Anthony Trollope, Can You Forgive Her?: Vol. 2, Ch. 23

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Chapter LXIII: Mr. John Grey in Queen Anne Street 

Alice was resolved that she would keep her promise to Kate, and pay her visit to Westmoreland before she started with the Pallisers. Kate had written to her three lines with her left hand, begging her to come, and those three lines had been more eloquent than anything she could have written had her right arm been uninjured. Alice had learned something of the truth as to the accident from her father; or, rather, had heard her father's surmises on the subject. She had heard, too, how her cousin George had borne himself when the will was read, and how he had afterwards disappeared, never showing himself again at the hall. After all that had passed she felt that she owed Kate some sympathy. Sympathy may, no doubt, be conveyed by letter; but there are things on which it is almost impossible for any writer to express himself with adequate feeling; and there are things, too, which can be spoken, but which cannot be written. Therefore, though the journey must be a hurried one, Alice sent word down to Westmoreland that she was to be expected there in a day or two. On her return she was to go at once to Park Lane, and sleep there for the two nights which would intervene before the departure of the Pallisers.

On the day before she started for Westmoreland her father came to her in the middle of the day, and told her that John Grey was going to dine with him in Queen Anne Street on that evening.

"To-day, papa?" she asked.

"Yes, to-day. Why not? No man is less particular as to what he eats than Grey."

"I was not thinking of that, papa," she said.

To this Mr Vavasor made no reply, but stood for some minutes looking out of the window. Then he prepared to leave the room, getting himself first as far as the table, where he lifted a book, and then on half-way to the door before Alice arrested him.

"Perhaps, papa, you and Mr Grey had better dine alone."

"What do you mean by alone?"

"I meant without me,—as two men generally like to do."

"If I wanted that I should have asked him to dine at the club," said Mr Vavasor, and then he again attempted to go.

"But, papa—"

"Well, my dear! If you mean to say that because of what has passed you object to meet Mr Grey, I can only tell you it's nonsense,—confounded nonsense. If he chooses to come there can be no reason why you shouldn't receive him."

"It will look as though—"

"Look what?"

"As though he were asked as my guest."

"That's nonsense. I saw him yesterday, and I asked him to come. I saw him again to-day, and he said he would come. He's not such a fool as to suppose after that, that you asked him."

"No; not that I asked him."

"And if you run away you'll only make more of the thing than it's worth. Of course I can't make you dine with me if you don't like."

Alice did not like it, but, after some consideration, she thought that she might be open to the imputation of having made more of the thing than it was worth if she ran away, as her father called it. She was going to leave the country for some six or eight months,—perhaps for a longer time than that, and it might be as well that she should have an opportunity of telling her plans to Mr Grey. She could do it, she thought, in such a way as to make him understand that her last quarrel with George Vavasor was not supposed to alter the footing on which she stood with him. She did not doubt that her father had told everything to Mr Grey. She knew well enough what her father's wishes still were. It was not odd that he should be asking John Grey to his house, though such exercises of domestic hospitality were very unusual with him. But,—so she declared to herself,—such little attempts on his part would be altogether thrown away. It was a pity that he had not yet learned to know her better. She would receive Mr Grey as the mistress of her father's house now, for the last time; and then, on her return in the following year, he would be at Nethercoats, and the whole thing would be over.