might be that she should not receive it unkindly. She was still angry with him, very angry with him; so angry that she would bit her lip and stamp her foot as she thought of what he had said and done. But nevertheless she yearned to let him know that he was forgiven; all that she required was that he should own that he had sinned.

She was to meet him at Ullathorne on the last day of the present month. Miss Thorne had invited all the country round to a breakfast on the lawn. There were to be tents and archery, and dancing for the ladies on the lawn, and for the swains and girls in the paddock. There were to be fiddlers and fifers, races for the boys, poles to be climbed, ditches full of water to be jumped over, horse–collars to be grinned through (this latter amusement was an addition of the stewards, and not arranged by Miss Thorne in the original programme), and every game to be played which, in a long course of reading, Miss Thorne could ascertain to have been played in the good days of Queen Elizabeth. Everything of more modern growth was to be tabooed, if possible. On one subject Miss Thorne was very unhappy. She had been turning in her mind the matter of the bull–ring, but could not succeed in making anything of it. She would not for the world have done, or allowed to be done, anything that was cruel; as to the promoting the torture of a bull for the amusement of her young neighbours, it need hardly be said that Miss Thorne would be the last to think of it. And yet, there was something so charming in the name. A bull–ring, however, without a bull would only be a memento of the decadence of the times, and she felt herself constrained to abandon the idea. Quintains, however, she was determined to have, and had poles and swivels and bags of flour prepared accordingly. She would no doubt have been anxious for something small in the way of a tournament; but, as she said to her brother, that had been tried, and the age had proved itself too decidedly inferior to its fore–runners to admit of such a pastime. Mr Thorne did not seem to participate in her regret, feeling perhaps that a full suit of chain–armour would have added but little to his own personal comfort.

This party at Ullathorne had been planned in the first place as a sort of welcoming to Mr Arabin on his entrance into St Ewold’s parsonage; an intended harvest–home gala for the labourers and their wives and children had subsequently been amalgamated with it, and thus it had grown into its present dimensions. All the Plumstead party had of course been asked, at the time of the invitation Eleanor had intended to have gone with her sister. Now her plans were altered, and she was going with the Stanhopes. The Proudies were also to be there; and as Mr Slope had not been included in the invitation to the palace, the signora, whose impudence never deserted her, asked permission of Miss Thorne to bring him.

This permission Miss Thorne gave, having no other alternative; but she did so with a trembling heart, fearing Mr Arabin would be offended. Immediately on his return she apologised, almost with tears, so dire an enmity was presumed to rage between the two gentlemen. But Mr Arabin comforted by an assurance that he should meet Mr Slope with the greatest pleasure imaginable, and made her promise that she would introduce them to each other.

But this triumph of Mr Slope’s was not so agreeable to Eleanor, who since her return to Barchester had done her best to avoid him. She would not give way to the Plumstead folk when they so ungenerously accused her of being in love with this odious man; but, nevertheless, knowing that she was so accused, she was fully alive to the expediency of keeping out of his way and dropping him by degrees. She had seen very little of him since her return. Her servants had been instructed to say to all visitors that she was out. She could not bring herself to specify Mr Slope particularly, and in order to order to avoid him she had thus debarred herself from all her friends. She had excepted Charlotte Stanhope, and, by degrees, a few others also. Once she had met him at the Stanhope’s; but, as a rule, Mr Slope’s visits there had been made in the morning, and hers in the evening. On that one occasion Charlotte had managed to preserve her from any annoyance. This was very good–natured on the part of Charlotte, as Eleanor thought, and also very sharp–witted, as Eleanor had told her friend nothing of her reasons for wishing to avoid that gentleman. The fact, however, was, that Charlotte had learnt from her sister that Mr Slope would probably put himself forward as a suitor for the widow’s hand, and she was consequently sufficiently alive to the expediency of guarding Bertie’s future wife from any danger in that quarter.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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