Now this letter, taken as a whole, and with the consideration that Mr. Slope wished to assume a great degree of intimacy with Eleanor, would not have been bad but for the allusion to the tresses. Gentlemen do not write to ladies about their tresses unless they new balance 501 are on very intimate terms indeed. But Mr. Slope could not be expected to be aware of this. He longed to put a little affection into his epistle, and yet he thought it injudicious, as the letter would, he knew, be shown to Mr. Harding. He would have insisted that the letter should be strictly private and seen by no eyes but Eleanor’s own, had he not felt that such an injunction would have been disobeyed. He therefore restrained his passion, did not sign himself “yours affectionately,” and contented himself instead with the compliment to the tresses. Having finished his letter, he took it to Mrs. Bold’s house and, learning there, from the servant, that things were to be sent out to Plumstead that afternoon, left it, with many injunctions, in her hands. We will now follow Mr. Slope so as to complete the day with him and then return to his letter and its momentous fate in the next chapter. There is an old song which gives us some very good advice about courting: It’s gude to be off with the auld luve Before ye be on wi’ the new. Of the wisdom of this maxim Mr. Slope was ignorant, and accordingly, having written his letter to Mrs. Bold, he proceeded to call upon the Signora Neroni. Indeed, it was hard to say which was the old love and which the new, Mr. Slope having been smitten with both so nearly at the same time. Perhaps he thought it not amiss to have two strings to his bow. But two strings to Cupid’s bow are always dangerous to him on whose behalf they are to new balance 420 be used. A man should remember that between two stools he may fall to the ground. But in sooth Mr. Slope was pursuing Mrs. Bold in obedience to his better instincts, and the signora in obedience to his worser. Had he won the widow and worn her, no one, could have blamed him. You, O reader, and I and Eleanor’s other friends would have received the story of such a winning with much disgust and disappointment, but we should have been angry with Eleanor, not with Mr. Slope. Bishop, male and female, dean and chapter and diocesan clergy in full congress could have found nothing to disapprove of in such an alliance. Convocation itself, that mysterious and mighty synod, could in no wise have fallen foul of it. The possession of £1000 a year and a beautiful wife would not at all have hurt the voice of the pulpit charmer, or lessened the grace and piety of the exemplary clergyman. But not of such a nature were likely to be his dealings with the Signora Neroni. In the first place he knew that her husband was living, and therefore he could not woo her honestly. Then again she had nothing to recommend her to his honest wooing had such been possible. She was not only portionless, but also from misfortune unfitted to be chosen as the wife of any man who wanted a useful mate. Mr. Slope was aware that she was a helpless, hopeless cripple. But Mr. Slope could not help himself. He knew that he was wrong in devoting his time to the back drawing-room in Dr. Stanhope’s house. He knew that what took place there would, if divulged, utterly ruin him with Mrs. Bold. He knew that scandal would soon come upon his heels and spread abroad among the black coats of Barchester some tidings, exaggerated tidings, of the sighs which he poured into the lady’s ears. He knew that he was acting against the recognized principles of his life, against those laws of conduct by which he hoped to achieve much higher success. But, as we have said, he could not help himself. Passion, for the first time in his life, passion was too strong for him. As for the signora, no such plea can be put forward for her, for in truth she cared no more for Mr. Slope than she did for twenty others who had been at her feet before him. She willingly, nay greedily, accepted his homage. He was the finest fly that Barchester had hitherto afforded to her web, and the signora was a powerful spider that made wondrous webs and could in no way live without catching flies. Her taste in this respect was abominable, for she had no use for the victims when caught. She could not eat them matrimonially, as young lady flies do whose webs are most frequently of their mothers’ weaving. Nor new balance outlet uk could she devour them by any escapade of a less legitimate description. Her unfortunate affliction precluded her from all hope of levanting with a lover. It would be impossible to run away with a lady who required three servants to move her from a sofa. The signora was subdued by no passion. Her time for love was gone. She had lived out her heart, such heart as she had ever had, in her early years, at an age when Mr. Slope was thinking of the second book of Euclid and his unpaid bill at the buttery hatch. In age the lady was younger than the gentleman, but in feelings, in knowledge of the affairs of love, in intrigue, he was immeasurably her junior. It was necessary to her to have some man at her feet. It was the one customary excitement of her life. She delighted in the exercise of power which this gave her; it was now nearly the only food for her ambition; she would boast to her sister that she could make a fool of any man, and the sister, as little imbued with feminine delicacy as herself, good-naturedly thought it but fair that such amusement should be afforded to a poor invalid who was debarred from the ordinary pleasures of life. Mr. Slope was madly in love but hardly knew it. The Signora spitted him, as a boy does a cockchafer on a cork, that she might enjoy the energetic agony of his gyrations. And she knew very well what she was doing. Mr. Slope having added to his person all such adornments as are possible to a clergyman making a morning visit such as a clean necktie, clean handkerchief, new gloves, and a soup?on of not unnecessary scent called about three o’clock at the doctor’s door. At about this hour the signora was almost always alone in the back drawing-room. The mother had not come down. The doctor was out or in his own room. Bertie was out, and Charlotte at any rate left the room if anyone called whose object was specially with her sister. Such was her idea of being charitable and sisterly. Mr: Slope, as was his custom, asked for Mr. Stanhope, and was told, as was the servant’s custom, that the signora was in the drawing-room. Upstairs he accordingly went. He found her, as he always did, lying on her sofa with a French volume before her and a beautiful little inlaid writing-case open on her table. At the moment of his entrance she was in the act of writingAh, my friend,” said she, putting out her left hand to him across her desk, “I did not expect you today and was this very instant writing to you —” Mr. Slope, taking the soft, fair, delicate hand in his and very soft and fair and delicate it was bowed over it his huge red head and kissed it. It was a sight to see, a deed to record if the author could fitly do it, a picture new balance outlet to put on canvas. Mr. Slope was big, awkward, cumbrous, and, having his heart in his pursuit, was ill at ease. The lady was fair, as we have said, and delicate; everything about her was fine and refined; her hand in his looked like a rose lying among carrots, and when he kissed it, he looked as a cow might do on finding such a flower among her food. She was graceful as a couchant goddess and, moreover, as self-possessed as Venus must have been when courting Adonis. Oh, that such grace and such beauty should have condescended to waste itself on such a pursuit! I was in the act of writing to you,” said she, “but now my scrawl may go into the basket;” and she raised the sheet of gilded note-paper from off her desk as though to tear itIndeed it shall not,” said he, laying the embargo of half a stone weight of human flesh and blood upon the devoted paper. “Nothing that you write for my eyes, signora, shall be so desecrated,” and he took up the letter, put that also among the carrots and fed on it, and then proceeded to read itGracious me! Mr. Slope,” said she, “I hope you don’t mean to say you keep all the trash I write to you.  
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