After Bertie’s departure, Eleanor pays the Signora a visit, as was requested in the letter Signora wrote her. They then have a really awkward conversation, which pretty much entails the Signora asking invasive questions about Eleanor and Arabin the Bore.
After making Eleanor uncomfortable–because that’s just how she rolls–the Signora actually shows a benevolent side and tells her that Arabin the Bore loves her and that she should act on it if she feels the same way.
Then Signora hosts Arabin and Slope, whose respective appearances were also requested by the letters she sent them. They are also joined by a surprise guest nobody, not even the Signora, anticipated–Mr. Thorne, the guy who pays Arabin’s salary and hosted the garden party.
Though she never states the purpose of the meeting, it’s pretty clear that she has one goal–humiliating Slope.
She starts by congratulating him on his impending marriage and his new job as dean.
He focuses more on the job title, insisting that the newspaper article is merely idle speculation and that he has been offered nothing.
He then tries to flatter her by saying if he ever did get that job, she’d make an awesome consort.
His compliment does not have the desired effect.
She then returns to the idea that he is newly engaged, which he is less interested in discussing with everyone.
She finally twists the knife in by deducing from his answers that he must have been turned down.
I must admit to feeling a bit sorry for Slope here. He deserves to be called out for his bullshit, but I really don’t think the Signora is doing this as a gift to humanity. Instead, I think she’s clearly doing it because she likes starting shit and making people uncomfortable. It’s funny, but it’s also cruel and uncomfortable to watch.
Slope certainly has his fill of it pretty quickly. He tries to be dignified in expressing his anger.
But he finally erupts, in a very Slope-like way, accusing her of being a bitch before he flounces out of the room.
Once he gets outside, he has to pause to collect himself before he departs, no doubt to scheme what his next move is now that both of his gold-digging opportunities are no longer available.
With her work done, the Signora turns her attention to asking Arabin the Bore about his life and ambitions.
Next page: All sorts of news for everyone.