The Last Chronicle of Barset eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,290 pages of information about The Last Chronicle of Barset.

They buried him in the cathedral which he had loved so well, and in which nearly all the work of his life had been done; and all Barchester was there to see him laid in his grave within the cloisters.  There was no procession of coaches, no hearse, nor was there any attempt at funereal pomp.  From the dean’s side door, across the vaulted passage, and into the transept—­over the little step upon which he had so nearly fallen when last he made his way out of the building—­the coffin was carried on men’s shoulders.  It was but a short journey from his bedroom to his grave.  But the bell had been tolling sadly all morning, and the nave and the aisles and the transepts, close up to the door leading from the transept into the cloister, were crowded with those who had known the name and the figure and the voice of Mr Harding as long as they had known anything.  Up to this day no one would have said specially that Mr Harding was a favourite of the town.  He had never been forward enough in anything to become the acknowledged possessor of popularity.  But, now that he was gone, men and women told each other how good he had been.  They remembered the sweetness of his smile, and talked of loving little words which he had spoken to them—­either years ago or the other day, for his words had always been loving.  The dean and the archdeacon came first, shoulder to shoulder, and after them came their wives.  I do not know that it was the proper order for mourning, but it was a touching sight to be seen, and was long remembered in Barchester.  Painful as it was for them, the two women would be there, and the two sisters would walk together;—­nor would they go before their husbands.  Then there were the archdeacon’s two sons—­for the Rev Charles Grantly had come to Plumstead for the occasion.  And in the vaulted passage which runs between the deanery and the end of the transept all the chapter, with the choir, the prebendaries, with the fat old chancellor, the precentor, and the minor canons down to the little choristers—­they were all there, and followed in at the transept door, two by two.  And in the transept they were joined by another clergyman who no one had expected to see that day.  The bishop was there, looking old and worn—­almost as though he were unconscious of what he was doing.  Since his wife’s death no one had seen him out of the palace or the palace grounds till that day.  But there he was—­and they made way for him into the procession behind the two ladies—­and the archdeacon, when he saw it, resolved that there should be peace in his heart, if peace were possible.

They made their way into the cloisters where the grave had been dug—­as many as might be allowed to follow.  The place indeed was open to all who chose to come; but they who had only slightly known the man refrained from pressing upon those who had a right to stand around his coffin.  But there was one other there whom the faithful chronicler of Barchester should mention.  Before any other one

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The Last Chronicle of Barset from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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