The Last Kiss
Too Long; Didn't ReadAlice, on her return from Westmoreland, went direct to Park Lane, whither Lady Glencora and Mr. Palliser had also returned before her. She was to remain with them in London one entire day, and on the morning after that they were to start for Paris. She found Mr. Palliser in close attendance upon his wife. Not that there was anything in his manner which at all implied that he was keeping watch over her, or that he was more with her, or closer to her than a loving husband might wish to be with a young wife; but the mode of life was very different from that which Alice had seen at Matching Priory!
On her arrival Mr. Palliser himself received her in the hall, and took her up to his wife before she had taken off her travelling hat. "We are so much obliged to you, Miss Vavasor," he said. "I feel it quite as deeply as Glencora."
"Oh, no," she said; "it is I that am under obligation to you for taking me."
He merely smiled, and shook his head, and then took her up-stairs. On the stairs he said one other word to her: "You must forgive me if I was cross to you that night she went out among the ruins." Alice muttered something,—some little fib of courtesy as to the matter having been forgotten, or never borne in mind; and then they went on to Lady Glencora's room. It seemed to Alice that he was not so big or so much to be dreaded as when she had seen him at Matching. His descent from an expectant, or more than an expectant, Chancellor of the Exchequer, down to a simple, attentive husband, seemed to affect his gait, his voice, and all his demeanour. When he received Alice at the Priory he certainly loomed before her as something great, whereas now his greatness seemed to have fallen from him. We must own that this was hard upon him, seeing that the deed by which he had divested himself of his greatness had been so pure and good!