Anthony Trollope, Can You Forgive Her?: Vol. 1, Ch. 31

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Chapter XXXI: Among the Fells 

Alice came down to breakfast on that Christmas morning at Vavasor Hall without making any sign as to the letter she had received. The party there consisted of her grandfather, her father, her cousin Kate, and herself. They all made their Christmas salutations as is usual, and Alice received and made hers as did the others, without showing that anything had occurred to disturb her tranquillity. Kate remarked that she had heard that morning from Aunt Greenow, and promised to show Alice the letter after breakfast. But Alice said no word of her own letter.

"Why didn't your aunt come here to eat her Christmas dinner?" said the Squire.

"Perhaps, sir, because you didn't ask her," said Kate, standing close to her grandfather,—for the old man was somewhat deaf.

"And why didn't you ask her;—that is, if she stands upon asking to come to her old home?"

"Nay, sir, but I couldn't do that without your bidding. We Vavasors are not always fond of meeting each other."

"Hold your tongue, Kate. I know what you mean, and you should be the last to speak of it. Alice, my dear, come and sit next to me. I am much obliged to you for coming down all this way to see your old grandfather at Christmas. I am indeed. I only wish you had brought better news about your sweetheart."

"She'll think better of it before long, sir," said her father.

"Papa, you shouldn't say that. You would not wish me to marry against my own judgement."

"I don't know much about ladies' judgements," said the old man. "It does seem to me that when a lady makes a promise she ought to keep it."

"According to that," said Kate, "if I were engaged to a man, and found that he was a murderer, I still ought to marry him."

"But Mr Grey is not a murderer," said the Squire.

"Pray,—pray, don't talk about it," said Alice. "If you do I really cannot sit and hear it."

"I have given over saying anything on the subject," said John Vavasor, speaking as though he had already expended upon it a vast amount of paternal eloquence. He had, however, never said more than has been recorded in these pages. Alice during this conversation, sat with her cousin's letter in her pocket, and as yet had not even begun to think what should be the nature of her reply.

The Squire of Vavasor Hall was a stout old man, with a red face and grey eyes, which looked fiercely at you, and with long grey hair, and a rough grey beard, which gave him something of the appearance of an old lion. He was passionate, unreasoning, and specially impatient of all opposition; but he was affectionate, prone to forgive when asked to do so, unselfish, and hospitable. He was, moreover, guided strictly by rules, which he believed to be rules of right. His grandson George had offended him very deeply,—had offended him and never asked his pardon. He was determined that such pardon should never be given, unless it were asked for with almost bended knees; but, nevertheless, this grandson should be his heir. That was his present intention. The right of primogeniture could not, in accordance with his theory, be abrogated by the fact that it was, in George Vavasor's case, protected by no law. The Squire could leave Vavasor Hall to whom he pleased, but he could not have hoped to rest quietly in his grave should it be found that he had left it to any one but the eldest son of his own eldest son. Though violent, and even stern, he was more prone to love than to anger; and though none of those around him dared to speak to him of his grandson, yet he longed in his heart for some opportunity of being reconciled to him.