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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,014 pages of information about The Last Chronicle of Barset.

‘Papa, you must read this letter first.’

‘Before I kiss my own darling?’ Then she knelt at his feet.  ‘I see,’ he said, taking the letter; ’it is from your lover’s father.  Peradventure he signifies his consent, which would surely be needful before such a marriage would be seemly.’

‘It isn’t about me, papa, at all.’

’Not about you?  If so, that would be most unpromising.  But, in any case, you are my best darling.’  Then he kissed her and blessed her, and slowly opened the letter.  His wife had now come close to him, and was standing over him, touching him, so that she also could read the archdeacon’s letter.  Grace, who was still in front of him, could see the working of his face as he read it; but even she could not tell whether he was gratified, or offended, or dismayed.  When he had got as far as the first offer of the presentation, he ceased reading it for a while, and looked round about the room as though lost in thought.  ’Let me see what further he writes to me,’ he then said; and after that he continued the letter slowly to the end.  ’Nay, my child, you were in error in saying that he wrote not about you.  ’Tis the writing of you that he has put some real heart into his words.  He writes as though his home would be welcome to you.’

‘And does he not make St Ewold’s welcome to you, papa?’

’He makes me welcome to accept it—­if I may use the word after the ordinary and somewhat faulty parlance of mankind.’

‘And you will accept it—­of course?’

’I know not that, my dear.  The acceptance of a cure of souls is a thing not to be decided on in a moment—­as is the colour of a garment or the shape of a toy.  Nor would I condescend to take this thing from the archdeacon’s hands, if I thought that he bestowed it simply that the father of his daughter-in-law might no longer be accounted poor.’

‘Does he say that, papa?’

’He gives it as a collateral reason, basing his offer first on the kindly expressed judgment of one who is no more.  Then he refers to the friendship of the dean.  If he believed that the judgment of his late father-in-law in so weighty a matter were the best to be relied upon of all that were at his command, then he would have done well to trust to it.  But in such a case he should have bolstered up a good ground for action with no collateral supports which are weak—­and worse than weak.  However, it shall have my best consideration, whereunto I hope that wisdom will be given to me where only such wisdom can be had.’

‘Josiah,’ said his wife to him, when they were alone, ’you will not refuse it?’

’Not willingly—­not if it may be accepted.  Alas! you need not urge me, when the temptation is so strong!’

CHAPTER LXXXIII

MR CRAWLEY IS CONQUERED

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