“Did he?” she answered indifferently. “Yes, I have been out. It was so stuffy indoors. Father,” she went on, with a change of tone, “I have something to tell you. I am engaged to be married.”
He looked at her curiously, and then said quietly—the Squire was always quiet in any matter of real emergency—“Indeed, my dear! That is a serious matter. However, speaking off-hand, I think that notwithstanding the disparity of age, Quaritch——”
“No, no,” she said, wincing visibly, “I am not engaged to Colonel Quaritch, I am engaged to Mr. Cossey.”
“Oh,” he said, “oh, indeed! I thought from what I saw, that—that——”
At this moment the servant announced dinner.
“Well, never mind about it now, father,” she said; “I am tired and want my dinner. Mr. Cossey is coming to see you to-morrow, and we can talk about it afterwards.”
And though the Squire thought a good deal, he made no further allusion to the subject that night.
THE SQUIRE GIVES HIS CONSENT
Edward Cossey did not come away from the scene of his engagement in a very happy or triumphant tone of mind. Ida’s bitter words stung like whips, and he understood, and she clearly meant he should understand, that it was only in consideration of the money advanced that she had consented to become his wife. Now, however satisfactory it is to be rich enough to purchase your heart’s desire in this fashion, it is not altogether soothing to the pride of a nineteenth-century man to be continually haunted by the thought that he is a buyer in the market and nothing but a buyer. Of course, he saw clearly enough that there was an object in all this—he saw that Ida, by making obvious her dislike, wished to disgust him with his bargain, and escape from an alliance of which the prospect was hateful to her. But he had no intention of being so easily discouraged. In the first place his passion for the woman was as a devouring flame, eating ever at his heart. In that at any rate he was sincere; he did love her so far as his nature was capable of love, or at any rate he had the keenest desire to make her his wife. A delicate-minded man would probably have shrunken from forcing himself upon a woman under parallel circumstances; but Edward Cossey did not happen to fall into that category. As a matter of fact such men are not as common as they might be.
Another thing which he took into account was that Ida would probably get over her dislike. He was a close observer of women, in a cynical and half contemptuous way, and he remarked, or thought that he remarked, a curious tendency among them to submit with comparative complacency to the inevitable whenever it happened to coincide with their material advantage. Women, he argued, have not, as a class, outgrown the traditions of their primitive condition when their partners for life were chosen for them by lot or the chance of battle.