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23. CHAPTER XXIII: MR ARABIN READS HIMSELF IN AT ST EWOLD'S (continued)
Eleanor dissented on the matter of the box; and averred she could speak very well about dresses, or babies, or legs of mutton from any box, provided it were big enough for her to stand upon without fear, even though all her friends were listening to her. The archdeacon was sure she would not be able to say a word; but this proved nothing in favour of Mr Arabin. Mr Arabin said that he would try the question out with Mrs Bold, and get her on a box some day when the rectory might be full of visitors. To this Eleanor assented, making condition that the visitors should be of their own set, and the archdeacon cogitated in his mind, whether by such a condition it was intended that Mr Slope should be included, resolving also that, if so, the trial should certainly never take place in the rectory drawing-room at Plumstead.
And so arguing, they drove up to the iron gates of Ullathorne Court.
Mr and Miss Thorne were standing ready dressed for church in the hall, and greeted their clerical visitors with cordiality. The archdeacon was an old favourite. He was a clergyman of the old school, and this recommended him to the lady. He had always been an opponent of free trade as long as free trade was an open question; and now that it was no longer so, he, being a clergyman, had not been obliged, like most of his lay Tory companions, to read his recantation. He could therefore be regarded as a supporter of the immaculate fifty-three, and was on this account a favourite with Mr Thorne. The little bell was tinkling, and the rural population were standing about the lane, leaning on the church stile, and against the walls of the old court, anxious to get a look at their new minister as he passed from the house to the rectory. The archdeacon's servant had already preceded them thither with the vestments.
They all went together; and when the ladies passed into the church the three gentlemen tarried a moment in the lane, that Mr Thorne might name to the vicar with some kind of one-sided introduction, the most leading among his parishioners.
'Here are our churchwardens, Mr Arabin; Farmer Greenacre and Mr Stiles. Mr Stiles has the mill as you go into Barchester; and very good churchwardens they are.'
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