Anthony Trollope: Barchester Towers


The archdeacon proceeded to explain that nothing would be easier than adding six feet to the front of the dining-room, without touching any other of the house. Such irregularities of construction in small country houses were, he said, rather graceful than otherwise, and he offered to pay for the whole thing out of his own pocket if it cost more than forty pounds. Mr Arabin, however, was firm, and, although the archdeacon fussed and fumed about it, would not give way.

Forty pounds, he said, was a matter of serious moment to him, and his friends, if under such circumstances they would be good-natured enough to come to him at all, must put up with the misery of a square room. He was willing to compromise matters by disclaiming any intention of having a round table.

'But,' said Mrs Grantly, 'what if the priestess insists on have both the rooms enlarged?'

'The priestess in that case must do it for herself, Mrs Grantly.'

'I have no doubt she will be well able to do so,' replied the lady; 'to do that and many more wonderful things. I am quite sure that the priestess of St Ewold, when she does come, won't come empty-handed.'

Mr Arabin, however, did not appear well inclined to enter into speculative expenses on such a chance as this, and therefore, any material alterations in the house, the cost of which could not fairly be made to lie at the door either of the ecclesiastical commission or of the estate of the late incumbent, were tabooed. With this essential exception, the archdeacon ordered, suggested, and carried all points before him in a manner very much to his own satisfaction. A close observer, had there been one there, might have seen that his wife had been quite as useful in the matter as himself. No one knew better than Mrs Grantly the appurtenances necessary to a comfortable house. She did not, however, think it necessary to lay claim to any of the glory which her lord and master was so ready to appropriate as his own.

Having gone through their work effectively, and systematically, the party returned to Plumstead well satisfied with their expedition.

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