The Pallisers, Part II: The Honeymooners

Previously on The Pallisers: Meddling family members decided that Plantagenet and Glencora would be perfect for each other, even though their personalities are total opposites and they’re both in love with other people. At the end of the day, nagging and money win out, and the reluctant pair agrees to wed.

The wedding’s on at Westminster Abbey, and it looks to be a suitably grand occasion. Glencora’s escorted down the aisle by some man we’ve never seen before, looking like the proverbial lamb going to the slaughter. She’s followed by a troupe of bridesmaids in white, none of whom we’ve ever seen either. She joins Plantagenet and the service starts. Glencora’s all wild-eyed and looking like she wants nothing more than to turn and flee. I’m guessing it’s only the fact that she’s wearing about 50 pounds worth of dress that’s keeping her in place. The aunts look on proudly, pleased with their matchmaking.

They finally get around the vows, and we find out that Plantagenet has about 10 names, only half of which are pronounceable. I’m not even going to try and figure out how to spell them. He does his “I do” just fine and the minister moves on to Glencora, who’s the absolute definition of checked out right now. After going through her 10 names, the minister waits expectantly for her “I do,” but it doesn’t come. The pause is long and really, really awkward. Plantagenet finally manages to get her attention and she “I dos.” They complete their vows without any further incident, though Glencora starts to rush them at the end, clearly eager to have this all over with. She also starts to cry. Poor girl. She weeps right through the exchange of rings, as Plantagenet looks vacantly at a spot somewhere in the middle distance, over her head, looking depressed. Poor guy.

Burgo and George, meanwhile, wait out the wedding with drinks at their empty club. Burgo looks depressed too. The bells at Westminster ring out merrily and George breaks the silence, asking Burgo what he plans to do while the happy couple takes off for their honeymoon tour of the continent. Burgo says he plans to do a bit of traveling himself.

Glencora and Plantagenet are now in Switzerland, I think. Somewhere with lots of snow, trees, and mountains. They’re tucked up in a sled, Glencora’s actually got a doll, just in case you forgot how young she’s supposed to be (around 18, I believe), and she’s complaining about how boring the scenery is. She calls a passing church hideous and Plantagenet stiffly says it’s not the outside of the church that counts. She keeps complaining, and he points out that nothing at all seems to please her: she didn’t like the French people, she hated all the statues in Italy, and now she’s got problems with the Lutherans. Glencora objects, saying she thought some of the statues in Italy were quite interesting (I think we can guess which ones), and that she hoped to bring one home as a joke gift for her super-uptight cousin Alice, who’ll be hitting Switzerland herself soon, along with her fiancé, the boring John Grey. Plantagenet scolds her again, saying that he’s heard nice things about Mr. Grey.

Alice and her father are impatiently waiting for her cousin, Kate, who’s delivered a little late by George, Kate’s brother. Alice coolly bids George farewell, and then her father hustles them out the door.

Off to Switzerland they go, to settle in a cottage against a really, really fake backdrop of mountains. Alice’s father snoozes on the porch as Alice, Grey, and Kate return from a walk. Grey exposits that he has to return home soon to attend to his orchards and finish a paper for the Society of Ancient Studies. Alice looks a little like she wants to pitch him off the mountain, although he seems like a fairly pleasant fellow to me. Kate and Alice’s dad depart to get ready for dinner, leaving the affianced alone.

Grey asks, clearly not for the first time, for Alice to set a wedding date. She refuses rather fishily and gets snappish with him when he gently urges her. Wow, Grey. Red flags all around.

Glencora and Plantagenet arrive at a posh hotel in Basel, which does not meet with Glencora’s approval. They’re only staying for a couple of weeks, though, and while they’re there Plantagenet hopes to meet with a few people—financial types with whom he wants to discuss the metric system of currency. How romantic! Glencora spits that most honeymoons are supposed to be based on the number two, but in their case, it seems that one honeymoon equals ten Swiss bankers.

In a slightly less posh spot, Alice and Kate are passing a quiet evening. Kate comments that Grey will be almost home, and it’s a shame that he’ll be all alone in his house when he gets there. Alice bitchily says he likes the house, and no, she doesn’t miss him, because she has the rest of her life to spend with Mr. Grey. She attempts to backpedal, but then George arrives and all talk of Grey ends. Kate’s delighted to see him, and it seems Alice is too, although she tries not to show it.

As he unpacks, George observes to his sister that Alice seemed happy to see him. He asks what Grey was like and Kate says he’s kind, steady, and rather handsome. But he’s not the type of man who leaves much of an impression, according to her. There’s a bit of talk about an inheritance Alice received from her mother, and it’s clear Kate’s trying to push her brother and cousin back together.

The next day, George observes the mountains from the porch with Alice and talks poetically about them, which for some reason gets Alice all dreamy. Her father comes out and busts up the interlude, kicking George inside and demanding to know what the hell George is doing there. Dad is clearly not a fan of George’s. Nor is he an idiot. He knows very well that George isn’t there to see Kate. I like dad, he’s clearly much smarter than Alice. But he knows they can’t exactly ban George from joining their party, much as he hates having him there.

In her posh hotel, Glencora sits alone at a table, tracing the design on the tablecloth with her finger while Plantagenet reads a newspaper nearby. He tells her they’ll be home soon, and she says she can’t wait to get back to London. Unfortunately, Plantagenet plans to go right to Matching Priory in the countryside, not to London when they get home. So, more dull solitude for his young wife.

A footman arrives and hands Glencora a letter, which she reads happily, then quickly tears up and burns. When Plantagenet asks, she lies that it’s from some couple they met the other day. He returns to his paper, and suddenly Glencora spots Alice in the foyer. She dashes out to greet her, and Alice, for the first time, seems happy to see Glencora. She asks how Glencora likes Switzerland and Glencora admits it hasn’t exactly been the best honeymoon ever. Alice warns her to hush, just as Plantagenet joins them and politely greets Alice. Alice introduces her father, George, and Kate. I guess they’re checking in. Plantagenet and Glencora are on their way out for dinner with some Swiss bankers, but before they go, Glencora asks if they can go to the fencing school the next day. Plantagenet’s surprised by her sudden interest in fencing, but she insists the school is famous, and George backs her up, saying he’s had friends train there. I’ll bet he has. Glencora tries to pull a fast one, insisting that Plantagenet should go explore some museums with Alice’s dad the next day, and George can escort the ladies to the school. Unfortunately, Alice’s dad notices a sign that says the museum’s closed for a week, so it looks like a group outing to the fencing school.

The next day, they all arrive at the school, where masked fencers are having their bouts and lessons. Glencora’s looking around like she expects to see someone in particular and making small talk with Alice. George talks a little bit about how the style is different from what he learned in the army, but just then, Glencora apparently spots the man she was looking for. She springs to her feet, saying she wants a closer look, and grabs George so he can explain what’s going on. The two fencers are going at it fiercely, and the winner, of course, is Burgo, who reveals himself as he takes off his mask. He and Glencora stare at each other, then move together, as if in a trance. George tries to stop her, as Plantagenet approaches and tells her they’ll be heading home now. Glencora obediently moves away with him.

That evening, Glencora’s having a tête-a-tête with Alice. She says she’s pretty sure she’s strong enough to avoid thinking about Burgo, and Alice adds that Glencora really shouldn’t try to see him again. They’ll be leaving the next morning, so she wouldn’t have time to see him anyway. Alice asks if George had anything to do with this meetup, and Glencora immediately guesses that Alice is still carrying a torch for George. Alice only wants to know if George had a hand in this near scandal. All he did was pass along a note from Burgo that read:

Love, B. Not a very talkative guy, is he? Glencora shows Alice the note, and then forces herself to tear it up.

Meanwhile, Kate’s urging George to press his suit, if he wants Alice to return to him. Their tour is nearing its end, and he has to act fast. He knows, but Alice’s dad isn’t making it easy. Kate promises to get rid of him for a while.

Plantagenet arrives and calls Glencora upstairs to bed. Glencora bids everyone farewell and invites Alice to visit them at Matching that winter. Alice isn’t sure she’ll have time, but Glencora desperately insists, clearly terrified she’ll be left with dull politicians all winter long. Alice’s dad heads up as well, and Kate follows him, leaving Alice and George alone, as she promised. George calls Alice to the balcony and shows her the Rhine by moonlight. He puts the moves on, surprisingly subtly, and Alice reacts not so subtly by freaking out a little bit when he suggests they’ll be spending quite a bit of time apart when they get back to London. George tells her they can’t be friends after she’s mistress of Grey’s house. Then he gets mean, saying he can’t believe she’d fall for someone like Grey after him, like he’s such a remarkable prize. Alice reminds him that they broke up because he was cheating on her, which is a damn good reason to get rid of a fiancé, even then. George insists that the affair is long over, and that she’ll be bored to death with Grey.

Back in London, the horrible aunts report to the Duke that Burgo’s been basically stalking Glencora since she left for her honeymoon, conspiring to find a way to meet up with her. They insist Glencora is not to blame. It seems Alice’s dad wrote to them about the meeting at the fencing school and they felt the Duke should be aware of what’s going on with Burgo. The Duke asks them if they think Glencora would encourage Burgo’s attentions, and one of the aunts admits that she might not exactly discourage them. The Duke says that the only important thing is that there be no open scandal, and the aunts need to teach Glencora to behave herself.

Glencora and Plantagenet are at Matching Priory, which seems to be overrun by ravens, by the sound of things. Glencora’s bored to death, wandering around the sitting room, looking for something to do. Plantagenet comes in, discussing some political matter with an associate. They find Glencora twirling around and ask if she had a nice walk. She says it was ok, then moves on to show Plantagenet the room assignments she’s come up with for their soon-to-arrive guests. Plantagenet tells her not to worry her pretty little head about such things, because the housekeeper can do that. She tells him she’s trying to keep herself sane by giving herself something to do, then informs him she’s written to his uncle, the Duke, and invited him to stay as a show of gratitude for giving them the house. Seems like a nice idea. Plantagenet stiffly tells her she should never write to the Duke without consulting him first. And besides, the Duke spends the autumn in Lake Como and never attends house parties of a political nature. But, of course, she couldn’t have known that. Well, no, Plantagenet, because you never told her.

Plantagenet’s buddy, a Scotsman named Mr. Bott, steps in to help smooth the waters by, of all things, complimenting the fire in the drawing room. Glencora’s still smarting over being scolded by Plantagenet and snaps that she thinks it’s a pretty normal fire. Bott brings everyone down by saying that many of his constituents would consider such a fire the height of luxury. She tells him she’s sorry for his constituents, then. Plantagenet sends Bott away and then asks Glencora to be nicer to Bott, because he’s helpful to Plantagenet now and will be in the future. Glencora spitefully says he can stay, then, and they can find a place for him, though she’s sure the housekeeper will settle that. She tears up her carefully prepared room assignments and stalks off.

Grey’s showing Alice fabric swatches for the dining room (I guess he’s reupholstering the chairs or something). Alice can’t even pretend to give a crap. She won’t even look at them. Grey seems not to notice and asks Alice’s father for his input, but Dad doesn’t really have an opinion. He quickly escapes the escalating awkwardness in the room for a walk in the garden.

Grey calls Alice away from the window and points out that she’s now chosen the curtains and the carpets for the dining room, so now she just has to pick a date, which she said she’d do once she got back to England. Of course she won’t, because she’s a selfish bitch who’s just jerking this guy around. When Grey tries to embrace her, she shoves him away rudely and says they’ll talk about a date in the spring. Grey’s no idiot: he knows she’s got a thing for George, though he doesn’t say it directly. He’s also either a chump or the most patient man on earth (or maybe, for some unfathomable reason, he just loves this awful woman this much), because he doesn’t pressure her or break off this hopeless engagement then and there. Instead, he agrees to wait until she’s ready. You’re going to be waiting a loooong time, Grey. He leaves and Alice has the grace to look ashamed and upset.

It starts to rain, so her father comes back in and asks what’s up. She insists its nothing and tells him they should hit the road that afternoon, since it’s no use to anyone for them to stay there.

At the club, Burgo and George discuss Glencora’s trip to Matching and Alice’s early return from Grey’s house in Ealing. As they happily go upstairs for dinner, Dolly wanders in with a friend, who recognizes George as a candidate trying to get into the Chelsea districts as a liberal. The man, a member of the liberal party himself, says that some in the party aren’t sure about George. He asks Dolly if George is financially secure, and Dolly says George came back with some money, though nobody knows just how much. He’s set to inherit Vavasor Hall from his grandfather, but there’s no real guarantee of that. But, he doesn’t drink too much, gamble too much, or sleep around indiscreetly. The man decides George might be ok for the party after all.

In a downmarket pub that is, presumably, in the Chelsea district George is gunning for, the barman’s pulling pints and talking about George with an older man with wild gray hair. This man, Mr. Scrooby, is George’s campaign manager, and he’s trying to get the barman to support George in the election. The barman asks how much money George has to spread around, because apparently George’ll have to pay dearly for his votes. Scrooby takes a pinch of snuff and then spots George over by the door. The barman calls George over, introduces himself, and immediately starts handing out free drinks on George’s behalf left and right, charging exorbitant prices for them. George blanches but figures this is the price of doing business and pays up. The barman promises to deliver the votes George needs to win and invites George and Scrooby into his office in the back.

As they sit down, they start to talk about the likelihood of a by-election, which is starting to seem like a pretty sure thing at this point. The barman asks flat out how much money George can front for the necessary persuasive drinks. George, idiotically, hands Scrooby a check for £500, with a further draft for £500 dated three months later. Scrooby doesn’t think this will be sufficient, so George promises another £500 as soon as the seat he’s aiming for falls vacant. George, you idiot. How can you not see that you’re being had? You belong to a club that’s nothing but politicians, why didn’t you ask any of them what to expect or how much you should offer up front? Scrooby accepts that and they drink to the election.

It’s pouring rain at Matching and Glencora’s in front of the sitting room fire, engrossed in a novel. Plantagenet comes in with the ever-present Bott at his heels and asks her if she wants to go for a walk. She points out that it’s pouring and he says he didn’t notice. Uh, ok. When did Plantagenet become a moron? Glencora suggests Plantagenet and Bott swim to the ruins instead. Bott slithers over to her, notes the book she’s reading, and immediately stirs up trouble by declaring it “very interesting, and [he’s] sure Mr. Palliser would agree.” It’s a Balzac book about courtesans. Now he’s stirred some shit up, Bott excuses himself so Plantagenet can treat his wife like an infant for a little while. Plantagenet insists the book’s inappropriate, even though she found it in their library and she’s a married woman, not an innocent child. Glencora tells him that if she gets any more bored and stifled, she’ll start screaming her head off. She heads out of the room, and when Plantagenet calls her back, she turns and heaves the book at him in frustration before running upstairs. He follows her out in the hall and yells after her to calm down. She pauses on the stairs and, more quietly, he asks her what’s wrong. Plantagenet, haven’t you been listening? She’s bored and lonely. She tells him as much and he promises to try and spend more time with her. Plus, they’ll have a bunch of guests soon. She reminds him that those guests are politicians and friends of his, and they’ll bore her too, so he suggests she invite her cousin Alice to visit and keep her company. Glencora’s so delighted with the idea she actually hugs her husband. His face lights up—it’s cute how happy he is to have made her happy—and he tells her to ask Alice to stay as long as she likes.

Her invitation soon reaches Alice, who tells George she’ll probably accept. Sure, why not? Not like you have a wedding to plan anytime soon, Alice. George asks if she’s through with Grey and Alice sharply tells him that’s not the case at all. George shrugs that off and says it’ll be good for her to get away for a bit, and it could be useful for her to be friends with a Palliser. Alice asks George what he plans to do and he tells her about the potential by-election and how it’s going to cost him a pretty penny. He grouses that it’d be helpful if their grandfather would lend him a few thousand, but Alice reminds him that their Grandfather apparently believes in bettering oneself, and he’ll leave George to get into Westminster himself.

At the club, George tells Burgo that Alice is heading to Matching. He hopes that a few weeks with such grand company will further Alice’s dissatisfaction with Grey, and he adds that Alice might be able to pass on some information about Glencora that could benefit Burgo. Geez, guys, give it up, the woman’s married! Find someone else! Burgo suddenly says that he thinks Glencora would run away with him, if he asked just right. George points out that Plantagenet would get to keep all her money, which is almost certainly true, but Burgo’s either a moron or blinded by love and thinks she might get to keep her own fortune after all. George asks him what he plans to do and Burgo says he doesn’t have a plan, he’s just going to be ready to act as soon as the opportunity presents himself. But to act, one must have cash, which Burgo, of course, doesn’t have. He asks George if he can scare up some money to help him out and George agrees, asking only that Burgo reward him handsomely, if he’s able to. He forks over some cash right away and promises more, as soon as he can borrow it. Why doesn’t Burgo borrow it if he needs it so badly? Burgo’s certain he’ll be successful. We’ll just have to see.

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