Anthony Trollope: Barchester Towers


'You have nothing to regret; but oh! Mary, I have--so much--so much;'--and then she began kissing her boy, whom her caresses had aroused from his slumbers. When she raised her head, Mary saw that the tears were running down her cheeks.

'Good heavens, Eleanor, what is the matter? What has happened to you?--Eleanor, dearest Eleanor--what is the matter?' and Mary got up with the boy still in her arms.

'Give him to me--give him to me,' said the young mother. 'Give him to me, Mary,'and she almost tore the child out of her sister's arms. The poor little fellow murmured somewhat at the disturbance, but nevertheless nestled himself close into his mother's bosom.

'Here, Mary, take the cloak from me. My own, own darling, darling, darling jewel. You are not false to me. Everybody else is false; everybody else is cruel. Mamma will care for nobody, nobody, nobody, but her own, own, own, little man;' and she again kissed and pressed the baby, and cried till the tears ran down over the child's face.

'Who has been cruel to you, Eleanor?' said Mary. 'I hope I have not.'

Now, in this matter, Eleanor had great cause for uneasiness.

She could not certainly accuse her loving sister-in-law of cruelty; but she had to do that which was more galling; she had to accuse herself of an imprudence against which her sister-in-law had warned her. Miss Bold had never encouraged Eleanor's acquaintance with Mr Slope, and she had positively discouraged the friendship of the Stanhopes as far as her usual gentle mode of speaking had permitted. Eleanor had only laughed at her, however, when she said that she disapproved of married women who lived apart from their husbands, and suggested that Charlotte Stanhope never went to church. Now, however, Eleanor must either hold her tongue, which was quite impossible, or confess herself to have been utterly wrong, which was nearly equally so. So she staved off the evil day by more tears, and consoled herself by inducing little Johnny to rouse himself sufficiently to return her caresses.

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