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36. CHAPTER XXXVI: ULLATHORNE SPORTS--ACT I (continued)
'My darling girl,' said he, 'I am so delighted, so overjoyed. My own child; you have taken such a weight off my mind.'
'But surely, papa, you didn't think--'
'I didn't know what to think, my dear. The archdeacon told me that -'
'The archdeacon!' said Eleanor, her face lighting up with passion. 'A man like the archdeacon might, one would think, be better employed than in traducing his sister-in-law, and creating bitterness between a father and his daughter.'
'He didn't mean to that, Eleanor.'
'What did he mean then? Why did he interfere with me, and fill your mind with such falsehood?'
'Never mind it now, my child; never mind it now. We shall all know you better now.'
'Oh, papa, that you should have thought it! that you should have suspected me!'
'I don't know what you mean by suspicion, Eleanor. There would be nothing disgraceful, you know; nothing wrong in such a marriage. Nothing that could have justified my interfering as your father.' And Mr Harding would have proceeded in his own defence to make out that Mr Slope after all was a very good sort of man, and a very fitting second husband for a young widow, had he not been interrupted by Eleanor's greater energy.
'It would be disgraceful,' said she; 'it would be wrong; it would be abominable. Could I do such a horrid thing, I should expect no one to speak to me. Ugh--' and she shuddered as she thought of the matrimonial torch which her friends had been so ready to light on her behalf. I don't wonder at Dr Grantly; I don't wonder at Susan; but, oh, papa, I do wonder at you. How could you, how could you believe it?' Poor Eleanor, as she thought of her father's defalcation, could resist her tears no longer, and was forced to cover her face with her handkerchief.
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