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The Warden Anthony Trollope

V. Dr Grantly Visits the Hospital

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The warden's mind misgave him, and even for a moment he forgot to play. He by no means wished to delegate to his son-in-law his place and authority of warden; he had expressly determined not to interfere in any step which the men might wish to take in the matter under dispute; he was most anxious neither to accuse them nor to defend himself. All these things he was aware the archdeacon would do in his behalf, and that not in the mildest manner; and yet he knew not how to refuse the permission requested.

'I'd so much sooner remain quiet in the matter,' said he, in an apologetic voice.

Quiet!' said the archdeacon, still speaking with his brazen trumpet; 'do you wish to be ruined in quiet?'

'Why, if I am to be ruined, certainly.'

'Nonsense, warden; I tell you something must be done-- we must act; just let me ring the bell, and send the men word that I'll speak to them in the quad.'

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Mr Harding knew not how to resist, and the disagreeable order was given. The quad, as it was familiarly called, was a small quadrangle, open on one side to the river, and surrounded on the others by the high wall of Mr Harding's garden, by one gable end of Mr Harding's house, and by the end of the row of buildings which formed the residences of the bedesmen. It was flagged all round, and the centre was stoned; small stone gutters ran from the four corners of the square to a grating in the centre; and attached to the end of Mr Harding's house was a conduit with four cocks covered over from the weather, at which the old men got their water, and very generally performed their morning toilet. It was a quiet, sombre place, shaded over by the trees of the warden's garden. On the side towards the river, there stood a row of stone seats, on which the old men would sit and gaze at the little fish, as they flitted by in the running stream. On the other side of the river was a rich, green meadow, running up to and joining the deanery, and as little open to the public as the garden of the dean itself. Nothing, therefore, could be more private than the quad of the hospital; and it was there that the archdeacon determined to convey to them his sense of their refractory proceedings.

The servant soon brought in word that the men were assembled in the quad, and the archdeacon, big with his purpose, rose to address them.

'Well, warden, of course you're coming,' said he, seeing that Mr Harding did not prepare to follow him.

'I wish you'd excuse me,' said Mr Harding.

'For heaven's sake, don't let us have division in the camp,' replied the archdeacon: 'let us have a long pull and a strong pull, but above all a pull all together; come warden, come; don't be afraid of your duty.'

Mr Harding was afraid; he was afraid that he was being led to do that which was not his duty: he was not, however, strong enough to resist, so he got up and followed his son-in-law.

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The Warden
Anthony Trollope

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