Anthony Trollope, Can You Forgive Her?: Vol. 2, Ch. 6

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Chapter XLVI: A Love Gift 

When Alice heard of her cousin's success, and understood that he was actually Member of Parliament for the Chelsea Districts, she resolved that she would be triumphant. She had sacrificed nearly everything to her desire for his success in public life, and now that he had achieved the first great step towards that success, it would have been madness on her part to decline her share in the ovation. If she could not rejoice in that, what source of joy would then be left for her? She had promised to be his wife, and at present she was under the bonds of that promise. She had so promised because she had desired to identify her interests with his,—because she wished to share his risks, to assist his struggles, and to aid him in his public career. She had done all this, and he had been successful. She strove, therefore, to be triumphant on his behalf, but she knew that she was striving ineffectually. She had made a mistake, and the days were coming in which she would have to own to herself that she had done so in sackcloth, and to repent with ashes.

But yet she struggled to be triumphant. The tidings were first brought to her by her servant, and then she at once sat down to write him a word or two of congratulation. But she found the task more difficult than she had expected, and she gave it up. She had written no word to him since the day on which he had left her almost in anger, and now she did not know how she was to address him. "I will wait till he comes," she said, putting away from her the paper and pens. "It will be easier to speak than to write." But she wrote to Kate, and contrived to put some note of triumph into her letter. Kate had written to her at length, filling her sheet with a loud pæan of sincere rejoicing. To Kate, down in Westmoreland, it had seemed that her brother had already done everything. He had already tied Fortune to his chariot wheels. He had made the great leap, and had overcome the only obstacle that Fate had placed in his way. In her great joy she almost forgot whence had come the money with which the contest had been won. She was not enthusiastic in many things;—about herself she was never so; but now she was elated with an enthusiasm which seemed to know no bounds. "I am proud," she said, in her letter to Alice. "No other thing that he could have done would have made me so proud of him. Had the Queen sent for him and made him an earl, it would have been as nothing to this. When I think that he has forced his way into Parliament without any great friend, with nothing to back him but his own wit"—she had, in truth, forgotten Alice's money as she wrote;—"that he has achieved his triumph in the metropolis, among the most wealthy and most fastidious of the richest city in the world, I do feel proud of my brother. And, Alice, I hope that you are proud of your lover." Poor girl! One cannot but like her pride, nay, almost love her for it, though it was so sorely misplaced. It must be remembered that she had known nothing of Messrs Grimes and Scruby, and the River Bank, and that the means had been wanting to her of learning the principles upon which some metropolitan elections are conducted.

"And, Alice, I hope that you are proud of your lover!" "He is not my lover," Alice said to herself. "He knows that he is not. He understands it, though she may not." And if not your lover, Alice Vavasor, what is he then to you? And what are you to him, if not his love? She was beginning to understand that she had put herself in the way of utter destruction;—that she had walked to the brink of a precipice, and that she must now topple over it. "He is not my lover," she said; and then she sat silent and moody, and it took her hours to get her answer written to Kate.

On the same afternoon she saw her father for a moment or two. "So George has got himself returned," he said, raising his eyebrows.

"Yes, he has been successful. I'm sure you must be glad, papa."

"Upon my word, I'm not. He has bought a seat for three months; and with whose money has he purchased it?"