Anthony Trollope, Can You Forgive Her?: Vol. 1, Ch. 19

[+] | [-] | reset
 

On the present occasion Mrs Greenow undertook that she would see the generous gentleman, and endeavour to stop the supplies from his farmyard. It was well understood that he would call about four o'clock, when his business in the town would be over; and that he would bring with him a little boy, who would carry away the basket. At that hour Kate of course was absent, and the widow received Mr Cheesacre alone. The basket and cloth were there, in the sitting-room, and on the table were laid out the rich things which it had contained;—the turkey poult first, on a dish provided in the lodging-house, then a dozen fresh eggs in a soup plate, then the cream in a little tin can, which, for the last fortnight, had passed regularly between Oileymead and the house in the Close, and as to which Mr Cheesacre was very pointed in his inquiries with Jeannette. Then behind the cream there were two or three heads of broccoli, and a stick of celery as thick as a man's wrist. Altogether the tribute was a very comfortable assistance to the housekeeping of a lady living in a small way in lodgings.

Mr Cheesacre, when he saw the array on the long sofa-table, knew that he was to prepare himself for some resistance; but that resistance would give him, he thought, an opportunity of saying a few words that he was desirous of speaking, and he did not altogether regret it. "I just called in," he said, "to see how you were."

"We are not likely to starve," said Mrs Greenow, pointing to the delicacies from Oileymead.

"Just a few trifles that my old woman asked me to bring in," said Cheesacre. "She insisted on putting them up."

"But your old woman is by far too magnificent," said Mrs Greenow. "She really frightens Kate and me out of our wits."

Mr Cheesacre had no wish that Miss Vavasor's name should be brought into play upon the occasion. "Dear Mrs Greenow," said he, "there is no cause for you to be alarmed, I can assure you. Mere trifles;—light as air, you know. I don't think anything of such things as these."

"But I and Kate think a great deal of them,—a very great deal, I can assure you. Do you know, we had a long debate this morning whether or no we would return them to Oileymead?"

"Return them, Mrs Greenow!"

"Yes, indeed: what are women, situated as we are, to do under such circumstances? When gentlemen will be too liberal, their liberality must be repressed."

"And have I been too liberal, Mrs Greenow? What is a young turkey and a stick of celery when a man is willing to give everything that he has in the world?"

"You've got a great deal more in the world, Mr Cheesacre, than you'd like to part with. But we won't talk of that, now."

"When shall we talk of it?"

"If you really have anything to say, you had by far better speak to Kate herself."

"Mrs Greenow, you mistake me. Indeed, you mistake me." Just at this moment, as he was drawing close to the widow, she heard, or fancied that she heard, Jeannette's step, and, going to the sitting-room door, called to her maid. Jeannette did not hear her, but the bell was rung, and then Jeannette came. "You may take these things down, Jeannette," she said. "Mr Cheesacre has promised that no more shall come."

"But I haven't promised," said Mr Cheesacre.

"You will oblige me and Kate, I know;—and, Jeannette, tell Miss Vavasor that I am ready to walk with her."

Then Mr Cheesacre knew that he could not say those few words on that occasion; and as the hour of his train was near, he took his departure, and went out of the Close, followed by the little boy, carrying the basket, the cloth, and the tin can.