A Long Day in London
The warden had to make use of all his very moderate powers of intrigue to give his son-
in-law the slip, and get out of Barchester without being stopped on his road. No
schoolboy ever ran away from school with more precaution and more dread of detection;
no convict, slipping down from a prison wall, ever feared to see the gaoler more entirely
than Mr Harding did to see his son-in-law as he drove up in the pony carriage to the
railway station, on the morning of his escape to London.
The evening before he went he wrote a note to the archdeacon, explaining that he should
start on the morrow on his journey; that it was his intention to see the attorney-general if
possible, and to decide on his future plans in accordance with what he heard from that
gentleman; he excused himself for giving Dr Grantly no earlier notice, by stating that his
resolve was very sudden; and having entrusted this note to Eleanor, with the perfect,
though not expressed, understanding that it was to be sent over to Plumstead Episcopi
without haste, he took his departure.
He also prepared and carried with him a note for Sir Abraham Haphazard, in which he
stated his name, explaining that he was the defendant in the case of 'The Queen on behalf
of the Wool-carders of Barchester v. Trustees under the will of the late John Hiram,' for
so was the suit denominated, and begged the illustrious and learned gentleman to
vouchsafe to him ten minutes' audience at any hour on the next day. Mr Harding
calculated that for that one day he was safe; his son-in-law, he had no doubt, would arrive
in town by an early train, but not early enough to reach the truant till he should have
escaped from his hotel after breakfast; and could he thus manage to see the lawyer on that
very day, the deed might be done before the archdeacon could interfere.
On his arrival in town the warden drove, as was his wont. to the Chapter Hotel and
Coffee House, near St Paul's. His visits to London of late had not been frequent; but in
those happy days when Harding's Church Music was going through the press, he had
been often there; and as the publisher's house was in Paternoster Row, and the printer's
press in Fleet Street, the Chapter Hotel and Coffee House had been convenient. It was a
quiet, sombre, clerical house, beseeming such a man as the warden, and thus he
afterwards frequented it. Had he dared, he would on this occasion have gone elsewhere to
throw the archdeacon further off the scent; but he did not know what violent steps his
son-in-law might take for his recovery if he were not found at his usual haunt, and he
deemed it not prudent to make himself the object of a hunt through London.
Arrived at his inn, he ordered dinner, and went forth to the attorney-general's chambers.
There he learnt that Sir Abraham was in Court, and would not probably return that day.
He would go direct from Court to the House; all appointments were, as a rule, made at
the chambers; the clerk could by no means promise an interview for the next day; was
able, on the other hand, to say that such interview was, he thought, impossible; but that
Sir Abraham would certainly be at the House in the course of the night, where an answer
from himself might possibly be elicited.