Zenana-visiting was only one portion of her work; regarded，
'I am sure that I shall beg nothing, Mr Arabin, which you will not grant, and I do beg for an answer. Do you not as a rule think women below your notice as companions? Let us see. There is the widow Bold looking round at you from her chair this minute. What would you say to her as a companion for life?'
Mr Arabin, rising from his position, leaned over the sofa and looked through the drawing-room door to the place where Eleanor was seated between Bertie Stanhope and Mr Slope. She at once caught his glance, and averted her own. She was not pleasantly placed in her present position. Mr Slope was doing his best to attract her attention; and she was striving to prevent his doing so by talking to Mr Stanhope, while her mind was intently fixed on Mr Arabin and Madame Neroni. Bertie Stanhope endeavoured to take advantage of her favours, but he was thinking more of the manner in which he would by-and-by throw himself at her feet, than of amusing her at the present moment.
'There,' said the signora. 'She was stretching her beautiful neck to look at you, and now you have disturbed her. Well I declare, I believe I am wrong about you; I believe that you do think Mrs Bold a charming woman. Your looks seem to say so; and by her looks I should say that she is jealous of me. Come, Mr Arabin, confide in me, and if it is so, I'll do all in my power to make up the match.'
It is needless to say that the signora was not very sincere in her offer. She was never sincere on such subjects. She never expected others to be so, nor did she expect others to think her so. Such matters were her playthings, her billiard table, her hounds and hunters, her waltzes and polkas, her picnics and summer-day excursions. She had little else to amuse her, and therefore played at love-making in all its forms. She was now playing at it with Mr Arabin, and did not at all expect the earnestness and truth of his answer.
'All in your power would be nothing,' said he; 'for Mrs Bold is, I imagine, already engaged to another.'
'Then you own the impeachment yourself.'
'You cross-question me rather unfairly,' he replied, 'and I do not know why I answer you at all. Mrs Bold is a very beautiful woman, and as intelligent as beautiful. It is impossible to know her without admiring her.'
'So you think the widow a very beautiful woman?'
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