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23. CHAPTER XXIII: MR ARABIN READS HIMSELF IN AT ST EWOLD'S
On the Sunday morning the archdeacon with his sister-in-law and Mr Arabin drove over to Ullathorne, as had been arranged. On their way thither the new vicar declared himself to be considerably disturbed in his mind at the idea of thus facing his parishioners for the first time. He had, he said, been always subject to mauvaise honte and an annoying degree of bashfulness, which often unfitted him for any work of a novel description; and now he felt this so strongly that he feared he should acquit himself badly in St Ewold's reading-desk. He knew, he said, that those sharp little eyes of Miss Thorne would be on to him, and that they would not approve. All this the archdeacon greatly ridiculed. He himself knew not, and had never known, what it was to be shy. He could not conceive that Miss Thorne, surrounded as she would be by the peasants of Ullathorne, and a few of the poorer inhabitants of the suburbs of Barchester, could in any way affect the composure of a man well accustomed to address the learned congregations of St Mary's at Oxford, and he laughed accordingly at the idea of Mr Arabin's modesty.
Thereupon Mr Arabin commenced to subtilise. The change, he said, from St Mary's to St Ewold's was quite as powerful on the spirits as would be that from St Ewold's to St Mary's. Would not a peer who, by chance of fortune, might suddenly be driven to herd among the navvies be as afraid of the jeers of his companions, as would any navvy suddenly exalted to a seat among the peers? Whereupon the archdeacon declared with a loud laugh that he would tell Miss Thorne that her new minister had likened her to a navvy. Eleanor, however, pronounced such a conclusion unfair; a comparison might be very just in its proportions which did not at all assimilate the things compared. But Mr Arabin went in subtilising, regarding neither the archdeacon's raillery nor Eleanor's defence. A young lady, he said, would execute with most perfect self-possession a difficult piece of music in a room crowded with strangers, who would not be able to express herself in any intelligible language, even on any ordinary subject and among her most intimate friends, if she were required to do so standing on a box somewhat elevated among them. It was all an affair of education, and he at forty found it difficult to educate himself now.
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