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12. CHAPTER XII: SLOPE VERSUS HARDING
Two or three days after the party, Mr Harding received a note, begging him to call on Mr Slope, at the palace, at an early hour the following morning. There was nothing uncivil in the communication, and yet the tone of it was thoroughly displeasing. It was as follows:
"My dear Mr Harding, Will you favour me by calling on me at the palace to-morrow morning at 9.30am. The bishop wishes me to speak to you touching the hospital. I hope you will excuse my naming so early an hour. I do so as my time is greatly occupied. If, however, it is positively inconvenient to you, I will change it to 10. You will, perhaps, be kind enough to give me a note in reply.
"Believe me to be, My dear Mr Harding, Your assured friend, OBH. SLOPE
"The Palace, Monday morning, "20th August, 185-"
Mr Harding neither could nor would believe anything of the sort; and he thought, moreover, that Mr Slope was rather impertinent to call himself by such a name. His assured friend, indeed! How many assured friends generally fall to the lot of a man in this world? And by what process are they made? And how much of such process had taken place as yet between Mr Harding and Mr Slope? Mr Harding could not help asking himself these questions as he read and re-read the note before him. He answered it, as follows:
"Dear Sir,--I will call at the palace to-morrow at 9.30 AM as you desire.
"Truly yours, S. HARDING"
And on the following morning, punctually at half-past nine, he knocked at the palace door, and asked for Mr Slope.
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