London arrived. There was nothing in this which surprised Mr Arabin. It had somehow got about through all bah that Mr Harding was the new dean, and all Barchester was prepared to welcome him with pealing bells and full hearts. Mr Slope had certainly had a party; there had certainly been those in Barchester who were prepared to congratulate him on his promotion with assumed sincerity, but even his own party were not broken–hearted by his failure. The inhabitants of the city, even the high–souled ecstatic young ladies of thirty–five, had begun to comprehend that their welfare and the welfare of the place, was connected in some mysterious manner with the daily chants of the bi–weekly anthems. The expenditure of the palace had not added greatly to the popularity of the bishop’s side of the question; and, on the whole, there was a strong reaction. When it became known to all the world that Mr Harding was to be the new dean, all the world rejoiced heartily.

Mr Arabin, as we have said, was not surprised at the summons which called him to the deanery. He had not as yet seen Mr Harding since Eleanor had accepted him, nor had he seen him since he had learnt of his future father–in–law’s preferment. There was nothing more natural, more necessary, than that they should meet each other at the earliest possible moment.

Mr Arabin was waiting at the deanery parlour when Mr Harding and Dr Grantly were driven up from the station.

There was some excitement in the bosoms of them all, as they met and shook hands; but far too much to enable either of them to begin his story and tell it in a proper equable style of narrative. Mr Harding was some minutes quite dumbfounded, and Mr Arabin could only talk in short, spasmodic sentences about his love and good fortune. He slipped in, as best he could, some sort of congratulation about the deanship, and then went on with his hopes and fears—hopes that he might be received as a son, and fears that he hardly deserved such good fortune. Then he went back to the dean; it was the most thoroughly satisfactory appointment, he said, of which he had ever heard.

‘But! But! But—’ said Mr Harding; and then failing to get any further, he looked imploringly at the archdeacon.

‘The truth is, Arabin,’ said the doctor, ‘that, after all you are not destined to be the son–in–law to a dean. Nor am I either: more’s the pity.’

Mr Arabin looked to him for explanation. ‘Is not Mr Harding to be the new dean?’

‘It appears not,’ said the archdeacon. Mr Arabin’s face fell a little, and he looked from one to the other. It was plainly to be seen from them both that there was no cause for unhappiness in the matter, at least not of an unhappiness to them; but there was as yet no clarification of the mystery.

‘Think how old I am,’ said Mr Harding imploringly.

‘Fiddlestick!’ said the archdeacon.

‘That’s all very well, but it won’t make a young man of me,’ said Mr Harding.

‘And who is to be the dean?’ asked Mr Arabin.

‘Yes, that is the question,’ said the archdeacon. ‘Come, Mr Precentor, since you obstinately refuse to be anything else, let us know who is to be the man. He has got the nomination in his pocket.’

With eyes brim full of tears, Mr Harding pulled out the letter and handed it to his future son–in–law. He tried to make a little speech, but failed altogether. Having given up the document, he turned round to the wall, feigning to blow his nose, and then sat himself down on the old dean’s dingy horse–hair sofa. And here we find it necessary to bring our account of the interview to an end.

Nor can we pretend to describe the rapture with which Mr Harding was received by his daughter. She wept with grief and with joy; with grief that her father should, in his old age, still be without that rank and

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter/page Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.