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0100_005E The Warden Anthony Trollope

XVIII. The Warden Is Very Obstinate

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'I am sure he disadvised you from it,' continued the reverend cross-examiner.

Mr Harding could not deny this.

'I'm sure Sir Abraham must have advised you to consult your friends.'

To this proposition also Mr Harding was obliged to assent.

'Then your threat of resignation amounts to nothing, and we are just where we were before.'

Mr Harding was now standing on the rug, moving uneasily from one foot to the other. He made no distinct answer to the archdeacon's last proposition, for his mind was chiefly engaged on thinking how he could escape to bed. That his resignation was a thing finally fixed on, a fact all but completed, was not in his mind a matter of any doubt; he knew his own weakness; he knew how prone he was to be led; but he was not weak enough to give way now, to go back from the position to which his conscience had driven him, after having purposely come to London to declare his determination: he did not in the least doubt his resolution, but he greatly doubted his power of defending it against his son-in-law.

'You must be very tired, Susan,' said he: 'wouldn't you like to go to bed?'

But Susan didn't want to go till her husband went.--She had an idea that her papa might be bullied if she were away: she wasn't tired at all, or at least she said so.

The archdeacon was pacing the room, expressing, by certain noddles of his head, his opinion of the utter fatuity of his father-in-law.

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'Why,' at last he said--and angels might have blushed at the rebuke expressed in his tone and emphasis--'Why did you go off from Barchester so suddenly? Why did you take such a step without giving us notice, after what had passed at the palace?'

The warden hung his head, and made no reply: he could not condescend to say that he had not intended to give his son-in-law the slip; and as he had not the courage to avow it, he said nothing.

'Papa has been too much for you,' said the lady.

The archdeacon took another turn, and again ejaculated, 'Good heavens!' this time in a very low whisper, but still audible.

'I think I'll go to bed,' said the warden, taking up a side candle.

'At any rate, you'll promise me to take no further step without consultation,' said the archdeacon. Mr Harding made no answer, but slowly proceeded to light his candle.

'Of course,' continued the other, 'such a declaration as that you made to Sir Abraham means nothing. Come, warden, promise me this. The whole affair, you see, is already settled, and that with very little trouble or expense. Bold has been compelled to abandon his action, and all you have to do is to remain quiet at the hospital.' Mr Harding still made no reply, but looked meekly into his son-in-law's face. The archdeacon thought he knew his father-in-law, but he was mistaken; he thought that he had already talked over a vacillating man to resign his promise. 'Come,' said he, 'promise Susan to give up this idea of resigning the wardenship.'

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The Warden
Anthony Trollope

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