The Last Chronicle of Barset eBook

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had reached the spot, the sexton and the verger between them had led in between them, among the graves beneath the cloisters, a blind old man, very old, with a wondrous stoop, but who must have owned a grand stature before extreme old age had bent him, and they placed him sitting on a stone in the corner of the archway.  But as soon as the shuffling of steps reached his ears, he raised himself with the aid of his stick, and stood during the service leaning against the pillar.  The blind man was so old that he might almost have been Mr Harding’s father.  This was John Bunce, bedesman from Hiram’s Hospital—­and none perhaps there had known Mr Harding better than he had known him.  When the earth had been thrown on to the coffin, and the service was over, and they were about to disperse, Mrs Arabin went up to the old man, and taking his hand between hers whispered a word into his ear.  ‘Oh, Miss Eleanor!’, he said.  ‘Oh, Miss Eleanor!’ Within a fortnight he also was lying within the cathedral precincts.

And so they buried Mr Septimus Harding, formerly Warden of Hiram’s Hospital in the city of Barchester, of whom the chronicler may say that that city never knew a sweeter gentleman or a better Christian.

CHAPTER LXXXII

THE LAST SCENE AT HOGGLESTOCK

The fortnight following Mr Harding’s death was passed very quietly at Hogglestock, for during that time no visitor made an appearance in the parish except Mr Snapper on the Sundays.  Mr Snapper, when he had completed the service on the first of these Sundays, intimated to Mr Crawley his opinion that probably that gentleman might himself wish to resume his duties on the following Sabbath.  Mr Crawley, however, courteously declined to do anything of the kind.  He said that it was quite out of the question that he should do so without a direct communication made to him from the bishop, or by the bishop’s order.  The assizes had, of course, gone by, and all question of the trial was over.  Nevertheless—­as Mr Snapper said—­the bishop had not, as yet, given any order.  Mr Snapper was of the opinion that the bishop in these days was not quite himself.  He had spoken to the bishop about it, and the bishop had told him peevishly—­’I must say quite peevishly,’ Mr Snapper had said—­that nothing was to be done at present.  Mr Snapper was not the less clearly of the opinion that Mr Crawley might resume his duties.  To this, however, Mr Crawley would not assent.

But even during this fortnight Mr Crawley had not remained altogether neglected.  Two days after Mr Harding’s death he had received a note from the dean in which he was advised not to resume the duties at Hogglestock for the present.  ’Of course you can understand that we have a sad house here for the present,’ the dean had said.  ’But as soon as ever we are able to move in the matter we will arrange things for you as comfortably as we can.  I will see the bishop myself.’  Mr Crawley had no ambitious idea of any comfort which might accrue to him beyond that of an honourable return to his humble preferment at Hogglestock; but, nevertheless, he was in this case minded to do as the dean counselled him.  He had submitted himself to the bishop, and he would wait till the bishop absolved him from his submission.

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