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The Warden by Anthony Trollope

Part 5 out of 5

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go to ruins. Mr Chadwick, who still holds his stewardship,
and pays the accruing rents into an account opened at a bank
for the purpose, sees to that; but the whole place has become
disordered and ugly. The warden's garden is a wretched
wilderness, the drive and paths are covered with weeds, the
flower-beds are bare, and the unshorn lawn is now a mass of
long damp grass and unwholesome moss. The beauty of the
place is gone; its attractions have withered. Alas! a very
few years since it was the prettiest spot in Barchester, and now
it is a disgrace to the city.
Mr Harding did not go out to Crabtree Parva. An
arrangement was made which respected the homestead of Mr
Smith and his happy family, and put Mr Harding into possession
of a small living within the walls of the city. It is the smallest
possible parish, containing a part of the Cathedral Close
and a few old houses adjoining. The church is a singular
little Gothic building, perched over a gateway, through which
the Close is entered, and is approached by a flight of stone steps
which leads down under the archway of the gate. It is no bigger
than an ordinary room--perhaps twenty-seven feet long by eighteen
wide--but still it is a perfect church. It contains an old carved
pulpit and reading-desk, a tiny altar under a window filled with
dark old-coloured glass, a font, some half-dozen pews, and
perhaps a dozen seats for the poor; and also a vestry.
The roof is high pitched, and of black old oak, and the three
large beams which support it run down to the side walls, and
terminate in grotesquely carved faces--two devils and an angel on
one side, two angels and a devil on the other. Such is the church
of St Cuthbert at Barchester, of which Mr Harding became rector,
with a clear income of seventy-five pounds a year.

Here he performs afternoon service every Sunday, and administers
the Sacrament once in every three months. His audience is not
large; and, had they been so, he could not have accommodated them:
but enough come to fill his six pews, and on the front seat of
those devoted to the poor is always to be seen our old friend Mr
Bunce, decently arrayed in his bedesman's gown.

Mr Harding is still precentor of Barchester; and it is very
rarely the case that those who attend the Sunday morning
service miss the gratification of hearing him chant the Litany,
as no other man in England can do it. He is neither a discontented
nor an unhappy man; he still inhabits the lodgings to which he
went on leaving the hospital, but he now has them to himself.
Three months after that time Eleanor became Mrs Bold, and of
course removed to her husband's house.

There were some difficulties to be got over on the occasion
of the marriage. The archdeacon, who could not so soon
overcome his grief, would not be persuaded to grace the ceremony
with his presence, but he allowed his wife and children to
be there. The marriage took place in the cathedral, and
the bishop himself officiated. It was the last occasion on
which he ever did so; and, though he still lives, it is not
probable that he will ever do so again.

Not long after the marriage, perhaps six months, when
Eleanor's bridal-honours were fading, and persons were beginning
to call her Mrs Bold without twittering, the archdeacon
consented to meet John Bold at a dinner-party, and since that
time they have become almost friends. The archdeacon
firmly believes that his brother-in-law was, as a bachelor, an
infidel, an unbeliever in the great truths of our religion; but
that matrimony has opened his eyes, as it has those of others.
And Bold is equally inclined to think that time has softened
the asperities of the archdeacon's character. Friends though
they are, they do not often revert to the feud of the hospital.

Mr Harding, we say, is not an unhappy man: he keeps his
lodgings, but they are of little use to him, except as being the
one spot on earth which he calls his own. His time is spent
chiefly at his daughter's or at the palace; he is never left alone,
even should he wish to be so; and within a twelvemonth of
Eleanor's marriage his determination to live at his own lodging
had been so far broken through and abandoned, that he
consented to have his violoncello permanently removed to his
daughter's house.

Every other day a message is brought to him from the bishop.
'The bishop's compliments, and his lordship is not very well
to-day, and he hopes Mr Harding will dine with him.' This
bulletin as to the old man's health is a myth; for though he
is over eighty he is never ill, and will probably die some day,
as a spark goes out, gradually and without a struggle. Mr
Harding does dine with him very often, which means going to
the palace at three and remaining till ten; and whenever he
does not the bishop whines, and says that the port wine is
corked, and complains that nobody attends to him, and frets
himself off to bed an hour before his time.

It was long before the people of Barchester forgot to call
Mr Harding by his long well-known name of Warden. It had
become so customary to say Mr Warden, that it was not easily
dropped. 'No, no,' he always says when so addressed, 'not
warden now, only precentor.'

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