‘And I also will do my utmost to deserve it,’ said Mr Arabin very solemnly. And then, winding his arm round her waist, he stood there gazing at the fire, and she with her head leaning in his shoulder, stood by him, well satisfied with her position. They neither of them spoke, or found any want of speaking. All that was needful for them to say had been said. The yea, yea, had been spoken by Eleanor in her own way—and that way had been perfectly satisfactory to Mr Arabin.

And now it remained to them each to enjoy the assurance of the other’s love. And how great that luxury is! How far it surpasses any other pleasure which God has allowed to his creatures! And to a woman’s heart how doubly delightful!

When the ivy has found its tower, when the delicate creeper has found its strong wall, we know how the parasite plants grow and prosper. They were not created to stretch forth their branches alone, and endure without protection the summer’s sun and the winter’s storm. Alone they but spread themselves on the ground, and cower unseen in the dingy shade. But when they have found their firm supporters, how wonderful is their beauty; how all pervading and victorious!

What is the turret without its ivy, or the high garden wall without the jasmine which gives it its beauty and fragrance? The hedge without the honeysuckle is but a hedge.

There is s feeling still half existing, but now half conquered by the force of human nature, that a woman should be ashamed of her love till the husband’s right to her compels her to acknowledge it. We would fain preach a different doctrine. A woman should glory in her love; but on that account let her take the more care that it be such as to justify her glory.

Eleanor did glory in hers, and she felt, and had cause to feel, that it deserved to be held as glorious. She could have stood there for hours with his arm around her, had fate and Mr Thorne permitted it. Each moment she crept nearer to his bosom, and felt more and more certain that there was her home. What now to her was the archdeacon’s arrogance, her sister’s coldness, or her dear father’s weakness? What need she care for the duplicity of such friends as Charlotte Stanhope? She had found the strong shield that should guard her from all wrongs, the trusty pilot that should henceforward guide her through the shoals and rocks. She would give up the heavy burden of her independence, and once more assume the position of a woman, and the duties of a trusting and loving wife.

And he, too, stood there fully satisfied with his place. They were both looking intently on the fire, as though they could read there their future fate, till at last Eleanor turned her face towards his. ‘How sad you are,’ she said, smiling; and indeed his face was, if not sad, at least serious. ‘How sad you are, love!’

‘Sad,’ said he, looking down at her; ‘no, certainly not sad.’ Her sweet loving eyes were turned towards him, and she smiled softly as he answered her. The temptation was too strong even for the demure propriety of Mr Arabin, and, bending over her, he pressed his lips to hers.

Immediately after this, Mr Thorne appeared, and they were both delighted to hear that the tail of the Beelzebub colt was not materially injured.

It had been Mr Harding’s intention to hurry over to Ullathorne as soon as possible after his return to Barchester, in order to secure the support of his daughter in his meditated revolt against the archdeacon as touching the deanery; but he was spared the additional journey by hearing that Mrs Bold had returned unexpectedly home. As soon as he had read her note he started off, and found her waiting for him in her own house.

How much each of them had to tell the other, and how certain each was that the story which he or she had to tell would astonish the other!

‘My dear, I am so anxious to see you,’ said Mr Harding, kissing his daughter.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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