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48. CHAPTER XLVIII: MISS THORNE SHOWS HER TALENT FOR MATCH-MAKING (continued)
Mr Slope! That any one should have dared to think that she who had been chosen by him could possibly have mated herself with Mr Slope! That they should have dared to tell him, also, and subject her bright happiness to such a needless risk! And then she smiled with joy as she thought of all the comforts that she could give him; not that he cared for comforts, but that it would be so delicious for her to give.
She got up and rang for her maid that she might tell her little boy of his new father; and in her own way she did tell him. She desired her maid to leave her, in order that she might be alone with her child; and there, while he lay sprawling on the bed, she poured forth the praises, so unmeaning to him, of the man she had selected to guard his infancy.
She could not be happy, however, till she had made Mr Arabin take the child to himself, and thus, as it were, adopt him as his own. The moment the idea struck her she took the baby in her arms, and, opening her door, ran quickly down to the drawing-room. She at once found, by the step still pacing on the floor, that he was there; and a glance within the room told her that he was alone. She hesitated a moment, and then hurried in with her precious charge.
Mr Arabin met her in the middle of the room. 'There,' said she, breathless with her haste; 'there, take him--take him and love him.'
Mr Arabin took the little fellow from her, and kissing him again and again, prayed God to bless him. 'He shall be all as my own-- all as my own,' said he. Eleanor, as she stooped to take back her child, kissed the hand that held him, and then rushed back with her treasure to her chamber.
It was then that Mr Harding's younger daughter was won for the second time. At dinner neither she nor Mr Arabin were very bright, but their silence occasioned no remark. In the drawing-room, as we have before said, she told Miss Thorne what had occurred. The next morning she returned to Barchester, and Mr Arabin went over with his budget of news to the archdeacon. As Dr Grantly was not there, he could only satisfy himself by telling Mrs Grantly how that he intended himself the honour of becoming her brother-in-law. In the ecstasy of her joy at hearing such tidings, Mrs Grantly vouchsafed him a warmer welcome than any he had yet received from Eleanor.
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