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52. CHAPTER LII: THE NEW DEAN TAKES POSSESSION OF THE DEANERY AND THE NEW WARDEN OF THE HOSPITAL (continued)
'We be thankful to your reverence,' said another of them.
'I need not tell you, my good friends,' said Mr Quiverful, 'how extremely grateful I am to Mr Harding for his kindness to me,--I must say his uncalled for, his unexpected kindness.'
'He be always very kind,' said a third.
'What I can do to fill the void which he left here, I will do. For your sake and my own I will do so, and especially for his sake. But to you who have known him, I can never be the same well-loved friend and father that he has been.'
'No, no, sir,' said old Bunce, who hitherto had held his peace; 'no one can be that. Not if the new bishop sent a hangel to us from heaven. We doesn't doubt you'll do your best, sir, but you'll not be like the old master; not to us old ones.'
'Fie, Bunce, fie! how dare you talk in that way!' said Mr Harding; but as he scolded the old man he still held him by his arm, and pressed it with warm affection.
There was no getting any enthusiasm in the matter. How could five old men tottering away to their final resting-place be enthusiastic on the reception of a stranger? What could Mr Quiverful be to them, or they to Mr Quiverful? Had Mr Harding indeed come back to them, some last flicker of joyous light might have shone forth on their aged cheeks; but it was in vain to bid them rejoice because Mr Quiverful was about to move his fourteen children from Puddingdale into the hospital house. In reality they did no doubt receive advantage, spiritual as well as corporal; but this they could neither anticipate nor acknowledge.
It was a dull affair enough, this introduction of Mr Quiverful; but still it had its effect. The good which Mr Harding intended did not fall to the ground. All the Barchester world, including the five old bedesmen, treated Mr Quiverful with the more respect, because Mr Harding had thus walked in arm in arm with him, on his first entrance to his duties.
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