Slope invites himself to visit with the recently widowed Eleanor, and Harding hauls ass out of there when he finds out because he cannot bring himself to be in the same room with Slope. As a result, Slope’s Operation Charm Offensive is directed at Eleanor and her close friend Mary, her late husband’s sister.
Slope’s plans to ingratiate himself hit a minor road bump when Eleanor calls him out on his hostile take down of her father.
He manages to weasel his way out of the whole thing by saying it had nothing to do with her dad–and that he actually really likes the old man and loves his choir. He even dangles the promise of Hardin returning to his job as the hospital warden. It’s a masterful bit of worming your way out of a bad situation.
He then turns his attention to worming his way into her heart by mooning over her young son. The resulting one-sided conversation with the baby, in which Slope delivers the most unbearably sermonly greeting to an infant that you have ever heard while he also conspicuously hits on said baby’s mother is comic perfection. It is almost impressive how well he balances these diverse tasks, if it weren’t so damn sleazy.
After Slope leaves, Harding returns and wants details. His daughter was obviously won over by the experience, but he remains militant in his dislike of Slope.
Next page: The Proudie party.