Well, he did look so good humoured and so jolly that it didn’t seem half so hard to refuse him as it did poor Dr. Seward. So I said, as lightly as I could, that I did not know anything of hitching, and that I wasn’t broken to harness at all yet. Then he said that he had spoken in a light manner, and he hoped that if he had made a mistake in doing so on so grave, so momentous, and occasion for him, I would forgive him. He really did look serious when he was saying it, and I couldn’t help feeling a sort of exultation that he was number Two in one day. And then, my dear, before I could say a word he began pouring out a perfect torrent of love-making, laying his very heart and soul at my feet. He looked so earnest over it that I shall never again think that a man must be playful always, and never earnest, because he is merry at times. I suppose he saw something in my face which checked him, for he suddenly stopped, and said with a sort of manly fervour that I could have loved him for if I had been free . . .
“Lucy, you are an honest hearted girl, I know. I should not be here speaking to you as I am now if I did not believe you clean grit, right through to the very depths of your soul. Tell me, like one good fellow to another, is there any one else that you care for? And if there is I’ll never trouble you a hair’s breadth again, but will be, if you will let me, a very faithful friend.”
My dear Mina, why are men so noble when we women are so little worthy of them? Here was I almost making fun of this great hearted, true gentleman. I burst into tears, I am afraid, my dear, you will think this a very sloppy letter in more ways than one, and I really felt very badly.
Why can’t they let a girl marry three men, or as many as want her, and save all this trouble? But this is heresy, and I must not say it. I am glad to say that, though I was crying, I was able to look into Mr. Morris’ brave eyes, and I told him out straight . . .
“Yes, there is some one I love, though he has not told me yet that he even loves me.” I was right to speak to him so frankly, for quite a light came into his face, and he put out both his hands and took mine, I think I put them into his, and said in a hearty way . . .
“That’s my brave girl. It’s better worth being late for a chance of winning you than being in time for any other girl in the world. Don’t cry, my dear. If it’s for me, I’m a hard nut to crack, and I take it standing up. If that other fellow doesn’t know his happiness, well, he’d better look for it soon, or he’ll have to deal with me. Little girl, your honesty and pluck have made me a friend, and that’s rarer than a lover, it’s more selfish anyhow. My dear, I’m going to have a pretty lonely walk between this and Kingdom Come. Won’t you give me one kiss? It’ll be something to keep off the darkness now and then. You can, you know, if you like, for that other good fellow, or you could not love him, hasn’t spoken yet.”