Anthony Trollope, Can You Forgive Her?: Vol. 2, Ch. 30

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Chapter LXX: At Lucerne 

I am inclined to think that Mr Palliser did not much enjoy this part of his tour abroad. When he first reached Lucerne there was no one there with whom he could associate pleasantly, nor had he any occupation capable of making his time run easily. He did not care for scenery. Close at his elbow was the finest to be had in Europe; but it was nothing to him. Had he been simply journeying through Lucerne at the proper time of the year for such a journey, when the business of the Session was over, and a little change of air needed, he could have enjoyed the thing in a moderate way, looking about him, passing on, and knowing that it was good for him to be there at that moment. But he had none of that passion for mountains and lakes, none of that positive joy in the heather, which would have compensated many another man for the loss of all that Mr Palliser was losing. His mind was ever at home in the House of Commons, or in that august assembly which men call the Cabinet, and of the meetings of which he read from week to week the simple records. Therein were mentioned the names of those heroes to whom Fortune had been so much kinder than she had been to him; and he envied them. He took short, solitary walks, about the town, over the bridges, and along the rivers, making to himself the speeches which he would have made to full houses, had not his wife brought ruin upon all his hopes. And as he pictured to himself the glorious successes which probably never would have been his had he remained in London, so did he prophesy to himself an absolute and irremediable downfall from all political power as the result of his absence,—having, in truth, no sufficient cause for such despair. As yet, he was barely thirty, and had he been able to judge his own case as keenly as he could have judged the case of another, he would have known that a short absence might probably raise his value in the estimation of others rather than lower it. But his personal annoyance was too great to allow of his making such calculations aright. So he became fretful and unhappy; and though he spoke no word of rebuke to his wife, though he never hinted that she had robbed him of his glories, he made her conscious by his manner that she had brought him to this miserable condition.

Lady Glencora herself had a love for the mountains and lakes, but it was a love of that kind which requires to be stimulated by society, and which is keenest among cold chickens, picnic-pies, and the flying of champagne corks. When they first entered Switzerland she was very enthusiastic, and declared her intention of climbing up all the mountains, and going through all the passes. She endeavoured to induce her husband to promise that she should be taken up Mont Blanc. And I think she would have carried this on, and would have been taken up Mont Blanc, had Mr Palliser's aspirations been congenial. But they were not congenial, and Lady Glencora soon lost all her enthusiasm. By the time that they were settled at Lucerne she had voted the mountains to be bores, and had almost learned to hate the lake, which she declared always made her wet through when she got into a small boat, and sea-sick when she put her foot in a large one. At Lucerne they made no acquaintances, Mr Palliser being a man not apt to new friendships. They did not even dine at the public table, though Lady Glencora had expressed a wish to do so. Mr Palliser did not like it, and of course Lady Glencora gave way. There were, moreover, some marital passages which were not pleasant to a third person. They did not scold each other; but Lady Glencora would make little speeches of which her husband disapproved. She would purposely irritate him by continuing her tone of badinage, and then Mr Palliser would become fretful, and would look as though the cares of the world were too many for him. I cannot, therefore, say that Alice had much to make the first period of her sojourn at Lucerne a period of enjoyment.

But when they had been there about a fortnight, a stranger arrived, whose coming at any rate lent the grace of some excitement to their lives. Their custom was to breakfast at nine,—or as near nine as Lady Glencora could be induced to appear,—and then Mr Palliser would read till three. At that hour he would walk forth by himself, after having handed the two ladies into their carriage, and they would be driven about for two hours. "How I do hate this carriage," Lady Glencora said one day. "I do so wish it would come to grief, and be broken to pieces. I wonder whether the Swiss people think that we are going to be driven about here for ever." There were moments, however, which seemed to indicate that Lady Glencora had something to tell her cousin, which, if told, would alter the monotony of their lives. Alice, however, would not press her for her secret.