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

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Chapter XX: Which Shall It Be? 

The next day was Sunday, and it was well known at the lodging-house in the Close that Mr Cheesacre would not be seen there then. Mrs Greenow had specially warned him that she was not fond of Sunday visitors, fearing that otherwise he might find it convenient to give them too much of his society on that idle day. In the morning the aunt and niece both went to the Cathedral, and then at three o'clock they dined. But on this occasion they did not dine alone. Charlie Fairstairs, who, with her family, had come home from Yarmouth, had been asked to join them; and in order that Charlie might not feel it dull, Mrs Greenow had, with her usual good-nature, invited Captain Bellfield. A very nice little dinner they had. The captain carved the turkey, giving due honour to Mr Cheesacre as he did so; and when he nibbled his celery with his cheese, he was prettily jocose about the richness of the farmyard at Oileymead.

"He is the most generous man I ever met," said Mrs Greenow.

"So he is," said Captain Bellfield, "and we'll drink his health. Poor old Cheesy! It's a great pity he shouldn't get himself a wife."

"I don't know any man more calculated to make a young woman happy," said Mrs Greenow.

"No, indeed," said Miss Fairstairs. "I'm told that his house and all about it is quite beautiful."

"Especially the straw-yard and the horse-pond," said the Captain. And then they drank the health of their absent friend.

It had been arranged that the ladies should go to church in the evening, and it was thought that Captain Bellfield would, perhaps, accompany them; but when the time for starting came, Kate and Charlie were ready, but the widow was not, and she remained,—in order, as she afterwards explained to Kate, that Captain Bellfield might not seem to be turned out of the house. He had made no offer churchwards, and,—"Poor man," as Mrs Greenow said in her little explanation, "if I hadn't let him stay there, he would have had no resting-place for the sole of his foot, but some horrid barrack-room!" Therefore the Captain was allowed to find a resting-place in Mrs Greenow's drawing-room; but on the return of the young ladies from church, he was not there, and the widow was alone, "looking back," she said, "to things that were gone;—that were gone. But come, dears, I am not going to make you melancholy." So they had tea, and Mr Cheesacre's cream was used with liberality.

Captain Bellfield had not allowed the opportunity to slip idly from his hands. In the first quarter of an hour after the younger ladies had gone, he said little or nothing, but sat with a wine-glass before him, which once or twice he filled from the decanter. "I'm afraid the wine is not very good," said Mrs Greenow. "But one can't get good wine in lodgings."

"I'm not thinking very much about it, Mrs Greenow; that's the truth," said the Captain. "I daresay the wine is very good of its kind." Then there was another period of silence between them.

"I suppose you find it rather dull, living in lodgings; don't you?" asked the Captain.

"I don't know quite what you mean by dull, Captain Bellfield; but a woman circumstanced as I am, can't find her life very gay. It's not a full twelvemonth yet since I lost all that made life desirable, and sometimes I wonder at myself for holding up as well as I do."

"It's wicked to give way to grief too much, Mrs Greenow."