“But don’t you think love is necessary?”
“Depends what you mean by love. If you mean what they talk about in poetry and songs—bleeding hearts and sighs and kisses and all that nonsense—no!” said my aunt, with a heavy bang on her ironing.
“That’s what people mean when they talk about marrying for love, and it generally ends in poverty and misery, and sensible women have nothing to do with it. Look at me,” she said, spitting on the bottom of her iron, “do you think I married for love when I married the colonel? No indeed! ‘Here’s a quiet respectable man with a nice income,’ I said, ’and if I put my little bit to his little bit we’ll get along comfortably if he is a taste in years,’ I said. Look at your mother, though. She was one of the marrying-for-love kind, and if we had let her have her way where would she have been afterwards with her fifteen years as an invalid? And where would you have been by this time? No,” said Aunt Bridget, bringing down her flat-iron with a still heavier bang, “a common-sense marriage, founded on suitability of position and property, and all that, is the only proper sort of match. And that’s what’s before you now, girl, so for goodness’ sake don’t go about like the parish pan, letting every busybody make mischief with you. My Betsy wouldn’t if she had your chance—I can tell you that much, my lady.”
I did not speak. There was another bang or two of the flat-iron, and then,
“Besides, love will come. Of course it will. It will come in time. If you don’t exactly love your husband when you marry him you’ll love him later on. A wife ought to teach herself to love her husband. I know I had to, and if. . . .”
“But if she can’t, Auntie?”
“Then she ought to be ashamed of herself, and say nothing about it.”
It was useless to say more, so I rose to go.
“Yes, go,” said Aunt Bridget. “I’m so bothered with other people’s business that my head’s all through-others. And, Mary O’Neill,” she said, looking after me as I passed through the door, “for mercy’s sake do brighten up a hit, and don’t look as if marrying a husband was like taking a dose of jalap. It isn’t as bad as that, anyway.”
It served me right. I should have known better. My aunt and I spoke different languages; we stood on different ground.
Returning to my room I found a letter from Father Dan. It ran—
"Dear Daughter in Jesus,
“I have been afraid to go far into the story we spoke about from fear of offending my Bishop, but I have inquired of your father and he assures me that there is not a word of truth in it.
“So I am compelled to believe that our good Martin must have been misinformed, and am dismissing the matter from my mind. Trusting you will dismiss it from your mind also,
“Yours in Xt.,