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Can you forgive her


TheProjectGutenbergeBook,CanYouForgiveHer?,byAnthonyTrollope
ThiseBookisfortheuseofanyoneanywhereatnocostandwith
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Title:CanYouForgiveHer?
Author:AnthonyTrollope
ReleaseDate:November16,2006[eBook#19500]
Mostrecentlyupdatedandillustrationsadded:November19,2011
Language:English
Charactersetencoding:ISO-8859-1
***STARTOFTHEPROJECTGUTENBERGEBOOKCANYOUFORGIVE
HER?***

E-textpreparedbyJosephE.Loewenstein,M.D.

EditoralNote:
CanYouForgiveHer?wasfirstpublishedinmonthlyinstallments(one
shillingeach)in1864-1865.ThefirstbookeditionwaspublishedbyChapman

andHallintwovolumes(VolumeIin1864andVolumeIIin1865).
VolumeIwasillustratedbyHablôtKnightBrowne,betterknownas"Phiz"
andafavoriteofDickens.TrollopewasnotpleasedwithBrowne'swork,and
theillustrationsforVolumeIIweredrawnbyaMissE.TaylorofSt.Leonards.
Theseoriginalillustrationsareincludedinthise-book.




TheBalconyatBasle.
THEBALCONYATBASLE.
ClicktoENLARGE






CANYOUFORGIVEHER?

BY


ANTHONYTROLLOPE
AUTHOROF
"ORLEYFARM,""DOCTORTHORNE,""FRAMLEYPARSONAGE,"ETC.



WithIllustrations.


INTWOVOLUMES.




CONTENTS

VolumeI.



I. Mr.VavasorandHisDaughter.
II. LadyMacleod.
III. JohnGrey,theWorthyMan.
IV. GeorgeVavasor,theWildMan.
V. TheBalconyatBasle.
VI. TheBridgeovertheRhine.
VII. AuntGreenow.
VIII. Mr.Cheesacre.
IX. TheRivals.


X. Nethercoats.
XI. JohnGreyGoestoLondon.
XII. Mr.GeorgeVavasoratHome.
XIII. Mr.GrimesGetsHisOddMoney.
XIV. AliceVavasorBecomesTroubled.
XV. ParamountCrescent.
XVI. TheRoeburyClub.
XVII. Edgehill.
XVIII. AliceVavasor'sGreatRelations.
XIX. TributefromOileymead.
XX. WhichShallItBe?
AliceIsTaughttoGrowUpwards,
XXI.
TowardstheLight.
XXII. DandyandFlirt.
XXIII. DinneratMatchingPriory.
XXIV. ThreePoliticians.
InWhichMuchoftheHistoryof
XXV.
thePallisersIsTold.
XXVI. LadyMidlothian.
XXVII. ThePrioryRuins.
XXVIII. AliceLeavesthePriory.
XXIX. BurgoFitzgerald.
XXX. ContainingaLoveLetter.
XXXI. AmongtheFells.
XXXII. ContaininganAnswertotheLoveLetter.
XXXIII. Monkshade.
XXXIV. Mr.VavasorSpeakstoHisDaughter.
XXXV. PassionversusPrudence.
XXXVI. JohnGreyGoesaSecondTimetoLondon.
XXXVII. Mr.Tombe'sAdvice.
XXXVIII. TheInnatShap.
XXXIX. Mr.Cheesacre'sHospitality.
XL. Mrs.Greenow'sLittleDinnerintheClose.



VolumeII.

XLI. ANobleLordDies.
XLII. ParliamentMeets.
XLIII. Mrs.Marsham.
XLIV. TheElectionfortheChelseaDistricts.
XLV. GeorgeVavasorTakesHisSeat.
XLVI. ALoveGift.
XLVII. Mr.Cheesacre'sDisappointment.
XLVIII. PreparationsforLadyMonk'sParty.
HowLadyGlencoraWentto
XLIX.
LadyMonk'sParty.
HowLadyGlencoraCameBack
L.
fromLadyMonk'sParty.
LI. BoldSpeculationsonMurder.
LII. WhatOccurredinSuffolkStreet,PallMall.
LIII. TheLastWilloftheOldSquire.
LIV. ShowingHowAliceWasPunished.
LV. TheWill.
LVI. AnotherWalkontheFells.
ShowingHowtheWildBeastGot
LVII.
HimselfBackfromtheMountains.
LVIII. ThePallisersatBreakfast.
TheDukeofSt.BungayinSearchof
LIX.
aMinister.
AliceVavasor'sNameGetsinto
LX.
theMoneyMarket.
LXI. TheBillsAreMadeAllRight.
LXII. GoingAbroad.
LXIII. Mr.JohnGreyinQueenAnneStreet.
LXIV. TheRocksandValleys.
LXV. TheFirstKiss.
LXVI. LadyMonk'sPlan.


LXVII. TheLastKiss.
LXVIII. FromLondontoBaden.
LXIX. FromBadentoLucerne.
LXX. AtLucerne.
ShowingHowGeorgeVavasorReceived
LXXI.
aVisit.
ShowingHowGeorgeVavasorPaid
LXXII.
aVisit.
InWhichComeTidingsofGreatMoment
LXXIII.
toAllPallisers.
LXXIV. ShowingWhatHappenedintheChurchyard.
LXXV. RougeetNoir.
LXXVI. TheLandlord'sBill.
LXXVII. TheTravellersReturnHome.
LXXVIII. Mr.Cheesacre'sFate.
LXXIX. DiamondsAreDiamonds.
TheStoryIsFinishedWithintheHalls
LXXX.
oftheDukeofOmnium.



ILLUSTRATIONS
VolumeI.

TheBalconyatBasle.
"Wouldyoumindshuttingthewindow?"
"Sometimesyoudrivemetoohard."
"Peacebetohismanes."
CaptainBellfieldproposesatoast.
"Ifitwereyourfriend,whatadvicewould
yougiveher?"

Frontispiece.
ChapterII.
ChapterIII.
ChapterVII.
ChapterIX.
ChapterXI.


"I'masroundasyourhat,andassquareas
ChapterXIII.
yourelbow;Iam."
"Mrs.Greenow,lookatthat."
ChapterXIV.
Edgehill.
ChapterXVII.
"ArabellaGreenow,willyoubethatwoman?" ChapterXX.
"Baker,youmustputDandyinthebar."
ChapterXXII.
"Mr.Palliser,thatwasacannon."
ChapterXXIII.
"Themostself-willedyoungwomanIever
ChapterXXVI.
metinmylife."
ThePrioryRuins.
ChapterXXVII.
BurgoFitzgerald.
ChapterXXIX.
SwindaleFell.
ChapterXXXI.
"Ihaveheard,"saidBurgo.
ChapterXXXIII.
"Then—then,—thenlethercometome."
ChapterXXXVI.
"Soyou'vecomeback,haveyou?"said
ChapterXXXVIII.
theSquire.
"DearGreenow;dearhusband!"
ChapterXL.

VolumeII.

GreatJove.
ChapterXLII.
"Friendshipswillnotcomebyordering,"
ChapterXLII.
saidLadyGlencora.
"Iaskedyouforakiss."
ChapterXLVI.
Mr.Cheesacredisturbed.
ChapterXLVII.
"Allright,"saidBurgo,ashethrustthe
ChapterXLIX.
moneyintohisbreast-pocket.
Mr.Bottonthewatch.
ChapterL.
Thelastoftheoldsquire.
ChapterLIII.
Kate.
ChapterLVI.
LadyGlencora.
ChapterLVIII.
"BeforeGod,myfirstwishistofreeyoufrom
ChapterLVIII.
themisfortunethatIhavebroughtonyou."
Shemanagedtocarryherselfwithsome
ChapterLXIII.


dignity.
Asniffoftherocksandvalleys.
"Iwonderwhenyou'regoingtopaymewhat
youoweme,LieutenantBellfield?"
LadyGlencoraatBaden.
Alice.
"Oh!George,"shesaid,"youwon'tdothat?"
"HowamItothankyouforforgivingme?"
"Goodnight,Mr.Palliser."
Aliceandherbridesmaids.
"Yes,mybonnyboy,—youhavemadeit
allrightforme."

ChapterLXIV.
ChapterLXV.
ChapterLXVIII.
ChapterLXX.
ChapterLXXI.
ChapterLXXV.
ChapterLXXVI.
ChapterLXXIX.
ChapterLXXX.





VOLUMEI.
CHAPTERI.
Mr.VavasorandHisDaughter.

Whether or no, she, whom you are to forgive, if you can, did or did not
belongtotheUpperTenThousandofthisourEnglishworld,Iamnotprepared
to say with any strength of affirmation. By blood she was connected with big
people,—distantly connected with some very big people indeed, people who
belongedtotheUpperTenHundrediftherebeanysuchdivision;butofthese
verybigrelationsshehadknownandseenlittle,andtheyhadcaredaslittlefor
her. Her grandfather, Squire Vavasor of Vavasor Hall, in Westmoreland, was a
country gentleman, possessing some thousand a year at the outside, and he
therefore never came up to London, and had no ambition to have himself
numbered as one in any exclusive set. A hot-headed, ignorant, honest old


gentleman,helivedeveratVavasorHall,declaringtoanywhowouldlistento
him,thatthecountrywasgoingtothemischief,andcongratulatinghimselfthat
atanyrate,inhiscounty,parliamentaryreformhadbeenpowerlesstoalterthe
oldpoliticalarrangements.AliceVavasor,whoseoffenceagainsttheworldIam
totellyou,andifpossibletoexcuse,wasthedaughterofhisyoungerson;andas
herfather,JohnVavasor,haddonenothingtoraisethefamilynametoeminence,
AlicecouldnotlayclaimtoanyhighpositionfromherbirthasaVavasor.John
VavasorhadcomeuptoLondonearlyinlifeasabarrister,andhadfailed.He
hadfailedatleastinattainingeithermuchwealthormuchrepute,thoughhehad
succeededinearning,orperhapsImightbettersay,inobtaining,alivelihood.He
hadmarriedaladysomewhatolderthanhimself,whowasinpossessionoffour
hundredayear,andwhowasrelatedtothosebigpeopletowhomIhavealluded.
Whothesewereandthespecialnatureoftherelationship,Ishallbecalledupon
toexplainhereafter,butatpresentitwillsufficetosaythatAliceMacleodgave
greatoffencetoallherfriendsbyhermarriage.Shedidnot,however,givethem
much time for the indulgence of their anger. Having given birth to a daughter
within twelve months of her marriage, she died, leaving in abeyance that
question as to whether the fault of her marriage should or should not be
pardonedbyherfamily.
When a man marries an heiress for her money, if that money be within her
owncontrol,aswasthecasewithMissMacleod'sfortune,itisgenerallywellfor
thespeculatingloverthatthelady'sfriendsshouldquarrelwithhimandwithher.
Sheistherebydriventothrowherselfentirelyintothegentleman'sarms,andhe
thus becomes possessed of the wife and the money without the abominable
nuisanceofstringentsettlements.ButtheMacleods,thoughtheyquarrelledwith
Alice,didnotquarrelwithheràl'outrance.Theysnubbedherselfandherchosen
husband;buttheydidnotsofarseparatethemselvesfromherandheraffairsas
to give up the charge of her possessions. Her four hundred a year was settled
verycloselyonherselfandonherchildren,withoutevenalifeinteresthaving
been given to Mr. Vavasor, and therefore when she died the mother's fortune
became the property of the little baby. But, under these circumstances, the big
people did not refuse to interest themselves to some extent on behalf of the
father.Idonotsupposethatanyactualagreementorcompactwasmadebetween
Mr.VavasorandtheMacleods;butitcametobeunderstoodbetweenthemthat
ifhemadenodemanduponthemforhisdaughter'smoney,andallowedthemto
have charge of her education, they would do something for him. He was a
practising barrister, though his practice had never amounted to much; and a
practising barrister is always supposed to be capable of filling any situation


which may come his way. Two years after his wife's death Mr. Vavasor was
appointed assistant commissioner in some office which had to do with
insolvents,andwhichwasabolishedthreeyearsafterhisappointment.Itwasat
firstthoughtthathewouldkeephiseighthundredayearforlifeandberequired
to do nothing for it; but a wretched cheeseparing Whig government, as John
Vavasor called it when describing the circumstances of the arrangement to his
father,downinWestmoreland,wouldnotpermitthis;itgavehimtheoptionof
taking four hundred a year for doing nothing, or of keeping his whole income
and attending three days a week for three hours a day during term time, at a
miserabledingylittleofficenearChanceryLane,wherehisdutywouldconsist
insigninghisnametoaccountswhichheneverread,andatwhichhewasnever
supposed even to look. He had sulkily elected to keep the money, and this
signinghadbeennowfornearlytwentyyearsthebusinessofhislife.Ofcourse
heconsideredhimselftobeaveryhardly-usedman.OneLordChancellorafter
anotherhepetitioned,beggingthathemightberelievedfromthecrueltyofhis
position,andallowedtotakehissalarywithoutdoinganythinginreturnforit.
Theamountofworkwhichhedidperformwascertainlyaminimumoflabour.
Termtime,astermswerecountedinMr.Vavasor'soffice,hardlycomprisedhalf
the year, and the hours of weekly attendance did not do more than make one
day'sworkaweekforaworkingman;butMr.Vavasorhadbeenappointedan
assistant commissioner, and with every Lord Chancellor he argued that all
Westminster Hall, and Lincoln's Inn to boot, had no right to call upon him to
degradehimselfbysigninghisnametoaccounts.Inanswertoeverymemorial
hewasofferedthealternativeoffreedomwithhalfhisincome;andsothething
wenton.
Therecan,however,benodoubtthatMr.Vavasorwasbetteroffandhappier
with his almost nominal employment than he would have been without it. He
alwaysarguedthatitkepthiminLondon;buthewouldundoubtedlyhavelived
inLondonwithorwithouthisofficialoccupation.Hehadbecomesohabituated
toLondonlifeinasmallway,beforethechoiceofleavingLondonwasopento
him,thatnothingwouldhavekepthimlongawayfromit.Afterhiswife'sdeath
hedinedathisclubeverydayonwhichadinnerwasnotgiventohimbysome
friendelsewhere,andwasrarelyhappyexceptwhensodining.Theywhohave
seen him scanning the steward's list of dishes, and giving the necessary orders
forhisownandhisfriend'sdinner,atabouthalfpastfourintheafternoon,have
seenJohnVavasor attheonlymomentofthedayatwhichheisevermuchin
earnest.Allotherthingsarelightandeasytohim,—tobetakeneasilyandtobe
dismissed easily. Even the eating of the dinner calls forth from him no special


signofenergy.Sometimesafrownwillgatheronhisbrowashetastesthefirst
halfglassfromhisbottleofclaret;butasarulethatwhichhehaspreparedfor
himselfwithsomuchelaboratecare,isconsumedwithonlypleasantenjoyment.
Nowandagainitwillhappenthatthecookistreacherouseventohim,andthen
hecanhithard;butinhittingheisquiet,andstrikeswithasmileonhisface.
SuchhadbeenMr.Vavasor'spursuitsandpleasuresinlifeuptothetimeat
whichmystorycommences.ButImustnotallowthereadertosupposethathe
was a man without good qualities. Had he when young possessed the gift of
industryIthinkthathemighthaveshoneinhisprofession,andhavebeenwell
spokenofandesteemedintheworld.Asitwashewasadiscontentedman,but
neverthelesshewaspopular,andtosomeextentesteemed.Hewasliberalasfar
ashismeanswouldpermit;hewasamanofhisword;andheunderstoodwell
that code of by-laws which was presumed to constitute the character of a
gentleman in his circle. He knew how to carry himself well among men, and
understoodthoroughlywhatmightbesaid,andwhatmightnot;whatmightbe
done among those with whom he lived, and what should be left undone. By
nature,too,hewaskindlydisposed,lovingmanypersonsalittleifhelovedfew
ornonepassionately.Moreover,attheageoffifty,hewasahandsomeman,with
a fine forehead, round which the hair and beard was only beginning to show
itself to be grey. He stood well, with a large person, only now beginning to
becomecorpulent.Hiseyeswerebrightandgrey,andhismouthandchinwere
sharply cut, and told of gentle birth. Most men who knew John Vavasor well,
declared it to be a pity that he should spend his time in signing accounts in
ChanceryLane.
I have said that Alice Vavasor's big relatives cared but little for her in her
earlyyears;butIhavealsosaidthattheywerecarefultoundertakethechargeof
her education, and I must explain away this little discrepancy. The biggest of
thesebigpeoplehadhardlyheardofher;buttherewasacertainLadyMacleod,
notverybigherself,but,asitwere,hangingontotheskirtsofthosewhowere
so, who cared very much for Alice. She was the widow of a Sir Archibald
Macleod, K.C.B., who had been a soldier, she herself having also been a
Macleod by birth; and for very many years past—from a time previous to the
birthofAliceVavasor—shehadlivedatCheltenham,makingshortsojournsin
Londonduringthespring,whenthecontentsofherlimitedpursewouldadmitof
her doing so. Of old Lady Macleod I think I may say that she was a good
woman;—thatshewasagoodwoman,thoughsubjecttotwoofthemostserious
drawbacks to goodness which can afflict a lady. She was a Calvinistic


Sabbatarianinreligion,andinworldlymattersshewasadevoutbelieverinthe
highrankofhernoblerelatives.Shecouldalmostworshipayouthfulmarquis,
though he lived a life that would disgrace a heathen among heathens; and she
could and did, in her own mind, condemn crowds of commonplace men and
womentoalleternaltormentsofwhichherimaginationcouldconceive,because
theylistenedtoprofanemusicinaparkonSunday.Yetshewasagoodwoman.
Outofhersmallmeansshegavemuchaway.Sheowednomananything.She
strove to love her neighbours. She bore much pain with calm unspeaking
endurance,andshelivedintrustofabetterworld.AliceVavasor,whowasafter
all only her cousin, she loved with an exceeding love, and yet Alice had done
verymuchtoextinguishsuchlove.Alice,intheyearsofherchildhood,hadbeen
broughtupbyLadyMacleod;attheageoftwelveshehadbeensenttoaschool
atAix-la-Chapelle,—acomitatusofherrelativeshavingagreedthatsuchwasto
be her fate, much in opposition to Lady Macleod's judgement; at nineteen she
hadreturnedtoCheltenham,andafterremainingthereforlittlemorethanayear,
had expressed her unwillingness to remain longer with her cousin. She could
sympathize neither with her relative's faults or virtues. She made an
arrangement,therefore,withherfather,thattheytwowouldkeephousetogether
in London, and so they had lived for the last five years;—for Alice Vavasor
whenshewillbeintroducedtothereaderhadalreadypassedhertwenty-fourth
birthday.
Their mode of life had been singular and certainly not in all respects
satisfactory.Alicewhenshewastwenty-onehadthefullcommandofherown
fortune;andwhensheinducedherfather,whoforthelastfifteenyearshadlived
inlodgings,totakeasmallhouseinQueenAnneStreet,ofcoursesheofferedto
incuraportionoftheexpense.Hehadwarnedherthathishabitswerenotthose
ofadomesticman,buthehadbeencontentsimplysotowarnher.Hehadnot
feltittobehisdutytodeclinethearrangementbecauseheknewhimselftobe
unabletogivetohischildallthatattentionwhichawidowedfatherundersuch
circumstances should pay to an only daughter. The house had been taken, and
Aliceandhehadlivedtogether,buttheirliveshadbeenquiteapart.Forashort
time,foramonthortwo,hehadstriventodineathomeandeventoremainat
homethroughtheevening;buttheworkhadbeentoohardforhimandhehad
utterlybrokendown.Hehadsaidtoherandtohimselfthathishealthwouldfail
himundertheeffectsofsogreatachangemadesolateinlife,andIamnotsure
thathehadnotspokentruly.Atanyratetheefforthadbeenabandoned,andMr.
Vavasor now never dined at home. Nor did he and his daughter ever dine out
together.Theirjointmeansdidnotadmitoftheirgivingdinners,andtherefore


theycouldnotmaketheirjointwayinthesamecircle.Itthuscametopassthat
theylivedapart,—quiteapart.Theysaweachother,probablydaily;buttheydid
little more than see each other. They did not even breakfast together, and after
threeo'clockinthedayMr.Vavasorwasnevertobefoundinhisownhouse.
MissVavasorhadmadeforherselfacertainfootinginsociety,thoughIam
disposedtodoubtherrighttobeconsideredasholdingaplaceamongtheUpper
Ten Thousand. Two classes of people she had chosen to avoid, having been
driven to such avoidings by her aunt's preferences; marquises and such-like,
whetherwickedorotherwise,shehadeschewed,andhadeschewedlikewiseall
Low Church tendencies. The eschewing of marquises is not generally very
difficult.Youngladieslivingwiththeirfathersonverymoderateincomesinor
aboutQueenAnneStreetarenotusuallymuchtroubledonthatmatter.NorcanI
saythatMissVavasorwassotroubled.Butwithhertherewasacertaindefinite
thingtobedonetowardssucheschewal.LadyMacleodbynomeansavoidedher
noblerelatives,nordidsheatallavoidAliceVavasor.WheninLondonshewas
persevering in her visits to Queen Anne Street, though she considered herself,
nobody knew why, not to be on speaking terms with Mr.. Vavasor. And she
strovehardtoproduceanintimacybetweenAliceandhernoblerelatives—such
an intimacy as that which she herself enjoyed;—an intimacy which gave her a
footingintheirhousesbutnofootingintheirhearts,orevenintheirhabits.But
allthisAlicedeclinedwithasmuchconsistencyasshedidthoseotherstruggles
which her old cousin made on her behalf,—strong, never-flagging, but everfailingeffortstoinducethegirltogotosuchplacesofworshipasLadyMacleod
herselffrequented.
AfewwordsmustbesaidastoAliceVavasor'sperson;onefactalsomustbe
told,andthen,Ibelieve,Imaystartuponmystory.Asregardshercharacter,I
will leave it to be read in the story itself. The reader already knows that she
appears upon the scene at no very early age, and the mode of her life had
perhaps given to her an appearance of more years than those which she really
possessed.Itwasnotthatherfacewasold,butthattherewasnothingthatwas
girlish in her manners. Her demeanour was as staid, and her voice as selfpossessedasthoughshehadalreadybeentenyearsmarried.Inpersonshewas
tall and well made, rather large in her neck and shoulders, as were all the
Vavasors,butbynomeansfat.Herhairwasbrown,butverydark,andshewore
itratherloweruponherforeheadthaniscustomaryatthepresentday.Hereyes,
too, were dark, though they were not black, and her complexion, though not
quitethatofabrunette,wasfarawayfrombeingfair.Hernosewassomewhat


broad, and retroussé too, but to my thinking it was a charming nose, full of
character, and giving to her face at times a look of pleasant humour, which it
wouldotherwisehavelacked.Hermouthwaslarge,andfullofcharacter,andher
chinoval,dimpled,andfinelychiselled,likeherfather's.Ibegyou,intakingher
forallinall,toadmitthatshewasafine,handsome,high-spiritedyoungwoman.
And now for my fact. At the time of which I am writing she was already
engagedtobemarried.



CHAPTERII.
LadyMacleod.

IcannotsaythatthehouseinQueenAnneStreetwasapleasanthouse.Iam
nowspeakingofthematerialhouse,madeupofthewallsandfurniture,andnot
of any pleasantness or unpleasantness supplied by the inmates. It was a small
house on the south side of the street, squeezed in between two large mansions
whichseemedtocrushit,andbywhichitsfairproportionofdoorstepandarea
was in truth curtailed. The stairs were narrow; the dining-room was dark, and
possessed none of those appearances of plenteous hospitality which a diningroomshouldhave.Butallthiswouldhavebeenasnothingifthedrawing-room
hadbeenprettyasitistheboundendutyofalldrawing-roomstobe.ButAlice
Vavasor'sdrawing-roomwasnotpretty.Herfatherhadhadthecareoffurnishing
thehouse,andhehadintrustedthedutytoatradesmanwhohadchosengreen
paper, a green carpet, green curtains, and green damask chairs. There was a
greendamasksofa,andtwogreenarm-chairsoppositetoeachotheratthetwo
sidesofthefireplace.Theroomwasaltogethergreen,andwasnotenticing.In
shape it was nearly square, the very small back room on the same floor not
havingbeen,asisusual,addedtoit.Thishadbeenfittedupasa"study"forMr.
Vavasor,andwasveryrarelyusedforanypurpose.
Mostofusknowwhenweenteradrawing-roomwhetheritisaprettyroom
orno;buthowfewofusknowhowtomakeadrawing-roompretty!Therehas
comeupinLondonintheselatterdaysaformofroomsomonstrouslyuglythat


IwillventuretosaythatnootherpeopleonearthbutLondonerswouldputup
withit.Londoners,asarule,taketheirhousesastheycangetthem,lookingonly
tosituation,size,andprice.WhatGrecian,whatRoman,whatTurk,whatItalian
would endure, or would ever have endured, to use a room with a monstrous
cantleintheformofaparallelogramcutsheerlyoutofonecornerofit?Thisis
the shape of room we have now adopted,—or rather which the builders have
adoptedforus,—inordertothrowthewholefirstfloorintooneapartmentwhich
maybepresumedtohavenobledimensions,—withsuchdrawbackfromitasthe
necessitiesofthestaircasemayrequire.Asharpunadornedcornerprojectsitself
into these would-be noble dimensions, and as ugly a form of chamber is
producedasanyuponwhichtheeyecanlook.Iwouldsaymoreonthesubjectif
Idaredtodosohere,butIamboundnowtoconfinemyselftoMissVavasor's
room. The monstrous deformity of which I have spoken was not known when
that house in Queen Anne Street was built. There is to be found no such
abominationofshapeinthebuildingsofourancestors,—noteveninthedaysof
George the Second. But yet the drawing-room of which I speak was ugly, and
Aliceknewthatitwasso.Sheknewthatitwasugly,andshewouldgreatlyhave
likedtobanishthegreensofa,tohavere-paperedthewall,andtohavehungup
curtainswithadashofpinkthroughthem.Withthegreencarpetshewouldhave
been contented. But her father was an extravagant man; and from the day on
which she had come of age she had determined that it was her special duty to
avoidextravagance.
"It'stheugliestroomIeversawinmylife,"herfatheroncesaidtoher.
"Itisnotverypretty,"Alicereplied.
"I'llgohalveswithyouintheexpenseofredoingit,"saidMr..Vavasor.
"Wouldn'tthatbeextravagant,papa?Thethingshavenotbeenherequitefour
yearsyet."
ThenMr.Vavasorhadshruggedhisshouldersandsaidnothingmoreaboutit.
Itwaslittletohimwhetherthedrawing-roominQueenAnneStreetwasuglyor
pretty.Hewasonthecommitteeofhisclub,andhetookcarethatthefurniture
thereshouldbeinallrespectscomfortable.
ItwasnowJune;andthatmonthLadyMacleodwasinthehabitofspending
among her noble relatives in London when she had succeeded in making both


ends so far overlap each other at Cheltenham as to give her the fifty pounds
necessaryforthispurpose.ForthoughshespenthermonthinLondonamongher
noble friends, it must not be supposed that her noble friends gave her bed or
board. They sometimes gave her tea, such as it was, and once or twice in the
monththeygavetheoldladyasecond-ratedinner.Ontheseoccasionsshehired
alittleparlourandbedroombehinditinKingStreet,SaintJames's,andliveda
hot,uncomfortablelife,goingaboutatnightstogatheringsoffashionablepeople
ofwhichsheinherheartdisapproved,seekingforsmileswhichseldomcameto
her,andwhichsheexcusedherselffordesiringbecausetheywerethesmilesof
herkithandherkin,tellingherselfalwaysthatshemadethisvainjourneytothe
modernBabylonforthegoodofAliceVavasor,andtellingherselfasoftenthat
shenowmadeitforthelasttime.Ontheoccasionofherprecedingvisitshehad
reminded herself that she was then seventy-five years old, and had sworn to
herself that she would come to London no more; but here she was again in
London, having justified the journey to herself on the plea that there were
circumstancesinAlice'sengagementwhichmadeitdesirablethatsheshouldfor
awhilebenearherniece.Herniece,asshethought,washardlymanagingher
ownaffairsdiscreetly.
"Well, aunt," said Alice, as the old lady walked into the drawing-room one
morningateleveno'clock.AlicealwayscalledLadyMacleodheraunt,though,
ashasbeenbeforeexplained,therewasnosuchcloseconnexionbetweenthem.
During Lady Macleod's sojourn in London these morning visits were made
almost every day. Alice never denied herself, and even made a point of
remainingathometoreceivethemunlessshehadpreviouslyexplainedthatshe
wouldbeout;butIamnotpreparedtosaythattheywere,oftheirownnature,
agreeabletoher.
"Would you mind shutting the window, my dear?" said Lady Macleod,
seating herself stiffly on one of the small ugly green chairs. She had been
educatedatatimewheneasy-chairswereconsideredvicious,andamongpeople
whoregardedalleasyposturesasbeingso;andshecouldstillboast,atseventysix,thatsheneverleanedback."Wouldyoumindshuttingthewindow?I'mso
warmthatI'mafraidofthedraught."


"Wouldyoumindshuttingthewindow?"
"WOULDYOUMINDSHUTTINGTHEWINDOW ?"
ClicktoENLARGE

"You don't mean to say that you've walked from King Street," said Alice,
doingasshewasdesired.
"Indeed I do,—every step of the way. Cabs are so ruinous. It's a most
unfortunate thing; they always say it's just over the two miles here. I don't
believeawordofit,becauseI'monlyalittlemorethanthehalf-hourwalkingit;
andthosemenwillsayanything.ButhowcanIproveit,youknow?"
"Ireallythinkit'stoofarforyoutowalkwhenit'ssowarm."
"ButwhatcanIdo,mydear?Imustcome,whenI'vespeciallycomeupto
Londontoseeyou.Ishallhaveacabbackagain,becauseit'llbehotterthen,and
dear Lady Midlothian has promised to send her carriage at three to take me to
theconcert.Idosowishyou'dgo,Alice."
"It's out of the question, aunt. The idea of my going in that way at the last
moment,withoutanyinvitation!"
"Itwouldn'tbewithoutaninvitation,Alice.Themarchionesshassaidtome
overandoveragainhowgladshewouldbetoseeyou,ifIwouldbringyou."
"Whydoesn'tshecomeandcallifsheissoanxioustoknowme?"
"My dear, you've no right to expect it; you haven't indeed. She never calls
evenonme."
"IknowI'venoright,andIdon'texpectit,andIdon'twantit.Butneitherhas
she a right to suppose that, under such circumstances, I shall go to her house.
Youmightaswellgiveitup,aunt.Cartropeswouldn'tdragmethere."
"Ithinkyouareverywrong,—particularlyunderyourpresentcircumstances.
Ayoungwomanthatisgoingtobemarried,asyouare—"
"AsIam,—perhaps."
"That'snonsense,Alice.Ofcourseyouare;andforhissakeyouareboundto


cultivateanyadvantagesthatnaturallybelongtoyou.AstoLadyMidlothianor
themarchionesscomingtocallonyouhereinyourfather'shouse,afterallthat
haspassed,youreallyhavenorighttolookforit."
"AndIdon'tlookforit."
"Thatsortofpeoplearenotexpectedtocall.Ifyou'llthinkofit,howcould
theydoitwithallthedemandstheyhaveontheirtime?"
"Mydearaunt,Iwouldn'tinterferewiththeirtimeforworlds."
"Nobodycansayofme,I'msure,thatIrunaftergreatpeopleorrichpeople.
ItdoeshappenthatsomeofthenearestrelationsIhave,—indeedImaysaythe
nearest relations,—are people of high rank; and I do not see that I'm bound to
turnawayfrommyownfleshandbloodbecauseofthat,particularlywhenthey
arealwayssoanxioustokeepuptheconnexion."
"Iwasonlyspeakingofmyself,aunt.Itisverydifferentwithyou.Youhave
knownthemallyourlife."
"Andhowareyoutoknowthemifyouwon'tbegin?LadyMidlothiansaidto
meonlyyesterdaythatshewasgladtohearthatyouweregoingtobemarriedso
respectably,andthen—"
"UponmywordI'mverymuchobligedtoherladyship.Iwonderwhethershe
consideredthatshemarriedrespectablywhenshetookLordMidlothian?"
Now Lady Midlothian had been unfortunate in her marriage, having united
herselftoamanofbadcharacter,whohadusedherill,andfromwhomshehad
nowbeenforsomeyearsseparated.Alicemighthavesparedherallusiontothis
misfortunewhenspeakingofthecountesstothecousinwhowassofondofher,
but she was angered by the application of that odious word respectable to her
ownprospects;andperhapsthemoreangeredasshewassomewhatinclinedto
feel that the epithet did suit her own position. Her engagement, she had
sometimestoldherself,wasveryrespectable,andhadasoftentoldherselfthatit
lacked other attractions which it should have possessed. She was not quite
pleasedwithherselfinhavingacceptedJohnGrey,—orratherperhapswasnot
satisfiedwithherselfinhavinglovedhim.Inhermanythoughtsonthesubject,
she always admitted to herself that she had accepted him simply because she
loved him;—that she had given her quick assent to his quick proposal simply


becausehehadwonherheart.Butshewassometimesalmostangrywithherself
that she had permitted her heart to be thus easily taken from her, and had
rebuked herself for her girlish facility. But the marriage would be at any rate
respectable. Mr. Grey was a man of high character, of good though moderate
means; he was, too, well educated, of good birth, a gentleman, and a man of
talent.Noonecoulddenythatthemarriagewouldbehighlyrespectable,andher
father had been more than satisfied. Why Miss Vavasor herself was not quite
satisfied will, I hope, in time make itself appear. In the meanwhile it can be
understoodthatLadyMidlothian'spraisewouldgallher.
"Alice,don'tbeuncharitable,"saidLadyMacleodseverely. "Whatevermay
havebeenLadyMidlothian'smisfortunesnoonecansaytheyhaveresultedfrom
herownfault."
"Yestheycan,aunt,ifshemarriedamanwhomsheknewtobeascapegrace
becausehewasveryrichandanearl."
"She was the daughter of a nobleman herself, and only married in her own
degree.ButIdon'twanttodiscussthat.Shemeanttobegood-naturedwhenshe
mentionedyourmarriage,andyoushouldtakeitasitwasmeant.Afterallshe
wasonlyyourmother'ssecondcousin—"
"Dearaunt,Imakenoclaimonhercousinship."
"Butsheadmitstheclaim,andisquiteanxiousthatyoushouldknowher.She
hasbeenatthetroubletofindouteverythingaboutMr..Grey,andtoldmethat
nothingcouldbemoresatisfactory."
"UponmywordIamverymuchobligedtoher."
Lady Macleod was a woman of much patience, and possessed also of
considerableperseverance.Foranotherhalf-hourshewentonexpatiatingonthe
advantages which would accrue to Alice as a married woman from an
acquaintancewithhernoblerelatives,andendeavouringtopersuadeherthatno
betteropportunitythanthepresentwouldpresentitself.Therewouldbeaplace
in Lady Midlothian's carriage, as none other of the daughters were going but
LadyJane.LadyMidlothianwouldtakeitquiteasacompliment,andaconcert
was not like a ball or any customary party. An unmarried girl might very
properly go to a concert under such circumstances as now existed without any
specialinvitation.LadyMacleodoughttohaveknownheradoptedniecebetter.


Alice was immoveable. As a matter of course she was immoveable. Lady
Macleod had seldom been able to persuade her to anything, and ought to have
beenwellsurethat,ofallthings,shecouldnothavepersuadedhertothis.
Then, at last, they came to another subject, as to which Lady Macleod
declared that she had specially come on this special morning, forgetting,
probably, that she had already made the same assertion with reference to the
concert. But in truth the last assertion was the correct one, and on that other
subjectshehadbeenhurriedontosaymorethanshemeantbytheeagernessof
themoment.Allthemorningshehadbeenfullofthematteronwhichshewas
nowabouttospeak.ShehaddiscusseditquiteatlengthwithLadyMidlothian;
—though she was by no means prepared to tell Alice Vavasor that any such
discussion had taken place. From the concert, and the effect which Lady
Midlothian's countenance might have upon Mr.. Grey's future welfare, she got
herself by degrees round to a projected Swiss tour which Alice was about to
make.OfthisSwisstourshehadheardbefore,buthadnotheardwhoweretobe
MissVavasor'scompanionsuntilLadyMidlothianhadtoldher.Howithadcome
topassthatLadyMidlothianhadinterestedherselfsomuchintheconcernsofa
personwhomshedidnotknow,andonwhomsheinhergreatnesscouldnotbe
expectedtocall,Icannotsay;butfromsomequartershehadlearnedwhowere
the proposed companions of Alice Vavasor's tour, and she had told Lady
Macleodthatshedidnotatallapproveofthearrangement.
"Andwhendoyougo,Alice?"saidLadyMacleod.
"Early in July, I believe. It will be very hot, but Kate must be back by the
middleofAugust."KateVavasorwasAlice'sfirstcousin.
"Oh!Kateistogowithyou?"
"Ofcoursesheis.Icouldnotgoalone,orwithnoonebutGeorge.Indeedit
wasKatewhomadeuptheparty."
"Of course you could not go alone with George," said Lady Macleod, very
grimly. Now George Vavasor was Kate's brother, and was therefore also first
cousin to Alice. He was heir to the old squire down in Westmoreland, with
whom Kate lived, their father being dead. Nothing, it would seem, could be
more rational than that Alice should go to Switzerland with her cousins; but
LadyMacleodwasclearlynotofthisopinion;shelookedverygrimasshemade


thisallusiontocousinGeorge,andseemedtobepreparingherselfforafight.
"ThatisexactlywhatIsay,"answeredAlice."But,indeed,heissimplygoing
asanescorttomeandKate,aswedon'tliketherôleofunprotectedfemales.Itis
verygood-naturedofhim,seeinghowmuchhistimeistakenup."
"Ithoughtheneverdidanything."
"That'sbecauseyoudon'tknowhim,aunt."
"No; certainly I don't know him." She did not add that she had no wish to
knowMr.GeorgeVavasor,butshelookedit."Andhasyourfatherbeentoldthat
heisgoing?"
"Ofcoursehehas."
"Anddoes—"LadyMacleod hesitatedalittle beforeshewenton,andthen
finishedherquestionwithalittlespasmodicassumptionofcourage."Anddoes
Mr.Greyknowthatheisgoing?"
Alice remained silent for a full minute before she answered this question,
duringwhichLadyMacleodsatwatchinghergrimly,withhereyesveryintent
uponherniece'sface.Ifshesupposedsuchsilencetohavebeeninanydegree
produced by shame in answering the question, she was much mistaken. But it
may be doubted whether she understood the character of the girl whom she
thoughtsheknewsowell,anditisprobablethatshedidmakesuchmistake.
"Imighttellyousimplythathedoes,"saidAliceatlast,"seeingthatIwrote
tohimyesterday,lettinghimknowthatsuchwereourarrangements;butIfeel
thatIshouldnotthusanswerthequestionyoumeantoask.Youwanttoknow
whetherMr.Greywillapproveofit.AsIonlywroteyesterdayofcourseIhave
notheard,andthereforecannotsay.ButIcansaythis,aunt,thatmuchasImight
regrethisdisapproval,itwouldmakenochangeinmyplans."
"Woulditnot?ThenImusttellyou,youareverywrong.Itoughttomakea
change. What! the disapproval of the man you are going to marry make no
changeinyourplans?"
"Notinthatmatter.Come,aunt,ifwemustdiscussthismatterletusdoitat
anyratefairly.Inanordinaryway,ifMr.Greyhadaskedmetogiveupforany


reasonmytripaltogether,Ishouldhavegivenitupcertainly,asIwouldgiveup
any other indifferent project at the request of so dear a friend,—a friend with
whomIamso—so—socloselyconnected.Butifheaskedmenottotravelwith
mycousinGeorge,Ishouldrefusehimabsolutely,withoutawordofparleyon
the subject, simply because of the nature and closeness of my connection with
him.IsupposeyouunderstandwhatImean,aunt?"
"I suppose I do. You mean that you would refuse to obey him on the very
subjectonwhichhehasarighttoclaimyourobedience."
"Hehasnorighttoclaimmyobedienceonanysubject,"saidAlice;andas
she spoke Aunt Macleod jumped up with a little start at the vehemence of the
words, and of the tone in which they were expressed. She had heard that tone
before, and might have been used to it; but, nevertheless, the little jump was
involuntary."Atpresenthehasnorighttomyobedienceonanysubject,butleast
ofallonthat,"saidAlice."Hisadvicehemaygiveme,butIamquitesurehe
willnotaskforobedience."
"Andifheadvisesyouyouwillslighthisadvice."
"If he tells me that I had better not travel with my cousin George I shall
certainlynottakehisadvice.Moreover,Ishouldbecarefultolethimknowhow
muchIwasoffendedbyanysuchcounselfromhim.Itwouldshowalittleness
onhispart,andasuspicionofwhichIcannotsupposehimtobecapable."Alice,
asshesaidthis,gotupfromherseatandwalkedabouttheroom.Whenshehad
finishedshestoodatoneofthewindowswithherbacktohervisitor.Therewas
silence between them for a minute or two, during which Lady Macleod was
deeply considering how best she might speak the terrible words, which, as
Alice's nearest female relative, she felt herself bound to utter. At last she
collectedherthoughtsandhercourage,andspokeout.
"My dear Alice, I need hardly say that if you had a mother living, or any
person with you filling the place of a mother, I should not interfere in this
matter."
"Ofcourse,AuntMacleod,ifyouthinkIamwrongyouhavequitearightto
sayso."
"Idothinkyouarewrong,—verywrong,indeed;andifyoupersistinthisI
amafraidImustsaythatIshallthinkyouwicked.OfcourseMr.Greycannot


likeyoutotravelwithGeorgeVavasor."
"And why not, aunt?" Alice, as she asked this question, turned round and
confrontedLadyMacleodboldly.Shespokewithasteadyvoice,andfixedher
eyesupontheoldlady'sface,asthoughdeterminedtoshowthatshehadnofear
ofwhatmightbesaidtoher.
"Whynot,Alice?Surelyyoudonotwishmetosaywhynot."
"But I do wish you to say why not. How can I defend myself till the
accusationismade?"
"YouarenowengagedtomarryMr.Grey,withtheconsentandapprobation
ofallyourfriends.Twoyearsagoyouhad—had—"
"Hadwhat,aunt?IfyoumeantosaythattwoyearsagoIwasengagedtomy
cousinGeorge youaremistaken.ThreeyearsagoItold him thatundercertain
conditionsIwouldbecomeengagedtohim.Butmyconditionsdidnotsuithim,
norhisme,andnoengagementwasevermade.Mr.Greyknowsthehistoryof
thewholething.AsfarasitwaspossibleIhavetoldhimeverythingthattook
place."
"The fact was, Alice, that George Vavasor's mode of life was such that an
engagementwithhimwouldhavebeenabsolutemadness."
"Dear aunt, you must excuse me if I say that I cannot discuss George
Vavasor'smodeoflife.IfIwerethinkingofbecominghiswifeyouwouldhavea
perfect right to discuss it, because of your constant kindness to me. But as
mattersareheissimplyacousin;andasIlikehimandyoudonot,wehadbetter
saynothingabouthim."
"Imustsaythis—thatafterwhathaspassed,andatthepresentcrisisofyour
life—"
"Dearaunt,I'mnotinanycrisis."
"Yesyouare,Alice;inthemostspecialcrisisofagirl'slife.Youarestilla
girl,butyouarethepromisedwifeofaveryworthyman,whowilllooktoyou
forallhisdomestichappiness.GeorgeVavasorhasthename,atleast,ofbeing
verywild."


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