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40. CHAPTER XL: ULLATHORNE SPORTS--ACT II (continued)
She had defended Mr Slope, she had declared herself quite justified in admitting him among her acquaintance, had ridiculed the idea of his considering himself as more than an acquaintance, and had resented the archdeacon's caution in her behalf: now it was about to be proved to her in a manner sufficiently disagreeable that the archdeacon had been right, and she herself had been entirely wrong.
'I don't know what you can have to say to me, Mr Slope, that you could not have said when we were sitting at table just now;' and she closed her lips, and steadied her eyeballs and looked at him in a manner that ought to have frozen him.
But gentlemen are not easily frozen when they are full of champagne, and it would not at any time have been easy to freeze Mr Slope.
'There are things, Mrs Bold, which a man cannot well say before a crowd; which perhaps he cannot well say at any time; which indeed he may most fervently desire to get spoken, and which he may yet find it almost impossible to utter. It is such things as these, that I now wish to say to you;' and then the tender-pious look was repeated, with a little more emphasis even than before.
Eleanor had not found it practicable to stand stock still before the dining-room window, and there receive his offer in full view of Miss Thorne's guests. She had therefore in self-defence walked on, and Mr Slope had gained his object of walking with her. He now offered her his arm.
'Thank you, Mr Slope, I am much obliged to you; but for the very short time that I shall remain with you I shall prefer walking alone.'
'And must it be so short?' said he; 'must it be--'
'Yes,' said Eleanor, interrupting him; 'as short as possible, if you please, sir.'
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