Anthony Trollope, Can You Forgive Her?: Vol. 2, Ch. 15

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Chapter LV: The Will 

The coming of Mrs Greenow at this very moment was a great comfort to Kate. Without her she would hardly have known how to bear herself with her uncle and her brother. As it was, they were all restrained by something of the courtesy which strangers are bound to show to each other. George had never seen his aunt since he was a child, and some sort of introduction was necessary between them.

"So you are George," said Mrs Greenow, putting out her hand and smiling.

"Yes; I'm George," said he.

"And a Member of Parliament!" said Mrs Greenow. "It's quite an honour to the family. I felt so proud when I heard it!" She said this pleasantly, meaning it to be taken for truth, and then turned away to her brother. "Papa's time was fully come," she said, "though, to tell the truth, I had no idea that he was so weak as Kate describes him to have been."

"Nor I, either," said John Vavasor. "He went to church with us here on Christmas-day."

"Did he, indeed? Dear, dear! He seems at last to have gone off just like poor Greenow." Here she put her handkerchief up to her face. "I think you didn't know Greenow, John?"

"I met him once," said her brother.

"Ah! he wasn't to be known and understood in that way. I'm aware there was a little prejudice, because of his being in trade, but we won't talk of that now. Where should I have been without him, tradesman or no tradesman?"

"I've no doubt he was an excellent man."

"You may say that, John. Ah, well! we can't keep everything in this life for ever." It may, perhaps, be as well to explain now that Mrs Greenow had told Captain Bellfield at their last meeting before she left Norwich, that, under certain circumstances, if he behaved himself well, there might possibly be ground of hope. Whereupon Captain Bellfield had immediately gone to the best tailor in that city, had told the man of his coming marriage, and had given an extensive order. But the tailor had not as yet supplied the goods, waiting for more credible evidence of the Captain's good fortune. "We're all grass of the field," said Mrs Greenow, lightly brushing a tear from her eye, "and must be cut down and put into the oven in our turns." Her brother uttered a slight sympathetic groan, shaking his head in testimony of the uncertainty of human affairs, and then said that he would go out and look about the place. George, in the meantime, had asked his sister to show him his room, and the two were already together up-stairs.

Kate had made up her mind that she would say nothing about Alice at the present moment,—nothing, if it could be avoided, till after the funeral. She led the way up-stairs, almost trembling with fear, for she knew that that other subject of the will would also give rise to trouble and sorrow,—perhaps, also, to determined quarrelling.

"What has brought that woman here?" was the first question that George asked.

"I asked her to come," said Kate.

"And why did you ask her to come here?" said George, angrily. Kate immediately felt that he was speaking as though he were master of the house, and also as though he intended to be master of her. As regarded the former idea, she had no objection to it. She thoroughly and honestly wished that he might be the master; and though she feared that he might find himself mistaken in his assumption, she herself was not disposed to deny any appearance of right that he might take upon himself in that respect. But she had already begun to tell herself that she must not submit herself to his masterdom. She had gradually so taught herself since he had compelled her to write the first letter in which Alice had been asked to give her money.