Anthony Trollope, Can You Forgive Her?: Vol. 2, Ch. 35

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Chapter LXXV: Rouge et Noir 

Alice insisted on being left up in the churchyard, urging that she wanted to "think about it all," but, in truth, fearing that she might not be able to carry herself well, if she were to walk down with her lover to the hotel. To this he made no objection, and, on reaching the inn, met Mr Palliser in the hall. Mr Palliser was already inspecting the arrangement of certain large trunks which had been brought down-stairs, and was preparing for their departure. He was going about the house, with a nervous solicitude to do something, and was flattering himself that he was of use. As he could not be Chancellor of the Exchequer, and as, by the nature of his disposition, some employment was necessary to him, he was looking to the cording of the boxes. "Good morning! good morning!" he said to Grey, hardly looking at him, as though time were too precious with him to allow of his turning his eyes upon his friend. "I am going up to the station to see after a carriage for to-morrow. Perhaps you'll come with me." To this proposition Mr Grey assented. "Sometimes, you know," continued Mr Palliser, "the springs of the carriages are so very rough." Then, in a very few words, Mr Grey told him what had been his own morning's work. He hated secrets and secrecy, and as the Pallisers knew well what had brought him upon their track, it was, he thought, well that they should know that he had been successful. Mr Palliser congratulated him very cordially, and then, running up-stairs for his gloves or his stick, or, more probably, that he might give his wife one other caution as to her care of herself, he told her also that Alice had yielded at last. "Of course she has," said Lady Glencora.

"I really didn't think she would," said he.

"That's because you don't understand things of that sort," said his wife. Then the caution was repeated, the mother of the future duke was kissed, and Mr Palliser went off on his mission about the carriage, its cushions, and its springs. In the course of their walk Mr Palliser suggested that, as things were settled so pleasantly, Mr Grey might as well return with them to England, and to this suggestion Mr Grey assented.

Alice remained alone for nearly an hour, looking out upon the rough sides and gloomy top of Mount Pilate. No one disturbed her in the churchyard,—no steps were heard along the tombstones,—no voice sounded through the cloisters. She was left in perfect solitude to think of the past, and form her plans of the future. Was she happy, now that the manner of her life to come was thus settled for her; that all further question as to the disposal of herself was taken out of her hands, and that her marriage with a man she loved was so firmly arranged that no further folly of her own could disarrange it? She was happy, though she was slow to confess her happiness to herself. She was happy, and she was resolute in this,—that she would now do all she could to make him happy also. And there must now, she acknowledged, be an end to her pride,—to that pride which had hitherto taught her to think that she could more wisely follow her own guidance than that of any other who might claim to guide her. She knew now that she must follow his guidance. She had found her master, as we sometimes say, and laughed to herself with a little inward laughter as she confessed that it was so. She was from henceforth altogether in his hands. If he chose to tell her that they were to be married at Michaelmas, or at Christmas, or on Lady Day, they would, of course, be married accordingly. She had taken her fling at having her own will, and she and all her friends had seen what had come of it. She had assumed the command of the ship, and had thrown it upon the rocks, and she felt that she never ought to take the captain's place again. It was well for her that he who was to be captain was one whom she respected as thoroughly as she loved him.

She would write to her father at once,—to her father and Lady Macleod,—and would confess everything. She felt that she owed it to them that they should be told by herself that they had been right and that she had been wrong. Hitherto she had not mentioned to either of them the fact that Mr Grey was with them in Switzerland. And, then, what must she do as to Lady Midlothian? As to Lady Midlothian, she would do nothing. Lady Midlothian, of course, would triumph;—would jump upon her, as Lady Glencora had once expressed it, with very triumphant heels,—would try to patronize her, or, which would be almost worse, would make a parade of her forgiveness. But she would have nothing to do with Lady Midlothian, unless, indeed, Mr Grey should order it. Then she laughed at herself again with that inward laughter, and, rising from her seat, proceeded to walk down the hill to the hotel.