THE DUKE'S FIRST COUSIN.by@anthonytrollope

THE DUKE'S FIRST COUSIN.

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Our pages have lately been taken up almost exclusively with the troubles of Phineas Finn, and indeed have so far not unfairly represented the feelings and interest of people generally at the time. Not to have talked of Phineas Finn from the middle of May to the middle of July in that year would have exhibited great ignorance or a cynical disposition. But other things went on also. Moons waxed and waned; children were born; marriages were contracted; and the hopes and fears of the little world around did not come to an end because Phineas Finn was not to be hung. Among others who had interests of their own there was poor Adelaide Palliser, whom we last saw under the affliction of Mr. Spooner's love,—but who before that had encountered the much deeper affliction of a quarrel with her own lover. She had desired him to free her,—and he had gone. Indeed, as to his going at that moment there had been no alternative, as he considered himself to have been turned out of Lord Chiltern's house. The red-headed lord, in the fierceness of his defence of Miss Palliser, had told the lover that under such and such circumstances he could not be allowed to remain at Harrington Hall. Lord Chiltern had said something about "his roof." Now, when a host questions the propriety of a guest remaining under his roof, the guest is obliged to go. Gerard Maule had gone; and, having offended his sweetheart by a most impolite allusion to Boulogne, had been forced to go as a rejected lover. From that day to this he had done nothing,—not because he was contented with the lot assigned to him, for every morning, as he lay on his bed, which he usually did till twelve, he swore to himself that nothing should separate him from Adelaide Palliser,—but simply because to do nothing was customary with him. "What is a man to do?" he not unnaturally asked his friend Captain Boodle at the club. "Let her out on the grass for a couple of months," said Captain Boodle, "and she'll come up as clean as a whistle. When they get these humours there's nothing like giving them a run." Captain Boodle undoubtedly had the reputation of being very great in council on such matters; but it must not be supposed that Gerard Maule was contented to take his advice implicitly. He was unhappy, ill at ease, half conscious that he ought to do something, full of regrets,—but very idle. In the meantime Miss Palliser, who had the finer nature of the two, suffered grievously. The Spooner affair was but a small addition to her misfortune. She could get rid of Mr. Spooner,—of any number of Mr. Spooners; but how should she get back to her the man she loved? When young ladies quarrel with their lovers it is always presumed, especially in books, that they do not wish to get them back. It is to be understood that the loss to them is as nothing. Miss Smith begs that Mr. Jones may be assured that he is not to consider her at all. If he is pleased to separate, she will be at any rate quite as well pleased,—probably a great deal better. No doubt she had loved him with all her heart, but that will make no difference to her, if he wishes,—to be off. Upon the whole Miss Smith thinks that she would prefer such an arrangement, in spite of her heart. Adelaide Palliser had said something of the kind. As Gerard Maule had regarded her as a "trouble," and had lamented that prospect of "Boulogne" which marriage had presented to his eyes, she had dismissed him with a few easily spoken words. She had assured him that no such troubles need weigh upon him. No doubt they had been engaged;—but, as far as she was concerned, the remembrance of that need not embarrass him. And so she and Lord Chiltern between them had sent him away. But how was she to get him back again?

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Anthony Trollope

Anthony Trollope was a novelist.


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