Anthony Trollope: Barchester Towers


And yet he did not really believe, as he should have done, that it was impossible. He should have known her well enough to feel that it was truly impossible. He should have been aware that Eleanor had that within her which would surely protect her from such degradation. But he, like so many others, was deficient in confidence in woman. He said to himself over and over again that it was impossible that Eleanor Bold should become Mrs Slope, and yet he believed that she would do so. And so he rambled about, and could do and think of nothing. He was thoroughly uncomfortable, thoroughly ill at ease, cross with himself and every body else, and feeding in his heart on animosity towards Mr Slope. This was not as it should be, as he knew and felt; but he could not help himself. In truth Mr Arabin was now in love with Mrs Bold, though ignorant of the fact himself. He was in love, and, though forty years old, was in love without being aware of it. He fumed and fretted, and did not know what was the matter, as a youth might do at one-and-twenty. And so having done no good at St Ewold's, he rode back much earlier than was usual with him, instigated, by some inward unacknowledged hope that he might see Mrs Bold before she left.

Eleanor had not passed a pleasant morning. She was irritated with every one, and not least with herself. She felt that she had been hardly used, but she felt also that she had not played her own cards well. She should have held herself so far above suspicion as to have received her sister's innuendoes and the archdeacon's lecture with indifference. She had not done this, but had shown herself angry and sore, and was now ashamed of her own petulance, and yet unable to discontinue it.

The greater part of the morning she had spent alone; but after a while her father joined her. He had fully made up his mind that, come what might, nothing should separate him from his youngest daughter. It was a hard task for him to reconcile himself to the idea of seeing her at the head of Mr Slope's table; but he got through it. Mr Slope, as he argued to himself, was a respectable man and a clergyman; and he, as Eleanor's father, had no right even to endeavour to prevent her from marrying such a one. He longed to tell her how he had determined to prefer her to all the world, how he was prepared to admit that she was not wrong, how thoroughly he differed from Dr Grantly; but he could not bring himself to mention Mr Slope's name. There was yet a chance that they were all wrong in their surmise; and, being thus in doubt, he could not bring himself to speak openly to her on the subject.

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