‘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 any one 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 he 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 be called on to lower myself in the world’s esteem an 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 knew well 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 doing so.

‘I was talking for a full hour yesterday with Mr Slope,’ said she, with some little assumption of dignity, ‘and I did not find myself to be 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 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

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter/page Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.