Anthony Trollope: Barchester Towers


'I suppose,' said Dr Grantly, 'you don't wish her to marry this man. I suppose you'll admit that she would disgrace herself if she did so.'

'I do not wish her to marry him,' said the perplexed father; 'I do not like him, and do not think he would make a good husband. But if Eleanor decides to do so, I shall certainly not think that she has disgraced herself.'

'Good heavens!' exclaimed Dr Grantly, and threw himself back into the corner of his brougham. Mr Harding said nothing more, but commenced playing a dirge, with an imaginary fiddle bow upon an imaginary violoncello, for which there did not appear to be quite room enough in the carriage; and he continued the tune, with sundry variations, till he arrived at the rectory door.

The archdeacon had been meditating sad things in his mind. Hitherto he had always looked on his father-in-law as a true partisan, though he knew him to be a man devoid of all the combative qualifications for that character. He had felt no fear that Mr Harding would go over to the enemy, though he had never counted much on the ex-warden's prowess in breaking the battle ranks. Now, however, it seemed that Eleanor, with her wiles, had completely trepanned and bewildered her father, cheated him out of his judgement, robbed him of the predilections and tastes of life, and caused him to be tolerant of a man whose arrogance and vulgarity would, in a few years since, have been unendurable to him. That the whole thing was as good as arranged between Eleanor and Mr Slope there was no longer any room to doubt. That Mr Harding knew that such was the case, even this could hardly be doubted. It was too manifest that he at any rate suspected it, and was prepared to sanction it.

And to tell the truth, such was the case. Mr Harding disliked Mr Slope as much as it was in his nature to dislike any man. Had his daughter wished to do her worst to displease him by a second marriage, she could hardly have succeeded better than by marrying Mr Slope. But, as he said to himself now very often, what right had he to condemn her if she did nothing that was really wrong? If she liked Mr Slope it was her affair. It was indeed miraculous to him, that a woman with such a mind, so educated, so refined, so nice in her tastes, should like such a man. Then he asked himself whether it was possible that she did so.

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