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37. CHAPTER XXXVII: THE SIGNORA NERONI, THE COUNTESS DE COURCY, AND MRS PROUDIE MEET EACH OTHER AT ULLATHORNE (continued)
And now the eating and drinking began in earnest. Dr Grantly, to his great horror, found himself leagued to Mrs Clantantram. Mrs Clantantram had a great regard for the archdeacon, which was not cordially returned; and when she, coming up to him, whispered in his ear, 'Come, archdeacon, I'm sure you won't begrudge an old friend the favour of your arm,' and then proceeded to tell him the whole history of her roquelaure, he resolved that he would shake her off before he was fifteen minutes older. But latterly the archdeacon had not been successful in his resolutions; and on the present occasion Mrs Clantantram stuck to him till the banquet was over.
Dr Gwynne got a baronet's wife, and Mrs Grantly fell to the lot of a baronet. Charlotte Stanhope attached herself to Mr Harding in order to make room for Bertie, who succeeded in sitting down in the dining-room next to Mrs Bold. To speak sooth, now that he had love in earnest to make, his heart almost failed him.
Eleanor had been right glad to avail herself of his arm, seeing that Mr Slope was hovering nigh her. In striving to avoid that terrible Charybdis of a Slope she was in great danger of falling into an unseen Scylla on the other hand, that Scylla being Bertie Stanhope. Nothing could be more gracious than she was to Bertie. She almost jumped at his proffered arm. Charlotte perceived this from a distance, and triumphed in her heart; Bertie felt it, and was encouraged; Mr Slope saw it, and glowered with jealousy. Eleanor and Bertie sat down to table in the dining-room; and as she took her seat at his right hand, she found that Mr Slope was already in possession of the chair at her own.
As these things were going on in the dining-room, Mr Arabin was hanging enraptured and alone over the signora's sofa; and Eleanor from her seat could look through the open door and see that he was doing so.
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