Anthony Trollope, Can You Forgive Her?: Vol. 2, Ch. 38

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Chapter LXXVIII: Mr Cheesacre's Fate 

It must be acknowledged that Mrs Greenow was a woman of great resources, and that she would be very prudent for others, though I fear the verdict of those who know her must go against her in regard to prudence in herself. Her marriage with Captain Bellfield was a rash act,—certainly a rash act, although she did take so much care in securing the payment of her own income into her own hands; but the manner in which she made him live discreetly for some months previous to his marriage, the tact with which she renewed the friendship which had existed between him and Mr Cheesacre, and the skill she used in at last providing Mr Cheesacre with a wife, oblige us all to admit that, as a general, she had great powers.

When Alice reached Vavasor Hall she found Charlie Fairstairs established there on a long visit. Charlie and Kate were to be the two bridesmaids, and, as Kate told her cousin in their first confidential intercourse on the evening of Alice's arrival, there were already great hopes in the household that the master of Oileymead might be brought to surrender. It was true that Charlie had not a shilling, and that Mr Cheesacre had set his heart on marrying an heiress. It was true that Miss Fairstairs had always stood low in the gentleman's estimation, as being connected with people who were as much without rank and fashion as they were without money, and that the gentleman loved rank and fashion dearly. It was true that Charlie was no beauty, and that Cheesacre had an eye for feminine charms. It was true that he had despised Charlie, and had spoken his contempt openly;—that he had seen the girl on the sands at Yarmouth every summer for the last ten years, and about the streets of Norwich every winter, and had learned to regard her as a thing poor and despicable, because she was common in his eyes. It is thus that the Cheesacres judge of people. But in spite of all these difficulties Mrs Greenow had taken up poor Charlie's case, and Kate Vavasor expressed a strong opinion that her aunt would win.

"What has she done to the man?" Alice asked.

"Coaxed him; simply that. She has made herself so much his master that he doesn't know how to say no to her. Sometimes I have thought that he might possibly run away, but I have abandoned that fear now. She has little confidences with him from day to day, which are so alluring to him that he cannot tear himself off. In the middle of one of them he will find himself engaged."

"But, the unfortunate girl! Won't it be a wretched marriage for her?"

"Not at all. She'll make him a very good wife. He's one of those men to whom any woman, after a little time, will come to be the same. He'll be rough with her once a month or so, and perhaps tell her that she brought no money with her; but that won't break any bones, and Charlie will know how to fight her own battles. She'll save his money if she brings none, and in a few years' time they will quite understand each other."

Mr Cheesacre and Captain Bellfield were at this time living in lodgings together, at Penrith, but came over and spent every other day at Vavasor, returning always to their lodgings in the evening. It wanted but eight days to the marriage when Alice arrived, and preparations for that event were in progress. "It's to be very quiet, Alice," said her aunt; "as quiet as such a thing can be made. I owe that to the memory of the departed one. I know that he is looking down upon me, and that he approves all that I do. Indeed, he told me once that he did not want me to live desolate for his sake. If I didn't feel that he was looking down and approving it, I should be wretched indeed." She took Alice up to see her trousseau, and gave the other expectant bride some little hints which, under present circumstances, might be useful. "Yes, indeed; only three-and-sixpence a piece, and they're quite real. Feel them. You wouldn't get them in the shops under six." Alice did feel them, and wondered whether her aunt could have saved the half-crown honestly. "I had my eyes about me when I was up in town, my dear. And look here, these are quite new,—have never been on yet, and I had them when I was married before. There is nothing like being careful, my dear. I hate meanness, as everybody knows who knows me; but there is nothing like being careful. You have a lot of rich people about you just now, and will have ever so many things given you which you won't want. Do you put them all by, and be careful. They may turn out useful, you know." Saying this, Mrs Greenow folded up, among her present bridal belongings, sundries of the wealth which had accrued to her in an earlier stage of her career.