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26. CHAPTER XXVI: MRS PROUDIE TAKES A FALL
It was hardly an hour since Mrs Proudie had left her husband's apartment victorious, and yet so indomitable was her courage that she now returned thither panting for another combat. She was greatly angry with what she thought was his duplicity. He had so clearly given her a promise on this matter of the hospital. He had been already so absolutely vanquished on that point. Mrs Proudie began to feel that if every affair was to be thus discussed and battled about twice and even thrice, the work of the diocese would be too much even for her.
Without knocking at the door she walked quickly into her husband's room and found him seated at his office table, with Mr Slope opposite to him. Between his fingers was the very note which he had written to the archbishop in her presence--and it was open! Yes, he had absolutely violated the seal which had been made sacred by her approval. They were sitting in deep conclave, and it was too clear that the purport of the archbishop's invitation had been absolutely canvassed again, after it had been already debated and decided on in obedience to her behests! Mr Slope rose from his chair, and bowed slightly. The two opposing spirits looked each other fully in the face, and they knew that they were looking each at an enemy.
'What is this, bishop, about Mr Quiverful?' said she, coming to the end of the table and standing there.
Mr Slope did not allow the bishop to answer, but replied himself. 'I have been out to Puddingdale this morning, ma'am, and have seen Mr Quiverful. Mr Quiverful has abandoned his claim to the hospital, because he is now aware that Mr Harding is desirous to fill his old place. Under these circumstances I have strongly advised his lordship to nominate Mr Harding.'
'Mr Quiverful has not abandoned anything,' said the lady, with a very imperious voice. 'His lordship's word has been pledged to him, and it must be respected.'
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