Anthony Trollope, Can You Forgive Her?: Vol. 1, Ch. 33

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Chapter XXXIII: Monkshade 

When the first of the new year came round Lady Glencora was not keeping her appointment at Lady Monk's house. She went to Gatherum Castle, and let us hope that she enjoyed the magnificent Christmas hospitality of the Duke; but when the time came for moving on to Monkshade, she was indisposed, and Mr Palliser went thither alone. Lady Glencora returned to Matching and remained at home, while her husband was away, in company with the two Miss Pallisers.

When the tidings reached Monkshade that Lady Glencora was not to be expected, Burgo Fitzgerald was already there, armed with such pecuniary assistance as George Vavasor had been able to wrench out of the hands of Mr Magruin. "Burgo," said his aunt, catching him one morning near his bedroom door as he was about to go down-stairs in hunting trim, "Burgo, your old flame, Lady Glencora, is not coming here."

"Lady Glencora not coming!" said Burgo, betraying by his look and the tone of his voice too clearly that this change in the purpose of a married lady was to him of more importance than it should have been. Such betrayal, however, to Lady Monk was not perhaps matter of much moment.

"No; she is not coming. It can't be matter of any moment to you now."

"But, by heavens, it is," said he, putting his hand up to his forehead, and leaning back against the wall of the passage as though in despair. "It is matter of moment to me. I am the most unfortunate devil that ever lived."

"Fie, Burgo, fie! You must not speak in that way of a married woman. I begin to think it is better that she should not come." At this moment another man booted and spurred came down the passage, upon whom Lady Monk smiled sweetly, speaking some pretty little word as he passed. Burgo spoke never a word, but still stood leaning against the wall, with his hand to his forehead, showing that he had heard something which had moved him greatly. "Come back into your room, Burgo," said his aunt; and they both went in at the door that was nearest to them, for Lady Monk had been on the look-out for him, and had caught him as soon as he appeared in the passage. "If this does annoy you, you should keep it to yourself! What will people say?"

"How can I help what they say?"

"But you would not wish to injure her, I suppose? I thought it best to tell you, for fear you should show any special sign of surprise if you heard of it first in public. It is very weak in you to allow yourself to feel that sort of regard for a married woman. If you cannot constrain yourself I shall be afraid to let you meet her in Brook Street."

Burgo looked for a moment into his aunt's face without answering her, and then turned away towards the door. "You can do as you please about that," said he; "but you know as well as I do what I have made up my mind to do."

"Nonsense, Burgo; I know nothing of the kind. But do you go down-stairs to breakfast, and don't look like that when you go among the people there."

Lady Monk was a woman now about fifty years of age, who had been a great beauty, and who was still handsome in her advanced age. Her figure was very good. She was tall and of fine proportion, though by no means verging to that state of body which our excellent American friend and critic Mr Hawthorne has described as beefy and has declared to be the general condition of English ladies of Lady Monk's age. Lady Monk was not beefy. She was a comely, handsome, upright, dame,—one of whom, as regards her outward appearance, England might be proud,—and of whom Sir Cosmo Monk was very proud. She had come of the family of the Worcestershire Fitzgeralds, of whom it used to be said that there never was one who was not beautiful and worthless. Looking at Lady Monk you would hardly think that she could be a worthless woman; but there were one or two who professed to know her, and who declared that she was a true scion of the family to which she belonged;—that even her husband's ample fortune had suffered from her extravagance, that she had quarrelled with her only son, and had succeeded in marrying her daughter to the greatest fool in the peerage. She had striven very hard to bring about a marriage between her nephew and the great heiress, and was a woman not likely to pardon those who had foiled her.