Anthony Trollope, Can You Forgive Her?: Vol. 2, Ch. 22

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Chapter LXII: Going Abroad 

One morning, early in May, a full week before Alice's visit to the bankers' at Charing Cross, a servant in grand livery, six feet high, got out of a cab at the door in Queen Anne Street, and sent up a note for Miss Vavasor, declaring that he would wait in the cab for her answer. He had come from lady Glencora, and had been specially ordered to go in a cab and come back in a cab, and make himself as like a Mercury, with wings to his feet, as may be possible to a London footman. Mr Palliser had arranged his plans with his wife that morning,—or, I should more correctly say, had given her his orders, and she, in consequence, had sent away her Mercury in hot pressing haste to Queen Anne Street. "Do come;—instantly if you can," the note said. "I have so much to tell you, and so much to ask of you. If you can't come, when shall I find you, and where?" Alice sent back a note, saying that she would be in Park Lane as soon as she could put on her bonnet and walk down; and then the Mercury went home in his cab.

Alice found her friend in the small breakfast-room up-stairs, sitting close by the window. They had not as yet met since the evening of Lady Monk's party, nor had Lady Glencora seen Alice in the mourning which she now wore for her grandfather. "Oh, dear, what a change it makes in you," she said. "I never thought of your being in black."

"I don't know what it is you want, but shan't I do in mourning as well as I would in colours?"

"You'll do in anything, dear. But I have so much to tell you, and I don't know how to begin. And I've so much to ask of you, and I'm so afraid you won't do it."

"You generally find me very complaisant."

"No I don't, dear. It is very seldom you will do anything for me. But I must tell you everything first. Do take your bonnet off, for I shall be hours in doing it."

"Hours in telling me!"

"Yes; and in getting your consent to what I want you to do. But I think I'll tell you that first. I'm to be taken abroad immediately."

"Who is to take you?"

"Ah, you may well ask that. If you could know what questions I have asked myself on that head! I sometimes say things to myself as though they were the most proper and reasonable things in the world, and then within an hour or two I hate myself for having thought of them."

"But why don't you answer me? Who is going abroad with you?"

"Well; you are to be one of the party."


"Yes; you. When I have named so very respectable a chaperon for my youth, of course you will understand that my husband is to take us."

"But Mr Palliser can't leave London at this time of the year?"

"That's just it. He is to leave London at this time of the year. Don't look in that way, for it's all settled. Whether you go with me or not, I've got to go. To-day is Tuesday. We are to be off next Tuesday night, if you can make yourself ready. We shall breakfast in Paris on Wednesday morning, and then it will be to us all just as if we were in a new world. Mr Palliser will walk up and down the new court of the Louvre, and you will be on his left arm, and I shall be on his right,—just like English people,—and it will be the most proper thing that ever was seen in life. Then we shall go on to Basle"—Alice shuddered as Basle was mentioned, thinking of the balcony over the river—"and so to Lucerne—. But no; that was the first plan, and Mr Palliser altered it. He spent a whole day up here with maps and Bradshaw's and Murray's guide-books, and he scolded me so because I didn't care whether we went first to Baden or to some other place. How could I care? I told him I would go anywhere he chose to take me. Then he told me I was heartless;—and I acknowledged that I was heartless. 'I am heartless,' I said. 'Tell me something I don't know.'"