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36. CHAPTER XXXVI: ULLATHORNE SPORTS--ACT I (continued)
The place was not very opportune for her grief. They were walking through the shrubberies, and there were many people near them. Poor Mr Harding stammered out his excuse as best he could, and Eleanor with an effort controlled her tears, and returned her handkerchief to her pocket. She did not find it difficult to forgive her father, nor could she altogether refuse to join him in the returning gaiety of spirit to which her present avowal gave rise. It was such a load off his heart to think that he should not be called on to welcome Mr Slope as his son-in-law; it was such a relief to him to find that his daughter's feelings and his own were now, as they ever had been, in unison. He had been so unhappy for the last six weeks about this wretched Mr Slope!
He was so indifferent as to the loss of the hospital, so thankful for the recovery of his daughter, that, strong as was the ground for Eleanor's anger, she could not find it in her heart to be long angry with him.
'Dear papa,' she said, hanging closely to his arm, 'never suspect me again: promise me that you never will. Whatever I do, you may be sure I shall tell you first; you may be sure I shall consult you.'
And Mr Harding did promise, and owned his sin, and promised again. And so, while he promised amendment and she uttered forgiveness, they returned together to the drawing-room windows.
And what had Eleanor meant when she declared that whatever she did, she would tell her father first? What was she thinking of doing?
So ended the first act of the melodrama which Eleanor was called on to perform this day at Ullathorne.
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