When Eleanor laid her head on her pillow that night, her mind
was anxiously intent on some plan by which she might extricate
her father from his misery; and, in her warm-hearted enthusiasm,
self-sacrifice was decided on as the means to be adopted. Was not
so good an Agamemnon worthy of an Iphigenia? She would herself
personally implore John Bold to desist from his undertaking; she
would explain to him her father's sorrows, the cruel misery of
his position; she would tell him how her father would die if he
were thus dragged before the public and exposed to such unmerited
ignominy; she would appeal to his old friendship, to his
generosity, to his manliness, to his mercy; if need were, she
would kneel to him for the favour she would ask; but before she
did this the idea of love must be banished. There must be no
bargain in the matter. To his mercy, to his generosity, she could
appeal; but as a pure maiden, hitherto even unsolicited, she
could not appeal to his love, nor under such circumstances could
she allow him to do so. Of course, when so provoked he would
declare his passion; that was to be expected; there had been
enough between them to make such a fact sure; but it was equally
certain that he must be rejected. She could not be understood as
saying, Make my father free and I am the reward. There would be
no sacrifice in that--not so had Jephthah's daughter saved her
father-- not so could she show to that kindest, dearest of
parents how much she was able to bear for his good. No; to one
resolve must her whole soul be bound; and so resolving, she felt
that she could make her great request to Bold with as much self-
assured confidence as she could have done to his grandfather.
And now I own I have fears for my heroine; not as to the
upshot of her mission--not in the least as to that; as to the
full success of her generous scheme, and the ultimate result of
such a project, no one conversant with human nature and novels
can have a doubt; but as to the amount of sympathy she may
receive from those of her own sex. Girls below twenty and old
ladies above sixty will do her justice; for in the female heart
the soft springs of sweet romance reopen after many years, and
again gush out with waters pure as in earlier days, and greatly
refresh the path that leads downwards to the grave. But I fear
that the majority of those between these two eras will not
approve of Eleanor's plan. I fear that unmarried ladies of thirty-five
will declare that there can be no probability of so absurd a
project being carried through; that young women on their knees
before their lovers are sure to get kissed, and that they would
not put themselves in such a position did they not expect it;
that Eleanor is going to Bold only because circumstances prevent
Bold from coming to her; that she is certainly a little fool, or
a little schemer, but that in all probability she is thinking a
good deal more about herself than her father.
Dear ladies, you are right as to your appreciation of the
circumstances, but very wrong as to Miss Harding's character.
Miss Harding was much younger than you are, and could not,
therefore, know, as you may do, to what dangers such an encounter
might expose her. She may get kissed; I think it very probable
that she will; but I give my solemn word and positive assurance,
that the remotest idea of such a catastrophe never occurred to
her as she made the great resolve now alluded to.
And then she slept; and then she rose refreshed; and met her
father with her kindest embrace and most loving smiles; and on
the whole their breakfast was by no means so triste as had been
their dinner the day before; and then, making some excuse to her
father for so soon leaving him, she started on the commencement
of her operations.
She knew that John Bold was in London, and that, therefore,
the scene itself could not be enacted today; but she also knew
that he was soon to be home, probably on the next day, and it was
necessary that some little plan for meeting him should be
concerted with his sister Mary. When she got up to the house, she
went, as usual, into the morning sitting-room, and was startled
by perceiving, by a stick, a greatcoat, and sundry parcels which
were lying about, that Bold must already have returned.
'John has come back so suddenly,' said Mary, coming into the
room; 'he has been travelling all night.'
'Then I'll come up again some other time,' said Eleanor, about
to beat a retreat in her sudden dismay.
'He's out now, and will be for the next two hours,' said the
other; 'he's with that horrid Finney; he only came to see him,
and he returns by the mail train tonight.'
Returns by the mail train tonight, thought Eleanor to herself,
as she strove to screw up her courage--away again tonight--then
it must be now or never; and she again sat down, having risen to
go. She wished the ordeal could have been postponed: she had
fully made up her mind to do the deed, but she had not made up
her mind to do it this very day; and now she felt ill at ease,
astray, and in difficulty.
'Mary,' she began, 'I must see your brother before he goes
'Oh yes, of course,' said the other; 'I know he'll be
delighted to see you'; and she tried to treat it as a matter of
course, but she was not the less surprised; for Mary and Eleanor
had daily talked over John Bold and his conduct, and his love,
and Mary would insist on calling Eleanor her sister, and would
scold her for not calling Bold by his Christian name; and Eleanor
would half confess her love, but like a modest maiden would
protest against such familiarities even with the name of her
lover; and so they talked hour after hour, and Mary Bold, who was
much the elder, looked forward with happy confidence to the day
when Eleanor would not be ashamed to call her her sister. She
was, however, fully sure that just at present Eleanor would be
much more likely to avoid her brother than to seek him.
'Mary, I must see your brother, now, today, and beg from him a
great favour'; and she spoke with a solemn air, not at all usual
to her; and then she went on, and opened to her friend all her
plan, her well-weighed scheme for saving her father from a sorrow
which would, she said, if it lasted, bring him to his grave.
'But, Mary,' she continued, 'you must now, you know, cease any
joking about me and Mr Bold; you must now say no more about that;
I am not ashamed to beg this favour from your brother, but when I
have done so, there can never be anything further between us';
and this she said with a staid and solemn air, quite worthy of
Jephthah's daughter or of Iphigenia either.
It was quite clear that Mary Bold did not follow the argument.
That Eleanor Harding should appeal, on behalf of her father, to
Bold's better feelings seemed to Mary quite natural; it seemed
quite natural that he should relent, overcome by such filial
tears, and by so much beauty; but, to her thinking, it was at any
rate equally natural, that having relented, John should put his
arm round his mistress's waist, and say: 'Now having settled
that, let us be man and wife, and all will end happily!' Why his
good nature should not be rewarded, when such reward would
operate to the disadvantage of none, Mary, who had more sense
than romance, could not understand; and she said as much.
Eleanor, however, was firm, and made quite an eloquent speech
to support her own view of the question: she could not
condescend, she said, to ask such a favour on any other terms
than those proposed. Mary might, perhaps, think her high- flown,
but she had her own ideas, and she could not submit to sacrifice
'But I am sure you love him--don't you?' pleaded Mary; 'and I
am sure he loves you better than anything in the world.'
Eleanor was going to make another speech, but a tear came to
each eye, and she could not; so she pretended to blow her nose,
and walked to the window, and made a little inward call on her
own courage, and finding herself somewhat sustained, said
sententiously: 'Mary, this is nonsense.'
'But you do love him,' said Mary, who had followed her friend
to the window, and now spoke with her arms close wound round the
other's waist. 'You do love him with all your heart--you know you
do; I defy you to deny it.'
'I--' commenced Eleanor, turning sharply round to refute the
charge; but the intended falsehood stuck in her throat, and never
came to utterance. She could not deny her love, so she took
plentifully to tears, and leant upon her friend's bosom and
sobbed there, and protested that, love or no love, it would make
no difference in her resolve, and called Mary, a thousand times,
the most cruel of girls, and swore her to secrecy by a hundred
oaths, and ended by declaring that the girl who could betray her
friend's love, even to a brother, would be as black a traitor as
a soldier in a garrison who should open the city gates to the
enemy. While they were yet discussing the matter, Bold returned,
and Eleanor was forced into sudden action: she had either to
accomplish or abandon her plan; and having slipped into her
friend's bedroom, as the gentleman closed the hall door, she
washed the marks of tears from her eyes, and resolved within
herself to go through with it. 'Tell him I am here,' said she,
'and coming in; and mind, whatever you do, don't leave us.' So
Mary informed her brother, with a somewhat sombre air, that Miss
Harding was in the next room, and was coming to speak to him.
Eleanor was certainly thinking more of her father than
herself, as she arranged her hair before the glass, and removed
the traces of sorrow from her face; and yet I should be untrue if
I said that she was not anxious to appear well before her lover:
why else was she so sedulous with that stubborn curl that would
rebel against her hand, and smooth so eagerly her ruffled
ribands? why else did she damp her eyes to dispel the redness,
and bite her pretty lips to bring back the colour? Of course she
was anxious to look her best, for she was but a mortal angel
after all. But had she been immortal, had she flitted back to the
sitting-room on a cherub's wings, she could not have had a more
faithful heart, or a truer wish to save her father at any cost to
John Bold had not met her since the day when she left him in
dudgeon in the cathedral close. Since that his whole time had
been occupied in promoting the cause against her father, and not
unsuccessfully. He had often thought of her, and turned over in
his mind a hundred schemes for showing her how disinterested was
his love. He would write to her and beseech her not to allow the
performance of a public duty to injure him in her estimation; he
would write to Mr Harding, explain all his views, and boldly
claim the warden's daughter, urging that the untoward
circumstances between them need be no bar to their ancient
friendship, or to a closer tie; he would throw himself on his
knees before his mistress; he would wait and marry the daughter
when the father has lost his home and his income; he would give
up the lawsuit and go to Australia, with her of course, leaving
The Jupiter and Mr Finney to complete the case between them.
Sometimes as he woke in the morning fevered and impatient, he
would blow out his brains and have done with all his cares--but
this idea was generally consequent on an imprudent supper enjoyed
in company with Tom Towers.
How beautiful Eleanor appeared to him as she slowly walked
into the room! Not for nothing had all those little cares been
taken. Though her sister, the archdeacon's wife, had spoken
slightingly of her charms, Eleanor was very beautiful when seen
aright. Hers was not of those impassive faces, which have the
beauty of a marble bust; finely chiselled features, perfect in
every line, true to the rules of symmetry, as lovely to a
stranger as to a friend, unvarying unless in sickness, or as age
affects them. She had no startling brilliancy of beauty, no
pearly whiteness, no radiant carnation. She had not the majestic
contour that rivets attention, demands instant wonder and then
disappoints by the coldness of its charms. You might pass Eleanor
Harding in the street without notice, but you could hardly pass
an evening with her and not lose your heart.
She had never appeared more lovely to her lover than she now
did. Her face was animated though it was serious, and her full
dark lustrous eyes shone with anxious energy; her hand trembled
as she took his, and she could hardly pronounce his name, when
she addressed him. Bold wished with all his heart that the
Australian scheme was in the act of realisation, and that he and
Eleanor were away together, never to hear further of the lawsuit.
He began to talk, asked after her health--said something about
London being very stupid, and more about Barchester being very
pleasant; declared the weather to be very hot, and then inquired
after Mr Harding.
'My father is not very well,' said Eleanor.
John Bold was very sorry, so sorry: he hoped it was nothing
serious, and put on the unmeaningly solemn face which people
usually use on such occasions.
'I especially want to speak to you about my father, Mr Bold;
indeed, I am now here on purpose to do so. Papa is very unhappy,
very unhappy indeed, about this affair of the hospital: you would
pity him, Mr Bold, if you could see how wretched it has made him.'
'Oh, Miss Harding!'
'Indeed you would--anyone would pity him; but a friend, an old
friend as you are--indeed you would. He is an altered man; his
cheerfulness has all gone, and his sweet temper, and his kind
happy tone of voice; you would hardly know him if you saw him, Mr
Bold, he is so much altered; and--and--if this goes on, he will
die.' Here Eleanor had recourse to her handkerchief, and so also
had her auditors; but she plucked up her courage, and went on
with her tale. 'He will break his heart, and die. I am sure, Mr
Bold, it was not you who wrote those cruel things in the
John Bold eagerly protested that it was not, but his heart
smote him as to his intimate alliance with Tom Towers.
'No, I am sure it was not; and papa has not for a moment
thought so; you would not be so cruel--but it has nearly killed
him. Papa cannot bear to think that people should so speak of
him, and that everybody should hear him so spoken of:--they have
called him avaricious, and dishonest, and they say he is robbing
the old men, and taking the money of the hospital for nothing.'
'I have never said so, Miss Harding. I--'
'No,' continued Eleanor, interrupting him, for she was now in
the full flood-tide of her eloquence; 'no, I am sure you have
not; but others have said so; and if this goes on, if such things
are written again, it will kill papa. Oh! Mr Bold, if you only
knew the state he is in! Now papa does not care much about money.'
Both her auditors, brother and sister, assented to this, and
declared on their own knowledge that no man lived less addicted
to filthy lucre than the warden.
'Oh! it's so kind of you to say so, Mary, and of you too, Mr
Bold. I couldn't bear that people should think unjustly of papa.
Do you know he would give up the hospital altogether, only he
cannot. The archdeacon says it would be cowardly, and that he
would be deserting his order, and injuring the church. Whatever
may happen, papa will not do that: he would leave the place
tomorrow willingly, and give up his house, and the income and all
if the archdeacon--'
Eleanor was going to say 'would let him,' but she stopped
herself before she had compromised her father's dignity; and
giving a long sigh, she added--'Oh, I do so wish he would.'
'No one who knows Mr Harding personally accuses him for a
moment,' said Bold. 'It is he that has to bear the punishment; it
is he that suffers,' said Eleanor; 'and what for? what has he
done wrong? how has he deserved this persecution? he that never
had an unkind thought in his life, he that never said an unkind
word!' and here she broke down, and the violence of her sobs
stopped her utterance.
Bold, for the fifth or sixth time, declared that neither he
nor any of his friends imputed any blame personally to Mr Harding.
'Then why should he be persecuted?' ejaculated Eleanor through
her tears, forgetting in her eagerness that her intention had
been to humble herself as a suppliant before John Bold-- 'why
should he be singled out for scorn and disgrace? why should he be
made so wretched? Oh! Mr Bold'--and she turned towards him as
though the kneeling scene were about to be commenced--'oh! Mr
Bold, why did you begin all this? You, whom we all so--so--valued!'
To speak the truth, the reformer's punishment was certainly
come upon him, for his present plight was not enviable; he had
nothing for it but to excuse himself by platitudes about public
duty, which it is by no means worth while to repeat, and to
reiterate his eulogy on Mr Harding's character. His position was
certainly a cruel one: had any gentleman called upon him on
behalf of Mr Harding he could of course have declined to enter
upon the subject; but how could he do so with a beautiful girl,
with the daughter of the man whom he had injured, with his own
In the meantime Eleanor recollected herself, and again
summoned up her energies. 'Mr Bold,' said she, 'I have come here
to implore you to abandon this proceeding.' He stood up from his
seat, and looked beyond measure distressed. 'To implore you to
abandon it, to implore you to spare my father, to spare either
his life or his reason, for one or the other will pay the forfeit
if this goes on. I know how much I am asking, and how little
right I have to ask anything; but I think you will listen to me
as it is for my father. Oh, Mr Bold, pray, pray do this for us--pray
do not drive to distraction a man who has loved you so well.'
She did not absolutely kneel to him, but she followed him as
he moved from his chair, and laid her soft hands imploringly upon
his arm. Ah! at any other time how exquisitely valuable would
have been that touch! but now he was distraught, dumbfounded and
unmanned. What could he say to that sweet suppliant; how explain
to her that the matter now was probably beyond his control; how
tell her that he could not quell the storm which he had raised?
'Surely, surely, John, you cannot refuse her,' said his sister.
'I would give her my soul,' said he, 'if it would serve her.'
'Oh, Mr Bold,' said Eleanor, 'do not speak so; I ask nothing for
myself; and what I ask for my father, it cannot harm you to grant.'
'I would give her my soul, if it would serve her,' said Bold,
still addressing his sister; 'everything I have is hers, if she
will accept it; my house, my heart, my all; every hope of my
breast is centred in her; her smiles are sweeter to me than the
sun, and when I see her in sorrow as she now is, every nerve in
my body suffers. No man can love better than I love her.'
'No, no, no,' ejaculated Eleanor; 'there can be no talk of
love between us. Will you protect my father from the evil you
have brought upon him?'
'Oh, Eleanor, I will do anything; let me tell you how I love
'No, no, no!' she almost screamed. 'This is unmanly of you, Mr
Bold. Will you, will you, will you leave my father to die in
peace in his quiet home?' and seizing him by his arm and hand,
she followed him across the room towards the door. 'I will not
leave you till you promise me; I'll cling to you in the street;
I'll kneel to you before all the people. You shall promise me
this, you shall promise me this, you shall--' And she clung to
him with fixed tenacity, and reiterated her resolve with
'Speak to her, John; answer her,' said Mary, bewildered by the
unexpected vehemence of Eleanor's manner; 'you cannot have the
cruelty to refuse her.'
'Promise me, promise me,' said Eleanor; 'say that my father is
safe--one word will do. I know how true you are; say one word,
and I will let you go.'
She still held him, and looked eagerly into his face, with her
hair dishevelled and her eyes all bloodshot. She had no thought
now of herself, no care now for her appearance; and yet he
thought he had never seen her half so lovely; he was amazed at
the intensity of her beauty, and could hardly believe that it was
she whom he had dared to love. 'Promise me,' said she; 'I will
not leave you till you have promised me.'
'I will,' said he at length; 'I do--all I can do, I will do.'
'Then may God Almighty bless you for ever and ever!' said
Eleanor; and falling on her knees with her face in Mary's lap,
she wept and sobbed like a child: her strength had carried her
through her allotted task, but now it was well nigh exhausted.
In a while she was partly recovered, and got up to go, and
would have gone, had not Bold made her understand that it was
necessary for him to explain to her how far it was in his power
to put an end to the proceedings which had been taken against Mr
Harding. Had he spoken on any other subject, she would have
vanished, but on that she was bound to hear him; and now the
danger of her position commenced. While she had an active part to
play, while she clung to him as a suppliant, it was easy enough
for her to reject his proffered love, and cast from her his
caressing words; but now--now that he had yielded, and was
talking to her calmly and kindly as to her father's welfare, it
was hard enough for her to do so. Then Mary Bold assisted her;
but now she was quite on her brother's side. Mary said but
little, but every word she did say gave some direct and deadly
blow. The first thing she did was to make room for her brother
between herself and Eleanor on the sofa: as the sofa was full
large for three, Eleanor could not resent this, nor could she
show suspicion by taking another seat; but she felt it to be a
most unkind proceeding. And then Mary would talk as though they
three were joined in some close peculiar bond together; as though
they were in future always to wish together, contrive together,
and act together; and Eleanor could not gainsay this; she could
not make another speech, and say, 'Mr Bold and I are strangers,
Mary, and are always to remain so!'
He explained to her that, though undoubtedly the proceeding
against the hospital had commenced solely with himself, many
others were now interested in the matter, some of whom were much
more influential than himself; that it was to him alone, however,
that the lawyers looked for instruction as to their doings, and,
more important still, for the payment of their bills; and he
promised that he would at once give them notice that it was his
intention to abandon the cause. He thought, he said, that it was
not probable that any active steps would be taken after he had
seceded from the matter, though it was possible that some passing
allusion might still be made to the hospital in the daily Jupiter.
He promised, however, that he would use his best influence to
prevent any further personal allusion being made to Mr Harding.
He then suggested that he would on that afternoon ride over
himself to Dr Grantly, and inform him of his altered intentions
on the subject, and with this view, he postponed his immediate
return to London.
This was all very pleasant, and Eleanor did enjoy a sort of
triumph in the feeling that she had attained the object for which
she had sought this interview; but still the part of Iphigenia
was to be played out. The gods had heard her prayer, granted her
request, and were they not to have their promised sacrifice?
Eleanor was not a girl to defraud them wilfully; so, as soon as
she decently could, she got up for her bonnet.
'Are you going so soon?' said Bold, who half an hour since
would have given a hundred pounds that he was in London, and she
still at Barchester.
'Oh yes!' said she. 'I am so much obliged to you; papa will
feel this to be so kind.' She did not quite appreciate all her
father's feelings. 'Of course I must tell him, and I will say
that you will see the archdeacon.'
'But may I not say one word for myself?' said Bold.
'I'll fetch you your bonnet, Eleanor,' said Mary, in the act
of leaving the room.
'Mary, Mary,' said she, getting up and catching her by her
dress; 'don't go, I'll get my bonnet myself.' But Mary, the
traitress, stood fast by the door, and permitted no such retreat.
And with a volley of impassioned love, John Bold poured forth
the feelings of his heart, swearing, as men do, some truths and
many falsehoods; and Eleanor repeated with every shade of
vehemence the 'No, no, no,' which had had a short time since so
much effect; but now, alas! its strength was gone. Let her be
never so vehement, her vehemence was not respected; all her 'No,
no, no's' were met with counter-asseverations, and at last were
overpowered. The ground was cut from under her on every side. She
was pressed to say whether her father would object; whether she
herself had any aversion (aversion! God help her, poor girl! the
word nearly made her jump into his arms); any other preference (this
she loudly disclaimed); whether it was impossible that she should
love him (Eleanor could not say that it was impossible): and so
at last all her defences demolished, all her maiden barriers
swept away, she capitulated, or rather marched out with the
honours of war, vanquished evidently, palpably vanquished, but
still not reduced to the necessity of confessing it.
And so the altar on the shore of the modern Aulis reeked with
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