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21. CHAPTER XXI: ST EWOLD'S PARSONAGE (continued)
'What!' said the lady of the rectory, 'was Mr Slope there too?'
Eleanor merely replied that such had been the case.
'Why, Eleanor, he must be very fond of you, I think; he seems to follow you everywhere.'
Even this did not open Eleanor's eyes. She merely laughed, and said that she imagined Mr Slope found other attraction at Dr Stanhope's. And so they parted. Mrs Grantly felt quite convinced that the odious match would take place; and Mrs Bold as convinced that that unfortunate chaplain, disagreeable as he must be allowed to be, was more sinned against than sinning.
The archdeacon of course heard before dinner that Eleanor had remained the day before at Barchester with the view of meeting Mr Slope, and that she had so met him. He remembered how she had positively stated that there were to be guests at the Stanhopes, and he did not hesitate to accuse her of deceit. Moreover, the fact, or rather the presumed fact, of her being deceitful on such a matter, spoke but too plainly in evidence against her as to her imputed crime of receiving Mr Slope as a lover.
'I am afraid that anything we can do will be too late,' said the archdeacon. 'I own I am fairly surprised. I never liked your sister's taste with regard to men; but still I did not give her credit for--ugh!'
'And so soon, too,' said Mrs Grantly, who thought more, perhaps, of her sister's indecorum in having a lover before she had put off her weeds, than her bad taste in having such a lover as Mr Slope.
'Well, my dear, I shall be sorry to be harsh, or to do anything that can hurt your father; but, positively, neither that man nor his wife shall come within my doors.'
Mrs Grantly sighed, and then attempted to console herself and her lord by remarking that, after all, the thing was not accomplished yet. Now that Eleanor was at Plumstead, much might be done to wean her from her fatal passion. Poor Eleanor!
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