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8. CHAPTER VIII: THE EX-WARDEN REJOICES IN HIS PROBABLE RETURN TO THE HOSPITAL (continued)
My readers will guess from what I have written that I myself do not like Mr Slope; but I am constrained to admit that he is a man of parts. He knows how to say a soft word in the proper place; he knows how to adapt his flattery to the ears of his hearers; he knows the wiles of the serpent and he uses them. Could Mr Slope have adapted his manners to men as well as to women, could he ever have learnt the ways of a gentleman, he might have risen to great things.
He commenced his acquaintance with Eleanor by praising her father. He had, he said, become aware that he had unfortunately offended the feelings of a man of whom he could not speak too highly; he would not now allude to a subject which was probably too serious for drawing-room conversation, but he would say, that it had been very far from him to utter a word in disparagement of a man, of whom all the world, at least the clerical world, spoke of so highly as it did of Mr Harding. And so he went on, unsaying a great deal of his sermon, expressing his highest admiration for the precentor's musical talents, eulogising the father and the daughter and the sister-in-law, speaking in that low silky whisper which he always had specially prepared for feminine ears, and, ultimately, gaining his object. When he left, he expressed a hope that he might again be allowed to call; and though Eleanor gave no verbal assent to this, she did not express dissent; and so Mr Slope's right to visit at the widow's house was established.
The day after this visit Eleanor told her father of it, and expressed an opinion that Mr Slope was not quite so black as he had been painted. Mr Harding opened he eyes rather wider than usual when he heard what had occurred, but he said little; he could not agree in any praise of Mr Slope, and it was not his practice to say much evil of any one. He did not, however, like the visit, and simple-minded as he was, he felt sure that Mr Slope had some deeper motive than the mere pleasure of making soft speeches to two ladies.
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