Anthony Trollope, Can You Forgive Her?: Vol. 2, Ch. 39

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"Oh, yes, I suppose so."

"You suppose so, my dear! If you only suppose so I shall not be contented. I want you to appreciate my feelings towards you thoroughly. I want you to know that I am most anxious as to your future life, and that I am thoroughly satisfied with the step you are now taking." The Countess paused, but Alice said nothing. Her tongue was itching to tell the old woman that she cared nothing for this expression of satisfaction; but she was aware that she had done much that was deserving of punishment, and resolved to take this as part of her penance. She was being jumped upon, and it was unpleasant; but, after all that had happened, it was only fitting that she should undergo much unpleasantness. "Thoroughly satisfied," continued the Countess; "and now, I only wish to refer, in the slightest manner possible, to what took place between us when we were both of us under this roof last winter."

"Why refer to it at all, Lady Midlothian?"

"Because I think it may do good, and because I cannot make you understand that I have thoroughly forgiven everything, unless I tell you that I have forgiven that also. On that occasion I had come all the way from Scotland on purpose to say a few words to you."

"I am so sorry that you should have had the trouble."

"I do not regret it, Alice. I never do regret doing anything which I believe to have been my duty. There is no knowing how far what I said then may have operated for good." Alice thought that she knew very well, but she said nothing. "I must confess that what I then understood to be your obstinacy,—and I must say also, if I tell the truth, your indifference to—to—to all prudential considerations whatever, not to talk of appearances and decorum, and I might say, anything like a high line of duty or moral conduct,—shocked me very much. It did, indeed, my dear. Taking it altogether, I don't know that I was ever more shocked in my life. The thing was so inscrutable!" Here Lady Midlothian held up one hand in a manner that was truly imposing; "so inscrutable! But that is all over now. What was personally offensive to myself I could easily forgive, and I do forgive it. I shall never think of it any more." Here Lady Midlothian put up both her hands gently, as though wafting the injury away into the air. "But what I wish specially to say to you is this; your own conduct is forgiven also!" Here she paused again, and Alice winced. Who was this dreadful old Countess;—what was the Countess to her, that she should be thus tormented with the old woman's forgiveness? John Grey had forgiven her, and of external forgiveness that was enough. She had not forgiven herself,—would never forgive herself altogether; and the pardon of no old woman in England could assist her in doing so. She had sinned, but she had not sinned against Lady Midlothian. "Let her jump upon you, and have done with it," Lady Glencora had said. She had resolved that it should be so, but it was very hard to keep her resolution.

"The Marchioness and I have talked it over," continued Lady Midlothian, "and she has asked me to speak for both her and myself." There is comfort at any rate in that, thought Alice, who had never yet seen the Marchioness. "We have resolved that all those little mistakes should be as though they had never been committed. We shall both be most happy to receive you and your husband, who is, I must say, one of the most gentlemanlike looking men I ever saw. It seems that he and Mr Palliser are on most friendly,—I may say, most confidential terms, and that must be quite a pleasure to you."

"It's a pleasure to him, which is more to the purpose," said Alice.

"Exactly so. And now, my dear, everything is forgiven and shall be forgotten. Come and give me a kiss, and let me wish you joy." Alice did as she was bidden, and accepted the kiss and the congratulations, and a little box of jewellery which Lady Midlothian produced from out of her pocket. "The diamonds are from the Marchioness, my dear, whose means, as you doubtless are aware, greatly exceed my own. The garnets are from me. I hope they may both be worn long and happily."