Anthony Trollope: Barchester Towers


'On a former occasion I was indiscreet and much too impatient, considering your father's age and my own. I hope he will not now refuse my apology. I still hope also that with your aid and sweet pious labours, we may live to attach such a Sabbath school to the old endowment, as may, by God's grace and furtherance, be a blessing to the poor of this city.

'You will see at once that this letter is confidential. The subject, of course, makes it so. But, equally, of course, it is for your parent's eye as well as for your own, should you think it proper to show it to him.

'I hope my darling little friend Johnny is as strong as ever,-- dear little fellow. Does he still continue his rude assaults on those beautiful long silken tresses?

'I can assure your friends miss you from Barchester sorely; but it would be cruel to begrudge you your sojourn among flowers and fields during this truly sultry weather.

'Pray believe me, my dear Mrs Bold Yours most sincerely, 'OBADIAH SLOPE. 'Barchester, Friday.'

Now this letter, taken as a whole, and with the consideration that Mr Slope wished to assume a great degree of intimacy with Eleanor, would not have been bad, but for the allusion to the tresses. Gentlemen do not write to ladies about their tresses, unless they are on very intimate terms indeed. But Mr Slope could not be expected to be aware of this. He longed to put a little affection into his epistle, and yet he thought it injudicious, as the letter would he knew be shown to Mr Harding. He would have insisted that the letter should be strictly private and seen by no eyes but Eleanor's own, had he not felt that such an injunction would have been disobeyed. He therefore restrained his passion, did not sign himself 'yours affectionately,' and contented himself instead with the compliment to the tresses.

We will now follow his letter. He took it to Mrs Bold's house, and learning there, from the servant, that things were to be sent out to Plumstead that afternoon, left it, with many injunctions, in her hands.

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