Taking his lead from the bishop’s answer to his question, Slope starts pressuring a very reluctant Mr. Q. into withdrawing his acceptance of the warden position.
To Mr. Q.’s credit, he does not go gently. He first whines that his wife has already told all of the local merchants about the new job.
Then he reminds Slope that he’s the one who brought him the offer to begin with. This prods Slope into some crawfishing that is almost inspiring in how overt and shameless he is in doing it. Slope acknowledges he may have conveyed more of a secure promise than really existed, and anyway, the acceptance was conditional on Harding not being interested, which is no longer the case.
Slope also promises greater favor later if Q. does this and says nothing. Finally, Mr. Q.’s resistance breaks down.
With Mr. Q.’s assent to the plan, Slope is willing to let bygones be bygones.
Now, before this point, I’ve always had to concede that Slope knows what he’s doing when it comes to manipulating people and situations, as terrible as he is as an actual human being. However, this scheme seems a bit shoddy by his standards. He’s leaving too many loose ends, methinks.
Regardless, Mr. Q. breaks the news to his wife, but she’s not having any of Slope’s shit. She believes Mrs. Proudie is the one who withdrew the request and Slope was just the messenger. She’s on a mission to confront the bishop’s wife and register her rage.
Slope updates the bishop on Q’s miraculous change of heart.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Q runs to Mrs. Proudie, who cannot stand her crying but is royally pissed off when she learns Slope withdrew the offer.
Next page: Clash of titans.