‘It you would have been led by me, archdeacon, you would never have put a bachelor into St Ewold’s.’

‘But, my dear, you don’t mean to say that all bachelor clergymen misbehave themselves.’

‘I don’t know that clergymen are so much better than other men,’ said Mrs Grantly. ‘It’s all very well with a curate whom you have under your own eye, and whom you can get rid of if he persists in improprieties.’

‘But Mr Arabin was a fellow, and couldn’t have had a wife.’

‘Then I would have found some one who could.’

‘But, my dear, are fellows never to get livings?’

‘Yes, to be sure they are, when they got engaged. I never would put a young man into a living unless he were married, or engaged to be married. Now here is Mr Arabin. The whole responsibility lies upon you.’

‘There is not at this moment a clergyman in all Oxford more respected for morals and conduct than Arabin.’

‘Oh, Oxford!’ said the lady, with a sneer. ‘What men choose to do at Oxford, nobody ever hears of. A man may do very well at Oxford who would bring disgrace on a parish; and, to tell you the truth, it seems to me that Mr Arabin is just such a man.’

The archdeacon groaned deeply, but he had no further answer to make.

‘You really must speak to him, archdeacon. Only think what the Thornes will say if they hear that their parish clergyman spends his whole time philandering with this woman.’

The archdeacon groaned again. He was a courageous man, and knew well enough how to rebuke the younger clergymen of the diocese when necessary. But there was that about Mr Arabin which made the doctor feel that it would be very difficult to rebuke him with good effect.

‘You can advise him to find a wife for himself, and he will understand well enough what that means,’ said Mrs Grantly.

The archdeacon had nothing for it but groaning. There was Mr Slope; he was going to be made dean; he was going to take a wife; he was bout to achieve respectability and wealth; and excellent family mansion, and a family carriage; he would soon be among the comfortable élite of the ecclesiastical world of Barchester; whereas his own protégé, the true scion of the true church, by whom he had sworn, would still be a poor vicar, and that with a very indifferent character for moral conduct! It might be all very well recommending Mr Arabin to marry, but how would Mr Arabin when married support a wife?

Things were ordering themselves thus at Plumstead drawing–room when Dr and Mrs Grantly were disturbed in their sweet discourse by the quick rattle of a carriage and a pair of horses on the gravel sweep. The sound was not that of visitors, whose private carriages are generally brought up to country–house doors with demure propriety, but belonged rather to some person or persons who were in a hurry to reach the house, and had not intention of immediately leaving it. Guests invited to stay a week, and who were conscious of arriving after the first dinner bell, would probably approach in such a manner. So might arrive an attorney with the news of a granduncle’s death, or a son from college with all the fresh honours of a double first. No one would have had himself driven to the door of a country house in such a manner who had the slightest doubt of his own right to force an entry.

‘Who is it?’ said Mrs Grantly, looking at her husband.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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