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6. CHAPTER VI: WAR
'Good heavens!' exclaimed the archdeacon, as he placed his foot on the gravel walk of the close, and raising his hat with one hand, passed the other somewhat violently over his now grizzled locks; smoke issued from the uplifted beaver as it were a cloud of wrath, and the safety-valve of his anger opened, and emitted a visible steam, preventing positive explosion and probably apoplexy. 'Good heavens!'--and the archdeacon looked up to the gray pinnacles of the cathedral tower, making a mute appeal to that still living witness which had looked down on the doings of so many bishops of Barchester.
'I don't think I shall ever like that Mr Slope,' said Mr Harding.
'Like him!' roared the archdeacon, standing still for a moment to give more force to his voice; 'like him!' All the ravens of the close cawed their assent. The old bells of the tower, in chiming the hour, echoed the words; and the swallows flying out from their nests mutely expressed a similar opinion. Like Mr Slope! Why no, it was not very probable that any Barchester-bred living thing should like Mr Slope!
'Nor Mrs Proudie either,' said Mr Harding.
The archdeacon thereupon forgot himself. I will not follow his example, nor shock my readers by transcribing the term in which he expressed his feelings as to the lady who had been named. The ravens and the last lingering notes of the clock bells were less scrupulous, and repeated in corresponding echoes the very improper exclamation. The archdeacon again raised his hat; and another salutary escape of steam was effected.
There was a pause, during which the precentor tried to realise the fact that the wife of the bishop of Barchester had been thus designated, in the close of the cathedral, by the lips of its own archdeacon: but he could not do it.
'The bishop seems a quiet man enough,' suggested Mr Harding, having acknowledged to himself his own failure.
'Idiot!' exclaimed the doctor, who for the nonce was not capable of more than spasmodic attempts at utterance.
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