Anthony Trollope, Can You Forgive Her?: Vol. 1, Ch. 36

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The matter was so arranged, and at eleven they started. During the first two miles not a word was spoken between them. "Seward," Grey said at last, "if I fail in what I am going to attempt, it is probable that you will never hear Alice Vavasor's name mentioned by me again; but I want you always to bear this in mind;—that at no moment has my opinion of her ever been changed, nor must you in such case imagine from my silence that it has changed. Do you understand me?"

"I think I do."

"To my thinking she is the finest of God's creatures that I have known. It may be that in her future life she will be severed from me altogether; but I shall not, therefore, think the less well of her; and I wish that you, as my friend, should know that I so esteem her, even though her name should never be mentioned between us." Seward, in some few words, assured him that it should be so, and then they finished their journey in silence.

From the station at Ely, Grey sent a message by the wires up to John Vavasor, saying that he would call on him that afternoon at his office in Chancery Lane. The chances were always much against finding Mr Vavasor at his office; but on this occasion the telegram did reach him there, and he remained till the unaccustomed hour of half past four to meet the man who was to have been his son-in-law.

"Have you heard from her?" he asked as soon as Grey entered the dingy little room, not in Chancery Lane, but in its neighbourhood, which was allocated to him for his signing purposes.

"Yes,"—said Grey; "she has written to me."

"And told you about her cousin George. I tried to hinder her from writing, but she is very wilful."

"Why should you have hindered her? If the thing was to be told, it is better that it should be done at once."

"But I hoped that there might be an escape. I don't know what you think of all this, Grey, but to me it is the bitterest misfortune that I have known. And I've had some bitter things, too," he added,—thinking of that period of his life, when the work of which he was ashamed was first ordained as his future task.

"What is the escape that you hoped?" asked Grey.

"I hardly know. The whole thing seems to me to be so mad, that I partly trusted that she would see the madness of it. I am not sure whether you know anything of my nephew George?" asked Mr Vavasor.

"Very little," said Grey.

"I believe him to be utterly an adventurer,—a man without means and without principle,—upon the whole about as bad a man as you may meet. I give you my word, Grey, that I don't think I know a worse man. He's going to marry her for her money; then he will beggar her, after that he'll ill-treat her, and yet what can I do?"

"Prevent the marriage."

"But how, my dear fellow? Prevent it! It's all very well to say that, and it's the very thing I want to do. But how am I to prevent it? She's as much her own master as you are yours. She can give him every shilling of her fortune to-morrow. How am I to prevent her from marrying him?"

"Let her give him every shilling of her fortune to-morrow," said Grey.

"And what is she to do then?" asked Mr Vavasor.