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The Warden By Anthony Trollope Characters: 7509

Updated: 2017-11-28 00:06


The Warden Resigns

The party met the next morning at breakfast; and a very sombre affair it was,-very unlike the breakfasts at Plumstead Episcopi.

There were three thin, small, dry bits of bacon, each an inch long, served up under a huge old plated cover; there were four three-cornered bits of dry toast, and four square bits of buttered toast; there was a loaf of bread, and some oily-looking butter; and on the sideboard there were the remains of a cold shoulder of mutton. The archdeacon, however, had not come up from his rectory to St Paul's Churchyard to enjoy himself, and therefore nothing was said of the scanty fare.

The guests were as sorry as the viands;-hardly anything was said over the breakfast-table. The archdeacon munched his toast in ominous silence, turning over bitter thoughts in his deep mind. The warden tried to talk to his daughter, and she tried to answer him; but they both failed. There were no feelings at present in common between them. The warden was thinking only of getting back to Barchester, and calculating whether the archdeacon would expect him to wait for him; and Mrs Grantly was preparing herself for a grand attack which she was to make on her father, as agreed upon between herself and her husband during their curtain confabulation of that morning.

When the waiter had creaked out of the room with the last of the teacups, the archdeacon got up and went to the window as though to admire the view. The room looked out on a narrow passage which runs from St Paul's Churchyard to Paternoster Row; and Dr Grantly patiently perused the names of the three shopkeepers whose doors were in view. The warden still kept his seat at the table, and examined the pattern of the tablecloth; and Mrs Grantly, seating herself on the sofa, began to knit.

After a while the warden pulled his Bradshaw out of his pocket, and began laboriously to consult it. There was a train for Barchester at 10 a.m. That was out of the question, for it was nearly ten already. Another at 3 p.m.; another, the night-mail train, at 9 p.m. The three o'clock train would take him home to tea, and would suit very well.

"My dear," said he, "I think I shall go back home at three o'clock to-day. I shall get home at half-past eight. I don't think there's anything to keep me in London."

"The archdeacon and I return by the early train to-morrow, papa; won't you wait and go back with us?"

"Why, Eleanor will expect me tonight; and I've so much to do; and-"

"Much to do!" said the archdeacon sotto voce; but the warden heard him.

"You'd better wait for us, papa."

"Thank ye, my dear! I think I'll go this afternoon." The tamest animal will turn when driven too hard, and even Mr Harding was beginning to fight for his own way.

"I suppose you won't be back before three?" said the lady, addressing her husband.

"I must leave this at two," said the warden.

"Quite out of the question," said the archdeacon, answering his wife, and still reading the shopkeepers' names; "I don't suppose I shall be back till five."

There was another long pause, during which Mr Harding continued to study his Bradshaw.

"I must go to Cox and Cummins," said the archdeacon at last.

"Oh, to Cox and Cummins," said the warden. It was quite a matter of indifference to him where his son-in-law went. The names of Cox and Cummins had now no interest in his ears. What had he to do with Cox and Cummins further, having already had his suit finally adjudicated upon in a court of conscience, a judgment without power of appeal fully registered, and the matter settled so that all the lawyers in London could not disturb it. The archdeacon could go to Cox and Cummins, could remain there all day in anxious discussion; but w

hat might be said there was no longer matter of interest to him, who was so soon to lay aside the name of warden of Barchester Hospital.

The archdeacon took up his shining new clerical hat, and put on his black new clerical gloves, and looked heavy, respectable, decorous, and opulent, a decided clergyman of the Church of England, every inch of him. "I suppose I shall see you at Barchester the day after to-morrow," said he.

The warden supposed he would.

"I must once more beseech you to take no further steps till you see my father; if you owe me nothing," and the archdeacon looked as though he thought a great deal were due to him, "at least you owe so much to my father;" and, without waiting for a reply, Dr Grantly wended his way to Cox and Cummins.

Mrs Grantly waited till the last fall of her husband's foot was heard, as he turned out of the court into St Paul's Churchyard, and then commenced her task of talking her father over.

"Papa," she began, "this is a most serious business."

"Indeed it is," said the warden, ringing the bell.

"I greatly feel the distress of mind you must have endured."

"I am sure you do, my dear;"-and he ordered the waiter to bring him pen, ink, and paper.

"Are you going to write, papa?"

"Yes, my dear;-I am going to write my resignation to the bishop."

"Pray, pray, papa, put it off till our return;-pray put it off till you have seen the bishop;-dear papa! for my sake, for Eleanor's!-"

"It is for your sake and Eleanor's that I do this. I hope, at least, that my children may never have to be ashamed of their father."

"How can you talk about shame, papa?" and she stopped while the waiter creaked in with the paper, and then slowly creaked out again; "how can you talk about shame? you know what all your friends think about this question."

The warden spread his paper on the table, placing it on the meagre blotting-book which the hotel afforded, and sat himself down to write.

"You won't refuse me one request, papa?" continued his daughter; "you won't refuse to delay your letter for two short days? Two days can make no possible difference."

"My dear," said he na?vely, "if I waited till I got to Barchester, I might, perhaps, be prevented."

"But surely you would not wish to offend the bishop?" said she.

"God forbid! The bishop is not apt to take offence, and knows me too well to take in bad part anything that I may be called on to do."

"But, papa-"

"Susan," said he, "my mind on this subject is made up; it is not without much repugnance that I act in opposition to the advice of such men as Sir Abraham Haphazard and the archdeacon; but in this matter I can take no advice, I cannot alter the resolution to which I have come."

"But two days, papa-"

"No;-nor can I delay it. You may add to my present unhappiness by pressing me, but you cannot change my purpose; it will be a comfort to me if you will let the matter rest": and, dipping his pen into the inkstand, he fixed his eyes intently on the paper.

There was something in his manner which taught his daughter to perceive that he was in earnest; she had at one time ruled supreme in her father's house, but she knew that there were moments when, mild and meek as he was, he would have his way, and the present was an occasion of the sort. She returned, therefore, to her knitting, and very shortly after left the room.

The warden was now at liberty to compose his letter, and, as it was characteristic of the man, it shall be given at full length. The official letter, which, when written, seemed to him to be too formally cold to be sent alone to so dear a friend, was accompanied by a private note; and both are here inserted.

The letter of resignation ran as follows:-

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