Anthony Trollope, Can You Forgive Her?: Vol. 2, Ch. 39

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Chapter LXXIX: Diamonds Are Diamonds 

Kate and Alice, as they drew near to their journey's end, were both a little flurried, and I cannot but own that there was cause for nervousness. Kate Vavasor was to meet Mr Grey for the first time. Mr Grey was now staying at Matching and was to remain there until a week of his marriage. He was then to return to Cambridgeshire for a day or two, and after that was to become a guest at the rector's house at Matching the evening before the ceremony. "Why not let him come here at once?" Lady Glencora had said to her husband. "It is such nonsense, you know." But Mr Palliser would not hear of it. Mr Palliser, though a Radical in public life, would not for worlds transgress the social laws of his ancestors; and so the matter was settled. Kate on this very day of her arrival at Matching would thus see Mr Grey for the first time, and she could not but feel that she had been the means of doing Mr Grey much injury. She had moreover something,—not much indeed, but still something,—of that feeling which made the Pallisers terrible to the imagination, because of their rank and wealth. She was a little afraid of the Pallisers, but of Mr Grey she was very much afraid. And Alice also was not at her ease. She would fain have prevented so very quick a marriage had she not felt that now,—after all the trouble that she had caused,—there was nothing left for her but to do as others wished. When a day had been named she had hardly dared to demur, and had allowed Lady Glencora to settle everything as she had wished. But it was not only the suddenness of her marriage which dismayed her. Its nature and attributes were terrible to her. Both Lady Midlothian and the Marchioness of Auld Reekie were coming. When this was told to her by letter she had no means of escape. "Lady Macleod is right in nearly all that she says," Lady Glencora had written to her. "At any rate, you needn't be such a fool as to run away from your cousins, simply because they have handles to their names. You must take the thing as it comes." Lady Glencora, moreover, had settled for her the list of bridesmaids. Alice had made a petition that she might be allowed to go through the ceremony with only one,—with none but Kate to back her. But she ought to have known that when she consented to be married at Matching,—and indeed she had had very little power of resisting that proposition,—all such questions would be decided for her. Two daughters therefore of Lady Midlothian were to act, Lady Jane and Lady Mary, and the one daughter of the Marchioness, who was also a Lady Jane, and there were to be two Miss Howards down from London,—girls who were known both to Alice and to Lady Glencora, and who were in some distant way connected with them both. A great attempt was made to induce the two Miss Pallisers to join the bevy, but they had frankly pleaded their age. "No woman should stand up as a bridesmaid," said the strong-minded Sophy, "who doesn't mean to get married if she can. Now I don't mean to get married, and I won't put myself among the young people." Lady Glencora was therefore obliged to submit to do the work with only six. But she swore that they should be very smart. She was to give all the dresses, and Mr Palliser was to give a brooch and an armlet to each. "She is the only person in the world I want to pet, except yourself," Lady Glencora had said to her husband, and he had answered by giving her carte blanche as regards expense.

All this was very terrible to Kate, who had not much feminine taste for finery. Of the dress she had heard,—of the dress which was waiting at Matching to be made up after her arrival,—though as yet she knew nothing of the trinkets. There are many girls who could submit themselves at a moment to the kindness of such a woman as Lady Glencora. Perhaps most girls would do so, for of all such women in the world, Lady Glencora was the least inclined to patronize or to be condescending in her kindnesses. But Kate Vavasor was one to whom such submission would not come easily.

"I wish I was out of this boat," she said to Alice in the train.

"So that I might be shipwrecked alone!"

"No; there can be no shipwreck to you. When the day of action comes you will be taken away, up to heaven, upon the clouds. But what are they to do with me?"

"You'll find that Glencora will not desert you. You can't conceive what taste she has."