Not a member?     Existing members login below:
Holidays Offer
 

The Warden

Tribulation
Mr Harding was a sadder man than he had ever yet been when he returned to his own
house. He had been wretched enough on that well-remembered morning when he was
forced to expose before his son-in-law the publisher's account for ushering into the world
his dear book of sacred music: when after making such payments as he could do
unassisted, he found that he was a debtor of more than three hundred pounds; but his
sufferings then were as nothing to his present misery;--then he had done wrong, and he
knew it, and was able to resolve that he would not sin in like manner again; but now he
could make no resolution, and comfort himself by no promises of firmness. He had been
forced to think that his lot had placed him in a false position, and he was about to
maintain that position against the opinion of the world and against his own convictions.
He had read with pity, amounting almost to horror, the strictures which had appeared
from time to time against the Earl of Guildford as master of St Cross, and the invectives
that had been heaped on rich diocesan dignitaries and overgrown sinecure pluralists. In
judging of them, he judged leniently; the whole bias of his profession had taught him to
think that they were more sinned against than sinning, and that the animosity with which
they had been pursued was venomous and unjust; but he had not the less regarded their
plight as most miserable. His hair had stood on end and his flesh had crept as he read the
things which had been written; he had wondered how men could live under such a load of
disgrace; how they could face their fellow-creatures while their names were bandied
about so injuriously and so publicly--and now this lot was to be his--he, that shy, retiring
man, who had so comforted himself in the hidden obscurity of his lot, who had so
enjoyed the unassuming warmth of his own little corner, he was now dragged forth into
the glaring day, and gibbeted before ferocious multitudes. He entered his own house a
crestfallen, humiliated man, without a hope of overcoming the wretchedness which
affected him.
He wandered into the drawing-room where was his daughter; but he could not speak to
her now, so he left it, and went into the book-room. He was not quick enough to escape
Eleanor's glance, or to prevent her from seeing that he was disturbed; and in a little while
she followed him. She found him seated in his accustomed chair with no book open
before him, no pen ready in his hand, no ill-shapen notes of blotted music lying before
him as was usual, none of those hospital accounts with which he was so precise and yet
so unmethodical: he was doing nothing, thinking of nothing, looking at nothing; he was
merely suffering.
'Leave me, Eleanor, my dear,' he said; 'leave me, my darling, for a few minutes, for I am
busy.'
Eleanor saw well how it was, but she did leave him, and glided silently back to her
drawing-room. When he had sat a while, thus alone and unoccupied, he got up to walk
again-- he could make more of his thoughts walking than sitting, and was creeping out
into his garden, when he met Bunce on the threshold.
 
Remove