Mr. Harding is being castigated by his son-in-law in the next scene. Grantly is a bit of a lunatic, but he totally has Slope’s number. Probably because to understand someone as petty as Slope, you have to be that petty yourself.
Anyway, he correctly surmises that Slope made the position sound as unpleasant as possible to turn off Harding. He decides he’s going to jump rank and talk to the bishop directly.
The urgency of intervening is driven home later that night when his wife mentions how clearly Slope is jonesing for Eleanor.
While everyone in Eleanor’s family is understandably determined to close ranks against Slope, they don’t realize there’s another gold digger in the mix. Enter Bertie-the Malingerer’s son, who came back with his dad. Bertie is a flaky artist who decides to set his sights on Eleanor for her money because, fuck it, he needs money and he doesn’t make any and he doesn’t have a job and there’s no telling how long it will take dad to die before he gets his inheritance. In the course of Bertie discussing his game plan with his sisters, we also learn that Slope has been a regular visitor and is not so subtly courting the Signora.
Then Slope sees Eleanor in passing and insists he must speak with her. I assumed he was going to propose, but I underestimated the Rickman. He’s not that obvious. No, no, his plan to manipulate Eleanor into his clutches is much more nuanced than my pea brain could even fathom. Instead, he feigns horror at the idea that poor dear Mr. Harding will not be the new warden. Slope is a complete piece of shit here, but I must confess to being impressed with his scheming in this scene. What a slick motherfucker.
He insists that her dad just misunderstood him, and that’s a shame.
He then tries to pressure her into talking to the bishop or making her dad talk to Mr. Q. Eleanor is a reasonable person, so she wants to know why her dad can’t talk to the bishop directly himself. Slope insists that would not work because there’s bad blood between the two. He returns to his own proposed interventions. At first, I thought he was being dense, but then I realized he truly is a magnificent bastard because he knows his solutions are too awkward for her to even consider going through with, leaving him to play hero and help her dad.
We then are treated to Mrs. Proudie–who is consistently hilariously horrid to everyone–talking to Mrs. Q. about her husband’s new post as warden.
Needless to say, Slope is a little alarmed at this development and responds with a hilarious leap into the bushes to avoid being seen.
Next page: Trouble in Proudie paradise.