‘It was not his fault nor mine either. You know how I dislike the idea of coming in the carriage with that man.’

‘I am sure I am very sorry if that has led to it.’

‘I don’t know what has led to it,’ said Eleanor, almost crying again. ‘But it has not been my fault.’

‘But what has he done, my dear?’

‘He’s an abominable, horrid, hypocritical man, and it would serve him right to tell the bishop about it.’

‘Believe me, if you want to do him an injury, you had far better tell Mrs Proudie. But what did he do, Mrs Bold?’

‘Ugh!’ exclaimed Eleanor.

‘Well, I must confess he’s not very nice,’ said Charlotte Stanhope.

‘Nice!’ said Eleanor. ‘He is the most fulsome, fawning, abominable man I ever saw. What business had he to come to me?—I that never gave him the slightest tittle of encouragement—I that always hated him, though I did take his part when others ran him down.’

‘That’s just where it is, my dear. He has heard that, and therefore fancied that of course you were in love with him.’

This was wormwood to Eleanor. It was in fact the very thing which all her friends had been saying for the last month past; and which experience now proved to be true. Eleanor resolved within herself that she would never again take any man’s part. The world with all its villainy, and all its ill–nature, might wag as it like; she would not again attempt to set crooked things straight.

‘But what did he do, my dear?’ said Charlotte, who was really rather interested in the subject.


‘Well—come, it can’t have been anything so very horrid, for the man was not tipsy.’

‘Oh, I am sure he was,’ said Eleanor. ‘I am sure he must have been tipsy.’

‘Well, I declare I didn’t observe it. But what was it, my love?’

‘Why, I believe I can hardly tell you. He talked such horrid stuff that you never heard the like; about religion, and heaven, and love—Oh dear,—he is such a nasty man.’

‘I can really imagine the sort of stuff he would talk. Well—and then?’

‘And then—he took hold of me.’

‘Took hold of you?’

‘Yes—he somehow got close to me, and took hold of me—’

‘By the waist?’

‘Yes,’ said Eleanor shuddering.

‘And then—’

  By PanEris using Melati.

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