Anthony Trollope: Barchester Towers


Before she started for Ullathorne, Mrs Proudie, careful soul, caused two letters to be written, one by herself and one by her lord, to the inhabitants of Puddingdale vicarage, which made happy the hearth of those within it.

As soon as the departure of the horses left the bishop's stable-groom free for other services, that humble denizen of the diocese started on the bishop's own pony with the two despatches. We have had so many letters lately that we will spare ourselves these. That from the bishop was simply a request that Mr Quiverful would wait upon his lordship the next morning at 11 A.M.; and that from the lady was as simply a request that Mrs Quiverful would do the same by her, though it was couched in somewhat longer and more grandiloquent phraseology.

It had become a point of conscience with Mrs Proudie to urge the settlement of this great hospital question. She was resolved that Mr Quiverful should have it. She was resolved that there should be no more doubt or delay; no more refusals and resignations, nor more secret negotiations carried on by Mr Slope on his own account in opposition to her behests.

'Bishop,' she said, immediately after breakfast, on the morning of that eventful day, 'have you signed the appointment yet?'

'No, my dear, not yet; it is not exactly signed as yet.'

'Then do it,' said the lady.

The bishop did it; and a very pleasant day indeed he spent at Ullathorne. And when he got home he had a glass of hot negus in his wife's sitting-room, and read the last number of the 'Little Dorrit' of the day with great inward satisfaction. Oh, husbands, oh, my marital friends, what great comfort is there to be derived from a wife well obeyed!

Much perturbation and flutter, high expectation and renewed hopes, were occasioned at Puddingdale, by the receipt of those episcopal dispatches. Mrs Quiverful, whose careful ear caught the sound of the pony's feet as he trotted up to the vicarage kitchen door, brought them in hurriedly to her husband. She was at the moment concocting the Irish stew destined to satisfy the noonday want of fourteen young birds, let alone the parent couple. She had taken the letters from the man's hands between the folds of her capacious apron, so as to save them from the contamination of the stew, and in this guise she brought them to her husband's desk.

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