Now, however, that they had removed to the north, where they would have no legal difficulties to encounter, he determined to put his former intention into execution. Although Emily had always maintained a studied silence on the subject, he knew that it was the darling wish of her heart to be legally united to him; so he unhesitatingly proceeded to arrange matters for the consummation of what he felt assured would promote the happiness of both. He therefore wrote to Dr. Blackly, a distinguished clergyman of the city, requesting him to perform the ceremony, and received from him an assurance that he would be present at the appointed time.
Matters having progressed thus far, he thought it time to inform Emily of what he had done. On the evening succeeding the receipt of an answer from the Rev. Dr. Blackly—after the children had been sent to bed—he called her to him, and, taking her hand, sat down beside her on the sofa.
“Emily,” said he, as he drew her closer to him, “my dear, faithful Emily! I am about to do you an act of justice—one, too, that I feel will increase the happiness of us both. I am going to marry you, my darling! I am about to give you a lawful claim to what you have already won by your faithfulness and devotion. You know I tried, more than once, whilst in the south, to accomplish this, but, owing to the cruel and unjust laws existing there, I was unsuccessful. But now, love, no such difficulty exists; and here,” continued he, “is an answer to the note I have written to Dr. Blackly, asking him to come next Wednesday night, and perform the ceremony.—You are willing, are you not, Emily?” he asked.
“Willing!” she exclaimed, in a voice tremulous with emotion—“willing! Oh, God! if you only knew how I have longed for it! It has been my earnest desire for years!” and, bursting into tears, she leaned, sobbing, on his shoulder.
After a few moments she raised her head, and, looking searchingly in his face, she asked: “But do you do this after full reflection on the consequences to ensue? Are you willing to sustain all the odium, to endure all the contumely, to which your acknowledged union with one of my unfortunate race will subject you? Clarence! it will be a severe trial—a greater one than any you have yet endured for me—and one for which I fear my love will prove but a poor recompense! I have thought more of these things lately; I am older now in years and experience. There was a time when I was vain enough to think that my affection was all that was necessary for your happiness; but men, I know, require more to fill their cup of content than the undivided affection of a woman, no matter how fervently beloved. You have talents, and, I have sometimes thought, ambition. Oh, Clarence! how it would grieve me, in after-years, to know that you regretted that for me you had sacrificed all those views and hopes that are cherished by the generality of your sex! Have you weighed it well?”