Anthony Trollope: Barchester Towers


'Twas in vain that their cautious mother tried to instil into their breasts the very feeling she had striven to banish from that of their father; 'twas in vain that she repeated to the girls that 'there's many a slip 'twixt the cup and the lip'; 'twas in vain she attempted to make the children believe that they were to live at Puddingdale all their lives. Hopes mounted high and would not have themselves quelled. The neighbouring farmers heard this news, and came in to congratulate them. 'Twas Mrs Quiverful herself who had kindled the fire, and in the first outbreak of her renewed expectations she did it so thoroughly, that it was quite past her power to put it out again.

Poor matron! Good honest matron! Doing thy duty in the state to which thou hast been called, heartily if not contentedly; let the fire burn on--on this occasion the flames will not scorch; they shall warm thee and thine. 'Tis ordained that the husband of thine, that Q of thy bosom, shall reign supreme for some years to come over the bedesmen of Hiram's hospital.

And the last in all Barchester to mar their hopes, had he heard and seen all that had passed at Puddingdale that day, would have been Mr Harding. What wants had he to set in opposition to those of such a regiment of young ravens? There are fourteen of them living! With him at any rate, let us say, that the argument would have been sufficient for the appointment of Mr Quiverful.

In the morning, Q and his wife kept their appointments with that punctuality which bespeaks an expectant mind. The friendly farmer's gig was borrowed, and in that they went, discussing many things by the way. They had instructed the household to expect them back by one, and injunctions were given to the eldest pledge to have ready by that accustomed hour the remainder of the huge stew which the provident mother had prepared on the previous day. The hands of the kitchen clock came round to two, three, four, before the farmer's gig-wheels were agin heard at the vicarage gate. With what palpitating hearts were the returning wanderers greeted!

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