Anthony Trollope, Can You Forgive Her?: Vol. 2, Ch. 20

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Chapter LX: Alice Vavasor's Name Gets into the Money Market 

Some ten or twelve days after George Vavasor's return to London from Westmoreland he appeared at Mr Scruby's offices with four small slips of paper in his hand. Mr Scruby, as usual, was pressing for money. The third election was coming on, and money was already being spent very freely among the men of the River Bank. So, at least, Mr Scruby declared. Mr Grimes, of the "Handsome Man," had shown signs of returning allegiance. But Mr Grimes could not afford to be loyal without money. He had his little family to protect. Mr Scruby, too, had his little family, and was not ashamed to use it on this occasion. "I'm a family man, Mr Vavasor, and therefore I never run any risks. I never go a yard further than I can see my way back." This he had said in answer to a proposition that he should take George's note of hand for the expenses of the next election, payable in three months' time. "It is so very hard to realize," said George, "immediately upon a death, when all the property left is real property." "Very hard indeed," said Mr Scruby, who had heard with accuracy all the particulars of the old Squire's will. Vavasor understood the lawyer, cursed him inwardly, and suggested to himself that some day he might murder Mr Scruby as well as John Grey,—and perhaps also a few more of his enemies. Two days after the interview in which his own note of hand had been refused, he again called in Great Marlborough Street. Upon this occasion he tendered to Mr Scruby for his approval the four slips of paper which have been mentioned. Mr Scruby regarded them with attention, looking first at one side horizontally, and then at the other side perpendicularly. But before we learn the judgement pronounced by Mr Scruby as to these four slips of paper, we must go back to their earlier history. As they were still in their infancy, we shall not have to go back far.

One morning, at about eleven o'clock the parlour-maid came up to Alice, as she sat alone in the drawing-room in Queen Anne Street, and told her there was a "gentleman" in the hall waiting to be seen by her. We all know the tone in which servants announce a gentleman when they know that the gentleman is not a gentleman.

"A gentleman wanting to see me! What sort of a gentleman?"

"Well, miss, I don't think he's just of our sort; but he's decent to look at."

Alice Vavasor had no desire to deny herself to any person but one. She was well aware that the gentleman in the hall could not be her cousin George, and therefore she did not refuse to see him.

"Let him come up," she said. "But I think, Jane, you ought to ask him his name." Jane did ask him his name, and came back immediately, announcing Mr Levy.

This occurred immediately after the return of Mr John Vavasor from Westmoreland. He had reached home late on the preceding evening, and at the moment of Mr Levy's call was in his dressing-room.

Alice got up to receive her visitor, and at once understood the tone of her maid's voice. Mr Levy was certainly not a gentleman of the sort to which she had been most accustomed. He was a little dark man, with sharp eyes, set very near to each other in his head, with a beaked nose, thick at the bridge, and a black moustache, but no other beard. Alice did not at all like the look of Mr Levy, but she stood up to receive him, made him a little bow, and asked him to sit down.

"Is papa dressed yet?" Alice asked the servant.

"Well, miss, I don't think he is,—not to say dressed."

Alice had thought it might be as well that Mr Levy should know that there was a gentleman in the house with her.

"I've called about a little bit of business, miss," said Mr Levy, when they were alone. "Nothing as you need disturb yourself about. You'll find it all square, I think." Then he took a case out of his breast-pocket, and produced a note, which he handed to her. Alice took the note, and saw immediately that it was addressed to her by her cousin George. "Yes, Mr George Vavasor," said Mr Levy. "I dare say you never saw me before, miss?"

"No, sir; I think not," said Alice.

"I am your cousin's clerk."