Anthony Trollope: Barchester Towers


And thus the pleasant party of Plumstead was broken up. It had been a very pleasant party as long as they had all remained in good humour with one another. Mrs Grantly had felt her house to be gayer and brighter than it had been for many a long day, and the archdeacon had been aware that the month had passed pleasantly without attributing the pleasure to any other special merits than those of his own hospitality. Within three or four days of Eleanor's departure, Mr Harding had also returned, and Mr Arabin had gone to Oxford to spend one week there previous to his settling at the vicarage of St Ewold's. He had gone laden with many messages to Dr Gwynne touching the iniquity of the doings in Barchester palace, and the peril in which it was believed the hospital still stood in spite of the assurances contained in Mr Slope's inauspicious letter.

During Eleanor's drive into Barchester she had not much opportunity of reflecting on Mr Arabin. She had been constrained to divert her mind both from his sins and his love by the necessity of conversing with her sister, and maintaining the appearance of parting with her on good terms.

When the carriage reached her own door, and while she was in the act of giving her last kiss to her sister and nieces, Mary Bold ran out and exclaimed:

'Oh! Eleanor,--have you heard?--oh! Mrs Grantly, have you heard what has happened? The poor dean!'

'Good heavens,' said Mrs Grantly; 'what--what has happened?'

'This morning at nine he had a fit of apoplexy, and he has not spoken since. I very much fear that by this time he is no more.'

Mrs Grantly had been very intimate with the dean, and was therefore much shocked. Eleanor had not known him so well; nevertheless she was sufficiently acquainted with his person and manners to feel startled and grieved also at the tidings she now received. 'I will go at once to the deanery,' said Mrs Grantly, 'the archdeacon, I am sure, will be there. If there is any news to send you I will let Thomas call before he leaves town.' And so the carriage drove off, leaving Eleanor and her baby with Mary Bold.

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