudies, and have restored them as a gift, without much feeling the loss; and had kept a separate pair of horses for the exclusive use of his wife since the day of their marriage; whereas

  By PanEris using Melati.

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