Anthony Trollope, Can You Forgive Her?: Vol. 2, Ch. 33

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Chapter LXXIII: In Which Come Tidings of Great Moment to All Pallisers 

It was not till they had been for a day or two together at Lucerne that Mr Grey told Mr Palliser the story of George Vavasor's visit to him in Suffolk Street. Having begun the history of his connection with Alice, he found himself obliged to go with it to the end, and as he described the way in which the man had vanished from the sight of all who had known him,—that he had in truth gone, so as no longer to be a cause of dread, he could not without dissimulation, keep back the story of that last scene. "And he tried to murder you!" said Mr Palliser. "He should be caught and,—and—" Mr Palliser hesitated, not liking to say boldly that the first cousin of the lady who was now living with him ought to be hung.

"It is better as it is," said Grey.

"He actually walked into your rooms in the day time, and fired a pistol at you as you were sitting at your breakfast! He did that in London, and then walked off and went abroad, as though he had nothing to fear!"

"That was just it," said Grey.

Mr Palliser began to think that something ought to be done to make life more secure in the metropolis of the world. Had he not known Mr Grey, or been accustomed to see the other man in Parliament, he would not have thought so much about it. But it was almost too much for him when he reflected that one man whom he now called his friend, had been nearly murdered in daylight, in the heart of his own part of London, by another man whom he had reckoned among his Parliamentary supporters. "And he has got your money too!" said Palliser, putting all the circumstances of the case together. In answer to this Mr Grey said that he hoped the loss might eventually be his own; but that he was bound to regard the money which had been taken as part of Miss Vavasor's fortune. "He is simply the greatest miscreant of whom I ever heard in my life," said Mr Palliser. "The wonder is that Miss Vavasor should ever have brought herself to—to like him." Then Mr Grey apologized for Alice, explaining that her love for her cousin had come from her early years; that the man himself was clever and capable of assuming pleasant ways, and that he had not been wholly bad till ruin had come upon him. "He attempted public life and made himself miserable by failing, as most men do who make that attempt," said Grey. This was a statement which Mr Palliser could not allow to pass without notice. Whereupon the two men got away from George Vavasor and their own individual interests, and went on seriously discussing the merits and demerits of public life. "The end of it all is," said Grey at last, "that public men in England should be rich like you, and not poor like that miserable wretch, who has now lost everything that the Fates had given him."

They continued to live at Lucerne in this way for a fortnight. Mr Grey, though he was not unfrequently alone with Alice, did not plead his suit in direct words; but continued to live with her on terms of close and easy friendship. He had told her that her cousin had left England,—that he had gone to America immediately after his disappointment in regard to the seat in Parliament, and that he would probably not return. "Poor George!" Alice had said; "he is a man very much to be pitied." "He is a man very much to be pitied," Grey had replied. After that, nothing more was said between them about George Vavasor. From Lady Glencora Alice did hear something; but Lady Glencora herself had not heard the whole story. "I believe he misbehaved himself, my dear," Lady Glencora said; "but then, you know, he always does that. I believe that he saw Mr Grey and insulted him. Perhaps you had better not ask anything about it till by-and-by. You'll be able to get anything out of him then." In answer to this Alice made her usual protest, and Lady Glencora, as was customary, told her that she was a fool.

I am inclined to think that Mr Grey knew what he was about. Lady Glencora once scolded him very vehemently for not bringing the affair to an end. "We shall be going on to Italy before it's settled," she said; "and I don't suppose you can go with us, unless it is settled." Mr Grey protested that he had no intention of going to Italy in either case.

"Then it will be put off for another year or two, and you are both of you as old as Adam and Eve already."

"We ancient people are never impatient," said Grey, laughing.