Anthony Trollope, Can You Forgive Her?: Vol. 2, Ch. 25

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Chapter LXV: The First Kiss 

"Hush!" said the widow, "there's a carriage coming on the road—close to us." Mrs Greenow, as she spoke these words, drew back from the Captain's arms before the first kiss of permitted ante-nuptial love had been exchanged. The scene was on the high road from Shap to Vavasor, and as she was still dressed in all the sombre habiliments of early widowhood, and as neither he nor his sweetheart were under forty, perhaps it was as well that they were not caught toying together in so very public a place. But they were only just in time to escape the vigilant eyes of a new visitor. Round the corner of the road, at a sharp trot, came the Shap post-horse, with the Shap gig behind him,—the same gig which had brought Bellfield to Vavasor on the previous day,—and seated in the gig, looming large, with his eyes wide awake to everything round him, was—Mr Cheesacre.

It was a sight terrible to the eyes of Captain Bellfield, and by no means welcome to those of Mrs Greenow. As regarded her, her annoyance had chiefly reference to her two nieces, and especially to Alice. How was she to account for this second lover? Kate, of course, knew all about it; but how could Alice be made to understand that she, Mrs Greenow, was not to blame,—that she had, in sober truth, told this ardent gentleman that there was no hope for him? And even as to Kate,—Kate, whom her aunt had absurdly chosen to regard as the object of Mr Cheesacre's pursuit,—what sort of a welcome would she extend to the owner of Oileymead? Before the wheels had stopped, Mrs Greenow had begun to reflect whether it might be possible that she should send Mr Cheesacre back without letting him go on to the Hall; but if Mrs Greenow was dismayed, what were the feelings of the Captain? For he was aware that Cheesacre knew that of him which he had not told. How ardently did he now wish that he had sailed nearer to the truth in giving in the schedule of his debts to Mrs Greenow.

"That man's wanted by the police," said Cheesacre, speaking while the gig was still in motion. "He's wanted by the police, Mrs Greenow," and in his ardour he stood up in the gig and pointed at Bellfield. Then the gig stopped suddenly, and he fell back into his seat in his effort to prevent his falling forward. "He's wanted by the police," he shouted out again, as soon as he was able to recover his voice.

Mrs Greenow turned pale beneath the widow's veil which she had dropped. What might not her Captain have done? He might have procured things, to be sent to him, out of shops on false pretences; or, urged on by want and famine, he might have committed—forgery. "Oh, my!" she said, and dropped her hand from his arm, which she had taken.

"It's false," said Bellfield.

"It's true," said Cheesacre.

"I'll indict you for slander, my friend," said Bellfield.

"Pay me the money you owe me," said Cheesacre. "You're a swindler!"

Mrs Greenow cared little as to her lover being a swindler in Mr Cheesacre's estimation. Such accusations from him she had heard before. But she did care very much as to this mission of the police against her Captain. If that were true, the Captain could be her Captain no longer. "What is this I hear, Captain Bellfield?" she said.

"It's a lie and a slander. He merely wants to make a quarrel between us. What police are after me, Mr Cheesacre?"

"It's the police, or the sheriff's officer, or something of the kind," said Cheesacre.

"Oh, the sheriff's officers!" exclaimed Mrs Greenow, in a tone of voice which showed how great had been her relief. "Mr Cheesacre, you shouldn't come and say such things;—you shouldn't, indeed. Sheriff's officers can be paid, and there's an end of them."

"I'll indict him for the libel—I will, as sure as I'm alive," said Bellfield.