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The Warden Anthony Trollope

IX. The Conference

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The archdeacon's speech had silenced him--stupefied him --annihilated him; anything but satisfied him. With the bishop it fared not much better. He did not discern clearly how things were, but he saw enough to know that a battle was to be prepared for; a battle that would destroy his few remaining comforts, and bring him with sorrow to the grave.

The warden still sat, and still looked at the archdeacon, till his thoughts fixed themselves wholly on the means of escape from his present position, and he felt like a bird fascinated by gazing on a snake.

'I hope you agree with me,' said the archdeacon at last, breaking the dread silence; 'my lord, I hope you agree with me.'

Oh, what a sigh the bishop gave! 'My lord, I hope you agree with me,' again repeated the merciless tyrant.

'Yes, I suppose so,' groaned the poor old man, slowly.

'And you, warden?'

Mr Harding was now stirred to action--he must speak and move, so he got up and took one turn before he answered.

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'Do not press me for an answer just at present; I will do nothing lightly in the matter, and of whatever I do I will give you and the bishop notice.' And so without another word he took his leave, escaping quickly through the palace hall, and down the lofty steps, nor did he breathe freely till he found himself alone under the huge elms of the silent close. Here he walked long and slowly, thinking on his case with a troubled air, and trying in vain to confute the archdeacon's argument. He then went home, resolved to bear it all--ignominy, suspense, disgrace, self-doubt, and heart-burning--and to do as those would have him, who he still believed were most fit and most able to counsel him aright.

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The Warden
Anthony Trollope

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