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The Warden Anthony Trollope

XI. Iphigenia

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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 love?

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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.

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The Warden
Anthony Trollope

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