Anthony Trollope, Can You Forgive Her?: Vol. 1, Ch. 32

[+] | [-] | reset
 

Chapter XXXII: Containing an Answer to the Love Letter 

Alice had had a week allowed to her to write her answer; but she sent it off before the full week was past. "Why should I keep him in suspense?" she said. "If it is to be so, there can be no good in not saying so at once." Then she thought, also, that if this were to be her destiny it might be well for Mr Grey that all his doubts on the matter should be dispelled. She had treated him badly,—very badly. She had so injured him that the remembrance of the injury must always be a source of misery to her; but she owed to him above everything to let him know what were her intentions as soon as they were settled. She tried to console herself by thinking that the wound to him would be easy to cure. "He also is not passionate," she said. But in so saying she deceived herself. He was a man in whom Love could be very passionate;—and was, moreover, one in whom Love could hardly be renewed.

Each morning Kate asked her whether her answer was written; and on the third day after Christmas, just before dinner, Alice said that she had written it, and that it was gone.

"But it isn't post-day," said Kate;—for the post illuminated Vavasor but three days a week.

"I have given a boy sixpence to take it to Shap," said Alice, blushing.

"And what have you said?" asked Kate, taking hold of the other's arm.

"I have kept my promise," said Alice; "and do you keep yours by asking no further questions."

"My sister,—my own sister," said Kate. And then, as Alice met her embrace, there was no longer any doubt as to the nature of the reply.

After this there was of course much close discussion between them as to what other steps should now be taken. Kate wanted her cousin to write immediately to Mr Grey, and was somewhat frightened when Alice declined to do so till she had received a further letter from George. "You have not proposed any horrid stipulations to him?" exclaimed Kate.

"I don't know what you may call horrid stipulations," said Alice, gravely. "My conditions have not been very hard, and I do not think you would have disapproved them."

"But he!—He is so impetuous! Will he disapprove them?"

"I have told him— But, Kate, this is just what I did not mean to tell you."

"Why should there be secrets between us?" said Kate.

"There shall be none, then. I have told him that I cannot bring myself to marry him instantly;—that he must allow me twelve months to wear off, if I can in that time, much of sadness and of self-reproach which has fallen to my lot."

"Twelve months, Alice?"

"Listen to me. I have said so. But I have told him also that if he wishes it still, I will at once tell papa and grandpapa that I hold myself as engaged to him, so that he may know that I bind myself to him as far as it is possible that I should do so. And I have added something else, Kate," she continued to say after a slight pause,—"something else which I can tell you, though I could tell it to no other person. I can tell you because you would do, and will do the same. I have told him that any portion of my money is at his service which may be needed for his purposes before that twelve months is over."

"Oh, Alice! No;—no. You shall not do that. It is too generous." And Kate perhaps felt at the moment that her brother was a man to whom such an offer could hardly be made with safety.