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10. CHAPTER X: MRS PROUDIE'S RECEPTION--COMMENCED (continued)
He had employed his time in consolidating a Proudie and Slope party--or rather a Slope and Proudie party, and he had not employed his time in vain. He did not meddle with the dean and chapter, except by giving them little teasing intimations of the bishop's wishes about this and the bishop's feelings about that, in a manner which was to them sufficiently annoying, but which they could not resent. He preached once or twice in a distant church in the suburbs of the city, but made no allusion to the cathedral service. He commenced the establishment of the 'Bishop of Barchester's Sabbath-day Schools,' gave notice of a proposed 'Bishop of Barchester Young Men's Sabbath Evening Lecture Room,'--and wrote three or four letters to the manager of the Barchester branch railway, informing him how anxious the bishop was that the Sunday trains should be discontinued.
At the end of two months, however, the bishop and the lady reappeared; and as a happy harbinger of their return, heralded their advent by the promise of an evening party on the largest scale. The tickets of invitation were sent out from London--they were dated from Bruton Street, and were dispatched by the odious Sabbath-breaking railway, in a huge brown paper parcel to Mr Slope. Everybody calling himself a gentleman, or herself a lady, within the city of Barchester, and a circle of two miles round it, was included. Tickets were sent to all the diocesan clergy, and also to many other persons of priestly note, of whose absence the bishop, or at least the bishop's wife, felt tolerably confident. It was intended, however, to be a thronged and noticeable affair, and preparations were made for receiving some hundreds.
And now there arose considerable agitation among the Grantleyites whether or not they would attend the bidding. The first feeling with them all was to send the briefest excuses both for themselves and their wives and daughters. But by degrees policy prevailed over passion. The archdeacon perceived that he would be making a false step if he allowed the cathedral clergy to give the bishop just ground of umbrage. They all met in conclave and agreed to go. The old dean would crawl in, if it were but for half an hour. The chancellor, treasurer, archdeacon, prebendaries, and minor canons would all go, and would take their wives. Mr Harding was especially bidden to go, resolving in his heart to keep himself removed from Mrs Proudie. And Mrs Bold was determined to go, though assured by her father that there was no necessity for such a sacrifice on her part. When all Barchester was to be there, neither Eleanor nor Mary Bold understood why they should stay away. Had they not been invited separately? And had not a separate little note from the chaplain couched in the most respectful language, been enclosed with the huge episcopal card?
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