Anthony Trollope: Barchester Towers


The archdeacon did not return to the parsonage till close upon the hour of dinner, and there was therefore no time to discuss matters before that important ceremony. He seemed to be in an especial good humour, and welcomed his father-in-law with a sort of jovial earnestness that was usual with him when things on which was intent were going on as he would have them.

'It's all settled, my dear,' said he to his wife as he washed his hands in his dressing-room, while she, according to her wont, sat listening in the bedroom; 'Arabin has agreed to accept the living. He'll be here next week.' And the archdeacon scrubbed his hands and rubbed his face with a violent alacrity, which showed that Arabin's coming was a great point gained.

'Will he come here to Plumstead?' said the wife.

'He has promised to stay a month with us,' said the archdeacon, 'so that he may see what his parish is like. You'll like Arabin very much. He's a gentleman in every respect, and full of good humour.'

'He's very queer, isn't he?' asked the wife.

'Well--he is a little odd in some of his fancies; but there's nothing about him you won't like. He is as staunch a churchman as there is at Oxford. I really don't know what we should do without Arabin. It's a great thing for me to have him so near me; and if anything can put Slope down, Arabin will do it.'

The Reverend Francis Arabin was a fellow of Lazarus, the favoured disciple of the great Dr Gwynne, a high churchman at all points; so high, indeed, that at one period of his career he had all but toppled over into the cesspool of Rome; a poet and also a polemical writer, a great pet in the common rooms at Oxford, an eloquent clergyman, a droll, odd, humorous, energetic, conscientious man, and, as the archdeacon had boasted of him, a thorough gentleman. As he will hereafter be brought more closely to our notice, it is now only necessary to add, that he had just been presented to the vicarage of St Ewold by Dr Grantly, in whose gift as archdeacon the living lay. St Ewold's is a parish lying just without the city of Barchester. The suburbs of the new town, indeed, are partly within its precincts, and the pretty church and parsonage are not much above a mile distant from the city gate.

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