Anthony Trollope: Barchester Towers


'Answer me this,' said Mr Arabin, stopping suddenly in his walk, and stepping forward so that he faced his companion. 'Answer me this question. You do not love Mr Slope? You do not intend to be his wife?'

Mr Arabin certainly did not go the right way to win such a woman as Eleanor Bold. Just as her wrath was evaporating, as it was disappearing before the true warmth of his untold love, he re-kindled it by a most useless repetition of his original sin. Had he known what he was about he should never have mentioned Mr Slope's name before Eleanor Bold, till he had made her all his own. Then, and not till then, he might have talked of Mr Slope with as much triumph as he chose.

'I shall answer no such question,' said she; 'and what is more, I must tell you that nothing can justify your asking it. Good morning!'

And so saying she stepped proudly across the lawn, and passing through the drawing-room window joined her father and sister at lunch in the dining-room. Half an hour afterwards she was in the carriage, and so she left Plumstead without again seeing Mr Arabin.

His walk was long and sad among the sombre trees that overshadowed the churchyard. He left the archdeacon's grounds that he might escape attention, and sauntered among the green hillocks under which lay at rest so many of the once loving swains and forgotten beauties of Plumstead. To his ears Eleanor's last words sounded like a knell never to be reversed. He could not comprehend that she might be angry with him, indignant with him, remorseless with him, and yet love him. He could not make up his mind whether or no Mr Slope was in truth a favoured rival. If not, why should she not have answered his question?

Poor Mr Arabin--untaught, illiterate, boorish, ignorant man! That at forty years of age you should know so little of the workings of a woman's heart!

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