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16. CHAPTER XVI: BABY WORSHIP (continued)
Such having been the case, Mr Slope, naturally encountered a difficulty in talking over the bishop, a difficulty indeed which he found could not be overcome except at the cost of a general outbreak at the palace. A general outbreak at the present moment might be good policy, but it also might not. It was at any rate not a step to be lightly taken. He began by whispering to the bishop that he feared the public opinion would be against him if Mr Harding did not reappear at the hospital. The bishop answered with some warmth that Mr Quiverful had been promised the appointment on Mr Slope's advice. 'Not promised!' said Mr Slope. 'Yes, promised,' replied the bishop, 'and Mrs Proudie has seen Mrs Quiverful on the subject.' This was quite unexpected on the part of Mr Slope, but his presence of mind did not fail him, and he turned the statement to his own account.
'Ah, my lord,' said he, 'we shall all be in scrapes if the ladies interfere.'
This was too much in unison with his lordship's feelings to be altogether unpalatable, and yet such an allusion to interference demanded a rebuke. My lord was somewhat astounded also, though not altogether made miserable, by finding that there was a point of difference between his wife and his chaplain.
'I don't know what you mean by interference,' said the bishop mildly. 'When Mrs Proudie heard that Mr Quiverful was to be appointed, it was not unnatural that she should wish to see Mrs Quiverful about the schools. I really cannot say that I see any interference.'
'I only speak, my lord, for your own comfort,' said Slope; 'for your own comfort and dignity in the diocese. I can have no other motive. As far as personal feelings go, Mrs Proudie is the best friend I have. I must always remember that. But still, in my present position, my first duty is to your lordship.'
'I am sure of that, Mr Slope, I am quite sure of that;' said the bishop mollified: 'and I really think that Mr Harding should have the hospital.'
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