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19. CHAPTER XIX: BARCHESTER BY MOONLIGHT (continued)
'It is very late,' said Eleanor, 'it will be a shame to disturb your mother at such an hour.'
'Oh,' said Charlotte, laughing, 'you won't disturb mamma; I dare say she is in bed by this time, and Madeline would be furious if you do not come in and see her. Come, Bertie, take Mrs Bold's bonnet from her.'
They went up stairs, and found the signora alone, reading. She looked somewhat sad and melancholy, but not more so perhaps than was sufficient to excite additional interest in the bosom of Mr Slope; and she was soon deep in whispered intercourse with that happy gentleman, who was allowed to find a resting-place on her sofa. The signora had a way of whispering that was peculiarly her own, and was exactly the reverse of that which prevails among great tragedians. The great tragedian hisses out a positive whisper, made with bated breath, and produced by inarticulate tongue-formed sounds, but yet he is audible through the whole house. The signora however used no hisses, and produced all her words in a clear silver tone, but they could only be heard by the ear into which they were poured.
Charlotte hurried and skurried about the room hither and thither, doing, or pretending to do many things; and then saying something about seeing her mother, ran up stairs. Eleanor was then left alone with Bertie, and she hardly felt and hour fly by her. To give Bertie his due credit, he could not have played his cards better. He did not make love to her, nor sigh, nor look languishing; but he was amusing and familiar, yet respectful; and when he left Eleanor at her own door at one o'clock, which he did by the bye with the assistance of the now jealous Slope, she thought he was one of the most agreeable men, and the Stanhopes decidedly the most agreeable family, that she had ever met.
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