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38. CHAPTER XXXVIII: THE BISHOP SITS DOWN TO BREAKFAST, AND THE DEAN DIES (continued)
It is impossible to say how the knowledge had been acquired, but the signora had a sort of instinctive knowledge that Mr Arabin was an admirer of Mrs Bold. Men hunt foxes by the aid of dogs, and are aware that they do so by the strong organ of smell with which the dog is endowed. They do not, however, in the least comprehend how such a sense can work with such acuteness. The organ by which woman instinctively, as it were, know and feel how other women are regarded by men, and how also men are regarded by other women, is equally strong, and equally incomprehensible. A glance, a word, a motion, suffices: by some such acute exercise of her feminine senses the signora was aware that Mr Arabin loved Eleanor Bold; and therefore, by a further exercise of her peculiar feminine propensities, it was quite natural for her to entrap Mr Arabin into her net.
The work was half done before she came to Ullathorne, and when could she have a better opportunity of completing it? She had had almost enough of Mr Slope, though she could not quite resist the fun of driving a very sanctimonious clergyman to madness by a desperate and ruinous passion. Mr Thorne had fallen too easily to give much pleasure in the chase. His position as a man of wealth might make his alliance of value, but as a lover he was very second-rate. We may say that she regarded him somewhat as a sportsman does a pheasant. The bird is so easily shot, that he would not be worth the shooting were it not for the very respectable appearance that he makes in a larder. The signora would not waste much time in shooting Mr Thorne, but still he was worth bagging for family uses.
But Mr Arabin was game of another sort. The signora was herself possessed of quite sufficient intelligence to know that Mr Arabin was a man more than usually intellectual. She knew also, that as a clergyman he was of a much higher stamp than Mr Slope, and that as gentleman he was better educated than Mr Thorne. She would never have attempted to drive Mr Arabin into ridiculous misery as she did Mr Slope, nor would she think it possible to dispose of him in ten minutes as she had done with Mr Thorne.
Such were her reflections about Mr Arabin. As to Mr Arabin, it cannot be said that he reflected at all about the signora.
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