October 20, 2015

Steamy love, a la Trollope



      Hitherto his name had not been coupled by the world with that of any woman whom he had been supposed to admire; but latterly it had been observed that he had often been seen in the same room with Lady Dumbello. It had hardly amounted to more than this; but when it was remembered how undemonstrative were the two persons concerned -- how little disposed was either of them to any strong display of feeling -- even this was thought matter to be mentioned. He certainly would speak to her from time to time almost with an air of interest; and Lady Dumbello, when she saw that he was in the room, would be observed to raise her head with some little show of life, and look round as though there were something on which it might be worth her while to allow her eyes to rest. ...
      [Lady Dumbello] was by no means idle at this or at other times, going through, we may say, a considerable amount of really hard work in her manner of working. There she had sat speechless, unless when acknowledging by a low word of assent some expression of flattery from those around her. Then the door opened, and when Mr. Palliser entered she raised her head, and the faintest possible gleam of satisfaction might have been discerned upon her features. But she made no attempt to speak to him; and when, as he stood at the table, he took up a book and remained thus standing for a quarter of an hour, she neither showed nor felt any impatience. After that, Lord Dumbello came in, and he stood at the table without a book. Even then Lady Dumbello showed no impatience. ...
     [Mr. Palliser] had been in the room nearly an hour when he did at last find himself standing close to Lady Dumbello:  close to her, and without any other very near neighbour. ...
      'Do you stay here long?'
      'Oh, no. I go to Cheshire the day after tomorrow....'
      After that Mr. Palliser sauntered away again, and Lady Dumbello passed the rest of the evening in silence.  ...
      'By Jove!' said the Honourable George to his cousin, Mr. Gresham. 'I wonder how Dumbello likes it.'
      'It seems to me that Dumbello takes it very easily.'
      'There are some men who will take anything easily, said George, who, since his own marriage, had learned to have a holy horror of such wicked things.
      'She's beginning to come out a little,' said Lady Clandidlem to Lady de Courcy, when the two old women found themselves together over a fire in some back sitting-room. 'Still waters always run deep, you know.'
      'I shouldn't at all wonder if she were to go off with him,' said Lady de Courcy...

Anthony Trollope, The Small House at Allington
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{The painting is Love's Ambush, by William Lippincott, found here}

5 comments:

Terra said...

This is a great book and a delightful scene, and when reading this scene I could not predict which way this would go.

Lisa said...

Seriously, that has to be the least interesting flirtation ever. If in fact that even qualifies as a flirtation :) I hope Mr Palliser does better with his next romance (avoiding spoilers if you aren't there yet).

Karen K. said...

Shocking! In the same room together!!!!!

Oh, those wacky Victorians!

Claire (The Captive Reader) said...

The most scandalous affair EVER! So bold, so shameless! One of my favourite sub-plots from this book.

JoAnn said...

Well this just made my morning... Imagine so little being interpreted as something so significant and so gossip-worthy! Perfect painting to pair with the scene, too.

My used copy of the Oxford Reader's Companion to Trollope arrived yesterday. "Hobbledehoya Lisa" was right, it's wonderful.