Anthony Trollope: Barchester Towers


'Why, my child, what on earth is the matter with you!' said Miss Stanhope, perceiving that Eleanor's hand trembled on her own arm, and finding also that her companion was still half choked with tears. 'Goodness heaven! Something has distressed you. What is it? What can I do for you?'

Eleanor answered her only by a sort of spasmodic gurgle in her throat. She was a good deal upset, as people say, and could not at the moment collect herself.

'Come here, this way, Mrs Bold; come this way, and we shall not be seen. What has happened to vex you so? What can I do for you? Can Bertie do anything?'

'On, no, no, no, no,' said Eleanor. 'There is nothing to be done. Only that horrid man--'

'What horrid man?' asked Charlotte.

There are some moments in life in which both men and women feel themselves called on to make a confidence; in which not to do so requires a disagreeable resolution and also a disagreeable suspicion. There are people of both sexes who never make confidences; who are never tempted by momentary circumstances to disclose their secrets. But such are generally dull, close, unimpassioned spirits, 'gloomy gnomes who live in cold dark mines.' There was nothing of the gnome about Eleanor; and she therefore resolved to tell Charlotte Stanhope the whole story about Mr Slope.

'That horrid man; that Mr Slope,' said she, 'did you not see that he followed me out of the dining-room?'

'Of course I did and was sorry enough; but I could not help it. I knew you would be annoyed. But you and Bertie managed it badly between you.'

'It was not his fault nor mine either. You know how I dislike the idea of coming in the carriage with that man.'

'I am sure I am very sorry if that has led to it.'

'I don't know what has led to it,' said Eleanor, almost crying again. 'But it has not been my fault.'

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