Anthony Trollope, Can You Forgive Her?: Vol. 1, Ch. 20

[+] | [-] | reset

"That's what my dear Kate always says to me, and I'm sure I do my best to overcome it." Upon this soft tears trickled down her cheek, showing in their course that she at any rate used no paint in producing that freshness of colour which was one of her great charms. Then she pressed her handkerchief to her eyes, and removing it, smiled faintly on the Captain. "I didn't intend to treat you to such a scene as this, Captain Bellfield."

"There is nothing on earth, Mrs Greenow, I desire so much, as permission to dry those tears."

"Time alone can do that, Captain Bellfield;—time alone."

"But cannot time be aided by love and friendship and affection?"

"By friendship, yes. What would life be worth without the solace of friendship?"

"And how much better is the warm glow of love?" Captain Bellfield, as he asked this question, deliberately got up, and moved his chair over to the widow's side. But the widow as deliberately changed her position to the corner of a sofa. The Captain did not at once follow her, nor did he in any way show that he was aware that she had fled from him.

"How much better is the warm glow of love?" he said again, contenting himself with looking into her face with all his eyes. He had hoped that he would have been able to press her hand by this time.

"The warm, glow of love, Captain Bellfield, if you have ever felt it—"

"If I have ever felt it! Do I not feel it now, Mrs Greenow? There can be no longer any mask kept upon my feelings. I never could restrain the yearnings of my heart when they have been strong."

"Have they often been strong, Captain Bellfield?"

"Yes; often;—in various scenes of life; on the field of battle—"

"I did not know that you had seen active service."

"What!—not on the plains of Zuzuland, when with fifty picked men I kept five hundred Caffres at bay for seven weeks;—never knew the comfort of a bed, or a pillow to my head, for seven long weeks!"

"Not for seven weeks?" said Mrs Greenow.

"No. Did I not see active service at Essiquebo, on the burning coast of Guiana, when all the wild Africans from the woods rose up to destroy the colony; or again at the mouth of the Kitchyhomy River, when I made good the capture of a slaver by my own hand and my own sword!"

"I really hadn't heard," said Mrs Greenow.

"Ah, I understand. I know. Cheesy is the best fellow in the world in some respects, but he cannot bring himself to speak well of a fellow behind his back. I know who has belittled me. Who was the first to storm the heights of Inkerman?" demanded the Captain, thinking in the heat of the moment that he might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb.

"But when you spoke of yearnings, I thought you meant yearnings of a softer kind."

"So I did. So I did. I don't know why I have been led away to speak of deeds that are very seldom mentioned, at any rate by myself. But I cannot bear that a slanderous backbiting tongue should make you think that I have seen no service. I have served her Majesty in the four quarters of the globe, Mrs Greenow; and now I am ready to serve you in any way in which you will allow me to make my service acceptable." Whereupon he took one stride over to the sofa, and went down upon his knees before her.