Anthony Trollope, Can You Forgive Her?: Vol. 2, Ch. 38

[+] | [-] | reset

After dinner they started off for a ramble through the fields, and Mrs Greenow and Mr Cheesacre were together. I think that Charlie Fairstairs did not go with them at all. I think she went into the house and washed her face, and brushed her hair, and settled her muslin. I should not wonder if she took off her frock and ironed it again. Captain Bellfield, I know, went with Alice, and created some astonishment by assuring her that he fully meant to correct the error of his ways. "I know what it is," he said, "to be connected with such a family as yours, Miss Vavasor." He too had heard about the future duchess, and wished to be on his best behaviour. Kate fell to the lot of the parson.

"This is the last time we shall ever be together in this way," said the widow to her friend.

"Oh, no," said Cheesacre; "I hope not."

"The last time. On Wednesday I become Mrs Bellfield, and I need hardly say that I have many things to think of before that; but Mr Cheesacre, I hope we are not to be strangers hereafter?" Mr Cheesacre said that he hoped not. Oileymead would always be open to Captain and Mrs Bellfield.

"We all know your hospitality," said she; "it is not to-day nor to-morrow that I or my husband,—that is to be,—will have to learn that. He always declares that you are the very beau ideal of an English country gentleman."

"Merely a poor Norfolk farmer," said Cheesacre. "I never want to put myself beyond my own place. There has been some talk about the Commission of the Peace, but I don't think anything of it."

"It has been the greatest blessing in the world for him that he has ever known you," said Mrs Greenow, still talking about her future husband.

"I've tried to be good-natured; that's all. D–––– me, Mrs Greenow, what's the use of living if one doesn't try to be good-natured? There isn't a better fellow than Bellfield living. He and I ran for the same plate, and he has won it. He's a lucky fellow, and I don't begrudge him his luck."

"That's so manly of you, Mr Cheesacre! But, indeed, the plate you speak of was not worth your running for."

"I may have my own opinion about that, you know."

"It was not. Nobody knows that as well as I do, or could have thought over the whole matter so often. I know very well what my mission is in life. The mistress of your house, Mr Cheesacre, should not be any man's widow."

"She wouldn't be a widow then, you know."

"A virgin heart should be yours; and a virgin heart may be yours, if you choose to accept it."

"Oh, bother!"

"If you choose to take my solicitude on your behalf in that way, of course I have done. You were good enough to say just now that you wished to see me and my husband in your hospitable halls. After all that has passed, do you think that I could be a visitor at your house unless there is a mistress there?"

"Upon my word, I think you might."

"No, Mr Cheesacre; certainly not. For all our sakes, I should decline. But if you were married—"

"You are always wanting to marry me, Mrs Greenow."