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

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Chapter XIX: Tribute from Oileymead 

Kate Vavasor, in writing to her cousin Alice, felt some little difficulty in excusing herself for remaining in Norfolk with Mrs Greenow. She had laughed at Mrs Greenow before she went to Yarmouth, and had laughed at herself for going there. And in all her letters since, she had spoken of her aunt as a silly, vain, worldly woman, weeping crocodile tears, for an old husband whose death had released her from the tedium of his company, and spreading lures to catch new lovers. But yet she agreed to stay with her aunt, and remain with her in lodgings at Norwich for a month.

But Mrs Greenow had about her something more than Kate had acknowledged when she first attempted to read her aunt's character. She was clever, and in her own way persuasive. She was very generous, and possessed a certain power of making herself pleasant to those around her. In asking Kate to stay with her she had so asked as to make it appear that Kate was to confer the favour. She had told her niece that she was all alone in the world. "I have money," she had said, with more appearance of true feeling than Kate had observed before. "I have money, but I have nothing else in the world. I have no home. Why should I not remain here in Norfolk, where I know a few people? If you'll say that you'll go anywhere else with me, I'll go to any place you'll name." Kate had believed this to be hardly true. She had felt sure that her aunt wished to remain in the neighbourhood of her seaside admirers; but, nevertheless, she had yielded, and at the end of October the two ladies, with Jeannette, settled themselves in comfortable lodgings within the precincts of the Close at Norwich.

Mr Greenow at this time had been dead very nearly six months, but his widow made some mistakes in her dates and appeared to think that the interval had been longer. On the day of their arrival at Norwich it was evident that this error had confirmed itself in her mind. "Only think," she said, as she unpacked a little miniature of the departed one, and sat with it for a moment in her hands, as she pressed her handkerchief to her eyes, "only think, that it is barely nine months since he was with me?"

"Six, you mean, aunt," said Kate, unadvisedly.

"Only nine months" repeated Mrs Greenow, as though she had not heard her niece. "Only nine months!" After that Kate attempted to correct no more such errors. "It happened in May, Miss," Jeannette said afterwards to Miss Vavasor, "and that, as we reckons, it will be just a twelvemonth come Christmas." But Kate paid no attention to this.

And Jeannette was very ungrateful, and certainly should have indulged herself in no such sarcasms. When Mrs Greenow made a slight change in her mourning, which she did on her arrival at Norwich, using a little lace among her crapes, Jeannette reaped a rich harvest in gifts of clothes. Mrs Greenow knew well enough that she expected more from a servant than mere service;—that she wanted loyalty, discretion, and perhaps sometimes a little secrecy;—and as she paid for these things, she should have had them.

Kate undertook to stay a month with her aunt at Norwich, and Mrs Greenow undertook that Mr Cheesacre should declare himself as Kate's lover, before the expiration of the month. It was in vain that Kate protested that she wanted no such lover, and that she would certainly reject him if he came. "That's all very well, my dear," Aunt Greenow would say. "A girl must settle herself some day, you know;—and you'd have it all your own way at Oileymead."

But the offer certainly showed much generosity on the part of Aunt Greenow, inasmuch as Mr Cheesacre's attentions were apparently paid to herself rather than to her niece. Mr Cheesacre was very attentive. He had taken the lodgings in the Close, and had sent over fowls and cream from Oileymead, and had called on the morning after their arrival; but in all his attentions he distinguished the aunt more particularly than the niece. "I am all for Mr Cheesacre, Miss," said Jeannette once. "The Captain is perhaps the nicerer-looking gentleman, and he ain't so podgy like; but what's good looks if a gentleman hasn't got nothing? I can't abide anything that's poor; neither can't Missus." From which it was evident that Jeannette gave Miss Vavasor no credit in having Mr Cheesacre in her train.