Anthony Trollope, Can You Forgive Her?: Vol. 2, Ch. 1

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Volume II

Chapter XLI: A Noble Lord Dies 

George Vavasor remained about four days beneath his grandfather's roof; but he was not happy there himself, nor did he contribute to the happiness of any one else. He remained there in great discomfort so long, being unwilling to leave till an answer had been received to the request made to Aunt Greenow, in order that he might insist on Kate's performance of her promise with reference to Alice, if that answer should be unfavourable. During these five days Kate did all in her power to induce her brother to be, at any rate, kind in his manner towards his grandfather, but it was in vain. The Squire would not be the first to be gracious; and George, quite as obstinate as the old man, would take no steps in that direction till encouraged to do so by graciousness from the other side. Poor Kate entreated each of them to begin, but her entreaties were of no avail. "He is an ill-mannered cub," the old man said, "and I was a fool to let him into the house. Don't mention his name to me again." George argued the matter more at length. Kate spoke to him of his own interest in the matter, urging upon him that he might, by such conduct, drive the Squire to exclude him altogether from the property.

"He must do as he likes," George said, sulkily.

"But for Alice's sake!" Kate answered.

"Alice would be the last to expect me to submit to unreasonable ill-usage for the sake of money. As regards myself, I confess that I'm very fond of money and am not particularly squeamish. I would do anything that a man can do to secure it. But this I can't do. I never injured him, and I never asked him to injure himself. I never attempted to borrow money from him. I have never cost him a shilling. When I was in the wine business he might have enabled me to make a large fortune simply by settling on me then the reversion of property which, when he dies, ought to be my own. He was so perversely ignorant that he would make no inquiry, but chose to think that I was ruining myself, at the only time of my life when I was really doing well."

"But he had a right to act as he pleased," urged Kate.

"Certainly he had. But he had no right to resent my asking such a favour at his hands. He was an ignorant old fool not to do it; but I should never have quarrelled with him on that account. Nature made him a fool, and it wasn't his fault. But I can't bring myself to kneel in the dirt before him simply because I asked for what was reasonable."

The two men said very little to each other. They were never alone together except during that half-hour after dinner in which they were supposed to drink their wine. The old Squire always took three glasses of port during this period, and expected that his grandson would take three with him. But George would drink none at all. "I have given up drinking wine after dinner," said he, when his grandfather pushed the bottle over to him. "I suppose you mean that you drink nothing but claret," said the Squire, in a tone of voice that was certainly not conciliatory. "I mean simply what I say," said George—"that I have given up drinking wine after dinner." The old man could not openly quarrel with his heir on such a point as that. Even Mr Vavasor could not tell his grandson that he was going to the dogs because he had become temperate. But, nevertheless, there was offence in it; and when George sat perfectly silent, looking at the fire, evidently determined to make no attempt at conversation, the offence grew, and became strong. "What the devil's the use of your sitting there if you neither drink nor talk?" said the old man. "No use in the world, that I can see," said George; "if, however, I were to leave you, you would abuse me for it." "I don't care how soon you leave me," said the Squire. From all which it may be seen that George Vavasor's visit to the hall of his ancestors was not satisfactory.