be reasonably expected that he would be equally successful with a dean. In the mean time, Dr Fillgrave and Mr Rerechild were doing their best; and poor Miss Trefoil sat at the head of her father’s bed, longing, as in such cases daughters do long, to be allowed to do something to show her love; if it were only to chafe his feet with her hands, or wait in menial offices on those autocratic doctors; anything so that now in the time of need she might be of use.

The archdeacon alone of the attendant clergy had been admitted for a moment into the sick man’s chamber. He had crept in with creaking shoes, had said with smothered voice a word of consolation to the sorrowing daughter, had looked on the distorted face of his old friend with solemn but yet eager scrutinising eye, as though he said in his heart, ‘and so some day it will probably be with me;’ and then, having whispered an unmeaning word or two to the doctors, had creaked his way back again into the library.

‘He’ll never speak again, I fear,’ said the archdeacon as he noiselessly closed the door, as though the unconscious dying man, from whom all sense had fled, would have heard in his distant chamber the spring of the lock which was now so carefully handled.

‘Indeed! Indeed! Is he so bad?’ said the meagre little prebendary, turning over in his own mind all the probable candidates for the deanery, and wondering whether the archdeacon would think it worth his while to accept it. ‘The fit must have been very violent.’

‘When a man over seventy has a stroke of apoplexy, it seldom comes very lightly,’ said the burly chancellor.

‘He was an excellent, sweet–tempered man,’ said one of the vicars choral. ‘Heaven knows how we shall repair his loss.’

‘He was indeed,’ said a minor canon; ‘and a great blessing to all those privileged to take a share of the services of our cathedral. I suppose the government will appoint, Mr Archdeacon. I trust that we may have no stranger.’

‘We will not talk about his successor,’ said the archdeacon, ‘while there is yet hope.’

‘Oh no, of course not,’ said the minor canon. ‘It would be extraordinarily indecorous; but—’

‘I know of no man,’ said the meagre little prebendary, ‘who has better interest with the present government than Mr Slope.’

‘Mr Slope!’ said two or three at once almost sotto voce. ‘Mr Slope dean of Barchester!’

‘Pooh!’ exclaimed the burly chancellor.

‘The bishop would do anything for him,’ said the little prebendary.

‘And so would Mrs Proudie,’ said the vicar choral.

‘Pooh!’ said the chancellor.

The archdeacon had almost turned pale at the idea. What if Mr Slope should become dean of Barchester? To be sure there was no adequate ground, indeed no ground at all, for presuming that such a desecration could even be contemplated. But nevertheless it was on the cards. Dr Proudie had interest with the government, and the man carried as it were Dr Proudie in his pocket. How should they all conduct themselves if Mr Slope were to become dean of Barchester? The bare idea for a moment struck even Dr Grantly dumb.

‘It would certainly not be very pleasant for us to have Mr Slope in the deanery,’ said the little prebendary, chuckling inwardly at the evident consternation which his surmise had created.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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