The Pallisers Part V: Another Suitcase in Another Hall

Previously on The Pallisers: Alice remained on Team George, despite the fact that he’s bleeding her dry already and is actually kind of a jerk; Burgo made one last play for Glencora that didn’t work out too well.

Plantagenet’s reading the morning paper in the drawing room of Palliser Palace. In comes Glencora, who greets him with a perfunctory kiss before seating herself at the breakfast table. After greeting her, Plantagenet returns to his newspaper. After a while, Glencora mentions that he wanted to talk to her about the party the evening before. He puts his paper aside and starts out gently, telling her he doesn’t want her to think he’s reading too much into what happened. Glencora tells him to just be out with it, if he’s angry with her. He insists he’s not angry and he’s not going to scold, he just wants to advise her. Glencora says she’d rather be scolded, and now Plantagenet starts to get annoyed, and I can’t really blame him. He’s trying to be a good guy and she’s just making it unnecessarily difficult for him. He asks her to be serious and asks if she knows what she did wrong. She pretends not to know, but surely she realizes she was making a bit of a spectacle of herself.

After some discussion, Glencora gets sad and sober and says she knows she’s never made Plantagenet happy and she’s sure she never could. She admits to being wrong at the ball but it was much more wrong of her to allow herself to be bullied into marriage to a man she doesn’t love. She tells Plantagenet that she loves Burgo, and he looks genuinely devastated. She goes on to say that she was planning on running away with Burgo, and she wants to free Plantagenet so he can remarry and have a kid, which she thinks she can’t give him. Plantagenet tries to absorb this and falls back on his family pride defenses by bringing up the damage to their honor, but Glencora won’t hear it. She rushes over to him and says she’d gladly die if only he could be free to have the wife and child he deserves. Pretty strong words for someone who claims not to love him. Plantagenet gently tells her she’s wrong about something: he does love her. She shakes her head, disbelieving him, and he goes on to apologize for the way he is, saying he doesn’t really know how to show it, but he hopes that someday she might love him back. Weeping, Glencora falls into his arms for comfort.

Burgo’s at his club, complaining to George that, if Plantagenet hadn’t shown up, he’d be halfway to Florence with Glencora by now. He says he’s not through yet, because he’s still got a bit of cash around. George is quick to remind him that he’s on the hook with the moneylender for that cash, and Burgo’d better not forget it. Burgo reminds him he’s immune from arrest for debt, being an MP, and George reminds him that as soon as Parliament’s dissolved and the general election’s called his privileges disappear until he’s reelected. Burgo tells him to chill. Fortunately, George receives a letter from Alice that puts a smile on his face: his aged grandfather is, in his words, “worm’s meat at last.” What a charmer. I can see why Alice likes him. George is practically salivating over the idea of getting his paws on grandpa’s estate.

Up to Westmoreland he goes, dressed in an outlandish suit that clashes horribly with Alice’s and Kate’s somber mourning clothes. George excitedly asks when they’ll be burying grandpa and seems pissed to hear it’ll be Monday, which means he can’t get back to the city right away. Alice sharply reminds him this is a house of mourning, and they’re not there to cater to his whims or his schedule. George ignores her and goes right for the whiskey, asking what the deal is with the will. Kate and Alice tell him it’s with the lawyer, and he’ll read it to them after the funeral. George is even more pissed to hear he’ll have to wait three whole days to hear about his inheritance. Oh, you poor baby. George twigs to the fact that the lawyer’s been around, messing with the will, and Alice tells him it was grandfather’s idea. George calls the two women imbeciles for allowing the lawyer to take the will away with him. What the hell were they supposed to do, take it by force? George shouts that he won’t accept a deathbed will, and the ruckus brings Alice’s father down to scold George and tell him to please remember that his grandfather is lying dead upstairs. He asks them to come up and see him, but George refuses to go and feign interest in an old man he never gave a crap about. He says some pretty vile things about the elderly man, and Alice’s poor dad—grandfather’s son, remember—near tears, tells George the guy was a fine old gentleman who was never unjust or ungenerous to anyone in his life. Jesus, George totally deserves to reap what he sows. What an asshole.

Three days pass, and finally everyone’s gathered for the reading of the will. Surprise, surprise—George has been dispossessed for, basically, being a dick. Alice’s dad inherits everything now. Ha! Everyone’s shocked, including Alice’s dad. George freaks out and storms out of the room, and after a little while, Alice follows him.

She catches up with him running off over the moors or whatever it is they have up there. She shouts after him that she just wants to help him, and here his truly monstrous, selfish nature gets free reign. He tells her she can’t help him and sets off again. Alice catches up with him and reminds him that he can have the rest of her money. He says it’s not enough for him to get by, because he’s got many, many debts against him. So, he needs to dump the will, and he needs Alice to help him do it by swearing her grandpa was out of his mind when he made it. Alice refuses to do so, finally finding a spine where George is concerned. George, like any coward, raises a hand to threaten her, but she stands her ground and contemptuously tells him to lower his hand. He viciously backhands her, calls her a few names, and throws her aside before stalking off. She gets up and realizes she’s hurt her wrist. So, wedding’s off, then?

Back in London, Glencora sadly plays with some cards, all alone. Plantagenet comes in and helps her pick them up when she drops them and tells her he’s been thinking about what she said to him. She repeats that she’s always loved Burgo and never loved Plantagenet. She’s sure she can never make Plantagenet happy; she can’t even seem to give him a kid. She’s really obsessed with this whole baby thing, isn’t she? Plantagenet says as much, telling her she dwells on that way too much and asks her to at least try to love him, because he only wants to be married to her, not to anyone else. Glencora tells him she first has to try not to love Burgo. Plantagenet says he thinks it’ll be a good idea for them to go away for a while. He’ll give up politics for the season so they can go on an extended vacation. Damn, this guy’s committed. He suggests Europe again—not Switzerland, because she hated it—but the other places that she actually liked. He even urges her to take Alice along.

Their discussion’s interrupted by the arrival of St. Bungay. Plantagenet tries to say he’s too busy to see the duke but Glencora orders the butler to show him in. She knows St. Bungay’s there to offer Plantagenet the Chancellor of the Exchequer job, which he’s always wanted. Before the duke comes in, Glencora urges Plantagenet to take the job, if it’s offered.

She meets St. Bungay at the door and they greet each other warmly before she excuses herself. St. Bungay doesn’t beat around the bush: the Chancellor has resigned and St. Bungay wants to offer Plantagenet the job. Plantagenet takes a few moments, then tells the duke he has to turn the offer down. St. Bungay can’t imagine why he’d do such a thing, so Plantagenet tells him he’s promised to take Glencora away, and he won’t back down on that promise. St. Bungay offers him 24 hours to think this over, but Plantagenet won’t take it. St. Bungay can’t fathom what’s going on here, but Plantagenet insists. This is his final decision. But then he backs off a bit and asks for a portion of that 24 hours the duke offered him. He says he’s aware that he has a duty to his party and his sovereign, as well as to his wife, and he needs to think.

George is back in town, meeting with his campaign manager Scrooby, and asking for his election money back, because he’s not going to stand for the general election after all. But of course that money has already been spent—or, at least, reappropriated to the Bank of Scrooby, and all of George’s threats can’t bring it back. He’s well and truly screwed. All he can get back is £500 out of the original £1500. Scrooby counts out his cash, running off at the mouth, during the course of which he spills the beans about the £3000 that came from Grey, not Alice. George is not happy to hear that.

Plantagenet walks outside the Commons, deep in thought. He’s met by George, who interrupts his reverie and tells him he may not be in the House much longer. Plantagenet says he’s sorry to hear that and George says that if a man’s not straight in his own affairs, he can hardly expect to order those of the nation. How kind of you to answer Plantagenet’s dilemma for him, George.

Plantagenet seeks out St. Bungay and tells him that, once and for all, he can’t take the Chancellor’s post. St. Bungay’s very, very sorry to hear that, and Plantagenet’s sorry to say it, but he knows it’s either the job or his family.

St. Bungay takes himself over to Plantagenet’s uncle’s to tell him he’s concerned about Plantagenet. St. Bungay tells the Duke about the post Plantagenet just turned down, which Duke thinks is some political ploy. St. Bungay says this is apparently a family issue, and it must be a grave one indeed to turn this job down. Duke agrees and also agrees to look into this matter.

Alice, arm in a sling, is reading at home when Grey shows up to visit. He looks alarmed at her state and asks what happened to her arm. She lies that she fell while out walking. He clearly doesn’t believe her, but he doesn’t press the issue. They sit down and he asks if she’s heard from George. She quickly tells him she hasn’t and he tells her that George has apparently dropped off the face of the earth, and there are several bill collectors who’d like to know where he is these days. Alice angrily says she has no interest in knowing where George is, because he’s a jerk and she’s through with him. Grey’s happy to hear it, and also happy to once again offer himself as a suitor. Alice says she thinks it’d be best that they not date again, because what she did to him was awful, and he really shouldn’t forgive her for that. Amen. I’m glad she’s sufficiently self-aware to realize that. I just sort of wish Grey was a little less lame. He begs her to let them both forget what happened over the past few months and urges her to stop dwelling on the past. She coolly tells him this is painful and she’d like him to leave. He agrees but tells her he’ll be back, again and again until she gets the message that he’s there and still loves her.

As Grey leaves, Alice’s dad comes in and asks her what Grey wanted. She tells him, in a soft tone, that Grey wants to take her back. Dad thinks that’s quite generous, all things considered, but then again, Grey always was a nice guy. Furthermore, he tells her that Grey paid George’s £3000, a fact which shocks Alice.

George, like an idiot, stashes himself in Grey’s office for a confrontation that he has no right at all to precipitate. Grey arrives and, with supreme self-control, manages not to just launch himself at this ungrateful lout. George is all confrontational, accusing Grey of interfering in his relationship with Alice. Grey says that, if he hadn’t intervened, she would be defrauded of a lot of money. As it stands, the loss is his and he can bear it. He suggests George hit the road, but George is spoiling for a fight and accuses Grey of trying to use this matter to worm his way back into Alice’s affections. Grey says nothing, even when George flies off the handle, starts insulting him, and then challenges Grey to a duel, which for some reason I sense Grey would win handedly, probably because he’s level-headed and measured while George is a hothead who’d probably just start firing before he even had a chance to aim. Grey orders him out and George accuses Grey of cowardice before pulling out a whip he’d hidden and striking Grey with it. Pulling out hidden weapons against an unarmed man? Who’s the coward now, George? After a couple of blows, Grey recovers and bodily throws George out of his office and down the stairs. Once George lands, Grey tosses the whip down on the floor at his feet. Humiliated and defeated, George kicks it away and finally leaves.

Chez Vavasor, Alice insists to her dad that she pay the money back to Grey. Dad tells her to just go ahead and marry Grey, which she refuses to do. Glencora comes in as things are getting heated, congratulates Dad on his recent inheritance, and asks Alice what the hell happened to her arm. Dad excuses himself, and Alice admits that George was the culprit. At Alice’s urging, Glencora tells her about the blow-up over the ball, and how magnificent Plantagenet’s been ever since then, even giving up the Chancellor’s post. You can tell this sacrifice is starting to really reach Glencora’s romantic little heart. She admits to Alice that this is starting to make her think she might love Plantagenet after all. She asks Alice to come along on their trip and Alice happily agrees.

Duke has Plantagenet over to his place for some champagne and an explanation. Plantagenet will only say that Glencora needs to travel, because she’s a bit unsettled just now. He’s sure that travel will help her forget…certain things. Duke tells Plantagenet that what Glencora needs to shut her up is a kid. Plantagenet says he hopes that’ll happen soon, but the trip is absolutely necessary.

Later, at Palliser Palace, Glencora and Alice are reviewing the astronomical amount of luggage they’ll be taking along on this trip. They join Plantagenet in the sitting room, where he hands them the itinerary before heading out to take “one last look” at the House of Commons. Glencora sighs that he’s having a hard time letting go, which she understands. In the course of their conversation, Glencora brings up both George and Grey, discussions that Alice shuts down quickly.

As Plantagenet prepares to leave, the doorbell rings, and when the butler opens it, we see it’s Burgo on the doorstep, asking for Glencora. Plantagenet appears in the doorway—awkward!—and breezes past Burgo. The butler shows Burgo in and goes to announce him to Glencora.

In the sitting room, Glencora sighs that all the travel will do no good, because she’ll just take her heart with her. So, wait, wasn’t she saying a little while ago that she might come around to Plantagenet after all? She changes with the wind, doesn’t she? Alice tells her she needs to get her head on straight and start thinking of her husband and all he’s given up for her. Burgo comes in just then and, without looking at him, Glencora introduces him to Alice. Burgo hurries over to her and takes her hand. Glencora, clearly barely able to control herself, begs him to leave, telling him they can’t be together. Alice steps in and bids him to leave as Glencora asked. Burgo won’t go, so Glencora steels herself and invites Alice to leave the room with her. Burgo calls her back and Glencora begs Alice to let her speak with him one last time. She rushes back into the sitting room and Burgo once again begs her to leave with him, telling her this is their last chance to be together. She hugs him tightly for a few moments, then seems to recover herself slightly and pushes him away, telling him to go, please. Weeping, she reminds Burgo that she’s married and she cares for her husband’s honor, even if she doesn’t care for her own. Burgo kisses her hand tenderly and finally leaves, passing Alice, who’s hovering just outside the sitting room door. As Burgo leaves, Alice quietly says she’s glad he’s gone. Glencora cries and says the only man she’s ever loved has gone forever. She sinks onto a step and sobs.

In his dark, crappy little rooms, George is gathering and burning papers and preparing to flee to Liverpool. Unfortunately, someone seems to have tracked him down—a woman he’s been keeping time with. She comes in and sees the suitcases and looks devastated. George meanly chuckles a bit at her dismay. She asks him where he’s going and what she’s going to do when he’s gone. He tells her he’s leaving forever and has been disinherited, so he’s got to get lost before the debt collectors show up. She asks him what will become of her, but he can’t do anything for her, and he’s not nice about it either. She begs him to take her with him but he refuses to do so, suggesting instead she go ahead and start selling herself on the street. What a prize this man is. He bids her farewell and departs.

On the Continent (in Baden, I believe), Alice and Glencora sneak into a gaming room to have a look at the gambling. Glencora places a bet at the roulette wheel, despite Alice’s objections, and when she wins both ladies are excited. She places another bet, wins again, and places yet another one. Another win. One more bet, and she loses. Oh well. Plantagenet comes in and surprises the ladies, accusing Alice of bringing Glencora to the gaming room. Glencora says it was all her idea, and it was just one little bet, but Plantagenet’s pissed, because I guess it just wasn’t the done thing for ladies to go to the gaming rooms. Glencora tells him that spending a little time in the gaming rooms is no worse than rubbing elbows with greasy politicians like Bott, and Alice steps in to say that they haven’t made spectacles of themselves in the least, which only serves to draw Plantagenet’s ire. Glencora points out that Plantagenet’s the one making a scene, so he tells her they’ll be leaving in the morning before ushering the ladies out. So, yeah, looks like this trip’s not going much better than the last one.

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